All posts by matthewsimpso

Hotel Review: Holiday Inn Express in Harrisonburg, Virginia

If you’re heading north out of the Carolinas Harrisonburg, Virginia is an attractive destination for those who are traveling I-81. The I-81 is a beautiful drive with plenty of great scenery to look at, but it’s also a long one so it’s nice to find a place to settle down and get some rest.

How to Find Hotel Discounts

Sometimes people want to just keep driving (which can be dangerous if you are tired or have been at it for a long time) because they think a hotel will be too expensive, even for a night. But, if you know how to find secret booking prices that won’t be the case at all. Always do your homework and find a coupon or a really good rate before booking, especially if you are looking at the last minute there are some really good deals to be found!

secret booking prices

Harrisonburg, VA

Whether you’re heading north or south, Harrisonburg offers a convenient place to stop in the middle of the Shenandoah Valley. The top attractions in Harrisonburg are historic downtown, James Madison University and the Massanutten Resort, which features an indoor water park. If you’re using Harrisonburg as a stopover opposed to a destination point, your best option in regards to accommodations will be the Holiday Inn Express. It’s right off Exit 243. Make a left off the exit and the hotel is within sight.

Holiday Inn Express in Harrsionburg

The Holiday Inn Express Harrisonburg leaves a good first impression thanks to its curb appeal, overall cleanliness and friendly service. Upon arrival, guests might notice that the lobby is not as big as it seems in the online pictures. This is unfortunate, but it shouldn’t act as a deterrent. The lobby is also catty-cornered to the hallway, making it difficult to determine where to enter with baggage. The quiet elevator is only a few feet away around the corner, making the front entrance the best option for baggage.

Hotel Amenities

This is a three-floor hotel with vending machines and ice on the first and third floors. The first floor is also home to the indoor pool, fitness center and business center. The indoor pool area is extremely hot and uncomfortable. The water in the pool is also unclear, making the makeshift readings posted on the wall suspicious. The hot tub is much cleaner. The fitness center only has three treadmills; no strength-training equipment is offered. The computer in the business center works well, but the room lacks air and is uncomfortable.

Hotel Rooms

On a more positive note, the rooms in this hotel are comfortable. The beds and pillows are close to a 10. The shower pressure is the best you will find in any hotel in the country. The overall cleanliness of the furniture and carpet are impressive. The only negatives are tube TVs and air conditioning that takes a while to kick in.

Complimentary Breakfast

The complimentary breakfast here is well above average. It features cereal, bagels, pancakes, eggs, bacon, muffins, fruit, juice and almost anything else you could possibly think of eating for breakfast. The tables are small, but the dining area is comfortable. A large flat-screen TV provides morning entertainment for those who are interested.

Overall, the Holiday Inn Express Harrisonburg is a well-kept secret. It offers convenience, comfort and friendliness at affordable rates. The hotel amenities are the only drawback, but every hotel has its negatives, and these negatives are miniscule.

flybe discount code

How to Fly Cheap and Save Tons of Money From The UK to North Carolina

Most often the most expensive part of your vacation is the cost of your plane ticket. Over the last few years, the price of plane tickets has increased dramatically. Therefore it is a huge concern when it comes to how much you will need to pay for the airplane ticket. With a bit of persistence and effort in doing some research, you can still find relatively amazing deals on Cheapoair’s website where you can fly cheaply. Here are some tips on how to fly cheap and saving lots of money from the UK to North Carolina.

Look for budget airlines as an alternative (like Flybe)

With an increase in costs worldwide, budget airline companies have sprung up everywhere in the world. Although these are called budget airlines, most of them now are very decent where the airplanes are new and well maintained.

You can find that these budget airlines can save you a significant amount of money when compared to flying with the mainstream branded airline companies from the UK to North Carolina.

Use frequent flyer loyalty programs

Most airlines from the UK to North Carolina now make it possible for travellers to accumulate the frequent flyer miles which can later be redeemed to upgrade flights according to the preferences of the travellers. Find out what ways are there for you to accrue points under the airline of your choice, so you can maximize on them to later enjoy a free business class update when you redeem your miles.

Use Noise-Canceling Headphones:

best noise-canceling headphonesThis is a must for any flight: noise-canceling headphones block out engine noise and make for a stress reducing lifesaver. AND they don’t have to be incredibly expensive either.

Make use of deals and coupons

In today’s economy, it would be a huge mistake to avoid using any deals or coupons when the savings are so sizeable. We’re talking about the entire cost of your trip being cut by half and more. There are some fantastic deals out there, and by surfing the net it can either make or break your vacation plans.

Discounts in North Carolina are not limited to travel and accommodations. You can easily find coupons and deals for your rental car, Fine Dining, Gambling, Attractions, and Entertainment as well. Having the ability to obtain these Coupons before you even board the plane, is amazing in itself.

Consider a multi-connecting flight

Considering flying by the use of a multi-connecting flight to North Carolina is found to be cheaper than you taking a direct flight. Even though they have an increase in their travelling time, you are assured to save some money at the end.

Book your flight on off-peak days, and on off-peak timings

Booking your UK to North Carolina flight during midweek and during mid-day timings will help you to save costs on your plane ticket. Also booking your flight on off-peak seasons that are away from major holidays is another way that can help save a significant amount of money on your aeroplane ticket. Also, it is recommended to book your airplane tickets earlier in advance to ensure you maximize the savings that you will get.

Travelling by airplane from the UK to North Carolina is a very expensive part of your trip. However, with some careful planning, you can land those special deals that can help you save a lot of money on your plane ticket so that you can fly as cheap as possible.

valentines-day

5 Cool Things & Coupons to Do Them for Valentine’s Day

Chocolates, cards, and flowers are de rigueur for Valentine’s Day. Sadly, not a lot of thought goes into the celebration. It’s easy (and lazy) to grab a dozen red roses from the local grocery store or florist. Instead of schlepping home with a heart-shaped carton of misery, break out of the box and score points with your sweetie with these five non-traditional ideas.

Go on a scavenger hunt

Let your ultimate destination be a suite (or room) at a hotel or resort. Leave cryptic clues directing your sweetheart to pick up fun items for your blissful evening. This can be as involved or simple as you’d like. He or she will pick up candles, wine, or massage oil. Or create your own theme. The point is to build anticipation. If all goes according to plan, your sweetheart will arrive at the destination eager to explore all options!

Save on a Weekend Drive with Avis Promo Codes

You can rent a car for the weekend and explore the countryside around you. Here in South Carolina there are lots of bed and breakfasts, cafes, and things to see and do all around the State. Car rental rates tend to go up around Valentines Day, but you can also use a coupon website to make this an affordable trip option. DealTour.org has lots of great Digitalocean promo code options for all merchants, including web hosting (like this Mediatemple promo code). If you decide you want to stay in a hotel for the weekend as well they have you covered for that too!

expedia coupon

Go on a picnic

Sure, this could be considered traditional. But your creativity will make it magical. Theme your picnic based on local cuisine or interesting places in your city. Be daring – not everyone wants candy. If she has a sweet tooth, impress her with dipping chocolates and fresh fruit, cookies, or cake. Grab a portable fondue pot, assorted chvalentines-dayeese, chocolates, and fruit. Dip, drizzle, and swirl until the cows come home. If the idea of melted sweets is not your idea of fun, simply pack your basket with whatever makes the two of you happy. No matter what you decide, the key is to create a moment they won’t forget.

 

Binge on movies (or TV series)

 

Not everyone wants to compete for parking or tickets at crowded theaters. Have a movie night (or weekend) at home. Catch up on your favorite series or head back into time with the golden oldies. Stock up on snacks, treats, and beverages.

http://www.netflix.com/

https://www.primevideo.com/region/eu

Cook together

You can do this at home or head to a cooking class. Step out of your comfort zone and create something you’ve only seen on late-night cooking shows. The idea is not so much what you eat, but that you make the food together. Depending on your relationship this could be as simple as grilled cheese and tomato soup or as complex as shrimp and lobster paella.

Couples Game Night  (or Spa Night)

The idea here is to have fun with your sweetheart and your friends. This can be tricky so make sure it’s presented in the right way. For new couples, this may be a way to ease the Valentine’s Day pressure. Invite friends over for board or card games. There are literally thousands of game ideas on the internet. Some can be downloaded right to your smartphone or tablet. Fire up the grill, open some wine, and relax with other couples. Share relationship goals or advice. Have friends that have been married forever? Ask them to share do’s and don’ts for successful relationships.

Some South Carolina Spas:

https://www.kiawahresort.com/accommodations/the-sanctuary-hotel

Luxury South Carolina Resort – Bluffton SC | Montage Palmetto Bluff

Valentine’s Day needn’t be stressful, boring, or routine. Flowers and chocolates are great, but find new ways to celebrate lover’s day. Once you put on your thinking cap, you’ll find that creating memories is easy.

adult-coloring-book

New Dating Craze: Coloring and Cocktails?

Trying to meet new and interesting singles in Charlotte? Maybe you should get into coloring books. Seriously.

No need for dating website promo codes, all you need is crayons.

adult-coloring-book
A sample adult coloring book.

The City Art Room is holding a Coloring and Cocktails party that involves, you guessed it: coloring books and alcohol. The even is BYOB, so you’ll need to bring your own booze. According to its website, you are also strongly encouraged to bring your own food, or have it delivered (all hail MakeaFoodieCall!).

The website does stipulate that the coloring books are ‘premium’. What were the ones that I used as a kid? There were different levels? Did the rich kids get to color in majestic steeds while I was trying to stay-inside-the-lines of a hippo?

More Details of This Event:

City Art Room
5019 Wilkinson Blvd
Charlotte, NC, United States

Maybe this is what the dating scene needs: no awkward job interviews over dinner. Instead we can forget our troubles and be as care-free as kids.

carolina christmas speedway

Speedway Christmas at Charlotte Motor Speedway

It’s Thanksgiving week so that means that Christmas has officially begun! And Charlotte Motor Speedway isn’t missing any of the action with the opening of their spectacular holiday light show, Speedway Christmas. Now in its fifth year, this holiday classic features more than three million lights, an infield Christmas Village and a unique chance to drive the historic track. If you are still looking for a good gift for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list, take a look at these headphones in the $50 range.

One of the brightest spots on the Carolina Christmas Corridor, which extends from Tanglewood Park in Clemmons to Biltmore House in Asheville, highlights of Speedway Christmas include:

* A completely redesigned 3.1-mile drive of lights, which meanders the infield of the 1.5-mile speedway (you actually get to drive on the track!) and continues under the concourse behind the grandstands.

*More than 800 light displays set to music along the track.

*An infield winter wonderland including a Bethlehem Village live nativity scene, petting zoo, Santa’s Workshop (including visits with Santa), Christmas trees, fair rides, and food.

*Drive-in holiday movies such as Elf, Frozen, and Christmas Story, each Friday and Saturday night on one of the world’s largest HD TVs.

*Dining in the Speedway Club overlooking Speedway Christmas.

Speedway Christmas opened for the season this past weekend. The light show is open every night through December 30th, with the exception of Christmas Day. The Christmas Village is open every Thursday through Sunday evenings, as well as Monday, December 23 and Tuesday, December 24.
Admission into Speedway Christmas is $20 per car on nights when the Christmas Village is open and $15 per car on nights when it is closed.

Light up your holiday season with Speedway Christmas at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Drayton Hall

Charleston Virtual Advent Calendar Filled with Holiday Goodies

It’s baaaack! The Christmas in Charleston Virtual Advent Calendar is back starting today and is offering up some creative and tasty holiday offerings. Showcasing Charleston-based and Charleston-made products, the calendar offers unique, time-sensitive reveals about Christmastime in Charleston from area’s local tastemakers, shop owners, attractions, restaurants, and tour operators every day.

Although the specific product and deals will be a secret until the day of, a sample of the deals that will appear between December 1-24 include:

*A festive DIY decorating tip from noted event planner Tara Guérard, named one of Vogue’s Top 5 Star Wedding Planners in 2014

*A sweet holiday recipe from Heritage, Chef Sean Brock’s first New York Times best-selling cookbook

*A downloadable complimentary parking pass to use in select downtown city-owned parking garages

*A tradition-steeped eggnog recipe from Brooks Reitz, owner of Jack Rudy Cocktail Company

Sounds like a perfect way to shop for all our friends and family this holiday season. And a fun way to count down to Christmas!

spa carolina

Warm Up Your Winter at a North Carolina Spa

Winter can leave you feeling blah. Not everyone can afford to fly away on a helicopter tour on the Hawaiian islands at a moment’s notice. But if you want to offset the shorter days and chilly temperatures of the season, treat yourself to a warming spa package. Across North Carolina, spas are countering the frigid weather with treatments and packages that will warm the soul and rejuvenate the spirit. Since this is not the ideal driving weather, you may want to use a flight promo code to travel to the area.

Here are seasonal specials from 11 of North Carolina’s top resort spas:

The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge

Charlotte
Celebrate the season with a Perky Peppermint Pedicure, featuring a candy cane champagne soak, caramel coffee scrub and massage leaving your soles super refreshed. Or unwind with a Honey Pumpkin Soufflé Wrap & Facial, including a spicy whipped honey sea salt exfoliation, ginger sorbet shea butter wrap and a pick-me-up facial. Enhance it with a Winter Getaway, Girls Getaway or Spa Escape overnight package for a total winter-warming splurge.

Chetola Resort

Blowing Rock
Take the stress out of the holidays with a the two-night Stress-Free Spa Package, including accommodations, a 60-minute massage, a fitness or yoga class, 10-percent off spa products and breakfast each day. Or chase away the winter doldrums with a Spa Day-cation Package, featuring your choice of a 60-minute Chetola Signature Swedish Massage or Signature Facial, spa lunch, unlimited use of the pool, Jacuzzi and dry sauna; full use of the fitness center, choice of fitness and yoga classes; and complimentary beverages. And be sure to check out the newly opened Hair Boutique at the Spa, exclusively featuring the full line of Aveda hair care products.

The Fearrington House Inn

Pittsboro
To get you party-ready for the holidays, try the anti-aging Visible Brilliance Facial. And keep your skin rejuvenated during the harsh winter months with the Frangaponi Salt Glow Exfoliation and Massage. The mineral-rich salts and hibiscus cleanse will exfoliate your skin, while an infusion of exotic Tahitian monoi massage oil and frangipani flowers seal in moisture.

Inn on Biltmore Estate

Asheville
Enjoy the 8,000-acre Vanderbilt property and pamper yourself at The Spa at the Inn on Biltmore Estate. Spice up your winter with a Ginger Glow Swedish massage, complemented with an organic ginger body butter and detoxifying heated herbal poultice. Hydrate your winter skin with a Ginger Glow facial, featuring a marine-based collagen and ginger masque. Or treat your feet to an organic ginger foot soak and an invigorating ginger salt scrub as part of a Ginger Glow pedicure.

Highlands

Enjoy the serenity of winter with the Comfort and Joy Package, including deluxe accommodations for two nights, a three-course dinner for two in Madison’s Restaurant, two classic spa treatments and an Elf tuck-in for the wee ones. Or rejuvenate with the Winter Slip Away and Save Package, featuring accommodations, spa treatments, dinner at Madison’s and plenty of time left over to indulge in a little winter shopping therapy or outdoor adventure.

The Omni Grove Park Inn

Asheville
Relax and celebrate the season at The Omni Grove Park Inn as the smell of gingerbread fills the air during the Annual National Gingerbread House display. Enjoy the world-class subterranean spa, featuring cavernous rock walls, arches, tunnels and 20 water features — and sip on organic herbal Cinnamon Plum tea in one of the relaxation lounges. Let the hustle and bustle melt away with a signature body treatment, massage or facial, including the new mind-blowing Ultimate Facial coming mid-January.

Pinehurst Resort

Pinehurst
Enjoy the season with the Wonders of Winter seasonal massage featuring Farm House Fresh’s Hello Yellow Shea Butter whip blended with cinnamon-spiced massage oil (think gingerbread). Combine it with a Honey Heel Glaze, with scents of cinnamon, clove and honey to let yourself unwind into the warmth of the season. If you prefer a traditional pedicure, the Cinnamon Cider Pedi combines a decadent Bourbon Bubbler scrub with a soothing cider-fizzing soak and a dollop of super-hydrating Hello Yellow Shea Butter.
The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte
Charlotte

The Ritz-Carlton Spa & Wellness Center offers winter indulgence and rejuvenation throughout the spa with arctic berry peel facials, red velvet body scrubs, and red velvet manicures and pedicures. Enjoy weekday special prices on best-selling nail services Mondays through Thursdays.

Duck

The Sanderling is celebrating the “spaaahlidays” with a Holly Jolly wrap and facial, which will envelop your body and mind with scents of apple, pumpkin, orange and spice. Or get in touch with your inner solitude and cleanse your body with a Winter Glow Chakra or Holiday Hammam ritual featuring a Moroccan mint and salt scrub followed by a cocoon of jasmine- and rose-infused clay. Top it all off with a Mistle’Toes spa pedicure.

The Umstead Hotel and Spa
Cary

Pomegranate is all the rage this holiday season and The Umstead has several spa treatments that take advantage of this rich source of antioxidants and vitamin C. Be transported to a deep-relaxed state with a Pomegranate and White Tea Swedish Massage. Or indulge your senses and your feet in a luxurious Pomegranate & Fig Luxury Pedicure, including an exfoliation, foot and lower leg massage, and a glass of champagne.

Asheville

Shoji Spa & Lodge is the only Japanese-style bathhouse and spa on the East Coast, and its Winter Warmth Package offers up deep relaxation 2,500 feet above stress level. Enjoy a one-hour private spa pass featuring aromatherapy showers, a dry cedar sauna, and a private outdoor hot tub, followed by an 80-minute Swedish massage with your choice of a cypress and tea tree oil scalp massage or a warming ginger sake exfoliating foot treatment.

wine festival

Hilton Head Island Wine + Food Festival Turns 30

It’s never too early to start talking about food & wine festivals and the season kicks off in the Carolinas in just three months. We’ve already given you a heads up about the 10th Anniversary celebration of the Charleston Food + Festival coming March 4-8. And now there is even more reason to keep the celebration going further at the 30th Anniversary of the Hilton Head Island Wine + Food Festival at Sea Pines Resort March 9-14.

wine festival

Noted as the oldest-running food and wine festival on the East Coast and paralleling the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen, the Hilton Head Island Wine + Food Festival celebrates the unique culinary culture on Hilton Head Island and features an international wine competition, culinary talent, local and regional cuisine, and island attractions that make Hilton Head Island a premier Southern destination. The festivities will take place at The Sea Pines Resort with the festival’s signature Grand Tasting to be held on the 18th lawn of the legendary Harbour Town Golf Links, while the popular Public Tasting will take place at the resort’s iconic Harbour Town Yacht Basin.

This year’s festival week offers a brand new schedule of events including the Par for the Cork golf outing, Sip and Stroll marina celebration, and themed vintner dinners at the resort’s newly renovated Plantation Golf Club. Spanning the week of March 9-14, 2015, the 30th anniversary celebration offers up an impressive line-up of world-class vineyards, local and regional celebrity chefs, live entertainment, and a variety of visual and performing artists. The highly-acclaimed International Wine Judging Competition precedes the 2015 festival on February 6-8.

Start your diet, dig out your fat pants, and make plans now for the 30th Anniversary of the Hilton Head Island Wine + Food Festival.

ArtFields Turns Lake City Into an Art Mecca

For nine days this Spring, the historic district of the small, Southern agriculture town of Lake City, South Carolina will be transformed into an art Mecca with the arrival of artists from 12 Southeastern states and art lovers from all over for ArtFields.

Now in its third year, the South’s biggest art competition will take over the town April 24-May 2, showcasing original works in 50-plus venues including historic buildings, shops, cafes, offices, and outdoor spaces. Named by CNN as a “don’t miss” festival in 2014, ArtFields includes a competition of over 400 pieces of art with over $100,000 in cash prizes (viewing the art competition is free), a 5K run through downtown, an artist market, a SC Barbeque Association cook-off, symphony concert, children’s art workshops, portrait contests, food, and craft brews. For the full calendar and ticketing information, check out the Artfields website.

Lake City is located approximately 90 minutes from Charleston and Columbia and within an hour’s drive of Myrtle Beach and has become a burgeoning creative community. The town has recently welcomed the new Inn at the Crossroads, a boutique hotel located in the heart of the ArtFields’ activity. Festival goers enjoy free parking and shuttle services all over town.

Have Dinner with Downton Abbey in Asheville

downton abbey
And speaking of Downton Abbey (see our post about the Dressing Downton exhibit coming to Biltmore)….Lex 18 in Asheville, North Carolina is hosting a Downton Abbey intimate interactive banquet dinner to celebrate Season 5 of the award-winning PBS series. The experience kicks off with the live broadcast of the first episode on Sunday, January 4 and runs every Sunday through March 1, 2015 and is limited to 16 exclusive guests.

Lex 18‘s historic 1920s dining room will be set in a resplendent post-Edwardian era style complete with all the finery from this popular historic era. Centered under its gold ceiling, a 16-foot long banquet table will be lavishly dressed with china and crystal. Footmen in tails and a head butler will serve guests a five-course wine and champagne dinner, along with an interactive cast personifying Downton Abbey’s Crawley family members and their lively servants.

Each dinner will begin with a Vintage Cocktail Hour of unlimited cocktails and socializing with members of the Asheville Crawley family and guests. The cocktail hour will also feature a brief historical perspective of Asheville and English music, arts, culture and fashion by a guest historian. Then the five-course dinner will be served along with three paired wines and a champagne pairing with dessert. The dinner service will include table-side butler service, beautiful china, silver platters, crystal, and the leisurely feast classic of a grand manor. The live broadcast of Downton Abbey‘s fifth season will then air, along with an intermission for post-dinner digestifs and coffee and tea.

Space is limited to 16 guests each Sunday for this extraordinary food and libations experience and interactive fun set in the grand style of one of the most watched and loved Masterpiece programs in the world. Reserve your seats now for the Downton Abbey Dinner Theatre Experience.