Archive | April, 2012

What the hotel rankings really mean

30 Apr

Ever wonder why the same hotel gets four stars from one website and three stars from another? What’s the difference between a bed-and-breakfast and an inn? What exactly is a boutique hotel, and what do you get when you stay at a resort?

Here’s a primer on hotel rating systems, categories and definitions.

Bed-and-breakfast: An owner-occupied property with no more than 10 or 15 guest rooms, plus common areas. Breakfast is included in room rates.

Inn: Usually an independently owned property with more than 10 rooms but fewer than 50; often the owner lives on-site. Some inns include dinner and breakfast in room rates; some have full-service restaurants open to the public.

Boutique hotel: Characterized by unique, stylish or even quirky décor and interior design, offering a stark alternative in appearance and experience to chain brands where furnishings may be identical in every location. Boutique hotels were originally independently owned, but today there are boutique hotel chains, such as Kimpton hotels and Starwood’s Ws. Marriott is launching a boutique brand called Edition.

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Earth Day: IHG expands hotel-soap recycling program

23 Apr

Since it’s Earth Day today, Holiday Inn-parent IHG’s announcing that it’s significantly expanding its hotel toiletry recycling program, the company tells USA TODAY’s Hotel Check-In.

Today, 62 IHG-brand hotels participate in the program run by Clean the World. But soon, IHG officials expect most of its 3,274 hotels in the USA and Canada to join in recycling hotel guests’ leftover bars of soap and bottles of shampoo and conditioner.

Clean the World recycles and distributes used hotel soaps, lotions and shampoos to needy families in U.S. shelters and around the world.

MORE ONLINE:  Ever wonder what happens to your old bar of soap?
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TWITTER:  Stay connected with Barb DeLollis

“Each property is encouraged to join the Clean the World program immediately upon announcement of the corporate partnership,” says Paul Snyder, IHG’s vice president of corporate responsibility tells USA TODAY.

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Carnal Cartagena blase about sex scandal

18 Apr

CARTAGENA, Colombia –  Days after U.S. Secret Service agents were sent home over allegations of hard-partying and bringing prostitutes to their hotel, the mayor of this Caribbean city was wondering what all the fuss was all about.

After all, prostitution is legal in Colombia, and it’s a big draw of this steamy Caribbean port where sex is as easy to buy as a bottle of beer.

“It doesn’t bother people at all,” Mayor Campo Elias said Tuesday, echoing many of his constituents. “First, because adults were involved and, second, because here, it’s normal.”

To find a prostitute, guests at the hotel where the Secret Service agents stayed ahead of President Barack Obama’s recent visit need only step out to the beach. There, scrappy men peddle everything from shrimp cocktails to sex workers.

“I think prostitution is part of the city’s culture. That is, a tourist comes to Cartagena and it’s part of his plan to look for company,” said Gerardo Javier May, a security industry executive.

In Washington Tuesday, Secret Service officials began briefing U.S. Congress members over allegations that agents took prostitutes to their hotel before the Summit of Americas attended last weekend by Obama.

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A look at the Secret Service sex scandal hotel

16 Apr

The U.S. Secret Service’s embarrassing sex scandal that unfolded in the last few days in Cartagena, Colombia, took place in an historic, high-end hotel that’s considered a national treasure by the Colombian government.

Located on a Caribbean beach, it’s also known for catering to families.

The scandal, according to the Associated Press, involves charges that some Secret Service agents brought alleged prostitutes to their hotel rooms.

The image of partying agents flies in the face of the image that they typically portray.

On Saturday, the agency placed 11 agents on leave and brought in new agents in advance of President Obama’s visit while an investigation takes place, the AP says.

USA TODAY ASKS: Ever had a hard time getting a hotel refund?
USA TODAY ASKS: What do you expect from a hotel’s Twitter, Facebook feed?

House Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Peter King told ABC News how he thinks the situation became publicly known:

“My understanding is that 11 secret service agents did bring women to their room and there was a dispute the next morning when one of the women did not leave there room,” King said. “One did not leave, police came and she refused to leave until she was paid for her services. So that is what started all this.”

For more info, ABC News posted this most recent story.

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Robinsons Land to open 3 new malls, expand 2 others

11 Apr

MANILA, Philippines – Robinsons Land Corp. (RLC) the property development arm of tycoon John Gokongwei’s flagship firm JG Summit Holdings Inc., will open three new malls and expand two existing ones to boost its steadily growing chain of commercial centers.

In March, RLC opened its first full service mall in Calasiao, Pangasinan. The company is slated to open Robinsons Place Palawan in May and Robinsons Magnolia in July.

RLC recently completed two mall expansion projects in Tacloban and Bacolod.

Together with the two expansion projects, RLC’s gross leasable area will reach 917,000 square meters at end-September this year. In 2013, RLC will add another 100,000 sqm of GLA with four new malls and one expansion, all of which will be outside Metro Manila.

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Going to the Dogs: Pet-Friendly Hotels Raise the Welcome Sign

9 Apr

Kimpton's hosPETality on offer.

With money to spend and time to fill, empty nesters Roy and Mary-Ann Ramsey travel the world with their canine “child,” Zahra. The travel agency owners, both over 55, take their black British Labrador on at least three trips a year and are serious about ensuring Zahra enjoys them just as much as they do.

Kimpton’s hosPETality on offer.

Luxury hotel groups such as Fairmont and Kimpton, and properties such as the DoubleTree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore, are taking notice of travelers like the Ramseys and offering pet-related amenities to gain their business.

Recession or no, the pet industry is booming. It has enjoyed� average growth of 5% for the past five years and is estimated to hit $53 billion this year, according to the American Pet Products Association. In its 2011-12 Pet Owners Survey, the group reported that 10.6 million dog owners had taken their pet on a trip within the previous month. In addition, 23% of owners are willing to travel with their dog for more than two nights, compared with 21% in 2008 and 19% in 2006.

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7 Apr

Justin Watt, a Web engineer, was browsing the Web in his room at theCourtyard Marriott in Midtown Manhattan this week when he saw something strange. On his personal blog, a mysterious gap was appearing at the top of the page.

After some sleuthing, Mr. Watt, who has a background in developing Web advertising tools, realized that the quirk was not confined to his site. The hotel’s Internet service was secretly injecting lines of code into every page he visited, code that could allow it to insert ads into any Web page without the knowledge of the site visitor or the page’s creator. (He did not actually see any such ads.)

Mr. Watt posted about the discovery on his blog, and that soon spawned a conversation on Hacker News, a discussion site for tech topics, about the ethics of this technique. One commenter described it as “icky,” and another asked, “Why aren’t they putting ads in my pillow?”

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