Three years after the country’s 26-year civil war ended, Sri Lanka’s recovery is well underway. I spent two weeks traveling in Sri Lanka at the end of January and was amazed by the changes taking place. Colombo, the capital, is unrecognizable. Old colonial buildings once enshrouded in barbed wire and concrete walls are now out in the open, with fresh coats of paint. A few major restoration projects have turned historic buildings into dining and shopping destinations.
Launched in beta last week, the new hotel booking website with the memorable name, WantMeGetMe.com, challenges its growing list of top hotels to entice a new breed of traveler—wannabe VIPs—with luxe amenities, everything from complimentary Wi-Fi and valet parking to guaranteed upgrades and champagne.
This “Catch Me If You Can” approach is the first of its kind for a travel site, and given how many travelers nowadays already expect special treatment, the future of this free members-only site looks bright. But let’s take a closer look.
When it comes to reliable, easy-to-use tech amenities, hotels have lagged confoundingly behind what most travelers have at home or on their smart phones or tablets. Even at many so-called state-of-the-art properties guests wrestle with inscrutable room controls, ornery A/V setups, and awkward communications systems. Thankfully, some hotels are now stepping up their tech game—for real.
What’s Here Now
These days, any property worth its room rate offers free Wi-Fi. But too often it’s exceedingly sloooow. Solution: many hotels (including the Radisson in San Diego and the Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo) are rolling out 100 Mbps Internet service, which is fast enough to download an album in three seconds.
The Camden Harbour Inn may look like another balconied Victorian bed-and-breakfast from the outside, but don't be fooled: Dutch co-owners Raymond Brunyanszki and Oscar Verest are taking Maine's hotel scene in a new direction. Don't believe us? Check out these first-look photos of the two new suites they unveiled this summer.
The best hotel art programs think outside the frame. In France, a bipolar case in point.
The six rooms at Au Vieux Panier, in Marseilles’ oldest quarter, aren’t just rooms: they’re immersive experiences, reconceived annually by guest artists. This year’s standout is the Panic Room by French tagger Tilt, who slathered half the space in dense, psychedelic graffiti, leaving the rest stark white—the visual equivalent of switching radio stations from floor-shaking hip-hop to ambient trance. So, which side of the bed would you choose? 13 Rue du Panier.$
Want a definition of great service? Sink into an armchair at £10, the semisecret Macallan scotch bar at the Montage Beverly Hills, and let your barman go to work. He’ll wheel out a mahogany cart stocked with Lalique crystal glassware, chilled soapstone rocks (for those who frown on dilution), and an array of rare single malts, with which he’ll prepare the best damn scotch you’ve ever had. Maybe it’s the distillery’s smoky, spicy 18-year Sherry Oak ($35). Or the Macallan 64 Years Old, a goblet of which will set you back $64,000, not including tip. You should tip well.
This July marked the opening of Gaya Island Resort off the coast of Malaysian Borneo. With 120 villas overlooking the South China Sea, the hotel takes full advantage of their stunning national park space with a resident naturalist and marine biologist, private yacht, and underwater photography classes. This land is as pristine as it gets.
Follow these three travel tips to get the most value out of your getaway this fall.
1. Tip: Head to a Popular Summer Beach Escape
Beach getaways that people love in the summer are an insider’s secret in the fall – the weather is still great, crowds are few, and the prices drop dramatically. The quintessential New England island destination of Nantucket is a great example.
White Elephant, Nantucket, MA:You’ll find this classic resort—with expansive lawns and 64 airy rooms—occupying a prime spot on Nantucket Harbor In October, you can stay here for a low as $195/night, about half what you’d pay in the summer high season.