Give Back While Traveling With These Voluntourism Hotel Packages And Programs

Just because Earth Day has passed doesn’t mean we should stop doing our part. In the spirit of goodwill, these hotels are offering voluntourism packages and programs for guests.

Limelight Hotel
Aspen, Colorado

Throughout the summer, the Limelight Hotel is helping guests get their hands dirty and help the environment. In partnership with the Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, guests will be able to do trail work in the beautiful White River National Forest, which spans millions of acres. Volunteer tasks include trail maintenance, trail construction, invasive species removal and more. Hotel guests who participate will receive transportation, a packed lunch and beverages and a complimentary beer in the hotel lounge when they return.

Eight hour day volunteer projects are available, as well as sunset volunteer times from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Rates start at $150 per night during the summer. Call 970-544-6259 or click here to book. Westin St. John Resort and Villas
St. John, U.S.Virgin Islands

The Westin St. John Resort and Villas, a luxurious tropical resort, is offering incentives to guests who volunteer at the nearby Virgin Islands National Park. Volunteers will get a $100 resort credit, as well as transfers to and from the park. Project tasks include maintaining park trails and ruins and cleaning up beaches and coastlines. To sign up, you can click here or show up on Tuesday or Thursday at 8:00 am. Simply present your volunteer voucher at the front desk of the hotel to receive the credit.

Offer available through December 31, 2012. Rates start at $399 per night based, on double occupancy. Call 888-627-7206 or click here to book.

Hyatt Regency Waikki Beach Resort and Spa
Honolulu, Hawaii

The Hyatt Regency Waikki Beach Resort and Spa believes everyone should do their part. To help motivate guests to volunteer, the property is offering a Lokahi Package, or Lokahi Group Meetings, which rewards meeting planners, attendees and the community. The incentive, which also encourages groups to spend time volunteering with local organizations to help team building, raised almost $30,000 in 2009 and 2010 for the Waikiki Community Center. Perks for the meeting planner include double Hyatt Gold Passport bonus points and a complimentary Pohaku Lomi Massage. Attendees will receive free in-room Wi-Fi, 15% off spa treatments, a complimentary lei greeting and a special room rate for five days before and after the meeting. Additionally, community benefits include 5% of profits going to a local nonprofit of the meeting group’s choice and help from volunteers.

Offer valid until December 24, 2012. Packages start at $149 per night. Call 808-237-6200 or click here to book. Use promo code LOKAHI when booking.

YMCA of the Rockies
Estes Park, Colorado

If you’re planning on staying in the Rockies for at least six weeks, YMCA Estes Park Center and YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch offer free room and board for volunteers. Volunteers stay in a range of accommodation types, like cabins, hotel-style lodges and even yurts. There are myriad jobs to choose from, like instructing crafts, leading hikes and maintaining trails. While returning volunteers can stay for short periods of time, new volunteers must commit six weeks from September to mid-May, and 11 weeks from May to August.

Click here to learn more.

Loews Coronado Bay Resort
San Diego, California

Through a partnership with the California State Parks and California State Parks Foundation, Loews Coronado Bay Resort is able to offer guests a volunteer vacation at Silver Strand State Beach. Participants will get a tour of the beaches rare coastal habitat and the chance to take part in a restoration project or beach clean-up. The property also includes a 1% donation fee to the project in their room rate, which has helped raise over $300,000 since 2008.

There is no charge to take part in the volunteer vacation, which is offered on Saturdays and Sundays, from 9:30 am to 11:30 am. Room rates begin at $159 per night. Call 800-235-6397 or click here to book.

Mandarin Oriental
Miami, Florida

To help guests have a worthwhile vacation, Mandarin Oriental is offering a community service package that includes a trip to the Everglades, morning volunteer work with park rangers and a tour of the park. Volunteer tasks range from mulching trees, weeding invasive plants and working on recycling projects. Moreover, guests will receive perks like a free hybrid car rental for the day and a 90-minute Thai Herbal Compress Ritual in the spa. For each treatment received, a native tree gets donated to the Everglades.

Package is $2,200 based on three nights, with double occupancy. Call 866-888-6780 or click here to book.

The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands

While the entire Ritz-Carlton Hotel brand participates in a Give Back Getaway program, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman adds a special angle to theirs. The property’s Blue Iguana Recovery Program Giveback Getaway allows guests to join employees in half-day voluntourism projects. Volunteers will work with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment to help save the indigenous and endangered Grand Cayman Blue Iguana. Tasks include feeding the animals, assisting with the shelter and using GPS to help track the iguanas.

Zarco, the iguana pictured above, also has an inspirational success story. He was the first male Blue Iguana adopted by the hotel, through their relationship with the Blue Iguana Recovery Program. As an alpha male in the park, he bred with many females, and was successfully released back into his native habitat last year.

The project is available from November through August, for groups as small as two and as large as 15. A fee of $100 per adult, and $50 per child aged 12-15 covers transportation to Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, and a donation to the Blue Iguana Recovery Program. Room rates start at $383.20 per night. Click here to book.

Sandals Resorts

To help improve literacy in local children, Sandals Resorts is featuring a Reading Road Trip program. Guests of any Sandals Resorts, Beaches Resorts or Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts can take part. The program lasts for two hours, and takes volunteers in local Caribbean communities to visit adopted schools in Saint Lucia, Antigua, Bahamas, Turks & Caicos or Jamaica to work with small groups of children on their reading skills.

The cost to participate is $20 for adults, and free for children 8 to 12. This includes round-trip transportation and all supplies. Click here for more information, and click here to book.

Relieve Your Tax Day Stress By Taking Advantage Of These Travel Deals And Events

Do you dread Tax Day? While you’ll still have to file your income tax returns, these leaders in hospitality are making April 17 more fun for travelers.

Loews Hotels

This April, Loews Hotels, which features properties across the United States, is collaborating with mixologists Tad Carducci and Paul Tanguay from Tippling Bros. to create a special menu for tax season. The hotel hopes to give guests a break during the stressful time by offering concoctions such as The Tax Audit, with American moonshine, simple syrup, club soda and fresh lemon juice, and The Tax Refund, which includes Woodford Reserve Bourbon, fresh lemon juice, honey syrup and shaken bitters strained over crushed ice with a cherry and orange garnish. The drinks will be available from April 2 to April 30.

Call 1-800-23-LOEWS or click here to book. Laguna Vista Lodge

Located in Eagle Nest, New Mexico, Laguna Vista Lodge immerses visitors in a beautiful mountain setting and allows them to relax in nature. To help relieve some of the stress associated with Tax Day, the hotel is offering a “Tax Day Special,” which allows guests to stay at the lodge for three nights, with April 15 costing only $10.40 plus tax.

Call 1-800-821-2093 or click here to book.

Inn at Riverbend

Inn at Riverbend is a charming bed and breakfast in Pearisburg, Virginia, located near the Appalachian Trail, the New River and Virginia Tech. This Tax Day, the property is offering a “Tax Day Refund” package. Guests who book a room for April 15 and then stay on Sunday and Monday will receive a $75 refund on the spot.

Enter promo code TAX DAY REFUND when making a reservation. Click here to book.

Travaasa Hãna

Located in the town of Hãna on Maui, Hawaii, the Travaasa Hãna is a luxury experiential property set right on Kaihalulu Bay. To help guests relax during the tax month, the hotel is offering special classes, programs and pricing. First, there is their Tax Relief Menu, which includes an array of $15 offerings like a 30-minute personal training session, a one-on-one yoga and nutrition workshop, an extension from a 50-minute massage to an 80-minute massage or a select bottle of wine. Moreover, Travaasa Hãna is featuring a 15-course tasting menu with wine pairing for $150 per person.

Call 855-868-7283 or click here to book.

Travaasa Austin

Travaasa Austin in Austin, Texas, is set near the beautiful Balcones Canyonlands Preserve and tries to get guests active in nature. Just like their sister property above, in honor of Tax Day they will be featuring a $15 experience menu and 15-course tasting menu and wine pairing for $150 per person.

Call 855-868-7283 or click here to book.

Americano Restaurant at Hotel Vitale

Hotel Vitale in San Francisco, California, is a luxury property set right on the water. In honor of Tax Day, their onsite Americano Restaurant will be offering a “Tax Relief Special.” From now until April 15, guests will be able to purchase bottles of wine for half price from Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The restaurant is famous for its delicious Italian cuisine, created using locally-sourced ingredients, which can be perfectly paired with their vino offerings.

Call 415-278-3777 or click here to make a reservation.

Grant Grill Lounge at the U.S. Grant Hotel

Located in downtown San Diego, California, the U.S. Grant Hotel has been a luxury property and city icon since 1910. This April 17, their onsite Zagat-winning restaurant, Grant Grill Lounge, is offering a specialty cocktail for only $4.17. To receive the discount, patrons must say the password, “DEDUCTION.” While sipping your libation, nibble on exquisite locally-sourced dishes like Jumbo Diver Scallops, California Sea Bass or Niman Ranch Pork Cheeks.

Call 619-744-2077 or click here to book.

New York Water Taxi

New York Water Taxi provides “entertaining, stimulating, and enlightening ways to see New York City’s dazzling skyline, celebrated bridges and lush waterfront parks while maintaining a community-conscious fleet that honors [New York’s] cherished waterways.” For those who can show proof of filing their taxes on April 15 and 16, they will receive a buy one, get one free ticket for the Statue of Liberty Express. This features a one-hour guided tour to see Lady Liberty as well as all day access to their Hop On Hop Off service.

Tickets can be purchased at either South Street Seaport, Pier 17, or West 44th Street, Pier 84.

Flat Creek Estate

Flat Creek Estate, located in Marble Falls, Texas, is an expansive vineyard and winery that regularly hosts festivals and events. To help people get their mind off Tax Day, the estate is hosting a Tax Day Festival on April 15, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Guests will get to relax in the country, stroll through beautiful wildflowers and take a complimentary vineyard tour. Furthermore, discounted food and wine will be available, including a glass of wine and flatbread pizza from their wood-fired oven for $15. There will also be $5 glasses of wine and $10 bottles.

Flat Creek Estate is located at 24912 Singleton Bend East. Call 512-267-6310 for more information.

Want to get away for Easter weekend? These U.S. hotels are offering holiday specials

Are you sick of doing the same thing every year for Easter? Why not make this holiday special and do a bit of traveling? These hotels are offering packages, parties, spa discounts, egg hunts, bountiful brunches, the chance to meet the Easter Bunny and more.

Sandestin Beach Hilton
Destin, Florida

The Sandestin Beach Hilton is a family friendly resort with an array of activities, like indulging in spa treatments, swimming, shopping, fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling. From April 6-8, the property will be celebrating Easter by hosting a huge “Eggstravaganza.” Easter basket deliveries from the Easter Bunny, a coloring contest, an egg hunt and Sunday brunch will all be part of the festivities. For the adults, the Serenity by the Sea Spa is selling Easter spa baskets for mom. If you purchase a gift certificate, you’ll also be able to choose a golden egg with a prize or discount inside.

Rates vary depending on when you book. Click here for more information or call 800-559-1805. Omni Bedford Springs Resort
Bedford, Pennsylvania

Located in the Allegheny Mountain region of Pennsylvania, the Omni Bedford Springs Resort is 216-room property immersed in nature. Eight natural hot springs, hiking and biking trails, fly fishing and outdoor sports are easily accessible. This Easter, the resort is offering an “Easter Adventures in the Alleghenies” package, which includes accommodations, a chocolate bunny, an Easter egg coloring class, live entertainment, an outdoor egg hunt, crafts, a visit by the Easter Bunny, and a massive brunch held in the immaculate Colonnade Ballroom.

Package rates start at $183.50 per night based on double occupancy. Click here to book.

Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa
Lake Placid, New York

Located in the center of the Adirondacks, Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa will place you in a mixture of beautiful, mountainous surroundings and luxurious indoor experiences. Guests can enjoy a picturesque nature hike before relaxing in the heated indoor pool or indulging in a spa treatment. The resort becomes even more alluring this Easter as it is featuring an “Easter at the Inn” deal. Not only do kids stay and eat free from April 6-8, but also there will be egg coloring, an Easter egg hunt, an Easter basket scavenger hunt, and a delicious, daily breakfast.

Package rate is $315 per night for a family of up to four people. Call 518-523-2544 or click here to book.

Abbey Resort
Fontana, Wisconsin

The Abbey Resort sits on the shores of Lake Geneva and features colorful gardens and well-manicured lawns. For the upcoming holiday, they will be hosting their annual Easter weekend celebration, complete with an Easter egg hunt, holiday contests, face painting, a petting zoo, balloon animals, a visit from the Easter Bunny, and a delicious brunch and children’s buffet with complimentary mimosas for the adults.

Room rates during Easter weekend start at $139 on Friday night and $149 on Saturday night, plus tax and resort fee per night. You can also stay the entire weekend for the BOGO rate of $139 on Friday and $69.50 on Saturday. Reservations for Easter brunch required. Please call 800-709-1323 or click here to book.

The Greenbrier
White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

A national historic landmark, The Greenbrier has been hosting guests since 1778. With this much experience in hospitality, it’s no wonder the property is throwing such a detailed Easter celebration, which they’re calling “the Greenbrier’s Holiday Hare.” Throughout the weekend, there will be a range of activities and events for people of all ages. Adults can enjoy art exhibits, wine tastings and seminars, and an adult egg hunt and roll. For the children, there is a kids’ fashion show, Easter egg hunt, dance party and an Easter puppet show. Likewise, fun for the whole family includes live music, family Jeopardy and an expansive buffet brunch. As an added bonus, the hotel is offering a $100 Resort Credit per room, per stay, and a 10% discount on select activities, tours, and classes.

Room rates during the weekend start at $430 per night based on double occupancy. Additionally, it is $20 per child sharing the room and $50 per additional adult. Call 866-976-3625 and mention promo code “EASTER” or click here.

The Langham, Boston
Boston, Massachusetts

For those who love luxurious weekends, The Langham, Boston features Italian marble bathrooms, plush bedding, an indoor heated swimming pool and the award-winning Chuan Body + Soul spa. This Easter, the hotel is making upscale travel more affordable by discounting rooms to $209 per night and offering complimentary access to Chuan Body + Soul to use the indoor pool, fitness center, sauna and whirlpool. Additionally, Café Fleuri will be hosting a special Easter Sunday brunch with a seafood station, carving and culinary station, omelets made-to-order, a kid’s selection, and more. Dine on house smoked maple cured salmon, cheese blintzes powdered with sugar, and apricot-glazed Easter ham while listening to live jazz. For the kids, face painting, caricature sketches and other Easter activities will be offered.

Brunch is $88 per adult, and $45 per child. For reservations, call 617-451-1900 extension 7125, or visit Click here to book a room.

The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa
Riverside, California

The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa is a 238-room hotel that occupies an entire city block and has been hosting celebrities, dignitaries, and luxury travelers since 1876. While many hotels feature kid-friendly programming for Easter, this property caters to adults with their “April Celebration” package from April 6-9. On Easter Sunday, Mission Inn will host a delicious brunch, with the Easter Bunny as a special guest. The package itself includes deluxe accommodations, Champagne, an Easter-inspired cupcake for two from Casey’s Cupcakes, $125 credit to spend on either Easter brunch or spa treatments and complimentary valet parking.

Packages are $419 all inclusive. Call 951-784-0300 or click here to book.

Meadowmere Resort
Ogunquit, Maine

Located on Maine’s southern coast, Meadowmere Resort is a family-run inn and a Certified Maine Environmental Leader Hotel. Along with enjoying the Freeport Outlets, Ogunquit Beach, Perkins Cove and Marginal Way, guests of the hotel can celebrate Easter weekend to the fullest with the property’s “Easter Egg-scapes.” The getaway includes Friday and Saturday night accommodations, a wine welcome for the adults, Easter crafts for the kids, a three-course dinner, live music on Saturday night, an Easter Sunday brunch and a late checkout of 1:00 pm. There will also be an egghunt on Sunday held at the nearby Wildlife Preservation Clay Hill Farm.

Packages start at $169 per person based on double occupancy. Call 800-633-8718 or click here to book.

10 of the world’s most unique vacation rentals

Imagine sleeping in the renovated fuselage of a vintage 727 airplane in Costa Rica. Or how about feeding giraffes over the breakfast table at a castle in Kenya? These one-of-a-kind lodging experiences, and others, are available through online vacation rental websites like Airbnb, and often for less than the cost of a shoebox room in a budget hotel in downtown Manhattan.

Take, for example, the following sampling of Airbnb’s unique vacation rental listings:
  • Boot and Breakfast (pictured at right). A childhood tale comes to life in Tasman, New Zealand. $225/night.
  • Romantic Igloo. Temperatures in Igloo Village Krvavec in Slovenia hover around 0-5 degrees Celsius – perfect for cuddling. $189/night.
  • Alone on your own Fiji Island. Really get away by booking the private Fijian island of Nanuku. $350/night.
  • Ecopod Boutique Retreat. A low-carbon pod designed in partnership with Zendrome, Berlin, in the woods of Appin, United Kingdom. $241/night.
  • Aircamp Furillen. A vintage Airstream on tiny Furillen Island in Sweden. $204/night.
Airbnb also groups their most notable listings into fun collections, like “Trees and Zzz’s” for treehouse lodgings, “Grape Expectations” for wine country accommodations and “I’m On A Boat” for, well, boats.

For 10 of Airbnb’s most unique vacation rentals, check out the gallery below.


Historical castle offers free wine on tap for guests

When thinking of castles, many people imagine kings and queens, old-world architecture, and decades of history. In New York, however, there is a castle that is not only a historical structure, but also a wine-lovers retreat.

The Belhurst Castle is located in the town of Geneva in the Finger Lakes region, overlooking Seneca Lake. Built in the 1800’s, it still contains beamed cathedral ceilings, mosaic tiled fireplaces, and period decor. And for the oenophiles, it is also home to the Belhurst Winery.

The winery itself has won numerous awards, such as Best New World Riesling, two Best in Class, two Gold, and one Platinum from the 2011 Jerry D. Mead’s New World International Wine Competition. Visitors to the winery can sample these elite wines as well as take part in an array of wine and dinner pairings.

Okay, so while having a castle on a winery isn’t too new of a concept, what is really cool about Belhurst is their wine spigot. For those staying at Our Chambers in the Castle, an on-site hotel, there is a complimentary wine tap built into the wall of the lobby that allows guests to enjoy a glass of wine whenever they please. Yes, you read that right. Free wine. On tap. For guests. Now, you can take in history while taking in a glass (or three!) of quality vino.