Friday, May 17, 2013

CityFocus: Portland, OR

As summertime quickly approaches, Portland can be a great option for meetings as a reprieve from the heat. It stands out in particular as a culinary hub, focused on the creation of healthy, local cuisine that represents the spirit and culture of the city.

Options for recreation and offsite events are numerous with their famous breweries, bustling farmer’s markets, and unique fine dining establishments. Here are a few other ways to incorporate unforgettable dining into your trip:

Forktown Food Tours: Great for recreational travel or a corporate outing, these tours offer you the opportunity to learn more about local restaurants and growers while trying a plethora of dishes. A three hour tour includes five or six stops, each with food and beverage tastings.

Portland’s Culinary Workshop: Take your team-building to a new level with a hands-on cooking class that ends with a shared meal at the end of the day. With the abundance of seasonal and international cuisine that Portland specializes in, there are always fresh and new dishes to try!

Ox Restaurant: This new restaurant is located in close proximity to the Oregon Convention Center, and is a gem for corporate events due its professional, yet welcoming environment. The cuisine is Argentine-inspired and events can be hosted at a communal table indoors or an enclosed patio.

Patanegra Catering: Patanegra restaurant has been a famous favorite in Portland for nearly a decade, but the excitement has been renewed with their new catering options. Let Patanegra come to your venue and match exquisite food with local and Spanish wines. They often partner with the Willamette Valley wineries due to the compatibility their dishes have with the region’s wine.
Check out more culinary gems of Portland here!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Best New Airport Amenities

As free Wi-Fi and charging outlets settle in as a standard for airports worldwide, new amenities are cropping up at airports to make traveling easier, healthier and more productive.

Yoga Room: San Francisco International and Dallas-Fort Worth Airport have both recently installed yoga studios, equipped with matts, privacy screen, and quiet space reserved for contemplation and reflection.

Free landlines: Ad-supported landlines now offer free calls domestically, and free ten-minute calls internationally. Specifically when travelling abroad, this can be a great resource for vacationers or infrequent travelers that do not have international phone plans.

Healthy meals and snacks: From sushi bars to Food Network Kitchen, it has become common for airports to offer a healthy alternative to fast food joints. O’Hare International Airport in Chicago has even introduced a Farmer’s Market Kiosk with fresh fruits and vegetables available to grab and go.

TSA PreCheck: This voluntary screening and registration process allows frequent flyers to prequalify for expedited screening, which modifies requirements such as removal of shoes and certain carry-on items. This alleviates lines for all involved, which qualifies as a definite improvement.

Read more on other airport improvements this year here.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Reducing Rates by Adding Fees

In an effort to become an “ultra low cost carrier,” Frontier Airlines is ramping up its fees.  Beginning July 1, a cup of coffee, tea or juice as well as a can of soda could cost passengers $1.99.  This will only apply to travelers who book inexpensive airfares and/or are not high-ranking members of Frontier’s mileage program.

Another fee is on its way, though the effective date has not yet been announced.  Customers who book their tickets through third party sites like Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity may soon pay extra for their carry-on bags ($25-$100 extra!).

The actual amount for your carry-on bag will depend.  If you check into your flight at home before you get to the airport, you’ll pay $25.  If you check in with a ticket agent or at a kiosk after arriving at the airport, the cost for you to carry your own bag onto the plane will climb. 

Of course, you can’t avoid the fee by checking your luggage, because you’ll be charged the checked baggage fee.  This could run you $20-$25 depending on how you bought your ticket and where/when you checked into your flight. founder, George Hobica thinks other airlines will soon follow suit, “Airlines hate paying booking fees to third-party sites… and this is an effective way to force consumers to book directly with the airline."

The moral of the story: airlines want you to book directly through them.  Check the prices on third party sites in addition to the price direct from the airline.  You’ll probably find a better price on the third party site, but be prepared for a extraneous fees!

On a side note, if you’re collecting Frontier miles, be advised that beginning July 1 you might only be earning 25-50% of the miles you fly when booking through third party sites.
Read about the new rules and fees directly from Frontier in their press release:

Monday, May 6, 2013

Best Business Hotels

Condé Nast Traveler has released their list of top hotels for business, based on reader polls. We picked a few of our favorites to feature- congratulations to all of the properties chosen!

Fairmont Dallas
Everything’s bigger in Texas, and with its outstanding and ample meeting space, the Fairmont Dallas is no exception. However, don’t think that service and details are lost on this property. Readers rave about the staff, saying that every individual goes out of their way to make your stay special. The Fairmont Dallas also stands out in its convenient location downtown, a rare gem in a city as large as this one. Sleeping rooms are equipped to be “business-friendly” with full desks, conference-style phones, and plenty of power outlets available.

St. Regis, San Francisco
Unfortunately, we can’t all have as much room to work with as they do in Dallas- so we have to applaud the St. Regis, San Francisco for luxury and comfort they offer while making incredibly efficient use of space. This 40-story building makes rooms spacious with concealing shelving, drawaers, and a recessed closet. It has a level of sophistication that matches its surroundings, and the experience continues outside as it neighbors the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Union Square. Again, the level of service at this property and other St. Regis hotels is signature, with its well-known “St. Regis Butler Service” at your beck and call for the duration of your stay.

Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong
The Mandarin Oriental is a flagship hotel of Hong Kong, and its sleek sophistication fits in perfectly with the city’s impressive technology and contemporary style. It overlooks Victoria Harbour, and has an outstanding location that allows you to take in the city even when relaxing in your room. There is a “wow” moment around every corner, from the skybridges that allow access to nearby commercial buildings to the cuisine to the multiple LCD televisions in each room.

These are just a few of many outstanding properties on the list, and we are fortunate to have their partnership! For the full list, you can click here.