Thursday, April 26, 2012

Two Beautiful Vacation Destinations


 Hvar, Croatia

This island off the Dalmatian Coast features a mild climate, beautiful beaches, warm winters, idyllic vacation rentals, views and celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Stephen Spielberg, King Abdullah of Jordan, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Bill Gates, Prince Harry and other members of the rich and fabulous. Popular with Europeans, it's been off the map as far as Americans are concerned. There are few places that match Hvar for its natural beauty, rich history and lovely architecture. In addition to a vibrant nightlife and plenty of fun tourist activities, you'll find vast fields of lavender, ancient stands of olive trees and vineyards, and a respect for nature among the people and businesses. Treat yourself to locally produced wine and olives at an intimate inn.  Hvar is widely considered to be one of the 10 most beautiful islands in the world, and its status among celebrities for decades bears witness to its charm. 

Kefalonia, Greece

This old-fashioned, unspoiled Greek island is rich with romantic views. What it lacks in major tourism attractions is made up for in isolated, private beaches, romantic boating, charming local taverns and eateries, and the feeling that you're a world away from the stress of everyday living. You can explore numerous villages tucked away on this verdant island. Many of the buildings are modern, built since a 1953 earthquake. It's the largest of the Ionian Islands, and is widely thought of as one of the most beautiful and authentic. Enjoy impressive landscapes, long, sandy beaches, beautiful churches, traditional villages, Venetian castles, and a National Park.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Get the Most for Your Dollar at These 3 Foreign Destinations


Just because the economy's a bit tough doesn't mean you can't travel abroad. There are many places around the world where you can get the most from your US dollar. Here are three countries to consider, with links to some nice vacation rentals.

Belize

This tropical paradise on the Yucatan peninsula is quickly becoming a retirement hotspot. Some retirees are living there tax free on less than $25,000 a year. Take a trip and check it out--a vacation rental is a great way to get a feel for what a place is really like. The Belize currency is pegged 2-to-1 to the US dollar, and the conversion rates are good. You'll find national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, marine reserves and all the natural beauty you can imagine. After a day of exploring Mayan ruins, you can relax by the beautiful blue Caribbean Sea in your Belize vacation rental.

Greece

Don't be frightened off by Greece's economic troubles. Tourism remains strong, and Greece is filled with so much to see and do. It's a country with rich past stretching back to the dawn of Democracy. Greece welcomes foreign visitors, offering unquestioning hospitality and ensuring that your visit and stay in a Greece vacation rental will be one to remember for a lifetime. 


Poland

One of Europe's best kept secrets. Warsaw offers great cuisine, cafes and clubs that stay open all night. Just a few miles away from the hustle and bustle, you can find a quaint Old Town with peasant women selling flowers. The Northern part of the country features 14th century castles and remnants of the powerful Teutonic Knights. Along the way you'll find medieval town centers. With it's recent membership in the European Union, Poland has been getting an influx of cash that's goon towards roads, shopping centers and other improvements. But, no matter where you find your Poland vacation rental, you're never far from the country's bucolic roots.



Monday, April 16, 2012

Private Jets and Vacation Rentals-A First Class Combination

How's this for experiencing luxury without spending an arm and a leg: You can save up to 50% on private jet service for your next vacation. When you combine that with a stay in a beautiful vacation rental, you'll truly be traveling in style--for less.

At EmptyLegMarket.com, private jet operators sell chartered flights for as much as half off.

"Go ahead, indulge," said Elliott Schwartz, Director of Operations for EmptyLegMarket, an online database where travelers can find unsold segments on a private jet's route. Jet operators are eager to fill these flights, which they refer to as "empty legs."

For example, a recent flight from Houston to Los Angeles on a 6-seat jet cost just $1,500--that's $250 per person. A recent flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on a 4-seat jet cost just $500.

In many cases, that's going to be far less than a commercial flight in coach, and less than a commercial flight in business or first class. Plus, you avoid many of the hassles associated with flying--long lines through security, crowds, non-weather related delays and more. In some cases, it can make traveling with children or people with special needs much easier.

"These flights don't just originate out of hubs," Schwartz said. People are flying from popular vacation destinations such as in California, Florida, Texas and other warm weather states.

"Jet operators are eager to fill these empty legs," Schwartz said. "If a jet is chartered one way to a destination, returning to its home base empty is a lost revenue opportunity."

They're also a great option for last minute flights. While booking a last minute flight through a commercial airline will likely cost a great deal, snagging an empty leg on a private jet could actually be a lot cheaper.

Another advantage is that you can work with the operator to find departure times that are convenient for you.

Whether your time is limited and you want to make the most of it, or you've got all the time in the world and simply want to travel to your vacation rental in style, an empty leg private jet may be the ticket.

Fore more information, go to EmptyLegMarket.com.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Palm Coast, St. Augustine and Daytona Beach--Florida Vacation Paradises

Ocean view and beach access
in this St. Augustinevacation rental.
When you think about vacationing in Florida, Miami, Disney and Key West might come to mind first. While those areas are great, consider Florida's Northeast coast and the exciting and fun beaches near St. Augustine, Palm Coast and Daytona. You'll also find plenty of Atlantic coast vacation rentals.

St. Augustine. You'll find plenty to see and do. Historic St. Augustine, the oldest permanently settled city in the United States, dates its founding back to 1565. It's filled with Spanish Renaissance architecture and memorable landmarks such as the St. Augustine Lighthouse, Castillo de San Marcos and the Fountain of Youth. You can also visit nearby Marineland, the world's first oceanarium. It offers interactive programs such as swimming with dolphins’ adventures and touch and feed experiences.

Daytona Beach. At Daytona Beach consistently tops the "America's Best Beaches" lists that come out every few years. You'll enjoy 23 miles of beautiful beach that are always free and open to sunbathers and swimmers. Cars are allowed in designated areas (depending on tides) from sunrise to sunset. There's also the world famous Daytona International Speedway, the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse, shopping, dining and plenty of other attractions. For example, just south of Daytona is the Kennedy Space Center, where you can learn all about America's space program.

Palm Coast. If golf is your bag, then pay a visit to Palm Coast. You'll find many top-level courses, including Hammock Dunes, a Reese Jones designed championship golf course set in 900 acres of oak and pine forest. There's also the Flagler Beach & Pier, a quiet and quaint beach town with six miles of beach and a lovely beachfront business district. You'll also be right between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach, making Palm Coast a great home base for exploring the area.


Monday, April 9, 2012

3 Tips for Enjoying 5-Star Travel on a Budget


You can travel in style no matter what your budget. Here are three easy  tips to help you enjoy a 5-star vacation without spending a bundle.

Tip #1. Travel during the should and off season. While this will vary from location to locations, travel general dips during the fall when people are more focused on going back to school, winding down from summer vacations, and perhaps simply enjoying great fall weather in their area. Even if all of those reason apply to you, you can still book an exciting weekend at an exclusive, high-end vacation rental for a weekend and save big.

Tip #2. The travel business is going social. There's been a big push by just about every company in the world to increase presence on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. These social media sites provide an easy, low-cost way for companies to announce special deals and incentives to a wide audience. Plus, they often offer "friends and followers only" discounts that aren't available to the general public. So go ahead and get on Facebook and Like Perfect Places, your favorite airline, destinations, rental car companies and any other websites associated with travel. You're sure to come across great deals. For example, Perfect Places has already given away two $250 VISA gift cards--that's cash two lucky winners can spend on their next vacations!

Tip #3. Stay in a vacation rental. A 5-star vacation rental can be a destination all on its own. Many come with amenities you simply won't find at a hotel or even a resort, such as private swimming pools right on the beach, mountain chalets nestled amid the beauty of nature, and cool bungalows in hip neighborhoods. Be sure to research your rental carefully, and ask the property manager or owner questions about the property. It's easier than you think to enjoy deluxe accommodations on a budget.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Paint Like a Pro--3 Painting Tips Every Property Owner Should Know


There's nothing like a fresh coat of paint to give your vacation rental a new, clean and exciting look. Hiring painters cost money, but by investing a little time and learning some tricks of the trade, you can do a professional-looking job yourself and save a bundle.

Organize and Prep

Take stock of your existing supplies. Placing them all in the middle of your work area will help you start off right. Gather your brushes, rollers, hammer, screwdrivers, rollers, pans and brushes, drop cloths, paint can opener, trim tape, etc. You'll then know what you need when you go buy your paint. Painting a room is not a one-day job. Plan on leaving enough time to get furniture out of the way, pictures, mirrors and switch plates down, cleaning walls and corners, sanding down glossy finishes, repairing cracks and holes, and taping around the trim. Make sure the surfaces you're painting are clean and smooth. Don't rush this step. You'll want to get to the painting quickly, but resist taking shortcuts on preparation. It's one of the most important steps a professional painter takes, and one of the reasons their services cost more.

Key tip: If it you can remove it, do so. Don't think you'll just paint around a curtain rod. That takes a skilled hand. The extra five or 10 minutes it takes to remove these items will be well worth the effort.

Brushes

Brushes with synthetic bristles are for water-based or latex paints, though they can also be used with oil-based paint. Brushes with natural bristles should be used with oil-based paints only. Brushes with tapered, densely packed bristles are for cutting in corners and painting a straighter edge. Avoid foam brushes. While they're inexpensive, they're difficult to control and provide an inferior result. Rollers come in a variety of naps, which provide different textures when you apply the paint. The smaller the nap, the smoother the finish. Painting pads are a great way to quickly paint corners. Be careful not to load the pad with too much paint. Otherwise, you'll have unsightly drips.

Paint and Primer

Latex (water-based) paints are the most common. They're environmentally friendly, easy to apply and easy to clean up. Latex paints dry quickly (about an hour). Resist the temptation to apply a second coat too quickly, however. Try to leave enough time to apply the second coat the next day. Oil-based paints are great for trim and cabinets. Today, they're even environmentally friendly and non-toxic. However, drying time is longer, depending on your climate.

Prior to paining, you'll need to apply a coat of primer. Primer blocks stains and other color imperfections, improves adhesion and cuts down on the number of coats of paint you'll need. Key tip: tint the primer with a small amount of the final color.

The key to a professional-looking paint job is taking time to prepare your surfaces and then taking time to apply the paint correctly. Use the right paint and materials, don't rush the job, clean up after your mistakes, and your vacation rentals will look fantastic--for less.


Check out more tips here.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Enjoy the 'Pura Vida' with a Costa Rica Vacation





Today's post comes from Mercy Travel, experts on Costa Rica vacations. Vist their website and be sure to check out the wide selection of Costa Rica vacation rentals at Perfect Places.

What is the perfect vacation destination?  A lot of people would answer that question with two words, Costa Rica!  

There are many reasons why this small peaceful country in Central America is an ideal destination for your vacation.  Costa Rica, named by Christopher Columbus, means “Rich Coast” in Spanish.     

Located between the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, Costa Rica is the most visited nation in the Central American region.  It is a small country, blessed with an ideal climate all year around and offers a quality of life unparalleled in the Western Hemisphere.

People who come to Costa Rica usually come back.  Some fall in love with Costa Rica and move here permanently.  Others purchase a second home away from home.

Friendly Costa Ricans will greet you with a smile and the words, “Pura Vida!” – “the pure life!” - Costa Rica, one of the most bio-diverse nations in the world and was a pioneer in ecotourism.  More than 25% of Costa Rica’s territories are protected as easily accessible conservation areas and national parks.  And it is now recognized as one of the few countries with true ecotourism. 

Two oceans, endless beaches, mystic rain forests, enchanting cloud forests, active volcanoes, awesome waterfalls, relaxing hot springs, winding  rivers, exciting white water rapids, picturesque villages, romantic sunsets, and a tropical year around climate,  all combine to make Costa Rica the most magical tourist destination you will ever experience. 

The country is easy to explore as national parks, protected areas, and favorite attractions, are easily accessible by all transportation methods. Many international airlines also offer daily connections from the United States, Europe and South America.

Other advantages of the friendly democratic country of Costa Rica include a highly educated work force, a highly developed telecommunications infrastructure, and the fact that English is widely spoken.

There is something for everyone in Costa Rica.  Azure blue oceans and abundant sea life provide opportunities to enjoy a multitude of water activities.  There is excellent scuba diving at world renowned Cocos Island, snorkeling or surfing off the mainland, plus sailing and white water rafting. Costa Rica is also viewed as one of the world’s finest fishing destinations.

Land activities include hiking, bicycling, bird watching, rain forest exploring to see exotic wildlife, white water rafting, inspecting active volcanoes, or flying through the trees on a zip line or an aerial tram.

Romance is always in the air in Costa Rica, a favorite choice for weddings, honeymoons or romantic getaways.  There is no greater joy than exploring a beach together on horseback, nothing as enchanting as swimming in a blue lagoon under a dazzling waterfall, or anything as beautiful as a breathtaking sunset sailing trip in Manuel Antonio Bay.

Many nesting beaches for the giant leatherback sea turtle can be found along the coast.  Several times a year, female turtles come ashore in large numbers for mass nesting episodes or, “arribadas”.  During the peak nesting season more than 100,000 nests may be made during a single arribada, providing one of many wildlife conservation opportunities available in Costa Rica.  

Some people are just looking for a vacation where they can relax.  Costa Rica is also an excellent place for rest and relaxation. 

Whatever one’s heart desires, can be found in Costa Rica – the perfect vacation destination.

Mercy Travel specializes in Costa Rica Vacations - Visit them on the web for more details.