Luxury hotels in U.K., U.S. warned of ‘Mumbai-style’ terror threat

terror threat on the ritz londonAuthorities are warning luxury hotels to be on the watch after new intelligence obtained reveals that Al Qaeda was planning a “Mumbai-style” attack on luxury hotels, specifically The Ritz-Carlton, in London.

The information was obtained after authorities found materials at a checkpoint in Mogadishu where Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the Al Qaeda operative who masterminded the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa, was killed Saturday, reported Fox News.

According to The Sun, The Dorchester on Park Lane and Eton College were also on the handwritten list.

The three days of Mumbai attacks in 2008 killed 174 people and wounded more than 300.

The FBI briefed hotel leaders in New York yesterday and has planned a similar briefing for today in Washington as well as others in major U.S. cities.

Fox reports that the latest intelligence was believed to have been found on a thumb drive at the scene of his death.

Of course, travelers are urged to take basic precautions. Read a recent Gadling article that discusses a similar topic.

Mumbai golf – DIY golfing in the slums of India


ESPN produced this short documentary on golfing in Mumbai that is 1 part informative and 3 parts awesome. The story frames the dichotomous nature of Old Bombay by contrasting the two very different types of golf played in the city. One type is played at prestigious clubs for the elite like the Bombay Presidency Golf Club, and the other is played in the slums with DIY clubs and narrow driving lanes between shops. The latter, slum golf, is a challenging sport filled with urban distractions and “garbage penalty strokes” – a stark contrast from the serene driving lanes and ponds at a conventional golf course.

The story tells the tale of Anil Mane’s rise from caddying and golfing in the slums to making the professional tour in India. His sponsor, Venture Capitalist Ashish Kacholia, narrates this terrific documentary.

Mumbai Golf – ESPN E:60 from Evolve IMG Films Ltd. on Vimeo.

Video of the Day: Laughter Yoga

Fitness is practiced differently wherever you head in the world, whether it’s thousands running the New York City marathon, groups practicing Tai Chi in Hong Kong or in India, laughing yourself into shape with a hilarious technique called Laughter Yoga. According to technique’s founder, Dr. Kadan Mataria of Mumbai, laughter is extremely good for health, encouraging deep breathing that is beneficial to the body and mind. Dr. Mataria’s sessions encourage participants to laugh for no reason, a curious exercise that, funny enough, often results in real contagious laughter. Before you laugh off the idea, give this video segment a look to learn more.

[Thanks Jinal!]

Kindle tips for travelers


The iPad may be the current darling of techie travelers but some of us are waiting for the first generation kinks to be worked out and a decrease in price (or a sudden cash windfall) before taking the plunge. While still a “monotasker” compared to a tablet or laptop computer, Amazon’s Kindle is still a great tool to carry books on the road with a lightweight design and almost limitless capacity to store whatever travel guidebooks, beach reads, or other reading materials you desire. Combined with the easy ability to search within a book for a place name or keyword, a much lower profile than carrying a tourist map, and limited but free web browser, Kindle is a good choice for travelers. Here are a few other ideas beyond ebooks for your next trip:

  1. Google Maps are a fantastic resource when traveling, but lose their usefulness once you are without internet access or unwilling to pay for data roaming. Whether you download individual maps of city neighborhoods or get all fancy with creating your own Google Map of destinations and recommendations, having a “hard copy” on your Kindle is handy when you are offline and want to quickly locate that vintage store in Berlin a friend told you about.
  2. Many free PDF travel guides are available online including In Your Pocket and Arrival Guides. While not as extensive as a guidebook, they provide a few suggestions for where to stay, eat, shop, and what to do in many cities and often cover less-traveled destinations such as Eastern Europe. Lonely Planet has also introduced Pick and Mix chapters for purchase, perfect for when you only need a chapter of a guidebook rather than a whole country book.
  3. Create your own travel guide by saving magazine articles, blog posts, and web pages for your destination with content more recent, relevant and varied than any guidebook. Tote along Gadling’s guide to Paris’ Japanese quarter, The New York Times‘ 36 Hours in Copenhagen, or the Wikitravel page for Mumbai.

How to save documents for your Kindle: most Mac browsers have a Print to PDF feature and PDFs are easily read on the Kindle. PC users can download a program such as PDFCreator to save PDFs. If you have another format including HTML or a Word document (good if you are copying and pasting text), you can email to Amazon and they will convert and send back. Then you can add documents via the USB cord to your Kindle, simply drag and drop into the Kindle documents folder. While many files don’t have the same functionality as ebook format, you can zoom in and often search many of the file types.

While many of these documents can simply be printed, printer access is often scarce on the road and this method saves a lot on paper. Any other travel tips for Kindle? Leave ‘em in the comments below.

The Oberoi Mumbai reopens tomorrow

Luxury digs are coming back to Mumbai. The Oberoi is set to reopen tomorrow, following a substantial renovation and restoration. The atrium lobby stretches 14 storeys high, features white Thassos marble and serves as the gateway to 287 guestrooms and suites. Ziya is the hotel’s new Indian specialty restaurant and offers the creations of Michelin-starred chef Vineet Bhatia. Other dining options include Fenix (world cuisine) and Vetro, which has Italian dishes. If you’re looking for wine, this is the place to go, with more than 1,200 bottles from which to choose.

Mr. P.R.S. Oberoi, Chairman, The Oberoi Group said, “We are pleased to re-open The Oberoi, Mumbai. We look forward to welcoming guests to the hotel which has been completely renovated to offer the highest standards of facilities as expected at all hotels of The Oberoi Group; this will be complemented by personalized and gracious service extended by our well-trained and dedicated staff.”

Now, be ready to write a big check. Rates start at $700 a night for a luxury room, but you’re worth it … right?