Grown-up Travel Guide News Update – 02.02.2012

In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel

Tripadvisor banned from claiming its reviews are real

The Telegraph

Tripadvisor, the travel review website, has been banned from claiming that all of its hotel and restaurant reviews are real.

It follows complaints that some unscrupulous hoteliers have posted fake comments on the site to boost their own business or sabotage others.

Following a four month investigation, the Advertising Standards Authority found that it was possible for “non-genuine content” to appear on Tripadvisor, which is designed to allow holidaymakers to share tips and opinions on places they have visited.

The advertising watchdog said that because reviews can be posted on the site without any form of verification, Tripadvisor must no longer claim that all of its reviews are honest, or even from real people.

In a strongly-worded ruling, the ASA told Tripadvisor “not to claim or imply that all the reviews that appeared on the website were from real travellers, or were honest, real or trusted”.

The ASA’s ruling, which applies only to Tripadvisor’s UK site, follows a complaint last year from two unnamed hoteliers and a website called Kwikchex, which helps companies manage their online reputations.

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Airport unveils yoga room for travellers

Toronto Sun

Just cleared airport security and in need of a little deep breathing and stretching relaxation?

San Francisco Airport has opened what it calls a first of its kind yoga room, and while it’s not quite a mountaintop in Tibet, airport officials say the low lights, and soothing blue walls aim to afford travellers, stressed out or sanguine, an oasis of calm in which to flex, twist and decompress.

“As far as we know it’s the first (yoga room) at an airport anywhere in the world,” said Michael C. McCarron, director of community affairs for the airport.

He said the idea for the room, in the newly refurbished Terminal 2, came from a passenger suggestion at an open house. It joins the Berman reflection room, a space intended for silence and meditation located before Terminal 2 security.

Airport Director John L. Martin called the room, which opened last week, “another leap forward in providing our travellers the opportunity and space to relax and decompress on their own terms.”

The architects, Gensler Design, set the lights low and warm in contrast to the light, bright concourse, according to a statement, and a floating wall was constructed to symbolize “a buoyant spirit and enlightened mind. ”

Large felt-constructed rocks will be installed in the Spring in a nod to the Zen gardens of Japan.

John Walsh, duty manager at San Francisco Airport, said the room is already attracting its share of travelling yogis, many equipped with their own props.

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Brazil’s idea to erect Jesus statue in London meets mirth

Memo to Brazil: That idea of putting up a giant Jesus statue in a London park to promote the 2016 Olympic Games is not going over well.

Brazil’s tourist board has floated the notion of erecting a 9m replica of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue – a symbol of peace and a well-known landmark of the city – on Primrose Hill.

Malcolm Kafetz, the chair of the Friends of Primrose Hill, said the objections had nothing to do with religion.

“We oppose it on the grounds that we don’t want any advertising in the royal parks,”he said. “Otherwise we’ll have Coca-Cola there soon enough.”

Some residents weren’t receptive to the idea.

“The neighborhood is not going to accept that,” said America Martinez, a grandmother out walking her dog on a chilly London afternoon.

The Camden New Journal newspaper first reported that local authorities had been approached to consider the idea of putting up the statue on Primrose Hill – a posh neighborhood that is home to film stars like Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow – timing it to the 2012 Olympics Games in London.

Though no formal proposal has been offered, many residents said they found the notion absurd.

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EasyJet profits, while disabled passengers lose

The Guardian

The airline’s policies have repeatedly failed disabled people – its profit margins may come at too high a price

When easyJet released its trading figures for the fourth quarter of 2011, it reported a 16.7% increase in revenue, taking pride in the fact that its confident financial performance bucked the trend of poor sales across other UK airline carriers. However, while the company’s bosses may be patting themselves on the back for a job well done in the face of economic gloom, news of its financial successes will be leaving a sour taste in the mouth of many disabled people.

News of the airline’s profits comes just weeks after it was found guilty by a French court of discrimination against three disabled passengers. It was fined by the court for turning away three disabled customers at check-in during separate incidents, refusing to allow them to fly unaccompanied due to health and safety fears over evacuation of the aircraft. The airline also came under fire this month when a disabled businessman was forced off an aircraft in a humiliating scene in front of passengers, due to his inability to “walk to the emergency exit”. The prosecution for the French case laid the blame squarely at the door of the airline’s “aggressive commercial policy that consists of reducing operating costs as much as possible”. Additional personnel on aircrafts to assist disabled, elderly or younger passengers certainly doesn’t come for free.

It seems that taking on extra baggage handlers is also a cost that easyJet can quite happily do without. As a campaign group, the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign Trailblazers are regularly contacted by disabled travellers who have fallen foul of easyJet’s policy on transporting electric wheelchairs. It is the only leading UK airline to restrict the weight of wheelchairs carried onboard to 60kg, unless the chair can be broken into several parts each weighing less than this amount. The airline says that the health and safety of its staff comes first and loading weights over 60kg poses risks.

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