Rate Parity and what you don’t know about booking travel online

Finding the best hotel discounts is no longer an easy task and if the truth be known, it’s no longer possible to find any genuine discounts on a traditional booking engine. Yes, they are still popular and the most common means on which most travelers will reserve their accommodation, but make no mistake, Expedia, Orbitz and every other travel booking engine no longer offer the same value to customers as before.

Many online users are unaware this is the case and that standard booking engines are an outdated way to book travel without any genuine discount or value. But why has this happened and what is the alternative solution?

Rate parity

Great changes in the online travel industry

Although this is something you may not have heard about, a recent law called “Rate Parity” has greatly affected the market for booking engines as this new legislation stipulates every travel brand must keep the price of accommodation the same across all channels of distribution. What does this mean? It means Expedia and other large brands cannot offer an alternative cost to the price on any of their other websites. In a more specific sense, rate parity means the traditional booking engines can no longer offer hotel rooms or any other travel related service at a discounted price.

Why do online users still use these booking engines?

Good question. Booking engines are known to offer a user friendly and convenient experience but more to the point, it would seem online users are just simply in the habit of using what was once the only means of booking their travel online. Thing is, you really do need to ask yourself; why book with a travel booking engine when you can book direct with the hotel for the same price? Furthermore, why book with either of the above when you can book for less with a Travel membership club?

travel discounts

Travel Membership clubs

Once the most popular way to book discounted travel back in the early 1990’s, travel membership clubs have been finding their way back to the forefront of the travel industry in recent times. Rate parity is the reason for this, for membership clubs are the one exemption to the rules which have all but taken away the ability of a traditional booking engine to offer genuine value.

Hotels Etc – 25 years of exceptional service

Hotels Etc is the leading travel membership club in North America with a five star reputation spanning 25 years. User friendly and highly convenient, this is a booking engine but with a stark contrast; every listing represents a discount on the usual price. Ranging anywhere from 40 – 70%, these discounts are incredible value and are testament to the fact Travel Membership clubs are the one best way to find travel discounts online.

Why pay more, when you can pay less? Check out Hotels Etc now and start saving on your next overnight stay or long anticipated vacation.

How to choose the right cruise vacation in 2017

According to recent studies in the industry, these days more travelers are choosing a cruise vacation over an all-inclusive resort. As per estimates, nearly 24 million people had taken cruise vacations around the world in 2016 and these numbers are expected to rise in year 2017. As demands for a cruise vacation grow, so do choices for travelers. Among a wealth of cruise vacation offers, how do you choose which one is suitable for you? Well, here we are to help you sort through various options and select the best cruise line for both your budget and vacation needs.

casino

Best Value for Money Cruise Lines

If you are looking for a cruise line which returns best value for your money in 2017, then consider taking Celebrity Cruises. Although it has smaller fleet compared to its rivals, Celebrity’s many ships provide personalized service as it has an average ship-capacity of less than 2,700 passengers. This helps in catering to passengers personally. That does not mean it has any less amenities than big ships. The cruise line also offers all those amenities you would look for in big ships such as open-air movie screens and also kids’ programming. Big amenities, but at lower rates of $100 per traveller, per night. Second option can be Royal Caribbean International or Norwegian Cruise Line which also provides best amenities and value for your money while choosing a cruise vacation

Best Cruise Vacations for Families

When it comes to family cruise vacations, Disney Cruise Line wins hands down against its competitors. It has topped the list of family cruise lines for four successive years. The cruise line is famous for its deck parties based on Disney characters and has a specialized kids’ club, which is sure to keep the younger crowd happy. On the other hand, there are also exclusive areas for adults which provide an excellent place to parents for unwinding after a day of fun-filled activities. Another favorite for family cruises is Royal Caribbean International, which is ranked number 2 and Carnival Cruise Lines with a rank of number 3.

Couples? Here are Best Cruise Lines for You

Whether it is Valentine’s Day or your sweetheart’s birthday; if  you are looking to celebrate by sailing away with your partner, then you can get an enchanting experience on Crystal Cruises. This cruise line has been selected as the top ranking for couples this year. Here, the lovebirds can enjoy all-inclusive, special amenities such as terry cloth robes, feather beds and complimentary spirits and romantic wines. If you want to give a romantic gift to that special person with you, then instead of going for some regular gift, choose couple’s spa treatments or/ and specialty private dining. For those wanting to spend romantic vacations on sea, other recommended cruise lines include Azamara Club Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises that provide best romantic cruise for couples.

Best Cruise Lines for Caribbean Destinations

Nothing compares to emerald waters of Caribbean seas and if you are searching for the best cruises line to Caribbean, then Disney Cruise Line should be your first choice. Two reasons set apart Disney from other cruise liners; first it owns a private island called Castaway Cay (Bahamas) from where its ships set sail. Secondly, it sends ships to not one or two, but more than a dozen Caribbean destinations. These include popular destinations such as Jamaica, Cozumel, Puerto Rico, Mexico and also to lesser-known islands like Curaçao and Grenada. Second rank for Best Caribbean cruise lines goes to Celebrity Cruises and Crystal Cruises is at number 3 if you wish to go on ocean-vacation in 2017 in the Caribbean.

cocktails on a cruise vacation

Best Mediterranean Cruise Lines

If you are looking for warmer climate and heavenly food, then Mediterranean shores would appeal to you. For 2017, Celebrity Cruises tops the list of the best Mediterranean cruise lines. The line’s ships are mostly mid-size that travel to popular European ports such as Greece, Santorini and Naples (Italy). These ships will take you to famed Mediterranean destinations where you can explore the waters as well as dine at in-house swank restaurants, which will offer you a wide range of delicacies from French desserts to juicy, tasty steaks. After satisfying your taste buds, you can enjoy the restful hospitality of their comfortable accommodations. The number 2 spot in the list of the best Mediterranean liners in 2017 is occupied by Regent Seven Seas Cruises while Oceania Cruises holds the number 3 rank in this list.

If you would like to know more about these cruise vacations or find the best available cruise discounts, you can avail of a free trial perios with Travel membership experts Hotels Etc.

sharks punta cana

Two lesser known Reasons to visit Punta Cana

Why visit Punta Cana when you can visit any beach nearby? Well, here are some unique action and thrills that you can enjoy on a Punta Cana vacation but not at the local beach itself.

Two lesser known reasons to visit Punta Cana

sharks punta cana

Snorkeling with Sharks

Tourists taking a Punta Cana vacation can enjoy a thrilling underwater activity through Reef Explorer tour. In this tour, one can enjoy the thrills of snorkeling with sharks and sting rays in a huge marine park. This tour lasts for four and a half hours where tourists leave for the Reef Explorer Island in morning and afternoons batches. They are taken to the island first by bus and then by boats. Once they reach the destination, they can choose their own activity. On offer are different types of massage, kayaking, snorkeling, paddle surfing etc,To keep their energy levels replenished, a health bar offers juices and light snacks. Alcoholic drinks are not served. Those who are interested in these “close encounters of the underwater kind” should remember to take these items with them: bathing suit, beach clothing, towels, sunscreen lotions, underwater camera and some cash. The tour operates daily and transportation is included in the package. Point to note, children are not allowed in this tour. Only those above 14 years of age can enjoy the thrills of this tour.

whale watching

Whale Watching by Plane

Now this you certainly cannot do at your neighboring beach! Only Punta Cana offers you this amazing opportunity of watching whales by planes. This is another package tour on offer for tourists coming to this sea-island. The tour’s duration is 12 hours and it is operated on all days except Sunday. Called the “Samana Whale Watching Tour”, this special leisure activity is arranged only for three months in the year; from January20 to March20 when hundreds of humpback whales travel from the North Atlantic and reach into the Caribbean’s warm waters. There are some 300 such whales in the Bay of Samana, providing an awe inspiring view to whale watchers. Visitors can take a private plane from Punta Cana’s Airport to reach Samana’s Arroyo Barril Airport. From here, they are transported to Samana Bay for an amazing whale watching adventure. The tour also includes a journey to Cayo Levantado, a tropical island which is so beautiful that some people call it a paradise. You can relax here on the white, pristine sand or swim in the gorgeously turquoise water. After whale watching activity, tourists are fed a delicious lunch at a Dominican ranch. Then, after a short rest, a new adventure starts where visitors are taken on horseback to a nearby, famous Limon Waterfall. This spectacular waterfall gushes down from a height of 52 meters from a mountain river. In between all these activities, you are served meals, snacks and juices. No alcoholic drinks are allowed. In one day, you get to ride a horse, watch whales and visit a paradise on earth. Professional guides, private plane ride, ground transport and unlimited thrills- What more you could have asked for?

You can find all the best vacation discounts on Hotels Etc in order to get the most out of your next vacation in 2017.

Harley Davidson

Lesser known attractions in Punta Cana

Punta Cana is a tropical getaway, affordable for tourists from all over the world. Mother Nature created this picture- postcards like island with a glorious, 25 miles long stretch of white sand, dotted with leafy coconut trees and vast span of crystal-clear water. The island is lively place with many activities for those seeking action-thrill-adventure in its scenic settings. Luxurious and beautiful resorts offer various types of all-inclusive packages. This island has been a favorite of European tourists for long.

Here are some unusual things to do in Punta Cana:

tropical punta cana

Monkeyland and Plantation Safari Tour 

What a way to rejuvenate a city-dweller’s jaded sprit! Get to know your Darwinian ancestors in Monkeyland of Punta Cana. You can watch squirrel monkeys playing around and interact with them on this trip through the dense jungle in the Dominican Republic. A safari truck will take you through beautiful coffee and green cacao plantations in this five-hour long tour. After that, you can go to the monkey sanctuary and roam around in the surrounding botanical gardens. This tour offers stunning mountain visuals and island’s vivid, bright display of native plants and flowers.

When you visit the plantations, you get to learn how local farmers use organic farming procedures. If hungry by all these excursions, you can feast on freshly-picked various tropical fruits. Tiny squirrel monkeys like to eat these fruits too and you can offer them a seat on your shoulders and share the joy of natural food. You do not have to worry about reaching your hotel after the tour as this safari includes round-trip transfer from Punta Cana and Bavaro hotels. Visit with your family and give them a vacation in a dreamland.

Harley Davidson

Full Day Sightseeing Tour on Harley-Davidson

If you are a person who thrives on speed and has a biker’s soul, then ignite your passion and go for the 6-hour long sightseeing tour on a powerful, roaring Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  This tour winds over the highways passing near Punta Cana, past scenic villages and through lush green tropical forests. At the end of the day, you get to celebrate your journey in the Harley store with some cold brew. You do not have to worry about riding gear; apart from the motorcycle and a guide, the tour also includes helmet and motorcycle insurance. Lunch is provided in Miches. So basically; food, gear, tour-guide are all available to make this a memorable sightseeing tour for you, Just ride the monster and explore natural beauty of Punta Cana through highways, small Dominican villages and tropical forests. All you need is an adventurous spirit and medium to high skill levels of motorcycle driving. Oh yes, you should have your motorcycle driving license. This 6-hour trip covers 240 kilometer (150 miles). One caution; bikers are not allowed to consume alcohol during or before the guided tour. Anyone who fails to follow this safety precaution will be thrown out of the tour and there will be no refund of tour money.

You can easily find all of the above attractions and things to do in Punta Cana with every vacation booked on Hotels Etc.

Hotels Etc

Lesser known but amazing resorts in Punta Cana

Everyone knows Punta Cana is one of the best destinations in the Caribbean for 2017 and likewise, everyone knows it is home to some of the most amazing resorts the world over. But what about the places you have yet to hear about? What about the lesser known yet amazing resorts in Punta Cana which will make for the perfect vacation in the Caribbean this year?

Here are three of the lesser known yet amazing resorts in Punta Cana.

punta cana

Secrets Royal Beach

This luxury resort is situated on Playa Bavaro Beach, on the eastern coast of the Dominican Republic. The attraction of this resorts are nightly live entertainment, a spa and an on-site casino. The resort is just a 6 -minute walk away from the beach. Even though the scenic resort is away from the commotion of big cities, luxurious trappings of a comfortable city- dwelling are provided in all rooms of Secrets Royal Beach resort.  These include a flat-screen TV as well as a fully stocked minibar. Rooms also have fully furnished terrace or balcony. The decoration is carefully done in tropical hues. There are three on-site restaurants in Secrets Royal Beach and five bars. Additionally, guests also enjoy access to 9 bars and seven more restaurants at a nearby resort. For resort guests, various aqua-activities are arranged on the beach such as snorkeling, free-form pool or they can have fun windsurfing on the beach. For those who do not want to get wet, sporting-facilities like tennis, bowling and volleyball are available too. If anyone wishes to, they can also avail of dance lessons. The resort is in the close vicinity of Palma Real Shopping Village and Barcelo Bavaro Golf Course. The resort is rated by many tourists as “best value for money”. It has 373 rooms and has various in-house amenities for guests such as Free WiFi, spa and wellness center, fitness center and free parking. The rooms are non-smoking.

  • Melia Caribe Tropical Resort:

This is family-friendly, all-inclusive resort which offers guests access to a top-class golf course, an exciting, full casino and a brilliant, bright seashore. The resort is only 13-minute walk away from the beach and provides many different facilities for its guests including 10 outdoor pools as well as 8 brightly lit tennis courts. After spending their days on the beach or on sight-seeing trips, guests can enjoy a relaxing massage at the resort’s any of the two luxurious spas, or better still, try their hands at winning in casino. For kids, the resort provides a kids’ club where various fun filled activities will keep them engaged while their parents can challenge themselves on wall climbing sport. Tropical Meliá Caribe has a number of in-house restaurants that serve delicious, authentic Caribbean cuisine as well as international flavors. The resort also has 10 bars, where guests can enjoy their drinks after the dinner and relax watching nightly entertainment. The resort has 1110 rooms and has many popular facilities. These include free WiFi, family rooms, various restaurants, spa and wellness center, bars, live nightly entertainment and fitness center. Its rooms are non-smoking.

caribbean vacation

  • Paradisus Punta Cana Resort:

This resort is close to the Punta Cana International Airport, only 25-minutes’ drive away. It is close to the beach and features 5 different pols and a spa. This is an all-inclusive resort, offering tennis and golf courts and a casino. It also has 12 on-site different restaurants.  Gusts can indulge in various creative activities such as sushi making, tango lessons and wine tasting. All rooms have private balcony, a minibar and a coffee maker. Cable TV is also available in rooms. It location makes it a preferred choice for busy travelers. It has 821 rooms and its popular amenities include free WiFi, airport shuttle, in-house restaurant, spa and wellness center and fitness center. The resort’s rooms are non-smoking.

Check out Hotels Etc for all the best vacation discounts on any of the above resorts in Punta Cana.

Reasons to visit Mexico

5 More reasons to visit Mexico in 2017

As if anyone needed any more reasons to visit Mexico or take a vacation in general. Renowned for the sun, sand, all-inclusive resorts and world famous attractions; Mexico is one of the most popular vacation destinations for North Americans for so many reasons.

That being said, maybe you still need a few more, and so here are five more reasons to visit Mexico in 2017.

5 More reasons to visit Mexico

Mexico People

Mexicans are very hospitable

The last thing you want when you are in a foreign country is to feel helpless at times of need. But if you are in Mexico, that will not happen. Intrinsically happy people, Mexicans welcome tourists and even willing to lend a hand. Their charming personality also adds the lure to their country. You will always see people smiling, and joking around. Definitely, feels like home.

Mexico vacations are wallet- friendly

More often than not, we tend to think that vacation is a luxury. But in Mexico, every penny will be worthy. Lodging is at the lowest rate, food is cheap (and still delicious), tourist spots are mostly public and free, and more cheap finds. In terms of lodging, most hostels’ packages are for two’s. Food does not need to be eaten in five- star dining, but can be found in the streets cooked by the locals. And if you will not choose the big beaches which are priced for foreign tourists and settle for lesser known one, then you are on a great deal.

Satisfying food is everywhere

Who does not love spices and herbs, and the salsa? Staples like guacamole, tacos, enchiladas, and more are not hard to find. These are all over the streets and can be purchased at a low price. Also, due to a very tasty meal, you will not think of dining in a fancy restaurant, a plus- point for your wallet.

It is easy to travel

Transportation in Mexico is excellent. The bus fare is affordable and yet can bring you to places. There are mobile bathrooms and seats are comfortable. There is also a unique mode of transportation used by locals called “collectivo”, if you wish to be more adventurous. Collectivo is a van or taxi shared by passengers who have common destinations.

stunning Mexico

They have a very fantastic culture

From food, to music, architecture, and history, Mexico has it all in its plate. Known for gastronomic finds that are incredibly appealing, as well as maracas and guitars accompanied by song and dance of the natives, Mexico is a very festive country. If structures awe you, then it is a must for you to visit colonial cities which are homes to ancestral buildings and other historic sites that do not only present facts but the visual artistic side of Mexico as well.

But why take our word for it when you can find out for yourself? Check out Hotels Etc for all the best vacation discounts for your next vacation to Mexico.

Lesser known attractions in Mexico

5 Lesser known tourist attractions in Mexico

Chichen Iza and the white sands of Cancun are some of the most enticing reasons to visit Mexico. This is absolutely for good reason, they are remarkable experiences but then what about the equally as interesting and lesser known attractions in Mexico?

Here are 5 lesser known tourist attractions in Mexico

Copper Canyon/ Barrancas del Cobre

More than twice as large as the Grand Canyon, BArrancas del Cobre is composed of six notable canyons in the Sierra Madre Occidental. These canyons are formed by six rivers that drain the western part of Sierra Tarahumara. The canyon is habitat to more than twenty species of pine trees and over a hundred of oak trees. Covered in lush of greens and rarely seen cougars, Copper Canyon is indeed an adventurer’s definition of relaxation. This marvelous canyon houses indigenous people for centuries, making their lifestyle and culture preserved. You can explore it by hiking, horseback riding, biking or driving.

Attractions in Mexico

Morelia

Another colonial city, Morelia is a migration haven for Monarch butterflies. Aside from the colorful winged- insects, the state capital proudly presents its Indian ancestry through the majestic pink quarry stone colonial buildings.  The city is surrounded by different kinds of arts, from pottery, textiles, to furniture, and musical instruments. The city also features numerous historic sites like the Plaza de Armas, La Alhondiga, and other private ancestral mansions. Walking in the streets of Morelia will make you feel going through time travel centuries ago. If you are not fan of architecture, then visit the Orquidario of Morelia, a museum that houses over three thousand species of flowers, and inhale the flowery breeze.

San Miguel de Allende

Mexico is truly a home to numerous colonial cities. Another instragram worthy, San Miguel de Allende is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hidden beauty of the Baroque/Neo- Classical colonial structures were discovered by foreign artists. Because of this, art and cultural institutes emerge. Many artists from various fields dwelled in the city and have left a part of them. An example will be the unfinished mural of Siqueiros. Painting or drawing is always seen around and street artists sell their works. If you are an avid fan of arts, this is a place to visit.

Mexico vacation

Ixtapan de la Sal

Very popular because of its thermal springs, Ixtapan de la Sal is destination for the Mexico locals. Ixtapan de la Sal was the greatest producer of salt during the pre- Historic times, hence the name. Its two rivers and the carbonated water of La Laguna de Verde, a spring that comes from the volcanic landscape is the main attraction and serves as public bath to the indigenous people. A number of hotels are present and most surround the thermal springs. It is also believed that these springs can heal various ailments.

Paras dela Fuente

It is known as the America’s oldest vineyards. The vineyards are the only attraction here but if you feel to be a daredevil, then visit the town’s bat caves located at Hotel Antigua Hacienda de Perote. Meet them before the sunset and hear the deafening flapping wings of thousands of bats. If you are not into the darkness, then visit the sacred volcano and the chapel of El Santo Madero which sits on top of the volcano, while viewing the city from above.

Check out Hotels Etc where you find vacation discounts for resorts near all of the above lesser known attractions in Mexico.