After weeks of speculation, BBC Worldwide, the for-profit division of the U.K. media organization, confirmed the sale of Lonely Planet to semi-reclusive tobacco billionaire Brad Kelley. As The New York Times' Eric Pfanner reported, Kelley's company, NC2 Media, will acquire the Australia-based guidebook publisher for $77.8 million, a little more than half of what BBC Worldwide paid for it. (Rumors of the deal was first broken by Skift.)
In an email interview with Skift's Jason Clampet, Lonely Planet's incoming C.O.O. Daniel Houghton affirmed the company's respect for its core asset, the print editions of its guides: "Lonely Planet will continue to be committed to its roots in publishing and providing quality information to travellers around the world. We are committed to all mediums, and print will continue to be a part of the mix."
If you're prone to downloading the entire seasons of Breaking Bad onto your iPad before a trip, this will be welcome news: Aloft, Starwood's intrepidly tech-savvy brand, is testing the in-room entertainment system of tomorrow, with Apple TV as its anchor.
In every Aloft room, you'll find a Jack Pack, which plugs into your laptop or mobile devices and projects the content onto your in-room HDTV. Now with AppleTV, guests can use their TV in a huge variety of ways: As a stereo system for music, a medium for editing photos, or perhaps most useful, a big screen for streaming Netflix or iTunes movies.
"Modern life has become a three- and often four- or five-meal-a-day restaurant habit," Michael Wolff writes in the UK edition of GQ. "Of course the ultimate status is not to know someone, but to be known, for the restaurant to want you." (Matt Haber)
If you're not fatigued by over-sharing your life on Facebook and Twitter, this little gadget—a SXSW debut—promises to capture all the special moments you may not realize you're having… by automatically taking photos every 30 seconds. We can't help think it's a great way to catch candid portraits of locals abroad—which is always an awkward pursuit. Jenna Worthman reports at the New York Times' Bits blog. (Nikki Ekstein)
Would you stay at a Whole Foods-themed resort? The ubiquitous health food chain is brewing plans to open a wellness retreat near their Austin, TX headquarters, USA Today's Bruce Horovitz reports (N.E.)
If you've tried to book a river cruise this summer in Europe, you know that it's close to Mission Impossible. But representatives of A-ROSA Cruises at the Cruise Shipping Miami conference want you to know that they're offering a new luxury alternative that does have availability—largely because few people know about it.
The line itself isn't new; its been operating in Germany for a decade. But beginning this year, the company is dedicating specific sailings to the North American market, with a contemporary cruising product that focuses on fine cuisine and features active excursions (think: biking and kayaking), light decor, a large spa and gym with panoramic views. Cabins measure 156 square feet—smaller than on some ships, but larger than on others. And yes, on these sailings, the language is English.
The cruises traverse the Rhone, Soane, Danube and Rhine rivers for 7 to 14 nights, depending on the sailing. The line is waiving single supplements for a substantive number of cabins each sailing, said A-ROSA's U.S. representative Marilyn Conroy. Pricing includes airfare, all excursions, airport transfers and open bar. Prices start at $4,802 per person from New York, Miami, and Los Angeles.
Azamara Club Cruises took advantage of the cruise industry's annual Miami conference to show off its recently refurbished Azamara Quest. Like sister ship Azamara Journey, the 694-passenger Quest was drydocked for the first time since 2007 for a freshening.
The decor in both public rooms and staterooms retains the casually elegant country club feel, with a few new Deco-inspired leather chairs and a slightly smaller casino. There's also a new caviar-and-Champagne bar and a chef's table in the steakhouse.
But the biggest changes for Azamara passengers won't be on board but in the ports they visit, said Azamara president Larry Pimentel. The brand's focus is on offering unusual "bucket list'' destinations such as Vietnam's Halong Bay, world celebrations like Monaco's Grand Prix, and private experiences otherwise unavailable. Among those is a visit by night to Italy's Verrazano Castle with a surprise concert. The two-ship line will also go to 41 new ports this year.
Says Pimentel: "We create the 'Wow' factor by using the destination as 'Wow.' "
The World Economic Forum just released its 2013 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index, a report that evaluates 140 destinations across the world based on safety and security, environmental sustainability, and cultural and natural resources, among other "pillars" of tourism.
Among the findings:
° Switzerland is the best overall place in the world for tourism.
° In a further blow to its floundering travel industry, Egypt ranks last for safety and security, behind Yemen (139) and Pakistan (137). Kenya is ranked no. 135. Finland, meanwhile, is the safest place to travel.
File this under the Department of Not Again: Carnival Cruise Lines has had problems with not one but three of its ships in the last week alone—this just a month after the CarnivalTriumphlimped into port in Mobile, Alabama after a highly publicized four nights at sea without power, air conditioning, and functioning toilets.
And now the Legend ship, reporting mechanical problems with its propulsion system, is skipping a scheduled stop at Grand Cayman Island to get back to port in Tampa. And new information emerged about a steering problem on Carnival Elation the week before; the company said it had asked a tugboat to accompany it as it left port in New Orleans in an excess of caution.
No passengers or crew members were hurt during any of these incidents. And there reportedly was little passenger inconvenience, unlike the situation a month ago when a fire aboard the Carnival Triumph left passengers adrift for days without power. Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of the beleaguered cruise company, announced on Wednesday a comprehensive maintenance review of Carnival’s entire fleet, news he hopes will calm the rough waters his company has hit in 2013. The Triumph is scheduled to be out of service through mid-April; the Dream has cancelled at least one sailing.
The bright side for travelers: Deals may be on the horizon.
It’s finally here! (We know you’ve been waiting for it.) The second installment of our series whisks you down to Argentina’ s alluring capital. For our complete list of top-notch agents and Standout Properties, check out T+L’s Global Guide to Villa Rentals in the March issue.
THE URBAN OASIS Casa Carlos Calvo, Buenos Aires, Argentina $142 per night, per room The Details: Base yourself out of this recently renovated 1860 residence in the lively, history-rich San Telmo neighborhood, with white-on-white interiors, 15-foot-high ceilings, enormous French doors, Belle Epoque chandeliers, and even a rooftop pool. The clincher: San Telmo’s famous antiques market and La Brigada, one of the city’s top parrillas, are just a short walk away. The Agent: Oasis Collections; 631/731-1677; oasiscollections.com.
Jennifer Flowers is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.
On February 10th, “We Found Love” earned R&B superstar Rihanna her sixth Grammy, this time for best short form music video. That’s nice, but the songstress has another video that T+L readers may find even nicer. It’s a tourism promotional video for Barbados, Rihanna’s home country, and one of the Caribbean’s top destinations.
Check it out:
Okay, so now that we all officially want to go to Barbados but know nothing about it, T+L can help. Here are some things the video didn’t tell us that make a visit to this Caribbean isle more enticing:
It's not too late to get away this spring. We've found five travel deals within $200 a night, from a ranch in Jackson Hole to a beach resort in St. Kitts.
St. Kitts: St. Kitts Marriott Resort Set right on Frigate Bay Beach, this resort offers plenty of ways to play and to relax. Swim in one of several pools, work out at the fitness center or spinning center, or enjoy the on-site casino. There's also a championship golf course, as well as water-sports such as snorkeling. Go to the Emerald Mist Spa for a bamboo massage and a papaya pineapple polish, and feel free to bring your kids along as well for a princess manicure. Doubles from $199/night in April.
Florida: One Ocean Resort & Spa, Jacksonville While the 193 rooms and suites all come with full or partial ocean views with floor-to-ceiling windows, put in a special request: the balcony rooms on the hotel's east side overlook the beach, and rooms on floors 6 to 8 have the best views. You'll begin to unwind immediately thanks to the butler service that helps with unpacking your bags and so much more. The Spa at One Ocean Resort has more than 40 marine-inspired treatments, such a Seashell Massage and a rubdown designed especially for windsurfers. Head to the nearby Beaches Town Center for shops and art galleries, or go down the coast to historic St Augustine. Doubles from $179/night.