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Hilton Wants to Cure Your Layover Blues

Hilton Beijing Capital Airport

Ever stayed at an airport hotel? I have. Talk about bleak. Think Lubyanka prison without the charm. Vending machines instead of restaurants. Guest rooms with all the warmth of a doctor's office. But Hilton Hotels & Resorts thinks it's time to change all that, to give airport hotel guests the comforts they would expect in a full-service property. Here's how:

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World's Most Expensive Countries to Rent a Car

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Boy, I thought renting a car in Atlanta was expensive when I paid more than $80 a day for a Ford Claustrophobe. But Atlanta, Georgia, has nothing on Tblisi, Georgia, where a weeklong rental will run you upwards of $1,000 per week. That is highway robbery, literally.

A new survey from travelsupermarket.com ranks the 20 most expensive countries for car rentals, as well as the 20 cheapest. Once you read the results, you'll realize there's more to fear in Africa than rowdy hippos: African nations make up half of the most-expensive list. Ireland came in with the cheapest weekly rates, followed by Spain, Portugal, and Malta. The United States was in the cheaper half of the car-hire spectrum (but not quite in the top 20) with an average weekly rate of $195.80—based on rentals from airports in Los Angeles and Orlando.

Here, then, are the results:

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Airline to Little Guy: Stop Telling Passengers How to Avoid Luggage Fees

If you could pack for a vacation without using a suitcase—and thus avoid a $50 roundtrip airline surcharge—wouldn't you want to know about it? Of course you would. So why is Delta's inflight magazine, Delta Sky, refusing to accept this ad from SeV/ScotteVest?

SeV Rejected Delta Magazine Ad

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Ferrari World Starts its Engines

Ferrari World

The world's largest indoor theme park is coming to a sheikdom near you—well, as long as you live near Abu Dhabi, that is. That's where Ferrari World opens on October 27. The world's first Ferrari theme park (what, you thought there already was one?!) has shops, restaurants, and 20 rides celebrating various aspect of the Ferrari brand. No, these are not kiddie rides.

Here are the ones you'll want to hit first—or avoid, depending on your point of view:

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New: A Virtual Visit to Hawaii

What is being billed as the "first interactive 3D travel portal" is the coolest way to visit Hawaii short of hopping the next flight to Honolulu. Using Google Earth technology, 3DHawaii.com lets you choose the cities, hotels, shopping malls, and tourist sites you want to visit, then enables you to roam through them in a simulated three-dimensional environment. The website also permits you to make reservations at more than 2,000 Hawaiian hotels and attractions. Check out the video for a quick overview, but to get the whole effect you'll want to log onto the website.

But that isn't even the best part.

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The Southwest-AirTran Merger: What It Means to You (Maybe, Sorta, Not Really)

Southwest Air

Everyone's all worked up – one way or the other – about the news that low-fare Southwest Airlines is buying AirTran for $1.4 billion. Just in case you're not sure if this is good or bad news for travelers, I decided to round up some of the headlines and "expert" quotes that followed the announcement.

Yes, I was just as confused as you'll be.

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Attention Miscreant Hotel Guests: We're Taking Names!

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Next time you think about filching a hotel towel, raising the volume of your free HBO to teeth-rattling levels at 3 a.m., verbally abusing the front desk clerk for some perceived misdeed, or generally making yourself a nuisance at your hotel, you might want to think again. A new members-only database being marketed to hotels, booking agencies, and B&B's in the United Kingdom will collect the names of rude and rowdy guests and make them available to other hoteliers--who may then decide not to rent a room to Mr. or Ms. Nasty. Guestscan ("Protecting You From Unwelcome Guests"), which launched on September 15, states its case pretty clearly on its website why British innkeepers have cause to be worried. Look at some of these figures:

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Get A Glimpse of How the Other Half Lives

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For the most part, the exclusive Ocean Reef Club on Key Largo, 50 miles south of Miami, is off-limits to you and me--unless we've been invited or we're prospective members. But things open up to non-members during the annual Vintage Weekend, December 2-5, when hundreds of antique cars, planes, and yachts go on display. The Vintage Weekend package costs $1,440 double and includes three nights lodging at the Inn, road rally and lunch at the infamous Alabama Jack's roadhouse, a Concours d'Elegance (that's an automobile beauty pageant) and luncheon on Saturday, inspection of antique planes at the club's private airport, cocktail party, dinner reception, and more. In years past the event has sold out as early as October.

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Bundle Up! Luxe Resort Adopts "Lodge-ical" Pricing

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Phil Anderson, general manager of the Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid, New York, is swimming against the travel-industry current, but he thinks it's the right direction to go. While many airlines, hotels, and cruise lines are increasingly "unbundling" their prices by adding numerous surcharges and fees so they can advertise an artificially low base price, Anderson has recently implemented a new pricing policy that is nearly unheard-of: the price you're quoted is the price you pay.

"It's counter-intuitive compared to what everyone else seems to be doing," Anderson told me, "but if a guest thinks he's getting a rate of four hundred and fifty dollars, why should his total be five hundred and thirty-one? Why nickel-and-dime people?"

So in an experiment this past summer, Anderson began quoting all-in-one rates that include the room, the resort fee, state tax, and occupancy tax....

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News Stories We Never Finished Reading

From the Telegraph, United Kingdom:

"Ryanair has won a court case against the Spanish 'screen scraping' website Atrapalo, but has been ordered to stop using the term 'bastards' to describe the company."

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