FX Excursions

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News For April, 2012

Apr 1, 2012
2012 / April 2012


Europe: New Appeal for Business and Leisure

While economic woes have made Europe’s price tag more attractive to American travelers, they have not slowed development of new facilities to welcome them. These factors, and the importance of business travel, are especially appreciated in Germany, where 27 percent of American travelers visit for business. It’s no wonder the country’s 2012 campaign targets them, emphasizing Germany’s value-for-dollar advantage and cutting edge in hosting “green meetings” in such places as Darmstadtium Science and Convention Center, which uses geothermal, biomass and solar energy to run meetings almost entirely on renewable resources.


German city hotel rates are well below the European average, as are Portugal’s, where 4-star rates have fallen below 100 euros ($135) and packages add even greater value. Hotels.com studies show Portuguese hotels as the most affordable of any major European destination. American Airlines’ decision to launch service this month between Miami (MIA) and Barcelona (BCN) and add four more Madrid (MAD) flights weekly highlights the increased interest in neighboring Spain’s new investments, which include Bilbao’s cruise port development, new luxury train journeys and several new paradores. Along with the relaunch of Al-Andalus, known as Spain’s Palace on Wheels, the 28-passenger Gran Lujo launches in May with weeklong trips through Bilbao to Santiago de Compostela. Among five new paradores opening this year, a castle becomes Parador de Ibiza, the first of these historic luxury lodgings in the Balearic Islands; and the 1028 monastery of San Juan Bautista in Asturias opens this spring as the 86-room Parador de Corias.


Cox & Kings luxury tours explore Europe’s far corners in handcrafted itineraries such as “Albania: Lost in Time” and “Sweden & The Midnight Sun,” which travels beyond the Arctic Circle to experience the ICEHOTEL, treetop saunas and rafting by midnight sunlight. Hotel packages tempt travelers to Europe with private dining amid the paintings of Madrid’s Prado art museum while staying in the Royal Suite at Hotel Villa Magna, or a personal tour and tasting at Domaine du Daley, one of the most award-winning vineyards in Switzerland’s Lavaux wine region, offered by Lausanne’s Beau-Rivage Palace.


Changing at Changi

In an airport that already offers free movies and a rooftop sunflower garden, layover passengers can now follow an art trail and interact with a 42-foot mechanical flower. Changi Airport’s (SIN) Terminal 3 is now decorated by specially commissioned installations that draw their inspiration from Singapore’s heritage, culture and nature. Highlighting this art trail is Daisy by German kinetic artist Christian Moeller. The giant flower has built-in sensors that can react to a traveler’s presence and movements. If nearby travelers wave at it, Daisy will move and turn toward them.


Blurring the Lines

Two announcements by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano could speed busy travelers through airports. Global Entry, which allows automated passport processing through biometric identification for international arrivals, will become permanent. The program will be extended to additional airports and will also now be available to children under age 18. Tested at 20 U.S. international airports, Global Entry reduces average wait times by more than 70 percent, usually to less than five minutes.

For departing passengers, a basic shift in approach will expand the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program, exempting passengers who provide certain information in advance from removing shoes, belts and laptops at checkpoints. Already in use by frequent flyers on Delta and American airlines in seven airports, PreCheck will expand to 28 more, including Washington Dulles (IAD), Newark (EWR) and Boston (BOS), and to other airlines. Expected to join soon are United/Continental and US Airways. The expansion is already in place at Washington Reagan (DCA), New York (JFK), Chicago (ORD) and Salt Lake City (SLC).


Sweet Suites

The airline industry’s first — and only — double suites have taken to the air on board Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A380, now in service on the New York (JFK)–Frankfurt (FRA)–Singapore (SIN) route. Each aircraft is equipped with two private cabins, each with a double bed for two passengers, outfitted with down duvets and sleeper suits designed by Givenchy. Other perks for these and the aircraft’s single suites include turndown service at bedtime, personal care amenities by Kiehl’s and a choice of Dom Pérignon or Krug Champagne. Each private cabin also has a 23-inch video screen with more than 1,000 on-demand entertainment options.


LAN Relocates at JFK

With the codeshare agreement allowing American Airlines and LAN Ecuador to place their codes on each other’s flights, LAN Airlines affiliates, including LAN Chile, LAN Peru and LAN Ecuador, will relocate to Terminal 8 in New York (JFK), with American. The new co-location to American’s gates at JFK not only makes connections faster but also allows LAN customers easier access to American’s recently expanded Admirals Club in Concourse C and an Admirals Club and Flagship Lounge in Concourse B.


JAL and airberlin Share

In a new agreement between the two airlines, flights between Frankfurt (FRA) and Berlin (TXL), operated six times a week by airberlin, will be coded with JAL’s flight code, adding another connection option for JAL customers traveling to the German capital. Customers can reach Berlin via Frankfurt, to which JAL operates daily flights.


New Routes in Asia

Hong Kong Airlines launched daily passenger flights to Taiwan’s Taipei (TPE) and Kaohsiung (KHH) airports, further extending their network of onward connections. In March, Hong Kong Airlines launched the world’s first all-Club Class widebody long-haul scheduled service, operating between London (LHR) and Hong Kong (HKG), configured with 116 seats in Club Premier and Club Classic. Korean Air, meanwhile, has begun twiceweekly flights to Da Nang, Vietnam (DAD), better known to Westerners as China Beach. This brings the airline’s total weekly flights between Seoul (ICN) and Vietnam to 18.


Opening in Boston

Opening this month in the heart of Boston’s theater district, The Revere Hotel blends lodging — 325 guestrooms, 30 deluxe suites and a presidential suite — with entertainment and meeting venues for business and leisure travelers. Along with the smart Emerald Lounge, The Revere Hotel offers the 225-seat Theatre 1, a state-of-the-art performance venue with plush seating, ambient lighting and the latest projection and audio technology. Each luxury seat has its own designated workspace and power sources to create a versatile venue as suitable for a business presentation as for a performance. Space 57 is even more versatile, a 6,700-square-foot multidimensional event space with a built-in 30- by 12-foot AV screen and able to accommodate up to 1,000 guests. The hotel’s sixth floor is dedicated to more than 35,000 square feet of meetings and events space, featuring exposed brick, reclaimed wood and rustic metals.


Moroccan Oasis

Inspired by Moorish and Andalusian architecture, The Palais Namaskar in Marrakech opens this month as part of the Oetker Collection of “masterpiece hotels.” A resort of 41 suites, villas and palaces set in acres of gardens, Palais Namaskar lies in a scenic setting between the Atlas Mountains and the Djebilet Hills. Suites in the Residence overlook private pools and Jacuzzis; secluded Pool Villas are set in entirely enclosed private gardens with heated pools; and lavish three- or four-bedroom Palaces have enough private space for families or small groups. A restaurant, a tea lounge, a bar and a spa complete the resort, accessible to six golf courses within 45 minutes.



Save in Seattle

Frequently named among America’s best hotels, Seattle’s Cedarbrook Lodge combines convenience — Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) is less than a mile away — with luxury and leisure activities. The Northwest Water Adventure package, available through May 31, includes overnight accommodations, valet parking, welcome wine or local microbrews and charcuterie platter, a $100 dining credit at Copperleaf Restaurant and your choice of a half-day fly-fishing excursion with Emerald Water Anglers (all supplies, lunch and beverages included) or a half-day adventure on Elliot Bay with Alki Kayak Tours. All guests enjoy the added complimentary amenities of plush guestrooms with sitting areas, fireplaces, book libraries and 24-hour snacks — plus WiFi access; continental breakfast; and guest shuttles to the airport, light rail and Amtrak stations.



Deal with Points

What’s better than a good deal? One you can buy with points. Throughout 2012, Faldo Golf Institutes in Orlando, Fla., and Palm Desert, Calif., offer free lodging when you attend a two- or three-day golf school. Marriott Rewards members can redeem points for schools and sessions: A three-hour Full Swing or Short Game Session is 60,000 points, two-day Golf School is 150,000 and three-day Golf School is 210,000. During Value Season, a round of golf is 15,000 points, rising to 30,000 during Peak Season. Or golfers can earn 10 points per dollar at Faldo Golf Institute. Sign up for Marriott Rewards through British Airways Executive Club to earn 2,000 bonus Avios for each stay after your first one (up to 50,000 bonus Avios in total).


Double-Dipping at Fairmont

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts partnered with Qatar Airways to allow Fairmont guests on qualifying stays at published rack, corporate or package rates to earn 500 Qmiles or more in Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club program. Members of Fairmont President’s Club will also have the option of earning additional frequentflyer Qmiles. Qatar Airways currently services several destinations with Fairmont hotels, including Dubai; Abu Dhabi; Cairo; Shanghai; Singapore; Montréal; Washington, D.C.; and New York. Qatar Airways’ recent expansion into Central and Eastern Europe and Fairmont’s new properties in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia make the two loyalty programs natural partners.


Double AAdvantage

To celebrate the start of its new daily round-trip jet service between Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and Garden City Regional Airport (GCK) in Garden City, Kan., earlier this month, American Eagle will award double AAdvantage miles for flights on that route through June 30. To participate in this promotion, members need to register prior to travel using promotion code GCK2X. Similarly, double points will be awarded for flights on the new route between Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and two new destinations in Iowa — Sioux Gateway Airport in Sioux City (SUX) and Waterloo Regional Airport (ALO) in Waterloo — also until June 30. Customers need to register prior to travel using promotion codes SUX2X for Sioux City or ALO2X for Waterloo.


City Sports

Active travelers needn’t sit idle in New York if they stay at Hilton properties through June 30. The Sports Fanatic Package is filled with discounts for Manhattan experiences including bike rentals (with helmet, lock and city map), guided bike tours, sailing trips, bowling, and dining amid baseball memorabilia. Valid at Hilton Times Square; Hilton New York Fashion District; and select DoubleTree, Hampton Inn and Hilton Garden Inns, reservations should be made online with Plan Code H8 or HH8.


Luxor Luxury

Luxury hotels and tours in Egypt are rolling back prices as much as 50 percent for unheard-of bargains to lure travelers back after the Arab Spring uprisings. Along with bargains, travelers report the iconic sights are crowd-free, allowing for unhurried exploration and leisurely visits. Abercrombie & Kent has added new departure dates to its popular small-group Egypt programs through May and beginning again in September, all of which include a Nile cruise. Discounts of 50 percent on 11- and 14-day journeys are made possible by the dramatically reduced hotel and cruise rates.


Save on South America

Meet the Galapagos Islands’ curious wildlife nose to nose or explore the Amazon jungle on a riverboat and save $500 per person this summer with International Expeditions. Small-ship trips include expert naturalist guides, comfortable and well-outfitted ships designed to get close to wildlife, and a wide variety of excursions and activities stressing environmental awareness and authenticity. Amazon Voyages are offered through June and July; Galapagos departures are in June, July and August.



FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.


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