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So here it is, friends. The last Frugal Friday (and post) of 2011. I’d like to thank everyone who supported the new and improved trippin: a travelogue. It’s been great being back in the swing of things. Here’s to a fun 2012 filled with more trippin than you can ever imagine.

Starting with, perhaps, this deal from Priceline. From $73 a night and up, you can book a stay at  the 4-star Monte Carlo Resort & Casino, Gran Melia Golf Resort Puerto Rico, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa and more. Stay between now and February 6, 2012. Make your New Year’s resolution to do more impulsive things and book these today. The deal ends January 1. Flights are included in many of these prices!

Happy New Year!!!!

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Twitter really is a beautiful thing. I fought it for so long because it seemed, well, stupid. But after tailoring who I “follow,” my “feed” is always fascinating. So here’s something I discovered on Twitter yesterday, and while it is not originally mine (I’m on a week-long vacation from work and have left my couch very little), I think you foodies out there will find it pretty sweet (no pun). Check out Lonely Planet‘s top gourmet sights around the globe. (They are all in Europe or Asia…shocker.)

Okay, so Christmas is over. Did you manage to resist the tables of temptation? If you’re anything like me you put that calorie counter away and said “hell yes” to all things cheese-filled and meat-topped. Good for the lips, not so good for the hips. Thankfully, Lonely Planet is to the rescue once again. Well, if you have the time and money, that is. Take a look at Lonely Planet’s list of the top 10 best treks in the world – a fun (and adventurous) way to get back into shape for 2012.

Sorry for being MIA this week, friends. The week before the holidays at work is always quite hectic. But fear not – I’m off all next week so you can look forward to much holiday cheer. Until then, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and Happy New Year, my dear readers!!

Southwest Airlines Vacations is starting 2012 with savings offers of up to 40 percent off hotels and free nights to destinations across the country such as Las Vegas, Orlando, San Diego, Clearwater, Phoenix, Reno and Salt Lake City.

Travelers who book a flight plus hotel vacation package to any Southwest Airlines Vacations destination, will save with reduced rates on packages. Plus, they will save even more with hotel discounts in some of Southwest Airlines Vacations destinations. Travelers can save up to an additional $120 per person, roundtrip because Bags Fly Free with Southwest Airlines Vacations, including skis, snowboards and golf bags.

Travelers must book their flight plus hotel vacation package by January 12, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. CT for travel January 1, 2012 through March 31, 2012. One-day advance purchase is required.

Customized vacation packages include roundtrip flight via Southwest Airlines, hotel accommodations (including taxes), Rapid Rewards points on the flight portion, 24-hour traveler assistance and first and second checked bags fly free.

Visit www.southwestvacations.com.

I love New York, but sometimes it’s necessary to get away from even the best city in the world. Last weekend I lured my adventurous friend Jenna out into the mountains for a little getaway. (That sounds like the intro to some kind of girl-on-girl porn flick, which, I assure you, this was not.)

I was invited on a press trip to check out the newly renovated Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Poconos. Never heard of it? Sure you have. Everyone knows the 1980’s Mount Airy jingle, and I’m sure you’ve heard tales of heart-shaped beds in this remote budget honeymooner town. But let me assure you, the Mount Airy of today is quite different. After millions of dollars in renovations, the property is working hard to revamp its image (and has been successful thus far, already having earned the AAA Four Diamond status).

The new resort has slots and table games, two fine dining restaurants and a spa, and I was told that it has plans for a new golf clubhouse, indoor/outdoor pool and a couple more dining options.

Still, it has a ways to go. I would be lying to you if I said that we were rubbing elbows with high society. Picture, if you will, a crowd perhaps with lower incomes and larger waistlines and that is the casino floor. But hey, I’m not one to judge. I played the slots with the rest of them…and I may have scored $400. Yeah, that’s right. Big Mama over here pocketed four bills. I’m just saying, this place is a two-hour bus ride from Port Authority, which makes for a quick (and successful) getaway.

Of the two fine dining restaurants, both of which were absolutely excellent, I loved La Sorelle, the Italian option. Jenna and I shared an antipasto appetizer for two with Italian cured meats and cheeses. For a main I had tagliatelle with osso bucco, while Jenna tried tortellini with braised shortrib. Heaven. And don’t get me wrong – the steakhouse, Red’s, was excellent. Who doesn’t love filet mignon?

As for my winnings? I took a wild ride over to the American Express website and dropped three bills on my mother f**king credit card bill. Awwww yeaaaaah.

If you are anything like me, you are always ready for a last-minute adventure. Royal Caribbean International’s Voyager of the Seas is preparing for its early 2012 sailings to the West Caribbean and there are some spots left. Here’s where you come in. Snag this seven-day cruise that hits Cozumel, the Caymans, and Jamaica – and it can be yours for just $399. Hey, we’ll even throw in this free set of ginsu knives!

Happy weekend, friends. I’m off to the newly renovated Mount Airy Resort for a mini press trip. Tales on Monday.

Photo courtesy of Lonely Planet

We tell you a lot about drinking over here at trippin: a travelogue, and perhaps that is a bit cruel of us because we have yet to provide you with the perfect hangover cure. I’m sure you have adopted your own elixirs over time and practice, but in case you have yet to master the art, Lonely Planet has rounded up a list of some international pick-me-ups for post-drinking relief.

Note: Japan suggests sushi, so I’m pretty sure that is where I belong.

Last night I settled in to watch the eagerly anticipated No Reservations Holiday Special (one of the best episodes I have ever seen, by the way), when something struck me as familiar. I had been to the hotel where Tony had been exiled. Not only that, I had been to that very room, just about six hours earlier.

Tony was staying at New York’s Ace Hotel on W 29th Street between 5th Avenue and Broadway. I had been there earlier yesterday afternoon doing a property tour as part of a Downtown NYC story I’m working on. In fact, Tony’s room, #911, is the very room they showed me. If I had known then that Anthony Bourdain had slept in that bed, I probably wouldn’t be here right now to tell you about it (jail time for lewd behavior?). Anyway…

The Ace Hotel is hands-down one of the coolest hotels I have seen in New York. In a city of hotel rooms that are in dire need of renovating and ample space, it is refreshing to see a hip and trendy hotel that is close enough to both the Uptown creature comforts of NYC, but also the edgier Downtown scene.

The hotel has 260 rooms and 65 room layouts, so it really is like you are getting a different experience each time you stay here (unless you are a creature of habit and always opt for the same room. I don’t judge). The purpose of the hotel is to look like your friend’s apartment, with a 1975-meets-21st century feel. I absolutely loved the turntables and acoustic guitars in the rooms, along with the fully stocked SMEG refrigerators.

The building was built in 1904 and is accented with vintage furniture. One of the most inviting aspects of the hotel is the lobby, which is supposed to have a ‘living room-type atmopshere.’ Look up to check out the restored stained glass ceiling panels, which are originals from 1904. The mosaic tiling on the floor is original, as well. The lobby chandeliers and the front doors of the hotel come from the original Macy’s on 34th street. Talk about a sense of place.

There are two restaurants at the hotel – The Breslin and the John Dory Oyster Bar, both headed by executive chef April Bloomfield. I have yet to try either but I see getting on ‘the list’ at one of the two in someone’s Christmas stocking in the future. Note: Neither restaurant accepts reservations, but if you are guest you can get on ‘the list.’

The gym was small, to say the least, but stocked with high-end equipment, and I was told that the original building had a bare-knuckle boxing ring in the basement, so that’s a pretty sweet slice of NYC history.

Bottom line: If the hotel is good enough for Anthony Bourdain, it’s good enough for me, but I was a big fan of the property before I knew that His Snarkiness had given his seal of approval.

‘Twas the night before SantaCon and all through NYC
Thousands were dressing as St. Nick, elves and trees.

Early to bed they all went that night
in prep for day drinking by the wee morning light.

At dawn we all gathered, gay apparel donned
and waited for Santa to “tweet” to the throng.

As the daylight dimmed we prayed for no drunken fights
and instead wished to all a very boozy good night.
______________________________________________________
Well friends, that pretty much sums up my weekend participating in SantaCon, a nationwide event where thousands of revelers dress to the nines in holiday garb and await instructions on a Twitter feed for where to bar hop.

My journey took me from DUMBO in Brooklyn, across the Brooklyn Bridge to the South Street Seaport, up toward Grand Central (where I happily clocked out, after eight hours of drinking). The rest of the party took Santas, Hannukah Harrys, Gingerbread Men and other riff-raff alike to Times Square, the New York Public Library and finally Tompkins Square Park in the East Village.

SantaCon is an annual event so if you’re making a trip to New York during holiday time, make sure you check the date because this is one cheer-fest you won’t want to miss.

So I’m off to Mexico in January (more on that later), but please, don’t feel jealous. I have a deal this Frugal Friday that can get you there, too!

Excellence Playa Mujeres in Cancun is offering 35 percent off for 2012 travel. Book before April 30 for travel from August 14 to December 22, 2012 and receive 35 percent off. For more information visit www.excellence-resorts.com.

Have a great weekend! I return on Monday with tales from SantaCon, so you know you won’t want to miss that!