Whether it’s free wireless internet, complimentary continental breakfast or simply a few bars of soap and a chocolate on the pillow, most hotels offer a little something extra for their guests. While upscale hotels have always gone the extra mile for their guests, some luxury hotels are now offering complimentary amenities so lavish, guests may feel they have stepped into an episode of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”.
At the Beverly Wilshire hotel, for example, a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce Phantom is available for rides anywhere within a three mile radius of the hotel. If you’d prefer to take the wheel, you may want to pay a visit to the Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa – guests may borrow a Porsche at no additional charge. The only catch? It must be returned the same day.
If you’re a music lover, you’ll want to spend the night at the Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago, where guests can borrow a Fender guitar. The hotel has a selection of over twenty Fender guitars to choose from, and will even provide a floor amp and top-of-the-line headphones so you can play into the wee hours without disturbing other guests. Speaking of borrowing top-of-the-line items, the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai lends out 24-carat gold iPads (retail value: $10,000) to their guests upon check-in.
If you have a penchant for designer fashion, you may want to spend a night in one of the VIP Suites at the W South Beach Hotel. Recently, the hotel offered guests complimentary pajamas – and not just any PJs, but a limited edition pair created famed lingerie designer Arielle Shapiro, retailing for $165.
Once you’ve become accustomed to living in the lap of luxury — or at least visiting for a short while — even the most basic of amenities won’t do. At the Kitano Hotel in Manhattan, even the toilets are luxurious. Each room is equipped with a $1,500 Toto toilet – and these are no ordinary loos. The Toto is a combination toilet and bidet featuring accompanying wall control panel, which allows guests to select from a variety wash and dry methods.
If you have caviar dreams and champagne wishes, you’ll want to book a night at one of these hotels and live the high life – until it’s time to check out, that is. What’s the most extravagant hotel amenity you’ve seen or experienced? Leave a note in the comments section or on our Facebook page.
Anyone who’s flown at least once can vouch for the fact that airports can be almost expensive as an amusement park. Out of all of the products for sale within airports, beverages may quite possibly be the most inflated in price. In fact, depending on the airport and the kiosk you purchase it from, a regular-sized bottle of water may cost you five dollars or more. With pricey add-ons such as these, it’s getting more and more difficult to stay within budget while traveling.
Why is the price of beverages so inflated in airports? Simple: supply and demand. Unfortunately, because Travel Safety Administration rules prevent passengers from bringing drinks through security, those who wish to carry a bottle of water with them onto their flight must suck it up and pay the price. While filling a water bottle in the bathroom is an option, it’s not easy. Airport sinks can be quite shallow, and the motion-sensor faucet makes it difficult to get a steady stream of water.Thankfully, airports have begun to take note of this issue and many have begun installing water bottle filling stations throughout their terminals. In 2010, Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway Airports and San Francisco International Airport installed refillable water bottle stations throughout their facilities in an effort to not only accommodate customers, but also to cut down on landfill waste.
“Together, the two stations at O’Hare saved 220,717 bottles [within the first year of the program]” Gregg Cunningham of the Chicago Department of Aviation told MSNBC back in 2011.
Although it’s taken a few years for other airports to catch on, the trend has finally caught on. As of June, Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport began installing 52 bottle refill stations throughout the airport. Many of the existing water fountains will be retrofitted with anti-microbial copper faucets. The airport is looking to include touch-free refill stations as well.
Because these water bottle refill stations have been so well-received in existing airports, many others are expected to follow suit. Next time you’re getting ready to enter a TSA security checkpoint, dump your water but retain the bottle. You just may save yourself a few bucks.
- Airport Snacks on a Budget (livingbigonabudget.com)
- Franklin and Marshall adds new water-filling stations (wgal.com)
The new 787 Dreamliner is Boeing’s biggest aircraft launch since the 747 and is being touted as the most innovative aircraft to be launched in decades. Excitement surrounding this new aircraft is so high, one hardcore fan paid a whopping $33,000 to sit in on its inaugural flight. It has some big shoes to fill, and a big name to live up to. But what’s so special about the 787 Dreamliner?
On the technical side of things, the 787 Dreamliner is quite advanced and is built for not only speed and distance, but also comfort and efficiency. For example, it claims to be 60% quieter than other planes of its size and capacity. The plane’s fuselage is made of lightweight materials, resulting in less fuel usage, and less carbon dioxide emissions. Also, the 787 can reach speeds of up to Mach .85 (roughly 647 mph), has a range of 15,200 kilometers, making it the only mid-sized airplane that can fly long-distance. The Dreamliner even features a system that detects turbulence and changes wing control surfaces to counteract its effects.
For the passenger, the 787 Dreamliner promises a more pleasant, relaxing flight. For example, the plane’s cabin will also be pressurized at an altitude of 6,000 feet as opposed to the standard 8,000 feet. This enables passengers to absorb more oxygen during their trip, cutting down on in-flight sickness or that post-flight “hangover” feeling. Space-wise, the aircraft features 7ft 5in. ceilings and 30 percent larger overhead bins. In regards to seat space, however, it will vary – each airline will configure the seat layout as they see fit.
Window seat lovers will enjoy the 787 Dreamliner’s windows, which are 30% larger than average and can be tinted and dimmed according to preference – they can even simulate sunrise and sunset! The aircraft also features nine inch plug-and-play seatback entertainment systems, which is a welcome addition for those on long-haul flights.
While the 787 Dreamliner sounds impressive, do passengers feel that it lives up to the hype? In a recent article, FutureTravelExperience.com founder Daniel Coleman states that he found the 787 to be a promising evolution, yet a missed opportunity to redefine passenger experience.
Have you had the opportunity to fly in a 787 Dreamliner yet? If so, share your experience in the comments section!
Trying to pack light during winter months brings a unique set of challenges – especially if you’re changing climates.
If you’re traveling for a few days to a big city in the winter months, you may find yourself struggling to select the most versatile and appropriate type of footwear to bring on your trip. For trips taken during the snowy months, which is the better option, shoes or boots? Ultimately, the best option depends on a few factors: namely, the purpose of your trip.
For Business TravelIf you’re heading to a big city on business, it’s safe to assume that you’ll be spending much of your time in an office, in meetings, and at business dinners. For this reason, your best bet is likely to go for form over function. For men, this means packing dress shoes. Women, however, might want to opt for a versatile pair of boots instead, as ladies’ boots tend to be fashionable enough to be worn in a business setting.
If you’re packing for a brief weekend trip to a big city in order to do some shopping or sightseeing during the winter months, we’d recommend packing a comfortable pair of boots, and forgoing the shoes completely. While most large cities are quick to clear the roads and salt the sidewalks after snow, you’ll still likely run into plenty of puddles, slush and ice – and anyone who’s gotten slush in their shoes can confirm that trying to walk around town with cold, wet feet is pretty miserable.
Pack this, not that
Ultimately, if you aren’t quite sure what your trip will entail, the TravelPro team recommends that you opt for the most versatile option in your wardrobe.
Is there something that you constantly struggle with when packing for trips? Let us know what you’d like us to talk about next on Bring This, Not That via the comments section.
For decades, the cruise industry has been associated with luxury. While the first pleasure cruise launched in 1844, the “fun ship” Caribbean cruises of the 1960s marked the beginning of the modern cruise industry as we know it. Today, cruise ships are more than just places to have fun in the sun. Cruise ships have evolved from vessels that offered a pool and a few restaurants into something not unlike a city on the water.
If you’ve taken a cruise lately, you likely experienced very little down time during your trip. In fact, many first-time cruise goers are surprised at the sheer amount of activities and attractions most cruise ships have on board. These activities aren’t just limited to long-haul voyages. In fact, most major cruise lines offer a surprising array of amenities for even the shortest cruises. For example, one major cruise line features fine dining restaurants, sports activities, spas, shopping, bars and clubs, onboard activities and events, classes and a casino — and that’s just on a three-day cruise!Fortunately for long-time cruise lovers, there’s always something new to explore. The cruise industry competition is steep, and if you think you’ve already seen it all from this sector of the travel industry, you likely haven’t seen anything yet.
Many cruise lines are now looking to stay competitive by offering trips that are targeted towards more interest groups than the traditional “themed” cruises that target singles, retirees, LGBT community and so on. Instead, the new breed of cruise vacations are targeting niche audiences – in fact, the website Theme Cruise Finder boasts listings for over 500 theme cruises, including interesting voyages such as the Dancing With The Stars cruise.
One of the most buzzed-about cruise features this year has been the 54 Below lounge on the Celebrity Summit’s seven-night luxury cruise from Cape Liberty, New Jersey to Bermuda. This a cabaret-style lounge features some of Broadway’s hottest stars, including many Tony award winners. Travelers on the Summit can attend two on-board acts for free during the voyage.
For the cruise industry, gourmet dining and surfing lessons aren’t cutting it anymore. With more and more jaw-dropping features being added to cruise ships each year, we can’t even begin to imagine what surprises this industry has in-store in the coming years.
- Carnival Will Pay You to Spend 24 Hours on Its Cruise Ships (blogs.wsj.com)
- A Beginners Guide to Cruises: Destinations, Timing, Dining & More! (epicatravel.com)
- To woo uncertain passengers, Carnival offers new guarantee (miamiherald.com)
Now more than ever before, airlines are looking for new ways to accommodate their passengers’ needs and stay ahead of the competition by coming up with new ways to provide faster, more efficient service. One of the most recent airline trends we’ve begun hearing a lot about is the DIY/self-tag options for luggage, and Edinburgh Airport has recently become the first in the UK to offer such a service.
In an effort to provide a more efficient and stress-free experience for fliers, Edinburgh Airport’s new SONIC Common Use Bag Drop technology enables passengers to print their own luggage tag, weigh their bags and send them off to the appropriate location. So far, the program seems to be living up to expectations – in fact, according to some of the articles we’ve seen, the SONIC system has cut the baggage check-in process down to under 30 seconds. The system is being run by Flybe and easyJet airlines.
David Wilson, chief operating officer at Edinburgh Airport recently said in an article on FutureTravelExperience.com, “We are very excited to have introduced this ground-breaking technology to help improve our passengers’ experience when they travel with us. We know that time is of the essence when checking in and we want to make this process as quick and stress-free as possible.”
Flybe and easyJet aren’t the only UK-based airlines to hop on the DIY baggage trend. British Airways recently announced that they will begin testing on electronic bag tags in order to speed up both flight check-in and luggage drop-off times. If the Self-Tag program and other self-serve programs like it continue to be well-received, we anticipate that many other airlines will begin to roll out similar programs.
- Edinburgh Airport terminal set for major expansion (scotsman.com)
- Edinburgh airport sees millioneth passenger in month (scotsman.com)
- Lug it or leave it: Baggage drop goes DIY (cnn.com)
Imagine this: it’s a beautiful day in New York City. You have the entire day off, haven’t made any plans and are itching to get out. With a desire to break the routine and do something a little different, you hop on a train headed for Los Angeles and within an hour, you’re walking down Venice Beach. If you think this sounds like a scene out of a vintage sci-fi novel, think again. High-speed train travel is a real possibility, and it may come sooner than you think.
Recently, Japan unveiled plans for a magnetic levitation, or “maglev” train. The maglev train (which will travel between Tokyo and Osaka) is expected to travel 100 MPH faster than current bullet trains, will cost $64 billion, and is expected to take over thirty years to complete.Thankfully, if you want to take a maglev train for a spin, you don’t have to wait that long – visitors to China can take a ride on the Shanghai Maglev Train (SMT), which runs at a top operational speed of 268 mph.
Wondering when you can expect to see high-speed train travel hit the United States? This summer, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to provide $68 billion in funding towards a high-speed train that will travel between Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
While this plan will help revolutionize train travel in the United States, Elon Musk (founder of PayPal and Tesla Motors) recently revealed his idea for a new mode of transportation called the Hyperloop, which will run off of solar energy, go twice as fast as an airplane, and travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles in about thirty minutes.
While such ideas have been floating around for decades, they’ve been slow to implement. According to physicist R.M. Salter (who proposed a detailed underground tube system in 1972), “History has shown that some obvious projects, such as tunneling under the English Channel proposed in the time of Napoleon, can be delayed for centuries because of political pressures” – and, of course, money.
Now that similar projects have already been put into motion, we hopefully won’t have to wait a few hundred years for such innovation to take place within the US.
Would you ride a maglev train if it was available to you? Leave a note in the comments section and tell us what you think about the future of train travel.
- Hyperloop vs. world’s fastest trains (cnn.com)
- Hyperloop: San Francisco to L.A. in 30 minutes (cltv.com)
- Can Elon Musk’s Superfast ‘Hyperloop’ Transit System Really Be Built? (livescience.com)
- World’s Fastest Train to Resume Trials as Japan Plans New Line – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
When is the last time you ordered a meal or drink from hotel room service? If you’re like many travelers, you probably haven’t done so recently. In fact, many hotels (including one of NYC’s most popular hotels, the New York Hilton Midtown) have decided to make room service a thing of the past.
According to PKF Hospitality Research, room service accounted for just over 1.2 percent of standard hotel revenue in 2012. PFK’s Senior Vice President John Fox said in an article on PeterGreenberg.com, “I don’t think anyone makes a profit on room service, because of its labor costs. I’m sure all the big hotels will be looking at what Hilton is doing.”
A spokesperson for the New York Hilton Midtown told Yahoo Travel, “Like most full service hotels, New York Hilton Midtown has continued to see a decline in traditional room service requests over the last several years as customer preferences and expectations continue to evolve.”
As a substitute, many hotels are offering alternatives, such as the ability to order food from an on-site restaurant, while others (such as New York Hilton Midtown) will offer café-style “grab-and-go” restaurants within the hotel.
So is this really the end of an era? Not quite! In an article on HuffingtonPost.com, a spokesman for the American Hotel & Lodging Association said the number of hotels offering room service actually increased by 8 percent between 2011 and 2012.
In fact, many other hotels have gone the opposite direction, trying to make their room service offerings more of a draw by offering unique in-room dining options. For example, the JW Marriott Chicago offers an array of specialty treats, including artisan cheeses paired with craft beers, a tasting plate of appetizers and desserts, and even wine and food pairings.
If you’re a solo traveler looking for in-room dining options outside of room service, fear not. Most hotels will offer menus for local delivery options, such as Chinese food or pizza. If you find yourself in a larger metropolitan area, check out an online delivery service such as GrubHub.com or Seamless.com. You’ll be able to try out some of the city’s best restaurants without leaving your hotel room or breaking the bank.
- Why these Hilton workers see losing their jobs as a gift, and what it says about unions (pix11.com)
- The End Of Room Service? Not So Fast (flyjumptravel.wordpress.com)
- When Less Is More: Do You Need to Get Rid of Your “Room Service”? (business2community.com)
Photo credit: ChicagoCeli (Flickr, Creative Commons
Whether you’re hitting the road for business or pleasure, one thing’s for certain: it’s becoming more and more expensive to travel. Fortunately, there are dozens of little ways to save money while traveling. While the little things (such as a bottle of water from the minibar) may seem insignificant, they can add up to big savings. We saw a recent article on PeterGreenberg.com about different small ways to trim off your hotel costs, so we borrowed some of his, and came up with a a couple of our own. Here are six of our favorite tips to cut more than $100 from the cost of our hotel stay.
1. Supply Your Own Wifi
While some hotels offer complimentary wifi, others charge big bucks for it. According to HotelChatter.com, the average cost of wireless Internet service at a hotel is $13.95 per day, or about $97 per week (and is not all that fast). Instead, supply your own. Many smartphones have the ability to act as a wireless hotspot — it pays to call your wireless carrier and find out. You can also park in a nearby coffee shop, and for the price of a latte, hang out for a couple of hours and check email.
2. Bargain With Your Hotel
You may be able to negotiate some perks with your hotel. Before arriving, call to see if they’ll offer any specials, such as free parking. It also helps if you’re a member of their loyalty program. Some hotels offer better rates to loyalty program members than their “lowest” rates.
3. Bring Your Own Snacks
Everyone knows that taking something from the minibar is a bad idea — unfortunately, most people tend to break when they’re starving or need a drink. Ditto for visiting the hotel “store” or the vending machines. Instead, come prepared by stocking up on drinks and snacks at a nearby store.
5. Find Different Parking
Parking at your hotel may be the easiest option, but it may cost up to $75 per night. Do some research online instead; you may be able to find nearby parking for up to 50% less. Visit sites like BestParking.com or even Google Street View to check the parking situation. Also, check out this Lifehacker article on finding parking in a new city.
6. Don’t Just Look At Hotel Prices
You’ve made the decision to forgo location in favor of a lower price. However, if you find yourself far away from your final destination, you may not be saving much after all. Do some research and consider how much you’ll spend on cabs or other transportation costs to and from the city’s attractions. You may find that the savings at the cheaper hotel are eaten up with transportation and parking. Do the math, and you may find it’s cheaper to stay at the more expensive hotel. What are some ways you’ve trimmed costs from your hotel budget? Leave your tip in the comments section, and let us hear from you.