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Tech Thursday: Dell’s New, Travel-Friendly Convertible Ultrabook

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Love the portability of a MacBook Air and the versatility of the Surface? Somewhere right in between is Dell’s XPS 12 (from $1199), which hit shelves last October with a slick, rotating touchscreen that flips around from laptop to tablet. You won’t get bogged down with this one in your carry on—it weighs in at under 3.5 lbs (less than a pound heavier than its Apple competitor) and its 12-inch monitor feels substantial enough for productivity, with the advantages of a full chicklet keyboard and Windows 8 Pro (which we prefer by leaps and bounds to the less-intuitive, tablet-specific Windows 8 RT). Unlike other ultrabooks, the XPS12 comes with 256 GB of storage in a Solid State hard drive—doubling most of its close competitors—but all this means you’ll want to use it as a laptop first, and tablet second.

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 Dell

Delta Pop-Up in SoHo Provides Preview of JFK's New Terminal 4

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A few years after JetBlue’s new-and-improved Terminal 5 opened at JFK, the airport has pumped $1.4 billion into Terminal 4, set to reopen this month. In anticipation of the expanded space, Delta Air Lines has launched an experiential pop-up in SoHo, open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through May 22. Called "T4X," it comes complete with an upstairs Delta Sky Club (where you can charge your phone and relax with a copy of The New York Times), and an interactive digital 3-D model of the new terminal.

The pop-up is a preview of what’s to come in Terminal 4, where travelers will find Shake Shack and Blue Smoke from famed New York restaurateur Danny Meyer; a street food-inspired concept and a New York-style brasserie from Marcus Samuelsson; and an outpost of Nancy Silverton’s La Brea Bakery. To which we say: arrive early, arrive hungry.  

Brooke Porter
Brooke Porter is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.

Photo by Anna Webber

E-Hail Apps Back in New York City

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While car-sharing services are getting shot down on the West Coast, things are finally looking up for “e-hailing” taxis in New York City. Last week, a State Supreme Court case prohibiting their use was dismissed, and as of today, two e-hail apps are back in action in the Big Apple.

Uber made its debut in the New York marketplace last September, but was quickly snuffed out of business over legality concerns; now, it’s back in action as of Tuesday night. Users can book black cars from their mobile phones, but mobile payments are currently not available as they were previously.

Hailo, the only other app approved thus far, launches today with less name recognition but extra perks, from mobile payment to $10 credits for early adopters. Rather than livery-style cars, Hailo works exclusively with yellow taxis in New York.

Expect a glut of new NYC-based e-hail apps to hit the market in the next months, as developers wrap their heads around the new legislation. Part of the deal: participants must be able to integrate with the existing meter system for NYC cabs, and go through an approval process by the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

Still, the value of these apps is greatest in cities like San Francisco, where hailing a cab isn’t as easy as stepping onto any street corner and sticking out your arm. The laws keeping e-hail apps out of business in California—and other parts of the country—are antiquated at best; we can only hope New York’s example sets a precedent for the cities that need these services most.

See: How to Hail a Cab in NYC.

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 by Maria Pedone


 

Hotel Survey: Americans Don't Go Away Enough

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Feel like you need a vacation? You’re not alone. According to the SpringHill Suites Annual Travel Survey, close to one in four (23%) employed Americans don’t get any paid vacation days, and 90% who do say they want more.

And who can blame them? Springtime sun is far more appealing than a fluorescent cubicle light. So, say you are one of the lucky 49% who receive paid vacation—your travel time is most likely 15 days or less. Are two weeks really enough to satisfy your wanderlust?

Making matters more complicated, 57% of Americans believe feel that staying home or local for vacation is a thing of the past. Popular far-off destinations—think Australia or Thailand—can take two days just to get to. That’s four precious days out of 15 spent commuting. The last I checked, teleportation is still in its infancy, so that trims time in your bucket-list locale to eleven days.

Lastly, men seem to hold out longer between vacations, waiting about one year or 52 weeks to take off, while women head out about every 10 months or 43 weeks. What to do if you’re glued to the work desk? Relax in your rolly chair with T+L's midweek daydreams.

Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

Trip Doctor: Compare Smartphones—Which Platform is Best for You?

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Android, Windows, and even BlackBerry are stepping up their game against Apple, benefiting travelers. T+L’s tech expert finds which platform is best for you.

For the Organization Wiz

Windows 8: Seamless integration with any Windows device is the greatest selling point for this platform. We also love its resizable “live” tiles, which let you put what’s important to you—flight alerts, for example—front and center; innovative tap-to-pay technology; and travel-friendly features, from built-in Skype to top-of-the-line photo capabilities.

The Phone to Get: The sexy and slim Nokia Lumia 920 ($99) has some of the best picture modes we’ve ever tried.

Read More

Hotel Chatter's Wifi Report and T+L's Top Picks

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This morning, Hotel Chatter published its 2013 Hotel Wifi Report, showcasing the best and worst internet service in the industry. The exhaustive study finds that 64% of hotels worldwide offer free wifi, a service Hotel Chatter insists is “as essential as a working shower or air conditioning.”

Paradoxically, as many T+L readers have discovered, the hotels most likely to charge extra for internet service are high-end properties that demand hefty nightly rates to begin with. In fact, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, 84% of luxury hotels charge for in-room internet service, while just 8% of economy hotels do.


Travel + Leisure has been keeping tabs on which hotel brands provide free wifi to guests, and acknowledges these few major brands that buck the trend:


Third Place: A tie between Fairmont, Kimpton, and Omni hotels
Each of these brands gives free wifi in common areas and in guestrooms if you join their (also free) loyalty programs.



Second Place: Andaz

All Andaz properties provide free in-room and lobby internet access to all guests.


First Place: Peninsula and Shangri-La Hotels

Both of these hotel companies give free wifi not just in the hotel rooms and common areas, but also in their automobile fleet!


Be sure to check out Hotel Chatter's in depth report here.

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by John Huba

Richard Branson Inches Closer to Space Dreams

In what can only be described as one small step for space travelers, one giant leap for Virgin Galactic's publicity team, WhiteKnightTwo, a Sir Richard Branson-owned passenger aircraft, managed to reach an altitude of 46,000 feet over the Mojave Desert yesterday. The test flight lasted all of 16 seconds.

Branson called it "stunning" and "a critical day," according Reuter's Irene Klotz. The airline, mobile service, and music label magnate has been pushing for commercial space flights for almost a decade, even going so far as to accept deposits on the $200,000 tickets. Now that one of his craft's has achieved some small measure of escape velocity, Branson and his two grown children plan to fly in a second test of the WhiteKnightTwo scheduled tomorrow. Watch a YouTube video of the test flight above.

Related: Virgin's Sir Richard Branson: Ode to Abstinence

Trip Doctor: Best Travel Sneakers

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Q: Any suggestions for a multitasking fitness shoe? —Karen Lemster, via E-Mail

A: Try the new Adidas ClimaCool sneaker ($60). The sporty cousin of the boat shoe weighs in at four ounces, with mesh uppers (great for keeping feet cool while walking). One important tip: break in any new pair of kicks before hitting the road.

Mimi Lombardo Mimi Lombardo is Travel + Leisure's style director. Packing is rarely easy-we're here to help. Send your questions to tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @TLTripDoctor on Twitter.

Photo by John Lawton

It's Barbie's World, We Just Visit It

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Pack up the hot-pink convertible: It may be time to take your Barbie-themed vacation.

On May 6, two official Barbie Dream House Experience attractions will open on our planet: one in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz Square, and the other in Sunrise, Florida.

For admission starting at $14, both sites promise to offer a life-sized immersion into Barbie’s plastic townhouse. You can take an elevator from room to room, create a virtual cupcake in the kitchen, explore Barbie's "endless closet" and experience the "walk-through glitterizer." On the attraction’s web site, you learn that you will see Barbie there "in unexpected ways," as well as encounter sister Skipper, the always-controversial Ken, and other characters including Raquelle, Ryan, and pets Blissa and Taffy. Florida opens May 6, Berlin May 16.

But not everyone is popping the pepto-pink champagne. According to The Independent, the Berlin branch of the Dream House has been attracting preemptive protestors, including one 27-year-old who launched an "Occupy Barbie Dreamhouse" Facebook page. "Barbie Dream House is the expression of a conventional role model that isn’t OK," Michael Koschitzki told The Independent’s Tony Paterson.

Meanwhile, the Dream House is not the only attraction for Barbiephiles. Royal Caribbean is now offering a Barbie Premium package, on certain voyages, which includes perks like a pink-décor stateroom, a tiaras-and-teacups party, and a fashion show. And this past January, a diner-style Barbie Café, also licensed by Mattel, opened in Taipei.

Interesting to note: Royal Caribbean seems to take pains to point out that its Barbie experience is meant for girls ages 4 to 11. The Dream House, meanwhile, more slyly acknowledges that Barbie’s appeal spans the generations (and genders) by declaring it for “fans of all ages.” And perhaps trying to reach those same fans, the Barbie Café in Taipei clearly has a bar.

Earlier: Barbie Arrives at Ellis Island.

Photo credit: © Barry Lewis/In Pictures/Corbis

Cruise News: Disney Magic Gets a Makeover

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Announced today in Celebration, Florida: Disney’s first cruise ship, The Disney Magic, is about to go through a bow to stern overhaul. The most magical elements? A new Marvel Comics Avengers Academy, where young cruisers can train as superhero "recruits" in academy missions; Pixie Hollow, a twinkling forest where tea is served on stools shaped like mushrooms and acorns; and Disney’s Oceaneer Lab, a pirate-themed art room.

Adults will love the 11,500-square foot ocean-view spa and restaurant Palo, modeled after the canal-side cafes of Venice. Look for the new and improved Disney Magic in Fall 2013.

Kathryn O'Shea-EvansKathryn O'Shea-Evans is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter @ThePluckyOne.


Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

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