At Travel + Leisure, we love hearing about services that bring a refreshing level of ease and flexibility to booking travel. Enter OptionsAway.com. Started by Rob and Heidi Brown, a team of financial experts-turned-travel addicts, the site was born from their frustration over missing great travel opportunities because of fluxuating airfares. They used their knowledge in options pricing and applied it to air travel—and it's working. We sat down with co-founder Brown to find out more.
Q: How is Options Away disrupting travel? A: Options Away is offering an opportunity that has never been available to consumers before—the ability to lock-in airfares while they finalize their travel plans, and do so across multiple airlines. It is disruptive in the sense that we have actually begun to transform the way people plan and book travel. Travelers can hold prospective flights by paying a small fee and eliminating the need for immediate booking. With such a low cost and no commitment to purchase plane tickets, Options Away travelers can hold several flights at once.
We enjoy discovering great new travel brands, companies, and products—especially ones that incorporate great design and do good.
There are so many reasons to like Kammok. Initially crowd-funded, the innovative outdoor brand launched in 2010 with the “Roo,” a smart closable bedding solution to help people in malaria-stricken countries. The lightweight flexible hammock easily attaches to two trees, works in tight spaces (like camp cabins and orphanages), and is even being used in yoga studios and on city terraces. Not surprisingly, word about the high-tech, comfortable hammock spread.
Accommodations around the world for free? The idea is admittedly utopian, but it’s also a reality thanks to the fast-growing website Trustedhousesitters.com, which features housesitting opportunities in 60 countries and counting. That’s right, houses—many of them dreamy amenity-filled homes—where you can stay free of charge.
Gimmicky packages and marketing campaigns are far too common in the travel business, which is why we love it when we hear about a hotel tie-in that is fresh, edgy, and captures the artistic spirit of a destination—for real.
The Hotel Palomar, in San Francisco’s Union Square neighborhood, is partnering with Inked Magazine Creative Director Todd Weinberger and Contributing Writer Jennifer Goldstein to create a tattoo getaway package. (This is not a misprint.)
Travel + Leisure has long celebrated hotels as the go-to choice for travel accommodations, and in recent years we've covered the explosion of the vacation rental market, from villas to Airbandb.com. Time shares were not often part of the conversation. Their merits as a good investment were questionable—limitations on use and impossible to resell. Enter Vacatia.com. With a special focus on the family market, this online marketplace for timeshares is changing things for the better. We caught up with Keith Cox, Vacatia.com's CEO:
Q: How is Vacatia.com disrupting travel? A: Vacatia is creating a new online sales and marketing channel for the timeshare and fractional ownership industry, a $10B a year market segment of travel that is still selling almost exclusively offline using the same sales strategies that have been used for decades. In particular, with the recent launch of Vacatia.com, we are bringing transparency and liquidity to the secondary, resale market serving the 8.2MM American families who own timeshare.
On a recent trip to Tucson, I was amazed to learn that the Sonoran Desert, which laps at the city’s doorstep, is second only to the Amazon for its diversity of plants and animals. Who knew? I was also excited to discover the iconic Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa—which underwent $35 million in renovations to its guestrooms, public spaces, and pools in 2013—has partnered with Tucson’s excellent Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to inspire and educate guests, and bring the incredible surroundings to light.
UPDATE: Whether you live in the Deep South, the Midwest or along the East Coast, you're likely to experience severly stormy weather today. According to CNN, 75 million Americans, or a third of the country, are under threat of severe weather, which may include tornadoes, high winds and hail; the Deep South has been the hardest hit, with a powerful spring storm system overtaking Mississippi and Alabama. The risk of severe weather is expected to continue through Wednesday, and may affect Americans living between the Great Lakes and the Gulf Coast, and through the Midwest and the East Coast.
This one falls in the “Are you kidding?” category: Just as East Coasters from New Jersey to Massachusetts are coming back online and picking up the pieces after the ravages of Hurricane Sandy, a nor’easter is threatening to wallop the same area this Wednesday or Thursday. Named for the direction the storm travels, this type of weather typically has many of the same characteristics as a hurricane—fierce winds, heavy rains or snow, and—brace yourselves (again) coastal residents—tidal flooding.
While this new storm is not expected to be pack the same intensity as Sandy, it is worth watching—especially in the Carolinas. Whether you live in its projected path, are planning a trip East, or just want to have smart weather forecasts in your pocket, there are five Webby Award-winning apps that should be on your Doppler radar:
As freezing rain pelts New York City streets, it feels strange to acknowledge, let alone celebrate, yet another made-up holiday: National Frozen Yogurt Day. But I can’t help myself, namely because I just tasted the BEST frozen yogurt of my life at Blue Olive Market, in Midtown Manhattan.
The welcoming, newly opened Greek marketplace is a mini Eataly-style space, with everything from build-your-own Greek salads to authentic prepared foods—toothy moussakas, savory bean dips drizzled with house-infused olive oils, and more. There’s also a wine bar with Mediterranean pours, a soup station featuring lemony avgolemono, and a pastry counter. But it was the siren call of the Greek Yogurt Bar that lured me within seconds, and that will keep me coming back.