Time for a Trip to LA? Here’s Your Guide

Planning your Trip to Los Angeles

If you’ve been to the typical vacation spots – Florida, Caribbean, Mexico, etc., it’s time to change it up and add a “new” destination to the mix. Los Angeles, California will give you a bit of everything you can want or need in a vacation – sights, beach, activities, food and more!

Plan your Trip to LA

A trip to LA gives you the chance to explore neighboring cities in southern California. Long Beach, Anaheim, Malibu, Santa Monica are all nearby and each have things to do. As a major city known for entertainment, LA always has a raft of upcoming events- special events, game, concert or festival. The chance to see a great show or band may help you settle on your travel dates.

LAX (Los Angeles Airport) is a very busy airport with lots of airline and flight choices so booking your flight is easy. While you could try getting around the LA area on public transit (subway, light rail or bus), taxi or Uber, it’s a lot easier to rent a car. Traffic in the LA area can be challenging and very busy so allowing extra travel time for traffic is a necessity.

With hundreds of Los Angeles area hotels, there’s no shortage of places to stay. Think of your hotel as your “home base” because your LA and area vacation will have you taking day trips in and around LA. For example, Disneyland is in Anaheim (southeast from LA); the Queen Mary ship is in Long Beach (south from LA). Santa Barbara is northwest from LA; Newport Beach is southeast from LA.

Where to Stay in LA

While you can, of course, stay anywhere you want in LA, there are some distinct areas to consider: Hollywood/Beverly Hills (movie history, studios, walk of fame, high-end shopping); Santa Monica/Malibu (beach, pier, dining, outdoors); Downtown LA (events, dining, nightlife) and Venice Beach (people-watching, boardwalk, boutique shops) among others. It’s a pretty good idea to figure out what you want to do and see (including distance, traffic and total time to get there) before you book your hotel.  Take a good look at the images, descriptions and reviews of Los Angeles hotels. There are hundreds of hotels to choose from based on our budget and preferences.

Photo by MarkTravel via Trover.com

Cool Things to see and do in LA

Los Angeles City Tour – To maximize your trip to LA, this is the way to go in one day. You’ll get the full LA experience including Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Walk of Fame and more.

Hollywood Experience Tour – Your top choice, the immersive Hollywood experience, is right here. You’ll see the Hollywood sign, landmarks, celebrity homes and cruise Hollywood Boulevard. Last up, Paramount Studios, a busy and unique working studio. The odds are you will see familiar actors on the lot, and you will definitely see movie sets and props.

Photo by MarkTravel via Trover.com

The Getty Center – The building itself is an architectural masterpiece containing some of the finest art in the world. Visitors rave, and many recommend a tour. A private tour will get you past the lines and provide expert insight into this spectacular collection.

La Brea Tar Pits Tour by Segway– The Tar Pits contain hot bubbling tar and have been in existence for 40,000 years. The neighboring Page Museum contains tar pits artifacts and one of the world’s largest collections of Ice Age fossils. It’s hard to believe that this is in Los Angeles. This is a really different and unique experience!

Sunset Strip Walking Tour – It’s 1.5 miles of quintessential LA on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. This stretch contains the Roxy Theatre, Whisky a Go Go, and the Comedy Store, plus shops, bars, and restaurants. This is the time to walk in LA and find out about the history of LA and the Sunset Strip!

With all there is to see and experience in Los Angeles, make your trip to LA a memorable one! Enjoy the California sunshine and plan your trip to see all that Los Angeles and area has to offer!

The Charm of Old Quebec City

The charm of Old Quebec City never gets old. Old Quebec is the only walled city in Canada or the U.S. and is designated as a World Heritage treasure by UNESCO. It’s a mix of history, architecture, heritage, art, and culture and is widely viewed as the home of French civilization in North America.

I’ve been to Quebec City a few times. The first time as a youngster on a driving vacation with the family. The first overnight stop from Toronto was Quebec City. I remember walking through the gates of the old city and feeling like I had stepped back in time. Thankfully the old city is still there today. And it’s a real treat.

Early Canadian and French history abounds with numerous historic buildings and museums including the Musée de la civilisation . There are many art galleries and boutiques with a French flair. Restaurants and pubs have a warm and intimate feel and most feature Quebec fare including rabbit, deer, and duck confit poutine.

Quebec8
Quebec9
Quebec5
Quebec6

While there’s a variety of hotels to choose from within Old Quebec and Quebec City itself, my favorite is the Auberge Saint-Antoine. Located in the heart of Old Quebec, the Auberge sits on an historic site dating back to the 16oos. As a member of Relais and Cheataux, the hotel has a strong focus on service and luxury. There are only 60 rooms with no 2 rooms alike, and each contains artifacts that were found on site. Their Panache Restaurant is incredible with Michelin star chef and a very imaginative menu.

Quebec4
Quebec2
Quebec1
Quebec3

Quebec City is like 2 different destinations in the winter and the summer. In the winter, it can hit -30c. So cold it’s painful but beyond beautiful especially during the Carnaval de Québec (the annual Winter Carnival runs from late January to the middle of February).

In the summer, there’s the Festival d’été de Québec in July, Canada’s biggest outdoor music event. Quebec City is warm and inviting with quaint streets to wonder down and walking trails to explore along the St.Lawrence River. Outdoor cafes abound and you’ll find yourself stepping back in time… and thinking about your next visit.

5 Things to do in Orlando

In a place with unlimited activities and attractions, there is obviously more than 5 things to do in Orlando. This Florida city often crops up on people’s bucket lists. Filled with theme parks, fun and adventure it’s the perfect destination for anyone looking for a fun, stress free trip with lots of laughs. Whether you are looking for an action-packed week away with the kids, or the chance to explore on your own, Orlando has plenty to offer.

With so much going on it’s essential that you choose the right base. Somewhere like Marriott’s Grande Vista is the perfect place to relax at the end of long days, getting a good night’s sleep and preparing for your next great adventure. But, wherever you stay it’s a good idea to do a bit of research first. With so much to do it’s easy to miss things that you would love. So, here’s a look at 5 of the things that you should put on your to-do list for your trip to Orlando.

Unsplash

Disney’s Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom was Walt Disney’s first theme park and remains one of the most popular theme parks in the world to this day. No matter how old you are, a little bit of Disney magic can be a great way to relive your childhood. You can’t help but smile as you look up at Cinderella’s castle or watch the evening fireworks. This theme park includes rides, roller-coaster, simulators and various Disney themed areas. A must for any Disney fan.

Universal Studios

If your movie love is a little wider than just Disney, Universal Studios is the place to be. Home to rides and attractions based around all of our movie favourites this is a fantastically fun day out. If you prefer a bigger adrenaline rush or are traveling with older children, you might want to buy a “park to park” pass so that you can also head over to the Islands of Adventure park.

SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld is always a big hit with kids and adults alike. Home to various different species of sea life and fish, SeaWorld lets you get up close and personal with your favourite creatures, while learning more about their environments and lifecycles. There are also talks, displays, shows and aquatic themed rides.

The Kennedy Space Centre

If theme parks aren’t your thing, and you’ve got no desire to spend your days on roller-coasters and rides, Orlando still has plenty to offer. Just a 45-minute drive away from Downtown Orlando on the Eastern coast of Florida is the Kennedy Space Centre. At the Kennedy Centre you can see actual rockets that have left the earth’s orbit, you can learn more about space and space crafts and you can walk on the same ground as many of NASA’s greatest astronauts.

Aquatica Park

Yes, Orlando has lots of theme parks and plenty of museums and historic sites, but it’s also known for its water parks. Aquatica park is perhaps the biggest and best of them all. Home to head to head slides, flumes, rapids and the famous Dolphin Plunge it’s a fantastic family day out.

5 Best Luxury Hotels To Stay In Sharm El Sheikh

Sharm El Sheikh

Sharm El Sheikh is a resort town popular for vibrant sunshine whole year through and wonderful coral reefs.  Situated at the southern peak of the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, this beautiful getaway brings a lot for the tourists. Because of the place’s stunning corals and diverse marine life, it has become a favourite holiday destination amongst snorkelers and scuba divers despite all the safety issues in the region. There are a number of luxury hotels At Sharm El Sheikh that offer everything from high-end facilities to elegant guest rooms. If you have decided to explore the wonders of this beautiful resort town, here are some of the best luxury hotels for you to enjoy a perfect stay in Sharm El Sheikh.

1. Four Seasons Resort

Sharm El Sheikh

Designed as a five-pearl hotel, the luxurious Four Seasons apartments can accommodate visitors with its 136 expansive rooms. The resort is equipped with amazing swimming pool, finest dining and a captivating view of the sea. Elegant, spacious rooms are built with private outdoor terraces where you can enjoy the lovely sea sight with your family and friends. A small private beach offers exciting activities for guests including snorkelling and diving opportunities. Likewise, there are two yachts which are exclusively available to the hotel guests. Additional amenities are also offered to make your stay more comfortable and pleasing. These include a kids’ club, tennis center and a spa.

2. Royal Albatros Moderna

Sharm El Sheikh

Royal Albatros Materna is built to give you a lively and luxury experience with its 680 rooms, huge enough to cater visitors’ specific needs. The resort has direct access to fun-filled holiday engagements such as a water park, beach, drinking and dining opportunities at various international bars and restaurants. Amazing range of amenities can make every family enjoy their time here in Sharm El Sheikh giving you access to live entertainment, kids’ club, pools with cushioned beds and spa with whirlpool tubs. All the comforts of a real home can be felt because every guest room, apart from being stylish and clean, is equipped with air-conditioning unit, flat-screen LEDs and TVs and balconies with access to the lovely view of the sea.

3. Coral Sea Sensatori

Sharm El Sheikh

Catering to the needs of huge number of guests, the Coral Sea Sensatori is a luxury resort with 470 rooms that offers specifically designated zones for couples and families with kids to create sort of a separation. The resort’s atmosphere is contemporary and it brings you some sophisticated rooms along with private spaces outdoors, all with wonderful views of the sea. It offers fine dining experience with sumptuous cuisines on offer. Compared to other resorts in the area, leisure activities and pools at Coral Sea Sensatori are considered above average. One big plus is the resort’s Wi-Fi which never goes down contrary to other resorts.

4. Iberotel Palace

Sharm El Sheikh

Overlooking the El Maya Bay and situated at the south of Shem El Sheikh, the Iberotel Palace is a lovely 263-room luxury resort. The atmosphere is more soothing and classy but the resort has come up with an adult-only policy of late. Though pretty small compared to other resorts around, the rooms here are spacious and stylish. The exciting line of amenities in the resort includes an indoor pool, a huge pool with sea view, nice range of bars and four restaurants. Direct access to the waters and amazing water sports opportunities are also provided with the resort’s private beach.

5. The Royal Savoy

 Sharm El Sheikh

An exclusive wing of a luxury five-pearl Savoy complex, the Royal Savoy boasts of a key location sitting  next to Soho Square Center that provides an elegant experience  with overflowing nightlife, restaurants and fun-filled activities. A small beach and three pools are available to guests including direct access to each amenity. Sprawling with sophistication, all 36 rooms are spacious enough and are guaranteed to offer a deluxe feeling being decorated with lovely flowers. Here you can also experience some classy villas and furnished balconies overlooking the beautiful gardens and giving you access to private pools.

So, experience an amazing holiday at the Sharm El Sheik and book your stay in one of its luxury hotels! Make a top pick and you won’t regret your decision.

The Italy Road Trip

The Italy Road Trip was planned for quite some time. The dilemma was how do you see all of what Italy has to offer in 2 weeks? Well the answer is you don’t. It’s just not possible in just 2 weeks. So what do you see. And where do you start? Well right here.

THE ITALY ROAD TRIP – GETTING THERE

Choose your airline (it’s Air Canada for me from Canada). In order to hit the ground running (with a 6 hour time difference), I need to fly Business Class (sometimes) or Premium Economy (this time). The extra room and increased comfort make the long flight enjoyable. I absolutely have to sleep so I bring along my new travel friend, my Palmate Travel Pillow, to get to sleep and stay asleep. I want to be ready to go and awake on Day 1!

THE ITALY ROAD TRIP – VENICE

Arriving in Venice, we leave the airport in a water taxi and begin the short journey into the historic canals of Venice. After checking into our hotel, we grab an espresso and head out to explore the streets of Venice. Tourists are absolutely everywhere and the streets are packed. Making our way along main walking routes and over bridges, we manage to find side routes and squares where the locals are. Small neighbourhoods with cafes, restaurants, shops and Venetian homes are a lot more interesting than the main streets. On Day 2, we jump on the public water taxi (Venice transit) to get around easily and get into the main tourist areas. There’s a lot to see in Venice including Piazza San Marco, the Rialto Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs and the Doges’ Palace. But do yourself a favour and take the time to get off the main paths and explore!

THE ITALY ROAD TRIP – PROSECCO

We leave Venice in a rental car and head up to the Prosecco Region (the hills between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene in the province of Treviso). It’s mid-September and we manage to hit full grape harvest. The area is alive with extra workers and tractors with grape packed trailers. There are many wineries to visit but look for Prosecco Superiore DOCG. Most will have a fee based tasting (5-10 Euro per person) and will provide a generous sample of their product (3-5 wine samples). If you choose to buy a bottle or 2, the wine fee will be reduced or waived (depending on your purchase amount). Among the best wineries to visit: San Gregorio (family owned- you’ll meet father, mother and sisters);  Col Vetoraz (with a wine vending machine on the small road to the winery); and Villa Sandi (great wine and restaurant).

THE ITALY ROAD TRIP – TUSCANY

There are so very many reasons why you should include Tuscany in your Italian Road Trip. You can start with a glass of Tuscan wine; then move onto the fresh and delicious food; then admire the views; and last but not least enjoy the people. Classico Chianti wine (noted by the black rooster on the bottle neck) is exceptional. The Classico label is only available to Chiantis produced from grapes in the the Chianti Classico subregion covers an area of approximate 260 km2 (100 square miles) between the city of Florence to the north and Siena to the south. The other more well known wine in the area is the “Super Tuscan”. The American name for a deep red wine blended from Syrah,Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. It’s priced to take advantage of the aura in the marketplace. Villa San Andrea is among the very best wineries to get a Super Tuscan (and other quality wines). This small winery is a neighbour to the famous Antinori winery. For 10 Euro, Villa San Andrea provides an intimate winery tour and tasting. Their Super Tuscan is far less expensive than the winery next door. They also have 7 other high quality and affordable wines.

Within Tuscany, there many towns to visit including Siena, San Gimignano, Lucca, Montalcino and Florence. San Gimignano stands near the top for me. It’s a very well preserved medieval village with shops, museums, sevral small hotels and restaurants. “Le Vecchie Mura” is one of the top restaurants in town and a personal favourite. It is divided in 2 parts- an inside restaurant and across the laneway is an outside terrace (weather dependent). Authentic dishes feature deer, rabbit, wild board and of course pasta, steak, and local wine. Enjoying a long meal here overlooking Tuscany is something special.

ITALY ROAD TRIP – AMALFI COAST

The rugged coast and the views are worth the trip to the Amalfi Coast. And driving there adds to the anticipation. Heading south along the highway through Naples, we make our way through Sorrento and its long mountain tunnel. Positano is our destination and our base for 3 days on the Amalfi Coast. Positano has some incredible views. It also has great hotels (Le Sirenuse, Villa Rosa); some great restaurants right on the beach (Chez Black and Le Tre Sorelle- both highly rated and right beside each other) and lots of small boutiques for shopping. Staying in Positano, you can easily make day trips down the Amalfi to small towns like Ravello, Minori, Furore and others.

We drive to Rome Airport and overnight at a Rome Airport hotel before leaving the next day. Except for the return flight, the trip is over. The Italy Road Trip was among my top trips ever. And that’s saying a lot given the amount of travelling that I have done over the years. Each area/stop well worth the visit to immerse yourself in the history, culture, food and wine of Italy. The biggest issue is when is the next Italy Road Trip?

How to Make the Most of Your Hotel During a Work Trip

Work trips are often packed with numerous strenuous activities that happen one after the other. Usually, when you are on a work trip, the only time you can relax and get some rest is when you are already in your hotel.

 JA Resorts

If you are staying at one of the best beachfront hotels during a work trip, you can ensure you can stay productive and, more importantly, enjoy a break from your busy schedule by following the tips below:

1.    Check in early and check out late

To have a longer stay at your hotel, arrive early and leave late. If you are still booking a room, find out if you can check in earlier than the designated time. You will have a higher chance of having this request granted if you are a member of the hotel’s loyalty program.

By arriving early, you can get some rest before you start working. You will have time to refresh yourself and prepare for the day ahead.

If you are allowed to check out late, you will have some spare time to relax before your flight or your long trip back home.

 JA Resorts

2.    Know what comes with your nightly stay at the hotel

Before leaving for your work trip, make sure you know all the perks that come with staying at the hotel you’ve chosen. Find out what amenities and services are included in the daily rate and which ones come at extra fees.

By doing some research in advance, you will avoid being surprised by your bill when you check out.

3.    Take advantage of all freebies and perks

Once you know which amenities and services come for free, make sure you use them. Enjoy their free complimentary drink upon check-in. Take advantage of the free breakfast buffet and coffee every morning, too.

If you are allowed free use of the hotel workspace or co-working space, get some work done in these areas. You will enjoy faster Wi-Fi connection and additional services including printing and secretarial assistance.

Lastly, create an itinerary of all the free, fun things you can do at the hotel such as cooling off in the swimming pool, visiting the garden or working out at the gym. If your work trip is in the UAE, don’t forget to take advantage of the wonderful spa deals in Dubai.

With an itinerary, you will be sure to enjoy all the pleasurable things your hotel has to offer.

 JA Resorts

4.    Get some work done in your hotel room

If you are more productive when you’re alone, then get your laptop out and work in your room. You will definitely be able to concentrate and be more productive in your room. If you love watching TV or listening to music while working, you will be able to do so without worrying about disturbing other people.

In case you need to get a lot of work done and you can’t spare time to go out to have lunch, dinner, or a snack, take advantage of the hotel’s room services. Aside from having a delectable meal or snack, you won’t have to eat in a rush to get back to your work.

5.    Don’t be embarrassed to ask for extras

Do you want an extra pillow, blanket, or robe? Call the front office.

 Most hotels do not advertise this, but you can enjoy certain small freebies and extras. All you have to do is ask.

You can also ask for extra shampoo, conditioner, lotion, razor, toothpaste, coffee, creamer, or sugar. Most hotels will be happy to accommodate your requests. Just make sure you ask for what you need.

6.    Use your hotel loyalty or travel credit card points

Lastly, if you are a member of a hotel loyalty program, check how many points you have. See if you have enough points to get a free room upgrade. If not, check what other perks you can have access to such as late checkout or a free drink at the bar or lounge.

 In case you have a travel credit card, see if you have sufficient points you can apply to the room. You can also use it for other services such as a hotel breakfast or to get a massage at the hotel spa. You may even be able to use your points for free laundry or dry cleaning services and avoid the task of hand-washing your clothes.

When you follow these tried-and-tested tips, you can go through your work trip productively and smoothly. You will be able to find time to get some much-needed R&R, too, even if you have a hectic schedule.

 JA Resorts

AUTHOR BIO

Thomas Grundner is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for JA Resorts & Hotels. He has more than 20 years of expertise in the hospitality and leisure industry – across international markets including Germany, Egypt and Spain. Grundner oversees all sales, marketing and revenue efforts as the company continues to build on its key growth and development strategies and further cultivates its unique blend of “Heartfelt Hospitality” and “Casual Luxury.”