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An Insider's Guide to Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City

How do you find the best of ever-vibrant, ever-changing Ho Chi Minh City? Get an insider guide. T+L asked three plugged-in residents to open their little black books.

The Journalist: Brett Davis

Editorial director, AsiaLife magazine
Moved from Australia in 2010

Favorite neighborhood: The corner of District 3 bordered by Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Dien Bien Phu, and Hai Ba Trung is filled with old architecture and grand trees.

In-town escape: When Saigon gets to be too much and I need my whiskey and Miles Davis, I go to the First Bar (23 Huynh Thuc Khang St., District 1), which has jazz and a maestro mixing cocktails.

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Denver Hotel Launches Brewery by Bike Tour

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In a city famous for both its outdoorsiness and its booming craft beer scene, it seems only natural that the two combine. Denver’s recently-renovated Hotel Teatro has done just that, with its new Brewery-by-Bike tour.

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Marriott's Wi-Fi Jamming Scandal, And What It Means For Hotel Tech

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Earlier this week, Marriott made headlines for blocking the use of Mi-Fi hotspots for conference-goers at its Nashville-based property—to the tune of a $600,000 fine.

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Behind the Scenes at Canada's Quirkiest Inn

Prince Edward County may be Canada’s hippest new escape. Just two hours east of Toronto on an island that juts onto Lake Ontario, it’s home to stunning landscapes, a clutch of burgeoning wineries that produce spectacular Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, dozens of nouveau country stores, and what may be the country’s quirkiest—and perhaps most charming—little inn.

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5 Reasons to Visit Providence Now

Providence, RI

This year’s overall America's Favorite Cities winner has a bit of everything: great food, an exciting bar scene, and endless curb appeal.

1. Because the city is a legitimate culinary capital.
Queue up for a table at North, a modern Asian hot spot by James Mark, a David Chang protégé, or book at Birch, an ambitious chef’s counter with a focus on local ingredients (whelks; quahogs; foraged herbs).

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El Blok Hotel Makes Its Debut in Vieques

El Blok staircase

In Vieques, the names and phone numbers of all the island’s taxi drivers are posted on a sign outside the airport, which is an indication both of its size and its degree of formality. No need for Uber here. Vieques, just off the eastern tip of Puerto Rico—and accessible by a puddle jumper from San Juan—has a sleepy, eccentric, instantly likable charm: Tulum without the yoga, Harbour Island without the WASP’s. “Vieques is like a really good indie rock band,” says Simon Baeyertz, a former music industry exec who moved here four years ago and, with co-owner Rob Feldmann, opened the hotel El Blok in August. “Maybe it’ll get discovered, maybe it won’t. But it will never be a big pop star. It’s the White Stripes, not Taylor Swift.”

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How to Get a Room Upgrade (Video)

The best rooms aren’t always reserved for those who pay top dollar. Travel + Leisure's Sarah Spagnolo shares five tips that will help you get an upgrade:

Tip 1: Be nice

Front desk agents are usually entitled to change a guest’s room at their discretion. A smile and a friendly spirit can go a long way!

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Marriott and Maria Shriver Remind Guests to Tip Hotel Attendants

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What do Maria Shriver and Marriott Hotels have in common? As of this month, it’s a shared interest in helping housekeepers earn their expected tips. 

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Across North America, more than 160,000 Marriott-branded hotel rooms will start adding The Envelope Please, a card encouraging guests to tip their room attendants.

Marriott is the inaugeral partner for this new initiative from Maria Shriver's woman’s empowerment organization, A Woman's Nation. She began the program after discovering many visitors don’t tip hotel housekeepers—as many as 30 percent, according to Columbia University’s School of Hospitality.

Critics of the program, including author Barbara Ehrenreich, cite The Envelope Please as an excuse for Marriott to underpay their employees. 

Marriott representative Angela Wiggins said the tips are still entirely voluntary: “room attendants,” she added, “are paid salaries that are above minimum wage and receive benefits and training.”

While Ehrenreich has painted the program as a front for stiffing employees, we think we could all use a gentle reminder to show our gratitude before turning in our room keys. Even the most conscientious, well-traveled tippers are apt to forget now and then.

Of course, the envelope doesn’t solve the problem created by a plastic currency and mobile payments—few people travel with small bills on them—especially in a local currency.

We’d love to see Marriott integrate a tip feature into their mobile app, or allow guests to tip on the room invoice. “There has been some conversation [about that],” said Wiggins, “but nothing definitive.”

Other hotel brands might soon be flaunting The Envelope Please as early as 2015, said a representative from Woman's Nation. 

Melanie Lieberman is the Editorial Projects Assistant and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow her on twitter at @LittleWordBites.

Photo courtesy of "A Woman’s Nation"

Hotel Tonight Extends Booking Window to One Week

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The last-minute hotel booking space is getting a little less last-minute, as HotelTonight is unveiling a new feature that lets users book their rooms a full week in advance. The new features, live today, respond to a need to have more flexibility when traveling in certain situations, says CEO Sam Shank, who for the first time talked about demographics beyond the spontaneous weekend traveler when I met with him earlier this week. Business travelers, he pointed out, would especially stand to gain from the new model, which allows you to wait until your schedule is set before deciding which neighborhood (or specific property) might be best suited for a particular trip.

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If I'm Paying for Hotel Parking, Do I Still Need to Tip the Valet?

Valet Parking

When you’re spending as much as $30 a day for hotel parking, tipping the valet each time he or she retrieves your car can seem like an unnecessary investment. That $30, however, goes only toward the valet’s base pay, which—much like a waiter’s—is calculated assuming that he or she will receive gratuities. If you don’t want to hand out money each day, ask the concierge if it’s possible to leave a total tip at the end of your stay: many hotels pool and distribute tips evenly to the valets.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@timeinc.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.

Photo courtesy of Hola Images/Corbis

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