Shermanstravel Blog

Amenity Watch

delta biscoff cookies

(Photo: Biscoff/Facebook)

By Billie Cohen for Yahoo! Travel

When Frontier Airline’s beloved chocolate chip cookie was taken off the menu in 2012 (shortly after being adopted from its original failing airline, Midwest), the world wept. Or at least inflight foodies did. The rest of us were already crying because of the fees we had to fork over to eat anything else on an airplane. And though most food offerings today will cost you an arm and a leg unless you’re flying in first or business class, there are a handful of airlines that still offer some free snacks in the coach cabin, on both long-haul and short flights. These are our favorites. What are yours?

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jetblue a321

JetBlue Airways

If you aren’t a business traveler who flies frequently on your company’s dime, it can be really, really difficult to achieve airline status — especially at a time when most companies have started to award points based on fare rather than mileage traveled. But there’s good news for JetBlue fans this week: The airline has launched what it’s calling a 90-Day Challenge that’ll let you get Mosaic status a bit more easily.

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Heathrow VIP, which includes car service to plane on tarmac

Heathrow Airport

We’re kicking off this week with a little daydreaming: When money is no object, the airport experience can actually be pretty sweet. Every large carrier offers rather luxurious perks to top-tier passengers, ranging from private check-in to car service to your plane on the tarmac, most often found at the airline’s hub or home airports. Here, seven of the ultimate airport VIP experiences to add to your bucket list of dream travel experiences.

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kulm hotel st moritz - lobby

Kulm Hotel St. Moritz

We’ve all seen photos of the snow-capped villages and sparkling white slopes that characterize Switzerland in winter. But the powder is just part of the picture when we imagine traveling to the region’s renowned mountains — the swanky ski resorts, with legendary Swiss service and even more unbelievable views, is part of that dream, too.

Unfortunately for most of us, five-star experiences in Switzerland’s most exclusive ski towns can easily cost around $1,000 per night. But there’s a strategy for bringing all the posh pampering and picture-perfect vistas closer to reality: staying in summer, when rates are up to 45 percent off.

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yotel new york premium cabin with smart bed

Yotel

It was a late May weekend in New York City — which meant heavy flash rains and muddy streets. Having just gotten into the swing of spring, I was woefully underdressed on my way to Yotel on Tenth Avenue. Thank heavens, then, that I could get my keys straight from a kiosk when I arrived at the hotel. Who ever wants to slink up to a check-in receptionist when they’re dripping wet and completely disheveled?

That’s just one of the many ways that Yotel has carefully designed a “smart” hotel stay, considering the perspective and mindset of travelers today. The brand first made a name for itself with three sleek airport hotels in London and Amsterdam, and it opened its first in-city property off of New York City’s Times Square in 2011. With more hotels coming soon to cities like Brooklyn, San Francisco, Miami, and Dubai, we checked into the NYC location to get a sense of how exactly the Yotel’s savvy tech focus is enhancing the guest experience.

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Atlantis Casino Resort Spa

Facebook.com/AtlantisCasinoResortSpa

Reno has undergone a serious transformation in recent years, most notably with the much-celebrated arrival of Tesla, ushering in 22,000 jobs and an estimated economic impact upwards of $100 billion over the next 20 years. We hopped aboard the inaugural JetBlue flight direct from JFK to Reno to see the emerging city for ourselves. While there, we had the chance to discover The Atlantis Casino Resort Spa. When it comes to the best in budget-friendly accomodations that don’t compromise luxury, we think the property ranks high for it’s proximity to the airport, newly renovated spa, and ample gaming floor. Here’s our full report.

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Torre Prendiparte medieval tower - Bologna, Italy - staying at the top of the world

Now you can find out how it feels to stay on top of the world. (Photo: Ken Welsh / Alamy)

If you’ve ever wanted to feel like Rapunzel on your vacation, now may be your chance. A medieval tower in Bologna, Italy, the Torre Prendiparte, which currently functions as a museum, allows guests to stay in a luxury suite on the top floor, 200 feet above Bologna.

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virgin atlantic clubhouse at LAX

Virgin Atlantic Airways

It took a while for Virgin Atlantic Airways to open their sleek Clubhouse at Los Angeles International Airport’s Terminal 2. Despite flying daily routes to Heathrow from LAX for 25 years, real estate in the terminal was limited, as Virgin Atlantic’s Reuben Arnold explains. But once Air France moved out of its 4,000-square-foot space, Virgin took the roomy area down to the studs and started all over again.

What has risen is the carrier’s tenth Clubhouse, the place where the line’s Upper Class ticketholders and Gold Card customers can freshen up — and of course get online — before their flights. Diamond, platinum, and gold members of new partner Delta Airlines (who are flying on a Virgin-operated flight) also have complimentary access. There’s a lot to love about this cool new Clubhouse; here are just six highlights.

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Rending of the Club Med/Cirque du Soleil Playscape in Punta Cana

Rendering of the Creactive Playspace at Club Med Punta Cana

After witnessing any Cirque Du Soleil show, it’s inevitable that the audience leaves wondering, “How do they do that?” Very soon, it’ll be possible to get a first-hand glimpse at the athletic and creative artistry that makes Cirque Du Soleil performances so unique, with a brand new program at Club Med resorts called CREACTIVE.

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8 Disney Cruise Line Freebies to Snap Up

Christine Dayao

We’d be lying if we said we didn’t keep an eye out for freebies on a Disney vacation. They just make the whole trip a lot more, well, magical. We already gathered some tips for what you can nab gratis, like pins, birthday cards, and more. But when we recently sailed aboard Disney Cruise Line, we discovered even more opportunities for more free goodies on the ships. Here’s what you can find and where:

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hacienda buenavista colombia rooms

Hacienda Buenavista

In Colombia, the Andes Mountains just north of Medellin rise to create the perfect conditions for growing some of the world’s best coffee. How good is that java, exactly? So good that UNESCO inscribed an enormous coffee growing area in the region as the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia in 2011.

So it’s no surprise that, today, Colombia’s coffee country is a well-known tourist destination for travelers attracted to sweeping landscapes and the opportunity to learn more about the production of coffee. And until recently, hotel options — though plentiful in number — were quite limited in diversity. They’ve fallen in two general categories: brightly painted traditional wood farmhouses that happily benefit from the addition of plumbing and electricity, or feeble attempts at three- and four-star hotels that appeal primarily to Colombian families.

That all changed on December 22 of 2014, when the intimate Hacienda Buenavista opened its doors.

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Deal Alert: $1 Breakfast at Four Points Hotels

Flickr/Ralph Daily

When setting a budget for a trip, it’s not just about scoring a good deal on a hotel or on a flight. There are also those three meals a day you’ve got to buy — and they can add up quickly. That’s why we were happy to see Four Points by Sheraton‘s $1 breakfast promotion, available now until the end of March.

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bemate hotels with vacation home rentals

Be Mate

In the era of Airbnb, travelers have gotten comfortable with the idea of choosing between a full-service hotel and the extra perks of a home rental — like kitchen access, lounge areas, and interaction with locals. It’s not a particularly surprising (or, at this point, new) development. We want more immersion, more culture, and a taste of what it’s like to actually live in the destinations that we visit. Hotel brands, however, have been taking note; in fact, more and more are starting to manage their very own vacation rentals, so that guests don’t have to choose between the comforts of home and the comforts of the hotel at all.

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what's new entertainment on cruise ships - holland america line - dancing with the stars

Vladimir Ramljak/Holland America Line

When I started cruising back in the early 1990s, after-dinner cabaret shows and piano players dominated the onboard lounges. Besides trying my luck in the casino, there wasn’t much else to do.

But advancing in recent years by leaps and bounds, entertainment at sea now provides vacationers with an astounding variety of options, many of them interactive. Take, for example, my recent weeklong sail from Fort Lauderdale to the Eastern Caribbean on Holland America’s 1,916-passenger Westerdam.

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620 - raffles istanbul - room

Raffles Istanbul

Yes, lodging in Istanbul is incredibly inexpensive in the winter, with plenty of hotels offering rates under $100. But if you’re willing to make a small splurge in low season, you’ll enjoy luxury that’s leaps ahead of what your dollars will get you elsewhere.

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