Review: Hampton Inn Tropicana (Las Vegas, NV) 2012

This is EXACTLY how my room looked. It was lovely.
This is EXACTLY how my room looked. It was lovely. | Source
4 stars for Overall Rating
Diamond in the Rough!

Hotel Details:

Address: 4975 S. Dean Martin Dr., Las Vegas, Nevada, 89118-1656, USA
Phone Number: 1-702-948-8100
Registration: Check-in time: 3:00 pm; Check-out time: 12:00 p
Currency: USD
Animals: Service pets only

PRICE: 5 stars *****

I purchased the room at the Hampton Inn Tropicana four days before an impromptu trip to Vegas. I used the Priceline Negotiator feature and landed this 3-star room for $50 ($62 after taxes and fees) on the Saturday before Halloween. (Vegas gets PACKED during this time because of all the costume parties and nightlife.) When booked on a Saturday night through their website, the room I stayed in would have been $110.48 after taxes and fees. If you’re from out of state you can pay $6 more for a free luggage tag and coffee mug.


My trip to Vegas was a disaster, but the hotel was wonderful.Check-in started at 3pm and at 6pm I lost a rod from my engine. I had to call the hotel and there was no problem (and NO FEE) to switch to late check-in. We finally arrived, by tow-truck, after 8pm. Check in was quick and easy. The attendant answered all of my questions without annoyance, which I greatly appreciated. I was having an issue with my credit card but because the room was pre-paid I was able to use a debit card for collateral instead. They held only $50 and it was returned within 2 business days. For check out we just left the keys in the room.

PARKING: 5 stars ***** SECURITY: 2 stars **

The parking was ample with spots all around the perimeter of the hotel, as well as a covered, two-story parking structure. I parked my totaled car in the back near the pool. This is important because I ended up leaving my car there for several days with no problem. This made me feel like the security of the parking lot was way under par. If a broken down old clunker can sit for days with nothing happening, imagine the theft that can happen.

ROOM 469: 5 stars *****

My room was 469, at the end of a long hallway with a view facing the Palms. There was a large full sized mirrors, which I was thankful for since we had 3 girls getting ready that night. The bathroom was stocked with the usuals- coffee maker, ice bucket, blow dryer, but not enough towels. I did not shower here. The bed was huge and comfortable. There was also a couch area. The room was spacious enough that the four of us did not feel cramped. The WiFi worked great. There were lots of brochures and information on sites and attractions. There was an am/fm clock radio. Maid service did not come early (a pet peeve of mine). Everything was pristine, clean, and comfortable. Hot breakfast 6-10am was exactly what we needed after coming in from the club at 5am!

LOCATION: 4 stars **** (It depends)

I loved the location. Before I left for Vegas I searched online and found a promoter’s website where I was placed on the VIP list for the clubs at The Palms and the Luxor ( This hotel is located in walking distance to both of these places. There was a free shuttle to two stops along the strip. There was a less frequent pick up from the strip as well. I did not end up using this service. The best part of the location is the In and Out across the street!

AMENITIES: No rating

There were entrances/exits all around the building that were accessible by room key. I appreciated this since I had to park so far away. However, there were only two sets of elevators, one on the North East and North West entrances. My room was as far South as the building would permit. It took forever to walk down the hallway and I felt as if I were disturbing most guests. Also, the vending machines and ice machine were at the beginning of the hall, next to the elevator. It was a real chore going back and forth.

I did notice a small fitness room that was open 24-hours but I did not use it. I saw the cozy bar, but did not have drinks at it. I did not visit the pool or spa. Therefore, I cannot rate these amenities.
Prices and Rooms as Listed on Website

This information can be found at:

1 KING BED (NON)SMOKING: $110.48- $116.48 (after taxes and fees) [This is the type of room I stayed in]
2 DOUBLE BEDS (NON)SMOKING: $122.08- $127.68 (after taxes and fees)
1 KING BED 1 BEDROOM SUITE NONSMOKING: $308.00- $313.60 (after taxes and fees)
2 DOUBLE BEDS 1 BEDROOMS SUITE NONSMOKING: $334.98- $340.48 (after taxes and fees)
1 KING MOBILITY/HEARING ACCESS WITH TUB NONSMOKING: $110.88- $116.48 (after taxes and fees)

There is also a special “Romance Package” that includes “1-750 ML. BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE OR SPARKLING CIDER WITH 2 FLUTES, BOX OF CHOCOLATES, 2PM LATE CHECK OUT, COMPLIMENTARY AIRPORT SHUTTLE, HOT BREAKFAST AND STRIP TRANSPORTATION TO/FROM TROPICANA AND MANDALAY.” This package ranges from $114.00+. This would be a great Valentine get away for you and your significant other.
The back of the hotel, near the pool. This is the only photo we took in Vegas!
The back of the hotel, near the pool. This is the only photo we took in Vegas!
Poolside | Source

See all amenities by clicking this link.

Distance from airport- McCarran International Airport: 2 mi.

Airport transportation:

Walk: Call Hotel for information
Super Shuttle: $25.00
Bus Service: Call Hotel for information
Taxi: $20.00
Courtesy Bus: Call Hotel for information
Limousine: $40.00
Nearest train station: No nearby train station


Self parking: Complimentary
Tour Buses Welcome

Facilities Available at this Hotel

Bars: 1
Meeting Rooms: 9
Guest rooms: 322
Smoking Rooms
Accessible Rooms
In-Room Wired Internet Complimentary
In-Room Wireless Internet
Complimentary Public Wireless Internet

Not available at this hotel:

Restaurant On-Site

Services and Amenities Available at this Hotel

Business Center
Room Service
Recreation/Fitness Fitness Center
Outdoor Pool

Not available at this hotel:

Executive Rooms

Family Amenities Available at this Hotel

Children’s Menu

Accessible Features Available at this Hotel

Service support animals welcome
Accessible business center
Accessible exercise facility
Accessible guest rooms with mobility features with entry or passage doors that provide 32” of clear width
Accessible parking spaces for cars in the self-parking facility
Accessible public entrance
Accessible registration desk
Accessible route from the accessible public entrance to the accessible guestrooms
Accessible route from the accessible public entrance to the registration area
Accessible route from the hotel’s accessible entrance to the meeting room/ballroom area
Accessible route from the hotel’s accessible public entrance to the business center
Accessible route from the hotel’s accessible public entrance to the exercise facilities
Accessible route from the hotel’s accessible public entrance to the spa
Accessible route from the hotel’s accessible public entrance to the swimming pool
Accessible swimming pool
Accessible transportation with advance notice
Assistive listening devices for meetings upon request
Closed captioning on televisions or closed captioning decoders
TTY for guest use
Van-accessible parking in the self-parking facility

Four Seasons of Yosemite Valley: Getting the Most Out of Your Visit Any Time of Year

Yosemite Valley is Beautiful in Any Season

Have you ever been to Yosemite Valley? If not, you are missing out big time!

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Yosemite Valley many times. Each time I visit I am struck by it’s magnificence. The high granite walls, the cascading waterfalls, the reflections of Mirror Lake, the blossoming Dogwood trees. It is enough to take your breath away.

There are so many ways to experience Yosemite Valley. You can rough it in a tent cabin, rent a motel room, or hob nob with the upper crust at the Ahwahnee Hotel. You can take tours of the valley from a bus, take short walks around the meadow, or you can take a serious hike up a granite wall. There is something for everyone in Yosemite!

I’m going to give you taste of Yosemite Valley in all four seasons. Then you decide…no matter which season you visit there will always be something amazing to experience.
That’s me, back in the 1960s
That’s me, back in the 1960s
We Aren’t Going Where There are Bears!

I went camping with my family almost every year throughout my childhood. We camped at Lassen Volcanic National Park, Lake Tahoe, Mt. Shasta, and up and down the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. But, we never went to Yosemite.

You want to know why? My Mom was terrified of bears. Now, you might guess that many of the place we visited were known to have black bear sightings. My Mom never heard those stories. But, she heard all about the bears in Yosemite.

So, it wasn’t until my mid 20s that I had visited Yosemite National Park for the first time. And, no, my Mom did not go on that trip! I’ve visited many beautiful landscapes in California, but I don’t think anything compares to Yosemite.
Where is it located?
A markerYosemite National Park – Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Village, CA 95389, USA
[get directions]

Kenn Bennett’s Secrets to Enjoying Yosemite Valley
Kenn Bennett’s Secrets to Enjoying Yosemite Valley
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Getting More Out Of Your Visit To The Valley

It doesn’t hurt to have a plan when you visit a place as big as Yosemite. There’s so much to see and so much to do.

Are you going hiking? Then, you’ll need to see what trails are available at what time of year–and, don’t forget the difficulty levels! This may be a tourist attraction but it’s right in the heart of the Sierra Nevadas and some of the terrain is harsh.

If you want to take a gentle walk or ride a bike, there are plenty of opportunities right in the valley. You just need to know where to find them.

Do you want to see the tourist attraction or go off the beaten track (stick to the trails!)? This guide will help you plan your visit and get the most out of your time.

The Range of Light
The entrance to Yosemite Valley copyrighted by Melody Lassalle
The entrance to Yosemite Valley copyrighted by Melody Lassalle | Source
Ten Things To Do In Yosemite Valley

Take the short walk up to Bridal Veil Falls
Walk or bike the path round the valley
Sit by the river and watch the climbers on El Capitan
Have a picnic on the banks of the Merced River
Take a hike to Mirror Lake
Go in search of wildflowers
Keep an eye out for the animals who make Yosemite their home
Hike up to Nevada and Vernal Falls
Take the guided bus tour that goes throughout the valley
Take a tour of the Ahwahnee Hotel

I visited Yosemite for the first time when I was in my 20’s. I don’t think anything fully prepared me for it’s beauty. The drive to the valley isn’t so different from the rest of the Sierra Nevada region. Lush pine and redwood trees set against the mountains. You stop at each look out and wonder what the big deal is. And then…you see it.

It is your first view of what’s to come as you approach the valley. You see El Capitan, Bridal Veil Falls, with a tiny outline of Half Dome in the distance. It takes your breath away. It is so beautiful!

I am going to admit that my first visit to Yosemite National Park I wasn’t that impressive. Though there were spectacular views from outside the valley and at Glacier Point, the valley itself was lined with traffic and packed with people. It was as if we had brought the whole city with us.

But that didn’t stop me from returning. I’ve made several trips back to Yosemite visiting the high country, the valley, Hetch Hetchy, and Wawona. Each time I visited I saw something I had never seen before. Sometimes it was the exact same mountain but it was set in different light. Or, it was a previously drained waterfall overflowing with water and mist.

Yosemite soon became my favorite place on Earth. I had photos from my trip and two posters of Yosemite plastered to my cubicle wall at work. There was something about Yosemite. It’s hard to explain. You are almost overwhelmed by it’s magnificence.

I’ve now visited in every season. I’ve felt the 90 degree temps of Summer and froze my butt off standing in snow in the Winter. I’ve camped in a tent cabin in the valley, pitched a tent near Hetch Hetchy reservoir, stayed in a motel room in the valley, and rented a cabin in Wawona. I’ve hiked in the high country, stood at Glacier Point and looked down on the valley, and watched the deer play near the Wawona Hotel.

There is beauty everywhere when it come to Yosemite National Park. But, nothing compares to the Yosemite Valley. John Muir nicknamed this region the Range of Light. When you visit, you will understand what the nickname means.
Buy Now

Bring Yosemite Valley Home

Years ago I worked for the public library system. I had my own cubicle and I had a poster of one of Ansel Adams’ photographs of Yosemite Falls on the wall.

If you aren’t familiar with his photography, his black and white photos are synonymous with Yosemite National Park. He was able to capture the light and magic of the landscape without color. You don’t need color photography to show the richness of the beauty of this place.

Ansel Adams was a master of black and white photography. This is a collection of his finest work.

Train Vacations, Day Trips, and Tours in the Southwest

Train Trips – In The Southwest

A train trip through the Southwest is an exciting alternative to regular travel options of cars, buses and planes. The bigger railroad-excursion experience includes a seat, not unlike the one found on airplanes. It reclines and is upholstered. Most non-commuter passenger-train services offer a dining car, where people can order meals and beverages before returning to their seats. For passengers on overnight expeditions, train cabins can be used in the place of seats for sleeping. Some are shared while others are fully private. If the traveler is really going all out, she can book a private sleeping cabin with a bathroom – considered a luxury over the shared bathroom facilities used by lesser-paying passengers.

For Southwest train timetables, see Amtrak.
Train Tours – In The Southwest

A Southwest rail tour, unlike bus tours, allows the passenger a non-stop experience. Although the train stops at stations, there is no need for the passenger to disembark for a stretch, to enjoy a meal or use the restroom. Everything is available for the passenger right on the train.

On a day train excursion, the amenities may be fewer than on an overnight experience and the seats may be simpler. Depending on the train line, there may not be a dining car available. However, there is always a bathroom and great views. Even on smaller train lines, snacks are sold at the station stops. Sometimes, like on a recent train excursion I took, there is a train car without a roof, allowing passengers an outdoor experience while en-route. It’s a great way to take in a beautiful day and see the sights sans windows.
Tour Options – Pulling Out All The Stops!

12-Day Amtrak Train Tour of the Southwest – Travel through the National Parks of the Southwest on this tour by Amtrak, on the train called the California Zepher. This tour takes you from Denver to Grand Junction, Colorado. Using a connector, you board the Southwest Chief in Windslow, Arizona and continue the round-trip journey from Trinidad by motor-coach on the last stretch back to Denver. This tour includes a ride through the following National Parks:

Arches National Park
Dead Horse Point State Park
Edge of the Cedars State Park
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
Bryce Canyon National Park
Zion National Park
Grand Canyon National Park

You can enjoy exciting travel options for an all-inclusive experience by the included features such of the Navajo-guided Jeep Tour, the cruise on the Colorado River, and two-night stay at the Red Cliffs Lodge.

12-Day America-By-Rail Tour of the Southwest – America by Rail outfit departs from Chicago headed straight to these locations:

Arches National Park.
Capital Reef/Monument Valley in Colorado
Petrified Forest of Arizona
En Route/Tucson
Arizona-Senora – Desert Museum, Zoo, and Botanical Garden
En Route/Alpine, Texas
Lajitas Resort and Spa
En Route/San Antonio to Fort Worth, Texas
Back to Chicago

America By Rail
All Aboard: The Complete North American Train Travel Guide
All Aboard: The Complete North American Train Travel Guide
Buy Now

Day Trips Only – Short Railroad Excursions

If you’re looking for a smaller commitment of time to the passenger-train experience, consider a day trip in one of these states:

Arizona – Grand Canyon Railway offers passengers a stress free means to visit the Grand Canyon, departing from Williams, Arizona.

Nevada – There’s a 35 minute excursion waiting for you on the Virginia and Truckee Railroad line. This train trip leaves from in Goldhill, Nevada. Another expected excursion available this year will run from Virginia City to Carson City, Nevada.

Colorado – Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroads has all day expeditions, running from Chama to Antonito, Colorado. Expect soot and ashes on this train ride. It’s a steamer train from the old days.

New Mexico – Take a train trip from Santa Fe to Lamy, New Mexico and back on the Santa Fe Southern Railway. This four hour train ride is on a freight train! Lamy is a small, quaint village.

Tool To Reduce Mortgage Payments And Foreclosure Homes

A home appreciation participation note or HAPN is being developed by financial engineers in Rockville, Maryland to be used as an instrument to allow homebuyers sell rights to an anticipated appreciation to investors who are willing to shoulder the losses in the event that the value of properties decline.

The increase in foreclosure homes is being blamed on homeowners’ decision to choose risk-heavy loans such as adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM), option ARM and interest-only mortgage. Experts agree that if only homeowners opted for shared-appreciation mortgage, foreclosure homes would not be as widespread as it is today.

Shared-appreciation mortgage involves investing money on a property to reduce the interest rate and in exchange, the investor will get a share of the revenue in the event that the property was sold.

If more borrowers opted for shared-appreciation mortgage, foreclosure homes would not have been as grave a problem as it is now, dragging down the housing market.

Meanwhile, to help abate the growing number of foreclosure homes, several programs and tools were created by various organizations and agencies.

The HAPN is designed to address the issue of affordability facing homebuyers and the possibility that the value of the property would decline.

The instrument allows homebuyers to stay in their properties while selling shares in the event that the houses’ value will go down beyond the original market price that they paid for.

The larger the amount that investors put on the property, the more it becomes affordable and therefore, less likely to be added to the growing list of foreclosure homes.

In a nutshell, the investor will put in a significant amount of cash so that the homeowner could afford to pay the monthly mortgage, and in return, the investor will get a share of the total profit in the event the property is sold.

Integrated Financial Engineering President Barry Dennis explained that homebuyers will sell today what they would eventually sell when they decide to move on.

HAPN’s advantage over shared-appreciation mortgage is that the appreciation is not tied up to the market price of the house when the homebuyer sells it. Instead, the appreciation is based on the estimated value of the house if some characteristics of the property have not changed since it was acquired.

Unlike shared-appreciation mortgage, homebuyers under HAPN will not share their profits that come from improvements that they make.

The HAPN acts as a second mortgage which is hoped to abate the flood of foreclosures.

Tips When Buying Mesa Foreclosure Homes

Colorado is the fifth state with the highest rate of foreclosed homes in the US, according to October 2008 data released by property tracker RealtyTrac. The state has been one of the hardest hit by the housing downturn, the economic slowdown and the rising rate of unemployment in the country. Foreclosures are considered inevitable households’ reaction to the challenging times.

The outlook for Colorado may be brim and uncertain. But there are still counties that are gaining bullish outlooks. Mesa on the Western Slope region in the state is enjoying great outlooks and forecasts. In terms of foreclosed homes, Mesa foreclosure homes have been among the lowest in all of Colorado. However, many homebuyers still aim to find and buy homes in the area.

If you are among those buyers, here are simple tips about how you could effectively and successfully find Mesa foreclosure homes.

1. Check out Mesa foreclosure listings available online or through conventional printed media outlets. These materials usually include content and lists about available Mesa foreclosure homes. Foreclosure listings offer more than just lists. They also offer helpful guidelines, recommendations and insights about buying Mesa foreclosure homes.

2. Prepare to look for available Mesa foreclosure homes at auctions and REO sales. The best and most attractive foreclosed homes are available for inspections. See your target home and inspect for damages or bad factors.

3. Make yourself eligible for financing initiatives if you do not have ample cash at hand for the purchases. Doing so will help you save on time and efforts when you finally get to the negotiating table when buying any of the available Mesa foreclosure homes.

4. Allocate funds for improving and renovating your acquisition. There surely will be many rooms for improvements and you surely will need or want to modify anything at your purchased foreclosure.

Visiting Las Vegas And The Scenic Southwest On A Budget.

This article is based on years of traveling in and out of Las Vegas to visit some of the most beautiful places on earth. Las Vegas can be a very inexpensive place to fly into.

AdventureZoneTOURS, that’s what I should have named this article. That’s how I like to travel. I want to be comfortable, have great adventure, for a reasonable amount of money.

For our budget, our trip into the Vegas airport begins on a Sunday thru Wednesday. The focus and goal of our trip is to get into the great outdoors. But, we like to stay the first couple of nights in Vegas and then the last couple of nights too, with the middle of the trip spent touring awesome places in the great Mohave Desert.

As soon as you get off the plane you know you are in Vegas and are bombarded by visual entertainment. Everything is bright and flashing, it seems like daytime even at night. Huge screens preview the available shows and entertainment in town. As you leave the airport you will find all modes of transport available along the street including taxis, limos & shuttle buses.

There are a lot of hotels to choose from. Many times I have stayed on the strip at Tropicana Ave. Returning to the car rental lot at the airport is just minutes from this part of the strip. There are many choices for hotels. There are thousands of hotel rooms and more being built every day. There are hotels on Las Vegas Blvd, more just off the strip and some just blocks away from the strip in downtown Las Vegas. Fremont Street has been canopied by tens of thousands of lights. The hotel/casinos in this area have almost a neighborhood feel. At night The Fremont Street Experience comes alive with lights, and music. It’s feels almost like a block party.

Will you need a rental car? Many times your best deal on a rental is going to be for a weekly rental. Even if you rent for just 4 days, the weekly rental is normally a better deal. Normally, the car rentals work on a 24 hour period. For example if you pick up at 6 pm, your return would have to be by 6 pm of the day the car is suppose to be returned. Many times I will fly into Las Vegas and take one of the inexpensive shuttles to my hotel doorstep. Then the day I want to begin my weekly rental, I take a taxi to the rental location to pick up my car being careful to pick it up at the same time of day that I will be returning it the day of my departure. You can also consider renting your auto at one of the downtown off airport rental locations. This can save on the airport tax surcharges that are added on to your rental at the airport locations. As you choose your car rental, you might find that they have a location right at the hotel you choose to stay at.

Las Vegas has plenty of entertainment to enjoy, with shows that change from month to month. There are many free things to do as well. The water show at the Beligio is cool and interesting if seem by night from the Eiffel Tour. Everybody likes the free volcano at the Mirage, the lion’s habitat at the MGM, The show in front of TI, Mardi Gras style show in the Rio and on and on. This article is about getting out into the great outdoors, so I’ll leave the entertainment search up to you. There’s always plenty to see and do.

On to your AdventureZoneTOUR! Now, let’s find adventure!

The Valley of Fire
Zion National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon
Lake Powell
Antelope Canyon
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

One of the first things I do as I’m leaving town is to find a big grocery store or the local shopping mart. I buy a cooler and load up on water, fruit, soda, chips, snacks, napkins, plates, forks and deli items. Many times we’ll have an inexpensive breakfast or lunch along the way. We’ll have a great restaurant dinner.

There is where the Mojave, Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts are within striking distance of your entry point of Las Vegas. Some of these areas can be very hot in the summer, but if you plan well and hit the higher elevations, it can be very comfortable. Remember this area of the world can be wild and dangerous. Take all the precautions necessary. This is the Mohave Desert, you’ll need water. You do not want to get stuck in the sand, or have your auto break down in a remote area. There are places your cell phone will not work. If you hike into any remote areas, learn about them first and obtain necessary permits. There are a lot of slot canyons that are very beautiful. A slot is a narrow passageway thru cliff lined canyons. This was carved into the sandstone by water. Beware! If it is raining 100 miles away from you, you may not know it and the slot you could be in is where the water will run. I have heard several stories of people being carried away and drown because of lack of planning. When you are in a narrow canyon, there is no place to escape. Be smart and be careful. Take lots of pictures.

Heading north there is another great little casino city right at the border of Nevada called Mesquite, NV. I have found the hotel room rates to be down right cheap. Mesquite has everything that I need as a base of operations. The rooms are acceptable, the Casinos are modern and fun with pools and even arcades, bowling alleys and movie theatres, without lots of traffic. The town has lots of buffets, gas stations, golf, etc. If you are planning a visit to Zion, staying here is an easy drive up and back for a couple of day trips into the region. Many times I have gone with a group and we have to reserve quite a few rooms.

As you head north on I 15 you’ll see the Las Vegas Speedway home of NASCAR races as well as Nellis Air force base. You’ll probably see or hear air force jets flying around or landing as you travel past the base. The thunderbirds have a presence here, as well as some funky looking stealth and unmanned remotely piloted aircraft. Maybe this is where all the UFO Area 51 stuff comes from. If you’re interested in more information about the mystery lights in the sky, search for Groom Lake or Area 51.

The Valley of Fire State Park is up this way and located only six miles from Lake Mead, it’s 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas via Interstate 15 and on exit 75. Valley of Fire is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park, dedicated 1935. The valley derives its name from the red sandstone formations and the stark beauty of the Mojave Desert. There are some really awesome campsites nested within the red rock cliffs. This is a great place to stretch your legs and do a little rock scrambling. It’s about a 30 minute drive from the highway exit. The Moapa Indian Reservation runs a store right at this exit.This can be a nice stop for bathrooms; they sell fireworks, have a small casino, tax free cigarettes and liquor in their small convenience store.

If you continue north into Utah on highway I 15 from Las Vegas you can go to Zion National Park. It’s just a few hours north of Las Vegas and can make a great day trip. April thru Oct. the environmental friendly shuttle bus provides transportation in the park. Other month’s autos are allowed in. There is a highway Rt 9 that goes thru park of the park and is open to traffic all year. If you might be planning a hike into the Virgin River and upstream, talk to the rangers first. Our last trip the water levels were too high and not safe. After you tour of Zion, be sure to take RT. 9 through the tunnels, and the landscape totally changes after the tunnel. It’s like a different planet. The second day we visited the Zion Plateau where we found a resort and paid the all day pass to ride their ATV’s, use their pool, play paintball, climbing wall, etc.

From here you now need to plan out your trip based on how long you’ll be traveling for. You could head to Bryce Canyon Nation Park or you could go to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Lake Powell, even The Grand Canyon. I normally take Utah highway 89 if I am going to Lake Powell and on the return just to see even more scenery I return towards Las Vegas using Arizona ALT highway 89.

Heading south on Utah highway 89 from either Zion or Bryce you’ll see a turn off for Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Here pinkish sand worn off the sandstone cliffs was deposited by the winds creating 3,000 acres of sand dunes. Continuing along highway 89 is the town of Kanab, Utah. One popular visit in the area is the Paria and Johnson Canyon Movie Set where over 300 movies and TV shows were filmed.

This area is called the Arizona Strip. We visited The Glen Canyon Dam which created Lake Powell. Lake Powell has 2000 miles of shoreline and canyons etc. We rented a speed boat for the day at the Marina. As you look for boat rentals, you need to decide if you want to rent at the marina where the boat is in the water or another rental where you may have to tow or arrange for the boat to be launched. You may choose to not have a hotel/condo and stay on a houseboat. The sun is strong and lots of sunscreen and sun block should be used. Many people visit Rainbow Bridge and it is the world’s largest natural bridge.

Antelope Canyon is a Page, Arizona photographer’s opportunity. This is the most spectacular slot canyon I have been to. You’ll find that all tours require a Navajo guide and there is an upper and lower canyon. The tours are separate. You can join a tour in Page, AZ or drive the few miles to the Navajo Nation. There is a cost for parking at the Navajo tour site, as well as for the tour itself. Our tour was in an open safari type vehicle for a few miles into the desert. As you get there you see just a dark crack in a huge cliff. It is an amazing slot canyon carved by water and wind over millions of years. The sandstone colors are awesome and many people are touched by this natural cathedral that the Navajo’s have treasured for years. When the sun is directly over head, beams of light can then shine into the canyon.

I like to return back towards Las Vegas using AZ alt 89 out of Page, AZ. Be sure you make the turn on alt 89 or you will continue south towards Flagstaff, AZ. Taking this route will bring you past the Vermilion Cliffs. As you continue on highway alt 89 you’ll get to Jacobs Lake, this is the turn off if you are interested in visiting the North Rim of The Grand Canyon. I timed my last trip so we could overnight at the Lodge. We showed up late afternoon, watched the sunset, stayed in a cabin right near the rim. We ate at the dining room with an awesome view. You’ll need reservations or you’ll be out of luck.

From here you’d just return back to highway 15 and your trip back to Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Tours and Attractions – Use a Tour Bus and Save Big Bucks

Las Vegas is famous for grandiose hotels, 24/7 gambling, and star-struck shows. But it’s also a fantastic place to book value-packed bus tours to some of the planet’s best natural attractions.

Several conditions merge to make Sin City a budget-traveler’s paradise:

Air Fares – McCarran International Airport is 15th busiest in the world. Benefit to you? Discount air, tour, and bus tickets.
Geography – The City is at the nexus of Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and California. All regional attractions can be reached by tour bus! If you prefer to fly, expect to have feet on the ground in under an hour.
Trip Costs – Almost 40 million people visit annually. It takes a lot of tour operators to service this many travelers. Competition for your travel dollar is fierce. Expect to get great value at great price.

You’ll be presented with hundreds of promotional offers. The best deals will be for food, drink, and entertainment. Tours are a different story. Best bet for value is to book in advance on the Internet, where you will consistently net big savings.

Riding a motor coach is the best way to take in the town and surrounding sights. It’s safe, economical, and affordable. Here are my Top 5 attractions that you are accessible by bus:

Grand Canyon South Rim – An absolute must-see. This is the part of the Canyon where postcard-pictures are shot. Plenty of food, shopping, and souvenirs, too.
Grand Canyon West Rim – Definitely a different part of the Canyon from the South Rim, but worth it if you’re in a time crunch. This is Hualapai Indian territory: Make sure you experience the Skywalk.
Hoover Dam “Mini” Tours – Just 30 miles east of Las Vegas. Second largest dam in the U.S. Free guided tour is one of the best on the market. Take elevator down to generator room. Major picture opportunities in the newly constructed Observation Room.
Lake Mead Cruise – Lake Mead is the largest man-made lake in the country. Cruise past extinct volcanoes. Sail just 100’s of yards away from Hoover Dam! It’s the only tour where you can easily experience the Colorado River.
Las Vegas City Tour – Offered day and night. Experience Sin City like a local. See all the key landmarks, including celeb mansions, Freemont Street, The Strip, and more. Guide-intensive, so make sure you get a good one.

Bus tour packages can also include helicopter rides, plane flights, river rafting excursions, and more.

Not all tour operators can effectively bundle trips fro you. The one, however, that repeatedly gets big kudos from travelers is Grayline tours. Operated by one of the largest sightseeing companies in the world (they’re tours are in 150 destinations, including Paris, London, New York, Cairo, Hong Kong, and more), Gray Line epitomizes safety, reliability, and value. They’re tour guides undergo rigorous training and are oftentimes more knowledgeable about, for example, Las Vegas than the locals. And, if you want to “supersize” your Las Vegas attraction’s tour by including helicopter or plane flight, they are people that can arrange it to perfection.

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Las Vegas Nevada Tours Offer Wide Variety of Options

Those unfamiliar with Las Vegas may be surprised at the outstanding tours available that go to places besides the world famous casinos, motels and shopping malls. One of the most popular tours is to the huge Hoover Dam that is on the Arizona and Nevada border, just thirty five miles from Las Vegas. The Hoover Dam is a National Historic Landmark and one of the great engineering accomplishments of the twentieth century. At the time of it’s completion in 1936 it was the worlds largest electric power plant and also the largest concrete structure. It’s still an awe inspiring structure some over seventy years later.

Tours to Hoover Dam are available by bus, helicopter, plane or automobile. Coupons can be purchased ahead of time if you look online for tour companies that go to this landmark.

Another tour destination related directly to the Hoover Dam is the Lake Mead tours. Lake Mead is the huge lake that was created when the dam was finished. It is largest reservoir in the United States with a capacity of almost thirty million acre feet of water. Although it right next to and is created by the Hoover Dam, the tours of these two destinations are completely different. At Lake Mead you can have recreational tour packages that include cruises, dinner, swimming, water skiing and fishing. Of course, it’s possible to tour both the dam and the lake and there are tours that offer both experiences. It’s advisable to get discount coupons of these tours beforehand to get the best prices.

Another Las Vegas Nevada tour that is not as well known but is growing in popularity quickly is the Red Rock tours which go to the nearby Red Rock Canyon. These tours can be done by either horseback, all terrain vehicles or bicycle. These tours can be some of the funnest and least expensive deals in Vegas and may include dinner or lunch. The scenery in the Red Rock Canyons is spectacular also. Again, it’s advised to look around before your vacation to get the best deals and to better plan your vacation.

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Special Award recipients honoured at 19th Annual BASA Awards, partnered by Hollard and Business Day

Design Indaba founder Ravi Naidoo, First National Bank, and the United States Embassy have all been honoured with Special Awards at the 19th Annual BASA Awards, partnered by Hollard and Business Day.
Special Award recipients honoured at 19th Annual BASA Awards, partnered by Hollard and Business Day

These awards are selected by Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) Board of Directors and celebrate remarkable contributions by individuals, businesses, and organisations to the sustainability of South Africa’s arts. The awards further the core goals of BASA’s strategy: to act as a change-maker, and to facilitate connectivity and sustainability through robust and ongoing research and diverse public, private and civil society programmes.

Ravi Naidoo was named this year’s Art Champion, while the Chairman’s Premier Award went to First National Bank (FNB) for the FNB Joburg Art Fair. The United States (US) Embassy was honoured with the Diplomacy in the Arts Award for their support of the Market Theatre.

“This year’s Special Awards winners really are powerful endorsements of the ability of individuals, businesses and other organisations to make an impact on South Africa’s arts community, and highlight the extensive work that BASA is doing in creating exciting and innovative partnerships,” said Kwanele Gumbi, Chairman of the BASA Board. “We would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations and deep appreciation to all three recipients for their role in arts sustainability across South Africa.”

The Diplomacy in the Arts award is given in recognition of Foreign Missions that contribute to the development and preservation of the arts in South Africa, as well as the continued prioritisation of cultural diplomacy between South Africa and the international community. Through its Cultural Affairs Office in the Public Affairs Section, the US Embassy offers cultural and arts programmes that are designed to enhance mutual understanding between the people of SA and the USA. In particular, the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) supports the preservation of cultural sites, cultural objects, and forms of traditional cultural expression in more than 100 developing countries around the world.

The Market Theatre has had a long association with the US Embassy. Over the past few years, under the Ambassadorship of Patrick Gaspard, it has been a generous supporter of the Market Theatre Foundation in particular and the arts in general. Financial grants have enabled the Market Theatre to carry out work at professional, student and community level and encourage the development of new young audiences through its support of the youth. Among recent projects supported by embassy grants were five professional productions (The Brothers Size, The Mountain Top, Ketekang, I Almost Remember and A Raisin in the Sun); a live performance of the multi award winning saxophonist, McCoy Mrubata, on International Jazz Day; first and second-year training of 33 students in the performing arts at the Market Laboratory’s Drama School; and the community theatre-based Zwakala Festival.

Art Champion recipient Ravi Naidoo is the founder of Interactive Africa and Design Indaba. Naidoo created Design Indaba in 1995 as a way to celebrate the creative potential of the new, post-apartheid South Africa and share this with the world. He also sought to educate South Africans by inviting the world’s leading designers in every field to South Africa to engage with design projects. The annual international event has grown to become the world’s leading design conference and has attracted much international attention to outstanding South African talent. Design Indaba has been recognised as having a positive effect on the South African design economy, with initiatives that accelerate and mentor emerging creatives. Naidoo was also the catalyst behind Woolworths and the Western Cape Government of Education creating a design syllabus at school level.

The Chairman’s Premier Award is made at the discretion of the Chairman of BASA and recognises sustained and extraordinary commitment to the arts in South Africa. This year’s recipient is FNB for the FNB Joburg Art Fair, which they created in 2008 in partnership with Artlogic. Now it is Africa’s leading art fair focused on contemporary art from the continent and diaspora, and each year record sales and visitor numbers reinforce the demand for an event where the continent’s artists, curators, collectors and enthusiasts can congregate. Having just wrapped up its ninth iteration, the FNB Joburg Art Fair continues to strengthen this position by presenting the finest contemporary African art alongside memorable exhibitions and groundbreaking initiatives. These include a series of curated special projects, a VIP Programme that has hosted top international curators and directors from institutions like The Tate Modern, Venice Biennale, Centre Pompidou and CCA Lagos, as well as a Talks Programme that invites art-world figures, philosophers, and critical theorists to deliver key-note lectures and participate in panel discussions. The FNB Joburg Art Fair now also includes a programme of collateral events that take place throughout Johannesburg, with galleries, museums, arts organisations and artists collaborating to create a public focus on the city’s art scene.

The members of the BASA Board are Kwanele Gumbi (Chairman),Herman Bosman, Richard Cock, Michelle Constant, Mandla Langa, Hilton Lawler, Andre Le Roux, Khanyi Mamba, Gianni Mariano, Dorothea Moors, Carel Nolte, Mandie van der Spuy, Matthew van der Want, and Gail Walters.

Winners honoured at 19th Annual BASA Awards, partnered by Hollard and Business Day

Eleven projects were honoured at the 19th Annual BASA Awards, partnered by Hollard and Business Day, during an arts-filled event attended by representatives of the business and arts community, and by the Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, as well as the Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom.
Winners honoured at 19th Annual BASA Awards, partnered by Hollard and Business Day
click to enlarge
Winners honoured at 19th Annual BASA Awards, partnered by Hollard and Business Day
click to enlarge
These prestigious awards celebrate exceptional projects that demonstrate the positive and sustainable impact of dynamic business and arts partnerships. It is also a moment for Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), which turns 20 next year, to reflect on the realisation of its core mandate, which focuses on change-making, connectivity and sustainability, underpinned by a body of research that grows every day, as well as diverse public, private and civil society programmes.

Winners in this year’s award categories provided inspiring and compelling insight into the role that the arts play in connecting people and enabling transformation – and the different ways that business can support this.

“As we move towards celebrating two decades of BASA 2017, I am proud of what we see coming out of the Awards. BASA’s support and involvement in the public and private sector demonstrates what can be done when we all work together,” commented Michelle Constant, CEO of BASA.

“We would like to congratulate this year’s winners and finalists,” added Heidi Brauer, Chief Marketing Officer at Hollard. “It’s always so rewarding to see the unique ways in which businesses partner with artists and art organisations to contribute toward a better society and we’re thrilled to play our part in celebrating these collaborations.”

“The shared value of the partnerships awarded tonight is visible for all to see and I hope that more businesses are now encouraged to partner with arts projects in the year ahead,” said Tim Cohen, Business Day Editor.

The 19th Annual BASA Awards, partnered by Hollard and Business Day, were held at Shine Studios in Braamfontein against the spectacular backdrop of the city. The evening’s performances and proceedings were propelled by this year’s theme of “creative furnace” and each winner received a unique ceramic fynbos artwork that emerged from a project that harnesses the transformative power of art and fire.

Under the guidance of artist Belinda Blignaut, the artworks were created by a group of amateur artists: Lucy Africa, Martha Nero, Jason Jack and William Jack. Blignaut explains that these artists “are part of a group that is using art therapy as a fine art, giving shape to the urgency for protest that so many communities are expressing on our national stage.”

Special thanks were extended to this year’s judging panel, which comprised Gianni Mariano, co-founder and CEO of the Mastrantonio group of companies, BASA board member and BASA Awards Chairman; Dali Tambo, media and heritage-tourism entrepreneur; Mandie van der Spuy, arts consultant and BASA board member; Kojo Baffoe, founder of Project Fable, Director at Kwaya Holdings and entrepreneur; Nicolette du Plessis, CEO of the Field Band Foundation; Theresho Selesho, Director, Business Development at Boondoggle SA and entrepreneur; Christina Kennedy, arts and culture journalist and commentator; and Fikile Moeti, 5fm DJ and social entrepreneur.

“The 19th Annual BASA Awards, partnered by Hollard and Business Day, really did showcase how the arts can be a tool for bringing about transformation, and how business can assist them in doing so,” concluded Constant. “Congratulations to all our winners and nominees.

19th Annual BASA Awards, partnered by Hollard and Business Day Winners

Innovation Award
Nando’s Chickenland (Pty) Ltd ¬– Nando’s Heartfelt Celebration of South African Design

First Time Sponsor Award
SA Taxi Foundation – SA Taxi Foundation Art Award

Increasing Access to the Arts Award
SAMRO & Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Concerts SA

Beyond Borders Partnership Award
ABSA – Barclays L’Atelier

Long Term Partnership Award
TOTAL South Africa (Pty) Ltd – The Buskaid Academy of String Teaching and Performance

Media Sponsorship Award
Radio Sonder Grense (RSG) – RSG Kunstefees 2015

Strategic Project Award
PPC Ltd – PPC Imaginarium

Small Business Award
Kirchhoff Professional Surveyors – Eland and Benko 2015 (#firegrazer) by Hannelie Coetzee

Sponsorship In Kind Award
Meropa Communications – Moving into Dance Mophatong

Development Award
Distell (Pty) Ltd – The Magnet Theatre Educational Trust Fulltime Training and Job Creation Programme

Cultural Tourism Award, supported by Nedbank
Transnet SOC Ltd – National Arts Festival