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Green Hotel Trend: Wooden Key Cards

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Hotel chains have been going green for years, but the latest eco-friendly initiative to catch our eye are wooden key cards by Sweden-based Sustainable Cards.

According to head of sales Johan Kaijser, 30 billion plastic cards are produced every year—that’s 150,000 tons of plastic. Using cards made from wood can reduce the carbon footprint by 50%. So far, hotel brands such as Radisson Blu, Westin, Four Seasons, Accor, and Kempinski—plus retailers like Starbucks and Whole Foods (which use them as gift cards)—have signed on. The European hotel company Scandic was an early supporter, while Mövenpick is the first to adopt them across the brand.

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5 Iconic Beverly Hills Hotels

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To celebrate the city's centennial, five iconic Beverly Hills hotels have dedicated a suite to a different era.

Beverly Hills Hotel, Dorchester Collection (pictured)

The Vibe: Tinseltown glamour in a tropical-resort setting with classic Hollywood touches (banana-leaf wallpaper; Art Deco lobby; that famous sign).

Who Goes: Hollywood players making deals at the Polo Lounge; families who love the pool and breakfast at the coffee shop.

The New Suite: The 1950’s-style room has a brick fireplace, coved ceilings, and curvaceous furniture inspired by Marilyn Monroe, a frequent guest. $$$

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Baz Luhrmann's Next Project: Miami's Faena Saxony Hotel

Baz Luhrmann, Faena Saxony Hotel

After decades of directing lavish motion pictures such as The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge, Baz Luhrmann is turning his attention to a different kind of spectacle: the Faena Saxony Hotel, set to open later this year in Miami Beach. Along with his wife and collaborator, Catherine Martin, Luhrmann will lead the design efforts as a creative director for the hotel, which is just one element of a massive complex developed by industrialist Len Blavatnik and real estate tycoon Alan Faena, who is known for his buzzy, Philippe Starck–designed boutique hotel in Buenos Aires. The project will also include an arts center by architect Rem Koolhaas and residences by Foster & Partners. T+L talked with Luhrmann about his plans—and his inspirations.

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Four Seasons Resort Lanai Introduces an Airport Lounge in Honolulu

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We’ve told you about new developments in airline and airport lounges (most recently here and here)—but now the Four Seasons Resort Lanai has debuted its very own version at Honolulu International Airport. Located in the commuter terminal, the 1,000-square-foot lounge means that guests start their hotel experience even before setting foot on the island—and the hotel. Visitors awaiting their 25-minute flights to Lanai will have all the free perks: food, beverages, iPads, Wi-Fi access, charging stations, luggage holding areas, TVs. Plus, a Four Seasons concierge is on hand to assist with check-in and reservations at the restaurant or spa.

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

Photo Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

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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