Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sydney Gets Approval For Second Airport

On April 15, the Australian Cabinet in Canberra announced that they had selected Badgerys Creek as the site for a new airport to the west of Sydney. The airport will serve as a second airport for the city. The new airport will be located about 30 miles west of Sydney and is projected to cost AUD2.5 billion. Some 19 different locations were being considered. The airport was the object of a loud political in Sydney as many citizens eschewed the noise pollution it would create.

The economic side of the argument, which won, was best expressed by Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) CEO Martin Craigs, “After decades of myopic dialogue and dubious debate, the decision to move forward with a second city airport delivers great opportunities for the travel industry and next-generation Australian job seekers who should recognize that air connectivity is vital for 21st century employment.”

Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport was bulging at the seams before the current avalanche of Chinese travelers began touring Australia. Since then the issue has been exhaustively debated and until now, continually rejected due to the contentious nature of the subject and the potential impact it would have on voters in marginal constituencies. Chinese visitors to Australia have almost doubled to 715,000 in the past five years.

PATA was part of what it calls an “aligned advocacy” that also included the Global Travel Association Coalition (GTAC) partners, which include IATA, ACI, UNWTO and WTTC. In addition, many local travel industry advocates, not least Tourism Australia, Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) and the Transport and Tourism Forum (TTF) were advocating for a second airport.
The advocates assert that the new airport will catalyze between AUD $11.6 billion and AUD $15.2 billion in additional economic activity by 2050. It will create up to 20,000 jobs when the airport becomes fully operational. Both directly and indirectly the airport could create up to 46,285 full-time equivalent jobs by 2050.

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Delta Gets Comfy with Full Flat-Bed Seats

Delta Air Lines has completed the installation of full flat-bed seats with direct-aisle access in BusinessElite across its entire international widebody fleet, making it the only U.S. carrier to offer full flat-bed seats and the convenience of direct-aisle access on all overseas flights.

The completed interior fleet modifications include all Delta Airbus A330-200/300, Boeing 767-300ER/400ER, 747-400 and 777-200ER/LR aircraft, which represents Delta's largest interior fleet modification investment in more than a decade. With these modifications complete, Delta also is the only U.S. domestic carrier to offer personal, on-demand entertainment at every seat on all long-haul international flights.

The fleet modifications are Delta's latest investment in improving the customer experience. Since 2010, Delta also has:
"We're investing in giving our customers the wide range of options they want on long flights — from being fully connected via in-flight Wi-Fi to being fully disconnected and enjoying a great movie or comfortable sleep," said Tim Mapes, senior vice president – Marketing. "Delta has set a new standard for our customers by adding full flat-bed seats with direct-aisle access, improved meals and amenities, and quality in-flight entertainment options."

Beginning July 1, 2014, Delta also will operate three updated Boeing 757 aircraft with full flat-bed seats on the transcontinental route between New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport. These will be the first 757 aircraft in service to feature Delta's previously announced upgrades including full flat-bed seats in BusinessElite on transcon flights between New York-JFK and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. All transcon flights on these routes will feature full flat-bed seats by summer 2015.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

One the Go // New York -- Make a Pass!

In the movie “I Love You Philip Morris,” Jim Carey finally called out the big white elephant of gay existence when he revealed to the audience “being gay is expensive.” Sad, but true. The clubs, the drinks, the dates, the movies, the vacations—yadda, yadda, yadda. Am I the only one with sparks flying off my AmEx

It should come as no surprise that New York is the most expensive city in the USA: A typical drink in the Meat Packing District costs around $13, and let’s not even start with the hotels. Throw all that on the pre-existing “being gay is expensive,” which is as ingrained in NYC as it is the Magic City, and voila! This is why Netflix and microwave popcorn were invented.

Thus was invented New York CityPASS. It’s something like a discount coupon to the Big Apple’s best and brightest. The Metropolitan Museum of Art may take whatever “donation” you give them—you can get in for a penny, really—but the Museum of Natural History, Museum of Modern Art, Circle Line Cruises and lots of other must-dos are not nearly so magnanimous; the observatory at the Empire State Building costs a whopping $40 alone. Whip out that CityPASS ($109 for adults) and watch those prices drop by about 40% or so. You can even skip the ticket lines. The program doesn’t cover every last site in New York—say, the Bronx Zoo or the Museum of Sex (damn)—or any particular bar or eatery, but it does a bang-up job for a laundry-list of places that will rock your Instagram feed. Even better, it lasts for nine days from the moment you start using it, so it’s not like you have to race across Manhattan to get everything done in a day.

If any of you are migrating north for New York Pride in June, my guess is that your plans are already underway, and CityPASS is a perfect add-on to the trip. NYC Pride it is a great party, but you would be insane to go all the way to New York JUST for Pride and not experience what else the city has to offer. As an FYI, the pass is not limited to New York. Philadelphia, Atlanta, Toronto, Southern California, and Chicago all have their versions as well (you cannot use a Philly pass in Toronto, by the way. They are city-specific).

And as for drinks in the Meat Packing District? Ditch it and head over to Henrietta Hudson in Greenwich Village. It may be a lesbian bar, but it has some of the best drink specials in the city.

For more info, go to  Steele Luxury Travel, based in New York City, knows the ins and out of our 5 boroughs.  Be sure to contact us at for all your NYC bound travel needs!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Oetker Collection Adds Eden Rock-St. Barths to Collection

Oetker Collection, the European luxury hotel company that has been growing at a slow but steady pace in recent years, unveiled its eighth high-end property—the Eden Rock-St Barths in the French West Indies.

Oetker will manage the core hotel business and assist in further developing the Eden Rock Villa Rental business. It also will help enhance Eden Rock’s property design and construction firm Propco.
The move represents a return to St. Barths for Oetker, which in 2012 announced plans to manage Isle de France on St. Barths. It took over that property for roughly a year, but lost the management contract when the hotel was acquired by LVMH last year.

Now Oetker is making a comeback of sorts with Eden Rock-St. Barths, a property that is considered on par with, if not above, Isle de France. Oetker worked with David Matthews, Eden Rock’s proprietor and executive chairman of Eden Rock Group, to cement the deal. Matthews and his family will continue to own the hotel, but Oetker is taking a small stake in the property.

Didier Le Calvez, Oetker’s senior vice president, described Eden Rock-St. Barths as postcard perfect, a safe destination, family friendly, crime free, and located on one of most prestigious islands in the world, known for celebrities, nightlife and gastronomy. “We believe in the quality of this product,” he said. “What makes Eden Roc so special is the dedication of Matthews family. We’ve formed a close partnership with the owners. It’s a great opportunity.”

Eden Rock is a member of Relais & Chateaux and has its own Jean Georges restaurant, “On the Rocks,” so it matches Oetker’s focus on luxury accommodations and fine cuisine. Even its name recalls another Oetker hotel—Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc on the French Riviera.

First built 70 years ago, Eden Rock is located on a rocky promontory in St., Jean Bay, surrounded by white sandy beaches, blue sea and a coral reef full of sea life. The hotel offers 34 accommodations dotted along the beach or set within green gardens. Each guest room or suite is individually decorated by Jane Matthews, the co-owner. The property also includes Villa Nina and the 16,000-square-foot Villa Rockstar, which includes a recording studio featuring the Neve mixing console used by John Lennon to record his “Imagine” album.

Oetker Collection’s eight luxury hotels now include L’Apogée Courchevel, a luxury ski resort in Courchevel in the French Alps; Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa, the first Oetker property located in Baden-Baden, Germany (which will soon add the Villa Stéphanie as an added spa experience); Le Bristol Paris on the Rue du Faubourg St-Honoré; Château Saint-Martin & Spa, a chateau overlooking the French Riviera; Fregate Island Private in the Seychelles; Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, located the tip of the Cap d’Antibes in France near Cannes; Palais Namaskar in Marrakech; and Eden Rock-St. Barths.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

US Airways Apologizes for Tweeting Pornographic Photo

What began as a Twitter conversation with an irate customer, @ElleRafter, soon went very wrong when US Airways accidentally responded with an extremely graphic pornographic image.
@USAirways Unhappy that 1787 sat for an hour on tarmac in CLT because overweight, resulting in over hour late arrival in PDX...

@ellerafter We truly dislike delays too and are very sorry your flight was affected.

@USAirways yeah, you seem so very sorry. So sorry, in fact, that you couldn't be bothered to address my other tweets.
U.S. Airways then responded by saying, “@ellerafter We welcome feedback, Elle. If your travel is complete, you can detail it here for review and follow-up” with a link that led to the unfortunate photo.

Decorum demands that we not share it here, but suffice it to say it was shocking even for the Internet — a photo of a naked woman with a model airplane making an unorthodox landing.
Of course, this being Twitter, the reaction was as immediate as it was snarky.

U.S. Airways was quick to pull the offending Tweet, and issued the following apology:

"We apologize for an inappropriate image recently shared as a link in one of our responses. We’ve removed the tweet and are investigating."

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U.S. Fans Snapping Up Tickets To 2014 FIFA World Cup!

Who says United States residents don’t like soccer? With fewer than two months to go before the FIFA World Cup tournament begins in Sao Paulo, Brazil on June 12, Americans have purchased 172,880 tickets to the tournament’s football matches (as the sport is known outside of the U.S.). The U.S. total is more than the combined number of tickets requested by Germans, British and French fans, according to statistics from Embratur, the Brazilian Tourist Board. In fact U.S. ticket purchases rank behind only those of the host country, whose football-frenzied residents have purchased 1,077,243 tickets for World Cup matches, which are scheduled to take place in 12 Brazilian cities.

In what will be its seventh consecutive World Cup appearance, Team America is expected to have a tough path to the championship, with a bracket that includes games against several powerhouse teams including Germany, Portugal and Ghana. Nevertheless the U.S. team’s matches will take place in some of Brazil’s most beautiful regions, beginning with Natal on June 16. The U.S. team will also play in the Amazon city of Manaus on June 22 and the picturesque port city of Recife on June 26.

Of course, summer visitors to Brazil who are not lucky enough to score tickets to World Cup matches can still enjoy the event and the country’s passion for “the beautiful game” via television monitors in bars, restaurants and even beaches and parks. FIFA has also scheduled “Fan Fest” events - featuring official spaces for public viewing of tournament matches — in each of the 12 host cities.   If you dont have any luck securing your game ticket with FIFA, check your local Craigslist ;)

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Monday, April 14, 2014

On the Go // Wales: And Death Shall Have No Dominion

--> 2014 marks the centennial of Dylan Thomas, and his native Wales is going gonzo to celebrate his work. Arguably the best poet Wales has yet produced (in a land famous for pumping them out like Xeroxes), Thomas stands apart from his airy or florid predecessors by being painfully aware, and often writing about, the slipping away of his youth (we’ve all been there). His work looks back fondly on childhood and innocence, but is an all-out rage against time and mortality.

It was at Laugharne (“Larn”), a town on the River Taf whose virtual immunity to time must have resonated deeply with Thomas. A place where the belfry is still the tallest building, it was here that Thomas wrote much of his work, and which stood in as the prototype for Llareggub, his fictional setting for Under Milk Wood.

It is also here that we come to the “thing” about Wales. Nothing against the cities of Cardiff, Newport, and Swansea, but the Welsh have just never been all that good at making large urban centers. Yet when it comes to the little ones, the Welsh are absolute masters. Laugharne, Hay-on-Wye, Llansteffan, Bettws-y-Coed, Llandridod Wells — every last little bump on the log is a pinnacle of charm, tranquility, and agelessness.

Even better, its not like these towns are all one-note or lacking in the proper distractions, and this goes double for Laugharne. True, if you are a circuit boy, you will find yourself on a different planet entirely, but if decompression from the rat race is your gig, it’s a “bingo!” The ruins of Laugharne Castle are straight out of Beowulf, and the Thomas Path, up Sir John Hill, traces the route the poet took for inspiration. That Laugharne has 5-star accommodations is just icing on the cake.

Those stars are to be found at the Brown Hotel, which, by the way, was the favorite haunt of Thomas and whose regulars served as basis for the cast of Under Milk Wood. The pub is as rollicking as ever, but unlike America’s clubs, the pubs of Wales, and the UK for that matter, aren’t suggestively lit and ear-splittingly loud, but rather bright and alive with conversation, with maybe a guitarist strumming away in the corner or the latest rugby match on the telly. The food is hearty, the drinks more so, but just wait till you see the rooms upstairs.

Unpretentious on the outside, the Brown is downright lux within, from the sparkling fixtures to the creamy white softness of the beds. Open and spacious, each room even has a little library. Thomas would approve.  Be sure to contact Steele Luxury Travel to assist in all your Wales travel planning at 646-688-2274. 

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