Focus: Breaking Travel News investigates: Why now is the time for sustainability in travel

Focus: Breaking Travel News investigates: Why now is the time for sustainability in travel

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As the United Nations World Tourism Organisation celebrates World Tourism Day, Breaking Travel News here chats with Zach Vanasse, programme manager at the TreadRight Foundation, about the changing face of global hospitality.

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September 27, 2017 at 05:54AM

In Paris, a New Museum to Celebrate Saint Laurent

In Paris, a New Museum to Celebrate Saint Laurent

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“No one was more quintessentially Parisian than Yves,” Mr. Cox said. “But he would go to Marrakesh whenever he could.”

The plan for the pair of institutions was born in Paris after Mr. Bergé and Mr. Saint Laurent sold the Rive Gauche ready-to-wear brand to Gucci Group (now Kering) in 1999. In the billion-dollar deal, Mr. Bergé and Mr. Saint Laurent retained control of the haute couture division and the company’s headquarters at 5 Avenue Marceau, which they had been leasing since 1974.

Following Mr. Saint Laurent’s retirement in 2002, they bought the building and transformed it into the foundation headquarters, with about 2,200 square feet of galleries on the ground level for temporary exhibits. Mr. Saint Laurent and Mr. Bergé maintained their longtime offices on the second floor, while a climate-controlled storage space on the third and fourth floors held Mr. Saint Laurent’s vast archives, which Mr. Bergé began conserving in 1964.

Photo
Photographs of Saint Laurent hang in the salon, where the public tours will begin.

Credit
Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

They opened the galleries to the public in 2004, offering three or four exhibitions each year, from ruminations on Mr. Saint Laurent’s designs to celebrations of the art and literature he loved, like the work of David Hockney and Marcel Proust.

After Mr. Saint Laurent died in 2008 at 71, Mr. Bergé oversaw the foundation on his own and realized the shows that revolved around Mr. Saint Laurent’s clothes were by far the most popular.

Two years ago, Mr. Cox said, “an idea started to germinate to transform the temporary spaces into a semipermanent exhibition on Saint Laurent. There is great interest in Saint Laurent’s work today, by both those who grew up with him, and the younger generation who know the brand but not his designs.

“Pierre understood that we needed to create a context where Saint Laurent’s work could be viewed,” he said.

Photo
Some of Saint Laurent’s things are still on his studio desk, which was a piece of plywood covered in muslin.

Credit
Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

Mr. Bergé asked an old friend, the interior designer Jacques Grange, who had decorated the couture house in the 1980s as well as several of Mr. Saint Laurent and Mr. Bergé’s homes, to rework the Avenue Marceau floor plan once again. This time, he was to include Mr. Saint Laurent’s studio, which had remained untouched, in the public space.

Mr. Grange recalled that Mr. Bergé said: “Only you can do this museum. You are the decorator of Yves Saint Laurent. There is no question, and that’s it.”

Mr. Grange’s original opulent décor in the foyer and adjoining round antechamber included a moss-green moiré printed carpet, plush emerald velvet curtains, crystal-laden lighting and ample amounts of gold leaf. “Yves called me back then, and said, ‘You know what I want, Jacques: mirrors and chandeliers,’ ” like in “Beauty and the Beast,” Jean Cocteau’s 1946 Surrealist film version of the 18th-century fairy tale, Mr. Grange said.

He has refreshed the décor in those areas, and now the salon will be the initial point for the museum tour, hung with large-format black-and-white photographs of Mr. Saint Laurent by Richard Avedon, Patrick Demarchelier and Jeanloup Sieff, and displaying a short video on Mr. Saint Laurent’s career.

In the former grand reception room, where clients such as Ms. Deneuve and the socialite Nan Kempner would take tea while selecting their made-to-measure wardrobes, Mr. Bergé had Mr. Grange partner with the renowned exhibition-set designer Nathalie Crinière to create new galleries.

Mr. Bergé came upon Ms. Crinière’s work when she designed the 2003 Cocteau exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Since then she has orchestrated several Saint Laurent shows — at the foundation, at the Petit Palais in Paris in 2010 and, most recently, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Va. — as well as the blockbuster Dior retrospective now on view at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

Where Mr. Grange’s décor is rich and baroque, Ms. Crinière’s is stark and modern, with matte black staging to set off the vibrant colors, pure lines and complex textures of Mr. Saint Laurent’s creations.

The main ground-floor gallery will feature exhibitions on specific collections, beginning with Mr. Saint Laurent’s 1962 debut.

Photo
Inside the new museum.

Credit
Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

Upstairs, another gallery will focus on themes. The first is Mr. Saint Laurent’s design dialogue with art: kaleidoscopic ensembles inspired by van Gogh, Matisse, Mondrian and Picasso will encircle Picasso’s 1914 Cubist tableau, “Instruments de Musique Sur un Guéridon,” which used to hang in the living room of Mr. Saint Laurent’s Rue de Babylone home in Paris.

Tours will conclude with a walk through Mr. Saint Laurent’s studio, the quiet sanctum where he conducted fittings with his team. His desk, a piece of plywood wrapped with muslin and set on sawhorses, is still strewn with his precious bibelots and talismans, including the walking stick of his mentor, Christian Dior.

As the Paris museum was taking form, a property came up for sale in Marrakesh that Mr. Cox said was “about 50 yards away” from the Jardin Majorelle, a 12-acre botanical feast for the senses purchased by Mr. Saint Laurent and Mr. Bergé in 1980 and managed by Mr. Cox. Mr. Bergé bought the parcel and hired the Paris-based firm Studio KO to design the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakesh.

It will be a “quite modest” affair, Mr. Cox said (all things being relative), with an exhibition space dedicated Mr. Saint Laurent’s designs — especially those “concentrating on African themes,” he said — and a hall for smaller temporary shows. Its research center will house 6,000 books, most coming from Mr. Saint Laurent’s and Mr. Bergé’s personal libraries, and the Pierre Bergé Auditorium will be used for symposiums on botany, the Berber tribe and contemporary fashion themes; screenings of films relating to Mr. Saint Laurent’s career; and live broadcasts from the Opéra Bastille, the Paris theater Mr. Bergé ushered to completion in the late 1980s.

“People say it’s tragic that Pierre isn’t here to see the museums finished,” Mr. Cox said. “But he was involved in all decisions from Day 1. He wasn’t there when the final carpet was being laid on the stairwell, or the curtains were hung at the front door of 5 Avenue Marceau. But he knew exactly how they were going to be. And they are exactly as he wanted.”

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September 27, 2017 at 05:21AM

Talking Donald, Minnie & Mickey Mouse at DCA

Talking Donald, Minnie & Mickey Mouse at DCA

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Today at Disney California Adventure, Imagineers are play-testing talking Donald Duck, plus Minnie and Mickey Mouse. In this post, we’ll share photos and video of Disneyland Resort’s talking trio, plus thoughts on the meet and greet experience.

For starters, this meet and greet is currently in test mode, meaning that there’s no published schedule of when talking Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse, and Mickey will meet. In August, talking Mickey Mouse met, and it was very sporadic. If you weren’t there when his meet started, you would’ve missed it.

Today, talking Mickey, Minnie, and Donald were meeting in the Ahwahnee Camp Circle in Grizzly Peak’s Redwood Creek. This is the same spot where other characters meet. We’ve gotta say, though, this is about the coolest Disney character meet & greet ever (or, at least since Dreamfinder and Figment disappeared)…

Walt Disney World fans are likely familiar with talking Mickey Mouse, as he has been meeting “backstage” at the Town Square Theater in Magic Kingdom for several years now.

We’ve done the talking Mickey Mouse meet and greet at WDW several times, and while it has become smoother over the course of the last few years, Mickey can still be a bit slow on the responses, and some interactions can feel a bit disjointed and awkward.

With three characters, we felt none of that. There were times all three interacted with us nearly simultaneously, and other times, they engaged with one another. 

This type of multi-character setup seems perfect. It gives the chance for the characters to use their rapport with one another to build into a guest interaction, drawing the guest into a group interaction. If the conversation were to, for some reason, become delayed between character and guest, there’s still a lot going on. 

Basically, this group dynamic is much more conducive to a fun, naturally-flowing experience. Even the aspects that are totally scripted (like teaching us lion roars!) can seem spontaneous because of the way they’re weaved together with interactions that are more on the fly.

It should come as a surprise to no one that Donald Duck stole the show in our interaction (and literally all interactions we observed), as he has a particular way of hamming it up that just works.

Here are a couple of videos of our experience with talking Donald Duck, plus Minnie and Mickey Mouse…

First, our friend Guy Selga of TouringPlans.com:

And here’s Sarah’s video:
Instagram Photo

(I’ll update with more photos later…)

All in all, it was a really fun experience, and we hope that they roll this out for regular meet and greets in the near future. Based on the tests we witnessed, the ‘show’ is excellent. Of course, there’s the possibility more Cast Member training or back of house work needs to be done before this is ready for prime time, but we’re optimistic Disney California Adventure and Disneyland guests should finally have their own permanent talking character experience soon!

If you’re preparing for a Disneyland trip, check out our other planning posts, including how to save money on Disneyland tickets, our Disney packing tips, tips for booking a hotel (off-site or on-site), where to dine, and a number of other things, check out our comprehensive Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide!

Your Thoughts

Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!

This is a post in the Disney Tourist Blog RSS feed. For tips on Disney vacation planning, including dining reviews, tips & tricks, and other guides, check out Disney Tourist Blog!

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September 27, 2017 at 01:21AM

Why Saudi Women Driving Is a Small Step Forward, Not a Great One

Why Saudi Women Driving Is a Small Step Forward, Not a Great One

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On a scorching day in August, 2006, Wajeha
al-Huwaider
threw off her abaya, the enveloping black cover worn by Saudi women, and
donned a calf-length pink shirt, pink trousers, and a matching pink
scarf. She then took a taxi, from Bahrain, to a signpost on the bridge
marking the border with Saudi Arabia. She got out and, with a large
poster declaring, “Give Women Their Rights,” marched toward her
homeland. Within twenty minutes, she was picked up by Saudi security
forces, interrogated for a day, and officially warned. An intelligence
officer, she recounted to me later, had pointed at her mouth and said,
“Control this, and we won’t have a problem.”

Two years later, on International Women’s Day, Huwaider went
out in the Saudi desert and, illegally, drove. She made a
three-minute video of
it—coaching women to claim their rights—and posted it on YouTube. “The
problem of women driving, of course, is not political,” she said, as the
car bumped along a rural road. “Nor is it religious. It is a social
issue.” The video, in Arabic,
was viewed by almost a
quarter million people. Thousands more watched with various
translations. Again, she got in trouble.

Huwaider may finally be able to drive legally next year. On
Tuesday, Saudi King Salman ordered that women be given licenses. Saudi
Arabia is the last country in the world—by many, many years—where women
are forbidden to drive. In April, Saudi women launched a social
media campaign—with
the hashtag #Resistancebywalking—that posted films of them walking in
the same streets where they can’t drive. The ban has long been a
barometer of the oil-rich but ultra-conservative kingdom’s human rights
abuses, constantly referenced in the State Department’s annual Human
Rights Report. The shift, on Tuesday, was sufficiently striking that
the Times sent out a breaking-news e-mail about the king’s decree.

There are, however, caveats. The ruling will not go into
effect until June, 2018. Women may have to get the permission of their
male “guardians” to drive, as they do for many major activities in their
life. The biggest issue may be winning the approval of Saudi Arabia’s
Wahhabi clerics, the most conservative of the Islamic faith. The decree
stipulated that new regulations must “apply and adhere to the necessary
Sharia standards,” a reference to Islamic law. What that means was left
unanswered.

In the past, Saudi clerics have opposed allowing women to get behind the
wheel. Just last week, Sheikh Saad
al-Hijri decreed that
women “don’t deserve to drive because they only have a quarter of a
brain.” The sheikh is the powerful head of fatwas in Assir governorate,
in the country’s mountainous southwest. His lecture focussed on the
“evils of women driving.” He also said that women have a quarter of a
brain when they go shopping. One of the kingdom’s most famous clerics,
the former grand mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz ibn Baz, once declared,
“Driving by women contradicts Islamic traditions followed by Saudi
Citizens.” (He was also the cleric who questioned the U.S. moon landing
because,
he ruled,
the Earth is flat.)

“There are issues with the state’s religious establishment opposing
human rights reforms for a long time, especially women’s rights,” Adam
Coogle, a Middle East specialist for Human Rights Watch, told me.

The new decree established a government body to draw up guidelines for
implementing the rule—leaving open the question of what guidelines might
be necessary for women that are not also applied to men. “What we’ve
seen in the past is more limited proposals: that women can drive if they
are going to work, or if they’re going to the supermarket, but no
joyriding,” Coogle said. “Other proposals suggested that there would be
a curfew for women drivers. We hope this will not be a discriminatory
system with different rules for women—and that’s a possibility, given
the way the rules have happened in the past.”

Middle East analysts peg the timing to both momentum behind reforms to
modernize the country and a growing array of pressures on the monarchy.
In 2015, the kingdom allowed women both to run for and vote in
local-council elections. The king is still an absolute ruler, however,
and the councils function largely in modest advisory roles at the local
level. Women are also a burgeoning social force. The majority of
university graduates are now women, but they are a tiny percentage of
the labor force.

The Saudis may also be looking for a reprieve. The United Nations Human
Rights Council in Geneva is expected to vote this week on whether to
create a commission of inquiry to document war crimes in Yemen. “This
comes at a time when Saudi Arabia is experiencing a lot of domestic
turmoil around the succession and a lot of economic problems, in
addition to the war in Yemen and tensions with Qatar and Iran,” Coogle
told me.

Over the past two years, the kingdom has undergone a major political
transition, with the ouster of the well-established Crown Prince, who
had successfully quashed most of Al Qaeda in the kingdom. He was
replaced by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the young and largely
inexperienced third son of the aging and ailing king. The former Crown
Prince was reportedly put under house arrest and banned from traveling
abroad. The moves were widely interpreted as carving out a new line of
royal succession from the massive House of Saud—and limiting the
prospects for thousands of other royals.

“The major takeaway is a P.R. win when they needed it, when
you look at criticisms they have faced recently,” Coogle told me.

A State Department spokesperson called it a “great step in the right
direction.” Saudi women, however, still can’t get passports or travel
outside the country without the permission of their primary male
guardian. (A guardian can be a father, husband, brother, or even young
son.) A Saudi female can also not get a foreign education with
government support unless she is accompanied by a male guardian. Driving
may be a small step, but certainly not a great one.

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September 27, 2017 at 01:05AM

Hotel Review: CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa

Hotel Review: CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa

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Marriott is known for its extensive variety of hotels, ranging from lower-end to mid-tier and luxury brands like Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, W and the Autograph Collection. One brand you rarely hear about is CasaMagna, likely because there are only two of them — one in Cancun, the other in Puerto Vallarta. I recently visited the latter, and found a relaxing oceanfront resort in a truly great Mexican destination. Here’s what it was like to stay there.

In This Post

Booking

I booked my four-night stay with my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card for a total of $1,020. The CSR was a great option, since I earned 3x points — or in this case, 3,060 Ultimate Rewards points — for the travel purchase. Alternatively, I could have booked with another travel card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, to earn 2x points or taken advantage of the Citi Prestige Card’s nifty 4th Night Free perk (if only I had that card). With my $255 nightly rate, I also earned 10,200 Marriott points — 10 Marriott points per dollar, plus my 25% bonus from being a Marriott Gold member — netting me a total of 12,750 Marriott Rewards points for this stay.

Marriott-PV-Booking

This is a Category 7 Marriott property so I would’ve needed 35,000 Marriott Rewards points to redeem for a free night, or in my case, 140,000 to redeem for my four-night stay. With TPG’s latest points-and-miles valuation in mind, it wouldn’t have made sense to book this way since we value each Marriott point at 0.09 cpm.

You could also book with the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card, which gives you 80,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 within the first three months of opening your account. Additionally, you can earn five points per dollar spent at participating Marriott Rewards & SPG hotels. Although you technically can’t use the complimentary one-night anniversary stay you get from the card at this hotel — it’s only for Category 1 to 5 hotels — it’s still a great card to sign up for, especially if you frequently stay at Marriott properties.

Check-In and Lobby

CasaMagna was situated in the middle of all the action in Puerto Vallarta near the Shangri-La Marina Vallarta condos, Melia Vacation Club All-Inclusive and Westin Resort & Spa. It’s just a five-minute taxi ride from Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR) and the entrance is right along the main road. We did have to pass through the gate, where security staff confirmed that I was authorized to enter the grounds.

The bell staff had a stand at the front entrance and always opened the car door to welcome us when we entered the property, even past midnight. You could also ask the bellman to hail a taxi for you — there always seemed to be a few nearby.

The layout of the hotel atrium was cross-shaped. You could walk straight toward the ocean and pool, to the left for the reception area or to the right to get to the guest rooms.

When I checked in around 4:00pm, the reception area was busy but extra staff members were ready to check guests in. After waiting about 10 minutes, I was all set. As a Marriott Gold Elite member, I’m usually entitled to a complimentary upgrade so I was offered one for an oceanfront room, though it wouldn’t be available until the next afternoon. Still, I took it. I was also offered a suite upgrade, but those rooms only had one queen bed and I needed two doubles this time around.

At the end of the counter was a display of the hotel’s mobile app check-in, which I didn’t find out about until the end of my stay. It would have been nice to try this feature out. Next time.

There was no executive club at this hotel, and I thought it would have been great if the hotel offered complimentary breakfast to make up for it — it was not to be. Adjacent to the check-in area was the concierge, who pleasantly gave recommendations for restaurants and activities outside the property.

The Room

I initially had a Garden View room, which overlooked Los Caracoles, a condominium complex, and on night two, we moved to the Oceanfront room I’d been upgraded to. The only real difference between the two was the view. While the Oceanfront view is extremely nice — and those rooms usually cost double — the Garden View room is still very nice and mine even had a partial view of the ocean.

The rooms each had a medium-size balcony with two comfortable chairs and a small table.

My favorite part of the Oceanfront room was the balcony, which directly faced the ocean. Day or night, this is where I spent most of my time while I was in the room.

In this 338-square-foot room, the bathroom was on the side, with a wall divider between the toilet, sink area and the tub. Even though the bathroom was spacious, it would’ve been better if it were more modern and came with a double vanity.

Amenities consisted of Marriott THANN products, including moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel.

There was a narrow bathtub with a shower head — and subpar water pressure. It was still good for a quick shower after a long day at the beach though.

On the opposite side of the bathroom was the walk-in closet, with a safe and bathrobe.

The two double beds’ sheets felt oddly rocky, like something was under them, though the beds were comfortable and housekeeping did an excellent job keeping the room spotless.

Adjacent to the beds was a small sitting area. There was no footrest or side table, which would’ve made the room feel a little more inviting.

Oddly enough, there was a large empty space near the sliding-glass door that led out to the balcony. A small table might have fit nicely there.

The desk area (with two chairs) was perfect for checking emails. While there wasn’t a lot of room to spread out papers, it was a fine spot for sitting down with a laptop or small tablet. Something that could have used improvement was the TV, which was quite small and difficult to watch from bed.

Though elite members received “premium” Wi-Fi, it didn’t seem fast. Still, when I browsed the internet on my iPad or MacBook, speed was never a problem.

Marriott-PV-Wifi

The mini-bar was initially locked, even though I’d put down the full deposit for the room. After making a quick call to the operator, someone arrived and unlocked it. After all that, I was surprised to find it was barely stocked with beverages — just a few beers and sodas and two bottles of water.

The layout of the hotel was tropical and luxurious. There was a beautiful atrium with resort-view rooms on the right and left. I would suggest requesting a room on the left, since those featured a direct view of the pool and ocean rather than the condominium complex.

The atrium even had a cascading mini-waterfall.

Amenities 

Most people make the trip to Puerto Vallarta for leisure and to enjoy the beautiful pools, golf resorts and waves of the Pacific. CasaMagna didn’t disappoint, as the views truly put you in a vacation mood.

There were a handful of cabanas, which were difficult to obtain. As with most resorts, I wish there were more available so I wouldn’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn to snag one.

The beach lounge chairs provided by the hotel were different and less comfortable than the ones provided poolside. While the beach area certainly got busy at times, there were always enough chairs around.

My favorite part was the massive pool, which had a waterfall and a swim-up bar.

The swim-up pool bar was great, too. Even though you could order a drink from a deck chair, it was nice to be able to jump in the pool and walk out with a drink, especially when it was more than 90 degrees outside.

In the afternoon, the pool staff organized activities like volleyball tournaments and water aerobics.

Here’s a look at the main guest room building, where I was staying.

The business center was located next to the reception area — inside was a conference room as well as some computers and printers for guests to use.

Next to the business center were two ATMs, where you could withdraw cash in either US dollars or Mexican pesos.

Throughout the resort, there were multiple public bathrooms, which were kept nice and clean.

For guest privacy reasons, I was asked to not take pictures in the gym area, but found it was very suitable for a vacation workout. There were a number of machines and plenty of weights. The spa included a full menu of massages, but once again, I was politely asked not to take photographs because of the other guests’ privacy. I didn’t utilize the spa services, but thought it looked luxurious and relaxing.

Food and Beverage

As with many resorts, food and beverage options seemed to pop up every time you round a corner. In the main lobby was a bakery, where you could pick up pastries and ice cream.

Directly outside the bakery was a patio with tables, couches and perfect views of the pool and the Pacific.

Since there was no executive lounge or complimentary breakfast offered at this hotel, I had headed down to the restaurant, where the buffet was open until 11:30am and cost about $27 per person.

You could order omelets at the made-to-order egg station.

A variety of pastries, donuts, muffins and croissants were available. Staff kept the buffet tidy and well-stocked at all times.

There was also a station with Mexican breakfast items including quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches and taquitos.

Toast and bagels were on hand as well.

The gift shop in the lobby had souvenirs, alcoholic beverages and sunscreen for sale.

Also on the property were the Champions Sports Bar and Mikado Japanese restaurant. Champions’ happy hour was from 1:00pm to 5:00pm on weeknights, while the lobby bar also had its own daily specials.

The Lobby Bar, located across from the check-in area, was large and a nice, relaxing spot to grab a late-night drink.

The Lobby Bar featured a large variety of alcoholic beverages.

During the early evening hours, you could sit, drink and enjoy live music while looking out over ocean and pool area.

The two restaurants, Champions and Mikado, could be accessed from outside the hotel.

The atmosphere at Mikado was tropical and peaceful, in part because of the indoor fish pond.

For dinner, you could find reasonably priced — and excellent-tasting — teppanyaki and sushi. One major drawback was that the restaurant didn’t open until 6:00pm. I really wish the sushi bar had at least been open for lunch, but still, it was nice to have some appetizers there before leaving the property for a night out on the town.

Champions was a fun venue right next door to Mikado. While I was surprised to see the tables and bar area were so quiet, it was still a nice place to sit down, have a drink and watch some sports on one of the dozens of huge TVs.

Also located in the back of the restaurant were three pool tables, which got busier as the night went on.

Menu items included fish tacos and grilled chicken sandwiches, among other traditional American bar items, with a few Mexican options thrown into the mix.

During the day, the pool area had its own dining area for lunch — the chicken quesadillas were great — but the service was really slow since there were hundreds of other poolside guests. At one point, I ended up just walking into the actual restaurant to get my drink since it was taking the waiter so long to get back to me.

At night, the poolside restaurant transformed into an upscale, sit-down restaurant. Bread and pesto were served as complimentary starters.

I had the calamari, which was delicious.

During the day, there was a snow-cone cart with non-alcoholic and alcoholic concoctions.

Overall Impression

From the incredible views to a great food and pool scene, this hotel really delivered. The staff were friendly, attentive and always offered to assist. I would certainly look into staying at this property again the next time I’m in Puerto Vallarta.

Have you stayed at CasaMagna? Tell us about your experience, below.

All photos by the author.

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September 27, 2017 at 01:02AM

Miss Your Pets While Traveling? Put Them On Your Travel Gear

Miss Your Pets While Traveling? Put Them On Your Travel Gear

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As appealing as a week at the beach sounds any time of year, for pet lovers who are forced to leave their four-legged companions at home, there can be a bit of separation anxiety — on both sides. Since taking Fido or Fluffy along with you to paradise isn’t always an option, three pet lovers in Sydney, Australia, came up with what just might be the next best thing: beach gear featuring your favorite fuzzball’s mug.

Known as Petflair, the company — which recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter that has already raised more than four times its initial goal of $11,917 — will customize a range of beachwear and accessories including swimsuits, towels and bags, with an enormous photo of your beloved pet. Saint Bernard on a Speedo? You’ve got it! Beagle on your beach tote? No problem!

Image by <a href="http://ift.tt/2xEpV8G;.
Image by Petflair/Facebook.

In the swimsuit department, women have got three options, all of them one-piece suits: the open-back Millie, the cross-back Frankie or the string-back Coco. Men can order the Max, an Olympic-style swim brief that comes in a dozen different colors and also allows for a pattern add-on — there are also beach towels, bags and sticker sets. Turning your furry, feathered or finned friend into a fashion icon is super simple: choose your item, upload a photo of your pet, pick a color and hit send. Check out the video below for a closer look.

As the Kickstarter campaign is still ongoing, the first batch of orders are expected to arrive in December — which makes this a perfect holiday gift for the animal obsessive in your life.

Featured image by Petflair/Facebook.

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September 27, 2017 at 12:16AM

France Wants to Outlaw Catcalling

France Wants to Outlaw Catcalling

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Paris may be one of the most romantic cities in the world, but there’s a big difference between spending time in the City of Light with someone you love and being harassed on the street by a stranger. While the French accent may make it sound more alluring than your usual American catcall, it’s still a behavior that we’d all be happier to see disappear completely.

Now, it looks like France is getting ready to make that happen. As Condé Nast Traveler reports, a pending piece of legislation could make it illegal for men to follow or otherwise pester women on the street in France. It’s the brainchild of Marlène Schiappa, France’s secretary of gender equality, and if passed, it would be a groundbreaking law that might lead to other cities and countries following suit.

In an interview with NPR, Schiappa recalled how, when she was barely a teenager, she and her sister would regularly be hounded when walking pretty much anywhere in Paris — to school, the supermarket or even a friend’s house. Which is why she has stated that one of her main goals in her new position is to make sure that France’s public spaces are made safer for both girls and women, which will happen when street harassment is properly identified so police can fine men who are following or otherwise intimidating women as they go about their business.

Of course, one of the main challenges Schiappa and her colleagues are now facing is defining what exactly constitutes the kind of badgering that would make it a criminal offense. She has been clear that mutual flirting between two people is not what she’s going after, and instead gave the following example: A woman gets on a train and is followed by a man, even when she leaves and gets on another train to avoid his advances. He then asks for her phone number. Repeatedly. The woman feels unsafe and oppressed.

The move comes on the heels of the launch of We Drive, Paris’ new women-only taxi service — but France is hardly alone in its desire to make female citizens and tourists feel comfortable traversing public spaces. In 2016, misogyny — including catcalling — became a crime in Nottinghamshire, England. In India, women-only trains and rickshaws are a common sight. And if you’re looking to manspread, you’d better do it somewhere other than Madrid — the city outlawed the rude tactic on its public transport system back in June. Sounds like Schiappa is onto something.

H/T: Condé Nast Traveler

Featured image by Oscar Wong / Getty Images.

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September 26, 2017 at 11:15PM

“Mark Felt,” the Movie, and Donald Trump, the President

“Mark Felt,” the Movie, and Donald Trump, the President

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“Follow the money.” These are the words most closely associated with Deep Throat, Bob
Woodward’s famous Watergate source, as memorably portrayed by Hal
Holbrook in the movie version of “All the President’s Men.” As it
happens, the phrase never appears in the book of that title, in which
Woodward and Carl Bernstein chronicled their Washington Post investigations, and it is not spoken in a new movie, “Mark Felt: The Man
Who Brought Down the White House,” about the real-life person who was
Deep Throat, which opens this Friday. But Felt’s sentiment, if not his
exact words—about the central role that money often plays in political
scandals—strikes a resonant chord at a time when the nation is
confronting another crisis of political legitimacy.

Felt, who was the deputy associate director of the F.B.I., died, at the
age of ninety-five, in 2008, three years after confirming his identity
as Deep Throat, a secret that Woodward and Bernstein had kept for more
than three decades. In the new movie, Liam Neeson plays Felt with a kind
of lugubrious sincerity. He’s an unhappy man, beset by professional and
personal woes, and he makes his secret alliance with Woodward for
reasons that are both admirable and vengeful. (Felt is appalled by
Watergate, but he’s also bitter that he was passed over for the
directorship of the F.B.I., following the death of his boss, J. Edgar
Hoover, in 1972.) The follow-the-money sentiment refers to Felt’s
instruction to Woodward to examine how the Watergate burglary was
financed. Who paid the five men who broke into the Democratic National
Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate complex on June 17, 1972? Who
paid for their lawyers after they were caught? Woodward learned that the
money came from Nixon campaign contributors and people associated with
the Committee for the Reëlection of the President (the notorious CREEP).

Woodward and Bernstein unravelled some of those ties, but they were
never the heart of the scandal or the reason that President Richard
Nixon was ultimately forced from office. In crude terms, Watergate was
more about power than about money; Nixon approved of the Watergate break-in
and then stage-managed the coverup because he wanted to win reëlection.
Nixon came from humble roots. In his Checkers speech, in 1952, while
defending himself against charges involving a political-expense fund, he
painstakingly and defiantly detailed his financial standing—“It isn’t
very much”—and noted that his wife, Pat, wore not a fur coat but “a
respectable Republican cloth coat.” Whatever Nixon’s many flaws, few
would argue that personal enrichment was a key motivator of his life.

The same can be said of Nixon’s inner circle, including John Mitchell,
H. R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and John Dean—none of whom sought to
gain financially through Nixon’s political victories. Led by Nixon, they
primarily wanted to use the Presidency to advance their ideological
goals and to punish their political enemies. In Watergate, to follow the
money was to learn only part of the story.

The opposite appears to be true in the case of Donald Trump and the 2016
campaign. It’s hard to believe that Trump ever thought he was actually
going to become President, but it is clear that he thought that he could
use the campaign to enrich himself—which, after all, has been the
motivating force of his life. (In announcing his run for office, he
said, “I’m very rich.”) The campaign was an exercise in brand
management, an attempt to leverage the Trump name into bigger deals
around the world. Paul Manafort, who had had dealings with both Russian
and Ukrainian oligarchs and was, for a time, Trump’s campaign chairman,
seems to be among those who recognized the possibilities of seeking
wealth abroad and power at home. His dealings are now a focus of Robert
Mueller’s investigation.

At this point, the precise nature of Trump’s connections to Russia
remains a mystery, but, whether through staging a Miss Universe pageant
in Moscow, or pursuing the construction of a hotel in that city, Trump
hoped to profit from the oligarchs who control the Russian economy. In
turn, their patron, Vladimir Putin, wanted to prevent Hillary Clinton
from becoming President. At the heart of the current investigations is
whether and to what extent these two objectives merged.

Almost certainly, the key to answering that question is financial. Money
played an important role in Watergate, but it was a means to an
end—political power. For Trump, money has been the end in itself. At the
moment, it appears that he may survive his scandal in the way that Nixon
could not surmount his. But if Trump is to fall, it will likely be in
part because the investigators take the advice of Holbrook’s Mark Felt,
and really do follow the money.

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September 26, 2017 at 10:57PM

Tourism Leaders Plot Strategy in an Age of Permanxiety

Tourism Leaders Plot Strategy in an Age of Permanxiety

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Skift

Tourism leaders spoke in a superpanel at Skift Global Forum New York on Tuesday at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall in the Time Warner Center. Skift

Skift Take: Tourism leaders across continents are recognizing the challenge of marketing travel in this new age of Permanxiety. Destination marketers ought to share best practices with each other on how to adapt.

— Sean O’Neill

skift global forumSeveral tourism ministers and destination marketing organizations said they have to strike a balance between being honest about things that cause anxiety among travelers and being positive about their destinations’ best aspects.

Permanxiety is a factor affecting many destinations worldwide. A cascade of deadly terror attacks in the world’s most-visited cities has put the topic into sharp relief. But uncertainty pervades many aspects of travel in other ways that are less glaring yet still problematic — ranging from travel bans to health scares to over-crowding at popular locales.

Chatting on-stage at Skift Global Forum in New York on Tuesday, a few tourism leaders said that a mix of honesty and optimism is the best response to Permanxiety. They also said that they believed that marketers play a vital role in helping to shape a destination’s reputation against the context of uncertainty and narratives they can’t control.

Julian Guerrero Orozco, vice president of tourism at ProColombia, noted that Colombia is ready to mark the one-year anniversary of its peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group that ended decades of violence and unrest.

Orozco said that the country has moved forward with its tourism marketing efforts and that in-bound tourism has been up more than 20 percent in the past year.

“We are frank and authentic in our marketing campaigns, and we acknowledge the history of violence and narcos,” Orozco said. Yet he added that ProColombia also highlights that the troubled times are in the past and Colombia’s many alluring amenities.

Jordanian minister of tourism and antiquities Lina Annab agreed that almost every destination marketer faces similar challenges. “Today we live in a new normal with uncertainty everywhere — not just in the Middle East. In the UK they’ve had five incidents this year that could be called terrorism.”

She noted that such incidents can now happen anywhere and that her team’s goal is to present her country’s message in a fair context.

Annab said that striking a balance between acknowledging people’s sometimes-negative perceptions and being clear about a different reality is difficult but essential and, in the case of Jordanian Tourism, effective.

Violence isn’t the only source of Permanxiety. A case in point: Ernest Wooden Jr. president and CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, talked about why LA recently decided to launch an “Everyone is Welcome” campaign.

Wooden said the goal of the campaign was to help combat the xenophobic rhetoric coming out of Washington, D.C., adding that he believed it was important for a tourism board to take a stand on an issue like this.

“We’re differentiated from other markets in that we’re one of only U.S. cities without a dominant ethnicity,” Wooden noted. “We try to play that up in our messaging.”

Another topic — overtourism — is something that some destination marketers might call “a nice problem to have,” but it’s nevertheless real. Wooden said that LA does sometimes face an overtourism problem in that one of its most-photographed spots is the Hollywood hills sign but the best viewing spot to see it is in a residential neighborhood.

“We’ve had cases where it’s been hard for ambulances or fire trucks to get where they need to go for emergency services because so many tourists are in the streets in that district,” Wooden said.

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September 26, 2017 at 10:15PM

How You Can Help Storm-Ravaged Puerto Rico

How You Can Help Storm-Ravaged Puerto Rico

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Six days after destructive Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, most of the island’s 3.4 million residents, who are US citizens, remain without power, and with no hope of getting electricity back anytime soon. The catastrophic damage caused by Maria has left the island in a state of devastation that’s been called “apocalyptic” by both residents and government officials.

Basic resources are hard to come by, and survival is becoming a more pressing concern. Government officials, volunteers and rescue organizations have noted how much trouble they’re having getting supplies and resources to the survivors who need it most — especially since Maria hit San Juan airport (SJU) hard.

TOPSHOT - Family members collect belongings after hurricane force winds destroyed their house in Toa Baja, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 24, 2017 following the passage of Hurricane Maria.Authorities in Puerto Rico rushed on September 23, 2017 to evacuate people living downriver from a dam said to be in danger of collapsing because of flooding from Hurricane Maria. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
Image by Ricardo Arduengo / Getty Images.

NPR reported much of the infrastructure on the island is crippled. As a result, long lines have formed at gas stations, amid a shortage of fuel. Those who are able to get fuel and have a generator are among the few with electricity, and for those looking to find out when fuel does become available, cell phone service is not available across almost the entirety of the island. Food and safe drinking water are also running short — more than half of the homes on the island don’t have safe drinking water.

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 22: Trees and flood water block a street after Hurricane Maria at Baldorioty Avenue in Carolina, Puerto Rico on September 22, 2017. (Photo by Pablo Pantoja/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Image by Anadolu Agency / Getty Images.

The people of Puerto Rico are in dire need of help, and thankfully, there are ways you can help. Note that this an not an extensive list of all the ways you can help the people of Puerto Rico — there are plenty of charities doing great work not mentioned below.

In This Post

Donate Cash

Non-profit organizations helping Puerto Rico and its people rely largely on cash donations. Local organizations especially know where the money can best be put to use. They know the needs of the island and its people, which is why cash donations are such a valuable, versatile option.

Here are some organizations accepting cash donations that’ll go directly toward relief efforts in Puerto Rico:

  • United for Puerto Rico — Started by the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló, the organization provides aid and support for people affected by both Hurricanes Irma and Maria. You can donate cash via Paypal.
  • GlobalGiving — This fund will help bring emergency supplies like food, water and medicine to residents. It’ll also go toward longer-term rebuilding and recovery efforts. You can donate cash via GlobalGiving.
  • UNICEF — The organization is mobilizing to get immediate, critical support to the children of Puerto Rico affected by Maria. You can donate cash via UNICEF.

Donate Points and Miles

Several frequent flyer programs give you the option to donate your points and miles — they can be used for more than just travel. In some cases, airlines may offer you the opportunity to earn bonus miles for your donation. Here are some of the airlines allowing you to donate your points or miles:

  • American — You can donate you miles in 1,000-mile increments to the airline’s donation program, which supports humanitarian efforts around the country.
  • Delta — Donate your SkyMiles through the Delta SkyWish website in order to help a number of organizations, such as the Red Cross.
  • Southwest — You can donate at least 2,000 Rapid Rewards points and in increments of 500 points thereafter through the Rapid Rewards donation program.
  • United — Through United’s MileagePlus charity program, you can make mile donations. You must donate at least 1,000 miles via the MileagePlus Service Center the or by calling 1-800-421-4655.
LOIZA, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 22: A resident wades through flood water days after Hurricane Maria made landfall, on September 22, 2017 in Loiza, Puerto Rico. Many on the island have lost power, running water, and cell phone service after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)
Image by Alex Wroblewski / Getty Images.

Donate Supplies

United for Puerto Rico, the initiative set up by First Lady Rosselló, is also accepting donated supplies in addition to cash donations. The organization is breaking down the supplies it needs into two categories: emergency and construction.

Here are some more specifics on each of the categories needed:

  • Emergency supplies: bottled water, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, diapers, canned foods, dry foods, baby formula, garbage bags, towels, canned milk, canned and dry pet food, baby and adult pain relief medicine, stomach and diarrhea relief medicine, mosquito repellant, blankets, pillows, first-aid kits, laundry detergents, dish soap and cots.
  • Construction supplies: extension cords, ground fault protectors, pop-up canopies, shovels, wheelbarrows, crowbars, hammers, utility knives, work gloves, wood panels, electric generators, electric cables, tarp, ropes, chainsaws and safety glasses.

If you’re interested in donating any of the supplies, you can do so through the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD). You can donate either as an individual or on behalf of your corporation by visiting this page and selecting Puerto Rico as the recipient.

Donate Your Time

At this time, first responders are still arriving on the island to provide immediate and crucial relief. So, right now, it’s not advised for volunteers to head to Puerto Rico to donate their time. However, in the coming weeks, months and years, the island will be in great need for volunteers as residents try to recover from the storm and return to normal life.

Puerto Rico’s VOAD is asking potential volunteers to remain out of the island for now, but it is offering to contact you when volunteers are needed. You can register on the organization’s site now, and once disaster relief organizations have had the time to assess damage and identify where help is most needed, you could be called on to help with the recovery efforts.

Puerto Rico is in dire need of help following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. In order to get back on its feet, it’s going to take time and effort. Any bit you can donate will help to make a difference in getting the island and its people on the road to recovery.

Featured image by Ricardo Arduengo / Getty Images.

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September 26, 2017 at 09:50PM