Saturday, November 29, 2008

Virgin Atlantic XMAS in the best Lounge (has a Spa)

Virgin Atlantic has an offer for Christmas Flights from the USA to London for:
Economy from $198*Premium Economy from $410*Upper Class from $999*

I hope that Virgin will survive. They have the best Lounge in the world and offer amazing service on their first class overseeas flights. BA and AA are trying for a third time to get anti-trust immunity granted so that the two airlines would be permitted to fix ticket prices and schedules. Virgin Atlantic is a British airline which is owned by Richard Branson's Virgin Group (51%) and Singapore Air.

I have always appreciated their driviers in Range Rovers picking me up for a flight and getting my hair cut in the airline lounge.
Whether you arrive by their Chauffeur driven car or are checked in at ther main terminal, you'll be whizzed through a new Private Security Channel and relaxing in the comfort of our award-winning Clubhouse in next to no time.
Their new TV ad featuring John Hannah, star of movies including The Mummy, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Sliding Doors. The ad focuses on the concept of time and how precious it is, especially for business travelers. He takes us on a journey through the Upper Class experience, which defines just how effortless travel can be.Drive Thru service you’ll be able to check in without leaving the luxury of your Chauffeur driven car at the new Upper Class Wing.Your bags are whisked away and you’ll be handed your boarding pass. Then you can breeze through Virgin Atlantic’s new Private Security Channel leaving you free to enjoy the many delights of our Clubhouse. If you'd prefer to minimise your time at the airport you can arrive as late as 40 minutes before departure and go straight through our Private Security Channel to the boarding gate. I would not try this with any other airline.
Their Upper Class Check In desks within the main terminal are fast and they have a priority lift (elevator) to then take you straight through to the new Private Security Channel, meaning you'll be enjoying a cocktail in the Clubhouse within a short time of arriving at the airport. Alternatively, if you'd prefer to minimize your time at the airport then you can check in as late as 40 minutes before departure and go straight through our Private Security Channel to the boarding gate.Plus if you're an ELITE Flying Club Gold member you and a guest can enjoy the Private Security Channel, even if you're flying in Premium Economy or Economy.
Poolside lounge suspended from the ceiling are clear acrylic chairs in the form of a bubble that add a playful fun atmosphere to the waterside in the Poolside Lounge where you can unwind and forget that you’re at an airport. They even have a roof top garden where you can sunbathe or go inside to use the tanning booth.
In the Den you can play pool or try your hand on the retro video games consoles.
In the “cowgroom” you can have treatments including facials, massages manicures, pedicures or a wet shave for men, designed to leave you with a feeling of Zen. Dip in the hydro spa pool and relax in the sauna.
Easy to forget that you are at an airport and that life is great!

Monday, November 24, 2008

From Bora Bora and Bogota to Barcelona, all-inclusive

All inclusive packages are on the rise now due to European mass travel. Even Luxury resorts like Starwood’s Bora Bora Nui resort now offers all meals and activities included in the rate.
The Dominican Republic hotel – Paradisus Palma Real offers complimentary liquor drinks, food, activities included in the daily rate. This makes sense if you order a Pina Colada at the swim up bar while submerged in the pool on concrete furniture, but in general, I don’t like the trend towards all-inclusive rates. It has never been in place at luxury hotels or resorts, except Le Méridien hotels.

Reminds me too much of the dreadful hotels in Russia 25 years ago. I never book package trips because quality suffers if you pre-pay.
Le Méridien, Barcelona SPAIN, is offering an inclusive experience on the famous Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s iconic boulevard of leisure and entertainment where Le Méridien Barcelona is situated. It is the city’s artistic and commercial hub. The hotel offers easy access to Barcelona’s harbour, Barrio Gotic , El Liceo Opera Theatre, museums, and restaurants. Overlooking the famed Las Ramblas, the hotel’s restaurant and bar, Cent Onze, is a wonderful place to relax and listen to live jazz. They have a package Rate Plan; ROMLMD but most rates do not include lunch or dinner.
I usually buy my air tickets directly on the airline website because they offer higher points than if you buy through a travel agent and in addition I get 5 dollars per ticket with Continentals Travelbank.
Travelocity has a great deal for $450.00 US Dollars you can fly to The Dominican Republic for a 4-night getaway with all meals & flight included. Another offer this week is a Bahamas Cruise with Royal Caribbean ships for $119.00: Bahamas for a December cruise in the Caribbean. Ocean view Cabins are ten dollars more ($129 )….Am thinking of taking a cheap break with this Travelocity deal where I will deviate from my standard booking process.
The Dominican Republic getaway with all meals & flight included is a trend that is coming back. Even some upscale hotels are offering all meals included. I suppose this is due to the weak dollars influx of European travelers.

I booked a room at the Sheraton Bogota on the Starwood website and got a quote for a room with no mention of breakfast included. This is never my concern because I always know that I can get free breakfast in the Concierge Club lounge but it turned out that EVERYONE staying at the hotel gets breakfast in the restaurant. Not exclusively to elites … Strange that they did not mention this on the SPG website. Many people making a web reservation would not guess that the hotel offers complimentary breakfast and also a complementary airport shuttle. I did not think it was an airport hotel so organized a driver to pick me up since security is a concern. Each hotel sends a reminder email out confirming the reservation and asking if there is anything that they can do to make the stay more comfortable and it would be nice if it had relevant info on the hotel in place of weather or local stuff that I could look up on the Weather channel if I desired.

The Bora Bora St. Regis resort is the chain's most famous. One reason is that it's where Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban had their honeymoon.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Update - 2,000 Marriott point bonus for The Luggage Club

In my last post I elaborated on my threat to resort to dressing in layers as a human equivalent of a Russian stacking doll, due to the trend towards charging for bags,- but I won’t have to.-Thanks to partnerships with Luggage Forward service, Marriott and Starwood’s Signature Travel Service. United's new service, Door-to-Door Baggage, enables customers in the continental U.S. to conveniently ship their suitcases, or other travel items like skis or golf clubs, overnight from a home or office directly to their destination within the 48 contiguous United States. At $149 one way for flights less than 1,000 miles.
As a Marriott Rewards Elite member and frequent traveler, The Luggage Club (TLC) would like to reward you with a 2,000 Marriott Rewards point bonus on your next paid delivery. That's in addition to earning 10 bonus points per dollar spent on all luggage and goods delivery services. And if you register now as a new TLC member, you will receive an additional $50 TLC gift card to be applied to the first scheduled delivery.

Starwood’s partnership with Luggage Forward allows guests the opportunity to send their luggage to nearly any destination globally. W Hotels will handle the checking, claiming and customs. W Hotels’ Whatever/Whenever service offers guests the opportunity to travel light. Your luggage is picked up from your home and delivered directly to your W Hotel room! And as you depart, just name the location and they will make sure your bags get there as well. Want to wear that special dress as soon as you check in? It’s waiting for you in your room! Your bags are tracked by staff who’ll contact you by e-mail upon delivery, allowing you to experience travel knowing that your bags are already waiting for you.