Hottest Summer Destinations for 2014

Posted April 23, 2014 by SmarterTravel.com


Turn up the heat on your vacation plans this summer in a destination that beckons with new and standout reasons to visit. Even the chilliest spots on this list will be hot this summer with new traveler-friendly events, openings, and airline service. Whether you're looking for some natural splendor, a 24-hour urban scene, or a simple patch of white-sand bliss, you'll be able to find it in these dazzling destinations.



Brazil is set to be the center of the sports universe this summer as host of the FIFA World Cup, which will welcome teams from 32 countries around the world. With more than 2.5 million tickets already in circulation for matches in cities around the country, the world will be cheering in Brazil between June 12 and July 13.



Domestic low-cost giant Southwest has gotten its passport and is heading to the beach. This summer, it will launch its first international flights, with service to Jamaica from Atlanta, Baltimore, and Orlando starting in July. JetBlue is also expanding its Jamaica service just in time for summer, with new flights from Ft. Lauderdale to Montego Bay.


Las Vegas, Nevada

Heat rises, and this summer, you can survey already-smoking-hot Las Vegas from on high in the city's latest supersized novelty, the High Roller Ferris wheel. Staking a claim as the world's tallest, the 550-foot-tall observation wheel supports 28 individual pods that can each hold up to 40 people. The views are most spectacular at night, when the Strip sparkles below. And, this being Vegas, you can buy your drinks at the bottom and bring them with you on your journey to the sky and back.



Last December, we named Belgium a destination to watch in 2014. And this August, it will become clear why, as the country—and the world—marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. More than 2 million travelers are expected to pay tribute at Belgium's many battle sites. The new Bastogne War Museum just opened last month and will host a variety of centennial events in the coming years.


Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

In these ancient mountains that teem with constant springs of new life, a hundred years seems like both a blip and an eternity. This year, Rocky Mountain National Park turns 100 years old, and visitors can celebrate nature and conservation at its finest by taking part in picnics, night hikes, art exhibits, and more. Centennial events kick off in early September and stretch into 2015, so even if you miss the opening festivities, you'll still have plenty of time to join the celebration.


Umea, Sweden

Umea brings a new twist to its Capital of Culture designation this summer with hundreds of cultural events and nearly 24-hour daylight around the summer solstice. Highlights of the summer season include U x U, a crowd-funded music festival, as well as an outdoor staging of Strauss' opera Elektra.


Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta is looking to the future by celebrating the past this summer. Its modern reimagining of the classic streetcar will debut in late spring or early summer, with 12 stops connecting Centennial Olympic Park, downtown Atlanta, Georgia State University, and the historic Sweet Auburn District. And in May, downtown Atlanta's new National Center for Civil and Human Rights museum will welcome the public for the first time.



Along with Jamaica, Aruba will be one of Southwest's first international destinations. In July, the domestic-until-now low-cost carrier will kick off service between Aruba and Atlanta, Baltimore, and Orlando. And the timing is perfect—since Aruba sits outside the traditional "hurricane belt," Caribbean summer travel to this island is unlikely to be hampered by challenging weather.


Glasgow, Scotland

Brazil isn't the only country that's got game this summer. Glasgow is gearing up to host the XX Commonwealth Games, an event that draws participants and spectators from a number of countries around the world. Featuring 17 events, including aquatics, gymnastics, triathlon, and table tennis, the XX Commonwealth Games kicks off on July 23 and runs through August 3.



A man, a plan, a canal: Panama! The engineering marvel that inspired the palindrome turns 100 on August 15, and Panama is gearing up to celebrate. Throughout the year, a number of cruise lines are offering special canal crossings or partial crossings, and day tours by providers such as Panama Canal Tours will be offered all summer. The Frank Gehry-designed Biomuseo, which is visible from the entrance to the canal, will also likely open this summer. And the expansion project continues: By 2015, larger ships may be able to access the canal.


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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title Hottest Summer Destinations for 2014. 

 Follow Christine Sarkis on Google+ or email her at at editor@smartertravel.com.

Paradise for Less on Jamaica's Treasured South Coast

Posted June 11, 2009 by Kate Hamman

Jamaica-TreasureBeach-Jakes-DEF The word "Jamaica" conjures images of sandy beaches, tropical drinks, and a hammock with your name on it. Now you can truly get away from it all by traveling to the southeast corner of the island, where you'll find Treasure Beach, with its waterfall adventure, secluded cottages, and fresh seafood.

YS Falls: Hop aboard a tractor-drawn jitney, where you'll encounter thoroughbred horses en route to YS Falls. Once you arrive at the 120-foot, seven-tiered waterfalls, you're welcome to swim about in the cool water of the pools. A lifeguard is on hand, and you can change privately at the falls. Admission costs $14, and includes the ride. Try to get there early as the falls are a hot spot for tour buses later in the day.

Jake's Resort in Treasure Beach: Jake's 38 cottages incorporate natural elements of the sea, sky, and garden, while providing the utmost in privacy. Stay in one of the ocean view rooms, and you may have a deck that juts out over the water. The boutique resort offers several reasons to hang out on the grounds, including a games room, an on-site massage therapist, and a Jamaica-influenced restaurant. Rooms are a steal at $95 per night for a garden-view during the off-season, and $115 per night during the high season.

Little Ochie: Just east of Treasure Beach on Alligator Pond, you'll find Little Ochie, where you dine on thatched-roofed boats on stilts. While you hover above the sand, you can watch fisherman haul in their day's catch from the ocean just steps away. Everything is made-to-order, and you can choose to have your seafood steamed, fried, or just dry. Prices depend on the weight of the item you choose. 

To search for flights and compare prices to Montego Bay, which is home to the South Coast’s nearest major airport, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: Island Outpost)

Air Jamaica: Most Absurd Fee Ever?

Posted May 19, 2009 by Carl Unger

Air jamaica Air Jamaica announced a new $25 baggage fee for the second checked bag. Yawn, right? Little late to the party, Air Jamaica! Airlines have been adding these fees for over a year. And by keeping the first bag free, Air Jamaica actually joins the ranks of more lenient U.S. carriers like Southwest and JetBlue.

But it's not the $25 that has Air Jamaica in the running for Most Absurd Fee Ever. It's this, from the airline's press release announcing the new fee: "Passengers are guaranteed delivery of the free baggage allowance on the same flight on which they travel. All other bags will be transported within seven days, and must be collected from the airport. The status of these bags may be tracked online at www.AirJamaica.com/baggage to determine when they may be collected." The policy affects only two routes, New York-Grenada and New York-Barbados.

If you just did a spit take while reading that quote, well, that will teach you to drink while reading the BookingBuddy blog. But yes, you read correctly. Air Jamaica's new policy is that baggage you pay to check will arrive within seven days, while your free baggage arrives with you.

Let me try to make some sense out of this. The airline is clearly trying to discourage people from checking multiple bags, likely in the hope of simplifying its business and saving money. This is the driving force behind baggage fees in general. And to further unburden itself of the task of transporting baggage, Air Jamaica will now do so at its convenience, not that of its paying customers.

Alright, I tried—this makes zero sense. If anything, you would expect the bags you pay for to receive special attention. Instead, Air Jamaica is taking your money in exchange for a downgrade from the service you normally receive for free.

And that, my fellow travelers, is simply absurd.

(Photo: airplane-pictures.net)

And Ms No Swim Suit 2008 Is…

Posted March 5, 2008 by Heather Gilbert

Beachskinnydippingdef I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but I’ve officially become your non-official expert on nakations.  And as for today’s musing, well, this is not your mother’s nakation (assuming your mother is a free-spirited naturist who plays naked volleyball).  It’s a Hedonism Resorts nakation. 

Hedonism is teaming up with E! Entertainment Networks to film a “Wild on E!” special around their “Ms No Swim Suit” contest, being held from March 9-15.  According to the press release, "12 dynamic female contestants representing social clubs and travel organizations from around the U.S. vie for the 2008 Ms. No Swim Suit crown." 

If you’re worried that this competition is just based solely on how you look in your birthday suit on the night of the event, fear not.  Apparently “the entire week is filled with activities designed to allow the lovely contestants to win the favor of visitors, including Naughty School Girl Night, the evening Bareware Competition, the Naked Fashion Show, Pajama Night, Mardi Gras Night, Toga Party Night, and the Dance Finale. At this pageant, flirting with the judges is not only accepted, it's encouraged!” 

Phew!  I was starting to think that a contestant who hadn’t even put in her time choreographing a dance routine, modeling nudity in a fashion show, or romping around dressed as a naughty school girl might have a shot at the crown.

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