Gift Card rush Will Boost Holiday Sales Figures

While online and retail holiday shopping sales have met or exceeded expectations for most retailers in 2005, there is another “rush” for all retailers to prepare for: gift card redemption.

According to Hitwise, an online intelligence service, the market share of U.S. Internet searches containing the words “gift card” was up 32% for the week ending December 10, 2005 as compared to the previous week. In fact, the National Retail Federation expects gift card sales to increase 6.6% this holiday season to 18.48 billion dollars, with consumers spending an average of $88 dollars on gift cards or 15.6% of their holiday shopping budget.

Gift certificates have always been a popular gift choice for the hard to please recipient or even for the lazy shopper. For the gift giver, it allows a quick purchase at whatever store or online merchant they select, with a dollar amount that fits their budget. For the recipient, they can select what they want from a particular merchant and for the most part use the card at their convenience.

But for some, giving a gift card is a cop-out, reasoning it is too impersonal and opting to hand pick a gift and selecting something special and unique for a loved one or friend. However, for some, the gift card is the ideal gift choice, with family or friends even suggesting the store or online merchant they prefer.

For the merchants, it has extended the holiday shopping season because they cannot record the sale until the recipient uses the gift card to make a purchase. This holds down sales figures in November and December, but provides a boost in January when most cards are redeemed. An additional boost is provided by the fact that most of the shoppers who redeem their gift cards typically spend 15% to 50% more than the face value of the card when they select their holiday gift.

There are some downsides to gift cards. Some retailers clear unused gift cards off the books by subtracting off of the face value of the card, an inactivity fee (usually $2.50 per month) after a certain amount of time. Some gift cards have an expiration date and others come with special conditions or restrictions. However, consumer outrage has prompted many states across the country to introduce legislation limiting or banning the fees. Additionally, there is no federal law on gift cards but, two Republican congressmen, Joe Barton of Texas and Charlie Bass of New Hampshire, have requested that the Federal Trade Commission investigate the way retailers conduct their gift card programs.

Is giving a gift card too impersonal? Is it the best gift choice? That question is up for debate and is a personal preference. But with annual gift card sales projected to reach 90 billion dollars by 2007 (Ernst & Young 2005), the gift card is here to stay.

Kitchen Islands Butcher Blocks Can Add Capacity and Efficiency to Any Gathering

Holidays or food preparation time for a large gathering, when all the resources of the kitchen are in use, is when the need for more counter space, additional storage, another oven, or refrigerator, becomes obvious. The thoughts usually generated during this time, surround being able to afford a complete kitchen remodel.

Ultimately, remodeling may be the best solution for the home, but in the mean time, kitchen islands or a butcher block, in the existing kitchen, just may be an affordable expansion to counter space, and capacity needed for food preparation for a large gathering or holiday. The new components can be purchased easily and brought into service with little stress.

Portable islands are very effective, and can be a beautiful addition to a kitchen. They can be purchased to match the existing cabinetry, and counter tops, or they can be purchased as contrasting accent pieces. The beauty of portable kitchen islands is they add utility, and value to the home without the expense and headaches of remodeling the kitchen.

Of course adding a kitchen island to an existing kitchen, requires some restraint, and good judgment, regarding the unit most compatible with the existing kitchen. If necessary ask a professional, what would be the best solution, an island or a butcher block unit. Also a professional may suggest minor tweaks to the existing kitchen, that will prevent having the island, or butcher block looking like an after thought. A professional, or a friend with a good eye for color, can assist with choosing a kitchen island, that is painted rather than wood tone.

Some unexpected benefits of adding portable kitchen islands or a butcher block, include but are not limited to the following: Additional seating, and eating space. A portable buffet table for family gatherings, entertaining, and general use. They can be moved to any room for the holiday or gathering depending on the needs, and are also useful in large open areas to help define space.

Probably the best benefit of the Kitchen Island, is using it for a homework space while mom, or dad is in the kitchen. It provides the benefits, of easily keeping the child on task, while providing a venue for those wonderful times we spend with our children, and grand-children, just talking, and being in each others space. Time with Mom, Dad, Grandma, or Grandpa in the kitchen at holiday or any time provide children with a full supply of wonderful memories of good cooking, wonderful smells, feeling close, and being loved and cared for over a life time.

Planning Your Family Vacations

Planning family vacations can seem like a difficult task, especially if you have a young child or a lot of children. It is difficult to please everyone, so you will need to come up with a way to consider everyone’s input. Family vacations are a good time to teach your kids new skills like fishing, swimming, and perhaps other things that you might have learned at their age.

Perhaps your kids are not in the scouts, so they need to learn how to build a fire or how to read a compass. There are many life skills that can be taught while having fun together.

As you choose where you will travel, consider where you can go that will teach your kids something. Also consider where you can go that you and your spouse will be able to enjoy yourselves together without having to worry the entire time about your kids. Choose a vacation that children and adults of all ages can enjoy.

Sometimes children may think that the only appealing activities are amusement parks and other high-energy places like that, but they will likely find educational activities fun if they are geared in some way towards their age. Museums are a great idea, and can be both fun and educational. Many places also have children’s museums that are great for younger kids.

Of course, it is important to choose family vacations with your children in mind. However, do not forget to consider yourself and your spouse! Chose a relaxing and romantic location that you will both enjoy.

The beach is a great option for everyone. You can choose one that is highly populated, or find a more private beach that is connected with your hotel. There are numerous options for activities on the water. Hunting for shells, walking near the water, swimming, building sand castles, and even using a metal detector to search for treasures are all options that kids of all ages can enjoy on the beach.

If you feel like you have just too many ideas for family vacations, you could make a 5-year plan where you plan your family vacations five years ahead so that you know you will get to the top five on your list. Once you have your five choices, you could arrange them from least to most expensive so that you will have time to save for the more costly ones. You and your family have a lifetime of fun ahead of you.

Swift Holiday Homes

The Swift Group has been around for over forty years, but have been making holiday homes since 2004. Their award winning designs have made Swift market leaders.

Swift has an extended range of contemporary holiday homes that offer contemporary design which skilfully combines an abundance of home from home comforts with innovative designer touches. Swift holiday homes have won numerous Industry awards in 2008 and 2009 including Best Lightweight Caravan and All Time Classic Award.

South Lakeland Parks have holiday homes for sale at all nine of their holiday parks in the Lake District and Lancashire and only supply holiday homes of outstanding quality. The range of Swift holiday homes available through South Lakeland Parks includes the Burgundy, the Chamonix and the Moselle models.

The Burgundy model is practical, spacious and incredibly good value. Featuring an open-plan lounge area with ‘L’ shaped seating that makes it great for entertaining. The stylish domestic kitchen is well equipped and has good storage and worktop space. Appliances include an oven and grill, both with electronic ignition, stainless steel sink and drainer.

The Chamonix is elegantly styled and beautifully finished, offering the kind of luxury usually reserved for more expensive ranges. Offering a relaxed, contemporary style, the Chamonix has a spacious lounge that features a luxurious free-standing sofa incorporating a pull-out double bed, two armchairs and a pouffe. The double bedroom features a king-size bed, luxurious carpeting, overhead cupboards, bedside cabinets, vanity area and designer style headboard.

The Moselle is a class leading holiday home that combines contemporary design, high specification and affordable quality. This model successfully combines light, airy interiors and home-from-home comfort that can sleep up to six or eight. The lounge and dining areas are spacious, stylish and inviting with new modern designer soft furnishings making it great to entertain guests. The master bedroom has bedside lights, a vanity unit light and the main bed lifts up to allow access to generous storage space.

If you’re looking for a luxury holiday home to escape to whenever you want, then look no further than the exquisite range of Swift holiday homes available to buy through South Lakeland Parks.

Begin Your Caribbean Adventure By Walking Around The Cayman Islands

If you are looking for the ideal holiday then why not book to stay on the Cayman Islands. From your base there you can start your Caribbean adventure by walking in George Town which is the capital of the Cayman Islands. The instructions provided below will allow you to explore George Town and get a feel for the culture of the Cayman Islands.

To begin your walk, make your way over to the Old Courts Building, which is now known as the Cayman Islands National Museum. The museum contains a number of different exhibits which help to tell the story of the natural and cultural history of the islands.

Moving on from that, on Harbour Drive which takes you past the cruise dock is the beautiful Elmslie Memorial Church which was constructed by Captain Rayal Bodden. If you make a right turn, next to the car park, are old grave markers which look similar to the shapes of houses, with the smaller ones for children, these represent the typical graves of the islands. When you explore further into the churchyard there is the Seamens Memorial which bears the names of 153 Caymanians who have been lost at sea. If you look next to the memorial you can see the remains of Fort George, which was constructed in 1790 to defend against the Spaniards who laid siege to the islands and took prisoners to Cuba.

If you then stroll up Fort Street to the modern Legislative Assembly, which plays host to a wide selection of photos which were taken in the old days, displaying the Town Hall and 1919 Peace Memorial which was next door.

If you look outside the Hall you will find the Clock Tower, which was constructed in the memory of King George V, if you walk across the street you will discover the Public Library that was built in 1939. Furthermore, if you walk up towards the Law Courts sometimes you may be able to see a court in session where you can watch barristers argue in front of the judges.

The Post Office which was also put together by Captain Rayal, can be seen down Edwards Street. Furthermore, if you make your way round the corner of Elgin Avenue and Shedden Road you will discover the traditional cabin-style houses. Finish off your walk at the delightful Panton Square.

Virgin Islands Vacations can be exciting

There are approximately sixty US Virgin Islands. These islands have a pleasant sub tropical temperature all year round. This aspect is usually due to their location in the Caribbean Sea. This sort of weather is glorious reports to anybody planning VIRGIN ISLAND VACATIONS. >

One can find an abundance of activities to enjoy. 16 of the islands are inhabited while the rest are empty. Getting around between the large islands isn’t that tricky. There is a great ferry system to handle that. If you want going to several of the smaller islands, you can hire a sailboat, yacht, of a speedboat.

There are rather far more ways to get around like taking an aerial tour. Leasing a vehicle can give you independent mobility and, there are always taxis. These islands may not have mass transit, but you can still find it quite straightforward to find your way around.

You may be wondering where to stay. The US Virgin Isles have a huge choice when talking about accommodations. The hotels offer all the conveniences of a top class hotel. If, you would like more privacy lease one of the villas that are all the islands. This way you can enjoy the island on your own terms.

The most modern of all the islands is Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. The name means turtle dove. It has great white fantastic beaches where you can swim or sunbathe all day. If it is adventure you want, you can go snorkeling and explore the underwater caves or check out one of the swim up bars. You can enjoy these activities on one of the other preferred islands Virgin Gorda.

Virgin Gorda is the 3rd biggest of the islands which make the Brit Virgin Islands. Its name means, the fat virgin. This island has great deep sea fishing as well as diving experiences.

Another great island is Anegada Island. This islands name means the drowned land. It became the name because its highest point is only twenty-eight ft above sea level. Some minutes from Virgin Gorda, this island isn’t very populous. roughly 200 people live there. It has long areas of white golden beaches, the most stunning turquoise water, and the famous Anegada lobster, which is famous throughout all the islands.

There’s something for everybody. White beaches, beautifully clear water, all kinds of water activities and they have got a superb nightlife. All can be yours on VIRGIN ISLAND VACATIONS.

Get The Most Out of Your Peru Tour

The entire continent of South America has long been acting as the best destination for travelers, thanks to the impressive sceneries, wonderful wildlife and a wide range of cultural diversities and heritages. Among the different attractive places in the continent, Peru Amazon tours are selected by people belonging to other nations in larger number, due to the nature filled environment. Peru has been constantly growing as one of the best destination to travelers for quite a number of years now and this has been noticed by the tourism department of the country as a result of which several fervent efforts are made to further enhance the beauty of this place.

The nation has a very long history and even though several civilizations flourished in Peru, Icna civilization is attracting the tourists in larger number to this land. Even though, the civilization was dismantled during Spanish invasion, the culture is currently being followed by some people living in this part of the continent of South America.

Machu Picchu is the premier destination for tourists in Peru and this is considered to the World Heritage Site and even it is one among the wonders of the world. This is the best place for trekking enthusiasts and the Amazon River is another spectacular place that attracts people belonging to other countries of the world. Peru also has other attractions like La Libertad Hill and the Huaytapallana.

A trip to the country of Peru will not only offer natural sightseeing enjoyment to the visitors, but there are also other places like Huancayo Sunday Fair, Huacna Identity Park, Cathedral of Huancayo, La Merced Chapel, The constitution plaza and the Salesiano School Museum.

Trip to the country of Peru is turning to be more hospitable and enjoyable these days, due to the availability of the best hotels and because of the best travelling opportunities offered by touring organizations. Even people can enjoy Peru Amazon tours via cruises. Generally, when hearing the term cruise trips, most of us think that cruise tours are costlier, but the fact is that there are some firms offering affordable cruise trips as well so that people can enjoy traveling in luxurious ships at a cost that comes within their wallet.

Here, all that is to be done by the tourists is to find the best touring firms, who are experienced in arranging these types of trips especially for tourists visiting from other parts of the world.

This content has been taken from

If you are planning on going on any of the Amazon River Cruises, then just look for the Rainforest Cruises. We are the best travel company specializing in Amazon River Cruise tours. For more details, please visit us online.

Used Travel Trailers For Sale Now At Their Lowest Prices, Here’s How To Find Them

It’s easy to go out and buy a brand new RV if you have lots of money to spend. Many of us, though have found used travel trailers for sale at far better prices. Right now is an excellent time to be searching for a used RV, because many owners are having to sell to save money, or to gain a little extra to help their financial situation.

Always start searching for the ideal RV in your local area. If you are lucky enough to find one, you will save on traveling and transport costs. Look in your local newspaper or search Craigslist on the internet to see if there are any used travel trailers for sale. Craigslist has a search page for each city. If there are none in your area and you are impatient to start RVing, you may need to broaden your search to other nearby cities. Sometimes the extra drive is worth it for the best RV deal.

A word of caution when buying an RV from an owner. While some owners simply want to get rid of the vehicle regardless of the price they get, most want the highest price possible to complete their financial obligations, buy a new RV or to improve their general situation. You may still get a better price than from a dealership who has put their mark-up on the RV, but is it the best that you can get?

Your lowest price option will be to find a used travel trailer for sale at an auction. Lately, there have been many RVs and other vehicles that have been repossessed by banks and credit unions. Auctions can be held by the state, county, marshal, sheriff or any other governing body. These RVs are not selling for a profit, only to cover the bank’s, or other institution’s, losses, therefore you are bound to find a bargain. Every month there are many auctions held in every state. You are much more likely to find a good RV at an auction, than waiting for a suitable one to appear in the classifieds.

Your only dilemma is to find the best auctions in your local area. Sometimes auctions are advertised in the newspaper, but there are many more available. They can even be online auctions. The easiest option is to become a member of a website that will give you access to different databases of auctions. They offer varying membership prices for monthly, yearly or lifetime sign-ups.

Your search for the perfect used travel trailers for sale is almost over. Sign up with a good website, choose a promising auction in your area, and have fun getting the best deal possible.

Spend Your Student Holidays Travelling

There’s no time like your university years for finding your feet. Away from home and discovering how to make it in the wide world, this is the perfect period of your life to try experimenting with different things and trying out lifestyle choices. The long summer and winter breaks also make your student years good ones for fitting in some travel. There are very few jobs that offer such extensive breaks, so students are well advised to make the most of idle weeks while they can. Although, student status does make budgeting and choosing cost effective holidays a crucial part of the planning stage. .

On the flip side, being a student can also often open up a whole selection of money saving opportunities – such as student rail cards and special deals. These special offers are sure to vary greatly from country to country, so make sure you do plenty of research before you travel to make sure you can get the best from them.

However, some investments work well in a variety of countries spread all across the globe, so an STA card could be a very good investment while if you know you’re likely to travel most in one particular region, such as in America or Europe, rail cards could be a good choice too. You can also trim your budget by buying an up to date guide book before travelling, as out of date information is like to send you on a wild – and expensive – goose chase.

If you’re not too worried about staying in luxurious surrounding, you’ll find that one of the best ways to save money while travelling is by staying in hostels. By choosing a bed in a dormitory you can drastically cut your costs, however you should be prepared for potentially disturbed sleeps. Hostels tend to suit younger travellers best, especially when they are open to making new friends, so your student years tend to be the perfect time for this money-saving ploy.

Of course, if you’re planning to travel the world during your student years, it’s important to make sure you’ll be covered for unforeseen circumstances. See if you can cut your costs by searching for specific student travel insurance policies and be sure to shop around to find the one that offers you the best cover for your circumstances and the kind of places you plan to travel to. Make the most of your chance to explore the world by preparing well and minimising risks.

Regineh Hotel & Panossian Hotel

Whether visiting Yerevan on business or for pleasure, Regineh Hotel welcomes its guests with gracious hospitality. The hotel is situated in one of the most picturesque and cozy nooks of Yerevan.

Walking into guestrooms one will find the ideal blend of comfort and elegance mixed together with maximum functionality. The hotel features 60 rooms. Most of the rooms have balcony with breathtaking Ararat Mountain view.
Regineh Hotel was awarded 3-star hotel category.

Panossian Hotel is a small, calm hotel located in the prestigious hillside community of Nork. This recently built hotel is made with all the requirements of a modern traveler, which is open for anyone who wants to spend a relaxed and fun time in Armenia.
The hotel provides its customers with all that is needed for an unforgettable stay. Guests can enjoy the astonishing view of the city from their windows.

Panossian Hotel provides combination of quality and affordable accommodation. This home-like hotel is ideal for families, young people, elderly, where each can feel the beauty and harmony of Armenia. The house-like atmosphere and the professionalism of the staff will not leave anyone indifferent.

Regardless of age, interests or purpose of visiting Armenia, Panossian Hotel is ready to arrange everything to assure a pleasant stay.

You can book these hotels by visiting www.armhotels.am online booking system.
Lowest rates, instant confirmation, no booking and cancellation fee.

www.armhotels.am system, owned by “TBS” CJSC, is the first and only online booking system in the Republic of Armenia and in the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, offering over 90 hotels in the cities, resorts and recreation zones of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh to the system users. “TBS” CJSC was established in July, 2010; and the www.armhotels.am booking system was launched in January, 2011. It was high time to create the www.armhotels.am online booking system, because tourism was recognized as a priority sector of Armenia’s economy and it was really necessary to present the offered tourist services in a coordinated and integrated way, which would not only include complete information on the given country and a range of services, but would also enable the system users to directly book the respective services and make payments accordingly.
Thanks to a group of enthusiasts specialized in tourism and IT sectors, all the aforementioned was initiated and realized. Our business partners, including hotels, museums, bed and breakfasts, car hire agencies, state bodies and NGOs, have supported and contributed to the realization of the first national booking system as far as possible.