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.

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]

Galley Gossip: Giving Thanks To Military Men And Women This Memorial Day

Near the end of a flight from New York to Dallas, a little girl, 9 years old, handed me a piece of paper that read: “Everyone on this plane that works on this plane is very kind and welcoming, comforting and makes me feel safe, happy and comfy, so thank you to everyone. Love, Fallyn.” She made what would have been an ordinary day extra special. For that, I thank her.

Receiving thanks in the air travel industry is rare so when it happens it’s always appreciated. In fact, sometimes it’s so appreciated it feels kind of weird, like do I really deserve this? Did I really do something that deserves so much kindness? Usually, the answer is no. I’m just doing my job, what I’ve been hired to do – assist passengers and provide safety and comfort in flight. Then I’ll blush from the embarrassment of being acknowledged and either quickly refill an empty cup or ask if there’s anything else I can do to make the flight more enjoyable.

Those who do deserve a special thank you for just doing their job are our military men and women. Long ago, my grandpa confessed that not one person thanked him for fighting in WWII. My father experienced the same thing while he was in the navy. This is why I make it a point to say thank you to those who protect us. Once I offered my cellphone to a soldier I spotted putting money into a pay phone at an airport. A couple of times I offered to buy lunch for those I’ve seen in uniform waiting in line at food courts located at airport terminals. It’s the least I can do. They always decline with a blush and then they thank me for thinking of them.

One passenger who went out of his way to thank a serviceman on board an airplane is my friend Will. Here, in his words, is what happened on a recent flight from Dallas to Oklahoma City.

Last evening while standing by the gate and waiting for boarding to commence, I noticed a military serviceman in uniform approach the line, look at his boarding pass and walk to the back of the waiting area – nothing I haven’t seen before. As I sat there on the corner of the room speaking with my kids on the cellphone, pre-boarding was announced for all customers with disabilities or special needs as well as any military personnel in uniform. A few folks boarded but not the soldier.

As a perk for flying a “few thousand” miles a year with American Airlines, I’d been upgraded from coach to first with its wider seats, more legroom, free drinks and more. Sitting in 3E, thoughts about my wife and children ran through my head. As I remembered our recent phone call my heart tightened. It had been only four days since I’d seen my family but it seemed like a month. Just a few more hours… it didn’t seem like much longer.

Boarding continued for another twenty minutes when suddenly I observed the same serviceman from earlier. He was the last one on. Holding his backpack slightly crooked over his right shoulder and a boarding pass on the left hand he quickly went by me towards his seat in coach.

That’s when it clicked.

I stood up, took a couple of steps back towards the soldier, and gently tapped his left shoulder. As he turned around I simply requested his boarding pass. To my surprise he promptly handed it over. A simple gesture of appreciation: the palm of my left hand showing him the direction to my seat. Shocked, he cracked a smile and politely declined the offer by stating I would not enjoy his seat. It was “the worse seat in the plane” – he said.

After insisting a bit, he accepted my offer and took his new seat but not before his smile stretched across his face like a child on a Christmas morning. As I went towards seat 18F (a middle seat) the pride and satisfaction of being able to sincerely thank a man, whom along with thousands of other brave and dedicated soldiers choose to sacrifice their lives so that my children may sleep safely every night, was indescribable.

Sitting in that middle seat while the plane took off, I realized that it felt different: it seemed wider; there was more legroom; it was more comfortable. Was it? No… it was the same as always, but the circumstances were different.

After takeoff I succumbed to my usual ritual of lowering the tray table and hunching over for a quick nap. I was tired… it had been a long day. Suddenly, I felt a tap on my left shoulder. To my surprise, it was the soldier. Extending his right hand as if a handshake was imminent. I responded with the same gesture.

“Thank You” – he said – while leaving in the palm of my hands a coin, which read: PRESENTED BY THE CADET COMMAND – COMMAND SERGEANT MAJOR – FOR EXCELLENCE.

As I nodded in acceptance my eyes suddenly drowned in tears of appreciation and pride. He went back to his seat, leaving me speechless and transformed.

It’s unconditional commitment, bravery and immeasurable sacrifices shown by all of our service men and women that makes it possible for each one of us to sleep by our children and loved ones at night.

Most people do not have a first class seat to offer up as a special thank you to those who serve our country, but that doesn’t matter when it comes to simply showing thanks, letting others know you care and that you notice what they do and appreciate their hard work. A thank you costs nothing but time. By just thinking about how grateful we are for what someone has done for us only benefits us. This kind of satisfaction doesn’t last long and does nothing to change the world. By giving thanks we give others a momentary respite from their daily lives and their own journey through life becomes relevant to the lives today. Don’t wait until people are gone to honor and thank them for being a part of our lives when we can tell them personally how we feel. Thank a soldier today.