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Caribbean News: Baha Mar Rising

Baha Mar fireworks

At T+L, we couldn’t be more thrilled about Baha Mar—the $3.5 billion resort project that opens December 2014 in the Bahamian Riviera. A few reasons why:

• 2,200 gorgeous hotel rooms in five new hotels: a Rosewood, Mondrian, Morgans, Hyatt, and the Baha Mar Casino.

• An uber-luxe ESPA with 30,000 square feet for pampering.

• First-rate local art throughout the property, thanks to a partnership with the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas.

• 8,000 new jobs for Bahaman citizens, and an estimated $11.2 million added to the country’s GDP over a 20-year period.

• Oh, and did we mention Bahaman Lenny Kravitz is helping design the nightclub?

Learn more at bahamar.com.

Kathryn O'Shea-EvansKathryn O'Shea-Evans is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure.

 

Photo courtesy of Baha Mar

Tech Thursday: Free Airport Parking, Courtesy of FlightCar

FlightCar

Certain things can only work on the West Coast—take, for instance, FlightCar, a new San Francisco-based startup that lets you loan out your car while it's parked at the airport. The concept is a win-win in theory: travelers get their expensive parking tab subsidized by approved renters, who get a better deal (and maybe even a nicer car) in return.

The program has recently piloted at SFO, with expansion plans in the works. And so far, the selection of cars is promising, ranging from a 2005 BMW 3 Series to a 2008 Honda Accord on a trial search (both would cost $46 a day to rent—compared to $150 for similar models at Hertz or Enterprise).

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World's Tiniest City Park Dodges Decimation

Mill's Ends Park

When you're the smallest city park in the world, it doesn’t take much to suffer an epic natural disaster—perhaps a skateboarder who veers wildly off track, or a even a German Shepherd who couldn't make it to the next hydrant.

But Portland, Oregon’s Mill’s Ends Park—just two feet across in diameter—seems to have endured some sort of foul play: Oregon Public Broadcasting recently reported that the sole tree of the petite park, on a median on Naito Parkway, had been removed. "Someone yanked it out," said Mark Ross, of Portland’s Department of Parks and Recreation, to OPB.

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Singita's Two New Safari Properties

Singita Grumeti Reserve

The name Singita became synonymous with East African luxury safaris when the ecotourism company took over three properties in Tanzania back in 2006. Now its two latest arrivals push the wilderness-immersion envelope even further. Set in Serengeti National Park’s northernmost tip, close to the Kenyan frontier, the intimate Singita Mara River Tented Camp (pictured) has six canvas tents—complete with carved-wood Shona lamps, retro travel chests, and beds draped in hand-spun natural fabrics—where guests can unwind after wildlife drives and bush walks. Up to eight safari-goers can also rent the new Serengeti House, near the flagship lodge on towering Sasakwa Hill. Inside, you’ll find contemporary African arts and crafts (leather thong chandeliers inspired by Masai skirts; papier-mâché animal-head trophies), while the exterior has a subtler, beach-chic look. The 82-foot-long infinity lap pool is the ideal setting for sundowners while a herd of wildebeests drinks from a watering hole below. After a day exploring, why not let the animals come to you? All-inclusive. $$$$$

Hotel Pricing Key
$ Less than $200
$$ $200 to $350
$$$ $350 to $500
$$$$ $500 to $1,000
$$$$$ More than $1,000

Photo courtesy of Singita Grumeti Reserve

Cruise Conference Update: A Glimpse into the Cruising Future

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More glimpses of the future, from Cruise Shipping Miami:

° Scenic Cruises offers four new European river itineraries and new ship, The Jewel, with balconies that can be enclosed for weather protection. In April it will also launch the first new river cruising ship in Russia in memory from the company. The $10 million remake was set on an existing barge hull.

° The new Hong Kong cruise terminal designed by Sir Norman Foster and set on the site of the old Kai Tak airport features a public green space atop the terminal. The first ship berth becomes operational in June. When it's completed in about 15 months, it will be able to handle four megaliners at once.

° Along with the year-round ship it is taking to the Galapagos this year, Silversea is adding a Northwest Passage cruise aboard its existing expedition ship, Silver Explorer. Bookings are going fast, reported the line. Compagnie du Ponant, which is also launched a Northwest Passage cruise, said the sailing sold out in four days.

 

Jane WoolridgeJane Wooldridge is T+L's cruise editor.

 

 

Photo by istockphoto

Cruise Conference Update: Carnival Looking Into Its Fleet

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Following the Carnival Triumph disaster in which 4,000 passengers were powerless for days, Carnival Cruise lines announced it has engaged a panel of outside experts to conduct a full review of the Triumph and other ships fleetwide to identify redundancies that would prevent future incidents.

In an exclusive interview with the Miami Herald's Hannah Sampson, Carnival President Gerry Cahill said that the flexible piping that failed and caused the Triumph's disabling fire had been replaced five months before and was due to be checked on its regular schedule about 30 days after the incident. The average life of the part is 18 months, he said. Redundancies that should have kept the ship in working order were also disabled by the fire. 

 

Jane WoolridgeJane Wooldridge is T+L's Cruise Editor.

 

 

TODAY Show Video: Affordable Getaways

T+L's Nilou Motamed stopped by The Today Show this morning to talk about budget-friendly vacations with Matt Lauer and Yahoo's Farnoosh Torabi. They discussed New Orleans, Hawaii, and affordable road trips. Watch the clip above.

Don't miss: America's Best Affordable City Hotels and Best U.S. Cities for Affordable Getaways

Paris: New Hotel Gets Space-Age Design

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Hotel designs are constantly shifting, so why not think a few millennia ahead? Paris’s Hotel O, designed by Ito Morabito, recently debuted as a colorful, futuristic boutique property near Place des Victoires.

While the 29 compact guestrooms feel like a space cabin, the loud blue, violet, and Kelly green accents make it feel as if you’ve already landed on another planet. In larger rooms, beds recede into walls to maximize small quarters. Dark, pressed wood acts as a unifying element across the bold color scheme. Quirky details extend to the bar with honeycomb-motif shelves, giving Hotel O’s imbibing guests something to talk about. Doubles from $329.

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

Photo courtesy of Studio Ora-ito

Trip Doctor: Boeing Has a Plan to Get Dreamliner Off the Ground

Dreamliner airplane

The Federal Aviation Authority approved yesterday Boeing’s plan to redesign the lithium-ion battery system aboard its troubled Dreamliner aircraft.

The announcement comes after a series of disturbing battery fires forced the FAA to ground the long-awaited new plane in January. Boeing has been under intense pressure to come up with a solution to the battery problem—preferably one that doesn’t scrap the entire lithium-ion system altogether. The proposed modifications involve better insulation for the batteries, along with changes that make them less prone to short circuiting. Transportation secretary Ray LaHood said that the aircraft would still be subject to a series of tests to ensure the batteries work: “We won't allow the plane to return to service unless we're satisfied that the new design ensures the safety of the aircraft and its passengers.”

Which raises the question: After all the talk about inherent trouble with lithium-ion batteries, will passengers be eager to jump on a Dreamliner when it returns to service?

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


Photo by Robert Clayton / Alamy

Cruise Conference Update: New Royal Princess Details

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Cruise lines often use the Cruise Shipping Miami conference as a place to reveal details of new ships, and this year is no exception.

Tuesday, Princess Cruises held a press conference to highlight new features of its Royal Princess, which debuts in Europe this June. Its signature feature — a "seawalk'' extending 28 feet beyond the hull — has been driving chatter for the past year. The latest revelations are details designed to keep the conversation going. About half require a separate fee. Among the offerings:

° New (and complimentary) on-demand programming in stateroom TVs, including movies and television series.

° A tea tower and tea sommelier who will help passengers create their own blend to take home.

° Mobile QR-code tour of the ship's $2 million collection of art

° Outdoor art installation by the marine artist, Wyland

° Whiskey flights offered at the signature Wheelhouse Bar

° Onboard intranet

° $3,000 spa package for four including all-day massages in a private cabana

° Largest outdoor movie screen (this one is 30 percent bigger than those elsewhere)

° A daily menu of 8 flavors of hand-made gelato

° Four different "dancing fountain'' shows

Windstar execs also talked about new itineraries for the three ships it has purchased from Seabourn that join the fleet over the next two years. Expect sailings in Latin America, the British Isles, the Far East and a circumnavigation of Sicily. Tahiti sailings start in spring of 2014.

Jane WoolridgeJane Wooldridge is T+L's cruise editor.

 

 

Photo by istockphoto

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