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Founder of Peek, Ruzwana Bashir, on Top Travel Trends for 2015

Ruzwana Bashir

The founder of Peek, a tour- and activity-booking website, on how our screens will shape where we go next.

Q: What travel-tech innovations are on the horizon?

A: Mobile is big. Everyone is walking around with a computer in hand. Small companies can run their businesses on the go, and consumers can book online, whether it’s an activity, a hotel, or a car. Real-time availability will mean a profound shift to more last-minute planning and instant booking. You can see that with HotelTonight, and it will continue.

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Hyatt Throws Down the Gauntlet, Offers Free Wi-Fi to All

If the recent announcements from Starwood, Taj Hotels, and Marriott are any indication, free basic Wi-Fi is on its way to becoming the norm at big-name hotel groups. But now, Hyatt has upped the ante, offering complimentary service across all brands to all guests, regardless of membership status or where the reservations are booked. (At Starwood properties, for example, only loyalty members who book through Starwood channels will get the perk.) In addition, Wi-Fi will be available on unlimited mobile devices and laptops—unlike Taj, which limits it to three.

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New Business Class-Only Airline Expands With Flights Between New York and London

We first wrote about La Compagnie—a business class-only airline founded by industry veterans Frantz Yvelin (L’Avion) and Peter Luethi (Swissair; JetAirways)—when it launched last July with flights connecting Newark Liberty International Airport and Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport. The carrier just announced that it will be launching its second route, between Newark and London, on March 29, 2015. Travelers will be able to book tickets by the end of December. The same tiered ticket structure (based on cancellation and change options), baby-blue airplane, and business-class amenities will apply.

Brooke Porter
Brooke Porter Katz is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.

Marriott and Taj Hotels Offering Free WiFi—But There’s a Catch

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UPDATE: Starwood has joined the free Wi-Fi ranks. The hotel behemoth recently announced that it will offer complimentary service for all members of the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program beginning in February. One hitch: you only get it if you book through an official Starwood channel, including hotel brand websites, SPG.com, and the SPG app.

Hyatt and Hilton: the ball is in your court.

 

In the last few weeks, two major hotel brands have announced that they will start offering free WiFi: Taj Hotels started November 15, and Marriott next year, on January 15. But before you start cheering, there is a catch: the internet speed is only fast enough for checking email, browsing the internet, and updating social media. All things we do while on the road, sure, but if you were hoping to stream any video or download large files, it’ll cost you.

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New Angkor Wat Guidebook Benefits Cambodian Schools

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Last year on my honeymoon to Southeast Asia, I was lucky enough to meet Andy Booth, the founder of the Siem Reap-based tour company ABOUTAsia (and a member of the T+L A-List). A 2013 Global Vision Awards winner, it donates 100% of profits to local schools, buying them uniforms and supplies, digging wells, and providing training and fair wages to teachers. The tours themselves—to the temples and surrounding villages—are perfectly crafted and designed to avoid the crowds; we were always going opposite traffic and even had a few of the smaller temples of Angkor completely to ourselves (an impressive feat for a popular tourist destination).

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3 Travel Subscription Boxes to Try Now

Try the World subscription box

Even if you can’t travel all the time, the world can come to you—thanks to new subscription services that package items from places near and far into tidy, curated boxes. Try the World assembles locally made food items: chestnut spread in the Paris box, say, or dried seaweed in the Tokyo edition. Hazel Lane is a cheerleader for American crafts, such as art prints from Brooklyn or dip-dye napkins from Austin, Texas. And the collections by A Box From—so far, Seoul and Tehran, Iran—include what founder Elin Aram calls “silly small stuff.” Because nothing says Korean kitsch like a hamburger-shaped notepad.

Brooke PorterBrooke Porter Katz is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.

Photo by David Alexander Arnold


Also on Travel + Leisure:
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Belmond to Launch First Train in Ireland

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All aboard! Belmond just announced it is launching its first train in Ireland, the Belmond Grand Hiberian, in summer 2016. Named for Ireland’s classical Latin name of Hibernia, it’ll have 20 luxury sleeper cabins (including four interconnecting suites for families), two restaurant cars, and an observation bar car.

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New Photo Book Showcases the World's Best Gardens

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A cacti-filled garden in Morocco, lush country homes in England, a tropical oasis in Florida: the world is filled with countless public and private green spaces—and the new book The Gardener’s Garden brings together more than 250 of the world’s best.

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Wow Air Offers $99 Flights to Iceland—and More Low-Cost, Long-Haul News.

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Last week, the Iceland-based Wow Air announced that starting in March 2015, it would offer special introductory fares from Boston and Baltimore: $99 one-way flights to Reykjavik and $228 roundtrip flights to London and Copenhagen. The discount carrier is taking a page from Norwegian, which is now flying out of five U.S. cities, with more to come. (Though unlike Norwegian, it won’t include free WiFi.) As for luggage charges, expect to pay $29 for a carry-on booked online, or $48 at the airport.

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What are Sting's Top Hotels? We Talked Travel with the Musical Icon


Sting relived his past as a cruise ship entertainer with an intimate performance aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 earlier this week. The show took place just two days after the Broadway debut of his first-ever musical, The Last Ship, now playing at the Neil Simon Theatre.

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