Big Bear Lake Annual Jazz Trax Summer Music Festival 2013

jazz trax 1                                    jazz-trax

The 8th annual Big Bear Lake JazzTrax Summer Music Festival returns June 21- 23, 2013.
The stars of smooth jazz return to the summertime Southern California Mountains.This is one special Jazz Festival at 6,000 feet on lake and a floating stage! The artists perform literally on the lake. The “smoothers” of smooth jazz arrive (that’s the audience!) from all over California for this event and convene on the Hotel Marina Resort Lakeside Lawn. This is a one of a kind music festival in Big Bear, and each year plays to near sold out crowds!

The backdrop to all this grandeur is the pristine alpine setting of Big Bear Lake are of course, the performers. Currently on the line up for summer 2013:

Legendary Producer/Keyboardist GEORGE DUKE
Legendary British Guitarist PETER WHITE
Mr. Groove Saxophonist EUGE GROOVE
Super Legendary BOOKER T JONES and his Hammond B-3 Organ
Booker T & the MG’s Rising Star Sensation NICHOLAS COLE
Singer SELINA ALBRIGHT
Chicago Guitarist NICK COLIONNE
Barbados Brewed Saxophonist ELAN TROUTMAN

And special performance Sunday Afternoon:

Unplugged Performance by Guitarist and Scatter Extraordinary STEVE OLIVER

The Big Bear Jazz Festival party goers can stay close to the festival grounds in one of the local Big Bear hotels, or stay in a real luxury rental cabin in Big Bear. Staying close is the key so you can walk into the festival, walk into the Village for restaurants and shops and coffee houses.

Special Lodging, Special Tickets
City Concierge and the JazzTrax producers have created  Big Bear special lodging packages for this event. Discounted all event tickets are available through City Concierge only when purchasing lodging through us. At this time you cannot buy the tickets separately. You must purchase your tickets and lodging together in order to have those discounts.
We’ve got two special prices:

Two day ticket Saturday and Sunday – Save $20.00
One Day Sunday only ticket – Save $10.00*

The Festival itself is on the Lakeside Lawn of the Marina Resort Hotel. After the final note each evening the musical after parties continue at Nottingham’s across the street at the Robin Hood Resort “Notti Girl Bar”.

How to get discount Jazz Trax tickets.
Select your exact seat or table or beach chair on-line without waiting for an operator by visit http://www.JazzTrax.com or by calling 866-Trax Tix, 866-872-9849. But do not pay for them yet. To get your discount, first, you need to call City Concierge to purchase lodging from us and then get your discount codes. So pick out your seats and then call us to book your lodging special and get your cheaper tickets.

Come elevate your smooth jazz this June at the Big Bear Lake JazzTrax Festival above the clouds in the Mountain Resort Village of Big Bear Lake in the summertime Southern California Mountains.
* Sunday only tickets are available without lodging, but you must call to get the discount code! 877-864-6444

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Flexible Travel Days + Technology = Cheaper Family Mountain Resort Vacations

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Family trips use to mean you only vacationed during the Flexible Travel Days. Yet the key to saving on California Flexible Travel Days is your family having a flexible travel schedule to avoid the holiday rush when everything is more expensive and crowded. Fortunately, this is now possible for you since most schools have Web sites, Facebook pages and teachers’ emails. This lets your kids stay on top of their school work with assignments from teachers, and notes and projects from fellow classmates, even when away on vacation. Technology also allows you to work remotely, if needed. So, your family can now travel during “off days” when it is cheaper to vacation with better deals and rates, with more lodging available.

Today, the tourism trend is for everyone to take their resort vacations during the same holidays. A smart vacation dollar saving choice for your family is to avoid these periods of higher demands and prices. Some of the more expensive times are the Christmas, New Years, Martin Luther King and Presidents Holidays. Also, there are usually three-to-four-day required lodging stays during these periods. So, be sure to plan your lodging reservation dates well in advance to beat these larger crowds and higher prices.

Some of the best times for you to think about booking mountain resort vacation rentals are just after the peak season has ended, or just before peak season begins. With your flexible family vacation schedule, certain holiday breaks and off-season times are in less demand and less expensive. Getaways during these periods will result in more affordable vacations, with more money left in your bank or available for your other family fun during the vacation. The winter holiday periods are Ski Week beginning the week after President’s Day Monday through Friday, and the Spring Break week. Spring Break and Easter often coincide. And many businesses let employees have extended time off for religious holidays because of cuts in the schedule or mandatory vacation times – maybe you can take advantage of this, too. For winter resorts, regular season ends just after Easter when prices on lodging plummet. And after the summer rush, anytime in September, after Labor Day, up till Thanksgiving is also not high season and rates will be remarkably less.

If your family can take advantage of flexible vacation schedules and days, you can benefit from some real savings on vacation rental homes and cabins. Many resorts are 50% empty during these off-season times so they will offer bargains to entice you to plan your trip for when everyone else isn’t. Coming before Christmas vacation is one way to get the best rates. Likewise, for New Years, many companies offer their employees extended time off, so coming after the holidays is another good option. This may be perfect for your family if you want to save, as rates at many resorts will drop after New Years, meaning a 20-40% savings.

Another great way for you to save on flexible vacations is by having your kids use technology so your family doesn’t become trapped by the school holiday schedule. Most vacation rentals have access to the Internet, and there is always the local Starbucks. If your children are not involved in sports, then you can comfortably take them out of school and let them use technology to stay up with the class while traveling as a family during non-prime-time season. Many classrooms create their own specific Facebook page where students can help each other by uploading and sharing homework notes and problem solving. They can also use Skype and Facebook Instant Messaging features to communicate their “status” individually and as a group so that they build a community around the page. This is clearly beneficial for your kids “grabbing the notes” and working on joint projects when they go on vacation.

Additionally, parents can work remotely on their job projects through the Internet and conference calling if needed. You can use “Go To My PC”, a program that allows you to connect to your own home PC, or “Go To My Office” (same company business edition) and connect to your business computer. These kinds of telecommuting tools used on your own traveling laptop let you do everything you would if you were in the office. This flexibility allows for a vacation schedule that will save you a bundle.

For example, at many of the bigger ski resorts, a lift ticket can go as low as $65 for an adult during these times, which is a huge savings off the regular $94 or $100 lift tickets during holiday times. And even better savings come from taking advantage of mid-week deals and rates, any days Sunday through Friday. The key here to saving on lodging is to avoid staying Saturday night.

With the many technology choices available for both your students, as well as you, the parents, the freedom of a flexible family vacation schedule is a real possibility. Planning your trip to maximize the value of vacation dollars and minimize the limitations of travel periods is simply smart math. These kinds of calculations equal more family vacation savings, better choices and fewer crowds. The numbers are in your favor.

Don’t Get Scammed On Your Next Resort Vacation

big bear cabin

The simple and convenient use of national online vacation rental web sites is on the rise and has become the new norm for many people planning a trip.  But they are not all the same.  Vacation lodging is being reserved through computers and smart phones, on commuter rails and lunch breaks, and while watching the kid’s soccer game. Unfortunately, vacation-rental-scams are also on the rise. Sadly, the scams are proliferating and horror stories are surfacing from consumers who were unaware. The last thing anyone wants to worry about is being scammed on vacation.

As of 2017, the leading travel websites such as Expedia, Homeaway, VRBO, Travelocity, Trip Advisor and any like that, charge an additional service fee to use their site.  This is in addition to any fees they may be charging in the form of “commissions” to the property managers who list their properties.  Yes, VRBO used to mean “Vacation Rental By Owner” but not any more.  They are now large companies, who raise their prices in order to get the free listings offered.   As more and more vacationers are choosing the ease and comfort of staying in a vacation rental home rather than in a hotel when they travel to a resort the way to combat this is to go local.  The local agencies don’t need to charge the extra fees since they are the supplier so you can save on your vacations.

The advantages to vacation home and cabin rentals over individual hotel rooms are many, with the larger space, improved privacy and shared living areas making this choice preferred by numerous travelers. However, booking these homes online through a private party can be risky for the renter. So yes, using a property manager instead of a private party is better, and going local is the way to do it.

According to an August 2010 leading travel industry article by Tnooz, “Industry studies show that the overwhelming majority of travelers (up to 80%) select their accommodation through the Internet, and over 50% end up booking online.”

Most vacation rental Web sites are trustworthy. As one California resort reservation booking company pointed out, “working with a local and professional vacation rental Web-based business helps avoid the rip-off and the enticing to-good-to-be-true advertisements that are found on Craigslist, Backpages.com, large national sites, or other Web sites where fraudulent perpetrators lie.”

So how can the public tell the good guys from the bad guys? Not all rental scams are that obvious. Here are several important characteristics to look for when deciding on which online vacation rental business to use and choosing the right property:

  • Is the vacation rental Web site locally or regionally based? Real businesses have real local or regional addresses. Google their address. The vacation property itself should have an address for Google Maps verification. If it doesn’t ask a telephone agent for it. Then Google it.
  • Does this business have a YELP listing?  Remember, if they sell rentals on a site (like Trip Advisor does) then how creditable can the reviews be?
  • Does the Web site business have a working phone number? Call them and talk to them, or notice how soon they return any messages left. Real businesses have real professional and knowledgeable employees who provide quality information.
  • They also should use a consistent email address in their correspondence. The email address should be the same as the domain name, not a “free” email box from Yahoo, MSN, AOL or Gmail.
  •  Real businesses have their name the same as their Web site address (the URL). When they have good, original content on their site, such as “local activities to do”, this helps to prove their credibility.
  • When was the business started? Do they have a trademark and a business license? If they don’t provide this, do not do business with them. This is public information; you can find it easily with a search.
  • Are the photos of the vacation rentals really theirs? If the photo has a watermark on it that is NOT the same as their URL, these guys might be bogus. Fake sites steal photos from legitimate Web sites.
  • What is their payment system? Credit cards are the absolutely safest way to go.   If they want, cash, wire transfers, money orders or a personal check written to their first name, run the other way.
  • 24-hour service is important. Does this company/person have a local representative that is within an hour of any service call? What happens if the heat goes out in a snow storm? Often when renting direct with an owner there is no 24/7 service which is how they compete to keep the price down. Why ruin your vacation?

Any online business is potentially susceptible to being a fraud when money and “products” are exchanged through a virtual format. Dealing with a fraudulent vacation rental “business” is like going to a car dealer that sells you a lemon – it looks really good at the dealer but turns into a nightmare on the road.  A “buyer” should use the same smart due diligence with an online vacation rental Web site. This way they will get what they paid for and be spared a vacation disaster. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

SPRING SKI TRIPS – “GO NATIVE” Indigenous Vacations are Wild Fun

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Spring ski vacations can be expensive if travelers are unaware of simple ways to save money – the biggest saver of all is to go “native”. A bit of research, good planning and a little creativity can take ordinary and make it wild, and still be easy on the budget. The Visit California tourism report showed that 80% of the state’s domestic leisure visitors in 2011 were indigenous vacations taken by residents of California. Close to 11% of California’s economy is based around travel, and almost that entire amount is from residents exploring the state. According to vacation planning expert City Concierge, the reason for this is simple: travelers get more value for their dollars when they discover their own neighborhoods rather than when they pack up their gear and go ski out of state.

When it comes to affordable ski resorts, the family mountain town of Big Bear Lake has easy access from Southern California, and is also budget friendly. So with Spring Break just around the corner and many days of great skiing left this season, Big Bear’s vacation destination offers two quality ski resorts – Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, lush forests with lake views, tons of outdoor activities and all the amenities needed. There are on mountain events, lodging specials on Big Bear cabins for rent and crazy fun in the town just waiting to be had.

1) DON’T BE A LOSER! : When booking lodging at the last minute, families can lose out on some great deals. It’s never too soon to begin planning – booking Big Bear rentals one or two months ahead of time will save money by allowing time to look for promotions before they expire. Special deals may have “must purchase by” deadlines, such as “liking” local Facebook pages to get the deal by March 30, but they can be used until April 21. Waiting to the last minute to book a Spring Break vacation would miss this action oriented deadline such as a Stay for 4, pay for 2.

2) BE DIFFERENT – RENT A HOME: Many folks choose the comfort a vacation homes over hotel rooms as there is more bang for the buck. Busy hotels can be quite a bit higher as everything is ala carte and the creature comforts such as a fireplace are missing. You can experiment with lakefront lodging rentals in Big Bear, or slopeside condo rentals depending on season and interests, and all will come in different sizes with plenty of space to spread out, bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, fireplaces and even billiard tables or fun foos ball tables. There’s no need to have a $4 cup of coffee when a whole pot can be made in the kitchen. People often choose a vacation rental that is at least as nice as their own home or sometimes go a big step up to luxury accommodations since they are saving on air fare.

3) BUNK WITH ANOTHER FAMILY: The fun factor increases when you share the good times with another family – both on and off the slopes! Enjoying a vacation with friends means you can “split the check”, getting more value out of your lodging and meals. And if you take it one step further, you can create a wild yet bonding experience when large groups such as school clubs and track teams get together for a fundraiser trip. Extra savings: the trip leaders often go for free.

4) THINK OUTSIDE THE VACATION BOX: Travel during off-season times, avoiding major holidays and not following school defined schedules saves dough. Spring Break and Easter weeks are great times for affordable ski trips. Find out when the peak seasons are, and then go the week before. When travel reservations are made closer to the “shoulder seasons”, such as early December before Christmas or after President’s Weekend – you can find extra savings on lift tickets and meals eaten out.

5) COZY UP TO AN EXPERT: Use the Internet to reserve through a local full-service company rather than direct through an ad or private rental such as a VRBO or AirBnB. A friendly pro can offer some good deals along with local customer service and knowledge of the area. They know all the vendors, who will wheel and deal, and are clued into the local discounts for equipment rentals, lift tickets, kids-ski-for-free deals, child care and more. Travelers can find super savings when they take advantage of current promotions like lift ticket and lodging packages, mid-week discount rates and “book two nights and get the third night free” exclusive offers.

6) MAKE 100 CENTS = 110: Working with a local company will save more money than just booking a cheap room. For example, if a lift ticket has a $105 face value, that price can be reduced to only $66 when regular priced lodging and the tickets are booked together as a packaged deal. Buying the combined lodging/lift ticket package – even though the lodging looks more expensive if it were to be bought by itself – saves a lot more money in the long run. In this example, the savings is $117, which could be the price of one night in a rental! You don’t find these kinds of promotions on national discount travel sites.

7) BE A BOY SCOUT: Check the local weather forecast at multiple weather Web sites so you know what to pack on a ski vacation. Each forecast can be a bit different since a ski resort has weather for different climate zones ranging between the base and the top of the mountain, and the town, too. Then make a list and pack all the appropriate gear, clothing and supplies family members will need to be safe and enjoy whatever Mother Nature serves up. Forgotten gear is much more expensive to purchase at resort stores, so bring spares for that glove or beanie that gets lost on the slopes.

8) PACK A PICNIC: Ski resort food, and drinks are ridiculously expensive for nothing too special. Who wants to pay $4 for bottled water or $12 for a so-so hamburger? You can put a lot of fun into a refillable canteen, make sandwiches and bring chips, snack on protein bars and fruit, and share your banquet with your group. There’s always a microwave at the lodge to heat up a can of chili. Your food will be better and the savings significant.

9) BE YOUR OWN TOP CHEF: Whether you call one of the experts for your Bear Mountain lodging rentals or find some   groovy Snow Summit vacation rentals at the slopes all will have kitchens with everything needed to plan meals so everyone has fun as a team preparing and cooking cool food. Make cooking an activity instead of going out to eat, such as having a pizza-making competition. The loser washes dishes, the winner relaxes, dinner is cheaper and the family has a fun evening event all in one. Between the local grocery store, some creative menus, a little rivalry and a potential food fight, everybody can enjoy good meals, great times and put dollars back into the pocket.

There really are smart and simple steps to lower family and group ski vacation costs and still enjoy that big adventure. Pick a few of the ideas above or use them all to be smart and save more. And with the extra savings – parents can keep the cash in the bank, use it for more vacation fun or spend it on a reward for themselves for being such savvy vacation planners! With easy ways to lower vacation spending at a local fun resort, a place like Big Bear California might become a year-round family favorite for both longer vacations and quick getaways.

The Right Accommodations in Big Bear

Big Bear Cabins

A very luxury rental log cabin in Big Bear

If you live near San Bernardino or in Southern California there is no excuse not to vacation in Big Bear Lake for some rest and relaxation. The mountains are beautiful anytime of the year, and it is the local city goers getaway.  Whether in summer, winter or the quieter spring and fall, Big Bear California is full of things to do.  From skiing to hiking, to fishing to the new crazy sports on the water, the lake and the alpine atmosphere make any vacation, a real vacation.

Hotels are not that prolific in town, so getting a Big Bear vacation cabin rental is the perfect thing to do and has so many more options than regular hotel accommodations. A Big Bear vacation cabin will be unique and may have amenities such as a private hot tub, billiard or game table, and maybe if it is not too remote even internet.  When you rent a Big Bear cabin you can expect that it will come with full linens, towels and are ready to go when you are. You just have to bring the fun!   While it’s always a good idea to inquire what is inside especially if you have your list of things you must have, most are going to be very well equipped.   Big Bear cabin rentals can give you the perfect relaxing break from your busy daily life by giving you so much space to unwind it. They are perfect for couples, families, a weekend getaway or a corporate group bonding trip… anyone looking for something rustic and a place to get away from it all.

Each time you come to visit the Big Bear resort you will find new things to do. Bear Mountain and Snow Summit are the hot places in the winter with endless skiing and snowboarding. During the summer months fishing, hiking and mountain biking are big as are all the outdoor concerts.  Surrounded by unbelievable soaring landscapes, towering trees, the sounds of frogs chirping, the creek side, Big Bear Lake is an unspoiled scenic environment. Your Big Bear vacation rental  could be in the forest, in town, lakefront, or near the quaint village but either way, just be steps from the various outdoor activities. BigBearReservations.net is a good source with  cabin rentals in everybody’s price range

We found that most accommodations in Big Bear are set up to be second homes for the owners and rented when they are not there, so they are comfortable and come with cozy wood burning fireplaces, BBQ grills for patio cooking, or maybe an outdoor Jacuzzi. Many of the Big Bear vacation cabin rentals are both kid friendly and pet friendly. Just look in the amenity list to see if it listed as a pet friendly cabin rental. Unlike hotel lodging, the Big Bear cabins are all unique and so there will be differences in facilities in each rental home or cabin.

If you’re of like mind then staying by the lake is going to be your first priority when you travel in the warmer months and near the ski slopes in the colder months.  The town of Big Bear Lake California is not very big, so unless you’re staying high on a hill, everything is very close.  While the list of activities is endless, we do want to mention that a must do is the drive around the lake.  It takes about an hour to go all the way around and when you get to the other side, do make a stop at the Discovery Center.  I’ll write about that on another post.  Have a fun time and let me know where you stayed and what you did.