Shermanstravel Blog

Amenity Watch

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Courtesy of Barcelo Bávaro Beach Resort

All-inclusive resorts take the effort out of vacationing—you pay upfront, you don’t have to make an itinerary, and you have access to great food and entertainment onsite. But, all-inclusive resorts have a few other advantages over the traditional resort experience. Here are five things that might surprise you about all-inclusive resorts.

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1 MGM Grand Hotel and Casino

Each year, countless Americans make the New Year’s resolution to work on their wellness and get healthier. We’ve already told you about the ways you can stay healthy on vacation, but for those who’d like to incorporate a healthier lifestyle right down to their hotel stay, check into one of these wellness-and-fitness-focused rooms to maintain that resolution.

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This month, Starwood’s newest brand, Element, officially opened its first non-U.S. location in Frankfurt. Here’s a peek inside the green-oriented chain. Read more

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New York City’s JFK Airport just received a major upgrade — for some travelers flying Air France, anyway. The airline’s new lounge, fully renovated in Terminal 1, is reserved for customers flying in first and business classes as well as for Flying Blue Elite Plus members. And it’s arguably one of the chicest ways to relax and unwind prior to takeoff these days. Here’s what we love.

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The Edgewater Bill Fritsch Wisconsin

The Midwest’s newest luxury hotel is now open: The Edgewater, in downtown Madison, Wisconsin, along Lake Mendota and a few blocks to hip State Street (lined with shops selling eclectic holiday gifts), and the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Fresh off a $100 million renovation, practically everything at the hotel is brand-new, including a destination spa, four restaurants, and an ice rink.

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Qatar Airways Business Class

Flying business class on the world’s top-rated long-haul airlines (think Cathay Pacific, Singapore, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad…) isn’t exactly an inexpensive proposition. Round-trip flights on any of these airlines to their respective home airports in Asia can run you more than $8,000. An economy-class ticket on these same flights can run you between $1000, with a good sale, to $1500 — significantly less. So why the markup?

The answer isn’t so cut-and-dry. You can’t just add up the cost of the extra amenities offered in business class and come up with a concrete value comparison. For example, what’s the exact dollar value difference of flying in a basic economy class seat versus a business class, lie-flat bed? Is it $300? Perhaps $400? Exactly how much is your comfort worth?

I recently had the somewhat outrageous opportunity to fly halfway around the world — and almost immediately back — in order to assess the value of comfort in flight. Qatar Airways, one of Star Trax’s 5-star-rated airlines, hosted me on a trip that lasted just 33 hours: 13 in the air in each direction between New York and Doha, Qatar, plus seven in the Doha airport.

If this sounds ridiculous… well, it was. But the airline’s point was clear: Even the most seemingly uncomfortable travel circumstances can be made entirely, lavishly comfortable with a (simple?) upgrade. As for what it’s all worth? Here’s an attempt at a breakdown.

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Last month, Hilton Worldwide announced its latest foray into the lifestyle category with Canopy by Hilton, a new concept from the international hotel behemoth that will localize the guest experience. Poised to open its first set of doors in 2015, we spoke with Gary Steffen, the brand’s global head, who shared five things you should know about Canopy by Hilton.

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Exterior

Captain’s Manor Inn isn’t a full-fledged hotel, but the label “bed and breakfast” hardly seems to do it justice. Don’t get us wrong — we’re huge fans of B&Bs, so we don’t mean it derisively by any means. The intimacy and character of an independent inn, after all, is something that big hotel chains are actually trying to emulate. But when’s the last time you stayed at a bed and breakfast with a dedicated housekeeping staff, with a regular afternoon tea hour in its “bistro” and rain showers in guest bathrooms?

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aceLondon

In these days of AirBnB and Couchsurfing, travel that highlights the local experience is becoming more attractive. Traditional travel companies need to compete; this is how some hotels are doing just that.

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Red Mountain Resort Utah

They say idleness is the mother of all vices – so it’s a good thing we had so much to keep us busy during a recent jaunt through rural southern Utah. Heading for St. George, a small, oft-overlooked town in the state’s bottom-left quarter that’s just under two hours from Vegas, we packed in a full three days of hiking, kayaking, outdoor yoga, and even a little art gallery browsing. And the best part: We even had time left over for some poolside lounging. Here’s how you can do it, too:

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You know you can ask the concierge to arrange a jeep tour or recommend a local restaurant. But did you know they’ll also hunt down the perfect souvenir or replace those dress slacks you forgot to pack while you lounge by the pool?

Most concierges want to do whatever it takes to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable. The best part is that the concierge’s time and expertise is usually complimentary, though you’ll of course be charged for items and services purchased on your behalf. Gratuities aren’t mandatory but are always appreciated (a simple thank you in person or a sincere email when you return home go a long way, too).

Here, some surprising requests that you can ask of your concierge:

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Forget lounging by the pool with a sleepy novel as you drift from port to port. Cruise ships today are working hard to outdo each other when it comes to thrills. Here are the latest on-board attractions that pack a serious adrenaline rush.

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Sunset MarquisWho doesn’t love looking at photos of beautiful hotels? OK, maybe lots of people don’t, but our travel-addicted selves definitely do. Case in point, we’re loving these new shots of the remodeled Sunset Marquis in Los Angeles. This classic hotel is known as a haven for celebs — especially musicians. (Harry Connick Jr. met his wife by the pool. Dave Grohl met his by the bar.)

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The Kimpton Hotel Group pioneered the boutique hotel concept in the U.S. when it opened its first property in San Francisco in 1981. Since then, its stylish hotels have popped up in 29 cities across the country. And there’s more on the way: Properties will open in Pittsburgh, Austin, Chicago, and even the Cayman Islands, to name a few, within the next two years.

With two hotels welcoming visitors in the “City of Brotherly Love,” we took the opportunity to check in at the Palomar, Kimpton’s first Philadelphia hotel, which which debuted in the Rittenhouse Square area in 2009.

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FPO_BUE_403It’s not uncommon for upscale hotels and resorts to offer guests extraordinary excursions and activities, but Four Seasons takes it to a whole new level. From dining center stage at a historic opera house to designing a custom pair of Lucchese boots, here are a few exclusive Four Seasons that we love dreaming about.

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