Archive for

Why Rent a Luxury Vacation Home Rental Versus a Hotel?

In this article, we aim to provide an educational means to understanding how to save a considerable amount of money when traveling with a family or large group. In the case study below, we’ll show how Ultimate Luxury Rentals vacation homes in Tucson, AZ have saved the vacationers coming to the area time, money, privacy, and a “home away from home” feel.

First off, you may be wondering, what is a luxury home rental? Well, we will get to that later in the article. Let’s start with some of the reasons people are now renting these vacation homes as opposed to

Many vacationers choose to rent a vacation homes for a variety of reasons. Economics is one of the primary reasons. A vacation home can replace 2-4 hotel rooms at a fraction of the cost. Vacationers can eat their meals at home or even cook up their favorite meals on the barbecue. Our average vacation rental customer saves over $2000 in a 1 week stay. Privacy is another major consideration when choosing a vacation rental home over a hotel or resort. Many vacation homes include enclosed back yards with private heated pools and spas. Guest can enjoy their gathering of friends and family without interruption. Amenities are probably the main reason vacationers continue to rent vacation homes year after year. Many vacation rentals offer amenities that are superior to many upscale hotels and resorts. Pillow top mattresses with sateen sheets, plasma TVs, free wireless Internet, pool or game tables, fully stocked gourmet kitchens, private heated pools and spas and some of the most spectacular city and mountain views in town.

In addition to the home itself, the destination you choose has its own attractions and amenities. Continuing with our case study of luxury homes in Tucson, Arizona, here is a little history of the Old Pueblo and some of the history that attracts people to this particular destination.

With its mixed cultural heritage and international population, Tucson’s traditions span centuries of habitation from prehistoric Indian cultures to recent immigrants from all over the world. Today Tucson has become a destination for many visitors particularly those looking to rent a vacation home in Sonoran Desert of Arizona.

True to its Old West beginnings, Tucson’s first inhabitants roamed the area hunting mammoth and bison between 12,500 and 6,000 B.C. Following them were the Cochise , who built pit houses and used stone tools, and the Hohokam, who began farming the valley in 300 A.D.

In 1692, Spanish missionaries arrived in the valley to find the Indian village S-tukson (“black base”). In 1775, the Spanish built an outpost, the Presidio of San Augustin.

By 1804, some 1,000 people lived in the adobe village – mostly Spanish, Mexicans, and Native Americans who made their living raising crops and livestock. After the Mexican Revolution of 1821, Tucson became part of Mexico.

Looking for a southern rail route, the U.S. negotiated the Gadsden Purchase with Mexico in 1854 and Arizona became a U.S. territory. In 1867, Tucson became the territorial capital for the 10-year period, which accelerated civic progress.

In 1885 , The territorial legislature approved $25,000 to build the University of Arizona. The city continued to grow rapidly, reaching 7,000. Around the turn of the century, Tucson began attracting thousands of tuberculosis victims seeking a cure in its dry climate. In 1912, Arizona became the 48th state to enter the union.

Fueled by Industries and tourism, the population of Tucson grew rapidly – at one point welcoming 1,000 newcomers each month. By 2000, the population had reached 800,000.

Vacation rental homes in Tucson, Arizona offer a wide range of choices to visitors from all over the world. Many different neighborhoods comprise the city and offer vacationers a large selection of accommodations and activities.

The Tucson Mountains are located approximately 8 miles west of Interstate 10. The proximity to Interstate 10 makes day trips to Phoenix, Tubac, and Nogales Mexico very convenient. Some of the most desirable luxury vacation rental homes in Tucson Arizona are located in this area. These vacation homes boast some of the best city and mountain views in the state. Most of the luxury vacation rentals are located on acre plus lots with private pools and spa and offer an experience that is one with nature. Vacation rental customers may have the pleasure of seeing many of the desert’s wildlife such as the javalina, coyote, bobcat and a wide variety of birds such as hawk, dove, quail, and the state’s official bird, the road runner . Vacation rental guests will also have a wide variety of attractions such as the Sonoran Desert Museum, Old Tucson Studios, Wildlife Museum, Gates Pass, and the Saguaro National Park West. The west side of town appeals to the business traveler as well. Many of the Ultimate Luxury Rentals vacation rentals are located less than 10 minutes from the Tucson convention center. These homes’ locations put you in the heart of the most beautiful desert in the world, the Sonoran Desert. During the first 2 weeks in February, The TCC is home to the Tucson gem and mineral show the largest gem and mineral show in the world. Parents of University of Arizona students choose west side vacation homes because they are very convenient for visiting their child during the holidays or celebrating a graduation.

The Catalina Foothills is the largest mountain range in the valley and a well sought after area of town for visitors looking to rent a vacation home in Tucson AZ. Several upscale resorts and spas have made the Catalina’s their home. The Catalina foothills area has a wide variety of restaurants as well as upscale shopping at La Encanta and St Phillips Plaza. For those looking for hiking and site seeing, the Catalina area offers the Sabino Canyon Recreational Park. For vacation visitors looking to escape the summer heat (temperatures average 20 degrees lower than the city), you can take a 25 mile drive up to the top of Mt Lemmon. The Tucson vacation rentals located in this area consist of a large selection of luxury vacation rental condominiums and single family vacation homes on ½ acre lots with excellent mountain and city views.

Oro Valley has been one on the most rapidly growing areas in Tucson. Many of the vacation rental homes and condominiums are new construction and offer very upscale accommodations. There are many fine restaurants to choose from as well as some of the best golf resorts in town. The is only disadvantage to renting a vacation home in Oro Valley is the traffic. Traveling to and from Oro Valley at the wrong time of day can be quite a chore. Travel times to other areas of town such as the Tucson mountains and the east side can take up to 45 minutes or longer.

As you can see for this particular destination, there is an entourage of amenities, attractions, scenery, and history. In order to make the most of your trip, it would obviously be to your benefit to have extra funds. Luxury vacation rentals are a win-win option for your trip. Aside from your destination, they are certainly something to look into. Obviously you’ll want to find the best deal with the most credible provider of luxury rentals.

Still curious what is a luxury rental? Ultimate Luxury Rentals is a starting point for you. With over 7 years in the luxury home rental business, they have continued to provide the highest quality of homes and services to customers worldwide. Visit them at Ultimateluxuryrentals.com and get a first hand look at homes in Tucson, AZ, Taos, NM, and Costa Rica!

Banff – Lake Louise: Stunning Beauty and Nature At Its Best in the Canadian Rockies

For the first time ever, my husband and I are going to go skiing in the majestic Rocky Mountains: in March of 2006 we are going to go to stay a week in Banff, Alberta and we are also going to explore Lake Louise, the turquoise jewel of the Canadian Rockies. As we have never been to this region, I have started to do some research and contacted the official visitor information website for the communities of Banff and Lake Louise in Banff National Park.

I had a chance to speak with Quintin Winks, Manager of Media Relations for
Banff Lake Louise Tourism, who was able to provide me with excellent background information about the Banff / Lake Louise Region.

1. Please provide us with some general information about Banff/Lake Louise. Where is it located, what is the weather like?

Banff is located within Banff National Park, in the Canadian Rockies of Western Alberta. The town of Banff is famous for its spectacular setting, but it is more than just a pretty place. As Canada’s first incorporated municipality in a national park, Banff is a very special community. It is environmentally-conscious, balanced, rich with character and culture and a friendly and open community. The elevation of Banff townsite is 1,383 m (4,537 feet), the highest town in Canada. The elevation of Lake Louise is 1,536 m (5,039 feet), the highest permanent settlement in Canada.

Summer (July – August):
The summer season usually has low humidity, warm temperatures and daylight hours lasting until 11:00 p.m. at the height of the summer equinox.

Autumn (Sept – Oct):
Fall sees diminishing daylight hours and warm days with cooling evening winds.

Winter (Nov – March):
Although it can and does snow at any time of the year, the first snows generally begin to fall in November. The average temperature during the winter months is around -12º C (6º F); however it is not unusual to have a two-week cold snap during December or January where temperatures plummet into the -30 degree C/F range. Fortunately Banff and areas west and south, regularly receive a welcome weather phenomenon called Chinooks, warm winds that produce spring-like temperatures in a matter of hours.

Spring (April – June):
Rain and warming temperatures begin to melt winter away from the valleys in April, however snow does not leave the mountain passes until mid-summer. While the average precipitation is relatively low during this time, snowmelt pushes the rivers to their crests.

2. How can one get to Banff/Lake Louise and what is the best way of getting around locally?

Situated in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, the town of Banff is located inside the boundaries of Banff National Park. It is situated 128 kilometres (80 miles) west of Calgary, 401 kilometres (250 miles) southwest of Edmonton and 850 kilometres (530 miles) east of Vancouver. Commercial airlines service each of these three Canadian cities, and buses to Banff and Lake Louise run year round.

Banff is easily accessed by bus or car using the Trans-Canada Highway. Calgary to Banff driving time is about 2 hours depending on traffic and road conditions. Speed limits inside the national park are 90km/hour.

The closest major airport is the Calgary International Airport. Scheduled van and motorcoach shuttle services connect Banff with Calgary Airport. Departures are limited (usually 3 or 4 per day).

3. What are some of the major sights in and around Banff/ Lake Louise?

Banff is famous first and foremost for its spectacular natural scenery, but also for its museums, national historic sites and heritage buildings.

Architectural and heritage guidelines ensure the town retains its mountain culture and charm. Banff also has three historic sites (Cave & Basin, Banff Park Museum and Bankhead) and numerous heritage buildings, one of the best performing art schools in the country (The Banff Centre), top-notch art galleries (The Walter Phillips Gallery and Canada House Gallery among others) and a world-renown museum specializing in the art and history of the Canadian Rockies (the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies).

Wildlife is also abundant within Banff National Park and many visitors return home with memorable photographs of species that make use of the park.

From bridge to biking, there is so much to do in the Banff area including airplane tours, barbecues, billiards, boat tours, bowling, dogsledding, downhill and cross-country skiing, fishing, golf, hiking, snowshoeing, nature tours, horseback riding, carriage and sleigh rides, mountaineering and climbing, hiking, hot springs and spas, museums and art galleries, gondolas, snocoach tours, sightseeing, whitewater rafting, kayaking and float trips.

4. Please tell us about the skiing opportunities in Banff/Lake Louise and other winter activities on offer in your area.

Three outstanding ski resorts, Ski [email protected], Sunshine Village and Lake Louise provide more than 7,700 acres and 240 trails offering countless options to skiers and snowboarders of any ability. From wide-open bowls and tree-lined glades covered with fresh dry champagne powder, to meticulous groomed slopes and state-of-the-art snowmaking, visitors enjoy unspoiled scenery, short lift lines, and guaranteed friendly local hospitality. The last major snowstorm through this area was less than one week ago and the snow conditions are powder, powder, powder. More snow is forecast in the coming days.

There are over 80km of cross-country trails within a short drive of the Banff townsite alone. The vast network of track-set and untracked trails, and telemark slopes throughout Banff National Park calls nordic skiers of all abilities. The Banff National Park Service keeps up to date trail conditions and weather forecasts.

Banff also offers guided snow-shoeing tours, ice walks, dog sledding and ice climbing, not to mention heli-skiing.

5. What about activities during the summer time?

Ride through a pine forest hearing only hoof beats, zoom down waterslides, or come face to face with a grizzly bear while exploring an interpretive museum. Banff Lake Louise offers something for everyone.

Enjoy the spectacular views from the Brewster Gondola, explore the Columbia Icefield from aboard the enormous snocoach, rent a bike and ride around the park or get up early and enjoy a bird walk in the spring. There’s also guided tours through Johnston Canyon, nature walks, a skateboard park and several fine patios for enjoying a cool refreshment after hours of exploration in the summer sun. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

6. Banff / Lake Louise’s history is connected to the expansion of railways across Canada. Please give us a brief historical overview of the area.
1883

The railway passes through the Banff area and reaches Laggan Station (Lake Louise). Three railway workers, Frank McCabe, Tom McCardell, and William McCardell, stake claim to the natural hot springs on the side of Sulphur Mountain.

- 1884: Lord Steven, a former CPR director, christens the area “Banff” after his birthplace, Banffshire, Scotland.

- 1885: The federal government sets aside a 26 km² reserve surrounding the hot springs discovered two years earlier. Two years later, that area is increased to 670 sq. km. The Canadian Pacific Railway Company and the federal government cooperate in promoting the area as an international resort and spa as a way to support the new railway and ease the financial pressures on Confederation.

- 1888: The Canadian Pacific Railway Company builds the area’s first large tourist accommodation, The Banff Springs Hotel.

- 1911: Automobile access to Banff is made possible by the construction of the Banff/Calgary Coach Road.

- 1917: The park’s area is increased to 7 125 km². The Canadian government passes the first National Parks Act.

- 1930: Rocky Mountains Park is renamed Banff National Park and its size becomes fixed at 6641 km².

- 1933: The Banff Centre for Continuing Education is founded.

- 1985: Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks along with four adjacent provincial parks are declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

- 1990: Through a joint agreement between the local citizens and the federal and provincial governments, the town of Banff becomes the only incorporated municipality within a Canadian national park.

7. Our readers would like to find out about the festivals and special events in Banff/Lake Louise.

Festivals and special events are many in Banff and Lake Louise. The most immediate two are Ice Magic and Winterfest. Ice Magic involves artists from all over the world converging on Lake Louise and carving 300 kilogram blocks of ice into spectacular sculptures (January 27-29). Winterfest is a series of fun activities. The most up-to-date information on all festivals and special events can be found at http://www.banfflakelouise.com/

8. What about restaurants and entertainment in Banff / Lake Louise?

With inventive panache, chefs relentlessly reach new culinary heights. Recipes change according to the seasons and make use of the freshest local ingredients. During the fall and winter, this means game, squash and legumes, while spring features asparagus and mushrooms and summer highlights edible flowers and fresh fruits.

The town has a wide variety of tourism-related businesses including over 118 restaurants with food to suit every palette. There’s Indian cuisine, sushi, Korean, Chinese, Western, Pasta, Thai, Greek and just about every other variation.

Banff is also home to The Banff Centre. This institution is host to many forms of entertainment, including art galleries and installations, theatre productions and concerts ranging in variety from string quartets, blues, jazz, ethnic and rock ‘n’ roll. There is something happening virtually every week of the year. Banff also has a cinema, bowling lanes, water slides and indoor pool and billiards hall. There’s an indoor rock-climbing wall, skating rink, tennis courts and myriad other things to do for entertainment regardless of the weather.

9. What are some of the shopping opportunities in Banff / Lake Louise?

Enjoy strolling alongside locals and world-travellers as you discover a cosmopolitan collection of galleries, boutiques and cafés. Shops range from internationally recognized clothiers or independently-owned establishments to Canada’s oldest department store.

10. What type of accommodations options are available in Banff / Lake Louise?

From five-star elegance to the cozy comfort of cabins or chalets, Banff Lake Louise has more than 100 hotels, motels, condominiums resorts, lodges and bed & breakfasts that will make you feel at home whatever your tastes.

11. What are some of the major events and big news stories coming up in 2006 and beyond in Banff/Lake Louise?

Banff looks poised to host a skins golf game this summer that will attract some of the biggest names in golf.

Also big in the news is the commencement of Banff Refreshing, a sidewalk expansion program and greening that will make downtown Banff much more pedestrian friendly and reduce the amount of traffic using the downtown core.

The first phase of the Trans-Canada Highway twinning project will also swing into high gear this summer, making transit through Banff National Park faster and safer than ever. Of note with this project are state-of-the-art wildlife crossing structures to keep animals off the highway.

Passing of a recent lighting bylaw means that Banff’s night sky will become more and more clear as time passes.

Thank you, Quintin, for your time to provide us with more information about the beautiful Banff/Lake Louise area. We look forward to exploring your area first-hand in March!

For further information about Banff/Lake Louise please contact:

Banff Lake Louise Tourism

P.O. Box 1298, Banff, Alberta, T1L 1B3, Canada

Phone:403-762-8421 Fax: 403-762-8163

Email: [email protected]

Web: http://www.BanffLakeLouise.com

Lake Tahoe Vacation Rentals – North and South Lake Tahoe Vacation Homes and Guide

The lake and its surrounding area which is commonly referred to as Tahoe, has an elevation of 6225 feet. Lake Tahoe is twenty two miles long and 12 miles wide and has a shoreline that extends over 71 miles. This gorgeous lake is shared by two US states, namely California which stakes claim to 42 miles of Lake Tahoe’s shoreline and the state of Nevada which has 29 miles of it. Lake Tahoe offer many vacation homes on both the North and South shore which, by the way, is the largest alpine lake in North America is renowned for its almost translucent waters that are known to evoke feelings of wonder and awe. In fact, when the famous American author Mark Twain first set his eyes on the Lake during his visit to the area in the  late 1860′s he described it as  ”the fairest picture the whole earth affords.”

A locale of unmatched beauty

The Lake which was created by volcanic activity was first discovered by  an American called John C Fremont  in 1844 but before that the Lake and its forested surrounding area was home to the Washo Indian tribe who called  the Lake ’big sky lake’ in honor of its sparkling, blue and clear waters. It has an average depth of 989 feet and at its deepest point the lake reaches a depth of 1,645 feet. However the Lake is not too conducive to swimming as the waters of the lake are often very cold even during the peak summer months. Moreover it is also known to have extremely strong and treacherous currents. Another interesting fact about the lake, is that this lake doesn’t drain into an ocean even though nearly sixty-three streams flow into it, rather it drains into the Pyramid Lake located in the Nevada desert by way of the Truckee River. Apart from the beauty of the lake, the area around it is also characterized by crisp, clear air, dense forests and much tranquility.

Amenable weather

The entire area is blessed with agreeable weather as a result of which it has now become an immensely popular year round destination for Americans. The Lake on an average enjoys 250 to 300 days of sunny weather during the year. During the winter months it tends to receive nearly 300-500 inches of snow fall and this has enabled it to become one of the nation’s premier ski destinations. The Lake Tahoe area has a multitude of ski resorts that offer a vast number of activities like snowboarding, ice -skating, snow shoeing, snowmobiling, sleigh riding in addition to skiing and cross country skiing. During the warmer months, people flock to Lake Tahoe to indulge in various recreational activities like boating and water sports, hiking, tennis, camping, ballooning, golf, horseback riding, parasailing, bungee jumping and much more.

Getting there

By Car

North and South Lake Tahoe are easily accessible by various modes of transport. Lake Tahoe  is located on the border between California and Nevada. This popular resort destination lies 200 miles to the east of the Californian city of San Francisco while it is just 30 miles to the west of  Reno in Nevada. North Lake Tahoe which is known for its ski resorts can be accessed by car via the I-80 from San Francisco. South Lake Tahoe which is populated by many hotels, restaurants and casinos lies mainly in Nevada and can be reached from Reno by taking US 395 South and then US 50 West..

By Air

The closest commercial airports are Reno Tahoe International airport in Nevada which can be accessed via a 40 minute drive from this popular year round destination. Another big commercial airport that serves the region is the Sacramento International Airport in California which is located two hours away. Smaller airports like South Lake Tahoe Airport and Truckee-Tahoe Airport afford additional air links to Lake Tahoe.

By Bus

During the winter ski months several bus services operate to various ski resorts like the Bay Area Ski Bus and the NAC ski.

By Train

Lake Tahoe can also be accessed by train on the Amtrak California Zephyr Route that makes a stop in Truckee.

Towns and Villages on the shoreline

The shoreline of Lake Town has several towns and villages each of which are known for their own distinct character and myriad attractions. Lake Tahoe is divided into two distinct parts North Lake Tahoe which is home to ski resorts and towns like Incline Village, which is a wealthy enclave that is peppered with million dollar homes, shops and restaurants. Other towns in North Lake Tahoe include the old railroad town of Truckee, Tahoe City, ski resort towns of Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley which was the site of the 1960′s Winter Olympic Games amongst others.

South Lake Tahoe is a large area which is essentially geared towards tourism and lies largely in the state of Nevada. This tourist heavy area is home to several big name casinos like Harrah’s, Harveys, Mont Bleu and the Horzion which are all located in the town of Stateline in Nevada. These casinos are not only known as gambling destinations but are considered to be resorts which  provide much  entertainment of all the family.

Apart from these towns and villages, the area surrounding North and South Lake Tahoe also has a number of state parks like the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park which offers several recreations options to vacationers and locals alike. Sand Harbor with its sandy beaches is a preferred location in the park. It is located three miles to the west of Incline village and has boating and picnicking facilities. Sand Harbor is hosts the popular Lake Tahoe Shakespeare festival every July. Other popular locales in the Park include Memorial Point and Hidden Beach, Cave Rock, Spooner Lake, Zephyr Cover all of which have facilities for picnicking, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, camping, trekking etc.

Some state parks located on the Californian side include the Bodie State Historic Park which is a well preserved ghost town and the Donner Memorial State Park.

Attractions

Taking a ride on a historic paddle wheeler

You can get out and about on the Lake itself by riding on-board a historic three deck paddle wheeler called the MS Dixie II. This paddle wheel replaced the original MS Dixie in 1994. This paddle wheeler sets sail from the town of Zephyr cove. Similar cruises are also offered by the Tahoe Queen which sails from the town of Emerald Bay in South Lake Tahoe.

Visit Vikingsholm

This Scandinavian styled vacation home was built in 1929 at the cost of US$500,000. Vikingsholm is an exponent of Nordic architecture that was built with local materials. A part of this home is even topped with sod roofs. Tours of Vikingsholm are available from Mid-June until Labor Day. This attraction which is located on the head of Emerald Bay can be accessed via a scenic hike from Eagle Point State Park though it is also accessible by car.

Olympic Valley

This all weather destination is accessed via a cable car ride that traverses over 2000 vertical feet and transports you to a village that features an Olympic Museum, ice skating rink, swimming pool, spa and restaurants.

Bars and Restaurants.

Lake Tahoe is a prime American destination and it boasts of wide variety of bars and restaurants that aim to cater to all tastes. Bars and restaurants populate both North Lake Tahoe as well as South Lake Tahoe. Some popular restaurants located here include Rosie’s and the Old Post Café both of which are located in California and are favored brunch and breakfast spots. Other well -like establishments include the Char Pit, which is a small restaurant located in the town of Kings Beach that is renowned for its hearty burgers and baby back ribs. River Ranch Lodge and Restaurant, Le Bistro, Dragonfly, Fiamma are still other dining spots which find favor with both locals and out- of-towners who come to Lake Tahoe on holiday.

Accommodations

If you are planning a holiday in Lake Tahoe sometime soon, you will be happy to know that you have wide range of accommodation options available here that  range from the conventional hotels and resorts to charming lodges and cabins and convenient, reasonable and family-friendly vacation rentals. Usually, you will find a better deal when dealing with vacation rentals offered direct from owners.

Vacation rentals make economic sense

Vacation rentals or sometimes called Vacation Homes are in fact a popular accommodation choice in Lake Tahoe which is quite a family-centric destination. Hiring a vacation rental in Lake Tahoe often makes economic sense for a family or large group that wishes to vacation together as it reduces the expenses that are associated with booking individual hotel rooms.

Several websites as well as well known classified sites  offer listings of a plethora of vacation rentals in Lake Tahoe.

What makes the Best booking experience when booking Tahoe Vacation Rentals?

One of the latest ways to book North or South Lake Tahoe Vacation homes is simply to book a home online similar to booking a room at a fine hotel.