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We've started a series of what’s trending in hotels these days: What’s Out, What’s In. Do we like what we see? Think it's a dud? You be the judge!
What’s Out: Hotel-recommended city tours
What’s In: Hotel-led cultural immersions
Hotels are taking a lead in ensuring guests remember that they’re actually in a foreign city when they travel. Except for some solid holdouts, gone are the days when you walk into your hotel in Amsterdam, say, and you could just as easily be in Istanbul or Portland. Whether through design details, cuisine or cultural tours, hotels are proudly showing their roots.
The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui offers guests a full gamut of authentic Hawaiian experiences led by the hotel’s full-time Cultural Coach. Not only can you explore some historical sites, you can learn the basics of Hawaiian paddling and the canoe's importance to the culture, the uses of native and non-native plants by the Hawaiian people, plus the history of the Hawaiian language, which you can then try to pronounce what seems to be unpronounceable. Rates at the resort start at $519.
The Goring –- the hotel with the Royal Warrant –- is launching their High Days and Holidays walking tours. Six tailor-made tours, all celebrating special occasions (or High Days in London-speak), were designed by Art History UK’s founder Rose Balston. Art’s on the menu but, as Rose says, “Think juicy tales, conversation, challenging ideas and plenty of hidden corners of London, past and present…” We’re talking tours that include dragons, pagan rituals, ghosts and treason. Does it get any better? Rates for the package start at 595 GBP ($902).
We try not to judge or debate legalities when it comes to weed use in the celebrity world, but damn if it hasn't seemed like a trend lately. You've got Justin Bieber photo'd puffing (but seemingly not passin'--duuuude), Rihanna being unapologetically blunted in various Instagram and Twitter feeds, and then there's Lil Wayne who doesn't GAF about anything except "Good Kush and alcohol". And these are just the new jacks. We won't even talk about Snoop
Dogg Lion, Willie Nelson, and other celebs who celebrate Mary Jane like a Rick James track.
But what about this gal Jennifer Lawrence? The 22-year old gal who's been the darling of the screen lately, and especially the film awards circuit? She recently won an Academy Award, took a spill at the ceremony, and then days later, the picture above comes out of her drinking red wine and smoking a "hand-rolled cigarette" while relaxin' at a Hawaii hotel.
Naturally, everyone went batshit crazy with this info. HC? We just wanna know the hotel where this downtime took place. We stay in our proper gossipy lane! So, we got a bit nosey (that we don't apologize for) and went on the hunt for the location.
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Not only is it Friday, but apparently it’s National Margarita Day, too! Seriously, we think people just make half these celebrations up, but this one we can get with, even though we think margaritas are best served with sunshine and high temps. But no matter, we're good sports.
To honor this "holiday", hotel bars around the country are rolling out their best margs. Naturally some are getting fancy with the fixins, while others refuse to mess with the original recipe--tequila, triple sec and lime.
Here are a few versions that caught our eye and have us chomping at the bit for quittin' time. Although, didn't someone say it's always 5 o'clock somewhere?
It's getting more and more expensive to visit Oahu, and, for once, it has nothing to do with the cost of coladas or airline tickets. This time, it's actually the hotel industry that's pumping up prices by turning budget-friendly accommodations into luxury lodging. Grr.
Now, don't think this is malicious -- there's a lot of good work being done -- but the fact is that budget-friendly hotels are disappearing. Smith Travel Research reports the number of budget rooms on Oahu and Waikiki has decreased by 10% over the last ten years.
In 2006, Oahu had 33 budget properties but by the end of last year there were only 27 (less than 700 budget hotel rooms in total). Because of the high cost associated with building new on Waikiki, developers are deciding to renovate older buildings, turning them into newer, nicer, and pricier properties.
Despite that trend, you can still find a cheap hotel on Oahu. For our purposes, we consider anything under $200/night in Waikiki during high season a "budget property." Here's a sampling of some of the options we found, based on guest feedback as well as our own. Keep in mind it's currently the high season in Hawaii, meaning you can get even lower prices (and less crowds) if you visit in the late spring or summer...
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It's Monday and just the right hour to take a minute and play Witty Wordsmith with us, whydontcha? That's right, it's time to Name.This.Caption!
Check this photo taken during a visit to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. There was something going down as a Japanese film crew commanded part of the beach to capture a pop-star's video.
But this couple sunning on the beach here? Didn't raise an eyebrow. Didn't move their backpack not one bit to see what all the fuss was about.
We were torn between watching them bake (and ignore the boom) and figuring out who was was being filmed. We're so nosy, we admit it!
So do we name this photo "Jaded in Oahu"? "The Nap Trumps All"? Or can you do better?
Help us out! Have a humorous hunch about what's happening here? Let us know in comments below!
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If you can resist this pumpkin-pie loaded shake--there's something wrong with you. Period.
Yes, some parts of the country have experienced their first bouts of snowfall, it’s still considered autumn per the calendar, and many hotel restaurant bars have a host of seasonal drinks created just for this time of year.
And damn, with all that's happened in the last few weeks (natural disasters, elections, secrets, lies, and...Donald Trump causing a stir) don’t you feel like--well, you could USE a drink? And a good, creative one at that?
We want to pay homage to the mixologists, or whatever the like to call themselves these days that have put in work to present some serious dranks (yep, we said it right, fact checkers) for the fall season. Thanksgiving is next week (AY!), today starts the unofficial weekend...let's toast it up !
Holsteins Shakes and Buns at the Cosmpolitan Las Vegas: This throwback restaurant gets major props for its Pumpkin Pie Bamboozled Shake, an alcohol-infused treat made with Sapling liquor, pumpkin pie filling, graham crumble, cinnamon syrup and pepita brittle. You can handle the Thanksgiving trip sipping a few of these.
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There's tons of hotel news flying around and we don't have time to give each and every story the love and attention it may deserve, so you will have to settle for some news briefs.
Tomorrow morning Westin Hotels is having a 5K run in New York to celebrate the launch of their exclusive New Balance gear lending program. Both Westin, New Balance associates (and now Top Chef-host, Padma Lakshmi) will run to benefit Soles4Souls, an organization that provides shoes to adults and children around the world. A majority of the donations will support Hurricane Sandy victims. The run starts and ends at the new Westin New York Grand Central where there will also be a Soles4Souls donation station the public can drop off gently used or new footwear throughout the day. After the run, Westin and New Balance will donate more than 15,000 pairs of shoes to Soles4Souls. For more info, visit westinnewbalance.com
Sandals Resorts International has purchased Grenada’s all-inclusive LaSource Resort for an undisclosed sum. This is the brand’s first property in the country. The hotel will be renamed Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa, and will add 100 more guest rooms to its current space for a total of 200 private cottages and bungalows. Many of these will be concierge- and butler-level suites, as is common in the Sandals brand, and also the famous octagonal-shaped Rondoval suites. We wonder if Sandals will keep LaSource’s former amenity of one free spa treatment a day. Sure it was only a 25-minute teaser, but it was something. A part of us believes they’ll be cut, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised before.
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Staying fit while on the road can be difficult even for the most seasoned of travelers. Hotel gyms can be cramped, dark and soulless, not to mention outdated and hard to find. However, with features like open-air rock-climbing walls, on-staff personal trainers and Philippe Starck-designed lap pools, these five hotel gyms prove that getting a workout while traveling the globe can be the highlight of your trip.
Ok, we might be stretching it (get it?!) a little, but you see where we're going with this.
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InterContinental Times Square reports availability and computers in every room to keep you connected!
More Hurricane Sandy reports continue to pardon the pun, flood in, concerning people losing power and being forced to evacuate their homes. We’ve learned that many made their way in to cities rather remain in suburban and rural areas. Why?Better chances of having power thanks to hotel generators or getting it restored quicker at friends homes in a cosmopolitan area than in their own environments.
Last year, we were disheartened to discover that hotels had taken advantage of Hurricane Irene upheaval and raised their rates for those who needed to stay put a while longer before they could leave town. There was this eyebrow raising $999 deal in Brooklyn that made us fall over.
This year, a quick call around to NYC hotels, those around airports, and random properties around the country with stranded guests show they have a conscious this time around, and have even thrown in some specials to boot. A win-win it seems.
Here’s what we’ve heard so far (and note: we recommend calling the hotel directly in this case.
The scene at the Grand Wailea Maui during the 2011 tsunami
While the country has been preoccupied with Hurricane Sandy, barely a peep has made about the fact that Saturday evening, just after sunset, a tidal wave alarm siren pierced air in Maui's resort area of Wailea. The Governor of Hawaii, Neil Abercrombie, had declared a state of emergency.
Guests, who had been quietly supping on dinners at tony hotel restaurants were told to quickly finish eating, and other approaching diners were turned away from the reservation desk.
Instructions were swiftly dispensed: The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui told guests to leave their oceanfront villas and head up to the lobby on higher ground by 9 pm while guests with rooms in the main buildings above the 3rd floor were deemed to be above the hit zone and could remain in their suites. A large benefit dinner party of 700 people broke up to allow locals to get to their cars before the lower road along the beachfront hotels was closed down and there was a long line of red tail lights trying to get on to the main road in Wailea.
London Olympics 2012 seems so last year but Kerri Walsh brought back the buzz in Waikiki. Along with US Olympian Kevin Wong, she hosted the Hilton HHonors Beach Volleyball Challenge at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa. The free event pitted Team USA vs Team China, with familiar Olympic-volleyball-medal-winning faces like Todd Rogers, Phil Dalhausser, Jen Kessy and April Ross.
While it was super hot with the Hawaiian sun glinting off plenty of glistening eight-packs (and those wrap-around, polarized sunglasses athletes seem to love), Kerri signed autographs, waved Miss America-style to hundreds of fans and got behind the camera at a VIP tent with that big personality she's known for. You would think with all the gold medals the 6'3" preggers diva has racked up she would bounce quickly out of the 2,800-room Hilton. But, it turns out Kerri Walsh loved it! "I've never stayed at this property before and it's so beautiful. I love the village aspect of it: it's kind of a one-stop shop. It's basically my dream come true that Hilton would do something with beach volleyball."
Due to her busy schedule, short three-day stay and the fact she's in-the-family way, Walsh didn't get to try out many of the hotel's amenities. But she told us she'd eaten several times at the hotel's signature Tropic restaurant and was weak for thier coconut-crusted shrimp, ya'll!
The Iron Chef star will take advantage of the island’s direct access to fresh produce and pay homage to Hawaii by incorporating local ingredients to his traditional Japanese menu.