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Hotel Chatter's Wifi Report and T+L's Top Picks

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This morning, Hotel Chatter published its 2013 Hotel Wifi Report, showcasing the best and worst internet service in the industry. The exhaustive study finds that 64% of hotels worldwide offer free wifi, a service Hotel Chatter insists is “as essential as a working shower or air conditioning.”

Paradoxically, as many T+L readers have discovered, the hotels most likely to charge extra for internet service are high-end properties that demand hefty nightly rates to begin with. In fact, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, 84% of luxury hotels charge for in-room internet service, while just 8% of economy hotels do.


Travel + Leisure has been keeping tabs on which hotel brands provide free wifi to guests, and acknowledges these few major brands that buck the trend:


Third Place: A tie between Fairmont, Kimpton, and Omni hotels
Each of these brands gives free wifi in common areas and in guestrooms if you join their (also free) loyalty programs.



Second Place: Andaz

All Andaz properties provide free in-room and lobby internet access to all guests.


First Place: Peninsula and Shangri-La Hotels

Both of these hotel companies give free wifi not just in the hotel rooms and common areas, but also in their automobile fleet!


Be sure to check out Hotel Chatter's in depth report here.

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by John Huba

Trip Doctor: Best Travel Sneakers

fitness shoes

Q: Any suggestions for a multitasking fitness shoe? —Karen Lemster, via E-Mail

A: Try the new Adidas ClimaCool sneaker ($60). The sporty cousin of the boat shoe weighs in at four ounces, with mesh uppers (great for keeping feet cool while walking). One important tip: break in any new pair of kicks before hitting the road.

Mimi Lombardo Mimi Lombardo is Travel + Leisure's style director. Packing is rarely easy-we're here to help. Send your questions to tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @TLTripDoctor on Twitter.

Photo by John Lawton

Trip Doctor: 5 Educational Travel Vacations

educational travel

Q: I want to take a learning vacation, but the options are bewildering. Where do I start?

A: Find the trip that’s right for you by letting your passions guide you and then choosing the company to match. Here, five ideas to get you started.

Ecology and Wildlife

Brazil: An Ecologist’s Tour of the Pantanal, Cornell’s Adult University: Explore the world’s largest wetland on this expedition led by Cornell professors Cole Gilbert and Linda Rayor. Travelers track ocelots, jaguars, and endangered hyacinth macaws, and enjoy creature comforts at lodges such as Pousada Piuval, on a 17,000-acre ranch. 607/255-6260; 10 days from $6,430 per person.

Geology and Archaeology

Grand Canyon Trip, McCabe World Travel: Professor Keith Watts leads a tour of northern Arizona and southern Utah, with an overview of the Grand Canyon and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and trips to remote waterfalls and hidden Native American pictographs. 703/762-5049; eight days from $3,500 per person.

Photography

Papua New Guinea Through the Lens, Asia Transpacific Journeys: On a new itinerary to Papua New Guinea’s remote villages, visit sacred spirit houses on the Sepik River while getting hands-on shooting tips from Michele Westmorland, an award-winning photographer who has visited the country 27 times. 800/642-2742; 12 days from $10,695 per person.

History

A Mediterranean Summer, Swan Hellenic Discovery Cruising: Set sail from Portsmouth, England, to Rome on the 350-passenger Minerva—fresh from a $10 million overhaul. You’ll attend onboard lectures by noted professors, disembarking along the way at iconic sites such as the Alhambra palace, in Granada, Spain, and the Italian port town of Civitavecchia. 866/923-9182; 15 days from $2,499 per person.

Religion and Culture

Rejuvenating Himalayas, Learning Journeys: This trip through northern India focuses on the philosophies behind yoga and meditation with lectures and practice. Stops include Rishikesh and Haridwar, where wellness is central to spiritual life, as well as the Ananda resort in the Himalayas. 855/784-7687; 12 days from $3,550 per person.

Have a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.

Engraving: Heritage Images/Corbis; Illustration by Valero Doval

Cruise News: Disney Magic Gets a Makeover

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Announced today in Celebration, Florida: Disney’s first cruise ship, The Disney Magic, is about to go through a bow to stern overhaul. The most magical elements? A new Marvel Comics Avengers Academy, where young cruisers can train as superhero "recruits" in academy missions; Pixie Hollow, a twinkling forest where tea is served on stools shaped like mushrooms and acorns; and Disney’s Oceaneer Lab, a pirate-themed art room.

Adults will love the 11,500-square foot ocean-view spa and restaurant Palo, modeled after the canal-side cafes of Venice. Look for the new and improved Disney Magic in Fall 2013.

Kathryn O'Shea-EvansKathryn O'Shea-Evans is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter @ThePluckyOne.


Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

The Doctor Recommends: Must Reads for the Week Ending April 26, 2013

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There are two reasons to look at Brian Lam's Scuttlefish post about swimming with whale sharks off the coast of Isla Mujeres, Mexico. First, the photos, which are just beautiful. Second, his tutorial that explains how to take similar ones without fancy equipment. Warning: These pictures will make you very, very jealous. (Matt Haber)

Grantland presents Out in the Great Alone, a story about the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race by Brian Phillips. This is a massive story that you're going to want to spend some time with. If you get lost while reading it, don't worry: It comes with a convenient (and very smart) map of Alaska that shows you the locations at each point in the race. (M.H.)

Sure, animated gifs are now the default way to report news via repurposed Will Ferrell jokes, but photographer Nicolas Ritter's One is a much more subtle, artful use of the  ubiquitous image format. Striking photos of London are animated with just the tiniest hints of movement, making these images feel very alive. (M.H.)

Boston Magazine has released its May cover, which features hundreds of pairs of running shoes heartbreakingly arrayed with the simple cover line: We Will Finish the Race. Well done, Boston. (M.H.)

Frank Jacobs of Big Think presents a taco map of Mexico. (Ann Shields)

Dwell has a slideshow of some pretty dreamy modern bikes, including one of those Dutch bring-the-kids numbers and a polka dot SF ride. (A.S.)

The Associated Press: Travel: United, US Airways Raise Ticket Change Fees to $200 (Jennifer Flowers)

The Telegraph: Most Expensive Airport Transfers Revealed. (J.F.)

USA Today's Bill McGee takes a look back at the 10 most important changes in travel over the last 10 years. (Peter Schlesinger)

Good news for American ski bunnies, the fantasy of learning from a dreamy Norwegian instructor lives on! The Senate has pushed a provision into the immigration reform bill ensuring easy entry into the country for foreign ski teachers. From The Wall Street Journal (sub required) via New York's Margaret Hartmann. (Amy Farley)

Got a recommendation? Tell us in the comments.


Photo: iStock Photos.

Trip Doctor: How to Fill a Prescription Abroad

prescription medicine

Pharmaceutical regulations are different in each country, so getting a new supply of meds on foreign soil isn’t as simple as it sounds. First, visit the U.S. State Department website to ensure your pills are legal: narcotics, psychotropics, and stimulants are banned in some destinations. Next, you’ll usually have to get a local prescription (you’ll need to know both the generic name and dosage for your medication). To find an accredited, English-speaking physician, check with the local consulate or the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers, whose doctors often make house calls to hotels. Be sure to fill your prescription at a pharmacy recommended by the doctor or attached to a clinic or hospital—counterfeit drugs have become increasingly common abroad.

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 © Andrew Brookes/Corbis

Tech Thursday: Ventev Rapid Two-Way Chargers

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We’ve all been there: only one outlet free in the airport terminal and you've got both a dead laptop and a dying phone. Or in the hotel, with one adapter and too many gadgets to charge.

Enter Ventev, whose tiny two-way wallport acts like a power strip for juice-hungry road warriors. It has one standard US electrical plug (a converter is still necessary abroad; we love this one) and two USB inputs at the bottom. They charge gadgets up particularly fast, and the eye-catching colors on the tangle-free connectors have us ditching our standard issue cables.

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of Ventev

Trip Doctor: How to Make a Tight Flight Connection

tight flight connection

Do...

Ask to be moved closer to the front of the cabin just before landing, so you can make a quick exit.

Run straight to the gate for your connection—even if it’s past your departure time.

Don’t...

Despair. A flight won’t wait for one passenger, but system-wide delays might result in a lucky break.

Book tight connections through large airports. Anything less than a 90-minute window is unrealistic.

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.

 

Illustration by Paul Windle

Trip Doctor: Airbus Announces Wider Seats for Some, Narrow Seats for Most

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At last week’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Airbus announced that it would soon offer airlines the option of extra-wide seats in coach on its A320 fleet. Good news? Debatable.

Yes, the aisle seats in the new configuration would be a spacious 20” wide (two inches wider than the current 18” seats). But to make room for the extra width, the middle and window seats would each shrink by an inch.

As Dominic Perry from Flight Daily News reported, the new configuration plans are based on airline, not passenger, feedback, and are meant to increase revenue, not comfort.

Airbus aircraft interiors marketing manager Stefanie Von Linstow explained at the Expo that airline feedback has shown preference for the aisle seat to be the widest. "Passengers in the window seat are already happy, and those in the centre seat might not be willing to pay as much for the extra width," Perry quotes her as saying.

Von Linstow admits that the new configuration is a response to what she politely labels a "growing population," and that it would be a "revenue-boosting solution that keeps a lot passengers happy."

No doubt, passengers paying a premium to be in an aisle seat would be content. As for the two-thirds of "growing" coach passengers sitting in the narrowing seats, it remains to be seen just how happy they'd be.

Photo credit: Reuters/Corbis

Trip Doctor: Foldable Carry-On Bag

carry-on bag

Q: I refuse to check bags. Can you recommend a favorite carry-on? —Kaito Tsunashima, via e-mail

A: If you can take only one suitcase, consider the new four-wheeled Biaggi Contempo roll-aboard ($219). It weighs just seven pounds and folds for easy storage (perfect for under your hotel bed). It’s not as roomy as checkable versions, but you can always have your clothes laundered by the hotel. A fresh feel is often well worth the nominal fee.

Mimi Lombardo Mimi Lombardo is Travel + Leisure's style director. Packing is rarely easy-we're here to help. Send your question to tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @TLTripDoctor on Twitter.

Photo by Sam Kaplan

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