Better World Club

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Travelers Checks Are So 20th Century

New Debit Card Safer, Up-to-Date Exchange Rate - Just Better

No Interest! Can Be Instantly Shut Off with a Phone Call! Can't Be Overdrawn! No Need to Exchange Currency When Traveling! Will Unpack Your Bags for You When You Get Home!*

Rugs from Morocco. Decorative beer steins from Munich. Commemorative spoons from anywhere. These exciting items, along with more pedestrian needs like food, lodging, entertainment, and bribes, are all things that can be purchased with the new general purpose Visa Debit card offered by Better World Club, perfect for travel.

The traditional means of making transactions overseas has been Travelers Cheques. But this new card has significant advantages over travelers cheques - or conventional credit cards:

- This prepaid debit card account charges no interest and uses only money you put on the card.

- It is good at more than 32,000,000 locations worldwide, plus thousands of ATMs. Many retail outlets don't even accept travelers checks anymore.

- It is very secure - you can toggle the card on and off with a call from your cell phone.

- This card gets you cash from ATMs, can be loaded from your bank account or credit card, and is just as good at your local grocery store as it is anywhere else a Visa debit card is accepted across the globe.

- This cash-free form of payment means you don't have to worry about exchanging dollars for dinars (or whatever).

- Unlike checking account debit cards, it's nearly impossible to overdraw on a purchase - there are no bounced checks.

- It is a remarkably low-cost prepaid debit card, well below retail for Better World Club Members at $5.95 to acquire and $2.95 a month.

- Each card is backed by FDIC-insured University Bank of St. Paul, Minnesota. Behind each card is a demand account, like a checking account without checks.

- You can opt to receive a text message on your cell phone with every deposit or purchase, giving you your balance remaining in your account. This will help you detect fraud.

- You can load your card online from your checking account or from one of those "regular" credit cards, if you must.



Better World Club also offers a general purpose subordinate card for your students (must be 16 years-old or older). The card has substantial advantages over a conventional credit card. Look at the features of this general purpose card, priced at $5.95 to acquire and $2.95 a month:

- You can toggle your son or daughter's card off at any time. And turn it back on when you are good and ready. Try doing that with a typical credit card.

- You can transfer money in real time from your own card to your student's card with a phone call. (You can also transfer it back to your account with a phone call.)

- You receive a text message on your cell phone with every transaction on your youth's card.

- You receive a free, online monthly statement you can go over with your student.

- Otherwise, it works just like your Visa prepaid debit card: good pretty much everywhere, convenient, and secure.

- You can use it to teach your young people about money management.

[*Okay, it won't actually unpack your bags for you, but you can use it to pay someone to unpack your bags for you.]

Card is issued by University Bank, pursuant to a license from Visa, USA, Inc.

- Click here to learn more about the card

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Washington D.C. -

Isn't Something Happening There Soon? Wait, Don't Tell Me...

Oh right, on January 20th, some 4,000,000 people are expected to converge on Washington, D.C. to experience and celebrate the inauguration of the 44th president, Barack Obama. If you don't already have reservations in hand, you still have a shot at being able to join in the revelry. Consult the city's tourism website, Destination DC and the Presidential Inauguration Committee's website. There is lodging available for next week on Craig's List, although we obviously don't vouch for their style.

If you can't make it - not to worry. D.C. has become (while no one was watching) an exciting, vibrant city that's eager to entertain you night and day, no matter when you choose to visit:

Donovan House - Hotel
For proof that D.C. really is on the fast track to trendiness, just look at Thomas Circle and the Donovan House hotel holding court there. This Thompson Hotels Group property positively oozes coolness, from leather-wrapped beds (you've always said you're into leather), pod-like chairs, and cocoon spiral showers in the guest rooms to the swanky rooftop bar and lounge. The cutting-edge design lures a fashion-forward crowd to match. Deluxe rooms: $300-$400.

Hay-Adams - Hotel
You can teach an old horse new tricks. The classic D.C. hotel just across Lafayette Square from the White House has become a shining example of environmentally friendly standards. From recycling to serving organic food to sourcing one-quarter of its electric power from renewable resources, the hotel shows a decided effort to minimize its carbon footprint. The bonus? The hotel hasn't sacrificed one bit on luxury or comfort to do so. Deluxe rooms: $400 and up.

Newseum - Unique Museum
OK, you're under 30 and won't even read the newspaper on your computer? How about if we gave you one on a 700 foot screen? Play a reporter in an interactive newsroom, feel virtually "on the spot" in a 4-D theater experience of a journalistic moment, or otherwise indulge your inner news hound. Play historian at one of the 130 interactive stations, which help visitors explore five centuries of news history. Or play with your...imagination in the 2 broadcast and 15 theaters. This is not to miss. Tickets: Adults $20, Youth: $13.

Oldies but Goodies: Tours of the White House and The Capitol. (They're not the Newseum, but still...) Contact your Senator or Representative's Office for tickets/help. Better idea: make a large contribution to your Senator or Congressman and get a personally guided tour. (OK, maybe that isn't a "better" idea.)

Adour - French Restaurant
What do Tom Daschle, Chevy Chase, and Mario Batali have in common? Starred in the Three Musketeers? No. They were all among the first to dine at Adour, the Alain Ducasse restaurant. From a gougere (this is why wikipedia was invented) beginning to a tray of raspberry-pin and chocolate macaroons at dinner's end, each meal here is an exquisite pleasure. With shimmery silver and gold decor setting a romantic mood, and enough space between tables to induce secret-spilling, Adour is the perfect pick for both a sexy tete-a-tete and getting your Congressperson to introduce some pork-barrel legislation. Entrees: $30-$40.

Black Squirrel - American Restaurant
If you have trouble figuring out which beer to order at a football game, imagine the trouble you'll have with the Black Squirrel's 50-beer list, including the Belgian Chimay, one of 11 brews on tap. The long, slender room features polished wood floors and red walls hung with posters of pop-culture icons. Just when it seemed that Adams Morgan's non-stop party scene had chased away D.C.'s fine-dining establishments, along comes the Black Squirrel, brandishing a fine-pedigreed chef and a menu of scaled-up American comfort food. Entrees: $10-$20.

Central - French Bistro
Don't even bother trying to call: this hot spot's reservation line is eternally clogged. The man responsible for Central's unflagging popularity is internationally known chef Michel Richard, whose restaurant Citronelle is Washington's very best. Central is Richard's love letter to America, presenting an enticingly affordable menu of French and American favorites, served in a very cheery and casual bistro setting, complete with a television (mon Dieu!) mounted in the corner of the adjoining on-view bar. Entrees: $20-$30.

Gin and Tonic Tavern - Bar
For those that like bars that hail from the "less is more" design philosophy, it's high time to spend some quality time at Gin & Tonic. This no-frills watering hole is a long, brick-walled tavern with two bars, a DJ booth, a smattering of tables and chairs, and, well, not much else. But you'll hardly notice the sparse decor when the prepster crowd swarms in for hearty drinking and heartier dancing. The bar's namesake is obviously always a cocktail option, but the sixteen brews are the most popular libations of choice.

The Gibson - Bar/Lounge
Serious about its cocktail and its old-school cool atmosphere, The Gibson is a bar-bar, no questions about it. An old-timer concoction lent the place its name, but there are plenty of new creatively named mixes that are sure to raise a couple eyebrows--Salad Days Sour anyone? Atmosphere is paramount as well: dim lighting, a no-standing-at-the-bar policy, and a strict 48 max capacity all make for an exceptional experience minus the classic crush of people. Gibson eschews lines and all the nasty attitudes that go with them, so the key is to book a spot (they'll accept reservations for half the seats).

Special offer to BWC members: Order Night+Day D.C. for $8.95 with free shipping through February - that's half price! Enter code BWCDC.

[NOTE: BWC does not accept advertising revenues from establishments that we review. Thus, unlike many travel providers, our reviews are completely unbiased.]

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Greening of Luxury Hotels

by Alan J. Shannon

Multi-star hotels have a well-deserved reputation for pampering guests, offering numerous perks and all sorts of luxuries. But many of these come at an environmental cost. While some pricey hotels have spurned the concept of greening, claiming that guests don't want to give up anything during a stay at a deluxe hotel, others embrace it, discovering that guests have responded positively as has their bottom line.

The sins of hotels are manifold. Changing bed and bath linens daily for hundreds of rooms and washing them uses resources and produces detergent-laced water that has to be subsequently treated or ends up in local water ways or in the case of Midwest hotels, as far away as the Gulf of Mexico.

While plenty of hotels no longer launder room linens every day (if they actually follow the practice, since in my experience even if you follow the prescribed procedure for reusing bath linens, housekeeping staff usually wash them, anyway), leading hotels have realized that in order to be truly green, they need to do much more. Two hotels, the Hotel InterContinental on Chicago's Magnificent Mile and the St. Julien in Boulder, Colorado, strive to be green leaders for the hotel industry and have found numerous other ways to be more earth-friendly.

For starters, converting light bulbs to low energy using CFLs can save bundles of energy, while reducing utility costs. At the St. Julien, the replacement of the hotel's bulbs resulted in a 48,000 kilowatt reduction in energy use. As of July 2008, similar efforts at the InterContinental's resulted in the savings of nearly 8,000 kilowatt hours of energy and water-saving efforts resulted in an 81,000 gallon reduction in water use.

In addition to more predictable approaches such as less frequent bed linen changes and the use of recycled plastic, the hotels uses earth friendly paints and cleaners. And if that weren't commendable enough, the St. Julien donates its worn or frayed bath and bed linens to nearby animal shelters, a green initiative that's popular with animal-lovers and the eco-conscious, as well as many a Boulder area cat and dog.

Meanwhile, the hotels' restaurants have also pursued environmentally friendly policies. The St. Julien's restaurant works with local farmers and food artisans whenever possible, while the InterContinental's wine, cheese and chocolate restaurant and tasting bar offers many award-winning local cheeses.

It's not surprising that a new wave of green hotels have a lot of other things going for them. Check out the web sites for both hotels: Hotel InterContinental and St. Julien Hotel.

In the end, green efforts are for naught if a stay at a deluxe hotel isn't posh-feeling. These hotels, as well as others found here prove that it's easy and can feel posh to be green.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hub World Travel

BWC Members Receive a 15% Discount on Tours!

Hub World Travel offers a wide range of quality, unforgettable adventures for clients with varied travel, vacation, and cultural backgrounds, and strives to ensure 100% customer satisfaction. Their guides are professionals in their fields, are bi- or multilingual, and are continually learning and expanding their knowledge so they can offer their clients the most current and accurate information. Your satisfaction is their highest priority.

Services Include:
- Tours around the Portland, OR, area, such as the Portland Art Scene & City Tour, Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls Tour, Mt. Hood & Waterfalls Tour, Mt. St. Helen Tour, Portland-area Winery Tour, Portland Micro- Brewery Tour, Premier Shopping Tour, Oregon Coastal Tour, and other Outdoor Adventure Tours.
- Adventure & vacation tours to areas of the Pacific Northwest, South America, Africa, and Europe.
- Opportunities to take part in Voluntourism work at numerous destinations.
- Customized tours are available for Conferences, Conventions and other groups.

Hub World Travel specializes in customized travel and can tweak existing tours or create new ones just for you.

Hub World Travel would like to extend a 15% discount for all Better World Club members. You can view their website at for more information or you can contact them at 1-800-637-3110. Hub World Travel has even provided a handy step-by-step document to help you get signed up for a trip!

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