First Drive: 2015 Toyota Camry, Yaris & Sienna

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Testing new vehicles is always an adventure, but the opportunity to test new vehicles in Hawaii is just a whole different experience. Auto journalists love cars, but we also love to drive cars in adventurous destinations featuring incredible roads with twists and turns in places so grand that you realize how spectacular other places on earth can be. The sunny Kona District stretches for about 60 miles from Kona International Airport to beyond Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii’s lava-lined western coast. Along this expansive area, we found everything from coffee farms to historic Hawaiian landmarks. Our homebase was the Fairmont Orchid, which is a luxurious Hawaiian resort on the Kohala Coast inspired by culture, well-being and genuine Aloha. To take in all of the Big Island while driving a stable of new offerings from Toyota can make for eye-opening visuals in the 2015 Camry, Yaris and Sienna. These new Toyotas are so different and compete in three distinctive segments, but all shared the same careful design and manufacturing expertise that is synonymous with a Toyota.

There is no car more important to Toyota than the Camry, and for 2015, the folks at Toyota continued their quest to be king of the midsize car market with a new 2015 Camry that ups the stakes. Yes, the best-selling car in America for the last 12 years just got better! When redesigning the Camry for 2015, Toyota went bumper to bumper and floor to roof, changing or re-engineering nearly 2,000 parts. Only the roof remains unchanged, and it caps off the boldest Camry body ever. That provides an idea of the scope of the transformation that also endows the new Camry with a stiffer body structure, enhanced aerodynamics and its quietest ride ever. The redesigned, upscale interior and advanced instrumentation with intuitive controls help keep the driver safely focused on the road. The redesigned interior also looks and feels much more upscale, featuring premium, soft-touch materials throughout. The 2015 model is easily the best-handling and most comfortable-riding Camry ever. Beneath the bolder body lines, the Camry’s body structure has been bolstered with additional spot welds to enhance rigidity. Retuned suspension systems in all models put an edge on handling agility while taking the edge off bumps.

The exterior of the Camry just keeps getting sexier and the 2015 model is like no Camry we’ve ever seen before. An aggressive looking front bumper and grille, pronounced side character lines and low-profile LED headlamps give the new Camry a far more expressive style. It’s a sleeker look that’s also slightly longer (1.8 inches / 45 mm) and features a widened track (0.4 inches / 10 mm) that communicates a dynamic stance and presence. In profile, a pronounced body line starts from the Camry’s muscular front fender and spans across the doors and rear quarter panel, conveying a sense of motion. The fun doesn’t stop there, as the new cabin takes this segment upscale and will surely have some rivals looking for the medicine cabinet! Everywhere you look and touch, the Camry presents premium materials, an overall roomier feel and enhanced amenities.

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Travelocity’s Courtney Scott with top travel destinations for Labor Day

courtney-scott-travelocity

Courtney Scott is the Senior Travel Editor for Travelocity.com. She is also really hot and has traveled to the coolest places on earth. If you’re going to take travel advice, why not get it from an expert?

We asked Courtney for a list of great vacations and cheap deals for guys in seek of a final party destination on Labor Day weekend. 

Las Vegas, Nevada:
$119/night at the four-star SLS Las Vegas right on the Las Vegas Strip. Stay three nights and get the third night free! It will be a weekend of live DJs and EDM: Steve Akoi at Wet Republic, Steve Angello at Encore Beach Club, David Guetta, Krewella and many more!

Cancun, Mexico:
$127/night for a deluxe room with kitchenette at the Villa del Palmar Beach Resort, located on Playa Mujeres. For $54/night, you can stay at the Suites Sina Cancun, right in the Cancun hotel zone, a property on the laguna with more budget accommodations, but a great location and value.

Miami, Florida:
Vacation like royalty at the Lord Balfour right in the heart of South Beach on Ocean Drive. You will enjoy a room fit for a king for only $185/night (while inventory lasts). Events are happening all around Miami. You can sail away on chic South Beach Lady Yacht on Saturday, which is hosting the annual All White Yacht Party hosted by Love & Hip Hop Atlanta’s Karlie Redd, or on Sunday, the Rock the Yacht Labor Day Party Cruise will set sail at Bayfront Park. Of course, if you’d rather be on land, there are pool parties happening throughout Miami.

Denver, Colorado:
Denver’s summer of festivals continues through Labor Day weekend where you’ll enjoy A Taste of Colorado food festival with tasty treats from over 50 local restaurants and food trucks. There is no shortage of pubs and saloons around Denver, and a must-visit is My Brother’s Bar, one of the oldest bars in Denver. Looking for live music?  You can head to the Bluebird Theater or Summit Music Hall. For those looking to party, SOCO (South of Colfax) is the place to be. It’s Denver’s nightlife district and is home to Denver’s best nightlife venues. You can stay at the gorgeous Magnolia Hotel in Downtown Denver for $146/night.

When you book on Travelocity.com, use promo code GO50 for $50 off $250 or more on your hotel and GO75 for $75 off $750 or more with a three-night minimum stay.

And when you’re done shopping for a trip, visit Courtney’s website and YouTube account for more from the travel expert.

  

Always a good time to visit Costa Rica

Always a good time to visit Costa RicaMany people have been talking about Costa Rica since their impressive showing in the World Cup, which generated a lot of attention here in the States. Costa Rica has always been known for beautiful beaches and scenery, but now we can add soccer to the list. We’ve had the good fortune to visit Costa Rica many times, often in search of beautiful models. We’ve also attended a number of great events out there, and in the photo here you see lovely Lindsey enjoying the zipline near Jaco.

If you read up on the travel experts, you’ll learn that Costa Rica’s big tourism season runs from late November to late April, which works out great as it’s cold for many Americans during those months. The weather there is beautiful and tropical, offering an excellent reprieve from a brutal winter. But if you want to choose Costa Rica in your next vacation you don’t necessarily have to go in the winter. Sure, the rest of the year in Costa Rica offers up the rainy season, but this is when you can get the incredible deals as well. Like anything, going in season always costs more.

There’s so much to do down there that you can enjoy it any time of year. The ziplines are spectacular. The beaches are beautiful, and if you’re into nature the rain forest offers an incredible variety of plant and animal life to observe.

The coastline is also beautiful and you can see much of the country of you plan well. We’re partial to the area around Jaco, a cool beach town with excellent surfing and a wild nightlife that will definitely keep you coming back for more. You’ll love the beautiful Ticas! Also, there are plenty of luxury resorts in the area along with cool, beach-side hotels. We recommend the Los Suenos resort just north of Jaco nestled on a steep hillside on the ocean. There are tons of luxury condos there you can rent along with a luxury Marriott with spectacular views of the ocean. As for something more casual there are plenty of hotels right in Jaco.

Jaco is just one of many great spots in Costa Rica, so do some research and find what’s best for you. And don’t hesitate to go in the summer as well!

  

Summer party season around the corner

The summer party season is around the corner, so it’s time to start planning your road trips. There are so many great events out there to choose from, it’s really just a matter of picking one or two and then lining things up to enjoy it as much as possible, whether you’re going with friends and looking to hook up with women or taking your gal.

The Kentucky Derby is always a classic party and it kicks things off in early May. The key here is deciding what kind of experience you want. If you’re going to the infield, then you’re looking at a truly wild time with plenty of drinking. If you’re looking for a classier experience where you can enjoy all the lovely Southern hotties in their elegant hats, then that’s a whole different affair where you’ll be dressing in classy clothes and enjoying Mint Juleps in the grandstand. Remember, the hats are a great way to meet women at this event, as it’s the perfect conversation starter. You’ll meet tons of women if you make the effort.

Of course if you’re heading to that race you’ll have betting on your mind as well. With the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby set to take place soon on Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 we trust the guys at www.Kentucky-Derby-Online-Betting.com to give us their latest Kentucky Derby online betting predictions with live odds updates to get us ready for the first leg of the Triple Crown.

It’s been so long since we had a Triple Crown winner that everyone gets really excited when a horse wins the first two legs. With that in mind think about the Belmont Stakes as well in June if a horse has a chance to win the Triple Crown. That will suddenly elevate that event to one of the bigger parties of the summer.

Of course there are tons of music festivals as well, and the lineup at this year’s Lollapalooza with Eminem and the Kings of Leon leading the way. You won’t be drinking fancy drinks or looking at elegant hats at this event. It will be much more like the infield experience at the Derby. With the event in Chicago there will be plenty of opportunities to plan an awesome trip around the concert, with the bars on Rush Street and around Wrigley Field being great options.

So unless you’re the type to go with last-minute road trips, now is the time to start planning.

  

Deals in Las Vegas

Caesars Palace

Now that the holiday rush is over, we’ve hit the part of the travel season where you can find some deals out there. But of course that depends on where you’re going and what you want to do. If you’re looking to hit South Beach or go skiing, you’re going to pay top dollar this time of year. On the other hand, if you’ve been looking for an opportunity to hit Las Vegas, you’ll find tons of deals this time of year.

Keep in mind that it will be cooler in Vegas for the next several months, so the whole pool scene is non-existent. That’s probably the main reason things slow down this time of year. But if you’re looking for a luxury weekend with your wife or a sexy date, and you want a great hotel and the chance to see some great Vegas shows, then this timing is perfect. Of course, many people go for the old school reason of gambling in the casinos. Of course you can play these games online at places like 888, but the social aspect of playing in a casino can only be matched in a place like Vegas. Even the local casinos aren’t the same.

Sites like Vegas.com have tons of deal specials, but if you shop around you’ll have plenty of options. This time of year you can even get better prices on the hot casino hotels like Cosmopolital and Aria, or the traditional luxury spots like Wynn and Bellagio. Places like Caesars Palace pictured above have added even more upscale hotels within their main hotel. Here they added the Nobu hotel which offers a unique and upscale experience. Places like this are perfect for a romantic getaway. Plus the wild side of Vegas is always there as well. Your date can also book great spa experiences at many of these hotels. Look for deal packages that offer these as part of the price.

The shows in Vegas are always excellent as well. We’re still partial to the Beatles “Love” show at the Mirage. Even if you’re not a huge fan of their music you will love this show, and your date in particualar will probably love it. But there are plenty of other great shows, and show tickets are sometimes included in these deal packages as well.

Finally, if you’re looking to go with your buddies instead, keep in mind that we have the NFL playoffs this weekend and then the Super Bowl in several weeks. March Madness is just around the corner. Those big weekends may not have as many discounts, but for sports betting they offer some fun times. Enjoy!

  

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