We've told you about the Maldives and its underwater restaurant and underwater nightclub. Now, Zanzibar has gotten into the underwater game, with a hotel room that's partly submerged in the Indian Ocean. Set about 820 feet off the coast of Pemba Island, the three-level room is part of the Manta Resort and created by the Sweden-based Genberg Underwater Hotels company. (Their first project is the Utter Inn, in a lake near Stockholm.) Guests have access to a sea-level deck and a roof lounge, but the real draw of course is the glass-paneled (and somewhat bare bones) double bedroom below the water. According to Matthew Saus, co-founder of Genberg, guests have reported seeing squid, garfish, pipefish, an octopus, even a Spanish dancer. As Saus puts it, “I guess the word for it is ‘privilege’—you certainly do feel privileged to be part of this special world.”
Brooke Porter Katz is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.
The first time I went to Tokyo, one of my favorite parts of the city was discovering the delightfully strange Kit Kat flavors sold there (Gouda Kit Kat, anyone?). I was delighted to discover the world's first Kit Kat specialty store opens January 17 in the Seibu Department Store in Tokyo's Ikebukuro district.
Located in the depachika (department store basement food hall) of Seibu, the Kit Kat Chocolatory will have a variety of delicious (and outlandish) flavors that will rotate seasonally, including Cherry Blossom Green Tea and Chili. Some of these bizarre flavors can already be found in gift shops and specialty candy stores around the city, but a one-stop Kit Kat only store? I only wish it was open when I went.
Ask a hotel staff member—whether concierge, bellboy, or desk manager—to reveal the dirt about their jobs, and guest (mis)behavior comes into play more often than not. (Just read our “Confessions of” series for proof.) Ask a guest for their feedback about their hotel stays, however, and you get an entertaining mix of positive, negative, and just plain wacky responses.
The Standard hotel group, with properties in Los Angeles, Miami, and New York, brilliantly sheds light on (and pokes fun at) a few of their favorite customer comments in a 2014 wall calendar (available online for $35). Cleverly staged photographs are paired with direct quotes from guests. April, for example, shows a bearded, white-robed figure standing on the pool along with, “Thank you for rehabilitating me from a hostile takeover of my business, subsequent lawsuit, divorce, and collapse of my ego. I have been reborn a better man.”
New York’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, often bemoans a “tale of two cities”—one rich, one poor. But lately he has been lamenting a different kind of tail—the ones on the horses that for decades have pulled the iconic tourist carriages through Central Park. De Blasio plans to ban the horse-drawn hansoms because, like many New Yorkers, he thinks the horses are undernourished, mistreated, and overworked, not unlike your typical Manhattan freelance fact-checker. And so, to keep the tourists coming back to the Big Apple, here are my alternatives to the Central Park horse-drawn carriages.
Turkish Airlines loves taking the stage for viral videos. Last year, its commercial featuring Kobe Bryant trying to outdo Barcelona soccer player Lionel Messi scored big on YouTube (over 106 million page views and counting). The hilarious campaign also earned them a T+L SMITTY award for Best Overall Use of Social Media in the global airline category.
Now, Turkish Airlines is attempting to recreate the magic with their latest video, once again featuring Bryant and Messi in a face-off, quite literally. In “The Selfie Shootout” the two athletes send pictures of themselves while traveling the globe (walking the Great Wall of China; scuba diving in the Maldives) to one another—the takeaway being that Turkish Airlines can help “widen your world.” With a video this funny, we can’t disagree.
Maria Pedone is on the digital team at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @mariapedestrian.
Nowadays it’s easy to find hotels that stick to one subject. But at what cost?
The world’s first panda-themed hotel opened a few months ago in Sichuan, China. Guests at the Panda Inn luxuriate in black and white surroundings overlooked by panda paintings and enormous panda teddy bears. Meanwhile in Buenos Aires, fans of the Boca Juniors soccer team are luxuriating at the new Hotel Boca, self-billed as el primer hotel temático de fútbol en el mundo—one of those phrases that fleetingly raises one’s hopes of having acquired the ability to comprehend all of Earth’s languages. The décor pays only discreet homage to the team colors of yellow and blue, but balances this restraint with pictures all over the place of the world’s least restrained man, former Boca superstar Diego Maradona. Even in gritty, unpretentious Liverpool, visitors now have a choice of nautically themed hotels: one modeled on the Titanic, the other, more disconcertingly, on the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine.”
Imagine having Breakfast at Tiffany’s to fuel up for an afternoon adventure in Petra, Indiana Jones-style? Then ending the day with a dreamy sunset on The Beach in Thailand? Hardcore (wealthy) movie buffs can now live out their dreams with a 90-day itinerary by Very First To. The extensive trip—which visits 20 famous film sets across 10 countries—costs a hefty $321,000. But the price tag does come with perks: business-class flights for two for the full three months; overnight stays in lavish hotels like London’s The Savoy and the Hotel Bel-Air in L.A.; and of course, serious bragging rights.
Google Maps gives travelers a birds-eye or street view of a location—but now, one tourist board Down Under is offering a live, hipster's-eye view of its city, as a way to entice travelers to plan a trip.
Tourism Victoria last month launched a “go before you go” promotion as part of its Play Melbourne campaign, inviting Facebook or Twitter users to virtually explore the city using “remote control tourists.” You could tell these virtual travelers where to go and what to do around the city, whether that's trying on a sweater in a boutique or checking out a live band.
Hyatt recently hosted a day-long Twitter chat that it dubbed the “World's Largest Focus Group,” tapping into current travel trends among its clients. Most of the results were not all that surprising—respondents' top wish was for seamless check-in, bypassing the front desk and heading straight to the room.
But by far the most important takeaway regards business travelers' clothing preferences when working from their hotel rooms:
65 percent of women opt for pajamas or workout gear
50 percent of men prefer casual business attire
2.5 percent of both genders forego clothing altogether
Think about that the next time you receive an email from a colleague on a business trip...!
Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.