Pricey hotels? There are more affordable options in Amsterdam

I just returned from a trip to Amsterdam in March. I enjoyed reading about this wonderful city, but I was shocked to see the exorbitant prices of the hotels recommended ["Shedding a Fresh Light on Van Gogh," by Jane L. Levere, May 3].

My wife and I stayed two blocks from the Van Gogh Museum at the wonderful — and very affordable — Bilderberg Hotel Jan Luyken, which is much less than Levere's suggestions.


It was easily accessible to the trams, and the staff was outstanding and most helpful in recommending restaurants and other local sites.

It's not necessary to overpay when you can have a good room and spend your money on other amenities while on vacation.

Phillip Hain


Pearl production

I'm in the pearl industry, and I loved Douglas Wissing's article on the Gambier Islands ["Gambier Islands' Sea-Born Treasures," April 26].

I often read pieces about pearls in mainstream media, and they are so off the mark it's sad.

The Gambiers really are producing some of the finest Tahitian pearls in terms of color and luster; Wissing hit the nail on the head mentioning their "winter." It makes a big difference in luster.

If you're interested in a fantastic follow-up, you may want to check out what Jewelmer ( is doing in the Philippines with Golden South Sea pearls and its stunning Flower Island Resort.

We traveled there in the spring and took some amazing photos of the resort's operation for our blog at

I'm not affiliated with the resort, just a big fan of what it is doing. And you can't have a more exotic island resort than Flower Island, not to mention the pearls.

Kevin Canning

Los Angeles

Dashboard view


The Need to Know column of May 3 talks about a new device for the car by Scosche. The device, known as the MagicMount, attaches to a car's dashboard and can hold and display GPS devices, cellphones and tablets.

The core unit consists of strong magnets that will easily help display different types of devices. With all that is going on concerning distracted driving accidents, do we really need an additional item to make it even easier to not pay attention to the road, thereby creating more car wrecks, injuries and deaths?

If this new device is for passengers or use by the driver when not driving, then the distracted driving scenario will, of course, not be a factor.

Bill Spitalnick

Newport Beach

Vegas gambling

You know that saying about Las Vegas? — "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas"? After a recent weekend in that iconic gambling center, I offer a new slant: What you take to Vegas stays in Vegas.

William A. Harper

San Diego