January 18, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Redeem awards for unrestricted travel on any airline? Or take those miles and stock up on goods like iPods, Bose sound systems or lux spa treatments? No, this is not a joke. Just when almost every other airline out there has raised the number of awards necessary to get a free ticket (and upped the blackout dates), Eos-- the premium airline I've obsessed over before-- has introduced a brilliant frequent-flyer program. Both Travel Weekly and the Online Travel Review are talking it up this week. (And it's easy to understand why.)
Racing, ski jumping, chariot racing, snowboarding jam session, ski jöring events down Lincoln Avenue: the Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival takes over the entire town come February. And it's a spectacle you won't want to miss. After all, it's been around for 93 years (that's the oldest Winter Carnival west of the Mississippi!) and is sponsored by the oldest winter sports club in the US of A! And of course there's the much-anticipated nighttime event, featuring the legendary "Lighted Man" (one of the famous exhibitionists, clad in a glowing suit of lightbulbs, launches fireworks as he skis down the mountain). Intrigued? Get yourself to Steamboat Feb 8-12!
Abu Dhabi plays catch up with the incredible development going on in nearby Dubai, with the latest AED 800 million project, dubbed BTB (that's Between the Bridges, guys). Due to open in Feb 2007, the complex will be packed with luxury villas, executive apartments, and a five star hotel. That's music to our ears.
Four Seasons has set up camp (literally) in Thailand's mysterious Golden Triangle (didn't this used to be scary, opium-producing backcountry?) It seems the hotelier is jumping on the "rustic luxury" bandwagon, catering to a crowd that yearns for adventure, yet can't do without the spa touch of Four Seasons. Thus you can mount an elephant, raft down the Mekong, and meet the local hill tribes-- and return at night to one of 15 Four Seasons tents, with hand-hammered copper bathtubs (imagine hauling that into the wilderness on the back of some beast-of-burden), down pillows and supersized robes, and wifi access. Yep, you heard that right. A riverbank tent with wifi and multi-line phones. Other swank services include five-course dining, spa, and free-form pool.
The aging resort and casino sits on some 63 acres of prime Strip-front property, and the Boyd Gaming Corp. sees four sparkling, new hotels (including a Shangri-La) where Stardust's decrepit 1,500 rooms used to be. The developers will welcome Echelon Place—the $4 billion complex with 5,300 rooms, spas, casino, restaurants and bars, meeting facilities and a 4,000-seat theater– in 2010. Besides the Shangri-La, the Morgans Hotel Group (of Mondrian and Delano fame) is keen on the scene.
In honor of Dr. King, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is offering free admission all day long. Opened in 1992, the Institute offers the best, most comprehensive and moving exhibitions on the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. A walk through the galleries—past replicas of segregated streetcars and fountains, a replica of the bombed and scarred Freedom Riders' bus, films and media presentations—is a journey through the events of the 1960s and the struggle for equality and racial justice. Importantly, the exhibitions highlight the Civil Rights Movement in relation to the ongoing international human rights movement today.
Heading to The Breakers? Here's an invitation you won't want to miss. The interactive evenings at Echo feature four course dinners, with a half-price specialty drink to complement the cuisine, $60 per person. The most popular dishes prepared before your eyes. First up: The Art of Thai Cooking, this Wednesday, January 18. Followed by a Vietnamese Valentine (the day after on February 15), and lastly, an evening of delicious Japanese cuisine on Wednesday, March 15.
Welcome to Aspen's newest resort. Steps away from Ajax Mountain, and all of Aspen's fabulous shopping and nightlife. One-, two- and three-bedroom accommodations with cozy, yet luxurious interiors designed in stone, polished woods, granite and marble. All equipped with multiple fireplaces, private balconies, absurdly large kitchens, spa tubs and steam showers. Now through Sept. 30, enjoy savings up to 30 percent off at the Hyatt Grand Aspen.
January 14, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
In the tiny town of Irvington in rural Tidewater Virginia, nestled between the banks of Carter's creek and other graceful tributaries that feed the Chesapeake Bay, the townsfolk used to talk. The goss was that The Tides Inn had fallen into disrepair, its guestrooms, restaurants and facilities disgraced beyond the pale. But that was before the new management company committed over $10 million to wide-sweeping renovations, including the gorgeous modernization of all guestrooms and the hotel exterior. Now the not exactly tight-lipped town is abuzz about the recent hire of a new, world-class chef. Though closed during the winter months, The Tides Inn commands a superb location overlooking its own award-winning marina on Carter's Creek, and beautifully manicured golf course. Other recreational facilities include tennis courts, swimming pools, sand beach, fishing, biking, not to mention river cruises on the National Historic yacht, Miss Ann.
The Tides Inn, Official Site
The Tides Inn, Five Star Alliance
January 14, 2006
By: Guest Writer
Originally published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 21 December 2005 By George Romanyk Even as I write this, the guttural growl of a Harley Davidson (not to mention a roaring chorus of other Harleys, BMWs and Japanese superbikes) is still echoing in my ears. You see, I've just returned from a five-day road trip to the Golden Triangle, along with an assortment of biker friends who also happen to be company presidents, CEOs and entrepreneurs. Now, before you start wondering what this has to do with a column on branding (or start snickering "born to be mild''), I'd like to share some insights I garnered during the course of this challenging and exhilarating journey. While our group was on the road during the days, we certainly weren't averse to roughing it. We got our motors running, we headed out on the highway, and when the highway occasionally deteriorated into a rutted, muddy track, we were well up for it. Ah, but at the end of each day, the discomforts of the road were eased by the unique boutique resorts on the Mekong our assistants had booked us into, as well as some first class meals, and the imported wines and cheeses and some truly tasty Cuban cigars we had smuggled along in our saddlebags. My point (besides making you green with envy) is that our little jaunt was a good example of a major change sweeping the world right now in how luxury is perceived and experienced. For many of the "baby boomers'' and the swelling ranks of "Generation X'' (people born between 1964 and 1976 or thereabouts), the era of ostentatious luxury is over, and instead they are demanding authenticity and adventure. We still want our luxuries, but we want them contemporary, with a hip twist; luxury that "keeps it real'', as it were. Particularly in the luxury hotel and travel sector are these demands being felt. At the recent International Luxury Travel Market in Cannes, the age of ostentatious travel was proclaimed to be over, with new research unveiled showing today's wealthy travellers needed "authenticity, exclusivity and attention to detail'' to keep them happy. "Personalised'' and "private'' were also big buzzwords. In a survey of 248 travel suppliers from around the world who service the needs of the affluent, 84% agreed their clients sought a more subtle form of luxury than in the past. The survey, by the Future Foundation, concluded: "No longer content to visit the classic haunts of the rich and famous, today's luxury traveller would prefer to be a trailblazer, albeit in great comfort, and visit new and less discovered destinations.'' According to ILTM's founder, Serge Dive: "The tastes of the rich don't stay still. Our research shows that the luxury traveller of today doesn't just want to be pampered-- they want a total escape from their highly pressured lives and they want to come back from their holiday having experienced something new.'' Another trend is that as more people get rich younger, they take less formal but shorter trips, with technology allowing them to blur the line between business and leisure travel. Also, little things often count for much: 65% of those surveyed said the toiletries on offer in a hotel were important, with recognised luxury brands meriting maximum brownie points. After our trip, I can heartily agree with that last point: eight windblown hours in the saddle of your steel steed, and you really appreciate little treats like a scented hot towel, some luxurious shampoo and shower gel, and a unique hotel experience. These findings also echo research our own firm has conducted during the course of a major re-branding project with one of our major hotel clients. Our research results concur that well-heeled travellers prefer service that gives them space to be themselves and to feel totally relaxed (while still meeting their every need of course) rather than the more intrusive and obsequious style of service offered by many five-star hotels in the past. A recent article in Newsweek notes: "Travel used to be divided into two basic categories: luxury and no-frills. The former consisted of flying first class, dining at three star restaurants and staying in decadent comfort; the latter involved backpacking and camping out in some of the world's most beautifully remote spots. Now, tourists can have their wine and see the wildlife too; communing with nature and living the good life are no longer mutually exclusive.'' Newsweek defines this as "rustic luxury'': a group of wealthy "new nomads'' toting Mount Everest-ready backpacks by luxury luggage-makers like Tumi, who want to visit the most rugged deserts, jungles, mountains and forests, and go rock-climbing and wreck-diving, but want their designer coffee and Egyptian cotton sheets when the day's adventuring is done. There is also the element of one-upmanship among this growing demographic. As one new nomad tells Newsweek: "It's a status game. Staying at the Four Seasons seems kind of bourgeois, since any doctor from the Midwest will know about it.'' To me, getting wild without losing the luxury is like a marriage made in heaven. There's nothing like zipping through rugged jungle tracks on your hog, getting down and dirty, when you know that some prime rib, a nice glass of Bordeaux and a fat stogie have your name on them. George Romanyk is chief executive officer of Creative Inhouse, a local branding consultancy and ad agency.
By: Guest Writer