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Easy way to entertain the kids for the weekend.

July 25th, 2014 No Comments

Mary Rambin Huffington Post Article

 

My latest article for Huff Po goes out to all my parent friends.   When kids are out of school, they constantly want to be entertained.  After weeks of going to the pool, the park, museums, the skating rink, amusement parks, summer camp, a week beach vacation, they’re still raring to go for more.  It never ceases to amaze me.

Water Parks have always seemed like a day solution until I discovered there are resorts with HUGE water parks on the property.

I ran into my mommy girlfriend yesterday while walking Mason and her first reaction was, “Oh…are they….nice?”  I laughed and assured her that would be my first concern.

The answer is yes and no.  There are some beautiful resorts (with golf, spa, beach, etc) that would serve to host you as a real vacation.  There are also less expensive, basic accommodations where you basically just sleep when you’re not sliding.  I mean, let’s be honest, if you’re chasing kids around a water park for two or three days, all you really need is a place to crash!

My list of resorts with water parks has a little bit of both luxurious and economical with properties scattered all over the country.

Up on deck for Huff Po Travel is a fabulous little hideaway in Palm Springs.

 

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Boost your airline mileage with a credit card

April 18th, 2014 No Comments

Airline Credit Card

With summer coming up and vacation on the brain, I thought this would be a great time to mention credit cards can be helpful in helping you boost your mileage.

I would NEVER give you this kind of advice. I’m terrible with anything and everything that has to do with credit cards.  On the other hand my friend Gary Leff, Conde Nast Traveler expert who blogged a MTM 6-part series called “How To Get More Luxury Out of Your Vacation Without Spending A Lot,” is the perfect person to consult on this front.

I ALWAYS check his blog and tweet him questions before I book anything!

The 10 Best Credit Card Signup Bonus Offers Right Now

**Click the title for links to the different cards.

  1. Citi Executive / AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard 100,000 miles after $10,000 spending within 3 months. It’s a $450 annual fee card which comes with American Airlines lounge access, and has a $200 statement credit as well in the first year.
  2. Ink Plus Business Card is a small business cards that both offer 50,000 point signup bonuses after $5,000 spend within 3 months. It has a $0 fee the first year, $95 thereafter.Points transfer to United, British Airways, Korean Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Southwest, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, IHG Rewards, and Amtrak.
  3. Ink Bold Business Card is nearly identical to the Ink Plus card above, except that it is a charge card (must pay bill in full each month) rather than a credit card (should pay bill in full each month). Like Ink Plus, it has an offer of 50,000 points after $5,000 spend within 3 months and has a $0 fee the first year, $95 thereafter.Both cards earn 5 points per dollar on telecommunications (cable tv, cell phone, internet) and at office supply stores; earns 2 points per dollars at gas stations and hotels; and has no foreign currency transaction fees.
  4. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers a $0 fee the first year ($95 thereafter); 40,000 points after $3000 in spend within 3 months, 5000 additional bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.It has no foreign currency conversion fees, double points on travel and dining, points transfers to United, Hyatt, Southwest, Amtrak, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Korean Airlines, Marriott, IHG Rewards, and Ritz-Carlton. Probably the best all-around credit card, and with a great signup bonus.This is the card I recommend most to beginners in the hobby for getting started, but it’s one that beginners and experts alike can benefit from.
  5. Citi American Airlines MasterCard: 50,000 bonus points after $3000 spend within 3 months, no fee the first year.
  6. British Airways Visa Signature® Card: 50,000 points after $2000 in purchases within 3 months,If you spend $30,000 on the card in a calendar year you earn a companion certificate so you can redeem miles and a second passenger travels on the award for no additional miles (but does pay the taxes and fuel surcharges). Here’s my full discussion of this offer.British Airways offers family accounts so you can pool your miles. One person could get the card, spend $30,000 on it this year and earn 87,500 points (signup bonus plus 1.25 points per dollar for spending). A second person gets the card, and spends only enough for the 50,000 point bonus. Together they then have 140,000 points that can effectively be used twice for 280,000 points worth of travel as long as they fly together and exclusively on British Airways.
  7. Mercedes-Benz American Express Platinum card: 50,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after $3000 spend within 3 months, $475 annual fee (which also gets you a $200 airline fee credit, $100 credit if you are signing up for Global Entry, and lounge access with American, US Airways (both ending March 22) and Delta — plus a Priority Pass Select card for Alaska Airlines and many international lounges).
  8. United Explorer Card: There’s a 50,000 mile signup bonus with additional miles possible, it is targeted but many have been able to get the card. I love that the card comes with primary collision damage waiver benefits for rental cars. If the offer was generally available to everyone it would be higher up on my list. There’s also a small business version of the card — log into your MileagePlus account and click on the Explorer card for business. Some people click around to other cards and back and see the 50,000 point card offered to them.There’s also a business version of the card that offers 50,000 miles after $2000 spend within 3 months, $0 fee the first year.
  9. Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: 50,000 points after $2,000 within 3 months, that’s ~ $714 worth of airfare, and it’s even incrementally better than that because you only pay the segment (security) taxes and not the excise taxes you’d be out of pocket for on a paid ticket.
  10. US Airways Mastercard 40,000 points after first purchase, $89 fee (not waived the first year).

Reasonable people can disagree on the ordering — how you will value points depends on how many you already have and what awards you’re after.

(About half of the card links in the list above offer referral credit to Gary if you are approved after applying through the links in this post. I appreciate your support.)

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Last Minute Luxury Hotel Rooms + Discount Code

February 28th, 2014 No Comments

Banyan Tree Bangkok

I wrote about the Hotel Tonight app a while ago.  Have you used it yet?  I check in on it every now and find tons of luxury hotel rome available for a steal! I’m dying to try it for my next trip.

Here’s how HT works.  At 12pm on the day you’re looking to stay, you go on the HotelTonight app and find the a list of the best possible deals on hotels (because they’re last minutes).  It’s a bit risky, but the reward is big:  you can stay in a beautiful place for a fraction of the cost.  They index all of the major hotel chains in countless cities across the globe.

I think this is a great idea for someone traveling on business who has a budget to stick to for their room rate.  Or a Vegas trip where you don’t stay in your room that often.  I instantly thought of my time in Bangkok when we stayed at the Banyan Tree (above).  We wouldn’t have cared about the hotel as long as the room was nice.

Book before March 31 and use my discount code: Mary25 for $25 off your stay.

Safe travels!

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BURN100 – my circuit to burn 100 calories in 10 minutes!

February 10th, 2014 1 Comment

Last week SELF magazine launched the SELF video channel online to offer a variety of fitness web series to help you get your burn on.  I shot 4 episodes of BURN100 where I do a circuit of exercises to burn 100 calories in 10 minutes using only equipment you would have at home.  In this first episode, I created a yoga-inspired series:

  • Yoga burpee
  • Crescent lunges
  • Yoga wave (warrior 2 to reverse warrior)
  • Build a bridge

You’ll see as I go I get out of breath.  The constant movement really gets your heart rate up and builds heat in your muscles WITHOUT having to kill yourself.

It’s a great workout to wake up your body and start the day.  The flow is easy to do in a hotel room or when you’re on vacation (and know you need to do SOMETHING physical).

Every Monday I’ll be posting a new killer workout.  There were four other trainers who participated like Brett Hoebel from the Biggest Loser.  So no more excuses to NOT exercise.

#Burn

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Some serious hustle on hotels (even the nice ones)

January 24th, 2014 No Comments

TripBam.com

 

Right now I think most of us use the usual suspects to search for hotel deals.  Well, there are a few new players in town who are making the play for your business in a big way.  Two of the websites below will stay on the hunt for the best deal even AFTER you’ve booked your room!  The last site helps you find the best deals on luxury hotels.

All three of these websites I’m about to share with you are new, which those in the tech world call “beta.”  In our terms, “not perfect.”  However, they make big promises that are worth a shot.

TRIPBAM.com

TRIPbam allows you to pick a hotel or neighborhood you want to stay in and then create a cluster of hotels around it that you’d also consider.  Book the room at the place you want and then it will continue to search for better deals in your cluster.  If something comes up, they will alert you and offer to rebook your room.

A warning, the user experience of this website is not pleasant due to the branding.  But, if it delivers on its promise, you won’t care!

TripRebel.com

I’m not sure what this has to do with their business other than the fact that the guys who built TripRebel know good branding.  There is only one function of this site.  Honestly I appreciate the simplicity.  You book your room THROUGH THEIR WEBSITE (very important). If the price of the room drops before you check in, they refund you the difference. Done!

Couple of things to watch out for.  When you input your city on the homepage, an error message pops up. Just click passed it.  When you get your rates, you’ll notice they’re in Euros.  In the top right hand corner, you can change the currency to dollars.

Like I said, these sites are new so give them a chance :)

TheSuitest.com

TheSuitest.com

 

TheSuitest is more my speed.  It helps you find deals on luxury hotels and filters them by the deal you’re getting.  They grade deals like homework: A, B, C, D, etc.  You can also search by price of course.

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Less searching and more saving on airfare

January 17th, 2014 No Comments

20140117-095127.jpg

I’m more of an airline loyalist because I like to earn the miles.  But I ALWAYS check to see if other airlines are considerably cheaper.

Recently I just discovered two new ways to do that.

WhichAirline.com

WhichAirline.com

This website and app allows you to see the airlines, duration, layovers, and price all in one graph. The feature that makes this site truly unique is that they will show you how you can use layovers and multiple airlines to reduce the cost of your total fare.   As someone who has traveled around Europe and can never remember all of their “domestic” options, I love that they index those airlines  as well.

Google.com/Flights/Explore

Google.com/flights/explore

I’m not sure how long Google has offered this search.  You enter your cities and trip length and then it shows you a graph of each day for a duration of time.  If you’re dates are flexible, you can opt to travel on one of the lower cost days.  When you scroll over the graph, it will show you which airlines have the lowest fare on that day.  Pretty nifty!  I’ve been dying to get to NYC to see friends and go to Otto’s new taco shop.

With this search I can see when is the most affordable time for me to do that.

(Photo credit: my always traveling GF Caroline)

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Get rid of the guilt before you chow down

November 25th, 2013 1 Comment

Mary Rambin tummy

Thinking about Thanksgiving, we all get concerned with the consequences of the feast.  Where will those extra calories will end up? As much as I wish my backside received the benefit of the extra inches, alas it’s my midsection, pictured above as I type this post.

However, I have a safety net for such occasions.  Since I exercise often, my metabolism can handle a big cheat day like Thanksgiving.  (These days, I’ve put it to the test on more than one occasion for Sunday brunch at Gjelina.)

Is your body prepared and trained for the big day, or should I say, the holiday season?

Exercise revs up your metabolism for 24 hours. So before your body is charged with dealing with turkey, gravy, stuffing, pies, and whatever else is part of your tradition, shift it into overdrive.

Some of you have the luxury of your gym, SoulCycle, or your favorite studio near by.  Others of you don’t.

If you’re in a major city, click here and find a group fitness class near you.

If you’re in the boonies while visiting family, click here and get a workout you can do anywhere.

Start ASAP and then eat to your tummy’s content!

Since you’ve started exercising, you might as well keep it up through the holiday season. Right?! :)

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How to get more luxury out of your vacation without spending a lot: Part 6 of 6 from Gary Leff

October 25th, 2013 No Comments

Gary’s Tip #6: The Citi Bank Hilton Reserve Card 

“Hotel chains treat their frequent guests much better than someone they don’t know well.  The top stayers get suites, late checkout, free breakfast, free internet, and even services like dedicated reservations representatives (I have one with Hyatt, Starwood offers them to members who stay 100 nights per year), and lots of bonus points.  But you don’t have to be an uber-regular to get some of the better treatment.  The big hotel chains have relationships with big banks, and they extend some of the benefits they offer their own elite members to guests who sign up for the credit cards that their best friend banks offer.

The very best deal comes from Hilton and Citibank. The Citi Hilton Reserve Card has a $95 annual fee but gives you Gold status in the HHonors program just for carrying the card.  That means free club lounge access (evening snacks, daily breakfast, at many hotels free cocktails), free internet, and upgrades — probably not to suites, but often to a bigger room or a better room..  As a signup bonus, they’ll give you two free weekend nights at nearly any Hilton family property in the world after you put $2500 of spending on the card.  That’s certainly worth more than the annual fee.”

———

Many thanks to Gary for sharing 6 great tricks on getting the biggest bang for your buck so we can travel in style!  To read the entire series, click here.  If you travel often, follow his blog for regular tips and current deals.  The man is an expert at discovering loopholes, online mistakes the airlines and hotels have to honor, and how to manipulate the fine print. You can feel free to tweet him questions @GaryLeff.  He’s super sweet so don’t be shy.

(Photo is room at Hilton Waldorf-Astoria Orlando resort via.)

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