Tag: Great

27 Great Holiday Gift Ideas From Truly Chic Hotel Boutiques

NO LONGER cramped kiosks selling postcards and prophylactics, many hotel gift shops have become expertly curated boutiques. And now some of the world’s great purveyors of hospitality have emerged as a solution for online shoppers who need a holiday gift for the curtailed travelers in their lives. Think fancy consumables specific to the hotel’s region, an unusual toy, local things unavailable anywhere else.

If your loved ones have a favorite hotel, to which they return time and again, but can’t this year, a souvenir from its gift shop can be especially thoughtful. Ideal for Aunt Jane who’s been itching to get back to Claridge’s? The London landmark is now selling its tea service for the first time via its online store.

Aunt Jane will be thrilled and you can feel good about yourself: Online Christmas shopping via hotel boutique helps the hard-hit hospitality industry, too. Many top names offer gift cards for future travel. But in the meantime, here’s a wish list of things you can get online and have delivered directly, even if the hotel is closed:

Made in Italy

Emporio Sirenuse at Le Sirenuse, Positano

Opened in 1951 when the Sersale family (and current owners) converted their house into a hotel, this small resort that hugs the Amalfi Coast is an Italian dream come true, with a boutique so chic that the wares—from vibrant caftan to snappy swim trunks—are also sold on Net-a-Porter. Standout item: the Suzani-inspired pillow cases (from $316) that mimic textiles used throughout the 58-room property. emporiosirenuse.com

Southern Exposure

Keep Shop at Noelle, Nashville

On the ground floor of this reinvented 1930s downtown hotel, the Keep Shop boutique features a range of home goods and clothing, most made in the Southern U.S., including Stetson cowboy hats (from $125) and an indigo kimono jacket from Nashville designer Oil + Lumber ($175). noelle-nashville.com, keep.shop

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The plan for a new aquatics and recreation center in Great Falls has hit a snag

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The plan for a new aquatics and recreation center in Great Falls has hit a snag

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9 Great Spots For Glamping In Portugal Right Now

If there was ever a time to get back to nature, this is it. Travel may have become tricky in 2020, but road trips, remote accommodations and private, family friendly, covid-calm escapes make more sense than ever. The isolation makes them one of the safest travel options around, and their beautiful, wide-open spaces—and indoor creature comforts—make them a healing balm for the soul.

These nine spots from Glamping Hub are open this season, set up to withstand Portugal’s fairly mild but sometimes rainy winters, and a good alternative to being locked down under curfew in a city apartment.

Modern Dome Tents Near Lagoa de Santa André

Near the northern end of the scenic Alentejo Coast, near Santiago do Cacém, these new domed tents are set on top of a large wooden platform on a hillside. They have walls of windows that give them sweeping, panoramic views over the surrounding countryside. Each tent has a bedroom with a queen-size canopy bed and its own private bathroom. There’s a small kitchen and a dining table for two; breakfast can be delivered in the morning. The tents share access to a natural pool, a swimming pool, a restaurant and bar with Wi-Fi and, optionally, a Jacuzzi.

Lima Escape Tree Houses in the Peneda Gerés National Park

These elevated bungalows amid the trees in the north of Portugal were designed to have minimal effect on their environment. They give guests direct contact with nature and comfortable (climate-controlled) conditions inside and on the suspended glass balconies. They have kitchenettes, bathrooms with showers and wide glass facades that face the Lima River. There’s a small market and barbecue areas, as well as a bar and restaurant.

Villa Epicurea Tiny House Near Sesimbra

There’s a reason Lisboetas talk about their Sesimbra holidays in breathless tones. The town is just 45 minutes from the capital but a world away. It’s calm, quiet and peaceful, with some of Portugal’s most striking beaches. This tiny house has a bedroom with a queen-size bed and twin sofa beds in the bright and airy living area, making it suitable for a family of four. The private deck is furnished and has lovely ocean views. It has access to a main lodge with a large kitchen, deck and yoga dome.

Family-Friendly Safari Tents in Nazaré

Nazaré is home to Portugal’s famous winter-time surfing waves, and it’s an impressive place to watch the virtuosos of the sport. Even better is to stay on one of the luxury safari-style tents in this small park. Each one has a double bed, two single beds and bunk beds to accommodate a family of six. They have private kitchens and showers, Wi-Fi, heat and AC, as well as terraces for enjoying the sunset of the dawn of the day.

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Bill Gates Is Great, But Does Anyone Else Really Think Microsoft Teams And Zoom Will Replace Business Travel?

On Tuesday, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates forecast that business travel will decline by 50%, even after the coronavirus crisis ends. He predicted a “very high threshold” for business trips as people work from home and use social media to meet.

“My prediction would be that over 50% of business travel and over 30% of days in the office will go away,” Gates told Andrew Ross Sorkin during The New York Times’ Dealbook conference.

In other news, my computer keeps asking me to sign in to Microsoft Teams – which, I just learned, can be integrated to work with Zoom.

Gates is a widely admired philanthropist and leader of the fight against coronavirus, but let’s acknowledge that his view of the airline industry could be Clouded by his pro-technology bias.

In the early 1990s, as video conferencing was gaining traction, my editors at The Miami Herald would try to get me to write stories about how this phenomenon would destroy the market for airline business travel. I ignored them. (Disclosure: At my next newspaper, I was fired for similar behavior.)

In 1990, the number of U.S. airline passengers totaled 466 million. In 2019 it reached 1.1 billion. In other words, video conferencing did not result in diminished air travel. Rather air travel more than doubled after it became popular.

Some industries, such as newspapers, have been decimated by the Internet. But so far the rise of technology has very clearly benefitted the airline industry. For instance, it enabled the dramatic growth of United’s San Francisco hub.

Today, airline industry leaders categorically reject the thought that the latest video technology will doom the industry.

“The first time someone loses a sale to a competitor who showed up in person is the last time they try to make a sales call on Zoom.” United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said on the carrier’s third quarter earnings call in October.

On the Delta earnings call, CEO Ed Bastian answered an analyst’s question about pontification regarding business travel during the coronavirus crisis.

“Having been in this business for a long time, every crisis that I’ve been part of, and it’s been a lot of crises over that twenty-plus years, this was the first thing that people always talked about,” Bastian said, specifying: “the death of business travel and (how) technology was going to replace the need for travel.

“Every single time, business travel has come back stronger than anyone anticipated,” he said. “It will undoubtedly be different, but I think it’s going to come stronger than most of the pundits view.”

Bastian acknowledged that business travel could fall 10% to 20% for a few years before recovering.

It is important to remember that business travel did not just happen as a quirk in the system. It exists because businesses profit from it.

Additionally, many people enjoy it.  Today,

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Belfast’s great survivor: The Europa Hotel | Ireland News

Belfast’s Europa Hotel does not merely offer its visitor a warm welcome and tremendous hospitality, it offers a storied past and an unsurpassed history. This icon, once known as the “most bombed hotel in Europe”, has been the subject of many articles and documentaries and remains a star in many tourist selfies.

During the Troubles in Northern Ireland, The Europa was a prestige target, an attack on which would guarantee media exposure. And thus, the hotel was bombed more than 30 times by the Provisional IRA and came to be referred to as the “hardboard hotel” on account of the building’s shattered windows frequently being replaced with wooden boards in the wake of a bombing.

The Europa is a hotel that has faced challenges throughout its nearly 50-year history, yet it has always survived them. This year, however, has been the most difficult since the end of the Troubles in Northern Ireland in 1998.

Julie Hastings, marketing director of the Hastings Hotel Group that owns The Europa, lamented: “Even during the height of the Troubles, we only closed for refurbishments, but this year, the pandemic has forced us to shut the doors amidst growing uncertainty.”

The current closure is a “temporary suspension of services”, at least according to a press release from the hotel’s owners, but there is little doubt that the COVID-19 crisis represents an existential threat to the most iconic of Belfast’s hotels.

Pedestrians walk in front of the Europa Hotel in Belfast on April 29, 2008 [File: Paul McErlane/Bloomberg News]

Besieged cities, besieged hotels

I first became fascinated with The Europa’s history while researching a book about Sarajevo’s Holiday Inn, a front-line hotel within a besieged city that – like The Europa – became a centre for the international press corps. I had visited The Europa on numerous occasions, and returned there last year to film for the Al Jazeera series War Hotels, which was produced by the journalist and filmmaker Abdallah El Binni.

While so doing, we had the opportunity to interview some of the journalists who had been based at The Europa during the Troubles – the BBC’s Martin Bell, ITN’s Gerald Seymour, Henry Kelly of the Irish Times, Robin Walsh of Ulster Television – as well as the hotel’s staff, some of whom had experienced the tumultuous events that took place within it.

Guests and hotel staff make an orderly exit from The Europa Hotel on September 7, 1972 [File: Eddie Worth/AP Photo]

The Europa was conceived before the onset of the Troubles. Although the plans for the building were revealed in 1966, the Grand Metropolitan Hotels Group began construction of the hotel in the autumn of 1969, a matter of weeks after the British Army had been deployed in Northern Ireland following violent clashes between the Protestant and Catholic communities. The hotel opened its doors in August 1971, although it was already in the crosshairs of the IRA. Days before the hotel’s official opening, it was targeted, and though the damage was limited,

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Take a look at Terrebonne’s great recreation tax subsidy

Terrebonne Parish Council member Jessica Domangue (Photo: –)

It’s 1987. The Louisiana Transportation Department has started construction of perhaps the most transformative public works project in Terrebonne Parish history: a modern five-lane extension of Tunnel Boulevard later known as Martin Luther King Boulevard. A complete afterthought is it just so happens to meander through the uninhabited swamps and cane fields of mostly one single recreation district formed years earlier.

For property taxes to support recreation, people often think in terms of residential property. However, commercial development has a much more profound impact.

First, commercial properties are not subject to the homestead exemption, which shields the first $75,000 of a home’s value from property taxes.

Second, commercial buildings are assessed at 15% of fair market value rather than the 10% for homes.

Third, merchandise, fixtures and equipment are assessed at 15% of fair market value.

Recreation District 2-3 is the most heavily subsidized district from commercial development. Businesses pay about $1,051,771, or 65%, of the district’s total budget, according to the parish Assessor’s Office. Much of this figure comes from dozens of faceless, non-voting national corporations along MLK Blvd. that do not utilize any recreation resource whatsoever. For example, this year alone, Target pays $8,134, Wal-Mart pays $13,229, Home Depot pays $8,725, and Lowe’s pays $12,447.

Some people delight in that Rec 2-3 has the lowest millage, or property tax rate, in the parish at 5 mills. Frankly, most of the 11 recreation districts in Terrebonne could be at 5 mills if they received the MLK Blvd. Subsidy every year.

This subsidy drives to the heart of efforts to thwart modernizing recreation in our parish, invoking a philosophical debate on conservative values.

On one hand, its indisputable some degree of reorganizing the districts would result in better stewardship of taxpayer money: less duplication of costs, better economies of scale and less potential for waste, fraud, and abuse. As such, it would mean less taxes need to be collected to pay for recreation facilities like gyms and parks. It would lower property taxes for tens of thousands of residents. These all sound like pillars of conservatism.

On the other hand, it would require residents of Rec 2-3 to divide the unearned MLK Blvd. Subsidy with more residents across the parish who also spend their taxpayer money at these businesses. Even though the parish would be collecting less money in taxes and have less bureaucracy, there exists the potential for a slight millage increase for residents of Rec 2-3. In an alternative interpretation of conservatism, that is a deal breaker.

More: New board to examine recreation issues in Terrebonne

More: Panel gets started on possible reforms to Terrebonne’s recreation system

More: Council member: Let’s ask Terrebonne voters whether to consolidate rec districts

If we are to apply this same standard of conservatism to national legislation, then logically, we should be opposed to the Republican-led Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017. It resulted in historic tax cuts, triggered economic growth and fostered smaller

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Under Armour Gym Bags Great For Travel

I know I’m not the only one who can honestly say she misses her gym. Although gyms are starting to reopen across the country, for many of us, it’s still not a safe reality. And while I may not be heading to my gym anytime soon, that doesn’t mean I can’t shop for one of my favorite pieces of fitness gear: gym bags.

Shopping for a new edition of this handy piece, which for this New Yorker used to be my work bag, gym bag, and purse all in one, has been on pause for a while. But after seeing the versatility of many of the options from Under Armour, I’m convinced that I’ve located gym bags that can also double as weekend travel bags.

Sure, I may not be packing my gym bag for a workout after a day at the office, but I will be packing it with all my favorite sweat-ready gear while having a little weekend getaway. See what I’m shopping for ahead.

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How a Floating Hotel on the Great Barrier Reef Became a North Korean Ghost Ship

In a small portside tourist town on North Korea’s east coast, just 11 miles from the demilitarized zone at the South Korean border, sits a hulking, derelict vessel once known as the Barrier Reef Floating Resort. 

In the late-80s, this seven-storey structure—fitted with nearly 200 rooms as well as a nightclub, a helipad and a tennis court—was spruiked as the world’s first floating hotel, offering guests the chance to spend several luxurious nights out on the waters of the Great Barrier Reef, about 40 miles off Australia’s northeastern coast. 

Now it sits abandoned and destitute more than 4,000 miles north: a 12,000-tonne wreck that was towed from Australia to North Korea, where it has sat for the past decade. Kim Jong-Un recently denounced the structure as “shabby”, and ordered its removal. But there are many who still have fond memories of the floating hotel: first as a five-star party hotspot, then as an ill-fated tourist attraction, and finally as an improbable symbol of diplomatic relations between North and South Korea.

Amid the compounding difficulties of global nuclear tension and a raging pandemic, the floating hotel’s future has perhaps never been so uncertain.

“I remember so many amazing days living on the hotel,” Belinda O’Connor, who worked as a water taxi driver during the Barrier Reef Floating Resort’s Australian tenure, told the ABC in 2018. “Fishing trips, crew parties, diving under the hotel, having pizzas flown out by chopper … It was an impressive sight.”

“It was pretty amazing to see the hotel floating on the reef, with that beautiful blue water background right behind it,” Peter Tarca, whose father designed the structure, agreed. “From a distance it just kind of looked like another ship. But as you got closer and closer, clearly you’d see it was a different kind of structure.”

The Barrier Reef Floating Resort opened in 1988, but was beleaguered by several years of acutely bad weather and frequently wracked by cyclones. Visitor numbers steadily dropped—and by the end of 1989 the floating hotel had been towed 3,400 miles northwest, to its second home on the Saigon River in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Renamed the Saigon Floating Hotel—or “The Floater”, among locals—the one-of-a-kind structure rode the wave of Vietnam’s post-war tourism boom and became a popular accommodation venue until, eventually, it once again ran into financial difficulties and was sold to a new buyer.

At the turn of the millennium, during a period of relative peace and reconciliation between North and South Korea, the floating hotel was relocated to its current resting place of Mount Kumgang Port, 130 miles east of Pyongyang.

“Apparently it was transferred to North Korea, when there was a time in the history of the two Koreas of appeasement and thawing of relations,” Robert De Jong, from the Townsville Maritime Museum, told the ABC. “It was thought that the hotel in North Korea could be suitable for attracting tourists.”

The floating hotel became an iconic fixture of Mount Kumgang’s tourist resort, which was

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Wingate Hotel Great Falls accused of racism against Browning residents


Racist policies have led to COVID-19 being more dangerous and deadly for Black, Latino, Asian and Indigenous Americans than for white Americans.


When Kevin Kickingwoman, a teacher who lives in Browning, checked in to the Wingate by Wyndham hotel in Great Falls Tuesday evening, an employee at the desk allegedly told him the hotel does not serve people from Browning due to the Blackfeet Nation’s stay-at-home directive due to coronavirus. 

Kevin planned to get back surgery in Great Falls early Wednesday, and his daughter and her mother, who live in Missoula, met him at the hotel.

Kevin’s daughter, Sharen, 26, took to Twitter after the incident.

“How come they will still serve people from Missoula? We have high covid numbers, (sh*t) every where across the state has high numbers at this point. Sounds like some racist picking and choosing.. is this your policy, Wingate Hotels?” she tweeted Tuesday evening. 

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Wingate by Wyndham hotel in Great Falls (Photo: NORA MABIE/TRIBUNE PHOTO)

Larry Gooldy, general manager of the hotel, said the hotel does not accept guests from any state that has a COVID-19 lockdown. The Blackfeet Nation’s stay-at-home order, which was recently extended through Nov. 8, exempts certain activities, including leaving the reservation to obtain medical services and groceries, and nowhere in the order does the tribe ask businesses located off the reservation to enforce their directive. 

Gooldy said if guests are from Browning, they must present either a verified doctor’s note, with their name and date of visit, or a document from the Blackfeet COVID-19 Incident Command, saying the person is allowed to leave the reservation. 

Gooldy said guests have shown him such travel permits, but the tribe’s public information officer Jim McNeely said that is untrue and those forms do not exist. 

The Blackfeet COVID-19 Incident Command (Photo: BLACKFEET COVID-19 INCIDENT COMMAND)

“The Blackfeet Tribe is currently looking into this matter and will keep the public updated,” McNeely said in a statement Wednesday. 

Gooldy said his policy applies to all states with COVID-19 quarantine orders. 

“Anytime that there’s a lockdown in the United States from any location, we post it up here, and they don’t get a stay,” Gooldy said. “Like we had California guests in here when their state was in lockdown initially. And they didn’t get to stay here at the Wingate in Great Falls. But I wasn’t called a racist either.”

When the Kickingwoman family explained Kevin was getting surgery the next day, Sharen said the employee asked for proof, so Kevin emailed the manager a doctor’s note. Gooldy said the doctor’s note did not have the patient’s name or time of visit, but that his employee alerted him of the situation and checked them in.

The family checked-in to the hotel for about 30 minutes but decided to leave and stay somewhere else. 

More: As COVID-19 spreads, Blackfeet Nation rallies to protect elders, preserve culture

Sharen said her mother, who made the reservation, still had not received a refund as of

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