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Marriott Hotels Launches Mobile Checkout at 329 Properties Worldwide

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Everyone’s going mobile in travel these days—and if you thought you’d heard enough of that already, think again. It’s just the beginning. Proving that is Marriott Hotels, which today launches mobile checkout at all of its 329 hotels nationwide and another 20 international properties (all 500 will be on board later this year). While other hotels and resorts have individually brought mobile checkout to life—I just checked out of the Aria in Las Vegas without even stopping at the front desk—Marriott’s move marks the first brand-wide conversion of its scale, and is no question a signifier of what’s to come for the rest of the industry.

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February Vacation Deals

Lexington Hotel

Art & Culture

Chicago: 30% off historical blues package

Windy City Blues package includes:

• 2 nights' accommodations in a standard room at Kimpton’s Hotel Allegro, with mod-retro rooms in the theater district
• 2 tickets to Buddy Guy’s Legends blues club, owned by the iconic artist himself
• Admission to Chicago’s History Museum to see the “Crossroads of America” exhibit on the history behind America’s Blues Capital

Cost: $270 ($135 per night)

Book via telephone only for travel between February 1 and March 31.

For more information, please visit Kimpton’s Hotel Allegro; to book, please call (800) 643-1500 and use booking code BLUE14.

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New Website Trip Rebel Offers Hotel Savings

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A new website called Trip Rebel—currently in beta—is aiming to be the next Tingo. The concept is simple: You book your hotel stay through the Germany- and Austria-based site, which currently lists more than 200,000 properties around the world. It then tracks your reservation for price reductions every day until you check in. If the price drops, you’ll be automatically re-booked at the new rate, and the difference is refunded to your credit card.

There’s no limit to how much you can receive, and you can adjust your “money back level”—or the amount at which you would want to get a refund (it defaults at 1 euro). When booking, you can filter by type, room features, TripAdvisor rating, and amenities (including the puzzling “accessible path of travel” and “accessible bathroom”).

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Underwater Hotel Offers a Fresh View of Zanzibar

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We've told you about the Maldives and its underwater restaurant and underwater nightclub. Now, Zanzibar has gotten into the underwater game, with a hotel room that's partly submerged in the Indian Ocean. Set about 820 feet off the coast of Pemba Island, the three-level room is part of the Manta Resort and created by the Sweden-based Genberg Underwater Hotels company. (Their first project is the Utter Inn, in a lake near Stockholm.) Guests have access to a sea-level deck and a roof lounge, but the real draw of course is the glass-paneled (and somewhat bare bones) double bedroom below the water. According to Matthew Saus, co-founder of Genberg, guests have reported seeing squid, garfish, pipefish, an octopus, even a Spanish dancer. As Saus puts it, “I guess the word for it is ‘privilege’—you certainly do feel privileged to be part of this special world.”

Brooke Porter
Brooke Porter Katz is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.

Photo credit: Jesper Anhede

Major Hotels Fall Victim to Credit Card Hack

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Hotels across the country have been hacked, reports CNN. Fourteen locations owned by Marriott, InterContinental Hotel Group, Sheraton, and Westin franchises, are confirmed victims of a nationwide data breach.

Guests who used their credit and debit cards on site between March 20 and December 16, 2013, may have had their personal financial details compromised.

Banking sources were initially perplexed by the report, as the hotels range from a Radisson in Florida to a Sheraton in Pennsylvania. Later in the day, the common denominator revealed itself as White Lodging Property Management.

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A Business Traveler's Favorite Hotel Amenities

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This past summer, my fiancée and I stayed at a bed and breakfast. It was charming and had a great ocean view. But when she hopped out of the shower the first time, she discovered our room lacked a hair dryer.

As a frequent traveler, I was shocked. I’ve come to expect basic things from hotels: soap, shampoo, conditioner, and a hair dryer. Maybe I shouldn’t. Either way, this week I’m taking a look at some of my favorite hotel perks and some amenities that I think all lodgings should have.

Let’s start with the good ones.

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Celebrate Chinese New Year With These 5 Hotel Deals Around the World

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Today, millions of people around the world are celebrating the Year of the Wooden Horse with elaborate ceremonies, ancient rituals, and extensive traditional feasts (think tea eggs, sticky rice cakes, and whole Peking ducks).

Roosevelt Park kicked off the festivities in New York this morning with a riotous firecracker demonstration to close out the Year of the Snake, and the Annual Lunar New Year Parade and Festival will swell the streets of Chinatown on February 2.

Nothing compares to the fanfare in China, where the next two weeks are guaranteed to be bursting with dances, demonstrations, and the color red.

But no matter where you are in your travels, you can welcome this year of adventure and energy in a festive fashion. Book a room at one of these luxury hotels for an over-the-top Chinese New Year.

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Bitcoin Digital Currency Now Accepted By PointsHound and Las Vegas Casinos

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The bitcoin continues to establish itself in the travel industry, with online booking site PointsHound and two Las Vegas casinos joining the growing list of companies utilizing the cryptocurrency this week.

PointsHound, a website which helps travelers book vacations and earn points for their various loyalty programs, will now let users earn their rewards in bitcoins. For example, rather than boosting their AAdvantage points by 3,400 miles, PointsHound users can opt for 0.1093 bitcoins instead when purchasing a night at over 150,000 hotels worldwide. (Those numbers come from booking a $1,124, one-night stay at the T+L World's Best Award winner Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora.)

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2014 Travel Trends: Airports, Hotels, Cruises

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T+L reached out to some of the industry's top travel experts during a recent Twitter chat to learn what trends would make it big in 2014. From airports enveloped in botanical gardens to in-cabin WiFi on your next cruise, here are their predictions:

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The Godfrey Hotel Chicago Challenges You to Name an Element

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The Godfrey Hotel Chicago knows a thing or two about the elements. Resembling large stacking blocks made out of modern steel, the luxury boutique hotel features nods to the elements throughout its property. 

This past year, scientists discovered element 139, which has yet to have an official name. Ever a fan of the periodic table, the Godfrey is offering the following for the wittiest name suggestions:

  • First place: Discounted rate of $139 throughout the entire year of 2014, one night complimentary stay, and a $25 gift card to I|O Urban Roofscape

  • Second place: Complimentary one-night stay

  • Third place: $25 gift card to I|O Urban Roofscape

Enter now through January 21 on the Godfrey Hotel Facebook page here

Gabrielle Blitz is the Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure

Photo credit: Papdakis Photography

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