I stopped by last week’s opening of Manhattan’s Limelight Marketplace—a church reincarnated as a notorious '80s nightclub most recently made over as a shopping mall—with an almost irreverent sense of curiosity. With a past so checkered, I expected a mixed crowd, and sure enough, the three-level, multi-wing retail space was brimming with journalists (both skeptical and adoring), local reality stars (think Real Housewives posing with Hunter boots for the press), and the occasional camera-toting wanderer shaking his head in disbelief while reminiscing about parties fueled by pills, music, and illicit behavior.
The go-go girls, devilish red lighting, and shady corners are all long gone—they disappeared in the '90s—and the church stood vacant until last winter, when retail developer Jack Menashe saw an opportunity to create his own version of nearby Chelsea Market.
Last December we told you about the new Titanic Museum, a half-scale, three-deck replica of the doomed ocean liner, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Well, the museum has finally opened and in its first three weeks it ran out of souvenir polar bears in the gift shop!
I suppose if that’s the worst fate to befall the nascent attraction, it’s doing pretty well. In fact, the museum clocked 50,000 “passengers” in the first 21 days. And what is it everyone wants to see? “Guests are interested in the only Titanic lifejacket tied to an actual passenger (below)—it's the only one in the world,” says Mary Kellogg-Joslyn, owner of the Titanic Museum. “The passenger's name was Madeleine Astor, married to the richest man aboard the ship. The value of this artifact is really priceless. It has been insured for a million dollars.”
Washington Post | Hotels want to know who you are. Especially if you're reviewing them anonymously.
An increasing number of image-conscious properties have begun connecting the dots between unbylined write-ups that appear on such popular travel sites as TripAdvisor or Yelp, and your personal information, such as your loyalty program preferences.
If you write a positive review, you might expect a reward from the hotel—a gift basket or a discount on your next stay. Pan a property, and you could get a concerned e-mail from the general manager asking you to reconsider your review. Or even a black mark against you in the chain's guest database.
John Baird, a lodging consultant in Jacksonville, Fla., says that hotels now use locations, dates and usernames that appear online to triangulate a guest's identity. Once they find a likely match, the review is added to a hotel's guest preference records, next to information such as frequent-guest number, newspaper choice and preferred room type.
Impulse buyers rejoice! Swedish car company-turned-Ford-subsidiary, Volvo, is offering a heavily discounted trip to Sweden with a purchase of a new car (just in case you were contemplating one).
The package, which is part of Volvo's Overseas Delivery Program, includes two roundtrip tickets from major U.S. gateways on Scandanavian Airlines to Gothenburg, located on Sweden's west coast (right now, economy tickets are going for $1,100–$1,800!) and a free hotel night
at the SAS Raddisson Blue Scandinavia Hotel. And, if you take a drive to,
say, Oslo or another major European city, your outbound tickets will still be honored. You’ll have to book through a pre-approved travel agency
(call tel. number below) to receive the free travel in addition to discounts on supplementary
excursions and hotel stays.
Spirit Airlines, the Florida-based airline that will charge $45 to stow carry-ons in the overhead bin starting August 1, is plumbing new depths of customer annoyance by announcing today that it would begin placing ads for a toothbrush company on its lavatory mirrors.
The toothbrush company, which will get no additional publicity here, apparently believes Spirit’s media kit claim that the ads will get “100% saturation, with a targeted, captive audience that is actively engaged by ads for an average of three hours.”
It’s difficult not to snigger at the phrase “captive audience.”
Spirit, which recently installed cheap and uncomfortable “pre-reclined” seats on many of its aircraft so it could increase the passenger load, has sold advertising on barf bags, tray tables, bulkhead panels, beverage napkins, ticket envelopes and more. In years past it mandated flight attendants to wear aprons imprinted with the Bud Light logo.
Travel Pulse | Five of the seven hotels in the Nashville, Tenn., area that were affected by the recent flooding have reopened, according to STR. The seven properties that were closed by the flooding include 3,920 guestrooms, which represent 11 percent of the 35,629 rooms in the metropolitan Nashville market.
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, which experienced severe damage and remains closed, accounts for 2,881 rooms and 8 percent of the market’s total room inventory. The resort is a major economic driver for the Nashville market, and its closing will have a dramatic effect on the area’s hotel industry.
One can forgive Singapore's new Marina Bay Sands resort complex for opening in stages. If it debuted all at once, it might melt your mind.
The 2,600-room hotel, which had a "soft" opening of 963 rooms on April 27, will feature six celebrity-chef restaurants (including eateries run by Daniel Boulud, Wolfgang Puck, and Mario Batali), boat rides through canals interlacing the expansive, 800,000-square-foot Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, two state-of-the-art theaters (The Lion King opens in October) with combined seating for 4,000 souls, a massive casino, and an "artscience" museum built in the shape of a lotus, all housed in an aggressively futuristic multi-structure complex overlooking Singapore's Marina Bay waterfront.
Missed Mother’s Day? Fly home to Mom’s and kiss her in person for less than cost of a bouquet of peonies.
In another giddy gesture to celebrate their 10th anniversary, JetBlue is having a 2-day sale. If you can find a remaining seat on any JetBlue flight on Tuesday or Wednesday, you can book it for $10. Just buy your tickets at www.jetblue.com/deals/ten-years/ by 11:59pm on Monday night and take a flyer!
Ann Shields is an online senior editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo courtesy of JetBlue Airways.
On May 27, Carrie Bradshaw, Charlotte York, Miranda Hobbes, and Samantha Jones strap on their stilettos, pour a Cosmo (or four), and hit the big screen once again, in Sex and the City 2. This time around, the four friends are vacating the City That Never Sleeps for a weeklong excursion to Abu Dhabi. So what better way to celebrate the film's opening than to do as those jetsetting fashionistas do, and take a trip yourself? I tracked down five SATC-themed packages being offered by hotels around the world, so all that's left for you to do is decide which one is best for you!
Hotel Gansevoort, NYC
You'll get the true SATC experience living it up in the city where just about everything takes place. Enjoy early check-in (2 p.m.), then lounge around poolside sipping on Cosmos for two. Get your shopping on and take advantage of special discounts at select shops, and then hit the town with two VIP passes good for a number of hip NYC clubs. When you leave, don't forget to pack your SATC book and DVD (also included)! Rates start at $545/night. Available until September 6.
I’ve long thought the best travel stories are the ones, well, where things don’t go according to plan. The most memorable tales from the road, it seems, often involve weird characters, bungled reservations, and near misses of all kinds. For this reason, I’ve become a big fan of the TitanicAwards.com, a survey site that celebrates “the dubious achievements in travel” (from Worst Toilet to Most Annoying Tourist Attraction) and can always be counted on for a good laugh. (If you like the LOLcats of Icanhascheezeburger, you’ll love the absurd-but-true findings of TitanicAwards.com.)