Parks will be open to the public free of charge from April 17 to 25, to coincide with National Park Week. The special fee program also coincides with the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and the 75th anniversary of the nation’s most visited national park, the Blue Ridge Parkway. The 392 national parks will also offer special pricing deals on tours, lodging and souvenirs, the Park Service said.
Parents and kids alike will appreciate this roundup of spring contests. Now if only they could agree on appropriate clothes to pack.
Sceptre Tours “Luxurious Ireland Vacation Giveaway”
Win a 6-night 3-city Irish vacation with airfare and rental car (Mercedes 200 E series) from Sceptre Tours. Enter here to be eligible. Careful, the contest automatically signs you for to receive the Sceptre newsletter but for 2-nights each at Adare Manor, Ashford Castle, and the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, we think it’s worth it.
eTurbo News | Hong Kong’s gleaming glass and steel skyscrapers and its verdant Peak disappeared into a cloud of smog and dust as a sandstorm blowing from northern China brought record levels of pollution to the territory.
One side of Hong Kong harbour was barely visible from the other as the Government was criticised for failing to warn residents that the cloud of noxious air was bearing down on the city.
Residents awoke on Monday to a pall of choking murk, borne by easterly winds along the coast, that caused already high pollution readings to jump six-fold to a record high.
As top luxe line Crystal Cruises fêtes its 20th anniversary, I decided to check in with cruise director Scott Peterson, a 23-year industry veteran. Below, he reflects on what’s in store for the upcoming season.
Q: What is Crystal doing to celebrate its 20th anniversary?
A: Crystal’s 20th year anniversary is going to be a yearlong celebration. There are going to be special Captain’s parties and champagne breakfasts for guests, plus on the two cruises sailing on July 20, the actual day of Crystal’s anniversary, the first ever Crystal menu will be served at a gala dinner, along with wine selections sold at the original prices. Each ship will also host a games night featuring a Crystal trivia contest. The winning team will be treated to an evening at the Vintage Room for a multi-course meal with wine pairings. All the wine will be from 1990—which happened to be a very good year.
JetBlue fired up one of its short-term, big-savings sales this morning. Book a flight anywhere they fly for prices that start at $29 each way. You have to buy the tickets by midnight on Wednesday for travel between April 13 to June 16. There are blackout dates for some destinations and sale fares to other destinations are available only on specific days of the week.
Restrictions be damned. Spontaneous getaways seem pretty viable when, for the price of two movie tickets and some popcorn, you can fly away.
Ann Shields is a senior online editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo courtesy of JetBlue Airways
USA Today | Today's smartphones and PDAs could have a new use in the nation's airports: helping passengers avoid long lines at security checkpoints. The Transportation Security Administration is looking at installing devices in airports that home in and detect personal electronic equipment. The aim is to track how long people are stuck in security lines. Information about wait times could then be posted on websites and in airports across the country.
"This technology will produce valuable data that can be used in a variety of ways," TSA spokeswoman Lauren Gaches said, noting it could help prevent checkpoint snarls.
But civil-liberties experts worry that such a system enables the government to track people's whereabouts. "It's serious business when the government begins to get near people's personal-communication devices," said American Civil Liberties Union privacy expert Jay Stanley.
New York Times | ASIA is beginning to look a lot more like America—at least when it comes to hotels.
Major United States hotel chains are aggressively expanding into Asia, creating new options for travelers looking for familiar brands abroad. Starwood Hotels & Resorts plans to open 34 to 40 properties in the Asia Pacific region this year, or about three hotels a month, including the first St. Regis in Japan, the first W in Thailand and the first Le Méridien in Taiwan. Hilton plans to open new hotels in Japan and China by year-end. And Marriott will add about 20 properties, including four JW Marriott properties in India, four Courtyard by Marriott properties in China, and a Ritz-Carlton in Shanghai.
Worlds away from the kitschy tourist zone of Waikiki and the rural surf paradise of the North Shore, Honolulu’s Chinatown has recently become the center of the city’s arts community—bringing with it the requisite cafes, music venues and even a whiff of the cool kid aura that permeates other bohemian enclaves in the rest of the country. Of course, you won’t be mistaking the neighborhood for Williamsburg, Brooklyn or the Mission District in San Francisco anytime soon—and that’s a good thing. Like many things in Hawaii, the area is a unique blend of local Asian-American and immigrant cultures, with a dash of edge mixed in (it was formerly the city’s red light district) and its downtown location gives it just the right amount of urban grit, albeit with palm trees and 80-degree tropical weather.
Here are a just a few places (both new and established) that are worth a visit:
New York Times / Reuters | A three-day strike by British Airways cabin crew will go ahead from Saturday after talks with management collapsed, Britain’s Unite union said Friday.
The strike, which is likely to disrupt travel plans for thousands, presents a major headache for the ruling Labor party weeks before a general election because Unite is its biggest single financial backer.
“The strike that is planned for midnight tonight will go ahead as will the other strike we have announced,” Tony Woodley, Unite union joint general secretary, told reporters.
Saint Germain just got a little sweeter—joining La Patisserie des Rêves, Pierre Hermé, Pierre Marcolini, Ladurée and la Maison du Chocolat in the immediate vicinity of Le Bon Marché is Hugo & Victor, a new concept launched by two childhood friends, pastry chef Hugues Pouget (formerly of Guy Savoy and Ladurée) and Sylvain Blanc (formerly of Le Printemps).
The idea: Treat sweets a little bit like fashion, with capsule collections based on seasonal ingredients. The architecture by Francis Krempp is a mix of classical and modern (windows set in the wall, like at L’Eclaireur); the “Hugo” line is a series of contemporary pastries, the Victor line is made up of classics.