Archive for December, 2012

Instagram user pamelagt shows us that New Orleans’ Roosevelt Hotel really knows how to do Christmas! Keep sending us your holiday lights photos with the hashtag #TCHolidayLights to be featured in our 12 Days of Sparkle!

Photography by The Wickaninnish Inn

Storm watchers, whale lovers and heeders of nature’s wild call, the Wickaninnish Inn awaits. More »

Photography by Getty Images

AAA predicts that 93.3 million Americans will hit the road during the holidays, making this Christmas travel season the busiest it’s been in 6 years. More people are taking road trips this year because finding a reasonably-priced airplane ticket is like finding a needle in a haystack.

A record 84.4 million people will drive at least 50 miles between Dec. 22 and Jan. 1, according to the reputable travel agency. That’s 90.5% of holiday travelers, up from 89.3% just 6 years ago. So what does that mean to you? Expect plenty of traffic jams, crowded rest stops and bumper-to-bumper lines near highway tolls.

Need tips for dealing with this inevitable headache? Pack a couple travel-size games and snacks to keep the kids preoccupied. We recommend checking out some helpful family travel tips from Mommy Points blogger, Summer Hull, before you head out the door. Our travel expert offers up advice on everything from flying with a baby for the first time to finding hotels with health food options.

One thing travelers aren’t too concerned about is gas prices, which have dropped 50 cents since September, according to AAA. The average price at the pump will range from $3.20 and $3.40 a gallon by New Year’s Day, but that’s still not enough of a reason to thwart travelers’ plans to drive.

Although more people will be on the road, the airports will be just as busy. We recommend heading to the airport earlier than you normally would to avoid long TSA security lines — especially on the weekend before Christmas, the day after Christmas and on Jan. 2.  AAA’s economist John Heimlich expects 86% of the airplane seats to be filled with paying passengers, up from 85% last year.

Hundreds of flights have been canceled or delayed due to a major storm system making its way across the Midwest and headed for the East Coast of the US. Meteorologists predict that another storm on the West Coast may throw a wrench in travel plans next week; so before you head out the door, check out our weather forecast tool — powered by WeatherTrends360 — to find out if these 2 storms will affect your Christmas travel plans.

And if you’re headed to a big city, download The Layover app or peruse our airport guides to find out how you can kill some time during a lengthy layover.

Photo courtesy of Sandos Hotels & Resorts

Whether you believe the world is going to end tomorrow or not, you can’t deny that Mexico is doing it up Mayan-style. Even though the Mayans, themselves, are saying the world is not going to end (phew!), that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate like it might, and these attractions in Mexico are making the most of the “new era.”

Tulum, one of the last cities built by the Maya and a popular tourist spot in Mexico, is celebrating the end of the Mayan Calendar with the Pyramid of Positive Thinking, designed by artist Xavier Maria y Campos. The pyramid, designed to reflect Mayan culture, will be fleshed out with recycled plastic bottles containing positive thoughts written by residents and visitors to the area. It is expected to receive more than 700,000 thoughts from people around the world.

Photo courtesy of the Riviera Maya DMO

Considered to be the world’s largest natural aquarium, Cancun’s Xel-Ha is celebrating the beginning of a new era with a variety of renewal experiences. The aquarium is looking on the bright side of things with yoga by the sea on the closest Saturday to the 21st each month and a special purification and transformation experience at the mouth of the world’s longest underground river. They’ve also been inviting people to write positive messages on the leaves of the sacred Ceiba tree through January 6.

The famed eco-archeological park, Xcaret, is offering visitors a series of Maya experiences, including a special “Hand the Sun Over” ceremony with the flight of 104 macaws, mystical meditation guided nature journeys and, tomorrow, a Maya 2012 gala dinner with a contemporary dance presentation.

Sandos Caracol Eco Resort & Spa is bringing history back to life with actual Mayans sharing their traditions with guests. With a “Maya Market” offering authentic cuisine, Xtabentun Maya coffee demonstrations, Maya spa rituals and Maya warrior dog tours on the calendar of events, Sandos is going all out. The property even introduced a dedicated New Era website with all the event details and a trailer teasing the December 21st “End of the Maya Calendar” party that will wrap up the celebrations.

Thinking about a trip to Mexico? Get the lowdown with Oyster’s Spotlight on Cancun post!

 

Cancun

There are 2 Cancuns: The Zona Hotelera in Isla Cancun, which is the mega-resort, mega-mall area that caters to mass tourism, and Ciudad Cancun, which is the original downtown area and where locals actually live and have their businesses. Thousands of spring breakers, honeymooners, old couples, families and young groups of friends flow into Cancun every year, making it one of the world’s top beach destinations. Its turquoise waters, beautiful stretches of sand, and night-long parties are a main draw here, but there’s a lot to do besides going to the beach. Cancun is the gateway to the breathtaking Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum (Coba is also nearby, but is less well-preserved). Even for those planning to spend most of their time in lounge chair, these centuries-old archaeological sites are well worth a visit.

If all you need is a beautiful beach and a self-contained megaresort close to the party area, you’ll probably have a great time in the Hotel Zone. Le Blanc Spa Resort is a luxurious adults-only choice directly on a heavenly white-sand beach, with amenities such as a gorgeous spa and 3 outdoor pools. The nearby Gran Caribe Real is also a nice choice, but caters more to families with suite-style rooms, a kids’ club, and a waterpark. If you’d prefer a more authentic experience and don’t mind being a 10-minute cab ride from the beach, consider Ciudad Cancun. Here, you’ll find cheaper, smaller hotels, and a wide array of traditional and international restaurants and shops. The Radisson Hotel Hacienda is a decent budget option, with clean, spacious rooms and a nice pool.

- Oyster.com Staff

Photography by Paul Souders | WorldFoto

 

You’ll certainly want to bring a jacket for your visit to this snow-capped island off the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, as temperatures can dip to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. More »

Our 8th Day of Sparkle comes from Instagram user intlnabers, who points out that “The Christmas spirit is alive & well in Malaysia! Gorgeous holiday scene at #PavilionKL #tcholidaylights #andinapredominantlymuslimcountrynoless.”

Our 7th Day of Sparkle is from New York City, thanks to Instagram user vpedrianes. Keep sending us your best holiday lights photos using the hashtag #TCHolidayLights!

Photography by David Santiago Garcia / Aurora Photos

Toss a coin over your shoulder into Rome’s Trevi Fountain and start planning your next trip to Rome. More »

Day 6 of our 12 Days of Sparkle was taken in Temple Square in Salt Lake City Utah by Instagram user anditraveler.  Keep sending us your best holiday lights photos with the hashtag #TCHolidayLights!

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