In Case You Missed It, here are just a few highlights from the past week in Travel News, recapping the end of January of 2016. There is so much that happens in the travel industry every week, and only a portion of it makes it to TravelLatte or other travel blogs. We’ll capture some of the highlights with this new recurring feature. Please let us know you like it with a comment!
Welcome to the New (more expensive) Last Vegas
There was a time when you could visit Las Vegas on a budget – as in, almost free – save for your gambling money. Because the money left at the tables more than made up for the cost of a hotel room, meals, drinks…you get the idea. One of the last vestiges of that era, free parking, may finally be “stripped” from the Strip.
MGM Resorts, which owns a dozen Las Vegas hotels including the MGM Grand, the City Center Complex, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, and the Mirage, announced plans this month to start charging for parking at all of their properties except Circus Circus. Starting in April, overnight guests will pay about $10 to park, with some exceptions for M Life members and residents. The new fees are expected to generate about $300-million a year.
While some say this is what happens when competition disappears – a handful of companies own nearly all of the Strip – MGM says the move is part of a larger plan. The company is building a $54-million, 3,000-space parking structure, and spending $36-million on upgrades to existing parking. Plus, new techno-toys will be employed, allowing guests to find empty spaces from their smartphone. And who doesn’t love having an app for that?
No word yet on whether the other Vegas high-rollers, like Caesars Entertainment and Wynne-Encore, will follow suit. It’s worth noting that MGM is the same company that introduced Las Vegas, and the world, to the detestable Resort Fee. Oh joy.
Speaking of Las Vegas…
Las Vegas has been evolving over the past decade or two from Sin City to Sing City. While gambling revenues have been declining for years (down 2.5% last year despite a record 42.3 million visitors), entertainment has risen to heights not seen since the Rat Pack scampered through town. From Elton John, Shania Twain, and Celene Dion, to Pit Bull, Britney Spears, and Bruno Mars, some of today’s biggest names are proving that today’s Vegas is not the Crooner Retirement Village of years gone by.
Jennifer Lopez is the latest star to make Vegas her hood, starting a 20 date residency this week at The Axis at Planet Hollywood. Jennifer Lopez: All I Have is playing through February 9th, then from mid-May to mid-June. You can expect all the hits, complete with a five-piece band, 16 dancers, and Vegas-style state-of-the-art production. According to Caesars Entertainment, “the audience experiences Lopez up close and personal, yet larger than life. Seamlessly interweaving different parts of the life of Jennifer Lopez – the Actress, the Dancer, the Pop Star – Lopez’s Las Vegas show truly portrays who she is, where she’s been and where she’s going.”
One of America’s best-loved luxury boutique brands, Kimpton Hotels has jumped the pond to open their first European property smack dab in the middle of Amsterdam. It’s the first sign of international growth since Kimpton was acquired by IHG in January 2015.
The move is a rebranding of a current IHG property, the Crowne Plaza Amsterdam City Centre. Along with the brand change, the hotel will get a full renovation before re-opening as a Kimpton in 2017. Among the upgrades will be a new fitness center and meeting space, a destination bar and restaurant, and what the company is calling “boldly designed boutique rooms,” whatever that means.
Meanwhile, IHG made news in London by opening their second hotel in the city, the InterContinental London – The O2. This one is on the historic Greenwich Peninsula adjacent to the O2 Arena, and has 453 guestrooms, 59 of which are suites. Many of the rooms and suites have views of the London Skyline, as does the rooftop bar, 18; one of five destination-inspired food and beverage outlets. The new hotel also hosts a conference center with views of Canary Wharf.
The hotel is close to the historic Royal Museums Greenwich, with several famous attractions within easy walking distance. The UNESCO World Heritage Site included the National Maritime Museum and the iconic Cutty Sark sailing ship, the Greenwich Royal Observatory, and the Queen’s House art gallery.
The Most Important Meal
Breakfast, right? We’ve all been taught that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so Four Points by Sheraton is starting you off right with their new offer, Breakfast for a Buck. It’s a full hot breakfast and a cup o’ Joe (we love hearing that!) for just $1. The rate also includes free internet, so that’s a double-win in our book. The only drawback is that it’s just breakfast for one; if you’re traveling with another, their breakfast is at menu prices. But still, it can save you a few dollars.
The Breakfast for a Buck rate (search or ask for rate plan FPBKPKG) is available at select locations throught the U.S. and Canada through the end of March.
Disclaimer: No Sponsored Content! Inclusions of hotels and destinations in this post were neither compensated nor solicited. All opinions and commentary are our own.