Learn How to Start Your Own Home-Based Travel Agency

Do you want to learn How to Start Your Own Home-Based Travel Agency? 

To enroll, come to Open House @ the College of Staten Island–
Monday, January 23 from 6-8 pm and Saturday, January 28 from 9am to noon-

CSI Building 2A, Room 201

or contact us @ 718-761-4846 or valarie@contrinotravel.com for more information

Have PRIDE in your honeymoon.

The bill has been passed, the law has been signed and same sex marriage will be a reality in the state of New York on July 24, 2011.  Contrino Travel is excited for the recent advancement in the LBGT community. As we celebrate this accomplishment we look forward to planning many same sex marriage honeymoons and family vacations. Contrino Travel has been proudly serving the LBGT community for six years and we take pride in our title as the LBGT get-a-way expert of New York.

After the wedding bells ring for those who once could only dream of marriage, let Contrino Travel take care of your honeymoon. We offer a variety of choices perfect the LGBT community through connections with gay-friendly airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, cruise lines and more. To serve you in the best way possible, we have also partnered with gay-friendly tour operators to make your vacation a happy one!

Thinking of a plan your Hawaiian vacation to any of the islands you want to explore. Pick an island and we will plan a romantic and relaxing get-a-way for you and your partner. Some gay beaches in Hawaii include Kehena Beach on Hawaii’s Big Island and Queen’s Surf on Oahu. Don’t have a lot time and need to stay closer to home? No problem. Think Key West. The Floridian city is home to a tropical climate, gay-friendly atmosphere and is only a short flight away.

We can also help you pay for your honeymoon through our Honeymoon Registry. The Registry has served more than 120,000 newlyweds! You can set up your free honeymoon registry online, add your honeymoon wishes, send our announcements to friends and family, and have the honeymoon of your dreams! If this idea seems completely foreign to you, Contrino Travel to the rescue! The registry website offers sample registries and emails, tips and advice.

We know how overhwelming travel can be, especially if you don’t feel safe and comfortable. It is our mission to help you celebrate  the passing of the new law and the marriage of your partner and family.

Ew! Avoiding Nasty Bedbugs While Traveling etal

Being the avid traveler given my profession, hotel room and cruise cabin cleanliness has always been but is becoming more a growing concern of mine. Relative to this is the more pronounced concern for bed bugs and how to avoid getting bit by or even worse, bringing them home with you.
First know that bed bugs do NOT discriminate–even the cushiest of hotels may have to fumigate from time to time. Cleanliness of the hotel doesn’t play a role either. These pesky creatures are brought in by travelers.
Here are a few pro-active pillows as well.
If after this process you do note any of the above, immediately call or go to the Front Desk. If necessary, ask to speak to a manager and report your findings. This person should provide a full refund and offer to move you to another room. If you decide to stay on property, it is strongly recommend that you complete the above steps to ensure cleanliness. Typically, if one room has infestation, there may be others too within that property.
If hotel staff refuses to change your room and/or offer a 100% refund, move to another property and be sure to post your ill findings on Trip Advisor or, if you have a Twitter account, tweet your experience. Nowadays, the power of the Internet works wonders!
It ceases to amaze how more far-advanced the international hotel arena is in comparison to US hotel properties. If you travel to Europe, Mexico and most Caribbean destinations you’ll find the rooms tiled versus a rug. Common sense dictates that tile is so much easier to keep clean—how often do you think they shampoo the rugs? Also, you will find energy-saving techniques, one of which is using your room key to turn the electric on and off in your room. The US is just catching on with this, as evidenced by a recent stay at the Aria in Las Vegas.
Other quick and easy things to do for a more clean-friendly room is to carry a miniature spray can of Lysol, using it on the phone, door knobs and anything else you deem necessary. Relatively these travel size cans are relatively inexpensive and easy to pack.
Lastly, it used to be that the toothbrush would be put in the glass in the bathroom that the hotel provided. Now, that doesn’t happen until that glass gets washed in hot water AND soap!

Quick weekend getaways

Hating to admit summer is almost coming to an end, there’s still a few more weeks to try to get away. Why not take a drive to Boston, DC, Niagara Falls or Baltimore? Contrino Travel can recommend and book your hotel stays.

Don’t want to drive? Take the train–Amtrak can get you to most places and so can we by helping you book your Amtrak tickets too!

NCL’s Epic – Inaugural from NYC

Contrino Travel would be remiss not to comment on its privilege to be sailing on The EPIC’s inaugural from NYC. On Friday, July 2nd it was christened by Reba McIntyre at 2 pm. The ship set sail from Manhattan, but not before reattaching five safety boats that had to be taken off in order for the ship to fit to dock.

Upon embarking, we immediately went to our stateroom, #12275 which was aft and starboard of the ship. In order to differentiate the starboard from port sides, the creators used blue rugs for the starboard side and red rugs. It was pretty easy to navigate except that our set of elevators in the aft didn’t stop on Deck 5. Otherwise, you could pretty much go Decks 4 through 15 (pool deck). Decks 16, 17, 18 and 19 were navigatable by going to the aft and taking yet another elevator, or for the more energetic, one could gain access by using the stairs.

After checking out our stateroom which was a balcony (there are only balconies and/or inside cabins available), we began touring the vessel and were able to view the Studios (cabins for singles sailing alone), along with a visit to the Studio Living Room (a two-story lounge with bar and coffee station). This was a winner in my books, in that singles could meet other singles in their own very special place.

In addition to the Studios, we were able to view a Deluxe Owner’s Suite, the Courtyard Penthouse with Balcony, a Courtyard Villa, Family Deluxe Balcony and the Connecting Family Balconies. While the design was pleasing to the eye, it is this writer’s opinion that there are mixed reviews regarding the bathroom facilities. Rather than stepping into a bathroom which is customary to other ships, the Epic staterooms have a separate toilet area, separate shower area and the sink is also separate. While this writer enjoys a sink which is separate from the bathroom area, I thought it a bit odd that once an occupant showers, they would have to step out and be exposed to the cabin area. There is, however, a curtain that one can pull across the stateroom for privacy, but you’d better make sure that you put the security lock on, so that your stateroom attendant doesn’t barge in and find you in a provocative position!

There are 20 dining venues aboard ship, 11 of which are included in the price of your cruise. Otherwise, you will have to make reservations for the specialty restaurants. You can only make reservations on the morning of the day you want to dine there, so you’d better be up early and make your reservations when they open at 7 am; otherwise, run the risk of being shut out for the day.

In addition to the dining venues, there are a number of bars located throughout the ship. Our favorite was the Ice Bar on Deck 7. It is a must to visit as it is one of a kind at sea. It only holds 25 persons, so again one must make reservations to get to see it. There is an additional charge to enter, but it does come with a 2-drink coupon (Svedka vodka is served here).

The Ice Bar is totally unique in that you have to “suit up” otherwise risk being frozen to death. The temperature is at 17 degrees F and there are specific entry times so as to save the ice from melting! (Check out our photos by Valarie in our Photo Gallery).

In addition to the dining venues there’s a lot of activities to partake in; the Aqua Park on deck 15, bowling* (there are six alleys) on decks 6 and 7; the casino; the Plunge; the Epic theater featuring Blue Man Group; Fat Cats Jazz Club and Blues; Headliners Comedy Club; the i-connect Internet Cafe*; Mandara Spa and Salon*, fitness center, sports complex, Tradewinds Tax and Duty Free Shops*. *costs an additional fee.

Passengers have the opportunity to attend a Murder Mystery Luncheon and/or the Speigal Tent (dinner/show), or Breakfast with Nickelodeon family. All these command an additional fee as well. Reservations are required for all shows, including the Blue Man Group which can be made approximately 30 days in advance of your sailing. If you get shut out, you can try visiting the Box Office to see if you can get on a waiting list, or just show up at the venue, as there will always be cancellations and perhaps you can get it. Another show to view is Legends in Concert and this is included in the price of your cruise.

All in all, the ship is really fantastic and its design pleasing to the eye. For a more detailed description, feel free to call Contrino Travel.

New York City – Safe AND Fun!

Who better to speak about New York City, but one who has been born, raised and worked here all her life! Valarie of Contrino Travel, that’s me!

While I do my fair share of traveling, ergo why I’m a travel advisor, I still do love to visit Manhattan as often as I can. There’s so much to do and see, STILL!

A big fan of the theater, most recently saw The Adams Family and Promises, Promises. Even though both were quite entertaining, if I had to choose between the two, I’d opt for the latter because I like Burt Bacharach’s music, the story was a take on “The Apartment” (which I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never seen), but the Sean stole the show! Kristen wasn’t too shabby either! Amazing range of vocals. Couldn’t get over how tiny she is! Sorry I digress.

Having not been in the City prior to that for some time, I enjoyed my stroll along Broadway at Times’ Square. I actually felt like a tourist, walking from one store to the next. What a nice seating area the Mayor created for its tourists and residents to enjoy, even given the controversy it stirred at its inception.

Had a lot of time to kill as I was meeting a friend for dinner and then the theater, so I walked past Radio City to the rink. There is no greater pleasure than taking this walk–doesn’t cost you anything. For GMA fans, you see where they shoot production of the show, also something I think is quite exciting.

There is so much to see and do in NYC with its different neighborhoods (i.e. SoHo with its great shopping and restaurants, Chinatown and Little Italy, lower Manhattan and more!).

One would suspect that a trip to NYC would be quite expensive and while I would agree with that to a degree, there is plenty to do and see on the cheap! Creating travel packages, some to include a show on Broadway, or a meal or ride carriage horse ride, does defray the cost. A smart travel advisor knows!

Airline pricing on the Rise

Passengers are complaining about luggage fees and other ancillary costs, while airlines are striving to turn their customers’ attention to other charges, namely government taxes and fees. Revenue generated through the taxes and fees generally go toward airport projects, although some have nothing to do with the flight. This is particularly true for those leaving from JFK airport as they have closed the main strip for maintenance (4 months)–ugh!

Hawaii Reports No Damage Due to Earthquake Generated Tsunami

No one can be more excited than this writer from. At approximately 1:40 p.m. Hawaiian time on Sunday, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center canceled the tsunami warning in Hawaii. Hotels and other visitor-related facilities are open and operating normally. Most flights to and from Hawaii were reported on schedule, but there may be some delays and travelers should check with their airline before going to the airport.

Vancouver – An Off Peak Destination to Visit

Spring is typically the low and shoulder season for Vancouver, but this year is an especially sweet time to head to British Columbia because of the Winter Olympics, which end on February 28. Host cities typically suffer from post-Olympic syndrome, when would-be visitors avoid the area because they believe it is too expensive or too crowded. But savvy travelers can find plenty of deals for Vancouver (and even for nearby Whistler, which is in high season through March.

Happenings in Vancouver this spring include the Vancouver International Biennale, a free, open-air art event that lasts through June 30, 2011. International Dance Day will be celebrated on April 29 in Vancouver, and free events such as a flamenco dance class and hula-hooping lessons make the event an entertainment bargain.

There’s so much to see and do in Vancouver and Contrino Travel can help you decide, making it a great destination to visit.

Euro to US$Ratio Improves Greatly

Planning a trip to Europe? Now’s the time to start planning with Euro, the current exchange rate to U.S. dollars is 1.36. It has been reduced dramatically.