Monday, December 21, 2009

Top Snowboarding resorts in the USA

A Guide To Snowboarding The USA

In America you can find a large range of snowboarding resorts across the country which spread out over the northern eastern states, the central Rockies and the north-western states. Beware, many of the resorts are low quality and are simply operated to earn quick money. The usual snowboarding season lasts from November until mid-April, but a few resorts in the north stay open until mid-May. The country's resorts are generally smaller than their European cousins. However, the Rockies do have summits that rise up to 3,000 metres.

Jackson Hole

The combination of the terrain and snowfall is second to none as Jackson's slopes rise up out of the Snake River valley in what seems like a sheer wall. It is also home to North America's highest continuous vertical drop (over 4,000ft), a stunning variety of terrain - including couloirs, cliff-bands, open bowls and trees - and a snowfall average of 369 inches during an average winter. Perhaps the best thing about Jackson is its ski and snowboard school. The instructors here do seem to have an extra spark which makes learning for beginners much more enjoyable.
To get the best of them, sign up for one of the Steep and Deep camps.


Famous the world over for its skiing, the snowboarding is pretty good here too. The only problem is the lack of wide, high, open bowls for free-riding - and the comparably small snowfall for the Rockies. It is still comparable to the best in the Alps, but 256 inches isn't much compared with Snowbird's 466 inches. To give yourself the highest possible chance of scoring perfect powder, heading to Utah or Wyoming could be the best bet.

Getting there

Flights to US cities are frequent, with many having transfers to resorts. Some airports atollow you reach the resorts by bus (occaisionally a free shuttle service), or by hire car. Travel to a resort by train is limited in terms of direct routes and in most cases you will need to take a train to the nearest city and then transfer by bus. Resorts on the East coast are most accessable by rail from the airports and a 30-day rail pass for unlimited travel costs can be bought for $400. Greyhound Buses operate the largest cross-country network of routes, with dozens of options.

Nights out

You will need to carry ID everywhere in the US. Photo I.D. is constantly required when buying alcohol to confirm age, it would be advised that baby-faced boarders should stick to soft drinks.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Best World Skiing Destinations

Top 5 luxury ski resorts in the worldCopyright © 2009

Skiing has increased in popularity over the years and it has become apparent that some people are willing to spend a small fortune to get as much out their experience as possible. Listed below are the top 5 skiing resorts in the world which all promised to offer a top class, luxury holiday.

1. Badrutt's Palace Hotel, St. Moritz, Switzerland

If you are in search of the most luxurious ski resort in the world, pay a visit to Badrutt's Palace Hotel. Baddrutt's is world renowned as being the premier hotel for a ski break. Located in the Swiss Alps It boasts some of the best views money can buy and is internationally renowned for its involvement in making skiing and winter sports as popular as they've become. This Hotel has accommodated Royalty and the rich and famous. Having been open for more than a century, Badrutt's Palace Hotel has set the benchmark for other ski resorts. If you want a piece of the
luxury lifestyle you should expect to pay a minimum of £300 per night.

2. The Game Creek Chalet - Colorado

The Game Creek Chalet is located in the popular skiing resort called Game Creek Bowl. These privately owned chalets 10,500 feet above sea level and compromise of four bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. With these chalets you don't just get the stunning views, the ski in 'ski out resort offers your own Jacuzzi, personal tour guides and you very own gourmet chef to cook you top class food at the end of the day. All these luxuries are yours if you happen to have a spare £1700
to spend per night!

3. Chalet du Mont d'Arbois, Megève,France

Nestled in to the alpine trees above Megève, this Swiss style hotel can be found. Guests at Chalet du Mont d'Arbois can expect Bordeaux's fine Wines in constant supply and Savoyard cuisine. This hotel is compact with only 37 rooms, however, what it lacks in size it makes up for in luxuriousness. Nowhere else on the French Alps will you find such a peaceful and exclusive atmosphere. The Chalet offers free-standing apartments from £1300 per night to individual rooms from £270 per night.

4. Fairmont Chateau, Whistler, British Columbia

Sitting at the bottom of Whistler Blackcomb in the Canadian Rockies, Fairmont Chateau offers one of the most luxurious skiing resorts in the world. Not only does the hotel offer top class amenities and top class service but it's also home to the exquisite restaurant, Wildflower. Wildflower relies on locally sourced organic foods to offer world class dining. For a room in this 12 storey chateaux style hotel you should expect to pay a minimum of £180 per night.

5. Capella Niseko Hotel in Niseko, Japan

Although not open yet, Japan have built one of the most luxurious skiing hotels in the world on the open mountains of Japan. The 32 acre resort will feature 80 rooms and has been designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Each room will house its own fireplace and onsen (natural hot spring bath). The hotel will also offer a range of other luxury amenities such as top class restaurants, a spa, tennis courts and high-end retail stores. If this new build attracts you, be ready to fork out several hundred pounds a night

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Things to do on a city break in Rome

Rome is a fascinating blend of old and new traditions, many hotels and shopping sites, delicious dishes and classical culture. With a history of over two thousand years, legend says that the city was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus on April 21st, 753 BC. As you would expect with a bustling European capital city, there is plenty to do here.

The Criminal Museum in Rome

The Criminal Museum, run by the Ministry of Justice, is housed in what used to be a prison so its authenticity is not in question! Built in the early 1800s for Pope Leo XIII, several offices of Rome's police departments call it home. The museum has three sections: one dedicated to the main categories of crimes; one that deals with investigation techniques and police search methods; and one that covers what is involved in serving a criminal sentence. 'Punishment and Crimes' - gory and gruesome - attracts the most visitors. Life-sized models illustrate how criminals were dealt with for centuries the world over, including the infamous Iron Maiden.


No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the iconic structure. This was the biggest venue built during the Roman Empire and took ten years to finish. Standing 160-feet tall with a seating capacity of up to 50,000, the stadium hosted infamous gladiatorial contests, public spectacles and it was also the place Romans fed Christians to the lions.

Circus Maximus

This place makes Wembley Stadium seem woefully inadequate. The Circus Maximus was one of the largest sports arenas ever built with an apparent capacity of several hundred thousand. It is famous for the 64 AD fire that left masses of casualties, and the city in ruins.

Vatican City

Home of the Pope, Vatican City is one of the holiest places in the world and the only place on earth where people speak Latin. It is an independent state right in the middle of Rome. Just 108.7 acres, with an estimated population of 800, the Vatican has its own broadcasting facility, flag, postage stamps, currency, citizenship, newspaper and station. The must-see sites are St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.

Stay on your feet

The best way to see Rome is on foot. At street level is also where you will discover those unexpected gems; the warm aroma of a bakery, the handmade leather of a local craftsman or perhaps the tucked-away piazza that seems stuck a world long since past.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A guide to snowboarding in Italy

Italy is a great place to snowboard and one of the cheapest European countries to visit. Resorts stretch across the northern part of the country, with many linking with neighbouring countries and if you're planning to drive in Italy, remember: they can't drive. The term 'giving way' doesn't really exist!
The most popular destinations
The majority of Italy's resorts are situated in the north of the country, in the Alps. The ten most popular are; Cervinia, Livigno, Alba, Passo Tonale, Prali Sestriere, Sauze d'Oulx, Val Gardena, Courmayeur and Madonna di Campiglio.
Getting around
Due to the fact that Italy has loads of small, remote resorts tucked away off normal public transport routes, driving is the best way to reach them. Italian resorts are not always well located for airports as most places require an average of three hours transfer. Train services are not too convenient - but are cheap - and you can get fairly close to many places. Bus fares are also inexpensive but services are not very reliable.
Madonna di Campiglio
Madonna di Campiglio is generally considered to be one of the best resorts in Italy for snowboarders. The Ursus terrain park here is a rallying point for boarders across the surrounding region of Trentino and set at 2,400m, on rolling ex-glacial terrain, it is home to good-quality snow for most of the season, and features a wide range of kickers, rails and other features. Boarders will be pleased to know that snowfall here is higher than in the Dolomite resorts further east, and the climate is colder than in the Italian resorts to the west. The resort sits in something of a snow pocket.
Superb off-piste boarding. But remember, this is the sunny - and therefore less snowy - side of Mont Blanc. There are some fantastic off-piste routes in the area. This is a place for more accomplished riders so bear in mind that there is often a lot less snow on this side of Mont Blanc than there is in Chamonix. Intermediates should only consider Courmayeur for a weekend, while beginners should go to more snowboard-friendly resort.
Where to stay
On the whole, accommodation is basic and cheap. It is fair to say that around resorts facilities are not as full-on as in France but the hedonistic aprés ski is still the same. For a great snowboarding holiday, Italy is well worth a visit.

Copyright © 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Looking for Cheap Key West Hotels?

Looking for Cheap Key West Hotels?Copyright © 2009 Craig Grant Hollenback
Key West boasts the highest cost of living in the State of Florida, but it won't break your budget to stay there. With over 35 Resorts and Hotels, 104 Bed & Breakfasts and Inns, 15 Specialty Lodgings and 505 Vacation Rentals, Key West has a wide variety of Accommodations to choose from. There are no Key West camp grounds or trailer parks.

So how do you find the cheapest place to stay?

First, it's important to understand the layout of America's Southernmost, drive to tropical island. The Island of Key West is divided into two distinct parts. Old Town (referred to as Downtown) and New Town. Each area has its own advantages to the vacation visitor.

Staying in Old Town provides the advantage of walking accessibility to most Key West restaurants, attractions and bars. If you're flying into the Key West International airport, you can take a taxi to your hotel and there's no need for a car rental. There are plenty of inexpensive bike and scooter rentals as well as comfortable electric cars to choose from. There are also numerous pedicabs that will be happy to take you and a guest around town.

Old Town Key West features the more elegant Hotels as well as many privately owned Bed and Breakfasts, Inns, and Guest Houses. Those looking for a true Key West experience will find that these Accommodations have easier access to the Old Town region and provide the intimate feeling of being right in the center of Key West.

The architecture of Old Town Key West is historically reflected in these older structures. But don't let their quaint exteriors fool you. Most, if not all, have meticulously renovated interiors complete with internet connections, spas and all the other amenities you'd expect to find in a five star luxury hotel. It does come however with a price and may exceed those budget travelers pocketbooks.

If you decide to stay out in New Town then you will be about 1-3 miles away from Downtown. You can either drive into town in your rental car or take one of the many Key West taxis. Most inexpensive Hotels and Motels in New Town offer shuttle service to the Old Town area.
New Town is where you'll find many popular chain operated Key West hotels. Many of these hotels feature suites with small kitchens along with large pools, on-site restaurants and banquet facilities. Another advantage of New Town is its proximity to several large super markets. Cooking-in can greatly keep your family vacation costs down but don't miss out on the many affordable ethnic and casual restaurants that Key West has to offer. From coffee cafes to waterfront dining, Key West has it all.

So how else can I save money?

The first thing to consider when planning a trip to Key West is time of year. Off Season and High Season. High season runs from December through April and off season runs May through November. Generally, high season cost more than off season so you may choose to base your Key West travel plans accordingly. Keep in mind however, even in off season there are short spikes in prices based on the many annual Key West Events.Also, hurricane season runs June through October, but most hotels eliminate worry and provide a hurricane refund policy should your travel plans get disrupted by an unlikely storm.

For a short stay (under one week) the many Key West Hotels and Bed and Breakfasts are the way to go. Should you choose to stay longer, then look into the hundreds of Vacation Rentals that are available throughout the city of Key West. Often times you'll be able to enjoy a long term rental for the cost of one week at a conventional hotel! Many come with parking for your car, which can otherwise be difficult as well as full kitchens plus 2, 3 and even 4 bedrooms! These weekly rentals are often popular with couples who are getting married in Key West and have large families or wedding parties.

Many of the large Old Town Key West Hotels are located directly on the water and most rooms have a water view from their balcony. In addition to being situated in the center of things, these hotels almost always feature an on-site gourmet restaurants. Many hotels also have in-house water sports facilities that provide scuba, snorkel and para-sailing excursions plus fishing charters.

All of these hotels are located within walking distance to the world famous Duval Street which features dozens of Restaurants, Bars, Attractions and Key West Nightlife.
Some of the medium size Key West Hotels have recently undergone condo conversions which means that they now have full kitchens. A Key West Condo is a perfect choice for a budget vacation and has the convenience of being located in Old Town!
The choice is up to you.

Most times, the least expensive room will be located out in New Town and can range from under one hundred dollars a night an up.(based on double occupancy) Great for families as well as those who make the drive down the Overseas Highway to the bottom of the Florida Keys and arrive in Key West. Large pools, family oriented restaurants, ample parking are just some of the features these chain run hotels have to offer.

For middle range priced rooms are the charming Bed and Breakfasts as well as the numerous Key West Guest Houses. These historic accommodations are marketed more toward couples without children and some are targeted toward the gay and lesbian community. Generally these establishments run around two hundred dollars a night and up. Because they are privately owned the price can often be negotiated a little.

The highest in price are the many large, traditional Key West Hotels. These resort rooms generally begin at three hundred dollars and up peaking out around eight hundred dollars a night. Often times because of the resort size, it's possible to pick up last minute vacancies for half the original price, depending on season.

For the long term vacationer there is no doubt that a vacation rental is the right choice. These range from around five hundred to five thousand dollars a week depending on the amount of rooms, location and amenities available. Many vacation rentals feature a private pool.
So it really comes down to what you want your Key West vacation experience to be. If it's means staying right in the center of it all then Old Town is the place for you. If you're looking for a family style experience then a modern hotel or motel in New Town might be a better choice with just occasional trip into town.

If you're looking to live like a local, then pack your bags and move in to a short term rental somewhere in the city and you may never leave!

The lyrics from a song written by local Key West singer songwriter Michael McCloud says it best. "Just came down for the weekend, but that was 35 year ago."
See you in Key West, the Southernmost City in the continental United States!

Craig Grant Hollenback is Director of Photography, Vice President and co-founder of The Conch Republic Media Group in Key West, Florida. The company specializes in high definition, travel video production, website design, hosting & site maintenance, digital photography and internet marketing. Informative, entertaining video episodes, provide the latest tourist information about The Florida Keys and Key West. Visit today.