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Trip Doctor: New Twitter-Themed Hotel Opens in Mallorca

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OMG, is this the latest #traveltrend? The Sol Wave House hotel in beachy Mallorca, Spain, has officially become the world's first Twitter-themed hotel.

Not sure what that means?

Well, first-off, it means there are going to be a lot of #hashtags everywhere (and probably a few in this post as well #sorrynotsorry). Guests join a virtual community called #SocialWave, accessible only through the hotel's WiFi. Using that hashtag, they can then chat away with other guests and with the hotel's two Twitter concierges.

According to an online press release from Meliá Hotels International, the Sol Wave House's parent company, the whole experience “guarantees fun, new friendships, experiences, surprise, excitement and 'buzz'” and encourages guests to “flirt, compete in contests, share photos, etc.”

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Trip Doctor: New Oahu Smoking Ban Extends to Beaches

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Visitors to Oahu will soon breath more easily, thanks to new smoking bans that Honolulu’s mayor Kirk Caldwell signed into law yesterday. The prohibitions extend an existing Hawaii state ban—which already includes all indoor and partially enclosed public places such as restaurants and bars—to bus stops and parks on the island of Oahu. In other words, no more lighting up on Waikiki. For another smoke-free beach environment, don’t miss Jamaica, which also banned smoking tobacco on its beaches this month.

Peter Schlesinger is a Research Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

Trip Doctor: Will Heathrow Airport Close?

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Could Heathrow close?

Heathrow airport, Great Britain’s major international hub, handled a whopping 70 million passengers last year. Its two runways, however, cannot allow for much more than that. Enter the Davies Airports Commission—so-called after its chairman, Sir Howard Davies—which is aiming to fix the UK’s at-capacity airports.

One option? London mayor Boris Johnson wants to buy the airport, shut it down, and replace it with a mega-airport on an island in the Thames River’s estuary to the East.

Mayor Johnson outlined his plans a few days ago to the commission, and hopes to transform Heathrow’s land into a neighborhood for up 250,000, as the Guardian’s Gwyn Topham reports. The new airport could have four runways operating by 2029, all for a price tag of over $75 billion. And on Friday, renowned design firm Foster + Partners formally submitted its architectural plans for the island-hub.

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Coming Soon: New Trail Set To Trace Historic Explorer's Route from South Sudan to Uganda

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Fans of the T+L Hiking Guide who've already completed the Appalachian Trail, the pilgrimage to Santiago, or the climb to Machu Picchu will soon have another path to traverse: The Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker Historical Trail, covering nearly 360 miles in South Sudan* and Uganda.

The route is the same one that Samuel Baker, a British officer, took with his wife in the 1860s. Traveling south from present-day South Sudan, the couple became the first Europeans to see what they would name Lake Albert, which marks the terminus of the new trail.

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Trip Doctor: New Airline Survey from Skytrax Picks Global Favorites

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The plane surveys keep on coming. Just a few weeks ago, Trip Doctor reported on a slew of recent polls that give insight into what Americans think about flying nowadays. And at the recent Paris Air Show, Skytrax announced its winners for the 2013 World Airline Awards.  While the surveys we wrote about earlier show what American flyers are thinking, the Skytrax awards offer a more global scope, with respondents from over 160 countries taking part in the poll.

Some of the takeaways?

  • Emirates earns the coveted “Airline of the Year,” and wins for best Inflight Entertainment

  • Garuda Indonesia wins best Economy Class Seats and best Economy Class overall, making it a Top 10 scorer for the first time

  • All Nipon Airways claims the best Aircraft Cabin Cleanliness award

  • Cathay Pacific Airways is awarded best Cabin Staff

  • Etihad Airways nabs best First Class Seats and best First Class overall

  • AirAsia is the best Low-Cost Airline

If you’re thinking that the list seems dominated by Asian and Middle Eastern airlines, you’re correct. Of the Top 10 airlines, only 10th ranked Qantas hails from outside Asia and the Middle East.

See the full results here

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team.

Photo courtesy of Emirates

Trip Doctor: Hotels Celebrate Supreme Court's Gay Marriage Rulings Just in Time for Pride

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Today's Supreme Court rulings—striking down DOMA and essentially paving the way for same-sex marriage in California—have helped make this Pride month prouder than ever. A number of hotels are sharing in the celebrations by offering special promotions geared for LGBT guests, their allies, and their causes.

Here, T+L takes a quick look at a few of them:

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Trip Doctor: Webflakes.com Translates Foreign Blogs for You

A new website is making it easier for Americans to get the local scoop on international destinations. Webflakes, launched in May, uses its growing team of volunteers (currently at around 200) to translate foreign blogs into English, a major boon to anyone who’s ever been frustrated at the lack of English-language, international posts in the blogosphere.

The site compiles posts from over 60 hand-selected bloggers who hail from France, Italy, Japan, Spain, Argentina, Peru, and Switzerland. That list of bloggers and home-countries is set to grow, with German and Chinese blogs predicted for the near future. The posts cover traditional lifestyle topics including travel, design, architecture, relationships, fashion, wine, and food & dining.

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Trip Doctor: Paris's New Riverwalk

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T+L has got you covered when it comes to hiking guides in rugged locales like the Dolomites, the Andes, and Zambia, but we love to trek around urban areas too. That’s why we’re thrilled at the completion of a project transforming 1.4-miles of roadway into a pedestrian riverwalk along the Seine's Left Bank in Paris's 7th arrondissemont.

As various news sources reported, Mayor Bertrand Delanoe recently inaugurated the new walkway, three years and nearly $50 million in the making.

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Trip Doctor on Pride 2013: Spotlight Twin Cities

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Did you miss the Pride events this month in Boston, Providence, and D.C.? Those cities already had their big celebrations, but there’s still time to attend the festivals in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and elsewhere.

One Pride event you may not have considered is Minnesota’s Twin Cities Pride. This under-the-gaydar destination has a lot to celebrate since last year’s paradegoers marched down Hennepin Avenue. In November, voters rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, and the state legislature legalized equal marriage in May, with the law going into effect August 1. No wonder T+L readers voted the Twin Cities one of America’s top cities for Gay Travel.

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Trip Doctor: What Americans Really Think about Flying

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With summer vacation upon us, it seems students aren't the only ones getting their final grades. A slew of reports and studies recently came out—including ones from Harris Interactive, J.D. Power & Associates, Consumer Reports, and the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI)—surveying a total of over 67,000 Americans on their latest opinions North American air travel. Here are some of the highlights:

Satisfaction is…Up!

  • Even though Consumer Reports concludes "There isn't much good news for passengers," recent findings by J.D. Power & Associates suggest that the passengers themselves disagree. The marketing information firm surveyed nearly 12,000 individuals and measured customer satisfaction on a 1000 point scale based on airline performance in 7 categories: cost & fees; in-flight services; boarding/deplaning/baggage; flight crew; aircraft; check-in; and reservation.  The results?  Overall passenger satisfaction is up 14 points to 695, a score not seen since 2006, before the age of a-la-carte baggage fees.

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