Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas Getting a Virgin Hotels Makeover

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 04/02/2018, 3:00 PM

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas is entering Virgin territory.  The hotel—located just off the Strip on Paradise Road—has been acquired by the growing Virgin Hotels chain, which is giving the property a top-to-bottom overhaul.  Virgin founder Richard Branson revealed the changeover at a press conference announcing that his company and other investors had made the purchase.  The ren...

TSA to Make You Remove Snacks from Your Carry-On—Except When It Won't

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 03/29/2018, 3:00 PM

The next time you go through airport security, you could be asked to remove all food from your carry-on luggage, along with all the other stuff that gets removed—your shoes, your laptop, and, should you be selected for an invasive pat-down, your dignity.  Then again, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) might let you keep that Snickers bar or bag of Cheetos in your bag as it slides al...

National Comedy Museum Opening This Summer in New York State

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 03/28/2018, 12:15 AM

Baseball players have Cooperstown. Rock stars have their own hall of fame in Cleveland. Even androids, when they're not dreaming of electric sheep, can visualize themselves getting inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame in Pittsburgh. But what about the age-old, joy-bringing art of comedy? Why isn't there a national museum celebrating history's most important producers of yuks?  Come August, you w...

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Arthur Frommer: An Enemy of Our U.S. National Parks is Now in Charge of Them

By Arthur Frommer

Posted on 03/26/2018, 1:15 PM

Of all the members of the Trump cabinet, the one with the most direct control of travel developments is the Secretary of the Interior, one Ryan Zinke. His agency is in direct charge of our U.S. national parks and can affect their development.     Rather, however, than cherish and protect those parks, Zinke is obviously hell-bent on starving and diminishing them.   He is a rather unusua...

Singapore Airport Named World's Best for Sixth Consecutive Year

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 03/23/2018, 2:45 PM

In its well-regarded annual ranking of the world's best airports, Skytrax has named Singapore Changi Airport number one for the sixth time in a row.  Relying on millions of customer surveys filled out by travelers around the globe, the terminal trackers found the Asian city-state's airport exceptional in its cleanliness, service, shopping, dining, security and customs processing, transit options,...

Arthur Frommer: A Major Softening of Transatlantic Airfares Seems Underway

By Arthur Frommer

Posted on 03/23/2018, 1:45 PM

When my 15-year-old granddaughter was asked where she wanted to spend her springtime school break, she quickly answered “Paris.”   And my daughter and her husband, not wanting to discourage the young one’s travel urge, set about to study the cost of transatlantic airfare. To their surprise, they quickly found a round-trip fare of only $400 between Newark and Paris.  Now it is true that this ...

Hotel on Skis Debuts in Finland for Northern Lights Viewing

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 03/21/2018, 9:15 PM

A novel way of experiencing the Northern Lights has come to Finland.  The new Aurora Wilderness Camp, located near the village of Kilpisjärvi, is comprised of three mobile cabins that have been mounted on skis so that they can be dragged into the remote reaches of the country's Lapland region. And because each unit has a glass roof, guests have a good chance of spotting the Northern Lights from t...

Play the Casanova at New Museum in Venice

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 03/19/2018, 11:30 PM

Giacomo Casanova belongs to the rare class of historical figures whose names became common nouns. Traitorous World War II-era Norwegian leader Vidkun Quisling and France's lecherous Marquis de Sade (lop off the "e" and add an -ism or an -istic) are in the same crew. It's a curious kind of superstardom where the legend outstrips the life to such an extent that the world often forgets there was ev...

Makeup Mogul Bobbi Brown Opening Her Own Hotel in New Jersey

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 03/16/2018, 12:30 PM

Makeup designer and skincare expert Bobbi Brown is going from fashionable boutiques to her own fashionable boutique hotel.  Known for creating a popular line of understated cosmetics (she later sold the company to Estée Lauder), Brown has teamed up with her husband, developer Steven Plofker, to open The George, a 32-room inn "with modern style and historic bones." In other words, it sort of looks...

New Club Med Openings: Sicily, the Great Wall, and More

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 03/13/2018, 2:30 PM

Club Med has embarked on an ambitious expansion project. The pioneer in all-inclusive resorts plans to add 15 new properties to its worldwide roster by the end of 2020, opening five resorts per year between now and then. Though you might associate Club Med with sunny spots in the Caribbean, major focuses of the company's latest efforts are Asia and the mountains of Europe. Openings scheduled fo...

"Millennial" River Cruise Brand No Longer Restricted to Millennials

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 03/12/2018, 5:45 PM

U by Uniworld, a new river cruise brand originally restricted to passengers aged 18 to 40—then 21 to 45—has now dropped upper age limits altogether. When the brand's pair of sleek, all-black ships, dubbed simply the A and the B, launch in April, adults of any age can be on board, even if they have memories of watching Nixon's resignation or the last episode of M*A*S*H.  In announcing the change,...

Booking.com Introduces New Program for Unusual Stays

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 03/08/2018, 12:30 AM

Unconventional accommodations like treehouses, yurts, and barns have proven popular on vacation rental sites such as Airbnb and HomeAway. For the increasing number of travelers seeking unique, Instagrammable experiences, a night in a castle or on a houseboat has obvious advantages over a run-of-the-mill chain hotel. Now Booking.com, which has an enormous online database of accommodations around t...

Most Visited U.S. National Parks and Monuments in 2017

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 03/05/2018, 10:45 PM

The National Park Service (NPS) has released its visitor numbers for 2017.  A total of 330,882,751 people spent time at American national parks, monuments, and other sites deemed worthy of federal protection. As the NPS points out, that figure is only a smidge lower than the record-setting 330,971,689 visits the agency logged in 2016—the year of its highly touted 100th birthday. The Blue Ridge ...

American Airlines Adding Basic Economy Fares to Transatlantic Flights

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 03/02/2018, 12:00 AM

Starting in April, American Airlines is selling bare-bones "basic economy" tickets on some flights to Europe.  The move seems an obvious effort to compete with low-cost transatlantic carriers such as Norwegian Air Shuttle, Iceland-based WOW air, and Level, a recently launched Spanish entrant in the cheap-flights-to-Europe race.  Closer to home, Delta Air Lines has also begun selling no-frills ba...

Carnival Announces New Cruises to Cuba

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 02/28/2018, 10:30 PM

Carnival Cruise Line is significantly increasing its sailings to Cuba.  In 2019, the company will schedule 17 new cruises to the island aboard the recently renovated Carnival Sensation.  The five-day voyages will be the line's first round-trip cruises to Cuba from Miami. They'll feature a day-long call in Havana as well as stops in Grand Turk, Grand Cayman, Nassau, and the private destinations o...

Huge New Atlantis Resort Opens in China

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 02/26/2018, 10:30 PM

The world now has three Atlantis resorts to overwhelm visitors with an ocean's worth of watery amenities and maximalist architecture.  Joining sister properties in the Bahamas and Dubai (another is in the works in Hawaii), the just-opened Atlantis Sanya occupies more than 130 coastal acres on China's Hainan island, a tropical spot southwest of Hong Kong in the South China Sea that's becoming incre...

New Looks for Two of London's Most Important Art Museums

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 02/22/2018, 11:15 PM

Fans of art and architecture already have a lot to keep them busy during stays in London—and with free admission at most of the top cultural institutions, the city's treasures are easy to access, too. But museum- and gallery-goers will have even longer to-do lists in the coming months, thanks to the reopening of two high-profile spaces—one a 250-year-old mainstay, the other an oft-reviled Brutali...

This New Budget-Priced Transatlantic Airline Is Probably News to You

By Arthur Frommer

Posted on 02/22/2018, 5:45 AM

Most everyone by now has heard of Norwegian Air Shuttle, which flies the Atlantic at rock-bottom prices. Although Norwegian suffered a loss in 2017, it has struck fear into the hearts of the so-called “legacy carriers,” like British Airways, Iberia Airlines, and others. Result: A consortium of established airlines—British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, and others—have recently created a brand-new ...

Paris' Grand Palais Getting a Grand Makeover

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 02/20/2018, 9:30 PM

The Grand Palais in Paris is getting its largest refurbishment since opening for the Exposition Universelle in 1900, when the mammoth hall on the Champs-Élysées was used to show off sculptures and horse races under the biggest glass roof in Europe.   Today, the Grand Palais is used for blockbuster art exhibits, sporting events, and fashion shows. As a matter of fact, one of France's most famed fas...

After 50 Years, Jesus' Baptism Site May Fully Reopen to Tourists

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 02/16/2018, 11:00 PM

The section of the Jordan River traditionally designated as Jesus Christ's baptism site, where the Man from Galilee kicked off his mission to bring peace to the world, is currently surrounded by nearly 4,000 land mines. In other words, the peace-on-earth project still has a ways to go. But at least some moves are being made in the right direction. Following many delays and ongoing negotiations, ...

Japan's Ultra-Cheap “Bed-in-a-Box” Hotels Have Resurfaced—in London

By Arthur Frommer

Posted on 02/16/2018, 2:30 PM

Many years ago, when Japan was the world’s leading economy and Japanese businessmen were hard-striving cheapskates anxious to squeeze out any savings, several properties in Tokyo created so-called “capsule hotels” charging awesomely low rates.     Instead of placing their clients in normal rooms, they lodged them in coffin-like boxes, three feet wide, four feet tall, and seven feet long, all...

Famous Thai Beach Closing to Tourists This Summer

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 02/14/2018, 10:15 PM

Thailand's Maya Bay is so pretty it played the paradise sought by Leonardo DiCaprio's character in the 2000 movie The Beach.  But tourists will have to stream that film—fair warning: it's terrible—to lay eyes on Maya Bay this summer. Authorities are closing the beach to visitors from June to September in an effort to combat environmental damage caused by over-tourism.  The fame that has resulted...

Arthur Frommer: Make Sure To Check Your Passport Dates Before Travel

By Arthur Frommer

Posted on 02/14/2018, 7:00 PM

You are about to leave on an international trip, and you have carefully checked the contents of your suitcase, wallet or purse to make sure that everything—especially your passport—is there. And is the passport still valid? You glance at the page with that information, and seeing that all is well, you leave for the airport.   You have done everything correctly, right? Wrong! Unbeknownst to...

High-Speed Trains Soon to Zip Between London and Amsterdam

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 02/13/2018, 8:45 PM

Starting April 4, travelers will have a new, fast, and affordable way to get from the United Kingdom to the Netherlands.  High-speed Eurostar trains will begin whisking passengers from London to Amsterdam in three hours using the underwater Channel Tunnel that already speeds passengers to Paris in a little over two hours.  The twice-daily service will depart London's St. Pancras station at 8:31a...

The South of France Is Getting a New Picasso Museum

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 02/10/2018, 12:00 AM

A former convent in the southern French city of Aix-en-Provence is being transformed into a museum to house a trove of works by Pablo Picasso.  The driving force behind the project is the artist's stepdaughter, Catherine Hutin-Blay, whose mother, Jacqueline Roque, was the artist's second wife. (As it happens, both Roque and Picasso are buried just outside Aix-en-Provence, at the Château of Vauven...