Some P.R. gigs are pretty cushy—like getting publicity for London. I mean, all you have to do is write a sentence using the words pub, West End, Tate Modern, mews, and—well, you had me at pub. But the boffins of ballyhoo at Visit London, the city’s official tourism website, and its parent, London & Partners, have done themselves proud with a series of video odes to the capital from some of London’s best-known celebs.
Chef Gordon Ramsay(above) waxes poetic about curry shops in Brick Lane and tells viewers the name of his favorite café for a “fry-up” (local slang for a full English breakfast). Actress, model, and Sixties icon Twiggy(below) goes gaga over London’s shopping scene. Mayor Boris Johnson recounts cycling to the London Borough of Hackney to enjoy bangers and mash at a local pub. Actress Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous, The Wolf of Wall Street) rhapsodizes over the duck ponds, statues, and tree-lined paths of Holland Park, “one of the best-kept secrets in London.” More videos from other Londoners can be found at visitlondon.com/story.
New York’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, often bemoans a “tale of two cities”—one rich, one poor. But lately he has been lamenting a different kind of tail—the ones on the horses that for decades have pulled the iconic tourist carriages through Central Park. De Blasio plans to ban the horse-drawn hansoms because, like many New Yorkers, he thinks the horses are undernourished, mistreated, and overworked, not unlike your typical Manhattan freelance fact-checker. And so, to keep the tourists coming back to the Big Apple, here are my alternatives to the Central Park horse-drawn carriages.
An Italian developer last week unveiled a plan to create a 10-acre amusement park in the heart of Venice, complete with gigantic Ferris wheel, roller coaster, bobbing boat rides, a log flume, a swinging galleon, and what look suspiciously like Polynesian thatched huts selling trinkets. The proposal is by no means assured, and must still be approved by local authorities. But nonetheless it answers the age-old question: No, nothing is sacred anymore.
The developer, Antonio Zamperla, has chosen as its site the ill-used San Biagio Island, a man-made spit of landfill that has long been exploited as a garbage dump. The builder said it will first clear the land and remediate the ecological damage before constructing the park. Among the attractions: re-enactments of the naval Battle of Lepanto, between the Turks and Venetians, in an artificial pond; Carnival-themed performances on an outdoor stage; interactive exhibits of the lagoon ecosystem; augmented-reality installations based on the city’s history; and a spinning, stand-up, half-pipe ride called a Disk’O, which is best enjoyed before you eat lunch.
Waiting in line—perhaps the most dreaded aspect—of the air travel experience—is improving by leaps and bounds this year at U.S. airports. For one, the TSA PreCheck expedited screening program, which is now available for international flights, is growing rapidly: the TSA has installed PreCheck lanes in 40 airports, with planned expansions into 60 more domestic airports by the end of 2013. Meanwhile, in-airport PreCheck enrollment centers will also soon start rolling out—opening up the program to all U.S. travelers willing to pay the $85 fee—no passport or frequent-flier membership required. The first will be in Indianapolis and Washington Dulles this fall, followed by some 300 locations across the country.
What do you do if you're a hotel chain that wants to grab the interest of potential Gen X and Y guests? It's obvious, isn't it? You entice young women into a hotel room where a pajama-clad CeeLo Green, the singer-songwriter behind the danceable hit, "F*** You," lies in wait, smiling seductively. And that, in fact, was the kick-off P.R. stunt for one seriously odd (and oddly cool) promotional campaign: Discovery Doors, which launches today. It's primarily an online video game on the Reniassance Hotel's website where gamers can win everything from membership in a Coffee-of-the-Month club to a trip for two around the world—500 prizes in all. Here's how it works…
Everyone's heard of the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, (see video) a tradition made famous by Ernest Hemingway in his 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises. I've run with the bulls too—not in Pamplona, but in Tecate, Mexico, in 1980, in a makeshift recreation of the Pamplona encierro. What a disaster. The bulls were small yearlings, far too young for such an event. It looked to me as if the tips of their horns had been purposely blunted. The runners were mainly drunk and rowdy college kids who yanked the animals' tails, knocked their legs out from under them, and piled on top of them as if it were a rugby scrum. And now, a group calling itself the Great Bull Run is bringing this extreme activity to a city near you. But hold the olés just yet.
The Carlton (go to 0:55 in the film clip, above) was the setting for the 1955 Alfred Hitchcock thriller To Catch A Thief, starring Cary Grant as a reformed diamond thief who is suspected of returning to his old ways. In the movie, the real thief is nabbed by Grant during a hot pursuit. In real life, the Carlton bijou bandit is still at large.
Here are five reasons why Lucky Pierre, the latest Cat Burglar of Cannes, has so far been successful in what may turn out to be the largest jewelry heist in history.
Beachside bonfires have been a Southern California tradition since at least the 1950s. Families cooking hot dogs. Surfers warming themselves against the early-evening chill. Lovers holding hands and gazing into the flames, with the roar of the surf in the background. Out-of-state visitors wanting to follow in the footsteps of their favorite actors from Baywatch and The O.C. Over the years, beach cities up and down the coast installed permanent fire rings for ease and safety. These fire rings have become part of our national pop culture. Think Gidget and Moondoggie. Think Annette and Frankie. And now think if those fire rings were banned--because that's almost what happened, until a fateful decision this month.
To: Boss From: Mark Subject: Nude Recreation Week, July 7-14
I took a look at that press release from the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) and I think we should forget about posting something on "Nude Recreation Week." Let me explain why…
First, I'm personally kinda sick of the whole calendarization thing. I mean, July 28 is National Day of the Cowboy. Is that even necessary? And July 19-August 26 is National Fishing Month. First month I ever heard of that has 38 days. Now comes Nude Recreation Week. You think that was passed by Congress or something? It's a bunch of guys at a bar coming up with this stuff.
Besides, aren't you tired of this trend for naming different kinds of vacations? The AANR is calling nude holidays "Nakations." Oh, please. Remember "stay-cations" during the Recession? Cute. Summer camps all over the country are sponsoring "playcations." Look up "daycation" at Urban Dictionary. It's out of control. What's next? Calling medical tourism "X-ray-cations"? It's an abomination!
Finally, I think we really need to consider the health and safety-related issues with this Nude Recreation Week concept. For instance, the press release they sent out recommends that if you want to ease into this whole naked thing slowly you could "wash the family pet in the nude" (which is silly, since pets don't usually wear clothes in the first place) and "vacuum the house nude." I'm sorry but there are just too many ways you could hurt yourself doing that, and I don't want that responsibility on my (fully clothed) shoulders.
Anyway, if you really want a write-up on this I'll do it. But under protest.
Mark Orwoll is the International Editor of Travel + Leisure. You can followhim on Twitter @orwoll and Like him on Facebook.
When reporters were duped on Monday into flying from Moscow to Havana on the Russian airline in hopes of interviewing National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden, the fugitive leaker was nowhere to be found. One passenger reported that the flight not only had no Snowden, it had "no turbulence and no booze." Seriously? No vodka?! On an Aeroflot flight?! It's true. The Moscow-Havana route is one of seven long-distance itineraries on which Aeroflot has banned alcohol in economy class. Why? Just watch the video above to get a sampling of the verbal assaults, fisticuffs, and other liquor-induced ill behavior seen on hundreds of Aeroflot flights every year. And now some legislators are considering even more stringent measures to stop the moonshine madness.