Deal or no deal? Ask Farecast

The Smart Traveler

September 16, 2007|By Michelle Higgins | Michelle Higgins,New York Times News Service

Web site tests feature that compares rates with past prices for similar stays at a given hotel

In a recent online search, the price of a standard room at the Hyatt Regency Miami, which overlooks Biscayne Bay and has a heated outdoor pool, was $179 a night for a long weekend this month. That was cheaper than the standard rates at the nearby InterContinental Miami ($199) and even the Embassy Suites in Secaucus, N.J. ($190). Sound like a deal?

THE FAMILY SABBATICAL HANDBOOK

The Intrepid Traveler / $15.95

Parent and journalist Elisa Bernick, her husband and two young children (ages 2 and 7) take a "family sabbatical," living for 18 months in Mexico. They rely on three years' savings and rent from their Minnesota home. The result is a shared experience that brings the family closer together. There are problems as well, including schooling the children, securing health care, homesickness and marital stress. Using her own trials and triumphs, as well as those of 15 other families who lived abroad, Bernick animates the mundane issues: packing, making the dream affordable, finding a rental and surviving that first month. For anyone about to go abroad with children, this account touches all the bases.

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[CHICAGO TRIBUNE]

CHILDREN

Tea with Madeline

There's an afternoon tea in New York for the 12-and-younger set. The Carlyle Hotel offers the "Madeline Tea Party at Bemelmans Bar" noon-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The treats would win the approval of Ludwig Bemelmans' sophisticated -- yet juvenile -- heroine, like the Eiffel Tower hot fudge sundae or London Bridge's fish and chips. Against a backdrop of Bemelmans' murals (his only publicly displayed art in the world), a storyteller will recount Madeline's adventures, and a pianist will conduct singalongs. Go to thecarlyle.com.

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[NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE]

CRUISING

A shorter time on the seas

Vacationers who want to take a cruise but don't have a lot of time will soon have new options from Carnival Cruise Lines out of its Miami port. Starting next September, Carnival Imagination will offer three-day sailings that visit Nassau, the Bahamas, and four-day sailings that visit Key West, Fla., and Cozumel, Mexico. Carnival Destiny will visit Key West and Cozumel on its four-day trip. Its five-day cruise will stop at Grand Turk, in the Turks and Caicos Islands; Half Moon Cay, a private island in the Bahamas; and Nassau.

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[NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE]

ARIZONA

Chuckwagon, anyone?

The annual Wild Western Festival in Phoenix, Sept. 28-30, will include a chuckwagon cook-off, Civil War encampment, trick roping, demonstrations by Hollywood stuntmen of tricks from Western movies, a fast-draw contest and Western costume contests. The event takes place at Pioneer Village Phoenix, a mile north of Carefree Highway at Exit 225, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., with the Saturday night Fandango Dance scheduled for 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Call 623-521-3856 or go to wild westernfestival.com.

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[ASSOCIATED PRESS]

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