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Airport hotels go glam | The Star

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In recent years, several hotel properties have opened at airports around the globe with attractive amenities, sleek design and tasty food. They are welcoming places for travellers to spend a night or even a multiday layover.

“The old stereotype used to be that airport hotels were dumpy or staid,” said Reneta McCarthy, a senior lecturer at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University. “That’s no longer the case, and you see many more interesting and vibrant properties, most notably from companies who want to reinvigorate their brands.”

Moxy Vienna is one of a new breed of airport hotels using modern design and luxury amenities to be more than just places to sleep.
Moxy Vienna is one of a new breed of airport hotels using modern design and luxury amenities to be more than just places to sleep.  (MOXY HOTELS / The New York Times)

An artistic experience close enough for a layover

McCarthy recently stayed at the Westin Denver International Airport, one such hotel. “It was such a happening spot with an airy lobby and had a unique design sensibility,” she said. “I would definitely go back and recommend it to others.”

The hotel is in a building designed by the architecture firm Gensler and is LEED platinum certified. Its design is meant to resemble the wings of a bird; the building has a curved shape that swoops down in the middle, revealing views of the adjacent terminal, while the glass curtain walls reflect the sky. The Westin commissioned three artists to create the large-scale works in and around the property. One of them is Patrick Marold, a local artist, whose sculpture “Shadow Array,” is made with 236 beetle-kill spruce logs from Southern Colorado and is situated outside.

Other amenities include a 24-hour gym, free guided group runs and a restaurant, Grill & Vine, that features views of the Rocky Mountains and serves farm-to-table cuisine.

Embrace 24-hour amenities and selfie elevators

Elsewhere, Moxy Hotels, Marriott International’s design-driven hospitality brand, has several airport locations including at Vienna Airport in Austria, Frankfurt Airport in Germany and Heathrow Airport in Britain.

While each property has its own decor and amenities, all Moxys offer a free welcome cocktail, 24-hour grab-and-go food and beverage outlets, and buzzing lobbies that showcase local art and double as hangout spaces. They each also feature photo booth elevators where guests are encouraged to take selfies (which they can then post on Instagram, of course, providing free advertising for the hotel).

Perks designed to make you want to stay awhile

Similarly, Renaissance Hotels has made a push in the past two years to reimagine the airport hotel experience. The company has unveiled new properties that emphasize design and have myriad amenities that are meant to entice travellers to linger.

The Renaissance Warsaw Airport has modernist-inspired interiors and is adorned with graphic art from the Polish Poster Gallery. The property also has a large pool and a restaurant that serves modern Polish cuisine.

In Florida, the Renaissance Orlando Airport Hotel has a large outdoor pool with spacious cabanas, and a 60-seat amphitheatre. It is also home to a Malabar, an in-house bar that serves craft cocktails using in-house made elixirs.

At Dubai International Airport, the Jumeirah Creekside features a glass-bottom swimming pool and a notable collection of more than 480 contemporary art pieces at the property, as well as two pools, one indoor and one outdoor on its rooftop. In addition, guests are given the flexibility to stay for 24 hours, meaning if they check in at 8 p.m., for example, they do not have to check out until 8 p.m. the following day.

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Travel & Escape

Dealing with baggage on your trip

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(NC)Nothing is more embarrassing than having to unpack your baggage at the airport. It’s common to overpack because you want to make sure you have everything you need for your trip – the right shoes, a jacket in case it’s cold, a bathing suit in case there’s a pool. But you must be mindful of the baggage restrictions. So, how can you be smart with your baggage when travelling?

The first thing to do is talk to your TICO-certified travel agent about the weight restrictions and number of bags you are allowed to take. Some airlines charge per bag, while others may offer one bag for free depending on weight.

You’ll also need to know if there are security requirements for carry-on and checked baggage. For example, there may be prohibited items such as gels and liquids. These limitations vary from airline to airline and depends on if your flight is international or domestic, so you’ll need to check the policy of the airline you’re travelling with.

Naturally, you want to avoid incurring baggage fees, so talk to your travel agent, or contact the airline directly. You can also visit their website to review the luggage policy.

Here are a few more tips to help you manage your baggage when travelling:

  • Clearly label all baggage with your name, home address, and contact information
  • Place an identification tag inside the baggage in case the outside tag is torn off
  • Lock bags with CATSA/ACTSA travel locks
  • Put a colourful ribbon or other identifying marks on your bags so they are easily recognizable
  • Carry valuables in your hand luggage; jewelry, money, medications, important documents, etc.

You can’t carry everything with you, so be smart when you pack. Take only necessary items and focus on your trip.

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Travel & Escape

What travellers need to know if a destination wedding is cancelled

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(NC) It’s two weeks before you’re scheduled to attend a destination wedding and then you get the call. The wedding has been called off.

Sure, you’re upset for the couple, but now you’re faced with plane tickets and hotel reservations. So, what can you do?

There’s no reason why you can’t go and enjoy the trip, but bear in mind you may face a price increase, especially if this was part of a group booking. Group bookings often include a minimum number of travellers to get the discounted price, as well as terms and conditions regarding changes or cancellations.

You could ask other travellers to come along to keep the group discount. But name changes often count as cancellations based on the terms of the vacation package and premium charges may apply. If you booked with a TICO-registered travel agency, website or tour company, it’s better to contact them and ask about options before making any decisions.

While it’s devastating for the couple who planned the destination wedding, the fact is that the cancellation affects all the confirmed guests. So, it’s important to know your options so you can salvage an unfortunate situation. Always book with a TICO-registered travel agency, website or tour operator so you can circle back and find out what they can do for you.

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Travel & Escape

Be safe not sorry when booking travel online

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(NC) With so many travel websites available these days, many people are choosing to book their vacations from the comfort of their own home. Many travel websites are easy to navigate, and offer great vacation packages, so it seems to make sense.

But before you hit “submit”, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. Here are a few tips that can make you more aware when booking travel online:

  • Look for the TICO registration number or logo. All Ontario travel agencies and websites must be registered with TICO, the provincial travel regulator that provides consumers with protections if they don’t receive travel services. The registration number or logo is usually found in the About Us or Contact sections of the website.
  • Know where your credit card payment is going. Some websites are only search engines or booking agents for other providers.
  • Review the terms and conditions, particularly those that relate to cancellation, changes to bookings and refunds. Know what the travel agent or tour operator’s responsibilities are.
  • Keep a paper copy of your transactions, correspondence and confirmations.
  • Double check which currency the prices are quoted in. You could be paying in Euros instead of Canadian dollars.
  • Keep in mind that tax amounts can vary in travel advertisements. Ontario travel agencies and websites can display their taxes in four different ways:
    • A total price
    • A base price plus total taxes, fees and additional charges
    • A base price with a detailed breakdown
    • All taxes, fees and additional charges.
  • Research your destination to find out if there are any travel advisories, which can be found on the Government of Canada website.
  • Check the online travel agency’s website for a live-chat feature, email address or toll-free number to talk to a travel agent. Travel agents are a great resource to answer any questions you may have to ensure you are making an informed travel purchase.

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