Travelers heading to, from or across Europe would be wise to take note of the protests and strikes planned for this week in more than one dozen countries. CNN explains:
London, England -- Simmering anger over government budget cuts will spill into the streets of 14 European countries Wednesday as tens of thousands workers fight state efforts to slash public debt.
More than 100,000 people are expected to chant "No to Austerity" in the streets of Brussels, with smaller protests planned across Europe by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), which represents 50 unions in 30 countries.
The protests coincide with a general strike in Spain, but a poll published in Spanish daily Publico on Friday indicates that turnout could be low. The survey suggested that many people thought the government would push through spending cuts whether they protested or not.
Strikes have proliferated in Europe over the past few months as unions resist austerity budgets that governments say are necessary to restore the faith of financial markets in European sovereign debt. So how did it come to this?
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.
Teaming up with rocker Melissa Etheridge to get the word out about this widespread disease, Hard Rock Hotels worldwide are participating in PINKtober. Throughout October, properties will feature 300-count pink sheets, serve special pink drinks, and stock pink charity merchandise in stores and restaurants. Treat a survivor you know to a decadent pink Turkish-cotton bathrobe with ribbon detail ($80) or charm bracelet ($20). Visit www.hardrock.com for promotional information as well as dates for PINKtober charity performances. Proceeds benefit a variety of charities including The Caron Keating Foundation and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Fashion weeks are as ubiquitous as its attendees who wear their ever-escalating strappy platforms, trying to out-do the other in the insanity of their height. For the New York shows this September, the fashion herd took a ride uptown on the number 1 train to the elegant Lincoln Center, where the shows will now reside.
The residents of the area gawked at celebrities and the hoop-la that comes with Fashion Week. Photographers have taken to snapping photos of each other (or the little dogs that are dressed up). The local moms pushed baby strollers, indignant that their routines were interrupted, looking at Rachael Zoe and her husband walking arm-and-arm (and probably going to the Karl Lagerfeld luncheon).
A paperback copy of Catcher in the Rye. A black sequin miniskirt by Haute Hippie. A retro Ouija board. A black-on-black Range Rover for the day. Your portrait shot by renowned photographer Ben Watts...
The newest lobby fixture in Manhattan's Hudson Hotel is your one-stop shop for all of the above. Semi-Automatic, a glowing green, touch-screen vending machine that opened for business last week, stocks
a revolving selection of stylishly curated items broken down into five categories: Basics, Media, Fashion, Beauty, and GoFish.
Marignolle Relais & Charme - up to 25% off Florence, Italy Though it's just two miles south of Florence's city center, this genteel family estate is set amid the woodlands, vines, and olive groves that herald the start of the Chianti region. Owners Paola and Claudio Bulleri, who turned their classic tile-roofed villa into an exclusive inn in the '70s, still live on the property in a separate cottage. (5 days)
Is it time for your Virgin voyage? Virgin America, which has held the number-one position for domestic airlines in our annual World’s Best Awards ever since it debuted in 2007, has yet another enticement for you. For a brief time, the airline is offering sale fares starting at $39 between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and San Diego. The sale prices extend to travel from all cities served by the airline—at the top of the price scale, a flight between Toronto and San Francisco is still just $169.
The catch? You must book before midnight, Pacific time, Thursday, September 23 for travel between September 29 and December 15.
For more information or to book, please visit Virgin America or call (877) 359-8474.
Ann Shields is the senior online editor at Travel + Leisure.
I'm not precisely sure when the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend festival went from fun to fantastic, but it may have been the moment when Congressman Mike Thompson started swatting at flying beach balls, deftly protecting nearby guests (not to mention a Kunde Family Estate Barbera).
On the first weekend in September, the winemakers of Sonoma County, CA, cheerfully raised their glasses, despite this year's challenging grape-growing season. The pre-harvest celebration was underway and sunny weather boosted everyone's spirits.
The annual festival rolls out a series of food-and-wine events as a major fundraiser for local charities. It's also a perfect opportunity to gauge the cultural differences between Sonoma and neighboring Napa.
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:
Last Thursday evening I was fortunate enough to attend a preview of Donatella Arpaia's latest restaurant venture. Donatella, an Italian restaurant with a big focus on authentic Neapolitan-style pizza, opens Friday, September 24, in the Chelsea neighborhood of NYC. It's her first venture here below 50th Street; she also owns Mia Dona, a rustic Puglian trattoria; Anthos, high-end Greek; Kefi, a Greek taverna; and in Miami's Viceroy Hotel, Eos, for modern Greek cuisine.
Arpaia hosted the event and, beyond being super friendly, you could easily see the enthusiasm and dedication she has for this new spot. Her ingredients are beyond fresh; the techniques authentic; and chefs total experts. All of her pizzaioli—as well as Arpaia—were trained in Italy with pie whiz Enzo Coccia, who then came here to continue to oversee the project during its early stages.
Though, in the last 18 months, three initial hotels in Bangalore, The Maldives and Goa already existed under the umbrella, 13 other properties have now come in from the rain and apparently six more are already in development.
Reuters Life | Raging fire will appear to consume Rome's ancient Colosseum in a dramatic art spectacle over the next few nights aimed at igniting debate on the fragility of Europe's cultural heritage sites.
For artists Thyra Hilden and Pio Diaz, engulfing the vast Roman amphitheatre in virtual flames will be the culmination of a long-running project using video projections of wild fires to make landmark buildings appear to be burning.
"We wanted something to symbolize destruction and creation at once. We wanted to question whether something should exist or not and what the heritage means to us," said Diaz.
"What would happen if you destroyed a museum or building, is the culture gone? Do we need to build it again or do we have the same culture as we had before?" he asked, as images of flames were projected from the Colosseum's entrance arches, making it appear to burn from within.
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.
USA Today | Boeing says it's ready to jump into the space-tourism market, announcing on Wednesday that will enter into a partnership to sell seats on rocket trips to the International Space Station.
"Now Boeing just has to build a spaceship," The Associated Press writes.
Boeing's just-announced partnership is with the space-tourism company Space Adventures. The Washington Post explains, saying the agreement is for the companies "to establish a space taxi system that will launch its passengers into low Earth orbit. Boeing has been developing a capsule and has years of experience building rockets, while Space Adventures has organized seven trips to the space station aboard the Russian spacecraft Soyuz. The obstacles remain high, but the two companies say they think they can begin their service by the end of 2015." Photo Credit: iStock
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....
The appeal of a September getaway never gets old: Savvy travelers know to book shoulder season trips for fewer crowds, still-warm weather, and of course, impressive deals. And believe it or not, that’s true even of Paris. (For more on the City of Lights, see Travel + Leisure’s September cover story, Paris Secrets.) Here a few of this season’s best hotel rates—including 20% off in Paris—courtesy of Vacationist:
InterContinental Paris Le Grand – up to 20% off Paris, France This majestic Neoclassical property, inaugurated in 1862 by Empress Eugénie, was reopened in 2003 after an 18-month renovation. It features a central, light-filled winter garden and 470 Napoleon III-style guest rooms; 82 rooms and suites offer direct views of the Opéra Garnier. (4 days left)
Reuters | Capri, Geneva and New York top the list for the most expensive hotel rooms, according to a global survey that showed hotel rates rising for the first time in three years as the global economy picks up.
Hotel provider Hotels.com's bi-annual hotel price index, released on Tuesday, found that although average hotel room rates are at low levels seen six years ago, there are hints of a recovery. (...)
Overall, prices rose about 2 percent in the second quarter of 2010 from a year ago, the first increase since the end of 2007, as business travelers and tourists started packing their bags again and heading out. (Photo courtesy of Capri Tourism)
Designed by Arch Group, a Russian architect firm, the Sleepbox takes the Japanese capsule hotel concept—which, quite frankly, gives me claustrophobic panic attacks just thinking about—mixes in some serious Fifth Element–reminiscent design, and gives you a (tiny) space that could actually be tolerable (and affordable) in a pinch, though definitely for short stays only.
With school in session and the autumn holidays just around the corner, this month’s Contest Watch is all about escaping obligation. Ikea wants you to take a whole year off to pursue philanthropic work, but for those just looking to avoid a mother-in-law, Turks + Caicos has a better alternative to Thanksgiving dinner—the islands' Conch Festival!
So start entering—before you get seated at the kid’s table.
Ikea’s Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest Now – November 8th The Swedish furniture company is giving one winner the opportunity to take a year off to pursue their passions (volunteering, starting a non-profit)—a prize worth $100,000. Entrants must submit their proposal to www.thelifeimprovementproject.com. Five finalists will be chosen by a panel of judges, and announced on December 13, 2010. The winner will be determined by public vote, and announced on January 31, 2011. The winner is not required to take a leave of absence from work but, come on, why wouldn’t you?
USA Today | Americans flying to Europe this fall may pay hundreds of dollars more than their counterparts traveling the opposite way over the Atlantic.
Round-trip fares from several U.S. cities to European hot spots like Paris, London and Amsterdam are up to 66% higher than the price for trips originating overseas, says Tom Parsons, founder of Bestfares.com, who scouted fares from the last week of October through March 31.
"Between the same cities, (for the) same seats, same days of week ... one country gets an advantage over the other," says Parsons, who found similar pricing at most of the major carriers including Continental, Delta and United, as well as international airlines such as KLM. "Because we're Americans, we pay more." Photo credit: Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic.
Don't get too excited (or angry, exasperated, what have you) about all the blog posts today about stand-up seats in airplanes. Everyone is riffing on today's USA Today article about the proposed Skyrider seats from an Italian design company called Aviointeriors. The goal of these seats? To cram as many passengers into planes as possible. But there's no news here. The company actually announced their intention to create such seats back in July, right around the time I wrote about plans by low-budget Ryanair to install similar seats in their planes if they could get government approval.
Yeah, probably not gonna happen for a number of reasons, not least of all seething, frothing-at-the-mouth passenger outrage.
FAA rules on pilot fatigue have changed little since the heyday of the DC-3, despite the increased strains on pilots due to terrorism, advanced technology, and the greater potential for jet lag when crossing multiple time zones in a relatively short period. In his Fast Lane blog this morning, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said his department would propose new rules today requiring that pilots have an opportunity for at least nine hours of rest before a flight (an hour longer than current rules), at least 30 consecutive hours off duty every week (a 25 percent increase), and new weekly and monthly duty limits.
The U.S. State Department has just issued a worldwide travel alert based on the planned burning of Qurans by a Florida-based fringe religious group on Saturday, September 11, the ninth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. The Qu'ran is the holy book of Islam. The planned anti-Islam event by Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, has already resulted in violent demonstrations in Afghanistan and Indonesia. "We urge you to pay attention to local reaction to the situation, and to avoid areas where demonstrations may take place," said the State Department.
Smart Traveler Mark Orwoll is also the international editor of Travel + Leisure.
Yesterday morning, at I had the pleasure of meeting Spain’s most celebrated chef, Ferran Adrià. Since I’ll probably never get the chance to eat at El Bulli—his widely adored Catalunya restaurant-turned-culinary-institute, (which now no longer accepts reservations, though they were near impossible to get even when it did)—I consider it an accomplishment just to shake the man’s hand. Though, alas, I suspect that his was not the hand that prepared the cookies and Starbuck’s coffee on offer during the break...
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government's right to search the contents of laptop computers at border crossings when the owner is not suspected of criminal activity. According to the ACLU, more than 6,500 electronic devices were seized and their contents examined at U.S. border crossings between October 8, 2008, and June 2, 2010. Nearly half of those seizures were made against American citizens.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Pascal Abidor, a 26-year-old graduate student who holds dual U.S. and French citizenship. Returning to his New York home by train from Montreal, Abidor was interrogated and detained by U.S. border guards. His laptop computer was taken from him; when it was finally returned 11 days later, according to the lawsuit, there was evidence that authorities had searched his personal files, including online chats with his girlfriend. No charges were ever leveled.
While Labor Day may serve as a sad reminder that the summer is coming to an end, who cares if the days are about to start getting cooler? Don’t let that stop you from booking a fantastic retreat! With that in mind, we’d like to bring your attention to the three new fab getaways being offered at Vacationist.com:
You may have seen some of my rants here or in the print edition of T+L about the outrageous fees and surcharges the airlines tack onto their base airfares. The airline industry says the surcharges allow consumers to pick and choose the additional services they want rather than forcing them to pay for perks they don't need. I say baloney. They're doing it out of greed. The base airfares they advertise are deceptively low, and can increase by 30 percent or more when you tack on all the extras, like fees for carry-on baggage, checked baggage, telephone reservations, select seat assignments, meals, et al ad nauseam. What's worse, it's often difficult to find out about these charges until a consumer pays for the tickets or, in some cases, until he arrives at the airport.
Now some big guns are marshaling their cumulative power to challenge the airlines on these hidden fees by creating a new website called madashellabouthiddenfees.com.
Travel Pulse | Air France-KLM is considering starting a low-cost domestic carrier in order to compete with low-cost rivals, according to press reports. The company would not comment, but the French news agency AF reported that the airline is considering setting up a new entity within the airline that could compete with low-cost carriers that are eating into the airline’s market share.
The Jersey Shore has received a ton of press lately—be it MTV’s cringe-worthy guilty pleasure of the same name or Bravo’s Real Housewives of New Jersey (they taped their explosive reunion in Atlantic City). On September 19th, HBO is hoping to add some highbrow coverage to A.C.’s lowbrow past with the premier of the new series, Boardwalk Empire at 9 p.m.