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Trip Doctor: How to Avoid Hotel Wi-Fi Fees

Hotel Wi-Fi: Tether

If you’re an Android user and staying in the U.S., you’re in luck: free apps such as FoxFi let you share a mobile data connection with your laptop at no extra cost. For everyone else, Tether’s service ($29.95 per year) will connect your laptop to your mobile devices via Bluetooth or USB. If you’re traveling internationally, XCom Global rents foreign-based hot spots with unlimited usage for $14.95 a day. Not-so-frequent travelers should try Boingo Wireless, which lets you access hot spots around the world. Subscriptions start at $7.95 a month and can be activated as needed. Bonus: many of its hot spots are in hotels.

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of Tether

Hotels Prep for Increased Chinese Tourism

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Global hotel brands—from Starwood and Hilton to Four Seasons and Anantara—are scrambling to meet the needs of China’s increasingly peripatetic middle class. Last year alone, 78 million Chinese were expected to travel abroad, spending upwards of $80 billion. Here, a few of the perks and programs being rolled out to make them feel at home.

• Chinese chess and mah-jongg games
• Avoidance of the number 4 (considered unlucky) in room and floor assignments
• Slippers (wearing shoes indoors is seen as unsanitary)
• Packets of jasmine and oolong tea
• Red flowers in rooms instead of white (red = good fortune; white = funerals)
• Chinese-language newspapers and TV channels
• Dim sum and congee for breakfast

Photo by iStockphoto  

Vacationist Hotel Deals: New York City, Napa, St. Lucia + Santorini

Book now on Vacationist, and you can stay in some of your favorite hotels and resorts for up to 40% off.

SALE ENDS IN 2 DAYS!
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St. Giles Hotel - The Court - up to 31% off - New York, New York
This Manhattan hotel has a prime location: it's close to Grand Central Terminal, the Theater District, and Fifth Avenue shopping.

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Meadowood Napa Valley - up to 29% off - Napa Valley, California
A foodie-focused Napa Valley resort that's set among 250 lushly wooded acres in a small, private valley.

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Rendezvous - up to 53% off - Castries, Saint Lucia
This boutique all-inclusive on Saint Lucia's Malabar Beach delivers honeymoon-worthy vacations or just a quiet escape.

SALE ENDS IN 3 DAYS!
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Zannos Melathron - up to 63% off - Santorini, Greece
It's an unbeatable combination: Relais & Châteaux's ace service, a medieval castle-like construction, and stunning views of Santorini's legendary sunsets.

Vacationist.com is brought to you by Travel + Leisure and LuxuryLink.com.

From top: Photos courtesy of St. Giles hotel; Meadowood; Rendezvous; Zannos Melathron.


 

The Goring Hotel Receives Royal Warrant

Goring Hotel

During the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Queen Elizabeth II broke with hundreds of years of protocol and agreed to rent out the lavish rooms—or so-called “state apartments”—inside St. James’s Palace to various companies during the Games. Only holders of the Royal Warrant—companies with long-standing ties to the royal family—were able to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime offer.

Holding a Royal Warrant signifies that Her Majesty prefers that company—or brand—over others. And the list grows.

Just this week, for the first time in history, The Queen granted a Royal Warrant to a hotel. The Goring, the 103-year-old Edwardian property near Buckingham Palace in London's Belgravia neighborhood where Kate Middleton slept the night before her wedding, was honored. “To be able to display Her Majesty’s coat of arms is something that the staff will be enormously proud of. Without doubt this is the most important recognition,” claims Jeremy Goring, great-grandson of the hotel’s founder.

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TODAY Show Video: 5 Great Winter Getaways

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Whether you want to ski or swim, we have some fun and affordable ideas for your getaway this season.

Caribbean Beach: Martinique
Stay: Plein Soleil
Located 25 minutes from the airport, this chic collection of airy villas faces Thalemont Bay; the pool overlooks the inlet, too. The pretty, soft-white bedrooms here have linen-draped chaise lounges and Koi fish live in the ponds on the terrace. Dine at the open-air restaurant for spicy crab farci and local fruits marinated in mint. American Airlines offers connecting service through San Juan, Puerto Rico from many U.S. gateways. Doubles from $219/night.

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6 Great Après-Ski Traditions Around North America

Basecamp

After an invigorating day on the slopes, who doesn’t love a good après-ski drink or bite? Each of these hotels takes the tradition to a whole new level, with fun activities and tasty tipples.

The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe has a “marshmologist” on hand every evening leading the Art of the S’more program. The whole family learns how to roast the perfect marshmallow, and adults can enjoy the delicious S’moretini. On the other side of Lake Tahoe, newcomer Basecamp (pictured) offers its guests plenty of beer pairing options, including beer and beef stew, as well as the extremely popular beer and croute au fromage (a hearty Swiss dish of melted cheese over toast). Yes please.

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Trip Doctor: Hotels and Rate Transparency

The Venetian

Ever wonder what that $30-a-night “resort fee” on your recent hotel bill was actually paying for? Depending on the property, it could have covered anything from Wi-Fi and “complimentary” bottled water in your room to gym and business center access—which you may not have even used during your stay. Either way, you were going to end up paying for it, no matter how enticingly low that advertised rate was. This practice of tacking on additional (and sometimes mandatory) fees to basic rates is known as “drip pricing,” and is most commonly encountered in resort destinations such as Hawaii and Vegas.

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New Titanic-Themed Floating Hotel in Liverpool Stirs up Controversy

Titanic Liverpool hotel

A new floating hotel in Liverpool, England, is already churning the waters of controversy even before it opens. The Titanic Liverpool boutique hotel, set to open this week, is designed to resemble the sinking stern section of the fated ship—complete with two mock smokestacks and a paint job that creates the illusion of a heavy slant.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: London, Charleston, Boston + Brooklyn

Book now on Vacationist, and you can stay in some of your favorite hotels and resorts for up to 40% off.

SALE ENDS IN 2 DAYS!
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The Stafford London - up to 48% off - London, United Kingdom
This historic London property in St. James's offers easy access to city landmarks, including Buckingham Palace.

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Tahoe Debut: Basecamp Hotel

Basecamp Hotel

Arc’teryx meets Anthropologie at Lake Tahoe’s newest place to stay, Basecamp Hotel (South Lake Tahoe, Calif. $). Just minutes from both the water and the Heavenly Mountain ski resort, it was designed with high-style adventurers in mind. Its 50 chic, sleepaway-camp-inspired rooms (some with bunk beds) substitute lanterns for lamps and survival guides for Gideon Bibles. Nightly group meals encourage hostel-like mingling—as do the outdoor fire pits, where you’ll find guests sharing s’mores and trading stories about the moguls on Heavenly’s famous Gunbarrel run.

Photo by Jake Stangel

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