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.
If you are making a business trip to a foreign country, it is as important to do your homework on the culture as it is to pack your passport. Business leaders traveling the world and staying in luxury hotels are expected to know the basics of their host country’s etiquette. Ignorance is absolutely no excuse to give your opposite number an offensive gesture, says Lonely Planet.
For example, did you know that in Japan you are expected to top up the glass of the person next to you, but never your own glass? If you help yourself it would be seen as a clear sign that you are alcoholic!
In Russia, when vodka is poured, wait for the toast and then knock back the shot in one gulp. If you get through that ordeal, here’s another which may trip you up. When the vodka bottle is empty it should never be placed on the table, but put on the floor. In Armenia, if you tip the last drops into someone else’s glass it obliges them to buy the next bottle. If you want that contract, make sure you empty the bottle into your own glass and then order a replacement.
The open palm in some cultures is not the friendly wave that it was intended to be. In Greece, never hold up the palm to indicate halt, or signify five. You have just unwittingly given someone the middle finger gesture. Similarly the “Okay” sign with a thumb and index finger in Brazil is definitely not okay to do.
Finally, always find out whether a kiss, a bow or a handshake is the correct customary business greeting and always learn to say “thank you” in the local language, if nothing else.
by Gillian at Luxique Luxury Hotels
Adventure travel continues to be popular and is definitely not just for gap year students. Luxury hotels in South Africa, Tanzania and Myanmar are opening their doors and encouraging international travelers to experience some amazing adventures, cosseted by five star hotel standards, yet immersed in a totally different culture.
Packing advice is to travel light and leave behind a lot of those high-tech gadgets which are part of our everyday westernized lifestyle. The challenge is could you really do without the following essentials?
E-readers – designed to save space and weight in luggage, they are far more stealable than books, you need to recharge them and, on a charitable note, you cannot leave them behind for the locals to enjoy. Better take a couple of bestsellers and trade them with fellow guests before giving them away.
GPS – another useful gadget, especially if you like Geocaching, but they attract thieves like magpies to gems. A compass may be less likely to break, is definitely cheaper and with a map you will understand far more about the local terrain.
Ipod – space saving and familiar, but music does isolate you from the foreign sounds that are part of any trip – the babble of local languages, wails from the muezzin or the quiet sounds of unseen inhabitants in the rainforest.
Translation Software – there are some great translation software packages including an iPhone app that overlays English onto foreign writing. Unfortunately users say it is useless on menus, so perhaps the good old dictionary, phrase book and a smile may get you further in the end.
Personally I leave behind the things that distract and take everything that may enhance my trip. How about you?
by Gillian at Luxique Luxury Hotels
If you have ever arrived at a hotel tired and weary only to find your hotel room bears no resemblance to what you booked, your fairy godmother is on hand. Room 77 has just launched its searchable website and iPhone app to counter just such a disappointment.
Room 77 is aiming at business travellers who want compare a number of rooms in luxury hotels which may all sound the same but in reality are poles apart. For leisure travelers, the view from the room may be even more important. Certainly luxury hotel chain Starwood Hotels has given it a firm thumbs up.
The database will offer basic details on room category, square footage etc, but the app will also allow potential clients to tap into the view from the actual room you are being checked into. With a database of 400,000 images of participating hotel rooms you can quickly check whether that ocean view is truly breathtaking or whether it is an awkward side view only visible when balancing on the window ledge. This is WYSIWYG at its best – what you see really will be exactly what you get.
The downside? The database currently only covers 25,000 luxury hotels in major American cities and popular resorts in Hawaii. It focuses only on luxury hotels and has no plans to broaden its database to three star hotels. As founder Brad Gerstner explains, your view in budget hotels is generally limited to the parking lot so it is really irrelevant. He does have a point.
Curious readers may wonder how Room 77 actually got into 400,000 rooms to film the view. Apparently they used Google Earth-style satellite technology and made adjustments for latitude, longitude and altitude. They also interviewed people in the know at hotels – the concierge and front-desk clerks - to get the real low down on the best rooms in each hotel.
Those who value a room with a view will find the Room 77 app a godsend. For the indecisive, booking a room could become very tedious indeed.
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
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.
I’ve just got back from a short visit to Melbourne, Australia and return to a subject I touched on more than two years ago – trams.
In a modern city fizzing with fashion, great nightlife and elegant dining, you’d think trams would stand out as a bit passé. Not a bit of it – they’re part of the fabric of Melbourne, providing a convenient and environmentally friendly way to get around. And one route – the City Circle tram – is free, dropping you off close to various visitor attractions.
I loved Melbourne – it has everything you’d expect from a major city, plus a beach area (St Kilda) only a tram ride away. The Eureka Skydeck provides the best views of the city, the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) tour is a must if you’re a cricket fan, and the best free attraction in my opinion is the Royal Botanic Gardens – a glorious place to spend some leisure time.
My only regret is that I was too early for three major events in the city: the International Flower and Garden Show (March 24–28), the International Comedy Festival (March 24–April 18) and, of course, the Formula 1 Grand Prix (March 28).
by Andy Moreton
If you’re thinking of heading Down Under, Luxique offers six luxury hotels in Melbourne, all with their own special features.
There are many reasons for visiting the Capital and staying in one of the the top luxury hotels in London – the world-class shows, theatre, opera and ballet; the unrivalled opportunities to truly shop ‘till you drop, even at London prices; the museums and art galleries, many of which are now free to enter, and the legendary gourmet dining. There are at least 5570 restaurants in London, according to the Yellow Pages, and many more pubs and coffee houses, snack bars and take-aways so you should be able to dine somewhere different every night for the next 27 years without having to repeat yourself.
However, in reality, we are creatures of habit, and having found somewhere good to dine out, we would rather return there than risk disappointment elsewhere. Many of London’s finest restaurants are an integral part of the luxury hotels in London which are found in Capital’s most prestigious areas. With expensive taxi fares and impossible parking, it makes sense to dine where you are staying. Here are some of London’s very best restaurants, complete with adjoining luxury hotel accommodation.
One of the city’s best restaurants is tucked inside the five star Connaught Hotel in Mayfair. Although you may feel out of place without a jacket and tie, Hélène Darroze, one of France’s most distinguished chefs has brought her Michelin-star cuisine to London for a gastronomic experience to savor. The more informal Espelette restaurant also offers signature dishes by Hélène, along with delectable afternoon teas.
Equally Michelin star-studded is the Foliage restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental. Nestled in one of the top luxury hotels in London, the restaurant enjoys a Royal Park on either side hotel and al fresco dining on the terrace in the warm summer evenings is an unrivalled experience. Attention to detail includes the waiting staff collecting leaves from Hyde Park and placing them beneath the bespoke glass plates to truly set the scene for an amazing experience.
The five star luxury Berkeley Hotel in London boasts possibly the finest dining with not one but two award-winning restaurants. Gordon Ramsay takes on New York’s café scene with his Boxwood Café whilst Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley presents a total food euphoria.
Finally, be prepared to be dazzled by an exciting international restaurant set in one of the premier luxury hotels in London. Nobu offers a delectable Peruvian-Japanese menu in the Metropolitan Hotel. Founded by world-renowned chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa and presided over by Executive Chef Mark Edwards, this specialty cuisine cannot fail to impress. Coupled with the legendary service and contemporary interior design, this luxury hotel in London’s Park Lane makes a truly refreshing place to dine and to stay.
by Luxique - A Unique Collection of Luxury Hotels in London
London is a fabulous place to visit for a weekend, a week or a month. There is so much to see and do, and the key to a great London experience is to stay right in the heart of the action. Ideally you want everything to be just a stone’s throw from your door. Here are a few suggestions for luxury hotels in London which are perfectly located to enhance your visit, whatever you want to do.
Durley House, Knightsbridge
This chic boutique hotel is the perfect pick for Shopaholics. Smack-bang in the middle of Knightsbridge, it is just steps from Sloane Square, the mecca for all fashionistas. Harvey Nich’s and Harrod’s are just along the road, so you don’t have to carry those bags too far.
Covent Garden Hotel, Soho
Interior designer types will adore any of Kit Kemp’s stylish makeovers. Covent Garden Hotel is just one of her superb creations in London. The rooms all have the trademarks of this designer legend; English country fabrics and four-poster beds enhance the richly decorated rooms. Antiques mix with contemporary artwork and look wonderful whilst breaking all the rules. Request one of the rooms with oversized windows and views over the rooftops – a great sight to wake up to.
One Aldwych, Covent Garden
Perfectly located for West End theatres, entertainment and nightlife, this Condé Nast Gold List star is within easy staggering distance of all the major theatres, the Royal Opera House and the National Gallery. One of the most exciting contemporary luxury hotels in London, One Aldwych is more than just a bed for the night.
This fine boutique hotel makes you a close neighbour of HRH at Buckingham Palace, which is just around the corner. Whitehall, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and the London Eye are all nearby making this a great choice for sightseeing guests. This ‘Leading Small Hotels of the World’ member is a thoroughly British institution from the clubby bar to the garden conservatory.
Threadneedles Hotel, City
Appropriately located in a former bank building, Threadneedles Hotel is right on the edge of the City, mixing business beautifully with pleasure. This unique luxury hotel is considered by Condé Nast to be one of the top 50 luxury hotels in the world, with its the refined atmosphere and fabulous stained glass dome in the former banking hall. The Penthouse has fabulous views of the City and St Paul’s Cathedral from the fifty-foot long terrace.
by Luxique Luxury Travel
A weekend break in Milan, Italy’s second largest city, is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy some retail therapy at any time of year. Make time to visit the Castello Sforzesco with its fine collection of art, archeology and coins or book tickets to the world-famous Teatro alla Scala, a chance which is not to be missed. Any weekend in Milan would not be complete without a shopping spree. Consider splashing out on a luxury hotel to suit your mood from one of our personal recommendations at Luxique.
The wealth of artwork which is available in the galleries of Milan is almost unfair. The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana has works by Titian, Raphael, Tiepolo, Caravaggio and Giorgone, all in a palazzo which is more than worthy of these exhibits. Built in 1609 to house Cardinal Borromeo’s art collection, it recently had a €21.7 million restoration. More classic and modern art can be seen at the Pinacoteca di Brera with works by Modigliani and Picasso alongside the Rubens and Van Dycks.
This stylish, modern city full of smartly dressed locals is the place to shop for a new wardrobe for the forthcoming season. The 19th century Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is packed ful of sophisticated shops, bars and restaurants. Enjoy the zodiac floor mosaics as you browse the designer shops in this covered arcade then head for the Designer Fashion District of Via Montenapoleone, Via Andrea, Via Gesù, Via Borgospesso and Via della Spiga.
There are a host of fine luxury hotels in Milan to choose from. The Gran Hotel et de Milan is one of the best located hotels which will not disappoint. Traditional in style, it is within a stone’s throw of some of the best-known fashion houses and boutiques and close to the Teatro alla Scala, the Duomo and the Palazzo Marino. More contemporary in style with minimalist furnishings, The Gray Hotel is arguably one of the best luxury hotels in Milan. Those who are looking for chic, contemporary style will feel right at home in this designer creation. Visitors to Milan who want to add a little romance to their stay will be delighted with Townhouse 31, a boutique hotel with just 18 rooms, offering an oasis of serenity yet within walking distance of Milan’s bustling shopping district of Montenapoleone. Those who are only impressed by designer names must experience the Bulgari Hotel. Lush gardens surround this former monastery which has been transformed into an ultra-modern luxury hotel with the lavish use of rare and precious materials in its décor. From the opulent spa to the exquisite restaurant, the Bulgari pulls out all the stops to make your weekend break in Milan complete.
by Luxique Luxury Travel