Sunday, May 19, 2019
Tis the season for summer to arrive. And this week in our are we got fooled. Rain Rain and more rain but at least temps were moder
Here where we are in Northern California we all believe enough is enough and ready for those long and warm days of summer. Bring it on and let's GETAWAY FROM YOUR EVERYDAY and travel.
Oddly enough camp grounds are in some areas full for most of the summer already with advanced reservations. If you do plan to camp you better jump on it NOW. Space is limited and should we begin to have fire problems space will go away for the sake of your safety. Many campgrounds were closed last summer for extended periods because of fire dangers so beware please. We do want to be safe wieh you travel safe.
With only 100 or so days before the event this year here is our rollout of this year's SCOTTISH GAMES in Pleasanton.
Join us on Labor Day Weekend (August 31 and September 1) 2019, as we celebrate the very best of Scottish culture, competition, cuisine and entertainment, right here in California. The 154th consecutive Scottish Highland Gathering and Games takes place at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton.
In the Beginning Long before colonists began to settle in the New World, Scotland already had a lengthy history and culture. Heavy Athletics Events were being held in Scotland at least 1,000 years ago, and some historians believe that Heavy Events originated during Druid times! Heavy Events began as tests of strength and conditioning for Scottish troops. A tree trunk would be made into a caber and tossed by the strongest military men. Smooth rocks from river beds would be heaved for distance. Lead weights would be tossed underhand over a bar more than twice as high as the athlete. Over the centuries, Heavy Events evolved from military exercises into festivals for the Scottish public, and with the addition of dancing, music, food and drink, the Highland Games were born. They are a traditional method of passing Scottish culture from generation to generation, and held throughout Scotland and the rest of the World. Caledonian Club of San Francisco’s Inaugural Games In 1866, San Francisco had been sobered by the Civil War, the bloodiest war in American history. It was also still recovering from the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and the gunning down in a city street of prominent newspaper editor, James King. California’s gold rush had attracted many a Scot to San Francisco, and on November 24, 1866, seventeen Scots congregated in Clem Dixon’s Ale Vaults on Summer Street to plan California’s first Scottish Games. Less than a week later, the inaugural Games were held at San Francisco’s Hayes Park (on Laguna and Hayes Streets) on Thanksgiving Day 1866. The Club’s inaugural Games were more of a family picnic and athletic contest featuring nine competitive events including hammer throwing and stone putting, and threelegged and blindfolded wheelbarrow races. This article (right) published in the following day’s Daily Evening Bulletin covered the Games, and noted that the “solid silver quoit” awarded to quoits champion, Mr Carmichael, was valued at $50, which was no mean prize in 1866! A Brief History of the Caledonian Club of San Francisco’s Scottish Highland Gathering and Games A History of Tradition and Growth The Caledonian Club of San Francisco's Scottish Highland Gathering and Games have taken place every year since that inaugural event in Hayes Park in 1866. The scale of the Games has grown significantly as events attracted more competitors, more events were added, and bigger crowds turned up. Over the years, the Scottish Highland Gathering and Games had been held at various locations in San Francisco, Sausalito and Oakland before settling on Santa Rosa in 1962, and switching to a 2-day format in 1964. The Games remained in Santa Rosa for the next 32 years, hosting the Centennial Games of 1965 and the first U.S. Invitational Heavy Events Championships in 1975. In 1994, the Games moved to the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton. The Largest Scottish Highland Gathering and Games On Labor Day Weekend 2015, the Sesquicentennial Scottish Highland Gathering and Games attracted record crowds close to 50,000 - the largest Scottish gathering ever in the USA. The 153rd Games on September 1-2, 2018 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds marked the 25th anniversary of the Games moving to Pleasanton. This 2-day event features Heavy Events Championships, the US Drum Major Championships, the Western U.S. Open Highland Dancing Championships and various grades of Pipe Band Competitions. Other competitive events include the Kilted Mile Race and Soccer, Shinty and Rugby competitions. Visitors to the Games can enjoy Scottish Country Dancers, the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers and other traditional entertainment on the Celtic Heritage stages. Other events include Birds of Prey and Archery exhibitions, historical re-enactments, historic British cars and motorcycles, sheep dog trials, the Clan Glen and Children’s Glen, Clydesdale horses and Highland cattle. In addition, there is more live entertainment in the Irish Pavilion, Traditional and Celtic Rock Bands on the Entertainment Stages and whisky tasting and master classes with ‘Whisky Live’. Finally, each day, the Games Grandstand Show features the ceremony, competition and entertainment of the Games including the hugely impressive March of the Massed Bands with over 600 pipers and drummers. The annual Scottish Highland Gathering and Games are produced entirely by volunteers from the Caledonian Club of San Francisco, and does not take government funding or apply for foundation support.
And once you attend we still want you to join us for the North Coast cruise on October 13th.
Go North with us from San Francisco on the GRAND PRINCESS
The 737 MAX aircraft is set to return to service soon and airlines are just chomping at the bit to return all of those flights back to their shcedules. As you can see below they do have contingency plans already in line. Now the question will the public feel safe anytime soon on any of these planes?
By Eric M. Johnson and Tracy Rucinski
•May 17, 2019
F.A.A.Chief faces questions from Congress over Boeing troubles
By Eric M. Johnson and Tracy Rucinski
SEATTLE (Reuters) - Once global regulators clear Boeing Co's 737 MAX to fly again after deadly crashes, airlines which have put their fleets into mechanical hibernation since March will scramble to begin the biggest ungrounding effort in history.
Quickly reintegrating Boeing's 737 MAX, a fast-selling model because of its fuel efficiency, longer range, and passenger capacity, is crucial for optimizing airlines' routes and improving margins after having to cancel thousands of flights.
Global airlines have warned of a major hit to profits due to the mid-March grounding of the MAX following two fatal crashes.
International regulators are meeting on May 23 to review Boeing software and training plans, though doubts remain over how quickly foreign authorities will clear new flights.
In the United States, following regulatory approval of a Boeing software fix and new training, airlines will have to run through an FAA-approved checklist, industry officials say.
Such work, which will vary by operator, includes cycling the engines, changing and filling fluids, removing covers from the engines and running routine electrical and hydraulics checks.
Each airline will also have to upload Boeing's new software for an anti-stall system implicated in the crashes and complete additional pilot training.
Jason Goldberg, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, said it will take about a week to prepare American Airline Group Inc's MAX fleet to fly, not counting the extra training.
"While the planes are in storage there is of course maintenance that can be done. But as far as steps to put it back into service, none of the work is going to be done until the aircraft is cleared to fly."
Airlines likely halted standard daily systems checks while the planes were in storage, said one former Boeing test pilot. Similar to a modern car, when mechanics restore power to the aircraft, built-in testing equipment runs checks on sensors gauging the health of aircraft systems from hydraulics and to fuel - known as a 'BITE' test - that would signal failures.
Another issue is pilot training.
Boeing said on Thursday it was in the process of submitting a plan on pilot training to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for approval, after which each airline will develop its own FAA-approved training program.
Southwest Airlines Co, the world's largest MAX operator, has agreed a 30-day window with its 10,000 pilots to implement new MAX training, said Mike Trevino, spokesman for Southwest Airlines Pilots Association.
"If it's computer-based training, that won't be difficult to deploy. The pilots can do it at home," he said.
A draft report by an FAA-appointed board of pilots, engineers and other experts concluded that pilots only need additional computer-based training, rather than simulator time, though other regulators and some pilot groups have argued for more.
Southwest is expected to upload the new software at a facility in the California desert where its 34 MAX jets are parked, while American Airlines is expected to install the software at its Tulsa, Oklahoma maintenance facility.
Southwest and American have scheduled MAX flights as of Aug. 6 and Aug. 20 respectively. If the jets are not cleared to fly by then, the airlines will be forced to again cancel more than 100 daily flights.
With all the talk about spacing in the various cabins of our aircraft here in America one airline has taken steps to hopefully solve some of the problem. We saw this article from Reader's Digest this week.
If fully reclining your seat is one of your guilty pleasures when flying, you may want to think twice before booking a ticket on Delta Air Lines' A320 aircraft. Last month the airline reduced the bandwidth of seat recline by two inches. You may love the reclining seats, but there are more great airplane features we bet you never even knew existed.
Passengers aboard Delta's A320 aircraft have been part of the airline's test for the last month to see if cutting the seat's reclining capacity by two inches will improve personal space and overall satisfaction for the passenger experience. Seat recline for passengers in economy was decreased from four to two inches. Passengers flying in first class also experienced a two-inch decline and are only able to recline 3.5 inches.
"Delta has no plans to add seats or reduce space between rows with this test," Delta spokeswoman Savannah Huddleston told CNN Travel. "It's all about protecting customers' personal space and minimizing disruptions to multitasking in-flight. As part of Delta's continued efforts to make the in-flight experience more enjoyable, Delta is testing a small change to its A320 aircraft—adjusting the recline throughout to make multitasking easier." Despite this, the Atlanta-based carrier was a big winner in The Points Guy's best airlines of 2019 survey.
Travelers can all agree that having the person in front of you abruptly recline a seat while you are working on a laptop, enjoying that complimentary soda, or watching a movie is more than a little annoying. It is equally unpleasant for long-legged travelers to have to assume impossible yoga positions when the person in front of them fully reclines.
Delta's A320 is an ideal aircraft to perform this test as flights are typically between one to two hours so most people on the plane are upright and awake. "It's really not at all a gateway to reducing your legroom. That is not the intent here. If we were adding seats, or something else, the cynics would be correct. But this is really about more personal space," Ekrem Dimbiloglu, Delta's director of onboard product and customer experience, shared with The Points Guy.
Delta Air Lines was the first U.S. global carrier to offer free mobile texting, so that's a reason to take Huddleston at her word that the company is trying to elevate the customer experience. And you can make your own flight experience better by avoiding these things you should never do on an airplane.
Traveling SOLO for some is a bit of a challenge specially on cruises but some lines have taken the problem out of the mix. Conde Nast reports there is good news for SOLO travelers on some cruise lines.
by MARK ELLWOOD
January 31, 2019
Plus, our tips for taking a cruise on your own.
Melissa Preston had just finished an intensive four-year stint working in Indonesia when she decided she deserved a vacation. She was curious about taking a cruise, her first ever, but hesitated—she usually travels solo. Would she be hit with that infamous "solo tax"? As a veteran globetrotter, Preston knew the cruise industry was famously family-friendly and traditionally prone to levying high "single supplements," or fees slapped on travelers who occupy a room designed to hold two or more. That levy could be as much as 100 percent—in other words, traveling solo might cost exactly the same as it would for a couple.
But the times, thankfully, have changed. Preston chanced on a travel company whose voyages are tailor-made for travelers just like her, Peregrine, which specializes in small, private, and independent tours and trips. The firm’s no-supplement policy meant she wasn’t an outlier—indeed, around half its travelers book for one. She opted for an itinerary focused on the Croatian islands. “I liked the idea of jumping off the boat for a swim in a sheltered bay every day,” Preston says now, reflecting on that recent trip. Peregrine's ability to cater to solo cruisers also meant that Preston felt part of a group of singles on the trip. “It was awesome. One day, we ended up dancing with the locals in Opuzen, and enjoying the tiny bars dotted around the square,” she says. “I made several lifelong friends from that trip, and have since met them in various parts of the world."
These days, she isn’t alone in sailing solo. The cruising industry has seen shifting demographics, whether sprightly but widowed retirees or the rise of never-marrieds (compare the 63 percent of American singles who have never married today with the 28 percent logged in 1960) and smartly, several operators have adjusted their offerings accordingly.
Mega-ship specialist Norwegian arguably was the pioneer, repurposing interior-facing cabins as pod-like solo rooms known as "studios" when it launched the Epic in 2010; you can find studios now on four other ships in the fleet. Luxury line Cunard—famous for transcontinental trips and for keeping the sailing glamour of yesteryear—introduced solo rooms to the Queen Elizabeth 2 and added them to the Queen Mary 2 during its $132 million refit three years ago. Expedition specialist Hurtigruten began waiving supplements on certain sailings, and saw its solo traveler business rise 40 percent as a result; meanwhile, Victory Cruise Lines has eliminated the surcharge on a range of its 2019 itineraries. American Cruise Lines, the river specialist, has supplement-free solo staterooms on all of its 11 ships, including 250-square-foot options with their own balconies on American Song, its newest, with itineraries through the Pacific Northwest. Now, even when a fee is charged, it might no longer be the 100 percent extra that once was industry standard. To sail solo with Mediterranean specialist Celestyal, for example, the maximum you’ll pay is 30 percent more.
Now that the industry is better serving solo cruises, more people like Melissa Preston—avid travelers who may have seen most of the globe yet still never taken a cruise—are reconsidering. There's plenty of reasons why, says Janice Waugh, founder of Solo Traveler, who dismisses conventional wisdom that cruises aren’t ideal for singletons. "The trickiest part of travel is the transitions—getting from one city to the next," she says. "[But] the ship takes care of it for you, in a safe environment.”
SOME OF OUR NATURAL INHIBITIONS SEEM TO DISAPPEAR ON A CRUISE, SO PEOPLE ARE MORE OPEN TO MEETING AND TALKING THAN THEY WOULD BE IN THEIR DAILY ROUTINES.
She has some smart tips for a first-timer, noting that there can be distinct advantages to solo cruising.
Planning for one means scheduling is more flexible, so why not use the fact that you don’t need to coordinate calendars to your advantage? Firms will often slash prices closer to sail-away dates to ensure the ship is full, and even waive single supplements to do so. Search for those last-minute promos, or just ask, she advises.
After boarding on your first day, she suggests, introduce yourself to the front desk or bartender, and tell them you’re there alone; these staffers can then make efforts to introduce you to fellow travelers. Some itineraries even include a mingling social as a formal event, thrown by the cruise staffers, at the outset, as when Waugh sailed with river specialist Avalon. Pack playing cards, too, as an ice-breaker for those early cocktail-hours-slash-socials. Remember, though, that there’s a clear distinction between singles and solo cruising: There’s no forced matchmaking on a standard voyage—despite what Love Boat might have implied—and if you prefer to be left alone with your thoughts (and several good books) for the entire week, you can do easily do so.
Take stock at mealtimes. If families tend to dine earlier, delay your meal until the dining room is full of couples, then be bold. Walk up to a table and ask if you might join them. “It’s better not to go to the same people all the time, at every meal,” she adds. “Keep moving around to meet more people.” Once you’ve connected with like-minded folks, it’s easier to stay in contact on smaller ships, where they won’t disappear into a 4,000-strong crowd. Waugh does suggest exercising caution much as you might in a major city: Never give out your stateroom number, and create an email address that you can give to fellow cruisers that isn’t your primary one. But overall, the upsides of cruising alone are catching on.
Long Island-based Allan Jordan, who retired from a career in financial communications, relishes his regular solo voyages. “You’re in an environment where you can meet a lot of people, and socialize as opposed to being alone," he says. "Some of our natural inhibitions seem to disappear on a cruise, so people are more open to meeting and talking than they would be in their daily routines." Yet Jordan doesn’t hesitate to luxuriate in the freedom of sailing solo. "I generally disconnect to give me some time to decompress and recharge.”
The tidbits from Fred this week include more islands of interest.
The Hidden Beaches of Hawaii
Do get me wrong, you can enjoy Waikiki as much as the next person, but its crowded, resort-studded shore isn’t exactly what you’d call tranquil. If it’s serenity and solitude you’re after, head to one of Hawaii’s many secret, off-the-beaten-path beaches on your next Hawaiian vacation, defiantly place you can Getaway from your Everyday!
Though its real name is Kauapea, this isolated, half-mile stretch of sand is better known among locals as Secret Beach. The name fits: Nestled between Kalihiwai Bay and Kilauea Point, it’s located far off the tourist track and accessible only by a rocky, unmarked trail. Lava rocks border the beach on both sides and jutting red cliffs cloaked by lush vegetation and cascading waterfalls form a dramatic backdrop. Be warned: Though public nudity is illegal in Hawaii, the far east side of the beach is unofficially clothing-optional.
Of all the beaches on the Big Island, the unspoiled crescent of black sand at the base of Waipio Valley is easily the most secluded: It’s sheltered by 2,000-foot cliffs, and it’s a grueling three-mile hike down. But don’t be dissuaded, as you’ll be rewarded handsomely for your efforts with superfine, inky sand, and calm, clear turquoise water. Look to the east, and you’ll spot the spectacular Kaluahine Waterfall (pictured) and the larger Waiulili Falls, which are accessible via a rocky trail along the surf. Due to its remote location, you’ll likely have this secret paradise all to yourself.
Tucked away on Oahu’s windswept Waianae coast—far from the crowds of Waikiki—you’ll find Mākua Beach, a scenic, half-mile stretch of golden sand backed by the Waianae Mountains and the lush, uninhabited Mākua Valley. Thanks to its seclusion, the beach is almost always empty, especially outside of weekends, so you can sunbathe and swim in total peace. But be warned: Unlike other beaches in Oahu, Mākua is not protected by an offshore reef and there’s no lifeguard onsite, so stay close to the shore (or better yet, stick to the relaxing tide pools at either end of the beach).
Though it’s a mere pocket of sand—just a quarter-mile long—Makapu’u Beach is undoubtedly one of Oahu’s most scenic shorelines. Backed by the high lava rock cliffs of Makapu’u Point, its shore is wide and golden, and its waters are cool and iridescent. As pretty as it looks though, be aware of the rip currents and a powerful shorebreak, which make Makapu’u unsuitable for leisurely swims. It's best to enjoy the view from the shore or from the Makapu'u Lighthouse, standing atop a sea cliff on the eastern end of the beach.
You could argue that the island of Molokai itself is hidden in plain sight—sandwiched between Hawaii’s two most popular islands—and that all of its beaches are blissfully tranquil. But what if its total seclusion you're after? Drive north to Paniolo Hale, park off Kaluakoi Road, and then hike for 45 minutes down to Kawakiu, Molokai’s northernmost beach. Sheltered by leafy kiawe trees, this perfect crescent of white sand and blindingly blue water is paradise at its very finest.
On the Big Island’s sleepy North Kona coast, Makalawena Beach—or "Maks," as the locals call it—is a string of white-sand coves lapped by brilliant, turquoise-blue water. You’ll have to hike for half an hour over lava rock to get there, but it’s worth the trek: It’s always deserted, there are lots of shady trees to laze beneath, and there’s a beautiful coral reef just a few feet offshore that’s perfect for snorkeling. Added bonus: Hawaiian green sea turtles love to visit Makalawena, so keep your eyes peeled.
Largely overlooked by tourists in favor of Oahu, Maui, and Kauai, the island of Lanai feels like a secret paradise filled with undeveloped beaches and desert-like landscapes. Polihua Beach feels especially remote, located on Lanai’s wild, northwestern coast and accessible only via four-wheel drive. (Because of its wildness, it's also not somewhere you should try swimming.) The two-mile sandbar used to be the nesting ground of Hawaiian green sea turtles; they’ve since moved to islands further north, but you’ll likely spot migrating humpback whales between December and April.
Located on Oahu’s remote northwest shore, just past Haleiwa, the silky sands of Mokuleia Beach are often empty. Add to that its sheer seclusion—the nearest store or restroom is more than ten miles away—and it makes for the perfect tropical island “set” (in fact, the television show Lost filmed its first season on Mokuleia). Though its bright blue waters are almost always choppy, they’re rich with marine life, and you’ll likely find large green sea turtles basking on the shore in the summer months.
With its jet-black shore, aquamarine waters, and thick, jungle-like foliage, Honokalani Beach in Hana is a photographer’s dream. Besides lying lazily on the “sand”—actually made up of of tiny lava pebbles—there’s plenty to do: You’ll find seaside lava tubes and sea caves carved into the lava cliffs along the shore. It’s wild, unspoiled Hawaii at its best, and a necessary stop en route to Hana.
Located at the end of a long, unpaved dirt road off Kaumuali'i Highway, Polihale Beach is often overlooked in favor of the more accessible beaches at Poipu and Kalapaki. It's a shame; sprawled over 17 miles, it’s the longest stretch of beach in Hawaii, and arguably one of the most beautiful, backed by 100-foot sand dunes and framed by the Na Pali cliffs. From its silvery sands, you can even spot the “forbidden” Hawaiian island of Niihau.
And NEWS AND VIEWS are always the news we want you d know about.
by Adam Leposa |
May 11, 2019 8:00am
This week in air travel, American Airlines announced plans to fly to a number of new destinations in Latin America as part of its newly announced winter schedule, and Lufthansa launched new service to Austin, Texas.
As part of American’s new winter schedule, the airline is set to launch a new direct, daily flight to Georgetown, Guyana, from New York City’s JFK Airport on December 18. American is the only U.S. carrier to fly directly to the capital city of the emerging South American ecotourism destination, having begun service out of Miamilast November. Operated on Boing 737-800 aircraft with 160 seats, including 16 First Class seats, the new flight will depart JFK at 6:00 p.m. and arrive in Guyana at 12:40 a.m. The return flight will leave Guyana at 1:35 a.m. and arrive in New York at 6:29 a.m.
In the Caribbean, American will launch new service to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands out of Dallas – Fort Worth and Chicago O’Hare on December 21. Both flights will operate on Saturdays, with the Fort Worth flight running year-round and the Chicago flight running seasonally. Tourism officials say the increased airlift coincides with the return of a number of hotels on the island this winter, including the Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas, which is reopening with a newly renovated resort experience.
In Mexico, American is adding two new destinations to its network: Huatulco and Acapulco. The new flights, which the airline will fly out of Dallas – Forth Worth, will begin December 21, marking the only nonstop service out of Fort Worth. On December 18, the airline will also add an additional daily flight between Phoenix and Chihuahua, complementing its existing daily service from Fort Worth.
In Europe, this week Lufthansa launched new service to Austin, Texas, out of its Frankfurt hub. The move marks the third gateway for the airline in Texas. Operated on an Airbus A330-300 in a three-class cabin configuration, the new service flies five times weekly on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
by Benedict Carrizzo |
May 8, 2019 9:42am
Princess Cruises in Alaska
Princess Cruises is expanding its MedallionClass to six additional ships in 2020 – Ruby Princess (January 27), Grand Princess (March 29), Enchanted Princess (June 15), Emerald Princess (August 16), Coral Princess(October 16), and Island Princess (December 20)—to take the tech-enhanced vacation experience to Australia and New Zealand, as well as on a World Cruise, for the first time.
MedallionClass Vacations are currently available on Caribbean Princess, Regal Princess and Royal Princess, with Crown Princess beginning July 24 and Sky Princess starting October 12, 2019, when the newest ship in the Princess fleet leaves the shipyard as the first constructed from scratch with the Ocean Guest Experience Platform. By the end of 2020, guests sailing in the Caribbean, Alaska, Panama Canal, Europe, Australia/New Zealand, Mexico, California Coast and on the World Cruise will have a guest experience powered by OceanMedallion, a complimentary wearable device that enhances guest-crew interactions, eliminates friction points and enables interactive entertainment.
Princess MedallionClass Vacations experiences includes:
· Expedited Arrival - Guests who arrive at the terminal with travel documents (i.e. passports) uploaded to their profile experience a faster check-in process. Personalization starts pre-cruise as guests become OceanReady before arriving at the port.
· On-Demand Services - Using smart devices, guests could order drinks, food and retail items like sunscreen with OceanNowTM and have them delivered directly anywhere on board, including to their stateroom.
· Family and Friends Locator - Accessible on portals throughout the ships and via guests’ smart devices, OceanCompass leverages the OceanMedallion to easily locate and chat with friends and family on board, as well as enables point-to-point wayfinding throughout the ship. OceanCompass guides guests throughout their journey, providing directional information so they can seamlessly navigate to their next point of interest.
In other Princess Cruises news, the company is planning to roll out MedallionNet on six more ships by the end of 2019. The new Wi-Fi infrastructure will offer faster internet at sea.
For more information, visit https://www.princess.com/
PHOTO: Aerial view of Hotel Zone in Playa Linda, Cancun in Mexico. (photo via LUNAMARINA / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
By this time in 2018, Cancun, Puerto Morelos and Isla Mujeres hotels had sold 70 percent of their rooms. The decrease in reservations is causing many of the hotels to lower their rates by up to 15 percent in an effort to draw tourists.
"Tourism is the most susceptible industry there is, that is why you should be careful with what is shared. We have resented a drop in the speed of reservations for summer, since we are 60% in books,” said Roberto Cintron Gomez, president of the Hotel Association of Cancun and Puerto Morelos.
Hotels in Riviera Maya are experiencing the same drop in bookings. They’re expecting a reduction in night reservations by up to 300,000 which is a $100 million loss for the year. The first four months of 2019, the hotels saw a loss of 81,000 nights.
The Riviera Maya currently has an average occupancy of 82 percent which is three percent lower than 2018. Cancun and Puerto Morelos are dealing with a six percent decrease from 2018 and an 80 percent average occupancy.
Some point out that are full and the reduction in hotel bookings shouldn't be happening. Domestic travelers to Cancun have grown by five percent while international passengers have increased by seven percent. In Cozumel, the increase is 40 percent and five percent respectively. So why are hotel reservations dropping?
Roberto Cintrón Gómez explained, "The passengers are staying in rooms rented through vacation platforms, because Quintana Roo, which does pay taxes, creates jobs and leaves money, is not receiving passengers."
"Not only we are saying that we need money, we are telling the government where there is one and one of the things you have to do is to manage or create a law so that vacation rental platforms pay their taxes. We do not ask them to disappear, only to pay taxes, " added Cintron.
by Adam Leposa |
May 13, 2019 4:13pm
Celebrity Cruises has taken delivery of its new, Galapagos-bound ship, the Celebrity Flora. The ship, which was specially designed for cruising in the Galapagos Islands, will now begin a transatlantic crossing to its new home.
To honor the occasion, Celebrity parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO Richard D. Fain hosted a ceremony onboard the new ship while it was docked in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, joined by company and shipyard executives, as well as more than 70 crew members, many of whom are Ecuadorian natives.
Incorporating a number of features designed to improve energy efficiency and sustainability, the 100-guest Celebrity Flora was designed specifically to explore the Galapagos, with an outward-facing design concept affording guests 360-degree views of the islands. Accommodations are all-suite, and 50 percent of the suites are the line’s Sky Suites with Infinite Verandah, which also offer service by personal attendants. Other unique amenities onboard are a glamping experience at sea, new dining venues, an open-air stargazing platform, expert-led ecological seminars, and custom-designed Novurania yacht tenders.
The ship will sail with a 1:9 certified naturalist to guest ratio, which Celebrity says is the highest in the Galapagos. The ship will also sail with Oceanscope, oceanographic research equipment operated in partnership with the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science that benefits from a cruise ship’s consistent itinerary to create a perfect and cost-effective way for scientists to gather and measure ocean circulation dynamics. The system will track and map the region while measuring sea-surface temperatures and gathering data critical to research prediction of El Niño and La Niña. All findings gathered by Celebrity Flora will become open source data, globally accessible to research. Guests will also be able to view this data through real-time visualizations onboard the ship.
Celebrity Flora will sail from Baltra year-round, making its first sailing June 30.
by The Daily Telegraph |
May 13, 2019 3:33pm
Photo by miroslav_1/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
by Telegraph Travel, The Telegraph, May 13, 2019
Our experts offer a guide to the best rail journeys in Europe for 2019.
After years of decline, things are looking up for Britain’s two remaining sleeper trains. The Night Riviera, which runs between London and Cornwall, has managed to cling on in the face of closure threats — and now, following a steady but stylish makeover, almost lives up to that ridiculously glamorous name. Meanwhile, the Caledonian Sleeper, running between London and Scotland, has gone one further, with a £150 million revamp. It’s been a long time coming — five years in total, and six months later than planned — but there’s no denying the scale of the transformation. Out with the beat-up cabins and the microwaved food; in with comfy seats, meals cooked in an actual oven, stranger-free sleeping arrangements and, perhaps most inspired of all, double beds. Who says romance is dead?
One-way prices for Comfort Seats start from £45; Classic Rooms from £140. See www.sleeper.scot.
Sweden’s Inlandsbanan traverses what is described as the continent’s last wilderness of untouched forests and lakes. The 663-mile (1,067km) railway from Mora to Gallivare links isolated Lapland settlements with a variety of attractions. Most are either within walking distance of stations or linked to the railway by bus and include open-air museums, 19th-century lake steamers and Sami villages.
Discover Inlandsbanan (0046 771 53 53 53; inlandsbanan.se) offers a nine-night return tour from Mora from £1,036 per person.
Ease the pace by taking the train to Italy as it celebrates a year of Slow Tourism. The tour takes the Eurostar to Paris and then a TGV for an overnight in Turin, before skirting the Tuscan coast to reach the base for six nights at the Relais dei Molini. Car hire is included so travellers can explore and taste local wines, visit thermal springs, have a cookery lesson in the charming walled city of Lucca and try cheese making outside the town of Volterra. Return is by plane from Pisa.
From £1,495 per person sharing with Planet Rail (01347 825292; planetrail.co.uk).
This eight-night self-guided tour through Austria, Slovenia and Italy follows a coffee trade route developed to meet the demands of the early 18th-century coffee craze in the Habsburg Empire. Travelling by train between four cities with a common imperial past – Vienna, Graz, Ljubljana and Trieste – provides an introduction to the empire’s magnificent architecture and art, ranging from Vienna’s Hofburg Palace to the wonderfully preserved Old Town in Graz. Notes for walking tours and recommendations for coffee provided.
From £995pp with Inntravel (01653 617000; inntravel.co.uk). Includes rail travel between Vienna and Trieste, but excludes flights.
Three nights in Bordeaux, reached by Eurostar and TGV, allows time to visit the World Heritage Site Old Town, the new wine museum and, with included car hire, the nearby vineyards of Médoc and St-Émilion. Three nights in Cognac for the city’s medieval quarter and English Garden are followed by another three nights in the village of Chenonceaux in the heart of the Loire Valley, home to excellent wines and Leonardo da Vinci – 2019 marks the 500th anniversary of his death, and of the construction of the beautiful Château de Chambord.
From £1,595pp with Planet Rail (01347 825292; planetrail.co.uk).
This new tour starts as it means to go on: cocooned in the historic luxury of Istanbul’s Pera Palace Hotel, where Agatha Christie wrote Murder on the Orient Express. From here, the Golden Eagle Danube Expressmakes a stately dash through European Turkey towards the ancient Bulgarian capital of Veliko Tarnovo, via the lofty Shipka Pass. Country number three is Romania for the beautiful town of Sighisoara – and Bran Castle, home of the infamous vampire-count. The Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest is the ultimate stop on the seven-night tour, where there’s time to visit an Ottoman-era bath before the flight home.
Golden Eagle (0161 928 9410; goldeneagleluxurytrains.com) offers Castles of Transylvania from £4,535 including four nights on the Golden Eagle Danube Express, all meals and drinks, plus five-star hotels stays. Departs June 27 2019.
The sole direct train from Sweden to Germany includes a night cruise across the Baltic Sea. At 5pm the Berlin Night Express putters through Malmo’s leafy suburbs en route to the Swedish port of Trelleborg. Here carriages are eaten by a special train-ferry, before trundling out four hours later in the ritzy German period resort of Sassnitz. The final leg is a straight shot through the former East Germany to Berlin for a 7am breakfast.
The Berlin Night Express operates in spring and summer. Sleeper berths cost £60 (0046 40 669 62 00; snalltaget.se).
This is the classiest way to cross the continent. Each Thursday evening, the Russian Railways train rattles out of Paris Gare de l’Est, arriving in Moscow in time for Saturday breakfast. Ultra-modern First Class sleepers offer dual bunks, lockable doors, wash basins and waiter service – there are even private showers in the pricier VIP section. Better still, Europe’s second-longest train route (Moscow-Nice is a shade lengthier) offers a taste of the five nations it passes through. Expect German beers, a Polish buffet carriage, then a Russian dining car from the old Soviet Border at Belarus.
Russian Railways (007 495 505 6325; russianrailways.com) offers one-way tickets in a First Class sleeper for around £400.
This nine-night tour by train begins in Edinburgh and takes in some of Scotland’s most celebrated castles and scenic journeys. Among the places visited are the Royal Yacht Britannia, the castles of Stirling, Dunvegan, Armadale, Eilean Donan and Glamis and the Glen Ord Distillery. The most dramatic part of the West Highland line between Crianlarich and Fort William is followed by the Jacobite steam train on to Mallaig, crossing the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, featured in four of the Harry Potter films.
From £2,495pp with Great Rail Journeys (01904 521936; greatrail.com).
An epic, a series of short hops, a mix of night trains and day trains: the InterRail is what you make it. Best not to keep moving all the time (under-26s do this to sleep on trains and save on hostels) and it pays to choose a loop and a region or two at most. Bear in mind that sleepers and some fast trains incur surcharges. Swiss trains are the most efficient. Spain’s AVEs and Alvias are super-fast. Slower eastern-rolling stock still rocks with that pleasant train movement. A life-enhancer at any stage in life, and a celebration of Europe’s rail network, glorious stations and common passions and bonds.
Passes range from five days in 15 to a month’s continuous travel and cost from €208 to €510 (interrail.eu/en).
Switzerland’s favourite tourist train between Zermatt and St Moritz has been delighting passengers since 1930. The whole route is a scenic delight, but the climb to the Albula Tunnel is also one of Europe’s railway engineering marvels with its spiral tunnels and viaducts. Since 2018 a new level of service - “Excellence Class” - has been on offer. One Glacier Express a day in each direction between St Moritz and Zermatt will include the new coach for just 20 people. In addition to enjoying the scenery through the panoramic windows, passengers will have a five-course lunch of regional and seasonal dishes, including wine and an aperitif and canapés during the afternoon.
St Moritz to Zermatt, from £115 (First Class fare from £202); 0041 848 642 442; glacierexpress.ch.
The dramatic 16km bridge connecting Copenhagen and Malmo has made it possible to include visits to both cities in the course of a weekend break and to enjoy a taste of the quite different cultures of the Danes and the Swedes. Services are frequent and there are good views of the Oresund Strait. For lovers of the Scandi noir crime series The Bridge, however, the compelling reason for making this journey is that, this is The Bridge.
One-way fares cost from 110 SEK (£10).
D H Lawrence loved Sardinia’s 400km rural rail network: “we take the slow train, no matter where it goes.” Now the four railway tracks offer the most idyllic – and sometimes only – passage through Sardinia’s rugged interior using Fifties railway stock. Some locations are so rural that drivers often disembark to shoo geese and sheep off the time-worn track. Sadly steam engines are disused (they kept setting fire to local terrain) but the prettiest coastal lines (to Bosa and Palau) call at secret beaches and vineyards.
From £3 per hour ride; for more details, see Trenino Verde (treninoverde.com).
The three-hour journey from Jesenice to Nova Gorica winds through the Julian Alps, burrowing through 36 tunnels and crossing the world’s longest stone arch railway bridge over the Isonzo Gorge. A steam locomotive pulls historic passenger carriages with staff in the uniforms of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which built the railway between 1900 and 1906.
Tickets from £40 with ABC tourism (00 386 59 070 512; abc-tourism.si).
The narrow-gauge FEVE railway, winding along the coast of the Asturias region of north-west Spain, is the focus of a a seven-night self-guided Slow Train through Asturias journey from the “slow travel” specialists, Inntravel. Passengers can hop on and off the train – billed as “the perfect means of transport for the curious and insouciant traveller” – to explore lush landscapes in the shadow of the dramatic Picos de Europa mountain range, along with fine beaches, fishing villages and Oviedo, the region’s capital, with its characterful old town. The trip includes stays at two Casas de Indianos, grand mansions converted into comfortable hotels.
From £595 per person (two sharing), including B&B accommodation and train travel; 01653 617000; inntravel.co.uk.
by Adam Leposa |
May 15, 2019 10:22am
This Memorial Day weekend is set to be the second-busiest since tracking began in 2000, according to the latest Memorial Day travel forecast from AAA. This year nearly 43 million Americans will travel over the long holiday weekend, marking the second-highest travel volume since AAA began keeping records in 2000. Only 2005 was busier.
Overall, an additional 1.5 million people will take a Memorial Day trip this year, up 3.6 percent over last year. Despite gas prices rising to near the $3 per gallon mark, the vast majority of travelers will go by road this year, AAA said. Citing an analysis by global transportation analytics company INRIX, AAA says that travel delays on major roads could be more than three times longer than normal during evening commutes.
“Consumer spending remains strong, helped by solid job and income growth,” said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel, in a written statement. “Families continue to prioritize spending their disposable incomes on travel, and near-record numbers of them are looking forward to doing just that for Memorial Day.”
By the numbers: 2019 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast
· Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers – 37.6 million – will hit the road, the most on record for the holiday and 3.5 percent more than last year.
· Planes: 3.25 million people will take to the skies, 4.8 percent more than last year, second only to 2005.
· Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 3.8 percent to 1.9 million passengers.
For those hitting the road, INRIX and AAA predicts the worst times to drive will be on Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24 in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. Several major U.S. metropolitan areas could see double the travel times as compared to normal, while those in New York and Washington, DC, could see three times the delay.
Gas prices have increased by more than 30 cents in the last two months with the national average approaching $3 per gallon ($2.86 on May 14, 2019), which is relatively on par with prices this time last year ($2.87 on May 14, 2018), AAA said. However, 88 percent of travelers will choose to drive to their Memorial Day destinations this year, the most on record.
At the same time, hotel and car rental costs are set to fall this year. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, car rental prices have declined 7 percent compared with last year, with an average daily rate of $55. Mid-range hotels are between 2 percent and 3 percent cheaper this year, with an average nightly rate of $146 and $183, respectively, for AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated properties. Meanwhile, airfares are holding steady compared with last Memorial Day, for an average roundtrip price of $171.
Orlando, New York City and Las Vegas can expect an influx of travelers for the holiday. These are the top destinations in the U.S. this Memorial Day weekend, based on advance AAA Travel bookings:
1. Orlando, Florida
2. New York, New York
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
4. Honolulu, Hawaii
5. Anaheim, California
6. Seattle, Washington
7. Phoenix, Arizona
8. Anchorage, Alaska
9. Tampa, Florida
10. San Francisco, California
Europe is the top region for those traveling internationally this holiday weekend, with Rome, London, Dublinand Paris accounting for the top four destinations. Vancouver, Canada, is number five.
by Richard Nahem |
May 15, 2019 11:13am
The most obvious reason to go to Chantilly is to visit the historical chateau, but we recently returned to find many other activities and sites to enhance our stay, including recently restored rooms at the chateau.
Trains leave Paris Gard du Nord station to Chantilly/Gouvieux station almost every hour, and it takes a mere 24 minutes to be whisked to the verdant French countryside.
A two-year restoration of the royal apartments at the Chateau de Chantilly is a great reason to revisit the city. Henri de Orleans/the Duke of Aumale, the last heir to the Duke Aumale, engaged the services of architect Victor Dubois and decorator Eugene Lami in 1845 to design private apartments for him and his new wife, Maria-Carolina- Augusta, on the ground floor of the Petite Chateau, an extension of the Chateau de Chantilly. The suite of eight rooms was completed in 1847, and it includes the prince and princesses’ bedroom, salon and bathrooms, plus the Petite Singerie, the only room that is completely intact since it was originally built. A series of wood panels painted in 1735 by Christophe Huet exhibit the aristocratic activities of female monkeys (lunch during the hunt, picking cherries, playing card games, dressing), borrowing the clothes and expressions of the Condé princesses, in all the seasons.
The chateau features the second most significant art collection in France after the Louvre, with masterpieces by artists Corot, Delacroix, Fragonard, Ingres, Poussin, Raphael, Watteau and Van Dyck. An extensive library boasts 50,000 books and 15,000 manuscripts. Le Notre, who created the royal gardens of Versailles and Fontainebleau, designed a gorgeous formal French garden, and the park area of the chateau has acres of forest, streams, and meadows -- an ideal place to have a picnic.
A few hundred feet from the chateau, horse aficionados will embrace the Hippodrome de Chantilly, one of the most prestigious racetracks in Europe. The first official race took place in 1834, and the current racetrack was constructed in 1879. The flat, thoroughbred track runs a little under a mile and a half, and five classic races include the Prix de Diane and Prix du Jockey Club, which draw international guests. Next door to the racetrack is the Horse Museum, located in the Cour de Remises, the vast stables of Chantilly. Fifteen rooms have been designated to exhibit 200 objects and works of art including manuscripts, drawings, paintings, prints, and sculpture, which tell the rich history and evolution of the horse culture of France.
Le Potager des Princes is the former royal vegetable garden of Prince de Condé, and today it is a wonderful public garden with a bevy of sites and activities. A formal garden still stands along with an active vegetable garden and children will be enchanted with the animal farm that features peacocks, ponies, swans, goats, and geese in addition to rabbit and hen races. A theater on the property has a theater festival in summer and operas are also performed from time to time. A tea salon and café serving full meals and pastries open from May to September, has a lovely setting inside the formal garden with a green latticework pavilion and starched white linens.
Golf is not a major pastime in France, but the turf and climate of Chantilly is ideal for the sport. There are five premiere golf courses in Chantilly, all with 18 holes and some that sponsor competitions.
Since there were so many activities in Chantilly, it was necessary to stay overnight. Auberge du Jeu de Paume, a five-star Relais & Chateaux hotel, is the best situated hotel in Chantilly, as it is the closest property to the chateau and it is also within walking distance of the restaurants and boutiques in town.
We highly recommend booking the suites and rooms overlooking the chateau gardens and a tranquil fountain, rather than the rooms facing the front of the hotel, where the main road runs. Our Junior Suite was decorated in typical, luxurious French style with blue, Tuile de Jouy fabric on the headboard and drapes in the bedroom and lace trimmed pillows on the bed. Our petite salon was tastefully appointed with a tapestry-style carpet, a handsome blue, silk covered sofa with mahogany wood trim, and classic 18th century portraits on the wall.
The highlight of our stay was the dinner we had at the Michelin star restaurant Le Table du Connétable. We appreciated the spaciousness and comfort of the elegant dining room, as many restaurants in France tend to be crammed with too many tables. French-born Chef Julien Lucas prepares an exquisite menu of truly local specialties, sourcing most ingredients in less than a 50 mile radius, such as endive and mushrooms from Orry-la-Ville; hares, deer, and chestnuts from the forestland surrounding Chantilly; wild seafood from the waters of Picardie; and shellfish and saffron from the Bay of Sommes. A most special dessert, probably one of the most beautiful and clever we’ve ever seen, was an exact replica of an endive, but made of chocolate on the outside and filled with a sensational mix of chocolate and espresso ganache.
Do not miss the crème de la crème we experienced at the Valmont spa at the hotel, the Thousand & One Chantilly treatment. The decadent treatment starts with a revitalizing exfoliation followed by a soothing massage; the surprise at the end is the slathering of chilled Chantilly cream all over our bodies. After the treatment, our skin felt smooth and silky for days.
An advantage about Chantilly is its close proximity to Charles De Gaulle Airport, only 20 minutes away. Auberge du Jeu de Paume offers a special “Last Night in France” package.
by Adam Leposa |
May 16, 2019 9:35am
New York City’s JFK Airport has a hip new airport hotel. The TWA Hotel, the product of a long-running restoration of the airport’s historic TWA terminal building, is now officially open.
The new hotel celebrated its official grand opening Wednesday with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Tyler Morse, CEO and managing partner of MCR and MORSE Development.
Designed by Eero Saarinen, the landmark TWA terminal building opened in 1962 and closed in 2001. It was also placed on the National and New York State Registers of Historic Places in 2005.
Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners led the restoration of the iconic Jet Age building, as well as its transformation into a hotel. The project involved constructing two new hotel wings behind the terminal building, which were designed by LUBRANO CIAVARRA Architects with interior design by Stonehill Taylor, as well as a 50,000-square-foot events center, which was designed by INC Architecture & Design. Construction began in 2016.
The new hotel has 512 guestrooms, as well as a direct connection to JetBlue’s Terminal 5 via the terminal building's “flight tubes,” a Jet Age design element that was featured in the movie Catch Me if You Can. There is also a rooftop infinity pool, bar and observation deck with views of runway 4 Left / 22 Right, as well as 50,000 square feet of event space, including a 15,000-square-foot ballroom, and a 10,000-square-foot fitness center.
For dining, there is a cocktail bar called The Sunken Lounge in the terminal building’s historic chili pepper red-carpeted lounge and another cocktail lounge inside a transformed Lockheed Constellation “Connie” L-1649A aircraft. A signature, 200-seat restaurant by Jean-Georges, The Paris Café, serves breakfast lunch and dinner, while grab-and-go options are available from the Departures Hall. There are also an Intelligentsiacoffee bar and coffee carts throughout the hotel grounds.
Other Jet Age touches include a series of museum exhibitions on TWA and midcentury modern design curated by the New York Historical Society, a reading room with Herman Miller-designed furniture and Phaidon books, and a Warby Parker Pencil Room, where travelers can use pencils emblazoned with one-liners to fill out custom postcards. BLADE helicopter service to Manhattan is also available.
Next weekend is Memorial Day weekend. If you are hitting the road please make sure your vehicle is ROAD READY. Nothing can be more disappointing than an unexpected problem with the vehicle while on the road. While you can't prepapre for 100% of everything you can at least try to make it a trip that you will not have an unexpected hiccup with your vehicle.
Have a safe weekend next week and do remember the real reason for this holiday. For all those that have protected and served us and given up so much for all of us.
Until next week remain vigilant, and be safe, stay safe and travel safe.
Cheers from Oakley.
Bill and Fred