Category Archives: Travel tips

There's More To San Francisco Than Financial Institutions & Cable Cars

The Palace Hotel San Francisco

People travel to San Francisco from all over the world for various reasons and one that most likely doesn’t make the top 10 is for its architectural beauty.

John King with the San Francisco Chronicle shares some jewels that deserve your attention.

Ferry Building, 1898 with extensive 2003 renovations, A. Page Brown. This one’s a favorite, and not just for the glorified food court on the ground floor. “Of course, the Ferry Building was very important to me as a child,” Doris Madden recalls. “We used to drive our car on the ferryboat and go to the East Bay for a picnic every year during the summer.”

Hyatt Regency Hotel, 1973, John Portman, 5 Embarcadero Center. Full disclosure: I’m not big on this atrium-centered showcase that saw its glory days a generation ago. But its admirers include Tanu Sankalia, chair of the University of San Francisco’s department of art and architecture. “The Hyatt is about spatial experience that is memorable and unique,” she writes, singling out such details as “its continuous, cascading balconies” and “the slot-like skylight that washes the pre-cast concrete surfaces.”

Palace Hotel, 1909, Trowbridge & Trowbridge, 2 Montgomery St. And now for something completely different, hotel-lobby-wise: this dowager’s Garden Court with its marble columns and stained-glass dome. Mark Katzenberger calls it “glorious but not gaudy … no place in San Francisco (better) expresses the grace of our gilded past.”

JPMorgan Chase Building, Pelli Clarke Pelli, 2002, 560 Mission St. It’s hard in words to convey the attention to details that sets apart this “retro green office tower,” in the words of Charles Belov. In person, you understand.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1994, Mario Botta, 151 Third St. Museum officials didn’t call Botta when they sought architects to design an equally large addition, but the Swiss modernist’s “little gem” has fans such as Susan Schneider: “The interior horizontal finishes convey solidity and even perhaps tradition, while the peekaboo staircase with its dark-to-light aspect leading to the cylindrical steps from the fourth to fifth floor is nothing but fun.”

Xanadu Gallery, 1949, Frank Lloyd Wright, 140 Maiden Lane. This one received as much love as the Ferry Building, especially from architecture buffs who love how its circular interior ramp was a test run for the Guggenheim Museum, which opened a decade later in New York.

Sing Chong Building, 1908, T. Patterson Ross and A.W. Burgen, 601 Grant Ave. There’s a reason for the colorful, overtly “Oriental” tone of this and other older Chinatown buildings, points out Drew Bourn: They were commissioned after the 1906 earthquake by Chinese merchants and landowners who grasped that making their neighborhood a tourist attraction would keep it from being shipped to the south edge of town – the proposal of some city leaders at the time.

Grace Cathedral, various architects, 1964, 1100 California St. “By simply going inside the cathedral, I immediately am at peace with the world,” writes Ann Dolyniuk. Afterward, “I take my friends outside and gape at the Nob Hill hotels and enjoy the passing cable cars. … What could be a better site to bring visitors to?”

City Hall, 1915, Arthur Brown, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, A favorite of Michael Zonta, who notes “at one time we really thought this place was something special.” Haven’t we always? And the interior is as impressive as the 308-foot-tall dome.

The Armory, 1909, Woollett & Woollett, 1800 Mission St. The formidable clinker-brick walls – the better to keep out rioting mobs – alone are worth a visit. But consider the social angle: After this massive structure sat empty for 30 years, impervious to all development schemes, it was bought by … an Internet pornography company that set up shop in 2008. Or as Zonta puts it, “bulwark of democracy restored by Kink. com.” How Ess Eff is that?

Tom Costello is the CEO, Partner & Co-Founder of Groups International, a company that provides marketing, consultative services, and technology solutions to the group and leisure travel markets.  Connect with him on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook or contact him by email.

High Gas Prices Fuel Hotel Deals

Hotels across the country are pumping out a wide array of fuel-related discounts to keep high gas prices from letting your summer vacation run on empty.

New York City: At Affinia Manhattan in New York, guests who show a mass transit ticket will be eligible to get a $20 gas card in the “Take a Pass on Gas” promotion that begins this month.

Napa Valley, Calif.: At Napa Old World Inns bed and breakfast, guests who carpool will be given a two-bedroom suite for the priceof a standard room through July.

San Antonio: The Grand Hyatt and Hyatt Regency hotels plan “Fuel Your Stay” in June. The deal will give guests up to a $75 credit for hotel incidentals, including food, beverage and parking expenses, based on their mileage on the way to the hotels. Guests must show a copy of a gas receipt, and there is a two-night minimum.

Myrtle Beach, S.C.: Starting June 18, guests renting condos at the Barefoot Resort will be eligible for a $50 gas card and a free night if they book seven-night stays with a Saturday check-in.

5 Travel Tips Using Your Smartphone Camera

The summer travel season is upon us and many smartphone owners will be packing their bags and heading for parts unknown. Traveling is becoming more difficult than ever, especially if your friendly TSA is involved through air travel. Just about everyone has a smartphone, and using these simple tips with the camera can help smooth the vacation experience.

Snap a picture of any bags you intend to check with the airlines. Hopefully you won’t be one of the many whose bags get misplaced by the airline, but if so it helps if you have a photo of the bag(s) to show them what they should be looking for. This worked for me recently when my bag didn’t appear on the caroussel, and when I showed the attendant the photo of my bag with the blue handle, she remembered taking it to lost and found. I had my bag in a few minutes due to that photo.

Snap a photo of anything out of the ordinary you pack in checked bags. I have a system where I pack all of the power bricks for my mobile gear in a cable stash. I put this in my checked bag to keep my backpack as light as possible. In the event the bag is lost and a claim needs to be filed, having the photo of the cable stash shows all of the expensive power adapters in one shot. Hopefully you won’t need to replace gear due to a lost bag, but if so make the process easier.

Take a photo of your hotel room number. In the old days hotels used regular keys with the room number stamped on them so remembering which room was yours was easy. In the world of electronic card keys, the room number is deliberately omitted for security. I could never remember my room number, and started snapping a photo of my room number at the door. Now I just look it up in my photo gallery before heading up to the room.

Snap your car in the airport lot to remember where you parked. Even worse than forgetting your hotel room number is forgetting exactly where you parked in the airpot lot. The end of a trip when you are tired and anxious to get back home is not the time to be wandering aimlessly in the vast parking lot trying to find your car. Take a couple of photos with your smartphone camera that clearly mark where you parked your car. This can turn a bad travel day into a good one in just a few seconds.

Take a photo of your hotel to show taxi drivers. If traveling abroad where English is not the native language, communicating with taxi drivers can be a chore. The easiest way to communicate where you are staying is often to show them a picture of the hotel. You’ll be back in your room in no time once they realize where you want to go. Hopefully you’ll remember your room number when you get there.

Source: James Kendrick ZDNet

7 Tips To Save At Any Hotel

There are plenty of other ways to save, regardless of your destination or negotiating skills:

  1. Go in the off-season. If you have control over your travel dates, this is one of the best and most powerful ways to save. Off-season dates can vary from hotel to hotel, so you may want to call and ask.
  2. Check promotions. This might also require some flexibility in travel dates, but it never hurts to look before you book. Check a site like for special rates, Deals of the Week, Last Minute Deals, Packages, and Hot Dates & Rates.  When you sign up as a Member hotels can send you special promotions that aren’t available on other websites.
  3. Book early. If your travel dates aren’t flexible, book as soon as you know what they are. If it’s an annual trip, for example, there’s no reason you can’t reserve months in advance while occupancy — and prices — are lower.
  4. Compare weekdays with weekends. Tourist-oriented hotels tend to charge more on the weekends because that’s when they get more customers. Hotels that target local businesses and events tend to charge more midweek for the same reason.
  5. Comparison shop. A bit of research can make competition work in your favor. Know what competitor rates are, and what amenities are included so you don’t get hit with fees for Internet, breakfast and other services.
  6. Join the club. If you’re a frequent traveler or typically stay in the same chain of hotels, sign up for rewards programs.
  7. Look farther away. While it’s nice to stay at the hotel that’s hosting the event you’re attending or is just a block away, that convenience comes at a cost. Everybody’s going to book the closest spots first, so widen the radius of your search to find hotels a little more desperate for your business.


Nashville "Direct Connect" Hotels From Hotelmine

Grand Ole Opry

Set amid the gentle hills and farmlands of central Tennessee, sprawling Nashville attracts millions of visitors each year.

The majority come to immerse themselves in country music, whether at mainstream showcases like the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry, or in the smaller clubs and honky-tonks found not only downtown but also in Nashville’s many neighbourhoods.

Here are just a few of the many hotels in Nashville  that you will find at Hotelmine.  Don’t forget when you decided to book your guest room you will be dealing directly with the hotel and not an online travel agency.

Hotelmine…see where the world’s largest “Direct Connect” travel site can take you!

Nashville Hotels