Hotels

Hotels getting hacked + CDC Zika virus alert

sleeping on airplanes

Two stories I worked on for NBC News this week are tied to news about extra precautions travelers need to take while on the road.

For a story about hotels where data breaches and data-stealing malware have put guests’ credit card and other important information at risk, I talked to data security experts and checked up on what major chains, including Hyatt, Hilton , Starwood, Mandarin Oriental, Trump and others were doing to find and put a stop to the hacking.

Two babies

And in this story about the CDC’s travel alert about the Zika virus, I explored just the beginnings of the toll the tourism industry may take from advisories urging pregnant women and those hoping to be pregnant to take avoid traveling to areas of Latin America and The Caribbean where the virus has been spreading.

Health officials aren’t yet sure why, but believe the Zika virus can cause a catastrophic birth defect called microcephaly.

How to find day rates at airport hotels

sleeping on airplanes

In working on a story for NBCNEWS.com about hotel booking sites trying to stand out by offering a twist – including Winston Club, which plans to match people up to share top hotel rooms – I discovered a good resource for travelers who find themselves stuck at the airport.

HotelsbyDay.com is a site that helps travelers find good rates for short stays at hotels during the day.

These aren’t the, ahem, one-hour or less kind of stays. The service offers stays of at least four hours in three-, four- and five-star hotels, enabling a traveler to rest and refresh before or after a long flight, get some work done in a quiet and comfortable space between meetings or, perhaps, for a family to have a “daycation” at a hotel with a pool, waterpark and spa.

The site has a search option for airport hotels and on that list you’ll find the Miami International Airport Hotel (located inside the terminal) – offered during my search for $55 for a four hour stay between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. – and the post-security Minute Suites – DFW, offered at $100 for a four hour block between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m., $110 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and $120 between 3 a.m. and 7 p.m.

I called to check and compare walk-in rates as was told there is not a posted rate at the DFW Minute Suites for a 4 hour stay, but that, with taxes, a 3.5 hour stay would cost about $134 and a 5 hour stay, $148. So the HotelsbyDay rate does indeed offer some savings.

Yotel’s YobotSanta giving out gifts

yobotlarge

If you’ve ever spent a few hours at a Yotel in Heathrow, Gatwick or Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, then you know these short stay hotels with compact rooms are a blessing for those who need to nap and recharge after a long flight or be at the gate really, really early in the morning.

There’s an off-airport Yotel in New York City that still has compact rooms, but it operates more like a ‘regular’ hotel, with full day rates, a restaurant and a place in the lobby to store luggage.

But luggage storage is unusual in that there’s a giant robotic arm – called the Yobot – that puts luggage in a lobby vault and retrieves it when asked.

Yotel is turning the Yobot into YobotSanta this season: the Yobot may bring guests staying at the Yotel New York a gift from the vault before storing their luggage – and YobotSanta is also giving away gifts online.

You can choose a virtual YOBOT bin each day for a chance to win a range of travel surprises, such as round-trip travel certificates on JetBlue, two-night Yotel stays in New York and luggage and travel accessories from Flight 001.

Go play here

What to do in Denver

I spent a few days poking around Denver while waiting for the new Westin to open out at the airport and, thanks to the enthusiastic folks at the Colorado Tourism Office, Visit Denver and a host of others, found plenty to keep me entertained and planning a return trip.

Here’s a quick look at a few places I had a chance to visit.

DENVEr LEOPOLDBros

If you’ve got someone driving you into the city from the airport, plan your arrival to coincide with the Tasting Room public hours at Leopold Bros. distillery, on the way into town. On the menu: tasty, award-winning, small batch whiskies, gins, vodka, liqueurs and a few other spirits all made right there.

In town, I stayed at the Crawford Hotel, located inside Denver’s historic, restored Union Station.

Denver Crawford

The station’s Great Hall – which has more than a dozen restaurants, bars and boutique shops – serves as the hotel’s lobby and has become a living room-style gathering spot for locals. Upstairs, some of the 112 rooms are “Pullman-style,” in a nod to the heyday of train travel, with ‘classic” and roomy “loft’ rooms rounding out the other options.

The Oxford Hotel, which first opened in 1891, is a block from the train station. In the lobby you’ll find a cozy, wood-burning fireplace and a caged canary (a holdover from the days when miners were frequent guests) and, upstairs, this vintage “business center.”

Guests who take the time to type a letter can have it mailed for free.

Denver Oxford

While in town, I visited the bigger-than-I-imagined Denver Art Museum, spending most of my time with the Western American Art collection, and toured Hostel Fish, where they have a fresh, modern take on the classic hosteling experience.

denver hostel fish

In addition to meals inside The Source and AvantiF&B, two multi-merchant venues, I sat down to dinner at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, a popular restaurant and music venue in a former brothel, and visited the wizards at The Inventing Room dessert shop, where chef Ian Kleinman whipped up some crazy treats, including chocolate cinnamon nitro popcorn.

Denver _InventingRoomNitroPopcorn

Back at Denver International Airport, I made sure to arrive well ahead of my flight so I could enjoy a meal at Root Down,, in the center core of Concourse C.

The menu there is “field to fork” and the decor is very definitely fun and funky.

Denver AIrport Root Down