Here’s how to save money on accommodation when you travel

Posted by - June 19, 2018

SOMETIMES, saving up money for months to purchase flight tickets and maybe a little more to spare for expenditures when your travel is not even close to enough.
This is because you forget the one main culprit that could drain your bank account further – accommodation.
Asia’s most refreshing long-term alternatives to Airbnb You don’t want to fork out too much moolah on your accommodation if you’re going to be out and about all day. Likely, all you’ll need from your stay is hot water, clean sheets, air-conditioning, and WiFi. And of course, in an appropriate location if you can help it.
Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to save money on accommodation when you travel that won’t require you to beg or steal. Here are some options that you can consider:
Couchsurfing A popular platform for budget travelers, Couchsurfing is a vibrant travel community with over 14 million potential hosts.
Backpackers love it, but also solo travelers on a thrifty trip. In fact, Couchsurfing can be done alone, in pairs, or in groups – and for free.
It’s also a great way to live like locals do, get insights on your destination, learn the culture, and make lifelong travel friends. And don’t worry, you won’t always end up sleeping on a couch.
Source: Shutterstock.
Tip: Although your stay is free, it’ll be nice to bring your host a thoughtful gift. Otherwise, offer to cover a meal or the groceries at home.
Overnight ride Cut back on how much you could be spending on accommodation by getting comfortable on an overnight trip.
Buy sleeper train or coach bus tickets for your trip and enjoy the journey, going to sleep at point A but waking up at point B.
Don’t forget to book a good seat as well so that you can watch the sunrise on the horizon as you approach your destination.
Source: Shutterstock.
Tip: Sleeping on a train or a bus can be difficult if you’re not used to it. So pack your jammies, a pillow, a blanket, a pair of slippers, and an eye mask too if you’d like, and get cozy.
HomeExchange Inspired by the 2006 hit movie “The Holiday,” HomeExchange popularised the home swapping concept to curious travelers.
How does it work? You’ll need to list your house on HomeExchange’s community, then send inquiries to other members.
Remember, the exchange will only work if both parties agree to offer each other homestays for a period of time.
Source: Shutterstock.
Tips: There have been cases of hosts canceling the swap at the very last minute so always have a backup plan.
Use your points Credit cards, especially travel credit cards, can come with a lot of perks.
You’d be surprised to find that you’re entitled to hotel promotions that allow you to pay for your room with your points.
Even if you can’t get your room for completely free, there’s a chance that you can get it at a significant discount.
Source: Shutterstock.
Tips: Call up your bank and ask in detail what else the points/rewards system entails. You may even get a free meal if you’re lucky.
Airbnb Arguably one of the best home-sharing platforms in the world, Airbnb has given people traveling on a budget more accommodation options.
It’s particularly useful to get accommodation in major cities where hotels are pricey and faraway places where hotels are scarce.
So if there’s a group of you, it only makes sense to share an Airbnb apartment than booking yourselves up separate hotel rooms.
Source: Shutterstock.
Tips: Care for the Airbnb accommodation as you would with your own home to earn brownie points from your host. You’ll need the good review for future bookings.
The post Here’s how to save money on accommodation when you travel appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Which technologies are helping companies transform the travel industry?

Posted by - June 18, 2018

WE LIVE in a time when tourist numbers around the world are rising, people are more connected and becoming global citizens, and the travel industry is burgeoning.
Coupled with old technologies that have begun evolving at a rapid speed and new technologies that are being introduced every single day and are subscribed to by approving users, travel and hospitality-related companies can either jump on the bandwagon or fall behind.
How tech can shake up turbulence According to Expedia’s 2018 Travel Tech Trends and Industry Opportunities report, new technologies are seeing swift uptake from consumers, driven by consumers’ growing digital impatience and expectation for instant responses, answers and solutions to their queries and purchasing requests.
For travel and hospitality-related companies, change is imminent, and they see the need to use new technologies to improve operational efficiencies, meets customers’ expectations, and of course, engage with consumers better.
Here are some technologies that are transforming the travel industry and the companies that use them:
Artificial intelligence (AI) AI makes it possible for machines to learn from experience, adjust to new inputs, mimic human behavior and complete tasks.
This can be found in some of the simplest, daily things such as Chatbots, which are offshoots of AI.
Some companies have even gone the extra mile to name their Chatbots, thus “humanizing” the programs. Source: Shutterstock.
For example, companies are implementing Chatbot systems on their websites to help relieve the load on its hotlines. With Chatbots, time-starved (or impatient) travelers can get their queries across and expect a quicker response than, say, sending through an e-mail.
Some travelers even prefer Chatbots over travel agents when planning their vacation, with up to 55% of millennials saying that interacting with a Chatbot has changed their perception of a business positively.
Companies that use it:
Air New Zealand (named Oscar) AirAsia Finnair (named Finn) Expedia Allora (named Dorothy) Skyscanner FCM Travel Solutions (named Sam) 30SecondsToFly (named Claire) Chatbots are also a fuss-free way to have all queries and important information saved in a single conversation flow in the conversation history, so a user will always have it at their fingertips.
Voice technology Talking to technology and making it do things for us all started with Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri.
First introduced when she was integrated into the iPhone 4S in October 2011, the relatively small voice back then wowed techies from around the world and exploded into mainstream success.
The voice that changed technology. Source: Shutterstock.
Siri was responsible for turning voice technology into an entire industry, with other companies picking it up, such as Amazon (with Alexa) and Google (with Google Home and the Android OS).
For travelers, voice technology is a much more powerful interface and easier to use especially while on the go. Voice-enabled devices take the pain of typing in search keywords and clicking through multiple drop-down menus and links before getting the desired result.
A recent Travelport research has found that 72 percent of Chinese travelers use voice search compared to just 33 percent in the UK.
How the world is evolving to become more Chinese tourist-friendly One of the first travel companies to drown out everyone else was metasearch engine Skyscanner, which created a hotel search bot on the Telegram messaging service that understood some natural language input.
Hotels, too, are getting their share of the voice technology pie. “For hotels, Marriott, IHG, Best Western, and Kimpton are among the pioneers in the sector. Principally these brands are looking at using speakers in guests’ rooms to provide services and ease guest requests,” hospitalitynet wrote.
Augmented and virtual reality From PokemonGO to travel promotional materials, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies are “the new black.” Techies and consumers love it for its warped sense of perception, of being present in place fictional or non-fictional without actually being there.
It’s well on its way to becoming a mainstream consumer product, and it’s easy to see (no pun intended) why it’s a perfect fit for the travel and tourism industries.
A “reality” that you can choose. What will be yours? Source: Shutterstock.
In February this year, Japanese tour firm First Airlines rolled out a one-of-a-kind service that allows passengers to virtually visit destinations in a short two-hour “flight,” that would otherwise take upwards of 10 hours.
Passengers just needed to be strapped into a simulator to enjoy “traveling” to their destination in the comfort of first and business class cabins. The experience included everything that one would experience on an actual flight such as a safety announcement by the cabin crew and a four-course fine-dining in-flight meal.
Upon “arrival,” travelers will then be given high-tech virtual reality headsets to put on to explore their destination’s sites.
Staff dressed as flight attendants perform a safety demonstration at the First Airlines virtual first-class airline experience facility in Tokyo, Japan. Source: Reuters/Toru Hanai
Other travel companies, such as Thomas Cook, Flight Centre, and Virgin Holidays are also using VR in-store to promote destinations they’re selling by giving immersive tours.
Renowned multinational hospitality company Shangri-La Hotels was perhaps the first if not one of the first hotel group to use VR across all its global sales offices to promote its properties worldwide.
Even the aforementioned Niantic-developed PokemonGO was used by tourism authorities worldwide to promote their destinations.
Case in point, when Japan used the app to boost tourism in its disaster-struck regions, such as earthquake-struck Fukushima.
In 2016, PokemonGO unleashed an army of Lapras, a rare Pokemon, in select areas to boost tourism. Source: Pokemon GO Japan.
Translation: We have confirmed that the frequency to encounter Lapras has been increased in the coastal area of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefecture. Apparently, it will continue until 23 Nov. It’s time to travel there where you can experience Tohoku district! We believe that you can find a lot of awesome things besides PokemonGO.
Blockchain According to industry experts, emerging technology blockchain is the next major disruptor to the travel industry. And by the looks of how quickly companies are adopting cryptocurrencies, that seems to be true.
In February this year, Brisbane Airport, one of Australia’s biggest airports, announced it struck a game-changing deal with cryptocurrency travel firm TravelbyBit. The airport will become the world’s first airport to accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a legitimate currency.
Brisbane Airport and TravelbyBit launch world-first digital currency airport terminal
— Brisbane Airport (@BrisbaneAirport) January 23, 2018
Upon the announcement, Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) General Manager Strategic Planning and Development Roel Hellemons said, “Many people around the world have made money investing in cryptocurrencies, and a lot of these people travel internationally, so it makes sense to offer a digital currency experience within our terminals.”
He also added that it was “just the beginning” for them as they hope to expand the digital currency option across the business.
Southeast Asian travel firm Smiling Albino has also started acknowledging Bitcoin installments for all treks to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar. The organization said it was “a more productive approach to pay for an excursion.”
Bitcoin ATMs near the Wan Chai MTR station in Hong Kong. Source: Shutterstock.
All Nippon Airways (ANA) low-cost airline Peach Aviation has big plans to install and operate Bitcoin ATMs in different airplane terminals in Japan. It was also the country’s first carrier to enable transactions using bitcoin.
And soon, Singapore Airlines will launch a digital wallet for its frequent flyer KrisFlyer programme that will be powered by a private blockchain.
A world’s first, but certainly won’t be the last.
The post Which technologies are helping companies transform the travel industry? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Soak up culture while sipping on coffee in charming Hanoi

Posted by - June 14, 2018

CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF, the capital of Vietnam is not Ho Chi Minh (more commonly known as Saigon).
It’s Hanoi, a metropolis located in northern region of the country.
Vietnam’s tourism sector spreads its wings, aims for the sky The “Hanoi vs. Ho Chi Minh” debate is not new, but if you’re hankering for a holiday destination with history (Hanoi’s stretches back 4,000 years while Ho Chi Minh City is at just 300 years), coffee, culture, and charm, then Hanoi should be your top priority.
Known for its centuries-old architecture and a rich culture with Southeast Asian, Chinese, and French influences, Hanoi’s tourism has been gaining traction as of late. This is in large part due to the rise of low-cost carriers such as AirAsia, Scoot, and VietJet, making the charming destination easier to reach from just about anywhere in the world.
It’s also the second cheapest Asian country to travel around, according to Skyscanner, which makes a Hanoi vacation a bang for the buck.
In fact, VIETNAMNET Bridge reported that Hanoi served more than 13 million tourists in the first five months of 2018, a year-on-year rise of 10 percent.
What draws people to Hanoi? Plenty of things.
The main names that will turn up in search results when you Google “tourist attractions in Hanoi” include (but not limited to) the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, water puppet theatre, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, The Perfume Pagoda, Ngoc Son temple, Dong Suan market, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi Opera House, Ba Vi National Park, and the Temple of Literature.
The Temple of Literature entrance decorated with flags and lanterns for the mid-autumn festival in Hanoi. Source: Shutterstock.
Let’s not forget the heart of Hanoi, the chaotic but endearing Old Quarter, where Hoan Kiem Lake (Turtle Lake) is.
The fascination never ends as you walk along the narrow streets of the Old Quarter that are dotted with well-preserved colonial buildings. Scooters and bikes may whizz past you carelessly as you explore the town. Just take deep breaths and stay on your path because the area is best explored on foot.
The streets are arranged by trade, which makes shopping a breeze. Sidewalk food stalls selling pho (rice noodles with herbs and meat in broth) and bahn mi (baguette sandwich various savory ingredients) are a dime a dozen, and you can fill your tummy with satisfyingly delicious Vietnamese food for pennies.
Heads up though, the kiddy-sized low stools and tables will take some getting used to. But nothing an adventurous traveller can’t handle, for sure.
Stuff your bahn mi any number of protein options, from sweet minced pork to sardines and even pate. Source: Shutterstock.
Be sure to wash it all down with a generous serving of Vietnamese ca phe (coffee), famed for the way it’s made – with a small metal drip filter. For those who are particularly bold, the yummy ca phe sua chua (yogurt coffee) is a must-try.
Don’t forget to take a leisurely stroll at Hoan Kiem Lake, a central feature in Hanoi.
Legend has it that Hoan Kiem Lake is where the Golden Turtle God (Kim Qui) lives. In reality, the lake is home to large soft-shell turtles. If you’re planning to visit, don’t forget to walk across the striking red Huc Bridge to get to Ngoc Son Temple on the small island in the center.
By day, Hoan Kiem Lake bursts with activities, as it’s a popular place for joggers, couples on a date, the elderly practicing tai chi, locals line dancing, and families enjoying themselves.
Hoan Kiem Lake at night with the striking red Huc Bridge. Source: Shutterstock.
After sunset, however, the lake becomes beautifully illuminated, giving it a romantic atmosphere.
What else is there to do? Its prime location makes Ha Long Bay, a Unesco World Heritage Site and the most visited tourist site in the north of Vietnam, very accessible. The bay is only about 170km east of Hanoi.
“Ha Long” means “Bay of Descending Dragons”, but it’s likely that no actual dragons were spotted there. It’s more famous for its scenic views, as it boasts hundreds (1969, to be exact) of limestone islets in different shapes and sizes rising up from the water.
Hạ Long Bay is known for its emerald waters and hundreds of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests. Source: Shutterstock.
To really experience Ha Long Bay, stay on board a cruise for a night. It’ll give you ample time to explore the bay on a smaller bamboo boat, visit hidden caves and floating villages, kayak or even swim if you’d like, before retiring and falling asleep beneath the stars on the top deck of your cruise.
How to get there? There are no direct flights to Ha Long Bay but getting there is fairly simple and straightforward.
The most popular and inexpensive way is to get on a local coach. The journey should take you about four to five hours long. Prices are anywhere between US$3.50 to US$7. Get your ticket to your ride here.
Alternatively, you can hire a private car and have yourself a little road trip from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay. Prices depend on car and day (can be higher on weekends and holidays) but you should expect to splurge about US$25 to US$65 per day. Go to this website for more information.
There are a number of ways to get to Ha Long Bay from Hanoi. Source: Shutterstock.
Finally, the easiest and most fuss-free option of making your way to Ha Long Bay is to book a cruise package here or here.
Most packages include a roundtrip transfer in which a shuttle will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel’s doorstep.
How to be an eco-friendly, alternative traveler Meanwhile, Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem district launched its own tourism website to promote its tourism potential and attract more tourists to the area.
The Hanoi Department of Tourism has also been working with CNN to give its promotional efforts more mileage via CNN’s “Destination Hanoi” programme.
This year, Hanoi expects to serve more than 25.4 million holidaymakers, including 5.5 million foreigners, which will bring in some VND75.78 trillion (US$3.33 billion) in revenue.
The post Soak up culture while sipping on coffee in charming Hanoi appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

These women are paving the way for hotels to go green

Posted by - June 14, 2018

TRAVEL WITHOUT PLASTIC, a group of dedicated environmentalists committed to minimizing single-use plastics in the travel industry, has launched a toolkit for hotels around the world in conjunction with World Environment Day.
Titled Let’s Reduce Single-Use – The Plastics Guide for Hotels, it’s available in English and Spanish.
Hilton takes the last straw out of its hotels “Hotels can adapt to changing customer attitudes, reduce costs, steal a march on increasingly likely legislation and drastically reduce the amount of plastic entering their local environment by implementing changes outlined in the ‘Let’s Reduce Single-Use Guide and Tool Kit’,” founder Jo Hendrickx said.
The team behind the toolkit call themselves “lovers of holidays and loathers of unnecessary plastic”.
Hendrickx holds a Masters Degree in Responsible Tourism Management and has worked extensively with hotels and accommodation providers since 2001, while Let’s Reduce Single-Use – The Plastics Guide for Hotels co-author Rachel McCaffrey holds a Masters Degree in International Tourism Policy and has over 15 years of experience in tourism and sustainability.
A post shared by Jo Hendrickx (@travelwithoutplastic) on Jun 6, 2018 at 6:48am PDT
“Having worked with and audited hundreds of hotels since 2001, we’ve spoken with General Managers, Housekeepers, Receptionists, Gardeners, Food and Beverage Staff, Entertainers and Spa Colleagues and we’ve come to know the challenges to implementing change,” the women wrote on their website.
“By putting our combined knowledge and expertise together into one place, we break down the pros and cons of the alternatives, discuss why composting plates aren’t necessarily the right option for you and inspire you with real examples that are making a difference.”
A post shared by Jo Hendrickx (@travelwithoutplastic) on Mar 26, 2018 at 8:19am PDT
Aside from teaching hotels how to measure and manage their plastic reduction journey, the guide also includes zero cost, low cost, and investment options, as well as a list of suppliers of plastic-free alternatives (edible straws, reusable laundry bags, and other potential solutions).
There’s even a self-assessment questionnaire and a plastics spend tracker to identify expenditure associated with plastics use across hotel operations, to help hotels make informed decisions that not only reduce environmental impact but also suits their business.
Hotel staff isn’t forgotten either as the toolkit is bundled with communication materials to help engage them in its reduction process.
The toolkit is as well, listing out where plastics are used in hotels and how long they take to break down in one simple infographic. Source: Travel Without Plastic.
Are you a hotel owner who wants to reduce your single-use plastics yet save money?
Sign up for a free “taste” of Let’s Reduce Single-Use – The Plastics Guide for Hotels here.
The post These women are paving the way for hotels to go green appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

10 Anthony Bourdain quotes to inspire your next travel

Posted by - June 13, 2018

ANTHONY BOURDAIN: Passionate “rockstar” celebrity chef, renowned author, esteemed television personality, and more importantly, inspiring travel documentarian.
One that has even had the pleasure of slurping bun cha (Vietnamese dish of grilled pork and noodle) with former US President Barack Obama in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Don’t make these cultural Pho-pas when eating in Asia In his lifetime, he taught us about cultural differences and impacts, shared narratives that were raw and real, showed us how to eat, and wrote beautifully about his experiences at various destinations around the globe.
Anthony, Bourdain or as he would prefer, Tony, changed the world of food and travel.
Last Friday, the American celebrity chef was found dead in France, where he was working on an upcoming episode of his award-winning series, Parts Unknown. News of his death sent TV viewers and fans around the world reeling from shock.
“ feel immediately gutted, like someone has blown a hole not just in your stomach, but through your entire being,” wrote Sam Slaughter of The Manual.
But very quickly, tributes began to pour in. A testament of how much he was loved by all.
Anthony Bourdain and Mario Batali take a selfie at The (RED) Supper on June 2, 2016 in New York City. Source: Noam Galai/Getty Images/AFP.
“His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller. His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much,” CNN, which airs Parts Unknown, said in a statement.
Italian actress Asia Argento, who had been dating Bourdain or the past year, remembered him as someone who “gave all of himself in everything that he did.”
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper paid a tearful tribute to his friend, saying, “He gave me hope” before airing an hour-long memoriam that showed clips from Bourdain’s shows and friends sharing their memories of the television personality.
Meanwhile, Obama tweeted, “He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him.”
A makeshift memorial outside Brasserie Les Halles in New York City for the late celebrity chef and author Anthony Bourdain. He worked here in the ’90s. The location closed in 2016. Source: Shutterstock.
Although he has gone where we can’t follow, he certainly will never be forgotten. He was everyone’s friend, someone we followed as he traveled across the globe. And his legacy is one that would be hard to erase.
So here are 10 Anthony Bourdain quotes to inspire your next travel:
“Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund.” – from Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook.
“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.”
“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.” – from Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook.
Anthony Bourdain doing what he does best – chowing down while traveling. Source: Giphy.
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”- from No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach.
“I’m a big believer in winging it. I’m a big believer that you’re never going to find perfect city travel experience or the perfect meal without a constant willingness to experience a bad one. Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of vacation itineraries miss, I think, and I’m always trying to push people to allow those things to happen rather than stick to some rigid itinerary.”
“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.” – from The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones.
Anthony Bourdain speaks at the Treme, The Heart Of New Orleans dinner on Feb 22, 2014, in Miami Beach, Florida. Source: Dylan Rives/Getty Images for Food Network SoBe Wine & Food Festival/AFP.
“It seems that the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it, how many places I have still to go, how much more there is to learn. Maybe that’s enlightenment enough – to know that there is no final resting place of the mind, no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom, at least for me, means realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.” – from No Reservations Season 2 Episode 3 (Peru).
“I learned a long time ago that trying to micromanage the perfect vacation is always a disaster. That leads to terrible times.”
“The journey changes you. It should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, your consciousness, your heart and on your body. You take something with you and, hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – from No Reservations Season 1 Episode 5 (Malaysia: Into the Jungle).
Anthony Bourdain attends The Inaugural World Street Food Congress 2013 at Spice Market in New York City. Source: AFP PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/Michael loccisano.
“It’s been an adventure. We took some casualties over the years. Things got broken. Things got lost. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.” – from Kitchen Confidential.
Thank you, Tony. Rest in peace. We’ll miss you.
The post 10 Anthony Bourdain quotes to inspire your next travel appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Marriott has big plans for Sheraton brand

Posted by - June 8, 2018

MARRIOT INTERNATIONAL will be giving a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘home away from home’ for vacationers staying at one of its largest hotel brands: Sheraton Hotels and Resorts.
At the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference earlier this week, the hospitality giant said its US owners and investors would be pumping US$500 million into a plan to transform all 515 Sheraton hotels around the world.
The focus, said a release on the announcement, will be on guest experience, hotel operations, and design philosophy.
Rewards galore: Asia’s best SME hotel programs “From the moment we closed the Starwood merger in late 2016, the revitalization of Sheraton has been a top priority for our company,” Marriott International president and CEO Arne Sorenson said in the release.
Marriott hasn’t wasted any time getting to work on revamping the struggling 81-year-old Sheraton brand, with renovations already ongoing at 25 percent of Sheraton hotels worldwide.
What’s the new look? Marriott International is centering the renovations on combining Sheraton’s rich legacy with a focus on being at the heart of the community.
New designs will establish the hotel beyond a luxury brand and enable socialization, productivity, and personalization for all guests.
For example, the hotel lobbies will resemble a town square feel: plenty going on but with a friendly neighborhood vibe.
The seating and desks will be communal with integrated lockable drawers for when nature calls or a coffee break beckons.
Smaller meeting rooms called “collaboration suites” can also be hired via Marriott’s app.
An original sketch for the future lobbies in Sheraton hotels. Source: Marriott International
Guestrooms are being given a contemporary makeover with height-adjustable desks, USB points, and insulated walls to reduce sound transmission.
“We kept most of the furniture simple, elegant and especially comfortable,” Lionel Sussman, vice president of global design strategies for Marriott told
The new bathrooms will be larger with a six-foot shower and vanity mirror with adjustable LED lighting.
A post shared by Sheraton Hotels & Resorts (@sheratonhotels) on Jun 3, 2018 at 3:23pm PDT
A new dining concept is also being introduced to the Sheraton brand with the convenient and chic “Coffee bar bar” for those who want tasty food without the fuss.
The eatery doubles up as a coffee shop and an alcoholic beverage bar, hence “bar bar.”
Clock in to the coolest co-working spaces in Singapore “With our Sheraton transformation plan, we’ve put together all of the pieces of the equation to work cooperatively with our owners to set this iconic brand on a new, disciplined and successful path,” Sorenson added.
The post Marriott has big plans for Sheraton brand appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Take a look inside the Trump-Kim Summit hotel

Posted by - June 6, 2018

A TWITTER announcement this morning ended weeks of speculation over the chosen venue for the Trump-Kim summit.
The winner, according to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, is: Capella Hotel, Sentosa Island, Singapore.
UPDATE: The venue for the Singapore summit between @POTUS and Leader Kim Jong Un will be the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island. We thank our great Singaporean hosts for their hospitality.
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) June 5, 2018
Can you guess where the world’s tallest statues are? Capella Hotel, on Singapore’s premier island getaway Sentosa Island, is synonymous with indulgence – a fitting venue for the historic handshake between US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un on June 12.
If you don’t already know, this will be the first-ever meeting between a sitting US president and North Korean leader. Top on the agenda will be the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula – Trump wants to persuade the leader of the world’s most reclusive regime to shut down a nuclear missile programme that threatens US lives.
Capella Hotel is an ultra-luxurious property, boasting two presidential suites which are standalone, two-story manors and over 100 extravagantly furnished suites and guest rooms.
A post shared by Capella Singapore (@capellasin) on May 21, 2017 at 2:02am PDT
Lying adjacent to the hotel is The Club at Capella Singapore, an ultra-luxe serviced residence featuring 81 apartments, penthouses, and manors.
Capella Hotel is a perfect blend of new and old; think 19th-century colonial architecture, antique Asian artifacts and a rich interior that oozes comfort and modernity.
Besides the three outdoor pools, multi-award winning Auriga Spa, roaming peacocks and rainforest setting, the hotel offers maximum security because of its detached location.
A post shared by Kai Böcking (@kaireist) on Sep 18, 2017 at 11:06pm PDT
Sentosa Island is a human-made island off the southern tip of Singapore. It can be accessed via road, boat, or cable car, but can be better guarded than an innercity location.
A post shared by Capella Singapore (@capellasin) on Apr 15, 2018 at 8:21pm PDT
Measures are already in place to keep public spectators away. The Singapore government has issued a public order designating Sentosa and the linkway to the island as a special event area for the summit.
Drones are also banned in the area between June 10 and June 14.
A post shared by Capella Singapore (@capellasin) on Mar 19, 2018 at 2:45am PDT
However, the arrangement wasn’t an overnight decision. Kim Chang Son, director of North Korea’s state affairs commission secretariat, and White House deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin met at the hotel late last month to arrange security and logistics, Bloomberg reports.
The arrangements for the Trump-Kim summit have been a diplomatic rollercoaster from the outset.
Unless you’re a social media-skeptic, you’ll know Trump has fired off some offensive tweets about Kim Jong Un in the past:
Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018
But North Korea’s relations with the rest of the world began changing when North and South Korean athletes teamed up for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February.
When March rolled around, Trump had accepted Kim Jong Un’s invitation to meet and discuss nuclear disarmament.
Following the agreement, South Korea President Moon Jae-in held a landmark summit with Kim Jong Un. By late April, North Korea had confirmed suspension of nuclear and long-range missile testing.
Trump was chuffed:
North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World – big progress! Look forward to our Summit.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 20, 2018
In early May, the Trump-Kim summit was confirmed, but by May 24 it had been canceled, in true Trump style:
A letter from the President to Chairman Kim Jong Un: “It is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting.”
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 24, 2018
Yet just a few days later, the meeting was confirmed again after a North Korean dignitary, Kim Yong-chol, convinced Trump the meeting should proceed.
Speaking after the convincing chat, Trump said: “We are going to deal, and we are really going to start a process. Remember what I say, we will see what we will see.”
The proof will be in the pudding, and on that note, it’s worth pointing out The Knolls restaurant at Capella Hotel has a fantastic selection of divine desserts.
The hotel is booked up for the duration of the historic summit, but you can stay at Capella Hotel another time for a cool US$465 average price per night.
The post Take a look inside the Trump-Kim Summit hotel appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Airbnb wants a piece of the ‘Stories’ success

Posted by - May 30, 2018

SNAPCHAT must’ve done something right by pioneering the “Stories” feature in 2013, considering how it snowballed into an avalanche of companies implementing similar, if not exactly the same features.
You may remember Instagram first announcing “Stories” in 2016. This was followed by WhatsApp, Facebook, and Skype. Clearly, they’re not the first. And they won’t be the last.
Instagram: From hobbyist to influencer using these hashtags Airbnb has just launched “Stories” on its app this week, a feature we all know too well.
Currently, it’s being tested among a small group of users. Like all the other social media story formats you’re familiar with, its purpose is to serve as an outlet for users to share photos and videos.
Why does Airbnb feel that we need yet another “Stories” feature?
Perhaps the company has taken note of the creative, engaging shift in visual storytelling and is trying to relate to the 10-second video generation better. After all, Airbnb is essentially a travel platform and a big part of travel is capturing memories through the camera lens.
Or maybe it’s living up to the promise of becoming an all-round holiday planner, booker, flyer, and accommodator. Airbnb already has the platform and the users, so why not make the best out of it and benefit the people who are on it?
How many ‘Stories’ features can you juggle? Source: Shutterstock.
And how will “Stories” benefit Airbnb?
According to social media agency Block Party, the number of accounts that created or viewed a story on Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Facebook rose 842 percent between 2016 and 2017, reaching more than 970 million accounts.
To date, over 820 million accounts use “Stories” every day across Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Facebook.
If the success of the other social media platforms are anything to go by, Airbnb will likely see an increase in downloads, which will translate into sign ups.
For those who have already signed up with Airbnb, this may encourage them to use the app more and not just as and when needed for bookings.
A quick glance at how Airbnb’s ‘Stories’ feature works. Source: Airbnb.
With enough people using “Stories”, it will allow Airbnb to collect the material and use it to give other users ideas of places to see and things to do
“Keep captions to one to two sentences. Write about why you thought that moment was interesting. Feel free to write tips about that place as well – these are super useful to people viewing your story,” Airbnb wrote in the FAQ.
In other words, it’s an easy way to market destinations.
After all, the company did roll out Experiences in 2016, a service that offers users activities hosted by locals and in some cases, intimate concerts hosted by the artist themselves.
The service is on track to book one million Experiences for the second quarter in a row. It’s expected to be profitable by the end of 2019.
Airbnb turns it up with John Legend Sounds like a win-win situation for both Airbnb and its users.
That having said, how users are planning to juggle between “Stories” on a handful of apps remains to be seen.
The post Airbnb wants a piece of the ‘Stories’ success appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Rewards galore: Asia’s best SME hotel programs

Posted by - May 29, 2018

SMALL to medium enterprises (SME) are finally getting the break they deserve in the conference, events, and business travel sphere.
SMEs can be defined by the number of employees, annual sales, assets or a mixture of any of these.
The world’s cheapest airlines are in Asia Despite SMEs making up the majority of companies in many countries, they often to struggle to get funding and suffer through taxation.
Another part of the struggle is affording event spaces and staying in hotels which reflect the SME’s ambitions.
If you’re involved in business, or even an SME business owner yourself, you’d be fully aware of these struggles.
However, hotels around the world are offering an olive branch to SMEs in the form of targeted reward programs.
The customized programs allow SMEs to branch into growth territory by providing discounted rates for rooms and use of facilities.
Business owners can meet with prospective clients and investors in places that will undoubtedly impress.
Here are four of Asia’s best SME hotel reward programs, certain to get you excited for your next business trip.
Hyatt Leverage A post shared by Hyatt (@hyatt) on Oct 20, 2015 at 5:48am PDT
Hyatt may be new to the SME reward program scene but it’s certainly stamping its mark.
The Hyatt Leverage program provides eligible SMEs exclusive discounts of up to 15 percent off standard rates at any of the participating hotels worldwide.
In addition to this, SMEs will receive an extra five percent off selected Oasis properties.
Oasis is a quirky home rental service run by Hyatt which offer guests longer stays in more locations around the world.
Hyatt Leverage also gives guests access to the administration portal. Companies who are booking on behalf of an employee can use it to track bookings and make changes.
Clock in to the coolest co-working spaces in Singapore Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts A post shared by Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts (@shangrilahotels) on May 25, 2018 at 5:41am PDT
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts is known for its opulence and unrivaled luxury which filters into business travel.
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts’ Business Travel Program aims to rewards SMEs with preferential rates at nearly 80 properties worldwide.
The program starts with an online enrollment to ensure the SME is eligible, then everything can be managed through the Shangri-La app.
Upon registration, a unique identification code will be sent to the SME and any associates of the SME can use it to make discounted bookings.
Complimentary amenities will also be offered as part of the program.
Eligibility is simple:
Generate a minimum of 50 room nights per year bookings across all participating hotels. Does not currently have a corporate rate agreement with any Shangri-La, Kerry, Hotel Jen or Traders hotels. Is not a travel agent or wholesaler. Hilton Asia Pacific Local Business Program A post shared by Hilton Hotels & Resorts (@hiltonhotels) on Apr 28, 2018 at 8:01am PDT
Hilton is getting personal with its SME rewards, and we like it.
The luxury hotel brand offers different benefits to travelers depending on which region of Asia Pacific they’re in.
Australasia: Corporate members of the Local Business Program can enjoy 12 percent discount on rooms and Hilton Honours members will receive free WiFi. Greater China and Mongolia: It’s cool enough that Hilton has properties in Mongolia, but even cooler that it offers SMEs 18 percent off room rates and breakfast. India and Southeast Asia: Participating Hilton hotels properties in India and Southeast Asia offer 20 percent off room rates and a discounted and delicious breakfast. Japan and Korea: You guessed it, a sweet 15 percent discount on rooms and breakfast, because what’s a divine stay without a delightful breakfast? Marriott for Small Business A post shared by Marriott International (@marriottintl) on Apr 20, 2017 at 8:19am PDT
Whether you’re working, meeting or relaxing, Marriot understands the importance of a good stay.
“You’re a small business, but there’s nothing small about what you do. We understand. And, with a range of brands, services, and amenities, we’ve got what you need to make things happen,” Marriott’s website wrote.
From the best rate guarantee, mobile check-in and hotel flexibility to workspaces on demand and efficiently booking small meetings – Marriot has thought of everything.
But don’t take it from us, hear it from the guests.

The post Rewards galore: Asia’s best SME hotel programs appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Tour Australia via Chris Hemsworth’s Instagram

Posted by - May 24, 2018

WHO BETTER to take you on a tour of the land Down Under than Australian actor and Marvel heartthrob, Chris Hemsworth?
The Thor star has been zipping back and forth between Hollywood and Australia, wielding the Mjolnir for his Avengers: Infinity War promotional activities and then swopping that for a wetsuit on a surf holiday in his homeland with his adorable family.
Are Australia’s kangaroos addicted to fast food? “Growing up in Australia, you can sometimes take it all for granted. But after being away for ten years and coming back, exploring some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen has reminded me how unique and impressive Australia is, and how lucky we are,” Chris Hemsworth said.
From the red sands of the Outback through rugged mountains to serene white beaches and tropical waters, the actor dished out everything that he loves about his home country on his Instagram.
With his 18 million followers, he shared exciting snaps and clips of hanging out in a sprawling vineyard, cuddling koalas, and swimming with dolphins.
A post shared by Chris Hemsworth (@chrishemsworth) on Feb 12, 2018 at 3:58am PST
A post shared by Chris Hemsworth (@chrishemsworth) on Feb 12, 2018 at 3:45am PST
A post shared by Chris Hemsworth (@chrishemsworth) on Feb 9, 2018 at 3:54pm PST
Hemsworth also dropped a bunch of personal photos of himself enjoying quality time with his family against iconic Australian backdrops such as Uluru (or Ayers Rock), the Kimberley, the Whitsundays and The Great Barrier Reef.
In speaking about The Great Barrier Reef, the largest living thing on Earth, Hemsworth said, “The Great Barrier Reef is one of those places you must visit, whether you love the water or just want to see one of the great wonders of the world.”
“We stayed at Hayman Island which was a real highlight… We had an afternoon on Whitehaven Beach which was absolutely stunning. It was the whitest sand and crystal clean water that I’d ever seen, and the Whitsundays is the perfect spot to just unwind and relax.”
It goes without saying that his trips to some of Australia’s best beaches, such as Tallow Beach at Byron Bay and Snapper Rocks at Gold Coast, mean there’s plenty of Hemsworth and his godlike beach bod to show.
A post shared by Chris Hemsworth (@chrishemsworth) on Mar 6, 2018 at 2:58am PST
A post shared by Chris Hemsworth (@chrishemsworth) on Mar 6, 2018 at 2:52am PST
A post shared by Chris Hemsworth (@chrishemsworth) on Mar 7, 2018 at 11:41pm PST
Not that his fans are complaining, of course. After all, he is Thor.
He is also as Australian as they come.
In speaking about how he does beach vacations back home, Hemsworth said, “I’d take a 4×4, fill it with food, fishing rods, diving gear, a tent and surfboards and take off exploring. I prefer to not have a huge plan and just take it as it comes.”
Clearly, you can take the man out of Australia but you can’t take the Australian out of the man.
Why Western Australia is the perfect place for a family getaway Chris Hemsworth is the official global celebrity ambassador for Tourism Australia.
More shots of the beautiful land Down Under can be found on his wife Elsa Pataky’s Instagram.
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