Let’s start with Palm Springs

If you are a new traveller, a reluctant traveller, or have waited until retirement to travel, Palm Springs California is a great place to start.  I’ll give you three good reasons to put Palm Springs on your list and why I think   it’s a zero-stress vacation.

  1. Flights from Brandon’s little airport (YBR) are very convenient. This travel day is hardly a bother at all. Your flight leaves about lunch time and after a stop in Calgary (YYC) connects through to Palm Springs (PSP) and you’re at your resort by 8:00PM. In Calgary, you’ll deplane, look for your connecting gate and head through US Customs.  Easy peasy.
  2. Driving in Palm Springs is as easy as driving in Brandon. Their downtown area is much like ours, two main roads each one-way and going in opposite directions. Just like Rosser and Princess.  The best part is there’s no ice and snow.  Just outside the city of Palm Springs you’ll find suburb areas like Palm Desert and Palm Canyon.
  3. Golf courses and outdoor activities are easy to find and budget friendly.  Deals for Canadians are even easier to find. Just stop by the tourist booth (on Palm Canyon Drive) and ask. We found a deal we couldn’t pass up. It was breakfast, lunch, a round of golf, clubs and cart rental for $50 a person.  If golf isn’t your thing, there’s walking paths, swimming and tennis at most every resort or hotel. You can catch a baseball game in the area too. There’s a professional league that plays winter ball a few afternoons a week. Tickets are about $5. (Or they were 2 years ago when I last attended.)

I checked Westjet Vacations current offerings. You can stay a week in Palm Springs for under $1100 per person. Car rental and meals will be on top of that.  Do take a look at the flight times! No need for a pre-dawn wake up call.

 

 

Park MGM Experience

I have been to Vegas twice this year. Twice I have stayed at the Park MGM.  And twice I have been very happy with the experience .

I went to Vegas in May for the U2 concert. The concert was taking place at the T-Mobile Arena which happens to be right next-door to Park MGM. Literally, a two minute walk from the hotel lobby to the line up to enter the arena.

So, do take note if you’re heading to a hockey game or concert at the T-Mobile arena, the Park MGM is ideal.

From TMobile Arena balcony lounge, looking towards the ParK MGM Hotel & the Park Theatre. (Where Aerosmith, Cher, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars have residency.)

But what is the hotel like?  I really like it. It is modest by my measure of Vegas hotels. It is the old Monte Carlo, but completely redone and rebranded as Park MGM. The rooms are fairly basic (no mini fridge)  but they are modern, the bathroom showers are perfect and they’re nicely decorated.

Think of it as a little sister to Bellagio. It is part of the same hotel chain and even connected by a free tram.  By my estimate it’s 1/5 of the size of Bellagio.  It’s pretty hard to get lost at Park MGM. That’s a good thing.

While the hotel doesn’t have a vast selection of restaurants, the courtyard of the arena does. So all you have to do is walk outside the hotel and you have plenty of choices. Also across the courtyard is the NYNY Hotel & Casino which offers a little more action.

The second best asset of Park MGM is the pool area. There are 3 separate pools, lots of great loungers, the poolside food is excellent and there’s plenty of sun.

The 3rd best feature of the Park MGM is the price. It typically falls in the bottom 1/3 of Vegas Strip hotels, depending on events and time of year. Regardless, of whether it costs $50 or $129 per night,  it will be comparatively less then other hotels of equal quality. Based on this I find it is excellent VALUE.

**not a paid endorsement. I’m in no way affiliated with the hotel or MGM chain. I’m just a frequent Vegas visitor with high regard for this renovated hotel. I hope you find benefit in my review.

 

 

Montreal to Boston $148 tax in, return

I’m not even sure why this bargain is on my radar, other than I need something to look forward to and this outrageous bargain fits my Kraft Dinner budget right now.

The hot prices on this route are for October and November 2017. Travel on Tuesdays for the best price.

Boston is high on my list of cities I’d like to visit. I’d love to see it in the fall when the leaves are turning colours. I’d love to sit on a dock and eat a lobster roll and visit some of the diners featured on Diner’s Drive Ins and Dives.

You could also catch a game in Boston. Epic sports franchises in this city.

Typical price for this route is around $300. You can even fly from Winnipeg, quite often, at that $320 price point. But my thought is that you could build an epic fall trip around it. Whether you take the train and see Canada’s east coast, or just cash in some Air Miles for a weekend in Montreal before heading to Boston, you could definitely incorporate the bargain into something bigger.

To start your planning and see why Boston should be on your list too…click over to www.masstourism.com

Screenshot Feb 18th, 2017

 

To Columbus Ohio!

The Columbus Blue Jackets are on quite a roll these days! A legendary season for certain. If you’re a big hockey fan and would like to see them play in person you have a few options, even on a small budget.

  1. Use Air Miles for the flight. 2500 Air Miles and $146 cash (taxes) will get you a return flight from Winnipeg (YWG to CMH)
Dates & availability will vary

2. Use Air Miles for your hotel instead.  Or, use your Marriott/SPG points. The Courtyard Marriott is the closest hotel to Nationwide Arena in Columbus.

3. See them on the road. The least expensive Canadian city to see an NHL game is Ottawa. And if you’re a Brandon Wheat King’s fan, you’ll know that Mark Stone plays in Ottawa. So, you can see two former WK captains with one game. (March 4, 2017) Air Miles flights to Ottawa are 2000 points or less. You just pay the taxes, about $130

March 3-5, 2017 from Winnipeg to Ottawa (YWG to YOW)

(You can even go this month for 1600 Air Miles, if you have some time off right away.) Columbus plays in Ottawa on Sunday January 22nd. Their winning streak could still be alive.

January 21-23rd, Winnipeg to Ottawa (YWG to YOW). Availability subject to change without notice

Tickets to the games can be purchased through Ticketmaster or Stubhub.com for as low as $30 each.

If you are a hockey fan and love the big game, you’ll see why this could be an epic road trip.

No Air Miles? No problem at all! Air Canada and Delta both have flights on sale right now, for about $400 (Canadian funds and taxes included.) Hint…. or buy your Spring Break flights now (to most any NHL city) and catch your favourite team just before playoffs.  

If you’re a Winnipeg Jets fan, and believe this is their playoff year, you’ll want to plan ahead for April 6th in Columbus. It could be an intense game in their quest for a playoff spot.  Air Canada, April 4-7th flight is just $400.91 at today’s price.

January 4th screenshot

Or finally, you can bundle the April 4th to 7th, with hotel, through Expedia.ca with the above noted Air Canada flight for $685 with a downtown (near arena) Holiday Inn. Tickets for that Jets’ game are currently $28 & up (US funds on Stubhub.com).

It pays to plan ahead! Especially for your Spring Break hockey trip.

Highlights of 2016

I’ve made it a personal goal to see at least one new city or town each year. This is a pretty easy thing to accomplish. And I do enjoy it.

In 2016 I visited San Diego, California. I really loved it. Especially the seals on the beach, dinner at Old Town and the cake on the patio at Scripps Pier. Those were fabulous. Actually, that whole trip was great. Really good food, great scenery and even better company. San Diego is a must visit on my list for couples, families and buddy trips. It’s one of those locations that truly has something for everybody. I will definitely go back.

In February, I travelled with my friend Kim to Florence Italy. Hard not to wax poetic over a trip like that. We took a pasta making class, travelled the tuscany region on a wine tour and even climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We stayed at a small boutique hotel near the train station. The breakfast and hospitality and constant cappuccinos made us feel oh so very comfortable. We also LOVED the market and the shops and made a dear friend in Stefania.  We saw museums and statues and paintings. We laughed and made the best memories. If you ever get the chance, GO TO FLORENCE! I would go back in a heartbeat.

And Cleveland. Wow! It was so much more than I expected. What a great sports town, and even though we saw the Cleveland Browns kick off their worst season in history, we enjoyed that game and baseball too. Then there was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Unreal! Must see. And for me, it will always be memorable. 2016 was a tragic year for the loss of legendary musicians David Bowie, Prince, and George Michael.  I bought myself a CD in the gift shop, Prince’s Purple Rain. A really nice souvenir of a special trip with my youngest son. Would I go back to Cleveland? Yes, absolutely.

 

Flight Deals from Winnipeg

Two reasons to book your flight and hotel separately. There are some hot bargains on flights and hot bargains on hotels for Black Friday. Get the best of both.

Marriott Hotels offering rates as low as $79.  Booking Nov 25th to 28th only.

Are you interested in Abbotsford or Edmonton? Flight prices around the $200 mark, return and taxes included with Westjet. Even dates over Spring Break 2017.  For example:  $187 to Edmonton March 26-30th.

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-1-33-36-pm

 

Or what about Nashville, Tennessee? Flights from Winnipeg are on sale for $314 taxes included, with Air Canada. March 1st to 7th. OR, if you’d like to catch a Winnipeg Jets hockey game, (13th of March) fly from the 9th to 16th for $356 and make a holiday of it.

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-1-48-35-pm
Other flights and dates available. Aircanada.com