Updated: 20.07.2005; 11:41:04 Uhr.
Where to go? How?

Samstag, 19. März 2005

How not to crash a plane with your mobile phone.

planemobiles.gifLike Toby Ziegler of The West Wing, the ban on mobile phones on airplanes has never made sense to me:

Flight Attendant: You can't use your phone until we land, sir.

Toby: We're flying in a Lockheed eagle series L-1011. It came off the line 20 months ago and carries a Sim-5 Transponder tracking system. Are you telling me I can still flummox this thing with something I bought at Radio Shack?

Shoe checks and bans on knitting needles don't make a lot of sense if a passenger can bring down a plane with 3G, so it's nice to know it's not the plane in the sky that's at risk; rather, it's mobile phones on the ground:

Contrary to popular belief, the main impediment to the use of mobile phones on planes is not interference with the aircraft's avionics systems. On a typical long-haul flight, 20 mobile phones are left switched on. Instead, the problem is that airborne mobile phones disrupt mobile networks on the ground. An airliner with 500 phones on board, whizzing across a city, would befuddle the network as the phones busily hopped from one base-station to the next.

Since one of those 20 mobiles left on is normally mine, it's good to know my absent-mindedness hasn't brought me and my fellow passengers perilously close to a disaster of which we were unaware.

In any case, new on-board base stations called picocells have now been developed, and are expected to be approved in 2005 for a 2006 service launch. Which means that ET can phone home while on the way, though the matter of in-flight telephone etiquette will still need to be sorted out.

[Wanda Lust: First Class UK Travel Blog]
9:02:20 AM    comment []

Hotel QT opens on the QT.

It seems every travel blog is talking about Hotel QT, the brand-spanking new New York City hotel with prices more like a Birmingham Travel Lodge. It's the spawn of Andre Balazs, who also fathered Miami's art deco paradise the Raleigh and the rebirth of LA's historic Chateau Marmont.

Back to New York and the QT: Gridskipper was under the impression the hotel wasn't yet open, while our friends at Hotel Chatter thought it was open, but no longer flogging rooms at $99 per night.

Hotel Chatter is right; as the nice people at QT PR told us on Monday:

Although the hotel is open (70 out of 140 rooms are operational) we are still about 5-6 weeks off from the public spaces being finished.

For some reason, they are not taking PR photos of the 70 availible rooms yet, and are waiting for all rooms plus the public spaces to be complete before sending in the paparazzi. Fair enough; with a room rate of $165 per room per night, it could look exactly like a Travel Lodge and still sell out in NYC. But, as soon as the PR kits are out, we'll have photos.

[Wanda Lust: First Class UK Travel Blog]
9:01:30 AM    comment []

Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace wins "Best Hotel" Award.

budafour.jpgIndustry professionals at the IHIF handed the Best New Development award to an establishment very high on my Hotels To Do list, the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace in Budapest. Because sometimes even I tire of the new, swanky and chic and crave the grand, impressive and ornate that comes with very traditionally hostelry. (Somewhat sadly, I'm a big fan of the DeVere hotels for staid weekend getaways.)

Housed in one of the world's finest Art Nouveau buildings, the 179-room Gresham Palace is one of central Europe's most lovingly restored and preserved architectural jewlels, complete with ornate stained glass vaulted ceilings. Situated on the east bank's Danube Promenade, its also the city's only centrally located historic hotel, and offers stunning views of the hotel's inner courtyards, the old city or the Danube.

Eastern Europe is such a bargain, and rates at this grand palace of Four Seasons hospitality start at only £135 per night. Amazing bargains for what promises to be an amazing hotel stay.

[Wanda Lust: First Class UK Travel Blog]
8:59:53 AM    comment []

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8:55:23 AM    comment []

Bravo Villa Rentals. ilcastello

Bravo Villa Rentals gives you a lovely collection of fun choices for your Italian holiday. Umbria, Capri, Tuscany or maybe Sicily. Apartment in Florence, Tuscan villa or how about Il Castello an 11 suite home built in the 16th century? A week at Il Castello costs upwards of $20,000 and comes with a complete staff and a boat to ferry you over to Elba.

8:52:58 AM    comment []

Marquis Jets M Club. mclub

Marquis Jet has created a new private aviation club experience: the M Club. Membership in the M Club gives you access to Marquis Jet[base ']s Boeing Business Jets. These $52 million dollar planes accomodate 18 passengers and are configured with two full bedrooms, a conference/dining area, two bathrooms with showers and a lounge. The plane has a range of 6,000 miles and has multiple monitors to keep your entire party entertained. The M Club is limited to 100 club members at an introductory fee of $125,000.

8:49:38 AM    comment []

Skiing Luxury--Rent The Whole Slope. courcheval

Want the ultimate in luxury, why not rent the whole slope? Samsung boss Lee Kun-hee is treating himself (and 80 friends) to the ultimate ski vacation. He is renting three runs at the French Alpine resort of Courchevel for two hours each day for three weeks. Netting will separate his private runs from other areas of the resort. A snow scooter will tote him around and there will be six ski instructors. Now[base ']s that[base ']s a nice spring break.

8:48:00 AM    comment []

Brando's Island To Become Resort. brandoisland

What was once Marlon Brando[base ']s private escape from the world will now become a luxury resort. The French Polynesian atoll of Tetiaroa owned by the reclusive star will become an eco-hotel called The Brando. It will have 30 villas and will be the only hotel on the island. Because we are total travel wimps, the [base "]eco[per thou] part scares us but it really means the hotel will [base "]rest lightly on it[base ']s environment.[per thou] We[base ']re thinking that means no wi-fi.

8:47:28 AM    comment []

Abercrombie Kent Private Jet Travel Tours.

Abercrombie Kent Private JetsLuxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent has relaunched their Private Jet program. For the mere starting sum of just under $40,000, tourists are whisked away via a reconfigured 757 to exotic destinations in Europe, the Mediterranean and South America. Upon touchdown, they are given tours and lectures by top notch historians and artists. Tours can last upwards of 20 days.

8:42:48 AM    comment []

Exclusive Resorts GrowsA Lot. Exclusive Resorts

Exclusive Resorts, the ultra posh luxury residence club we[base ']ve blogged about before, is expanding quickly. The company announced yesterday they had added 35 new homes in four destinations, bringing the grand total to 175 homes in 32 destinations. The new locations added are Chamonix, France; St. Tropez, France; Abaco, Bahamas; and Turks & Caicos. Members pay a one time fee of $375,000, plus annual dues ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 for full membership (there is a lower priced affiliate option as well), to gain access to up to 60 days per year at any of the properties.

8:41:46 AM    comment []

Freitag, 28. Januar 2005

Cassimir Lodge. cassimir

Need a remote hideaway? Cassimir Lodge, a resort vacation villa in New Zealand is up for sale. The villa, located in New Zealand[base ']s Bay of Plenty region is in 50 acres of native bush and farmland. The abandoned house was bought and restored in 1995 and has been receiving guests ever since. The villa has four luxury suites, a gourmet kitchen, conservatory, library, formal dining room and spa room. The resort also has its own helipad. A price has not yet been announced.

4:15:31 PM    comment []

Royal Park Hotel. royalpark

We love luxury hotels in obscure locations. The Royal Park Hotel in Rochester, Michigan gives the metropolitan Detroit area another luxury option (a good thing since the baseball allstar game will be there in 2005). The boutique hotel is styled like an English tudor manor. Amenities include extra-large beds and a pillow library for extra comfort. There are 15 suites with plasma TVs, soaking tubs and balcony views. To enhance the English effect there is a glass conservatory and formal gardens.

10:43:01 AM    comment []

Montag, 24. Januar 2005

Aurora Calls it Quits.

auwebcam.jpgToday guests should have been enjoying breakfast in sun-drenched Brazil, but instead P&O has finally called it quits on the malingering cruise ship Aurora and it's 104-day 'round the world cruise. As we previously reported, the ship has struggled with engine troubles since the scheduled departure date and never managed to get past the English channel, so guests spent most of the week in less-than-sunny Southampton before packing their bags and returning home today.

To ease the disappointment, P&O is refunding passengers their fares (which ran up to £42,000 per passenger) and 25% in compensation.

The delay and cancellation are estimated to have cost P&O £22m, and it is too early to say how much the repair of the ship will come to. But the managing director of P&O, David Dingle, played down the likely damage to its international reputation. He said: "We don't anticipate any lasting damage providing we do the decent things by our passengers and move swiftly to repair the ship, both of which we are doing."

It's actually been pretty amusing to check in on the Aurora webcam all week to see where they might be; the view has never changed much from the shot above, captured today. On the upside, passengers who chose to stick it out for the week while repairs were attempted did score a rather unusual free week-long holiday in Southampton...

[Wanda Lust: First Class Travel Blog]
11:30:26 AM    comment []

Freitag, 21. Januar 2005

More Perks for Centurion Card Holders. Exclusive Resorts

American Express has announced a new perk for holders of the ultra-exclusive Centurion card. They have paired up with Exclusive Resorts to provide the holders of the black card with access to the club[base ']s luxury homes. As we[base ']ve mentioned before Exclusive Resorts has over 150 multi-million dollar homes available for vacation use in many of the world[base ']s premier destinations. When Centurion members use their card to join Exclusive Resorts they receive a special membership fee, a dedicated service line to manage all their needs pertaining to membership and booking, and double Membership Rewards points for the Exclusive Resorts services, including fees and residence costs. Members must pay a one-time Membership Fee of $375,000, 80 percent of which is refundable upon resignation and annual dues of up to $25,000. American Express already has a Villas Program that provides Platinum and Centurion customers with access to the Four Seasons Residence Clubs, The Mansion at MGM Grand and other resorts.

2:54:09 PM    comment []

Dienstag, 11. Januar 2005

Luxury 5 Star Hotels in Rome. Westin Excelsior

Need some ideas on top end luxury hotels in Rome? About.com has a guide up you might want to check out. Hotels mentioned in the guide include the Westin Excelsior (pictured at right) and Hotel Residence Barberini. The guide itself is well laid out, with a good round up of the amenities and features available at each of the four hotels listed. The Hotel Residence Barberini, in particular, is described as having a penthouse suite which has amazing views of the Roman skyline.

3:04:17 PM    comment []

Costa Rica and other Contenders.

costarica.jpgThe New York Times has an excellent article on Costa Rica (the darling of those few politically correct, eco-hip American tourists) and the other countries who are lining up to lure some of those tourism dollars to their own shores. This is good news for Brits, because as far as I know there are no hideous family-friendly "shall we go to Lanzarote or to Cyprus?" self-catering-with-pool package holidays to Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua or Guatemala.

There are, however, some fabulous places to stay, like the Punta Caracol Acqua-Lodge in Panama, pictured. Prices in these areas are relatively low; visitors from the UK may spend more on airfare than on hotels, but that's often the case with the most desireable, less-frequented destinations. And at least you won't have to fight for a lounge chair.

[Wanda Lust: First Class Travel Blog]
10:13:53 AM    comment []

The Freedom Ship.

Freedom ShipThis is an aft view of the Freedom Ship, and why yes that is a top deck airport upon which to land your Lear jet and a marina in which to berth your yacht. It's the ultimate in luxury living at sea, and cheaper than buying property in London.

The ship is not yet built, and may just be a pipe dream, but what a concept: not a cruise ship, but a massive floating city With a design length of 4,500 feet, a width of 750 feet, and a height of 350 feet circling the world every three years.

[Wanda Lust: First Class Travel Blog]
10:12:28 AM    comment []

Montag, 10. Januar 2005

Hotel Victor. hotelvictor

The Miami Herald reports on the new Hotel Victor. The hotel has all the mega-posh earmarks of a South Beach luxury hotel and is already receiving the sort of breathless press that precedes the opening of a new hotel. No wonder then Hotel Victor is making sure that its secret origin remains under wraps. It[base ']s (gasp!) a Hyatt. Hotel Victor[base ']s draws include a [base "]vibe manager[per thou] (basically a concierge of coolness), a ice covered vodka bar and a a lobby aquarium full of jellyfish. The article quotes Hyatt VP Victor Lopez. [base "]If you say I[base ']m going to the Hyatt South Beach, their perception of what they[base ']re going to get is totally different from this.[per thou] Rooms at the Hotel Victor run upwards of $450, which is a bit above standard Hyatt prices. But the Hotel Victor is full of luxuries such as pillow menus, bath menus and a cigar menu with $1,500 pre-embargo Cubans. Can a Hyatt be cool? Or is it a bit like the Olive Garden suddenly serving wagyu beef and Cristal?

10:37:05 AM    comment []

New Hotel Trend--The Non-Hot Spot. hoteldonaldson

We[base ']re all familiar with luxury hotels in South Beach, New York or Los Angeles. But Greenwood, Mississippi, Aurora, Ohio and Fargo, North Dakota? Today on Ohio.com there is an article about Walden Country Inn and Stables, a luxury country inn which we recently wrote about when they became Ohio[base ']s first five-diamond rated resort. The country inn has its own movie theater, private loft suites and an indoor horse arena that is one of it[base ']s primary draws. Recently, Forbes.com listed their places to stay in 2005 and on that list was The Alluvian in Greenwood, Mississippi. The Alluvian, owned by the Viking Range Company, is a luxury hotel with stainless steel fireplaces, flat-screen TVs and the type of decor one would associate with a New York boutique hotel. The place we really want to stay at is Hotel Donaldson, an art-filled boutique hotel in Fargo, North Dakota, a place we learned about when Hotel Chatter interviewed the owner. At Hotel Donaldson each suite is designed around the work of a single artist. They also have a rooftop hot tub, a restaurant featuring locally-grown organic meat and produce, heated ceramic tile floors and one room has a soak tub that fills from the ceiling (shown here). Is the promise of a gorgeous place to stay enough to lure you to a place you never considered visiting?

10:36:24 AM    comment []

The joy of being frozen.

Fancy a $3,250 Canadian trip to the edge of the Arctic, sleeping five nights in an igloo that you have to build?


Churchill Wild, an eco-tourism company, invites travelers to an exploration of the Polar Bear Lodge area by dogsled, snowmobile or tundra buggy while looking for polar bears, caribou and seals.

Possibility to skip the DIY igloo for a nearby heated lodge.

Via WandaLust < LA Times.


The second Absolut Icebar in the world after that of Stockholm, opened a few months ago in Milan . Everything is made from crystal clear ice from the Torne river in Sweden, including the wall, counter, sofa, lamps, the glasses that serve the cocktails, etc. Temperature inside is -5 centigrades, so thermal cape and a pair of gloves are handed to you at the entrance.

The ice will last six months and the bar will then be reconstructed.

Via Milano da bere.

While we're at it, don't miss the pictures of last winter Snow Show in Lapland. Sixty icons and emerging artists and architects designed large scale structures out of snow and ice.

Related entry: the Ice Hotel.

[we make money not art]
10:32:15 AM    comment []

Samstag, 8. Januar 2005

The Rough Guide to... The DaVinci Code.

davinciguide.gifYou may love it, you may hate it, but chances are you have read Dan Brown's record-breaking novel The Da Vinci Code, or at least thought about buying a copy when packed into the Underground and surrounded by 300 other people all reading it. Mass hysteria, I say - it's neither very well written nor very revolutionary, but this tale of murder, love and intrigue across France, Italy, England, Scotland and history certainly is a run-away bestseller.

There have been any number of follow-on books to help readers "de-code" The Da Vinci Code, all of them less expensive than the well-rounded liberal arts education that would accomplish the same. But classic travel guides publisher Rough Guides has recently published The Rough Guide to the Davinci Code, something of a departure in travel books. In addition to giving deeper historical background on many facets of the novel, the Guide also (as you would expect) provides maps and location guides for visiting the spots detailed in the book, city by city. Interesting concept, and one paying off for Rough Guides - this unusual departure from the standard travel guide is selling quite well, though not as well as the fiction it is based on.

[Wanda Lust]
10:44:09 AM    comment []

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