A progressive nightmare: Stuck in a sauna for seven hours

I wasn’t in the house when they cut the electricity yesterday, but I’m told it was swift and merciless.

A utility truck from Progress Energy, our power company, pulled up to the curb, a technician opened our meter, flipped a switch, and then scurried back into her truck.
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You’ve gotta try these Apalachicola Bay oysters

We interrupt this consumer blog to bring you the following important message: If you’re ever in Northwest Florida, you must drive down to Apalachicola to try the oysters.
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Hey, where did this resort fee come from?

Question: I checked into the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, and was unexpectedly charged a resort fee. I had booked the stay with my Starwood Preferred Guest points.

The desk staff could not have been less helpful when I questioned the fee. They advised, “It is mandatory on all rooms, whether paid with cash or points, and clearly indicated during booking.”

They also said the resort fee was required by Florida state law.
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Can this trip be saved? Left high and dry by my resort

Club Med Sandpiper Bay is an all-inclusive resort near Port St. Lucie, Fla. — the perfect place to escape the cold December weather in Washington without having to spend hours on a plane. At least that’s what Jane Winfrey thought.

Back in April, she made a deposit for the week of Dec. 2 to 10 at hotel. But in late August, she received an apologetic call from Club Med representative. There was a problem with her reservation.
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Look up

Our visit to Northwest Florida took us to Grayton Beach State Park near Seaside, Fla., a place known for its beautiful sand dunes and beaches.

But there’s another side to the park with century-old pine trees, dune lakes and exotic-looking plants. That’s where we went.

We had the privilege of spending the morning with Snookie Parrish, a nature-based certified outfitter with the Beaches of South Walton.

I think it’s best if I get out of the way and let the pictures do all the talking.
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Sand, surf, sub-freezing temperatures — what more could you ask for?


Half the East Coast is stuck in a blizzard. We are not.

But don’t feel too envious. It’s 34 degrees in Seaside, Fla., and the powerful wind gusts coming off the Gulf of Mexico make it feel even colder.

The beach looks deceptively warm and inviting, but you have to bundle up to really enjoy it. There is something to enjoy, though: The solitude of being at a summer resort during the off-season, when you can practically have the entire place to yourself.
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Hey, where’d everyone go?

Seaside, Fla., may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of a holiday destination. Maybe it should be.

Alright, the weather was cool and rainy when we arrived yesterday. I took this picture almost exactly a year ago, on clear but equally chilly day. But it’s just as empty.

Only a few people have trekked down here from even colder places to spend the holidays. Smart choice.
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Revelex pays $12,500 after Florida accuses it of “aiding and abetting” Prime Travel Protection

Remember Revelex, the Boca Raton, Fla.-based online booking company whose name came up a time or two during the Palm Coast Travel episode earlier this year?

Palm Coast Travel, you’ll recall, was fined $2,500 for selling unlicensed travel insurance through a company called Prime Travel Protection. Some observers alleged a connection between Revelex, Palm Coast Travel and Prime Travel Protection, although a link was never proven.

Well, this afternoon, a source with the state of Florida sent me a settlement agreement (PDF) that suggests there may have been a link between Revelex and Prime Travel Protection.
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A sense of place at Homewood Suites Lake Mary

Chain hotels can be depressing places, because when you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all.

It didn’t help that we’d just watched Up in the Air, the George Clooney movie about a business traveler whose home is a seemingly endless series of hotel rooms, when we checked into the Homewood Suites in Lake Mary, Fla., yesterday.
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Florida Homewood Suites adventure begins in Lake Buena Vista

It all started a few weeks ago with a call from Hilton. Would I be interested in writing for a Web site run by Homewood Suites, they wondered.

Homewood Suites? Now there’s a name I don’t hear very often — which is actually a good thing.

I looked through my files. No serious complaints about Homewood Suites. It’s squeaky clean, on a par with Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons. Not bad for an upscale, all-suite chain with close to 300 properties.
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