Crowd sourcing has proven useful for all kinds of travel-related things. Consider TripAdvisor that offers up millions of consumer reviews of hotels around the world. Last month, Google paid an astonishing $1 billion for a company you’ve probably never heard of, an Israeli-based start-up called Waze.
Your commute may be shortened as a result.
Waze is an app that lets drivers report road congestion in real time that could lead to shorter commutes which means cleaner air and less fuel consumption as drivers are re-routed instantly.
I have to tell you, $1 billion is a big vote for the future of this app.
At the University of Toronto, some smart folks have developed software that allows traffic lights to read the flow of traffic and then adjust the timing of their reds and greens accordingly. Today the system operates at 59 Toronto intersections, Jeffrey Ball reported recently on Slate.com.
The assertion is that travel time has been reduced by 25% and lowered carbon emissions by 30%. As writer Ball points out, electric vehicles may get a lot of press, but they’re social good so far is a drop in the bucket compared to these two coming attractions.
I was a young Washington Post reporter when the first casino opened in the down-on-its-luck town of Atlantic City, NJ, 35 years ago. I was stunned at the long lines that waited to get in the Resorts International Hotel & Casino that first day. And the dozens of competitors that followed were meant to usher in a renaissance that would rescue Atlantic City.
That didn’t happen.
Visitors checked into the hotels with casinos, ate there, shopped there, but there wasn’t much trickle down of money to the town as a whole. Then the first casino opened in Pennsylvania in 2006, and it siphoned off gamblers who’d been going to Atlantic City for 30 years.
Casino and hotel revenue plunged, thousands of jobs were lost. Now one casino there is hoping a pricey strip club might boost business.
Yesterday the Trump Taj Mahal opened a $25 million branch of Scores, the New York City club that attracts sport stars, actors, and other big spenders. Total nudity and lap dances are prohibited. There are four strip clubs in town, but the Trump folks hope the safety and status of an in-property club will begin a rising tide that will lift all boats.
Call me skeptical.
Patrick Smith is a pilot with a major US carrier, but he’s also become a journalist with his informative web site, “Ask the Pilot.” He’s regularly outraged when he reads articles such as ones that purport modern aircraft can “fly themselves.”
I need to add New York Times writer Joyce Wadler to the pile.
Late last month she wrote a wickedly funny column about how impossible it was to get an award ticket to Europe this summer. The headline said it all: “How Many Miles Do I Need to Murder the Head of the Airline?”
Joyce couldn’t find an award ticket because she didn’t know how to look. It’s that simple and that complicated. Regular listeners to my Travel Minute know that snaring award tickets is a science that takes study. Which is why I’ve recommended ThePointsGuy.com and MileValue.com as two web sites worth noting.
And I have twice used with great success Scott Grimmer of MileValue.com to obtain award tickets for me this past summer—one to France, another to Qatar. He charges about $100 but he can save you thousands of dollars AND miles.
Too bad Joyce didn’t know that.
Admittedly, checking into the Four Seasons on the Papagayo Peninsula is not a bad way to begin. The resort is carved carefully out of a jungle surrounded on three sides by water. Howler monkeys and white-faced monkeys live in that jungle along with deer, fat lizards, dozens of varieties of birds, and other critters that sometime saunter across the fairway of the dramatic topography of the Arnold Palmer-designed golf course.
With 14 of 18 holes offering views of the Pacific Ocean, I was almost tempted to take up golf.
Four Seasons service is famous worldwide, but the welcoming nature of the locals set this country above the norm. From maintenance guys at the airport to hotel staff, the level of warmth a visitor feels is quite extraordinary.
There are two seasons in Costa Rica: The high season from December to Easter called the “dry” or “gold season,” and the rainy, or “green” season from August through November. No hurricanes touch the peninsula, and room rates are about $400 a night during low season, $600 during high.
It’s a great family or romantic getaway destination.
Well, I finally set that right.
About two weeks ago I did a remote broadcast of my weekend show from the Four Seasons Costa Rica located in the northeastern part of the country on the Pacific Ocean, about an hour’s drive south of the border of Nicaragua.
The country’s main airport is in its capital of San Jose in the central part of Costa Rica, but I flew into the airport near the town of Liberia. Interestingly, part of the airport was built by the US during the Reagan years so Oliver North could send secret shipments of Iran/Contra weapons to Nicaragua. Today American, Delta, United, JetBlue and other airlines fly there.
As nice as the terminal is, you might not want to tarry for a meal. Three of us had lunch there: two orders of fish tacos, one beer, and two bottles of water cost $90. A small bag of nuts in the gift shop sold for $9.50, a buck less than a bag of “semi-precious stones” in another shop.
Tomorrow: The good news about Costa Rica.