#OnTheRoad: Gadling Instagram From Washington, DC

instagram lincoln
Image via Nick McKeta Photo

Happy Holiday week, everyone! My name is McLean Robbins and this week I’m taking you on a photo tour of my hometown of Washington, D.C. during one of its most popular weeks of the year – the Fourth of July! I’m taking you along for the ride on Instagram, where you’ll see all that the Nation’s Capital has to offer. From iconic monuments to my favorite city eats, you’ll see some of the area’s best sights.

Follow along on Gadling’s Instagram account, @GadlingTravel and #ontheroad, as I discover what the area has to offer through late Sunday evening.

Of course, we love to hear from you as well, readers, so any suggestions of places to visit, must-eat foods or travel tips are warmly welcomed!

#OnTheRoad: Gadling Instagram From Sedona

chimney rock sedonaGoodness gracious, it’s hot here. So hot we’re seeing “dangerous heat” warnings throughout the Western United States and I’m wondering why I’ve chosen to visit the desert in late June.

My name is McLean Robbins and this weekend I’ve transplanted myself from my usual city of Washington, D.C., for a long weekend in Sedona, Arizona. That’s Chimney Rock, at left, on this morning’s hike up Brin’s Mesa. I’m taking you along for the ride on Instagram, where you’ll see all that the famed Southwest has to offer. From early morning hikes to explorations of some of the area’s best luxury spas (you know I had to fit a massage in there somewhere), you’ll see some of the area’s best sights.

Follow along on Gadling’s Instagram account, @GadlingTravel and #ontheroad, as I discover the best of Red Rocks country through late Sunday evening.

This is my first extended stay in Arizona, so any suggestions of places to visit, must-eat foods or travel tips are warmly welcomed!

Hotel News We Noted: June 28, 2013

l'auberge de sedona property
Image of L’Auberge de Sedona Courtesy of Nick McKeta

Greetings from sunny and hot, hot, HOT Sedona, Arizona, “Hotel News We Noted” fans. It’s a bit cooler down here on Oak Creek, where I’m currently typing this from the balcony of my cottage at L’Auberge de Sedona. So far, this AAA Four Diamond resort is full of lovely surprises, from the quaint feeding of the ducks each morning to the outdoor rain shower (complete with a real live tree) inside the room, and the nighttime star gazing lessons where I got my first glimpse of Saturn through a telescope! Expect a full recap of my trip in next week’s column, or travel along with me – I’m Instagramming live from the @GadlingTravel handle for our weekly #OnTheRoad column.

But for now, here’s your weekly dose of all that’s going on in the hotel world. Feel free to leave tips below or send your comments via email. I’d love to hear from you!

Dress The Part: New Orleans’ International House Undergoes Summer Wardrobe Change
Sure, our wardrobe changes with the seasons, but we’ve never seen a hotel do the same. New Orleans’ International House alters its furnishings, staff attire, foliage and overall ambiance to uphold the New Orleans tradition of “Summer Dress.” Dating back to pre air-conditioning days to keep cool during the steamy months, cotton slipcovers and sisal rugs replace formal upholstery and throw rugs, and native banana leaves, palms, fragrant floating blossoms and spiraling topiary decorate the lobby. Hotel staff will change their uniforms as well. The stylists for the hotel include fashion designer Lisa Iacono (who has worked with names like Proenza Schouler and Betsey Johnson) as well as Interior designer LM Pagano, who has worked with names like Nicolas Cage and Johnny Depp.

Hotel Opening: Fairmont Baku
One of the hottest areas in the world for new luxury properties is probably not a country you’ve heard of. Baku, Azerbaijan has seen an influx of luxury properties in recent months and years, including Four Seasons, Jumeirah and JW Marriott. Now Fairmont has opened their first property in the area. Located in the Flame Towers, the tallest building complex in the country, the 140-room hotel boasts spectacular views of the city of Baku, the old Inner City or the Caspian Sea. Highlights include a 20-foot glass chandelier formed in the shape of water droplets, a world-class, contemporary art collection and the spacious Fairmont Gold rooms and suites.

Cool Summer Vacation at a Hot New Resort: Topnotch Resort
Fresh from a $15 million upgrade, Stowe, Vermont’s Topnotch Resort has re-opened to the public. While we’d normally shy away from a ski resort in the summer, this newly upgraded property offers plenty to do in the off-seasons, including hiking, biking and more. Topnotch added a new lobby, revamped dining outlets, an outdoor wedding venue, a refreshed indoor tennis center and newly renovated guestrooms.

Smells Good To Us: The Grand Del Mar’s Perfume Sessions
We’ve certainly heard of hotels creating custom scents, but this new package from The Grand Del Mar in San Diego raises the bar even more. Wednesdays in July and August, the property is hosting a two-hour natural perfume making class where a local perfumer will give instructions and materials to blend your own custom scent. Open to the public and guests alike, this program seems like a steal at just $100.

Family Travel Package: Capture the Memories
While we certainly take a lot of photos during our travels, it’s rare that most of those images will ever see a life beyond our computer screen, which explains why we like this new package from Preferred Hotel Group. The Preferred Family collection of family-centric hotels has teamed with Shutterfly to allow every traveler checking into the group’s 41 hotels a complimentary photo book of their trip. It may only be a $30 value, but the idea of having someone encourage us to share our vacation snaps with friends and family seems like a great value.

Is Your Family Vacation Normal? New Survey Highlights Summer Travel Behaviors

family travel airport
Flickr, Kevin Shorter

With the Fourth of July fast approaching, summer family travel is in full swing. A new survey from Liberty Travel highlights several overarching trends (everyone loves technology, but being together is always the most important part of a trip) along with budgeting and planning information.

We’ve highlighted some of our favorite results below. We’d love to have you weigh in in the comments, too. Are you normal when it comes to family travel?

Nearly 80 percent of survey respondents say that they take at least one vacation a year, and the planning process begins between three and nine months out. Travel agents aren’t a thing of the past, either – 69 percent have used an agent to plan a family vacation.

Families aren’t just going on weekend getaways; 51 percent of respondents go away for seven or more days and 44 percent go for six days. Of course, most (65 percent) wish they could stay longer.

Here’s what else families talked about:

Low-tech, high togetherness
It is no secret that technology, from iPads to gaming systems, can often get in the way of togetherness. Vacations, however, seem to be an exception as nearly 58 percent of respondents said children use technology much less than when they are at home (27.49 percent) or only in transit (plane, car, etc.) to the destination (30.24 percent). Very small percentages reported going tech-free (6 percent) or kids are glued to something the entire time (1 percent), with the remainder reporting the same usage (or not having children).

Let’s give them something to talk about
It’s no surprise that over 52 percent of travelers said they find themselves talking to one another more when on vacation. Approximately 45 percent of respondents said they talk about the same amount and less than 2 percent find themselves talking less. We hope that means that they’re deeply engrossed in a book and is not a sign of family discord!

In-Laws are not the out-laws
In-laws often get a bad rap, but the reality according to the survey results is that (most) in-laws are welcome along for the ride. Nearly 35 percent said “the more the merrier,” 41 percent said “sure; we need to have some alone time and ideally rooms on different floors,” with 24 percent opting for the in-laws “vacationing in a different country, preferably on a different continent.” The later option is kind of sad, don’t you think?

Who calls the shots
Overwhelmingly, it seems that parents can agree on one thing: where to vacation. Over 51 percent of parents report that both parents decide where to go. Coming in next was mom calling the shots (31 percent) with dad trailing far behind at just over 5 percent. Just under 3 percent say the kids decide, while just over 3 percent can’t remember who picked the place because they have been going to the same spot year after year.

What do you think, readers? Do you like vacationing as a family, and do you agree with the survey results? Furthermore, are you planning to go somewhere for the upcoming holiday, or will you stay local?

Hotel News We Noted: First Day of Summer Edition

capri palace
Capri Palace, a hotel

Welcome everyone to the first official day of Summer and, of course, your weekly dose of Hotel News We Noted, where we track the best, the most buzzy and the downright oddest news of the hospitality industry. As always, send us a note or leave a comment below if you have a timely tidbit.

Las Vegas, Now Easier to Visit Than Ever
MGM Resorts in Las Vegas has really upped the ante with their loyalty program. The brand, which has more than 40,000 hotel rooms in Vegas across a dozen properties, has announced a new tie-in with Hyatt Gold Passport so that members can redeem their points at the brand’s properties in Las Vegas. This is on the heels of partnerships earlier this year with Southwest Airlines and Royal Caribbean cruises. Good news for savvy points hounds!

IHG Supports our Military with “Army Hotels
It’s always nice to see a hotel brand giving back to our men and women in uniform. IHG is expanding their portfolio of Army Hotels, adding 18 more military installations to their portfolio, making more than 110,000 hotel rooms available on 39 military posts worldwide. The company also supports veterans through the , helping train veterans for hospitality careers, as well as the which donates “comfort homes” to families whose loved ones are being treated at far-away military medical centers, and (S2S) non-profit, a program that helps wounded service men and women overcome personal barriers.

Haute Hotel Suite: The Gwyneth Paltrow Penthouse
Stay at The Capri Palace Hotel & Spa and live like a movie star. That is, if you check into the hotel’s penthouse suite. Spanning 1,620 square feet on the top floor of the hotel, the penthouse combines Art Deco decor with historic elegance and features a special skylight above the bed as well as a separate rooftop garden that’s more than twice the size of the suite itself. The garden features a heated swimming pool with a panoramic view, enabling guests to admire the green slopes of Monte Solaro hill, the village of Anacapri, the islands of Ischia and Procida, as well as the enchanting bay of Naples. A smaller plunge pool is accessible from the second bedroom. We’re just wondering if organic food delivery comes standard with the room charge?

A Great Way to Celebrate Your Golden Anniversary
We love this fun hotel promo to celebrate the Waldorf Astoria property Rome Cavalieri. Check into the hotel at any point this month and five lucky guests will find that their room has been gift wrapped in gold embroidered linens. Those guests will find themselves upgraded to the hotel’s VIP Petronius or Penthouse Suite, both of which are furnished with incredible artwork (think original Andy Warhol pieces and a Karl Lagerfeld sofa) and impressive views. We’d love a Roman holiday, how about you?