A couple of years ago, I did a “Travel Minute” on the rise in Chinese tourism. I predicted hotels would—by now—have menus in Chinese, and signage in Chinese would begin to appear everywhere. I was wrong.
Not that the Chinese aren’t traveling in increasing numbers. But so far they’re favorite destination are Australia and southeastern Asian countries closer to home.
It’s the Russians who are making a big splash in tourism, especially in Eastern and Western Europe and—among the very rich–to cities where they can buy trophy real estate such as Miami, New York, and California.
I first noticed this a year ago when I was in Monaco, and it was even more obvious when I was there in early June. Russians were a godsend to the tourism industry in Europe during the global recession.
Nine per cent of tourists to Greece are from Russia; four years ago, only two per cent of tourists were Russians. Greece has experienced the sharpest increase in Russian visitors followed by Iceland, Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Latvia, and Spain.
No, there aren’t Russian menus in American restaurants yet, but at this rate, there will be Russian menus before there will be menus in Chinese.
There’s finally an easy solution to splitting a restaurant check with someone who feels the need to point out your entrée was more expensive than his or that he didn’t have a dessert when everyone else did.
We all know someone like that, don’t we? But even if it’s just a simple split among two, three, or more people, there’s an app for that.
It’s an app called Check Splitter Deluxe, and it ends the need for you to throw in a few extra dollars to cover a tip or to spend ten minutes calculating everyone’s share of a bill.
You can figure the size of the gratuity you want to leave by naming a percentage, and charges can be organized for each guest if you happen to be dining with someone who’s picky about such things.
There are several other tip calculating apps available, but this is the first I’ve seen that lets you ascribe each item to a specific person quickly and easily, putting a halt to arguments about who had what. As I write, the app is only available to owners of iPhones, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an Android app soon, as well.
New York City’s hotel rooms are among the most expensive in the country, but savvy travelers know January is the slowest month for travel. So it only makes sense that hotels—even hotels in New York City—will offer deals during Hotel Week NYC, January 3rd to the 12th.
And we’re not talking just any old hotels. Among the participants are the flashy Gansevoort Park Avenue, The James New York, and Thompson LES. Then there’s the trendy Ace Hotel with its round-the-clock lobby scene that’s not to be missed, and the new Jade Hotel in Greenwich Village.
Rates start at $100 a night—you can barely get a hostel at that nightly rate in Manhattan normally. And $200 or $300 may well get you rooms that normally go for $400 or $500 a night.
In some cases you have to call the hotel directly while others allow you to book on line. Either way, you have to mention “hotel week” to get the discount.
Some sample rates: $200 for Hotel Giraffe or the Library Hotel; $300 for The James in Soho; $100 for the Affinia in midtown Manhattan. Here’s where you can check out participating hotels.
The hotel business is booming. New hotels are springing up all over the world, and average room rates are creeping north. But there’s a powerful force that may disrupt the hospitality industry sooner rather than later.
Blame it on Airbnb.com, the web site that lets anyone list their home, condo, or extra room on the Internet for rent.
Vikram Singh specializes in innovative uses of new technology, and he recently took a look at some stats that Airbnb released.
The web site now has half-a-million properties on offer worldwide.
In the nine months alone, five million people have found a place to stay on the road using Airbnb. Every night, 150,000 people are sleeping in a bed they booked on Airbnb.
The numbers just keep growing, and they represent a lot of travelers who would otherwise be staying in hotels and motels.
Singh says travelers are making lodging decisions less and less on the basis of brand names and more and more on reviews, location, service, and value. With Airbnb, guests often make a personal connection with their host. Can you name the desk clerk who checked you into your last hotel? And Airbnb’s neighborhood guides offer another personal touch.
The hotel industry ought to be worried, and recent moves to make unlicensed home stays illegal in New York City, Spain, and France indicate they are.
It’s called Freedom Ship International, and it’s on the drawing board of a Florida firm that wants to find $10 billion to get it built. This is really a floating city because it will have a hospital, school, and residences. Oh, and a roof that’s a mile-long runway for passenger planes.
Yes, the ship will be a mile long. And 25 stories high. Powered by solar cells. Are you getting a mental picture of it now?
The plan is to carry 50,000 permanent residents, a crew of 20,000, and 10,000 ordinary cruise passengers.
This isn’t the first ship to offer condo-like residences to wealthy folks who like to have a different view of the world outside their living room windows year ‘round. A ship called The World began sailing in 2002. About 130 families own condos on the ship that circumnavigates the globe every two to three years. The average resident spends four months a year on board.
But the Freedom of the Seas? Well, this is a whole other dimension of cruise ship.