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.
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.)
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:
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
Ask a hotel staff member—whether concierge, bellboy, or desk manager—to reveal the dirt about their jobs, and guest (mis)behavior comes into play more often than not. (Just read our “Confessions of” series for proof.) Ask a guest for their feedback about their hotel stays, however, and you get an entertaining mix of positive, negative, and just plain wacky responses.
The Standard hotel group, with properties in Los Angeles, Miami, and New York, brilliantly sheds light on (and pokes fun at) a few of their favorite customer comments in a 2014 wall calendar (available online for $35). Cleverly staged photographs are paired with direct quotes from guests. April, for example, shows a bearded, white-robed figure standing on the pool along with, “Thank you for rehabilitating me from a hostile takeover of my business, subsequent lawsuit, divorce, and collapse of my ego. I have been reborn a better man.”
Loews and Four Seasons are some of the first tech-savvy brands piloting the program, powered by California-based Zingle. With this personal texting service, guests can text their requests from anywhere, and expect almost immediate feedback.
Four Seasons Philadelphia’s Hotel Manager, Michael Nenner, guarantees an answer in four minutes or less.
Ten years ago, I stayed at the then-relatively-new Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, at the base of Colorado’s Beaver Creek resort. The ski lodge was a new concept for the Ritz-Carlton, and I loved everything about it: ski-in/ski-out access, a great room with a huge stone fireplace, an outdoor fire pit for roasting marshmallows. Thankfully, all of that’s still there, but last month, the hotel put the finishing touches on a big renovation. Since I was out in Colorado, I went to take a look.
The big news? A brand-new, three-meals-a-day, open-kitchen restaurant called Buffalos, which serves up its namesake in several forms, like a buffalo steak and eggs, a bison burger, and something I wasn’t expecting to like as much as I did: bison tartare (washed down with a few Colorado craft beers). The hotel’s other restaurant, Spago, didn’t exist when I first visited, but since 2007, it’s been turning out Wolfgang Puck’s sensational seasonal dishes. And as I sampled his stupendous pumpkin-filled pasta, bonus—Puck himself was dining with his family a couple tables away.
Entre Cielos, which translates to “between heavens” and “between skies,” isa holistic hospitality concept nurtured to life by three Swiss friends in the foothills of Mendoza, Argentina.
Daniela Wäger-Spreafico, David Wäger, and Cécile Adam dreamed of a wine hotel and spa where guests could reconnect with themselves, commune with nature, sip wine, and delight in impeccable gastronomic experiences. A worldwide pursuit for the perfect location led the group of three to Vistalba, Mendoza, where they invested their savings to purchase a 20-acre plot of land with sweeping views of the Andes mountains.
Aside from more affectionate holiday themes like peace and joy, Christmas to me means one thing: sweets. Whether it’s fresh-baked fruitcake, intricately iced gingerbread cookies, or chocolate squares straight out of an Advent calendar, Santa’s not the only one indulging this season. But hotels are pushing the candy-coated envelope when it comes to desserts this holiday. A festive take over at the Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens in Las Vegas (above) includes an eight-foot-tall reindeer coated in chocolate and a life-size candy house, while an elevator lined in gingerbread bricks at Chicago’s Trump International Hotel & Tower shuttles guests to and from the property's Michelin-starred restaurant Sixteen. Read on for more of America’s Best Hotels for Christmas.
Need a gift for a traveler in your life? Or better yet, want to give someone a little inspiration on what to get YOU this season?
Globetrotter and YouTube Vlogger, Sonia Gil of “Sonia’s Travels” shares the perfect small gifts for the holidays (think stocking stuffers, Secret Santa, and holiday grab-bag!) on Hyatt Place's new Seamless Travel Series, which is designed to arm travelers with tips to ensure that their travel experience is just right.
From packing cubes to gear ties (I need these), and tips on what to do if you forget your charger, her video includes great gifts for travelers.
For more on Sonia's expert tips and Hyatt's Seamless Travel Series, visit Hyatt on Facebook.
Gabrielle Blitz is associate social media editor at Travel + Leisure.