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Virgin Hotels is More Virgin Atlantic Than Virgin America But Very Virgin, Nonetheless

Where: 203 N. Wabash Avenue [map], Chicago, IL, United States, 60601
January 16, 2015 at 6:09 PM | by | Comments (0)

Virgin Hotels officially opened their doors to guests in Chicago yesterday and our sister site, HotelChatter, has the first look inside a Virgin guest room, excuse us, chamber for those visiting Chi-town. But if you were expecting to find a replica of a Virgin America airplane, complete with purple mood lighting and singing and dancing employees, you might be disappointed.

The historic building on Wabash has been done over into a very Virgin property, with lots of bright red touches everywhere, from the red tiles in the shower to the red SMEG mini fridge in the chambers, and the bright red coats worn by the lovely lady greeters at the entrance.

And even though the hotel is an American company, there are quite a few tributes to its British heritage--like the London Bridge depicted on the chamber rugs, the Birds and Blokes signs for the bathroom, the bright red telephone booth that serves as the hostess station at the not-yet-opened Miss Ricky's All-American Diner and the Union Jack on the dog bed at check-in. And for some reason, the chamber bed reminds us of Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic.

There's even a wall devoted to Sir Richard Branson in the 203 Coffee Bar (opening in a few weeks) and the history of his Virgin multimedia company, featuring photographs of Branson and his various companies, including Virgin Cola. (RIP.)

While the staff is incredibly happy and relaxed, no one has busted out a robot rap...yet. So if we're talking airlines here, Virgin Hotels feel more Virgin Atlantic than Virgin America but at the end of the day, Virgin Chicago actually wants to be a hub for locals.

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The 6 Must-Sees Inside Doha's $16 Billion Hamad International Airport

Where: Doha, Qatar
January 15, 2015 at 12:17 PM | by | Comments (0)

Fly from the US to Europe with a layover in the Middle East? How about a long-haul from Europe to Australia with a lunch of Arabic mezze in Qatar? This is the (near) future envisioned by the brand new, superlative city that is Hamad International Airport-DOH in Doha, Qatar.

The numbers behind the $16 billion(!!) project are appropriately gigantic; DOH can handle 8,700 passengers per hour, and has the space and infrastructure to see 50 million passengers annually through 65 gates once all phases are finished. 60% of the land the airport is built on was reclaimed from the Arabian Gulf, and in all that space passengers will find 22,000 sq m of retail, 15,000 sq m of dining, and a gobsmacking 80,000 sq m dedicated to the 16 lounges within the airport.

A simple layover may not be enough to fully enjoy all of Hamad International Airport, so we’ve done the legwork to name the highlights:

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This Deserted Caribbean Beach is Aruba's Secret Site for Plane Spotting

December 17, 2014 at 3:48 PM | by | Comments (0)

It's paradise, pure and simple. A deserted beach of white sand gently melting into clear, azure water. The waves are mere ripples, the water is of that desired "bathwater" warmth, and airplanes whizz directly overhead in the sunny sky. Welcome to one of the best, most undiscovered plane spotting locations in the Caribbean: Renaissance Island, Aruba.

It's no St. Maarten Maho Beach, but the experience will appeal to dedicated plane spotters who prize unique locations and a range of aircraft for indulging their hobby. Even sunbathers should make the easy nature walk from the Renaissance Island's developed beaches down a path to this spot, which we discovered this month while on a trip to the Southern Caribbean.

Pack your swimsuit, camera, mosquito repellant, sunscreen, and footwear a little more substantial than flip flops, and let's go...

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Food Worth Flying For: The Best Guanaco Meat Filet in Chilean Patagonia

December 16, 2014 at 11:13 AM | by | Comment (1)

That croissant in Paris. The char kway teow in Singapore. That cup of hot chocolate in Perugia. This is Food Worth Flying For. In this new series, Jaunted's contributors share the foods they'd gladly fly around the world for (and probably already have).

Patagonia is a bucketlist destination for sure, and staying at the 5-star Singular Hotel on Last Hope Sound is certainly elevating an already superlative experience. If ever you find yourself in this corner of the world (and you really should), step into the hotel's restaurant and order the best red meat dish we've ever eaten: sous vide Tierra del Fuego guanaco with native wheat.

What's "guanaco?" Well, it's an animal (a camelid like llamas and alpacas) that enjoys hanging out in the mountainous regions of South America. They have to be seen to be believed, and their meat eaten for the exquisite tastiness to be understood.

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Fly on a KLM Plane, Sleep in an Airbnb Treehouse

December 11, 2014 at 11:42 AM | by | Comments (0)

If you consider that sleeping in a plane is probably the most popular activity on flights after lazy SkyMall browsing, you probably wouldn't guess that people would actually want to sleep in a plane not even going anywhere. But that's exactly what happened last month.

The KLM x Airbnb promotion, which saw the Dutch airline converting their last MD-11 airplane into an apartment for a few lucky contest winners, was apparently so popular that it's spawned a long-term partnership.

Today KLM announces that travelers will "be able to search for a place to stay on Airbnb through the KLM website along with their flight booking." The focus here is on offering unique accommodation experiences for KLM travelers once they've stepped off a plane, although the MD-11 will sadly not be one of the choices.

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Virgin America Hops into Bed with Virgin Hotels for Flyer Perks

December 10, 2014 at 10:56 AM | by | Comments (0)

Perhaps to apologize for opening a hotel in Chicago in the middle of winter, Virgin Hotels is nuzzling up with Virgin America to help surprise flyers on the airline's routes to/from Chicago.

Last night, VX's Chicago flyers enjoyed a Virgin Hotels Social Hour, with free in-flight WiFi and a complimentary cocktail. These things may cost at 35,000-feet, but Virgin Hotels plans to offer them free to guests. One passenger on each flight also won roundtrip tickets and a 2-night stay at the Virgin Hotel Chicago (which opens January 15, 2015).

The onboard fun was also a prime time for Virgin Hotels to announce what perks Virgin America's frequent flyers will enjoy when on the ground and in bed:

All Virgin America Elevate members will receive 1,000 points per stay at Virgin Hotels. They will also get a special introduction offer of double bonus points for stays from January 15 to March 31, 2015.

Elevate Gold members will get complimentary breakfast and a room upgrade, based on availability. Silver members will also receive an upgrade, if available.

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Visit This Abandoned DC-3 Airplane, Now a Hotel Bar

Where: Airways Hotel, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
November 25, 2014 at 11:49 AM | by | Comments (0)

View from the Vue Restaurant at the Airways Hotel, Port Moresby

In our initial article on the new visa requirements for Americans visiting Papua New Guinea, we mentioned that Port Moresby carried a cost of living on par with cities like New York and Paris.

That was not a misprint; it’s very true, and a lot of it has to do with the influx of foreign mining companies, including Exxon and Mobil, that have jacked up rates for everything from real estate to recreation. This means that most of the traditional, local culture has been pushed out and replaced with gated communities and oversized malls, leaving Port Moresby in a confusing state of transition.

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Airbnb in a Plane! KLM Opens Contest for Airplane Sleepovers at Amsterdam Airport

November 13, 2014 at 11:40 AM | by | Comments (0)

If you only do one thing today, let it be entering KLM's ingenious contest to travel to Amsterdam and have a sleepover inside their recently retired MD-11 airplane.

From now through November 20, KLM is asking all fans of the three-holer aircraft to book it for an overnight stay, as they've cleared out all the typical airplane seats in favor of cozy apartment-style furnishings.

The "Airplane Apartment" sports a master bedroom with king-size bed, a second bedroom with two beds, kitchen, living area, 8 bathrooms, WiFi, a cockpit, and 116 windows. There'll be one winner for each of the three nights, and each winner may bring up to three friends/family along for a total occupancy of 4 people in the Airplane Apartment. But wait, there's more! Winners will also receive international roundtrip flights on KLM to reach Amsterdam, and a 500 EUR Airbnb gift card.

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Step Back in Time to 1970s East Germany at These 5 Berlin Spots

November 11, 2014 at 10:22 AM | by | Comments (0)

Brandenburg Gate. Alexanderplatz. Checkpoint Charlie.

The 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall has done more than just shed a brighter light on some of Berlin's best-known tourist sites; it's wholly reignited interest in the brief history of the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik), aka East Germany. Although the DDR technically ceased to exist upon Berlin reunification in 1990 and East Germany feverishly adapted to Western fashion and culture, the particular details of DDR everyday life continue to fascinate.

A handful of Berlin sites continue to preserve DDR design, and anyone is welcome to visit. Here are five of our favorites:

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Hotelied Promises Deals for Frequent Flying 'Influencers,' But Numbers Don't Add Up

October 30, 2014 at 11:33 AM | by | Comments (0)

So there's this new thing called Hotelied. Underneath the lovely retro-chic logo and glossy images of designer hotels, the service purports to connect socially influential travelers with deals on some of the world's most stylish hotels (slogan: "It pays to be you").

Destinations for these deals are limited while the site is still in Beta, but there's New York and LA of course, and also Miami, Palm Springs, Portland, San Antonio, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Porto Feliz (Brazil), Punta del Este (Uruguay), and Tel Aviv.

The premise is simple. The site utilizes your social media and travel profiles to gauge your influencer worth and deliver a discount. Sync up your social media—Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn—hotel loyalty accounts—SPG, IHG, Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, Accor—and your airline frequent flyer accounts—British Airways Executive Club, Lufthansa Miles & More, Virgin America EleVAte, JetBlue TrueBlue. Hotelied then generates hotel discounts, typically at an average of 20% off.

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The Quirimbas Archipelago: How Do You Even Reach This Private Island Paradise?

October 22, 2014 at 1:31 PM | by | Comments (0)

Have you ever seen a photo of a destination and thought, "I HAVE TO GO TO THERE?" Sure you have, because who hasn't? It's as base a desire as having a taste for a different cuisine for dinner.

This morning we were afflicted with a serious case of wanderlust, after reading on HotelChatter of the newest private island resort, Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort & Spa:

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Six Islands in a Single-Engine, Part 4: A History Lesson Before Turning Homeward

Where: Australia
October 9, 2014 at 3:56 PM | by | Comments (0)

It's the stuff of headlines, when a pilot ventures away from familiar runways to embark on an epic aviation adventure in a single-engine aircraft, and it's exactly what Jaunted contributor Joe Corrigan is doing. Follow along over the next several days, as Joe shares trials, triumphs, and terrific images from flying to remote corners of the South Pacific.

Island Hopping in a Single-Engine, The Series:

1. Flight Planning
2. The Point of No Return
3. On Island Time
4. Home Again, Jiggety-Jig

The islands and miles stacked up in our rearview as we left Vanuatu, with a flight plan that took us north to the Solomon Islands, initially to Guadalcanal and Honiara and then onto the New Georgia group.

The longest single flight of our trip so far would be five hours between Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu and Honiara, Solomon Islands, but the winds were on our side and, soon enough, emerald green mountains surrounded by white sandy beaches and coral reefs welcomed us to yet another island destination: Guadalcanal.

We descended through the foothills of the mountains to reach the northern shore and landed at Henderson Field, the second World War II-historic air field of our trip (the first being Santo).

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