Monday, September 26, 2011
Okay people. Oktoberfest is officially in full swing. The brew has been tapped and the pretzels baked and the hotels...well, filled. The luxury hotel collection Rocco Forte Hotels dropped some advice into our inbox regarding tips for ladies visiting Oktoberfest, and as seasoned female revelers at Munich's massive party, we've got some priceless tidbits of our own to add:
· Drink: The only authentic drink at the Oktoberfest, even for women, is beer. But caution is advised—the typical Munich festival beer, specially brewed for Oktoberfest has a higher alcohol percentage than average. When drinking with others it is polite to clink your glasses, while looking the person in the eyes, and say “Prost”.
Jaunted Says: Whoa—not true about beer being the only authentic drink! In fact, we'd argue there are two other beverages it's "authentic" to drink at Oktoberfest, both of which work out well for those who don't particularly enjoy chugging beer: champagne and schnapps. Look beyond the ginormous beer tents to the Weinzelt tent, a smaller tent that specializes in Nymphenburger Sekt—sekt being German champagne. Even smaller and dotted around the Theresienwiese are schnapps booths, where a few Euro goes a long way (towards getting drunkers).
· Dress code: The dress code at the Oktoberfest is not strict, however T-Shirts printed with “I survived Oktoberfest” scream ‘tourist’. It is considered far more attractive to wear a traditional costume. That means for women a “Dirndl." These pretty Bavarian dresses come in many colours with varying skirt lengths. A “no go” in combination with a Dirndl are trainers. High heels are a little better, but with the amount of walking from tent to roller-coaster to almond stall, they are not the most practical choice. The best and most elegant choice is a pair of flat pumps.
Jaunted says: Leave the Dirndls to the pros, aka the locals, other Germans and folks who come year after year just to dress up in the intricate dresses. Tourists wanting to don a Dirndl will often buy cheap ones specifically made for tourists, sporting inflated pricetags and lower quality. Most of the exquisitely beautiful ones you'll see (and covet) on other women are handmade or family heirlooms.
If you really must, Rocco Forte's Charles Hotel in Munich has a package that includes not only a custom Dirndl, but also transportation to and from Schatzi Dirndl for fittings, two nights at the five-star hotel, a Bavarian gift, and breakfast each day. More info on that right here.
· Flirting: The highly sociable Oktoberfest attracts visitors from across the world. The best weekend for flirting is the second Wiesn as the suave Italians jet in for the weekend. The two-day period has even been named the ‘Italian Weekend’. There is a secret code to flirting, recognised by many regular visitors. For women, if you tie the bow of your Dirndl skirt on the left hand side it tells others you are single. On the right hand-side and men will (hopefully) understand that you are not seeking any advances. If given a gingerbread heart you can be assured that you have an admirer.
Jaunted says: Totally correct on everything above except for the claim that "Italian Weekend" is the best time to flirt. Look, we love Italian dudes as much as the next red-blooded girl, but not this sort of Italian dude. They're here to be drunk and obnoxious and make slurred, lazy passes at any skirt that walks by. No thanks.
We're all about "Gay Weekend," which was this past weekend (whoops, you missed it), mainly because you can just be crazy with a 50% chance of being lazily hit on. And when you do find someone with whom to flirt away the day, it's far likelier he's got a gay friend or two to keep things less awkward and the conversation rolling.
· Dancing: Dancing to live folk music is a very popular pastime at the festival. However, beware—swinging your hips in the aisles is forbidden (no space for the beer attendants). The only place to dance is on your seat bench, whilst avoiding the temptation to hop onto the tables (also banned).
Jaunted says: Hopping on tables is banned, but that doesn't mean people aren't up on their benches. Just another not to wear a dirndl, really. We hope you like dancing to songs like "Sweet Home Alabama." You'll see why.
· Food: Like beer, food is bountiful. From roasted almonds, to candy floss, fried sausages and ‘mackerel on a stick’. Most popular is ‘Hendel’ grilled chicken, served with a large pretzel. It is best to forget all notions of weight-watching whilst at the Oktoberfest: a pretzel itself contains almost 500 calories. A good excuse for even more dancing.
Jaunted says: Order the chicken and don't care how you look eating the thing like a cavewoman. Chase it with a pretzel...or four. Don't buy a giant gingerbread heart because you won't eat it and it's a bitch to transport home in luggage (we've tried). Other than this, outside of the tents it's your basic festival fare.
· Beating the lines: It is not unusual for beer tents to close by lunchtime when they have reached maximum capacity. Those who do not have reservations can sometimes have a long wait. The best way to beat the lines is to go to the back or the sides of the tent where the lines are much shorter. Wide smiles also work well. Never offer money at the door—it will ensure they stay closed. Tipping the waiters and waitresses is highly recommended however and will guarantee you quick service for the next round of drinks.
Jaunted says: Completely true. If you want a seat and you don't have reservations, you need to plan on arriving early and, thus, drinking early. It's a game of chance. When you make it into a beer tent and have a seat at an empty or partially empty table, you may be kicked out at any time by an arriving party with reservations for it.
We managed to hold down a table in the Hacker-Pschorr tent from 10am (their opening time on a weekday) to noon, and a Spaten tent the next day from 11am to 2pm. By then, that was enough. Perhaps also try back in the late evenings when groups have gotten too drunk or restless to remain in their reserved tables.
***Pro tip: Look around you while everyone is standing and swaying their beer steins during the toasting song (Ein Prosit). It happens like every 15 minutes and you'll come to know it well, but other don't. Legions of tourists confidently chanting the wrong lyrics are one of our favorite Oktoberfest sights. Learn the correct words and pronunciation so you can shout above them, with even greater confidence. You'll get many winks from old German men, too. Bonus!
Got any more Oktoberfest tips for us girls? Share 'em in the comments, and Prost!
Fashion's Night Out had us in a particularly chummy mood. The liquor was flowing, the male models were plentiful, and almost all of the major hotels were hosting parties. We ended up at an event honoring Tara Subkoff's "Imitation of Christ" collection. Settled into a roped-off section at The Hotel On Rivington's darkly-lit CO-OP restaurant, we bopped along to the music, and sipped cranberry cocktails. Then, we took a trip downstairs to the bathroom.
There, we were greeted by the friendly washroom attendant, John. John couldn't have been more helpful, guiding us tipsy party-goers safely towards our assigned stalls, smiling the whole time. John also indulged us with a little Q&A, and one of the burning questions we had on our mind was: "Who tips better down here? Guys or girls?"
"Definitely the guys, without a doubt," he replied without missing a beat.
So what's the reason? Do girls not carry as much cash around? Or do they see tipping in general as more of a man's job? Would they have tipped more if the attendant was female?
In our humble opinion, we feel it has something to do with aesthetics. If a bathroom looks exceptionally beautiful—if its mirrors are flawless, its toilets buffed, its flowers fresh—then we are more inclined to be generous with the patient washroom attendant (who hasn't exactly been blessed with the most glamorous hotel job). If everything looks decent to our eyes, we feel the attendant has done something right, so we ought to reward him (or her) for our positive experience.
We should mention, interestingly, that it was precisely a year ago, in Las Vegas, that Bruno Mars was ratted out to the police for cocaine possession by none other than...a Hard Rock bathroom attendant. We're guessing that guy didn't get a tip.
We're curious to hear your thoughts: do you tip the washroom attendant? Are you a man, or a woman? Should it matter? Let us know in the comments below!
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Ryanair, no stranger to controversy, is in hot water again with reports that a passenger was told to get off an overbooked plane – or be arrested by police.
Janine Handley was sitting in her seat waiting for takeoff on a Ryanair flight from Faro in Portugal to Manchester when a message came over the PA asking her to identify herself to staff.
Once she did so, flight attendants told her to get off the aircraft immediately as there were not enough seats for everyone.
Bewildered about why she had been chosen, Handley refused to leave. She says she was then warned Portuguese police were coming to arrest and remove her. The situation was defused when a male passenger volunteered to leave in her place after Ryanair offered to pay about AUD400 to anyone willing to leave the aircraft instead.
“It was traumatising – I couldn’t believe what was going on and felt like I was being bullied, as well as being treated like a criminal,” Handley told the Manchester Evening News.
“It was the most uncomfortable hour of my life. I was told I was holding the entire plane up and they tried to intimidate me but I refused to give in. I will never fly with Ryanair again – it was very distressing.”
Ryanair apologised to Handley, who had been on a family holiday but had to return home alone as she needed to be back at work.
The airline said it had all been a misunderstanding: “One family had made a booking specifying one of the children was an infant. It transpired the infant was over two and so required by law to have its own seat.
“Our handling agents, rather than offload the family of six, wrongly tried to offload Ms Handley as they believed she was the last to board.”
Written by : Peter Needham
Financial woos have not slowed the international traveller as worldwide travel reached a new record with up to 440 million arrivals for the first half of 2011.
According to World Travel Organisation (UNWTO) statistics, the 4.5 percent rise on international tourism was lead by the 4.8 percent growth in emerging economies and saw 19 million more passengers take-off this year.
Despite tough economic situations, Europe and the Sub-Saharan Africa saw a six and nine percent rise, while the Middle East and North Africa saw travel drop by 13 and 11 percent.
The Americas also welcomed a six percent increase, while South America shot up by 15 percent for the period compared the first six months last year.
“The sustained growth registered in tourism demand in such challenging times clearly makes the case for the sector and reinforces our call to consider tourism as a priority in national policies,” UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai said.
“Tourism can play a key role in terms of economic growth and development, particularly at a moment when many economies, for the most part in Europe and North America, struggle for recovery and job creation.
“We are very encouraged to see demand picking up in such important tourism destinations and call for continued support to these countries which are today fully ready to receive travellers from all over the world.”
Mr Rifai concluded that despite the record breaking growth, tourism needs to “remain cautious”, particularly as “many advanced economies” face slow growth and high unemployment.
Relief comes over you as the plane pulls back from the gate. Somehow you managed to entertain a three-year-old and a six-month-old during the three-hour delay at the gate, but it wasn't easy! You're all settled in your seat with the kids buckled in, both looking sleepy, when a jolting announcement comes over the PA:
“This is your captain speaking. Sorry to inform you folks that ATC has just extended our delay. We're going to park the plane out here on the tarmac. Should be about an hour before we're are airborne."
Just then your baby starts screaming and wakes the other child who now decides they're too cold. You don't have a blanket, the flight attendants don't have a blanket, you've used your last diaper and have nothing to keep the kids occupied during the delays. Talk about Travel Hell.
As a flight attendant you would be surprised how often I see the scenario play out. My daughter's first plane ride was when she was three weeks old and she has flown almost once a month since. I have had the advantage of watching families travel for fifteen years before I had to do it, so I am not here to judge; I'm only here to help! One of the most important things you do can when traveling with kids is to properly pack your carry-on.
Follow these tips and you'll find yourself prepared for whatever the airlines throw at you...
Top Five Carry-on Essentials for an infant/baby
1. Diapers and wipes: My rule of thumb is one for every hour of travel plus five. You need to plan for mechanicals and other delays.
2. An adequate food supply: If you're breast feeding then you're all set. If not, bring enough formula with extra for delays. You are not restricted to the 3.4oz rule when you are traveling with a baby. Check with TSA.gov for more information.
3. Extra clothes: Not just for baby! A shirt for mom and/or dad is advisable in case of spit ups. Also, a small blanket.
4. Ziploc bags: Great for soiled clothes, soiled diapers and even leftover snacks.
5. Ear plugs: Bring enough for your neighbors, as handouts like this will take some stress off potentially tense situations with a screaming or crying child.
Top Five Carry-on Essentials for a toddler or preschool flier
1. Snacks: Think on the healthy side; save the sugar treat for your destination. Your kids need to maintain a steady blood sugar level. Think of some things they enjoy at home—carrot sticks, granola bars. I actually pack veggies frozen so they stay good throughout the day.
2. Disposable place mats and wipes: You can find these at most grocery stores or online. They fit the tray table and your child can eat and play without worrying about the germs.
3. Empty water bottles, like Sigg or Kleenkanteen: You can fill them up at a water fountain once beyond security.
4. Activities: Think of quiet activities your kids like to do at home. DVD players, paper dolls, activity books, paper and triangle crayons (so they don't roll off the table) are a few ideas. Make sure you bring a variety!
5. A CARES harness: This is an acronym for Child Aviation Restraint System. It's a one pound device that becomes a seat belt harness for kids 22-44lbs. It straps around a regular airplane seat and easily packs into your carry-on.
By Sara Keagle
Maybe it's the long weekend talking, but we think everyone just needs to chill out over the whole Heidi Klum topless sunbathing incident. In case you haven't heard, the 5' 9" TV host and former model admitted to Jay Leno on Thursday night that she was almost kicked out of a Phoenix hotel for ignoring a security staff member's request for her to cover up.
"I'm surprised you have a photo of me wearing a [bikini] top. I don't really like to wear tops because I hate tan lines." She makes a valid point, but then again, she's one of the world's highest-paid models. We're guessing if everyone had bodies like hers, we'd be seeing more topless action in hotel pools. A lot more.
"I got in trouble once, in Phoenix. I was working there, and I was laying by the pool, and obviously I had no top on. So I was laying there, sunbathing, and this security guy comes over and says, 'Ma'am, you have to put your top back on because people are complaining.'
I was like, 'Tan lines! I don't want to have them!' So I had to put it back on, but then I took it back off, because I thought that that was really ridiculous.
And then he came again and said, 'Ma'am you really have to put your top back on, otherwise you're going to be in trouble.'"
In Europe, this simply wouldn't be an issue, as Klum wisely points out. Americans, she says, are simply too "uptight," and can't see the bigger picture: Heidi Klum doesn't want tan lines!
Do you have a topless Heidi Klum story of your own? Share in the comments below!
In something of a surprise, American travelers rank cleanliness over security by a fat margin as the most important factor in selecting a hotel, according to a new survey.
Forty three percent chose cleanliness, while 11 percent cited security, according to the survey conducted on behalf of the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies.
“Price and location were top factors for 23 percent and 19 percent of respondents, respectively,” the company said.
“Travelers should take safety precautions more seriously, and travel security should be higher on their checklist than cleanliness,” said Jim Villa, a senior vice president and North American manager for Chubb’s Accident & Health business. “It seems that more people are concerned about housekeeping than security.”
Chubb’s survey of 1,000 participants was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, an independent public opinion and market research firm, in June 2011.
By David Wilkening
(Source: Travelmole.com, September 2011)
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
The next hot tourist spot: space. Does that sound far-fetched? Maybe not.
A recent announcement from Russia said that country -- the only one that can deliver people in orbit -- planned to open a space hotel by 2016. The facility would accommodate up to seven guests.
“Flying to space may have seemed like a utopian idea of Jules Verne and his likes, however, the last few decades have proved all skeptics wrong,” says Tourism-Review.com.
For the planned Russian hotel, food will be delivered from the earth, and warmed up in microwave ovens.
It won’t be fast food, however, and nothing will be cheap about this enterprise. Developers say hotel guests will be paying around US$170,000 for a five-day stay, plus another $800,000 to ride the space shuttle transfer to the hotel.
Price has long been an issue when it comes to space travel but it also cropped up in the early days of regularly scheduled airlines, which of course have considerably reduced prices (while adding numerous fees) in recent years.
Right here on earth, a harbinger of the future is being built in New Mexico. While the passengers need to wait for a couple of more years (first flights expected in two years), those interested in the topic now have a unique opportunity to explore Spaceport America being built there by space fan and Virgin founder Richard Branson.
It recently launched tours for the curious and would-be buyers.
Tickets for the suborbital space rides aboard SpaceShipTwo cost $200,000. The 150-minute flights will give space tourists around five minutes of weightlessness. Virgin Galactic has said that it already has more than $50 million in reservations for the flights.
“If you think of Earth's orbit and the moon as a big unclaimed territory, ripe for adventure, then you're in for a treat,” says Postmedia News. ”The space excursions now being planned promise nothing less than a new perspective of life on Earth and an expansion of what it means to be human.”
Recent news stories have raised various possibilities:
More than 500 people by now have gone to space -- mainly astronauts and cosmonauts.
But then there are the seven tourists who have already been to the International Space Station aboard Russian Soyuz rockets. But they paid millions of dollars each for their trips, $35 million in the case of the last tourist, the Canadian founder of the Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberte.
``Space is no longer an insurmountable boundary,'' said Harold Line, a Calgary businessman who has paid the $20,000 deposit on a $200,000 US ticket aboard Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo.
Virgin Galactic's website provides a preview of what passengers should feel during the separation from the other aircraft at 50,000 feet and the immediate jolt thereafter.
``You are instantly pinned back into your seat, overwhelmed but enthralled by the howl of the rocket motor and the eye-watering acceleration which, as you watch the readout, has you travelling in a matter of seconds at almost 2,500 mph, over three times the speed of sound. As you hurtle through the edges of the atmosphere, the large windows show the cobalt blue sky turning to mauve and indigo and finally to black. You're on a high; this is really happening, you're loving it and you're coping well.''
SpaceShipTwo will float in weightlessness in an area of space considered sub- orbital because it is not high enough for spacecraft to complete a full orbit of the planet. The spacecraft will linger for a bit before at first falling, then gliding, back to Earth and to a landing strip at Virgin's New Mexico Spaceport.
Stephanie Anevich is a Toronto travel agent whose company, Vision 2000 Travel Group, has booked 10 of the 21 Canadians who are among the 440 people who've paid their deposits on their Virgin Galactic tickets.
``They won't fly it until they are very sure it's safe,'' she says, noting that Richard Branson will fly with his family on the inaugural flight.
What else might happen in space? Perhaps more announced space hotels, says John Spencer, an architect specializing in the design of spacecraft interiors and space-related theme parks.
He also foresees space yachts where the super-rich will invite their friends to come up for a week. Oceangoing yachts can cost $400 million, he said, so why not have space yachts?
In lieu of the long-gone space race between the US and Russia, there’s already a “space race” by private enterprise ventures, says Tom Shelley. His Virginia-based Space Adventures is offering sub-orbital flights for $110,000 a seat, $90,000 cheaper than Virgin Galactic.
Space Adventures was behind the first eight visits by tourists to the space station (one man went twice). And it still has one $150 million ticket left to sell on Space Adventure's planned 2015 lunar mission on a Soyuz rocket that will fly two passengers around the moon and back. The vehicle will not land but it will be the first human visit to the moon since 1972.
This could make it the history’s most expensive trips. But Shelley says the view of earth from the moon should not be missed.
By David Wilkening
Planes are not allowed to take off with rodents on the loose. Apart from the reaction they can cause among passengers (and cabin crew), there are obvious hygiene issues. More importantly, mice and rats can chew through vital cables.
Rodents can’t be poisoned in case they die in a concealed location and cause a stink.
The mouse compelled the airline to cancel its morning flight to Bangkok as well as delaying its midnight flight to Kuala Lumpur.
Eventually airline staff came up with a hi-tech solution — a mousetrap.
The mouse found the trap, which deployed in the customary way with terminal results.
“We have found the mouse, and the plane has been released,” a relieved engineer Shankar Thapa told Nepalese news source Republica.
“But the flight to Kuala Lumpur [scheduled for 11.30 pm] will be delayed as we are still searching to make sure there aren’t any more rodents in the plane.”
The runaway mouse arrived at a bad time for NAC, as the Nepalese flag carrier’s only other Boeing is in Israel for maintenance. As a result, the airline had to transfer 133 Bangkok-bound passengers to Thai Airways and pay for five-star accommodation for 63 passengers in Bangkok.
The 190-seater’s flight to Kuala Lumpur and return flight were both full, meaning NAC would have had to pay for five-star accommodation for passengers in Kathmandu and Kuala Lumpur, had the mouse not been found in time.
As it was, passengers were inconvenienced and the airline faces a hefty bill. But the smallest player in the drama came off worst.
Written by : Peter Needham
After all, London has operated at nearly 90% occupancy for most of this summer. And besides the Olympics in late July and early August, it will host The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in early June 2012 and the Paralympics in late August and early September 2012.
Danny Bowerin of Deloitte and London 2012 said during a STR Global client event Tuesday that preparations for the Olympics have been a tremendous success story thus far, but there’s no doubt next summer will be “business as unusual.”
“There is going to be significant disruption, but we’ll all think post-Games that it will be all worthwhile,” Bowerin said.
“London hotels must be asking themselves, ‘How much more business can we take in during summer season,’” said Nick Pattie of Whitebridge Hospitality. “We’ll see something close to 100% occupancy during the 17 days of Olympics.”
But that doesn’t mean there will be a rate boom in the city during the Games.
“It’s only 17 days—let’s keep it in perspective,” said Ciaran Fahy, GM of the independent Cavendish Hotel.
Fahy said his top priority is protecting the hotel’s inventory during the special events.
“I’m here to say I’m optimizing my inventory. I’m not gouging my customer on price,” he said. “I’m looking for a full length of stay, and I don’t make any apologies about that.”
“Of the 17 days it really is the front end that will be really strong demand, then it will taper off,” said Duncan Bramwell of Revenue-Performance.com. “The first thing we’ve been working on with our independent clients is getting them to look at summer in totality. There is going to be this extraordinary summer, and making sure we are ready for the entire spread of events rather than just getting greedy and jumping on the bandwagon for those couple of days is what we should be thinking.”
Tracy Halliwell of London & Partners said the 13,500 hotel rooms under construction will bring the city’s inventory to about 120,000 by the time the Olympics begin.
Halliwell said despite rumors, there will be little in the way of temporary guest accommodations supply added in London by cruise ships.
“We don’t have berthing space for a lot of big ships. What berths there are will be full,” she said.
A focus on meeting space
Gower Tan of InterContinental Hotels Group said a large number of his company’s inventory in the London area has been committed to Olympics organizers.
“We’ve been focusing on non-rooms revenue streams and demands for non-rooms business,” he said. “We’re planning our business mix and looking at what we can do to drive meeting business (during the Games).”
As for the inventory that is available to the public, he said IHG’s priority is meeting the needs of its tops corporate clients and its Priority Club guest-loyalty club members.
Beyond that, the company is placing restrictions about prepayment and minimum length of stays during the Olympics, he said.
IHG has some concerns about post-Olympic demand for its large concentration of rooms in London, according to Tan.
“We’re working on business that has legacy business afterwards,” he said.
Fahy said no hotel should lose sight of the opportunity brought upon by a strong hotel environment regardless of the 2012 events.
“We are in the best position to get corporate increases to get rates back up to 2001 and to educate our sales staff to not be embarrassed about that,” he said, stressing that hotel salespeople need to focus on attaining best-available-rates regardless of the source.
The panelists showed some concern over how the Olympics and other events will affect regular customers who are displaced by the once-in-a-lifetime events.
“Will London damage some of its regular customers?” Pattie asked.
“Olympic host cities experience leisure visitor displacement in the year prior to the start of the Games,” London & Partners’ Halliwell said, citing fear of higher prices and the inconvenience of preparations for the Games as major reasons those travelers don’t make visits.
There’s also some concern about how the number of people descending upon London will affect the infrastructure and complicate the lives of hotel employees.
For instance, Halliwell said an extra 250,000 a day will use public transportation.
The other concern among hoteliers is the possibility that some of the rooms committed to the London Olympics organizing group will be released and whether hotels have time to react to having more inventory available. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games has options to release rooms in three phases leading up the Olympics but doesn’t think it will need to do so, Halliwell said.
“We have to think about, as hoteliers, what is our plan B, what is our plan C and what is our plan D, and when do you make decisions to implement them in the months ahead,” Bramwell said. “If you have a problem and one of your block releases, what are you going to do? Where are the markets you are going to pursue? Are we brave enough to overbook?”
He said during major global events in the past, hoteliers panicked when faced with rooms released from organizing committees. Having backup plans will allow hotels to optimize their inventories in the event of such occurrences in London.
Learning from the past
Konstanze Auernheimer, director of marketing and analysis for STR Global (a sister company of HotelNewsNow.com), provided background during the session of the past four Summer Olympics cities. Some general observations included:
• Atlanta (1996) and Beijing (2008) had a lot of new supply coming into the market while Sydney (2000) and Athens (2004) didn’t have as much. “Beijing was an emerging market with about 140,000 rooms,” Auernheimer said. “The additional supply in the market actually hurt the market.”
• The number of hotels in the London pipeline is on par with Athens and Sydney.
• The Games generated little additional demand in Atlanta because they displaced much of the meetings, incentives, conference and exhibitions business the city usually attracts during the summer. Sydney saw a limited occupancy spike during the Games. Athens experienced a huge spike in demand because August generally is a slow month for the city’s hotel industry. Beijing had a decrease in demand, thanks in large part to the additional supply, tight control of visas and political protests. “Obviously, a lot of people come into the market, but a lot of times it’s displacement,” she said. “If you are lucky, it is displacement into another month.”
• Average daily rate in Atlanta and Sydney jumped nearly 80% and 90%, respectively, during the Olympics. Athens and Beijing had ADR increases in the 250% range. Auernheimer said one of the challenges for London is to avoid the negativity that comes with such large ADR increases.
Find London Accommodation at http://www.metrostar.com/london/
By Jeff Higley
Monday, September 19, 2011
One of America’s most talented musicians, Billie Joe Armstrong, has been kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight because his pants sagged too low.
Armstrong, who works occasionally as an actor, is better known as lead vocalist, main songwriter and lead guitarist for the US punk rock band Green Day. He’s also a guitarist and vocalist for the punk band Pinhead Gunpowder.
The rock musician was travelling from Oakland near San Francisco to Burbank Los Angeles when the pants incident occurred.
“Just got kicked off a Southwest flight because my pants sagged too low! What the f**k? No joke!” Armstrong tweeted indignantly.
It seems Armstrong may have been guilty of “sagging” – the term for wearing trousers (slacks, shorts, pants or jeans) hanging below the waist area and therefore revealing underwear.
A female passenger aboard the flight gave US news network ABC News the low-down. Passengers were already seated for takeoff, she said, when a flight attendant approached Armstrong and told him to pull his trousers up. Armstrong retorted: “Don’t you have better things to do than worry about that?”
The flight attendant then insisted the pants be hoisted higher. Armstrong replied “I’m just trying to get to my f**king seat” whereupon Armstrong and his travelling companion were removed from the flight.
In June, a football player, Deshon Marman, was evicted from a US Airways flight over saggy pants and is reportedly suing the airline over it.
Sagging, which often reveals buttocks and/or underwear, faces a widening crackdown by authorities, who consider the practice offensive and unsavoury. The Texas city of Fort Worth moved two months ago to ban passengers from boarding buses while wearing sagging pants that expose underwear or buttocks. Signs have been posted reading: “Pull ’em up or find another ride”.
The origins of sagging are obscure. The fashion is widely believed to derive from the US prison system, where belts are prohibited. Whatever, sagging is spreading.
In a similar case last month, a female financial consultant and former model claimed she was ordered off a JetBlue flight, not because she was sagging but because the flight director accused her of not wearing any panties.
Financial advisor Malinda Knowles is suing JetBlue, claiming that one of the airline’s supervisors thrust a walkie-talkie between her legs in an attempt to work out what she was wearing under her baggy T-shirt.
Knowles claims the supervisor told her, “‘I don’t want to see your panties or anything but do you have any on?”
The sagging and panties incidents follow a spate of strange in-flight happenings around the world. Some have involved passengers urinating in aircraft aisles and over other passengers. In other cases, passengers have stripped naked.
Written by : Peter Needham
The Telegraph in the UK has released its annual list of the world’s most expensive cities for hotel stays. Here they are:
For the seventh year running, Moscow tops the list when it comes to the cost of a hotel room. A night in the Russian capital will set business travellers back an average of US$420, about US$54 more expensive than its closest rival city.
A night in the lakeside tourist capital will cost an average of US$366, up 13 percent on last year's figures.
The average cost of a room is US$354. Of the Top 10 cities, Zurich has experienced the second highest increase in its hotel prices, up 17 percent on last year's prices.
Up five percent on last year's figures, the average cost of a hotel room rate in Paris has risen to US$334 per night.
A stop over in Stockholm will set business travellers back an average of US$325 for the night.
Hotels in America's Washington came in at sixth most expensive for business travellers, costing an average of US$320 per night.
Sydney saw a room rate price rise of 16 percent on last year's figures. The average cost per night for a hotel room in Australia's largest city comes in at US$317.
No. 8 Istanbul
Istanbul achieved the highest increase in hotel rate - of 37 per cent - due to the growing interest surrounding the city as a business destination.
No.9 New York
Prices for a New York hotel room didn't change year on year, so business travellers should still expect to pay an average of US$312 per night in the Big Apple.
A hotel room in Oslo also costs an average of US$312 per night, up 11 percent on last year's prices.
A man has apparently choked to death on his in-flight meal while flying Jetstar from Singapore to Auckland.
The New Zealand Herald reported that Robert Rippingale died after choking on a beef dinner. His girlfriend sat beside his body in a crew rest area for the rest of the 11-hour flight.
Rippingale, 31, was pronounced dead aboard by a doctor 90 minutes after takeoff, the paper said.
The deceased man’s girlfriend, Vanessa Preechakul, was quoted as saying that the two were “kissing, holding hands and the next minute he was choking”.
Rippingale had chosen the beef dinner rather than chicken and was tucking into the meal while watching a movie when Preechakul realised that something had gone very wrong.
After thinking initially that her boyfriend was laughing hard, “then I looked at his face and his eyes were rolling and he couldn’t talk. His lips were turning purple”.
Preechakul screamed for help and a doctor and two nurses who were on the flight rushed up and performed CPR on the victim in the galley. Sadly, they were unable to save him.
Jetstar spokesman Andrew McGinnes expressed condolences to the victim’s family and thanked the doctor and nurses who had tried to save Rippingale.
But today’s edition of New Zealand’s Waikato Times quotes a passenger on the flight, Hamilton city councillor Ewan Wilson, a former pilot and Kiwi Air founder, expressing surprise that the airline offered passengers a NZD100 travel voucher to compensate them for the trauma.
Wilson said he watched in horror as Rippingale’s body was carried away and put in a crew rest area for the rest of the flight. Wilson said he felt “that going back to Singapore would have been a lot more appropriate”. He was surprised the plane didn’t immediately divert, as “the general practice for an airline is to land as soon as possible if there is a medical emergency” and there were plenty of places around to land.
Wilson said passengers were “visibly shaken and very shocked” by the mid-air drama and accompanying scream.
Jetstar, however, said that Preechakul had been keen for the flight to to press on to Auckland. New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that there were no guidelines or laws on how pilots should act in such an emergency, the Waikato Times reported.
The cause of death remains officially unknown until a coroner’s report, which is expected later this month.
Choking while eating can occur in flight, as anywhere else. In 2002, a three-year-old boy choked on his meal during a flight from Britain to the Canary Islands.
The boy was in danger of dying and no doctor or nurse was aboard the plane. It was left to a firefighter to do the best he could and use a resuscitation technique he had only ever practised once – on a dummy. It worked and he saved the boy’s life.
Written by Peter Needham
Pajamas and slippers are among new bed amenities offered to American Airlines
Travelers in first class between the US and London Heathrow will be the first to be offered the new amenities. They will eventually be rolled out to international flights on Boeings 777 and 767-300s.
Other bed amenities will include a lightweight day blanket, new premium duvet ad pillow and a kit containing brand-name skincare products and “travel necessities.
The Consumerist blog says all this "hearken[s] back to the day of luxury carriers like Pan Am and the high-end airlines favored by international business travelers."
But the Economist asks the question: do business travellers really care that much about this sort of thing?
They point out the main complaint many flyers have about big American carriers is that their service is rotten.
“Amenities are an important part of the service experience. But they're not as important as making sure your customers get where they are going on time and happy,” the Economist adds.
By David Wilkening
The Congress takes place at the Sofitel, London Heathrow, on September 19-21.
The finalists are:
Best Low Cost Airline
1. Air Asia
3. Jetstar Airways
4. Cebu Pacific Air
5. Air Arabia
6. Spring Airlines
3. Kuala Lumpur
5. GMR Hyderabad
6. Ibaraki (near Tokyo)
3. Air Asia
4. Iceland Express
CEO of the Year
1. Azran Osman-Rani, AirAsia X
2. Lance Gokongwei/ Garry Kingshott, Cebu Pacific
3. Aditya Ghosh/Rahul Batia, Indigo
4. Tony Fernandes, AirAsia
5. Ben Baldanza, Spirit Airlines
6. Carolyn McCall, easyJet
Technology Foresight Award
5. Star Alliance apps
Best Ancillary Revenue Innovation
Best Sales and Distribution Innovation
2. Virgin Australia - Delta codeshare
3. Virgin – Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and Etihad
Airlines Pacesetter Award
1. Air Asia X
4. Wizz Air
New Zealand is set for an extended ski season this year, with predictions that the ski-fields will be open and operational up until mid-October.
After a slow start to the season, New Zealand has enjoyed an abundant snowfall throughout winter’s latter months leaving ski fields in both the North and South Islands in good shape for an extended season.
A large portion of this snowfall is the direct result of the country’s heaviest snow storm in 50 years which occurred in mid-August - coating ski fields across the country.
The spring ski-season also aligns with the largest international sporting event of the year – Rugby World Cup 2011 being hosted in New Zealand for six weeks commencing September 9.
Favourites for the tournament are the New Zealand All Blacks.
James Coddington, CEO of NZ Ski, said that “we have been thrilled with the support of Australians this season, and expect to see more Aussies on the slopes in spring as they add another layer of excitement to their Rugby World Cup experiences”.
Find NZ Accommodation on Metrostar.com
The most common way of boarding passenger planes is among the least efficient, tests have shown.
The BBC reports that boarding those in window seats first followed by middle and aisle seats results in a 70 percent gain in efficiency.
However, an approach called the Steffen method, alternating rows in the window-middle-aisle strategy, nearly doubles boarding speed.
The approach is named after Jason Steffen, an astrophysicist at Fermi National Laboratory in Illinois. Dr Steffen first considered the thorny problem of plane boarding in 2008, when he found himself in a long boarding queue.
He carried out a number of computer simulations to determine a better method than the typical "rear of the plane forwards" approach, publishing the results in the Journal of Air Transport Management.
Several authors had already proposed an order in which those seated in window seats boarded first, followed by middle seats and then aisle seats - dubbed the Wilma method. But Dr Steffen's best results suggested a variant of this.
He suggested boarding in alternate rows, window seats first, progressing from the rear forward: seats 12A, for example, followed by 10A, 8A and so on, then returning for 9A, 7A, 5A and so on, and then filling the middle and aisle seats in the same way.
The approach avoids a situation in which passengers are struggling to use the same physical space at the same time.
Only now, though, has the idea been put to the test. Jon Hotchkiss, a television producer, tested the idea using a mock-up of a 757 plane in Hollywood and 72 luggage-toting volunteers.
The pair tested five different scenarios: "block" boarding in groups of rows from back to front, one by one from back to front, the "Wilma method", the Steffen method, and completely random boarding.
In all cases, parent-child pairs were permitted to board first - reflecting the fact that regardless of the efficiency of any boarding method, families will likely want to stay together.
The block approach fared worst, with the strict back-to-front approach not much better.
Interestingly, a completely random boarding - as practised by several low-cost airlines that have unallocated seating - fared much better, presumably because it randomly avoids space conflicts.
But the Wilma method and the Steffen method were clear winners; while the block approach required nearly seven minutes to seat the passengers, the Steffen method took just over half that time.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Coffee coffee everywhere, and not a drop to drink...
When it comes to standard hotel amenities, coffee makers rank up there with pillows, a working toilet, soap. Basic. But for many of us, a bowl of instant coffee packets is about as useful as a hairbrush to a bald person. When it comes to in-room tea options, we've found some hotels to be quite lacking.
Take a look at most in-room tea and coffee amenities and what will you find?. Plenty of coffee! But where's the tea?
Nevermind the inconvenience of trekking to the nearest cafe for an early morning jolt when equally-in-need coffee drinkers can simply reach across their nightstand but it also raises an uglier question. What should be considered an essential hotel room amenity?
Surely, if someone took the time to fold the tip of our toilet paper roll, artfully sealing it with a small hotel-branded sticker, then that person probably had enough time to drop a few bags of Twining's English Breakfast on our desk. No?
The task of handling Customers and adhering to all their requests is not a matter of joke, more so, if the demands are completely bizarre. Customers right to good hospitality and comfort are the things that they look forward to in a holiday. It is the natural duty of the cabin crew of every airline to look into the needs of the customers and fulfill every possible logical wish. However, there are instances when the cabin crew has to face mind-boggling requests from passengers in flights to which no one can possibly have answers.
Frequent Funny Questions
3000 Virgin Atlantic flight attendants disclose certain questions encountered by them rather frequently. It is quite interesting to note that passengers who fly from one city to another have no ideas about the necessity of windows in an airplane. The most pressing and foolish query faced by cabin crew is "Please can you open the window?” Travelers fail to realize the importance of a pressurized cabin at 35,000 feet.
Another hilarious query is "Could you turn the engines down because they are too noisy?” forgetting the ensuing result of turning down the engines, or requesting to ask the captain stop the turbulence outside. The levels of comfort expected by flyers on board are magnanimous, as they demand for massage parlors and MacDonald’s in flight. Even they have huge imagination of vacant space inside a plane as one lady asked an attendant, to escort her children to the playroom.
Customer relation’s manager of Virgin Atlantic, Caroline Lynam, confirms that they extend maximum service to their passengers but such requests are too challenging to handle.
"It was just because of high demand," said an employee, who would not give her name. "A lot of hotels did that."
But about 10 blocks away, at the Fairfield Inn & Suites on Third Ave., the rates remained unchanged from the usual $240 a night.
An employee at the Fairfield Inn said about 30% of the guests who arrived there Saturday night were people seeking shelter from Irene's torrential rains, but none of them was charged a premium rate.
A Hotel Le Bleu employee reached by phone, who would not give her name, said the high prices didn't slow business at the hotel with the distinctive exterior bathed in blue light.
"If you can pay, then it's on you," she said.
"There was a lady that booked two nights at that rate."
It is definitely not the kind of thing you want to see in the information kit in your hotel room: a notice informing you that mosquito nets are available at the front desk.
What makes it worse is that this wasn’t the steamy jungles of Africa or a monsoonal Asian city. This was from a hotel room in Belgium. Bruges may be the prettiest town in Belgium, but that means nothing to the “mossies”.
From all reports, most guests emerge unscathed after their stay at the Grand Hotel Casselbergh, so it appears the hotel may just be being a little over-protective of its guests. Better safe than sorry, I guess.