Holidays

Tuesday Travel Tidbits: JetBlue Trying Again

JetBlue’s first attempt at selling 200 copies of its limited edition “Get Packing” board game – which includes a real flight certificate in each box – was a big bust.

After a big promotional push, when it came time for the games to go on sale on Amazon, it appeared a shopping bot immediately grabbed up all available copies and complaints flooded in.

Now Jetblue is trying again.

This time they’re running a sweepstatakes: enter here by the end of 12/19/17 for a chance to win one of 195 games. 5 additional copies of the game are being auctioned off on Charitybuzz to benefit Make-A-Wish.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has added extra performances to its holiday music line-up:

On December 20, from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the airport’s Asleep on the Wheel stage (near Gate 10), Ray Benson will perform with The Barton Hills Choir backing him up.

The Choir will then go on to perform a mix of golden oldies, classic rock and modern favorites. December 22 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m.,  The Austin Jazz Workshop will perform jazz infused instrumental versions of classic Christmas Carols.

See the full schedule of music offerings at AUS here.

Germany’s Dusseldorf Airport has brought back ice-skating inside the terminal for the holiday season – this time with real ice.

Ice-skating and loaner ice-skates are free each weekend through the first weekend in January.

Free airport ice-skating is also offered during the holiday season at the Munich Airport Christmas and Winter Market and at Denver International Airport.

Holiday happenings at airports near you

Airports around the country are rolling out their holiday decorations and entertainment schedules.

Here’s some of what’s on deck so far:

Pittsburgh International Airport will holds its fourth annual Holiday Open House on Saturday, Dec. 2 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

During this event, non-flying members of the public are invited airside/post-security to shop and dine and take advantage of free parking, in-store specials, complimentary refreshments, sampling, giveaways, visits with Santa, live music and entertainment and access to the airport’s arts and cultural installations throughout the day.

You’ll need to show an ID to get into the airside terminal. More details on PIT’s Holiday Open House here.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport will kick off its holiday season with a tree lighting ceremony in the Airport’s Domestic Terminal atrium on Wednesday, Nov. 29. Then, there’s a full schedule of live holiday music performances (and gift-wrapping tables) scheduled to run from Dec 12 through to Dec. 24.

In the international terminal, look for the 12 trees decorated by representatives of the Consular Corps office in Atlanta to represent participating nations: Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica, Guyana, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Japan, Lithuania, Nigeria, Sweden, and Turkey.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport has a full schedule of music concerts lined up throughout month of December as well.

I’ll update this list as more events come in.

 

 

 

Holiday hotel packages with dazzling extras

We’re spending the week at a hotel in Florence, Italy this week that (on our budget…) feels extravagant because not only does our room overlook a park, it is super comfortable and comes with a great breakfast buffet, afternoon tea and a complimentary Handy phone that helps us find our way through town.

But this package  we’ve  purchased fades in comparision to some of the unique and over-the-top holiday packages I found for a piece I put together for CNBC this past weekend that include extras such as trimmed trees, stuffed stocking and lots of bling.

 

There’s no charge to visit the Holiday Wonderland on view now through December 27 in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, but it will certainly make you hungry.

Decorations include three trees bedecked with a total of 9,500 French macarons. The hotel’s Bar Cocoa dessert boutique boasts to having constructed the world’s largest éclair tree, using 980 éclairs in glittery red, gold, black and silver.

Starting December 2, the Tucson-area Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain will begin serving meals at its Dine-In Gingerbread House in the resort lobby. The house seats six and is made with 400 pounds of flour, 100 pounds of ginger powder, 50 pounds of cinnamon, 250 eggs, and 10 pounds of nutmeg. Viewing is complimentary, but reservations are required for lunch and dinner. Cost: $200/$250 fee, plus meal costs. Nibbling on the edible walls not permitted.

 

Several packages offer built-in holiday cheer at the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park.

The Holidays on the Fly Package offers the add-on options of a three-foot-tall tree to enjoy and take home ($50) or a six-foot-tall decorated artificial loaner tree, complete with lights, topper, skirt and ornaments ($150). For an extra $20, those who book the Snowman in a Box Package will receive a kit with a top hat, red scarf, coal eyes, buttons, pipe cleaner, authentic Chicago Oak Twigs and an organic carrot. Snow is not included, but the kits are available now through March 31, 2018.

And both friends and family can stay out of their holiday hosts’ hair by booking the Winter Fun package (starting at $154, plus tax, gratuity) which includes overnight accommodations and $25 dining credit.

Santa and Mrs. Claus welcome both adults and children to the much-loved Teddy Bear Tea ($94.33 $128 per person; $1500 for a Golden Table for 10) in the block-long lobby of The Roosevelt New Orleans, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel, which turns on its elaborate lobby lights and décor the day after Thanksgiving.

In Dallas, Texas, the Hilton Anatole transforms its lobby into Peppermint Park, complete with train rides, games, interactive entertainment, light displays, photos with Santa and more. Guests can book the “Breakfast with Santa” package, which includes a guest room, a holiday movie, and breakfast with Santa for up to two children and two adults or the Grand Holiday Experience package which includes the guest room, a holiday movie, breakfast with Santa, and two kids’ fun passes to all the Peppermint Park activities.

When Christmas Eve comes around there’ll be no need to bake cookies for Santa and leave them by the chimney if you’ve booked the Christmas Eve fantasy package at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa in greater Palm Springs, CA.

The resort’s December 24, 2017 package costs $15,000 and includes accommodations for six in the resort’s Governor’s Suite, a connecting room, a holiday dinner served by Santa’s elves, a private movie screening, bedtime stories with cookies and milk offered by elves, breakfast with Santa and a keepsake family photo. Also included: a decorated in-suite Christmas tree, $2,000 in shopping money, and limousine transportation between the resort and any airport (or home) within a two-hour drive.

For $100,000 per night (with a two-night minimum) the Bubbles & Bling package at the Lotte New York Palace is the most over-the-top holiday package we’ve found (so far).

The package includes round-trip helicopter transfers from any of the major NYC-area airports, overnight accommodations in the Jewel Suite one night and the Champagne Suite the next, extravagant in-room holiday décor that includes a decorated Christmas tree and stockings stuffed with gifts, and evening in-room entertainment by a local jazz duo.

The Jewel Suite includes a Martin Katz jewelry gift under the tree, while the Champagne Suite includes a decked-out bar cart with Martin Katz custom jeweled bottles. Also included in the package: a holiday-inspired food and wine tasting ‘experience’ and breakfast in bed.

Holiday guests who don’t choose the Bubbles & Bling package will still be offered a pencil and postcard at check-in so they can write a letter to Santa and receive a small gift and a personalized response during the daily Palace Hour (5-7 p.m. daily), where December treats include elaborate food presentations, surprise goodies and a life-size Molton Brown bath and body products advent calendar with free giveaways.