4 Luxurious Dominican Republic Hotels

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on December 21, 2015.

Punta Cana’s Glorious Resort Life Photo Credit Sarah_Ackerman https://www.flickr.com/photos/sackerman519/4528012957

We all long for an occasional taste of the tropical island life, especially during cold winter months. The Dominican Republic is the quintessential Caribbean experience wrapped up in a tourist-friendly package, palm trees and all. You’ve almost certainly seen some of its gorgeous white-sand beaches adorning calendars, and you may have heard excited, inspired tales about snorkeling in the calm cerulean waters lapping at its shores. But nature isn’t all you can experience here; cities are dotted with picturesque colonial buildings, and the friendly Dominicans love their lively fiestas.

If you’re thinking about heading to this Caribbean paradise, here are some places you can’t miss:

1. Punta Cana

You’ve likely heard the name Punta Cana before because it’s the most talked-about city in the country. Punta Cana boasts the island’s most luxurious resorts, which line its most prized beaches. Here, you can live a leisurely life of extravagance in one of the most pristine landscapes in the Dominican Republic. In fact, why not go all out? Book a stay at the Barcelo Punta Cana for an all-inclusive adventure. Whether you’re solo, with a partner or you have the whole family in tow, this resort has plenty to do and even features six international restaurants in its bounds

2. Santo Domingo

If you’re looking to throw a Dominican city into the mix, this should be at the top of your list. Though Santo Domingo is the country’s capital, many tourists fly in and out without spending any real time there While there’s nothing wrong with that, Santo Domingo does have a lot to offer if you dedicate some time to it. Stay at the Sheraton Santo Domingo to combine the best of coast and city. You’ll also be conveniently close to the UNESCO World Heritage Site called the Colonial Zone. And no matter where you choose to stay, you’ll never be far from the salsa and meringue clubs that give this city its signature flair.

3. Bayahibe

Searching for a more down-to-earth town with a prominent ecological vibe? Bayahibe is just the place. Known for its nature and wildlife, Bayahibe also features the brilliant beaches that are a signature of this island country. You could call Bayahibe the flower child of the Dominican, but that doesn’t mean you have to forgo luxury to enjoy all it has to offer. Search for Hipmunk deals at the Dreams La Romana Bayahibe, an all-inclusive beachfront resort near three of the country’s finest ecological treasures — Parque Nacional del Este, Saona Island and Catalinita Island.

4. Puerto Plata

One of the best places to snorkel, this can be considered one of the Dominican Republic’s adventure capitals. From horse riding on the beach to ziplining in nearby jungles, this port city offers much more than meets the eye. To escape the bustle of downtown, stay at the Lifestyle Tropical Beach Resort and Spa, located right on Cofresi Beach. Puerto Plata is also one of the finest jump-off points for whale-watching excursions, so don’t miss the chance to marvel at the incredible humpbacks as they make their way through the warm waters off the Dominican coast.

While these four destinations are some of the Dominican Republic’s finest, they’re far from all that this small Caribbean nation has to offer. If you’re into water sports, visit Cabarete for the region’s best windsurfing and kitesurfing. The island has some surprisingly profound mountains — the highest in the Caribbean — and there are plenty of trails and waterfalls within them waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re keen on watching baseball, partying in accord with the carnival spirit or simply relaxing among jungle-lined beaches, the Dominican Republic is an excellent place to add to your bucket list.

7 Travel Destinations Made Famous by James Bond

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on January 6, 2016

With the recent debut of the latest installment in the James Bond movie franchise, Spectre, we’ve been reminded of one of 007’s greatest qualities—namely, that he’s better traveled than most people on the planet (okay, he’s a fictional character, but the point still stands).

In fact, in his 50 years of service, Bond has visited nearly 50 countries, while most of the films feature upwards of six distinct locales. Want to globe-trot like James Bond? Simply jet-set to any of these stellar destinations.


1. Hong Kong, China

The bustling city has been featured in several Bond films, including You Only Live Once, Die Another Day, and The Man with the Golden Gun, which includes scenes shot in the famous Peninsula Hotel. Considered one of the world’s best hotels, the Peninsula boasts a Rolls Royce fleet, a rooftop helipad, marble baths, exceptional service, and (fittingly, for Bond fans) traditional British tea.

2. Istanbul, Turkey

In the opening of Skyfall, Bond finds himself in search of a stolen hard drive in the city of Istanbul. He then chases an assailant through Eminonu Square, one of the oldest in the city (Bond also visits Istanbul in From Russia with Love and The World is Not Enough). To make your visit as luxurious as Bond’s would have been (had he not been dodging would-be assassins and chasing down bad guys), book a stay at the lavish Shangri-La Bosphorous, which promises an in-room espresso machine, 300-count linens, heated bathroom floors, a separate shower and soaking tub, and complimentary high-speed WiFi.

3. Jamaica

The whole country makes the list on account of its significance to the Bond franchise. Not only was nearly all of the original James Bond movie, Dr. No, filmed on the island, but it’s also the site of the emergence of Honey Ryder (the first Bond girl, played by Ursula Andress). The country is also heavily featured in Live and Let Die. To top it all off, Goldeneye, Jamaica is the former home of the late Ian Fleming, the creator of the James Bond franchise. His house has now been incorporated into a luxury boutique hotel, which keeps Fleming’s writing desk and typewriter on display.


4. Khao Phing Kan, Thailand

Dubbed “James Bond Island” by 007 fans, this island in Thailand had its moment in the spotlight in The Man with the Golden Gun. Located within the Ao Phang Nga national park, it makes for a stunning destination for nature lovers and film buffs alike. Head to any of the cheap hotels in nearby Phuket after your day of adventure.

5. London, England

No list of this kind would be complete without mention of 007’s headquarters. Home to M16 and featured in nearly every film in the Bond franchise, London is hands down Bond’s most frequented destination. While M16 has moved from London office buildings to Whitehall’s Old War Office, the Barbican, and its eventual headquarters on the Thames, London will forever remain Bond’s home.

6. Mexico City, Mexico

Spectre marks the second time Bond has found himself in Mexico. The first time around, in License to Kill, Bond checked in at the Grand Hotel Ciudad de Mexico. This time, 007 is amongst the crowds during the Day of the Dead parade celebration in Mexico City’s Zocalo square. Mexico City is one of the most populated cities in the world, so you’ll have no shortage of sightseeing opportunities at any time of year.


7. Venice, Italy

The canals and gondolas of Venice make for frequented terrain for the Bond franchise, with spots in From Russia with Love, Moonraker, and Casino Royale. Stroll the Piazza San Marco and ogle the Cipriani Hotel, where James Bond is seen mooring his yacht in Casino Royale (It’s also reportedly where Daniel Craig himself stayed during filming).

While you may not be landing on a helipad or saving the world from nuclear meltdown, you can still travel the world in style at any of these 007 locations.

Email hello@hipmunk.com to check hotel prices to Hong Kong, Istanbul, Mexico City, Venice, or London!

Cover Photo: Nationaal Archief, the Dutch National Archives, and Spaarnestad Photo

4 Big-City Hotels with Boutique Charm

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on December 22, 2015.Screen-Shot-2015-12-22-at-11.28.14-PMThere are boutique hotels, and then there are larger hotels that manage to feel boutique thanks to attentive service, unique amenities, and/or a trendy reputation. The hotels on this list fall into the latter category—while they may not technically qualify as “boutique,” they offer the same level of charm (and, in many cases, a smaller price tag) as their boutique counterparts. If you’re looking for unique accommodations in America’s big cities, then you can’t go wrong with any of these four hotels.


1. Aloft Minneapolis, Minneapolis, MN

Aloft is hip, modern, and centrally located in Minneapolis’ trendy Mill District, which is in the thick of the city’s vibrant arts scene. Nearby attractions include the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Walker Art Center, Weisman Art Museum, and Northeast Minneapolis Arts, in addition to nightlife, entertainment, and stellar food. The hotel has also cultivated its own social scene thanks to its Re:mix Lounge and W XYZ Bar. Rooms are bright, minimalist, and filled with natural light courtesy of oversized windows.

2. Blu Agua Hotel, Chicago, IL

Sleek, modern, and fresh, Chicago’s Blu Agua Hotel offers hip accommodations in an amazing location. Enjoy views of Lakeshore East Park, Millennium Park, Lake Michigan, or panoramic vistas of the Windy City from your hotel room. Hit the sidewalks to find yourself within walking distance of many of downtown Chicago’s main attractions, including the Magnificent Mile, the Bean, lakefront paths, and Navy Pier. Not sure where to start? Just ask one of the hotel’s knowledgeable concierges; the service here is virtually unbeatable. Upgrade to a Business Class room or suite and you’ll enjoy even more perks, including an in-room espresso machine and fresh fruit delivered to your room each day.


3. JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE, Los Angeles, CA

The L.A. LIVE lives up to the vibrancy of its name—the hotel is colorful, dynamic, and hip. Rooms are bright, charming, and filled with natural light. The amenities are equally on-point; think 24-hour room service, in-room bathrobes, a full-service spa, state-of-the-art fitness facilities, on-site shopping, and a rooftop pool. The hotel also boasts a great location in downtown LA. It’s near the L.A. Convention Center and a variety of fine dining options, including Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar.

4. The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles, CA

It’s easy to see why the Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles often fills up. The rooms are spacious and luxuriously designed. The location is stellar; the hotel is located on West Olympic Boulevard near the Staples Center, Nokia Theatre, Grammy Museum, and a host of bars and restaurants. And the amenities are almost unparalleled—guests can unwind at the rooftop heated pool, Wolfgang Puck’s WP24 restaurant, or the Ritz-Carlton Spa. Spring for access to the Ritz-Carlton Club, and you’ll enjoy an even more personalized experience via private lounge access, complimentary food and beverages, and a dedicated concierge service.

Even without boutique branding, each of these hotels offers a unique experience for travelers to some of the country’s biggest cities. The result of these creative designs and specialized amenities is that guests will feel personally cared for even amidst the hustle and bustle of popular urban environments. It all adds up to an unforgettable stay.

12 Chain Hotels that Make You Feel Right Home

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on December 21, 2015.



The great thing about chain hotels is that they can feel welcome, no matter where you go. You can pick your favorite based on the service, the amenities and the restaurants, knowing that the same standards will be consistent. And these aren’t “cookie-cutter” hotels, either: each is a different experience. Here are our picks for great chain hotels.


1. Fairmont, Pittsburgh

This prime downtown location is close to everything: Heinz Hall, Monongahela Incline and PNC Park. Relax in the health club, sauna or steam room. Large 430 sq. ft. rooms include a minibar, coffee maker, LCD TV, high-speed Internet and comfortable bathrobes. Get Hipmunk deals at the Fairmont Pittsburgh.

2. Hyatt Place, Charlotte

See the NASCAR Hall of Fame or enjoy the nightlife at the Hyatt Place Charlotte. The Hyatt Place is central to all the delights, and offers rooms with separate sleeping and living areas, 42-inch TV, coffee/tea maker, mini-fridge and free WiFi. Eat anytime at the 24/7 Gallery Menu and Market.

3. Hyatt French Quarter, New Orleans

This historic Hyatt puts you right in the heart of the city on Bourbon Street. Elegant non-smoking rooms feature HDTV and luxury bath products, and you can request a balcony room. Best of all, the rates are reasonable, even during Mardi Gras.

4. Hyatt at the Bellevue, Philadelphia

Theatre and art lovers will love this hotel, located in the theater district and close to Rittenhouse Square. Dine with spectacular views in the 19th-floor restaurant, and workout on the indoor running track. The luxurious rooms feature marble baths, sweeping views and 42-inch TVs.

5. Hotel Arts, Barcelona

Five-star luxury in a 44-story skyscraper right on the Mediterranean. This hotel is spectacular for its location, superb service, beautiful rooms and luxury spa. Barcelona mixes an enchanting blend of Spanish and Catalan culture, including fabulous markets. Let Hipmunk take you there.

6. Aloft Hotel, Minneapolis

If you like airy rooms with oversized windows and a hip urban location, you’ll love the Aloft. It’s in the trendy Mill District, near all that the vibrant Minneapolis arts scene has to offer. Rooms feature flat-panel TVs, free Wi-Fi and mini-fridges.

7. Radisson Blu Agua, Chicago

This is a sleek hotel with minimalist, elegant décor right on the lakefront. There’s a helpful Concierge Service to help you get around. Back at the hotel, relax in the beautiful Lifestyle Garden. Your Business Classroom includes an espresso machine, fresh fruit delivered daily and use of the business lounge.

8. Hyatt Regency Resort Spa, Maui

Enjoy the gorgeous views of historic Lahaina from your own lanai. Or splash into the huge 750,000-gallon pool, complete with a 150-foot lava tube slide surrounded by grottoes and waterfalls. You can sight see while the kids live it up at Camp Hyatt Maui. And naturally, there’s 40 acres of beach and two championship golf courses nearby.

9. Sheraton, Salt Lake City

Love to ski? Try the nearby world-class slopes, some with kid-friendly and beginner trails. You can choose from two room options: The Sheraton Club, with upgraded baths and great views from the Club Lounge, or the Salt Lake Lodging, with traditional rooms.

10. Sheraton, Seattle

Panoramic city views and luxury suites are on offer at this Sheraton. The indoor lap pool overlooks Elliott Bay, and there’s a fitness center and health club. Your room has Sweet Sleeper® beds with pillowtop mattresses and premium bedding.

11. JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE

All the rooms are colorful and comfortable, but if you’re in a group, splurge on a suite here, because it’s certainly worth it. This hotel is very close to the L.A. Convention Center.

12. Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles

You’ll think you’re in a boutique hotel at this downtown Ritz-Carlton. It features 123 large guest rooms, a heated rooftop pool with fabulous views, luxury beds and baths, and bath butler and bath menu services. And if course, you’ll love Wolfgang Puck’s WP 24 restaurant.

Battle-Tested Productivity Hacks for Traveling on Business

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on January 6, 2016Screen-Shot-2016-01-06-at-3.47.14-PMAs travel gets easier and technology more portable, employees across industries are hitting the road for work. And whether it’s because they’re trying to squeeze in work and downtime or because they’re booked with countless meetings, productivity on the road is paramount.

These battle-tested tips can help make sure you’re getting work done while on the move.

1. Prioritize. 

There are lots of travel hacks out there, but there’s no magic bullet to make up for the reality that travel is inherently time-consuming, on top of tiring and stressful on your body. As a result, one key to productivity is simply not to overload yourself. First, outline what must get done while on the trip, break those projects into actionable items, then organize your to-do list by day.

2. Get Better Sleep on the Plane. 

Depending on where you are traveling and at what point in the day your flight is, they key to offsetting some of that exhaustion might be catching some shut-eye on the plane. If the flight is during normal sleep hours as measured by the time zone of your destination city, splurging on some extra legroom in order to get some rest on-board is a worthwhile investment. If that’s not in the budget, be sure to opt for a window seat. Bring a pillow, comfortable clothes, and sound-blocking headphones. Also, be sure to keep your buckle visible — strapped over your blanket perhaps — so you don’t get woken up by flight attendants following safety guidelines.


3. Stay Connected.  

If the flight is not during normal sleep hours for the destination city, it can be beneficial to avoid falling asleep on the plane and to instead get some work done. In such an instance, narrow your workload down to three specific tasks for the flight and only bring relevant materials in your carry-on to stay focused.

Similarly, make sure you are connected. Virgin America offers hourly, flight-long and monthly Gogo wi-fi on-board, for example, while more frequent travelers can also purchase a multi-airline pass for just under $60 a month. Meanwhile, JetBlue is working to offer complimentary wi-fi on all flights — a feature that’s expected in 2016.

Do your research before you book; most airlines provide information about wi-fi accessibility and pricing on their websites. And if it’s not easy to find, a quick call to customer service will do the trick to ensure you’re not stranding on-board and off-line.

4. Invest in a Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot. 

You’ll likely need to work after your flight as well, though. While confirming wi-fi is offered at the hotel, its conference rooms, and other meeting spaces is smart, a portable wi-fi device may still be worth buying and bringing along. Hotel wi-fi can be spotty, especially at conferences, while a portable device like Karma can also ensure you are ready to work during any unexpected downtime on the trip.


5. Work from the Cloud. 

The ability to work from anywhere during a trip is further enabled if your documents and key software offerings are in the cloud. Google Docs is a great place to start since you can upload existing files and then access them from any device, anywhere with an Internet connection. And unlike more substantial cloud transitions, the use of Google Docs while on-the-go doesn’t necessarily need to be company-wide or permanent.

6. Schedule Strategically. 

Since business travel often revolves around meetings, be cognizant about spacing out different ones in different parts of the destination city. To prevent added stress, leave a substantial buffer between each meeting, especially since you should be prepared to work from just about anywhere and can make the most of those early minutes. And for some simple streamlining, try to book as many as possible over meals. Everyone has to eat anyway.

By prioritizing what needs to get done on the road, being smart about how it gets done, and getting all the right technology lined up, business trips can be just as productive as weeks in the office. All it takes is a little preparation and strategy.