Shermanstravel Blog

Amenity Watch

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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CanopyPortlandLobbyImage_HR

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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shirts - shopping - pixabay - 620

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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royal caribbean - north star - 620

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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Kimpton_0007_620x400

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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Ocean House

These days, hotels are offering more extra perks than ever to tempt potential guests. Some go with a bottle of water, others throw in breakfast, and free WiFi is becoming more common than ever. Brands like Andaz and Kimpton also grant free minibar access (for reward program members). But when it comes to over-the-top treats, three properties have gone above and beyond in the generosity factor in lending luxury cars to their guests — allowing visitors to save while exploring their surroundings in comfort and style.

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delta studio

Are the days of being subjected to pre-selected movies in those tiny overhead screens on airplanes truly coming to an end? Within the past few months, several airlines have rolled out a bevy of new inflight-entertainment options. Many of these options are low-cost or completely free, leaving room in your budget to spring for an inflight beer.

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eva air - business class - lie flat beds - christine wei - 620

Last week, I flew 30 hours halfway around the world and back, just to spend 61 hours in Asia. Considering that I had to report back to the office the morning after the trip, it seemed like a great time to cash in all of my EVA Air miles and upgrade myself to business class from premium economy.

It was glorious.

I know I probably won’t be experiencing business class again anytime soon, but there’s no harm in dreaming. Whether you’re already scrounging together your points or just like to fantasize, here are five things I really loved:

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hiltonroomappYou select your seat when you make a flight reservation, so wouldn’t it make sense that hotels would let you choose your room? Hilton think so. The company has recently launched an update to its HHonors app that allows guests to pick specific rooms from a floor plan using their mobile device, making them the first hospitality company to do so. Hilton aims to offer this service at 4,000 hotels (covering 650,000 rooms) by the end of the year. Read more

CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort and Spa - 620It’s the last month of summer. Make it count with a memorable weekend away. Whether you crave an island vacation in the Caribbean or a few days steeped in American heritage, these last-minute deals for August (and beyond) will satisfy both your wanderlust and your thriftiness.

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