The ABC's of a Great Family Hotel Experience, Part 1

February 26 2010 by Bryson Forbes
Comments (1)

A-B-C.jpgMy son and I pulled out one of his favourite books last night that we haven't read in more than a year. It's a great pop-up book called A is for Animals by David Pelham and it goes through different creatures from A to Z. The amazing thing is how my son can remember the most obscure animals, see "Quetzel or Narwhal". It inspired this week's (and next week's) blog - the ABC's of choosing a great hotel for families with kids. (You'll have to imagine the pop ups!)

A is for activities. Hotels that cater to families often have activities for kids. This can be as simple as child menus and crayons in the restaurant to playrooms.

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Where I Want to Bring My Kids Next: Oaxaca

February 26 2010 by Amy Graff

monte-alban.jpgI have always wanted to visit Oaxaca, the southern Mexico state stretching between the mountains of Chiapas and the Pacific Ocean. The rich moles sauces, the colonial capitol, the ancient ruins, the lazy beach towns--all of these things have called out to me.

After a friend brought her two children to Oaxaca the city and told me about taking a cooking class, I started to think about bringing my kids. And then I read a story highlighting Oaxaca's many kid-friendly attractions in the San Francisco Chronicle and now I'm convinced I must go. When? Not sure. But it has officially been put on my "places to go list" and moved above Iceland, India, and Morocco.

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The Ouray Ice Park - Extreme Fun for All

February 25 2010 by Casey Bower

ouray-ice-park-wr.jpgIf wearing blades on your shoes and swinging two axes as you climb frozen waterfalls and vertical walls of ice sounds fun read on... oh yeah, don't worry that the one rope that is protecting your life is right in the path of the very blades you yield.

If you are still reading, congratulations and welcome to the world of ice climbing. The word extreme doesn't do justice to this sport, but the truth is, it is very possible to be safe, have fun, and enjoy the thrill that can be had from scaling the temporary vertical playgrounds that winter annually produces.

If you have never been ice climbing but always wanted to know more about this elite sport, here is a great place to "break your boots in." (Just be warned, this is an extremely addictive activity with only one cure, more climbing.)

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2010 Olympics in Vancouver, BC -- Part Three

February 24 2010 by Julie Drossos
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canada-pride-wr.jpgI'm back! Into the final week of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and going strong.

Dutch Pride & Heineken House
Last week I mentioned that I'd be dropping by Heineken House this week and wow it was something else. A friend and I went after watching the women's 1000m speed skating finals. The crowd at the speed skating oval was a sea of red & white (for Canada of course)..and a whole lot of Orange! Those Dutch fans take pride to a whole new level. They were not too pleased when Canada's Christine Nesbitt kicked it into high gear in the last leg of her skate to claim Gold...

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Biz Travel is Bouncing Back: Here's Evidence

February 24 2010 by Chris McGinnis

hotel-key.jpgSince the beginning of this year, there have been a lot hopeful murmurs about the return of business travel after a precipitous decline over the last two years.

Now we've got even more proof that business travelers--especially those from small and medium sized companies--are seeing growth opportunities and taking more trips.

Several times a year, I survey the Best Western Diamond 100 Advisory Board (BWD100), a group of about 400 of Best Western's best customers who typically work for small or medium sized companies, or for themselves. They drive more often than they fly, and for the most part, they make their own travel decisions and rarely rely on travel agents or corporate travel managers.

Guess what? The outlook is brightening among this group of road warriors and many expect to travel more this year than last.

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Bike Week, Daytona Beach, Florida

February 23 2010 by Jason Fogelson
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motorcycle-daytona-beach-wr.jpgWhile much of the East Coast of the US is digging out from under record snowfall, Daytona Beach, Florida is getting ready for the kickoff event for motorcycle season: Bike Week.

The 69th Annual Bike Week celebration in Daytona Beach will take place this year from February 26 - March 7, rain, shine or snowfall. If you haven't already made your plans and reservations, you may not be completely out of luck yet. There are 11 Best Western Hotels within 50 miles of downtown Daytona Beach, and as of this writing, most still have rooms available during Bike Week. Check on the Best Western website , and you might just get lucky with a good room.

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Who's Gonna Win? Tell us for a chance to win!

February 23 2010 by BW Innsider
Comments (37)

Who's Gonna Win.jpg

Racing comes to Las Vegas this week! Join us in this weekly giveaway and celebration of NASCAR... Leave a comment below with you prediction of who's gonna win for a chance to win yourself a $25 Best Western Travel Card.

The rules are simple:

  • Leave a comment below letting us know which driver you think is going to win the Shelby American this Sunday.

  • If you are correct, you will be automatically entered in to a drawing for a chance to win a $25 Best Western Travel Card.

    *Entries must be in before the start of the race on 2/28, and winner will be announced on 03/01

    Don't forget to check back before every race to play Who's Gonna Win!

    Follow Us on Twitter I Become a Facebook Fan

    Limit only one entry per person. Must be 18 years of age or older and a resident of the US or Canada to be eligible to win. Winner will be randomly selected from all correct answers posted in the comments below.

  • NASCAR: Off to the Races

    February 22 2010 by Mark Deyer

    nascar-2010-wr.jpgThe start of the NASCAR season is upon us and as fans, we have plenty to be thankful for. Changes to the cars, new rules to help facilitate better racing, and an early flash of brilliance by Best Western Racing driver, David Reutimann, have us excited about 2010.

    Things to watch for in 2010:

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    Truckee, Calif.: A Snowy Spot for Families

    February 19 2010 by Amy Graff
    Comments (1)

    visiting_photo1-wr.jpgTruckee was once a place you stopped to fill up your car with gas on the way to one of the many ski resorts that circle Lake Tahoe. But now skiers are staying overnight in this small town, located about 30 minutes from Reno.

    With a handful of great places to bed down, a happening restaurant scene, and a main drag lined with old Western facades, Truckee offers more charming delights than you'll find at any of the ski resort villages.

    My family recently spent two days in Truckee, and we discovered a great place were travelers can stay, play, and eat.

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    Alaska's World Ice Art Championships 2010

    February 18 2010 by Mark Deyer

    ice-art-wr.jpgVisitors don't necessarily flock to Alaska during the winter, but, I say, "Why not?!" It's cold, sure, but there are some truly unique experiences during the winter months in the Northern state. How about hundreds of thousands of pounds of ice sculpted into creative works of art?

    Check out these amazing ice sculptures:

    Multi-block structures
    Single-block structures

    Presented by Ice Alaska - a corporation that promotes the artistic and educational endeavors of ice - the Ice Art Championships will begin February 20 and continue through March 28, 2010 in Fairbanks Alaska this year. During this month long event, artist from around the world travel to The Last Frontier to compete in the World Ice Art Championships. Over 100 sculptures are expected to be made ranging from six to 30 feet tall, each weighing from 7,800 to 40,000 pounds.

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    How Much is Too Much Time on the Road?

    February 17 2010 by Chris McGinnis

    clooneyupintheair-wr.jpg*Photo by Paramount Pictures.
    Have you seen the movie "Up in the Air" yet? In case you've not heard or read about it, the Oscar-nominated film stars George Clooney playing the part of Ryan Bingham, a super-frequent business traveler dealing with the effects of his peripatetic lifestyle. Here's a great one-minute clip.

    His quest to earn 10 million frequent flyer miles has gotten him plenty of perks, but it's clearly left him isolated from the real world and from real relationships.

    Every frequent traveler will see a little bit of him or herself in the Bingham character. The scene in the movie that hit home most with me was when he returns "home" to his apartment after a long stint on the road. The place looks just like one of those new long-term apartment style hotels--sterile, boxy and cold.

    Just like mine did.

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    Day Six: Austin to San Antonio and Home Again

    February 17 2010 by Jason Fogelson
    Comments (5)

    LBJMuseum-wr.jpgUsually, I plan an easy itinerary for the last day of a trip. Not this time. I had a jam-packed day ahead of me, and I got started early.

    I couldn't start without a good, hearty breakfast, though -- right? The Best Western Atrium does an especially good one, with eggs cooked to order, biscuits and gravy, sausage and bacon, and other goodies. I wolfed down my food, loaded up the bike, checked out of the hotel and rode across town to the campus of the University of Texas. I had another president to check off my list, and this one was a humdinger.

    The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum opened in 1971, with President Johnson's words describing the institution's mission:

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    Day Five: Bryan to Austin

    February 16 2010 by Jason Fogelson
    Comments (2)

    BushMuseum-wr.jpgToday was supposed to be a short day of riding, so I decided to take it a little easy on myself. I set the alarm for a leisurely 8:30 am, instead of my usual 7:30. Of course, I woke up at 7:30 anyway. I was excited about riding.

    BushMuseumSign-wr.jpgMy first stop, as always, was the Best Western Atrea at Old Town Center lobby for a delicious complimentary hot breakfast. Biscuits, cheddar cheese scrambled eggs and some hot coffee, and I was ready to ride. I checked out, and loaded up the Electra Glide. My first stop was just a few miles away this time, in the next town over, College Station. Home to the campus of Texas A&M University, which also hosts the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. I've been to seven presidential libraries so far (Nixon, Reagan, Ford, Eisenhower, Truman, Carter and Kennedy), and I hope to visit them all.

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    2010 Olympics in Vancouver, BC--Part Two

    February 16 2010 by Julie Drossos
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    vancouver-olympics2.jpgThe 2010 Winter Olympic games (or as some are calling it - the Spring Olympics - due to Vancouver's warm and sunny climate these past few days) have been going strong for just a few days now, and the excitement continues to build. Sunday night the lid was pretty much blown off the city as locals, joined by tourists alike, celebrated Canada's first gold medal (by French-Canadian Alexandre Bilodeau) of the games in the Men's Moguls. Bilodeau's victory made him the first Canadian to win a gold medal on Canadian soil, an achievement definitely worth celebrating. I'm looking forward to this Thursday when I am lucky enough to attend the Women's 1000 meter speed skating finals. I've heard that speed skating can be one of the most exciting and exhilarating events to watch live, so I'm pretty excited. In the meantime, I've been occupying my time taking in the buzz around the city, and enjoying the party atmosphere. If you're looking to let loose a little bit, here are just a few of the most talked about parties in town that you should try to make time to drop in on.

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    Day Four: Galveston to Bryan

    February 15 2010 by Jason Fogelson
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    BWGalveston-Beachfront-Inn-wr.jpgI woke up in Galveston eager to ride. I had planned a route that promised to take me past some very beautiful scenery today, from the Gulf waters to wildlife sanctuary to National Forest lands. I skipped the complimentary breakfast in the Best Western Beachfront Inn's cafeteria. I just slugged down some of the free coffee in the lobby, loaded up the Electra Glide and checked out of the hotel.

    I was ready for the cold weather today, more ready than I had been yesterday, anyway. I had two additional layers of clothing on top, purchased at Academy Sporting Goods last night: A good thermal ski shirt, and a long sleeve cotton t-shirt. Total investment: under $10. Perhaps the best $10 I've ever spent.

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    Enter For a Chance to Win a Signed Die Cast Race Car

    February 15 2010 by BW Innsider
    Comments (34)

    Who's Gonna Win.jpgThe Auto Club 500 is this Sunday! Do you think you know NASCAR well enough to guess who's gonna win? Use your smarts for a chance to win yourself some cool stuff!

    The rules are simple:

  • Leave a comment below letting us know which driver you think is going to win the Auto Club 500 this Sunday.

  • If you are correct, you will be automatically entered in to a drawing for a chance to win a die cast race car signed by Michael Waltrip!
  • *Entries must be in before the start of the race on 2/21, and winner will be announced on 2/22.

    Don't forget to check back before every race to play Who's Gonna Win!

    Follow Us on Twitter I Become a Facebook Fan

    Limit only one entry per person. Must be 18 years of age or older and a resident of the US or Canada to be eligible to win. Winner will be randomly selected from all correct answers posted in the comments below.

    Do You Know What Next Sunday Is?

    February 13 2010 by Bryson Forbes
    Comments (1)

    valentine's-day-wr.jpgIf you said Chinese New Year you're correct! However, if you're in a relationship and plan to stay in it, Sunday is also Valentine's Day. This holiday dates all the way back to 496 AD and was named after that famous Christian martyr Saint Valentine, although I believe back then it was simply "Valentine" (kind of like Patrick Roy, the Montreal Canadians' famous goalie before winning the Stanley Cup, now affectionately known as Saint Patrick).

    More than one billion cards or "Valentines" are sent every year, making it the second busiest for the postal service only behind Christmas. Regardless, whether you're a hopeless romantic or a sceptical cynic it doesn't really matter, your loved one is expecting something.

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    Wow, Amazing Best Western Hotels

    February 12 2010 by Chris McGinnis
    Comments (4)

    I've been writing this blog for over a year now, and not a week goes by that I don't hear from a reader or see something online (or in person) that makes me think, "Wow, who'd have thought THAT was a Best Western!"

    I remember the first time I pondered this "who'da thunk" phenomenon. I was walking in downtown San Francisco near Union Square in search of Millennium, an unusual high-end, white-tablecloth-and-wine-cellar yet vegetarian, restaurant. Where did I find it? In the lobby of the Best Western Hotel California. Who'da thunk a Best Western would house a world-class gourmet vegetarian restaurant where the least expensive entrèe starts at $22.50?

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    Mardi Gras for Families

    February 11 2010 by Karla Henriquez

    mardi-gras-mask-beads-wr.jpgMardi Gras is the culmination of Carnival and believe it or not, it's a family event! While many people think of the revelry on Bourbon Street when they think of Mardi Gras, there is actually so much more that goes on in New Orleans during the entire carnival season and on Fat Tuesday! Kids love to see the elaborate Mardi Gras floats, and they especially love to catch throws - beads, stuffed animals, and other trinkets and toys. Here's the skinny on the history of Mardi Gras and how to find family friendly parades and activities.

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    Day Three: Corpus Christi to Galveston

    February 11 2010 by Jason Fogelson
    Comments (3)

    GlennsBBQ.jpgOkay, I just thawed out. Finally.

    The temperature when I woke up in Corpus Christi this morning was 35 degrees. Not bad if you're in a car, but a little chilly if you're on a motorcycle. More than a little chilly, actually.

    I went up to the eleventh floor of the Best Western Marina Grand Hotel and had a good, complimentary hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, flour tortillas and refried beans, along with plenty of hot coffee. I was going to need it.

    The skies were clear as I loaded up the Electra Glide. I fired up the engine, and pointed the wheel north.

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    2010 Olympics in Vancouver, BC - You Gotta Be Here!

    February 10 2010 by Julie Drossos

    Olympics.jpgJust days away from the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics here in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and the energy in the city is palpable. I'm lucky enough to live downtown right in the heart of the excitement. British Columbia's (BC) motto for the 2010 Olympics is "You Gotta Be Here" and it's true. The buzz in the city is electric. Vancouverites are so proud to welcome the world to our beautiful city. This morning I walked by the Olympic Countdown Clock and got a surge of excitement as I noticed we are down to the last few days before the torch arrives here in Vancouver and we kick off the games with the Opening Ceremonies on Friday, February 12th.

    The best part about the Olympics and all the fun and celebration that comes along with it - for both locals and visitors alike - is that there is so much to do that is absolutely free! I'm going to be blogging a few times over the next couple weeks as we welcome the world to Vancouver, and this week I'll talk about some of the very cool, very free stuff you can take part in if you're lucky enough to be in town for the games.

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    Day Two: Laredo to Corpus Christi

    February 10 2010 by Jason Fogelson
    Comments (2)

    Overcast skies covered the city of Laredo when I woke up this morning. A quick check of the forecast gave me some encouragement, though. I've been using the free Weatherbug app for my iPhone, which gives great hour-by-hour predictions, along with live view Doppler radar maps of each area. I spotted an area of clear skies down the length of the Rio Grande all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, so I charted a course that would take me near Brownsville, then back up the Gulf Coast to Corpus Christi. My other option would have been a much more direct route across the desert, which promised to be shorter, less eventful, and much less interesting. Longer, more eventful and more interesting won out. But first, breakfast.

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    Winterlude in Ottawa

    February 9 2010 by Bryson Forbes

    skates-winterlude-wr.jpgMinutes after submitting my last blog about how mild the winter has been throughout Canada, Mother Nature smirked and changed her tune. Although we've still had very little snow, the temperature has dropped significantly and it feels much more like winter than it did last week.

    As I initially pondered this week's topic about Winterlude in Ottawa, I assumed I'd be discussing what organizers were planning without "skateable" ice. Au contraire! In the last week, conditions have become perfect to build a rink! I mean perfectly imperfect--bitterly cold with very little snow.

    Every February since 1979, Canada's Capital Region has gotten ready to host Winterlude, Canada's winter celebration. For three weeks, the region transforms to a winter playground. With these ideal conditions, it's expected that the current attendance record of 1.6 million visitors (set in 2007) may be exceeded.

    Having grown up in the area, I can attest first-hand to just how much fun you can have outside when it's -10 degrees at Winterlude. Here are a few tips:

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    Day One: San Antonio to Laredo

    February 9 2010 by Jason Fogelson
    Comments (1)

    BWLaredo.jpgBikeLaredoBW.jpgThe day did not start out with promise. When I looked out the window of my room at the Best Western Ingram Park Inn in San Antonio, the rain was coming down in sheets.

    After a quick shower, I packed my luggage, then availed myself of the free continental breakfast in the hotel lobby and weighed my options. I watched the Weather Channel, and noted that the southern end of the storm seemed to tail off somewhere between San Antonio and Laredo, my destination for the day. I decided that my FXRG gear was going to get a good road test.

    I checked out, and asked the desk clerk to call a cab for me. Despite the rain and traffic, a taxi arrived within five minutes, and ferried me over to Caliente Harley-Davidson. In just a few minutes, I had the keys to a black 2010 Electra Glide Classic. I loaded my gear into the saddlebags and Tour Pak, and hit the road by 10:00 am.

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    Texas, Here I Come!

    February 8 2010 by Jason Fogelson
    Comments (3)

    SanAntonioDowntown.jpgThe day has finally arrived. I'm in San Antonio, Texas.

    After weeks of preparation, I headed to the airport this morning lugging my rolling duffel bag full of motorcycle gear, and boarded a plane for the Lone Star State.

    Yesterday was a flurry of activity, as always before a trip. Flying off for a motorcycle trip is different than a normal trip. I always travel light, but the definition changes when you have to carry your gear with you. My helmet alone takes up a good portion of my luggage.

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    Enter For a Chance to Win a $500 Travel Card!

    February 8 2010 by BW Innsider
    Comments (120)

    Who's Gonna Win.jpgLet's kick off this NASCAR season with a little friendly competition, and a big ole' giveaway!

    The rules are simple:

  • Leave a comment below letting us know which
    driver you think is going to win the Daytona 500 this Sunday.

  • If you are correct, you will be automatically entered
    in to a drawing for a chance to win a $500 Travel Card!
  • *Entries must be in before the start of the race on 2/14, and winner will be announced on 2/16.

    Don't forget to check back before every race to play Who's Gonna Win!

    Follow Us on Twitter I Become a Facebook Fan

    Limit only one entry per person. Must be 18 years of age or older and a resident of the US or Canada to be eligible to win. Winner will be randomly selected from all correct answers posted in the comments below.

    Things To Do in Dublin

    February 8 2010 by Julie Drossos

    temple-bar-district-dublin-wr.jpgDublin - the largest city and capital of Ireland - is one of the most charming and lively places in the world: full of character, history and a vibrant night life, it is home to quite possibly the friendliest most welcoming people in the world. Whether you're looking for a short getaway or an extended vacation, you will not run out of things to do, places to raise a pint (of Guinness of course) or friends to make in happy Dublin. Here are a few must-sees while you're visiting Dublin.

    Temple Bar District
    Cost: Dependent on your hunger and thirst
    In North America what often comes to mind when you think of Dublin and the Irish is Irish Pubs filled with lively social gatherings, peppy and uplifting Irish music and a whole lot of beer.

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    Book National Park Summer Vacations Now

    February 5 2010 by Amy Graff

    yose11a-wr.jpgWhen you're shoveling snow outside your house, it's hard to think about summer. But if you want to visit a national park this summer--especially one of the popular ones such as Yosemite or Yellowstone--you might want to start thinking now. Lodging in and around the parks books up fast, and many travelers make reservations in January and February.

    Jeffrey Olsen at the National Parks Service (NPS) told USA Today, "It's always best to book summer trips sooner rather than later. If you've decided on a destination, book it."

    Browse park listings here.

    Share a Romantic Destination Idea for a Chance to Win a $250 Best Western Travel Card!

    February 4 2010 by BW Innsider
    Comments (377)

    TravelDestinationscontest.jpgLove is in the air! We want to hear all the great ideas out there for a romantic travel destination, whether it is a winter retreat, sunny beach or just someplace special to you. It could be someplace you've been or someplace you dream of going. Let us know.

    To submit your romantic destination idea (and at the same time enter for a chance to win a $250 Best Western Travel Card®), select the Comment button and enter in a romantic destination idea.

    Once you enter a comment you are entered into a random drawing for one commenter to win a $250 Best Western Travel Card!

    In addition, get an extra entry into the contest for adding this blog post to another site (track back). Copy and paste the URL under the Trackbacks section to add this post to your blog.

    The contest promotion ends February 28, so submit your travel destinations today.

    Move Over, Buddy. It's the Law

    February 3 2010 by Chris McGinnis

    Like most of the readers of this blog, I spend a LOT of time behind the wheel. And like many of you, I think I'm a skilled, smart driver and aware of the driving laws in California--my home state--and elsewhere.

    But here's something I did NOT know.

    Nearly all 50 states have recently enacted "Move Over" laws to help save the lives of police officers and other roadside emergency personnel.

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    Best Cities for Weddings (And Guests to Travel To)

    February 3 2010 by Claudia Kunkel

    wedding-photo-wr.jpgIt seems like every January ushers in the start of "wedding season" as wedding planners and vendors start gearing up for the busy months ahead for weddings. It's a very wonderful, romantic and stressful time in a couple's life as they start to plan the perfect wedding day. As destination weddings have become more and more popular the last few years, I decided it might be a good time to do some research into the most wedding-friendly cities around the country and for the guests that are lucky enough to be invited to the "Big Day".

    I also thought it might be interesting to list a few statistics about the wedding industry first, just to give you an idea of how coveted the wedding market has become and how important it is for cities to court this industry. According to Wedding Industry Statistics:

    What Winter?

    February 2 2010 by Bryson Forbes

    snowman-melting-wr.jpgEarlier this week, the senior climatologist for Environment Canada, David Phillips, went on record to say that most of Canada can expect this season's mild winter weather to continue. Already in the dead of winter, most of us have been left scratching our heads and asking, "What winter?" Toronto, as an example, has only had 24 cm. of snow to date this season versus 110 cm. at the same time last year! With these balmy conditions, what does it mean for travel?

    In previous assignments, where I was focused predominantly on leisure travel, I relied heavily on outbound travel by disgruntled sun-seeking Canucks escaping winter from November to April. At that time, cold and miserable weather meant (or at least we thought) more last-minute money.

    Although my focus has shifted more recently to corporate travel, my perspective has been more dramatically altered by an interesting argument:

    The hypothesis is a complete 180-degree shift and argues that a milder winter actually increases the likelihood that Canadians will travel both for leisure and for business. The supporting evidence comes from three assumptions.

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    Workout. Anywhere, Anytime.

    February 1 2010 by Casey Bower

    push-ups-wr.jpgIt is time to get into shape! The holidays swept into town, tempted me with treats and the good life; we hung out, had a great time, and then they left, leaving my workout routine and discipline in ruins. I'm now 15 pounds heavier and have been thrown coldly back into reality where I remember that I used to be on a mission to lose weight, not gain it.

    So, now it is time to refocus and commit. I don't do gyms (can't stand the scene), and I get bored just going for a run, so I need a workout that I can do anywhere, any place, any time... and quickly. I like workouts that don't require anything but shoes (by the way, you can do all these on the road in your hotel room).

    Here are three things that I am doing to shed pounds and tone muscle that are simple, fast, and can be done anywhere, anytime. These should be great all your road warriors and avid travelers, because nothing (except the holidays) screws up your routine like constant travel.

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