Grown-up Travel Guide News Update – 02.03.2012

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

Travellers ‘fleeced’ by hotel Wi-Fi charges

The Telegraph

Around two thirds of hotels worldwide are still charging guests for Wi-Fi access – with rates as high as £8.50 per hour and £20 per day – research by Telegraph Travel has shown.

With a large number of bars, cafés, and even branches of McDonald’s and Starbucks now offering free Wi-Fi to customers, hotels are facing growing criticism over the high charges that many continue to impose.

Telegraph Travel analysed Wi-Fi charges at more than 30 different hotel chains, and at dozens of individual hotels, to uncover those that levy the highest fees and those that offer the service free of charge.

Out of more than 70 different hotel groups and individual properties contacted in the survey, just 24 do not impose Wi-Fi charges.

Luxury hotels in London were the worst offenders, with several charging £20 for 24-hour Wi-Fi access. These included Grosvenor House and the Firmdale Hotels group – which owns six upmarket properties in London, such as The Haymarket and Number Sixteen. At The Dorchester, the only option is a charge of £19.50 per day.

W Hotel charges guests at its Leicester Square property £5.95 an hour or £17 a day, while its Istanbul, Barcelona and Hong Kong hotels charge €15 (£12.50), €19 (£16) and HK$115 (£9.50) per day respectively, although free access is available in some public areas.

Hotels in the Holiday Inn chain charge guests up to £15 a day in Britain and up to €24 (£20) a day in Europe, although in the majority of its hotels in the United States, Wi-Fi access is complimentary.

The highest hourly rate uncovered was €10 (£8.50), a charge imposed by several Marriott hotels, including the A C Hotel in Florence and the J W Marriott in Cannes.

Towards the lower end of the market, Travelodge charges guests £5 an hour or £10 a day, while guests at Barceló Hotels must pay £6.50 an hour, or £15 a day.

TalkTalk, the internet service provider, estimated that the cost to a business, such as a hotel, of providing broadband, would range from £10 a month for a small property to £300 a month for a 100-room property, or £700 a month for a larger, 300-room property.

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Auschwitz museum seeks return of barracks lent to U.S.

Toronto Sun

Occupying the site of the biggest Nazi death camp in Poland, the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum is having trouble getting back a wooden barracks building it rented to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum some 20 years ago, officials said on Tuesday.

As many as 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, perished in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, either in the gas chambers or from freezing temperatures, starvation, sickness, medical tests and forced labour.

“It’s about one-third, or maybe a half of a barrack, its wall panels, that we rented to Washington,” Piotr Cywinski, the museum’s director, told Reuters.

The barracks were originally prefabricated stables, but the Nazis turned them into rough shelters for camp inmates, packing more than 400 people into each one, on wooden shelves.

“The lease was extended, but finally ended in 2009. In the meantime, the law has changed in Poland and now it simply must come back. There is no other way,” said Cywinski.

A new Polish law on historical monuments, passed in 2003, says no artifact can be rented out for more than five years.

“But the Washington Holocaust Museum installed the barracks as an important part of its permanent exhibition years ago, so it’s a complex matter, requiring more time to solve,” he said.

Both the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw and Polish government officials said they were actively engaged in delicate negotiations.

“Both the Museum and our Polish partners have been actively working on this issue, and we have discussed it with the Polish government officials through appropriate diplomatic channels,” the Embassy said.

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Australian drug accused paraded in Bali

AN Australian man allegedly caught attempting to smuggle more than a kilo of hashish into Bali is believed to be a long-term drug mule, Indonesian authorities say.

Edward Myatt, from Ballarat in Victoria, is likely to be charged with drug trafficking, which could see him face the death penalty.

The 54-year-old was detained on Monday afternoon after arriving at Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport on a flight from Delhi, which had transited in Bangkok.

Mr Myatt, handcuffed and dressed in an orange prison shirt, made no comment on Friday as he was paraded before the media at a Customs office in Denpasar.

The contents of 72 capsules, which Mr Myatt had swallowed, were also presented by authorities on Friday.

It is alleged just over 1kg of hashish was recovered from 71 capsules, while another capsule contained about seven grams of methamphetamine, commonly known in Australia as ice.

The head of Customs at Ngurah Rai Airport, Made Wijaya, said on Friday that authorities also now believed Mr Myatt was heavily involved in a drug-smuggling ring.

He said he had made similar trips in the past, having been to Bali six times in recent years.

“He’s a courier. But he is shielding his network information in Indonesia,” Mr Wijaya said.

He said Mr Myatt had aroused suspicion almost immediately upon his arrival in the airport terminal.

“He was not in a hurry, but always observing the (Customs) officers. He wasn’t aware that our officers were also observing him closely. His action was very suspicious.”

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Disney cancels plan to open fitness park after obesity ‘bullying’ claims

The Guardian

Habit Heroes shuttered after cries it stigmatized overweight children with villains called Snacker and The Glutton.

Disney has closed a new theme park exhibit promoting healthy eating and exercise, but not because it was ineffectual. The reason? It was deemed too offensive to overweight children.

Habit Heroes, an attraction at Disney’s Epcot resort in Orlando, Florida, used obese cartoon villains called Snacker, Lead Bottom and The Glutton to highlight the dangers of junk food, too much television, and inactivity.

But critics accused Disney of taking “the side of the bullies” by reinforcing stereotypes of overweight children and stigmatising them for their condition, prompting the entertainment giant to shutter the attraction for a “retooling”.

“Disney, a traditional hallmark of childhood happiness and joy, has fallen under the shadow of negativity and discrimination,” said the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance in a statement criticising the exhibit and an accompanying online game.

“The use of these stereotypes, traditionally used to torment overweight kids, will potentially reinforce and strengthen a cycle of bullying, depression, disease, eating disorders and even suicidal thoughts.”

The new attraction was part of Epcot’s Innoventions area, intended to showcase futuristic ideas in a child-friendly way. Groups of up to a dozen were led through a series of rooms by a pair of animated fitness fanatic buffs called Will Power and Callie Stenics, learning of the dangers of unhealthy habits as they went.

Disney said that Healthy Habits, which was the subject of a “soft opening” several weeks ago to gauge public reaction ahead of its planned formal launch this week, will remain closed indefinitely.

A message on its website apologised that it was “down for maintenance”.

“We’ve heard the feedback,” said spokeswoman Kathleen Prihoda. “That’s why we have a soft opening, so we can open it up to others and listen.”

The exhibit was partly funded and promoted by Florida insurance company Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which said it was surprised by the outcry and an online petition urging its closure.

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Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

Not meaning to brag, but here goes. I can say I’m a travel expert and have spoken at multiple travel conferences and trade shows.

I enjoy travelling all over the world but my big passion is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

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