If you have recently stayed at one of the 800 Courtyard by Marriott hotels in North America, you may have seen the benefits of their redesigned lobby experience.
Hotel executives realized that the lobby area which was frequently used for serving a hot breakfast buffet was actually redundant space for most of the day. By redesigning the buffet into a modern bistro where guests can get food and beverages throughout the day, the space could be used to work and relax 24/7.
San Francisco based design firm IDEO were asked to design a new modern lobby experience around guests needs and desire for a more flexible space to work, relax, eat and drink. The results have already been implemented in more than half the 800 Courtyard hotels in the U.S. with the rest following during 2012 and 2013.
Many of these Courtyard lobby zone can be found in airports such as Phoenix Terminal 4, Houston Terminal E (near Gate 19) and Baltimore-Washington Concourse A. They offer an oasis to relax and work in an environment with comfy sofas and modern décor while passengers wait to board. The lobbies include laptop friendly work stations and a giant touchscreen TV for guests to look up the weather, news and local attractions.
The new GoBoard 4.0 provides guests with flight departure and arrival details and can send directions for local restaurants and attractions direct to their smart phones.
written by Gillian for Luxique.com
Business and leisure travelers may soon have something new to worry about before taking their next trip abroad. The debate between balancing security with personal privacy continues as more invasive body scans are rolled out at airports worldwide. The Israelis have always led the way in the field of security and Israeli scientists have come up with a new method of scanning travelers for explosives and drugs.
According to the New Scientist magazine, mice have been specially trained to trigger an alarm when they sense traces of explosives. The developers claim that mice are more accurate than dogs or x-ray machines and less objectionable than traditional patdowns. The mice work in four-hour shifts and are securely contained in concealed cartridges within a full-body scanning chamber.
The device was trialed in a Tel Aviv shopping mall by inventor Eran Lumbroso and his company BioExplorers. The mice correctly identified 22 people carrying mock explosives, but I wonder what the hit rate was for cheese?
If fully developed, this new idea ticks all the right boxes as being cheap, effective and less open to abuse than the full body scanners. However, how will musophobes - those with a fear of mice and rats - feel about being locked in a scanner within inches of small furry creatures? Squeak up!
by Gillian at Luxique Luxury Hotels
The much vaunted Terminal 2 at San Francisco Airport opened recently with the touch-down of Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo spacecraft at the airport, alongside a more familiar-looking Virgin America Airbus A320 with Sir Richard Branson and several other dignitaries on board.
This new airport will serve Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines and promises to pave the way for the airports of the future. With many travelers citing airport hassle as a major deterrent for international travel, perhaps airports do have to take note of how this new terminal aims to make flights a pleasant, calm experience without going soft of security.
For example, recognizing the stress passengers feel after being man-handled sometimes all too literally through security screening, the new terminal tries to compensate by leading passengers into a calmer “recompose” post-security area. With mood lighting, quality art works and on-site spas, hopefully blood pressure levels quickly return to more normal levels with the anticipation of a host of amenities for passengers to enjoy free during their waiting time.
Drinking fountains are offered specifically for filling water bottles free of charge - after your own have been confiscated earlier by diligent security staff. Free WiFi and plug-in stations offer work counters for those who have struggled and cursed getting their laptops in and out of awkward briefcases for security scanning. Kids, bored by long lines, can now try out the interactive play areas and the world should hopefully return to a more normal level of harmony.
San Francisco Terminal 2 has prepared us with high levels of expectation. Let’s see what real travelers have to say about this terminal of the future in the forthcoming weeks.
by Gillian at Luxique Luxury Hotels
While Ryanair ponders the pros and cons of offering standing room only flights, at the other end of the spectrum New Zealand Air has launched its luxury skycouch.
Nicknamed “cuddle class” for reasons which will shortly become apparent, the concept is that couples wanting extra space can each purchase an extra half a seat, turning three economy class seats into more flexible couch space on which both can stretch out and sleep.
Skeptics raise eyebrows at the thoughts of this encouraging yet more inebriate passengers to attempt to join the mile high club. Even those with less lustful thoughts may struggle to readjust their limbs in this compact space which lacks the demarcation of the central armrest. For those who are slightly wider than average it may provide additional comfort – but perhaps not for the sharing partner.
Families traveling with children may find the flexible space ideal, allowing children to curl up and sleep through the flight, or to use the less restricted couch space as a play area.
New Zealand Air will be offering the skycouch on select flights from Auckland to Los Angeles and on some flights connecting with London, beginning in April 2011. It remains to be seen whether this is the shape for the future of overnight flights, or another experiment destined never to fully take off.
by Gillian @ Luxique Luxury Travel
For some of the flying on New Zealand Air to London, check out Luxique’s unique selection of boutique hotels in London.
It was good news/bad news for British Airways last week.
The good news for the bosses of the UK’s national airline was the approval given by shareholders to its multi-million pound merger with the Spanish carrier, Iberia.
The companies proposed the merger because the global economic downturn and the rise of low-cost airlines have resulted in steep losses for traditional carriers like them. Analysts say the merger will allow the two airlines to compete better with rivals Air France-KLM and Lufthansa.
While Iberia will benefit from access to BA’s flight network in North America, BA is particularly keen to tap into Iberia’s ties with the fast-growing Latin American market. BA and Iberia will continue to operate independently with their own brands under the umbrella title International Airlines Group.
The trade union, Unite, did its best to rain on BA’s parade, however, announcing a fresh ballot for strike action by cabin crews involved in a long-running dispute with the company over pay and structural changes.
In Madrid for the merger handshake, the British Airways Chief Executive, Willie Walsh, brushed off concerns about possible industrial action. BA had ‘excellent contingency plans’, he said, which would significantly minimise the impact of any strike. He said the dispute was the result of a ‘dysfunctional’ union.
by Andy Moreton
The head of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, has lost a bet with the owner of AirAsia, and will dress as an air stewardess and serve champagne on one of his rival’s flights.
Branson owns the Virgin Racing Formula One team and AirAsia’s owner, Tony Fernandes, is the boss of the Lotus Racing team; the bet was about who would finish higher in the 2010 championship.
In the event, both teams ended with zero points in their debut F1 seasons, but Lotus was placed ahead of Virgin by virtue of better finishes. So Sir Richard will have to don a skirt and serve champagne to a selection of charity auction winners on an AirAsia flight from London to Kuala Lumpur.
Mr Fernandes, a Malaysian entreprenueur, worked for Branson’s Virgin Atlantic as a financial controller in the late 1980s. “We have had this great bet running all season and now it’s time for Richard to start preparing himself for some hard work and the likely pain of a pair of high heels,” he said.
The money raised on the flight will go to a charity chosen by Sir Richard.
by Andy Moreton
Imagine glancing across the aisle of your economy (coach) class seat and seeing Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie eagerly tucking in to their in-flight platter.
That might not seem so far-fetched now that the biggest actors’ unions in the US and Hollywood’s major film studios have struck an agreement which will see actors forced to share in America’s economic pain.
The rules, which are expected to come into force next July, state that on flights longer than 1,000 miles, actors will have to fly business class where it’s available, and can upgrade to first class only ‘if deemed necessary’. But for shorter work-related trips, they must travel economy.
Actually, I was kidding about the Pitts – you’re only likely to spot B- and C-List celebrities. The industry’s biggest names would almost certainly have written first class travel into their tailor-made, watertight contracts.
by Andy Moreton
So now we know – airline food isn’t that bland after all, it’s the cabin noise that makes it seem so.
A team of scientists think they’ve worked out that the level of background noise affects intensity of flavour and perceived crunchiness. While louder sound reduces the reported sweetness or saltiness, it increases the measure of crunch.
“There’s a general opinion that aeroplane foods aren’t fantastic,” said Andy Woods, one of the researchers. “I’m sure airlines do their best and given that, we wondered if there are other reasons why the food would not be so good. One thought was perhaps the background noise has some impact,” he told BBC News.
In a comparatively small study, 48 participants were fed sweet foods such as biscuits, or salty ones such as crisps, while listening to silence or noise through headphones. In noisier settings, foods were rated less salty or sweet than they were in the absence of background noise, but were rated to be more crunchy.
Caterers have long been aware that they need to add large amounts of salt or sugar to the meals and the ‘white noise’ experience while flying could be the reason.
by Andy Moreton
One of the more outlandish recent suggestions of the Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary was to have standing room on some of his more popular routes.
Apparently this actually came to pass last month on an overbooked Russian tourist plane flying back from Turkey. According to a report in the London Daily Mail, six passengers stood in the aisles for much of the five-hour flight. The Boeing 737, with a capacity of 142 passengers, was a smaller plane than had been scheduled for the flight, and 148 boarded.
“When the plane flew through turbulence, they went from standing to sitting in the aisle where naturally they had no safety belts,” a passenger told the paper. The ‘strap-hangers’ did not have oxygen masks or life vests, according to reports out of Moscow.
Evgenia Fedorova, a manager of the tour that booked passengers on the flight, was quoted as saying: “People had a choice – to fly on that plane standing up, or wait seven hours for another plane. All the tourists decided to fly back despite uncomfortable conditions.”
The airline, Tatarstan, said it would hold an investigation. Aviation regulators are also said to be studying the incident as it appeared to have been in direct violation of European standards.
by Andy Moreton
Passengers on a recent flight from Manchester to the Czech capital, Prague, were treated to in-flight entertainment with a difference.
Members of the Prague State Opera, including the soprano Vera Likérová, gave the first performance in the bmibaby airline’s ‘enterplanement’ season designed to showcase acts from destinations to which the airline flies.
“As well as putting the fun back into flying, we thought we could do something more interactive and actually have representatives from the destinations on a few flights,” said Julian Carr, managing director of bmibaby.
“Ultimately we want our customers to enjoy the experience, and we hope that it gives them ideas and suggestions about what to do and see that they might not read about in the standard tourist brochure or guide book,” he added.
Message board reactions were somewhat mixed:
- Just what I need when I’m trying to fall asleep on the plane!
- Wonderful – let’s hope this starts a trend.
- Great, now the airlines will start charging for ear plugs.
by Andy Moreton
World-class opera is just one of the attractions in the Czech capital, and Luxique can secure you the best rates at any one of 24 luxury hotels in Prague.