International roaming as we know it is on the verge of becoming obsolete: the EU has proposed a single network for all European countries, T-Mobile no longer charges customers when surf the web abroad, and apps like Ringo help you tap onto local networks to circumvent pricey roaming packages and overages. Now, Apple is also getting in on the act with Apple SIM, a proprietary SIM card built into the new iPad Air 2.
Last year, Starwood unveiled plans to swap plastic keycards for Bluetooth technology—enabling guests to unlock their hotel rooms with a simple wave of their smartphone. We predicted it would be one of the biggest travel trends for 2014, and indeed, Hilton Worldwide and Caesars have since announced plans to bring the technology to their hotels as soon as this winter. But this week, Starwood is back in the spotlight as they pull back the curtain on how mobile entry works—and introduce it to ten properties in the Aloft, W, and Element portfolios.
As a die-hard coffee obsessive, I’m always seeking out the best brews in any city I visit. But I do need a starter cup to tide me over in the morning, and what I can get in my hotel room is rarely up to snuff (sorry, Nespresso). A new solution: the Coffee Travel Kit by Timbuk2 and Blue Bottle Coffee, a packable pour-over set roughly twice the size of your standard amenity kit. Included are a Japanese-made hand grinder with adjustable grind settings, a pack of filters, two Falcon enamelware mugs with felt cozies, a non-leeching plastic cone dripper, and—of course—a two ounce sample of Blue Bottle beans, all in a waved canvas and leather bag. So how do these expert-grade tools perform on the road? We took the kit for a test drive.
Combine old-fashioned customer service with a novel use of technology, and you get Double Robot. Indianapolis Airport recently rolled out its newest employee to complement guest services and assist in answering passengers' questions—airport transportation, gate locations, direction, more. An airport agent visibly appears and communicates with passengers through a tablet screen, propped up on a roller dressed in a blue customer service shirt similar to other employees. Cute, convenient, or creepy?
Nicoletta Richardson is a freelance editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure
Last week, the Iceland-based Wow Air announced that starting in March 2015, it would offer special introductory fares from Boston and Baltimore: $99 one-way flights to Reykjavik and $228 roundtrip flights to London and Copenhagen. The discount carrier is taking a page from Norwegian, which is now flying out of five U.S. cities, with more to come. (Though unlike Norwegian, it won’t include free WiFi.) As for luggage charges, expect to pay $29 for a carry-on booked online, or $48 at the airport.
It’s been a full fifteen years since Westin introduced the Heavenly bed—an icon so popular it’s since been adopted by Delta and sold to consumers worldwide. To mark the occasion, the brand is now introducing a sleep sensor lending program in collaboration with wearables company Lark Technologies—the latest in a series of wellness-related innovations by the Starwood brand.
The founders of Uber have already disrupted the taxi industry worldwide—now they’re taking on the restaurant space with standalone app Reserve. The debut product by start up studio Expa (created by Uber founder Garrett Camp), launches today with service in New York City, Los Angeles, and Boston. Here’s how it works.
The Basics: Reserve will be the everyman’s digital concierge. Plug in basic parameters such as the time, date, and party size for your reservation, and it will offer a curated list of vetted restaurants that may fit the bill. Select the ones that interest you, and it will seek out tables on your behalf, updating you by text message along the way.