On the Ground: We had a long layover at JFK and were pleased to learn that Air Europa opens its check-in counters earlier than the usual three hours before flight time. There was already a line when we arrived, but a representative greeted us, scanned our passports and immediately escorted us to a dedicated Club counter. After a quick check-in, we were given directions to the Oasis Lounge, shared with several other airlines and outside the security checkpoint. The large lounge is long and narrow, located along a wall of windows, allowing lots of light and cutting the noise level. We were offered coffee (20 varieties), Tazo teas and a full range of drinks from an open bar. The complimentary buffet included fresh fruits and berries, salads, sandwiches and three hot dishes. The business center offered computers, and there was WiFi throughout. Although we were outside security, as soon as our flight was announced we went straight through the priority line and onto the plane, bypassing the boarding line as well. (30/30)
Pre-flight: Even before we were seated, our jackets were on hangers and whisked away. Attendants offered newspapers and magazines (several choices in English), along with orange juice and water. They also offered to help with the seat controls, but these were pretty intuitive, with a lighted diagram of the seat and arrows on the buttons. There was also an electrical outlet at each seat. (29/30)
In-flight: The Club Cabin has a 2-2-2 configuration in four well-spaced rows. We had individual high-intensity gooseneck lights, which we appreciated since the cabin lights were kept low because of the departure hour, 10:55 p.m. Attendants offered us the usual hot towels, menus, “do not disturb” signs and a vanity pack; since we were headed for the boisterous Las Fallas festival in Valencia, I put the earplugs in my pocket. As an alternative to a full meal (for those who wished to get a bit more sleep), a light dinner option with a good selection of Spanish wines was available, which we took advantage of before reclining our seats for the night. Although they were not 180-degree flat beds, they were quite comfortable. Throughout the flight, the cabin attendants were always available and in sight; in fact, this was the most attentive flight crew I can remember of any business-class flight. Cabin announcements were in Spanish and English, but the English was difficult to understand. Flight attendants were fluent, however, and quick to repeat anything we missed. (37/40)
The Experience: On the ground and in the air, we found the Air Europa staff to be exceptionally attentive and courteous. We were the first passengers off the plane in Madrid and were happy to find our priority-tagged luggage the first to hit the belt.
Total Score: 96/100
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced plans to take over an existing hotel in Switzerland. The property is undergoing extensive renovations in preparation to open at the end of next year as Mandarin Oriental Palace, Luzern. The property was previously Hotel Palace Luzern, on the shores of Lake Lucerne and in the heart of the city; it originally opened in 1906.
Experience a big-city hotel stay that doesn’t feel like your typical urban visit at Chicago’s Claridge House, nestled in the sought-after Gold Coast neighborhood. The hotel’s sophisticated décor and serene residential ambience foster the atmosphere of an oasis amid the hustle and bustle of a busy metropolis.
As part of Germany’s climate package, a plan to reduce emissions, the country will raise departure taxes at German airports. Taxes will go up as much as 60 percent, and are expected to raise up to €740 million. The funds will then be used to lower VAT on rail fares from 19 percent to 7 percent.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, ahead of its naming ceremony Nov. 21. The 1,100-foot-long ship boasts a guest capacity of nearly 4,000. Since Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the shi, Oct. 30, Norwegian Encore sailed from Germany to England before making its way to New York City, then Miami, where the christening ceremony takes place next week.
Thessaloniki is the second-largest city of Greece and the most important center of the area. Built near the sea, elegant and refined, the Greek “Lady of the North” is a modern, vivacious city that welcomes visitors eager to learn about its history and culture, and at the same time have fun, relax, go shopping or simply explore the cityscape by the sea.