A smart way to book a hotel abroad

Conference call travel assistance, Hybrid rental cars, cellphone service on airplanes, and more...

bedroom zimmer 298 (photo credit: )
bedroom zimmer 298
(photo credit: )
Travelers familiar with the disappointment of arriving at a hotel abroad at which they booked a room in advance, and only then realizing how far it is from the city's attractions, may want to try a new service. The Aladdin Travel Company has launched an interactive map interface on its Web site that shows users where exactly their hotel is located relative to a city's tourist attractions, as well as its accessibility to public transportation and entertainment centers. The program enables users to see the city's hotels from a satellite view, choose one, and observe its surroundings and access roads. The service is free and includes a full description of hotels' amenities in four languages: Hebrew, English, Russian and Arabic. Go to www.aladdintravel.co.il and click on the Interactive City Maps link. A smarter way to explore Israel A new phone service has been launched for the benefit of travelers who exploring the Land of Israel. It allows travelers to participate in a conference call on which they can listen to other travelers' pointers in real time or provide advice. The service is offered by EcoWave (in Hebrew, HaGal HaYarok), an organization that promotes participatory activity, and is operated by the Tikal Networks Company, which supplies solutions based on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. The new technology allows users to communicate with fellow travelers via cellular phones or a land line, thus receiving updates about recommended road trips, walking routes, occupancy at tourist sites, road hazards and more. This new service is an upgrade of the company's phone service for drivers who want to report on accidents, traffic jams, road hazards, etc. for the benefit of other drivers. New users of the service should dial (073)220-9080, and will be connected to a conference call in which they can speak to other travelers. The service is provided for the cost of a regular phone call. For further information about EcoWave communal agenda, go to www.ecowave.org.il. Rent a hybrid car! Avis Israel, part of a worldwide car rental company, has joined in "green efforts" for a safer environment. The company has recently purchased dozens of hybrid cars for its Israeli rental fleet for environmentally conscious travelers. Hybrid cars have two ignition systems; one is based on an oil-burning engine and the other is electric. Both are friendlier to the environment than their gasoline counterparts, emitting less carbon dioxide. In addition, the company has decided to plant an "Avis Forest" in northern Israel. Avis Israel is advertising on its Web site that clients who rent a car can add NIS 18 to be invested in the planting of a tree in the company forest. Planting as many as trees as possible can help reduce the cars' emission of carbon dioxide and environmental damage, said Gil Sagiv, Avis's marketing director. Cellphones take flight Starting Monday, December 17, air travelers who are Cellcom clients will be able to use their mobile phones to send text and multimedia messages as well as surf the net via their laptops during Air France flights. According to Cellcom, the service will be expanded in three months, when clients will be able to make phone calls from their mobiles during a flight. The company hopes to sign deals with other airline companies, such as Air Asia, during 2008. By launching this service, Cellcom is the first Israeli cellular company to provide its customers with the ability to use their mobile phones during flights. Cellcom signed a contract with the Swiss company, On Air, which operates cellular services on planes and allows the use of personal phones and computers during flights. The air-time tariffs during flights are not included in regular deals and will be published at service centers, in stores and on line. Women's place is in the countryside Women are the dominant force behind rural tourism, according to data published by the Economy and Business Development Department of the moshav movement. The report says 85 percent of active managers of rural tourism centers in the moshavim are women. It reveals further that 2,500 moshav members make their livelihood out of operating 12,000 guest rooms and some 2,000 tourist attractions. Seven hours a day is the average time the guest rooms owners invest in operating the business and that includes marketing, bookings, hosting, cooking and cleaning. The moshav movement found that the operation of guest rooms in most cases does not constitute the main source of income for the owners. The money comes instead from other areas, including agriculture, tourist attractions, and teaching. Moshavim that have maintained their agricultural character generally attract more vacationers.