Finnair’s Crazy Good Deals to Moscow, Dublin, and Beyond

Looking to book a last-minute summer getaway? Starting from just $609, you can fly round-trip on Finnair’s Economy Class* from New York (JFK) to selected European destinations when you book by July 31st. 
Here’s a snapshot:
  • You can’t beat these rates to Dublin, starting from just $609
  • Fares to Moscow begin at just $725
  • Fancy a visit to London? Book a flight for just $899
The summer is far from over, so get traveling!

A Hot New Hotel App on the Miami Scene

hotel app

I’ve been writing about travel for the last ten years and one thing I’m newly excited about are all of the great travel apps and tech features hitting the hospitality scene.

From the ex-Googler’s who brought us Triposo to HotelTonight for last minute hotel deals and Tripomatic, Tripl, and Trippy, there’s no shortage of apps for all your traveling needs.

Now, hotels are jumping into the game with lifestyle apps for guests who want a bit more of an immersive tech-inspired guest experience (that’d be me, y’all). With SLS Hotel South Beach’s new lifestyle app, guests and fans of the property are served up dynamic online content including drink recipes, urgent champagne delivery, customized itineraries, and hotel concierge access. Developed by leading hospitality software platform Runtriz, the app is downloadable for free on iPhones, Androids, and also runs on all SLS Hotel South Beach in-room iPads.

Here are just a few of the sexy features of the SLS Hotel South Beach app:

Shake a Drink – Tap the “Shake a Drink” button to stir up a killer cocktail in the comfort of your Philippe Starck-designed room, or view specialty cocktails made by the hotel’s on-site mixologists at Katsuya, Hyde Beach and The Bazaar by José Andrés. Guests can raid the mini bar and stir up their own cocktail from the comfort of their room.

Bring Me Bubbles – Guests can rush order Champagne, ranging from a $50 Avinyo Cava to a $148 Lanson Ivory Label Demi-Sec Champagne, to be delivered to their rooms in less than 20 minutes (because sometimes bubbles is a real emergency).

Hotel Concierge – In-room iPads deliver unique hotel services to guests with a touch, including dinner reservations at The Bazaar and Katsuya, in-room dining and on-demand services. Guests can take advantage of the expert concierge team, who have created “Perfect Day in South Beach” sample itineraries from Lenny Kravitz and more. Concierge services through in-room iPads (also projected on TV flat screens) also provide detailed information on local Miami attractions, South Beach weather, as well as print traveler’s boarding passes.

My personal favorite?

It’s a toss up between Bring Me Bubbles and Shake a Drink, of course, because who doesn’t want a little bubbly or cocktail recipe delivered at the push of a button when on vacation? Kickstarting good times by encouraging guests to interact with SLS’ award-winning mixology program is clearly the way to anyone’s heart.

The Claremont Hotel Berkeley’s Spirited Four Course Dinner

The Claremont Hotel at Night

The Claremont Hotel at Night

Oh, we sure love the Bay Area… who doesn’t?? So, we wanted to fill our Bay Area friends and travelers in on The Claremont‘s new four course spirit dinner. A bit about this awesome property: it opened all the way back in 1915 and is located in California’s Berkeley Hills. Like a castle nestled in the hills, the hotel has almost 300 rooms and suites, state-of-the-art fitness facilities, a pool, tennis courts, an incomparable 32 treatment room spa, and an award-winning food & beverage program. Sold yet? Here’s more. In addition to The Meritage restaurant specializing in bringing the wine and food experience together with a menu of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, The Paragon Restaurant & Bar offers hand-shaken libations complementing a menu of relaxed contemporary American cuisine.

The Paragon

Outside Dining at The Paragon Restaurant

With this in mind, you don’t want to miss out on The Paragon Restaurant & Bar’s celebration of craft distillation on Tuesday, March 26 with a four-course dinner featuring a range of St. George Spirits. Established by Jörg Rupf in 1982 as an eau de vie distillery, St. George Spirits has now grown into a diverse operation that makes a range of craft spirits.

St. George Distillery

St. George Distillery  (this is where spirits are transformed, guys)


The St. George team takes an artisanal approach to all of their spirits by working on copper pot stills that give them tremendous command over the distillation process. The artisanal approach results in high-end products that are some of the most well-respected and highly praised on the market today. Why does this matter? Because dishes will be paired with carefully crafted St. George bourbon, absinthe, gin and eau de vie.

How about a date?

A room at The Claremont... in case you want to sleep it off

A room at The Claremont… in case you want to sleep it off

The St. George reception starts at 6:30 p.m. with an East Bay Ti Punch entrance cocktail followed by dinner starting at 7:00 p.m. of select spirits paired with a menu prepared by Chef Marcos Sanchez. The four-course menu includes:

  • The California Waldorf Salad – Apple, Thai basil, fennel, toasted pine nuts, arugula and lemon-champagne vinaigrette with a ‘Hemingway’ (Absinthe Verte, Sparkling Wine)
  • The Jail Bird – Smoked quail, pecan-cornbread stuffing, wild mushrooms and ‘Breaking & Entering’ BBQ sauce accompanied by Breaking & Entering Bourbon and Claremont Cobbler (Breaking & Entering Bourbon, orange slice, Luxardo Cherry, Luxardo Liquer)
  • Trifecta – ‘Dry rye’ grilled salmon, ‘Botanivore’ pickled cucumber and ‘Terrior’ Crème Fraiche with a choice of a traditional gin martini three ways (Dry Rye Martini, Botanivore Martini, Terroir Martini)
  • Perfect Pound Cake – Lemon-orange pound cake, drunken ‘Aqua Perfecta’ raspberries and vanilla mascarpone with a ‘Raspberry Fountain’ (Raspberry Eau de Vie)

The St. George dinner is priced at a reasonable $69 per person and is available for patrons 21+ only.

Sorry, kiddos, but this one is for adults only!



Off-Season Deals to Greece

Rhodes, Greece - The Secret Sweet Spot

Rhodes, Greece – The Secret Sweet Spot

We really want to share some of our travel learnings with you this week. Why? Because, after our amazing trip to St. Barths during their low season, we realized the savings you can find when you just go when most of the tourists have fled. And, the best part, aside from the savings, is that you have more of the beaches to yourself!

To that end, Zicasso’s got new and completely customizable 13-day vacation to the the Greek Islands, visiting Santorini, Crete, Rhodes, and Athens this September & October 2012.

This trip starts at just $1,665* per person, offering exceptional value as well as numerous custom options for unique experiences.  Though many consider September and October a harbinger of autumn, Greece’s 80 degree temperatures extend way into October, continuing to provide the ultimate weather for swimming, sunbathing, and sailing in the Mediterranean. Greece is calm and beautiful, without the strikes of prior years or the normal crowds so we say, take advantage of an opportunity and extend your summer at off-season value.


The Classic Santorini View

Sample of unique experiences to add on:

·  Discover Crete on horseback, galloping along the countryside and coast of the Cretan Sea. (Rides are tailored to individual experience level);

·   Learn traditional Cretan cooking at boutique hotel Avli, known for its outstanding restaurant;

·  Sail on a catamaran boat to visit Santorini’s active volcano, followed by swimming in the hot springs and watching the sunset from the boat;

·  Take a cooking course at an award-winning Santorini restaurant and learn about the unique local products of the island.

·   Visit any of Santorini’s 12 local volcanic wineries and taste Vinsanto, their famous dessert wine.

So, if you’re like me and often feel like flyin’ by the seat of your pants, but want something sexy and chic, here are your last minute deals to Greece!

Looking for a lovely, but inexpensive apartment in Paris? Who isn’t?

A Modern Apartment Rental – Paris

Looking for an apartment rental in Paris, but also desire a bit of personalized service? Let’s face it, current economic circumstances reinforce the necessity to make travel budgets stretch as comfortably far as possible.  That’s where comes on the scene. Already a respected player in the UK and Europe for short-term apartment rentals in Paris, they’re backed by an established apartment management company, with comfortable, well-located accommodations at below-hotel rates. A daunting task for any traveler.
We’re big fans of renting flats, but sometimes it can be risky directly dealing with owners, or, it can result in last-minute disappointment.  Likewise there is no continuity in experience (cleanliness, quality) from one location to another. In response, ApartmentParis has created an alternative solution positioned between these two extremes. Even though it is not a hotel, clients are guaranteed hotel standard services  such as decoration and furniture suited to the travellers’ needs, wifi access, housekeeping service, fresh sheets and linens.
Check out the view through the window!

Check out the view through the window!

While each apartment can be adapted to the traveller’s needs, they all come with a basic service: sheets, linens, cable & satellite TV, high bandwith internet and wifi. Prices start at… and here’s where we love it!

Around $75 night for a studio apartment in off-season.
ApartmentParis manages more than 100 apartments that can accommodate from two to eight people, perfect for single travellers, couple or families.  Business travellers can also benefit from apartments located close to the main Paris train stations. All flats are located near tourist attractions such as the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Élysées, Montmartre, and in charming neighborhoods like the Marais,  Buttes Chaumont,  Canal Saint Martin…
A bilingual (French/English) call centre is also available to assist travelers with their plans. So, in a nutshell, their positioning between a hotel and person-to-person rental service, combined with competitive prices and the flexibility of ApartmentParis’ flats, adds an extra dimension of comfort (economic and physical) to your Paris travel plans.

Jet to Jamaica, Mon

Nothing quite like Negril's stunning cliffs

Nothing quite like Negril’s stunning cliffs

Well, if you’re looking for some quality time with the family or hoping to jet off with your sweetheart, Jamaica’s Island Outpost has some great summer offers on tap! Four nights for the price of three at GoldenEye Hotel & Resort, Ian Fleming’s former residence and at Strawberry Hill, nestled in the Blue Mountains, and Geejam’s in Port Antonio offering of five nights for the price of four should do the trick. The all-inclusive Caves’ in Negril features the “Super Fab Summer Escape” – five nights, spa treatments, and more for $2,600 (a savings of more than $800 on high season rates).

For additional offers and info: click here.

Vegas on a Budget

This week, Maisie Knowles, a working mother of two with three-year’s experience writing on parenting and partner issues, gives us money-saving Vegas tips for those who want a 5 star experience on a 3 star budget.

Dropping the kids off at Grandma’s and planning a getaway with your spouse? Look no further than a five-star weekend in The Entertainment Capital of the World. That’s right, Las Vegas is the ultimate adult weekend getaway for couples and singletons alike. While it’s easy to be fooled by the glitz and glamour of Sin City, it can still be affordable with these money-saving tips.

1. Save on Lodging
Keep an eye on sites like and for Las Vegas hotel deals. You’ll find deals on four- and five-star hotels like The Palazzo, The Venetian, and The Cosmopolitan. Snag a deal off one of those sites and you could save up to 70% on your accommodations. Also remember that popular hotels with the hottest night clubs or pool parties will be more expensive. A hotel off the beaten path will be much more affordable.

2. Purchase Deals
Before your getaway, sign up for Las Vegas deals at group buying sites like Groupon and LivingSocial. Keep an eye on your inbox for special offers on activities, experiences and dining that you can purchase to use while you’re away. You can also install the Groupon app on your mobile phone and use Groupon Now! Deals to find discounts on restaurants, shows and spas “today-only.”

3. Relax at a Spa
Start your weekend off on the right foot and go to a spa. Most hotels on the Strip accept SpaFinder gift cards, so before your trip, purchase one of these cards from GiftCardGranny where you can get up to 13% off the face value of the card. Just remember to buy them with enough time to account for shipping.

4. Discount Entertainment
Whether it’s a comedy, musical or Cirque show you’re after, Vegas has a plethora of performances from which to choose. For discount show tickets, visit to determine what’s available and then visit their box office to get half-price tickets to over 75 top Vegas shows.

5. Travel on Off-peak Days
Flights to Vegas are most expensive for weekend travelers as demand is at its highest. Plan a trip during the week or depart Saturday, returning on Monday or Tuesday to find the cheapest airfare.

6. Beat the House
Everyone enjoys gambling and what’s Vegas without a little Roulette or Black Jack? Before you blow your entire checking balance at the casino, set a firm budget on how much you’re willing to lose and stop once you hit that point, say $100. The same goes with winnings — call it quits before you get greedy and lose it all on the next hand. Get free drinks while gambling or sit at a slot machine to enjoy complimentary cocktails while betting away chump change.

7. Reward Programs
Sign up for a hotel and casino reward program to earn benefits for money spent during your stay. As aTotal Rewards member you can earn and redeem credits at nearly 40 resorts and casinos around the world, including Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood and more. M Life gives you rewards at 15 destinations including hotels like Aria, Bellagio, MGM Grand and The Mirage.

8. Do as the Locals Do
Get off the Strip and hit the local favorites for cheaper dining, drinks and activities. Visit Fremont Street for a vintage Vegas experience. Head into Henderson to catch a movie or visit one of the two Las Vegas Premium Outlets off the Strip. Finally check out for a list of free shows and entertainments from a local Vegas insider.