Oh, to spend a night at the Eiffel Tower! HomeAway thinks that would be a great idea and is holding a contest to select the lucky souls who will experience the ultimate Paris stay. The vacation rental company is building a pop-up apartment on the Eiffel Tower's first floor and will award a night's stay in the temporary space to those who provide a compelling answer to this question: "What would you do if the HomeAway Eiffel Tower Apartment was all yours for a night?" Well, you're limited to 140 characters, so choose your words carefully. Winners and up to five guests will spend one night in the tower that debuted in 1889.
Expedia launched a new online resource Thursday that identifies the world's hotels not by their price or their star rating but by vacation experiences. Collections, as it's called, offers travelers six curated categories from which to choose a place to stay for their next trip: beach, relaxation, family fun, culture and history, shopping and snow Expedia chose hotels based on "standards for experience, customer reviews and value," according to a company news release. Each Collections category recommends just 10 hotels for each destination. Relaxation is dominated by places in the West. Of the 18 destinations, four are in California (Napa Valley, Palm Springs, Orange County, San Diego) and three are in Hawaii (Oahu, Maui and Honolulu).
"I assume you've heard the definition of an airplane?" "A silver tube hurtling through the sky from Point A to Point B with 100 or more passengers, all of whom have paid a different fare." It's widely practiced, and it's annoying, especially because it leaves you with the disquieting feeling that you could have paid less. The May 7 "On the Spot" column offered ideas on how to cope with dynamic pricing (using opaque sites such as Priceline or a money-back online service such as Yapta that keeps an electronic eye on airfare and rental car prices, then helps you get a refund if you've overpaid). I didn't mention booking separate airline tickets, as travel pro John DiScala (you know him as JohnnyJet of the website of the same name) reminded me in an email when I asked for his favorite tips.
Let's say I decide four friends and I are going to Phuket, Thailand, for a week in early April. I just found a $498 round-trip fare on China Eastern from LAX, including all taxes and fees. Now all I have to do is find a reasonably priced place for us to stay. Scarcer than hen's teeth, as my grandmother used to say. But there may be a way to take the bite out of that bill.