This Week in Travel News
Active travelers have a need to know! Every week, there are things that can and do impact the art and act of travelling. Things you need to know about. We’ll report the highlights here, so you can focus on what you do best: Travelling! In case you missed it, here’s what happened This Week in Travel News!
Sunrise, Table for two, please.
For centuries, people have travelled through the pre-dawn darkness of upcountry Maui to climb the dormant Haleakalā and witness the sublime sunrise. While that’s not likely to change any time soon, there is an important new step in making your waking dreams come true. Starting 1 February, you’ll have to make reservations.
The Leleiwi and Kalahaku overlooks have unbeatable views across the West Maui Mountains, and the view from the summit gives you a unique island panorama. It’s no wonder that Haleakalā National Park has become a top tourist attraction on Maui, drawing nearly 2-million visitors a year, mostly between 4 and 7am.
The new reservation system is meant to streamline traffic, manage the flow of visitors, and provide a better experience all around. There are some important things you need to know when you go:
- Reservations must be made in advance on the internet; they are not available at the park!
- There is a fee of $1.50 per car (separate from the park entrance fee, payable at the gate).
- Reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance, or as late as 6pm the night before.
- Whomever makes the reservation must be present with photo ID to enter the park.
- You can make reservations at recreation.gov.
A Little Up & A Little Down
A couple of hotel loyalty program announcements caught our eye this week. First up, the Starwood Preferred Guest program announced a little Uber bonus and pretty big devaluation in the same email. Previously, SPG members could earn up to four points per dollar on all Uber transactions, depending on their status. That’s changing on 1 February, with only two earning levels regardless of loyalty tier. When staying at a Starwood hotel, members will earn 2 points per $1 spent on Uber. Any other time, earning drops to 1 point for every $2 spent. No additional points for higher loyalty levels. There is a brief silver lining: for the month of February, all members will earn five points per dollar on Uber trips taken while staying with Starwood.
Hilton HHonors members should be on the look-out for a targeted offer: Stay four nights in 90 days and get 50,000 bonus points. Members were emailed details, but still have to register to take advantage of the promotion. Your 90 days starts when you register, but must be completed no later than 12 July 2017. Smart travelers will wait to register until they’re sure they can complete the four nights. Also be sure it’s a qualifying night. According to Hilton, that’s a night booked through Hilton which earns HHonors Points. 50,000 points are enough for a free night at any Category 1 through 6 Hilton, and some hotels through Category 9.
In the Air
Finnair is making good on its plans to expand its European capacity. Starting in March, the airline will schedule up to nine weekly flights to Dublin, up from six now. In May, the airline will add a fifth weekly service to Reykjavik for the summer, and additional weekday flights to Copenhagen and Vilnius. In December, the airline will add non-stop flights to Finnish Lapland from Frankfurt, London, Paris and Zürich.
While these are short-haul European expansions, they offer passengers more connections to Finnair’s extensive Asian network. The additional flights to Lapland are in response to greater demand from international travelers hoping to spot the Northern Lights, and enjoy ski resorts in Kittilä and Ivalo.
This one is a year away, but Qatar Airways has announced non-stop service between Las Vegas and Doha. The route will run four times a week, starting in January 2018, making Qatar the first Gulf carrier to provide regular scheduled service to Sin City. Connecting McCarran International Airport to Hamad International in Doha gives American travelers another point of departure to Qatar Airways’ global network of more than 150 destinations.
And finally, we know you’ve been worried about how to get to Bora Bora in complete luxury. Turn that frown upside-down, because Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora has announced private jet service from Los Angeles. Whew!
Guests have a year-round option of exclusive private charters for parties up to 12, or shared private charters on select dates. The shared charters will include a Spring Break trip in April, the Festive 2017 Celebration in December, and other charters centered around romance, wellness, and culinary experiences. The first-class service includes dining and cocktails, and a yacht from the airport to the resort. One Percent, indeed.
In addition to charters, the Four Seasons private jet is flying two international journeys this year: Culinary Discoveries in May, and International Intrigue in September, with price tags of $135,000 per person.
Restaurant Week, table for two…million?
Actually, it’s more like Restaurant Month. But if Toyota Truck Month can last all year, we see no reason Restaurant Week can’t last a month. Or even better, twelve of them. Here are a dozen Restaurant Weeks going on around the country this winter.
Amelia Island Restaurant Week: 20 through 29 January. Nearly 30 restaurants on the charming Florida island will participate in the 9th annual event, with prix fixe menus for lunch ($12) and dinner ($21 or $31).
Birmingham Winter Restaurant Week: 20 to 29 January. Two- and three-course lunch and dinner menus range from $10 to $40 at 35 area restaurants. Also includes Beer Saturdays with tastings at Ghost Train Brewing Company. Cheers!
Chicago Restaurant Week: 27 Jan through 9 Feb. Prix Fix Dinners are $33 or $44; Lunch and, for the first time, Brunch is $22. More than 100 Chicagoland restaurants participating.
Detroit Restaurant Week: 3 through 12 February. Prix Fixe menus are $29 or $39 at 26 participating restaurants.
Kansas City Restaurant Week: 13 to 22 January. Lunch and dinner menus for $15 or $33 from more than 180 KC restaurants. A portion of proceeds go to several area charities. We checked: Fiorella’s Jack Stack and Joe’s KC Bar-B-Que are included.
Napa Valley Restaurant Week: 22 to 29 January. Because you’ll need something to go with all the wine. Prix Fixe lunches are $20, dinners are $36 or $46 at more than 200 restaurants throughout the valley.
New York Restaurant Week: 23 January through 10 February. Three course meals are priced at $29 for lunch, and $42 for dinner at literally hundreds of restaurants. Note that Saturdays are off the menu, so to speak.
Oakland Restaurant Week: 19 to 29 January. Nearly 100 restaurants with menus priced from $20 to $50. Some restaurants will donate a portion of proceeds to the Alameda County Community Food Bank.
Philadelphia City Center District Restaurant Week: 22 January to 4 February, excluding Saturday. Some 120 restaurants will offer three course dinners at $35; some will also offer lunch at $20.
San Antonio Restaurant Week: 16 to 28 January. More than 80 restaurants in the Alamo City and surrounding area in two tiers. Tier One restaurants feature $15 lunches and $35 dinners, while Tier Two are priced at $10 and $25. Of that, $1 of each lunch and $2 of each dinner goes to Culinaria, a non-profit promoting San Antonio as a food and wine destination while promoting community growth and industry enrichment.
San Francisco Restaurant Week: 18 to 29 January. In case you’re not on the Oakland side of the bridge. Nearly 130 restaurants in the Bay Area will have two-course lunch ($15 and $25) and multi-course dinner ($40 and $65) menus.
Metropolitan Washington Winter Restaurant Week: 30 Jan through 5 Feb. 250 restaurants in a city known for resturants will feature $22 lunches and brunches, and $35 dinners. They also have their own Restaurant Week Diner Rewards Program, where you can book tables and win prizes.
Is that it? Oh, gosh no! There are Restaurant Weeks going on across the country. Although most are in January – a traditionally slow time for dining out – there are several throughout the year. Just for fun, try Googling *city* Restaurant Week to see if and when there’s one near you or your destination.
Some Restaurant Week Advice: Reservations are strongly suggested, even required in some cases. At very least, call ahead to check for availability. Our favorite app for dining out is Open Table, and the company does sponsor many Restaurant Weeks. Be sure to register in advance, so you can earn Dining Rewards and get a little extra when you eat out.
The Weekly Win
Speaking of eating, we do a lot of that when we’re on a cruise. It just so happens that the Weekly Win lets you Choose Your Cruise, from Holland America. Does it get any better? Well yes, but only if you win. Good luck!
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