DealBase shows real honesty: displays worst hotel deals

In many ways, travel deal site DealBase does what lots of other sites do – they collect the best deals, create a comprehensive listing for them, and publish these deals in an easy to navigate way. But that is where the comparison ends. In searching for the best deals, DealBase also publishes what they consider to be the worst deals.

Becase the site knows the average prices for these rooms, they also know perfectly well when a hotel has raised its prices beyond what is considered “normal”.

Hotel package deals are one kind of “bargain” where customers are regularly taken for a ride, and when DealBase passes these deals through their Deal Analyzer, they break down the actual savings.

So, instead of blindly publishing a deal and hoping you’ll fall for it, the site shows what the package value is, and how much you are not going to save if you purchase it.

Their “worst hotel deals” are all listed here, but if you don’t like being ripped off, you can also navigate their best deals.

National Geographic ranks 133 destinations

National Geographic Traveler has released the results of its 6th annual survey of authenticity and “destination stewardship”. The survey, ranks 133 places on earth according to how well (or how poorly) the local governments, businesses and residents are protecting the area from degradation, along with other factors like risk of natural disasters.

437 panelists scored each destination according to: environmental and ecological quality, social and cultural integrity, condition of historic buildings and archaeological sites, aesthetic appeal, quality of tourism management, and outlook for the future.

The highest-rated place: the Fjords region of Norway, followed by locations like the South Island of New Zealand, Slovenia, Ancient Kyoto in Japan, the Bavarian Alps and Vermont. Other places listed as “doing well” include Tuscany, Cappadocia, Easter Island, South Africa’s Kruger National Park, and Kentucky’s Bluegrass Country.

There are some places “in the balance” that need work in multiple areas. Destinations such as Costa Rica, the Great Barrier Reef, Prague’s Old Town, Petra and St. Lucia are included here. From there, it gets worse. Places with “troubles” include Ha Long Bay, Giza, Venice and Siem Reap.

The bottom of the barrel: Cabo San Lucas, the West Bank, and Spain’s Costa del Sol.

More interesting than the rankings are the reasons behind them. For example, Costa del Sol rates so low because it’s a “textbook example of mass tourism run amok”, overdeveloped, unattractive and straining local water resources. And what makes the Fjords so great? Few visitors, environmental quality, and a tourism industry that benefits the local people yet allows them to preserve traditional ways of life.

The best and worst airports in America

Chicago O’Hare, my home airport, has been ranked by Travel + Leisure as the 2nd worst airport in the country for its delayed flight percentages. But despite flying to and from the airport fairly often, I’ve never experienced the major delays it’s best-known for. Maybe the airport gods know that, as someone who is terrified of flying, I’m already under enough stress and just couldn’t take the added panic of a delayed flight. Or maybe, I’ve just been lucky so far. Either way, I was surprised to find O’Hare ranked quite so high on the bad list (and to learn that it was #1 in 2008). Some of the other findings were surprising as well, and some others – well, not so much.

Salt Lake City came in at the number one spot on the “best airports” list, based on a 12% delayed flight percentage. Portland, Minneapolis St. Paul, Los Angeles (LAX), Detroit and Orlando also made the top ten list. The losers included Miami, Dallas Fort Worth, Atlanta and Philadelphia. New York was doubly shamed with both JFK and Laguardia on the list. Taking the top spot was Newark with a whopping 30% of its flights delayed.

The magazine also ranked the best and worst airlines in America, based purely on on-time arrival rates. Comair and American were among the worst, with Hawaiian and Southwest showing the smallest percentage of delays.

Where to find the best and worst bathrooms

Catherine recently told us about a handy cell-phone service that will help you find the best bathroom in west London. My first thought was, It would be nice if they had something like that in North America, but as it turns out, they do. MizPee can tell you where the nearest clean bathrooms are when you use it on your cell phone, as Justin told us a few months ago.

But you know what else MizPee does? It allows you to rate the bathroom — they have a Honor Roll for the best and a Wall of Shame for the worst. Best bathrooms include those at the Time Warner Center and Apple Store in Manhattan, and the worst can be found at Starbucks in Union Square West and the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.

My vote for the worst bathroom goes to the ones in LAX. I have never been to a decent one while traveling through that airport.

10 Worst Cities to Visit/10 Best Cities to Visit

Of course, no one wants to waste their time and money traveling to a crummy destination. In an effort to help you steer clear of those crummy destinations, Road Junky put together a list of what they consider to be the 10 worst cities in the world to visit. In no particular order, they are:

  • Mumbai
  • Dubai
  • Liverpool & Manchester
  • Any American Suburb
  • Guatemala City
  • Sao Paulo
  • Beijing
  • Singapore
  • Milan
  • Cancun

Weird. I always wanted to visit Bombay (or Mumbai, as it’s now called). And Ember seems to be having a great time in Beijing, so I guess the list is colored by Road Junky’s perceptions — which is, of course, totally acceptable. Personally, I hope I never make it back to Harare. Or Bulawayo. So depressing.

Rather than simply mention the dregs and not point out the shining stars of world travel, here’s Travel + Leisure’s list of what they consider to be the 10 best cities in the world to visit. In no particular order, they are:

  • Florence
  • Rome
  • Bangkok
  • Sydney
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Cape Town
  • Buenos Aires
  • New York
  • Beirut*
  • San Francisco

I’ve spent several weeks in Cape Town, and if I could retire this weekend, I’d move there and start a weekly “What’s Going On About Town” newspaper. I love that place. In my opinion, other great cities to travel to include Amsterdam (easy to navigate); Cairo (Culture! History!); and Key West (F-U-N).

Nevertheless, if you think T+L’s list stinks, check out Cool Town Studios for their regional run-down of the world’s best cities to visit or peep National Geographic Traveler’s Top Urban Places.

* T+L’s list was selected prior to the war in Lebanon.