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Book A Hotel Directly on Yelp With Help From Hipmunk

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Think twice before visiting your stalwart trip-review site or go-to OTA for recommendations or an online booking: there’s a new—but familiar—player ready to disrupt the travel market.

Yesterday, Yelp announced a partnership with Hipmunk that is making it much more than a home for crowd-sourced restaurant reviews. Yelpers can now preview and instantly book hotels directly on Yelp.

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Eiffel Tower Debuts Daring New Attraction

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Paris's Iron Lady is celebrating her 125th birthday with a modern, $38.4 million facelift. She’s come a long way since her debut as a temporary attraction in 1889.

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Relais & Châteaux Celebrates 60 Years with Month of Feasts

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It was a luxe, upscale estate in the Rhône Valley that started it all: a passion for exceptional service, cuisine, and hospitality that came to define Relais & Châteaux. Now, the association is celebrating 60 years of being at the top of the game with a year of over-the-top events, festivals, and gourmet feasts.

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Marriott and Maria Shriver Remind Guests to Tip Hotel Attendants

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What do Maria Shriver and Marriott Hotels have in common? As of this month, it’s a shared interest in helping housekeepers earn their expected tips. 

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Across North America, more than 160,000 Marriott-branded hotel rooms will start adding The Envelope Please, a card encouraging guests to tip their room attendants.

Marriott is the inaugeral partner for this new initiative from Maria Shriver's woman’s empowerment organization, A Woman's Nation. She began the program after discovering many visitors don’t tip hotel housekeepers—as many as 30 percent, according to Columbia University’s School of Hospitality.

Critics of the program, including author Barbara Ehrenreich, cite The Envelope Please as an excuse for Marriott to underpay their employees. 

Marriott representative Angela Wiggins said the tips are still entirely voluntary: “room attendants,” she added, “are paid salaries that are above minimum wage and receive benefits and training.”

While Ehrenreich has painted the program as a front for stiffing employees, we think we could all use a gentle reminder to show our gratitude before turning in our room keys. Even the most conscientious, well-traveled tippers are apt to forget now and then.

Of course, the envelope doesn’t solve the problem created by a plastic currency and mobile payments—few people travel with small bills on them—especially in a local currency.

We’d love to see Marriott integrate a tip feature into their mobile app, or allow guests to tip on the room invoice. “There has been some conversation [about that],” said Wiggins, “but nothing definitive.”

Other hotel brands might soon be flaunting The Envelope Please as early as 2015, said a representative from Woman's Nation. 

Melanie Lieberman is the Editorial Projects Assistant and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow her on twitter at @LittleWordBites.

Photo courtesy of "A Woman’s Nation"

Ellis Island Hospital Opens Today for Tours

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History buffs and fans of American Horror Story will love the chipped paint and cracked porcelain sinks, the stained tiles and rusting hospital beds in the halls of the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital—open to visitors today for the first time in 60 years. 

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Aspen Art Museum Makes Dramatic Debut

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If the Gucci and Prada storefronts weren't enough to dispel any impression of Aspen as a humble mountain town, the Shigeru Ban-designed Aspen Art Museum should do the trick. The 35-year-old art institution recently debuted a new $45 million building created by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect and funded entirely by private donations from the city's wealthy patrons.   


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The new museum, dedicated to rotating exhibits of contemporary art, opened its glass doors to a surprising blend of acclaim and criticism. Many applauded the latticework cube for its nod to traditional Japanese craftsmanship, while others (including New York Magazine's architecture critic, Justin Davidson) dismissed the façade as cage-like and unattractive. But there's little argument that the museum strikes a dramatic silhouette against a backdrop of classic alpine brick buildings. From the rooftop sculpture garden, visitors have sweeping views of nearby Ajax Mountain.


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Ban's first permanent museum in the United States is something of a departure for the architect, who is best known for his temporary, humanitarian-focused structures, including the Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the stackable shipping-container apartments he created after the Japanese tsunami and earthquake in 2011. But the museum reflects Ban's famous use of recyclable materials: he created the shell out of translucent coated paper and veneer wood planks. Inside is 33,000 square feet of minimalist, naturally lit exhibition space. 


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Inaugural exhibits include a retrospective of Ban’s disaster-relief buildings, as well as works by contemporary artists Yves Kein, David Hammons, Tomma Abts, and others. According to director Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, the free museum is committed to showcasing international, contemporary work with a social edge.


Melanie Lieberman is theEditorial Projects Assistant and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow her on twitter at @LittleWordBites.

Photos courtesy of Aspen Art Museum © Michael Moran/OTTO, Peter Feinzig

Cute Animals Help Passengers Relax on British Airways

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This month, nervous flyers and homesick cat and dog owners can tune into British Airways’ new, adorable, Paws & Relax channel.

The stream of cat and dog footage (think camera-collar documentaries and animated shorts) is perfect for entertaining young travelers, and for soothing anxious passengers during their fight.

Of course, who hasn't spent hours at their computer streaming cute cats and cuddly pups on YouTube?

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Slow Motion Base Jumping Gives Birds-Eye Views

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For the adventure traveler, extreme sports such as sky-diving, zip-lining, and base jumping may be the ultimate adrenaline kick. The thrill of hurtling through the air with nothing but a parachute and a thin windsuit is a bonus to the unique, birds-eye perspective jumpers get.

Yet even in these death-defying leaps, there is a moment of Zen that may appeal to even the mellowest sightseer.

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World's Top Fall Food Festivals

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Come fall, people around the world will be celebrating the season’s bounty with food festivals. Lots of them. While New Englanders gather to taste the best artisanal ciders, coastal communities feast on fresh seafood. In California, it's time to sip wine. Whether you're craving a foodie getaway or are simply in the right place at the right time, these are five of fall’s top food festivals.

CALIFORNIA: Flavor! Napa Valley
This November, join the Culinary Institute of America and the region's top vineyards for a week of wine and food tastings. Culinary superstars Michael Chiarello, Todd English, and Andrea Robinson will be at the helm of vine-to-table signature dinners and hands-on demonstrations. Learn to make your own cheese, and to note a wine's distinct terroir while blindfolded. November 19-23. 

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Floral Design Classes in Full Bloom at Hyatt Union Square New York

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Floral design superstar Michael Gaffney has cracked “the DaVinci Code of flower design,” and he’ll be the first one to say it. If you’ve have ever marveled at professional bouquets and wondered why your own arrangements look so disorderly, book a spot at the pop-up Floral Design Classes at Hyatt Union Square New York.

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