Going to Disney World but want a break from overflowing Orlando? The comparatively crowdless seaside town of Vero Beach is a two hours’ drive from O-Town’s attractions and offers up clean beaches and affordable places to stay. One, the Vero Beach Hotel & Spa was recently purchased by Kimpton, which means all those perks we love about the punchy hotel brand (kid-sized bathrobes, goodie bags, in-room goldfish)—along with a cocktail hour for adults and a pet-friendly policy—are now in effect.
No one who knows me would ever mistake me for a mountaineer. Though I’ve happily met all manner of challenges on flat ground (including Patagonian glaciers, Australian desert, and Costa Rican rainforest), high-altitude adventures have always set me whimpering.
So recently, I decided to test my fear of heights in the cushiest possible way: with a customized, weeklong guided foray into the Italian Dolomites.
I received an email invitation to this event a few days ago, got exceedingly excited, and will literally remain excited until the big day: the Chocolate Show, a worldwide celebration of All Things Cacao, is starting its world tour.
Over 65 exhibits include chefs using the miracle ingredient in unusual culinary creations, a Chocolate Beauty Pavilion (with mini-massages!), and—obviously—copious opportunities to taste. $28 to feel like a kid in a candy store again? Count me in.
Consider it Fresh Direct for the still-in-diapers set. Since 2004, Babies Travel Lite, an e-tailor of baby supplies, has been delivering goods to home addresses as well as hotels worldwide—taking the excess baggage out of traveling with an infant in tow.
The site has already partnered with Hyatt, giving guests who stay at a property within the brand a reduced service fee discount and streamlined ordering process. Disney Cruise Line recently joined the club—which means travel potties, bottle warmers, diapers, formula, and more can be shipped right to your stateroom on any of DCL’s liners.
Starting today, JetBlue will offer flights between New York’s JFK Airport and Grantley Adams International Airport in Bridgetown, Barbados, in the lower Caribbean. To take advantage of the airline's introductory price of $99 each way, you must book before Oct. 8 for travel through December 19th, 2009 (with Thanksgiving blackout dates).
Barbados is the twelfth international destination on JetBlue’s growing route map (flights to Jamaica begin May 21, 2010).
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.
"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."
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.
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.
With so many people—and companies—“going green” these days, it’s hard to know who’s in the Eco Revolution for real. When it comes to buildings, however, there is one way to be certain: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The strict guidelines developed by the U.S. Green Building Council focus on construction and energy consumption. In the world of travel and hotels, this seal of approval helps separate serious change agents from so-called green properties touting towel re-use programs. Every little bit helps, but there are shades of “green” to be sure.
To date, there are only 16 LEED hotels in the U.S., with a handful more pending the arduous certification.
On October 1, Ritz-Carlton will open its first-ever LEED-built property in Charlotte, North Carolina’s Uptown neighborhood. (We even hear the president, CEO, and founding chairman of the USGB, Rick Fedrizzi, will be doing the ribbon cutting.)