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T+L's Favorite Hotels for Bike Month

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It's Bike Month, and hotels are getting in on the action. Here, a few of our favorite two-wheeler programs at properties around North America:

All that separates Santa Monica's Shutters on the Beach from the ocean is a bike-path. Luckily, the hotel has a fleet of bright-green cycles designed by Kate Spade available to rent.

On the Atlantic, Miami's James Royal Palm has complimentary Republic bikes for guests to ride along the South Beach boardwalk.

And in Puerto Rico, the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort (pictured above) is a nature preservation unto itself, with secluded paths through a 70-acre bird sanctuary—home to endemic parrots. The hotel provides complimentary bike rentals.

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News Update: World Cup 2014, California's Redwoods, and Airports Impacted by Climate Change

This week's video news round-up includes the latest on preparations in Brazil for World Cup 2014, details on an attack of California’s giant Redwood trees, President Obama's warning for many U.S. airports, and details on a new resource for traveling seniors.

FAA Investigates Near Collision Between Jetliners Over Hawaii

The Federal Aviation Authority is investigating claims of a near collision between two passenger planes over Hawaii last month.

Apparently, on April 25th, a United Airlines flight dropped 600 feet in order to avoid an oncoming U.S. Airways flight. At just two miles apart, the planes could have collided within twelve seconds due to their speeds.

The incident went under the radar until this week, when passenger Kevin Townsend published an essay on the subject. Now, the FAA and both airlines are cooperating to investigate the close call.

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure and a member of the Trip Doctor news team. You can find him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Ecuador Declares Environmental Emergency in Galapagos

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A cargo ship that ran aground last week prompted Ecuador's government to declare an environmental emergency yesterday.

Nineteen-thousand gallons of fuel have already been removed from the Galapaface I, stranded off of San Cristobal island, but the environmental ministry's statement highlights the continued threat from the remaining cargo, including chemical products and bilge water.

In effect for 180 days, the declaration opens up federal resources to remove both the dangerous products and the ship itself.

Thankfully, the government's fast response has minimized any potentially disastrous effects, leaving the island's unique ecosystem relatively unscathed. Here's hoping the cleanup process remains so successful.

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure and a member of the Trip Doctor news team. You can find him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Photo by Ralph Lee Hopkins

Google's Self-Driving Car Makes The Road Trip of Tomorrow

201405-hd-google-self-driving-carjpgSomewhere in Google’s hometown in Mountain View, California, there is a car navigating the suburban streets without a driver. 

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Foursquare Launches New App Swarm For Global Networking

foursquare_appjpgYesterday Foursquare pushed its new app, Swarm, to the iTunes and Google Play stores, revealing to the world what it had been teasing for weeks: a tool to help you connect with friends globally, in a way that’s more socially-driven than the Foursquare we’ve long known and loved. Swarm differs from Foursquare by focusing on interactions, and not solitary check-ins or points, which were hardly being used in the competitive, socially-charged way that had once been intended.

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World Premiere Caps 50th Anniversary Season of New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center

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Throughout 2013-14, New York City Ballet has celebrated its 50th anniversary at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in grand style, with 50 ballets, some classic repertory, some new works.  To cap off the season, the company brings gives the world premiere of Everywhere We Go, a ballet commissioned from two impressive talents: choreographer and NYCB dancer Justin Peck and the American singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens, who has supplied the score.  The work runs in repertoire through May.

Mario Mercado is Travel + Leisure's Arts Editor.

Photo by Paul Kolnik

Marriott's New PlusPoints Will Turn Your Tweets into Loyalty Points

201405-hd-marriott-pluspoints-socialjpgSocial media engagement has become increasingly valuable to hotel brands and travel companies—look no further than our own SMITTY Award winners—but today, Marriott is becoming the first company to place a real dollar value on customers’ tweets, check-ins, and likes. With PlusPoints, a new feature of the brand’s much loved rewards program, visitors who download the Marriott Rewards app and synch their social media accounts will now see their points balances increase with every digital interaction—up to 2,000 points each month. Says Rich Toohey, VP of Marriott Rewards, “It’s a way to provide immediate gratification for our members, who happy to be very active on social media channels.” Immediate is right: most interactions (geo-tagged Instagram pics; Facebook comments; check-ins and tweets) will yield an automatic deposited of 25 points to your Marriott Rewards account, while one-time activities, such as liking a property page on Facebook, will boost your balance by 250 points.

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Four New Apps Make Google Glass a Traveler's Best Friend

201405-hd-google-glass-for-traveljpgPop up notifications about your flight status. Instant visual translations. Directions to your hotel within seconds of your asking. Google Glass has been targeting travelers for months, with an arsenal of tools that intend to get you looking away from your smart phone and around at world. Today, the company is making a bigger push than ever into the travel space, with the release of three new apps that any jetsetter will no doubt recognize—TripIt, Foursquare, and OpenTable—plus a smart re-release of the exploration tool, Field Trip, which now lets you ask for sightseeing suggestions based on its eclectic catalogue of local sites and venues.

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Lyft Introduces New Premium Cab-on-Call Service

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There’s a new ride in town, though you may recognize it by its signature facial hair. Lyft Plus, a new premium offering by Uber’s quirky, mustachioed competitor, is now piloting service in San Francisco before rolling out to all of its 60 cities coast to coast. As the name would suggest, the new model offers a more souped-up cab-on-call experience--while there’s nary a Mercedes-Benz in sight, the premium experience features custom-outfitted Ford Explorers, each decked out with custom under-car LED lights, 20-inch sport wheels, quilted leather seats for six, and (our favorite) Spotify Premium access. It’s less expensive that Uber Black by about a 20% margin, and roughly twice the cost of a regular Lyft ride, running $3.00 a mile or fifty cents a minute. As for the token mustache found on all of Lyft’s regular cars? You’ll find it affixed onto the grille in brushed steel—trés classy.
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Nikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of Lyft

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