Sunday, August 31, 2008
The honeymoon is considered to be one of the most important parts of the wedding. You have to consider that the honeymoon is where both of you and your new spouse will spend a romantic life before you start a family. Here, you will enjoy each other's company and this is also where you will spend one of your memorable moments with your significant other.
However, you have to consider that in order to have a romantic honeymoon, you have to spend it in a great location where everyday is a romantic day.
Today, island destinations are usually considered to be the best choice for honeymooners in the world. You have to admit that there is a romantic atmosphere in islands that can never be found in other places in the world. So, if you are planning for your honeymoon, one of the best destination choices would be an exotic island resort.
There are lots of exotic island resorts in the world where you can consider spending you and your significant other's honeymoon vacation. One of the best choices and also one of the most popular is the Hawaiian Islands. The islands of Hawaii offer great honeymoon packages where you and your spouse can definitely enjoy a romantic vacation. There are lots of activities to do and there are also lots of places to visit in Hawaii. Another great thing about Hawaii is it's just off the coast of the US mainland and is a state of the US. This means that you can save a lot on plane tickets.
If you want to spend your honeymoon farther, you can consider spending it at the Caribbean Islands. Here you will find world class white sand beaches and luxurious accommodations. The Caribbean also offers honeymoon vacation packages where you can enjoy romantic island activities, such as scuba diving, sailing or simply watch the romantic Caribbean sunset with your significant other.
You can also consider going to the Aman Group of Islands located all over the world. Although the packages are quite expensive, you can expect world class honeymoon packages, world class beaches, and world class accommodations. People who have been to one of the Aman Group of Islands have testified that it offers great quality services and an island vacation that they will never forget.
There are also countries in Asia where you can spend you and your significant other's honeymoon vacation. In the Philippines, you can experience great tropical weather as well as world-class beaches in the Island of Boracay, and in the islands of Palawan.
Thailand and Indonesia also offers great packages and world class accommodation for honeymoon vacationers. In Thailand, you can experience a romantic honeymoon vacation in Phuket. Indonesia also offers Bali as one of the premier destinations for tourists and honeymoon vacationers.
These are just some of the top island vacation destination available in the world. All you need to do is choose where you want to go and book your reservations.
As you can see, there are quite a lot of choices that you can make when you are planning an island honeymoon vacation. By choosing the best island destination for your honeymoon, you can be sure that you and your significant other will definitely enjoy a romantic vacation that you will never forget. And, a honeymoon experience that you will definitely want to try again.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Assuming, marriage costs areno joke. There is the sound of marriage, not to mention the honeymoon. And of course, certainly you want to enjoy the honeymoon where only two of you. And more than just time spent with your family, your honeymoon is the perfect way to unwind after a long wedding ceremony, and be treated like royalty and enjoy all the amenities of luxury. Although it is always good to be frugal, to settle nothing less than what you and your family deserve. May while some have money to enjoy all-a luxurious honeymoon costs get there, it is also easy to create the romantic atmosphere and enjoy the holidays perfect honeymoon without skipping your pockets.
First, become familiar with the off-peak seasons and the perfect time to visit places. If you are planning a January wedding, it is also the ideal time to visit New York, San Francisco and Washington. February is the cheapest time to go honeymooning in Celtic Ireland, the snowy mountains of the Netherlands and Dallas. March is perfect for honeymoons in Los Angeles, go sight-see in Italy and Spain, while April is perfect for a honeymoon in the Caribbean Jamaica. Hawaii is the cheapest on any May June wives can always choose to go to Phoenix and Albuquerque Mexico for some exploration. July offers, at best, Tucson and Memphis, while on a honeymoon is perfect August in Las Vegas. September is the ideal time to study abroad and the Asian culture in Japan. In October, you can head to Costa Rica and November, will be kayaking on Lake Tahoe or enjoy the flavor of the Dominican Republic. December wives can go sun, tropical, Mediterranean Greece.
Here are five travel destinations, you can discover on your honeymoon, offers the perfect romantic thrills without worries of an empty pocket.
London. There are many available flights to choose from, and if you chose a remote location, it is cheaper. If May seem more expensive than any other European destination, there is an endless choice in hotels, restaurants, transport and tourism services that you can choose. And there is certainly something that you offer your beloved and experience in London within your budget.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Housing is easy - you can choose from luxury resorts to quaint but clean hotels in the city centre. Honeymooners can visit Tulum or take the ferry to the island of Cozumel for snorkeling.
Tioman Island. For some countries in Asia experience, go on Tioman Island in Malaysia. It has sandy beaches, greenery, jungles and mountains. You and your honey can bask in the sun, go snorkeling and diving. A $ 100 assure you already have a two-night stay at a suite in a station Oceanside. The island is accessible by ferry from the mainland; two good hours of travel-perfect l'observation dolphins.
Buenos Aires. For some Latin American countries color, Buenos Aires offers a variety of cultural events, nightlife, shopping, sports and excursions to choose from. Discover La Boca, street artists, shops and architecture. Airfare costs on average $ 500 for a roundtrip.
Las Vegas. The ultimate gaming experience, not to mention the color of light and sound make the whirlwind Vegas marriage and honeymoon. There are several packages of cheap holidays offered by many hotels and resorts, with the rate of accommodation, meals and entertainment.
And because the honeymoon is just be the two of you together, you should not even leave the city or outside the country. Scout your area for a place, you can explore. Or only with candles and champagne and the two of you together, your honeymoon may be perfect - and inexpensive - in just the comfort of your new house.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Except for the 12th arrondissement, which includes the Bois de Vincennes, the 14th has the highest amount of park acreage in Paris, ranging from the tiny Papillon garden off the little rue de Châtillon to the 16-hectare Parc Montsouris. Those are the spaces open to the public. Then there are the private courtyards, villas and cobblestone, verdant dead ends. The sisters of Saint Joseph de Cluny still grow their own tomatoes on the rue Méchain. The ring road is greed and red, with the red of the brick apartment houses lining the Boulevard Brune mixing with the green of many gardens.
The 14th arrondissement is also home to all the major hospitals of Paris as well as the Santé prison, the only house of detention still inside the city limits. The population of the residential Montsouris quarter has been declining, but in the Plaisance neighborhood it is increasing. The "three mounts" - Montparnasse, Montsouris and Montrouge - have always been crowded: they were home to the laboring classes and workshops, factories and street trades before artists, painters and writers moved in. The china menders and bougnats - cafes that originally sold coal - are gone, and the carters now drive vans. But in winter, a glazier and a grinder still make their rounds in this neighborhood, which seems like a link to happier times.
The 14th arrondissement actually led a double life. During the week, the neighborhood was fairly quiet, with retirees straight out of a Balzac novel shuffling around in their slippers in the morning. And then came Friday, when all Paris seemed to flock to Montparnasse until Sunday night. That has not changed, although the neighborhood has a lot more antique shops than it used to. Many of them specialize in bric-a-brac, small furniture and china The area around the rue de l'Ouest, the rue Raymond-Losserand and the rue du Château is changing, with old buildings coming down and new ones going up, but they will be lower than the ones in the 13th arrondissement.
The rue du Château leads to the neo-classical Place de Catalogne designed by Ricardo Bofill based on a Greek temple and a Roman arena. Nearby is the Place de Séoul and the Hôtel de Massa, an eighteenth century "folie" that once stood on the Champs Elysées. In 1927, it was threatened with demolition and moved to its present location. Every stone, beam, panel and floorboard was carried across the Right Bank and faithfully rebuilt to house the Société des Gens de Lettres.
Friday, August 22, 2008
The Bassin de l'Arsenal was excavated in 1806 on the site of the moat of the former Charles V wall that once enclosed the city. Originally built to serve the inland port and bring water from the Seine to the Bastille, today it is a marina bordered by terraces, pergolas and a rose garden. A tunnel at one end leads to the Saint Martin canal.
Property developers have spoiled the banks with ugly glass and concrete apartment buildings, but this is still a lovely place to come in October, when dead leaves pile up in the fading, straw-colored autumn light. Teeming factories, bustling workshops, docks loaded with plaster, bargemen's bistros and penniless girls once lined the quays from Stalingrad to Bastille. The straight, 4.5-kilometer canal, which split the city between middle-class quarters on the west and working-class neighborhoods to the east, was built by hand in 1825.
Napoleon had ordered the artificial waterway dug to supply Paris with water and provide a shortcut that would avoid navigating a long, circuitous bend in the Seine. By the 1960s, traffic had dwindled to a trickle and the canal narrowly escaped being filled in and paved over for a highway. Then it was turned into a pleasure canal where Parisians and visitors enjoy leisurely boat rides, sailing through the heart of Paris from one lock to the next.
Steve Zade, a 53-year-old British-born "gastronomic refugee", is a guide aboard the Canotier, which sets out with international tourists from La Villette every day. Cars on the rue de Crimée, which bisects the canal, must often wait for the drawbridge to close as it lets his boat through. Steve entertains his passengers with an endless flow of funny commentary. "Why are Spanish tourists on the bateaux-mouches always straining their necks and looking back at monuments two kilometers upstream?", he asks. The passengers are stumped. "Because by the time they hear the Spanish translation, the landmark being described is already two or three bridges behind!" The tourists burst into laughter, certain they have made the right choice about how to spend their day.
Once a small village, in the nineteenth century La Villette became France's fourth-busiest port. A walled-up warehouse on the basin nobly stands across from a 30-story skyscraper. The warehouse was built in 1885 to store sugar, grain and wine that bargemen unloaded from their boats. On the opposite side, a vacant lot marks the spot where the warehouse's twin stood until it burned down in 1990.
At the Jaurès lock, the first of nine that compensates for the 29-meter difference in altitude from one of the canal to the other, the waterway really seems to enter Paris. The Rotonde de la Villette, a former 18th-century customs house designed by Nicolas Ledoux that once formed part of the wall around the city, stands a little further away. The names of other former customs houses are engraved in the stone.
The canal did not exist yet when the sinister, medieval Mont Faucon gallows that inspired the poet François Villon to write Ballade des pendus (Hanged Men Walking) stood at the intersection of the rue de la Grange-aux-Belles, the Saint Martin's lock, the Quai de Jemmapes and the rue Louis Blanc. A series of graceful, lacy, openwork steel bridges surrounded by lush greenery spans this stretch of the canal. The Hotel du Nord, which is famous for being the setting of Marcel Carné's classic 1930s film of the same name, stands near the Récollets lock.
The canal passes under the swing bridge on the rue Dieu and through the Temple lock before flowing underground to the Bastille. Skylights piercing the tunnel's ceiling cast an eerie greenish glow as the canal passes beneath the Boulevard Richard-Lenoir for two kilometers until flowing into the Seine at the Bassin de l'Arsenal.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Quality vs. Quantities
Though the French rating system is based on objective, measurable criteria, this does not mean travellers’ expectations will be fulfilled automatically.
First, there are keen differences in perception between populations. One of the most common example of such a problem relates to room and bed sizes. American travellers are used to larger rooms and beds than the average room and bed sizes offered by Paris hotels. This ‘size gap’ originates in history and genetics: space is scarcer in Paris than in Boston or Chicago, and French people tend to have smaller bodies than American people.
Moreover, the French rating system does not measure service quality, a major issue with travellers. Though a hotel can fully comply with the 3-star criteria, the cleanliness of its bathrooms may not be fully satisfactory. The receptionist may have a bad attitude problem. The hotel management may be slow to fix a plumbing problem in a room. All such issues may compound each other to inflict a revolting experience to a hotel guest.
Because the French system does not measure the quality of service over time, it may be chancy to base your choice of hotel solely on the french star rating.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
The safer bet
To afford the best chances to pick the right hotel in Paris I would recommend you to take 4 steps:
- have a basic understanding of the French rating criteria (see above link to download them),
- check the guests’ reviews on www.travelocity.com, and
- visit the hotel’s own website,
- do not hesitate to e-mail your questions to the hotel owners
For those of you who are not familiar with the service provided by Travelocity, thousands of travellers use this website to write reviews on the hotels they stayed at. As always with such an open forum, you will find both extreme judgments and moderate opinions.
My advice: if a hotel fetches 4 or 5 acceptable-to-good reviews and a couple of very bad ones, put the latter on account of a bad hair day. I don’t know of any hotel which satisfies 100% of its guests throughout the year. Favor moderate reviews with some flesh on the bones: they will usually give you a useful picture of what to expect from the hotel, good and less good.
Visiting the hotel’s own website (make sure it is the hotel’s own) will allow you to view the rooms and bathrooms, and form a better idea of what you can expect. I insist on visiting the hotel’s own website because it is usually the website where you will find the largest number of photos. Commercial travel websites usually skimp on photos.Lastly, e-mailing your questions to the hotel owners may or may not get you an answer. This usually depends on the proficiency of the receptionist in your language. People at the front desk may shy away from responding by email, just because they don’t feel comfortable writing in a foreign language. Naturally, receiving informative answers to your questions is a good sign that the hotel cares, and that its personnel strives to serve their prospective guests well.
There is indeed a resounding absence of solid information in regards to the meaning of ‘hotel stars’ in France, and well-known travel websites. This vacuum was calling for a full reply.
The meaning of stars in the US
Let me clear something right away. There is absolutely zero relationship whatsoever between the number of stars commercial travel sites award to hotels, and the hotel rating system in use in France.
Commercial travel sites don’t take their cues from the French system, and the latter does not bother with the former’s ratings.
The core business of commercial travel sites is to sell you hotel rooms, flight tickets, car rentals, and cruise packages. They purport to guide your choice by awarding stars to their products.
Whether these sites’ star ratings are free from any mercantile bias is debatable. When you book a room on a commercial travel site, a significant portion of your money goes to the travel site which presents the hotel. On certain well-known travel sites, the hotel can pay as much as 50% of your booking to the site operator. (I will soon publish a report on the topic on my website.)
So in my humble opinion, the objectivity of the number of stars awarded by commercial travel websites to any hotel is a matter of debate.
To make matters worse, each travel website uses its own private rating method. It is practically impossible to compare the ratings given by two websites to the same hotel. Just like comparing apples and oranges. Consumer Report published an interesting article on this problem in their November 05 issue.
In other words, the number of stars awarded by commercial travel sites is not a fully reliable yardstick for selecting a hotel.
The meaning of stars in France
The French hotel rating system works on a completely different set of rules.
- It is a standardized system: meaning, all hotels across France are categorized on the basis of a unique system. A 3-star in Paris will have to comply with almost the same criteria as a 3-star in the countryside. Comparability is 98% ensured.
- The rating system was not born out of mercantile purposes: it was framed by the French lawmakers. This means that no hotel can be ‘upgraded’ a star or two because it pays a fatter booking commission to a website operator. Under the law a hotel qualifies for a specific star category, and not for the next one up. Period.
- Lastly, and this is the most important factor, the French rating system does not measure quality. It measures quantities. Quality is partly a matter of opinion. Quantities are measurable, verifiable, quantifiable.
The French hotel rating system uses a total set a 22 criteria and sub-criteria to measure the presence or absence of certain features in the hotel, and the square footage devoted to various spaces.
Based on these objective measurements, the hotel is given its stars by the authorities.
The owners may of course remodel their hotel, and apply for an upgrade. The review process will be based on the same criteria as before, and the re-rating will be decided on the basis of compliance with the same objective measurements.