What happens when your hotel is in foreclosure?
The recession in wreaking havoc in the hotel industry, especially in California, where no fewer than 32 hotels are in foreclosure, and 174 more are in default of loans. This is obviously bad news for investors. But what does it mean for hotel guests?
The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that the hotels in shaky financial shape run the gamut from high-end to low-end and everything in between, including brands like W, Residence Inn, and Four Seasons, as well as many independent properties.
A traveler with a reservation at a hotel in foreclosure might understandably be concerned. Will the reservation be honored? Will the service be bad? Will the hotel even be open? How can you learn if a hotel is in foreclosure in the first place?
Unfortunately, there is no central resource for finding out if a hotel is in foreclosure or default. But, as Joe McInerney, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, puts it, hotel guests don't have much to worry about. "When a hotel is in foreclosure, it's business as usual from the guest's point of view," says McInerney. "All commitments are honored. If new operators have taken over, it's generally a seamless procedure."
When a bank has to take possession of a hotel, it installs a management group accustomed to overseeing a hotel of like quality, explains McInerney. "Banks are going to keep people working at these hotels and maintain quality because it's in their best interest," he says. "They want to protect their assets, so they'll put in an operator that knows what they're doing. The banks want to see their investment grow, and get the money back that they loaned."
Even so, in today's uncertain economic climate, it's a good idea to book with hotels with lenient cancellation policies (no penalties for canceling 24 hours in advance). Two or three days before you check in, call and confirm your reservation. If a hotel requires a deposit or advance payment, always use a credit card. If need be, your credit card company can help you dispute charges for goods and services you never received.
This weekend: Sandcastles in Canada
The beach buckets and sand shovels will be out in full force in Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada this Saturday, for the Sandsculpture Championships. Held on the lake's Devonshire Beach (about three hours north of Edmonton), there are three categories of competition—family, children's, and the more competitive "open" category. It's a little pricey to compete (about $4.50 for kids, $27 for families, and $91 for "open"), but it's all free to watch. This year's theme is "The Adventure of the Imagination," so finished sculptures are sure to run the gamut. Check out the huge octopus from last year. Judging is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m., and visitors are encouraged to peruse the entries to pick their favorite. The top prize is $3,000—not too shabby for an afternoon's inspiration. Also happening on the beach is a volleyball tournament, and there are family-friendly activities like face painting, tug-of-war, kayaking, and a watermelon-eating contest. Now, that's what summer's all "aboot."
It's summer, and that means big sales at all-inclusive resorts
As temperatures in the U.S. rise, demand for steamy tropical getaways goes down. That's why summer is the season for deals at all-inclusives in the Caribbean and Mexico. Just about every all-inclusive beach resort offers rates that are dramatically cheaper compared to vacationing in, say, February or March. This summer, when travel in general is down, the all-inclusive discounts are especially sweet. Some examples, all of which include lodging, three meals a day, beverages, and activities in the rates: Beaches is hosting a summer sale with discounts of 55 to 65 percent off of normal rates, meaning you'll pay as little as $113 per person per night—all-inclusive, of course. And these discounts can be combined with free night offers (generally two nights free with stays of seven nights or longer), so you can get even more for your money. Club Med's WOW Sale has rates starting at $99 per person per night at most of the company's family and adults resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico. Grand Pineapple Beach Resort, in Antigua has an all-inclusive special starting at $78 per person per night, valid from now through December 20, with a three-night minimum stay. RIU Hotels & Resorts has a number of special offers, including all-inclusive rates starting at $65 per person per night at the ClubHotel Riu Jalisco, $78 at the Hotel Riu Cancun, and $73 at the Hotel Riu Santa Fe, all in Mexico, with airport transfers included. Once you've got your resort reservations squared away, take advantage of our helpful interactive flight resources, which clue you in as which airlines fly nonstop to destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico.
10 top Paris food blogs
For those who are planning a Paris binge or simply want to digest the food scene vicariously, the following blogs are totally delicious. David Lebovitz A pastry chef and author who combines sweet recipes with acidic (and hilarious) tales about life in Paris. He also offers plenty of restaurant recommendations and reviews. Chocolate & Zucchini One of the earliest and still most-popular food bloggers, this young Parisian compliments her recipes with an incredibly helpful French-English food glossary, and guide to favorite markets, shops, and restaurants. Dorie Greenspan The author of four baking bibles, Dorie spends a good part of every year eating and writing in Paris. When she tells me where to buy pastry, I listen. Alex Lobrano's Diner's Journal The long-time local correspondent for Gourmet magazine wrote an excellent restaurant guide in 2008. He shares news and updated recommendations on this restaurant blog. John Talbott's Paris The most prolific eater/writer I have ever followed. As co-host of the food-geeky eGullet France Forum, John Talbott has his finger on the pulse of the local restaurant scene. The blog houses his own reviews, along with regular summaries of what everyone else has said. Adrian Moore The self-styled "bad boy" of the local food scene, Adrian has accumulated a wealth of knowledge in his role as a five star hotel concierge. Restaurant reviews and the occasional rant. Ms. Glaze Pommes d'Amour Now cooking in New York, this young foodie spent several years in the kitchen of a three-star Paris restaurant and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the local food scene. She also created a Paris tour for teens that many chaperones will find handy. Simon Says! The personal blog of Francois Simon, lead critic for Le Figaro and (some say) the inspiration for Anton Ego, the ill-humored critic from Ratatouille. Many articles in English, thanks in part to his collaborator Joe Ray. Chrisoscope Practice your French or simply enjoy the food porn from this prolific and opinionated eater. Handy categories will help you find a restaurant that's open for brunch or on Sunday. Meg Zimbeck Can I nominate myself? Here's my personal blog, where you'll find the reviews and other bits that don't make it into Budget Travel. CLICKABLES Paris: 10 top free events in July and August Our Affordable Paris blog coverage
Orlando: Beyond the theme parks
There's more to Orlando than jolly theme songs and hour-long lines at theme parks. Check out some of the notable things worth seeing in the city itself. Get your coffee on at Natura Café in the morning or come back in the evening for jazz, acoustic open mic nights, and a concert series. Stardust Video and Coffee also serves up a mighty cup with free WiFi, video rentals, and poetry readings. A day at the 57-acre Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp may be an interesting exit from touristy Orlando. Learn about séances and the Cassadaga psychics on a walking tour for $15 a person. Or take the family out to the Li'l 500 go-kart racing track. Tickets are about $4. For the theater buffs, head down to the Enzian Theater for contemporary and classic movies. (It has six film festivals yearly.) Or go to the downtown Winter Park shopping district for Central Park Popcorn Flicks, free movie nights for all ages on the second Thursday of each month. Shady Park Popcorn Flicks is also free and held four times a year. The Mad Cow Theatre is also downtown and features plays or musicals, and all seats are $15 on Mondays. After the show, head to Independent Bar for dance music or Tanqueray's Bar & Grill for a more underground jazz club scene. —David Cumming MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Stress-Free Walt Disney World Find out which tickets to buy, where to stay inside the park, whether the meal plans are worth it, and more.
Help shelter animals and win an Airstream® Caravel 20FB and RAM® 1500 Limited Truck