Travel Update with Barb

An accomplished newspaper journalist (USA TODAY staff 2002-2013) and relentless social media enthusiast, Barb wakes up at dawn seven days a week to search for, write and edit stories that resonate with travelers and travel business insiders. She craves stories that teach us something about life or business, make us laugh, shed light on our future or help make our journeys a little easier– or at least more interesting.

Ebola-related death and growing media coverage aren’t hurting Dallas visitation

Given that Dallas is home to the USA’s first Ebola patient who died on Wednesday morning (NPR link), hotel industry analysts have been watching the market’s hotel industry to learn if travelers are staying away. But so far, they are not, according to Wall Street analyst Patrick Scholes, the managing director of lodging and leisure equity research for SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc. In Scholes’ latest report issued Wednesday, he says that despite growing 24/7 media coverage as well as new precautions at airports, the stats don’t yet show significant cancellations. “We believe if there is one market that would be the most likely to show weakness due to Ebola related fears/cancellations, it would be Dallas,” Scholes said in his latest report. MORE ONLINE: Do luxury travelers like AIRBNB? MORE ONLINE: Marriott takes a cue from edgy Red Bull? TWITTER: Join Barb on Twitter The most recent week’s revenue per available room for Dallas hotels – based on data from industry tracker STR – show that RevPAR grew 4.8% last week vs. the prior week, more than the U.S. urban average of 4.2%, he wrote. “If there was a rash of cancellations in Dallas, we would have expected RevPAR to materially underperform the industry average, which has not been the case so far,” Scholes said. A Dallas Morning News blog post that cited a Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau exec and hotel executives echoed similar findings, citing few cancellations from out-of-town visitors. Later...

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Hyatt chain opening brings Puerto Rico its first extended stay hotel

Hyatt Hotels’ extended stay chain, Hyatt House, today opened a location in San Juan, bringing the extended stay concept to Puerto Rico for the first time, according to Hyatt. The location also marks the first Hyatt House outside of the continental U.S., signaling parent Hyatt Hotels’ plan to grow the chain internationally. Additional locations are in various stages of completion in Mexico, Panama, China, India, and Saudi Arabia. Here are the San Juan location’s details: TWITTER: Join Barb DeLollis on Twitter MORE ONLINE: NYC’s new Park Hyatt offers guests digital headlines MORE ONLINE: Will JetBlue charge for your first checked bag? Here’s...

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Hotel carpeting can be ugly, but this Dallas hotel gets it right

DALLAS – Have you ever marveled by the ugly carpeting choices that hotels sometimes make? Sometimes the patterns are downright ugly, so much so that you might think it’s a so-called “brand standard” for some chains! Hotel industry blog HotelChatter.com, in fact, tackles the topic every now and then with cheeky blog posts. Of course, if you’ve walked around hundreds of hotels over a span of years like I have, you may not even notice the unfortunate choices anymore. TWITTER: Join Barb on Twitter MORE ONLINE: DCA airport’s getting new restaurants and sandwich shops MORE ONLINE: IHG’s InterContinental Barclay launches $175 million renovation...

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Did the TSA make a mess of woman’s cremated remains?

A Cleveland man alleges in a federal lawsuit that the TSA is to blame for the spreading of his late mother’s cremated ashes in his suitcase, CleveScene.com reports. The man last year flew from Cleveland to Puerto Rico via Washington Dulles to put his mother’s remains – as requested – into the sea, says the article, which includes a link to the court filing. But when the man opened his suitcase in San Juan, he says in the court filing that he discovered a TSA inspection notice and ashes that had spilled from the covered urn. The man notes in the filing that no one from the TSA sent him an apology. A June 2012 TSA blog post includes a link to “guidelines for traveling with crematory remains,” but when I clicked on it, a “not found” message came up. The post notes that some airlines don’t allow crematory remains as checked baggage and advises readers to check with their airline first. Readers:...

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DoubleTree by Hilton hits 400 locations with Australia opening

If you remember the days when Doubletree was a small chain, it’s worth noting that Hilton Worldwide’s chain today opened its 400th hotel. TWITTER: Join Barb on Twitter MORE ONLINE:  Worst view ever? SLS Las Vegas MORE ONLINE: Exclusive: InterContinental Barclay hotel gets $175 million revamp No. 400’s located in Cairns, Australia. It’s a former Holiday Inn on the Coral Sea. It’s also the fourth DoubleTree in Australia....

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$175 million facelift will fix guests’ ‘main complaints,’ InterCon Barclay chief says

Expect bigger bathrooms – and slightly smaller guest rooms – once IHG completes its top-t0-bottom, $175 million renovation on the historic InterContinental Barclay hotel in New York. It’s one example of what the hotel’s doing to position itself for today’s travelers, said veteran hotelier Herve Houdre, the top executive in charge of the hotel. The property’s owned partly by hospitality giant IHG, which runs brands including Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Hotel Indigo. “We’re fixing the main complaints that we’ve had from our customers lately,” he told me. The hotel recently closed for an extensive, $175 million renovation. Here’s Part II of my exclusive interview with Houdre:...

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Worst view ever? No. 12 The new SLS Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS – When I walked into my room at the newly opened SLS Las Vegas recently, it looked nice enough. The bedroom was fairly large – and felt even bigger, thanks to two, giant standing mirrors on both walls. The mirrors even light up around the frame once you figure out that you’re supposed to press the tiny button embedded in each mirror. But before I figured out how to turn on those lights, my room was unusually dark. To bright the room, I opened the shades above the bed to let in natural light. And that’s when I saw it: a...

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Road trip poll: 51% of millennials say they don’t have enough time for road trips

We talk about flying all the time here on TravelUpdate and BoardingArea, but most of us take road trips, too  – especially in the fall for kids’ sports activities, holiday weekend getaways or leaf-peeping trips. But a new study of road trippers reveals how differently we view road trips both by age – and gender. The Enterprise rental car company commissioned the study; 1,001 U.S. travelers who took at least one road trip over the previous year were polled. By age: 51% of millennials (ages 25–34) said they don’t have enough time to take a road trip because they can’t be away...

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Exclusive interview: InterContinental Barclay hotel’s renovation plan – Part 1

Knowing how important New York’s InterContinental Barclay hotel is to readers, yesterday I called Herve Houdre – the hotel’s top executive – to get first-hand insights into the whopping $175 million renovation that he’s now overseeing. The hotel frequently hosts heads of state who are in town for the United Nations General Assembly and other events, as well as business travelers from around the world. The last hotel in Manhattan to get such an extensive renovation was the independent New York Palace, which last year completed a $160 million update. Given that I’ve known Houdre since he ran – and improved – the InterContinental Willard (part of the Historic Hotels of America collection), I also gave him a personal heads-up on your comments. You can read all of those comments on my prior post, but here are some examples: “The hotel definitely needed it,” Travel Update reader MSulli5402 wrote in my story’s comments section. “IHG did a good job renovating LeGrand in Paris so they can do it if they try,” wrote reader Raffles. “Hopefully a promising sign for things to come,” wrote reader PatMcPSU. Below are highlights from my conversation with Houdre. For ease of reading, I’m presenting our talk in a Q&A format that I’ve edited for brevity and clarity. Enjoy! MORE ONLINE: Travel Update gives you access to travel insiders GET SOCIAL: Join Barb DeLollis on Twitter GET SOCIAL: Join Barb DeLolls on Instagram for foodie photos Q. We...

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Air Canada to launch Toronto-Amsterdam service and other routes

On June 4, 2105, Air Canada will launch year-round service from Toronto-Pearson to Amsterdam, air service tracker Routes reports. It’s one example pulled from Air Canada’s 2015 schedule, which includes other new international routes in addition to routes that are going from seasonal to year-round. The Amsterdam route will be flown by an B767-300ER aircraft and operated up to six-times weekly, Routes tells us. The 211-seat aircraft will have 24 International Business Class pods. Air Canada issued its press release about the expansion last week; in case you missed it, here are some highlights: New twice-daily, non-stop service to Paris [Charles de Gaulle] from both Toronto and Montreal-Trudeau. New non-stop flights from Toronto to both Rio de Janeiro and Panama City (to be launched this winter) will continue during the summer months. New routes for the airline’s discount carrier rouge include five-times weekly service between Vancouver and Osaka-Kansai beginning on May 1, 2015. Rouge will launch a year-round flight between Toronto and Lima, Peru beginning May 2, 2015, once it’s transferred from Air Canada. Readers: Comments?...

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