Friday, May 20, 2011

Sunset Magazine: The Top 50 Hotels Under $150

With average hotel prices starting to rise again, Sunset Magazine set out to find weekend room rates for under $150 per night. Not to be cheap, the magazine set some standards: the room had to have its own bathroom, no bedbugs and over the hotel should have some personality. These hotels are either near popular water, mountain or wine country destinations. The hotels listed have an under-$150 rate for at least one weekend through late spring and summer excluding tax. Their best choices of U.S. hotels are listed by location and located in some popular resort destinations. See the full list at

Unfortunately the list does not include the region around New York City. Thought not listed either, there are always bargains about at some quality hotels in Las Vegas for $150. As a sample, here are the magazine's choices for Hawaii:

Ha‘iku Plantation Inn, Maui. This sugar plantation turned 4-room inn in Maui’s horsey upcountry is close to the Haleakala Crater, Pa‘ia town, and the gorgeous beach at Baldwin.  So you get a head start on all the Hana day-trippers schlepping from the resorty south shore. $119; 

Ohana Waikiki East, Honolulu, Oahu. If you’re willing to walk a couple of blocks to the beach, you can save big bucks at the 441-room Ohana Waikiki East high-rise hotel—or either of its sister hotels, the Waikiki Malia or Waikiki West. Here’s the deal: You get a no-frills room (ask for an upper floor to cut down on street noise) and a pass to the trolley that endlessly circles Waikiki. $105;   

Hotel Lana‘i, Lanai. Lanai is the most fancy-pants of all the Hawaiian islands—virtually every visitor is bound for one of its two Four Seasons Resorts. But a few choose the Hotel Lana‘i in town, built in 1923 for pineapple plantation execs. The 11 rooms aren’t 5-star but are loaded with charm: Hawaiian quilts on the bed, hardwood floors, white wainscoting. Dinner here isn’t cheap, but it’s a must. $99;   

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Grand Princess Loses Skywalkers Nightclub

Before and after photos

Although not a cruise traveler myself, it's always intriguing to learn about some of these mega floating resorts and in this rare a instance transformation. Princess Cruises dry-docked the Grand Princess for improvements and among them was the removal of the 160-ton Skywalkers Nightclub featured in the above video.

Shortly after the ship debuted in 1998, the nightclub located 18 decks high became the ships late-night hot spot. Just visiting the nightclub was meant to be memorable experience for passengers. Elevators took passengers to the ship's top deck which lead to a moving walkway that took them through a long, clear tube to the club. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows made for a dizzying view for club crowd.

To improve the ship's fuel efficiency, Princess Cruises removed the nightclub. News reports indicate the transformation of the ship is the biggest in the history of the cruise line. Other changes include the addition of a piazza-style atrium, steak house, pizzeria, martini bar and seven suites. To replace Skywalkers is the One5 Lounge located on Deck 15. Princess reports one unique feature of the ship is a combination library/tea lounge with a selection of 500 tea blends.

See all the video episodes of the Grand Princess at drydock on the Princess Cruises page. Visit to learn more about the ship.

Photos of the Skywalkers Nightclub.
(images credit: snaebyllej2/flickr)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Archtek Toothpaste Tablets: Just Chew, Brush & Go

This product sounds promising for traveling on long flights, long delays at the airports or for those who are simply always on the go.  It may be worth a try to see if Archteck Toothpaste Tablets are as convenient as they sound. On the plus side it's not a liquid or gel so it will get past airport screeners in carry-on bags. But does it work and how does its mint flavor compare to toothpaste? It should be noted this does not replace brushing completely. These tablets are used as a substitute for toothpaste but still meant to be used with a toothbrush.

For more information visit The item can be purchased from Magellan's Travel Supplies at $12.95 for 60 tablets. It's also available on through other sellers.

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