Shermanstravel Blog

Hotels

citizenm

At the beginning of the boutique hotel boom, luxury was defined by money; how much of it you had and what it could buy you. But that has long since changed. The emergence of creative “lifestyle” hotels have transformed the industry — as the annual LE Miami trade show in South Beach pointed out — with rising demand in experiences that are unique and culturally connected. These days, rather than high prices, luxury is about authenticity, storytelling, and innovation.

So how does this shift in the very definition of luxury translate to a more authentic, value-driven experience on your next trip? 

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boutique hotels - the carlton - marriott autograph collection - new york city - 620

Stylish travelers, rejoice! Boring chains are going boutique.

In decades past, names like Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, and Wyndham were the business travel stalwarts that were always reliable and comfortable–but nothing to write home about. That’s not enough for today’s travelers, whether leisure or business. These days, we seek something different, something unique to the place we’ve made the effort to visit. And the formerly cookie cutter giants have responded, looking to independent hotels for style and to local vendors for destination-specific amenities.

Which brings us to a new conundrum. A boatload of new portfolios have surfaced in the past few years, to the point where it’s become highly confusing. You’ve probably heard of the Autograph collection, or Aloft Hotels, or Even Hotels — but who in the world is who? To clear things up a bit, here’s a handy guide of the most notable brands to know now.

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0_ASUGammage_creditNickDoan

One of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous Arizona works, Arizona State University’s Gammage Auditorium in Tempe, AZ, turns 50 this year. The building has an interesting history, initially commissioned by the assassinated King Feisal II of Iraq and then eventually revived as a university building, finally opening in 1964. To celebrate its birthday and the prestigious guests it has received — from traveling Broadway productions to George W. Bush and John Kerry during the 2004 presidential debates – the performing arts center has partnered with two other iconic Wright destinations to offer the “Frank Lloyd Wright Experience,” with hotel and entertainment discounts this week.

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AC-Beach

Atlantic City has long been popular with visitors looking to try their luck at the casinos. But a couple of years ago, hotels like Revel started the non-gaming trend, when it brought Beyoncé in and set a new tone to the gambling destination. Suddenly there were more bars, nightclubs, restaurants by famous chefs, and even an outlet mall. Unfortunately, almost just as quickly as it opened, Revel and two other casinos are facing closure by this summer’s end. The Atlantic Club has already shut its doors, and the Trump Plaza and Showboat are next on the chopping block if a windfall doesn’t come.

Luckily, the fate of Atlantic City doesn’t have to depend on its casinos, and it remains affordable for those who know where to look. Here are your options for both accommodations and entertainment:  Read more

KimptonKarma

InTouch, the already rewarding loyalty program from the Kimpton boutique hotel chain, has just evolved into a new Kimpton Karma Rewards program that rewards travelers for more than just staying at their hotels. Read more

minneapolis - ron riering - 620

The “Mini Apple” is what the  locals call Minneapolis, Minnesota’s largest city. No one will mistake it for NYC, of course, but it’s also a fun and cultural destination in its own right, with a vibrant arts scene, passionate local food movement, and natural escapes galore. A recent hotel opening earlier this month has only further upped the city’s game. Best of all, a trip here won’t blow your budget — many of these offerings can be enjoyed for very little, if anything at all.

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Blue Airline Seats

For as much as the Internet empowers, there’s a dark side to your Web browser — namely in it’s ability to identify you as you. While it’s mighty convenient to allow your computer to remember your password, recall your username for login fields, and even save your address for online shopping, doing so may come back to bite you when you’re purchasing travel (and other goods and services). This phenomenon has become known as “dynamic pricing,” where online retailers adjust pricing for different shoppers based on factors like where they live and even what computers they use. It’s been around for a while, but the issue recently made its way into the limelight again thanks to Resolution 787 — a controversial proposal that could potentially further enable “customized” pricing.

So what’s a consumer to do? In general, the less the companies about you, the more likely you are to get a fair price. Here are a few tips on maintaining a higher level of secrecy, which could very well save you a few dollars on your next ticket purchase: Read more

The Peninsula Paris

Ready for some amazing hotel eye candy? On August 1, The Peninsula Paris will open its doors as the first European outpost for this iconic hotel brand. Located on Avenue Kléber in the 16th arrondissement, guests will be just a stone’s throw to the Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysées.

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The North Palm Beach area of Southeast Florida hasn’t historically been ripe with options for out-of-town travelers — but that’s all about to change come fall, with the opening of the Wyndham Grand Jupiter. The hotel boasts a prime location within Harbourside Place, a new $510 million development that promises impressive dining, cultural, retail, and entertainment offerings. And with the opening, of course, also comes a great deal.

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Maybe it’s the markets selling exotic spices and flavorful tea, or maybe it’s the alluring juxtaposition of ancient mosques and modern architecture. And then there’s the cuisine, from Old World street fare or 21st-century takes on Mediterranean delights. Whatever the reason, it seems that these days the flights to Istanbul are packed with tourists ready to get full on food.

Future visitors will be delighted to hear that Istanbul has responded to its growing popularity by building more everything — more hotels, more restaurants, and more bars and shops. Best of all, many of these new options to rest your head and fill your belly come at a favorable price. Here are some of our favorite picks:

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Home in Marigny, New OrleansIt’s impossible to see all of New Orleans in a weekend. With award-winning restaurants, endless nightlife, and picture-perfect neighborhoods, it seems like you could spend a lifetime of weekends exploring the city. But many people venture here for just a short time, whether they turn up to hear incredible music, tour lavish historic homes, or just party until dawn. Here’s a quick glimpse at the Crescent City as seen over one summer weekend — strictly a beginner’s tour. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did, and plan on repeat visits to this incredible destination.

See the slideshow.

The fortunes of Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city, have turned more often than most. With its days as a great shipbuilding center long over, Glasgow spent much of the latter half of the past century struggling to overcome a reputation for poverty and crime. But regeneration has gathered pace over the past few decades, helped along by its hosting of large events; most notably, this year, the 2014 Commonwealth Games, which begin on July 23, as well as the 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards in September.

Whatever your reason for visiting Glasgow, here are the areas to explore.

The Clyde Waterfront

RiversideMuseumThe Clyde Waterfront regeneration project has been spurred along by the promise of the Commonwealth Games. This former shipbuilding stretch of the River Clyde, which once saw the construction of the great Cunard shipping line vessels such as the QE2 and the Royal Yacht Britannia, is now home to Scotland’s new national arena at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Center and the newly built Emirates National Indoor Arena and Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, named for Scotland’s six-time Olympic cycling champion.

Not all of the development is centered around the Games, however. You will also find the Sir Norman Foster-designed, armadillo-shaped, Clyde Auditorium here, as well as the Riverside Museum, designed by Zaha Hadid and named European Museum of the Year for 2013.

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Vive Hotel - Waikiki - Honolulu - Oahu - Hawaii - boutique - affordable - cheap 2 - 620

Waikiki, the prime location choice for travelers to Oahu, was once dominated by large expensive hotels and budget bare-bones ones. But in recent years, several boutique chains have been upgrading the older, small properties – meaning travelers can enjoy more personal service as well as good value so long as they’re willing to pass up some frills like the spa, room service, or a lobby bar. If you appreciate a good boutique but don’t want to break the bank, consider these properties on your next visit. (Only one of them charges a resort fee — and all offer free wifi.)

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davidbowieis

The David Bowie Is exhibit, the first retrospective of the musician’s career, showed to sold-out crowds at its inaugural run last year at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. The exhibition brought together more than 300 objects, including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork, and rare performance material from the past five decades, and it’s headed for the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (its only U.S. stop) from September 23 through January 4. Tickets  for the show are $25 and go on sale July 31, but demand has been so high that they museum has already released a limited number of advance tickets at a premium price ($100). Those tickets are no longer available, but this deal from the Thompson Chicago is.

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afternoontea

Last month The Langham, Chicago launched a monthly Nickel and Dime Anniversary Tea to commemorate the 149th birthday of the original London hotel. The tea service sold out within 10 minutes. Why? Because the price is the same as it was when the hotel first opened its doors in 1865 — one shilling and six pence, or 15 cents. Read more

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