Hotel News We Noted: May 18, 2013

 Hotel Pain Dei Palais
Courtesy of Hotel Pain Dei Palais

Are you ready for the weekend, “Hotel News We Noted” readers? We sure are – and we can’t believe that it’s almost the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day! This week is jam packed with your usual hotel news, plus a special addition in some of our favorite packages, promotions and last-minute deals for the long weekend.

If you’re a new fan, “Hotel News We Noted” tracks the best, most interesting and downright weird news of the week in the hotel world. We welcome reader comments, so feel free to leave a comment below or shoot us an email.

STEALS N’ DEALS: MEMORIAL DAY EDITION
Stay cool with these special offers and packages.

  • Starwood Caribbean Hotels & Resorts are offering great specials with their “Sunsational Savings” package (actually, it’s available beyond the Caribbean too, but we find these deals particularly great). We love this time of year in the Caribbean, as it’s not as expensive as the winter, but not yet hurricane season either. Starting at $149 per night (a savings of more than 30 percent!), travelers heading to the sunny destinations of Aruba, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will enjoy resort credits, free nights and more.
  • Kick off the summer with a Sazerac at the newly opened Courtyard New Orleans Downtown/Iberville. Rates start at just $109, a great deal for a new hotel in the heart of the French Quarter, and the offer is good for stays between now and September 30 if you book before the end of the month.
  • Dive in and chill out at The Liaison Capitol Hill, an Affinia Hotel in Washington, D.C. Walk-able to historic Capitol Hill and easily accessible to monuments, museums and more, one of our favorite parts about this hotel is its open-air rooftop pool and bar. Their special package includes two cocktails per adult daily, a morning yoga class and a “Sun Yourself” kit, with rates from $165.
  • The luxe “I’m on a Boat!” package at Kimpton’s Hotel Allegro is a bargain, and the weather in Chicago during the summer months is definitely a draw. Enjoy overnight accommodations in three deluxe rooms (10 person maximum), a three-hour private chartered boat ride throughout Lake Michigan, a picnic basket filled with Italian cuisine prepared by Executive Chef Luca Corazzina of 312 Chicago, (a tasty spread of cheeses, charcuterie and wine) and round-trip transportation to the dock, starting at just $2,570. Book this one by calling 1.800.643.1500.

HAUTE HOTELS: CANNES SPOTLIGHT

Film and luxury lovers know that there is no better place to be this month than in Cannes, France. The small seaside town is overwhelmed by jetsetters visiting for the Cannes Film Festival. We got the inside (infographic) scoop on how one of the area’s posh hotels – The Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez preps for fest, here.

There are a number of hotels that we’d suggest keeping an eye on during the Cannes fest – Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc being perhaps the most famous. But one of the nearby area’s we’d also name as a must visit is St. Tropez, about a 20-30 minute car ride away from the main hubub of the festival. Also known as a location for the glitterati during this time period, we’d love a trip to the Hotel Pain Dei Palais, a 12-room mansion-style hotel and member of Relais & Chateau. They just launched a brand new Cellcosmet Spa, a Swiss skincare brand known for having exceptional anti-aging treatments.

GREAT GATSBY BUZZ: HOTEL PACKAGES

We held off on talking about this buzz-worthy film for some time, mostly because everyone else was doing so. But now that we’ve seen the epic production, we can’t help but have the urge to travel back to the Gilded Age. Here are a few hotel packages where doing so gets a whole lot easier:

  • Soak in some literary inspiration in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s room, #441 at Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. Turning 100 this July, the historic resort has hosted many celebrated individuals, including the famed Gatsby writer. While at the Inn, the author even attempted suicide by swallowing a vial of morphine, but was revived by his physician and a nurse.
  • The Trump International Hotel & Tower is offering the Trump “Great Gatsby” Package. Guests are invited to spend three nights in a suite overlooking Central Park, enjoying some over-the-top perks. Men receive a custom-tailored suit and shirt from Bergdorf Goodman and Art Deco cufflinks, while women go home with Ivanka Trump Art Deco jewelry. The package also includes dinner at Jean Georges, a magnum of champagne and chauffeured car-service. The extravagant package set Gatsby fans back a cool $14,999.

Recovery Vacations A Hit With Soldiers Returning From War

a soldier's homecomingTroop Rewards provides recovery vacations to returning U.S. soldiers and their families who served overseas. To do that, Troop Rewards relies on hotels and private vacation property owners to donate unused inventory, sort of like a hotel might release a number of rooms to Priceline for bidding.

This year, Florida’s Sandpearl resort is teaming up with Troop Rewards to provide recovery vacations for five military service members who were deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

“This is such a great way to honor, remember and reward the servicemen and women who have served and defended our freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last ten years,” said Tom Burkett, Troop Reward’s Executive Director. “To be able to team up with such a beautiful and inspiring resort is icing on the cake.”The idea of recovery vacations started with a phone call Burkett received in 2009 from a soldier then serving in Iraq. The soldier’s tour was about to end but before re-joining society with his future wife, he wondered what the cost would be to book Burkett’s timeshare suite at a Florida resort.

Burkett told him the going rate was over $800 per night, but for him the rate would be $0. “How can I charge you anything when you have spent the last year risking your life for my freedom,” Burkett says on the TroopRewards website. “Little did he know at the time, that this would the first of many free stays at his resort for soldiers coming back from Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.”

Since then, Burkett has offered his suite every year to help support the troops and enlisted other private vacation property owners, hotels and resorts to provide rooms, raise money to help pay for travel costs and spending money, making the experience mostly free for soldiers and their families.

The resort will provide five military service members complimentary four-night luxury vacations at the Sandpearl Resort starting on Memorial Day.

Memorial Day Travel Events Bring Discounts

Memorial DayAs Memorial Day approaches, travelers are taking advantage of some special offers and events exclusive to the three-day weekend that officially begins on Friday, May 24. Discounts, special offers and events this year are available at a number of locations around the United States as America remembers the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Additionally, those in uniform have a variety of special discounts and offers.

Carnival Cruise Lines is offering a promotion that provides active and former military personnel with discounts of up to $600 per stateroom and shipboard credits of up to $100 per stateroom on a range of three- to 12-day sailings. Sister-line Princess cruises continues their Special Military Program, giving those who served up to $250 onboard credit on any sailing.

May is also National Military Appreciation Month and Florida’s Fantasy of Flight museum is offering complimentary admission to all active-duty, retired and reserve members of the U.S. Armed Forces when accompanied by a full-priced paid adult, senior or child general admission throughout the month of May.

Not a military member? There are still some Memorial Day promotions for you too.Disney is pulling an all-nighter with the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida and at Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. The parks open from 6 a.m. May 24 to 6 a.m. May 25, to kick off the summer season. The parks will also have extra entertainment, live bands and characters in their pajamas.

On the West Coast, California’s Mammoth Mountain ski area has a Memorial Day $99 package to ski or ride, mountain bike and golf all in one day. The Ski-Bike-Golf Challenge allows unlimited skiing, snowboarding, and access to the bike park along with nine holes of golf at the resort’s Sierra Star course.

Also in California, the West Coast Thunder Bike Run in Riverside, the largest single-day motorcycle event west of the Mississippi, hosts nearly 7,000 motorcycle enthusiasts. Proceeds from the ride registration and concert tickets benefit the Riverside National Cemetery Support Committee and the event also includes a Military Appreciation Fair on Sunday, May 26.

Nothing at all planned yet for Memorial Day weekend? Now might be the time to do that.

According to Travelocity’s Memorial Day booking data, domestic airfare is down 2 percent year-over-year with the average cost at $341, six dollars less than it was in 2012. That might not sound like much but recent years have all seen increases in the price of airfare.

Even Amtrak is getting in the Memorial Day spirit, saving northeast regional rail travelers 25 percent when they book by May 10, 2013, for Memorial Day travel.

[Photo credit - Flickr member Fritz Liess]

Memorial Day Travel Ideas: Consider The Source, No Cheating

Memorial DayMemorial Day weekend begins Friday, May 24, and marks the start of the summer travel season. One of the most popular times of the year to travel, finding a destination that fulfills our three-day weekend dreams can take some work. Considering a visit to the Upper East Coast? Maybe not such a good idea to visit beaches ravaged by last October’s hurricane. Or is it?

If you are looking for a quiet break from your normal routine, avoid busy places like big cities, theme parks and major tourist attractions. Reverse that decision if daily life rides a cubicle and getting lost in a crowd is required. We could do a lot of research, compile lists of possible destinations and make up budgets to get the plans – or we could cheat.

Earlier this month, Kayak released the results of 100 million monthly searches made so far this year. These are numbers that represent places Kayak users are actually thinking about going as opposed to destinations promoted by airlines, hotels, tour operators or cruise lines.In the results, Kayak saw searches cut in half for Atlantic City, New Jersey, a top Memorial Day destination last year. That makes sense: thank you hurricane Sandy. Digging a bit deeper though we find a different scene.

“Despite the vast destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy, all of our State parks and beaches on Long Island are expected to be open for New Yorkers and visitors by Memorial Day weekend,” assured Governor Andrew Cuomo in a LongIslandPress article.

Your mother was right, cheating is wrong.

Instead, consider a variety of sources and read between the lines. Look down deep inside and ask, “Where do I really want to go?” The answer might take you no further than your own back yard.


Mammoth Mountain To Stay Open For Skiing Until At Least Memorial Day

Mammoth Mountain will remain open until at least Memorial DayIt has been a bountiful year for snow in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, where big storms have continued to drop fresh powder all season long. In fact, it has been so good that Mammoth Mountain has already announced that it will be open for snowboarding and skiing at least until Memorial Day (May 27) and most likely beyond.

At the moment, Mammoth is boasting a base depth of snow that is measured at an astounding 7 to 15 feet depending on where you are on the resort’s 3500 skiable acres. All of that snow means that even though spring is here, it’ll take some time for it to melt away. And with the long-term forecasts calling for more cold weather and snowfall ahead, it’s likely that the resort will remain open into June.

Mammoth is well known for having one of the longest ski seasons in all of North America, but this year has the potential to expand that reputation even further. Regular visitors to the resort who grabbed a season pass in time for opening day last November have now been skiing for more than five months. And with the resort staying open at least until late May, I’d say they managed to get their money’s worth out of those passes.

If you’re not quite ready to put your skis or snowboard away just yet then the news of Mammoth’s extended winter will be welcome. With more than 158 runs, most of which are groomed, the resort has a little something for everyone from beginners to experts. Find out more about Mammoth Mountain, purchase lift tickets and book accommodations here.

[Photo Credit: Mammoth Mountain]