Latest Travel Tip – Negroni’s Picks

June 17, 2013

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Ponce’s famous red firehouse.

Procrastinators; as a reward for putting off until June your August vacation plans, tremendous savings are being offered on great hotels in Puerto Rico. Hotel Week Caribe is the mis-named month of discounted rates on hotels in San Juan; from the Condado Palm Inn and Suites at $100 a night to the historic and lux El Convento at $250 a night, perfectly located in the heart of the beautiful and expansive Old San Juan.

If like me, you enjoy getting out into the country, get a car and drive down to the Caribbean side of Borinquen where the Copamarina Beach Resort and Spa in Guanica is also participating in the August room sale. This is a winner at $150 a night.

I’ve stayed at Copamarina several times. I love the ferry boat ride out to Gilligan’s Island, hiking in the dry forest and spending the morning walking through the little town of Guanica.  See the chart below for details on how to get these special deals and vaya con Dios!

Condado Palm Inn & Suites San Juan, PR $100 787-721-9500, mention “Hotel Week” for special rate
Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde San Juan, PR $150, use promo code “FLP” for special rate or call 1-800-791-2553
Doubletree San Juan San Juan, PR $150 Use  booking code “PK9” online
Copamarina Beach Resort & Spa Guanica, PR $150 1-800-468-4553, mention “Hotel Week” for special rate
La Concha, A Renaissance Resort San Juan, PR $200 or call 1-888-236-2427 and ask for special rate
El Convento Old San Juan, PR $250 787-723-9020, mention “Hotel Week” for special rate

* taxes not included

November 28, 2012

Last year I was very busy in the kitchen.

Food, FOOD, FOOD, it’s that time of year when cookies spout on desktops and candy blossoms all around the Christmas tree. I’m not complaining. I’m just putting it in context with two press releases I received today that are gustatorial in nature. Since I like my sweets after my meal, let’s start with the East-meets-West fried chicken promotion.

It what I found to be a startling development,  Japan Airlines announced that on its new flights from Narita to points in the U.S.A. and Europe, Kentucky fried chicken will be the second in-flight meal.

JAL has teamed up with KFC for this snack-sized service consisting of two pieces of original fried chicken, flatbread and coleslaw.

On my recent visit to Japan, I had several meals with fried food, a tempura avocado from Kuroko Sushi in Narita being an especially tasty one. So throwing food into the grease isn’t totally foreign to Japan, though this combination of JAL and KFC seems a little off-kilter to me.

The KFC JAL partnership on a plate. Photo courtesy Japan Air Lines

In 2011, JAL made a partnership with New York’s 5th Avenue Chocolatiere, which I wrote about here. The company makes incredibly rich, melt-in-your-mouth truffles and JAL was offering them in the premium class cabins, meaning you pay your bucks, you get your chocolates. For the rest of us, we can get our in-flight holiday calories delivered by the Colonel – or cue the segue – by taking advantage of a new offer from Accor Hotels.

Their holiday marketing campaign goes from November 15, 2012 to January 15, 2013. It’s an offer for three nights for the price of two at any of its Sofitel brand properties around the world and get this, a visit to the hotel’s all-chocolate buffet where chocolate creams, truffles and pralines have been prepared just for the event.

Full disclosure, I’m a member of the frequent guest program offered by Accor and I’m quite a fan of this chain, especially the more economical Mercure, Ibis and Novotel. Rooms are lovely and services and amenities are consistently good, beyond what one expects for the price. When I’m not staying at an airbnb or an airport-located hotel, I’m hoping there’s an Accor-brand at my destination.

The chocolate promotion is with the Sofitel brand but with a 33% discount for a 3 night say, even this upscale hotel chain becomes more affordable, especially when you throw in a chocolate buffet. Sofitel has hotels in  Macau, Bangkok, Paris, Morocco, and Beijing, to name just a few. Check their website for more information.

August 9, 2012

Who does not love those online flight tracking websites that provide real time information about the progress of airline flights? I sure do. They’re good for travelers and perhaps more important for people awaiting the arrival of travelers.

Today I learn that FlightTrack is offering the handheld app version of its program absolutely free, for both Apple and Android devices, through Mobiata. I’m going to download that baby right now since I’m headed back to the USA from Italy in a few short days. (Say it isn’t so!) The night before my flight, I’ll be staying at the beautiful brand new Malpensa Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center which, as luck would have it, is directly across the terminal from United.  If there’s a delay, I can linger at the hotel rather than pace at the gate. Oh how I love airport hotels. Nifty, eh?

Give it a try here for the Android and here for the Apple and let me know how the app works for you.

July 25, 2012

I love fall, don’t get me wrong,  but I was horrified earlier this week when walking on the golf course behind my home, to see a tree quite well into the turning red phase. I am simply not ready for summer to be over. Today I get my second reminder that time is moving too quickly, as American Airlines announced its International Flight Deals with this very clever photo.

Like the photo, like the fares, hate the idea that its that time of year again.

The upside? We can think about all those bargain flights to Europe, South America and the Caribbean. I’ll leave you to your shopping.

June 27, 2012


If you love London as much as I do, you’ll be intrigued to hear of this special limited time offer from British Airways.

For the rest of the summer it is offering a deeply discounted business class fare to London and Manchester from a number of US cities.

At $2012, it is a steal, not much more expensive than a full fare economy ticket, especially during peak summer travel season.  Business class – or what BA calls Club Class- comes with perks. The comfy seat, the extra legroom. There’s also free checked luggage, expedited service at the check in counter and access to the premium class lounge at the airport. Waiting is so much more pleasant with a cocktail in hand and a view of the airfield.

Departure cities included in the special fare are:

  • Boston
  • New York (JFK and Newark)
  • Philadelphia
  • Houston
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth
  • Washington DC (Dulles and Baltimore)
  • Miami
  • Chicago
  • Atlanta
  • Seattle
  • Phoenix
  • Las Vegas (check out the new terminal there!)
  • Los Angeles
  • Denver
  • San Francisco
  • San Diego

Not a bad lineup eh?

The special fares are also available through BA’s code share with American Airlines, but there are restrictions so read carefully before you book.

If you go, have a warm pint and think of me. I’m with you in spirit.

May 16, 2012,

Hugo Burge of

Earlier this week I had a cup of coffee with Hugo Burge, of while he was visiting New York. Hugo is the head honcho of the UK-based website which is yet another of countless internet engines that are supposed to help travelers get the best possible airfare.

Let me guess, you feel you can’t keep those sites straight without a scorecard. I’m with you.  But cheapflights is more than just a search engine for airfares. Hugo describes it as a travel guide, sale alert and source for objective reviews. Full disclosure, last year they published some of my travel tips, in an interview consisting of some pretty provocative questions. You can read it here.

But back to the subject at hand. Today, arrives in my inbox, a brilliant list of the top ten most affordable places to fly to this summer as compiled by Hugo’s Now that’s useful.

In looking for travel bargains, the reality is that some times,  some places are just not. going. to. be. cheap. Hotel rooms in Dubai were practically free in July, but fugedabowt  renting a car in Phoenix the week baseball Spring training begins.

The folks at cheapflights put all that high season/low season information together and here are the bargain destinations they found.



Average RT Airfare


Chicago, IL



Orlando, FL



New York, NY



Dallas, TX



Denver, CO



Washington, DC



Las Vegas, NV



Kansas City, MO



Fort Lauderdale, FL



Boston, MA


Want to get more specific? Go to their website and click through for more top ten lists broken down by region.

In the meantime, you can assume that if airfares are low, the hotels in the area are probably also offering deals. For example, as we approach the season when temperatures in Arizona top 110 degrees, hotel room rates are plummeting at the Arizona Biltmore, a Hilton luxury hotel. Check out the two for one and special theme packages on their website.  Finding travel bargains isn’t easy but it is rewarding.

Good luck and safe travels.