Day: October 29, 2020

How to Camp and Recreate Safely During Wildfire Season

Wildland fires are nothing new, but their current impact is dramatic. So far, in 2020, about 8.5 million acres have burned across the U.S. The financial toll is mind-boggling. In 2018, estimates of wildfire damage were about $18 billion. So far this year, nearly 33,000 people have been involved in fighting wildfires and 12 are dead—not including civilians. Most of these fires were preventable; approximately 87 percent of wildfires are caused by people. Responsible recreation during wildfire season can make a difference.

The vast majority of small fires are put out. But strong winds and critically dry fuels can turn a spark or neglected campfire into a “megafire,” which can have an extraordinary impact on local populations and the environment. Not only are forests and grasslands scorched, people lose homes, businesses and, tragically, their lives. Forest closures and hazardous air conditions devastate local economies. Fuels and forests have built up in the absence of natural wildfires over the past century, leading to a contagious tinderbox in many forestlands. Warmer, drier summers and increased human-caused ignitions have dramatically increased the length of the average fire season.

Boulder CO wildland fire
A cyclist pauses to take a photograph as police officers direct motorists at a roadblock as nearby residents evacuate an Oct 17, 2020 wildland fire races through the mountains near Boulder, CO. David Zalubowski/AP/Shutterstock / Shutterstock

Susan Prichard, fire ecologist at University of Washington, says that the balance of human- versus lightning-started fires varies from place to place, year to year. But it’s important to understand that since most camping takes place at the height of fire season, fire irresponsibility coincides with wind and dry forests. “Even though it seems like the West is burning up (historically, there have always been wildfires), there are still many places under a fire deficit,” explains Prichard. “There will always be fire danger, and, while we’re very good at extinguishing them in this country (97 to 98 percent of fire starts are put out, it’s only 2-3 percent that get away), any fire, even a small one, has the potential to explode.”

Oddly enough, there’s evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic is fueling this season’s devastating blazes. Stacy Corless, Supervisor for Mono County, CA, reports that this summer, “our forests (like most others throughout the West, maybe the nation) saw big increases in visitation.” With many visitors new to camping and the outdoors, there was a likely gap in terms of understanding and following rules. “We saw some bad behavior—illegal campfires and camping, trash left behind, and lots of crowds,” Corless notes, “There seemed to be little awareness of wildfire danger, or the impact on the land.”

“Due to COVID, we’re seeing a lot of people on public lands this year that don’t typically camp or hike,” adds Tina Boehle, information officer for NIFC (National Interagency Fire Center). “It’s a great opportunity for education and we hope people fall in love with their public lands, use them responsibly and protect them for future generations. Before heading out, take the

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Visa, Mastercard and Amex struggle as sluggish travel hits profits

Global travel screeched to a halt during the pandemic, and it’s hurting credit card companies’ bottom line. 

American Express, Mastercard and Visa all reported double-digit drops in profit for the recent quarter, compared to a year ago. The companies pointed to a plunge in international travel as borders remain closed during the pandemic. 

The companies earn a fee off of every transaction that runs on their network, while American Express also makes a significant portion of revenue from annual fees. A lack of cross-border payments is especially painful as those card swipes have higher margins, and end up being more lucrative.

Visa was the latest major card company to report results on Wednesday. Cross-border transactions fell 29%, while Visa’s revenue in the quarter was down 17% from a year ago. The company did not give guidance based on uncertainty around the virus, but said the cross-border weakness remains a “significant and continued drag on revenue growth.” That will likely continue into 2021, according to Visa’s CFO Vasant Prabhu. 

“The cross-border recovery has been sluggish since borders remain closed, and there are significant impediments of crossing borders like quarantines and other such restrictions,” Prabhu said on a call with analysts Wednesday. 

Prabhu cited “significant uncertainties” including the impact of spikes in Covid infections happening in the U.S. and Europe, the timing of reopening of borders, the impact of therapeutics and a vaccine, additional stimulus programs and the economic impact once stimulus programs end. Covid cases in Europe spurred leaders of Germany and France to announce new economic restrictions for the next month, while new cases in the U.S. have hit record highs in recent weeks.

Visa rival Mastercard reported earnings Wednesday, with many of the same themes. Mastercard’s net income fell 28% year over year, and net revenue fell 14%, missing analysts’ expectations. The company reported a 36% drop in cross-border volumes, and did not forecast a rebound in travel spending anytime soon. 

“While we believe that cross-border will ultimately recover, it will take time for people to build their confidence in the safety of travel,” Mastercard’s chief financial officer, Sachin Mehra, said on a call with analysts Wednesday. “We believe that is tied to the broad availability of vaccines and therapeutics, likely towards the latter part of next year.”

Shares of Mastercard have fared the worst in the past week, and are down 11% this week. Visa and American Express are down 8% and 10% this week, respectively.

Amex kicked off the card earnings on Friday with a 40% drop in profit from a year earlier. Travel and entertainment spending was down 69% year over year. While the company is “highly confident” that travel demand will return, “it will take a while,” American Express CFO Jeffrey Campbell told CNBC in a phone interview. 

“The human urge to travel is insatiable, but it will take some time to come back, just like it did after September 11th,” said Campbell, who is also a former American Airlines chief financial officer. “For our

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Pebblebrook Hotel: 3Q Earnings Snapshot

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) _ Pebblebrook Hotel Trust (PEB) on Thursday reported a loss in funds from operations in its third quarter, after reporting a profit in the same period a year earlier. The results did not meet Wall Street expectations.

The real estate investment trust, based in Bethesda, Maryland, said it had a funds from operations loss of $66.6 million, or 51 cents per share, in the period.

The average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for a funds from operations loss of 45 cents per share.

Funds from operations is a closely watched measure in the REIT industry. It takes net income and adds back items such as depreciation and amortization.

The company said it had a loss of $138.4 million, or $1.06 per share.

The hotel investment company posted revenue of $77 million in the period, surpassing Street forecasts. Five analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $74 million.

The company’s shares have dropped 53% since the beginning of the year. In the final minutes of trading on Thursday, shares hit $12.65, a decrease of 51% in the last 12 months.


This story was generated by Automated Insights ( using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on PEB at

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Oil show cancellation is latest hit for hotel industry

Every other year in October, hotels in Midland and Odessa are fully booked during the week of the Permian Basin International Oil Show. But this year, as was the case with most major events, the oil show was canceled, adding to the “double whammy” hotels were already facing from the pandemic and lower oil prices.

That combination has led to hotels in the Permian Basin faring “substantially worse” than hotels across Texas, where there’s been a statewide revenue drop of 64 percent, according to Keith Dial, partner and regional sales director at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Midland Plaza.

By the time the oil show’s executive committee announced in July that the show would be postponed until October 2021, hotels had already been suffering from four months of cancellations and losses. News of another cancellation didn’t come as a shock, Dial said.

But while the oil show is one of the biggest events of the year for hotels, Dial said it doesn’t usually make or break the entire year in the way many people think.

“In a boom year, it’s kind of like just a flutter, because we’re busy all the time in a boom year,” he said. “But in a year like this, it would have substantially helped in the month of October.”

Hotels earn about a third more revenue during the week of the oil show compared to the rest of the year, according to Dial. However, what has hurt hotels in Midland more than the cancellation of any one large event is the cancellation of conferences, weddings and other smaller events that has been occurring since March, he said.

And more than any events being canceled, what has devastated Midland’s hotel industry is the loss of the “Monday through Thursday” crowd who fly in from Houston, Dallas or other energy centers to work in Midland for a couple days.

“Everyone’s bread and butter is that day-to-day — one or two nights or three nights from an individual or company business that comes in very steadily over the course of a year,” Dial said. “That’s where you survive in this economy.”

Dial said events such as the oil show are “gravy” on top of steady bookings throughout the year during a good year, and that stability is what’s missing as oil prices remain low and less activity in the oil field translates to fewer people traveling for work.

He estimated that about a third of the staff at the Midland DoubleTree has been furloughed, and those who have returned to work have reduced hours because there’s not enough to do.

“We’d love to see them back being able to work full-time and take care of their families, and hopefully, we’ll get there,” he said. “I really hope we get there before the end of the year but you’ve just got to look at that realistically, and it doesn’t look like that – not until this vaccine comes along and gets some distribution and people start traveling again.”


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Mural of punk icon Chi Pig going up at Cambie Hotel

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“There was many a night when I grabbed (Chi) by the arm and walked him home,” he said. “People would recognize him, (but) if you actually had the chance to sit down with him, he never played the rock star. He was very humble, you could sit down with him and have a chat. He wasn’t pretentious or anything, it made him really special.”

He continued to tour with various versions of SNFU until recently.

“Even in 2017 he’d be at the bar or whatever, then he’d be gone,” said Trenholm. “I’d say, ‘Chi where were you?’ ‘Oh, touring Italy or Austria or Australia.’ He kept on touring as long as he could.

“Incredible musician, just a quirky interesting character.”

Still, there wasn’t a lot of money in being a hardcore punk legend. At the Cambie or Pub 340 up the street, he’d set up in a table, hold court and sell his art to keep himself in beer and smokes.

“He was always doodling,” said Trenholm. “If he wasn’t singing or on tour he was painting art.”

In recent years he took to doing the Nine Inch Nails song Hurt on karaoke night at Pub 340, in the intense ballad style that Johnny Cash did.

Sun and Province writer Dan Fumano saw him performing Hurt there just before COVID-19 hit.

“It was powerful and it was very poignant,” said Fumano. “Everybody in the place was silent with reverence. He was sitting down when he sang, then he went back to his table afterwards and was doing his drawings, drinking Kokanees.”

Before he died he recorded another haunting ballad, Cement Mixer. The lyric said that after he died he wanted to be a cement mixer, “just rolling around, (a) dead man about town.” He ended it, “goodbye to all my friends, going to miss you guys.”

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Illustration of what the finished Chi Pig mural should look like at Cambie and Cordova streets.
Canadian punk legend Chi Pig (Ken Chinn) of SNFU, who died July 16 at age 57
VANCOUVER, BC - October 28, 2020  - Jameson Trenholm with half finished mural of punk rock legend Chi Pig on the side of the Cambie Hotel in Vancouver, B.C., October 28, 2020.  - Photo by Arlen Redekop / Vancouver Sun / The Province (PNG) (story by John Mackie) [PNG Merlin Archive]
Jameson Trenholm with the half-finished mural of punk rock legend Chi Pig on the side of the Cambie Hotel in Vancouver. Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG

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United Plans Newark-London Virus Testing as Tool to Spur Travel

(Bloomberg) — United Airlines Holdings Inc. will offer rapid coronavirus testing on flights to London from Newark, New Jersey, in a bid to show governments that a pre-departure testing regime can provide a way to ease strict quarantine rules.

a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway: The Manhattan skyline stands past a United Airlines Holdings Inc. airplane on the tarmac at Newark International Airport (EWR) in Newark, New Jersey, U.S., on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Airline losses are surging to unprecedented levels expected to be more than three times those following the 2008 global economic slump, according to the industry's main trade group.

© Bloomberg
The Manhattan skyline stands past a United Airlines Holdings Inc. airplane on the tarmac at Newark International Airport (EWR) in Newark, New Jersey, U.S., on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Airline losses are surging to unprecedented levels expected to be more than three times those following the 2008 global economic slump, according to the industry’s main trade group.

The pilot program, running from Nov. 16 to Dec. 11, also is aimed at giving customers on the trans-Atlantic route “an added layer of peace of mind,” United spokesman Josh Earnest said.


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U.S. and British airlines have been seeking government approvals for an “air bridge” between the New York City area and London’s Heathrow Airport that would relax isolation rules and spur international business travel. Corporate tickets and overseas routes are traditionally among the most profitable and have been especially hard hit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We’re not second-guessing the decisions that government officials are making,” Earnest said on a call with reporters. “This is not sketching out on the back of a cocktail napkin what this would look like. This is actually showing them.”

United will offer the Abbott Laboratories ID Now rapid molecular tests free for passengers booked on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday flight. The program is for one United flight and will be conducted in a terminal lounge at Newark-Liberty International Airport, outside New York. Results from the test, the same one United uses for international crews, will be available within 20 minutes.

Passengers who test positive won’t be allowed to board, and a negative result won’t exempt the traveler from the U.K.’s 14-day quarantine. Customers who don’t want to participate will be rebooked on another flight.

United is betting that a free, fast coronavirus test could stimulate travel or lure customers from another airline. The 318-seat Boeing Co. 787-10 that’s used on the United flight has been operating with 50-100 passengers, Earnest said.

The Chicago-based carrier began offering $250 virus tests this month in San Francisco for flights to Hawaii after the state allowed travelers with negative results to skip a two-week quarantine on arrival. Hawaii expanded that program on Tuesday to visitors from Japan.

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Local recreation departments plug into eSports – News – Medfield Press

Recreation departments in Dover, Medfield, Medway and Norwood are now offering young gamers a chance to take part in eSports competitions.

There will be two divisions in the newly formed Metrowest league – grades three-five, and grades six-12. Competitors will have a chance to play Madden 21, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, NBA2K21 and Fortnite.

According to Mark Ghiloni, director of Dover’s Park and Recreation Department, “eSports is one of the fasting growing industries over the past few years and is a far cry from what we grew up with in years past.

“The industry is booming with colleges/universities creating teams and offering scholarships to players, the IOC looking at ways to incorporate eSports into the Olympics and recreation departments looking to bring gamers together in a virtual setting.”

Ghiloni added that a National Recreation Park Association Conference held in Baltimore last year highlighted eSports, and that inspired him to reach out to recreation directors in Medfield, Medway and Norwood with the idea of forming a local league.

“A few months ago, the four towns came together to see if we can partner and offer a fun program for gamers in our community,” he said. “Rather than limit it to just our town, we thought we can partner and possibly start a MetroWest League. We already come together for traditional sports at both the youth and high school level, why not try it for this virtual competition.”

“It seemed like a natural fit with these four towns to start, and we hope to expand once we get established through other interested towns in the area,” said Kevin Ryder, director of Medfield’s Park and Recreation Department.

Both Ghiloni and Ryder envision this as a permanent program.

“The industry is not going away and will only grow. The number of gamers has grown, and it is an opportunity for children of all interests to take part in the program. We see it as an opportunity for kids of all interests (especially those that may not enjoy traditional sports) to enjoy the social interaction and a program that works in the current Covid times with no modifications,” said Ghiloni.

“I see it as something that will appeal to a number of kids in our community, especially those that may not partake in traditional sports or are looking for something different to take part in,” said Ryder.

Both directors said that Fortnite’s been the early favorite, and both hope that there will be enough signups to have the league begin for all games in early November.

“I also think as the weather turns colder in the coming months that interest will increase in these leagues,” said Ryder.


What’s required

Those interested in signing up for eSports must have the necessary equipment; they need to own the specific game; own the game system; need an Internet connection to play the game online; need to have the online gaming account (such as Playstation Plus); and register with GG Leagues Gaming Systems for an online account. This information

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Pebblebrook Hotel Trust Reports Third Quarter 2020 Results

Pebblebrook Hotel Trust (NYSE:PEB):





(1) See tables later in this press release for a description of Same-Property information and reconciliations from net income (loss) to non-GAAP financial measures.

“Throughout the summer, leisure demand continued to improve across the travel and hotel industries and remained unseasonably healthy post-Labor Day, benefitting our properties and particularly our drive-to resorts and urban getaway hotels. Furthermore, business travel began a modest improvement, indicative of more companies and businesses choosing to get back on the road. Finally, we’ve seen some modest pickup in small group business. This steady but slow recovery in hotel demand has led to improved operating performance and a continuing reduction in our hotel and corporate cash burn from the historic lows in the second quarter. Although we do not expect to eliminate our cash burn before year-end, we are incrementally more optimistic as our improved, efficient hotel operating models materially enhance our bottom-line results. However, we remain cautious about operating trends as we head into winter, due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases and the predicted second wave.”
Jon E. Bortz, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pebblebrook Hotel Trust

Third Quarter and Year-to-Date Highlights

Third Quarter

Nine Months Ended
September 30,





($ in millions except per share and RevPAR data)

Net income (loss)





Same-Property Room Revenues(1)





Same-Property Room Revenues growth rate



Same-Property Total Revenues(1)





Same-Property Total Revenues growth rate



Same-Property Total Expenses(1)





Same-Property Total Expense growth rate



Same-Property EBITDA(1)





Same-Property EBITDA growth rate



Adjusted EBITDAre(1)





Adjusted EBITDAre growth rate



Adjusted FFO(1)





Adjusted FFO per diluted share(1)





Adjusted FFO per diluted share growth rate




See tables later in this press release for a description of same-property information and reconciliations from net income (loss) to non-GAAP financial measures, including Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (“EBITDA”), EBITDA for Real Estate (“EBITDAre”), Adjusted EBITDAre, Funds from Operations (“FFO”), FFO per share, Adjusted FFO and Adjusted FFO per share.

For the details as to which hotels are included in Same-Property Room Revenues, Total Revenues, Expenses and EBITDA appearing in the table above and elsewhere in this press release, refer to the Same-Property Statistical Data table footnotes later in this press release.

“Our hotels experienced improved operating and financial performance each month during the third quarter, and October appears to be tracking in line with September’s results,” noted Mr. Bortz. “Combined with our revised hotel operating models following COVID-19, our hotels are running with lower operating expenses, which is enabling them to achieve profitability sooner than we would have anticipated several months ago. Our zero-based budgeting has

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Planning for a Vacation on a Tight Budget? Here’s What You Need to Do – Blog

Every once in a while, you may feel like you are in need of a change. In this case, traveling can be just the thing you need to break out of your routine and add some excitement to your life. However, planning a trip is not always cheap, especially if you have a big family. Don’t let that stop you from trying to make the best out of what you have, though. 

Luckily, there are many ways you can plan a vacation on a tight budget. Interested in learning more about this? Just check out the next few tips.

Set a Plan

Yes, we know that you have a limited budget, but unless you have to leave tomorrow, don’t count it as a lost cause yet! If time is on your side, then you can employ some means to save up more money for your vacation. For example, you may open a savings account and use it to allocate money to your trip. You can also find a second job or a side hustle. There are many great freelance opportunities you can find online. Not only do they pay well, but they are also not as time-consuming as handling the responsibilities of a second job. Finally, changing your spending habits and becoming more economical, particularly when it comes to the things you do not really need, can go a long way towards helping you save up more money for your getaway.

Pick the Right Location

Sure, a vacation in Paris sounds dreamy, but it is going to be prohibitively expensive. While you do not have to stick to simple road trips to save money, there are many other affordable options to opt for. Puerto Rico, Mexico, Dominican, and Hungary are all great destinations that do not cost an arm and a leg to plan a trip to. If you are still determined to visit popular cities, you can stay in a nearby town and commute to your chosen city when needed. This way, you will not have to deal with crazy high rates and can save money on accommodation.

Don’t Travel During Popular Seasons

It is an open secret that traveling during the busy season costs more money. As more people head for the same destination at the same time, hotel owners capitalize on this chance to increase their prices. Planning a trip during spring break, for instance, is a big no-no, as you will have to settle for inflated rates. Instead, how about vacationing in the off-season? Early autumn, think November, is always a good time to search for competitive deals. In addition to saving money, you will be able to enjoy the other benefits of traveling during the off-season. The thought of not having to deal with overly excited tourists alone is worth postponing your trip!

Book Hotels Online

Cheap accommodation is easy to score if you know where to look. Definitely don’t straight up call hotels and ask for their rates because this is how you get

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David Grutman and Pharrell opening Goodtime Hotel in Miami Beach

Fact: David Grutman is always up for a good time.

Aside from owning the hottest nightclub in South Florida, LIV, the father of two owns a bunch of hip restaurants and has had every Kardashian and supermodel on the planet aboard his yacht, The Groot.

So we weren’t surprised when we heard the name of his upcoming venture: The Goodtime Hotel.

The so-called King of Hospitality is teaming up with Swan partner Pharrell for this South Beach property, set to open early next year.

The seven story, 266-room boutique hotel will occupy a full square block on Washington Avenue from 6th to 7th Street. The building, designed by NYC architect Morris Adjmi, will also include a recording studio, a retail component and of course, Grutman-style dining opportunities.

Strawberry Moon is the full-service restaurant, bar and pool club which features both indoor and outdoor seating (let’s hope by next year, indoor dining won’t be an issue anymore).

Interior designer Ken Fulk — who famously turned Swan into the gorgeous Design District eye candy that it is – helmed the sleekly understated look.

On Wednesday, Pharrell posted a sneak peek pic of the lobby on Instagram with the tease, “Coming soon.”

A rendering of the Breezeway at the Goodtime Hotel. Handout/Gabriel Saunders

All we can say is after 2020, we are ready for some good times.

“It’s truly amazing,” said Grutman. “We think we’re going to change the narrative about Washington Avenue.”

Grutman said while he had aspirations to open a hotel at some point in his career, he didn’t want his first baby to be where most South Florida waterside hotels are located, such as Collins Avenue or Ocean Drive.

“If I did that, it would be just another reset,” said the 40 year old Naples, Florida, native. “Insane over the top luxury on the beach.”

What attracted the entrepreneur was that The Goodtime is housed in a completely new building, giving him and Pharrell more control and ways to channel their creative genius.

good exterior.PNG
The Goodtime Hotel on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach. Gabriel Saunders

“We were able to curate the public space to work in synergy of how we entertain,” he said. “That was the biggest draw.”

Another large draw was indeed the location. Grutman recalls walking up and down Washington Avenue in the mid-1990s after graduating from University of Florida, and wanting badly to work at a a bartender at one of the local hotspots of the time.

“I passionately wanted to be a bartender at Bash or The Living Room,” Grutman admitted with a laugh. “To me that would have been my dream job but no one would hire me.”

The recent grad ended up working at Biz Bistro at Aventura Mall and meeting the mall’s owners, The Soffer family, who helped Grutman kickstart his journey to nightlife domination.

“So, it’s full circle for me in creating my ecosystem, and I thought that’s the coolest thing ever,” Grutman said. “Personally, it means a lot.”

Celebrity/real time news

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