Wednesday, April 30, 2014
San Miguel De Allende To Celebrate Day Of The Dead With La Calaca Festival From October 31st through November 4th.
Expense account or not, it’s always nice to sit down to a great meal when you’re on the road.
é by José Andrés at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
In a sign of the growing importance of Asia to the cruise industry, Royal Caribbean today announced plans to base its newest, hottest ship in China next year instead of Europe or the Caribbean.
Royal Caribbean says the 4,180-passenger Quantum of the Seas -- its first new vessel in four years -- will permanently reposition to Shanghai in May 2015 following a previously announced inaugural winter season sailing to the Bahamas and the Caribbean out of the New York area. The ship will sail three- to eight-night voyages to Japan and Korea that primarily are aimed at the Chinese market.
"We have been very clear about our intentions to compete on a high level in China," Royal Caribbean Cruises president and COO Adam Goldstein tells USA TODAY in an exclusive interview about the move. "We feel like we have an asset here with Quantum of the Seas that is not really possible for our competitors to match."
Royal Caribbean Cruises is the parent company of the Royal Caribbean brand and also owns Celebrity Cruises and several smaller lines.
Goldstein says the Chinese market places a high value on new, top-quality products, and Royal Caribbean believes it has a chance to achieve a long-term competitive advantage by taking the "bold step" of dedicating its newest, most-advanced ship to the region. The company has been expanding into China for several years, starting with some of its smallest and oldest vessels but moving recently to newer, larger vessels. The success of the effort is such that "we have decided to use (a ship like Quantum of the Seas) in China maybe a little bit quicker than had been our timetable."
Quantum of the Seas will join two other Royal Caribbean ships currently dedicated at least part of the year to the Chinese market, the 3,114-passenger Mariner of the Seas and 3,114-passenger Voyager of the Seas. The addition of Quantum of the Seas will boost the company's capacity in the region by 66%.
The deployment comes as the world's biggest cruise companies increasingly look to Asia for growth. Among other lines shifting capacity to the region are Princess Cruises, which is expanding rapidly in Japan, and Costa Cruises.
"We have been step-by-step building up our presence in Asia in general and the China market in particular ... and it has been (going) very well for us," Goldstein says.
Still, Goldstein makes clear that the Miami-based company, which currently has 21 ships, isn't turning its back on its fans in North America. Quantum is just one of four new Royal Caribbean ship that will debut over the next two years, which will leave plenty of new capacity available for deployments closer to home.
Goldstein said Quantum of the Seas will be replaced in the New York area for the summer of 2015 by the smaller Liberty of the Seas. The 3,634-passenger ship will cruise to Bermuda, the Caribbean and Canada/New England from the New York-area port of Bayonne, N.J. through the fall. But come November 2015, the 4,180-passenger Anthem of the Seas -- a sister ship to Quantum of the Seas that debuts in April 2015 -- will take Liberty's place in the New York area, sailing to the Bahamas and Caribbean for the winter of 2015-16.
While Royal Caribbean expects most passengers sailing on Quantum of the Seas out of Shanghai will be from China, the cruises also can be a draw for North Americans, Europeans and other global travelers looking to explore Asia by ship, Goldstein says. While the line will make some minor tweaks to the vessel to cater specifically to the Chinese market, it'll essentially be the same Royal Caribbean product found elsewhere in the world.
Perhaps the biggest difference with Quantum of the Seas' sailings out of Shanghai as compared to Royal Caribbean sailings elsewhere around the globe is that they will be shorter, to appeal to local preferences, Goldstein says.
"We are very happy to have people from around the world traveling to cruise on Quantum of the Seas (out of Shanghai) just as we are happy to have people from around the world cruise on Oasis of the Seas out of Florida," he says.
Currently under construction at a shipyard in Germany, Quantum of the Seas is scheduled to debut in November. By far the most anticipated new ship of the year, it will boast such innovative new features as the first skydiving simulator at sea and a glass capsule on a mechanical arm that will rise high above the ship for bird's-eye views.
Also new on Quantum of the Seas will be Two70, an unusual, multilevel entertainment space with floor-to-ceiling windows that will feature live aerial performances as well as digital performances projected on moving screens.
The first of a new class of vessel at Royal Caribbean, Quantum of the Seas won't be quite as big as the line's much-ballyhooed Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas— the world's largest cruise ships. But it still will rank among the 10 largest passenger vessels in the world and feature all of the signature amenities Royal Caribbean fans have come to love, from a 30-foot-high rock climbing wall to a FlowRider surf simulator to an H20 Zone kids water park. Look inside Oasis of the Seas.
Contributed by Gene Sloan, USA Today.
(AP) - The Transportation Security Administration is expanding its PreCheck expedited screening program to passengers on international airlines.
Air Canada on Tuesday became the first international carrier to participate, with TSA officials saying other foreign airlines would soon sign on. Airlines need to first update their computer systems to embed extra information in their boarding pass barcodes as well as printing a PreCheck logo.
Passengers in PreCheck lanes get to leave on their shoes, belt, and light jackets, keep liquids and laptops in their bags and use a standard metal detector, not the full-body scanners. Security agents can process twice as many passengers in PreCheck lanes in the same time as in a normal lane. That allows the agency to dedicate more staff to other passengers - those who theoretically pose the higher risk.
The program was launched in October 2011 at four airports. Today, there are PreCheck lanes at 118 of the roughly 450 U.S. commercial airports. About 5 million of the 14 million passengers who fly each week receive expedited screening.
The program is open to some elite frequent fliers of U.S. airlines as well as the 2.4 million travelers enrolled in one of the Customs and Border Protection's expedited entry programs: Global Entry, Nexus and Sentri.
The TSA has also started enrolling people directly in PreCheck through its own centers at 17 airports and 237 off-airport locations. Since it opened the application process in December, nearly 204,000 people have enrolled in the program which costs $85 and is good for five years. Global Entry costs $100 but requires a passport.
The TSA has been aggressively trying to get more people enrolled in the program. It can't justify having dedicated lanes at 118 airports unless there are enough people to actually use them. That's why the TSA has been pulling people out of the normal security lines into PreCheck lanes. Those passengers are either randomly picked, passed by with canine teams or monitored by behavior detection officers.
The government is also turning to foreign carriers to sign on to the program, to help ease checkpoint congestion. The airlines are responsible for paying for their computer upgrades, hence some of the hesitation.
With Air Canada's entrance, the TSA says other foreign carriers are soon to follow. Ideally, the biggest benefit would be from airlines with the most U.S. passengers: British Airways, Air France and German carrier Lufthansa. But TSA officials said they are working with international carriers large and small.
Air Canada operates to more points to the U.S. than any other foreign carrier. It currently serves 49 U.S. airports, but passengers will only be use PreCheck at 41 of them. For now, Air Canada passengers can only use the program if they print or reprint their boarding passes at airport check-in desks or kiosks. Later this year, those printing boarding passes at home or using the airline's mobile app will also be included.
The Canadian airline joins nine U.S. airlines who participate in the program: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, and Virgin America
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Hotels in Boston, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco & Scottsdale To Offer 2 Hour Porsche Driving Experiences
Guests at select luxury hotels can rev up their engines and get a head start on summer,thanks to a new program that allows registered guests at five Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Hotels to get behind the wheel of a Porsche for a two-hour soul-stirring journey.
Beginning May 10thand offered through the end of 2014, guests at select Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotels in Boston, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco and Scottsdale can choose from four Porsche vehicles, including the new Panamera S E-Hybrid luxury sedan, the 911 Carrera S Cabriolet sports car or the Cayenne GTS sport utility vehicle, for a localized area drive of up to two hours. Forbes Travel Guide has curated drives for each location, designed to showcase the beauty and uniqueness of the local area, as well as the performance and luxury of the vehicles.
How the program works
Guests who book at any of the five select Forbes Travel Guide Star Hotels during the Destination Drives program dates receive the chance to reserve a two-hour unescorted drive in a Porsche vehicle. Ambassadors are assigned to each location to make sure the ride is flawless. Locations include:
• Four Seasons Hotel Boston (May 10-June 7)
• Four Seasons Hotel Chicago (June 14-July 12)
• The Grand Del Mar in San Diego, Calif. (July 26 – August 23)
• Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco (September 13-Oct. 11)
• The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Ariz., (November 1 – December 13)
All locations will offer four Porsche vehicles, two dedicated full-time Porsche representatives to facilitate test drives and maintain the vehicles and specially created destination drives showcasing the best of the location’s offerings.
Porsche Vehicles and Concierge Desk
Wherever possible, Porsche vehicles will be available at the main entrance of the hotels, during off-hours, for guests and locals alike to view and learn about the newest cars and to instill the “Sports Car Fascination” for those who experience a test drive. A special Porsche concierge desk will be available for those guests who wish to sign-up upon check-in and ask questions.
For more information on the Porsche Destination Drives tour and the participating Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star properties, visit forbestravelguide.com/Porsche.
About Forbes Travel Guide
Forbes Travel Guide, formerly Mobil Travel Guide, is the originator of the prestigious Five Star Rating system, and has provided the travel industry’s most comprehensive ratings and reviews of hotels, restaurants and spas since 1958. Forbes Travel Guide has a team of expert inspectors who anonymously evaluate properties against up to 800 rigorous and objective standards, providing consumers the insight to make better-informed travel and leisure decisions. Forbes Travel Guide is the gold standard for luxury hospitality ratings worldwide. For more information about Forbes Travel Guide, visit www.forbestravelguide.com.
ForbesTravelGuide.com combines the objectivity and heritage of the Forbes Travel Guide Star Rating system with insightful recommendations from a hand-selected group of travel experts, tastemakers and Forbes Travel Guide inspectors. ForbesTravelGuide.com is the exclusive online destination for Forbes Travel Guide’s list of Star Rated hotels, restaurants and spas, and gives its registered members exclusive access to special offers and curated experiences from select Forbes Travel Guide partners.
Monday, April 28, 2014
Wild Planet Adventures’ “On the Jaguar’s Trail” Named a National Geographic Traveler “Tour of a Lifetime”
A national magazine known for seeking out the unusual and exceptional in travel announced on April 10 that the wildlife specialty tour operator, Wild Planet Adventures’ has received its “Top Tours of a Lifetime” award. This is the fifth time in company history that Wild Planet has received this coveted award from the editors of National Geographic Traveler.
The award as part of the magazine’s ninth annual “Worlds’ 50 Best Trips” recognizes Wild Planet Adventure’s “On the Jaguar’s Trail; from the Pantanal to the Amazon” wildlife safari in Brazil. Wild Planet operates wildlife eco-tours and safaris in nine countries and has now won this top honor for an unprecedented five of its nine destinations.
“On the Jaguar Trail” is featured in the magazine’s May 2014 issue and listed on a special Tours of a Lifetime page on National Geographic Traveler’s website. The magazine’s selection process looked for 2014’s most authentic, most innovative, most immersive, best-guided and most sustainable tours offered worldwide.
“This year marks the 30th anniversary of National Geographic Traveler, which has always looked at the world through the lens of culture, nature, and history. The tours we selected go beyond destination to add meaning and context,” said Norie Quintos, executive editor. “They open the mind to new possibilities, new connections, and new ways of thinking— all critically important given the world’s complex issues.”
Josh Cohen, founder/owner of Wild Planet Adventures, says that the way he designs trips, specific to wildlife lovers, sets his company’s explorations apart. “The big cats, such as the jaguars in Brazil, are among the most elusive of animals, yet our guests see them time and again in their natural habitats,” says Cohen.
“Our track record for seeing the world’s rarest and most elusive animals may well be the most comprehensive of any wild animal specialists leading tours today,” he adds. “We try to avoid unnecessary intrusion into an animal’s personal space or habitat to get a great photo. Instead, we rely on the tracking skills and wildlife expertise of some of the industry’s best guides and best practices. We take every precaution we know of to limit our impact so that when our guests witness, for example, a clouded leopard, the sighting is real and authentic.”
In addition to sighting jaguars in Brazil, guests on Wild Planet’s trips to India may observe tigers in the wild; in Zambia lions, leopards and cheetah are featured; jaguars of Peru are often sighted on tours into the Amazon region; elusive clouded leopards are on the list inThailand and clouded leopards and marbled (small wildcats) cats award tour participants in Borneo.
Wild Planet Adventures is no stranger to awards. Fodor’s named its Costa Rica trip one of the world’s top 10 “must-do” trips, Smarter Travel singled out the company for the best new trips in India and Thailand, and National Geographic Adventure named the company “One of the World’s Best Tour Operators”.
About Wild Planet Adventures
The expert wildlife guides of Wild Planet Adventures go the extra mile to explore remote wildlife habitat and study wildlife patterns in destinations not often accessible to the general public. Thanks to the company’s comprehensive itineraries that balance diverse and complex ecosystems and habitats, guests enjoy wildlife and game viewing that is carefully aligned with animals’ seasonal, daily and nocturnal migrations.
Following a philosophy that interacting with nature has the power to transform lives, tours are conducted in Africa, Baja, Belize, Borneo, Brazil, Costa Rica, Galapagos, India, Laos, Nepal, Panama, Peru, Thailand and Zambia. Wild Planet Adventures is recognized by top publications in the travel industry for its itineraries that combine intimate encounters with wildlife and local culture.
For a more information and a complimentary 2014 catalog call toll-free 1.800.990.4376, or e-mail: email@example.com. To review current trips, schedules and itineraries log onto: http://www.wildplanetadventures.com/.
Luxury retreat in Plymouth, Mass. set to welcome first guests in June 2014
Early guests of Mirbeau Inn & Spa at The Pinehills will experience elegant accommodations and French-inspired charm at a très bon introductory rate. The 50-room retreat will open in June 2014 in Plymouth, Mass. with a rate starting at $235 for mid-week stays (Sunday through Thursday). Reservations are now available at (877) MIRBEAU (647-2328). More information on rates and packages can be found at www.mirbeau.com/pinehills.
Located just 45 miles from Boston and eight miles from Cape Cod, Mirbeau Inn & Spa at The Pinehills is the second property in the growing Mirbeau Collection. Like the award-winning original in Skaneateles, N.Y., the new Mirbeau evokes the romance and charm of a French country manor house with Monet-inspired gardens, fine dining, and a luxurious spa.
Mirbeau Inn & Spa at The Pinehills features charming guest suites, the elegant Henri-Marie restaurant and the Wine Bar & Bistro. Highlights include the 14,000-square-foot Spa Mirbeau, boasting 14 treatment rooms and a full range of services, a fitness center complete with dedicated yoga, movement and indoor cycling studios, and state-of-the-art weight and cardio equipment. Indoor event space includes the 1,000-square-foot Giverny Salon with a pre-function area overlooking picturesque gardens and waterfalls. Outdoors, the 3,750-square-foot gardens are perfectly suited for tented events of up to 250 guests. The inn overlooks The Pinehills Village Green and Shops as well as the 18th hole of the Rees Jones Golf Course.
About the Mirbeau Properties
The Mirbeau Inn & Spa is an intimate, year-round retreat for rejuvenation and romance, offering gracious hospitality, award-winning cuisine, and world-class spa treatments. Steeped in elegant French country style, Mirbeau Inn & Spa is graced by signature Monet-inspired pond gardens. The legacy Mirbeau Inn & Spa, in the heart of New York’s Finger Lakes wine region, is the only Forbes Four-Star Award winner for hotel, spa and restaurant in New York State, and an AAA Four-Diamond winner. It is also distinguished by the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, Top Ten Spas in the World in the categories of romance, boutique, yoga and cuisine in Spa Finder’s Annual Readers’ Choice Awards, and Top Five Spas for Couples in the World in back-to-back years of Spa Magazine’s Silver Sage Readers’ Choice Favorites. It has been awarded a spot on Condé Nast Traveler’s Top 30 Small Resorts in the US for three years in a row, and won a 2011 SpAWARD for Most Romantic Spa. For more information, visit www.mirbeau.com.