Royal Caribbean's Next Private Island Will Be in the South Pacific

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 10/17/2019, 3:00 PM

Royal Caribbean announced plans this week for a new private island to be used exclusively by passengers of the company's cruise ships. Though such destinations are increasingly common among cruise lines in the Western Hemisphere—Royal Caribbean recently expanded its Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas—this upcoming island-sized attraction, scheduled for 2022, will be the first of its kind in ...

Hanoi Removing Cafes from Narrow “Train Street” Due to Safety Concerns

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 10/10/2019, 2:00 PM

What magical tourist attraction is Instagram ruining this week? The photogenic "train street" in Hanoi, where a single-track railway squeezes between makeshift cafes and other buildings in the Old Quarter of the Vietnamese capital. Local authorities have ordered those cafes lining the tracks to close by Saturday, according to VnExpress, following a close call last weekend. The train's ope...

Howard Johnson Hotels Are Getting a Mid-Century Modern Makeover

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 10/04/2019, 6:45 PM

Once-ubiquitous hotel chain Howard Johnson is getting its first major design makeover in 25 years. The refreshed look recalls HoJo's heyday in the 1950s and '60s, when the company was said to open a new motor lodge every two weeks and a new restaurant every nine days. The two halves of the business were eventually split, and hundreds of HoJo restaurants across the U.S. went kaput. The last hold...

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What to Expect at L.A.'s New, First-of-Its-Kind Cannabis Cafe

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 10/01/2019, 11:30 PM

The USA's first restaurant where guests can openly consume cannabis debuts in Los Angeles this week. Operating under a new type of license issued by West Hollywood, Lowell Cafe lets you smoke marijuana inside the dining room—there's an air-filtration system, according to the Los Angeles Times—or out on the side patio. Aptly decorated with abundant greenery, the space employs pot sommeliers, ...

No Men Allowed at This New Majorca Hotel

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 10/01/2019, 11:00 PM

A hotel exclusively for women has opened on the Spanish island of Majorca. Located near Porto Cristo on the island's eastern coast, Som Dona Hotel has 39 rooms, a pool, a wellness spa, a rooftop terrace, and zero male guests (though you might see some men on staff, in keeping with Spain's laws against gender discrimination in employment). The modern property is reportedly the first of its ki...

"Outsiders" Movie House Museum Opens in Tulsa

By Michele Herrmann

Posted on 09/30/2019, 7:45 PM

Fans of the 1983 movie adaption of The Outsiders can now visit the house in Tulsa that played the home where the Curtis Brothers lived.    It’s the result of a project by film aficionado Danny Boy O’Connor, a founding member of the hip hop group House of Pain, who saw the film when he was a teenager and became a lifelong fan.    In 2009, O’Connor traveled to Tulsa to perform a show at ...

New Bill in U.S. Congress Would Squash Hidden Resort Fees. Here's How to Help

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 09/26/2019, 12:15 PM

A new bill introduced in Congress today will spell the end of hotel resort fees. Maybe. The Hotel Advertising Transparency Act of 2019 would classify the nondisclosure of resort fees (or "cleaning fees" or "urban fees" or any other mandatory fee) as "deceptive" advertising. Most of us would agree that's an accurate description—one that matters because the bill would allow the government to crac...

New Museums Explore Weimar Germany's Pivotal Role in 20th Century

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 09/25/2019, 4:45 PM

Last month marked the 100th anniversary of when a national assembly was convened in Weimar in central Germany to write a new constitution for that country after its defeat in World War I. The shaky democracy that resulted, known as the Weimar Republic, lasted only 14 tumultuous years, leading to Adolf Hitler's rise to power in 1933. A new history museum, the House of the Weimar Republic, tel...

Budget XL Airways to Stop Operating Flights

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 09/25/2019, 10:15 AM

XL Airways, a low-cost carrier based in France, has announced that it is ceasing operations. "Due to . . . financial difficulties," reads a message posted last week on the airline's website, "we are deeply sorry to have to announce that XL Airways is stopping selling tickets effective today, 19th September 2019." Launched in 1995 as Star Airlines, the company adopted the business model of ch...

Thomas Cook Shuts Down: What to Do and How to Protect Yourself Now

By Pauline Frommer

Posted on 09/23/2019, 11:00 AM

In 1841, Thomas Cook founded the travel business that has carried his name to charter a train for travel to a temperance rally. Since then, the company has arranged the travel of millions of people through its travel agents and its airline. But today’s customers may well want to pour themselves a stiff drink: After 178 years in business, Thomas Cook suddenly ceased operations last week, disruptin...

Spit Take! Study Says Don't Drink the Water on Planes

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 09/12/2019, 3:00 AM

You should probably stick to bottled water in the skies. That's the conclusion of a new study measuring airline water safety, conducted by Hunter College's New York City Food Policy Center and DietDetective.com. Researchers analyzed the quality of the drinking water on 11 major airlines and 12 regional carriers, considering criteria such as reports of positive E. coli and coliform samples as...

California Improving Coastal Access with New Beach Wheelchairs

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 09/11/2019, 5:15 PM

Eighteen coastal sites in California—from Clam Beach, where Highway 101 meets the Pacific in northern Arcata, to lively Ocean Beach in San Diego—are getting new wheelchairs and other mobility equipment designed to roll on sand. The state-run California Coastal Conservancy has approved a program to award grants to 11 different nonprofits so that they can purchase a total of 29 beach wheelchairs ...

Japan Finishes Building a Grand, 600-Mile Trail of its Coastal Treasures

By Beth Reiber

Posted on 09/05/2019, 6:45 PM

Fewer than 2% of international visitors to Japan venture farther north to the vast, remote, and undeveloped region of Tohoku. That may change soon as word gets out: The final section of Japan’s longest hiking trail was completed in June. Stretching more than 600 miles along the Pacific coast, the Michinoku Coastal Trail was conceived after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami as a way to breathe new...

U.S. Army Museum Opening June 2020

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 08/29/2019, 9:30 PM

The United States Army has set an opening date for its new museum honoring the oldest branch of the U.S. military. The National Museum of the United States Army will begin welcoming visitors on June 4, 2020, according to a news release.  The glass-and-steel facility is currently under construction in a publicly accessible part of Virginia's Fort Belvoir, located about 30 miles south of Washingto...

Key West Hotels Introduce "Underwater Library" with Waterproof Books

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 08/26/2019, 5:00 PM

Reading while lounging next to bodies of water is so popular it spawned a whole literary genre. But here's the thing about beach reads: There's a very real chance you'll ruin the book if you get it wet. Two hotels in Key West, Florida, have devised a clever solution to this perennial vacation problem: waterproof books.  The new "underwater library" is an aquarium tank stocked with fully submerge...

A Battle Royal is Raging Between Airlines Flying to Hawaii, Writes Arthur Frommer

By Arthur Frommer

Posted on 08/21/2019, 3:00 AM

The fight is on. The battle rages.     In March and April just past, Southwest Airlines began flying from San Jose and Oakland, California, to Honolulu and Maui. It will soon add daily flights to Hawaii from Sacramento and San Diego.   And because these routes are among the chief money-raisers for the long established Hawaiian Airlines, the terms of each airline’s fares and policies ar...

New Paris Museum Chronicles Liberation from Nazis in WW2

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 08/20/2019, 10:15 PM

Sunday, August 25, marks the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Paris from its Nazi occupiers during World War II. On the same day, a new museum will open permanently to chronicle that momentous 1944 event.  The facility's name is a mouthful: the Musée de la Libération de Paris-Musée du Général Leclerc-Musée Jean Moulin, but most English-speaking people will call it the Liberation Museum. De...

Closed for Three Years, D.C.'s Washington Monument Finally Has a Reopening Date

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 08/20/2019, 12:00 AM

The Washington Monument in America's capital will reopen to the public on Thursday, September 19, the National Park Service has announced.  The 555-foot-tall marble-and-granite obelisk on the National Mall has been closed for elevator repairs since 2016. Before that, visitors were barred from entering the monument for more than two years starting in 2011, when an earthquake rattled the structure....

Arthur Frommer: Preventing Travel to Cuba Is Harming Ordinary Cubans the Most

By Arthur Frommer

Posted on 08/19/2019, 1:00 AM

When the Trump Administration recently announced its reversal of the Obama effort to permit American travel to Cuba, it justified this new limitation by the effect it would have on the government of Cuba (and not on the Cuban people themselves).     Examples were given of the Cuban military’s ownership of major hotels, and of other areas in which a downturn in American travel would harm the ...

Liquor and Spirits: San Diego to Get a Cemetery Speakeasy

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 08/19/2019, 12:00 AM

San Diego's El Campo Santo cemetery was established in the city's historic Old Town in 1849, and according to ghost hunters, the spirits residing there have been riled up almost ever since. A streetcar line was installed right through the middle of the burial site in the late 19th century, disturbing the eternal rest of those interred there (small brass markers in the street indicate gravesites ...

Museums Across the USA Will Be Free on Sept. 21—Here's How to Get Your Tickets

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 08/16/2019, 12:00 AM

A big reason why Washington, D.C., is one of the world's best cities for museum-going is that the Smithsonian Institution's attractions—including the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of Natural History (pictured), the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and many more—charge no admission to see their impressive collections. On Saturday, September 21, museums ...

Arthur Frommer: Viewing Whales and Dolphins in Captivity Should No Longer be Seen as Ethical

By Arthur Frommer

Posted on 08/15/2019, 1:00 AM

A major step forward in the ethical treatment of large sea life was just taken by Sir Richard Branson.     On behalf of all the Branson entities, he has announced that his companies will no longer participate in tours with or presentations of captive whales and dolphins, otherwise known as cetaceans.     Those large animals are today found to be thinking creatures with emotions and tho...

Yelp Listings Are Replacing Restaurants' Real Phone Numbers with Fee-Charging Numbers

By Jason Cochran

Businesses' real phone numbers are being swapped with ones run by the app's partners, so be careful if you use Yelp to research dining options and call for reservations.

Arthur Frommer: An Alarming Drop in Incoming Foreign Tourists Will Devastate Us

By Arthur Frommer

Posted on 08/13/2019, 7:45 PM

  The health of the American economy isn’t always shown in employment figures or gross domestic product. It is also affected by ups and downs in our success in attracting foreign tourists to our shores.    And that result is rarely announced by our administration even though a negative figure can cause hardship to numerous American businesses.   In a devastating report recently issu...

You Can Now Rent Hertz Cars in Europe with a Debit Card—but Should You?

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 08/08/2019, 11:45 AM

Rental car company Hertz and the two brands under its corporate umbrella—Dollar and Thrifty—have begun accepting debit cards as a payment option for car rentals in Europe.  Previously, a credit card was required, but that is no longer the case at Hertz, Dollar, and Thrifty locations in Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Slovakia, mainland Spain, and ...