March 20, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Pay $5 for a snack box with a cardboard-tasting sandwich and mushy apple? I don't think so, say many luxury travelers, who are opting for delightful gourmet take-out meals offered by their upscale hotels. As the Miami Herald reports:
...the posh Peninsula Beverly Hills sells takeout platters of blue fin tuna, poached salmon and Cobb salad in narrow cardboard boxes with suitcase-like handles for about $20. Guests at the Hotel Plaza Athene in New York can order a chicken club or shaved roast beef sandwich packed with monogrammed cloth napkins and a reusable thermos from the hotel's "Goodies to Go" menu. Hotels aren't just filling doggie bags with food from their restaurant menus. Some are devising special dishes that travel well and stay tasty at room temperature.Now that's a way to build loyalty among your (happily-satiated) clients.
March 17, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Tony Ryan-- founder of Europe's beloved and enormously successful airline Ryanair (this is the airline that paved the way for the new model of competitive low-fare carriers, after all)-- is investing in a new low-fare airline in Mexico. Viva AeroBus will take off in September, servicing major Mexican domestic markets as well as big US cities like LA and Houston.
On its sun-soaked perch overlooking Miami, Coral Gables-- aka City Beautiful as it was dubbed when it was founded in 1925-- is a lot more than its 6.5 million square feet of office space, high-end boutiques and University of Miami campus. This is also the Latin American business headquarters of oodles of multinational companies (try 175 of them). It's a lush and beautiful spot, with a Mediterranean style aura. Starwood just announced plans to convert the 157-room Colonnade Hotel-- long known as the scene for important social and business events-- into a new Westin. What can guests expect at the new Colonnade, slated to open in late 2006? Why-- Westin's signature Heavenly Bed, of course, along with luxurious services, products and amenities that are all in line with Westin's new brand message of "renewal." Hence, the high thread-count sheets, down duvet and down pillows, plush bathrobes, and the newest Heavenly Bath: "a custom-designed dual showerhead that offers a choice of spray options from light mist to massaging needles." But smokers, beware. As of February 2006, Westin's paved the way for smoke-free hotels across North America.
Will the Dubai building boom go bust? As hyped in the press, W Hotels has recently announced its plans to bring its signature, stylish brand to the Middle East. W will open its 350-room luxury hotel in 2008 as part of the Festival City Project: a massive "City within a City" with "Riviera-style scenery and lush green landscapes… and iconic towers and luxury hotels." And it's touted as "the Middle East's largest, privately funded mixed-use real estate development." The W seems its centerpiece, to be designed by a renowned architect and packed full of the W brand signatures like loft suites, open "Living Room," and Bliss spa. Can the booming hotel and resort landscape of Dubai become as packed as the Vegas Strip? Related Articles: The Lobby, "W Comes to Dubai" Luxist, "W Hotels Heads to Dubai" CNN Money, "W Hotels Arrives on Shores of Dubai, the Global Brand's First Location in the Middle East" TravelPost Insider, "W Hotels Plan 2008 Dubai Opening"
Disney descended on Hong Kong last September, and-- in the ultimate symbol of China's newly (and increasingly) ravenous consumer hunger-- is now planning a park on the Chinese mainland as well. Indeed, Hong Kong Disneyland was so mobbed during the Lunar New Year that hordes were denied entrance to the park. As quoted by CNN:
"China has a very large population. We now have 1.3 billion people. The market is very large. As far as I know, Hong Kong Disneyland is now very crowded," said Shao Qiwei, director of China's State Administration of Tourism, whose comments were broadcast on Hong Kong's Cable TV.
Say hello to the brand spanking new Raffles Beijing Hotel. The decadent 171-room hotel makes its debut on May 28, and Raffles is celebrating big time. A little background: the hotel is not a new glass skyscraper or contemporary architectural icon. This building was constructed in the 1900s, and is cloaked in history. This is an illustrious Beijing address, located just a few minutes from the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Inside, the guest rooms are beautifully decorated, a fusion of Asian and French elegance. There is fine dining aplenty, and a gorgeous fitness center (squash or indoor tennis, anyone?) with its own indoor swimming pool. And the Raffles Beijing Hotel is celebrating its opening with a fantastic introductory offer. Two nights luxurious accommodation includes the following amenities: complimentary breakfast for two, arrival car transfer from the airport, complimentary wireless internet, and personal on-call valet services. Starting at CNY 2,180 per night for a Landmark Room, and CNY 2,680 for an Executive Room. Available May 28-August 31, 2006. Did I mention that the first 1,000 guests receive a special free commemorative gift?!
According to a new survey, Fortune 500 companies are prepping in a big way for the avian flu pandemic. After all, the forecasters are predicting that the avian flu could reach US shores in just a few months:
In particular, the companies are placing measures in place to track employee travel as being central to risk mitigation efforts, according to International SOS, one of the top providers of medical assistance, international healthcare, security services and outsourced customer care.Thus, if I fly to Vietnam, China, or-- God forbid!-- France, am I considered at-risk by these same venerable companies? My travel plans and activities logged and databased to protect me from spreading the contagion?
Apparently 14 trillion unredeemed miles are floating around the black hole of frequent flier programs. According to the IHT's fabulous piece "Earning Miles: Is It Worth It?":
Since American Airlines introduced AAdvantage 21 years ago, an estimated 124 million travelers worldwide are busy counting miles with one or more of the 140 airline programs, many of which have scores of airline and non-airline partners, such as hotels, car rental firms and credit cards... Many airlines make money from the programs by selling miles to their program partners. United Airlines is said to generate more revenue from "Mileage Plus" than it does selling airline seats. Likewise, American Airlines with its "AAdvantage" program. Frequent-flier programs enable airlines to build a database of travelers, especially very frequent travelers, with the opportunity to build a direct relationship with them.Could this really be the most successful marketing idea of all time?
Arguably the world's best spa resort, the Banyan Tree Phuket is an exotic spa paradise facing Thailand's turquoise Andaman Sea. These exquisite tropical surroundings have recently become the sought-after setting for Banyan Tree's Destination Spa program: a series of fitness, wellness and cultural activities available in three, five and seven-night packages. The program includes accommodation for two in award-winning villas at Banyan Tree Phuket, daily breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner, two 90-minute massage sessions, an Intimate Moments experience, complimentary participation in daily fitness and wellness program and a special gift from Banyan Tree Gallery. In addition, guests are provided their own personal resort host to assist and recommend the best spa treatments. Rates begin at US$1,980 for a three-night package in a Deluxe Villa.
Banyan Tree Phuket, Official Site
Banyan Tree Phuket, Five Star Alliance