HAWAII PRICES & TWITTER...NIAGARA TOWER, HOLLAND AND TAHITI
Hey, this Twitter thing is getting some solid attention.
I posted a "tweet" the other day after reading an American Automobile Association study that said the average accomodation cost in Hawaii was $675 U.S. I didn't realize it was a 2008 study, not a 2009 report, so mea culpa on that one. But the numbers still made no sense to me.
Anyway, my Twitter comments got picked up by the AAA folks, and PR Manager Heather Hunter called me about it. I'm looking at her comments now, and she says the 2008 Vacation Costs Survey had been done every year since 1950 and that the numbers were based on rates supplied by AAA Approved lodgings, covering a full year of standard, two-person occupancy room rates or "rack" rates, and didn't include special deals. I still find the numbers hard to believe, but the point really is what prices are like today, not in 2008.
Hunter says they now put together a "Leisure Travel Index" to reflect current rates in the marketplace, which sounds a lot more accurate. According to AAA's queries for five Fridays in July for AAA Three-Diamond properties in Hawaii, the average in Honolulu was $241 per night and on Maui it was $254. That's a lot closer to reality, but still seems to be skewed by high-cost resorts. If you go onto a site such as expedia.ca, you can find Honolulu hotels close to Waikiki Beach that are more than adequate for less than $100 per night. And you can find condos in desirable Maui regions such as Kahana or Kihei for $125 U.S. or even less. On the other hand, you'll have to pay a lot more for the big resorts in Kapalua or Wailea.
AAA says it's offering three-night Hawaii vacations from Pleasant Holidays starting at $114 for accomodations in Honolulu, $152 on Maui, $155 on the Big Island and $169 on Kauai, which might be the prettiest island of them all.
So that sets the record straight, at least for now.
They like to do things big down in Niagara Falls, and now comes what's said to be the tallest hotel tower in Canada. The Hilton Hotel and Suites Niagara Falls is a whopping 53 storeys and boasts 500 suites, which is a nice feature for families.
They also have a presidential suite, which sounds pretty spiffy with a living room, fireplace and refreshment bar. (It's not opening until July).
The 53 storeys, officials said, makes it the 10th tallest hotel in North America.
Like to impress your girlfriend or significant other with a stay? Go to www.53floors.com for a chance to win a night in the presidential suite or a gift certificate for $200 for dinner at one of the hotel restaurants.
TORONTO COSMOPOLITAN SPA
Can't make it to the Falls? The Cosmopolitan Hotel in downtown Toronto is hyping their "five-star Shizen Spa," which they say offers floors of Brazilian walnut, plenty of foliage and an eastern/Japanese influence.
(Why is that people in North America always seem to like spas with a Japanese influence? When my back's bothering me and I go for a medical massage in Don Mills, they often play Japanese-sounding music and it seems peaceful and kind of exotic. If I went for a massage in Japan would they play The Tragically Hip or Gordon Lightfoot so patrons can relax? Probably not. But Diana Krall would work.)
Anyway, the Shizen Spa sounds pretty good and they offer a wide variety of treatments. Go to www.shizen.ca for information. And listen for those Japanese CD's in the treatment rooms.
I missed the performance of the Netherlands Dance Theatre, but I did make it to a nice cocktail reception at the Rosedale home of the Dutch consul-general on Thursday night. There was lovely food and champagne, and lots of news about happenings in Holland this summer.
I hadn't heard, but the Dutch Queen and the president of Russia will attend opening celebrations of the Hermitage Amsterdam Museum on Friday, June 19, the day before the public opening of the museum. The Hermitage Amsterdam is the first branch of the Russian State Museum Hermitage in St. Petersburg.
The Amsterdam version will organize temporary exhibitions chose from the collections of the Hermitage and other Russian museums, thus giving more artistic options in a city that already has the Van Gogh museum and the famous Rijksmuseum. The opening exhibition at the Hermitage Amsterdam will feature more than 1,800 objects telling the story of the court life of Russian tsars, including the Romanov throne, Faberge jewelry, gala dresses and the last tsarian's grand piano.
Go to www.hermitage.nl for more information.
There also are other art happenings across Holland this summer. Check www.hollandartcities.com for more details.
Speaking at the reception on Thursday, the director of North America's Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions, Conrad van Tiggelen, said visitors to Holland might want to visit The Hague, which is home to the Dance Theatre, the International Court of Justice and the Dutch Parliament. There's also antique shopping and fine dining, he said.
"The Hague is like Ottawa," he explained, "but with the flair and chic of Oakville."
The room positively erupted with laughter.
Nice line, sir.
The polls are now open for the first round of Tahiti Tourisme's "Invest in Your Love" video contest, which will award the first of six trips to the south Pacific. The contest launched in April, with more than 25 folks sending in original videos on why they deserve the trip of a lifetime.
Folks can now check out the videos and vote on them at www.investinyourlove.com.
Voting is open until June 25. Videos that get the most votes will move on as finalists and an expert panel will select a winner.
There are still five more contest periods for people to enter their videos, so check the web site for details. And you can check the site for special deals and packages for ordinary travellers who don't want to submit a video.