2010May14

Got 20 grand looking for a destination? Play high roller at Caesars Palace!



Caesars Palace
and Discover America have teamed up to deliver the ultimate in weekend getaways – a high roller vacation package valued at $55,000.

The package has everything a high roller needs to feel pampered – private limo service from your front door to the airport, transportation on Harrah’s Entertainment private jet, 3 nights in a Pool Villa, butler service, a Cher concert with meet and greet, private poolside cabana, golf, dinners, spa treatments and more.

The price for this weekend of luxury? $20,000 – which is $35,000 cheaper than its normal price. Only one of these packages is available, and it isn’t completely impossible that when you read this, someone else snapped it up.

So, if the past 18 months of financial apocalypse didn’t leave you penniless, and you still have the cash for a $208 per hour vacation, check the offer and see whether you can still get in on the deal.

Gadling takes on the Null Stern (Zero Star) Hotel

Zero Star Hotel
You may remember an article back in 2008 called Zero Star Hotel opens in Switzerland fallout shelter. Well, it took me a year and a half, but I managed to get there.

The “Null Stern,” or “Zero Star” Hotel is a cross between a hostel and an art installation by Swiss concept artists Frank and Patrik Riklin. The former air raid shelter retains remnants of its past purpose and challenges one’s perception of what “hospitality” means. There are ear-protecting headphones and heavy machinery, as well as sleigh beds and a sexily-dressed female butler. It was quite an experience.

%Gallery-93062%It's Greek to me.When I arrived at the Null Stern, I was greeted with the sign at right. Unfortunately, I don’t speak German, so with little idea what to do, I pounded on the door.

I was greeted by another guest, who said he’d call the butler for me. Having just traveled for over 24 hours to get to the small hotel, which is a quick walk from the train in Teufen, Switzerland, in the eastern highland region of Appenzell, I thanked him and headed inside hoping he wasn’t a serial killer. He wasn’t.

The underground cement interior was brightly painted and full of strange touches like chalkboards and hot water bottle heaters on a clothesline along the wall. A tiny reception area was indicated by a contraption reminiscent of an “ON AIR” radio sign and a couple of t-shirts saying “Null Stern: the only star is you” were for sale on a shelf.

A few minutes later, the butler arrived in the form of a glamorous Swiss woman with long dark hair and a very short skirt, as well as an adorable four year old child who I assume was her son. She gave me a key, assigned me a sleigh bed in a room of about six and informed me that there would be other guests that evening, but that she was putting us in separate areas for privacy. She asked me what I’d like to drink in the morning, and shortly after, she was gone.

After exploring the many bathroom stalls, the double shower and the locker room, which was harder to get a suitcase into than an overhead compartment (pack slim!), I headed out into Appenzell to explore the rest of the day. When I came back to the Zero Star that evening, my bed was a welcome sight.
Sleigh bed in the Null Stern Hotel
The bed turned out to be more attractive than comfortable, but having stayed in many hostels, I certainly wouldn’t complain about this one. I availed myself of the shower as well, fortunately alone, and found it quite comfortable. That night, I slept soundly in the underground lair, waking only when a group of Russians passed through to get to their room. You can hear absolutely nothing from outside in the Null Stern.

In the morning, the butler and her son greeted me with the coffee I had requested, which I’m fairly certain came from a Keurig or something like it. I packed up my things, turned in my key and headed off into the real world again. When I stepped up the stairs into the morning light, I felt what perhaps many have felt when leaving a bomb shelter — like today was truly a brand new day.

Staying at the Zero Star Hotel is not only fun to tell your friends about, but it’s an interesting place to contemplate what you consider to be “hospitality.” Is it the cleanliness? The service? The beds or decor? The view?

If you had to spend some time in a bomb shelter, how would you make the best of it?

A stay at the Null Stern is around $30 for the highest grade of bed and includes a morning drink. While I wouldn’t say Teufen is the most “happening” town to visit, it’s very pretty, as is the surrounding area, and there’s a Spar for any toiletries or munchies you might need, as well as a couple of restaurants. Swiss Travel System train rides to local Appenzell attractions like the Appenzeller Cheese Dairy and St. Mauritius Cathedral are scenic and convenient.

My trip to the Null Stern was sponsored by Switzerland Tourism, but the ideas and opinions expressed in this article are 100 percent my own.

Kayak adds GateGuru content to its iPhone App

GateGuru has joined forces with Kayak to bring their database of airport amenities to the Kayak iPhone app.

As a quick reminder – GateGuru has the most comprehensive airport amenity guide in the world – and it currently covers all US airports along with a growing lineup of international locations.

With the addition of this new feature, the Kayak app has (in my opinion) become the best all-in-one travel app there is on the iPhone.

From within Kayak, you can now search for fares, find hotels and rental cars, check flight status, look up airline fees and phone numbers, store trips from Kayak.com, set up fare alerts and more.

Best of all – the Kayak app is still free of charge (a “first class” version is available for $1.99 if you need access to business and first class fares).

If you want to take full advantage of GateGuru for features like ratings, ranks and social media updates, you’ll still need the separate app, but having instant access to this information from within Kayak is still a really neat feature.

To download the Kayak app, search the app store for Kayak, or follow this link.

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Daily Pampering: Exploring your destination from the back porch of your private jet

Don’t you just hate it when your luxury jet lands and you have to leave the plane? No worries, jetsetters, ABJ Explorer has the perfect solution: private jet porch space.

ABJ Explorer jets, created by BAE Systems and UK design consultancy Design Q, is giving travelers a new way to indulge in their destination without having to leave the plane. The jets now feature an “air deck” viewing platform in the back of the plane (otherwise known to the middle class as the back porch).

Once the plane is on the ground, a side door opens up to reveal a platform that extends out to create an indoor-outdoor space (you can hang in the plane, or can you chill on the porch). Step out onto the deck at your destination, sip a few cocktails, have a few snacks and take in the sights. It’s the backyard barbecue for the obscenely wealthy.

ABJ says the plane is designed for “the high worth individual who wants the freedom to travel and explore remote locations in a stylish and comfortable way.”

No word on what this private jet will cost, but I’d be willing to bet it’s something worth saving for. The luxury jetsetting lifestyle just got a little more glamorous.

Want more? Get your dose of Daily Pampering right here.

Gadling’s Travel Tunes – Episode 6 (reader submission time!)

Our travel tunes lineup for this week comes from reader Tony – when we asked readers to drop us a note with their own playlist, I hadn’t expected to receive such an awesome assortment of tunes. Thanks Tony!

So, as is required on a Friday, grab a drink, sit back, and relax to these tunes – and think of travel!

(Apologies for the duplicate tunes, Grooveshark has been having some “issues” lately).