Air New Zealand Will Soon Launch ‘Hobbit’-Themed Flights

the hobbitFans of the popular book and film “The Hobbit” now have another reason to travel. Air New Zealand will soon be launching themed flights in honor of J R.R. Tolkien’s novel and Peter Jackson’s two-part movie.

The two-year partnership makes perfect sense, as the natural landscape of New Zealand was the backdrop for the film.

According to CNNGo, “Passengers flying between New Zealand’s capital Wellington and the United Kingdom or the United States have a chance of being on the Hobbit-themed flights.”

While the official launch date is not confirmed, it has been decided that a Boeing 777-300 will focus on “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” while a Boeing 777-200 will set the backdrop for a flight centered on “The Hobbit: There and Back Again.” Changes will be made in safety briefings, flight attendant uniforms and airline social media contests to coordinate.

Says Sue Kroll, president of worldwide marketing for New Line and MGM’s parent company, Warner Bros, “The promotions planned by Air New Zealand in support of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again are both eye-catching and innovative and we look forward to collaborating with them on the campaigns for both films.”

[Image via Air New Zealand]

Unusual Tourist Attraction: Japanese City Unveils World’s Largest Toilet

toilets While most travelers spend time visiting sites like churches, castles, parks and museums, Ichihara City in the Chiba Prefecture of Japan is hoping to bring in tourists with a new kind of attraction: the world’s largest toilet. In fact, they’re so hopeful that the unusual attraction will bring in travelers; they’ve spent 10 million yen (about $125,945) on the project.

The site, which sits in front of Itabu Station on the Kominato Railway Line, is actually your average-sized toilet; however, it’s housed in a giant clear box and sits on an expansive 2,153 square-foot plot of land. While it doesn’t provide much privacy on the property, there is a surrounding fence to hide the toilet from outsiders. The city is hoping the beautiful new toilet will provide an enjoyable reprieve for drivers and passengers of the train, as well as attendees of next year’s Ichihara Art Festival.

Right now, the lavish restroom is only open to women, although the designer of the toilet, Sou Fujimoto, wants it to be open to the public for everyone to enjoy.

“I could enjoy the spectacular view while still feeling protected,” the architect told the Japan Times. “No other toilet would allow you a feeling like that.”

[flickr image via Britt Selvitelle]

Las Vegas’ hotel supervisor tells all in Reddit Q & A

An alleged Las Vegas‘ hotel supervisor, Front_Desk_LV, decided to host an “AMA” (Ask Me Anything) Q&A discussion on the online community site Reddit earlier yesterday afternoon. While some of the questions seem blunt, the answers are shockingly honest.

The following questions were posed by members of the Reddit community and answered by the anonymous contributor. You can check the thread over on Reddit for more of the vivacious discussion.

Q: How big is the hotel? Number of rooms? Are your maintenance guys in-house or contracted out? What about the gambling machines? Does the hotel have techs to work on them, or is there an outside company that fixes the machines?

A: Our hotel has around 2,000 rooms. Our maintenance guys are in-house. And, I have no comment on the last question. I am not commenting on anything gaming related. It is just one of those issues you don’t f*ck with.

Q: What’s the best story you can remember [about] throwing either a person or party out?

A: One of the first few days I was working at my hotel there was a bachelor party in town. They ended up getting a midget stripper for entertainment, which is fine by us. As long as everything is confined to the room and nothing is illegal that we know about, it is okay. About three hours later I see the midget run by the front desk completely naked being chased by four guys. Naturally we threw them out, but I couldn’t stop laughing during the eviction process. Sadly, most of the evictions are due to drunk people getting out of control and throwing things off their balconies and then lying to us when we have them on camera. If they just tell us the truth and say it won’t happen again we generally let them stay.

Q: What kind of illegal activity do you get?

A: We know prostitution and drug use will happen in the hotel; however, as long as it doesn’t disrupt our daily operations or you don’t do it right in front of us we don’t mind. We are not the moral police. I actually had a guest checking into the hotel and she just reeked of weed. During the check-in process she put her purse up on the counter and I see a bag of weed, around an ounce. I let her know I am unaware of what that flower is but tell her it smells nice. She discretely places her purse in a better spot. She invited me back to the room with her; however, I declined because I love my job, but also because she was gross. More because she was gross.Q: What professional organization would you perceive as the least professional when conferencing?

A: I am still the low man on the totem pole, so I am not involved in conference calls. I mainly oversee the front desk, bell desk, and valet services. Since I work overnight I am technically the highest authority during overnights; however, I never actually reprimand anyone from a different department; I merely send a message to their boss. Generally, engineering is the least professional in my experience because they have limited engagement with the guests and seem to get away with the most.

Q: I imagine that once the party is over, the rooms can take a beating. What’s the weirdest/grossest/best thing you have seen after the guests checked out?

A: When someone decides to trash a room all that happens is we charge them and we charge them a lot of money. Normally it’s someone having a fun time in their tub and it overflows because they forget about it, causing damage to not only their room, but multiple.

Q: Have you heard of the “twenty dollar bill trick”? Does it really work?

A: I am assuming you are talking about putting a $20 in between your I.D. and your credit card. It really depends on the front desk agent. Some will take the money and will still give you a crappy room because they are bitter, some will give you a better room, and some would have given you the best room they could have, period. Our hotel doesn’t have ANY complimentary upgrades to a better suite, so it’s really only higher floors or views/balcony.

Q: Have you ever dealt with or met any celebrities?

A: I have. I have met numerous celebrities and have yet to meet a rude one. They normally have their managers check them in while they wait; however, they are extremely nice to the staff. I have heard horror stories; however, our guests have all been nice. We have a harder time with people who are just important enough to be on our radar; however, think they deserve the world. Like “special” casino guests or a relative of someone important in the company.

Q: Any recommendations for first time Las Vegas travelers?

A: Get here early. If we are oversold on rooms, it is normally the last people who show up who get sent somewhere else. I had someone arrive at 1 AM the other night after driving for ten hours with his wife and kids, only for me to tell him he “cannot stay here and we have made accommodations elsewhere for him”. He was livid.

I recommend seeing some shows while you are here. Jersey Boys, Beatles Love Show, Mystère, and Ka, in that order. Hotwire apparently has the best rates; however, if you book directly through the hotel you have a better chance that the hotel can work with you.

Don’t see the Michael Jackson show. It was terrible. Terrible.

Q: How fulfilling is living in Vegas socially? I imagine someone who likes variety and new things would find it engaging. Does it offer general recreation or hang outs?

A: Right now I am working overnights and I dislike it. I’m not someone who enjoys going to clubs, but overall I enjoy living in Vegas. The bars have amazing specials all day long to attract locals, it is cheap to live here, and there are no state income taxes. I plan on living here while I potentially earn my Master’s Degree in Finance.

To read the unedited version of this interview, click here.

[flickr image via Pocheco ]

Photo of the Day: Singapore’s unusual theme park

photo of the day

This fellow is from one of Singapore‘s more unusual attractions – the Haw Par Villa theme park, also called Tiger Balm Gardens. Originally built in the 1930s by the creators of Tiger Balm to showcase Chinese folklore and mythology, the park is known for its bizarre and gruesome Ten Courts of Hell with such creepy statues and dioramas as a human-faced crab and bloody dismembered torsos (apparently it all makes sense if you know your Chinese mythology). It’s been relatively deserted in recent years, making it all the more bizarre. You can see more photos of the park in Flickr user SingaPaulie‘s photostream. The MRT metro line was extended this fall and you can now ride the Circle Line train to the park.

Capture any odd attractions on your travels? Add your shots to the Gadling Flickr pool for a future Photo of the Day.

New Zealander auctions off Paris Hilton’s boarding pass

A man flying from New Zealand to Fiji on August 12th found a little surprise at his business class seat. Slipped between the pages of his in-flight magazine was the boarding pass of celebutant Paris Hilton, who had traveled to Fiji a few days prior.

Rather than toss the pass, the man decided to put it up for sale on a New Zealand auction site. Despite his claim that is “certainly has no other value” aside from being an unusual bit of memorabilia, as it “doesn’t smell of her perfume, have anything to do with panties”, the bids started rolling in. The price increased, and the man decided to donate the proceeds of the sale to a local charity.

The auction closed Monday at NZ$710 (US$485). So how would Paris feel if she knew her boarding pass was being auctioned off? Well, she did know – she posted a link on twitter, calling the story “random”.

[via Jaunted]