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Monthly archives for October, 2015

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Monday, 26-10-2015 

Industry-First Innovations Aboard MSC Lirica
Beijing, PRC, 26 October 2015 – CAISSA Touristic Group, China’s leading outbound tourism service provider, and Geneva, Switzerland-based MSC Cruises, the number one cruise line in Europe, South America and South Africa, reaffirmed the strength of their recently announced strategic partnership at a joint press conference in Beijing today, disclosing details of the cruise experiences to be offered aboard MSC Lirica. The ship is set to serve the Chinese home market from Shanghai, starting in May 2016.
CAISSA Touristic’s President Chen Xiaobing emphasized the popularity of MSC Cruises’ European and South American routes with travellers from around the world and that it had recently been named the number one cruise line in Europe.
He said: “MSC Cruises’ distinctive European flavour resonates well with CAISSA Touristic’s brand spirit, which also originates from Europe. Additionally, what makes this partnership stand out from other traditional agreements between China-based tour agencies and cruise lines is the emphasis that will be placed on the training of the entire on-board staff to ensure guests receive the best-in-class MSC Cruises’ experience and service, as well as the degree of the adaptation of the ship’s hardware and software, like facilities renovation, service design and operation and more, to fit the customs and tastes of Chinese guests it is designed to serve.”
MSC Cruises Chief Executive Officer Gianni Onorato added MSC Cruises’ private ownership gives the Company a clear edge in China, as it already does in other global markets.
He said: “Everything on an MSC cruise, from the hospitality, cuisine and staffing, to the ship’s interiors, is designed and controlled in-house, with meticulous attention to quality and detail, the way only a family-owned company can. This means we can customize every aspect of our offering – right down to a new Cruise Ambassador role we have created just for MSC Lirica – to meet the needs of consumers in the markets we serve.”
He added: “We’re customizing MSC Lirica by drawing on the unrivalled local knowledge of our partner, CAISSA Touristic. Moreover, MSC Lirica is the perfect size to enable guests to get the very most out of this customization, which means she brings to the market a cruise product, specifically designed to meet the needs of Chinese consumer, that is truly like no other.”
During the press conference, Mr Onorato presented various industry-first innovations, particularly in onboard dining, entertainment and guest service, which will guarantee Chinese guests experience a unique offering that’s tailored to their tastes, from boarding to disembarkation.

Authentic Upscale Cuisine: partnership with star Chinese chef Jereme Leung to create menus and dining concepts.
In addition to a range of quality dining options from the Mediterranean region, MSC Lirica’s guests will encounter exquisite oriental and international cuisine throughout the ship, created by celebrity Chinese chef Jereme Leung. A household name in China and revered by Far Eastern gourmets worldwide, Chef Leung will create a unique oriental fusion restaurant called Jia Yao, offering diverse, freshly-made specialities from around China, including his trademark “hot pot” and a roster of other signature dishes.
Additionally, to further strengthen the authenticity of the dining experience, Chef Leung will provide MSC Lirica’s chefs with specialized training in the traditional cooking methods that are his trademark, while front-of-house staff will also undergo specific Jereme Leung training around the cuisine and clientele they will serve.
MSC Cruises CEO Gianni Onorato explained: “We’re really excited about having Jereme Leung at our side in this venture. He has a deep knowledge of Asian cuisines that extends well beyond China’s borders, which is why he’s also instrumental in the development and delivery of other on-board menus and dining concepts, including the Kaito sushi restaurant; the 20-hour-a-day Chinese and international buffet and La Bussola, which will serve dishes from across Asia and around the world, plus a Chinese tea bar.”
An additional plus for groups and families seeking an intimate dining experience is the ability to book private dining options in the Ippocampo restaurant.

Nonstop Entertainment: a packed 20-hour-a-day programme of activities and shows for groups, families, children and couples.

Another award-winning feature of the MSC Cruises offering is entertainment. Building on this, MSC Cruises and CAISSA Touristic have built a round-the-clock programme of live music and dance shows, fun activities, leisure and games to suit all guests, whether groups, families and children or couples.
Daytimes will be packed with a range of entertainment and social options, including activities for children, adults and families, plus five distinct kids’ clubs for all age groups. In addition, parents can join their kids in the exhilarating open-air spray park, or watch from the shady comfort of a lounger under one of the ship’s newly installed sun canopies. Daytime activities will include favourites such as arts and crafts, European history and culture lectures, language classes, yoga, tai-chi and fitness sessions, and a great many besides.
Evenings will come alive with spectacular stage shows, live music, dancers, illusionists, cabaret artists and more. Throughout the ship’s lounges and bars, 12 musicians will perform American, European and Chinese numbers. And the theatre will offer three nightly sittings with magic shows, a professional tenor, full dance troupes and variety artists. Otherwise, guests can also attend a choice of theme evenings, such as Hollywood Night, Italian Night or Rock Star Night, or participate in fun games, such as Dancing With the Stars and Karaoke Superstar.
Peerless Service: personal Cruise Ambassadors to ensure start-to-finish relaxation, entertainment and discovery.

At the press conference, Mr Onorato commented: “MSC Lirica’s guests will enjoy a new personal service previously unseen in the industry. Under a unique new staffing structure we’re introducing here for the first time, specially recruited and trained Cruise Ambassadors, will be assigned to specific guests during their cruise.”

He explained that this service had been created to meet every need of guests onboard MSC Lirica, and to ensure they fully benefit from the entire range of relaxation, discovery and entertainment options. To make every cruise completely stress-free, these professionals will chaperone their guests at all key moments, acting as social host, fixer, guide and information point as required.
The Cruise Ambassadors, who will speak Mandarin as well as English, will provide round-the-clock access to information and assistance whenever they want it. These trained professionals will be fully informed of all onboard amenities, services and experiences, as well as the ports of call.
One example of the ‘extra-mile’ services they will provide is handling guests’ restaurant, entertainment or shore excursion bookings. Then, if guests wish, their Cruise Ambassador can join the group for the dinner, show or excursion.
“It’s bold innovations like the Cruise Ambassadors that we believe will really make the difference to our Chinese guests, and keep them coming back to MSC Lirica,” Mr Onorato said.
Additionally, MSC Lirica will be staffed by an industry-leading ratio of Mandarin-speaking personnel, with as many as 80% in some departments. Staff will be recruited and trained through Chinese schools of excellence, while managers will also undergo on-the-job training aboard other MSC Cruises ships.

Other highlights revealed include a large, varied casino with Chinese favourites and classics, plus a private baccarat and sic bo room. And an extensive range of boutiques carrying leading high-end European brands, including but not limited to, Gucci, Bulgari, Longines and Tag Heuer.
Further Information
As announced in September, the strategic cooperation between MSC Cruises and CAISSA Touristic will be the longest-running and financially most significant between a cruise line and a tour operator in the history of cruising in China.
MSC Lirica is scheduled to reach her new homeport of Shanghai on 1 May 2016, after a 60-day grand voyage from Rio de Janeiro via Barcelona, Marseille, Genoa and Dubai. She will then begin sailing mostly three- and four-day itineraries, calling South Korea and Japan, although longer options will be available.
Source: MSC Cruises

Guide to Hotel Week NYC 2016

While the upcoming holiday travel season will begin to wind down after New Year’s Day, hotel deals in New York will be heating up. That’s because the fifth annual Hotel Week NYC is scheduled to run from January 3-15, 2016.


The nearly two-week-long event offers visitors to the Big Apple the opportunity to book world-class accommodations at a fraction of typical rates.
Guests who book directly with participating hotels for travel on the aforementioned dates after the holiday season and mention Hotel Week can save hundreds on their stay.
“Hotel Week NYC is beneficial for both hotels and travelers,” Hotel Week NYC founder Nancy J. Friedman said in a statement. “Guests are able to experience New York City’s finest hotels at a cost-efficient rate, and the properties are able to book unoccupied rooms while expanding their clientele.”
With more than a dozen properties participating in Hotel Week NYC in 2016, here’s your guide to some of the top offers.
Hotel Mela
Rate: $200
This boutique hotel is designed to meet the needs of every type of traveler. Plus, it boasts two on-site restaurants, Saju Bistro and a gastropub called the Long Room.
Econo Lodge
Rate: $100
An ideal stay for business travelers, Times Square’s Econo Lodge may not be as fancy as some of the other participating hotels, but there’s no shortage of amenities available at this property. Plus, with a reduced rate of $100 per night, an extended stay won’t break the bank.
Sanctuary Hotel NYC

Rate: $200
This award-winning boutique hotel exudes luxury and is ideally located in Times Square. Rainfall shower fixtures and a Bluetooth-enabled iHome stereo system will make it easy to relieve that unwanted holiday stress.
Library Hotel

Rate: $200
Arguably the top hotel in NYC, the Library is a boutique hotel beloved by readers and non-readers alike. The rooms are packed with all the amenities guests have come to expect these days but with a few extras, including an in-room safe and a writing desk.
And the Wi-Fi isn’t the only thing that comes complimentary at the Library. Guests staying here will have free access to a continental breakfast every day as well as wine and cheese in the evening hours.
Hotel Elysee
Rate: $200
Another Library Hotel Collection property, Central Park’s Hotel Elysee has many of the exciting perks offered by the Library Hotel. But unlike the Library, this hotel was inspired by the acclaimed French restaurant of the same name.
Gansevoort Park Avenue
Rate: $200
If you’re searching for a hotel sporting a “downtown edge with an uptown sensibility,” Gansevoort Park Avenue is the place. Unwind at the rooftop bar and lounge or hit up the gym and spa to recharge your batteries after a draining holiday season.
Hotel Giraffe

Rate: $200
Hotel Giraffe is the third Library Hotel Collection property participating in next year’s Hotel Week NYC. Inspired by the giraffe, the luxury hotel shares many similarities with the Library Hotel and Hotel Elysee. However guests may notice a more urban feel here.
Gansevoort Meatpacking
Rates: $200
Gansevoort Meatpacking is the first luxury, full service resort in Manhattan’s historic Meatpacking District. This property is perfect for those traveling with babies or children. On top of cribs and disposable diapers, PSPs and Nintendo Wiis are complimentary.
The Maritime
Rates: $100
In addition to boasting an ideal location, the Maritime features a 24-hour fitness center and business center. The hotel’s 126 guestrooms have a nautical theme throughout, but suites are also available for guests desiring more eye-popping views of NYC.
Keep in mind the Refinery Hotel New York ($200), The Ludlow ($200), The Marlton ($200), The Paul Hotel ($200), Wolcott Hotel ($100), Cosmopolitan Hotel ($100) and Pod 39 Hotel ($100) are also participating in next year’s Hotel Week NYC.
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Marriott Hotels and VSCO® Together Launch Exclusive Travel Guides and Photo Series

Bethesda, Md., October 26, 2015 – Marriott Hotels, the global flagship brand of Marriott International, Inc. and leading art and technology company, VSCO, announced today an innovative collaboration designed to inspire people to travel. Together the companies are launching a set of curated travel guides for five iconic cities around the world that combine stunning imagery with in-the-know recommendations. The guides pair local VSCO photographers with expert travel writers to give visitors a highly visual and insightful guide to the culture, experiences and unknown secrets of each city.
The exclusive city guides feature Berlin, Taipei, Paris, Cairo, and Portland and showcase vivid destination shots while detailing the best cultural landmarks, locals’ favorite restaurants, shops, bars, clubs, as well as the city’s Marriott Hotels property. In addition to the destination guides, the Marriott and VSCO are introducing a handpicked collection of travel photos from the VSCO community, selected by Marriott Hotels. The guides and images are hosted exclusively on Marriott Hotels’ VSCO profile at
“These guides offer visual inspiration from talented VSCO photographers, connecting and sparking conversation from travelers around the world,” said Matthew Carroll, vice president, Marriott Hotels. “We’re excited to provide recommendations from this in-the-know community that you wouldn’t get anywhere else.”
In addition to living on, each of the city guides will be printed into 500 soft-cover books by Artifact Uprising, a VSCO-owned company that creates tangible photo books, prints, and gifts for digital photos.
The travel guides were created by members of the VSCO community, a collective of artists from diverse disciplines and backgrounds, including photographers Lisa Marie, Robbie Lawrence, Sean Marc-Lee, Nour El-Refai, and Joe Greer, as well as travel writers Terence Teh, Rich Conway, Stephanie Hsu, Yasha Wallin, and Sydney Kim.
Marriott Hotels has consistently pushed the boundaries of innovation in technology and travel to create spaces and experiences that inspire and foster its guests’ best thinking. In recent months, Marriott introduced the first ever in-room virtual reality travel experience, delighted travelers with its mobile innovations global roll-out, its industry-pioneering two-way chat feature Mobile Request on the Marriott Mobile App. Its announcement this summer of the first-of-its kind association with Netflix changed the future of in-room entertainment. Guests and travel enthusiasts can visit to experience the countless ways Marriott Hotels continues to meet the needs of today’s travelers.
About Marriott Hotels:With more than 500 hotels and resorts in nearly 60 countries around the world, Marriott Hotels is evolving travel through every aspect of the guest’s stay, enabling the next generation to Travel Brilliantly. Boldly transforming itself for mobile and global travelers who blend work and play, Marriott leads the industry with innovations, including the Greatroom lobby and Mobile Guest Services that elevates style & design and technology. All Marriott hotels participate in the award winning Marriott Rewards frequent travel program that allows members to earn hotel points or airline miles for every dollar spent during each stay. For more information, visit
About VSCO:VSCO® (Visual Supply Company) is an art and technology company empowering people everywhere to create, discover, and connect. Headquartered in Oakland, CA, with an office in New York City, NY the company was founded in 2011 and acquired Denver, CO-based Artifact Uprising® in 2014.         
Contacts:Nina Herrera-Davila          Marriott Hotels                                                            (301) 380-2691 office                                                                                                    
Jenna NewmarkGrey Public Relations(212) 546-1716 office                      
Source: Marriott

JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts Receives 2015 Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards

Global Luxury Hotel Brand Recognized as One of the Best in the World 
Bethesda, Md., October 26, 2015 – JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts has been recognized by Condé Nast Traveler, receiving sixteen of the Readers’ Choice Awards over an array of categories.  The 28th annual awards ranks the best hotels, resorts, cities, islands, airlines, and cruise lines in the world.  Over 128,000dedicated readers cast votes for over 5,000hotels and resorts worldwide, with a select few being named to the coveted list.   The awards, which appear in the November issue of Condé Nast Traveler, are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry. 
The prestigious accolades come on the heels of the recent opening of JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa, located on the private island of Isola delle Rose and featuring the Sapori Cooking School & Wine Academy.  The brand’s first resort in Europe boasts the largest spa in Venice and a private, two-bedroom waterfront villa.  The brand will open its JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa in November 2015, which will feature the Griffin Club, an ultra-luxurious 45-room boutique hotel located within the resort.  The Jim Olson-designed resort will also feature a 21,000 square foot Jasha Spa and temazcal, a multi-million dollar art collection, and Café des Artistes, a signature restaurant by famed chef Thierry Blouet.  
JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts worldwide has received honors in the following categories:
Top 40 Hotels in China: JW Marriott Hotel Beijing; JW Marriott Shanghai at Tomorrow Square
Top 20 Hotels in Japan & North Asia: JW Marriott Hotel Seoul
Top 20 Hotels in India & the Himalayas: JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu
Top 20 Resorts in Mexico (Caribbean Coast): JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa
Top 20 Resorts in Canada: JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa 
Top 15 Resorts in Central & South America: JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa
Top 25 Hotels in South America: JW Marriott El Covento Cusco; JW Marriott Hotel Lima
Top 15 Hotels in the Middle East: JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai
Top 15 Hotels in the Midwest: JW Marriott Indianapolis
Top 15 Hotels in Texas: JW Marriott Austin
Top 25 Hotels in Central Europe: JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel
Top 25 Resorts in Asia: JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa
Top 25 Resorts in Texas & the Southwest: JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa; JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa
“Year after year, JW Marriott properties throughout the world are named to the esteemed Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards,” says Mitzi Gaskins, Vice President of Luxury Brand Management & Guest Experience at Marriott International.  “We strive to provide thoughtful, enriching experiences to our guests and are honored to be recognized on such a global scale.” 
With 76 properties in 27 countries and growing, JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts has significantly increased its luxury footprint with the recent openings of JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa, located on the private island of Isola delle Rose; JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, the world’s tallest hotel; and JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa, opening in November 2015 and featuring the Griffin Club, an ultra luxurious 45-room boutique hotel located within the resort.  In 2017, JW Marriott plans to expand even further with the opening of JW Marriott Vancouver Place Stadium, the brand’s second property in Canada. 
About JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts JW Marriott is part of Marriott International’s luxury portfolio and consists of beautiful properties in gateway cities and distinctive resort locations around the world. These elegant hotels cater to today’s sophisticated, self-assured travelers, offering them the quiet luxury they seek in a warmly authentic, relaxed atmosphere lacking in pretense. JW Marriott properties artfully provide highly crafted, anticipatory experiences that are reflective of their locale so that their guests have the time to focus on what is most important to them. Currently, there are 76 JW Marriott hotels in 27 countries; by 2019 the portfolio is expected to encompass more than 100 properties in over 30 countries. Visit us online, on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Marriott International Luxury Brands Marriott International’s luxury portfolio currently includes The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, BVLGARI Hotels & Resorts, EDITION Hotels and JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts. The company’s award-winning luxury brands comprise the industry’s leading global portfolio accounting for more than 170 hotels and resorts worldwide. Marriott International plans to grow to nearly 200 world-class properties by the end of 2016 with hotel openings in Budapest, Los Cabos, Sanya and many more.
Note: The anticipated 2019 size of, and number of countries in, the JW Marriott hotel portfolio are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of U.S. federal securities laws, not historical facts, and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, including supply and demand changes for hotel rooms; competitive conditions in the lodging industry; relationships with clients and property owners; the availability of capital to finance hotel growth; and other risk factors identified in Marriott International, Inc.’s most recent quarterly report on Form 10-Q; any of which could cause the actual number of hotels and countries to be materially different. These statements are made as of the date of this press release, and we undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise them or any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Media Contacts:
Jessica Berkin  JW Marriott Global Brand Public                                                                                 
Amanda SchinderBaltz & Company212-982-8300
Source: Marriott

Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum (DWC) welcomes flights by flydubai

Dubai World Central–Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) continues to grow and evolve, yesterday welcoming the launch of services by flydubai.

The airline will operate services to a number of destinations from Dubai World Central–Al Maktoum (DWC) but will continue to call Dubai International Airport (DXB) its main home for now.
Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, called the launch of flydubai services from DWC “a strong endorsement of the growth strategy planned for the two-airport city and a major milestone in the brief, but promising history of the airport.”He added: “We are very pleased with this development as it will benefit both the airline and the airport while offering more choice and convenience to our customers, particularly the residents living in the south of Dubai and upcoming communities around DWC.”
Since launching its operations in 2009, flydubai has created a network of more than 95 destinations in 45 countries, with 17 new routes announced in 2015.
Opened in 2013, the existing passenger terminal at DWC is serviced by one A380 capable runway, 64 remote aircraft stands and has capacity for up to seven million passengers per year.Dubai Airports is quick to note that DWC offers full retail as well as F&B facilities and services, so passengers handled at Dubai’s second gateway aren’t missing out by not being welcomed at DXB.The addition of flydubai services means that DWC is currently served by five passenger airlines and 30 cargo airlines that between serve more than 40 destinations.
DWC’s passenger terminal is due to undergo a major expansion that will see its capacity increase to 26 million to accommodate future passenger growth.The expanded facility is expected to open in 2018 and is a precursor to the $32 billion expansion to create the world’s biggest airport with annual capacity exceeding 200 million passengers.

Source: Airport World

Haleakalā National Park – Hawaii

Panama Canal – Panama

Peru – South America