Go On A ‘Beach Safari’ In Tanzania

Take a beach safari in TanzaniaSanctuary Retreats, a company that deftly mixes both adventure and luxury travel, has announced that it is adding two new lodges to its already impressive portfolio. Starting June 1, the company will offer guests the chance to stay at either the Sanctuary Saadani River Lodge or the Sanctuary Saadani Safari Lodge, both located in Tanzania. These two new destinations will offer guests a wonderful boutique atmosphere while still providing a safari experience unlike any other.

The Sanctuary Saadani River Lodge falls inside the Saadani National Park, one of Tanzania’s premiere wildlife destinations. The park sits along the Indian Ocean, which gives it a different feel from the some of the country’s other top safari destinations. This lodge features 18 treehouse-style suites designed to complement the natural environment in which they are set. Comfortable balconies overlook the passing Wami River, which is home to all manner of creatures including hippos, crocodiles and flamingos. And at the end of the day, guests can indulge themselves with a relaxing massage in the on-site spa.

Activities available at the River Lodge include mountain biking tours, walking safaris, game drives and more.For a completely different experience, travelers will want to consider a visit to the Sanctuary Saadani Safari Lodge, which actually falls on a secluded beach along the East African coastline. Located on the park’s southern border, this lodge offers easy access to the white sands that line the shore of the Indian Ocean, allowing guests to spend their days exploring the untamed bush and then return to the premises for a little relaxation on the beach. There are few places in Africa that offer this type of access to amazing wildlife, tranquil shorelines and luxury suites with abundant amenities.

Activities at the Safari Lodge include game drives, snorkeling, dolphin spotting and much more.

These two lodges are just a sampling of what Sanctuary Retreats has to offer. The company has boutique lodges throughout Africa, as well as Egypt, China and the Galapagos. If you’re looking for an adventurous escape without skimping on the luxury, you’ll definitely want to review everything they have to offer. In June, they’re even offering a special in which visitors can book four nights for the price of three.

[Photo Credit: Sanctuary Retreats]

Jetsetter Purchased By TripAdvisor, What Does This Mean For Flash Sales And Travel?

jetsetterFlash sale site Gilt Groupe has unloaded its lagging travel brand Jetsetter, which was quickly snapped up by TripAdvisor, news outlets reported this week.

Despite offering a well-respected reputation in the industry for decent flash sale deals for consumers interested in luxury travel experiences and recent advancements in its mobile application with tonight-only deals, Jetsetter has not been a strong revenue driver for the company, with some estimates putting the site as low as 10% of the Gilt Groupe’s overall revenue. In recent months, the site was losing as much as $2 million annually, Skift estimated.

This isn’t a shock – the founder and CEO of Jetsetter, Drew Patterson, was fired stepped down last year. He is now running another travel start up, Room 77.

This isn’t, of course, indicative that Gilt Groupe, which primarily deals with fashion, had a lack of experience in the travel space. The company CEO, Michelle Peluso, was the former CEO at Travelocity.

TripAdvisor announced on Tuesday that it was purchasing the site for an undisclosed amount, although rumor has it that the site was on the market for somewhere between $30 and $50 million.

“Jetsetter is an outstanding brand and I am absolutely delighted to welcome the Jetsetter team to the TripAdvisor family,” said Steve Kaufer, co-founder and CEO TripAdvisor, Inc. in a release. “We are excited by the opportunities this provides to continually help drive amazing value for our travelers staying at some of the world’s most highly-rated hotels.”

What will this mean for travelers? We’re not sure. TripAdvisor also owns SniqueAway, another high-end flash sale site that some would consider a competitor. The merging of the two sites could mean a stronger product, or less market competition overall. We’ll be eager to see which of the two brands remains after a few months, and if this signals the beginning of the end for the flash sale boom for travel, particularly as companies like Living Social and Groupon have reported struggles over recent months.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a note in the comments below.

[Image Credit: Jetsetter]

Hotel News We Noted: April 5, 2013

the sirtaj guestroomHola and buenos tardes from sunny and warm Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, “Hotel News We Noted” readers. This week, as always, we round up the best, the worst and the most interesting news in the hotel industry, tracking resort openings, pampering packages and other reportings from our travels.

Stay tuned next week for a special edition, including a full recap of our Cabo exploration. We welcome your feedback and comments, so feel free to shoot us an email or leave a note below with ideas and thoughts.

Hotel Wi-Fi: IHG Announces Free Global Wi-Fi for Travelers … An Innovative or a “Finally, What Took You So Long” Moment?
Late last month, InterContinental Hotels Group announced that they were offering free Wi-Fi to all loyalty members worldwide, regardless of whether or not a guest was staying at the hotel. The announcement bandied about terms like “first in the hotel industry.” We wanted to do some digging before reporting this to you. The statement was bold, and in some respects, it’s true. When we asked, IHG told us the following:

While some of our competitors do offer free Internet in some of their hotels or in some regions, IHG is the first and only global hotel group to offer free Internet to all of our loyalty program members in all hotels, regardless of whether they are staying with us, conducting a business meeting with colleagues, or simply stopping in for coffee. In other words, our IHG Rewards Club, as the program will be named come July, members do not have to be staying in the hotel to take advantage of free Internet access.

Another key factor that separates IHG from our competitors is our sheer global scale – more than 4,600 hotels in nearly 100 countries and territories – and likewise for our loyalty program, which has more than 71 million members (the largest of all hotel loyalty memberships).

They are right: IHG is the first global hotel company we can find to offer free Wi-Fi to loyalty members, although there is a caveat: Wi-Fi is free to Elite status members from July 2013 on, and for all members beginning in 2014.

That said, they aren’t first to market. Luxury brand Capella offers gratis Wi-Fi to all travelers, as do most Four Seasons. Kimpton, which currently has only U.S.-based hotels, offers free Wi-Fi to loyalty members (without requiring a stay) and has since 2009. While we’re glad to see IHG touting their new benefit, perhaps they shouldn’t be so excited to push that they are offering a service that several of their competitors have been offering for years.
Hotel Openings: The Sirtaj Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills’ newest boutique hotel destination is now open. Marketed as a “chic, sexy retreat with a scent of spice and a nod to the east,” the SIRTAJ is named for the Indian word meaning “highest crown.” The 32-room hotel features contemporary decor and luxurious touches like 42-inch smart TVs and Lavazza espresso makers in each room. The indoor-outdoor restaurant dishes up organic cocktails and craft beers, and nice touches like complimentary breakfast either in-room or in the hotel restaurant are welcome perks.

Haute Hotel Package: Pie Camp at Paws Up
We’ve loved this ultra-luxe Montana resort ever since we visited a few years back to explore the glamping trend, and now Paws Up is at it again with a new “Upper Crust” weekend for baking enthusiasts. By day, visitors will enjoy baking, wilderness and food photography lessons from Kate McDermott, of the famed Art of the Pie in Seattle, and New York Times photographer Andrew Scrivani. At night, they’ll retreat to the resort’s private vacation homes and enjoy food prepared by Robin Leventhal (of “Top Chef” fame) and wine pairings. The event doesn’t take place until October, but spots fill fast. Three all-inclusive nights are $5,361 for two or $3,102 for one.

Luxe Hotel Amenity: Ritz-Carlton Turns to Asprey
The Ritz-Carlton has made the shift from Bvlgari in-room amenities to Asprey’s Purple Water fragrance. The ultra-luxe Brit-based brand boasts a purple jacquard print tube and will now be found in all guest rooms and suites. It’s a notable change for the brand, and, to the best of our knowledge, Ritz is the only hotel partnering with Asprey for in-room amenities.

Green Hotel: Fiji’s Turtle Island Goes Almost 100 Percent Solar
Fiji has always been an escape for travelers seeking extraordinary natural experiences, but now the island nation is better than ever. A multi-million dollar renovation has rendered Turtle Island the greenest place in Fiji, with nearly 1,000 solar panels providing, on average, an island powered by 85 percent solar power. The new solar installation on Turtle Island produces 1 mega watt of power a day, enough to cover 100 percent of the power needs of the island on a sunny day. Even on rainy or cloudy days, the backup generator reduces the total solar power to about 85 percent, maintaining outstanding energy efficiency. As if we needed yet another excuse to visit the all-inclusive luxury retreat.

[Image Credit: The Sirtaj]

#OnTheRoad On Instagram: Cabo San Lucas

ticketGreetings, everyone! This week I’ll be taking over the Gadling Instagram feed (find it here) as I head to the sunny shores of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

You’ll get an inside glimpse at my travels, including a tequila school, sunset horseback rides along the beach and lots of spa scouting. It’s a hard life, but someone has to do it.

Cabo San Lucas
is known as a celebrity paradise, and this trip will show followers what it’s like to travel just like those very A-listers we read about in magazines. I’ll be staying at the ultra-luxe Capella Pedregal, a AAA Five Diamond Resort with the eighth best spa in the world, according to TripAdvisor.

We’ll also visit hotels like Las Ventanas and Esperanza, both of which are popular celebrity vacation destinations.

If you’ve been to Cabo before, feel free to leave suggestions of places we should visit or things we should do during the trip. If you haven’t, follow along for inspiration.

Not on Instagram? You can also check out full post trip coverage in our weekly column, “Hotel News We Noted.”

[Image Credit: McLean Robbins]

Luxury Travel: Four Seasons Announces 2014 Private Jet Around The World Itineraries

around the world with four seasonsFour Seasons Hotels and Resorts, a name already synonymous with luxury, has kicked things up a notch with the unveiling this week of their 2014 “Around the World” programs. The private jet tour takes lucky (read: rich) jetsetters on a month-long journey to between seven and ten destinations across the globe on a private Boeing 757 outfitted for just 56 guests.

The destinations? Bucket-list worthy, and the hotels aren’t too shabby either. All properties on the tour are Four Seasons hotels or resorts, naturally.

This year the program has a few tweaks, as they are offering two itineraries: a “Rediscover the Americas” tour from February 24 to March 13, 2014, that touches down in Miami, Nevis, Buenos Aires, Carmelo, Costa Rica, Punta Mita and Beverly Hills and a 23-day around the world trip that starts March 14 and goes to Hawaii, Bora Bora, Bali, Sydney, Mumbai, Istanbul and London. The trip has gotten even more high touch as well – there are just 56 spots this year, down from 78 the year before.

Just what does one get when they travel around the world by private jet? Quite a bit, including a private chef, physician and a veteran Four Seasons concierge who’ll be onboard for the duration. On travel days, guests will enjoy expedited boarding, luggage handling and assistance with customs and immigration formalities, where possible. Once comfortably on board, travellers can stay connected with Global Wi-Fi or tune out with supplied Bose headphones – although there are no overnight flights, so guests won’t need to catch more than a nap here or there.

Guests enjoy between two and three days at each location, and can choose their own itineraries while on the ground.

How much will it cost you? A cool $63k per person, double occupancy for the Americas tour, and $88k, double occupancy, for the Around the World trip.

Not too shabby for an around-the-world trip by private jet, we’d say.

[Image Credit: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts]