In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Summer holiday: better late than never
The schools have gone back, the airports have calmed down, holiday resorts are peaceful once again and prices have fallen. If you’re not a parent, it’s the perfect time for a summer holiday.
What’s the attraction?
Summer can be a changeable mistress, prone to disappearing without notice or reason. And just when she announces that she will give you her undivided attention during August, she checks her watch, becomes evasive and declares that she really has to leave.
But September can be a last, glorious chance to spend a few days in her company – partly because summer still dances on the sand in many areas of Europe; partly because, with the arrival of the new school term, beaches are quieter and prices lower. Tour operator Destinology (0808 252 3815; destinology.co.uk) reports a post-Olympics bookings surge, with sales during the two middle weeks of August up a quarter compared with 2011.
North African escape
Tunisia boasts 700 miles of coastline, wild and beautiful desert, a fascinating history, good food and friendly people – plus the near-certainty of good weather in September. But the protests that swept Tunisia around the turn of the year in 2011 were the tinder spark for the Arab uprisings – and also prompted the evacuation of British holidaymakers in January last year. The numbers are bouncing back, as prices for packages have fallen. A week’s half board at the four-star Royal Azur Thalasso Golf Resort in Hammamet, leaving 19 September, costs from £476 per person, including flights from Gatwick with Thomas Cook (0844 879 8400; thomascook.com).
Hotels hire designers for hot, luxe looks
Hotels increasingly are turning to the world of fashion to make their properties more attractive to guests who want a touch of luxury, and to create a source of buzzcil of Fashion Designers of America, in which emerging clothing designers chosen by the council eventually will visit W’s 42 hotels around the world to display their new designs.
W hotels from Boston to Bali will host designer trunk shows that will give budding designers exposure to potential customers, says Starwood executive Carlos Becil.
“Introducing our guests to emerging designers — and the next wave of what we anticipate will make an impact in fashion — will help benefit our whole promise of what’s new and next,” he says.
The partnership also is aimed at drawing attention to the hotels.
W plans to videotape the designers and events for W’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, its in-room “W Vision” TV channel or its website whotels.com, which gets more than 1 million page views a month, Becil says.
The W chain first turned to fashion nine years ago to create buzz by opening a pop-up location at New York’s Fashion Week, which now is sponsored by Mercedes Benz and attracts other sponsors ranging from American Express to Skyy Vodka to its events.
Now, other hotels are turning to fashion designers in search of similar buzz.
Last month, the Hilton chain signed a deal with designer Vivienne Tam to create limited-edition slippers as special treats for Chinese guests.
Some designers have put their names on entire hotels. Italian designer Giorgio Armaniopened the Armani Hotel Milano in November after opening his first hotel in the world’s tallest building, Dubai‘s Burj Khalifa.
EasyJet to introduce allocated seating on all flights
EasyJet has signalled the end of the traditional rush for seats by introducing allocated seating on all its flights.
From November this year, passengers across the airline’s flight network will be able to choose their seat when they book.
The no-frills airline currently operates a first-come, first-served policy on its aircraft, but trialled the system this summer on selected flights from Luton Airport. All passengers were allocated a seat number, while those wishing to choose their seat were able to do so for an extra £3. For an additional £12 passengers could reserve seats with extra legroom in the front and or exit rows, and for an extra £8 they could bag a seat in the first few rows, meaning they could exit the aircraft more quickly.
According to feedback released by the airline, the trial was popular enough with passengers for the system to be put in place across its entire flight network.
The airline claimed that more than 70 per cent of passengers on trial routes were in favour of allocated seating, and nearly two thirds said that they would be more likely to fly with EasyJet again as a result.
EasyJet’s research also revealed which seats were most popular with air passengers. On shorter journeys, 6A was favoured, and 16B was the least popular, while on longer journeys 1A was the top seller, and 19B was the most avoided. Passengers were also found to prefer seats on the left hand side of the plane.
Is this the most outrageous airline extra ever?
Now this is plane over-the-top!
Virgin Atlantic has announced it will hide five $US4000 ($3916) Swarovski eye masks – complete with 3000 crystals – on their flights this week.
The eye masks took 10 hours to make and will be decorated with crystals depicting sunglasses ranging from Wayfarers to the shutter shade made famous by Kanye West.
They are adorned with thousands of tiny red, white and blue crystals, and will be placed on flights around the world.
The cheeky masks will be part of the airline’s standard economy class amenities kit – minus the crystals, of course!
It’s not the first quirky amenity offered by Virgin, who unveiled Richard Branson-shaped ice cubes earlier this year.