Gulfstream’s $500 million expansion of Savannah, GA headquarters to create 1,000 jobs

According to many pundits, the so-called recession that gripped the world in 2009 is far from “over,” but we’ve been noticing steady signs of recovery in the travel industry over the course of 2010. While consumers and businesspeople alike are still pinching pennies and thinking twice as hard about where their funds are going, more and more bodies are moving about, particularly by plane. Gulfstream, which maintains a headquarters in Savannah, Georgia, seems more convinced than ever that we’re on the rebound, and it’s announcing today a huge investment that’ll better position it “to meet future demand for business-jet aircraft and support services.”

The spend? $500 million over the next seven years, and that’ll buy significant expansion of its Savannah plant as well as around 1,000 full-time Gulfstream Aerospace jobs (a hike of about 15 percent from its current level of 5,500 employees). According to Savannah Now, those positions will include production specialists, engineers, and support technicians. Needless to say, quite a few folks in the Peach State are celebrating the news, with Gov. Sonny Perdue being one of many on hand today for the announcement. Moreover, the expansion will result in new facilities at the northwest quadrant of the Savannah / Hilton Head International Airport.

Gulfstream suggests that the investment will also help it meet a growing demand for large-cabin aircraft, with large chunks of the cash used to build production plants for G650 (“Like a G6!”) and G250 jets, as well as maintenance capacity for all of the models that the company manufactures. Unsurprisingly, we’re hearing that the bulk of that demand is coming from international clients (Asia Pacific, specifically), but the company seems bound and determined to keep its roots in the south.

We know Gulfstream doesn’t speak for the entire aviation industry, but it’s definitely good to see a major player like this making such a tremendous investment in the future of air travel. Here’s hoping it’s just the beginning of a beautiful turnaround.

[Via Twitter (@mksteele)]

17 great destinations for romance

Some say that romance is a lost art – but it’s not. It’s just hiding, waiting to be uncovered in some of the most beautiful places around the globe. Whether you are trying to show that special someone that they truly are special, making a proposal, or rekindling the flame you once had with your spouse, setting the stage is your first step to success. Whether you are searching for the perfect romantic spot close to home or halfway around the world, the following 17 destinations are sure to bring out the romantic in each of us.

Paris, France
Who could leave Paris off a list of romantic places? You simply can’t. Montmartre is the most romantic neighborhood in “the most romantic city in the world.” Begin your tour of this hilly district with a ride up the Montmartre funicular as it glides along on its heavenly ascent to the Basilica of Sacre-Cœur at the summit of the highest point in the city. From here a dazzling view of Paris unfolds before you. Amble slowly, hand in hand, and wind your way along romantic back alleys and cobblestone streets, taking in the magic of the artist’s corner of Place du Tertre, descending the stairs of Rue Foyatier. and concluding at 15 rue Lepic where Amelie Poulain immortalized romantic conjuring at Cafe des Deux Moulin.Rome, Italy
With more than 280 resplendent fountains, a “Rome-antic” tour of this city must undoubtedly center on a day of gastronomy. Enjoy a cafe latte near the Fountain of Triton followed by a tour of Palazzo Barberini. View the Barcaccia Fountain and make your way up (and down) the Spanish Steps for fantastic vistas of Rome and savour a calzone from an authentic Roman trattoria.

At Piazza Navona, view the Fountain of the Four Rivers and the Fountain of the Moor followed by an alfresco dinner and soak up the sights and smells. A bewitching time to enjoy the Trevi Fountain is late at night when mystical illumination cast spells and shadows. Before the effects of a day filled with romance takes over drop in to Il Gelato di San Crispino, reported to be the best in Rome.

Florence, Italy

In E.M Forster’s novel “A Room with a View,” Lucy Honeychurch found romance (and the view) in the orange and rose-scented hills of Fiesole overlooking Florence. Grab a table and soak up local flavor as art and culture surrounds you. Book your own room with a view at Hotel degli Orafi.

London, England

Place the sights of London at you feet aboard the London Eye, the largest ferris wheel in Europe rising 443 majestic feet above regal London. Pop the question in a private capsule kitted out with a bottle of Pommery champagne and decadent truffles. The 30 minute rotation of the capsule allows plenty of time to overcome any objections.

San Francisco, California

The “City by the Bay” is as photogenic as Grace Kelly. There’s something almost transcendental about Golden Gate Bridge, the cable cars, Coit Tower, Alamo Square, and Lombard Street that naturally stirs up salacious appetite. We’ve been smitten for years and the affair hasn’t seemed to ebb. The bar on the top floor of the Mark Hopkins Hotel offers stunning, 360-degree panoramic views.

Venice, Italy
A gondola ride in Venice has a heavenly price tag, but is a memory to last forever. There is simply nothing quite as romantic as settling into a red velvet-cushioned gondola as your gondolier paddles slowly through quiet canals and under historic bridges as you drift back into the 16th and 17th centuries. A bottle of Valpolicella beforehand at the Piazza San Marco and your gondolier could sound like Pavarotti.

Budapest, Hungary
Once considered the Paris of Central Europe, Budapest offers a heady blend of Eastern and Western European culture. Stroll over the Danube at Chain Bridge and take the funicular up to the Gothic Quarter with resplendent views over the city. Revel in centuries-old architecture and reasonably priced, hearty food and wine. Budapest is the only large city in the world with 118 natural thermal springs supplying nearly 20 million gallons of healing water every day. One of the most impressive is Gellert Spa.

Bruges, Belgium

Think Venice without the crowds. Medieval Bruges abounds with Gothic churches, 17th-century mansions, sparkling canals and flower markets. Most other European cities you’re looked at with disdain for eating on the street. Bruges responds with pedestrian-friendly pommes frites (fries in the US), stuffed into a paper cone, dusted with salt and slathered with mayonnaise. Go to the Louvre for art. Go to Bruges for chocolate. Consider the possibilities at the town’s official website.

San Diego, California
Can’t splurge on a romantic weekend in Paris? Budget-conscious Americans can retreat to a “staycation” in La Jolla, an affluent suburb of San Diego. San Diego can be your affordable base to tour this romantic getaway blessed with 366 days of warm sunshine, trendy boutiques, swanky restaurants and an active arts and cultural community. Toss in a few sumptous stretches of beach, ranging from quiet coves to heady surf, and you have a place that most closely resembles the French or Italian Riviera. Accommodation ranges from a Best Western to the opulent La Valencia, known as La Vie. La Dolce Vita, stateside.

Buenos Aires, Argentina
The South American capital of Buenos Aires breathes sensuality. Voyeuristic spectators can observe on city streets as couples maneuver between emotions of love and hate, contempt and passion, repulsion and desire, all within a 3 minute dance known as tango. Ditch the marriage counselor back home and take lessons at La Catedral in the microcentro.

— The above was written by BriBuenosAires, Seed contributor



Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Nestled amongst the Leeward group of the Society Islands of French Polynesia in the South Pacific, Bora Bora is still somewhat of a hidden gem. Many have heard of it, but few have actually experienced its beauty. The island itself is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef and is home to an extinct volcano. The lagoon holds some of the most truly breathtaking water you will ever see.

With average water temperatures in the 80’s year around, there is never a lack of water activities available for couples to partake in. For the more adventurous at heart, take a trip inland to the massive peaks of Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu. Bora Bora may take a little longer to get to, but if you are looking for a not so well trodden path to romance, then it is well worth the trip.


San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan is the second oldest European-settled city in the Americas, giving it a rich cultural and archaeological history. With average daily temperatures in the 80’s all year around, the weather is perfect for strolling downtown along the old streets that are covered in cobblestones or lounging on the white sandy beach with the ocean breeze blowing by.

San Juan has somehow managed to blend a modern metropolitan city with the antiquities of the past in a way that offers something for everyone. The pace is slow in keeping with its Latin roots, but vibrant nonetheless. The island of Puerto Rico is only 100 miles wide and 40 miles across making day trips to the tropical rainforests that cover the interior or the less crowded beaches of Ponce an easy drive. Beautiful beaches, stunning history and warm tropical nights filled with the sounds of Latin music – a definite recipe for romance.

Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is for the hopeless romantic. Take a step back in time to an era where romance was still alive and well. Savannah sits along the Savannah River and is only about 20 minutes from the Atlantic. Some of America’s most treasured eighteenth and nineteenth century architecture can be found in Savannah’s large historic districts.

With warm summers and cool winters, the weather in Savannah is usually agreeable. It’s almost impossible to walk down the streets of old Savannah and not envision ladies in antebellum gowns riding alongside their beau in a horse-drawn carriage. If old fashioned romance is what you are looking for, then Savannah is your city.

Bali, Indonesia
The island paradise of Bali covers about 2,000 square miles and is located at the westernmost tip of the Lesser Sunda Islands. With a history that dates back to at least 2000 B.C., the Balinese people are an interesting mix of Chinese, Arab and Indian. While you can find modern conveniences on Bali, you may also encounter pockets of native people that are forbidden to have contact with outsiders. If seclusion and privacy are your ingredients for romance, then Bali is the spot for you.

With temperatures in the 80’s year around, you will definitely want to find your own slice of beach paradise while you are there. Bali has gorgeous white sand over much of its beaches, but if you want to see something unusual, check out the black sand found on the west coast. Bali is one of the few places left where you can still find a secluded little cove along the beach to make your own little romantic hideaway for the day.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Puerto Vallarta can be found along the Pacific Coast of Mexico, in some of the most crystal clear water on the planet. The city itself somehow manages to blend modern restaurants and shops with centuries old architecture and culture. With perfect weather year around and breathtaking sunsets daily, you are bound to feel romance in the air here.

While you will find American tourists in Puerto Vallarta, you will find a more sophisticated class of tourists – this is not Cancun’s party central. Just a short drive to the north or south and you will find lovely little towns for shopping or more private walks along the beach. Mayan ruins and tropical rainforest canopy trips are also perfect day trips from Puerto Vallarta. Grab a margarita, pull up a rock and watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.

New Orleans, Louisiana
The Big Easy. If you like music, culture or people then this is the romantic city for you. The French Quarter in New Orleans is a world unto itself. Definitely skip Mardi Gras, but any other time of the year it feels as though you have been transported to another time and place where music and love are perpetually in the air. The people (or more appropriately – characters) that you will encounter in the French Quarter just seem to exude fun, happiness and romance. If you want to spend some time alone, follow the ocean along Interstate 10 for a day trip and soak up some of the most beautiful scenery the south has to offer. If you aren’t in love when you get to New Orleans, you will be when you leave.

Santorini, Greek Islands
Imagine watching a breathtaking sunset from your Santorini villa perched on the side of a volcano overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It’s like being inside a Hallmark card. The views are like nothing found elsewhere on the planet. Black sand beaches cover most of the island but a gorgeous and unique red sand beach can also be found on Santorini. If you are feeling adventurous, there a number of islands close by, all within an easy day trip and just waiting to be explored. Romance seems to be carried on the wind in the Mediterranean and Santorini is a perfect example

— The above was written by Leigia Rosales, Seed contributor

Related:
* The 25 greatest cities in the world for drinking wine
* The 20 greatest cities in the world for foodies
* 20 great destinations for shopping
* 35 fantastic U.S. beaches for summer

Travel Trends: The effect of Southwest Airlines’ cheap fares on competitor fares

The last time you wanted to book a trip somewhere in the U.S., what airline did you think of first? If you’re like thousands of U.S. air passengers, you checked to see if Southwest Airlines flew in and out of the city you wanted to visit. Since its inception almost forty years ago in 1971, Southwest has been providing passengers all over the country with low-cost travel options.

Southwest uses several strategies to lower its costs so they can, in turn, can offer cheap fares. Among them:

  1. They mostly fly in and out of secondary markets, which are less costly.
  2. They only use one type of plane, the Boeing 737, which keeps maintenance costs down.
  3. They only fly domestically.
  4. Southwest Airlines is a “low frills” airline, dispensing with extras like meals or in-flight movies.

The formula seems to be working. The average Southwest Airlines ticket can often be a fraction of the price of a ticket on another major airline. Further, many passengers will drive out of their way to a secondary market in order to be able to take a Southwest flight. As a result of this success, other airlines have been pressured to lower their prices in order to compete. The average ticket price in markets with Southwest in them has gone down in the last ten years, while many markets without Southwest have gone up.

Because of Southwest’s policy of serving secondary markets, however, it’s difficult to do a simple analysis of the data to see in which markets the price has gone down, and in which markets it has gone up. Take, for example, Chicago Midway Airport, into which Southwest flies. Southwest does not fly into Chicago O’Hare, but prices there are still likely to be affected, since airlines at O’Hare want to compete for passengers who might otherwise go to Midway and use Southwest.

For a simple analysis, we looked at four cities in which Southwest had started service in the last ten years, and then compared ticket prices ten years later.

Buffalo started Southwest service in 2000. By 2009, Buffalo’s average fare had plunged by 19%. Southwest entered the market in both Dulles and Denver in 2006. From 2006 to 2009, the average ticket price at Dulles went down 1%; in Denver, the average ticket price dropped 13%. In 2007, service to San Francisco started; between 2007 and 2009, the average airfare went down 21%. None of these data account for inflation either.

By contrast, we also looked at the airfares from 2000-2009 in markets that did not have Southwest. Although the gains were modest by some means, in a world where most airfares have gone down in the last ten years, they were still significant. Not only does Savannah, Georgia, not have Southwest, but Southwest does not operate anywhere in the entire state of Georgia. Therefore, it was no surprise to see a 6% increase in fares over the last ten years. Alabama and Tennessee are both under served by Southwest, as well, which is reflected by Memphis increasing by 3% and Huntsville increasing by 9%. Finally, Reagan (Washington DC), which competes with Dulles, went up by 2%.

All in all, it’s cheaper overall to fly now than it was in 2000; but for the markets served by Southwest, it is cheaper still. The advent of Southwest and other low-cost airlines such as Air Tran have lowered costs all over the nation. Many people have reported that flying Southwest is a more pleasant experience in other ways as well; the facts bear this out. Southwest has the lowest customer complaints in the industry (as of 2009).

So what are you waiting for? Grab your sun tan lotion and your swimsuit — your next vacation in the California sun just got a lot cheaper.

Data Sources:

See more Travel Trends.

Luxury pet hotel to open in Savannah

Pets need a little pampering, too, at least that’s what the owners of Catnip ‘n’ Biscuits believe. The new luxury pet ‘hotel’ is opening this Saturday in Savannah, Georgia, giving pet owners are new reason to leave town.

Catnip ‘n’ Biscuits, a doggie day care and luxury pet hotel, is similar to human hotels in that it has individual rooms for pets, heating and air conditioning, and recreational and eating areas, but the pet hotel offers something human hotels don’t: obedience school. “All pets are tested for temperament, and there’s an attendant on duty at all times,” said Cathi Denham, co-owner of the hotel. “We’re not a kennel with chain link fences and concrete floors. We have recycled rubber floors and theme rooms with toddler beds and TVs.” In addition, Denham says that pets older than 7 months must be spayed or neutered to attend the day care at her luxury camp (insert joke about illicit hotel room affairs here).

According to the website, dogs have their pick of luxury themed-boarding suites complete with a toddler bed and padded bedding and throw rugs, TVs and DVD players. Felines stay in kitty condos, a private area of the facility far away from all the dogs.

To make sure pets are well taken care of and to eliminate any parent-pet anxiety, parents can check in our their furry friends via Web cams, thanks to state-of-the-art equipment the owners installed in the camp area.

Laugh as you might over this new luxury amenity but there’s a simple fact that makes this hotel a cash cow: Data from the American Pet Products Association, a not-for-profit trade association, estimates that $47.7 billion will be spent on pets this year, up from $45.5 billion last year and $43.2 billion in 2008.

[via Savannahnow.com]

Chattanooga, Portsmouth among top art destinations in the U.S.

Who thought that Tennessee and New Hampshire would be some of the top towns in the country for art lovers. AmericanStyle magazine just issued the results of its twelfth annual arts destinations poll. Some spots are predictable. Others, like Chattanooga, will just blow your mind.

This is the first year Chattanooga made the list, shooting all the way up to second in the mid-sized city category. If you’ve been there, some of the surprise wears off. I hit Chattanooga back in 1999, and it was turning into a pretty cool small city. The past decade, obviously, has treated the city well. More shocking is the top mid-sized city: Buffalo, NY.

At the top of the small city list, Santa Fe is an utterly predictable #1 – like New York in the big city category. Portsmouth, NH, toward the bottom of the small city list, is a sentimental favorite. I had my first real job in Portsmouth and drank away many a Friday and Saturday (and Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday) night on its sidewalks.

See the full lists after the jump.Big Cities (population of 500,000 or more)

  1. New York, NY
  2. Chicago, IL
  3. Washington, DC
  4. San Francisco, CA
  5. Albuquerque, NM
  6. Boston, MA
  7. Seattle, WA
  8. Atlanta, GA
  9. Philadelphia, PA
  10. Los Angeles, CA
  11. Portland, OR
  12. Baltimore, MD
  13. Denver, CO
  14. Phoenix, AZ
  15. Austin, TX
  16. Charlotte, NC
  17. Columbus, OH
  18. Nashville, TN
  19. San Diego, CA
  20. Tucson, AZ
  21. San Antonio, TX
  22. Las Vegas, NV
  23. Milwaukee, WI
  24. Dallas, TX
  25. Houston, TX

Mid-Sized Cities (population of 100,000 to 499,000)

  1. Buffalo, NY
  2. Chattanooga, TN
  3. Pittsburgh, PA
  4. Scottsdale, AZ
  5. New Orleans, LA
  6. Charleston, SC
  7. Savannah, GA
  8. Cleveland, OH
  9. Ann Arbor, MI
  10. Minneapolis, MN
  11. Alexandria, VA
  12. Miami, FL
  13. Tacoma, WA
  14. St. Louis, MO
  15. Athens, GA
  16. Kansas City, MO
  17. Colorado Springs, MO
  18. Providence, RI
  19. Salt Lake City, UT
  20. Honolulu, HI
  21. Rochester, NY
  22. St. Petersburg, FL
  23. Cincinnati, OH
  24. Raleigh, NC
  25. Tampa, FL

Small Cities (population of below 100,000)

  1. Santa Fe, NM
  2. Asheville, NC
  3. Sedona, AZ
  4. Taos, NM
  5. Saugatuck, MI
  6. Key West, FL
  7. Berkeley Springs, WV
  8. Boulder, CO
  9. Carmel, CA
  10. Corning, NY
  11. Sarasota, FL
  12. Beaufort, SC
  13. Chapel Hill, NC
  14. Burlington, VT
  15. Annapolis, MD
  16. Aspen, CO
  17. Laguna Beach, CA
  18. Northampton, MA
  19. Eureka Springs, AR
  20. Brattleboro, VT
  21. New Hope, PA
  22. Naples, FL
  23. Cumberland, MD
  24. Berea, KY
  25. Portsmouth, NH