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Vacationist: Costa Rica, Morocco, Antigua!


Summer is officially here, so if you haven’t started planning a vacation yet, we ask, what are you waiting for? This week, hotel offers from Vacationist, a venture between Travel + Leisure and LuxuryLink.com, include a little something for everyone—island, jungle, and far-flung.

Spotlight sales this week:

St. James’s Club & Villas in St. Paul Antigua and Barbuda: From $244/night – 55% off
Riad Fes in Fes, Morocco: From $149/night – 34% off
Rancho Pacifico in Uvita, Costa Rica: From $178/night – 30% off

Our advice? Act now—there are only 6 days left to take advantage of these great prices. And in case you want to keep things closer to home, vacationist is offering rooms at the Gansevoort Miami Beach for just $141/night at (over 40% off standard rates!) until June 7.

Photo courtesy of Rancho Pacifico

UPDATE: Thai Government Declares Curfew in Bangkok

The situation in Bangkok appears to be changing by the minute. T+L's Asia correspondent, Jenn Chen, suggested just yesterday in her post that the reality on the ground in the Thai capital had taken a turn for the worst, but today's news brings the official surrender of anti-government protesters—as well as fires and a city-wide curfew. Not surprisingly, a travel warning for the region remains in effect.

Voice of America | The Thai government has declared an overnight curfew for the capital, Bangkok, as violence swept across the capital after military operations brought an end to a two-month long, anti-government protest in in the central part of the city. At least 6 people were reported dead in the latest violence, including an Italian photojournalist, the second foreign reporter to die since the protests began in mid-March.

Leaders of the anti-government protesters, known as the Red Shirts, surrendered to police and told demonstrators they were ending the extended rally in order to avoid further bloodshed. Some of the anti-government leaders fled the area as the military moved in. Amid the chaos, arson attacks broke out across Bangkok at power stations, malls, media outlets and other buildings. Rioters also commandeered public buses.


Bird-Plane Collisions May Pass 10,000


This month marks the one-year anniversary of the US Airways’ miracle landing in New York on the Hudson River. Veteran pilot Captain Sully is a full-fledged national hero, and the incident in which all 155 passengers survived is a now fuzzy memory. But, the cause of the crash—Canada geese in the plane’s engine—has not gone away.

A new government report claims that the tally of bird-plane collisions (or "bird strikes") could reach as high as 10,000 for the first time ever. Some incidents caused serious damage, even death. And annual damages in the U.S. alone have been estimated at over $400 million.

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This Tuesday's Emirates Air Sale: $100 Off RT Flights


We just learned that award-winning airline Dubai-based Emirates throws new sales every Tuesday at Emirates.com/spotlight. This week it’s discounted roundtrip economy-class tickets purchased (via the website) by $100.

Its modern fleet (some 137 aircraft in all) flies to over 60 destinations around the world, including the newly added Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, and LA- and SF-Dubai routes.

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Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe Opens Today!

After five years in the making, the Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe finally opened its doors to the public today. (Lucky first guests/skiers at the 170-room property were treated to a fresh snowfall.)

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St. Lucia on Sale

stonefield.jpg Just in time for Caribbean travel season, JetBlue today kicked off service between New York’s JFK and St. Lucia. We’re big fans of the blue airline, so it’s exciting to see their destinations expanding. It’s even more exciting to see the kickoff deal: only $129 each way. Sure, there are strings attached: you have to act fast (book by this Friday) and travel between November 2 and February 8, 2010 (yeah, Valentine’s Day is going to cost more).

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Live from T+L MarketWatch: Is "Luxury" a Dirty Word?

Is luxury a dirty word? That’s the question T+L Publisher JP Kyrillos just posed to the audience and an expert panel that includes:

Javier Barrera, EVP of Grupo Posadas
Erik Blachford, Chairman and CEO of Butterfield & Robinson
Marcus Samuelsson, Chef/Owner of Aquavit
Lisa Sun, Associate Principal of McKinsey & Company

The response was an unequivocal “no.” But, says Sun, it’s important for companies to communicate the value and authenticity behind the word. Companies like American Girl and The North Face have built premium products but have achieved success by creating a sense of value behind the products.

Samuelsson added that a new sense of luxury will come out of this downturn. People, he says, are getting back to the value of time—time spent together and the experiences they share.

And, says Blachford, that’s exactly what companies like his are trying to do—deliver value even if it comes with a high price tag.

JP also posed the following questions to the audience and asked them to indicate their answers by holding up either a green (“yes”) or red (“no”) index card:

- Do you believe in advertising in a recession? Green cards went up all around.
- How about discounting in a recession? A mix of green and red.
- Is the economy on a rebound? Lots of green, but a few reds.
- And is Twitter here to stay? Most people said no.

And as he closed the presentation, he asked, “Did everyone have fun today?” A sea of green cards filled the air.

Live from T+L MarketWatch: Snotty, Phony, Pretentious is Over

"Snotty, phony, pretentious is over," says Nancy Novogrod. "The new paradigm is all about real experiences—both exotic trips and inner journeys. It’s a time for re-invention and a return to values.

New sites like Kujabi.com, and companies like Pure Life Experiences are looking to help travelers get into the spirit of a place, as are new spas from Connecticut to Austria.

Restaurants, too, are returning to comfort; dishes like burgers and fried chicken are being reinvented as well. And destinations like St. Lucia are re-inventing themselves; the island has hired a team of international planning experts to build a new sustainable tourism industry.

T+L is reflecting this sensibility as well. Our mission, of course, is all about authentic experiences, and the magazine’s January trends issue will focus on connecting to people and place."

Live from T+L MarketWatch: Re-evaluating Luxury

The first discussion at MarketWatch: T+L’s Features Editor Nilou Motamed sat down with Stephen Hanson of B.R. Guest Restaurants for a discussion of his innovations in the hospitality industry and what he feels is important.

Hanson spoke of finding a new middle—that value is not supplanting luxury, but that the economy is pushing people to explore new hotels and restaurants. People have re-evaluated their values in this economy, he says, and they now feel they can enjoy the luxury experience a couple times a year instead of eight times a year.

But, says Hanson, what’s important is delivering value for the price, and that starts with service. “People are demanding 5-star service in a 3-star brand,” he says; that’s a difficult thing to achieve but is his goal. Discounting may get people in the door, but the hotel or restaurant has to make the customer feel special.

So how does he make the customer feel special? Hanson’s company has been tracking guest preferences to know what they like and give them that personal touch.

Live from T+L MarketWatch: Tactics for a New Economy + Trends

Some 120 industry leaders are just now sitting down to breakfast at Travel + Leisure’s bi-annual MarketWatch Summit, happening now at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. The theme is "No Regrets: Business Leaders On Tactics For A New Economy," and everyone’s looking forward to the discussion on trends not only on travel but across industries.

Our Editor-in-Chief, Nancy Novogrod, and our Publisher, Jean-Paul Kyrillos, are playing host to this gathering, which will feature a conversation with Stephen Hanson, founder and president of B.R. Guest Restaurants; a talk on travel trends from Nancy Novogrod; and a panel discussion with experts from several industries.

We’ll be live blogging for the next couple hours; check back for more.


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