Hotel News We Noted: May 11, 2012

Welcome to our first weekly roundup of “Hotel News We Noted,” a compendium of our favorite clicks, posts and fun packages we spotted each week. If you have a tip, send if over – we’re hoping to target this column to the news and notable events you as readers find most interesting.

Opening Spotlight: Hipster Cool at Chicago’s ACME Hotel Company
A new trendsetter is in town, thanks to Chicago’s newest hotel, ACME, which opened this month in River North. Boutiquey-chic is the name of the game with an offbeat, retro vibe and tech-friendly amenities, like Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin wireless sound systems, lipstick printed in-bathroom nightlights and album cover-plastered elevator interiors. It’s not totally ready yet – the restaurant won’t open until fall, but we’d suggest taking stock of the rates, starting in the $150 range, before they go up.

Destination Spotlight: Acapulco is Hot Hot Hot, Thanks to J.Lo
Jennifer Lopez chose Acapulco as the latest destination for her new music video (which made waves because she released it via Twitter) and hotels in the area are clamoring for a piece of the marketing pie. Hotel Encanto, the hotel where she stayed during filming, is offering a special three-day, two-night package for just $825 per person, including daily breakfast, suite upgrade, ground transportation and a late check-out.

Social Media: Four Seasons Gets All About the Bridal Buzz
According to industry data, Four Seasons is the world’s buzziest hotel brand. Its recent website overhaul and prolific social media accounts across multiple platforms ensure that they set the gold standard for other brands to follow. Now, the brand is taking note with a special weddings-focused website, iPad app, magazine, Twitter and Pinterest presence, all geared towards making real brides want to tie the knot at a Four Seasons hotel. We’d be all about that, if we could only afford it. Still, the sites are a fun perusal for wedding and hotel enthusiasts. FYI, if you’re on Pinterest, share your best pins and enter to win a $2,500 gift card.For the Travel Searcher: RoomKey Expands out of Beta, the hotel search engine founded upon a partnership from leading hotel companies like Marriott and Hyatt, has officially gotten out of beta. What does that mean for travelers? More partners, and an expanded suite of tools, including comparison features, social sharing and consumer reviews. Soon, the site will even expand to include independent and boutique brands. This is one site we’re definitely keeping an eye on.

Luxury Travel: A Custom Trip to the Scottish Highlands Combining Shooting and Style
Owning a custom bag or piece of luggage crafted by one of Europe’s finest luxury brands is something that is enjoyed by only a select few. Traveling to the heart of Europe’s famous wild estate lands in the Scottish Highlands to experience a sustainable wild red deer hunt with a third-generation deerstalker, resulting in the leather to create your own bespoke bag with a designer kicks it up a notch, as Emeril would say. Nestling into the down covers of Relais & Chateaux property’s Inverlochy Castle, a home-cum-hotel that kings and queens have praised for over 100 years, makes this a journey one would never forget.

Social Media: Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts Hops on Instagram with #LovingTheMoment Campaign
Instagram is arguably one of the hottest social trends right now, and Shangri-La Hotels is hot on the campaign with its new initiative, which encourages guests to submit photos of their location using the hashtag #LovingTheMoment. The brand is also adding its own photos that showcase the unique aspects of each hotel. You’ll also find that the brand has upped the ante with expanded presences on other social sites, including Facebook and Twitter, plus new easier-to-use mobile sites.

Texas authorities urge students to avoid Mexico

As spring break draws near, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has issued a warning that advises college students to stay away from Mexico. The warning cites ongoing drug cartel violence as the main reason to avoid going south of the border, but also mentions criminal activity including homicides, gun battles, kidnappings, carjackings, rapes and more.

Popular resort destinations such as Cancun, Acapulco, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas and Tijuana are not exempt from the warning, which states these areas “can be havens for drug dealers and petty criminals.” Although the DPS acknowledges that many travel to Mexico without incident and that the Mexican government has made strides battling the cartels, it encourages travelers to carefully research any planned trips and always check the U.S. Department of State website for up-to-date information on security issues in Mexico.

Just a few weeks ago, the U.S. Department of State issued a new Mexico travel warning that advised against nonessential travel to areas within 16 Mexican states. According to U.S. Department of State numbers, 120 U.S. citizens were murdered in Mexico during 2011, a number that has increased dramatically since the tally was at 35 in 2007. All U.S. citizens living or traveling in Mexico are advised to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Renewed Mexico travel warning threatens spring break travel plans

The U.S. State Department has issued a new Mexico travel warning, superseding last April’s warning. Apparently, cartel violence stemming from drug trafficking, specifically violent struggles among the criminal organizations for control of trafficking routes, has resulted in a rising number of carjackings, kidnappings and gun battles throughout Mexico.

“U.S. travelers should be aware that the Mexican government has been engaged in an extensive effort to counter TCOs (Transnational Criminal Organizations) which engage in narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout Mexico, says the State Department in the new warning posted on their website today.

Detailing the problem, the State Department says “The TCOs themselves are engaged in a violent struggle to control drug trafficking routes and other criminal activity. As a result, crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country and can occur anywhere. U.S. citizens have fallen victim to TCO activity, including homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, carjacking and highway robbery.”

Mexico government figures indicate that 47,515 people were killed in narcotics-related violence between December 1, 2006 and September 30, 2011, the warning states. Most of those killed were members of the criminal organizations.

The big problem: State Department numbers indicate that 120 U.S. citizens were murdered in Mexico in 2011, up from 35 in 2007, according to the warning.

Bad news for college students, the government says spring break destination Rocky Point is a key area in the international drug and human trafficking trades and can be extremely dangerous.

Arizona college student Juan Pantoja told, “I was there two or three months ago. I go down there often and go to Rocky Point. I have never thought twice about it. It’s always a good time.” University of Arizona student Chase Tsui added, “I would love to go visit my boyfriend’s family, but the problem is getting there. My mom still has this thing about going to Mexico, so she still doesn’t want me to go.”

The updated warning advises against nonessential travel to areas within 16 Mexican states, including Veracruz and the border areas of Aguacalientes and Zacatecas, and Colima and Michoacan says TravelWeekly but notes that no advisories are in effect for the state of Quintana Roo (Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya and Tulum), the Riviera Nayarit, Mexico City, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara and Guanajuato (San Miguel de Allende and Leon).

Travelers are advised to stay within the tourist areas of Acapulco, Ixtapa, Mazatlan, Monterrey and Zihuantanejo.

Flickr photo by scazon

3 great books about cruise vacations

While blogging, video, interactive travel books and online travelguides have command a lot of interest, books (like with paper and ink) are still being published. Here are some of the best about cruise vacations for your weekend reading pleasure.

Selling the Sea– An inside Look at the Cruise Industry
Written by cruise industry veterans Bob Dickinson from Carnival Cruise Lines fame and Andy Vladimir this second edition features information all about the mechanics of the cruise industry as well as interviews with captains, social directors, and cruise line executives

Frommer’s Cruises and Ports of Call, 7th Edition
This is like the handbook of all cruise books and has photos of all major ship classes that sail from North American home-ports plus in-depth coverage of major ports of call in the Caribbean as well. This 7th edition has candid reviews and other useful information to supplement what you find online and here at Gadling.

Cruise Confidential A Hit Below the Waterline
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to work on a cruise ship, this is the book for you. Brian David Bruns look at his life as the only American waiter on several Carnival cruise ships gives a backstage account of what it is like day to day aboard a ship at sea.

Don’t want to cut down trees for information? AOL TravelGuides are a great source for all things cruising as well. Some of the best include great warm-weather ports like Kingston, San Juan, Acapulco and Cancun.

Just the thing on a cold, snowy, Winter night or if you’re a Time-Warner subscriber, expecting another blackout.

No time for such nonsense as books? Fine then, check this video on the new Disney Dream:

You’re watching Cruise Director: Disney Dream – Behind the Scenes. See the Web’s top videos on AOL Video

Five steps to a better Valentine’s Day from Fairmont

After the toll that 2009 took on your spirit and your body, it’s time for you to commit to a relaxed and steady 2010. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in on board with this and is kicking in some amazing deals through its Willow Stream spa brand, which is available around the world. So, if you’re planning to hit Monte Carlo, Miami or the Mayan Riviera, you’ll have a top-shelf treatment ready and waiting for you. Check out the “Follow Your Heart” spa experiences on tap at 11 Fairmont hotels this Valentine’s Day.

One Heart: This is a Red Ribbon Lips facial upgrade and includes a complimentary Jane Iredale Organic Sugar Lip Scrub treatment that will soften and soothe your lips. Worried about dry, cracked lip kissing? That won’t be a problem after this treatment.

Two Heart: Willow Stream’s Sending You Kisses offer includes a Willow Stream Lip Kit and Lip Definer pencil, which will make softened lips eye-catching — translation: you’ll more likely have the chance to use them.

Three Heart: Enjoy a Heartfelt 90-minute spa experience, an hour of which is side-by-side for couples, with a 30-minute dip in the spa’s oversized whirlpool tubs … complete with champagne.

Four Heart: The Love Me package makes you the center of attention. The solo day at the spa includes a 90-minute experience before noon and a Willow Stream spa bento box lunch.

Five Heart: Willow stream will Love You Forever. On the first day of the month, guests will enjoy enjoy either a 60-minute or 90-minute spa treatment … for an entire year!

Participating resorts include: Fairmont Turnberry Isle (Miami), Fairmont Singapore, Fairmont Scottsdale, Fairmont Le Montreux Place (Switzerland), Fairmont Mayakoba (Mexico), Fairmont Acapulco Princess, Fairmont Banff Springs (Alberta), Fairmont Dubai, Fairmont Southampton (Bermuda), Fairmont Monte Carlo, Fairmont Empress (Victoria, British Columbia).