May 7, 2013 at 4:09 PM
Skiing at Whistler-Blackcomb, the mega B.C. ski resort, earlier this spring, I practically swooned at the cost of a walk-up lift ticket – more than $100 a day.
Luckily, some people can beat that stunning price by purchasing an Edge card, a pass that gives discounted rates for five or 10 days of skiing and boarding to residents of Washington state (and all Canadians).
The purchase deadline for the early-bird discounted Edge card for next season was May 6, but Whistler-Blackcomb has extended it for another week until May 13.
A five-day Edge card costs $355 Cdn. (the Canadian and U.S. dollars are almost at par) for an adult, bringing the daily lift price down to $71 a day. A 10-day Edge card is $639, shaving the daily cost to about $64.
There’s also a three-day Edge card for $232, giving a daily rate of about $77 for a ski ticket. Tax is extra on all passes.
Get details and purchase (more…)
May 2, 2013 at 5:04 PM
On a recent trip to France, I tried out the new “chip” credit card that Bank of America (and some other U.S. banks) are issuing. Getting it was simple. I just phoned up the bank and ordered the new card, but was able to keep my same credit card number. It comes with an embedded chip on the front of the card that contains user information that’s read by credit-card processing machines, as well as the traditional magnetic-swipe strip so it still can be used in the U.S.
Why did I want this card? Because Europe, Canada and most of the world apart from the United States use what are called “chip and pin” credit cards which are more secure – and in some places a traditional U.S. card won’t work.
The chip-and-pin card is inserted into a credit card machine (at restaurants, waiters bring a hand-held machine to your table) and the card owner then punches in his or her private four-digit PIN (personal identification number). At certain places in Europe — such as automated ticket machines in train (more…)
March 13, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Looking for a bargain getaway to a memorable spot close to home? Don’t forget the historic homes you can rent in Washington’s state parks. Run away on a weeknight before this month is out and get some good off-season rates.
Working on an upcoming story about Fort Flagler State Park, part of a series marking the park system’s 100th birthday (which is March 19), I stayed last Thursday night in the Engineer’s House, dating to the 1890s, the first structure built in the old Marrowstone Island fort that first helped guard Puget Sound during the Spanish-American War. (Hey, are we ruled by Spain today? I guess the fort did its job.)
The two-bedroom house was cozy, and the bluffside view of Admiralty Inlet hard to beat. It even warmed up enough Friday for a picnic in an Adirondack chair on the front porch, with a view of every ship and tugboat going in and out of the Sound. Mount Baker across the way, Mount Rainier to the south. Pretty darn nice.
And the price was right:
February 27, 2013 at 6:00 AM
If you’re like many Seattleites, you’re a big user of our hometown airline, and if you’re like me, you’re always eager to learn a new trick on how to work the mileage program and other Alaska Airlines perks for frequent fliers.
Here’s a good one.
Last summer I signed up for the airline’s Visa Signature credit card in order to get 25,000 bonus miles and the annual “companion fare” that lets you book a companion’s seat for around $110 anytime you buy a ticket on Alaska.
In a rush recently to make an advance reservation for a working trip in time to meet a budget deadline, I went ahead and booked my ticket, with the intention of booking a companion fare at the same time for my spouse (who occasionally accompanies me on working trips at my personal expense). But I searched the Alaska website and didn’t find “companion fare” instructions. I had saved information that had come in the mail with the credit card, but it was filed away somewhere and at that moment I didn’t have time to dig for it.
So I thought, “No worries, I’ll book my ticket now, and when I can get my hands on the other information, I’ll follow up and book the companion fare.”
February 22, 2013 at 10:46 AM
Need a U.S. passport? You can get one more easily on March 9, in Seattle and beyond, when passport agencies have a special Saturday opening with no appointments needed.
Called “Passport Day in the USA,” it’s a national outreach event and is especially convenient for parents applying for passports for their children since that must be done in person for those under 16. The Saturday opening means families won’t have to miss work or school to apply. It also makes it easier for any U.S. citizen needing a passport to get advice and help in filling out the forms. Applications will be accepted at the Saturday event and passports then will be mailed (which can take several weeks or more, although expedited service also is available).
The Seattle Passport Agency, located downtown at 300 Fifth Avenue, Suite 600, will be open on March 9 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. No appointments are needed that day (normally they are required at the federal passport offices).
Other agencies that normally accept passport applications (including some neighborhood service centers and city offices) also will be open that Saturday throughout Washington (and nationally) for Passport Day. In Seattle, they include neighborhood service centers in Ballard, the University District and Central District. Passport facilities also will be open in Mill Creek, Woodinville and Sammamish for the March 9 Passport Day and farther afield in Lacey, Kennewick and Bonney Lake. Get hours and addresses, and more Washington state Passport Day locations, here.
Passport applicants must be U.S. citizens and have proof of identification. Get details on what’s required, including on necessary photographs for a passport application, and download application forms at the U.S. State Department website. Or phone the National Passport Information Center at 877-487-2778 for more information.
February 21, 2013 at 11:01 AM
So, you’ve met someone who could really be “it” and it’s time to see if the chemistry can survive a road trip? Here are three ideas that could get you out of town this weekend:
It’s the annual Mystery Weekend in Langley, on Whidbey Island. “Gone With the Tide” is the theme for this year’s whodunit, in which visitors gather clues around the waterfront village about the murder of a movie producer who was about to make the place famous. It’s described as “a two-day interactive and improvisational mystery play involving the whole town.” It happens from 10 a.m. Saturday to 5 p.m. Sunday. Weekend tickets: $8-$10.
Newport, Ore., is expecting some 20,000 visitors for its annual Seafood and Wine Festival this Thursday through Sunday. Yaquina Bay oysters are hard to beat, and they get some pretty good crab on this stretch of Oregon coast, too. Meet winemakers and taste wines of scores of Northwest vintners, including winners of the festival’s own competition. $7-$18 admission, plus small charges for food and wine tasting.
What the heck is a Hög Loppet? Find out, by participating in one, with more than 500 other hardy souls. It’s an annual, non-competitive 30K ski trek from the top of Wenatchee’s Mission Ridge Ski Area to Blewett Pass. Known by its fans as simply “The Hog,” it starts at 7:30 a.m Saturday; $70 registration fee. (And you can tell your friends “hög loppet” is a Swedish term meaning “high race,” or “high course,” so it says on the Internet.)
February 20, 2013 at 6:30 AM
In a city where you can leave your heart – and lots of cash – a springtime San Francisco hotel deal can help you save.
The city’s tourist office, in cooperation with some hotels, has created “49 hours in San Francisco” with sightseeing itineraries and a discount of 25 percent on hotel bills for a three-night (or more) stay. The deal is good through April 30 for hotels booked through the 49 Hours website (or call 800-655-6751).
Twenty-one hotels are part of the “49 hours” discount deal. They aren’t among San Francisco’s tip-top hotels, but some are well-located and very comfortable. They include the Hotel Union Square in the heart of the city (although not right on the square ), with rooms from $161 a night. Or check out the Nob Hill Motor Inn, a budget hotel with rooms from $99 (and take off 25 percent if you book through the “49 hours” deal). It’s walking distance to Fisherman’s Wharf. (more…)
February 12, 2013 at 3:18 PM
“Buy fast before it’s gone” sales seem to be the travel-industry strategy these days. Regionally, both Amtrak Cascades and the Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort launched such limited-time sales today for train travel and ski-resort accommodations, with a three-day window for buying.
Sometimes the sales can be good deals – it’s hard to argue with a Seattle to Portland train ticket for $16 (one way). But it’s also how businesses create a sense of scarcity and urgency that pushes you into buying more quickly and before you’ve shopped around. So take a good look, but don’t be bamboozled.
Amtrak, which is competing with the low-fare Bolt Bus service to Portland and Vancouver, B.C., is offering discounts for train trips from March 12 to April 4. Tickets are on sale now through Feb. 14. Sample one-way Amtrak fares between these cities are :
Seattle and Portland, $16
Seattle and Vancouver (Clark County),$16
Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., $19.
Bellingham and Vancouver B.C., $7
As with most sales, there’s some fine print. Tickets are available online only and the deals aren’t available around Easter weekend (blackout days are March 28-29 and April 1).
Whistler-Blackcomb, the B.C. ski resort, launched its 72-hour sale today (it ends just before midnight on Feb. 14). It offers up to 50 percent off at many lodgings, from hotels to condos, and stays can be booked by phone, 888-583-8155, or at Whistler-Blackcomb. Again, shop around on other Whistler lodging websites, too, and check out condo vacation rentals by Whistler owners through Allura which can sometimes offer more space for less.
February 5, 2013 at 5:07 PM
Want a spring escape? Southwest Airlines has launched a three-day sale from Tuesday through Thursday with airfares based on the length of travel. Tickets are good for travel from April 3 through June 8, with some blackout dates.
Cutely called the LUV sale (anyone else already sick of Valentine’s Day marketing allusions?) nonstop one-way fares on Southwest, or its subsidiary Air Tran, vary from $49 to $149 based on the length of travel. (For travel up to 500 miles, fares are $49 one-way; for more than 1,500 miles it’s $149).
Some sample one-way fares: Seattle to Vegas, Reno or Oakland starts at $89; Seattle to L.A. starts at $123; Seattle to Denver costs from $119.
February 5, 2013 at 1:32 PM
This is the time of year when cruise lines unleash some early-booking discounts, and Princess Cruises put some Alaska “cruisetours” on sale Tuesday for May and June sailings.
You can’t just saunter down to the dock in Seattle and board the ship; these deals are for “Denali on sale” cruise/land vacations between Vancouver, B.C., and Anchorage. The Princess deals include a seven-day cruise and land vacation on Alaska, and includes two of the most popular sights – Glacier Bay National Park and Denali National Park.
Some sample fares (per person, based on double occupancy):
10-night Fairbanks/Vancouver On Your Own cruisetour: starting at $989 interior (was $1,370).
11-night Anchorage/Vancouver On Your Own cruisetour: $1,149 interior (was $1,587),
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