Vagablond reports today that N'awlins has begun offering the first free wireless internet network owned and operated by a major city. Let's hope the trend catches on! In related news, Gadling's got a great piece about free wifi in the nation's airports. (MSN's top five include Atlanta, Minneapolis, San Jose, Miami, and- um- the hopping metropolis of Albuquerque.)
New screening procedures are going into effect on December 22 in the nation's airports, and even little scissors pass the test! So my tweezers won't be thrown out again by some overly-competent airport screener?! Could it be? I was told recently that a sea-shell was a hazardous and dangerous weapon that could not possibly be carried on the plane. Let's hope the rules of old do not linger residually... Via CNN
In July, the National Zoo welcomed a male panda cub-- Tai Shan. The little guy has been hanging safe with mom in a den for the first few months, before making his debut for visitors on December 8th! In collaboration with the Zoo-- in celebration of these cool creatures-- the Fairmont has put together a Panda Package. Come check out these endangered animals at the National Zoo, get pampered at the Fairmont, and feel good knowing that the hotel makes a donation to FONZ's Giant Panda Conservation Fund each time the package is booked. What's included? Overnight accommodations for two adults and two kids in a luxurious guestroom. A Zoo Welcome Kit with discount coupons, a stuffed Panda, zoo map, Giant Panda fact sheet, Kids' Giant Panda activity booklet, Panda postcard, Giant Panda video album CD, disposable FujiFilm camera, ticket for six people to the FujiFilm Giant Panda Habitat during your stay, copy of ZooGoer mag, and area dining guide.
The Fairmont Washington D.C., Official Site
The Fairmont Washington D.C., Five Star Alliance
Though it's beyond gimmicky (who was the big brain behind this name?), THEhotel is anything but corny. In 43 stories rising above the Strip, it's got the largest standard rooms in Vegas (a measly 750 square feet). The place is a playground packed with cosmopolitan fun: the 1,117 one-bedroom suites with wet bar, marble bathroom, plasma TV; the Bathhouse Spa with its pools of different temperatures, baths and flowing waterfall; and the swank Lounge (with delish cocktail concoctions) on the very top floor. Don't be fooled by December's ridiculously low rates; THEhotel is a sizzling Vegas destination.
THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, Official Site
THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, Five Star Alliance
Following the trend of fashion labels moving into the hotel sector (Armani, Versace and Bulgari), Missoni is creating a new line of hotels. Set to open in 2007, the brand will be all about contemporary Italian life and style. (Will the rooms be decked out in that trademark psychedelic pattern?) Via the International Herald Tribune
Miami's getting hotter, with a new Viceroy hotel planned for 2008. The Kor Hotel group's hotel-residence project combines their famous luxury boutique concept with condominiums. Who's designing the Viceroy Icon Brickell? Rumor has it that it's the architecture firm Arquitectonica and legendary designer Phillipe Starck... Talk about a dream team.
Think Mexico for pre- or post-holiday recuperation! With 56 ocean view rooms, Casa del Mar is a hacienda-style resort set in lush gardens overlooking the Sea of Cortez. Play a round of golf at the Robert Trent Jones II designed championship course. Head to the spa for an outstanding signature treatment like the Tropical Exfoliation, where the skin is buffed with fine milled coffee and dried coconut, and then massaged with coconut massage oil. In the evening, dine under a poolside palapa. With the Relax 33 special package, save 33% off regular rates, starting as low as $269 a night for a Deluxe Oceanview Room. Offer good December 1-20, 2005, and January 2-15, 2006. Minimum 2 night stay required.
Scheduled to open on December 15, the new Ritz-Carlton is the most talked-about news of the season. This resort is destined to set new standards for luxury hotels, with an all-star cast contributing to the resort's conception: Greg Norman designed golf course, Tennis by Nick Bollettieri, two restaurants by Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin, NYC, the world's first spa inspired by La Prairie's Silver Rain (did I mention that this is one of the Caribbean's largest?!), and an aquatic education program run by Jean-Michel Cousteau. The best part? There is still availability for December holidays! But hurry; book those rooms fast!
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, Official Site
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, Five Star Alliance
Check out these truly superb Top 10 lists-- best restaurants, walking tours, highlights, hotels-- from The Financial Times and Eyewitness Travel Guides. Their teaser: "Prepare to experience one of the most dramatic urban environments ever conceived."
The big daddy of prime Florida real estate… The Breakers is as mammoth in legend as is its luxury experience. The Italian Renaissance style hotel consists of 560 oceanfront rooms, on 140 acres smack in the middle of a private beach. Founded in 1896 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Breakers has got it all. Beach club, oceanfront spa, 36 holes of championship golf, 10 tennis courts, kids' programs, four oceanside pools, excellent restaurants. The icing on the cake? Truly superlative service.
PS A $15 million makeover has utterly transformed the beachfront, including ultra-lux bungalows available for daytime rental.
The Breakers, Official Site
The Breakers, Five Star Alliance