The New Orleans Marriott wants your mustache (for charity)

Got mustache? Get one, and head to New Orleans for some serious upper lip fun. November is also known as Movember, the one month of the year when men are challenged to embrace their facial hair for charity.

This year, the New Orleans Marriott is getting into the game and offering a free cocktail to men who show their Mo at the hotel’s 5 Fifty 5 restaurant and 55 Fahrenheit lounge. The hotel will also make a donation in their name to the Movember foundation. Several male staffers at the Marriott have agreed to grow out their Mo and raise funds for cancers that affect men – in the U.S., Movember funds are donated to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG.

The rules are simple. Men start clean-shaven on Movember 1st and then grow a moustache for the entire month. The moustache becomes the ribbon for men’s health for 30 days, the means by which awareness and funds are raised for cancers that affect men.

The idea for Movember was sparked by a few blokes having beers in Melbourne, Australia in 2003. Inspired by what women do for breast cancer research, the fellas decided to bring the moustache back in an effort to help raise awareness for men’s health. In 2004, the campaign evolved and focused on raising awareness and funds for the number one cancer affecting men – prostate cancer. To date, global participation of Movember awareness has raised over $42 million.

Throw down the razors and let the stubble show!

World’s first JW Marriott Marquis opens in Miami

When entertainment and luxury combine with travel, the options are endless (and often glamorous). Setting a new premise for hotels around the world, the first ever JW Marriott Marquis Miami opened its doors in downtown Miami to a celebrity-infused, technology-studded event that merged sophistication, design, art, fashion and fun into one massive space.

The very first JW Marquis-branded hotel is set to transform way travelers view their hotel stay with an onsite golf school, virtual bowling alley, 10,000-square-foot NBA approved basketball arena and tennis court, billiard room and full-service spa. And, of course, there are guestrooms.

Part-theme park, part-resort, Marriott is setting the stage for a new kind of hotel experience. Are you game?


The first in the company’s brand, The JW Marriott Marquis Miami has 41 floors, 313 rooms and 56 suites. There is more than 80,000 sq ft of total meeting space, and 20,000 sq ft Grand Ballroom and three concierge floors. Each guest room comes complete with an illy red Y1 espresso machine, complimentary bottles of water, imported Italian Marble Baths including a television embedded in bathroom mirror and a separate tub and shower.


Three restaurants give guests various options for dining. db Bistro Moderne is home to three time James Beard Foundation winner and French Chef, Daniel Boulud, who creates blends traditional French cuisine with the flavors of the American market. There’s a lounge and street level terrace for casual dining, including and cafe and bar, and Intermezzo, an illy Artisti del Gusto Café that features breakfast options including pastries Wide selection of pastries and other baked items, as well as coffee, cappuccino, espresso and teas.Spa/Fitness

The hotel’s Rik-Rak Salon & Spa, located on the 20th floor includes a full- service spa, beauty salon and fitness center.
The 4,000-square-foot spa includes five massage treatment rooms, including one couples room, co-ed relaxation room, separate men and women’s sauna, and a full-service hair and nail salon. The fitness center will be outfitted with eco-friendly Technogym equipment, top-of-the-line cardio vascular machinery, free weights and a yoga and exercise studio.


In addition to spa and fitness, guests can enjoy an outdoor swimming pool; a 10,000-square-foot NBA approved basketball court, Jim McLean Golf School with virtual golf and golf lessons, a bowling alley, media room, billiard room and a state of the art fitness center.

The Jim McLean Golf School will offer skilled personal instruction, virtual golf simulators, two putting greens, lounge seating, a Pro Shop, and sweeping city views. A 10,000-square-foot arena has a multi-use portable floor system that transforms into an NBA Approved Basketball court, a tennis court featuring the identical surface used at the Sony Ericsson Open or carpeted event space. For the less active sports-lover, take advantage of the hotel’s billiard room or virtual bowling alley.


Over 80,000 square feet of space is available for corporate and business events, that includes Virtual Meetings by JW Marriott, in partnership with AT&T and Cisco. The public telepresence facility enables people to hold virtual meetings with customers and colleagues around the world.

JW Marriott is widely known as Marriott International’s luxury brand of hotels, currently consisting of 45 properties around the world.
A second 1,612-room JW Marriott Marquis is scheduled to open in Dubai in 2011, and the company plans to host 73 properties in total in 28 countries by 2013.

Marriott Renaissance New York Times Square: Manhattan’s hidden hotel treasure

There’s a lot to love about Times Square. The bright lights of Broadway, the scrolling marquees, endless restaurants and bars, TKTS booth and on any given occasion, a live street performance. Times Square is the epicenter of New York – the convergence of everything – the mecca of Manhattan.

Tourists come in droves, book Times Square hotels and spend the majority of their time walking Broadway and 7th, snapping photos and looking for anyone of the morning talk show hosts on their way to Rockefeller Center. Those of us in the know, though, know to stay elsewhere. Times Square can be chaotic to the nth degree and at the end of the night, when even you have to get some shut eye in the city that never sleeps, the last thing you want are blinking lights from the billboard across the street shining through your hotel room window. When I booked a last-minute at a Time Square hotel I was admittedly hesitant. My hesitation, however, quickly turned to eagerness when I walked into the Renaissance New York Times Square.

Located in the heart of Times Square, this New York hotel is, quite literally, in the middle of it all. At the corner of 7th and W. 48th Street, and one block from Broadway, the hotel is in the perfect location for walking to 5th Avenue, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall and the subway. The best part? You’d never know you were staying in Time Square.

Check-in and Lobby

If you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss the entrance to the hotel. The glass doors are hidden under an awning that helps shade the hotel from the bright lights of Times Square. Note your surroundings: the famous M&M store is right next door and thanks to the giant green M&M on 48th street, it’s hard to miss your mark. This hidden element, however, is the part of the allure of the Renaissance Times Square. Walking through the glass doors is a retreat from the chaos of the streets.

The first floor entrance is dimly lit to help level the mood and a quick chat with the check-in desk will have you on your way up to the official ‘lobby’ level. The lobby of this hotel is part jazz club, part business conference room. The lobby was recently redone to appeal to various personalities, but with a common theme of serenity. The lounge area is set in dark wood with dark blue, purple and brown furniture throughout. There are alcoves (dubbed the “technology niche”) with computers for those who want to work on the hotel’s free WiFi system, or you can plug in at the lobby’s workstation — a long brown table with outlets at each chair, positioned perfectly across from the lobby bar and in front of a large flat-screen TV.

Order from the bar menu or just relax with a cup of coffee and your laptop. A blend of funk, jazz and pop music rotate over the sound system throughout the day, providing a mellow vibe for visitors.The Rooms

The 310 guest rooms are spread throughout 26 floors of the building. I slid my key into room 1903 and entered the hotel room overlooking the giant billboard of Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’ in Times Square.

The guest rooms are available with king-sized or two double beds. Complimentary coffee an tea is available and the mini-bar is stocked with snacks (candy, peanuts and Power Bars) and select liquors. WiFi is available in all rooms for a fee ($16.95 a day), or free of charge if you’re a Marriott or Ritz-Carlton Platinum rewards member.

Beds feature Revive bedding and organic Aveda products are available in the bathrooms. The decor is simple and understated – dark wood with gold and blue accents – but let’s be honest, you’re not in New York to spend time in your hotel room. The best part? All rooms are soundproof, which means the hustle and bustle of Times Square remains on the street, and not as background noise in your room.

There’s no turn-down service at the hotel, but on occasion you’ll come back to your room and find a few chocolates on the pillow.


With all the dining options in New York it’s hard to justify dining in the hotel, but thanks to the renovations that included the opening of R Lounge at Two Times Square and a partnership with Blue Ribbon Restaurants, it’s no shame to hang in the hotel for dinner and drinks one night.

R Lounge boasts panoramic views of Times Square and the Broadway theater district, and features unique offerings from Blue Ribbon and a custom created menu from the hotel chef (I highly suggest the tempura green beans, french onion soup, burgers and calamari). A perfect start to your New York night can start with a martini or glass of wine in R Lounge before hitting the NYC scene. Be careful, though, because the lounge has a way of sucking you in. If you didn’t get tickets to a Broadway show, you can be sure you’ll see plenty of sights from one of the window seats at R Lounge.

In addition to the bar area, the VIVID lounge is open daily for breakfast serving a buffet or a la carte menu. One thing to note:
The hotel doesn’t have a concierge level, but rewards members can enjoy free continental breakfasts in R Lounge in the morning.


While I didn’t take advantage of the amenities, the hotel does offer a fitness center and boardroom facilities. A concierge is on duty 24 hours a day to help with show tickets, transportation or dinner reservations.

The Bottom Line

As far as Marriott’s go, this hotel has a lot of soul. While the guest rooms could use a bit of a touch up, the renovations the hotel made to the check-in, lobby and restaurant areas far outweigh the need for a fresh coat of paint in the rooms (though we suspect that’s coming soon). This little hotel on 48th Street is nothing short of a hidden gem – a secret hideaway from the chaos and commotion of Times Square, but a perfection location for New York visitors who want to be in the heart of it all.

Free Montreal travel in three simple steps

Do you like Montreal? I have to admit, I’ve been there three times in the past two years, and I just can’t get enough of it. The minute I hit the streets of Old Montreal, I find myself craving a hotdog at the St-Denis Pool Hall before dashing over to the art galleries on St-Paul Ouest. Even with winter approaching rapidly, I’m feeling the pull up north.

So, I was pretty excited by a cool contest that just hit the web from CheapOair, and the social media junkie in me was drawn in. The upside is pretty exciting: two roundtrip tickets to Montreal from Air Canada, two luxurious nights at the Montreal Marriott Chateau and tickets to a variety of local attractions around the city from Tourism Montreal.

If you win, I strongly suggest you go hang out with local foodie Katerine Rollet for a while. Ask her about the local hotdogs, and she’ll probably know I put you up to it.

So, how do score this getaway? Well, you have to click around to three sites … and maybe do a little typing. There are three simple steps:


1. Head over to Facebook – assuming you’re already one of the 500 million users of the site. “Like” the Montreal Buzz page.

2. While you’re in Facebook, click over to CheapOair’s page and “like” that, too.

3. Finally, you’ll have to leave Facebook (don’t worry, you can – and probably will – wind up back there at some point during the day). Visit the Tourism Montreal blog and leave a comment telling everyone why you want to head up there. You won’t get extra points for mentioning the hotdogs in town, but I haven’t heard that doing so will hurt.

The contest kicks off November 1, 2010 and ends on November 5, 2010. The winner will be announced on November 8, 2010. Fortunately, you won’t have to wait long to see if you’ll get to hit the road.

Click here to see what else there is to do in Montreal!

Luxury hotel planned for Washington DC’s ‘nightlife’ neighborhood

The Adams Morgan neighborhood in Washington DC is mostly known for its lively nightlife, late-night bars and endless take-out restaurants, but plans to add a little luxury to the ‘hood are in the works.

Washington Post reporter Jonathan O’Connell reports that plans for a luxury hotel in the trendy neighborhood have been in the works for the past six years. Developer Brian Friedman proposed transforming a historic church, formerly the First Church of Christ, Scientist, into a 174-room luxury hotel, according to the paper. While financing and development details are being worked out, one aspect of the hotel seems to moving along: the design.

Reports say Friedman signed with visionary hotel designer Ian Schrager to help turn the church from goth to glam. Schrager is behind the works of notable living spaces including Gramercy Park Hotel and the residential building 40 Bond in New York City. Shrager also works closely with Marriott for the Edition collection, which currently has plans for hotels in Waikiki, Istanbul, Barcelona, Mexico City, Bangkok, South Beach and soon, Adams Morgan.

Marriott’s Edition brand is focused on bringing the boutique hotel atmosphere to luxury travelers, and the new Adams Morgan hotel would be part of that plan. Friedman told the paper the hotel would offer “something a little more interesting” for guests.

[Photo credit/ Flickr user ultraclay]