Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Your Hawaiian itinerary!

Be it the warm pacific water, the sandy beaches, or the countless hiking opportunities we can’t stop dreaming up the perfect Hawaiian vacation. So in effort to bring readers on board, take a look at one itinerary option created by our own Marketing Assistant, Marcia Kosin, who plans on returning to the big island for vacation yet again.

Day 1 - South Point
One of my favorite things to do in Hawaii is jumping of the cliff at south point.  I “guesstimate” it’s about 3 stories high and the water below is 60 feet deep.  After a nice plunge why not take a four mile hike from south point to the green sand beach named Papakolea.  The terrain is a little rough and I recommend taking lots of water and a packed lunch, but trust me it’s worth it -- sunbathing in the rare green sand is an experience to remember!  After the hike, the black sand beach named Punalu’u Beach is just up the street.  There is not a whole lot of development in this area but you can stop at Shaka Restaurant, which is considered to be the most southern bar in the U.S.A.

Day 2: Horseback Riding/Mauna Kea
Horseback riding is something I have always wanted to do.  On the northern tip of the island there is a ranch called, Paniolo Adventures. They offer guided horseback-riding tours with stunning views of the coast.  After the excursion I plan to sunbathe at Hapuna Beach Park off of Highway 19 which is a short drive away.  From my previous visits the water here is warm and the sand is spectacular!  This beach park is also a great place to watch the sunset over the ocean. The Mauna Kea Observatory offers free star gazing from 6:00 pm-10:00 pm nightly, and is just east of Hapuna.  They advise visitors to dress warmly when going to the top of the summit as temperatures can plummet to near freezing, after all its altitude is 9,300 feet.

Day 3: Kealakekua Bay & Kona Coffee Farms
Kealakekua Bay has calm waters perfect for snorkeling and kayaking. To get to this secluded park you have to drive up the volcano and then go down the volcano.  There are several coffee farms along the way and many provide tours and have shops for visitors to sample and buy Kona coffee.  Kona coffee is one of the most expensive coffees in the world.  It is unique to the Kona coast because of the ideal weather patterns and mineral-rich volcanic soil that it is grown in.  Or you could opt to take a load off and visit the Kona Brewing Company. After a cold beer and slice of pizza a stroll through Kona’s downtown is a must! 

Day 4: Volcano National Park
Since I will be staying in Kona, the Volcano National Park is almost 100 miles away.  It is a good idea to get up early and head to the park since there is so much to see!  Not only can you hike for hours among lava fields, you can also walk through an extinct lava tube (a lava tube is a natural tunnel formed by flowing lava that moved below the hardened surface thousands of years ago).  Visit the parks website here: http://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/lava2.htm

Stay tuned for more information on Marcia’s Hawaiian getaway itinerary….

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Green Hotels

As a follow up to our Earth Day blog, here are a few hotels that are not only LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) but also are making “going green” a priority…

1.      Proximity Hotel --Greensboro, North Carolina
This hotel was the first to obtain a LEED platinum certification.  It has over 70 different sustainable features including 100 rooftop solar panels, an elevator that generates electricity as it travels from floor to floor, and the majority of its furniture is built from local and salvaged walnut trees.  The spectacular green design allows Proximity Hotel to conserve 39% more energy and 34% more water than hotels of similar size.
Tip: They also have loaner bikes available for patrons to take a ride along the greenway!

2.       Inn by the Sea --Cape Elizabeth, Maine
This LEED certified hotel is constructed from recycled sheet rock.  The chef at their onsite restaurant, Sea Glass, coordinates with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute to provide sustainable seafood menu options.  In by the Sea’s pool is heated by solar panels and the property itself is heated with bio-fuels.  They also have a partnership with Crescent Beach State Park to protect the endangered North American Cottontail through habitat restoration efforts in the area.
Tip: They have a beautiful beach front lawn and offer yoga classes in the summer months!

3.       Bardessono --Yountville, California
This boutique hotel spans over 6 acres in the luscious Yountville wine country, and holds a LEED platinum certification.  The property is constructed with salvaged stone and reclaimed wood and also features an impressive underground geothermal system for heating and cooling.  With over 900 solar panels the property is nearly energy independent.  Satisfy your appetite at Bardessono’s onsite restaurant, Lucy Restaurant & Bar, which serves up locally sourced organic cuisine.
Tip: Lucy Restaurant & Bar holds happy hour Mondays-Thursdays from 4:30 –6:30 pm, you won’t want to miss their hand-picked wines!

A large incentive for hotels to “go green” is the increased efficiency that comes with it.  Whether reusing materials in the building’s construction or allowing guests to reuse their bath towels during an extended stay every effort counts!

To take a look at more green hotels visit: http://www.gayot.com/hotels/bestof/10best_greenhotels_us.html

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day

Earth Day, celebrated this month on April 22, was founded in 1970 by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson in an effort to raise awareness of environmental concerns regarding air, water, and land pollution.  Senator Nelson saw an opportunity to reach out to the public by bringing his message to the anti-war protests that were abundant on college campuses –in the 1970’s.

Once the message was out, groups that had been fighting against different environmental issues, spanning from oil spills and toxic dumps to loss of wilderness and extinction of wildlife, realized they shared a common goal of protecting the environment.

In its first year, Earth Day was extremely well received, and it inspired the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Throughout the 1970’s several pieces of legislature were passed including the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Toxic Substance Control Act, and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act in effort to protect human health, and safe guard the natural environment -air-water-land.

The grassroots movement captured the world’s attention and went global in 1990. Today, the Earth Day Network—a non-profit organization that organizes Earth Day activities—collaborates with over 17,000 partners and organizations in over 170 countries!

This year NASA is hosting a “Global Selfie” event by asking people to take photos of themselves outside on Earth Day and post them to hashtag #GlobalSelfie. NASA plans to create a mosaic of Mother Earth with the photos.

How to get involved??

Some schools and communities celebrate Earth Day for a whole week.  Here in Percipia’s hometown of Chicago you can join the 25th Annual Earth Day Parks & Preserves Clean-up by volunteering in your neighborhood park Saturday April 26, from 9:00 am 12:00 pm, in effort to make the city more beautiful.

For more information visit: http://www.earthdaychicago.com/

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Take a dip!

We love the theme of vacationing on a lake and here in Chicago we are lucky enough to enjoy the beautiful beaches that Lake Michigan has to offer year round.  Here are a few of our favorite lakeside destinations:

1.       The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa located in Williamsburg, Michigan 
This resort is only 314 miles from Chicago and has a lot to offer.  Guests can rent jet skis, kayaks and paddleboats to explore the Grand Traverse Bay. The property has tennis courts, three golf courses, and is walking distance to the Turtle Creek Casino, which is open around the clock for slot machines and features a poker room from 2pm-4am daily.

2.       The Sagamore on Lake George in Bolton Landing, New York
This extraordinary lakeside hotel houses a spa and golf course and has activities for everyone.  Sagamore’s water activities include parasailing, water skiing, and wakeboarding, all of which are available for guests.  For those who would rather stay on dry land they have tennis courts, croquet, horse shoes, volleyball and nature hikes.  In warmer months guests can enjoy bon fires and s’mores fit to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth!

3.       The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado 
This hotel is located on Cheyenne Lake in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.  Guests can enjoy several outdoor activities including fly fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and can even take a ride on a paddleboat.  In the surrounding area guests can take jeep tours, go white water rafting, rock climb, take a hot air balloon ride or try their hand at horseback riding. 

4.       The Lakehouse Resort and Hotel on Lake San Marcos, California
The property features water activities including boat tours, kayaks, and itbikes (described as “water bike pedal boats” and are similar to paddle boats).  The resort has tennis courts, two salt water pools and an extensive patio for guests to relax.  Forget a book to read? No problem!  This hotel has a library available to guests for leisure reading. The Lakehouse also has a complimentary shuttle service to local breweries so you can enjoy local craft beer.

5.       Mission Point Resort located on Mackinac Island, Michigan
Enjoy stunning views of Lake Huron, the Straits of Mackinac, and the Mackinac Bridge during your stay.  A unique aspect to this island is there are no cars allowed and guests must travel by ferry to reach the resort.  Once on the island visitors can travel on foot, by bicycle, or in a horse drawn carriage.  Mission Point has a beautiful front lawn perfect for enjoying sunrises and sunsets.  Catch a movie in their property’s theatre, take a bike for a spin around the island or go on a ghost tour if that is your sort of thing!  Don’t forget your racket or clubs for a little tennis or golf on their beautiful grounds. 

Now that we have put the idea in your head start planning you lakeside vacation at one of these amazing hotels and resorts!  Just remember to pack your swim suit! 

For more lakeside resorts visit fodors.com

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How to spot a Hipster Hotel!

The hipster hotel is a hotel that specifically caters to qualities that hipsters prefer like mustaches and single speed bikes.  If you’re like me, you may need some guidance to understand the defining features of this particular taste to recognize a hipster hotel when you see it.

That being said, I have put together a list of features to look for and some examples of the trendiest hipster hotels around.

Typically, you can expect this type of hotel to be located in an up-and-coming neighborhood, after all location is everything.  Expect this location to provide an environment where guests can interact with local restaurants, bars, and culture during their stay.

Hipster hotels tend to favor “industrial chic” design. This is easily achieved by converting and preserving old factories and other historical buildings into hotels.  By leaving the building’s structural elements exposed, the space may look like a project unfinished. But to the avid hipster steel beams, concrete floors, and brick walls illuminate pure aesthetic beauty at its finest!

Expect to see vintage furniture and retro art within guest rooms.  Rooms usually are equipped with the newest and coolest technology.  Flat screen TV’s, iPod docs and stellar sound systems are common place.  

So now that you know what to look for here are a few of our top “hipster” hotels…

The trailblazing Ace Hotel located in Portland, Oregon has been considered one of the first to start making style a priority over space or luxury.  Guest rooms feature night stands made out of stacked books or suitcases, the property is pet friendly, and to top it all off they serve organic breakfast!  Ace is centrally located for visitors to explore all of Portland, and they even rent out custom made bikes for guest’s convenience.  

Hotel San Jose in Austin, Texas is another notorious hipster hotel. In this hotel you can find concrete floors and flat screen TVs.  The hotel has a large outdoor courtyard that invites locals and guests to mix and mingle.  They also have a ton of options available to patrons- guests can check out, video collections, Polaroid cameras, bicycles, and typewriters! Talk about something for everyone!

Last but not least on our list is the Wythe hotel in New York.  Located in Brooklyn this eco-friendly and locally furnished hotel caters to musicians and even provides rehearsal space to bands staying at the hotel.  It also features a roof top bar, in-room sound systems, flat screen TVs, complimentary WiFi, and a screening room for local artists and events to showcase their work.

Now that you know how to spot a hipster hotel, consider booking one for your next vacation!


Friday, April 11, 2014

How Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History won Sue!

The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. is finally getting a Tyrannosaurus -rex to add to its dinosaur collection.  The monster size fossil that will soon be on display is on loan from the Army Corps of Engineers for the next 50 years.  Seventeen years ago the Smithsonian was in pursuit of the Field Museum in Chicago’s T. -rex named Sue, but came up short.

How did the Field Museum land Sue over the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.? It is actually a good question and a great story!

Sue, the Tyrannosaurus -rex, was discovered in 1990 by Sue Hendrickson who worked for the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in South Dakota.  Thus, thee massive fossil was nicknamed after Hendrickson and remains the largest and most complete specimen of the T.-rex to date.

Shortly after the discovery of Sue an ownership dispute began.  Maurice Williams, the property owner where Sue was found, eventually was awarded custody of the fossil after a federal court battle.  David Redden, an auctioneer for Sotheby’s a New York City auction company, was captivated by Sue and reached out to Williams.  Redden believed the fossil belonged in a public institute and it was then decided that the enormous treasure should be put up for sale.

The Field Museum’s then president, John McCather, was excited by the prospect of having Sue in Chicago and reached out to McDonald’s who had financed many projects for the Field Museum before. Almost instantly McDonald’s was on board to pursue the purchase of Sue at Sotheby’s.  McDonalds also brought Walt Disney on board for the acquisition.

On October 4,th 1997 the auction for the sale of Sue lasted only 9 minutes.  The bidding started at a whopping $500,000 and increased by $100,000 increments. After a three way battle at the end of the sale Sue was sold to the Field Museum for an incredible $7.6 million. 

Sue’s multi-million dollar sale rocked the paleontology world forever and stirred controversy over fossil ownership rights for several years.

Sue was finally mounted and put on display for the world to visit at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago in 2000. The larger than life fossil is now the center of attention, standing thirteen feet tall at her hip,  and Sue is photographed by visitors from around the world. (http://fieldmuseum.org/)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Top five 2014 tourist attractions!

With the hope to shed our winter gear and fill our calendars with events centered around warm weather and sunshine we couldn’t help but focus on new tourist attractions opening this year. Here are a few of our favorites…

First on the list is Chicagoland’s very own Goliath roller coaster premiering this spring at Six Flags Great America. This wooden roller coaster is going to break records with an 85 degree drop from 180 feet! The ride also includes three overbanked turns that is sure to give you butterflies!

Next on our list is the world’s tallest Ferris wheel, the “High Roller” in Las Vegas! This ride is easier on the stomach than the Goliath coaster!  Guests are encouraged to walk onto one of the twenty eight glass pods with their beverages in hand.  Offering stunning views of the Las Vegas strip this ride lasts for a peaceful 30 minutes!

Coming in third is the Funtasy Island in Riau Island Indonesia.  This attraction is an “eco” theme park located just twenty minutes of the coast of Singapore.  With 413 suites and villas spread over 810 acres, the park will include tropical adventures including an aviary trail, boat trips through mangroves, a water world park, beach clubs, restaurants and a spa!

Fourth is the LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park, New York City. It is a 32,000 square foot skating pavilion.  The space is designed for ice skates in the winter and roller skates in warmer months! The pavilion features a roof-like ceiling that gives the space an indoor/outdoor feel while still protecting you from Mother Nature’s elements.  It is a great attraction for residents and visitors alike. (Skate rentals are available onsite).

Last but definitely not least is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter set to open at the Universal Studios Park in Osaka, Japan.  It will be the only Harry Potter themed park outside of the United States, which makes sense since Japan is also the second largest market for the Harry Potter series after the United States.  The park will include Hogwart’s castle and Hogsmeade Village and be sure to try the Butter Beer!

So there you have it - fun attractions made for visitors of all ages. 

To check out more tourist attractions opening in 2014 visit Travel & Leisure’s website: http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/worlds-coolest-new-tourist-attractions-2014/3

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tips to getting the most out of your hotel stay!

We have gathered some of the best and easiest tips on ways to get the most out of your next hotel stay, and they may be more realistic than you may have thought!

First (and hopefully common sense) be sure to remain positive and put forward your best attitude when working with the hotel staff.  Odds are the concierge or hotel attendant is going to be more willing to make your stay more memorable and throw in something extra if you are pleasant to work with.  So be sure to “kill ‘em with kindness”!

If you are looking to get a better rate at a hotel you should look at the hotel’s prices on their website and then call them directly.  When you are speaking to a real person it is much easier to negotiate room rates and ask if the hotel has any daily specials.  A privately owned hotel is also more likely to work with you on a room rate since they have more control over their prices vs. hotel chains whose rates are fixed.

If you are staying at a hotel for a special occasion, don’t be shy! If it is your birthday or if you are celebrating a new engagement or anniversary let the front desk know when you check-in.  Generally hotel policies allow staff to offer upgrades when they have the space available so it doesn't hurt to ask.

Try giving a new hotel a visit.  Hotels that have recently opened are looking to build a client base and in doing so will grant upgrades and perks to keep you coming back for more.  Keep in mind the more a hotel has to offer (restaurants, bars, room service), the more perks are waiting to be handed out.

So just remember to be strategic with your requests.  Keep your conversations private and don’t go bragging about your upgrade when other guests can hear you.  Be grateful, relax, and enjoy your stay!

For more information please visit:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

History of spring break

Spring break really did begin in Florida! Although what triggered it is much different than what you may have expected.

Back in 1926 a hurricane now named the Great Miami Hurricane devastated the Miami coastline and surrounding shores.  In an effort to rebuild the area and attract visitors the city of Ft. Lauderdale built the state’s first Olympic sized swimming pool.

A college swim coach in New York heard of the swimming pool in Ft. Lauderdale and in 1935 took his swim team down to Florida for training during the students Easter break.  Within a few short years the College Coaches Swim Forum was born.  Three hundred swimmers attended the first forum with several spectators and classmates in tow.

Over two decades later the event continued to gain momentum. In the late 1950’s a college professor overheard students talking about going to “spring break” in Ft. Lauderdale and he decided to see what the excitement was about. For college students it was a coming of age experience and prompted the professor to write “Where the boys are”.  The novel focused on the sun, sand, and romance taking place on the beaches in southern Florida.

“Where the boys are” was then adapted for the big screen and its popularity inspired college students to spring break in Ft. Lauderdale! By mid-1980 Ft. Lauderdale was overwhelmed by the crowds and wild parties that evolved.  The Mayor of the city publicly announced that spring breakers were no longer welcomed in 1985.

In light of this event the spring break migrated North to Daytona Beach and once MTV got involved revelry ensued. MTV began to advertise that you could spring break anywhere under the sun, which prompted Cancun to rebuild its infrastructure to accommodate spring breakers after being hit by a hurricane.

Spring break lived on in Daytona Beach until bars and clubs started cracking down in the mid 1990’s.  Once again spring break moved to a new location, Panama City where it is most popular today.

Who would have thought an Olympic sized swimming pool would have started it all! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

What to expect in an all-inclusive resort vacation?!?!

We took a look at the “all-inclusive” vacation option and have some insight that may help you decide if it’s the right way to escape the everyday!

Although deals vary, typically you can expect an all-inclusive resort to include the hotel accommodations, 3 meals a day plus snacks, all beverages (including the margaritas), various water activities, nightly onsite entertainment, and all taxes and gratuities.  

One great advantage of the all-inclusive vacation is it helps you stick to your budget.  You won’t have any surprises when you get home and open the credit card bill (as long as your purchases are within the package guidelines).  This also gives you the freedom to explore the resorts menus and try new foods that may otherwise be out of your price range - especially since resorts have made excellent improvements to their menus. Dining in paradise has become a gourmet experience featuring fresh foods and local delicacies.

The all-inclusive resort vacation is also great for couples or families because many resorts today have on and offsite activities included in their deals.  Popular activities range from golf, tennis, zip lining, snorkeling trips, climbing walls, kayaking and many more. 

If you are the kind of traveler who likes to explore the local culture while on a vacation you may want to pass on the all-inclusive resort.  The more meals outside the premise the more you are spending.  But if you want a getaway and plan on staying poolside this setup is perfect!

A tip for those of you itching to book your next all-inclusive vacation – pay attention to the time of year you are booking.  Notoriously all-inclusive resort rates plummet during hurricane season in efforts to attract guests.  The busy seasons are March and April for spring breakers, and Christmas and New Years for the holiday rush. 

So there you have it! Now you can hit the ground running when you begin planning your next or first all-inclusive resort vacation!