$20K Stolen In Brazen Miami Hotel Room Theft

Courtesy Local10.com

As a rule of thumb, it’s not a good idea to travel with anything you can’t afford to lose. The latest example of that comes from Miami Beach, where last month a bold thief got off with $20,000 in goods from a hotel room. Amazingly, he didn’t even have to force entry. A housekeeper let him wander right in after he flashed a hotel key card and told her it was his mother’s room.

The man ransacked the room and found $1,800 in cash and $10,000 in jewelry. He stowed the loot and some other items — including an iPad and credit cards — in a suitcase. Then he waltzed away with the bounty.

This is a good reminder that hotel rooms can easily be compromised. While this perp found a way to casually stroll in and out, thieves can easily pick door locks — even the ones with plastic key cards that used to seem so innovative. And hotel safes aren’t as secure as one might hope. When you’re in the lobby or out and about, be sure to keep your hotel room number to yourself so would-be thieves can’t target you. In fact, whenever possible, the best thing to do is to just leave your valuables at home. It’s just never a good idea to attract too much attention.

[via Local10.com]

Polo Anyone? A Quick Guide To The World-Class Sport

The Miami Beach Polo World Cup is an annual event that draws players and spectators from around the world. Each year, more than 10,000 fans and competitors come from South America, Russia, Switzerland, Malaysia and other countries to be in and be seen at the world-class event. Done Miami-style, complete with fund-raising events, exclusive parties and fashion shows, tickets run up to $450 for a VIP pass. But unlike many other south Florida events, this one also has free general admission, enabling just about anybody to experience the Miami social scene.

Still, like experiencing other events while traveling, knowing a little of what polo is all about is not a bad idea.

Beach Polo is a team sport, played on horseback where winning means scoring more points (goals) than the other team. Goals are scored by driving the brightly colored, inflatable ball between goalposts. Each game has four, seven-minute periods called chukkers. Each team has three players and they change horses (polo ponies actually) after each chukker. Two umpires watch for fouls granting free hits. Fouls occur mainly when one player crosses another player who is following the ball on its exact line of trajectory.
While polo dates back 2,500 years, Beach Polo is a Dubai-created event that started in 2004, with the Miami Beach event beginning in 2005.

Actually two events, the Women’s Polo Cup takes place on Thursday, April 25, featuring eight women’s teams in a one-day series of round-robin championship matches.

The three-day men’s tournament runs Friday April 27 through Sunday April 29 with six teams that include some of the world’s top-ranked players. Sponsored by Argentinean sports and leisure clothing manufacturer La Martina, this year’s tournament will feature Miami’s DJ Irie, whose Irie Foundation will be an official beneficiary non-profit organization alongside Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami.

Beach polo is a lot like arena polo, but other forms include cowboy polo, elephant polo, camel polo, cycle polo, canoe polo and kayak polo as we see in this video:

[Photo credit – The Polo Life]

8 Strategies For Avoiding The Spring Break Crowds

For the college crowd, spring break typically means one thing: raging parties. For everyone else, however, spring break brings on more of a raging headache.

Those traveling at the same time as the party crowd are faced with a number of dramas, ranging from laying wide awake at night listening to thumping music piercing the paper-thin walls of their hotel room, to having to explain to their seven-year-old why those scantily-clad college kids are puking on the sidewalk. Put up with it long enough and spring break has the ability to break down even the most tolerant traveler.

Is there any hope of avoiding the chaos? Thankfully, the answer is yes – I’ve certainly done it and lived to tell the tale. So, whether you forgot to check the school calendar when making your travel plans or you simply want to take a relaxing family vacation while the little ones are off from school, the good news is there are lots of steps you can take to avoid running into the spring breakers.1. Head to a city. If you still have some flexibility in your travel plans, then pick a destination that’ll allow you to avoid the partygoers. The majority of spring breakers are fleeing the metropolises and heading to sunny, sandy spots, which means now is a great time to visit a city.

2. Steer clear of party beaches. If you’re headed to a seaside destination, beware that certain beaches will be packed with partygoers and plan your stay accordingly. For example, if you go to Miami, you’ll want to avoid South Beach or Miami Beach and pick a quieter spot like Key Biscayne or Mid Beach to base yourself in instead.

3. Choose your hotel wisely. Even if you’re headed to a destination known for attracting spring breakers, you can often avoid the revelry as long as you keep away from party hotels – venues full of college kids there to enjoy the pool parties, live entertainment, and music around the clock. You can figure out which hotels are geared specifically to the party crowd by hunting down the spring break website for that destination. For example, you can see which hotels are set up for the event in Cancun here, and at Daytona Beach here.

4. Arm yourself with noise-canceling devices. No matter how well you research your hotel, you might not be able to prevent a group of noisy merry-makers from setting up camp in the room above you. So to be on the safe side, bring along some earplugs and even a white noise machine to muffle any sound. If you’re a business traveler or need to get work done while you’re in your hotel, noise-canceling headphones can be a lifesaver. It’s also worth asking the hotel to put you in a quiet corner of the hotel, far from any college kids, when checking in.

5. Wake up early. If you want to sightsee and enjoy the destination in peace, get up before the spring break crowd. Most of the partiers stay up late and sleep in the next morning nursing their hangovers, so by getting up earlier you can beat the crowds. Morning is also a good time to enjoy the popular party beaches before the crowds, kegs and DJs invade later in the day.

6. Do activities spring breakers tend to avoid. While many attractions will appeal to spring breakers and ordinary travelers alike, there are still plenty of things you can do where you won’t find a partier for miles. Examples include enjoying a round of golf, a quiet afternoon of fishing, or a private boat ride.

7. Head to the quieter watering holes. The party crowd will be busy hitting up nightclubs and bars offering kegs of beer and mixed drinks by the yard glass, so if you’re looking to sip a quiet drink or two, steer clear of these venues. A much better option is to head to wine bars, intimate cocktail lounges, vineyards and bars attached to restaurants. If you really want to go to one of the popular clubs or bars in town, check their event schedule and those of nearby venues. Depending on where the spring break action is on a given night, some venues can be pulsating and others can become ghost towns – which might be exactly what you’re looking for.

8. Research where the locals hang out. Particularly when it comes to the international destinations, many cities have a main tourist drag that’s lined with resorts and entertainment geared towards travelers (and in the case of spring break, the partiers) and a separate part of the city where the locals tend to congregate. I once visited Cancun, Mexico, during spring break (but not actually for spring break) and was able to avoid the party crowd by spending time at the beaches frequented by the locals and the downtown plazas few tourists ventured into. As an added bonus, these areas had a more authentic vibe, and the food, drinks and accommodation were significantly cheaper.

Have you traveled during spring break? Were you able to escape the party crowds?

[Photo credit: Flickr user BluEyedA73; martinvarsavsky; Fevi Yu; alexbrn]

Playboy makes a play for South Beach hotel

There’s a whole new kind of sexy coming to Miami’s hotel scene.

Rumor has it, Playboy wants to buy out the struggling Sagamore hotel giving the Playboy Bunnies and of course, paying hotel guests, a new place to call home (at least for a night).

The Sagamore, located on trendy Collins Avenue, has apparently missed its last three mortgage payments, and Playboy wants to come to its rescue. And why not? The Sagamore has prided itself as an artsy, luxury South Beach hotel complete with 93 one- and two-bedroom suites, a penthouse and 900-square-foot bungalow suites with spiral staircases and connecting bedrooms, which I can only imagine mirrors something similar to the Playboy mansion.

At the news of the Sagamore’s $31.5 million foreclosure lawsuit, Playboy put plans in motion to market a version of its popular Las Vegas Playboy Club in South Beach. Playboy founder and icon Hugh Hefner, and his brood of beauties, are said to be adding their own redecorating on the hotel suites. Guests willing to pay a premier could sleep in a redesigned Hugh Hefner suite.

What are the chances Hef brings his riveting E! TV Show “The Girl’s Next Door” to South Beach? Seems likely… if plans for the Playboy takeover go forward, the Sagamore will trade in its lavish art scene for bunny-clad waitresses and VIP lounges, according to reports in Florida’s Sun Sentinel.

No official announcement has been made but you can be sure we’re watching this transaction closely. If the Playboy financing goes through, things could get even steamier on South Beach.

Photo credit: Caballero, Miller/Getty

Largest swimsuit photo shoot ever in Miami Beach

If you’re between ages 18 and 34 and want a free Old Navy bikini, it’s yours–if you are female. All you have to do is show up at Nikki Beach in Miami Beach, Florida this Friday, April 18, and be prepared to hang out with hundreds of other bikini clad women as part of a Cosmopolitan magazine promotion. Oh, yeah, you’ll be getting your picture taken.

The magazine wants to break the Guinness World Record for the largest swimsuit photo shoot. Last year’s record breaker was 1,010, so this year’s aim is 1,200. Along with a free bathing suit give-a-way, there’s a day of frolic in the sun. You do need to come with your own bathing suit and gussied up with make-up. Here are the details, and registration information. Don’t forget sunscreen.

Okay, as much as this sort of thing sounds like an event that would get on my nerves, it might be fun and a fairly easy afternoon of entertainment if one doesn’t think about the tiny bit sexist and ageist quality about it. At least they didn’t say which body type is eligible. I’m more of a Spencer Tunick photo shoot type person where anyone and everyone can show up for the occasion.

This photo was taken at a store in Miami Beach in case you’re looking for a bathing suit in a pinch.