Have you ever walked into a hotel or resort and felt immediately at home? Even the fanciest of marble lobbies can fail in that regard. But I recently spent two nights at a resort in Virginia’s hunt country—Middleburg, VA—that gets it right.
The resort is a year old, and it’s called Salamander Resort & Spa. Middleburg is about an hour’s drive from DC, about 25 minutes from Dulles airport. Middleburg is a small town of grand stone houses, quaint inns, rolling hills, and lots of wide open, green spaces.
In short–a perfect place for a resort.
And owner Sheila Johnson recognized that. She and her team spent eight years bringing Salamander to life; after all, a resort with more than 150 rooms was a big deal for a village steeped in Revolutionary and Civil War history that is also home to quite a few wealthy and well-known families.
But she succeeded, and you enter the resort via an unmarked, winding road and walk into a huge living room flanked by fireplaces with an expansive view of the great outdoors. The details are just right—high-end fittings, a library you’ll want to move into, a polished equestrian center and luxurious spa. Three pools, two restaurants . . . check the photos out at here and treat yourself to a getaway.
By now, we all know that airfares jump around like crazy. We’ve all found a good price on a ticket, but after we’ve checked with friends or even stepped away from our computer to get a drink of water, we return to find that ticket price has increased. What if you could have an assistant that monitors ticket prices 24/7 and lets you know when prices drop?
Your personal assistant exists, and it costs you nothing. It’s an option on Kayak.com called “Price Alert.” Kayak is not a site that sells airline tickets—it’s a good place to see a vast array of flight options. After you choose a search, look in the upper, left-hand corner of the page and find “Price Alert.”
Click on that and set your parameters. Are you flexible about the day of travel? You can type in your exact date or ask for the cheapest fares on a particular month or even year. Do you want to receive price alerts daily? (That, by the way, is what I’d suggest.)
Our friend over at MileValue.com, Scott Grimmer, wanted to go from DC to LA, and by receiving daily updates from Kayak.com, he saved $65 on a one-way ticket between those two cities.
Kayak.com’s price alert—use it.
Every company in the travel industry wants to know who their best customers are. If you’re a frequent flyer, hotel guest, or rental car customer, it’s always smart to join a preferred customer program.
Take Kimpton Hotels, for example. The hotel chain recently rolled out what it calls Kimpton Karma Awards. There are four tiers. You achieve higher levels by staying more often, and awards follow accordingly.
Just sign up, and you’ll get free Wi-fi at Kimpton hotels and $10 toward a drink at the bar or from the mini-bar. Rack up three stays in a year or stay 10 nights, and the second tier will get you a $30 in-room spa credit and complimentary upgrade upon check in depending on availability.
Stay seven times–or 20 nights–and you’ll get late check out, a welcome amenity, and two upgrades in a year. At the top tier, which requires 14 stays or 40 room nights, you’ll earn comp nights faster, and the company will even give you direct access to Kimpton’s CEO.
We all know airlines offer a wide range of extras to elite frequent flyers. But don’t overlook programs offered by Hilton, Starwood, Hyatt, and most other major hotel companies.
A month or so ago, I did a “Travel Minute” about folks who dress as cartoon and action figure characters and hang around Manhattan’s Times Square hoping to pick up a few bucks posing for photos with tourists’ children. It was becoming a problem, and it appears with the recent arrest of Spiderman, things are going to change.
Some of those folks in costumes have gotten quite pushy. Or they try to charge foreigners ridiculous sums. Super Mario was accused a while back of groping a woman, and an Elmo figure pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge after delivering an anti-Semitic tirade.
But most recently, it was Spiderman’s turn in the barrel. He was arrested for allegedly punching a policeman who confronted him about charging tourists $10 for each photograph with him. And when his buddy, Naked Black Cowboy, turned up at the police station to check on him, he was frisked and arrested for possession of cocaine.
A police officer called these not-so-lovable characters “little terrorists preying on tourists,” and I agree it’s gotten out of hand. Sesame Workshop is considering suing panhandlers dressed up as Sesame Street creations without permission, and the City Council may require licensing.
Good idea, I think.
Airlines want to keep planes in the air as long as possible because a plane on the ground doesn’t earn any money. They’ve forever tried to figure out the most efficient way to board passengers in order to avoid a delayed departure.
I’ve flown airlines that board folks with seats in the back first, followed by everyone else. Or everyone with window seats boarded followed by middle seat and then aisle seat passengers.
Dr. Jason Steffen works as a scientist at the Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics, and he decided he wanted to figure out the ultimate answer. He created a computer model of passengers boarding with luggage, and he learned the least efficient way to board was back to front. Even though it sounds logical, only one passenger can put their luggage away in the overhead at a time, so you have one passenger stashing his luggage while another several wait.
So what’s the most efficient way?
Dr. Steffen says sending passengers in so adjacent passengers in line are seated two rows apart. That way, the most passengers can get situated at the same time without bumping into others. Now you know.