Spring Chocolate Masterclass at the Leathes Head Hotel – Lake District

April 19, 2014 on 8:44 am | In Hotels, London, United Kingdom | Comments Off

Visit The Leathes Head Country House Hotel in Borrowdale until end of April and you can learn the secrets to chocolate making with the hotel’s award winning chef, David Jackson.

Book a two night break in April from £189 per room per night* including breakfast and dinner and receive ‘backstage passes’ to the AA Rosette restaurant’s Country House Kitchen.

Enjoy a relaxed informal afternoon chocolate making masterclass with Head Chef David Jackson preparing delicate truffles & chocolates using the finest continental chocolate for you to take home.

Located in the heart of the beautiful Borrowdale valley, The Leathes Head Country House Hotel offers 11 charming bedrooms and is close to Skafell and Skiddaw and is a favourite for outdoor activity and walking holidays.

Email reservations@leatheshead.co.uk

reservations@leatheshead.co.uk  or call 017687 77247


*Price for weekend break is based on 2 night minimum stay, classic double in April are priced from £199 per room per night Dinner, bed & Breakfast including chocolate making with chef.

Subject to availability and based on two sharing.

Chinese Hotels Define The New Luxe

April 19, 2014 on 8:26 am | In Asia, China, Hotels | Comments Off

All the tea in China can’t compare with all of China’s hotels and they keep coming at an almost daily pace. With more than 110,000 luxury rooms alone and at least 50,000 more on the drawing board, China may be beginning to put on the brakes, especially as they go through a cooling off of their normally hot economy. With so many luxury properties, it’s no longer enough to build a palace; the new hotels have to distinguish themselves from a crowded market. New properties by Anantara, Hyatt, Pullman and One&Only all are located in places that are home to different kinds of travel experience in China.

The new Anantara Emei Resort & Spa is located in one of the country’s pre-eminent ecotourism provinces, Sichuan. Guests will have easy access to early morning treks up Emeishan Mountain, one of China’s four holiest mountains. Home to more than 70 Buddhist temples including the first in China, the mountain is known for the frequent “Sea of Clouds” effect which occurs when you find yourself on a peak and look down at the clouds below which take on the aspect of a foamy sea.

The resort’s spa features hot springs and traditional tea-infused treatments. Other indigenous experiences include Tai Chi classes by the pool or Sichuan cooking classes.

Hainan Haven

Kerzner International is bringing the One&Only brand to Hainan Island, the Chinese Hawaii on the South China Sea. The 192-room One&Only Sanya on Haitang Bay will be the brand’s first appearance in China, spreading across 1,240 feet of coastline and over 27 acres of coconut palms and water gardens.

The resort uses the natural elements of Hainan to give it the feel of the local environment. Accommodations will range from two- to four-bedroom private villas and a Presidential suite to executive suites and guest rooms, located within either the main Manor House or Mansions. Six private villas will have dedicated butlers, private pools and barbeque areas. Guests enter the villas through a courtyard, which leads to the living and dining area, opening to a terrace. Private outdoor living spaces will include day beds, chaise lounges and dining al fresco.

Island Tranquility Outside of Shanghai

Located at the mouth of the Yangtze River, Shanghai’s Chongming Island is the world’s largest alluvial river island. Home to wetlands, national parks, villages and organic farms, it couldn’t be more different than the space age atmosphere of nearby Shanghai. A favorite for daytripping Shanghainese, it’s connected to the mainland by a tunnel and bridge, about 90 minutes from downtown Shanghai. Now it will be the home of the first Hyatt Regency in the area, though Hyatt operates four hotels in Shanghai.

PHOTO: The new Hyatt Regency Chongming lobby is located in a peaceful sanctuary outside of Shanghai. (Courtesy of Hyatt)

The 235-room Hyatt Regency Chongming is set beside the Dongtan Wetlands Park and a migratory bird reserve. The resort’s five buildings are connected by a covered Chinese-style walkway, and extensive gardens are landscaped with flowers, streams and arched bridges. The hotel has five restaurants and tea lounges, multi-functional events venues including ‘The Campus’ meetings concept, and an extensive variety of recreational facilities for all ages.

“It is a privilege to unveil the first international upscale hotel on the ecologically rich island of Chongming,” said Douglas Schwab, general manager of Hyatt Regency Chongming. “As the only resort destination to offer pristine landscapes and nature-based experiences so close to the Shanghai metropolis, we look forward to providing an environment that fosters meaningful relationships and connections.”

Pullman Joins the Shanghai Hustle

Accor’s upscale hotel brand, Pullman, is adding its 15th property in China with the 338-room Pullman Shanghai South, the second Pullman in Shanghai. The hotel is located in one of Southern Shanghai’s busiest districts with close access to the airport, train station and popular sites including the Shanghai Stadium and Caohejing High-Tech Park. The hotel has an indoor pool, eight meeting rooms, and four bars and restaurants. Accor is planning to have 38 Pullman branded hotels in China by 2018. It’s planning 47 hotels by that time in Asia overall.

The Dorchester Launches Kitchen Parties

April 18, 2014 on 10:53 am | In Hotels, Italy, London, Rome, United Kingdom | Comments Off

For the first time, The Dorchester is offering the chance to throw private Kitchen Parties“back of house” for up to 120 guests with the office of executive chef Henry Brosi doubling as a DJ booth. Clients’ guests are given the opportunity to taste signature dishes from The Dorchester and neighbouring 45 Park Lane’s famous restaurants in just one evening. Menu highlights include poached Dublin bay prawns tender stem broccoli with sauce viegre Brosi’s signature dish for the chef’s table, Scottish salmon and fresh herb condiment with kristal caviar from Alain Ducasse, a peking duck station from China Tang and spiced ahi tuna cone with miso from CUT at 45 Park Lane. Kitchen Parties take place alongside the Chef’s Table in the kitchen pass with the option of production such as soft lighting, speaker systems and red carpets to dress up the space.

The new look Chef’s Table features a magnificent new central hanging Baccarat crystal chandelier which hangs centrally, reflected by new Baccarat crystal glassware on the table. The unique grain of the walnut wood panelling is enhanced by specially commissioned wall lighting and a state-of-the-art crystal liquid glass wall can be changed from frosted to clear at the flick of a switch.

Nestled in the heart of The Dorchester’s famous kitchens, the Chef’s Table provides a hidden enclave for private parties offering front row seats to the theatre of one of the most highly regarded culinary operations in London. First opened in the 1940s, a wide mirror along the back wall reflects the chefs at work, ensuring that guests for seated parties enjoy an uncompromised view of kitchen activity. One of the largest original Chef’s Tables; the room has a capacity for a generous 12 covers conducive to a vibrant atmosphere while remaining small enough to be exclusively hidden behind the scenes.

Guests are personally attended to by executive chef Henry Brosi who talks through the effect of different foods on palate and wine-tasting, infusing each event with his knowledge and jovial character. By introducing each menu with multisensory theatre, Brosi demonstrates the effect smell has on taste and his top tips for wine pairings to achieve a food education that guests can benefit from in their own cooking.

One of the most respected chefs in the industry, The Dorchester’s executive chef Henry Brosi commented: “Bringing together friends and families over a special experience of food and wine is the best way to toast an occasion you want to remember for the rest of your life”

The Chef’s Table is available for lunch and dinner for up to 12 people attended by executive chef Henry Brosi and is priced from £120 per person for lunch and from £150 per person for dinner plus £250 for room hire. Kitchen Parties are priced from £22,500 for 50 guests, and the maximum capacity for larger enquiries is 120. To make a booking or request more information on private dining please contact Banqueting at The Dorchester on +44 (0) 20 7319 7071 or email groupandeventsales.TDL@dorchestercollection.com

Editor’s notes:

The Dorchester

The Dorchester is situated in the heart of London’s Mayfair on Park Lane, with 250 rooms and suites designed in a classic English residential style, affording expansive views of Hyde Park. Alexandra Champalimaud redesigned 22 new Dorchester and Park Suites in 2012, fusing contemporary comfort with timeless glamour. A wide range of dining is available to guests in The Promenade, The Bar and The Grill, China Tang and three Michelin star Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester. The Dorchester Spa reopened in May 2009 after a multimillion transformation to offer indulgent pampering in a glamorous art deco setting. The Dorchester’s ten banqueting rooms, including The Ballroom which was renovated in September 2011, offer a wide selection for hosting various events, from intimate dinners to cocktail receptions of up to 1,000 guests.

Dorchester Collection

Dorchester Collection is a portfolio of the world’s foremost luxury hotels in Europe and the USA, each of which reflects the distinctive culture of its destination. By applying its unrivalled experience and capability in owning and operating some of the greatest individual hotels, the company’s mission is to develop an impeccable group of the finest landmark hotels through acquisition as well as management of wholly-owned and part-owned hotels, and to enter into management agreements.

The current portfolio includes the following hotels (in order of them joining the group): The Dorchester, London; The Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills; Le Meurice, Paris; Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Paris; Hotel Principe di Savoia, Milan; Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles; Coworth Park, Ascot, UK; 45 Park Lane, London; Le Richemond, Geneva; and Hotel Eden, Rome.

Starwood gambling on Google Glass technology

April 17, 2014 on 8:48 am | In Hotels | Comments Off

After creating a buzz around the launch of a virtual room key using smartphone technology earlier this year, Starwood Hotels plans to roll out an app for Google Glass users.

The company confirmed it will release a SPG loyalty program app for the wearable tech featuring a number of basic functions.

These include a voice-activated search for Starwood’s 1000-plus properties, personalized location based directions to all hotels, and hotel photos.

SPG members will also be able to see their Starpoints balance and details of any upcoming stays, but will not be able to make direct bookings through Google Glass just yet.

Glass users will able to search available room rates and directly connect by phone to reservations or book through an email link.

Senior Vice President of SPG & Digital Chris Holdren says research and development is still in the very early stages but they are also looking at possibilities for other wearable devices such as smart watches.

“For us, it’s clear to see the trend of the past decade and we truly believe there is going to be a new wave of wearables that are going to improve our guests’ and associates’ experience,” Holdren said.

Starwood has not confirmed a release date for the new app but said it will likely be available in “several weeks.”

Florida’s Hottest Spots & Nightlife

April 15, 2014 on 9:04 am | In Beachbooker, Dine Drink, Festivals, Florida, Golf Resorts, Hotels, Miami, Orlando, The Keys, Webbandstand | Comments Off

Northwest Florida:

Panama City Beach

Nightlife in northwest Florida may be best known for the spring break haven Panama City Beach, home to bars and clubs right on the Gulf. However, this destination is a hot spot year-round.

Have a night out at Club La Vela in Panama City Beach, the largest nightclub in the United States. Some of the highlights include the club’s famous lineup of popular concerts with some of the hottest bands in the land. Club La Vela has hosted concerts for MTV and Playboy featuring such acts as Black Eyed Peas, Lil’ Wayne, Drake, The Jersey Shore cast and many more.
Pineapple Willy’s Pier Bar – Check out this bar if you’re looking for live music and want to dance the night away. There are always people of all ages sipping “Fat Tuesday” slushy alcohol mixers and enjoying the beach scene.
Spinnaker Beach Club – At night, this place turns into one of the most energetic dance clubs around with multiple dance floors, an amazing bar and popular bands all season long.

Northeast Florida:


Located in Northeast Florida, Jacksonville’s thriving nightlife abounds with high-energy dance clubs, quaint wine bars and chic lounges.

“The Core” is home to a variety of nightlife venues in the heart of Downtown Jacksonville, centrally located in its main arteries from Bay, Forsyth and Adams Streets to The Jacksonville Landing.
For adults 21 and over, kick back and laugh at The Comedy Zone.
If you’re looking for places to hit for Happy Hour & cocktails, check out Brix Taphouse, The Ritz Bar & Cocktail Lounge and Lemon Bar on the Ocean (all under the same ownership and all known to be high-quality hot spots in Jacksonville).

Freebird Live is a premier live music concert venue that welcomes audiences of all ages. This destination showcases a spectrum of national and regional touring artists, as well as select inspiring local artists.
Kickbacks Gastropub is renowned for their extensive beer selection and a unique assortment of delicacies ranging from chicken cordon bleu to fried green beans.

Central Florida:


On Florida’s Gulf coast, Tampa has so many entertaining options, whether you’re looking for a night on the town or family fun.

Tampa’s historic Latin district, Ybor City, is a tourist favorite. Located in the heart of the nightlife action, this destination is a dining, shopping and entertainment center that includes a comedy club and a movie theater with an adults-only section with a full bar. On Seventh Avenue, stroll by club after club and chose your dance spot. Many have outdoor patios, rooftop bars and balconies.

Jump on an electric streetcar to Channelside Bay Plaza, yet another entertainment complex with restaurants, theaters and a handful of bars and clubs, including Splitsville, an upscale bowling alley with its own lounge and restaurant.


In Orlando the fun never ends, even after the sun goes down. Renowned for its theme parks, this destination has plenty of exciting nightlife outlets to explore.

In downtown Orlando, Church Street and vicinity has long been nightlife central, offering revelers countless bars, nightclubs, restaurants and major street parties. A historic space at 33 West Church Street houses three separate bars. Enjoy a frozen drink at Chillers (first floor), a brew at Big Belly Brewery (second floor) and an amazing view of Orlando’s skyline at the open-air Latitudes (rooftop).

Around the corner on Orange Avenue is Wall Street Plaza, which charges one admission fee for eight distinct bars and there are also outdoor block parties with live music.

Orlando’s theme parks are not just for kids. Both Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort have their own nightlife-centered entertainment complexes that get going after dark. Check out Universal Orlando’s CityWalk, an entertainment complex with a dozen places to party, including bars, clubs and restaurants. Disney’s Boardwalk is a quarter-mile promenade of exquisite dining, unique shops and exciting nightlife. And Downtown Disney is a fun-filled district that includes Downtown Disney West Side, Downtown Disney Marketplace and Pleasure Island.

South Florida:

West Palm Beach

There is always a good place in West Palm Beach to go to at night, spend time with friends, dance, eat, shop, drink and just generally have a terrific time.

For nightlife in downtown West Palm Beach, Clematis Street is the place to be. Beginning at Flagler Drive on the Intracoastal Waterway and extending five blocks west, there are about a dozen great bars and clubs. Equally fine are the restaurants that transform into clubs by night.

You can walk or take a free trolley a few blocks south of Clematis Street to CityPlace, home to restaurants, theaters and nightspots, including a wine bar, microbrewery and blues club.

Voted America’s Most Fun Small Town by Rand McNally, Delray Beach’s culinary landscape boasts more than 100 restaurants offering everything from ocean views to rooftop hot spots. Shoppers stroll the quaint shops and trendy boutiques of Downtown Delray Beach – check out the popular destinations Atlantic Avenue and Pineapple Grove.

Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale’s nightlife is alive with wine bars, nightclubs, sports bars, cultural outlets, shopping spots and comedy clubs.

In Fort Lauderdale, nightlife is always in fashion, especially in the chic Las Olas Boulevard area, home to upscale restaurants and lounges. You’ll have a great time when you spend the evening bar-hopping on Las Olas Boulevard.

The Gallery at Beach Place is the exclusive all-in-one entertainment destination on Fort Lauderdale beach offering a unique blend of shopping, dining, live musical performances and events.
Broadway shows, top headliners, and other theatrical thrills light up The Broward Center for Performing Arts.


In Miami’s South Beach, you can sip a key lime martini under the stars while rubbing elbows with celebrities.

Begin the night at a glittering outdoor café on Lincoln Road or sidle up to one of the sophisticated hotel bars lining Collins Avenue. For a true nighttime South Beach experience, though, make sure to cross the velvet rope and check out a trendy dance club.

Cameo is a legendary South Beach nightclub that has been completely redesigned for the New Millennium. It is considered a cut above the rest, with top-notch DJs from all over the world and outstanding live rock concerts.

The River Seafood & Oyster Bar is the most renowned seafood restaurant in Miami. A fun bar atmosphere, a great selection of wines, champagnes and beer chilled to perfection are the main ingredients to hit for a Happy Hour and dinner.

Key West

Party in Key West (Florida’s southernmost point), where you can gulp down a frosty margarita at one of many open-air bars – this destination offers a relaxing, live-and-let-live, Jimmy Buffett-approved atmosphere.

At sunset, head to Mallory Square, where crowds gather nightly to watch the sun go down and be entertained by street performers and musicians.
Then do the “Duval Crawl,” stopping at all the pubs and clubs on the famous – or infamous – Duval Street. Many watering holes feature live bands.

Four Seasons Hotel Creates New Experiences to Educate and Inspire Families

April 15, 2014 on 8:59 am | In Hotels, Hungary, London, United Kingdom | Comments Off

Holidays can create memories to last a lifetime – but what if they could do much more? Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts invites travellers to discover diverse cultures, learn new skills, journey through history, and see the world as they never have before through their Summer Experiences programme.

Four Seasons has put together innovative opportunities for exploration and learning to make travel more exciting and enriching, that are exclusive to their destinations. Perfect for families or friends travelling together, as well as for couples getting away to share the experience, every guest’s need is attended to. Guests have the freedom to fully immerse themselves in new adventures that are certain to create unforgettable memories and lasting impressions.

Just as many are planning summer, Four Seasons introduces Get Away, Get More offers. Packages are available for stays from 15 June to 15 September 2014 at hotels around the world, including one of the year’s most anticipated new resorts, Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort, opening this August. Offers may include exceptional savings on room rates, complimentary breakfast, or the opportunity to experience more with a hotel or resort credit.

Consider the Possibilities

This year, Four Seasons’ custom itineraries and one-of-a-kind educational opportunities include:

Are children more interested in Bella and Edward than a holiday with family? In Hungary, they’ll learn the legend – and gory truth – about Dracula in Vlad the Impaler’s castle prison, with the Twilight Tour from Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest.
Fascinated by America’s wild past? In the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming, Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole offers a full curriculum in its new Wild West Academy, with hands-on classes ranging from wildlife safaris and Shoshone lore to gourmet dinners under a sparkling night sky.
Looking to kick up the fitness regime a notch or two? Try muay thai – the Thai boxing discipline that means “the art of eight limbs.” It can be challenging, but under the guidance of a former world champion at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, Thailand, it can be mastered by teens and adults of all ages and fitness levels.
Want to bring literature to life? Four Seasons Hotel London at Canary Wharfpresents an unforgettable Shakespearean London Day with backstage theatre tours, a period cooking class, learning how to write a sonnet and more.
Love to sing and dance? Guests of all ages join in the fun as Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita introduces Sega dancing, embodying the remote island’s passion for music, colour and celebration. Participants even make their own Ravanne Rhythm, with hands-on instruction in making a ravanne drum.
Love to immerse yourself in new cultures? Four Seasons Resort Seychelles invites guests to get to know local Creole customs and fun with cooking and dance classes, favourite local children’s games played by local children and a festive night featuring live music, performers and a fabulous Creole feast.
Want to explore the “real” Australia? Four Seasons Hotel Sydney recommends Discovering the Australian Bush, a full day tour that includes seeing native animals up close and personal, exploring unusual landscapes, and even a bushwalk guided by an indigenous elder.

Four Seasons also continues to offer one-of-a-kind experiences including the “Become an Elephant Researcher” at Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Thailand; the opportunity to “adopt” a coral reef at Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora; the “Own a Pony Experience” at Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire; the chance to be part of ongoing efforts to study and protect sea turtles at Four Seasons Resort Nevis, West Indies; or private tours of contemporary artist studios withFour Seasons Hotel Prague.

For more possibilities, explore www.fourseasons.com,


Perfect Weddings At Small Luxury Hotels Of The World

April 15, 2014 on 8:52 am | In Hotels, Weddings Honeymoons | Comments Off

When it comes to planning a wedding, getting the venue right is arguably the most crucial element to ensuring the perfect ‘big day’. Counting over 520 of the world’s finest boutique hotels within its portfolio, Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ (SLH) offers some of the most stunning settings to say ‘I Do’. Whether the dream wedding involves a huge, joyous party or a smaller intimate affair, Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ offers the perfect match to suit all requirements.

For the sophisticated: Naumi Hotel, Singapore – REOPENED NOVEMBER 2013 AFTER A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR RENVOATION

At the hippest hotel in downtown Singapore, husbands and wives-to-be head to Cloud 9 to get hitched…literally. Following an extensive refurbishment in 2013, Naumi’s famous rooftop infinity pool is now one of the city’s more unique marriage settings, where couples exchange vows at sunset against a panoramic urban backdrop of skyscrapers, national monuments and architectural landmarks. Wedding parties have exclusive access to Cloud 9 pool and bar for the ceremony and subsequent drinks reception, where the city lights, sparkling waters and moon shimmer will create a vibrant and exciting ambience for the celebrations.

For night-owls: Aleenta Resort and Spa Hua Hin, Thailand – NEW PACKAGE LAUNCHED SEPTEMBER 2013

In a twist to the stereotypical tropical seaside wedding, Aleenta offers a lunar beach celebration where nuptials are exchanged under the ethereal light of the moon next to the glittering ocean. The wedding party is led to the moonlit beaches of Pranburi, where they stand under the stars to watch the bride and groom walk down a candle-lit aisle. During the moonlit ceremony, the newly-weds carve monograms into the sand to declare their eternal love and guests launch a handmade loy kratong float out to sea along with their hopes and wishes for the happy couple. As the sun rises on their first day as a married couple, the wedding breakfast is served back at Aleenta with liqueur coffees and bucks fizz.

For the fairytale: Schlosshotel Kronberg, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

It’s many a little girl’s dream to get married in a castle and the romantic Schlosshotel Kronberg, located in the hills above the picturesque town of Kronberg, just north of Frankfurt, provides the ultimate fairytale setting to make that a reality,. Originally named Castle Friedrichshof, it was built in 1889 by Princess Victoria, the daughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert, in memory of her late husband, King Frederick III of Prussia. Wedding ceremonies take place in the impressive library of Princess Victoria, surrounded by many of her original antiques and paintings. Following the wedding, the newlyweds can choose to host a grand party in the castle’s opulently decorated ballroom, or an intimate family celebration in the imperial dining room.

For Naturalists: Bloomfield Lodge, Cairns, Australia

Bloomfield Lodge’s one-of-a-kind rainforest wedding is an experience that will remain forever in the memories of not just the happy couple, but their guests too. The beautifully remote Bloomfield Lodge is set within the World Heritage Daintree Rainforest and the longest unspoiled stretch of rainforest in Australia. Its enchanting location makes for a wonderfully unusual tropical setting to exchange vows. Ceremonies usually take place on decking in front of the lodge’s poolside timber gazebos, with stunning views over Weary Bay accompanied by the sounds of the rainforest. What’s more, the Great Barrier Reef is just the other side of the bay – a perfect honeymoon destination.

For the cultural: Twinpalms Phuket, Thailand

The traditions and colours of Thailand are incorporated into wedding celebrations at the spa resort of Twinpalms on the west coast of Phuket. In return for an early morning offering of flowers, food and a bowl of rice from the couple, Thai Buddhist monks will conduct a marriage blessing and prayer, inviting the wedding party to discover the open-mindedness of the Buddhist faith. Twinpalms also offers a Thai Water Ceremony, a traditional ritual at wedding ceremonies in Thailand, where guests pour water over the hands of the couple from an ornate silver bowl filled with lotus flowers, symbolising fertility. A string is draped between the bride and groom’s heads to represent their union as their guests take it in turns to wish them luck in their new life together.

For more inspiration from Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ (SLH), visit www.slh.com

Travelers’ Top 10 Amenities

April 11, 2014 on 7:19 pm | In Golf Resorts, Hotels | Comments Off

Hotels.com revealed travelers’ top 10 hotel amenities on Tuesday.

The study asked customers to rank 33 different amenities, from front desk service to swimming pools to restaurants.

In the same study last year, free Wi-Fi was crowned as the No. 1 amenity. But free Wi-Fi didn’t maintain the top spot this year. In fact, the No. 1 amenity this year may surprise you.

Child-friendly amenities, pet services and hair salons were ranked as the least important amenities in 2014. Interestingly enough, conference centers and meeting rooms were also ranked among the least important amenities, despite 35 percent of respondents being business travelers.

Here are travelers’ top 10 hotel amenities, courtesy of Hotels.com, complete with TravelPulse’s (more than a little tongue-in-cheek) take on each item or service.

10. Coffee/Tea in Lobby

While having coffee and tea in the lobby may not seem like that big of a deal (and it’s not like hotels are spending inordinate amounts of money on those Styrofoam cups), I can see why it would make the Top 10 list, given its value to hard-working professionals everywhere.

Coffee and tea are relatively inexpensive for both hotels and guests, unless you get the Extra Grande Vanilla Whip Cream Chocolatte or something (I’m guessing that’s an item at Starbucks). On top of that, the jolt coffee in particular can give you when you feel like one of those zombies in those horrible old movies cannot be overstated (the zombies in “Night of the Living Dead” were not scary at all, but never cross a professional when he hasn’t had his morning coffee yet).

9. Air Conditioning

As one of my colleagues pondered, “Is air conditioning an amenity in the U.S.?”

Well, technically it is, but realistically it shouldn’t even be listed on hotel websites anymore.

I mean, doesn’t pretty much every decent hotel have air conditioning these days? It’s not like it’s the 1920s.

In fact, if you don’t have air conditioning in your hotel, a “WARNING” disclaimer should be required on your website’s homepage.

8. Bar

Ah yes, the hotel bar: a place for the most professional and engaging of conversations.

OK, maybe it’s a dangerous area for working professionals, but it also doesn’t surprise me that the bar takes the No. 8 spot.

Plus, if proceeded into with caution, the bar can be a good place to meet people in a more relaxed setting. Heck, you might even learn something.

It’s also a good place for people to get straight to the point. It may start out as the usual small talk, but by the end of the night you have heard this stranger’s life story, from his attempts to recreate “The Hangover” with his buddies in Las Vegas to the speech she gave at her sister’s wedding that everybody vowed to never talk about again.

Plus, if your boss hears anything about your wild night, you can tell him, “Haven’t you heard about the new trend? Travelers are mixing business with leisure. Everybody’s doing it.”

7. Swimming Pool

I actually expected the swimming pool to be higher up the list, but I suppose a) not everybody is fond of the water (bad life experiences, lost a swimming competition as a child, etc.) b) it depends on the swimming pool and c) some cities aren’t exactly sun-friendly (you don’t really care to go for a swim outside when you are experiencing a blizzard).

Of course, when you live in places like California, the weather is typically amazing, so I would think Californians value swimming pools more.

Somewhere in Los Angeles: “Hey guys, they are calling this a historic drought.”

“Better than rain.”

The end.

6. Smoke-Free Hotel

As Bob Dylan once said, “The times, they are a’changin.’”

He now says that every time he walks into a hotel and realizes he can’t smoke there.

It’s no surprise that smoke-free hotels are popular these days. You aren’t automatically considered cool if you smoke a cigarette anymore, and the health and wellness trend demonstrates that people are actually trying to, you know, take care of their bodies.

Also, guys realize women don’t like kissing an ash tray. That can turn things around pretty darn quick.

5. 24-Hour Front Desk Service

It’s good to know that 24-hour front desk service isn’t being ignored.

As someone who once worked at a hotel, I know that front desk agents are some of the most hard-working folks on the planet. They deal with all kinds of requests, crazy guests and that guy who does everything that guy would do.

They could seriously make a reality TV show out of a typical 24-hour front desk service. Producers wouldn’t even have to create tons of drama—it would all be there naturally.

4. Parking

As our world grows and more cars fill the city streets, something as simple as a parking area exclusively for guests can do wonders.

You generally don’t roll into a nice parking spot in a big city these days; you have to work for it. You find a parking spot in some of these cities and you literally high-five your friends and do a little dance in your car. It’s a triumphant moment that you will never forget for the rest of your life.

I also wonder if bumper cars were invented by some dude to mimic the parking experience.

3. Free Wi-Fi/Internet

It’s no surprise that free Wi-Fi made the top three of the list, but it is surprising that it dropped from No. 1.

Practically everybody needs convenient and cheap Internet access on the go these days. Some people need hours a day just to update their Facebook account with important pieces of information like, “Just woke up.”

It’s gotten to the point where paying for Internet at hotels just feels wrong. I once stayed at a hotel that didn’t have free Wi-Fi and had nightmares about it for weeks. It’s no joke.

2. Restaurant

People like food. It’s a proven scientific fact.

Food allegedly is supposed to keep you alive, too, so there’s that.

Guests are always looking for fine dining options at hotels, and many hotels around the world have fantastic on-site restaurants led by Michelin-starred chefs. Cuisine ranges from traditional dishes to innovative offerings.

So, it doesn’t exactly surprise me that the restaurant is the No. 2 amenity on the list. The fact that most hotel rooms don’t have a stove and a personal chef helps, too.

1. Complimentary Breakfast

And the No. 1 amenity, according to those surveyed by Hotels.com?

Complimentary breakfast. Naturally.

Wow, what happened to the way we generally view complimentary breakfast? Sure, breakfast is supposed to get your day off right, but when I think of complimentary breakfast, I think of those mini-sized boxes of Fruit Loops or a plain bagel. Not exactly an inspiring way to start the day.

“Everything OK, Fred? Look like you’re down.”

“Yeah, I just had the complimentary breakfast today. I’ll get through it.”

Hilton Expands to Meet Asia’s Growing Travel Market

April 11, 2014 on 7:19 pm | In Asia, China, Golf Resorts, Hotels | Comments Off

A report from the Brookings Institute projects a major growth in income levels in Asia. By the year 2030 the report shows the Asian middle class growing 9.5 percent annually from 525 million in 2010 to 3,228 million. That figure alone tells you why the cranes are up all over Asia, building hotels to host what is and what will be a world leading source market for tourism and travel. Hilton Worldwide, which operates 10 global brands comprised of more than 4,000 managed, franchised, owned and leased hotels and timeshare properties, with more than 678,000 rooms in 91 countries and territories, continues to compete aggressively in Asia steadily by adding properties.

This year is a busy one for Hilton in Asia. Coming in the third quarter is the Hilton Okinawa Chatan Resort followed by fourth quarter openings as the Hilton Zhuzhou, China; the Hilton Changzhou, China; the Hilton Yangon, Myanmar (Burma); and the Hilton Tianjin Eco-City, China. By April 2014, Hilton had already opened the Hilton Zhengzhou, China; the Hilton Foshan, China; and the Hilton Bangalore Residences, India.

Coming into 2014, the Hilton Indian portfolio stood at 17 hotels. When the Hilton Jaipur opens later this year, it will mark Hilton Worldwide’s first hotel in Jaipur. The location of the 179-room Hilton Jaipur offers easy access to the popular attractions that make Jaipur such an institution on the golden tourist route through Rajasthan. Attractions such as the Hawa Mahal, City Palace and Albert Hall Museum are all easily within reach as are the shopping opportunities of the Johari and Bapu Bazaar.

“Over the last two months, we also entered Trivandrum and Bangalore with the opening of Hilton Garden Inn Trivandrum and DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Bangalore,” said Martin Rinck, president, Asia Pacific, Hilton Worldwide. Hilton currently manages and franchises hotels and resorts in Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Trivandrum, Vadodara, Pune, Goa and Shillim.

Hilton Worldwide also recently opened the Hilton Bangalore Residences, a full-service hotel within the Embassy Golf Links Business Park. The hotel features 247 studios and one- and two-bedroom suites that range from a spacious 495 square feet to 1,335 square feet and are among the largest in the city. Hilton Worldwide forayed into Bangalore, earlier this year, with the launch of DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Bangalore.

Hilton Worldwide will also introduce its flagship brand in Busan, South Korea’s second largest city and top trading port in 2016 with the opening of the 306-room Hilton Busan, which will be part of the East Busan Tourism Complex, one of 10 major development projects in Busan.

“Following the tremendous success of our hotels in Seoul, Gyeongju and Namhae, we are delighted to fly another Hilton Hotels & Resorts flag in South Korea in a location as attractive as Busa,” said Rob Palleschi, global head, Hilton Hotels & Resorts.

The 10-story Hilton Busan overlooks the Korea Straits within the East Busan Tourism Complex development, which features a golf course, a theme park and other attractions. The hotel will have an all-day dining restaurant and a bar. Hilton also operates properties in Seoul and Gyeongju.

India, in reality a near continent has less hotel rooms at 175,000 than some of the largest cities in the world. Over the next five years India will open over 200 new hotels under the flags of nearly 50 brands, about 52,000 rooms are expected to open in India by 2017.

Last year Hilton Worldwide celebrated its 25th anniversary in China. Since its entry into China, Hilton has been expanding its presence from more than 30 operating hotels today to more than 150 hotels and 55,000 rooms over the next few years. Hilton Worldwide is also accelerating its expansion in the market with more than 115 projects in the pipeline under the Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn brands.

Now in its 94th year, Hilton Worldwide operates 10 global brands including Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations.

Irish B&B Vouchers Made Simple‏

April 11, 2014 on 8:50 am | In Golf Resorts, Hotels, Ireland | Comments Off

10 Frequently Asked Questions


1. What types of properties are included in your B&B voucher program? – The properties vary and include townhomes, farmhouses, country homes and historic houses. Each property is unique and charming in its own distinct way.

2. Are there different levels of B&B’s? – Our program has four different levels of B&B’s; 5*, 4*, 3* and Approved, which means that it meets the minimum requirements for a B&B. The voucher program includes all Approved and 3* properties and small supplements can be paid locally if a higher level of B&B is desired.

3. Where are most B&B’s and are there any in major cities? – Most B&B’s are in the countryside or small towns. It is possible to find townhome properties in the main cities, but it is typical for these to be outside the tourist center and they are quite popular, often requiring reservations several months in advance.

4. Do all properties accept vouchers? – Many B&B’s accept vouchers, but not all. Properties that do will always be denoted online by a green ‘V’ symbol.

5. Does a voucher guarantee my client a bed? – Yes, but it doesn’t ensure that your client gets to stay in the location they prefer. Once the vouchers are purchased, it is important to reserve a room at their B&B of choice. This is especially true during peak season, June-September, when there are more travelers in Ireland.

6. Do  clients have to make reservations? – No, if they would like to travel without reservations the voucher should be sufficient however; we always recommend reservations if a client wishes to stay at a specific property. In cases of atypical room types, including triple, single or multiple rooms, this is extremely important. Most B&B’s have a limited number of atypical rooms and some may not have them at all. At a minimum, we recommend that travelers secure reservations for their first and last night of a vacation.

7. How do I make reservations for my  once I have purchased the vouchers? – You may choose to have them go online and make their own selections and reservations, or you can do it for them. We will provide you with the appropriate resources and websites to check availability and amenities once you book. Communication with the B&B can then be done directly by phone or email.

8. What are the standard arrival and check out times? – Rooms are typically available between 3pm and 6pm. It is always a good idea to advise your client not to expect early check-in as many properties are family-owned and run, meaning the staff may consist of only one or two people. If a client intends to arrive after 6pm, they should notify the B&B so that their room is not given away. Check-out time is typically no later than 11am.

9. What is the difference between a standard and ensuite room? – A standard room simply means that there is a shared bathroom. Ensuite means that there is a private bathroom attached to the room. There is not a supplement to get an ensuite room however; not all B&B’s will have them. Many of the properties are quaint and only have a few bathrooms for the entire property. For this reason it is important to qualify which properties will best suit your clients’ needs so that they are not disappointed upon arrival.

10. What if I can’t find a B&B in the area that I need? – In the instance that you are struggling to find a B&B in the area that your client wishes to travel to, you can simply call our aftersales department 800-927-3876, prompt 3, and they can help you find an alternate solution.

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