Marriott Introduces Hotel Brand Aimed At Tech-Savvy Millennials To US

Courtesy Marriott International

If you consider yourself to be a tech- and design-savvy traveler, Marriott International will soon have a new batch of domestic hotels just for you. The company today announced plans to introduce a chain specifically targeting Millennial, or those born in the 1980s to the early 2000s, to the United States.

Marriott plans to import the AC Hotels by Marriott, an already established hotel chain with 79 properties and 9,000 rooms in Europe, to the U.S. According to Marriott research, Generation X and Y travelers spend $34 billion on hotel rooms a year, and these travelers are unique because they desire to stay constantly connected through social media. This means Millennial not only want comfortable, modern business centers to work in, but they also have a desire to seek out unique and local amenities, among other needs.

This isn’t the first attempt Marriott has made to tap into this lucrative market. The company also recently announced a partnership with IKEA, a Swedish furniture company, to launch a budget chain in Europe called Moxy.

[via USA Today]

IKEA To Launch Budget Hotel Chain In Europe


Meatballs for room service? That might be a bit of a stretch, but Swedish home furnishings giant IKEA is launching into the accommodations business, collaborating with Marriott to create a budget-friendly hotel chain in Europe.

The hotels – which will be called “Moxy” – promise to offer contemporary stylish design at an affordable price, though the rooms will not feature furnishings from IKEA. So forget placing your travel guidebooks on a Billy system.

IKEA and Marriott are targeting locations across Europe, but the first one will be in Italy, near Milan’s Malpensa. Rooms will be priced at €60 to €80 a night. The ultimate goal is to expand the Moxy chain to include 150 hotels with between 25,000 and 30,000 rooms. Hey, it’s better than living in an IKEA.

In true IKEA style, many of the rooms will be prefabricated offsite and then assembled much like IKEA furniture. Fortunately though, you can leave your stash of never-to-be-used-again IKEA tools at home.

[Photo Credit: Håkan Dahlström]

Five Halloween treats for grown-ups

Halloween candyLike many former kids, I used to live for Halloween. Sure, the dressing up part was fun, but so was TP’ing the neighbor’s tree. What All Hallow’s Eve was really about were Pixy Stix, Fun Dip, mini Milky Way bars, and REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups (in my world, the latter still reigns supreme).

Still, things change. We grow up; most of us lose our appetite for eating the equivalent of eight cups of sugar in one sitting, we’re aware that those candy bars will go straight to our ass.

Still, I find something a little magical about Halloween: the brisk fall air, the aroma of woodsmoke and swirls of brightly colored leaves. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth anymore, but there are some sophisticated treats out there capable of conjuring my inner child (mercifully, minus the buck teeth and tattling habit).

Below, my favorite confections, regardless of season:

1. Jonboy Caramels
I love me a good caramel, and this micro-Seattle company does them right. I discovered Jonboy at my local farmers market; despite the feel-good ingredients and ethics, these are no half-assed candies peddled by dirty hippies (kidding; I’m a longtime market vendor myself). Made completely by hand with local cream and HFCS-free, these pretty treats come wrapped in unbleached parchment paper, and are sold in little (recycled cardboard) boxes. But it’s what’s inside that counts, and these are intensely rich flavor-bombs redolent of that good cream as well as more potent, sexy flavors.

The selection is small and includes fleur de sel caramel, molasses ginger, and my favorite, an intriguing absinthe with black salt. Inspired by the salted licorice found in Scandinavia, Jonboy’s version is made with local Pacifique absinthe and a blend of anise, fennel, and hyssop. They’re dark and mysterious, like a trick-or-treater you shouldn’t let in the door.

Jonboy Caramels are available throughout Seattle at farmers’ markets and specialty stores, and select Washington and Oregon Whole Foods. Five box minimum for online orders (you’ll be glad to have extra, believe me).Halloween candy2. sockerbit
This groovy New York shop in the West Village is dedicated to “Scandinavian candy culture.” The name translates as “sugar cube,” and is also one of their namesake treats (a strawberry marshmallow square). Just like Ikea, crazy names and diversity are part of sockerbit’s charm. All of the essential categories are here: chocolate; licorice; marshmallow (who can resist something called “Syrliga Skumshots,” which are bottle-shaped sour marshmallows?); sweet; sour, and hard and wrapped candies. All are available for order online, and free of artificial dyes, flavors, trans-fats, and other synthetic nastiness.

It’s hard to make a decision in this place, but if, like me, you’re a slave to anything gummy and chewy, (red Swedish Fish people, I’m talking to you), you’ll be very happy with the tempting selection of fruit jellies. Skogsbär, here’s looking at you.

3. Recchiuti Confections
Lucky me, I used to work next door to this revered San Francisco Ferry Building confectionary (I worked in a meat shop; they traded us for chocolate). Chocolatier Michael Recchiuti is a genius, but it’s his delicate, botanically-infused chocolates that bring a tear to my eye. Bonus: many use herbs sourced right outside the door at the Saturday farmers market. Think lemon verbena; star anise and pink peppercorn; rose caramel, and candied orange peel. Just as heavenly are Recchiuti’s exquisite pates de fruits, S’more’s Bites, and…just about everything else. Order them all online at your own risk.

4. Dutch licorice
Licorice is an acquired taste regardless, but the earthy, intense, salted Dutch stuff is another thing altogether. Made with real licorice root extract–no artificial flavors here–they’re bracing, spicy, herbaceous, and strangely addictive. Any bona-fide candy store worth it’s, um, salt, will stock at least one imported variety.

5. Salt & Straw ice cream in holiday flavors
Ice cream season is supposed to be over (isn’t it?) but this five-month-old Portland, Oregon shop begs to differ. Some examples of their delicious array of super-regionalized “farm-to-cone” flavors: Hooligan Brown Ale and Olympic Provisions bacon, Stumptown coffee with cocoa nibs, and pear with Rogue Creamery’s Crater Lake blue cheese.

New to Salt & Straw is their line-up of Thanksgiving and Holiday flavors, which includes bourbon pecan pie, made with Stone Barn’s Oregon Whiskey; eggnog with butter-rum caramel; blood orange cranberry; pumpkin cheesecake, and a sweet-and-savory brown bread stuffing studded with chestnuts, herbs, and dried apricots. Online orders are a minimum of five pints.

Understanding and Preventing Sugar Cravings

An IKEA for ancient Roman housewares

Is your domus lacking style? Do you need to redecorate your cubiculum or latrina? A museum exhibit in the Netherlands can help.

Through January 6, 2012, the Limburgs Museum Venlo presents IXEA: The Roman Store (“IXEA: je Romeinse woonwarenhuis” – site in Dutch and German), an installation that combines displays of re-imagined Roman housewares with the familiar layout of an IKEA store. IXEA, presumably Latin for IKEA, follows the Swedish store’s formula with almost copyright-infringing accuracy: there’s the blue and yellow logo, the shop-by-room concept, and a cheap Roman meatball lunch in the café. Best of all are the exhibit’s housewares, all of them labeled with Latin names and all available for purchase. You can pick up a “Romulus” toy wooden sword, a “Secundus” wine goblet, or a bust of Emperor Hadrian. Furniture available for online ordering include lounges, tables, and storage cabinets modeled after items found in the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum.

While it may seem strange for a small museum in the Netherlands to put on a show about ancient Rome, consider the history of the province of Limburg. Its location on the Meuse River has made it a strategic trading post for centuries and evidence of a Roman settlement here include coins, a stone bridge, a Roman sarcophagus, and, in the town of Vlengendaal, a 1st century villa containing frescoes. One bedroom in the IXEA exhibit displays wallpaper modeled after the Vlengendaal frescoes.

[Photo credits: Museum Limburgs Venlo]

[Via Ben Lamb on Twitter]

The Ikea Trollfjorden – the best deal on the perfect travel toiletries bag?

I’ll be honest with you – I love Ikea. I love their $4.99 Swedish meatball platter, I love their kitchen accessories and my daughter loves their toys. Of course, I am still a European at heart, so perhaps there is something genetic about enjoying a trip to the local big blue box.

One of my favorite parts of a trip to Ikea is finding bargains I had not expected to find – like my find of the week – the Ikea toiletries bag. I’ve been on a quest for the ideal toiletries bag for some time, but until now I had never found the perfect solution. That was, until I picked up a Trollfjorden.

Why is the Trollfjorden the ideal travel toiletries bag? Well, for starters there is the name – like most other Ikea products, this thing got a killer name. But the best part is the size – unlike other bags, this one is thin and wide – making it perfect for packing. In addition to this, it isn’t too big – especially since most of us need to pack our wet items in a separate bag anyway (thanks TSA).

The Trollfjorden has five large mesh pockets, a zippered organizer and a hidden hook. Nothing more, and nothing less. It comes in black and red, and at a penny under $5, it is my travel bargain of the month. You’ll need to make a trip to your local Ikea to pick one up, because it is not available for online ordering, but that just gives you an excuse to have meatballs for lunch, doesn’t it?