Expanding Hotel Loyalty Rewards

Expanding Hotel Loyalty Rewards |  by The New York Times Travel | Great news for those travelers, like me, that prefer boutique hotels. While often more charming and memorable than your typical chain hotel, most independent hotels don’t offer loyalty programs.  Well not anymore. Individual boutique hotels worldwide are getting together for this cause. GHA – Global Hotel Alliance is a clear example of this global trend. Their take, rewarding frequent guests with insider experiences instead of points. STASH Hotel Rewards – Stash is an entirely new kind of hotel rewards program, one that’s dedicated to the spirit of adventurous, meaningful travel. With Stash, you can earn and redeem points for free nights at some of the best independent hotels in the U.S., from landmark historic inns to boutique gems to top-rated resorts. VOILA Hotel Rewards – a similar points-based program for upscale independent hotels that started three years ago now has about 235 hotels in its network. The new programs reflect two different perspectives on loyalty programs. Hoteliers in one camp believe travelers are burned out on points and that what they really want from a loyalty program is access to special perks and experiences they wouldn’t be able to get on their own. In the other camp, hoteliers believe travelers still want points but are frustrated by the redemption process, which often involves complex reward charts or blackout dates. So hotel chains watch out, boutique is the new trend. (Information Source: Michelle Higgins )

A Hotel Group to welcome Gay Guests

A Hotel Group to welcome Gay Guests |  The New York Times |   This was announced at the IN TRANSIT Travel section of the New York Times last Saturday. Preferred Hotel Group, made up of more than 800 independently owned properties worldwide, is rolling out a program to help its members welcome gay guests. Currently, as The New York Times reports, 100 members are part of the program, called Preferred Pride. To qualify, a property has to be certified either by TAG – Travel Alternative Group or IGLTA – International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association. Preferred next conducts diversity training at the hotels on the specific needs of the Gay traveler. +Read more

IGLTA Partners with The New York Times Travel Show

IGLTA Partners with The New York Times Travel Show |  Edge on the Net by MRNY |  New York City |  The New York Times Travel Show continues to increase its annual commitment to LGBT travel, working with the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association and other LGBT travel experts to develop gay-specific content for its Feb. 25-27 expo at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center (655 W. 34th St., Manhattan).

The panel “Discover LGBT Travel: Hot New Destinations, Events, Tours and Cruises” is scheduled for 4 p.m., Feb. 26. Travel editor and writer Ed Salvato (www.edsalvato.com) will moderate a globetrotting gay discussion that touches upon the Caribbean, luxury travel, adventure travel, cruises, Africa, lesbian travel, and South America.

Panelists are: LoAnn Halden, IGLTA Media Relations Manager and travel editor/writer; Kenneth Hieber of 2afrika; Carlos Melia, a travel agent specializing in South America; and Andre Rojer, Marketing Manager for the Curacao Tourism Board.

(*) By the way the picture of the article is me – Carlos Melia – on my last trip to Stockholm, taken by Mark at MRNY. Read the Full article at Edge on the Net

New York Times Travel Show discovers LGBT Travel

New York Times Travel Show discovers LGBT Travel New York City |  Understand LGBT Travel by the hand of experts. Gather in-depth information at a special panel session on LGBT Travel, “Hot New Destinations, Events, Tours and Cruises for LGBT Travel,” Saturday, February 26th from 4 – 5 p.m. Join our panel of experts including moderator Ed Salvato and panelists Andre Rojer, LoAnn Halden, Kenneth Hieber and Carlos Melia.

(*) Purchase your 2011 Travel Show tickets today! Go to nytimes.com/travelshow and use code NYT3OFF to save $3 off the price of admission. Join us for the 2011 New York Times Travel Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, February 25–27 and experience LGBT Travel.

La Vigna Country House Hotel

La Vigna Country House Hotel |  Colonia Valdense , Uruguay | New York Times TOP 41 Places to Visit 2011. In 1880, it was set up as a Winery belonging to a family of Italian immigrants from italian Piedmont dedicated to Tannat winemaking. Today, more than 120 years after that, “La Vigna” is born as a warm and exclusive Country House Hotel, rigorously restored by its current owners.
A new concept in the Art of Reception… featuring a congenial combination of indigenous country life and the exquisite comfort required by the demanding contemporary traveler.  A haven in the country offering serenity, homemade delicacies, and heavenly landscapes that invite you to relax and enjoy a balanced mixture of European rural architecture and avant-garde exotic, refined interior design.
Colonia Valdense, located in the department of Colonia, known for agricultural and livestock production, and dairy products. Only 59 kilometers from Colonia del Sacramento and 120 kilometers from Montevideo.
Rustic Rooms with all the comfort for your stay. Queen or Twin size beds, kitchenette, WiFi. Prices from USD 100 per  night including breakfast. Room Type of your choice: Master Suite “La Violeta”, Suite “Akanana”, Family Room, Single Room, Twin Room.

Casa Toscana is a house with two bedrooms, bathroom, living room, kitchenette, laundry, garage, deposit, patio, deck, roof with adobe oven and panoramic views.
Some of the activities included in the country house hotel are Mountain Bikes to get around the area and Bike tours. Art Workshop. Fishing: Catch & Throw of Tarariras Mojarras Dientudos. Ranch activities, Tambo, Organic Gardening, Birdwatching and Hiking. Swimming pool, Table Games and Library.
They offer a very interesting La Vigna + Colonia del Sacramento + Wineries of Uruguay Package (03 Days/02 Nights) from USD 660 per person on double base. The package includes: Transfers Colonia del Sacramento to Colonia Valdense, 02 nights with breakfast at La Vigna, all meals included with local produce and wines served at Bitro La Bodega. On the second day the include the Uruguay Wine Route tour including lunch at Bodega Souza and Wine Degustations at Stagnari, Bouza and Marichal Wineries.
Every  Saturday and Sundays , La Vigna Wine Art opens its doors to welcome the arts…tango, drama, fusion, photography, jazz, sculptures… Rejoice for the five senses and pleasure for the soul. Housed in that old family winery, a new concept is born: “La Vigna- Wine Art”. A versatile and heterogeneous place: At times, your living-room at home; sometimes, a mountain refuge in the Piedmont countryside (of a remote Colonia Valdense); and at other times, just a meeting place to share and enjoy with friends. A place to listen to good music, taste some of the specialty regional cheese “boards”, tapas and homemade delicacies, served with good wine, or simply a place to relax and linger at.
At “La Vigna”, they make their own food products, which are based on the care of and respect for nature and a healthy lifestyle. Their Organic Garden, their ecology-concerned and respectful breeding of farm animals, their sheep milk products made in their Dairy Farm: La Pecora Pazza, and their fruit trees provide them with the raw materials necessary to create each of the flavors offered by La Vigna’s organic gourmet cuisine, at LV Bistró. They produce traditional Jams, Liqueurs, Chutneys and Preserves, in addition to some extravagant products exclusively created by “La Vigna”. For the diner time, stylish, exotic and colorful dishes merge into those taken from Italian immigrant communities of the Piedmont region, which, for the past 130 years, have been coming here to settle down at this spot of South America, imbuing everything with their European smells and essences..

These are only some of the activities and services you can enjoy while visiting Colonia Valdense and La Vigna Country House Hotel. Not for nothing The New York Times ranked it TO 41 Places to Visit 2011, right. !!!
Easy access either from the city of Buenos Aires, by Speed Ferry to Colonia del Sacramento (50 minutes) or from Montevideo by bus services (2 hours and 30 minutes)

(*) NOTE: This is a PRESS RELEASE for La Vigna from CM by Carlos Melia. Please be aware that I have not personally visited or tested this hotel yet. Coming soon my own personal review following my main commitment of Been There Done That.

(**) For bookings or inquiries do not hesitate to Contact Me. carlos@carlosmelia.com | 646.460.6045 | Toll Free US. 800.729.7472 ext 205

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Colonia del Sacramento by The New York Times

Colonia del Sacramento by The New York Times |  Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay |  As many of you know by reading my regular posts in my blog, Colonia del Sacramento is one of my favorite spots in the world to escape and get away from the hussle and bussle of the city when I am in Argentina. Well, it seems I am not that wrong since on the Sunday Travel section of this week of the The New York Times has been voted and ranked number 31 out of the 41 places recommended and MUST visit during this 2011.

The article was titled The 41 Places to go in 2011 and Colonia del Sacramento was featured in number 31 as The ranches beyond a historic village offer a dose of rural chic. On this short but interesting contribution by Paola Singer, they highlight two brand new boutique ranches that have recently opened La Vigna and Estancia Tierra Santa. I would add to this expert recommendation, two of my favorite hotels/guest houses in the entire world Casa los Jazmines and La Casa de los Limoneros. Both I would dare to say my own personal choice for relaxation, gourmet experience and outdoors adventure (beach, horseback ridding, wine tasting, biking, among many others) only 50 minutes away from the city of Buenos Aires.
History, beach and something else. Colonia de Sacramento, (Uruguay) capital of the county of Colonia, bathed by the waters of de Rio de la Plata, only (1hs) from the city of Buenos Aires.Listed as “World Heritage“ by the UNESCO (6-XII-1995), for its cultural and natural value.
The main points of interest are located in Historical District (or casco viejo).  Followi this propossed route, it will allow you to enjoy all the highlights you can’t miss: Puerta de Campo / Calle de los Suspiros / Museo Portugués / Convento de San Francisco / Museo Municipal / Casa de Nacarello / Casa del Virrey / Archivo Regional / Museo Indígena / Casa Portuguesa / Museo Español / Bastión del Carmen / Iglesia Matriz. Also minutes away is the Plaza de Toros Real de San Carlos, the Museo Paleontológico, the Arenisca and El Calabres beaches. On sunny spring or summer days, is a must walking by the promenade “Rambla Costanera” and enjoy the sights and sunsets.

If interested on reading more on Colonia del Sacramento and following my travel post on this charming destination, please check the following links: Colonia del Sacramento / BUQUEBUS Speed Ferry / La Casa de los Limoneros / Casa los Jazmines. Also check my PHOTO Album on Colonia del Sacramento.
(*) Colonia del Sacramento. For bookings or inquiries do not hesitate to contact me. carlos@carlosmelia.com | 347.944.0026 | 212.399.6161 | Toll Free US. 800.729.7472 ext 205. CM