Along The Travel Scene

Thursday, December 26, 2013 - by Diane Siskin

The High Line Hotel located in a park-like setting on New York City’s 10th Avenue, between 21st and 22nd Streets, is an antique gem amid New York’s Chelsea neighborhood.

Quikbook is offering a great deal on accommodations at the hotel now through February 28, starting at $179 per night.

The Standard Hotel’s rates, also located on High Line and well-known for its large windows which face down on the walkway, start at $260.

The High Line Hotel combines charming 19th-century Gothic architecture with modern conveniences. The hotel’s guestroom interiors evoke a romantic and eclectic 19th century guest house.

Room views from the hotel vary from the High Line Park, (the highly successfully and well-known walkway created from the old elevated train tracks), to the Hudson River or to the beautiful brownstone of Chelsea. Some views also overlook the Close, the spacious private garden oasis open exclusively to hotel guests.  

The High Line Hotel is within walking distance of innovative New York galleries, and Chelsea Piers, a large recreation center featuring tennis, battling cages, ice skating, swimming and other sports.

The Meatpacking District is also close by, with its renowned shopping, restaurants and nightlife.

When you use Quikbook there are no booking fees and you can book now and pay later. Or you can contact the hotel directly at (212) 293-3888.

Clearwater Beach Voted Favorite Sunset Spot

The USA TODAY Travel Competition voted Clearwater Beach, Florida the “Best Place to watch a Sunset.”

And while balmy Clearwater Beach on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico took top honor in this competition, there are two other Florida beaches, including one our neighborhood, which rated a listing in that top 10.

Those were Key West, Florida and Panama City Beach, Florida.

Rounding out the list were Leland, Michigan, Albuquerque, New Mexico, The Outer Banks, in North Carolina, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Tucson, Arizona, Sedona, Arizona, and Tybee Island, Georgia.

And while we are discussing “TOP DESTINATIONS”, Sedona, Arizona also received accolades from world travelers as the “Top Anniversary Destination.”

“Sedona’s breathtaking setting is so dramatic, it instantly pushes real-world thoughts far, far away, setting up the perfect opportunity for romance,’’ according to that reader poll.

And still one more reason to visit Sedona in the New Year is Sedona World Wisdom Days which will take place from January 17-20.

This event includes a health and healing movement which features best selling authors and celebrities.

You can use the code CHAMBER to receive $50 of the Wisdom Passport which is obtained at


Panama City Beach, Florida Gets another Best Pick

Our next door neighbor, Panama City Beach, received the wonderful accolade of place to watch fabulous sunsets. The beach town was also just dubbed “Best Party Beach” in a USA TODAY Florida beach smack down.

“During three weeks to five weeks in March and April, Panama City pops as one the prime spring-break destinations, attracting as many as 300,000 students,’’ according to the newspaper. During this time span the area features bikini contests, beer pong and DJ parties.

We would suggest a visit to PCB at another time of the year. The annual Beach Ball Drop on New Year’s Eve is targeted to families. At midnight, an 800-pound glowing beach ball descends and 10,000 inflatable balls drop along Pier Park Drive.

Getting Older Isn’t So Bad After All…..

At least not when it comes to paying for a hotel room at one of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

It is not widely-known that you can become a member of the Starwood Preferred Guests program and then are able to participate in the hotel chain’s Birthday Rate Program.

This program permits members to pay rates equal to their birth year in properties across the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean.

The program works like this: you pay the full rate for your first night’s stay (the rates of course will vary by property), and then the second or third night you pay a rate that is equal to the year you were born. If you were born in 1968, your hotel rate for the second, third or possibly more nights would be only $68 a night.

At some select hotels and resorts a $100 will be added to the birth year rate.

Also some properties have different length of stay requirements at various times of the year.

If you want to get in on this program you must first register as a Starwood Preferred Guest. You can do that by going online to or by calling (877) 782-0108 and asking for the promo code NBR if you are already a member.

I have personally used this promotion many times over the years and it has worked well and saves money on hotel costs.


Airport Cellphone Waiting Lots Multiply in 2013

One of the new phenomena’s of the digital age is the growth of airport “waiting lots.”

Because of increased security measures most airports from the smallest ones to the international variety no longer permit you to either park or circle in front of the airport while you await arriving passengers.

Cellphone waiting areas were actually introduced after 9/11 because of security concerns of vehicles idling near terminals. The lots also reduce emissions because cars aren’t circling, burning fuel and causing congestion.

Most of don’t want to go to trouble, or expense, of parking in airport lots to wait for family or friends. So airports gave birth to special areas which are now designated as “Cellphone Waiting Lots” because the invention of cellphones permits easy communication between the flyer(s) and the person picking up the flyer.

Now those cellphone lots have spawned another new trend, food trucks that set up shop in or near them catering to both the “waiters” and some arriving or departing travelers.

Often these trucks showcase the food and drink of the area in which the airport is located. Therefore for the traveler it is the first introduction to the region’s fare. For the person or persons doing the waiting, a chance to eat and still provide an “on-time pickup.””

At Tampa International Airport there is generally one food truck on weekdays in a waiting lot or near the main terminal. These trucks are handled by the Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally which rotates the spot.

Beyond providing food, some airports have added free Wi-Fi and electronic boards with flight arrival information.

Happy New Year to All and Safe Traveling in 2014

Diane Siskin    

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The Many Lessons I Learned From Helen McDonald Exum

Helen McDonald Exum was my friend and mentor. As I think of her passing I can only imagine the celebration that is happening in heaven as the news of her arrival is being told. I am sure that there is a party that not only has she organized but that there is not a detail that has been left to chance. I am sure that it is the grandest of events, for you see, she has been planing ... (click for more)