Monday, October 27, 2014

Air France Launching First U.S. Instant Takeoff In NYC Today

Later today, Air France will transform a piece of Manhattan into a rendezvous point for hundreds of hopeful travelers, suitcases in hand, eager for the chance to depart immediately on a journey to Paris.

The first-ever U.S. edition of Air France’s Instant Takeoff promotion will take place at the North Plaza of the Flatiron Plaza located on 23rd Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan, where two lucky winners and their guests will be selected from the crowd and whisked away on a flight leaving that same night. While there will only be a few winners, participants will experience complimentary French treats and music in a specially designed check-in lounge from 4  to 6 p.m. EST

Those who wish to enter the sweepstakes must pre-register at The location will be revealed to registrants via email on the day of the event.  Both the entrant and their guest will need to arrive at the pop-up lounge with bags packed and passports in hand to gain admittance to the lounge and await the random drawing.

After the drawing, the winning couples will be escorted in a private car to John F. Kennedy (JFK) International airport. Winners will enjoy Premium Economy seats on Air France’s Flight 009 to Paris. The package also includes hotel accommodations at Pullman Paris Montparnasse, a lunch voucher to Bistro Allard and free access to The Louvre, provided by American Friends of the Louvre. The winners will spend a weekend in the City of Light, with a return flight on Monday, Oct. 27.

“Recently, Air France completed a series of significant investments in its products and services to offer our customers in all classes the highest levels of luxury and comfort,” said Marnix Fruitema, Senior Vice President, Air France-KLM. “The Instant Takeoff is a fun and engaging way to show consumers Air France’s innovations and to remind them that Paris is just a few hours away aboard our airline.”

The sweepstakes is open for pre-registration now and will close on October 24 at 4 p.m. Entrance to the lounge will be first come, first served for qualified, registered participants until capacity is reached. Names will be randomly selected on site from the pool of participants present in the lounge at the time of the drawing.

On the Go // Into The Woods- Glamping!

I’m all for getting in touch with my mountain-man side, but c’mon: We all have our limits.

For those of you not in the know, it’s called “glamping” (glamorous camping). You have the tents and the rustic surroundings, but forget the somewhat tired-looking campgrounds, questionable lavatories, and stiff necks in the morning. Glamping tents are safari-style, or tree houses, or even something just short of a log cabin. They are equipped with hardwood floors, a private balcony, a king or queen size bed, brass baths, and high thread-count linens — all set in some of the most photogenic landscapes in the country.

I came across Firelight Camps earlier this year. Nestled in the landscape on the sprawling grounds of the trés-chic La Tourelle Hotel in Ithaca, NY, all tents are within hiking distance of the well-known Finger Lake Trail system and Buttermilk Falls State Park. After exploring nearby waterfalls and scenic gorges, I feasted in the steakhouse, relaxed at the spa, and shared a communal campfire with local wine (!), spirits (!!), and homemade s’mores (!!!) prepared by Firelight founder and Food Network star Emma Frisch (Season 10). If that isn’t a hook, all the modern amenities are there, from phone-charging stations to sauna. If you are still unimpressed, check out Frisch’s husband, Robert. Totally worth price of admission, but remember: Hands off the staff.

It proves that time spent outside is not a constant us-vs.-them battle with mosquitoes or tent kits that come with either not enough parts or too many.

So think of glamping similar to any other elegant destination, but one where you spend most of your time in the great outdoors, or very close to them. Kiss your addiction to air conditioning good-bye, for example. You will hear birdsong in the day, crickets at night. But as pampered as you are, you are still one with nature on a glamping trip; Firelight’s season (May to October) is just winding down as winter sets in. Pack your tank tops in summer, your flannels in fall, hiking shoes throughout, and leave the designer-wear in the closet.

And this isn’t some oddball American one-off — glamping is probably the biggest trend in eco-tourism going. Elqui Damos in Chile, the Talo Resort in Australia, Eolo in Argentina prove the phenomenon has worldwide appeal, and new properties just opened up in Bora-Bora and the Seychelles.

For more information, go to or  Steele Luxury Travel can assist with all of your glamping requests worldwide.  Visit our website at

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

On the // Go Food, Food, Glorious Food in Bologna Italy!

Nothing against Rome or Venice. They are true world cities — but that can actually work against them. With truckloads of tourists sloshing through around the clock, the cities have had to learn to cater to just about anyone at any time, meaning that the food isn’t exactly native, but a watered-down/sugared-up hybrid of “Italy + What We Think You’d Like.”

Which is a sin to do to Italian cuisine. If you have a hankering for eating like the Romans do, you may actually want to avoid Rome. Enter Bologna.

So let’s start with the basics: It is pronounced “boh-LOH-nya.” Call it “Baloney” and I’m going to smack you one. Set in Italy’s northern region of Emilia-Romagna, Bologna is so famous for its culinary scene that it is called the “City of Food.”

Like any Italian city, Bologna has a few native dishes, some of which you have probably heard, a biggie being tortellini. However, if you have a Bolognese chef prepare it, you will never look at “Barilla” again. The city’s take on the staple, tortellini in brudo, comes in hand-made, marble-sized nuggets stuffed with pork loin, mortadella, ham, and Parmigiano cheese and boiled in a chicken broth. Eateries like Al Montegrappa da Nello and Battibecco serve it up right, no touristy-ness baked in.

You could call that the main course. A good side is Fritto Misto al Bolognese, a seasonal sort of stir-fry grab-bag made with anything from lamb ribs to apples (waste not, want not). It’s a mouthful — no pun intended, really — but a restaurant called Al Voltone - La Torinese 1888 specializes in the stuff.

On to dessert. I know it may be gauche to talk of Christmas this early, but Bologna has a dish made especially for the season that is worth a mention: Certosino di Bologna. It would be easy to call it a fruit-cake (not “fruitcake”), but it actually looks more like a very large soft cookie or particularly thick pancake. You have a single layer of chocolate-cinnamon cake brushed with honey, stuffed with pine nuts, and topped by an Eden’s-worth of candied fruit. Hunt around and you can find it year-round, but bakers put more oomph into it come the holidays.

Now, far be it to think Bologna is a one-note town, however delicious. You can walk off all sorts of food comas in the city. The Piazza Maggiore is the main square and heart of the ancient old town (the city goes back to at least the Etruscans), and the whole community is overlooked by two medieval-age leaning towers, the Due Torri, in the Piazza de Porta. Just look up. Can’t miss ‘em. Unless you are looking at your plate.

For more info, go to, #Bologna, or #CityofFood.  Contact Steele Luxury Travel to assist with the planning of your Italian Vacation at

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

LOT Polish Airlines Is Again Offering Its Famous Crazy European Fares

LOT Polish Airlines is once again offering its famous “Crazy Fares” to Europe starting at $338 one-way (roundtrip purchase is required) from Chicago and New York to Warsaw.  It’s a savings of nearly 30 percent off the normal non-refundable economy class fare.  The fare sale runs from Oct. 14 through Oct. 19, 2014 for travel Nov. 2, 2014 through March 22, 2015 with blackout dates from Dec. 13, 2014 through Jan. 12, 2015.  The sale includes more great fares to Poland and other Eastern European destinations such as Lviv, Vilnius, Prague, Budapest, Tel Aviv and Sofia.

These fares are available aboard the popular Dreamliners LOT operates on its long-haul flights. All fares include taxes and fees, are subject to availability and are non-refundable.  The fares require a minimum stay of three days, including a Sunday overnight, and ticketing within 24 hours of making the reservation.  All travel must be on LOT operated flights.

In addition to these North American long-haul “Crazy Fares,” LOT is also offering 50 percent off economy fares from more than 40 destinations on their route system.

These fares can be booked by contacting a travel agent, using LOT’s state-of-the art mobile app, calling LOT at (212) 789-0970 or visiting

Steele Luxury Travel

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

airBerlin And Their Fantastic Service!

Berlin, maybe the hottest urban destination in Europe right now, has a carrier that’s soaring with it. airberlin is the Berlin-Tegel Airport’s biggest carrier today. The original idea was to have airberlin emerge as the flag carrier for Berlin’s Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport. Scheduled to open in 2011, the airport has been delayed until at least 2016.

The fact that airberlin has been able to assert itself among the top European carriers without the solid foundation that the airport would have provided for its brand and its network says a lot about its ability to deliver connectivity and comfort to fliers. Now in its 35th year, with an extensive network of routes and destinations well established, airberlin is turning to improving its service. Cabin comfort has been a major reason the carrier has succeeded. Earlier this year, airberlin’s CEO Wolfgang Prock-Schauer spoke of his carrier’s new business class as the point of attack in a new “comfort offensive.”

The business class is featured on the carrier’s long haul routes including those to the U.S. “We are trying to get away from this notion that we are exclusively an airline for leisure travelers,” said Roberto Cuesta, airberlin’s vice president for the Americas. The first priority for business travelers is always connectivity and from its current home airports in Berlin and Düsseldorf, airberlin has built a real air bridge to the U.S. with nonstop service to Chicago, Fort Meyers, Miami, New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (seasonal).

“Both our business class cabin and our economy cabin don’t really require periodic changes because we deliver a solid excellence in our service based on our determination to excel there,” said Cuesta.

“Look at our business class; 19 passengers served by three flight attendants. This allows us to cater to our highest yielding customers.”

airberlin’s business class features full-flat seats by Sogerma (who also do Etihad Airway’s seats), with most of the 19 seats in the cabin positioned to provide individual seating, increasing privacy while expanding the sense of spaciousness. Laid out in rows of 1-2-1, couples may fly with partners or individuals can fly in solitude. That arrangement gives every business class flier unimpeded access to the aisle. “The 1-2-1 configuration creates a complete sense of fluidity of movement for the passenger,” said Cuesta. “You’re not trapped into your window seat. You feel free to get up and move.”

Capacious storage space and shelves make it possible for the passenger to have all of their personal items at hand at the same time as they can be put away. The new seat reclines to completely horizontal offering a lengthy six feet at full stretch. Between the extremes of fully upright and fully flat, the seat is entirely adjustable so that the passenger can create whatever configuration they desire. The seat also includes an internal massage system.

Business travelers with work to do can plug into the seat’s power connection as well as its USB port for charging mobile devices. The seat features ambient lighting and a reading lamp.
Some 200 hours of entertainment including movies, TV shows, music and games can be accessed on each seat’s individual 15 inch monitor, which the airline boasts as having HD quality.

The North Sea island of Sylt is known for having the highest density of Michelin stars in Germany and the dean of Sylt’s restaurants is Sansibar. airberlin’s in-flight business class menu features dishes from Sansibar as well as wines that can be found in Sansibar’s extensive cellar.

Business class service doesn’t begin on board as the airline offers mobile check-in via or the airberlin iPhone app as well as web check-in and free seat reservation via the website or the airberlin Service Center. It also features exclusive check-in desks at many airports and access to a fast lane to pass through security checks more quickly and in many airports business travelers have access to lounges.

Before take-off, airberlin offers its status customers the opportunity to use partner lounges as well as airberlin’s exclusive waiting areas. The exclusive waiting area is almost like traveling in celebrity status as these lounges are really limited to VIP passengers. The first exclusive waiting area outside Germany opened this year in Vienna. The airline offers other exclusive waiting areas in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Cologne/Bonn and Munich.

Each business class passenger can carry two items of baggage each weighing up to 70 pounds as well as a second piece of hand baggage weighing up to 17 pounds plus a personal item such as a laptop free of charge. Stowed baggage is tagged priority and emerges first on the carousel. And for guests flying to, from or via Abu Dabi, the home of airberlin’s partner Etihad Airways, will receive free chauffeur service between the airport and selected destinations.

As a oneworld carrier, airberlin is also linked to 59 cities throughout North America within the American Airline network. airberlin’s frequent flyer program: topbonus has more than 3.4 million members and more than 120 partners worldwide. topbonus can also be combined with business points, the airline’s corporate program. topbonus members receive double the actual miles flown to their topbonus account if they fly under an airberlin flight number in business class. Members of airberlin business points receive up to three times the number of points for a business flight in airberlin business class.
Depending on their destinations, passengers receive one of four different versions of the airberlin amenity kit. The airberlin amenity kits are offered on long-haul flights in business class. The kits offer useful travel accessories such as eye masks, warm socks, ear plugs, moisturizer, lip balm, tooth brush and paste.
The economy class cabin on long-haul flights also features on-demand entertainment systems, complimentary beverage service throughout the entire flight and improved culinary selections. airberlin will equip its first aircraft with on-board Wi-Fi in 2014, a service that will be rolled out gradually over almost the whole airberlin fleet. In economy class, seats are equipped with anti-thrombosis cushions and individually adjustable head rests offer improved comfort. “We serve at least two meals on transatlantic flights in Economy and offer free wine or beer,” said Cuesta.

airberlin has done very well despite the delay of the new airport in Berlin. Imagine how it will do once that airport opens. visitBerlin CEO Burkhard Kieker, doesn’t exaggerate when he says that “Even when it (the new airport) opens with a capacity for 28 million passengers, we will need to begin immediately expanding capacity with a completely new terminal. The growth in traffic has been that rapid. And when it finally opens it will shift the center of gravity for European travel to the East and will be yet another boost to the city.” airberlin will be in the middle of all that. 

Steele Luxury Travel

Monday, October 13, 2014

WATCH: KLM’s Tribute Video to 95th Anniversary

This week marked the 95th anniversary of what is generally regarded as the world’s oldest continuously operating airline: KLM.

The carrier is in the midst of a celebration to honor the milestone, including added decals that read ’95 Years’ to some of its fleet, as well as laying the cornerstone to its new KLM World Business Class Lounge at its hub in Amsterdam.

But KLM also produced this touching video to commemorate the occasion for both its employees and customers.

On the Go // Gotta Have Seoul in Korea

When venturing to Seoul, the capital of South Korea, keep one thing in mind: This. City. Is. HUGE.

With a metro population of over 25 million (Miami: just over five million), if you cannot hook up with a guy, you are either never leaving the hotel or there is something seriously wrong with you.

South Korea is Asia’s great Undiscovered Secret. Japan and China swallow the lion’s share of tourist travel collectively, but Seoul is, believe it or not, the most visited city in East Asia. Even better, the Koreans use an actual alphabet, called Hangul, rather than the pictograms so favored in Kyoto or Shanghai. Each “character” is actually a syllable of the work, and given enough time you can figure out the subway maps.

After flying into Inchon Airport (itself a showcase), visitors to may notice that unlike a lot of ancient cities, Seoul seems awfully “new.” The short answer for this is that the city got bombed flat during the Korean War, so a lot of the original architecture is toast. That being said, some of the city’s heritage managed to squeak through.

For most of its history, Korea was a monarchy, and a fairly glorious one at that. While China was an ever-present influence, the cultures and kingdoms of the Korean peninsula managed to retain a large degree of individuality, and the royal abodes and temples exemplify such. Gyeongbokgung Palace appeared around 1395, and they’ve been restoring or adding on to the grounds ever since. The highlight is Geunjeongjeon, the throne hall (this was one monarchy that knew how to decorate), but several pavilions, Gyeonghoeru and Hyangwonjeong among them, are also worth a look-see.

When it comes to getting your gay on, like a lot of mammoth Asian cities, Seoul is a patchwork of neighborhoods that function as virtual towns. Itaewon (aka “Homo Hill”), Sinchae, and Jongno are the capital’s gay enclaves, and have about 100 clubs to cruise among them— but keep in mind that a lot of them are tiny karaoke bars that can fit about 10 people are so. When you are talking about a city where the real estate is priced through the roof, cozy environs come with the territory.

Which only means you can get that much closer to your hosts. But if an actual “bar” or “club” is a must, Almaz, Always Homme, Barcode, Trance, and Bar Friends, and Queen-Bar are the recommendations. iShap, the local gay rag, has a handy map (in Korean, but what can you do), and given the size of the city, getting a hotel in one of the ‘hoods is a good idea. IP Boutique Hotel, while not specifically gay, is very much LGBTQ friendly, and being near Homo Hill, is very convenient.

Go to for more info. Steele Luxury Travel can assist with all of your travel plans to Korea!  Contact us at 646-688-2274 for all of your travel planning needs!