Airbnb has been the subject of a recent spate of legal fire in New York City. The New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, subpoenaed the guest-hosting company recently for data on its 15,000 NYC users.
Airbnb refused to meet those demands in an attempt to protect its users’ private information.
According to Airbnb’s CEO Brain Chesky via the NY Post, tourists who stay in NYC through Airbnb, as opposed to more conventional accommodations, spend more money.
Airbnb’s whole argument these days is one based on three major points:
1. Airbnb isn’t a collection of hotels and the experiences involved are much more intimate
2. Airbnb helps struggling middle-class people stay afloat in a city of ever-increasing expenses
3. Airbnb guests are good for the economy
I didn’t try to veil my opinion in my recent post about 5Pointz closing. I am one of the many who are disappointed in the decision to tear down the graffiti-covered building in favor of a new luxury condo. But before we all continue to mourn the giant art installation of a warehouse, it appears as though the lawyer for 5Pointz, Jeannine Chanes, may have found a loophole. According to ANIMAL, Judge Frederic Block ordered a halt to the demolition of the building by its owners in the form of a restraining order this week.The Visual Arts Rights Act (VARA) of 1990 contains a clause that prohibits the destruction or alteration of works of art that are inextricably installed on a building, unless authorized to do so, presumably by the artists behind the work or community at large. Chanes’ use of this law implies that 5Pointz may be able to stop the building’s owner from making the demolition decision in this type of case. We’ll keep you in the loop on how this develops.
We’ve all stayed at hotels that proudly boast, via little signs on the bed and/or bathroom sink, that they’re doing their part to save the environment. Don’t want towels changed in order to save water? Just hang ‘em up, and the housekeeper will know that you’re a carbon footprint-savvy traveler.
Sure. I can count on half of one hand the number of hotels that have actually paid attention to the location of my towel. I’ve seen countless housekeepers dump the contents of in-room recycling bins into their trash bags. I don’t have any expectations at motels, but when it comes to boutique, “eco-friendly,” or high-end properties making these claims, I find it infuriating.
My focus as a writer and traveler is on sustainability issues, and I’m overjoyed that an increasing number of hotels are more aware of their environmental impact. What doesn’t thrill me: the amount of greenwashing, or false eco-claims, that take place in the hospitality industry. This problem isn’t unique to hotels, but it’s prevalent.
We’re living in an era of climate change. Lowering our individual and collective carbon footprint should be something we do, to the best of our abilities, on a daily basis. Hotels are hip to the fact that an increasing number of travelers have an elevated eco-awareness, and they want to capitalize on that.
In the absence of a word-of-mouth or written recommendation, it can be difficult to ascertain a hotel’s eco-integrity (although certain chains are well-known for their green policies; a 2012 Reuters report cites chains like Six Senses Resorts & Spas, Taj Resorts, Kimpton Hotels and Marriott).
Sites like Green Traveler Guides, however, (full disclosure: I’m a contributing editor) exist as unofficial industry watchdogs, reviewing properties and assessing their green policies. If you’re looking for a hotel or resort that’s genuinely green, sites like GTG feature properties that are both green and great, as well as provide tips on how to be a more eco-minded traveler. Other resources include sites like Green Lodging News.
For a quick study, here’s a checklist of what to look for when researching hotels:
If the only mentions refer to buzzwords like “organic,” “local,” “eco-friendly,” “eco-lodge,” or “environment,” caveat emptor. There’s no law that prohibits the use of green jargon; it’s up to you as a consumer to do your homework.
Is there a bona-fide recycling (bonus points for composting) program?
Does the property employ locals/incorporate and support local culture and community? How?
Is the property built and furnished with natural and/or reclaimed or renewable materials wherever possible?
Are there green options for guests, such as bike rentals and local culture-based activities?
Does the property have green certification from a legit international or domestic organization or program?
Does the property use alternative fuel or electric carts for guest transit on-site and off?
Are bathroom amenities and cleaning agents chemical-free? Bonus points your in-room goodies are locally made.
If there’s on-site dining, is the food seasonal and sourced locally whenever possible (which reduces fossil fuel output as well as promotes local food security)? Do family farmers, ranchers and fisherman supply ingredients? Is there a chemical-free on-site rooftop or other garden from which the restaurant sources product?
Airline wine has never severely disappointed me, but it’s never left a lasting impression on me either -– though it seems it may soon do just that.
While airlines have been scrambling almost universally to add fees and reduce amenities whenever possible to make up for rising fuel prices, it appears as though airlines are becoming increasingly concerned with having quality wine around for their passengers. A piece from USA Today yesterday described the thorough process Qatar Airways undergoes to procure its wine. According to the article, Qantas Airlines spends more than $19 million on Australian wine alone each year. It seems as though airlines’ wine programs are becoming more thorough in response to consumers’ tastes. And I think that’s inarguably a good thing.
Perhaps the Magic Restroom Cafe is magical in part because it has done something other restaurants have yet to do: require patrons to sit on a toilet while they dine. According to the restaurant’s owner, Yo Yo Li, restroom-themed restaurants have been a hit so far in her native China and Taiwan. Their surprising success influenced her decision to open the Magic Restroom Cafe in City of Industry, California – just east of Los Angeles – on October 11.
The Magic Restroom Cafe‘s tables are outfitted with actual toilets (never used, not hooked up) as seats. But the restroom theme doesn’t stop there. The restaurant’s lobby showcases both urinals and toilets. The cafe’s signature dish is called “golden poop” rice. They also serve dishes with titles like “black poop,” “smells-like-poop,” “bloody number two,” and “constipation.” The food itself arrives to the table in a miniature version of a floor toilet.
So this all begs the question: would you pay to eat bowel-movement-themed food while sitting on a toilet?