Grand Canyon: gone to the birds

Endangered condor population soars with conservation efforts

The Smart Traveler

August 20, 2006|By LARRY BLEIBERG | LARRY BLEIBERG,DALLAS MORNING NEWS

GRAND CANYON, ARIZ.

Visitors usually come to the Grand Canyon to look down.

CRAP VACATIONS: 50 TALES OF HELL ON EARTH

HarperCollins / $11.95

Think you've had bad vacations? After reading this fascinating, if curiously masochistic, collection of first-person accounts from people around the world, you might just thank your lucky stars. For example, there's the one about the American who visited Stonehenge with his beloved, intending to make his marriage proposal there. Then things went horribly wrong. The stories here are hilarious, but only because we're hearing them from a safe distance.

JUNE SAWYERS

WEATHER

Hurricane refund policies loosen

With the National Weather Service predicting a very active Atlantic hurricane season, two major hotel companies and an amusement park are relaxing their policies on refunds.

At the 16 Marriott resorts in nine Caribbean and Mexican beach sites, guests holding confirmed reservations through Nov. 30 will be offered full refunds or one-category room upgrades at the same hotel for reservations in the next 12 months in the event that a hurricane closes the airport or the hotel before they can get there.

Universal Parks & Resorts Vacations in Orlando, Fla., also will allow guests to cancel or reschedule their vacation if any named storm affects their travel. Reservations must be booked through Universal Parks & Resorts Vacation to qualify.

FROM WIRE REPORTS

VACATIONS

A love affair with beaches

American beach travelers take longer vacations, spend more money on their trips, and are more likely to stay in a timeshare than the average traveler, according to a new survey from the Travel Industry Association.

Beach-going households are also more likely to take kids on their trips, with 36 percent of them bringing a child along, compared with 22 percent of traveling households overall that include a child when traveling.

More than 54 million trips to the beach were made by U.S. households last year.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

GEAR & GADGETS

Ask a man what he dislikes most about driving and he may tell you the pain of sitting on his wallet -- which can send cramps from his buttocks all the way up to his neck, especially on long car trips. He could take the wallet out of his pocket -- and risk losing it in the car clutter or inadvertently leaving it behind. Or he could switch to the ingeniously designed All-Ett Billfold. The wafer-thin All-Ett is made of rip-stop nylon, and unfolds to reveal two panels, each of which snugly holds two stacks of credit cards (up to 30). A full-length divided pocket holds cash and other papers. Fully stuffed, the wallet is less than half an inch thick. Can you spell relief? All-Ett billfold is about $20. 800-642-2226; all-ett.com.

JUDI DASH

HOTELS

Quirkiest accommodations in the world

If your idea of a vacation is staying in a Bedouin encampment in the Dubai desert, described by one guest as a "bit scary," or a converted jail in England, where one honeymoon couple said they happily began their "life sentence together," check out the TripAdvisor Web site (tripadvisor.com) for its list of the 10 quirkiest hotels in the world. No. 1 is the Ice Hotel in Quebec, which is rebuilt each winter from ice and snow. Last year, it had 34 rooms and themed suites, a bar, an art gallery, sculptures and a chapel. Travelers with no fear of heights might want to stay at the Ariau Amazon Towers Hotel in Manaus, Brazil (No. 5). Guests sleep 70 feet up in the treetops of the Amazon in a complex connected by catwalks.

NEW YORK NEWS SERVICE

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