With so many people—and companies—“going green” these days, it’s hard to know who’s in the Eco Revolution for real. When it comes to buildings, however, there is one way to be certain: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The strict guidelines developed by the U.S. Green Building Council focus on construction and energy consumption. In the world of travel and hotels, this seal of approval helps separate serious change agents from so-called green properties touting towel re-use programs. Every little bit helps, but there are shades of “green” to be sure.
To date, there are only 16 LEED hotels in the U.S., with a handful more pending the arduous certification.
In a scene reminiscent of a really really good Hollywood disaster movie, Sydneysiders woke up Wednesday to find their city had turned red overnight.
A freak unprecented storm carried an estimated 5 million tons of Outback dust that settled over buildings, parks, and beaches; it even set off a cacophonous chorus of smoke alarms in Business District and almost totally obscured Sydney’s famous Opera House and Harbour Bridge in a ruddy Mars-like haze.
Over the past two years, I’ve been learning how to meditate in an attempt to find balance, quiet my mind and, well, “zone out” on command, which is a nifty skill to have when traveling—especially on long flights. So when I heard about a new literally mind-altering product from Swedish sleep experts and luxury bed makers Hästens called “MindSpa,” I was intrigued.
The device, which was developed by some pretty great minds at Stanford University, uses flashing lights and rhythmic sounds, voice and music, or to use the technical term, "audio visual stimulation" (AVS), to relax the user, igniting Beta (alert), Alpha (calm), Delta (deeply meditative) and Theta (deep sleep) brain states to encourage sleep and refresh circadian rhythms (i.e. it’s great for jet lag).
Wanting to experience this tranquil bliss for myself, I decided to put MindSpa to the test, and had the perfect opportunity when a recent flight of mine was delayed at LaGuardia Airport.
A flurry of reports this week reveals just how bad things are for the shrinking U.S. airline industry. Not since 9/11 have there been so few planes in the sky, which means we leisure travelers are in stiff competition for fewer seats, and likely paying more, on average, to fly.
Rick Seaney, the CEO of FareCompare.com, thinks the best of the fall sales are over. With airlines cutting capacity, and having sold many fall seats during the recent promotions, planes will be crowded. [AP/Yahoo News]
It seems like everyone—and every company—is feeling the power of social media these days. In celebration of Hawaii’s 50 years of statehood, Marriott Resorts Hawaii is hopping on the e-bandwagon with a two-part sweepstakes geared toward Twitter and Facebook users, offering 25 all-expense paid trips for two to Kauai, Oahu, Maui or the Big Island and a trip for one lucky tweeter and 11 guests.
I don’t know about you, but I need my eight hours of beauty sleep every night, and for this reason I’m pretty persnickety when it comes to mattresses—whether at home or at a hotel.
Hands-down some of my best hotel sleeps have been at Westin/Starwood properties, which was why I was excited to hear the hotel group’s 10th anniversary sale offering 25 percent off its famous beds. The Heavenly Bed made by Simmons is a genius layering of patented pocket coils covered with 13 fluffy inches of pillow-top (yes, 13!). The result is a delicious medium-firm cradle that's guaranteed to send you off to Dreamland in no time.
Confession: When I first heard about Luminato three years ago, I thought—for a moment—about canceling plans to go a friend’s wedding to attend the first year of the ridiculously ambitious Toronto arts festival. With literally hundreds of artists slated to participate, I was, to put it mildly, giddy over its utopian vision of arts, community, and urban renewal. It felt big and historic, and I wanted to be there in person for the event’s debut.
Luminato 2009 (June 5 - June 14) looks to be just as electrifying, with a dizzying line-up that includes the world’s largest guitar ensemble, the Canadian Tenors, family dance parties, tastings from top Toronto chefs, public art pranksters, and a closing celebration from Canada’s-own Cirque du Soleil . Most events are free to the public.
Slipping over the border to Baja for the weekend, roadtripping to Quebec, or sailing to Bermuda for some pink sand-and-rum swizzle therapy won't be as easy as it used to be: Starting June 1, 2009, U.S. citizens seeking re-entry to the United States by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean (excluding Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) will be required to show valid passports, or “Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative”-approved documents.