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If you thought the economic doldrums meant you'd have more elbow room at this weekend's pricey Coachella Music Festival, think again.
While some smaller music festivals have had to throw in the towel this year, giant events like Coachella appear to be doing just fine, thank you very much. Organizers report the 10th annual desert party is selling "almost neck and neck with last year," and is expected to draw somewhere between 135,000 and 150,000 music lovers.
At the moment, 3-day passes ($269) as well as individual tickets for each day ($99) are all still available. The Killers and The Cure headline with a special appearance by Leonard Cohen and Paul McCartney's first stateside festival concert ever.
· Festival producers optimistic despite recession [Reuters]
· Coachella [Official Site]
· Coachella Offers Big Bands But With a Bigger Price Tag [Jaunted]
"Easy to get to, hard to leave," boasts the website for Blackberry Farm, a picturesque retreat in the Great Smoky Mountains.
According to MSNBC, "agritourism" is on the rise this year as travelers sweetly yearn to get back to the land. Not many farmers' kids we know grew up tooling around on the backroads in a Lexus GX SUV (available for rental on-property!) or getting four-handed massages inspired by the Cherokee, but at least Blackberry is a working farm producing artisan cheeses, fruit, cured meats and preserves.
And then we noticed something funny: Back in 2007 our sister site HotelChatter noticed how heavily acclaimed Blackberry Farm was, noting the tasteful decor and delicious dishes.
The farm has since added 12 guest rooms -- and most shockingly, over $200 to its daily rates for the most modest accommodations. No time like the present to urge people to get back to nature at a ridiculously inflated price!
Want to get back to nature on a budget? You may have to forgo award-winning fly-fishing and the spa, but volunteer vacations like those offered by organic farms through WWOOF offer the chance to get your hands dirty and a little relaxation time, too.
· Living The Luxe Life Down On The Farm [MSNBC]
· 2007: Luxury in the Middle of Nowhere: Blackberry Farm [HC]
· Volunteer Travel: It's A WWOOFer's World [Jaunted]
Next time you go away on vacation, you may want to think twice about leaving Fido at home. Previously, bringing your puppy or kitty along wasn’t the best idea, as the cargo hold under your seat isn’t the most comfortable or safe place for pet travel. Not to mention that flying your pet somewhere just adds another fee to your already pricey ticket. However, your furry friends may soon have an airline to call their own.
Pet Airways, "The First Airline with Four Leg Room" is looking to take-off as the first airline exclusively dedicated to pets, and wants to make sure animals travel safely towards their final destination. All the “pawsengers”—their words not ours—will travel in the main cabin of the plane, and will be checked every 15 minutes to make sure they are doing well and that their crates are secure. Fares look to start around $150, but it's not totally clear how far you'll get for that price.
Personal Butler. That's almost a dirty phrase nowadays. But SilverSea Cruises is not concerned about that. The cruise line has just announced that it will shortly feature butlers for all types of guests accommodations on all of its ships.
According to Christian Sauleau, executive vice president of fleet operations for Silversea:
Each butler, assisted by a suite attendant, is empowered to troubleshoot problems and provide special service touches, if desired by the guest -- for example unpacking and packing clothing, facilitating a dry cleaning request or preparing a scented Jacuzzi bath -- ultimately creating a suite environment where one can relax and feel totally cared for.
It takes a little chutzpah to open a spa in an economy like this. Naturally in any climate developers would look for the perfect place to develop that dream getaway, without anything that might make a potential customer blanch. But like a foaming hot tub pool, we're not quite ready to get into the Allegria Hotel and Spa just yet.
On paper, the Allegria looks like a perfect plan: A luxury hotel in a mostly condos-only strip, with big plans for LEED certification. But we can't get over that the hotel used to be a nursing home -- as in two years ago. (Then it had 170 rooms; now it only has 143.) Gut reno or no, paying $199/night or more for Grandma's old place, with the added bonus of being nowhere in particular, gives us the shakes. At least at the Spa Castle the old people get to play along.
· November 2007: Long Beach's New Welcome Mat [NY Times]
· Allegria Hotel and Spa: LEED on the Ocean in Long Beach [Green Buildings NYC]
· Los Angeles Spas Celebrate Detoxification, Ogling [Jaunted]
[Photo: Small Luxury Hotels of the World]
Apparently, there are people out there whose time is worth more than money, where by "money," we mean "fantastic amounts of." It's not enough that you can pre-board that flight; you also have to board first for maximum lollage and/or free beverage consumption. And it's not enough that you take a luxury cruise, you need to be taken to it personally by helicopter.
Halong Bay, Vietnam isn't out of reach for the ordinary traveler -- our own embedded guide reported that the only difference between her cruise and the first-class variety of same was the shrimp cocktail. Nor would we expect second-class treatment from a tour operator called Luxury Travel Vietnam. But after coughing up $745 for a three-day cruise, do they honestly expect anyone to put down $604 in order to travel by helicopter to and from Halong?
The one thing we'll say about all this competing transportation is that it might make an awesome setpiece for a Bond movie. Can the on-the-ground agents stop the helicopter with the nefarious evil conglomerate heads from landing? (Note to self: save money for punch-ups.)
Brunch / Breakfast / Restaurants / Food Travel / Drugs / What Recession / Meatpacking District / New York / → All Tags
I'm a huge fan of breakfast, but for some reason, brunch has never done it for me. It just seems like such a wishy-washy compromise between breakfast and lunch, where neither an omelet or a salad seems quite right, and the brief euphoria of the Bellini that's included in the prix fixe soon gives way to a sense of exhaustion that lasts the rest of the day. But maybe I'm just not doing it right. The New York Times has a pretty wild story today about the rise of brunch as an intense daytime party for New York's beautiful people. In other words, my problem isn't drinking that one Bellini, it's not drinking five more.
We're getting some mixed messages here. According to MSN, Americans responded to the economy by saving at a rate that hit a 14-year high. Maybe there are just some stellar savers in that pool, because apparently the rest of the world is going on cruises.
Royal Caribbean reports that cruise sales were up a whopping 40 percent over last year in January and February in the U.K. and Ireland. Now, it's possible that those buying in haven't been as badly hit by unemployment and plummeting house prices as their cohorts across the pond, but we suspect the cruise industry isn't hurtin' as much as other sectors -- completely dissonant with the doom-and-gloom picture we've been seeing.
Okay, so a cruise package offers an all-inclusive vacation with the comforts of your countrymen and ample opportunities to shop and sightsee. But assemble-your-own vacations can be cheaper and offer more flexibility at the same time. Our theory? Cruises are to travel as cable TV is to entertainment -- the last thing to cut from the budget after everything else has been discarded.
· Banks offer big perks to lure savers [MoneyCentral.msn.com]
· Royal Caribbean cruise sales ‘up 40%’ [TravelMole]
· The Cruises (Not Tom and Katie) Get Recession Friendly [Jaunted]
[Photo: Jonathon V]
As the clock runs out on this whole "global civilization" experiment, more and more people are nostalgically looking back to a simpler time. A time when men were gentlemen and women were ladies. When bankers didn't go around detonating the institutions of the Western financial world.
When food came from the forest and not from the supermarket. Of course in upper crust 18th century Britain that food was often hunted by servants before getting served to landed gentry in lavish country estates. Still, at least it didn't come from the supermarket.
If you'd like to indulge in a little bit of that and happen to find yourself in London, you should make your way to Rules in Covent Garden. Established in 1798 by Thomas Rule, the upscale restaurant has the distinction of being the single oldest restaurant in all of London. They specialize in serving wild game, which they raise and manage on their isolated 1,000 acre, 200 year old estate.
So her Oscar chances were crushed by the juggernaut of Kate Winslet and the "Extras" rule that Holocaust movies always win. So what? Anne Hathaway gave herself some time off anyway and was spotted relaxing in Liberia, Costa Rica. Hathaway went on a boat ride and, later on, posed for pictures with some fans who happened to be lucky enough to be vacationing there at the same time.
If you like having the place all to yourself, now's a great time to visit the Caribbean. If you're part of the tourist-and-trade economy, ehhh, not so much. Among the American businesses smacked by the effects of the Caribbean tourism slump are food distributors who supply to mega-cruises and transport companies normally mailing goodies between Caribbean immigrants and the families they left behind.
At the same time, no one wants it to look like he's enjoying a deluxe vacation when other people can't. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't -- but hey, don't blame Hathaway. She's just trying to have a good time.
· Apply the Ryanair Rule to Your Favorite Stars [Jaunted]
· Kate Winslet predicts her future Oscar win on "Extras" [YouTube]
· Celeb Travel coverage [Jaunted]
· Slump in Caribbean tourism from U.S. recession strikes back at South Florida travel [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Flying into the Frankfurt airport next week? You could buy und Snickers and splash cold water on your face in the bathroom on landing -- or you could stop in at Lufthansa's brand-new Welcome Lounge, a 12,000-square-foot way to say "Welcome to Germany, complete with breakfast buffet, PCs which are free to use and a generous selection of single-malt whiskey. All you have to do is take a qualifying flight at the right level of service, Rich Uncle Pennybags!
Our sis site HotelChatter does a bang-up job of covering the latest news and trends in the hotel world. Check in and stay awhile.
· M Resort Defies Recession; Opens This Sunday: A new hotel opens in Vegas but you've been warned--it's off the strip.
· Five Hotels Openings We Can't Wait For: We're getting pretty antsy waiting on these hotels. They better open before the economy really craps out.
· London's Funky Bermondsey Square Gets an Equally Funky Hotel: We're loving this funky new 'nabe in London and the $127 room rates aren't so bad either.
· Inside the Newly Opened Viceroy Miami: We go inside a long-awaited Miami hotel--The Viceroy.
· Could Slankets Also Work As An In-Room Hotel Amenity?: Slankets on a plane could be a new travel danger but would they work for hotel rooms?