New York City

Holiday Cheer for Less in New York City

Posted December 16, 2009 by Jamie Moore

Nyc-manhattanxmas-def Take a huge bite of holiday fun in the Big Apple this winter. Exhilarating during any season, New York City revs things up during the holidays with fantastical window shopping and seasonal libations. You can even check out classic holiday performances without putting a damper on your holiday resources.

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Macy's: After the world tunes into Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, New Yorkers head to the flagship store for another free don't-miss spectacle. Each year Macy's installs two series of magical window displays: whimsical scenes from Miracle on 34th Street and a surprise theme; one year it was a wonderland of trees decorated to reflect harmony, joy, and friendship. There are always interactive features, too. In the past, visitors have lined up to measure holiday cheer on the "spirit-o-meter" and checked Santa's list to see if they'd been naughty or nice.

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Please Don't Tell (PDT): Need a secret hideaway from holiday crowds? The entrance to PDT's snug lounge is through a phone booth tucked inside Crif's—a legendary hot dog joint. Inside PDT you'll find hunting lodge decor (complete with stuffed and mounted animals) and an eclectic seasonal cocktail list, sure to get you in the holiday spirit. Be sure to make a reservation.

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Symphony Space: Steer clear of on-Broadway prices at one of Symphony Space's high-caliber performances. Check out one of the daily literature, music, dance, and film events or take the kids to a family-themed show. During the holidays, the schedule lights up with seasonal favorites including The Nutcracker ($30), The Christmas Revels ($45), or Holidays From Around the World ($20).

To search for flights and compare prices to New York City, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: Emin Kuliyev/iStockPhoto)

Capture the Holiday Spirit in New York City's Bryant Park

Posted December 4, 2009 by Kate Hamman

NY-NYC-BryantPArkWinter-DEF Far beneath the towering skyscrapers, you'll find an oasis of open space called Bryant Park. When it snows, the park becomes a winter playground, with a holiday market of unique designs, a free skating rink, and a plethora of tasty treats.

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The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park: You don't have to go to Europe to experience the joy of a Christmas market. Surrounding the park, you'll find more than 100 festive stalls filled to the brim with handcrafted goods. You can browse the art, garments, and foods created by each artisan. The shops are open from November 17 through December 30. Even if you don't buy anything, it's magical to see the holiday spirit embodied.

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The Pond at Bryant Park: It's rare that anything in the heart of Manhattan is free, but the Pond at Bryant Park invites you to skate in the open air under the city lights without paying a dime through mid-January. Sponsored by Citi and celebrating its third year, the pond has become a popular gathering place for families, sweethearts, and friends. Skates cost $10 to rent, and you can skate until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.

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'wichcraft NYC: Located at four kiosks around the park, 'wichcraft has the park cornered with sweet and savory treats. And anyway you slice it, Tom Colicchio of Top Chef fame, has created a winning combination of cheap snacks and sandwiches. Each kiosk offers something different, from the creamery stand serving peanut butter or bay leaf hot chocolate, to the sandwich stand selling signature specialties such as the grilled cheddar, smoked ham, and pear on cranberry-pecan bread.

To search for flights and compare prices to New York City, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: Jose Luis R. Cortes)

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

Posted August 7, 2009 by Katie Blais

Paparazzi compete_formatted I’ll admit it: I am a celebrity gossip junkie.  I sometimes (OK, always) care more about what the cast of Gossip Girl is wearing rather than the dismal economy or foreign policy changes.  When my brother lived in New York City, I was on total star lookout whenever I visited, scanning the streets of Soho and the West Village for glimpses of the rich and famous. My brother would roll his eyes at me when I screamed with glee when I saw such minor celebs as "jazz man" from Sex and the City walking down Hudson St.

Thankfully there are others who, unlike my brother, share my passion for everything Hollywood.  For example, www.oyster.com gives hotel reviews, but with a twist.  Head to their celebrity hotel section to see where the stars sleep while in The Big Apple.  While other travelers might care about budget, amenities and proximity to major landmarks, celeb watchers can choose their hotel by seeing if Katie and Tom might rest their heads on the same pillows.  Some hot spots include the Bowery Hotel, where you might run into Sarah Silverman in the elevator, and the Soho Grand Hotel, where you can make a move on George Clooney, who reportedly parties in the lounge when he is in Manhattan.  

Now, I draw the line at hiding in bushes, looking through their trash, or asking if you can eat the rest of their meal, but why not have some fun searching for celebs on your next trip?!

(Photo: papparazi-reform.org)

Caribbean Dreamin'

Posted June 8, 2009 by Katie Blais

Caribbean-jamaica
Starting July 13, Air Jamaica will add a red-eye flight from New York City to Grenada. Just think about it: you head home from your busy day, hit the airport, take a snooze, and wake up on a gorgeous Caribbean island … not too shabby if you ask me!

Flights leave Kennedy airport at 12:15 a.m. and arrive in Grenada the following morning at 6:30 a.m.  I think it’s a novel idea for a last-minute vacation, and I can imagine it would unfold something like this. You hit the bar after happy hour; enjoy some half-price appetizers and pitchers of margaritas when someone brings up how they didn’t think they would be working in a cube day in and day out. You chime in saying, "let’s go somewhere, let’s go somewhere tropical and warm and open up a smoothie shop and just live without the man infringing on our basic human rights to enjoy life."  You cab it back to your apartment, throw some mismatched (sort of) clean clothes in a bag, grab your passport, trek out to JFK, and hop on a last-minute flight to the islands to start your new life.

You wake up the next morning at the airport with a slight headache realizing it might be a little harder to open a smoothie shop in a place you have never been before. But you enjoy beaches, the laid-back vibe of the island (you might even get your hair braided and buy a crocheted beret a la Bob Marley) and return to NYC at 11:30 a few days later before heading to your stuffy office job relaxed and ready for the man to beat you down a little more.

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)

Tip Your Hat to Lady Liberty's Crown

Posted May 8, 2009 by Katie Blais

Statue-of-liberty_formattedI cannot wait for summer. I need to get a tan and eat lobster up in Maine (a summer tradition like no other!) ASAP.  On the 4th of July, I typically want to be sitting on a beach with a rum punch in my hand, but New York City, with Lady Liberty as its siren, is calling my name on this patriotic holiday.

It was announced today that the Statue of Liberty’s crown will reopen to the public starting July 4th— the first time since 9/11. Ten people will be allowed to enter at a time to catch glimpses of New York Harbor and Ellis Island. 

The warmer months are the perfect time to break away from your regular schedule and relax with your friends and family.  And with the economy being (let’s be honest here) a bit depressing, there’s no better time to visit that first beacon of hope and freedom that so many of our ancestors encountered when they arrived in this country. Plus, many hotels are offering Lady Liberty specials and the Ritz-Carlton even has a “libertini” cocktail in honor of the reopening.

So whether you usually jet to St. Barts (I had to give up my private beach house this year to cut back, hee hee) or choose a cheap summer vacation like staying in your own backyard and BBQ with friends, you need to find some way to soak up the summer and enjoy yourself.

Sadly, I have never been to the Statue of Liberty since I missed the school field trip and my brother would never take me there when I visited him in New York. This year, however, I may have to skip the beach and make my way down to the Big Apple to fight the crowds myself.

(Photo: www.wayfarying.info)

JetBlue Worker Caught Sleeping on the Job … in the Cargo Hold

Posted March 31, 2009 by Carl Unger

SleepingatdeskEveryone's been caught sleeping on the job, right? I mean, it's inevitable: Even if you don't take it to the George Costanza-level of building sleeping quarters under your desk, everyone, at some point, drifts off to Sleepytown while at work.

But what matters, one could argue, is not that you fall asleep, but how you wake up and whether or not your boss is staring at you when you do. (Note to my employers: I'm kidding, of course!)

Case in point: A JetBlue employee took a nap in the cargo hold of a plane that proceeded to fly between New York City and Boston. Yes, with the sleeping employee still in the cargo hold. Talk about a cheap flight, huh?

According to the AP, "The man was discovered by baggage handlers at Logan International Airport after the plane landed there Saturday. He told police he'd been accidentally locked inside the pressurized luggage compartment while taking a nap." Apparently the employee called JetBlue when he woke up and realized he was no longer on the ground.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is definitely not how you want to wake up when sleeping on the job. Fortunately the man was OK, but we'll see how he's doing after his supervisor has a word ...

(Photo: CDC.gov)

Recession-Friendly Travel

Posted March 27, 2009 by Katie Blais

Recession-hitting-usa_formatted Ah, the recession. No matter who you are or where you live, there seem to be reminders of it everywhere! My 401K statement is scary, magazines are thinner, the usual hot spots around town are strangely quieter, businesses are closing, and each week I seem to hear about someone else getting laid off … no fun at all.   But these rather gloomy times also seem to bring out ingenuity in folks. I mean we still need to have fun even if everyone is broke, right? For example, house parties and dinners are cheaper than going out and there is never a line or a cover to get in. I got invited to a clothing swap the other month, and biking to work is cheaper, better for the environment, and makes your gams look amazing. 

There are some ingenious people in the travel industry, too … especially owners of "micro-hotels." Such properties, which feature tiny rooms, have been in Europe for years, which instantly ups their “cool factor”  … if you can deal with a lot less space, and by sharing a bathroom with strangers you can save a bundle on your travel expenses. The Jane Hotel, in New York City, has all of the luxury of a regular Manhattan hotel and is located in Greenwich Village, but has rates going for less than $100 per night. How so you ask? Even though it features LCD TVs, 350-thread-count sheets, and free wireless Internet, it’s all contained in a room about the same size as a ship's cabin. Originally built in 1908 as a housing option for sailors who were passing through the Big Apple, the 50-square-foot cabins at one time even housed the surviving crew members of The Titanic!  

The Jane might not be the best option for claustrophobic travelers, but in these times when everyone is tightening their purse strings it’s a recession friendly but still pretty hip traveling option. After all, everyone might be broke, but we can still be cool!

(Photo: instablogsimages.com)

Continental Offers Manhattan Chopper Service For Regular Joes

Posted October 10, 2008 by Nicki Krawczyk

Ushelicopternewyork In my experience, it’s been mostly high-rolling corporate tycoons who have ready access to helicopters. Donald Trump. Steve Jobs. Lex Luthor. But now, to make up for insanely bad cab lines and followed by crazy-long rides, Continental is offering helicopter rides between Newark Liberty International Airport and Manhattan for a mere 45 bucks.

With a major Wall Street meltdown going on and a degree in finance no longer worth the bearer’s weight in gold, there are going to be some big changes in the big cities. Friends, it’s time for the little guy to start living large.

Even before your helicopter ride, plan to take advantage of head-honcho perks as you fly to Newark: All of those first- and and business-class seats that used to be taken up by traders and analysts and fund managers are pretty certain to be open and available. And when no one’s there to fill them, the price is sure to go down; that’s just simple supply and demand. (Thank you, Ben Bernanke.) Heck, if the airline tanks, the FED might have to bail them out, too, and, as a taxpayer, you’ll own those seats! Nice.

So then you’ll land in Newark, saunter over to the helipad, and take your big-shot ride into the Isle of Manhattan. And where are you going to go once you’re there? Forget Midtown, forget SoHo – get yourself down to Wall Street. It’s a ghost town! All of those high-end sushi places and $80-steak joints are going to be giving that stuff away. I’m willing to bet bargaining tactics will get you pretty far, too. As in, “My bill comes to $175. How’s about I give you $26.50?”

The middle class is rising to the top! Which may sound historically familiar, but this is waaaaay better than Communism because you’ll actually get to enjoy the bourgeois benefits instead of decrying them and moving to the tundra to raise potatoes. And stay tuned, because if things stay shaky overseas, there’s bound to be a little class disruption over there, too. Want to take a trip to London? Great, because if things continue as they have, Buckingham Palace might just be available for rent. Pip pip!

JetBlue Opens New Terminal at New York's JFK

Posted September 18, 2008 by Heather Gilbert

Jetbluejfkterminal Traditionally when someone buys a new home, they lay out the brie and Chardonnay and invite people over so they can show off their new abode.  The party is nice and hopefully nobody spills wine on the carpet or peeks in your medicine cabinet.  And that’s about the end of the story.  But what to do if you’ve just built a new 635,000-square-foot home to the tune of $800 million?  Better buy more brie, because that’s got to be one hell of a party. 

On Monday, September 22, JetBlue will be celebrating its new digs at JFK’s brand-spanking-new Terminal 5 (T5). This tri-level terminal has 26 gates across three concourses. And since it was designed with customer comfort and efficiency in mind, smack in the middle is a 55,000-square-foot central retail and concession marketplace.  Sounds pretty posh, right? Well wait ‘til you hear about the housewarming celebration!  JetBlue is so excited about its new domicile that it has invited a world-famous New York City dance troupe to perform the ribbon cutting, a famous pop singer to serenade guests, and T5 restaurant chefs to give cooking demonstrations.  Guests can also get ready to discuss their favorite New York City factoids with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the best things about pink beaches with Premier of Bermuda Ewart Brown, and why in-flight movie selections keep travelers happy with JetBlue Airways CEO Dave Barger.

Surely JFK’s Terminal 5 sounds like an oasis to weary travelers and here at BookingBuddy HQ, we’re excited by the concept of “customer comfort and efficiency.”  What do you think about this new mega-terminal? Leave a comment below and let us know.

(Photo: JetBlue)


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