“Virgin Hotels Set to Open Their First London Location in Shoreditch this Summer”

"Virgin Hotels Set to Open Their First London Location in Shoreditch this Summer"

Returning to Virgin’s roots, Virgin Hotels will open its first London hotel on August 1, 2024. 

The 120-room hotel is situated in the beating heart of Shoreditch, and is set to become an eye-catching addition to the East End landscape. The hotel will offer a suite of elevated experiences; from a glittering rooftop bar, pool, restaurant, private members club, and treatment rooms managed by Ibiza’s Blue Marlin. BiBo, an existing Spanish restaurant on the property, will remain open in association with world-famous chef, Dani Garcia. Similarly, the existing lobby bar and cafe – Christina’s – will remain open, before being re-concepted into a unique (and very Virgin) eatery in 2025.

Turning to the interiors, the hotel will be fitted out with Virgin Hotels’ patented beds and mattresses, red Smeg fridges, and a top category suite called Richard’s Flat. All guests will have access to the innovative Lucy App, giving you complete room control through your phone.

Commenting on the announcement, Richard Branson said: “We’re all absolutely delighted that Virgin Hotels Collection will be opening a Virgin hotel in London. Since the inception of Virgin Hotels, we’ve had our sights set on London; a place that so many of our customers either call home, or name as one of their favourite destinations – and of course where Virgin’s story started. 

“At Virgin, we’ve been disrupting the travel industry for more than 40 years, from land to air to sea – even to space. Our success comes from identifying where we can make a difference. Virgin Atlantic customers have always said to me that we give them a wonderful experience in the sky, but they don’t have the same Virgin experience when they land. Well, we’ve sorted that in Las Vegas, New York, Edinburgh and now London too. I can’t wait for everyone to experience it.”

Virgin Hotels London

Virgin Hotels

Continuing its strategic global expansion, the property will become Virgin Hotel Collection’s 17th location – bringing another touchpoint to the city where it all began for Richard Branson and the Virgin Group. This announcement comes hot on the heels of the new Finch Hattons property in Kenya joining the Virgin Hotels Collection, following the launches of Virgin Hotels Edinburgh and Virgin Hotels New York in 2023. 

Richard Branson cutting the ribbon of Virgin Hotels New York City

Steck Studios

Virgin Hotels London-Shoreditch will form part of a long-term agreement between Virgin Hotels and Reuben Brothers – global leaders in real estate investment and development. It will bring Virgin’s iconic brand and unrivalled travel experience to one of London’s most vibrant neighbourhoods, known for its tech, fashion, culture and creative arts scene.  

Speaking of the news, Virgin Hotels Collection CEO, James Bermingham, said: “This year will mark 10 years of Virgin Hotels and what a way to celebrate it as we announce our newest hotel in one of the world’s most famous cities.

“I am truly delighted Shoreditch, London will be home to the next location for Virgin Hotels and what an extraordinary one it will be. We pride ourselves in having hotels in the very best locations across our key cities and Virgin Hotels London-Shoreditch will be in the epicentre of one of London’s most cultured and creative areas.   

“I am thankful to Reuben Brothers for entrusting us to bring the Virgin Hotels brand to life in this incredible building and to bring a splash of red to Shoreditch by showcasing our innovative, heartfelt and personal hotel experience, led by our wonderful people, to our future London guests.”   

Richard Branson and James Birmingham

Kami White

The London hotel will also provide a home for Virgin Hotels’ The Know loyalty program and Virgin Red members in London. Virgin Red members will be able to earn seven points per pound spent on nightly room rates, to spend on extraordinary experiences across the Virgin Group and beyond.

Virgin Hotels London-Shoreditch will be open at on 45 Curtain Road on 1 August 2024. Find more information right here.

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Culinary Union Members and Virgin Hotels Las Vegas at Standstill Over Contract Negotiation: No Deal Reached Amid Labor Dispute, Strike Looms

Culinary Union Members and Virgin Hotels Las Vegas at Standstill Over Contract Negotiation: No Deal Reached Amid Labor Dispute, Strike Looms

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – After a year of working without a five-year contract, there still doesn’t appear to be any movement in contract negotiation between union members and Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

Culinary Union officials just told FOX5 there are no new negotiations set between it and Virgin Hotels. Union members held a two-day strike in May outside the hotel casino.

Asked if employees would strike again, the Culinary Union said there are no plans to announce as of now.

Wages have been a main sticking point between union members and Virgin Hotels. In May, Virgin Hotels announced it made a “Last, Best and Final Offer to the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165.”

RELATED: ‘A horrible proposal’: Culinary Union rejects Virgin Hotel’s ‘final offer’

FOX5 reached out to Virgin Hotels for comment on negotiations but so far has not hear back.

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Boxing Star Garcia Arrested for Felony Vandalism Amidst Mental Health Concerns

Boxing Star Garcia Arrested for Felony Vandalism Amidst Mental Health Concerns

Boxing star Ryan Garcia was arrested Saturday for felony vandalism after a Beverly Hills hotel accused him of causing an estimated $15,000 in damage, a Beverly Hills Police Department watch commander told ESPN.

Garcia, 25, was arrested at 5:45 p.m. after a driver who dropped him off at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills phoned police, according to police.

The hotel decided to press charges once police arrived, though the specific nature of the damage and Garcia’s behavior wasn’t immediately clear. After he was booked at the Beverly Hills Police Department jail, police said Garcia complained of a medical issue and was subsequently transferred to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for evaluation and treatment.

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“Travel Agencies and Hotels Now Offering Sensory Guides for Neurodivergent Travelers and Families”

"Travel Agencies and Hotels Now Offering Sensory Guides for Neurodivergent Travelers and Families"

The Atlantis in Dubai provides an extensive downloadable sensory guide for neurodivergent families. Christopher Pike/Bloomberg

On a family trip to Walt Disney Co.’s. Orlando theme parks, Nicole Thibault’s 2.5-year-old son began experiencing meltdowns-and not in the standard toddler sense. Everything he had previously loved became deeply distressing, from his favorite characters to familiar foods setting off tantrums that could stretch for more than 30 minutes. Something felt amiss, Thibault recalls of the weeks before her son was diagnosed with autism. Determined to continue showing her son the world-sans meltdowns-her next step was to solicit travel tips from experienced parents of neurodivergent kids. One after another, the responses poured in, variants on the same idea: “We don’t go anywhere. It’s just too hard.”

A decade later, Thibault has built her New York-based travel agency, Magical Storybook Travels into a thriving business that caters specifically to neurodivergent families. In pre-travel counseling sessions for her clients, she studies their daily routines and preferences before discussing potential destinations. Then she’ll offer detailed briefs for each suggested hotel, including video tours, floor plans and potential sensory triggers (such as possible fireworks displays in the vicinity or strong scents in the lobby) to set expectations on a very granular level.

In the United States, approximately 20% of the population (66 million people) experience a form of neurodivergence. These often-invisible conditions range from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder to dyslexia and Tourette’s syndrome.

Each diagnosis-and each individual-is unique, and so are their destabilizing triggers. A child who thrives in playgrounds may prove intolerant of mulched wood chips on the ground. Another may love the stimulation of big cities-until the raspy sound of a subway announcement rattles them. Some may subsist primarily on chicken nuggets, but only if they’re not deemed “too scratchy.” Add a decreased ability to communicate verbally in unfamiliar or stressful environments, and it’s easy to see how travel can amount to a series of land mines.

The concerns are so overwhelming that, according to a 2022 survey, 78% of families or individuals with autism forgo traveling entirely. The findings are from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards, which trains education, health-care and corporate professionals on neurodivergent inclusivity. While that figure represents a drop from 87% in 2018, it’s still too large a number, the organization’s president Meredith Tekin said in an emailed statement.

But hotel brands are now wising up to the untapped economic opportunity of catering to this substantial segment and brushing up on how to extend a sensitive welcome. Up for grabs: tens of millions of prospective guests that currently stay home.

EDUCATION FIRST, THEN AMENITIES

The first step, and the bulk of what these hotels are doing now, is training. Certifications such as those offered by Ibcces help employees to anticipate neurodivergent needs and handle guest interactions sensitively. Rather than stop to stare at Thibault’s toddler in a tantrum-or worse, offer gratuitous advice-trained staff are prepared to respond to parental requests for help while encouraging bystanders to move along quietly.

The board’s conversation with hotels, said Tekin, is shifting. “I have noticed a change from organizations asking ‘why’ this is a need to asking ‘how’ to better welcome these guests,” she wrote.

Close to 200 travel and tourism companies have received Ibcces’ Certified Autism Center or Advanced CAC designations since the program’s inception in 2017. Recent examples include Atlantis Dubai, JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa and Legoland Korea Resorts. More are listed on the Autism Travel website alongside hotels that have adopted similar certifications from other organizations.

Some of these hotels have followed by offering smart amenities such as cue cards and fidget tools to help travelers work through stressful moments. At Karisma’s all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, guests can pre-fill an “autism passport” with details on sensitivity triggers, food preferences or calming strategies for the reservations team to share with hotel staff. In some cases, they can share the requests with airline and airport partners, too.

In recent months certification interest has grown to include multiproperty efforts from larger brands such as Hyatt Hotels Corp, Karisma Hotels & Resorts, Margaritaville Enterprises LLC resorts and Virgin Hotels Group Ltd. In late 2023 the latter announced it was partnering with Autism Double-Checked, an education and awareness organization catering to the travel industry. In an emailed statement, Chief Executive Officer James Bermingham of Virgin Hotels said the brand was committed “to foster a welcoming space where all guests, including those with neurodiverse needs, can feel truly at ease.”

All this comes with cost to hotels. While several accreditation organizations called the process inexpensive, none would disclose pricing.

“One of the things that holds people up is they can’t figure whether it’s the right thing to do, from the point of view of social inclusion, or whether it’s a commercial opportunity to open up to a bigger audience,” says Alan Day, co-founder and CEO at Autism Double-Checked. “In reality, it’s both.”

A DIVERSE SEGMENT WITH UNIQUE NEEDS

Rachel Lipson, the founder of Brooklyn Family Travelers and mother of two boys, one of whom has ADHD, describes travel planning as if it were a rigorous full-time job. Details she needs to know about hotels are rarely available online. Do the rooms connect? Is the pool open to children? Are there adults-only swim times to consider? How cold is the water? “A lot of my time is spent asking all these questions,” she explains.

Doing so is critical. Children with ADHD often need to expend lots of energy in the morning, Lipson has learned; a half-hour morning swim has opened the door to stress-free travel for her family. Also critical for her kids is being able to bounce from one activity to the next: bookstores, ice cream shops, museums and so forth. If one pursuit is a miss, she says, it’s easy to pivot to the next.

Travel adviser Thibault, meanwhile, says her son’s diet is very limited and that he has sensitivity to noise. The questions she asks of hotels before booking are entirely different than Lipson’s concerns.

Therein lies the issue for hotels: Neurodivergence is an especially wide spectrum. Few amenities work across the board.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

Caitlin Meister, founding director of the neurodiversity-affirming education consultancy Greer Meister Group, says hotels have many ways to rise to the occasion. She says kids like Lipson’s, who are buoyed by a concentrated burst of sensory activity (“sensory seekers,” she calls them), are common; meeting their needs can be as simple as adding a trampoline, swing or climbing wall to kids clubs or play spaces. Similarly, a designated quiet space can offer great comfort to those with noise sensitivities.

Creating walk-through videos should be easy, given how many hotels have social media directors that create in-house video content. Filling these with details on sounds, sights, tactile textures and smells at every location can help families prepare for each aspect of their stay.

Take a client of Thibault’s, whose autistic son became fixated on what the toilets would be like on vacation. A room tour she found on YouTube proved a perfect solution, she recalls. Showing him what the bed, bathroom, sink, shower and toilet would look like-and how they were all laid out-made a tremendous difference. “It calmed him enough that he could think about the fun things that they were going to do,” she says, rather than continuing on a stress-fueled downward spiral.

Such content can extend to common spaces. “If you have multiple pools at your resort, and one has a smooth bottom and the other has a prickly textured surface, you might put that on a sensory guide,” says Meister.

TheAtlantis Dubai recently published one such guide that guests can download before their stay. It offers numeric ratings for the intensity of taste, touch, sound and smell in every area of its resorts, on a 1 to 5 scale.

Ultimately, the most important way to cater to neurodivergent travelers-and their stressed-out parents-might be a simple show of empathy.

On a recent trip, Lipson recalls, her kids were being wild and loud in the lobby of the Andaz Amsterdam. She felt mortified. But staff was quick to pick up on her stress.

“They said something like, ‘Make yourselves at home; this is their home, too,’” she recalls of the simple, effective interaction. “It gives me chills when I think about it.”


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AHLA Reports U.S. Hotels Added 700 Jobs in May Amid Workforce Shortage and H-2B Visa Issues – LODGING

AHLA Reports U.S. Hotels Added 700 Jobs in May Amid Workforce Shortage and H-2B Visa Issues - LODGING

WASHINGTON—The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) reported U.S. hotels added 700 jobs to their payrolls in May, according to the latest government data that shows the nationwide workforce shortage continues to make it difficult for hotels to fill open jobs.

Total hotel employment stands at about 1.92 million according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s 191,500 fewer workers in the industry than in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit, a shortfall that reflects the scarcity of available employees since then.

“Hotels are ready to grow and create more jobs, but the nationwide workforce shortage that has persisted in the post-pandemic economy is preventing that from happening,” said AHLA Interim President and CEO Kevin Carey. “Congress and the administration can provide relief to hoteliers by taking a number of key steps to increase the pool of available workers. Those include expanding the number of H-2B visas, extending the certification period for H-2B employees, and making it easier for qualified asylum seekers to start working in the United States.”

Hotel workforce overview

Hotels continue to offer increased wages, benefits, and workplace flexibility to attract and retain workers in the face of a nationwide workforce shortage:

  • Since the pandemic, average hotel wages (up 26.4 percent) have increased more than 20 percent faster than average wages throughout the general economy (up 21.7 percent).
  • Despite these increases, there are currently tens of thousands of open hotel jobs in the United States, according to Indeed.
Nationwide workforce overview

As of April, there were 8.1 million job openings in the United States and only 6.5 million unemployed people to fill those jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

AHLA workforce policy priorities

AHLA is calling on the Department of Homeland Security to expand the workforce by making available nearly 65,000 additional H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas as soon as possible under authority Congress gave it as part of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act.

AHLA also urges Congress to pass the following bills to help expand the workforce so hoteliers can maintain and expand their operations:

  • The Closing the Workforce Gap Act of 2024 (H.R. 7574) would replace the arbitrary annual cap of 66,000 H-2B guestworker visas with a new, needs-based system for allocating visas.
  • The H-2 Improvements to Relieve Employers (HIRE) Act (H.R. 4708) would expand the H-2A/H-2B labor certification period to three years and permanently authorize the waiver of in-person interviews for returning workers. The HIRE Act would make it easier for qualified workers to secure jobs in fields that are struggling to recruit and retain enough employees to meet demand. By growing the pool of seasonal workers, the bill would give seasonal small business hotels critical staffing relief and facilitate the hotel industry’s continued recovery.
  • The Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act (S.255/H.R.1325) would allow people seeking asylum at ports of entry to be eligible for work authorizations starting 30 days after they apply for asylum, provided their applications are not frivolous; they are not detained; their identities have been verified; and their names are run through the federal government’s terrorist watch lists. This change would help hotels address critical staffing needs by allowing certain asylum seekers to work as soon as 30 days after applying for asylum. Current law prevents them from legally working for at least six months, forcing them to rely on assistance from local governments and communities.

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Man Harasses Sky Team at their Washington Hotel, Security Intervenes

Man Harasses Sky Team at their Washington Hotel, Security Intervenes

WASHINGTON — The Sky endured an alarming encounter in the U.S. capital when they were confronted by a man while getting off their bus at the team’s hotel.

The man — who was not a guest at the hotel — targeted guard Chennedy Carter specifically. When the team bus arrived, the man approached Carter and her teammates with a camera.

The Sky travel with multiple bodyguards who accompany players everywhere they go, part of the team’s increased security measures taken this year. General manager Jeff Pagliocca told the Sun-Times that the situation was immediately de-escalated and that police weren’t called to the hotel.

Sky security escorted the man away, and hotel staff was made aware of the situation.

“It was over as fast as it started,” Pagliocca said. “I’m very confident in our security always making our players feel safe. Today was a great example of how critical they are to our team.”

According to Pagliocca, the man was trying to talk with Carter as team staff unloaded bags. Pagliocca could not hear the exchange. Multiple Sky players shared their accounts of the situation on X.

“Finding out our team’s hotel to pull up with a camera as we get off the bus and put it in my teammate’s face and harass her is nasty work,” rookie Angel Reese wrote.

“Getting harassed at our hotel is where the line needs to be drawn,” forward Michaela Onyenwere shared. “Some ‘fans’ have no chill.”

“Thank god for security,” Sky forward Isabelle Harrison posted. “My teammate being harassed at our hotel is insane. Couldn’t even step off the bus.”

It’s unclear how the man located the Sky’s hotel.

Sky forward Brianna Turner was not present when the man approached Carter, but shared a detailed thread about it on X.

“Yes, we thankfully travel with security,” Turner said. “But the absurd headlines recently have certainly created an unstable environment for our safety. I’ve been called every racial slur imaginable lately, and my teammates have had it even worse.

“I will not accept racism as ‘part of the game.’ No, I’m not sensitive, and no, I won’t simply ignore the ignorant takes I’ve seen. The majority of you commenting could care less about the success of the WNBA and are only concerned with division.”

Thursday following shootaround, Reese said the Sky have not experienced anything similar to Wednesday’s encounter before. Reese experienced TMZ reporters approaching her on the street before, but she still acknowledged this was different.

“Being harassed about other players is kind of crazy,” Reese said. “Maybe if it’s personal questions about you, maybe cool. But if you’re harassing us about other players, I mean, that’s kind of out of pocket.”

A video circulated on X Thursday morning in which a man can be heard asking Carter repeatedly about Fever guard Caitlin Clark.

The man asks Carter twice if she’s had a chance to reach out to Clark before Sky security blocks his camera. Reese said Thursday that only part of the man’s video was posted online.

This encounter comes following nearly a week of vitriolic discourse over Carter’s Flagrant 1 foul on Clark in the Sky’s loss to the Fever last Saturday. Carter was initially assessed with an off-the-ball common foul. The league upgraded it to a flagrant the following day.

Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon said the team felt fully protected by security and that they’re focused on basketball.

Angel Reese wears a black Chicago Sky jersey and Breanna Stewart is clad in a green Liberty jersey during a WNBA basketball game.

The Sky were trailing by nine at the time of Reese’s ejection, so it’s unlikely her presence on the court would have affected the game’s outcome. However, the message sent by the official’s soft call is far more damning.

Sun Fever Basketball

Eyes are on the league for Caitlin Clark’s treatment, not for basketball.

Angel Reese, wearing a Chicago Sky jersey, is flanked by two people wearing black as she walks off the basketball court.

After the game, an official said Reese’s ejection resulted from back-to-back technicals. The first tech was for “disrespectfully addressing” the official and the second, for waving her hand in dismissal of the first.

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“Discover the Best New Hotel Restaurants Worldwide: Octopus Santorini, Nookies, and LAVO”

"Discover the Best New Hotel Restaurants Worldwide: Octopus Santorini, Nookies, and LAVO"

The dish to order: The perfectly-grilled Octopus Santorini, sprinkled with marinated onions and capers over a dramatic yellow split pea purée.

Image may contain Indoors Restaurant Cafeteria Interior Design Lamp Chair Furniture Cup Diner and Food

Nookies, a modern twist on the classic diner, at Silver Sands on New York’s North Fork

Alex Kroke/Silver Sands

Image may contain Burger Food Brunch Food Presentation Bread Plate and Cup

Nookies has diner staples like burgers and shakes, but also oysters from nearby Pipes Cove

Alex Kroke/Silver Sands

Nookies at Silver Sands Motel & Bungalows—Greenport, New York

A major renovation breathed new life into this iconic 1950’s North Fork motel, and luckily the twenty-two seat Nookies still captures all the nostalgia of a midcentury roadside diner. There’s still a tuna melt and decadent milkshakes on the menu, but there are some welcome additions to appeal to twenty-first century travelers, too.

The dish to order: The aubergine melt, on rye with globs of gruyère cheese, yellow tomato jam and Calabrian chili.

LAVO at The BoTree—London, UK

With locations in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Singapore, and Mexico City, Tao Group’s Lavo manages to feel as fun and relevant as ever with its latest opening at the BoTree in Marylebone. No detail is overlooked, whether it’s a tray of garnishes brought out to accompany your water, to decadent mounds of truffles atop the pasta, to expert sommelier pairings to enhance your experience. It’s one of the neighborhood’s larger dining rooms, but it manages to feel sceney and exuberant without being excessive.

The dish to order: “The Meatball,” which comes with 500 grams of Wagyu beef and Italian pork sausage.

Image may contain Indoors Restaurant Cafeteria Cup Chair Furniture Dining Table Table Architecture and Building

The expansive dining room at the Global Ambassador’s rooftop restaurant, Théa, has rare panoramic views of the Phoenix skyline, including vistas of Camelback Mountain and the city’s downtown.

The Global Ambassador

Théa at The Global Ambassador—Phoenix, Arizona

Named after the Greek goddess of light, Théa, the standout at a gleaming new resort with a food-focus, offers a truly transporting experience, because, as it turns out, a Mediterranean menu lends itself beautifully to a rooftop setting in sunny Phoenix. The flavors are big, but this bacchanal never skews overly indulgent: the kofta skewers are fragrant with sumac; the Moroccan roasted carrots come drizzled in Aleppo pepper honey; and the “Goddess of all Dips” platter is a perfect shareable platter if you’re looking to kick back with a spritz and watch the sun set.

The dish to order: A fresh and flavorful Spring Tabbouleh salad with pea tendrils, mint, pistachio dukkah, and preserved lemon vinaigrette.

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Ethically sourced seafood is a highlight at the restaurant Fysh in The Singapore Edition

Fysh at The Singapore EDITION

Fysh at The Singapore EDITION

“Lofty” is a great way to describe this new restaurant by multi-award-winning Australian chef Josh Niland inside the Singapore Edition. First, the decor: vaulted ceilings lend a sense of occasion, an abundance of greenery feels quintessentially Singaporean, and an expansive open show kitchen proves that cooking, too, can be a form of theater. Second, the menu: Niland offers a “modern-age fish steakhouse,” which treats ethically-sourced seafood with the same sense of scale, indulgence, and reverence as a steakhouse treats its beef. There are some “land-based proteins” on the menu, too, but the real stars are the swordfish and yellowfin tuna steaks, sourced from Mooloolaba, Australia and dry-aged (yes, you can dry-age fish) to perfection.

The dish to order: Murray Cod, sustainably sourced and grilled over charcoal, then finished with an Andean BBQ corn humita, coriander, and lime.

Il Ristorante – Niko Romito at Bulgari Hotel Roma—Italy

This is Rome done right, from the elegant dining room, to the sweeping views over the adjacent Mausoleum of Augustus, to the menu designed by Nico Romito, one of Italy’s superstar chefs. At the restaurant inside this Hot List winner, the menu offers through-and-through Italian classics that range from the familiar (a perfect spaghetti pomodoro) to the innovative (crispy suckling pig with orange caramel sauce). Sure, it will cost you—but can you really put a price tag on a perfect fine dining experience in the Eternal City?

The dish to order: Melt-in-your-mouth roasted tuna belly topped with a light and bright fennel and citrus salad.

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“Two New Luxury Dome Hotels, Domes Santorini and Domes Noruz Mykonos, Open in Greek Isles Offering Summer Escape with Rooftop Restaurant, Infinity Pool, Spa, and More”

"Two New Luxury Dome Hotels, Domes Santorini and Domes Noruz Mykonos, Open in Greek Isles Offering Summer Escape with Rooftop Restaurant, Infinity Pool, Spa, and More"

The Greek Isles have long been an ideal summer escape for all types of travelers: beach lovers, romance seekers, history buffs and fans of the movie, Mama Mia. Visitors now have one more reason to visit. Domes, one of Greece’s most beloved hoteliers, has just opened two terrific properties in everyone’s favorite islands and provided another reason to put Greece on your summer itinerary.

Domes Santorini

Opened just weeks ago, this family-friendly property is the ideal jumping off spot for your Santorini adventure. Every stand-alone room has its own plunge pool bordered by a wall made from those classic Santorini volcanic stones. You will enjoy an exceptionally large walk-in shower and a very peaceful vibe supplied in part by the serene décor. For a splurge, sign up for the Novos Villa Sea View which features a fully equipped kitchen, a living and dining room, and two bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms.

But you will definitely not feel the need to cook after spending some time in Vatanee, the property’s rooftop restaurant that has some of the best sunset views on the island. Chef Dionysis Anastopulos has created terrific menus that incorporates Greek traditional cooking and adds carefully curated twists. You can expect homemade sourdough, a fava bean dip, lamb served with grapes and sorrel and seabass cooked with coriander and pears. A slice of orange cake and a shot of Greek coffee are the perfect way to end the meal.

After a day of sightseeing, you can relax by the infinity pool, spend an afternoon in the cocoon-like spa, or sign up for an afternoon painting class. Outdoor yoga and meditation decks are shaded by olive trees and are another perfect place to reflect on this most beautiful of places.

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Domes Noruz Mykonos

Last year, Domes opened its fifty-five room Mykonos boutique hotel. The property is located in the north of the island, close to the peaceful Agios Stefanos and Choras Beaches. The public spaces are serenely decorated and each room presents its own personality. Check into one of the “haven” rooms if you want your own private hot tub or pool.

The culinary experience at this property is also top-notch. Mykonos’ Vatanee also features exceptional local ingredients and beautifully presented meals. Favorites include beets served with hibiscus and plum, potatoes adorned with caviar and an octopus, eggplant and eel course. Lemon pie is the perfect dessert. And if you just want a cocktail and a snack, head over to the Raw Gastro Bar. This is the place for an ouzu-inspired drink and a plate of cod ceviche or seabass and scallop tartare. Another option is a stop at N Bar, where the drinks menu includes rare, local vintages, as well as your favorite champagnes and mixed drinks.

Domes Noruz Mykonos also features a lovely outdoor pool and the Amuse spa which is recommended for those are looking for a bit of pre-party prep mode or who might need some post-party detox treatments.

Both properties are lovely. And if you want to visit multiple islands, Domes has created an “island hopping” program that will provide personalized itineraries, discounted hotel stays and all the logistics you need to explore the Greek islands in style.

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“Eight Luxury Hotels for the Ultimate Picturesque National Park Trip This Summer”

"Eight Luxury Hotels for the Ultimate Picturesque National Park Trip This Summer"

With summer travel heating up, American travelers are on the hunt for the perfect adventure. Whether you’re a dedicated hiker or are just looking to reconnect with nature, American’s national parks offer the perfect escape. But camping in the great outdoors isn’t for everyone. Luckily, there are many luxury hotels near some of America’s most beloved parks that give you the best of both worlds: stunning landscapes and fun activities with the chance to relax in a warm bath and plush suite every night. Here are 8 luxury hotels located near some of the most picturesque national parks in the U.S.

Great Falls National Park, The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner

Near downtown Washington D.C., The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner epitomizes the “capital-to-countryside” experience thanks to its proximity to Great Falls National Park, which features beautiful views of the Potomac River and 15 miles of incredible hiking trails. Check out the River Trail to see the park’s iconic waterfall. Go on a boat tour to enjoy the water and learn more about the area’s ecosystem and wildlife. Back at the Ritz-Carlton, head to ENTYSE for fine dining and then treat yourself to an indulgent spa treatment.

Blue Ridge Mountains, The Horse Shoe Farm

Hidden in 85 acres of verdant mountain farmland sits The Horse Shoe Farm, a boutique resort that offers a welcoming stay close to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Guests can take advantage of unique accommodations, farm-to-table fare in The Silo Cookhouse and a relaxing spa experience in a renovated equestrian stable. You might also just discover inner peace at the property’s on-site wellness experiences, like its “Grains of Truth” Silo Meditation Tower.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Blackberry Mountain

Spanning 5,200 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains, Blackberry Mountain is a Relais & Chateaux destination resort that delivers world-renowned hospitality in a luxurious, private national park setting. From renowned culinary and spa offerings to expert led adventure, wellness, and art offerings, there’s a path for every guest on the Mountain. Flavorful, regional meals and inspired beverage options made from ingredients foraged from the Mountain provide energy for adventures and nourishment for relaxation in your own modern treehouse, stone cottage, or cabin accommodation.

Grand Teton National Park, The Cloudveil

Perfectly nestled in the mountain near Grand Teton National Park, The Cloudveil boasts luxurious guest rooms, outdoor activities, a bistro-style restaurant, and an expansive rooftop terrace overlooking Jackson’s Town Square. The hotel’s talented concierges, known as Pathfinders, showcase their local knowledge to customize unique guest experiences, including eco-friendly wildlife tours.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Reid Creek Lodge

Take a road trip through your very own national park at Reid Creek Lodge, a seasonal guest lodge offering 300,000 acres of unparalleled access in the heart of the Laramie Range of the Rocky Mountains. The lodge’s guides are more than happy to create a customized itinerary for your group, including things like hiking, horseback riding, fishing, stargazing and more.

Yellowstone National Park, The Ranch at Rock Creek, Relais & Châteaux

Following a day exploring the Park’s pristine natural beauty, visitors of all ages can indulge in a stay at this lovely ranch. Set within 6,600 acres of Montana’s wild terrain, The Ranch at Rock Creek offers a range of accommodations, from luxury suites in The Granite Lodge to genuine log cabins and historic barn lodgings. Guests can participate in many outdoor activities, including fishing, horseback riding, clay shooting, sapphire mining, archery and more.

Nantahala National Forest, Old Edwards Inn & Spa, Relais & Châteaux + Half-Mile Farm

Old Edwards Inn & Spa is a charming European-style resort on Main Street that boasts spectacular dining venues, luxurious amenities, and individually appointed guest rooms, suites, and cottages. Its exclusive, adults-only sister property located just up the road, Half-Mile Farm, offers luxurious amenities in a serene country inn atmosphere, hugged by 14 acres of meadows, woodlands and streams.

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What Can Be Done About Inconsiderate Marijuana Smokers Infiltrating Non-Smoking Hotels?

What Can Be Done About Inconsiderate Marijuana Smokers Infiltrating Non-Smoking Hotels?

It’s unbelievable to witness, and experience firsthand, the quickly growing trend of inconsiderate marijuana smoking in “non-smoking” hotels, even the high-end ones. Of the dozen or so I’ve booked over the past few years, at least two-thirds have had pot problems, sometimes so bad that I’ve literally packed up my stuff, headed down to the front desk and requested another room.

Sometimes I get one, sometimes I don’t. The hotel is booked solid, I’m told, and there is nothing they can do. “Just suck it up,” pun intended.

This past weekend, in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, at a well-known hotel chain, the pungent, all-too-familiar skunk oder suddenly began creeping into my seventh (top) floor room at around 9 p.m. I immediately complained to the desk downstairs, and was met with a fairly cavalier attitude. The clerk reluctantly gave me another room, after much insistence on my part, this time on the noisy second floor (I try to stay on top floors to minimize noise from above).

Not long afterward, unbelievably, the disgusting smell began to creep into my new room! Really? Where was it coming from? The people next door? The room below me? The hallway, the elevator? Luckily, I was able to close the door between the entrance foyer of my room and the bedroom to keep out the foul odor.

The canned excuse most hotels give when you complain is that they don’t know in which room the offender is, and they can’t very well knock on everyone’s door now, can they, especially late at night. Besides, they say, even if they’re able to identify the suspect’s room by sniffing outside of the door, they can’t prove it’s him/her unless they catch the idiot in the act of smoking.

I did some quick research on this, of course, and found that it’s not just me. Serious complaints abound on the Internet among the ratings of several major hotels.

More than 40 states have now legalized marijuana for “medicinal” or recreational purposes. This is pretty evident in the major cities in those states. San Francisco, for example, reeks of the stuff. Even in New York City, the Big Apple, it’s hard to find places where the skunk isn’t present.

I guess pot-heads are allowed to smoke outdoors now, but please, do it where you aren’t offending the other 99% of the population trying to breathe clean air. Can’t control yourselves, is that the problem? Grow up.

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What to do in the hotels, though? FreshAir, sophisticated new Wi-Fi devices that can’t be disabled, might be installed, and can monitor smoking of any kind in real time. The machines alert the front desk to any untoward activity. Easy this way to send someone up to the room in question, and confront the party. The device’s data is also time-stamped, so there’s a non-disputable record of when and where the indiscretion occurred.

If fact, I’d suggest that responsible hotels purchase these things – I’m sure they are expensive – and enforce a strict policy whereby anyone caught smoking, especially marijuana, is asked to leave immediately, day or night.

One hotel manager I spoke with told me that when a room is left reeking after a guest checks out, it’s quite expensive to clean. Ionizer machines and strong chemical sprays are required to remove the stench from the air, furniture, carpets and the like. Sometimes, even with a thorough cleaning, the smells linger to where a room cannot be rented for days to other guests. Think about the lost revenue, not to mention the unsuspecting families with young children who have to breathe this crap.

Most hotels do charge a deposit on guests’ credit cards when they book – a minimum of $50 – for any damage they may cause to their rooms during their stay. But crafty offenders will block their cards for any additional charges after the fact. They are okay with losing the $50, but not the entire $250 cleaning fee. That means the hotel is powerless to claim any restitution. More lost room revenue.

Wake up, hotel owners and managers. Invest in new monitoring machines, and the manpower required to enforce them. In fact, I’d argue, that really smart hotels who take the lead – disruptors – by installing the devices, can use the claim in their national marketing campaigns.

I’d book with a hotel like that in a heartbeat, even pay a premium for my room. With all of the public outrage, I’m guessing others would, too. Kaching!

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