July 18, 2011
Five-Star Asian Luxury Arrives in Paris
Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog at www.eyepreferparis.com.
There seems to be a spate of luxury hotels opening in Paris in the last few years. Discerning travelers now have options other than the purely Parisian Grand Dames like the Crillon, Plaza Athénée and Le Meurice. A long awaited Asian rival has recently opened its doors
Mandarin Oriental has always defined the luxury hotel in Asia and is now spreading its Eastern philosophy to Paris. The new property on the rue St. Honoré rubs elbows with upscale neighbors Hermés, Lanvin, Goyard and the Hotel Bristol. Designer Sybille de Margerie has refurbished an Art Deco 30s gem and has reconfigured it to have the largest hotel rooms in Paris, averaging over 400 square each. Not only are the 138 rooms spacious, but they all have panoramic windows with some having terraces overlooking the lush courtyard garden. Thirty nine suites include the Suite Royal Mandarin, measuring over 4,000 sq. foot and on two levels, with a breathtaking 360 degree view of the rooftops and grand monuments of Paris including the Grand Palais, the Opera Garnier and the Louvre. The vast white and gold bathroom has the ultimate Parisian indulgence: a birds-eye view of the Eiffel Tower while taking a bath.
Two restaurants and a trendy bar are under the direction of Michelin-starred chef Thierry Marx. Sur Mesure, a gastronomic haute couture experience, is an intimate space with 45 seats and two menu selections of 9 or 13 dishes are printed on Japanese rice paper. Camelia is the more informal restaurant serving French cuisine. It has a light, airy, indoor space that spills into the gardens. Bar 8 has specially made cocktails and the cozy interior has tones of warm browns and walls inlaid with Lalique crystals. For sweet lovers, the cake shop drips with mouthwatering French pastries to savor on the spot or they can be beautifully wrapped to take to your room.
A tranquil oasis away from the bustling city, the spa is entirely devoted to a holistic experience to promote the harmony of the mind and the body. The centerpiece is the long, languid 45-foot long indoor pool. Couples can indulge in three spa suites and each treatment begins with a private therapist consultation to determine the present state of well-being and the treatment and oils are then tailored to each guest.
Parisian luxury doesn’t necessarily have to come from Paris.
By: Richard Nahem
May 15, 2011
On Site: Travel Agent Arrives in Turkey
|A guestroom at the Moevenpick Hotel Izmir // (c) Moevenpick Hotels and Resorts 2011|
IZMIR, TURKEY—Travel Agent just arrived in Izmir, Turkey, for our press trip to explore Izmir, Turkey’s third most popular city, which is home to a history of more than 8,000 years, as well as a modern port city. Today, in fact, the city is an official candidate to host the 2020 World Expo.
While in Izmir, we are staying at the Moevenpick Hotel Izmir, a prime property located just steps away from the heart of Izmir’s Kemeralti beachside zone. We’re staying in room 507, which has a view of the water--I can even hear the sounds of the ship horns as they pass by. The room offers a king-size bed with plush linens and a nice array of amenities, from complimentary water bottles to Molton Brown toiletries and Wi-Fi accessibility. The room also features a flat-screen TV and a comfortable leather armchair for relaxing. I’m looking forward to later using the hotel gym (Coral Health Club) and the on-site restaurant, Margaux Restaurant, later in my trip.
This property seems ideal for leisure travelers who want to make the most of its ideal location—just steps from the water—and, of course, for fans of Moevenpick’s world-famous Swiss ice cream, too. More to come later from Izmir, Turkey, so please check in with TravelAgentCentral.com throughout the week for more posts.
By: Deanna Ting
March 10, 2011
Four Seasons London, Day Two: Meeting with the General Managers
This morning began with seven meetings with eight heads of Four Seasons hotels around the world, and with several members of the corporate team. I’ll be writing up a long story about what they had to say later on, so for now, here are a couple quotes from the conversations:
Rene Beauchamp, General Manager, Four Seasons Hotel Prague: We’re always innovating with new ideas. We try to set one big goal each year for something new. You can’t stay still. You have to see what’s happening around the world.
Cesare Rouchdy, Regional Director of Marketing—Egypt: Hotels in Cairo are seeing business in the teens. Sharm El Sheikh and Alexandria are seeing numbers in the 20s…Corporate business is trickling in. They’re looking to rebuild. Leisure business will take longer.
Michael Purtill, General Manager, Four Seasons Canary Wharf: London is moving east. People are looking for a unique experience, and the east end is innovative, young and edgy.
Jim FitzGibbon, President, Worldwide Hotel Operations: We’ve built a reputation for service, buildings and consistency. Now we need a brand personality…New markets need to establish style, and older ones need to establish consistency.
Charlie Parker, General Manager, Four Seasons Hampshire: I like hotels where people choose the hotel instead of the destination. You have their full attention. It’s a live interface—it’s not just breakfast. That’s what our industry is about.
Yves Giacometti, General Manager, Four Seasons Gresham Palace, Budapest: I was previously based in Buenos Aires, a city of vibrant passion. Budapest is a more passive passion…It’s the Paris of central Europe.
Susan Helstab, Executive Vice President of Corporate Marketing: Markets don’t control the brands anymore. It’s shifting to the consumer. It’s a power shift, so make sure that you exceed expectations…Guests have more platforms to voice their complaints, so you must check every medium for expressing opinions. Nothing is so valuable as a room-service person who mentions that a guest does or doesn’t want something.
After the meetings, we headed over to Westminster Abbey for a quick tour of the thousand-year-old building. Our guide, Peter Craggs, walked us through all of the different rooms and pointed out the many tombs and memorials of famous Britons, and even plenty of foreigners who have been honored with a plaque. (For example, Henry James, the American novelist, has a memorial, as does President Franklin Roosevelt.) The most notable tomb, of course, is not Queen Elizabeth I or Henry V or any of the other royals and legends who are buried in the abbey…but the poppy-covered Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, the only tomb that no one ever steps on. If Kate Middleton follows tradition when she marries Prince William next month, rather than toss her bouquet to the single ladies in attendance, she will leave the flowers on the tomb.
Sadly, details about the upcoming wedding are rather scarce, so we didn’t get much gossip about who will be in attendance and what will happen at the ceremony. Be up bright and early on April 29 to watch the festivities on TV, and enjoy the arcitecture of the Abbey while you watch the nuptuals.
Oh, and in case you thought I was exaggerating about the size of my room's terrace, here are two photos:
December 09, 2010
Hotel Chelsea a Hotbed of NYC History
When I heard earlier this week that Ian Schrager had passed on the opportunity to buy the legendary Hotel Chelsea in Manhattan, I had a mixed reaction. Part of me would love to see what the hotel impresario would do with the property, but for the most part I’d like to see at least one New York City landmark retain its tawdry splendor. And I say tawdry in the most complimentary, urban-gritty meaning of the word.
We just did a feature in Travel Agent for our 80th anniversary on the historic, iconic grand hotels of the world. No, the Chelsea didn’t make the cut (which included such stalwarts as the Pierre, the Drake, Raffles and the George V), but a case could be made for it. At least on the grounds of historic and iconic.
Built in 1883 as an apartment building on its present site at West 23rd Street, the 12-story Chelsea was New York City’s tallest building until 1899. At the time, the neighborhood and 23rd Street in particular were the center of the theater district and the Chelsea, which opened as a hotel in 1905, quickly become a magnet for artists, writers and performers of all types. Famously, or infamously, Dylan Thomas died of alcohol poisoning there in 1953 and Sex Pistol Sid Vicious may have stabbed his girlfriend to death there in 1978. Despite the sordidness of those events, they are the two milestones that attract the most interest from tourists and New Yorkers alike.
But did you know that Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey there? Or that during the years Arthur Miller stayed at the Chelsea, from 1962 through 1968, his output included After the Fall and Incident at Vichy? And it may add to the hotel’s notoriety to know that Charles R. Jackson, author of The Lost Weekend, committed suicide in his room at the Chelsea on September 21, 1968.
While its literary history is impressive (everyone from Mark Twain to O. Henry to Kerouac and Sartre is represented), it’s most known today for the musicians who have taken up residence. Some of the most prominent names include The Grateful Dead, Tom Waits, Patti Smith, Dee Dee Ramone of The Ramones, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, Henri Chopin, Édith Piaf, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Alice Cooper, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Leonard Cohen.
The Chelsea is often associated with the Andy WarholSuperstars, as the pop artist directed Chelsea Girls (1966), a film about his Factory regulars and their lives at the hotel. Chelsea residents from the Warhol scene included Edie Sedgwick and Ultra Violet. Valerie Solanas, the would-be assassin of Andy Warhol, visited the hotel on that very day looking for editor Maurice Girodias, possibly to make an attempt on his life shortly before she shot Warhol at The Factory at 33 Union Square, a brief walk from the hotel. In his memoir of the period he spent living at the Chelsea, Arthur Miller mistakenly recalled Solanas shooting Warhol in the hotel lobby.
Just think of the theme rooms Ian Schrager could have installed here! But the Hotel Chelsea doesn’t need an impresario’s touch—it has a style all its own.
Because of the great interest in the history and the culture of the Chelsea, the hotel is reinstituting the tours hosted by its legendary front desk manager Jerry Weinstein. The next public tour will be held at 11 a.m. on December 30th, 2010. The cost is $40 per person, and the tour should last about three hours. To reserve a space, please email email@example.com with your name and the number of people in your party.
By: Michael Browne
November 09, 2010
World Travel Market in London: Day Three (Part Two--Hotels)
With regrets, I left the Egerton House Hotel this morning. I'll miss the place--it has a wonderfully homey vibe (probably helps that it's built from two converted townhouses) that makes it very comfortable and a nice retreat from business meetings. (I'll especially miss those fireplaces, and the amazingly multi-lingual staff. I couldn't keep track of all the languages I heard going back and forth.)
I caught a taxi over to Mayfair (and got taken for a ride in more ways than one by the cabbie...be sure to check the meter before setting off on a trip and make sure it's not already pre-set to some ridiculous rate) and dropped off my bags at the Athenaeum, which I've always wanted to see. The hotel has a green wall of living plants designed by Patrick Blanc, a French botanist, and it makes for a very striking facade. At the door, I was met by Jim Burns, the hotel's wonderfully outgoing and informative doorman and greeter, who remembered my name when I returned in the evening and offered a very friendly "Welcome home!" Sweet.
I'm staying in one of the hotel's suites on the top floor, which has views over Green Park (the sun was setting when I got in, so no pictures yet), and a four-poster bed with post-modern plastic posts. The room is very spacious (lots of chairs--good for casual entertaining), and has nice perks like free drinks (of the non-alcoholic variety, alas) from the mini-bar and a walk-in closet that can double as a changing room. The bathroom is very large and has two sinks (great for couples getting ready in a rush).
Even better: The hotel's spa has just reopened after some renovations. On the downside, I won't have time to use it. Woe.
Tomorrow: Puttin' on The Ritz!
November 07, 2010
Arriving in London for World Travel Market
You know that wonderful new-car smell that car fans love to talk about? Turns out, planes have that, too. I got to ride in one of Continental's new 777 jets from Newark to Heathrow, and yes, it smelled like a new car. Also? Wide-screen TVs with lots of on-demand programming on the back of every seat. Nice way to start a trip to London!
A quick and very convenient ride on the Heathrow Express got me right into the heart of London in fifteen minutes and, at Paddington, I learned firsthand how difficult it is to navigate the Tube with luggage. Most New York City subway stations have at least one elevator or ramps for people in wheelchairs (or people with luggage), but on the Underground, one must carry one's luggage up and down numerous flights of stairs. That's annoying enough, but how do people in wheelchairs get around London?
I finally arrived at the Egerton House Hotel in Knightsbridge, a lovely boutique property that really conjures old-fashioned glamor. The bed in my room is a four-poster, and the housekeeping ladies wear black dresses and white aprons. The keys are the old-fashioned heavy metal things you see in period dramas, and the lounges have fireplaces. It's so Jeeves & Wooster that I keep waiting for PG Wodehouse himself to pop out and offer me a martini.
Which is not to say that the hotel is completely old-fashioned, of course--there's complimentary Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs in both the bedrooms and the bathrooms. But the vibe is very classic, and I'm looking forward to exploring more of the hotel after I've shaken off the jet lag.
October 15, 2010
On Site: The Hotel Princess Guatemala
The first property I am staying at is the very charming Hotel Princess Guatemala, a 104-room boutique hotel located in a vibrant district in Guatemala City, just 15 minutes from the international airport. There are 81 deluxe rooms, 20 executive rooms and three junior suites.
We are staying in a Standard Room, #515. Sure, there are much better rooms at the property, but this room is really all you really need. It has all the essentials: a queen-size bed; a roughly 40-inch TV with 99 channels, most of which are available in English; 24-hour room service and great food.
Some of the main amenities here are a complimentary shuttle service from the airport, a fitness center, a sauna, and a meetings and banquets facility. The Garden Court Restaurant offers local and international cuisine and Clancy´s Bar is an English pub style hangout where guest can grab a beverage anytime.
The hotel is perfect for both leisure and business clients, but this is perfect spot for Americans looking to stay connected. The internet service is great, the channels are extensive, it’s very close to the airport and there are tons of shops and restaurants in the area.
Agents should contact Alejandro Jose Pineda, general manager, at 011-502-2423-0841 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Joe Pike
June 09, 2010
New on the Block: New York City's Eventi
Travel Agent spent the morning of June 9, rubbing elbows with some of entertainment's greatest characters— think Richard Simmons and Joan Crawford— at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for New York's new Eventi, a Kimpton Hotel.
Okay...so maybe they weren't the real Richard Simmons and Joan Crawford, but as part of the opening ceremony the hotel had actors dress up to play these great characters as a fun way to welcome us to the new hotel. Well, it certainly was fun.
After speeches made by General Manager Thomas Mathes, Kimpton President and CEO Mike Depatie, Kimpton Chief Operating Officer Niki Leondakis, New York City's Deputy Mayor Bob Lieber and real Broadway celebrity, Bebe Neuwirth, we were treated to a special performance of a traditional hour glass dance done by the children of the Korean Traditional Performing Arts Association (a tribute to the hotel's neighboring Korea Town). We sipped our champagne infused with lavender and hibiscus and toasted the execs as they snipped a vibrantly colored ribbon made entirely out of flowers.
We took a brief tour of the hotel, starting with the ballroom, which was decked out to look like a New Year's Eve celebration, complete with balloons, champagne flutes and a giant flat-screen TV that played music videos.
From there, we moved on to the hotel's guest rooms. No doubt the highlight was room #503, the Eventi Suite, measuring 1392 square feet. Think grand living room, dining room, two bathrooms, master bedroom and terrace. The fifth floor is also home to the fitness center and spa, as well as the Verandah Suite, which is approximately 954 square feet.
We were told that the hotel officially opened on May 14 and was sold out for the entire weekend. Since then, occupancy rates have remained in the 80 to 90 percent range. There are a total of 292 guest rooms and 53 suites.
Nice touch: The staff at Eventi is more than willing to go above and beyond to make your stay as home-like as possible. Want to bring Fido? Sure! Need a path of rose petals leading to your bedroom for a romantic evening? Of course!
We were very pleased with the outcome of Eventi. If the opening ceremony was any indication of the type of service and extra touches that the hotel will provide, we can only assume it will become one of New York City's top dogs.
Dining Note: As of now the hotel has a limited dining service open. It's full restaurant and outdoor dining venue will be up and running in October.
April 30, 2010
Kirk Cassels' Weekly Wrap of User Comments: April 26-30
If you have missed the Weekly Wrap during the course of the past few weeks, I apologize for its absence. I was on the road for three separate occasions in April.
A trip to Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso for the announcement that Antonio Banderas is the new face of the company's global campaign (jealous much, Pike?) preceded my attendance at the 2010 Virtuoso Symposium in Mexico City before finishing up just this week at American Express Publishing's Luxury Summit 2010. It was as exhausting as it was engangin and intriguing, plus I got to stay in some cool places. Check out the videos below of the suites in which I stayed when at the Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, the St. Regis Mexico City and the Mandarin Oriental at CityCenter in Las Vegas.
Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso
St. Regis Mexico City
Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas
But enough of me sharing my travels, let's take a look at what readers have been talking about here at Travel Agent Central.
Names in Travel
There was sad news this as Donald N. Martin, whose firm Donald N. Martin & Company represented the 39-nation European Travel Commission in the U.S. for more than 40 years, passed away April 23. For those who did not know or work with Martin, Evan A. Pezas had some kind words to share about the man:
A sad day indeed for all of us that served in European Tourist Offices in NY.
I was with the Greek National Tourist Organization when I first met Donald Martin. His professionalism and love of Europe were most imporrtant for the success of Europe in the US. We'll miss him.
Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to Martin's family, friends and colleagues.
Another name that received recognition from one of our readers was Joan Werner of Valerie Wilson Travel in New York. George Dooley recently interviewed Warner about travel to Cuba as well as her outlook on 2010 for agents. She must have made an impression, at least on Naomi Cogan, who shared:
Joan Werner is an excellent travel agent - very knowledgeable and creative.
That's quite the endorsement. Glad to see Dooley's choice of interview subject is so highly regarded.
Voices on Vacation Rentals
After reading a report about TripAdvisor's top vacation rentals in the U.S. and across the globe, we asked agents at our Facebook page if they felt the niche was a good business opportunity for them. Not only did many respond to our query, but we also received information from vacation rental businesses that are eager to work with agents. Here's some who wrote in, who you may want to look into for some sales:
On behalf of the Vacation Rental Managers Association (VRMA), I can share that vacation rentals represent a huge area of opportunity for agents to become specialists, as the category remains one of America’s best-kept lodging secrets, but is one of the fastest-growing lodging segments today. Nearly 9 in 10 past guests plan to rent again in 3 years, and would recommend a vacation rental to family/friends, according to PhoCusWright.
The vast majority of VRMA member companies across North America work with travel agents and their clients - Commissions may vary from company to company, but rates can range from 10 to 15% on average. Visit http://www.discovervacationhomes.com for a map that lists the most established professional vacation rental management companies by destination, or for more info about vacation rentals in general to help you get started.
WE love our Travel Agents, Global Resort Homes has been in business since 1993 and is a trusted vacation management company in Orlando, Fl. We pride ourselves in high quality vacation home rentals near the Walt Disney and Universal area. #1 vacation destination in the world! We would love to do business with anyone who may be interested. Here is our website www.globalresorthomes.com
Feel free to contact us with any questions.
We love working with travel agents to bring their clients a better vacation rental experience. We know how impotant it is that the agent can trust us with their client, and do pay comission. This is a great way to show more travelers the joys and value of staying in vacation rentals.We service the beach in Oceanside CA, in North San Diego county, and can be booked at http://www.bettervacationrentals.com or call 800-277-2734 for assistance. If your clients want to go to Disneyland & Sea World or the Zoo - this is the perfect spot.
For Hawaii, Tropical Villa Vacations on Maui has a nice selection of beautiful exclusively managed villas and homes. They work with travel agents to offer their clients and nice option to hotels especially for families or groups of friends traveling together. 888-875-2818 x6 www.tropicalvillavacations.com
Nanci Benefiel Owner
Yes, vacation rentals are a good business for travel agents and an untouched market. No need to add a fee as I pay a commission. You asked to hear from suppliers. I have over 100 homes and condos in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico that we offer as vacation rentals and pay all of our travel agents a commission. If you would like to discuss our services or want information please feel free to contact me by e-mail or at our toll free number 1-888-332-8477. Nanci@bajasurvacationrentals.com
But before everyone starts dialing up or surfing to these companies web sites, let's see what some agents said about their experience with vacation rentals.
Tina M Erskine posted:
I will book whatever is in the best interest of the client. There are resources to use that pay a commission and when there aren't I have no problem charging a fee for my services. I am a professional and if a client comes to me, they expect to pay me for my training and experience. Sometimes that means a commission, sometimes, it means a fee. I encourage clients to save money booking air on the airlines website that I find them on ITA Software all the time. Most of the time, they aren't confident enough and are happy to pay my service fee.
Bob Malmerg, meanwhile, seems a little cautious about vacation rentals, writing:
VACATION RENTALS HAVE A LOT: LOCATION, FACILITIES, FEATURES AND ACCESSABILITY. The single most important thing that they do NOT have is MANAGEMENT. Without management what you have is a box with beds. And that's all you have. Do agents really want to assume the risk in such a fly-by-night enterprise? Think it over. Agents have been entrusted with the customers money (which can always be replaced one way or another) but more precious is the time involved, that once spent is gone forever. In risk management, the least attractive of the threee available is to absorb the risk and that's exactly what agents are doing with vacation rentals.
Amanda Drake, whose first comment is also shared above, quickly responded to Bob, commenting:
Bob - When choosing a vacation rental from an established property management company, agents can be assured that there’s a reputable business maintaining and servicing the property and its guests each day. This includes dedicated guest hospitality services & amenities, all of the proper inspections, reservations, housekeeping, landscaping, laundry, a trained customer service staff, etc. Many feel it's the only way to travel! :)
We'd recommend looking for third-party endorsements on the websites of rental management companies, including membership in industry associations like the Vacation Rental Managers Association, Better Business Bureau (BBB) and local property management groups, or approval from AAA, among others.
After hearing from suppliers and agents, do you have any additional thoughts on this market? Let us know.
Arizona, Immigration and Tourism
The Grand Canyon State's recent legal reform about immigration has certainly been a hot topic in the news and political blogosphere. When we received a phone call from an agent saying that clients just canceled a vacation to Arizona, we asked readers on our Facebook page if they were experiencing anything similar. The responses were rapid, so we wrote a piece to share them with our Travel Agent Central readers, and got even more rapid responses. While most of them lean toward politcal views, let's take a look at ones that relate to the tourism industry and travel agents.
Carol was the first to address the topic, posting:
I have many clients who work for a major US city. They have received a directive that they are not to spend city funds in AZ, including no connections in PHX. Many nonrefundable tickets will be thrown away and public funds spent on new ones. Sensible?
And it appears that Veronica is experiencing similar situations, as we writes:
I have a group of women who do a Girls Weekend in AZ every summer. They've called to ask for suggestions for other spas not in AZ!
Meanwhile, Lillian Nawman is pleading for agents to do what they can to keep clients heading to Arizona, stating:
Arizona is in the state of emergency. Their people are scared to death of the atmosphere created there because of the failure of the politicians and government to overlook the critical situation that has been there for years. A boycott on Arizona could destroy their travel industry economyly to say nothing of the other businesses Folks, if you want your country back allow the citizens to DO something about it for a change. When the World Centers collapsed on 9-11 were we told to boycott New York City? Of course not. As for me, I will not discourage my clients to stay away from Arizona. Those Arizonans need our suppport now, and your support too.
It appears Lillian has a backer in June S, who shared:
People should only be allowed to immigrate legally like every other country in the world. If more lazy Americans would work we would not have a labor problem. I will be glad to send my clients to AZ
In addition, we got some outside perspective from an agent in Canada, named dmshea, who posted:
From a Canadian standpoint, the new AZ bill will probably have little effect on travel. Our agency has had no cancellation whatsoever because of the law thus far, and don't expect any! We have a fair few AZ home owners in Western Canada. We are far removed from it and although I don't personally condone it, I guess every state needs to try something to combat the illegal immigration issue.
With the announcement today that the U.S. Travel Association is opposed to any boycott of travel, in addition to the comments shared above, it appears Arizona has a lot of support in keeping tourism alive in the state. There are a lot of nuts out there trying to make our query about the law's effect on tourism some political statement (one even removed his comment from our Facebook page after we called him out for putting words in our mouth), and I would like to politely ask that you don't come round here with that.
I don't say that because I am aligned to one side of the issue or another. I say it because you're just wasting our time and travel professionals' time while coming across as one of those crazies that does nothing but sit on the computer all day and look for pages online to go off on a rant about an issue that, admit it, you cannot directly change yourself. I'm all for free speech in opinion, but that doesn't mean hard political rhetoric (from any end of the spectrum) is going to get a lot of air time here.
Avoid this Beach
We'll end this week on a lighter note, about a state that's not Arizona. Awhile back, one of our interns wrote a brief about the top 10 most dangerous beaches in the world. Recently, someone added their own choice of beach to the list. The reader goes by the name top ten beaches of the world, and he/she/it(?) wrote:
All 10 beaches are dengerous. But i think Long Beach Island, New Jersey is very dengerous.
I wish the reader would say why he/she/it(?) thinks the New Jersey beach is "dengerous," but there's no details. So I searched for some video about it and stumbled upon a nice piece about the region by Erik Hastings, who I met when in the Riviera Maya in Mexico while in town for the Iberostar event. Check out what he found about the area and judge for yourself.
Seems like a pretty "non-dengerous" place to me. Did I miss something?
As always, we don't want to conversation to end here. Whether it's about the issues cited above, or any others for that matter, we always want to hear from you. Post a comment below. Write us at our Facebook page. Send a tweet to our Twitter page. Log in to AgentNation, we have a discussion thread about the Arizona situation, among others. We look forward to hearing from you.
By: Kirk Cassels
March 16, 2010
London's New Hotel... and More
The Underground tube
After delays of more than 2.5 hours (thanks, American Airlines!) and getting lost on the Underground (the Circle Line and the District Line share a track, and only the District Line trains are marked… did everyone else in the world know this except me?), we finally made it to our brand-spanking-new hotel right off of Westminster Bridge. This isn’t just brand new—the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge is still partially under construction, especially on its upper floors, making its debut at once delightfully swanky and comfortably rough-hewn. (When the construction is complete, it’ll be a gem, but it’ll lose that new-hotel smell.) The rooms— at least, my room— aren’t extravagantly huge, but they’re quite comfortable and have a very funky mood-lighting system. Awesome touch for literature lovers: The carpeting is inscribed with a selection from a poem by Keats.
View of Parliament and Big Ben from the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge
After a quick luncheon in the downstairs lounge (and honestly, these new restaurants with their wonderfully fresh food are going to turn all my jokes about bad English cuisine into lies), we took a quick tour of the still-in-progress top floors with the Penthouse Suites. Pictures were strictly forbidden, but we were able to get a quick video of the view from one of the terraces.
The London Eye
Onward to the Queen’s Gallery, which will be presenting a special exhibit of art collected by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert during their 21-year marriage. There are gorgeous paintings of the Royal Family together, clearly delineating Victoria as head of the State, but Albert as head of the household. Visitors can see a dress Victoria wore to a fancy-dress ball (we call them costume parties) that belies the statuesque woman who appears in most paintings: Victoria was barely over five feet tall. Some other unique features include some furniture the couple owned, such as sofas and chairs made of stags’ horns and a beautiful white throne from India. The exhibit opens March 19.
From the Gallery, we strolled over to the historic Goring Hotel, which is celebrating its centenary this year. We chatted with General Manager Graham Copeman and communications director Lucinda Buxton, who shared some cool trivia about the hotel (it was a favorite hangout of the Queen Mum, and remains the only hotel with one of her favorite recipes). We also learned that, in spring, the hotel will be turning its famous gardens (the largest private gardens in London, we hear) into a croquet lawn.
Copeman and Buxton took us on a tour of the hotel’s six “Silk Rooms,” which premiered last year with hand-woven silk wall coverings from Gainsborough Silk Weavers, the Royal Warrant-holding textile mill in Suffolk. The rooms have a classical luxury sensibility, but feature some cool modern touches as well: There are rubber duckies in the bathrooms, and the lightswitches have more creative notations than simply “on” or “off.”
The Goring was opened in 1910 by O. R. Goring, whose great-grandson Jeremy is now the fourth in the family to manage the hotel. It is now the only five-star luxury hotel in London that is owned and run by the family that built it (there has always been a Goring at the Goring), and the staff takes its sense of history very seriously. “The new wing was built in the ‘20s,” Copeman quipped over champagne in the hotel’s popular tea room. “We’re getting used to it now.”