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Et Tu, Lufthansa? Another Company Jumps on the 'Eat, Pray, Love' Bandwagon

Lufthansa

Despite a movie adaptation that met with less-than-rave reviews, the Eat, Pray, Love juggernaut continues to inspire a wide variety of licensed (and unlicensed) products. On one home shopping network alone, you can order EPL-branded perfumes, hand creams, pillows, tote bags, clothing, teas—and much, much more. Not since The Da Vinci Code has such a poorly written book created such a thriving cottage industry.

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Hilton Wants to Cure Your Layover Blues

Hilton Beijing Capital Airport

Ever stayed at an airport hotel? I have. Talk about bleak. Think Lubyanka prison without the charm. Vending machines instead of restaurants. Guest rooms with all the warmth of a doctor's office. But Hilton Hotels & Resorts thinks it's time to change all that, to give airport hotel guests the comforts they would expect in a full-service property. Here's how:

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Bon Vivanta: Taj Hotels Launches a New Brand

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Five-star hospitality doesn't have to equal four-poster beds or stuffy white tablecloths set with five different forks and a "Jackets Required" policy.

In fact, hyper upscale Indian hotelier, Taj--of famed properties like Mumbai's Taj Mahal and Udaipur's Lake Palace--just unveiled their newest "upper upscale" brand. It's dubbed "Vivanta" to signify a kind of cultural sophistication and also a vivacious approach to experience and travel.

Though, in the last 18 months, three initial hotels in Bangalore, The Maldives and Goa already existed under the umbrella, 13 other properties have now come in from the rain and apparently six more are already in development.

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Bundle Up! Luxe Resort Adopts "Lodge-ical" Pricing

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Phil Anderson, general manager of the Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid, New York, is swimming against the travel-industry current, but he thinks it's the right direction to go. While many airlines, hotels, and cruise lines are increasingly "unbundling" their prices by adding numerous surcharges and fees so they can advertise an artificially low base price, Anderson has recently implemented a new pricing policy that is nearly unheard-of: the price you're quoted is the price you pay.

"It's counter-intuitive compared to what everyone else seems to be doing," Anderson told me, "but if a guest thinks he's getting a rate of four hundred and fifty dollars, why should his total be five hundred and thirty-one? Why nickel-and-dime people?"

So in an experiment this past summer, Anderson began quoting all-in-one rates that include the room, the resort fee, state tax, and occupancy tax....

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Sleepbox: Is This the Future of Airport Napping?

After seeing a post we recently published on a ridiculously tiny airplane seat design, one of our Twitter followers pointed out a different scaled down design, this one for the weary traveler: the Sleepbox.

Designed by Arch Group, a Russian architect firm, the Sleepbox takes the Japanese capsule hotel concept—which, quite frankly, gives me claustrophobic panic attacks just thinking about—mixes in some serious Fifth Element–reminiscent design, and gives you a (tiny) space that could actually be tolerable (and affordable) in a pinch, though definitely for short stays only.

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New Orleans Attracts More Visitors

201008-w-cafe-du-mondejpgWall Street Journal |  On the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, tourism in New Orleans is growing at one of the fastest paces in the U.S., but it remains a fraction of its pre-hurricane levels.

In 2004, New Orleans saw a record 10.1 million visitors; in 2006, post-Katrina, the number had dropped to 3.7 million. But 7.9 million tourists visited New Orleans in 2009, and of the 25 top U.S. destinations, New Orleans had the second-highest growth of revenue per available room in the first half of 2010, according to a report from hotel-industry research and consulting firm Smith Travel Research Inc. (...)

Kelly Schulz, a spokeswoman for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, a nonprofit that promotes tourism in the region, says next to rebuilding infrastructure, the biggest challenge the tourism industry faced post-Katrina was "convincing people that it was safe to come back." Photo credit: Philip Scalia / Alamy.

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5 Tips from the "Queen of Caftans"

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As Hillary Clinton proved at Chelsea’s rehearsal dinner, caftans aren’t just for beaches and pregnant starlets anymore. The long, flowing robes gained a serious following this summer and have even been spotted wafting down the Chanel runway.

Frédérique Birkemeyer, Marrakesh’s “queen of caftans” and owner of the Intensité Nomade boutique, offers a few tips on finding and wearing the right tunic anywhere, from a souk to Saks.

Size up the shoulders and examine the embroidery.

Like a dress, Birkemeyer explains, “a beautiful caftan is shown by its cut and its finishing.” The fabric should drape well from the shoulders. The embroidery, preferably done by hand, should be smooth and even. Take a close look at the sfifa (a band of needlework) and any rows of silk knots used as trimming.

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Trend Alert: Artisanal Ice Pops to Beat the Heat

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Want a way to maintain your highbrow tastes while cooling off this summer? Gourmet and artisanal ice pops are popping up across the country. These aren’t your kids’ red dye #5 white-shirt-oblitterating coolers either—they’re high-class, big-flavor and the most fun you can have on a stick.

Loco Pops, Chapel Hill, NC
This triangle area—that’s Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill—establishment serves a daily selection of both water- and dairy-based pops to satisfy every palette. Adventurers should try the Mango Chile pop for a sweet and spicy treat. Follow them on twitter @locopops for daily flavors and promotions.

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New Obsession: NYC's Meatball Shop

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Trendy as they may seem, I am a big fan of food joints with a singular focus: concentrate on just cupcakes, and you’re bound to have great ones. Only mac n’ cheese? Yes please. There will always be flash-in-the-pan imposters, but the greats stick out—and stick around. A visit to the February-opened, Lower East Side-situated Meatball Shop is simultaneously an exercise in control and an embarrassment of riches: with a meatball-only menu and seemingly endless ball, sauce, and cheese combos, this uni-concept resto is anything but limited.

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Europe Without Hotels

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New York Times
|  In the middle of a cool, cloudless Parisian afternoon, light was pouring into my guest room from a turn-of-the-century courtyard in the 10th Arrondissement. I clambered up to the loft bed, suspended above dark oak floors, and stared at the textiles shop sign swinging in the courtyard through the large, almost floor-to-ceiling windows.

A bottle of Bordeaux was breathing; other amenities included a pantry stocked with cereal, milk and yogurt. I also had a phone number to call if I needed dinner recommendations or, perhaps, extra shower gel. But I was happy sitting at the window, nodding at my new neighbors as they wheeled their bikes onto the street and headed into the cafe-lined Marais.

Hotel guests pay handsomely for such perks, but I wasn’t in a hotel. Nor was I in some vacation rental. I was in the home of Julien Szeps, a 26-year-old chef whom I met through a new kind of short-term rental service called AirBnB.com. And the studio apartment was only 65 euros a night, about $80 at $1.23 to the euro. Not bad for an entire apartment with a full kitchen and bathroom, less than 10 minutes by foot from the Louvre. (Image credit: AirBnB.com)

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