Are you ready for the weekend, "Hotel News We Noted" readers? We sure are – and we can't believe that it's almost the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day! This week is jam packed with your usual hotel news, plus a special addition in some of our favorite packages, promotions and last-minute deals for the long weekend.
If you're a new fan, "Hotel News We Noted" tracks the best, most interesting and downright weird news of the week in the hotel world. We welcome reader comments, so feel free to leave a comment below or shoot us an email.
STEALS N' DEALS: MEMORIAL DAY EDITION
Stay cool with these special offers and packages.
Starwood Caribbean Hotels & Resorts are offering great specials with their "Sunsational Savings" package (actually, it's available beyond the Caribbean too, but we find these deals particularly great). We love this time of year in the Caribbean, as it's not as expensive as the winter, but not yet hurricane season either. Starting at $149 per night (a savings of more than 30 percent!), travelers heading to the sunny destinations of Aruba, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will enjoy resort credits, free nights and more.
Kick off the summer with a Sazerac at the newly opened Courtyard New Orleans Downtown/Iberville. Rates start at just $109, a great deal for a new hotel in the heart of the French Quarter, and the offer is good for stays between now and September 30 if you book before the end of the month.
Dive in and chill out at The Liaison Capitol Hill, an Affinia Hotel in Washington, D.C. Walk-able to historic Capitol Hill and easily accessible to monuments, museums and more, one of our favorite parts about this hotel is its open-air rooftop pool and bar. Their special package includes two cocktails per adult daily, a morning yoga class and a "Sun Yourself" kit, with rates from $165.
The luxe "I'm on a Boat!" package at Kimpton's Hotel Allegrois a bargain, and the weather in Chicago during the summer months is definitely a draw. Enjoy overnight accommodations in three deluxe rooms (10 person maximum), a three-hour private chartered boat ride throughout Lake Michigan, a picnic basket filled with Italian cuisine prepared by Executive Chef Luca Corazzina of 312 Chicago, (a tasty spread of cheeses, charcuterie and wine) and round-trip transportation to the dock, starting at just $2,570. Book this one by calling 1.800.643.1500.
Hotwire is promising to make travel searching even easier with the launch of their new real-time alert system, TripWatcher.com. The site offers up-to-the-moment price alerts for flights – even for unadvertised sales.
They aren't the first to offer this service – Kayak offers a price tracker, as do several other sites, but as data shows that many travelers search multiple sites before booking, it's an easy-to-use platform that lends another chance for a discount from a reputable name in travel. The technology has existed for some time, actually, but today marks the launch of TripWatcher into a spin-off site.
"We've all experienced it, we look and look for low fares and the day we decide to take a rest, we hear about a lower-priced ticket after it's already gone. So a couple of years ago, Hotwire developed the Trip Watcher tool to alleviate some of the guess work from getting a great deal," said Clem Bason, president of the Hotwire Group in a release. "Using the site, travelers can rest assured they will get up-to-the-minute alerts when prices drop on their ideal flights, giving us all a chance to get the best deal."
A few things we like:
The simple-to-use interface, which allows for registration via Facebook or Twitter
The ability to be contacted the way you want to – via email, Facebook or Twitter
Planning capabilities for weekend, flexible or exact date trips
The ability to watch hotel and car rentals (coming soon)
What do you think about this new way to search for discount travel?
This summer, Americans are expected to spend a whopping $84 billion dollars on summer hotel stays, with the average traveler booking just over seven nights this season, states new data from Room Key.
What are travelers seeking? Price (72%), hotel amenities (58%) and brand (43%), as well as the ability to earn points and rewards (31%), something we've previously seen travelers pay less attention to. Room Key's survey finds that leisure stays will average $1,134, and most state that this is about what they spent last year. The infographic below details other key facts about summer travel.
Are you in line with the average American's summer travel plans? Leave your thoughts below.
We've talked in the past about last-minute booking application HotelTonight, which allows travelers to book discounted, same-night hotel stays in major cities across the country. It's a well thought out application and we generally find that the prices are pretty competitive as well.
The application is back with its newest redesigned version, offering a Price Guarantee functionality that ensures the rates are the same or better than competitors. If you find a lower price elsewhere, HotelTonight offers a booking credit equal to the difference in fare.
But we're most excited about the "Snap Your Stay" feature, which allows users to upload a series of live photos of the hotel bed, bathroom, view, lobby and exterior, plus one cool feature of their choice to the app. Guests get $5 future booking credit ($10 if their photos are good enough to be featured) as incentive. The app isn't the first to showcase live photos to assist in a travel review – TripAdvisor has a similar functionality, but it is the first to do so in a consistent manner (meaning travelers will see all pertinent parts of their stay) as well as in such a way that incentivizes travelers to share.
We'd love to see a live view of the hotel, and hopefully this new feature can help us make our booking decisions even easier.
What do you think? Are you more likely to book a hotel if current photos are live in the app, or are you most concerned with price?
Summer travel season is upon us, and while many consider a week at the beach a worthy summer vacation, we have another suggestion.
The National Park Service's African American Experience Fund (the only nonprofit partner of the National Park Service) offers a number of heritage trip tour itineraries that combine some of the country's best attractions with a vibrant trip through history.
The nearly 50 sites are spread throughout the country, and many are clustered around a single state or region, making it simple to take a single or multi-day driving trip. The website also offers an easy-to-use map and itinerary generator to custom design a trip that suits your individual goals and needs.
We only wish it was this easy to plan heritage travel outside of this particular portion of the population!
[Image Credit: National Park Service's African American Experience Fund]
It's the weekend, and you know that that means – it's time for "Hotel News We Noted," your annual wrap up of the best, wackiest and downright odd hotel news of the week. Spring has sprung in the hotel world, and we're seeing tons of openings from major brands and boutique properties alike, as well as a slew of packages, many of which incentivize travelers to book early for summer stays. Time is running out for Memorial Day bookings in prime locations, but you'll still find some great last-minute specials in major cities. Of course, don't forget that Mother's Day is this weekend. It's not too late to snag a special at an area hotel there either – Saturday night stays and Sunday brunch offerings abound.
So without further ado, here's the news you need for this week:
Crazy Hotel Package: Cockle Fishing (With your TOES!) at Hermitage Bay in Antigua
We've heard of hotels that will take guests out to "catch" their dinner, but never one quite like this. The ultra-luxe Hermitage Bay in Antigua will escort guests cockle fishing in in a hidden mangrove near the property. What is a cockle, you ask? It's a small saltwater clam that lives in the deep, swampy mud. Desi, the Chef, and a local fisherman named Deon take guests hunting for the sweet things. Guests stand submerged to mid-thigh, calf-deep in mud, and find the clams by wiggling their toes! This sure brings new meaning to the idea of working for your home-cooked meal.
The video above showcases an inside glimpse into what was supposed to be Asia's largest theme park, dubbed "Wonderland," in China, designed after California's Disneyland. Now, however, the park is being demolished 15 years after construction ceased. Business Insider posted a fascinating photo tour and we're showcasing the last glimpses of this famed unfinished landmark before it becomes ... (wait for it) a shopping mall.
It's almost that time of year again – road trip time, that is. From a long-haul, cross-country road trip adventure to a weekend warrior trek, planning a road trip takes more than just great company and a killer soundtrack. The scenery must be equally impressive. We're fans of this new infographic detailing some of the country's most scenic highways and byways.
The infographic below showcases the history of the flight attendant. Eighty years ago, American Airlines introduced the first female flight attendants to the sky, and the graphic below illustrates exactly how much has changed in the past 80 years. From adding the first Male flight attendants to adding (and removing) hot meals from economy class to making sure health and safety devices like AEDs are a standard on each plane, this graphic showcases just how much flying has changed since the days of the Wright Brothers.
We all know that the Japanese make many products we Americans covet, including cars and electronics. But did you know that they also make the world's fanciest toilet?
The Washlet S300 by Toto is the preferred Japanese toilet of choice, and discerning tushies can find this particular porcelain throne at The Kitano, New York City's only Japanese-owned hotel.
The Kitano is the first hotel in the city with a Washlet S300 in each of their 149 guestrooms. While Washlets are commonplace in Japan, they are often considered indulgences in the U.S. and are often only installed in major hotel suites or penthouses.
What exactly does this super fancy waste-gatherer do? It features five warm water cleansing modes; a warm air dryer; an adjustable cleansing wand; a wireless remote; a heated SoftClose® seat; and an automatic air purifier.
Don't think you can live without one of these babies in your home? It will set you back between $800 and $900. That's a three-night stay in a Superior King Room, by comparison.