Monday, July 29, 2013

Duluth Airport (DLH)

As I return from an amazing conference in Hollywood, ok Ft Lauderdale, Florida, I am compelled to share my experience from the newly renovated and extremely enjoyable Duluth Airport!  Many people assume the flights from Duluth are much higher than those being offered in Minneapolis, therefore, they don't even consider the local choice.  I hope my story along with the photos will have you reconsidering your "home" airport for your next departure.

I had an early morning flight so I arrived exactly one hour early since I already checked in online and was simply traveling with a small carry on.  I parked in the lot just a few steps away from the kiosks inside the airport where I printed my boarding pass.  No lines, no kidding.  I proceeded upstairs where I was greeted by a friendly TSA agent and swiftly went through security. No lines, no kidding.  On the other side of security I was able to grab a snack, coffee or even some spirits if I was so inclined; there were options and they were open for business!  No lines, no kidding.  The gate area is very open and airy along with plenty of seating.  The other amenity I noticed were plenty of outlets to plug in and charge up your favorite device.  Not all of the jetway ramps are open, they expect completion before another harsh winter hits the Northland, but for July, it wasn't a bad walk to the aircraft.  After all, I was on my way to Hollywood, eh hem, Ft Lauderdale, Florida! 

Upon my arrival four short days later, it was like deja vou.  The weather was still cool and gray, the airport was still empty and there still were no lines, no kidding!  I parked so close to the airport, I was even able to auto start my car while I waited for my luggage to come down the carousel.  Can you find my car?  Upon leaving, the parking bill was only $30!    

With Delta as their major carrier and hubs across the US, it was an easy trip to Florida; one stop in Detroit and I was surrounded by palm trees and ocean breezes.  United also flies from Duluth nonstop to Chicago and from there, the world is your oyster.  Suddenly, I don't feel so isolated from the world's top destinations anymore.  Also, I'm beginning to wonder why I haven't flown from Duluth more often.  

Let's do the math:
Duluth - Ft Lauderdale $545 per ticket on Delta with one stop in MSP.
Minneapolis - Ft Lauderdale is $387 per ticket on Delta, nonstop service.

But, what else do you need when you fly from an airport almost three hours away?
*Food & Drink
Clearly, those extras can add a few hundred extras in travel expenses not to mention the hassle and stress of road construction or conditions.  As you can see, Duluth is not only a better option for you in terms of convenience, but it makes sen$e to fly from the newly renovated, convenient, friendly local airport.  Remember, the LOCALS love you more!

Jennifer Maki, Destination Diva at Divine Destinations cuts through the clutter of online vacation planning and obscure traveler ratings by using her industry expertise, first hand knowledge of the products and relationships with the resort management.  If you want the best vacation with the greatest value:
call us at 218/348-2825
follow us on twitter @4divinedeals
like us on
or simply drop us a line at 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Our Staycation at the Radisson Blu at the Mall of America

As a travel professional who makes a living by sending clients out of town to explore and enjoy new destinations, cultures and make unforgettable memories, it's an understatement to say I'm not a fan of Staycations, otherwise known as "Trips On a Tankful".  However, as the Destination Diva, I cannot have one of the hippest concept hotels which adjoins to the World Renowned Mall of America less than two hours away from me and say I have NOT been there.  So, my oldest daughter and I packed our slim overnight bags and fueled up the Sandals & Beaches clad car and headed south for a weekend of girl time!

We had the choice of valet or self serve park upon arrival.  As a true Midwestern, I opted for the DIY approach, however, I'm trying to change my ways a bit and let others do their job.  We were able to pull right in and park in the covered garage on the first level and walk to the front desk. Yes, valet would have been nicer because not only would it have been a shorter walk, but they even spray off the vehicles before returning them!! We were wowed with the grand foyer and overzealous front desk workers who couldn't wait to welcome us.  Quickly we were off with our two room keys and ready to see what awaited us on the other side of the door.  The room key was unique in the fact we simply had to wave it across the doorknob and it magically unlocked. The rooms were warm and welcoming with all the modern amenities even the most discerning traveler would expect.  The large bathroom allowed us to fill the counters with our umpteen girlie products without being cluttered - utopia in my opinion.  My personal favorite, Cocunut Lime Verbena Bath & Body Works toiletries were waiting for me to wisk me off to a tropical island, if only for a 10 minute shower.

Since we were connected to the Mall of America, we quickly made the most of what remained in our day and did what girls do best - shop! Did you know they will even come and find you in the mall and take your bags back to your room?  After searching for the best new cell phone cover, the perfect pair of espadrilles and even a treat for our German Shorthaired Pointer, Zoe, we headed back to our room so we could freshen up for dinner.  We dressed up in our pretty dresses, heels and jewels and headed back to the mall's famous third floor for dinner.  While I was anticipating staying in at the Radisson Blu's restaurant, Fire Lake Restaurant or Tucci Benucci, my daughter chose Bubba Gumps.  The best part of all of this was Mom was able to have a cocktail and easily walk back rather than the alternative.  
Fire Lake Restaurant at Radisson Blu: 

One of the great features of the Radisson Blu in my opinion is the attention to detail.  I loved the quirky furniture style in the lobby and upscale inclusions.  What's not to enjoy about complimentary valet with a wash upon departure or a dedicated staff who will pick up your shopping bags for you before you are finished? My personal favorite was the Starbucks coffee in the room and the very thoughtful cupcakes Jeremy, the sweetheart at the front desk, had delivered to our room after a full day of shopping.  These are the extra special touches that make Radisson Blu at the Mall of America not only a great value but also make you want to come back again, even if it is a "Trip On a Tankful".

Jennifer Maki, Destination Diva at Divine Destinations cuts through the clutter of online vacation planning and obscure traveler ratings by using her industry expertise, first hand knowledge of the products and relationships with the resort management.  If you want the best vacation with the greatest value:
call us at 218/348-2825
follow us on twitter @4divinedeals
like us on
or simply drop us a line at 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hockey in July? I must be from Minnesota!

So here I sit on another beautifully humid, hot and sunny July day inside an air conditioned hockey arena. Hockey in July you ask? Welcome to Minnesota, where they put skates on their kids at 6months! Well, except me of course. I resisted the idea of hockey and everything it entailed. We avoided talking about the white elephant in the room for 9 years despite living in 'LangenbrunnerLand'.  When our son, who is small in stature, decided to lace up a pair of skates at the community learn to skate night I secretly hoped he hated the sport. After all, what kinds of people ENJOY freezing cold outdoor games and practices,  regular diets of concession stand food, miles of traveling on icy winter roads and let's not forget the unmistakable stench of their equipment and locker rooms? As it turns out, his small stature for once was a blessing. He took to the ice like he'd been skating for a long time! "Uh oh!" I sighed nervously. I didn't want to be a hockey mom (stomping my right foot rebelliously)!! After just one short hockey season I have found that the self confidence and comorodity he's gained has come WAY faster than football, soccer, Taekwondo and even neighborhood get togethers. To me, that's priceless. Not only are they good kids, but their parents are pretty cool too! They say mans best friend is their dog but today the dog has been replaced by the handheld computer of the moment. So if hockey is what will get him excited to put down the Gameboy and hang out with other kids while having some fun and getting great exercise, I guess I can't condemn that. Afterall, this new outdoor spectator sport has demanded a shopping trip for new warm outerwear. "Does this goose down puffer jacket make me look fat?" As far as the road warrior weekends, gallons of lip blistering hot cocoa and even the stench of sweaty skates goes, I've learned to see the lemonade in each of these lemons. My flavor happens to be a pink lemonade margarita sitting on the beach somewhere in the Caribbean celebrating another successful season; for both Mom & Son!

Does your child play hockey? Have you bonded with your team so much you'd vacation with them too? We have awesome group rates for groups of 10 or more; ask us for details!