In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Titanic II plans to be revealed in New York
Plans for Titanic II, a replica of the ill-fated ship, will be unveiled in New York in December, it has been announced.
The new ship is expected to have 840 rooms and nine decks, with levels for third, second and first class cabins, in keeping with the original Titanic.
Full details will be revealed at a gala dinner in New York on December 4. Clive Palmer, the Australian mining tycoon behind the launch, said the event will be held on the retired aircraft carrier USS Intrepid. Guests will include the former US president John F. Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline.
“Since we announced our plan in April we’ve had a huge amount of interest, particularly from people wanting to know how they can secure a booking for the maiden voyage, along with commercial sponsors,” Mr Palmer said.
The magnate has previously said there will be a casino on board but that the third class level is “where the fun will be”.
Titanic II will sail her maiden voyage in 2016, travelling from China where she will be built, to Southampton for the trip to New York.
EasyJet eyeing a record after late rush in search of the sun
Budget airline easyJet yesterday flagged up record profits this year as holidaymakers who stayed at home for the Olympics dashed abroad to grab some late summer sun.
EasyJet, which carries 58 million passengers a year, said pre-tax profits for the year to September could hit as much as £320m, £20m above its estimates in late July.
Fears over Olympic disruption failed to emerge while Britons also flooded abroad after the wettest summer for 100 years.
The airline carried 11 million passengers in total in August and September, of which 3.5 million came from London and the South-east. Of these, 500,000 jetted off to Malaga, Alicante and Faro, easyJet said. The update pleased the City as analysts immediately marked up their own forecasts.
Wyn Ellis, an analyst at Numis, said: “Before the summer they were a little bit concerned about disruption from the unions but it was a very smooth month. If you look at the likes of Tui Travel and Thomas Cook, they saw an increase in bookings after the Olympics because it was such a lousy summer.”
The profit improvement comes despite the company absorbing an extra £230m in fuel costs during the financial year.
Britain: the capital of cocktails
A new generation of bartenders are shaking up the scene with innovative recipes and molecular mixology.
With his dark suit, single white glove and air of twinkly indulgence Agostino Perrone, the head barman at London’s Connaught Bar, looks every part the magician. He is mixing a martini, the gin cascading at arm’s length over ice, a chilled glass at the ready.
It’s a ritual that has been performed at this hotel thousands of times since the drink became fashionable in London in the early 1930s. For much of the 20th century if you wanted a classic cocktail in the capital, you came to luxury joints such as the Connaught or the Savoy. In the real world cocktail bars had steadily been degraded by an explosion in ultra-sweet and garish drinks that signified almost the exact opposite of their original sophistication. By 1981, when the Human League’s Susan Sulley sang that she was “working as a waitress in a cocktail bar” everyone understood that she was on the bottom rung of the social ladder until poor, ill-used Phil Oakey came along to rescue her.
Now, for the first time in decades, London’s bartenders have a spring in their step. At this summer’s Spirited Awards at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, the industry’s most prestigious competition, the capital’s bars and their staff grabbed nearly all of the international prizes.
Perrone’s revamped Connaught Bar was named the world’s best bar, but other nominees were 69 Colebrooke Row in Islington and Nightjar and Callooh Callay in Shoreditch. Meanwhile, other London bars the Artesian(Best Hotel Bar, and Best International Bartender for Alex Kratena), Zetter Town House (Best New Cocktail Bar)and Salvatore’s at The Playboy (Best Drinks Selection)won their categories outright, while Whistling Shop and Happiness Forgets were also nominated.
The curious life of a hotel customer service agent
When you have a question about your hotel room who are you gonna call? It’s these people, and Australians are sure making their jobs interesting.
From strange complaints and requests to simply terrible excuses for cancelling a room, hotel customer service agents from lastminute.com.au have heard it all, and now they’re spilling the beans on the wackiest calls they’ve ever received.
Lastminute.com.au General Manager Kirsty Harrison said while most of the thousands of calls the company receives each week are routine, there are always a few “gems” to keep staff on their toes.
She said some of the strangest excuses for cancelling a room involved matters of the heart.
“Some travellers have been forced to cancel their bookings, having been caught out booking a sneaky weekend away with a secret lover,” Ms Harrison said.
Other bizarre cancellation excuses included the woman who claimed she suffered a hand spasm which caused her to select incorrect dates, while another blamed their dog for walking on the keyboard.
It’s not just cancellations that make for interesting calls.
One hotel guest called to complain that the curtains in their room didn’t reach the floor, while another was outraged a bar of soap wasn’t white enough.
Then there was the guest furious that hotel staff in Bali were “pretending” not to speak English.