Monday, February 23, 2009

“We'll leave the light on for you.”® - Maybe not !

Remember the moniker Tom Bodette made famous for Motel 6 -“We'll leave the light on for you.”® ? We wonder if this would be the case in this economy.

Revenue at luxury hotels is down about 20% as affluent guests are selecting lower room categories or cutting a stay short by a day or so. To compensate, luxury hotels are not necessarily discounting room rates but cutting costs in areas guests might not notice.
According to a "Marketplace Report" report by American Public Media, luxury hotels could fill their rooms if they slashed rates. But that could hurt their luxury cachet. So they're cutting costs in subtler ways.

Michelle Payer with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company says "the Ritz has trimmed its water usage and electric bills". "Any measures that we're taking are so far in the background that the guests don't see them.The guests will still see the flowers in the hotel, and they'll still see the bottled water when they walk in, they'll still have the complimentary little cookies or bites to eat in the afternoon".

Luxury chains like Four Seasons Hotels and other independent Luxury hotels entice customers nowdays with freebies like a a free night during the course of a stay. Check out this page of online Specials to see many of the properties that are offering a free night with a certain amount of paid nights during a stay. These are terrific offers and really do amount to a discounted rate (or value-add as hotels like to call it) as the free night is amortized over the entire stay to lower the average nightly rate. So it really is a buyer's market out there.

Oh and if you wondered about Tom Bodett. According to Motel 6's website, after thirteen years of award winning advertising, Tom is still speaking out of America's dashboards and television screens about life as a road warrior, and the merits of Motel 6 from a small studio in his house where the homely voiced monologues of Motel 6 are still recorded.

Slumdog Could Bring Millions to Mumbai

"Slumdog Millionaire" which hauled in eight Oscars, including best picture, has made the city of Mumbai one of the hottest tourism destinations this spring and summer.

Oftentimes, movies make destinations popular by inspiring travelers to visit . For travelers, the fascination of viewing scenes in a film and then comparing it to what one saw in real life can lead to a sense of "been there, seen that".

According to Expedia, The top 10 Oscar destinations - in which popular Hollywood Academy award-winning movies were shot over the last four decades - include Mumbai ("Slumdog Millionaire" in 2009), Kyoto in Japan ("Memoirs of a Geisha" in 2006), South America ("Motorcycle Diaries" in 2004), New Zealand ("Lord of the Rings" in 2004), Scotland ("Braveheart" in 1995), Transylvania in Romania (Bram Stoker's "Dracula" in 1993), America (various locations related to the movie "Thelma & Louise"), Florence in Italy ("Room with a View" in 1985), Kenya ("Out of Africa" in 1986 ) and Salzburg ("The Sound of Music" in 1965).

While few in Dharavi, the sprawling Mumbai slum where much of the film was shot, had seen the Oscar awards show or the actual film, most were happy their neighborhood -- as well as Indian talent -- were at last getting some international attention.

But to be sure, some Indians have criticized the film. After all, it stars a British Indian actor and was directed by a British director. Many were also angered by the title of the film. Protesters have rallied against the use of "Slumdog" in the movie's name as derogatory against slum dwellers. In late January, a Mumbai-based welfare group for slum dwellers organized protests outside the home of Anil Kapoor, an Indian actor in the film. The protestors held up signs reading "I am not a dog" and "Poverty for Sale."

Reality Tours based in Mumbai, takes people through Dharavi, Asia's biggest slum. They spend about 3 hours touring the site, seeing the life of slum dwellers. The "highlights" of Dharavi expedition include a stop at a stall of six toilets that serves 16,000 people and a stroll alongside a river so black and septic that it oozes rather than flows. To most, the movie is all Hollywood as this trip shows things are a little darker in reality.

Although the Mumbai attacks last year projected a less positive image of the country as a tourist destination, Slumdog has helped put it back on track as a great place to visit. And if you decide to rough-it on a day tour of Dharavi, we have some luxury Mumbai hotels to use as your base camp. The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower is re-opened and damaged area will be phased in during the year and The Four Seasons Mumbai which was unscathed.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Put a Ring on It

Ladies, once they've "Put a Ring on It," you gotta check out The Four Seasons Hotels as they have made it their business to cater to honeymooner's every need. The luxury hotel brand has 85 locations in destinations all over the world that feature amenities, services, and staff specifically for honeymooners.

It has become the smart choice in luxury travel for discerning couples. The Honeymoon Consultants we have access to are on location, and work with us to help engaged couples. We will be able to reserve a room or suite and add special touches which will create memories to last a lifetime. Thishigh level of service removes the guesswork so couples can focus on making sure all the other elements of their wedding day is perfect..

We can help you select the perfect location, and make your travel arrangements. While at the hotel destination of your choice, the Personal Concierge is there to make restaurant reservations, handle activity bookings, coordinate spa appointments and take care of all your requests and preferences.

Honeymoon choices abound at Four Seasons, in inspiring destinations with rooms and suites ideal for a bridal couple, room service around the clock and superb facilities for entertainment or relaxation – always with an extra level of surprise and delight. For inspiration...
* Be castaways in tropical elegance, from Bali to Punta Mita to Great Exuma.
* Share your passion ... for golf, and choose from championship courses in pampering resorts such as Scottsdale, Dallas or Nevis.
* Nest comfortably in your favorite city in the heart of all that is wonderful, from Toronto to Tokyo.
* Luxuriate in spacious rooms and suites at every Four Seasons, complete with pillowy king-sized beds and spacious marble bathrooms.

With beds so comfortable you’ll want to take them home with you, a wide variety of delicious breakfasts in bed; and a staff including friendly chefs, constantly vigilant cabana boys, and maids who leave rose petals and chocolate dipped strawberries in their wake, it is clear to see why the staff, service, and amenities of the The Four Seasons Hotels are the obvious choice for the perfect honeymoon.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

When 5 Stars is not Enough, Try 7

“Officially” listed as a luxury five-star hotel, the Burj Al Arab, Dubai, boasts that it is the only seven-star hotel.

The unique sail design of the Burj Al Arab Hotel makes it the most distinctive landmark in Dubai. Tom Wright, the leisure hotel's design director said, “The client asked us to design a building that would become a symbol for Dubai. Sidney has its Opera House and New York has the Statue of Liberty.” And Dubai has Burj Al Arab.

Nearly 180,000 blogs discuss it daily. Celebrities and world leaders such as Bill Gates, Brad Pitt, and the president of the Philippines travel to the United Emirates just to stay there. Recently, a local university student used the hotel’s notoriety to fundraise for sick children by climbing the stairs of the 1,053 foot-tall hotel—the world’s tallest. The Feng Shui Institute (FEI) has praised it for being faithful to Feng Shui principles. The FEI describes the Burj Al Arab as an interesting example in the earth elements, claiming it gets support from its environment. While the exterior of the building has a modern sensibility, the interior design details offer a lush juxtaposition of Eastern and Western styles.

The Burj al Arab has eight award-winning restaurants. The well-known Al Muntaha, or "Ultimate," is located about 600 feet above the Persian Gulf, accessed by a panoramic elevator. Even more exotic is the Al Mahara, or "Oyster," accessed via a simulated submarine voyage, with an aquarium that spans the entire restaurant. The Al Mahara, led by acclaimed chef Kevin McLaughlin, is ranked among the top ten restaurants in the world.

One will arrive in absolute awe, and stay individually inspired for The Burj Al Arab Hotel reflects the very finest that the world has to offer. With chauffeur driven Rolls Royce, discreet in-suite check-in, and a brigade of highly trained butlers, one can be assured of the ultimate in personal service throughout a stay.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Four Seasons, Five Stars, Eighty-Five Reasons

The Four Seasons Hotels’ distinguishing edge is service. A superlative service that evolved over the three decades of experience in luxury hospitality. With eighty-five luxury hotels in thirty-five countries, twenty one of the Four Seasons Hotels hold spots in the Travel and Leisure magazine’s Top 100 Hotels of 2008, and four hold spots in the Condé Nast Traveler Top Ten World Hotels list.

Regardless of your destination choice, all Four Seasons hotels and resorts have highly trained, resourceful and dedicated staff. At any time of day, a multilingual concierge will assist you with your trip details changing your travel arrangements, making dinner reservations, reserving last minute tickets, or organizing business services.

The Four Seasons Hotels offer a premium blend of comfort and necessity to guests in each location in décors that are understated beauty. Travel is sometimes hectic and unpredictable, so a full range of toiletries is provided, along with plush bathrobes. so it’s safe to pack light. If your luggage goes missing, a one hour pressing service will keep you looking sharp and crisp; should you need anything, a shopping service for local retailers is available.

A multitude of delicious dishes are available at any time of day if what you crave is not on the menu, simply ask. The staff will do their best to track down whatever you need or want.Family traveling is made easy with special programs for kids and teens that allow them to experience the fun of travel and leisure by taking part in organized activities with other children their own age, under the supervision of qualified staff.

When traveling for business, start your day with a complimentary newspaper and or all day news programming to keep you informed. Many of these luxury hotels are located in city centers so you can work close to business attractions as well as leisurely pursuits. No matter what your business needs are, they can be accommodated. Small meeting rooms to gala themed event services are available with computers, high-speed internet access, and even friendly translators are available, of course.

In your luxury travels, you can find unforgettable family getaways, cultural explorations, adventures in exotic climates, championship golf holidays, spa indulgences, and tropical resort romance. You also have the option of combining destinations into a grand tour. Each Four Seasons Hotel location gives a taste of the distinctive culture and spirit of its setting.

Friday, February 13, 2009

No Luxury Hotels in Cuba

Despite yet another push by members of the US Congress, and CNN, on behalf of the Castro dynasty, will not be swayed. and refuses to feature a single hotel in Cuba on its website which has over 750 Luxury hotels in more than 290 desinations from over 79 countries.

This agenda now tries to sell the notion that the younger castro, as lite-dictators go, is a benign, sensible leader open to fair negotiations. Nothing could be further from the truth of this ruthless killer, pragmatically trained from youth as a solid communist, and who is personally responsible for deaths on a horrible, grandiose scale.

This shameless Congressional initiative is like a recurring nightmare or meteoric blunder over a 3 year cycle.( 2003, 2006 and now again in 2009), which under the guise of defending "rights for Americans" seeks to escalate lobbying for that nefarious regime, while in the process abandoning all honor and principle.

The mere fact that this dictatorship has enslaved Cubans for over half a century should in itself be enough to deter us from this thoughtless partnership, but beyond that how can one turn its back on the enormous travesties committed by a rogue bunch of thieves and murderers, such as (but not limited to) the following:

● Tens of thousands of innocent victims of kangaroo (if any) court shams, mercilessly executed by firing squad.
● Tens of thousands, drowned in the Florida Straits, attempting to flee from a tyranny,
● The 1996 treacherous, un-repented and un-avenged shoot-down of 2 un-armed, American aircraft by Cuban Migs, resulting in the assassination of four "Brothers to the Rescue" mercy flyers, 3 of them American citizens.
● Confiscation of all property, without compensation, including a multitude of American interests.
● Draconian prison sentences, on-going as we speak, for merely dissenting from the government (ie: distributing leaflets with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.) Hundreds of such political prisoners presently rot in infamous Cuban jails, under constant mental and physical torture.
● Being a declared, vile enemy, strategically at our doorstep, which once came hair-close to unleashing a nuclear attack upon the U.S., and is right now attempting to revive cold-war threats.
● Years of providing safe-haven and in fact training ground for terrorist groups from all over the world, and successfully brokering a program of subversion throughout Latin America and some African & Asian countries designed to promote hatred towards tthe US..
● Being a consistent top-violator of human rights, condemned by numerous international organizations..

If these (and many other) monumental affronts against humanity have no impact on those behind the other Castro bandwagon, how about the farcical attitude of wanting to prop-up a government that wiped-out all travel agents, including ASTA ( American Society of Travel Agents) members like my father (Founder of Lorraine Travel, LLC which owns ), which along with all independent businesses, were simply shut down, and up to this date never again allowed? Does ASTA (that again supports travel to Cuba) have no honor? Are we incapable of mustering some back-bone? Or are we to get in bed with opportunistic congressional con-artist types whose only allegiance is to their pockets?

Last, but not least, let's remember that although now in political, physical and human rights shambles, the true Cuba, during its brief history between independence from Spain and the catastrophe of 1959, was a model of a democratic, economically enviable society even considered on a global basis, and a staunch, loyal ally of this country. That true Cuba deserves better than to be betrayed by us.

If this collaboration with tyranny by our Society and those in Congress is not reconsidered and withdrawn, the TACL (Travel Agents for Cuba's Liberation), a group of still active Cuban-American travel agents formerly established in a free Cuba, will join in voicing its consternation and repudiation.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ritz-Carlton Lets You Save the World While Vacationing in Style

Community Footprints is Ritz-Carlton Hotel’s social and environmental responsibility program. Sue Stephenson, vice president, explains that The Ritz-Carlton Hotel has always been committed to supporting charities and causes.

The employees at each hotel identified the needs of the local community and worked tirelessly to develop programs that meet those needs.Now guests around the world can volunteer their time to improve and assist the local community where they are vacationing.

A variety of programs that include instruction by professionals exist so participants can make a meaningful contribution to the project they select. A few of the “Give Back Getaways” are listed, in brief, below.
• Build a library for the young children of migrant workers at the Dandelion School in Beijing
• Spot and map the location of endangered Blue Iguanas in Grand Cayman
• Cook and serve meals at the North Texas Food Bank
• Restore homes in the ancient water town of Wuzhen, China
• Plant native Cyprus trees in the dwindling wetland forests of the Florida Everglades
• Build homes with Habitat for Humanity in Jakarta, Indonesia and New Orleans, Louisiana
• Join biologists from the Dept of Ecology for rewarding hands-on experience ensuring the safety of mother turtles and their eggs during nesting in Cancun
• Help at the SONNENHOF facilities for children with serious illnesses by participating in the spring cleanup, planting trees in the garden, renovating the petting zoo and cooking at the August “Children’s Day” barbecue for the kids and hospice staff in Berlin
• Help resort employees and the children of SOS Children’s Village beautify the surroundings of the local children’s home by planting trees, native plants and vegetables while in Jamaica.

Employees of Ritz-Carlton luxury hotels have been involved with some of these projects for over a decade, and are proud that they can now work shoulder to shoulder with guests who are just as dedicated to these critical missions as they are.“Guests want to become more involved in the regions they spend their vacations,” explained Simon F. Cooper, president and chief operating officer. “Many volunteer at home, and want to continue this spirit of giving in other parts of the world. ’Give Back Getaways’ allows Ritz-Carlton to offer personal vacation experiences which are both memorable and personally enriching.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Four Seasons Is a Patron to the Arts

The Four Seasons international luxury hotel chain has started to add lush art collections to its hotels. This isn’t vague “hotel art.” This is something new. Culture and beauty are combined to form a synergy that tantalizes the mind as well as the eye. And now audio tours with interviews and commentary from the artists themselves, as well as experts with special knowledge of the collections, are available with accompanying brochures so that you can enjoy the art at your own pace with the actual artists as your guide.

At the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco, cultural flavor is suffused throughout the collection, as most of the featured pieces are done by local artists. The audio tour includes commentary with artist Anne Appleby discussing the influence of nature in her etching, and painter Deborah Oropallo sharing how her son’s toy train tracks inspired her to create the large-scale work “Fast Track” years later.

The Four Seasons Silicon Valley hotel in Palo Alto, California features a rich collection of modern art and artifacts from around the world. The audio tour contains eclectic interviews with the collections featured artists—jazz musician Bobby Previte explains how artist Joan Miró inspired the album “23 Compositions of Joan Miró,” and painter Hester Simpson discusses what influences her abstracts.

Their Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea has an extensive collection that features artists from all of the major islands who have created works that connect modern Hawaii to its roots. Curator Julie Cline explains that the “contemporary Hawaiian artists are reinterpreting all these connections with the land and culture and expressing it in different ways.” In the audio tour, featured artists share their works and inspirations. Claudia Johnson’s use of guava branches in her “Wave, Water, Moon and Currents” sculptures is discussed, and Kloe Kang explains how her work “The Wayfinder”—featuring rice bowls configured to look like a constellation—pays tribute to her family’s journey from Korea to Hawaii ("Wayfinding" is the ancient Hawaiian voyager's method of navigation).

Also of note is the Four Seasons Hualalai hotel collection, which includes early Hawaiian art from 1778 through 1959—bark cloth, makaloa mats, and paintings by foreign nineteenth century artists visiting Hawaii. Together, these collections are a fascinating juxtaposition of different art periods.

The Four Seasons has hit upon the beginnings of the next hot trend in luxury travel—indulging the intellect as well as the physical senses. Brilliant.