An interesting new formula has been created by a travel advisory company, called TripIndex. Basically it is the travelers’ equivalent of the standard shopping basket where the price of identical goods is compared from different sources. TripIndex adds together the cost of one night in a four star luxury hotel, a large cheese pizza from a global pizza chain, a dry martini in the bar of a top-ranking hotel and a five mile taxi ride in various international cities. It looks something like this:
4*Night + Pizza + Martini + Taxi = ?
They ranged widely across the globe from Bangkok at $85.71 to Paris at $362.28.
There is no surprise in the fact that there is a wide difference between costs in an Asian city and the pinnacle of European class, Paris. However, the index was applied to cities in the U.S. which also showed almost as wide a difference. Las Vegas produced all four items for $121.30 while the same four items in New York City cost $324.38 – over $200 more!
Those looking for a good value location to host their next business conference or family reunion should look at Dallas ($173.37), New Orleans ($177.23), Atlanta ($177.34), Minneapolis ($189.69) or Orlando ($200.89).
The most expensive U.S. cities for a weekend away, besides New York, would be Boston ($301.32), Washington D.C. ($291.12), Chicago ($257.82), San Francisco ($254.69) or Honolulu ($238.78).
It certainly pays to do your homework, although hotel booking companies that specialize in luxury hotels, such as Luxique.com will always offer the best deals wherever in the world you choose to visit.
Even the best luxury hotels worldwide do not always make teeth cleaning easy if the bathroom water is less than pure. A new idea from Archtek has the perfect solution – chewable toothpaste tablets. I can think of three great advantages over regular toothpaste straight away for travelers.
First of all, you can pack it in your hand luggage without having to put it in your clear Ziploc and declare it as a liquid. Secondly, it is accessible after your flight meal to freshen your mouth before and/or after sleeping. Thirdly it can be used without water, so you don’t have to open a bottle of expensive spring water just to brush your teeth in areas where the water is not up to drinking standards.
The instructions seem simple enough – just pop it in your mouth and brush as usual. Hard to imagine, but I presume all will become apparent when you try it for real. Available for just $3.25 for 60 it’s a gadget that won’t break the bank either.
This clever idea (aren’t the best often the most obvious?) caught the eye and imagination of the Travel Goods Association who were promoting it, along with 90 other new travel products, at the recent Travel Goods Exhibition in Chicago. In case you were wondering, the winner of their “Buzz Award” for best offering in the show was a “Blankid Buddy”, an animal shaped accessory that can be used as a backpack, cuddly toy, pillow or blanket. Sorry, that’s one strictly for the kids!
by Gillian at Luxique Luxury Hotels
Michael Fazio’s newly published book about his job as concierge of a luxury hotel has opened up a hornet’s nest of similar bizarre stories. Apparently, we hotel guests make some very strange requests at times.
According to his book Concierge Confidential, Fazio tells of the practical problems of preparing a bathtub of chocolate as one of his most creative moments. The lady in question was delighted with the romantic gesture, but apparently only dipped her fingers in. However, it took a hotel engineer to drain the tub!
Concierge Karron Cook at the W Los Angeles-Westwood lists the most common request is for Lakers match tickets, and for those prepared to spend four figure sums that’s no problem, she says. She has also arranged romantic wedding proposals such as seating a couple at the outdoor restaurant as a skywriter wrote, “Will you marry me, Lisa?” in the sky. (BTW, she said yes to her boyfriend, not the pilot!)
In Vegas, head concierge of the MGM Grand, Jeanne Mills, was asked to create a “Pretty Woman” experience for a girlfriend who was whisked on a shopping spree to the Forum shops before being ferried out to Red Rock Canyon for a champagne picnic and proposal.
With an attitude of “the difficult is done at once, the impossible takes a little longer”, the Director of Romance was asked to make the private plunge pool colder for a guest at a luxury hotel in Mexico’s Cabo San Lucas. She trucked in ice and put huge chunks in the pool until it cooled to the desired temperature.
Frank Laino, head concierge at The Stafford in London has gone beyond the call of duty for guests requesting prime show seats or a table at a fully booked restaurant. He even organized a tailor to make tweed suites for visiting greyhounds and arranged for a guest to see the Vermeer paintings in Buckingham Palace. For his trouble, he has been voted Top Concierge by Luxury Travel Advisor magazine.
Luxury hotel group Fairmont Hotels and Resorts has just launched some interesting packages designed especially for travellers who want to enjoy an enriching experience along with a comfortable bed.
Their Apprentice-Trips are a worldwide collection of trips which offer transforming and enriching experiences in art and culture, sports, outdoor activities and gastronomy.
One lovely example is the Fairmont Dallas which offers an Art Immersion package. This includes a one-hour private session on how to buy and appreciate art with local art veteran Ross Akard and gallery owner Bryan Embry. The package also organizes a lesson with the hotel’s artist-in-residence, who incidentally rotates on a quarterly basis. After following the self-guided artwalk from the hotel, an art-inspired dinner and wine pairings are offered in the restaurant. As a lasting memento of this art-indulgent weekend, guests are given a coffee table book to take home, donated by Nasher Sculpture Center.
Those heading for Europe this summer may find the Apprentiss’Art package at the Fairmont Monte Carlo hits all the right notes for them. This package provides an up-close look at the works of Croatian contemporary artist, Mateo Mornar. Visit his studio in Monte Carlo, enjoy an introductory session on clay sculpting and see his renowned sculptures of the royal family. A luxury hotel room, signature restaurant and magnificent setting can also be counted on.
The Fairmont Orchid on Big Island, Hawaii offers a Canoes, Coffee and Culture package which gives a unique insight into Hawaiian culture. Visitors go on a one-hour outrigger canoe fishing experience, tour a Kona coffee farm with lessons on growing and harvesting coffee beans and finally enjoy dinner at Brown’s Beach House featuring some of the island’s local produce and sustainable seafood.
Other Fairmont packages cover Finding Your Inner Chi at Fairmont Beijing or How to Pass a Bill in Washington - no prizes for guessing this is hosted by the Fairmont Washington D.C. Happy travels!
by Gillian at Luxique Luxury Hotels
One of the most popular hotel review websites, TripAdvisor, could face a legal challenge from hoteliers who say adverse comments are damaging their businesses.
TripAdvisor encourages its users to give honest feedback and ratings for hotels, flights, restaurants and rentals. But a growing group of hotel owners claim many of the posts are either exaggerated or completely fabricated (either by users or competing hoteliers).
The mass action is being put together by KwikChex, a company which monitors online reputations. Chris Emmins, from the company, said more and more businesses from around the world were contacting him about the situation. Many were smaller concerns that couldn’t afford to fight back.
Mr Emmins said he was keen to avoid legal action if possible, and his aim was for TripAdvisor to take down reviews that were proven to be false, defamatory or malicious. “We hope common sense will prevail,” he said.
TripAdvisor said it couldn’t comment on threatened or pending litigation, but added that every review was screened, and those deemed suspicious were investigated.
by Andy Moreton
I recently spent a very pleasant few days in Florence. The Tuscan capital is, of course, famous for its history, art, architecture and music, but there’s much more to the city.
It’s cleverly introduced the trappings of modern life – designer shops, night clubs and fast food outlets, for example – without compromising its status as the cradle of the Italian Renaissance.
The world-famous Uffizi gallery draws people from all over the world, and if there’s one tip I’d offer it’s to book an organised tour. In this way, you’ll avoid the long lines of visitors paying on the day, while also being given some context to the paintings you see. Also, it seems that the later the tour in the day, the less crowded it is and the easier to move around the displays.
Also impressive was the Basilica of Santa Croce, which is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians in history, including Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli. It’s vast, so allow plenty of time.
And when your feet can stand no more walking, head for the sprawling Boboli Gardens, an oasis of calm from the constant traffic of vehicles and tour parties. As well as the formal 16th century gardens, there are sculptures, Roman antiquities and, if you’re up for a climb, great views of the city.
by Andy Moreton
The capital of Tuscany is a delight all year round, and Luxique offers a selection of 14 of the finest luxury hotels in Florence.
A luxury hotel in London is offering the chance to sample some (but certainly not all!) of the pleasures enjoyed by the controversial writer, Oscar Wilde.
It was at the Cadogan Hotel in fashionable Knightsbridge that Wilde was arrested in 1895 and charged with gross indecency. After a notorious trial, he ended up doing two years’ hard labour in jail.
The hotel has created the ‘Green Carnation’ package, named after the dyed buttonhole Wilde was fond of wearing. Guests can stay in Room 118 (where the half-drunken writer awaited his arrest), sample a bottle of his favourite pink Perrier-Jouet champagne and choose from a menu containing some of his favourite food, which includes, oddly, Victoria sponge cake.
As a complement to the luxury hotel’s package, London Walks (www.walks.com) have organised a stroll round some of the haunts favoured by Wilde, including the sites of shops, restaurants, clubs and theatres.
by Andy Moreton
Book the Cadogan and other luxury hotels in London through Luxique.
Every year, about six million pilgrims head for the famous Catholic shrine of Lourdes in south-west France.
However, in this age of GPS (sat-navs) and sloppy spelling, a fair few are arriving at Lourde (without the ‘s’), a sleepy village about 57 miles west. The village does not have a shrine or, indeed, a hotel or a shop.
Over the years, the 94 residents of Lourde have become used to cheerfully re-directing the lost souls, but the popularity of GPS has apparently increased the number going astray. Recently, twenty bemused pilgrims turned up in one day.
Despite the confusion, the villagers are adamantly resisting calls for them to modify their name in a bid to help. And one municipal councillor came to the defence of new technology: “The GPS is not at fault, people are,” he said.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique offers a choice of a wide range of luxury hotels in Paris and many other French cities.
A former work colleague of mine, having taken voluntary redundancy, decided to begin his new, hard-earned leisure time by driving to Mongolia – as you do.
After cajoling a slightly less enthusiastic journalist mate to join him, the two set off in a van on their charity expedition, and the adventure is chronicled in the highly entertaining Mission Mongolia (Summersdale Publishers, West Sussex).
In the narrative, David (Treanor, the author), and Geoff, both fifty-something, are at times Butch and Sundance, at others Laurel and Hardy, but mostly The Odd Couple. In a hotel in Ukraine, Treanor (think Walter Matthau) cheerily washes his rancid socks in what turns out to be the last bowlful of hot water. Enter Geoff (Lemmon) from a cold shower eyeing the socks gently steaming on the window ledge.
It’s a tale of terrible roads and border cops looking for backhanders, but also of spectacular scenery in places most of us will never get near. Treanor neatly weaves in history, geography and ecology without letting the pace drop, and there are some amusing threads: the search for drinkable beer (mostly successful), Geoff’s quest for breakfast muesli (mostly hopeless) and the competing musical tastes of the two explorers: Steely Dan v Punk.
When you read of their experiences at some of the flophouses en route (particularly one memorable hovel at Ölgii in Mongolia), I guarantee you’ll pull that fluffy complimentary bathrobe a bit closer to your body, pour yourself another G & T from the mini-bar and toast the fact that you opted for a luxury hotel.
by Andy Moreton
It’s a sight not seen in many major European cities – tourists strolling about in their swimwear.
But Barcelona in Spain is both a metropolis and a seaside resort, and the locals are so fed up with the scantily-clad visitors that there’s a campaign to get them to cover up as they leave the beach.
The municipal authorities in the popular Catalan city have printed posters showing a couple in swimming costumes with a red line through it, alongside another couple fully-dressed without the red line.
A spokesman for the city hall said: “We want to make people understand that it’s an attitude that we don’t like. It’s not banned or punishable, but it’s something we don’t think is civil.”
The posters will be put up in the underground (subway), on buses and in other public areas. The city’s mayor has also sent letters to businesses, hotels, bars and restaurants encouraging them to download the poster and display it on their walls.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique’s Top Destination guide says Barcelona is a gem of a tourist destination – you’d better believe it! We can offer a choice of more than two-dozen of the best luxury hotels in Barcelona – both traditional and cutting-edge.