This Week in Travel News: 13 January 2017

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!

Fee-Free Monday

Fee-Free Monay in Travel News via

Celebrate Martin Luther Kind Day and Fee-Free Monday at the MLK National Historic Site, the most visited attraction in Atlanta. (Photo: National Park Service)

Let’s hope this becomes a thing.

Monday, 16 January, is Martin Luther King Day in the USA. In celebration, government offices are closed. Mr. Postman gets a break, but not so for Mr. Forest Ranger, sir! The hard working men and women in olive will be super busy hosting, well, you!

The Park Service has caught on that nothing brings people to the National Parks like the word free. So Monday is not just a national holiday, it’s a Fee-Free Day at every one of America’s National Parks, and there are more than 400 of them.

For the Park Service, this is definitely a thing. There are 10 Fee-Free Days scheduled throughout the year, including the National Park Service’s birthday, National Public Lands Day, and the weekends of National Park Week. See the whole list here.

If you’re not sure where your closest National Park is, try the interactive Find Your Park page.

#1 in the Air

Just last week Alaska Airlines announced their new route to Havana, and service upgrade throughout the fleet. The Wall Street Journal applauded by ranking the airline at #1 for the fourth year in a row.

Alaska Airlines #1 in Travel News via

The Wall Street Journal’s Airline Scorecard

The accolade comes from the Journal’s 2016 Airline Scorecard, released this week. In it, Alaska held on to the top spot by focusing on baggage handling. In that category, the airline finished fourth, but was still Most Improved among the nine major carriers. Alaska ranked first in on-time arrivals, and had the fewest complaints and delays.

Delta finished the year in second place, and Virgin America in third. Those two airlines have traded places in the top three over the past four years. With the recent merger between Virgin and Alaska, two of the nation’s best performing airlines are in the same household. However, the two airlines are not expected to fly as a single carrier until 2018.

The world’s largest airline, American Airlines, has suffered through the years, consistently placing in the bottom two places. The carrier continues to struggle with cancelled flights, tarmac delays, and baggage handling. The last of the legacy carriers, United tied with Jet Blue in the middle of the pack.

New Europe River Cruise features in Travel News via

The Brussells Brewers Museum is one stop on new river cruise itineraries this year. (Photo: Wikipedia)

New Options in River Cruising

European river cruises have been the hot travel ticket for a few years now. To keep the trend from going stale, several cruise lines are adding new options for 2017.

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CroisiEurope will launch a new cruise in August aboard the Victor Hugo that will feature Belgium’s liquid gold, beer. Stops in Liege, Hasselt, Antwerp and Brussels will include excursions for beer tastings and presentations. Belgium’s most famous breweries and landmarks will be featured, including La Maison des Brasseurs Museum, the national museum of beer!

Emerald Waterways is planning their first LGBT-themed cruise with a Danube Explorer itinerary. The cruise sails from Budapest in July, stopping at Bratislava, Vienna, and Passau and Nuremberg, Germany. Gay-themed tours in Vienna and Budapest are included, along with an on-board film festival.

Uniworld’s Paris & Impressions of the Seine itinerary will have new active excursions that include the chance to exercise like royalty. Guests will be able row a boat on the Grand Canal of Versailles, or bike through Vernon to the Chateau de Bizy, for example.

Scenic is updating three of its Space-Ships with Scenic Culinaire, which the line calls a “private cooking emporium.” Imagine a cooking school studio complete with cameras and viewing screens, onboard a river vessel. The emporium also includes a wine and cheese center, and classes. On shore, Scenic Culinaire excursions in southern France will include lunch at the Michelin-starred Maison Pic, wine tasting at Chateau Phelan Segur, and a visit to Baltar Market in Arcachon, on the Atlantic coast. The Scenic Culinaire experience will be available on the Tastes of Southern France, and Tastes of Bordeaux itineraries in July and August.

Atlantis Hawaii in Travel News via

Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii may finally be getting a new neighbor with a big name! (Photo: Hawai’i News Now)

Atlantis Hawaii

Stop us of if you’ve heard this one before: Atlantis is coming to Hawaii.

That was the news in 2005, but the project has stalled several times. However, Hawai’i News Now has reported the resort company is now finalizing deals to build one of its famous ocean-themed resorts in Ko Olina. The land is on the Diamond Head side of Disney’s Aulani Resort on Oahu.

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The resort would reportedly be similar to Atlantis’ Dubai resort, The Palm. Taking advantage of the ocean-front environment, features would include a huge interactive aquarium, a dolphin encounter, and a shark habitat. Along with hotel accommodations, developers have planned a residential condo and timeshare units, much like neighboring Aulani. All of this comes with a staggering price tag. Estimates are over $2-billion, which would make it the most expensive resort ever built. Developers are still seeking permits and regulatory approvals before construction can begin.

Coming Up

While Atlantis Hawaii may be years away, 2017 will see a slew of hotel openings, from budget to super-luxe. Here are a few to watch for.

Nobu Hotel Shoreditch in Travel News via

An artist’s rendering of the upcoming Nobu Hotel Shoreditch, opening this year in London.
(Photo: Nobu Hospitality Group)

Nobu Hotel Shoreditch

The hotel company owned by Robert de Niro and celebrity Chef Nobu Matsuhisa will make its European debut this spring in London. Look for the building’s design to mimic its industrial surroundings with lots of concrete and glass, accompanied by a terraced gardens and a large restaurant concept custom designed by the Chef himself.

Six Senses Fiji

2,100 feet of private beach on Malolo Island is the setting for one of two new Six Senses resorts, opening in late 2017. There will be 26 pool bures (villas), and sixty luxury residences, each with its own plunge pool. The spa features the Six Senses Integrated Wellness program, which includes a wellness assessment and a personalized program that includes sleep tips, exercise, and spa treatments. The hallmark feature of the new resort is sustainability. Cuisine will be locally inspired and sustainably sourced from local farmers and fishermen, and the resort’s own market gardens. Along with active management of water, waste and energy, the resort will be 100-percent solar powered.

Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills

Prepare to swoon. A three-story lobby with a soaring Lalique crystal chandelier sets the stage. Each of the 170 rooms will have oversized balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows. A 5,000-square-foot Spa by La Prairie Switzerland will feature six private treatment rooms, and two relaxation rooms. Michelin-starred Chef Georges Vongerichten will make his West Coast debut at the hotel’s restaurant. And, to top it all off, the rooftop pool will be the largest in the city. In celebration, guest who stay three nights or more during the grand opening will receive 5,000 bonus Hilton HHonors Points. Reservations are open now for the June opening.

The Weekly Win

One of our favorite stores, Cost Plus World Market, is giving away a trip to the 2018 Australian Open. We knew we liked those guys. Sweepstakes ends 29 January, so check it out over on The Weekly Win.

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