News: Philippine Airlines sees spike in UK bookings for January

News: Philippine Airlines sees spike in UK bookings for January

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Philippine Airlines sees spike in UK bookings for January

Bookings for Philippine Airlines in the UK increased by 87 per cent in January compared to the same month in 2017.

In September 2017, Philippine Airlines launched a new aircraft – the B777-300ER – from London to Manila, which since December resumed a daily service.

This aircraft not only provides greater comfort for passengers, with generous seat pitches (78 inches in business and 34 inches in economy), improved entertainment facilities and upgraded menus, but it has increased available capacity for the airline with 328 seats available in economy and 42 available in business.

David Cochrane, country manager, UK & Ireland, Philippine Airlines, said: “Not only have customers been attracted to the increased facilities and service levels offered by the new B777-300ER aircraft, but Philippine Airlines ticket prices are fantastically competitive and the resumed daily service and reconfigured 2018 timetables have improved onward connections, significantly providing travel time savings for passengers originating in London travelling across Asia and beyond.

“For the next six months, the airline is seeing very strong demand, for Bali, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Japan.”

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February 5, 2018 at 06:38AM

News: Dubai International retains international traveller top spot

News: Dubai International retains international traveller top spot

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Dubai International retained its position as the world’s number one airport for international passengers for the fourth consecutive year with annual traffic for 2017 reaching 88.2 million passengers, according to the annual traffic report issued by operator Dubai Airports today.

Propelled by high traffic volumes averaging 7.35 million passengers per month throughout the year, including the record months of January, July and August when traffic breached the eight-million passenger mark, DXB’s traffic reached 88,242,099 passengers for the full year, up 5.5 per cent compared to 83,654,250 passengers recorded during 2016.

The airport welcomed 7,854,657 passengers in December, up 1.9 per cent compared to 7,706,351 recorded in the same month in 2016.

DXB welcomed six new scheduled passenger airlines during the year, including SalamAir, Badr Airlines, and Air Moldova, while home based carriers Emirates and flydubai added three and ten new passenger destinations and increased frequency/capacity on 31 and 22 routes respectively.

India continued its domination run as the single largest destination country for DXB with 12,060,435 passengers in 2017, up 5.4 per cent compared to 11,440,215 passengers recorded in 2016.

The UK claimed the second spot with 6,466,404 passengers (up 6.7 per cent), overtaking Saudi Arabia which recorded 6,364,598 passengers (4.6 per cent).

Markets showing the most significant growth during the year included Russia with passenger numbers surging 28 per cent to 1,339,534 and China with 2,212,179 passengers, up 19.4 per cent over 2016.

Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports, said: “It was a very successful year for DXB as we not only achieved robust growth in traffic to solidify our position as the world’s number one international airport but also delighted our customers with a range of new and exciting services and innovative products.

“With passenger traffic expected to reach 90.3 million in 2018, our focus in the new year will be on the DXB Plus programme which aims to expand the airport’s annual capacity to 118 million passengers through process improvements and use of new technology.”

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February 5, 2018 at 06:38AM

News: Ryanair reports increase in profits following tough quarter

News: Ryanair reports increase in profits following tough quarter

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Ryanair has reported a 12 per cent rise in quarter three profit to €106 million as average fares fell four per cent to €32 per customer. 

Traffic at the low-cost carrier grew six per cent 30.4 million with load factors up one per cent to 96 per cent.

Ryanair chief executive, Michael O’Leary, said: “We are pleased to report this 12 per cent increase in profits during a very challenging quarter three.

“Following our pilot rostering failure in September, the painful decision to ground 25 aircraft ensured that punctuality of our operations quickly returned to our normal 90 per cent average.”

O’Leary also nodded to the decision by Ryanair to recognise unions for the first time.

He added: “After 30 years of successfully dealing directly with our people it became clear in December that a majority of pilots wanted to be represented by unions. 

“In keeping with our policy to recognise unions when the majority of our people wanted it, we have met pilot unions in Ireland, UK, Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Belgium and France to discuss how we can work with them on behalf of our people.

“We have successfully concluded our first recognition agreement with BALPA in the UK, a market which accounts for over 25 per cent of our pilots. 

“When this process has completed, we expect to have similar engagement with cabin crew unions.”

Ryanair also expressed concern over the shape of the Brexit deal currently being negotiated by the British government.

O’Leary continued: “We remain concerned at the continuing uncertainty surrounding the terms of the UK’s proposed departure from the EU in March next year.

“There remains a worrying risk of serious disruption to UK-EU flights from April, 2019, unless a UK-EU bilateral (or transitional arrangement) is agreed in advance of September 2018.

“We, like other airlines, need clarity on this issue before we publish our summer 2019 schedules in mid-2018 and time is running out for the UK to develop and agree these solutions.

“We believe the UK government continues to under-estimate the likelihood of flight disruptions to/from the UK.

“We have applied to the UK CAA for a UK air operator’s certificate as part of our Brexit contingency planning. 

“We expect this process to take several months but to be complete well in advance of September 2018.

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February 5, 2018 at 06:29AM

Travel Megatrends 2018: Google’s Product-Led Vision Is Bearing Fruit

Travel Megatrends 2018: Google’s Product-Led Vision Is Bearing Fruit

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Last month we released our annual travel industry trends forecast, Skift Megatrends 2018. You can read about each of the trends on Skift, or download a copy of our magazine here.

At Google, the product side in travel is gaining an upper hand over its traditional advertising business.

What this means is that the trajectory of Google’s own travel offerings beyond the search box — in Google Hotels, Flights, Maps, Trips, and Home, to name a few — highlights the fact that the product folks are winning out over the ad sales team.

Not that anything is so cut and dried at Google. Google Hotels and Google Flights are still, by and large, advertising-driven businesses, but they may be gaining an edge within Google in comparison to its traditional search business.

Rob Torres, Google’s managing director of travel, has said that advertisements in Google Hotels, the company’s metasearch product, convert at a higher rate than those generated in a conventional Google search. The hotel product has dates and rates, and consumers selecting an advertisement with those details are closer to making a buying decision than those who are just starting a search with “hotels in New York.”

In addition, a Google promo for Hotel Ads quotes Ted Schweitzer, La Quinta’s senior vice president of marketing and e-commerce, as saying that Hotel Ads convert at twice the rate of “what we see on regular mobile traffic.”

So this megatrend makes for an interesting twist on the Google dilemma: Will it be more aggressive in building its own travel products, and could that come at the expense of its massive Google AdWords business? In its drive to provide consumers with better answers to queries, Google indeed seems to be tilting toward the product side and is adapting AdWords to meet the challenge.

Google will have a breakout year in its travel products in 2018 as it builds on its behind-the-scenes technology acumen and focuses anew on user experience.

But Google’s strides on the product side don’t mean it won’t face difficulties and a huge regulatory challenge. The European Union fined Google $2.7 billion for favoring its own shopping products over those of its rivals in 2017. Although the regulatory slap didn’t directly impact products such as Google Flights and Google Hotels, these travel businesses are likely next on the agenda in the EU’s antitrust review.

At the same time, Priceline Group CEO Glenn Fogel announced that his company would be reviewing — presumably reducing growth in — its advertising spend with companies that compete or help others compete against it. Most of the headlines have been about Priceline and its Booking.com unit consequently reducing spending in Expedia’s Trivago hotel-search business. TripAdvisor, too, is undoubtedly feeling Priceline’s sudden marketing miserliness.

But Google, including Google Hotels, is likely a huge focus of Fogel’s review as Priceline tilts toward TV/brand advertising to enhance its direct relationships with its customers.

That being said, 2018 likely will be a big expansion year for Google in travel. After several years of product experimentation, Google has relaunched Google Hotels on mobile and may be leaning toward making it once again a standalone destination instead of embedding it in Google Search. Google also has recrafted its hotel technology stack to provide faster responses to consumer queries and offer more relevant results.

Meanwhile, Google transitioned Google Flights, which had a somewhat utilitarian look and feel, into a more consumer-friendly redesign that may owe some inspiration to Kayak.

By all accounts, including a Phocuswright-Jumpshot study, Google Flights several years ago surpassed flight search leader Kayak in traffic. Google Hotels hasn’t yet matched TripAdvisor’s audience, according to the study, largely because of the site’s substantial lead in hotel reviews. But TripAdvisor is floundering as a hotel-transaction site, and Google will likely make further traffic gains with its improved user interface.

TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer acknowledged at a Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings investor day that Google is likely picking up share from TripAdvisor. Meanwhile, in a brief statement about TripAdvisor in a third-quarter earnings call in November that received scant attention, Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings CEO Greg Maffei said: “TripAdvisor certainly experienced a tough quarter for online travel in general and TripAdvisor in particular, with headwinds from Google and mobile.” Liberty TripAdvisor exerts voting control over TripAdvisor and Maffei doubles as TripAdvisor chairman.

A TripAdvisor spokesman said Maffei’s comments were meant to summarize trends that have been in play in recent years and weren’t intended to pinpoint drivers of TripAdvisor’s performance in the third quarter.

In addition to Google expanding its flight and hotel products, it is separately experimenting in Europe with offers of both vacation packages and vacation rentals, the latter being a bow to the sharing economy gains of Airbnb and a host of other homesharing businesses.

As a harbinger of Google’s potential to get more aggressive in its growth plans, Google may be feeling less constrained in the U.S. because its five-year antitrust agreement with the Department of Justice over Google’s purchase of flight fare and shopping engine ITA Software ran its course. Google marked the occasion by ending its offerings of ITA flight-search technology, called QPX, to small businesses. The move hasn’t seemed to impact Google’s portfolio of large customers, particularly major airlines.

One thing that at first glance could be standing in Google’s way is the move by the Priceline Group to reassess its spending in third-party channels — presumably including Google Hotels. But even if Priceline decided to diminish its spending in Google Hotels, the search giant would be big enough to take the hit even though Priceline is Google’s largest travel advertiser.

Looming regulatory constraints, particularly in Europe, would likely be more impactful if anything is to get in the way of Google’s growth trajectory in travel.

Download Your Copy of Skift Megatrends 2018

This year’s Megatrends are sponsored by our partners at AccorHotels, Allianz Worldwide Partners, Hilton Garden Inn, Intrepid Travel, onefinestay, and Upside.

Photo Credit: The product people — those developing hotels and flights businesses — are getting an upper hand at Google over the people who sell advertisements on the search engine side. Vanessa Branchi / Skift

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February 5, 2018 at 06:05AM

The Eagles’ Bold Super-Bowl Win

The Eagles’ Bold Super-Bowl Win

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On Sunday night, the Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl LII, beating the
New England Patriots 41–33, and the general sentiment around much of the
country could be summarized as, “Thank God.” The Patriots, who have won
five Super Bowls since 2001 with their head coach Bill Belichick and
quarterback Tom Brady, have become America’s favorite sports
villains—undying winners, resented and feared. After Sunday’s game,
even the Empire State Building, deep in Giants country, was
celebrating the Eagles’ victory. At the end, it wasn’t Brady, but
rather his counterpart on the other sideline, Nick Foles, who played the
hero: the former backup threw for three hundred and seventy-three yards
and three touchdowns and was named the game’s most-valuable player.

For the masses rooting against the Patriots, the game’s first half
served up a loaded platter of delights, including a botched extra point,
a hooked field goal, dozens of missed tackles, and the sight of New
England’s coaches chewing their lips off on the sidelines. At one point,
Belichick could be seen muttering “Jesus Christ” into his headset. Then
there was the sight of Brady looking, at times, very much like the
oldest quarterback in the league, lumbering like a wounded animal up the
field on a trick play in which a pass was thrown for him to catch, his
outstretched hands failing to bring the ball in. That image was made all
the more indelible by its near mirror, when, just before halftime,
the Eagles ran and converted a similar trick play on fourth and goal
from the one-yard line; this time, Foles, who is eleven years younger
than Brady, easily made the catch.

The Patriots made all the glaring mistakes that they normally force from
their opponents, and the Eagles were cruising. By halftime, with the
Eagles leading 22–12, the only thing heartening for Patriots fans was the
memory of last year’s Super Bowl, against the Atlanta Falcons, when the
team made a historic second-half comeback after trailing 28–3. On their
first drive after halftime on Sunday, the Patriots swiftly moved down
the field, thanks to a series of catches by the tight end Rob
Gronkowski, and it appeared that another comeback was underway. But
instead, the second half became a shootout, with the offenses of both
teams charging up and down the field, leaving the defenses bewildered
and gasping for breath. The game featured just a single punt. Still,
when the Patriots got the ball back down five points with a little over
two minutes remaining, it was the old familiar scene: Brady with a
chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter. But then the Eagles’
defense at last broke through, stripping the ball from Brady and setting
the Eagles up for a field goal to pad the team’s lead to eight, the
final margin.

Brady ended the game with more passing yards than Foles, but it was
Foles who made the more exceptional and crucial plays. In the fourth quarter, after
the Patriots had gone up 33–32, Foles lead the Eagles on a fourteen-play
drive that took more than seven minutes and ended in a touchdown. On a
fourth down short of midfield, he completed a key two-yard pass to his
tight end, extending the drive at a moment where a punt would have given
the ball back to the Patriots offense, and may have put the game out of
reach. At every turn, the Eagles offense had been bold, brave, and relentless,
playing and winning on the thinnest of margins.

With the victory, football fans in Philadelphia get to savor the end of
a fifty-eight-year championship drought. For everyone else, it may put
this era of Patriots dominance into a bit of perspective. After nearly
two decades of excellence and abundance of good luck, the team was due
for a few bad breaks, to be on the losing end of a few incredible
circumstances of football. The Patriots detractors, though, might now
acknowledge that Brady and Belichick have never participated in a boring
Super Bowl, and that the team’s triumphs are at least tolerable in
exchange for the thrill of its defeats.

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February 5, 2018 at 05:54AM

Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl Halftime Show Reviewed

Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl Halftime Show Reviewed

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Heading into his Super Bowl halftime performance on Sunday night, Justin Timberlake wasn’t having an especially triumphant week. His newest album, “Man of the Woods,” which he teased as a kind of roots-rock survivalist manual, did not collect many accolades upon release. “Fame is but wind,” Thomas Coryate wrote, in 1611. Critics, it seemed, were no longer buying Timberlake’s shtick—smooth, hyper-stylized R. & B. that deploys hip-hop production but somehow defangs those elements, makes them idle. “We are now approaching the 12th year of the national delusion that Justin Timberlake remains an essential pop star,” Jon Caramanica wrote, in the Times. Jamieson Cox, reviewing the album for Pitchfork, called it “warm, indulgent, inert, and vacuous.”

Of course, Timberlake has performed at the Super Bowl before, in 2004, alongside Janet Jackson. During their closing duet, Timberlake arrived at the flip and vainglorious lyric “Bet I’ll have you naked / By the end of this song,” and then reached over and snatched off the patch of black leather that was covering Jackson’s right breast. Underneath, Jackson was wearing what appeared to be a metallic, starburst-shaped nipple cover. She clutched her chest. At first, I thought the reveal was plainly choreographed—these are not performers who bungle the finish!

Yet both later said that something had gone wrong. At home and in the stands, people lost their minds. What a baffling and inane fiasco: the F.C.C. received more than five hundred thousand complaints. Refunds were issued. Having been made to grapple with two seconds of partially exposed breast, the nation was subsumed by a wave of puritanical hysteria. (There was no outrage about the several hours of brutal, brain-injury-inducing gameplay that sandwiched it). They called the incident a “wardrobe malfunction.” The portmanteau “Nipplegate” was soon introduced to the lexicon, and took unfortunate hold.

Afterward, Timberlake was such a louse. Jackson was forced to apologize, which she later said she regretted doing. In 2006, she went on “Oprah” to explain herself: “Why was I apologizing for an accident?” Timberlake, by his own admission, only took about “ten percent” of the heat. Perhaps mainstream culture didn’t yet have the vocabulary to confidently (or competently) discuss the incident and its fallout—to effectively parse its misogyny and its racism. But we do now. Timberlake’s return to the stadium stage seemed like as good a time as any to make amends with Jackson—to invite her to perform, or, even, better, to cede as much of the performance as possible to her. Maybe she could pull his pants down and laugh! She deserved it.

Yet, on Saturday, in an Instagram post, Jackson quieted the theorizing: “To put to rest any speculation or rumors as to whether I will be performing at the Super Bowl tomorrow; I will not,” she wrote. On Sunday, the hashtag #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay started popping up on social media.

Then, at some point, a rumor started circulating that Timberlake was going to perform alongside a hologram of Prince, who was a native of Minneapolis, the host city for this year’s game. Prince’s own halftime performance, from 2007, is widely considered the pinnacle of the form. This seemed, from the outset, like a very bad idea. A decade ago, Prince gave an interview to Guitar World in which he expressly decried holograms as “demonic.” I mean, the language was pretty unequivocal: “That’s the most demonic thing imaginable. Everything is as it is, and it should be. If I was meant to jam with Duke Ellington, we would have lived in the same age,” he said. “That whole virtual reality thing . . . it really is demonic. And I am not a demon.”

Prince’s heirs—his sister, Tyka Nelson, and his five half-siblings—have periodically evaded his wishes, allowing his music to be streamed on Spotify, something he purposefully declaimed in his lifetime. Earlier in the week, Timberlake held a listening party for “Man of the Woods” at Prince’s Paisley Park estate, in nearby Chanhassen; he served booze, which Prince, a practicing Jehovah’s Witness, had never allowed. The possibility of sacrilege seemed high.

Heading into the show, I couldn’t see how Timberlake could begin to reverse the vexed and dismissive energy coursing his way—even if he suddenly learned how to read the room, it was likely too late. The public had soured on him, and not without reason. Me, I was only hoping Bob Dylan—another beloved and inimitable Minnesotan—might slowly rise from below the stage, wearing the getup and pencil mustache from his Victoria’s Secret commercial, to duet on “Sexy Back.”

Timberlake started out in a bunker somewhere deep below the stadium, performing his new single, “Filthy,” to a crowd waving a crop of illuminated mobile devices in the air. This, it turned out, was foreshadowing: in lieu of any proper guests, cell phones would be Timberlake’s co-stars. He danced his way out, and then launched into a breathless and muscular medley of his many hits, beginning with “Rock Your Body.” (He abruptly cut himself off before the “I’ll have you naked” bit—which, frankly, felt less like an apology than yet more spineless deflection.) He was wearing a shirt with two deer on it, a faded camouflage suit, and a red neckerchief. It was nice to see him dance again—the video for “Filthy” starred a robot. It seems worth noting that he yelled “Minneapolis!” a lot. During “Suit and Tie,” which he performed on a little platform, he did some nice microphone-stand work—not James Brown calibre, but nonetheless jazzy. “Let me see you put your cell phones up, Minneapolis! Let’s light it up tonight,” he hollered, in what might be the bleakest stage banter I have ever heard.

When I realized that his backing band was wearing a deep purple, I knew to be concerned. Then Prince appeared—or, rather, a massive projection of Prince, on a screen behind Timberlake, who was, by now, seated at a white grand piano. Is it wrong to call what happened next a duet? It feels wrong. I’ll say only that Timberlake intercut his own vocals with Prince performing “I Would Die 4 U,” and we all died 4 him. Minneapolis lit up in purple lights.

I thought that Timberlake might finish with “Mirrors,” a ballad about how we sometimes complete each other—one of his best and most dynamic songs, a tender devotional. But there was no escaping “Can’t Stop the Feeling!,” the psychotically chipper single he wrote for the film “Trolls.” As dancers flooded the field, Timberlake eventually made his way into the stands. He cajoled a child into filming a cell-phone video with him. Many more phones turned in his direction. For someone so aware of the way news travels now, his performance was oddly benign—expert, sure (in his decades of pop stardom, Timberlake has never been anything less than expert), but eerily un-self-aware. In 2018, eyeballs do not necessarily equal adulation. It seems fitting that the last thing Timberlake said, before sprinting away, his forehead glinting, was “Super Bowl selfies!” In the end, that was all that mattered.

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February 5, 2018 at 04:21AM

Tourism Australia’s Super Bowl Ad Launches Its Largest U.S. Marketing Campaign to Date

Tourism Australia’s Super Bowl Ad Launches Its Largest U.S. Marketing Campaign to Date

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Tourism Australia

Chris Hemsworth (left) and Danny McBride appeared in a Super Bowl commercial for Tourism Australia, and will be featured in the country’s largest marketing campaign for the U.S. Pictured is a teaser for the fake Dundee film that was rumored to be in the works in recent weeks. Tourism Australia

Skift Take: A genius marketing move or a waste of money that’s more flashy than effective? That’s the debate that many destination marketers are likely having as they wonder if Tourism Australia’s ad will be a huge win or a major interception.

— Dan Peltier

Read the Complete Story On Skift

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February 5, 2018 at 02:04AM

Best New Bars and Restaurants: February 2018

Best New Bars and Restaurants: February 2018

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The tapestry of modern cuisine is woven with a thrilling thread of innovation and cutting-edge chefs and bartenders from every corner of the globe are pushing each other further into the future, upping the “wow” factor like never before. If you were wondering where the scene could possibly go from here, a slate of inventive newcomers are here to satisfy your curiosities. Set your seat back to the upright position, stow your tray table; it’s time to explore February’s prime dining destinations.

1. Velvet Buck

Where: The St. Regis, Aspen, Colorado

 The Gist: If you’re new to the term “Modern Mountain Cuisine” it’s easy to imagine what’s involved. Think game, gone gourmet. For a memorable crash course on the matter, head to the Velvet Buck as fast as your skis can carry you there. The rustic, lodge-like interior remains true to its Aspen address. But the kitchen takes the food to another elevation, altogether. Signature dishes such as bison tartare in a house-made hollandaise, cassoulet of duck, and bone marrow reworked into a ‘Beef Candle’, will help you ward off a winter chill with the most epic of meat sweats.

 

2. Rahi

Where: West Village, New York

The Gist: New York’s freshest new Indian concept is an innovative reimagining of one of the world’s most popular cuisines. Trade in the predictable tandoori and tikka masala for keema pao fixed with ground lamb, and softshell crab bathed in squid ink and mango curry. The playful fusion of the kitchen is mimicked at the bar, where a tidy list of American classics are adjusted to incorporate subcontinental flair; an old fashioned marked up with sandlewood syrup, a rye whiskey infused with chai, bourbon mixed with madras coffee. Yet for all the experimentation, there is a welcome familiarity to the approach. It’s obviously Indian, just unlike any that you’ve ever had before.

3. Jean Georges

Where: The Connaught, London, England

World renowned chef and restaurateur Jean-Georges Vongerichten is up to his old tricks in a new setting. This time London gets the fusion treatment, with a menu combining the hallmarks of British pub grub with Southeast Asian saveur. Diver scallop comes dressed with caramelized cauliflower, the beef tenderloin glazed with miso mustard. A dependable stable of small plates and entrees are plated throughout the day, even assigning a strong weekend brunch game to this luxe lodge in the midsts of the Mayfair neighborhood

4. Cal Mare

Where:  Los Angeles, California

The Gist: One of LA’s most anticipated openings at the end of last year is hitting full stride in 2018. A verdant interior space covered in floral blooms abuts an open kitchen, where chef Adam Sobel merges nouveau Italian with the farm fresh sensibilities of California cuisine. Amberjack and yellowtail crudos or a unique table-side mozzarella and caviar service are both memorable means to start. But save ample room for the home-made pasta, the restaurant’s pride and joy. In this section of menu you’ll find pumpkin agnolotti — small pillows of light starch, stuffed with dungeness crab, uni, and shaved truffle. An unctuous burst of umami in every bite, it could very well be the best pasta in the city right now. Don’t worry about filling up, either. At dessert a cart of Italian inspired digestif rolls over, featuring an assortment of amari, and the bar’s very own limoncello infusion.

5.) Pig and a Jelly Jar

Where: Ogden, Utah

The Gist: Ogden, Utah, is hardly a high profile urban hub. But the charming gateway to ski country is full of surprises. One of the tastiest examples is this soulful standout for southern comfort cuisine. As its name implies, pork is king here, with just about every dish on the menu offending vegetarians in some certain way. But as much as that ham hash or creole pork belly benedict will make you salivate — even at sight, upon a neighboring table — the eatery’s double-battered, house-brined fried chicken atop waffles is the true showstopper. Head in early for breakfast, then spend the rest of the day burning it all off on the slopes, laying tracks in some of the world’s finest powder.

6. Inko Nito

Where: Los Angeles, California

The Gist: Opened only a month ago, Inko Nito is redefining robata in LA’s ever-evolving Arts District. The grill assumes center stage as star of the show, enveloped by wraparound bar dining. From here, baby back pork ribs are slathered in a Japanese whisky glaze, charred cauliflower is drizzled in a Parmesan panko, and the branzino is brought to shine in a citrusy yuzu marinade. And that’s but a small sampling of the draw. It’d be foolish to miss out on at least one of the restaurant’s four crushable varieties of “nigaki” — simplified sushi assemblies. Doubly so, the kegged cocktails from a concise-yet-thoughtful drinks program. The plum highball, made with Toki Japanese whisky, soda and the namesake purple fruit is even more fresh and vigorous than anything prepared by a live bartender. Adding ease to all that please is an efficient ordering system in which waitstaff immediately pipe orders from table to kitchen via networked iPads. Technology never tasted so good.

7.  Rosina Cocktail Bar

Where: The Palazzo Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada

The Gist:  After opening Dorsey earlier last year, the Venetian continues to define craft cocktail culture on the Strip, this time with Rosina. A stately drinking parlor, just steps off the casino floor, it feels far removed from the jingle jangle din of the gaming masses. The gorgeous backbar is appointed in all manner of spirit, from Tiki-bound rum favorites, to impossibly rare Japanese single malts, fetching hundreds of dollars per two-ounce pour. While odds have it that any of the space’s fresh juice brambles will be just the jackpot you need, you’ll want to save some coin for at least one Mai Tai, served in specially designed island ceramic. If you prefer it neat, the bar’s expansive spirit list is certain to satisfy, with selections poured into vintage rocks glasses, sourced from Japan. Never forlorn in this town, the bubbly gets special treatment here in the form of a “Champagne Call Button” which allows imbibers to top off their flute in a most novel manner. Blackjack is fun and all, but at Rosina you’re a guaranteed winner.

8. Outlook Kitchen and Bar

Where: The Envoy Hotel — Boston, Massachusetts

The key to Outlook’s early success is that it’s eclectic while remaining accessible. The menu reads easy, dividing flavorful components into soups/salads, share plates, and more standard-sized fare. Overlooking the city’s bustling Seaport district from inside the sleek lobby of the adjoining Envoy Hotel, you might as well indulge in the maritime specialties on offer. The seared Atlantic halibut —with grilled bok choy — as well as the Georges Bank scallops, in a bed of black lentils, are worth the price of admission. For dessert, head to the roof where the Lookout bar lays claim to one of Boston’s most Instagrammable seasonal icons: transparent drinking igloos built for large groups of weekend revelers.

9. Victoria Restaurant and Bar

Where: Villa Orsula, Dubrovnik, Croatia

The Gist: When Victoria opened along the outdoor veranda of the enchanting Villa Orsula, it became its city’s very first outpost for Peruvian fare. Technically, it’s even more unique: Peruvian-Adriatic fusion. What does that mean? Chef Roberto Chavez will show you in his take on Lomo Saltado atop huancaina risotto, his country’s classic beef preparation, modulated by way of Eastern European accoutrement. Or in a delectable “leche de tigre” sauce — a South American staple of citrus zest and chile spice — used here to enliven local catches. It’s all brought to the plate in succinct style, though you’d hardly notice: you’re meal is spent standing guard over the medieval, walled-city of Dubrovnik, a few hundred yards in the not-so-distant backdrop.

10. d’Arenberg Cube

Where: McLaren Vale, Australia

The Gist: Is it a restaurant or a rubik’s cube? From outside it truly seems as if it could be either. This state-of-the-art five story wine-tasting facility now holds South Australia’s hottest high end dining, with panorama stretching out over cultivated hills of sloping vines. Most of those grapes are Mourvedre — a jammy, Old World standby which goes into the glass to pair alongside an artistically assembled tasting menu. It starts at just over $200, all inclusive.

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February 4, 2018 at 10:32PM

Marriott’s ‘Extra Points Sundays’ Returns for the Super Bowl

Marriott’s ‘Extra Points Sundays’ Returns for the Super Bowl

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During the NFL regular season, Marriott’s “Extra Points Sundays” promotion was an excellent way of racking up free Marriott points. If you answered all of the questions correctly by each week’s deadline and with the required #RewardsPoints hashtag, you’d have earned 12,000 Marriott Rewards points. That’s enough for a free night at a category 1 or 2 hotel.

While we figured the last day of the regular season might spell the end of “Extra Points Sundays” for this season, Marriott has taken to Twitter to share that Marriott Rewards members can “score up to 1,500 Rewards Points” during the Super Bowl on Sunday:

Since there aren’t any questions live yet, for now all you can do is connect your Twitter and Marriott Rewards accounts. Make sure to do so before you tweet your answers during the game or the points won’t credit. For each social media account you connect to Marriott Rewards — including Twitter,  Facebook and Instagram — you’ll get an extra 250 points. Plus, following Marriott on Twitter and Instagram will earn you another 125 points for each one.

In his most recent points valuations, TPG puts Marriott Rewards points as being worth 0.9 cents apiece, so the 1,500 Marriott bonus points you can earn during the big game are worth $13.50 in value. Keep in mind you can also transfer points between Marriott and SPG at a ratio of 3 to 1 thanks to the merger of the two chains, so you’ll also have the option to move these points over to Starwood if you have more use for them there. Also, remember that you have to have qualifying activity every two years to keep your Marriott points alive, and points earned via social activity don’t count toward resetting the expiration clock.

Check back during the Super Bowl for hints to the questions as they’re posted. But in the meantime, you can start your journey toward more Marriott points by signing up for the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card. You’ll earn 75,000 bonus points by spending $3,000 within the first three months of opening your account, and the $85 annual fee is waived the first year.

Featured image courtesy of Marriott Bangkok.

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February 4, 2018 at 09:35PM