Categories
Cruises

Marketing during a crisis coronavirus

The coronavirus crisis has thrown travel marketing departments
into disarray as they navigate a world in which travel is stalled indefinitely,
borders are being closed and the public is being asked to hunker down. 

Marketing experts offer different takes on how brands should
react in terms of scaling back and adjusting their message, but most seem to
agree that falling off their target market’s radar is not a good option. 

Robert Li, director of the U.S.-Asia Center for Tourism
& Hospitality Research at Temple University, said brands should not shut
down completely, but he added that strategies should differ depending on the
sector and situation. 

“I think destinations cannot simply abandon marketing at
this point,” he said. “Right or wrong, you have to keep some kind of
communication with your source markets. … In some cases, it also helps to
clarify some of the messages, such as travel bans. Always be genuine and
empathetic.”

For the cruise industry, which has taken an outsize hit so
far as a result of the outbreak, Li said, “Maybe taking no action at this point
is the best action. The situation remains rather complicated, and sending
premature marketing messages at this point could further complicate the
situation and could even be misinterpreted in some cases. Maybe in that case
you should not say or do too much. But always listen to your customers and
monitor the market sentiment and try to keep your bond with the community and
target market and show your social responsibility.”

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. did just that early in the crisis,
before the industry grounded its fleets for 30 days by planning to use some
ships moved out of Asia to offer cruises to first responders in the U.S. and
Australia. 

Cruise executives said they have adjusted both their spend
and message.

“I think marketing has to change while we are all in the ‘pause’
phase in our industry,” said Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales and
trade support and service for Royal Caribbean International. “I think major
advertising must be placed on pause and we all go back to the basics of true
one-to-one connecting. That means calling our past clients, checking in with
them, emailing, snail mail. After all, it is so rare these days to receive a
card in the mail.” 

Freed said sensitivity is important. 

“Selling them hard during this period is not appropriate,”
she said. “Let your clients lead the interest in vacation planning.”

James Rodriguez, Oceania Cruises’ executive vice president
of sales and marketing, said Oceania is scaling back its marketing, but “looking
for new and creative ways to connect with our guests and travel advisors via
social media and personal messaging.”

“Given the current global environment, brands must stay in
sync with the emotions and mindsets of their guests and partners,” Rodriguez
said. “This doesn’t necessitate a change in strategy or philosophy but does
require us to think differently in our approach in how we consistently
communicate the right message at the right time. While our ships may not be at
sea at the moment, our guests and travel partners are relying on us to keep
them dreaming about their next voyage. And that’s what we intend to do.”

Freed said travel advisors can also keep their clients
dreaming. One way to do that, she said, is to host a virtual cruise night that
people can join from home. 

“It allows clients to dream about that vacation, and when
they are ready to truly vacation, they have more knowledge about the product,”
she said. “No hard sell, just educate.”

The point is to stay top of mind. 

“It is important to market yourself during this time frame
and not become a hermit,” Freed said. “Staying in front with your clients and
prospects is the key to the rebuilding process. The stress that the world
events are creating for us today will encourage people to take a break and
vacation.” 

River cruise lines are in a somewhat different situation,
since the crisis unfolded before their main Europe season had started. 

Even before the U.S. shut down travel from Europe, Rudi
Schreiner, president of AmaWaterways, said the company was planning to continue
with already-contracted efforts, but “new marketing right now is on hold. We’d
rather spend the money later.”

AmaWaterways also held off on sending out its new brochures
this season.

Marcus Leskovar, executive vice president of Amadeus River
Cruises, said it was also holding off on new marketing, as “It would just fall
on deaf ears right now.

“Everyone’s trying to figure out how to get out of their
vacation,” he said. “They are not going to jump into new commitments.”

But Pamela Hoffee, managing director of Avalon Waterways,
said it is important not to take one’s eyes off the long game.

“This is a short-term problem, and we are in a long-term
business,” Hoffee said. Like Freed, she expressed the hope that when this crisis
passes, there will be huge pent-up travel demand. 

Hoteliers are faced with deciding whether or not to launch
new brands and properties this spring that have long been in the pipeline.

“There’s just so much that goes into any new launch,” said
Oscar Yuan, president of Strategy3, a consultancy owned by market research firm
Ipsos. “You may have media you’ve purchased, employees you’ve hired. And you’ve
maybe built the financial forecast around a launch or opening, and it’s really
difficult to just back out of those types of things. To stop and then later
restart something completely from scratch is an enormous investment.”

Some hotel groups are sticking to existing launch and
opening schedules.

Aman debuted Janu this month, the first new hotel brand to
join its portfolio since its 1988 founding. That same week, fellow luxury
player Capella Hotel Group unveiled Patina Hotels & Resorts, a lifestyle
brand.

Even as occupancy is in free fall in key markets
worldwide, Mama Shelter is among the brands still opening new locations. Its
Mama Luxembourg is still slated to open this spring. 

Yuan approves of this. 

“The whole industry needs to try to keep things
business-as-usual to the extent that they’re able to,” he said. “The worst
thing a travel brand can do is to create any extra hysteria around things and
ruin any chance they have of coming back later in the year completely. We know
there’s going to be impact, but I think demonstrating stability and consistency
as this pandemic is sorted out is probably one of the best things that can be
done.”

He also said that delaying an opening could mean ceding a
chance to ride a potential rebound later this year.

“If all the planning and preparations have gone ahead for a
hotel to open, then they might as well have the opportunity to get some revenue
this year,” Yuan said.

Max Starkov, an adjunct professor at New York University’s
Tisch Center for Hospitality, takes a contrary stance.

“Launching a new hotel brand or new product now is simply
counterproductive and a complete waste of money,” he asserted. 

The best approach, he said, is to follow the strategy of the
producers of the James Bond film “No Time to Die,” who have postponed its
release until the fall. 

Otherwise, he said, “For a brand to be positioned correctly
and to be able to relay the right value proposition is just impossible at the
moment.”
___

Christina Jelski and Jeri Clausing contributed to this
report.

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Categories
Destinations

Exceeding Kyoto expectations at Sowaka

You know how there are some places you feel an inextricable connection to even though you’ve never been there before? Kyoto, Japan, was that place for me, familiar yet foreign. It makes sense in a way, considering that the city’s fabled pagodas and thriving geisha culture have continued to grace the covers of glossies for the better part of an eternity.

Expectations were high, and as the taxi slowly made its way from Kyoto Station to Gion last spring, I was immediately struck by the fact that reality did not meet expectations. It was busy, like what I’d imagine Pamplona, Spain, is like on a San Fermin festival day when it’s jammed wall to wall with revelers — but in place of the mozos in their red bandanas, it was hordes of women and men dressed in traditional attire. Maybe that’s an extreme recounting, but keep in mind I was visiting Japan during cherry blossom season.

By the time we crossed the river and arrived at the hotel, I was relieved, to say the least. The Sowaka hotel is neatly tucked away on a side street in the heart of one of Kyoto’s oldest neighborhoods, just a stone’s throw away from some of the city’s most famous temples and shrines. As I made my way across the stone foyer, it was as if I’d entered into another world altogether. 

Sowaka, I later learned, is Sanskrit for happiness, which after a long day of travel and that painfully long cab ride I desperately needed. Unlike other luxury properties in Kyoto, the hotel Sowaka opened just last March, having spent the majority of its 100-year history up until then as a traditional Japanese restaurant.

The property has since been transformed into a beautiful, 23-room ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) with an award-winning Japanese-French fusion restaurant called La Bombance Gion. In addition to the main building of the hotel, an annex was constructed to add a few more modern rooms to the mix.

My first night at the property found me in the main building in the aptly named Tea Room. A two-story, townhouse-style abode, the first floor included a traditional Japanese bedroom and separate ceremonial tea room. Upstairs, a Japanese cyprus soaking tub with an adjoining relaxation room called the gorge that overlooked the hotel’s private courtyard. This was the Kyoto I had envisioned, a delicate blend of tradition and nature with all of the modern amenities you could ask for. 

That night, after an exquisitely tailored kaiseki dinner at La Bombance, I retired to the tea room to soak in the cyprus tub and laze about in the gorge as I listened to the sounds from the garden below. If I never left this little slice of paradise, could I still claim to have seen Kyoto?

The next morning, I managed to pry myself away from the tub, but not before a delicious, three-course Japanese breakfast. I spent the morning packed in among the throngs at Nishiki Market before a lovely stroll along the Philosopher’s Walk and lunch at a soba spot.

That night, I said goodbye to the tea room and moved into a room in the hotel’s annex. Sprawled across one level, this more modern interpretation of a traditional ryokan had a floor-to-ceiling window that extended across the length of the room and overlooked a private garden. In the middle, an outdoor veranda for meditating connected the bedroom and the bathroom.

That night, I drew myself a bath, where I stayed for a long while. Sometimes, especially in travel, your expectations don’t always match reality. But in my experience, there’s nothing a good bath and a glass of chilled sake in a beautiful hotel can’t fix.

Rooms at Sowaka start at $393 per person, per night. Inquire in advance and the hotel can arrange exclusive access and private tours of nearby Kodaiji temple.

See https://sowaka.com/eng/index.html.

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Categories
Travel

Want to get PAID for getting away from it all?

Want to get PAID for getting away from it all? Couple is being sought to manage a property on a remote Scottish island for six months

  • Couple wanted to manage a property on the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides
  • The role comes with A £1,200 per month salary and free accommodation 
  • Runs from April to October and involves creating a five-star guest experience 

If you like the sound of getting paid thousands of pounds to stay on a tiny Scottish island for the summer, then get your CV ready.

A couple is being sought to manage a beautiful property on the Isle of Skye, the most northerly island in the Inner Hebrides, from April to October 2020.

The role comes with a range of perks, including a salary of £1,200 each per month and free private accommodation where the successful pair can relax and take a break from their work obligations.  

A couple is being sought to manage a beautiful property on the Isle of Skye, the most northerly island in the Inner Hebrides, from April to October 2020 

When the property is not in use, they will have a lot of free time to enjoy a slower pace of life and explore the rugged island.

Adventurous couples will love the plethora of outdoor activities available on the Isle of Skye, the firm doing the recruiting says, such as hiking up the Old Man of Storr, visiting one of its many medieval castles dotted around the coastline and taking a scenic boat ride to spot some of the island’s wildlife.

However, the role isn’t all fun and no work. 

The duo will be tasked with managing a remote apartment that caters to guests from all over the country and ensuring they have the best possible experience.

This means meeting with each new group of guests and introducing them to the team, taking them on a tour around the apartment and making sure they feel comfortable.

What else do you need to make the dream a reality? The ability to manage the property and take on sole responsibility for the cleanliness and presentation of the interior.

Adventurous couples will love the plethora of outdoor activities available on the rugged island 

Guest relations is also a big part of the job and you must be able to keep proactive communication with the guests and attend to their needs while simultaneously giving them privacy.  

In addition, the advert says the ideal candidate will have a full driving licence and the ability to work in the European Union.

The job is being advertised by Silver Swan Recruitment and applications are now open. 

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Categories
Travel

British holidaymakers forced to fend for themselves after coronavirus travel ban

British holidaymakers returning to the UK after the Foreign Office warning to avoid non-essential travel have criticised the lack of help from airlines, travel firms and consular staff.

The latest travel advice is aimed at reducing the number of British travellers caught by closed borders and flight restrictions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It came as a growing number of countries announced bans on international flights – with Sri Lanka announcing a ban on arrivals from 4am local time on Thursday 19 March.

Many British travellers say they have had to spend hundreds of pounds on new flights.

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Janice Cakir from Rotherham touched down at Heathrow late on Tuesday night.

“I was stuck in Istanbul, my flight was cancelled by Pegasus, so I phoned the embassy,” she told The Independent.

“No help whatsoever, they just said I had to keep in touch with my flight company.

“I think when you phone them up and you’re trapped in a foreign country they definitely should give you more help than just say, ‘Get in touch with the airlines’.

“In the end I went to the airport, and my friend got me a ticket through Aegean which went to Athens and through to Heathrow.”

The original ticket had cost £70, but the replacement was £550.

Nicky Fernandez from Cambridge and her husband, Oscar, were sightseeing in Cairo when they got word of an impending flight ban from Egypt.

“We heard nothing from Expedia, who we booked through, or from Egyptair, who we’re flying with, so we had to go through our [hotel] concierge.

“We were advised to go to the embassy, but the British Embassy were not opening the doors, despite there being a queue of us and other nationals.

“They gave us the Home Office number, but they didn’t respond.

“Eventually we had to come straight to the airport to try to book an earlier flight for an additional £630 each.”

The Independent estimates that between 500,000 and 600,000 British travellers were abroad when the new Foreign Office advice was announced on Tuesday.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We recognise that any British people currently overseas may be nervous about the impact of coronavirus on their travel and their health.

“We are in close contact with travel providers and our international partners to provide support to those British people affected by ongoing measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.”

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Categories
Destinations

Discover the Top Attractions and Secret Spots of Aspen, Colorado

Up the ante on your next Aspen ski trips with these special spots. You don’t need to be a celebrity to indulge in pop-up champagne bars and members-only clubhouses and mountains—you simply have to know where to find them.

Grab a drink at the buzzy speakeasy in the Aspen Times building.

Bad Harriet is a sultry 55-seat speakeasy located in the lower level of the Aspen Times building on Main Street in Aspen, and you’re sure to miss it if you’re not looking for it. The underground establishment, which is part of Hotel Jerome, was inspired by the 1920s and has leather chairs, a brown marble bar, antler chandeliers and plenty of mirrors. Since there’s limited seating, be sure to make a reservation, dress to impress and bring a full wallet (cocktails are $17-$35).

$1,000 wine, please.

The only 5-Star spot in all of Aspen, The Little Nell is home to a highly coveted wine cellar that serves as a bragging point to anyone who dares enter. From Roulot and Romanee-Conti to Ridge and Screaming Eagle, more than 20,000 wines can be found in the cellar, compliments of more than a dozen sommeliers. Want some? It’s a $1,000 minimum—no worries, that’s easy to achieve, due to the price of the wines. Or, you could join The Little Nell Wine Club and receive preferred pricing—$8,000 per year.

Indulge in what may be the best breakfast you’ve ever had.

Hop in the car and head to Village Smithy in Carbondale, where locals and celebs alike can be seen waiting for as long as an hour for the best blueberry pancakes and skillets ever. Just a 45-minute drive northwest of Aspen, you’ll be rewarded with what may be the best breakfast you’ve ever had. There’s also a free public bus that goes from Aspen to Carbondale, with multiple stops along the way.

Get a weekly membership to the hottest private club in the city.

Caribou Club is the most exclusive private club in Aspen, and memberships are hard to come by in terms of access and finances. Additionally, they also offer a limited number of weekly private memberships—$500 minimum, depending on the week—which are much more accessible. If you’re staying at a high-end hotel—The Little Nell or the Ritz, for example—you may ask your hotel to arrange for you to dine here as a potential member. The food is exquisite and at 10 p.m. the bar transforms into a very popular—and still private—nightclub.

Head to the clouds.

Cloud Nine is the place to be. Rumor has it that this mid-mountain restaurant sells the largest amount of Veuve Clicquot in all of America, and they earn the highest revenue per square foot out of any restaurant in the United States, despite the fact that they’re only open 135 days per year. Translation: Cloud Nine makes about $10 million per season, while top-grossing Tao Las Vegas makes $42 in annual sales but is about 44,000 sq feet. An average of 120 bottles of bubbly are opened per night here, and most of that ends up on the walls and on the ceilings. It is quite the rowdy crowd.

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Holiday

6 of the best experiences in Africa for your travel bucket list – A Luxury Travel Blog

Africa is one of the most fascinating continents in this world. For anyone dreaming of going for the first time or if you are thinking of planning your next visit, here are a few of our top suggestions to add onto your bucket list

1. Track The Big 5 in Kruger

If you’re looking for a really authentic safari experience in South Africa, there’s no place like Kruger National Park. It’s one of the world’s great wildlife destinations, ranking up there with the very best that Africa has to offer. Covering a vast expanse of over 2 million hectares, the national parks and private reserves are all unfenced and allow for free roaming movement of the wildlife. Kruger is home to an immense diversity of wildlife and one of the best destinations to view The Big 5 of lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo!

Safari experiences range from rustic bungalows in the National Park for self-drive visitors, walking safaris for the adventurous at heart or staying at the private safari lodges within the private reserves such as Mala Mala (pictured above). Staying at one of these lodges, you’ll be treated to sunrise and sunset guided safaris in open-topped 4×4 safari vehicles, giving you an incredible game viewing experience. The safari lodges all take huge pride in getting their guests as close as possible to the animals and in the private reserves the guides are not restricted to the roads, meaning that you can head off-track into the depths of the bush in search of wildlife.

This really is a safari like no other, as the guides and trackers can follow their professional hunches off road and give you the game drive adventure of a lifetime.

2. Follow the great migration in Tanzania or Kenya

Tanzania is the most well-known for the Great Migration, and with careful planning and a little luck, it is possible for visitors to be at the right place to witness this amazing annual wildlife event.

Each year, literally thousands upon thousands of wildebeest, zebra and gazelles trek across the vast Serengeti plains towards Kenya’s Masai Mara, in search of new grazing grass. It is estimated that just over 2 million animals in total make this migration from one country to another and back again – a round journey of just under 2,000 miles. Travellers from all over the world descend on the Serengeti and the Masai Mara in Kenya each year in hope of seeing a dramatic river crossing and being surrounded by sound of herds of wildebeest. Truly one of Africa’s most prized natural events and worth adding this to the top of your bucket list!

3. Look a gorilla or chimpanzee in the eye

For many people who love adventure and travel, trekking through a jungle to find a family of silverback gorillas or chimpanzees is high on their bucket list, but it is one that few people actually get to achieve.  For the lucky ones who do get to experience this first hand, it is a trip where the memories will last a lifetime.

The mountain gorilla is extremely endangered and while exact numbers vary, it is widely assumed that there are only around 650 left in the wild today.  Visiting the gorillas is a great way to support their future on our planet, as the money spent on permits is used for their protection.

Uganda is home to more than half of the world’s population of rare Mountain Gorillas, and the fantastically named Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is the most popular destination here for visitors wanting to track gorillas in the wild.

If trekking through rainforests to watch a family of chimpanzees go about their daily life, then Mahale Mountain National Park in Tanzania should be high on your holiday hitlist. Greystoke Mahale is situated on Lake Tanganyika and this is about as remote as you can get. There are no roads within 100 km of your camp, and access is only by light aircraft. Upon arrival at the airstrip there is an approximately 90 minute dhow trip down the lake to reach the camp.

Guests here can enjoy morning hikes in the stunning tropical forest that covers the slopes of the mountains, which is home to 9 different species of primate, including chimpanzee. The main chimp group live in the mountains close to the camp, and have become habituated to human presence over 2 decades.

4. Hear the smoke that thunders

Only a short 2 hour flight from Johannesburg, a trip to Victoria Falls is certainly memorable. One of the 7 Wonders of the World, the Falls are situated between Zambia and Zimbabwe, and with a width of 1.7 km and a volume of 9 million litres per second pouring down a vertical drop of just over 100m they are certainly one of the largest waterfalls in the world.

The sheer noise of the Falls as they cascade over the edge into the deep gorge is deafening, and the misty clouds of spray, occasionally broken by rainbows, are visible from over 30 km away – hence it’s local name, Mosi-oa-Tunya, “The smoke that thunders”.

The big tourist draw of the Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwean side is that visitors can view virtually the whole width of the Falls face-on, at the same level as the top of the Falls where the mighty Zambezi River drops over the edge into the gorge. In some places you can get as close as 60m – although you should be warned – at these points you do get incredibly wet from the spray! Covering your camera and video equipment with a plastic bag is definitely advised!

Viewing the Falls from the Zambia side is as exciting, however, as you can make your way across the aptly named Knife-Edge Bridge and are awarded with some stunning views of the Falls with maybe the odd rainbow peeking through – but again, be prepared to get thoroughly soaked with the spray if the Falls are at full flood!

The towns surrounding the Victoria Falls, both Livingstone and Victoria Falls Town, are a hub of activity and adventure. Seeing the falls play a pivotal part in visiting this area, however don’t overlook the experience of the Zambezi River and surrounding parks here. From Sunset Cruises to Bungee Jumping, the area offers non-stop adventure and is an excellent starting point for a full on safari experience in either the Hwange National Park or to enter Botswana and explore the Chobe and Okavango Delta.

5. Travel in style on a luxury train across South Africa

A classic train journey in South Africa is the ultimate in luxury travel. Riding the rails, you’ll be plunged into the romance of bygone times to delight in the pure decadence of time-honoured train travel. Steaming across the land with beautiful landscapes unfolding before your eyes is a truly special experience that you’ll remember for years to come.

South Africa offers two luxury trains, Rovos Rail and The Blue Train and they are beyond indulgent, magnificent moving 5* hotels – an effortless combination of superb accommodation, sumptuous fine dining and outstanding service levels. Each carriage breathes an irresistible feeling of grace and grandeur.

As your train meanders through the stunning countryside of South Africa, you’ll be treated to wonderful views of mountains sloping into vineyards, fields that stretch into the horizon and stark deserts that seem to go on forever. Watching the Rainbow Nation roll slowly past your window with a glass of champagne, you’ll be in seventh heaven.

6. Climb Namibia’s Red Sand Dunes

Sossusvlei is Namibia’s top selling scenery. With epic sand dunes sculpted by the wind, it’s a must-see for any visitor to this spectacular and surreal country.

An endless sea of shifting sand dunes, Sossusvlei is a worldwide sensation and easily Namibia’s most iconic feature. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013, the staggeringly beautiful scenery is bound to look familiar as it has been featured in films and advertisements far and wide.

The dunes can certainly be considered the ‘trademark’ of Namibian tourism, yet they still feel so much more than just a tourist attraction. Climbing to the top of a sand dune and watching the shadows sweep across the land as the sun rises is enough to give anyone goosebumps. So, while you might have seen this terrain on the TV, there’s nothing like being here in the flesh. It’s a humbling place to take a walk and get some perspective.

Sossusvlei is actually the huge flat pan in the middle of the dunes, but the dunes themselves get all the glory, and deservedly so. These giant orange sand-sculptures are some of the oldest and highest in the world and they are constantly shifting their formation with the winds. This is why Sossusvlei is often referred to as the ‘dune sea’; because the dunes are always ever-so-slightly moving in a subtle and spooky dreamlike way.

Paul Campbell is a Co-founder and Managing Director at Travel Butlers. Travel Butlers are specialists in tailor-made safari and beach holidays to Africa and the Indian Ocean.

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Categories
Destinations

A Destination for All Ages in the Caribbean

The Dominican Republic is a geographically diverse, culturally rich oasis in the Caribbean that has something for everyone. From the powdery-sand beaches, long mountain regions, natural pools and dense jungles to the local arts, sports, music and shops there is a draw for every kind of traveler at any age.

As the second-largest country in the Caribbean, there is a wide range of activities in the Dominican Republic that will suit all generations. The beaches are a perfect place for parents and grandparents to relax with a drink in hand while kids can splash about in the calm waters or partake in a number of water sports.

The capital of Santo Domingo, meanwhile, is great for a daytime excursion, where adults can enjoy the shops and cafes while children will be stimulated by the city’s lively atmosphere.

While there are general activities and sites that will appeal to all ages, the Dominican Republic is so big that there are plenty of pursuits for travelers with specific interests to enjoy with their families or companions. Athletes and sports fans can enjoy the seemingly infinite number of golf courses on the islands and the country’s favored sport, baseball. Explorers can experience their own adventures through scuba diving, caving, ziplining and hiking, all of which provide children-friendly options for families to participate in.

History buffs and scholars can peruse the island’s many museums and theaters that exemplify the Dominican Republic’s culture. National parks can also be found all over the country, where nature-lovers can immerse themselves in the local flora and fauna.

Naturally, the Caribbean island is full of all-inclusive luxury resorts that make it difficult to leave. There are plenty of features at a Dominican resort for all guests to enjoy: pools, spa treatments, lounges, restaurants, nightclubs and special events for kids. With a majority of the country’s resorts settled on the pristine beaches, visitors are given all they need to enjoy their vacations with their loved ones.

The energetic island also hosts many events that welcome tourists to partake and enjoy. From fairs celebrating the arts to music festivals to sporting events, there are plenty of reasons for families and groups to leave their resorts to explore the beauty of the Dominican Republic.

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Transport

Airline Passenger Restrained After Coughing on Flight Attendant

A female passenger flying with Thai Airways last week was restrained after allegedly coughing on a flight attendant during a long delay.

Naughty Passengers
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Passengers Arrested After Violent Brawl on Plane

According to The New York Post, the Thai Airways plane landed at Shanghai Pudong Airport in China on Friday after a flight from Bangkok, Thailand, and was held for more than seven hours while waiting to undergo coronavirus health screenings.

The unidentified female passenger allegedly started yelling about the long wait and began flailing her arms. Reports also claim she also intentionally coughed on a flight attendant.

Four Thai Airways crew members were forced to subdue the woman and restrain her, with a video of the incident showing the first male employee holding the woman in a headlock and asking for assistance to “put her down.”

A Chinese woman was restrained by #ThaiAirways crews after intentionally coughing on a crew member as she struggled to get off the plane. The flight landed at the Shanghai Friday when those on board were held for more than seven hours on the plane for #covid19 disinfection. pic.twitter.com/mUPr2yCbGf

Thailand’s Aviation Safety Department head Prathana Pattanasiri commented on the incident:

“We could not open the doors of the plane until instructed to and health officials came to proceed with checks,” Pattanasiri said. “Therefore, Thai Airways had to wait for seven hours before officials arrived at the inspection queue.”

“The Chinese passenger was upset about being held for a long time and coughed at one of our staff,” Pattanasiri continued. “After she calmed down, we explained the situation to her and she agreed to sit and wait for screening.”

The Thai Airways flight was reportedly informed of the screening procedures before landing.

Last week, an EasyJet plane looking to take off from Manchester, England was forced not once, but twice, to turn around on the tarmac due to brawling, boozing passengers. The flight was bound for Alicante, Spain.

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Categories
Travel

Qantas cuts almost a quarter of its flights over coronavirus fears


Qantas has announced sweeping cost-cutting measures in light of the worsening novel coronavirus crisis, including slashing almost a quarter of all flights for the next six months and significantly reducing executive pay.

a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway: A Qantas A380 taking off at Sydney Airport in October last year.

For the rest of this fiscal year, CEO Alan Joyce will forgo a salary, according to the Australian flagship carrier. Qantas Chairman Richard Goyder will stop taking management fees, and the executive leadership team will take a 30% pay cut.

The bulk of the cancellations will take place in Asia, where the virus outbreak originated. Flights in the region have been reduced by 31%. The airline will also lower capacity in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Jetstar, Qantas’ budget airline, will also “make significant cuts to its international network,” the company said.

The cancellations amount to a 23% drop in overall capacity. Prior to this week, the airline had already reduced its flight schedule, but it said Tuesday it would take more “decisive action to mitigate the significant adverse impact of [the] coronavirus.”

“In the past fortnight we’ve seen a sharp drop in bookings on our international network as the global coronavirus spread continues,” Joyce said in a statement.

“We expect lower demand to continue for the next several months, so rather than taking a piecemeal approach we’re cutting capacity out to mid-September. This improves our ability to reduce costs as well as giving more certainty to the market, customers and our people.”

The company did not share how much it expects to save as a result of the new measures. But it said that falling fuel prices had offered a much-needed boost, and it now plans to call off a stock buyback, which will also help save about 150 million Australian dollars ($98.6 million) in cash.

Investors cheered the move, sending Qantas shares up 7% Tuesday afternoon in Sydney. The broader S&P/ASX 200 index, of which Qantas is a component, closed up more than 3%, marking its best day since 2016.

Joyce said the approach was necessary as the aviation industry continues to reel from plunging global demand. The International Air Transport Association estimates that the coronavirus crisis could result in a $113 billion loss for airlines — and experts say the travel sector could take years to recover.

On Monday, the chairman and CEO of China’s biggest travel company, Trip.com, said they would temporarily freeze their own pay.

Qantas employees will also be asked to start accepting lower compensation. In addition to the new measures, the company said it would ask all employees to take paid or unpaid leave as more planes are grounded.

“When revenue falls you need to cut costs, and reducing the amount of flying we do is the best way for us to do that,” said Joyce.

While the carrier didn’t rule out of the possibility of the situation improving — it said that it could restore some capacity if demand picks back up — it also warned that things were largely unknown, and could possibly get worse.

“Given the dynamic and uncertain nature of this situation, it is not possible to provide meaningful guidance at this time on the size of that impact,” the company said.


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Cruises

Maui’s Ritz Carlton Is a Secluded Luxury Getaway

Most of Maui’s resorts are clustered on what locals call the south side (generally around Wailea) and the west side (on the northern lobe of the island), running from Lahaina, the historic whaling village, up north to popular Kaanapali Beach. But for those looking for some more secluded luxury time on the Valley Isle, head north another 10 minutes from Kaanapali and you’ll discover the 22,000-acre Kapalua resort, anchored by The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua.

The Ritz-Carlton occupies 54 acres and is surrounded by 36 holes of championship golf. Originally opened in 1992, the resort underwent a $30 million transformation in 2018, which included guest rooms, suites and residences, as well as improving the lobby and pool areas. Additionally, the resort opened the Kai Café and reimagined the Banyan Tree, ‘Olu Café and Ulana Terrace restaurants. The Alaloa Lounge also received a whole new menu concept.

The dining centerpiece of the resort, in our opinion, is Banyan Tree, located between the pool and the beach. While a poolside restaurant sometimes brings to mind images of average cuisine that hangs on its locale more than its chef, this couldn’t be further from the truth at Banyan Tree. The new chef, Bella Toland, has done magic with the menu, from steak to seafood. The cuisine here is definitely Hawaiian, but with Mediterranean twists. Everything on the menu was delightful, but the pacific rim platter, the mahi-mahi and the chocolate bowl dessert shouldn’t be passed up.

Rooms here are fresh and have an island vibe, with travertine bathrooms, a separate shower and tub and double vanities. We had a spacious lanai with a view of the Pacific Ocean as well as the extensive pool area.

The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Kapalua focuses on Hawaiian massage treatments, along with a variety of facial and body services. The spa’s design includes treatment rooms with private outdoor shower gardens, couples hale (cabanas), relaxation lounges with volcanic stone grotto areas, steam rooms, saunas and whirlpools, a coed relaxation area and authentic Hawaiian design elements throughout the spa. We enjoyed a very relaxing couples’ massage and spent plenty of time in the saunas and whirlpools before and after.

Golfers will be happy to hear that the resort’s Plantation Golf Course—ranked the number one course in Maui—just reopened in December after a nine-month, multi-million-dollar enhancement. The course hosts the annual PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions each January. A “golf in paradise” program offers accommodations for two, daily buffet breakfast for two and two rounds of golf per day starting at $999.

The Ritz-Carlton has a multitude of activities including tennis, hula lessons, a self-guided cultural tour, whale watching, sunrise yoga, snorkeling, bocce ball, golf, a mixology class, a fantastic fitness center and more, but it was the resort’s Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment Eco-Adventures program that caught our interest.

We chose the coastal hike, and our biologist tour guide, Kara, was a delight, not to mention well-versed in everything from the shorebirds to the native plants to the whales offshore and the island itself. She pointed out the many invasive plants and talked about how or why they were originally brought to the island. We saw plenty of whales offshore and got plenty of fantastic pictures of the flora, fauna and the stunning coastline.

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