airports

Game of thrones: Where is the best public restroom?

10 quirky public loos seek Best US Restroom title

If you travel for business or pleasure, you know the value of a clean public restroom.

Smart business owners know that too. And in this age of selfies and social media, some venues are gaining extra attention by giving guests unusual and creative spaces to do their business.

Now ten of those lovely loos are running for the title of America’s Best Restroom.

Here’s a rundown I put together for CNBC.

Finalists were chosen based on cleanliness, visual appeal, innovation, functionality and unique design elements and this year the list ranges from loos in a museum and a zoo to lavs in restaurants, cafes and airports.

Through September 13, the public is invited to cast votes for the coolest commode from amongst the ten finalists. The winning loo will take a throne in America’s Best Restroom Hall of Fame and receive $2,500 in facility services from contest sponsor Cintas Corporation.

Take a seat and help choose a winner.

This loo is a zoo

There are animals – behind glass – in two restrooms at the Nashville Zoo in Nashville, Tennessee.

A lush exhibit that’s home to six cotton-top tamarins is visible through a floor-to-ceiling glass window in a women’s restroom, while a ball python snake exhibit can be viewed from a men’s restroom.

“It’s one of the may features that sets us apart from your standard zoo visit,” said Jim Bartoo, Nashville Zoo Marketing and Public Relations Director, “It creates conversation after the guest leaves. They share it with their friends and family. The put it on Facebook and Instagram. This organic, word-of-mouth advertising is extremely valuable to us.”

Gold faucets and candelabras

The lobby restrooms at the Jupiter NEXT hotel in Portland, Oregon have seven stalls with floor-to-ceiling, gray stone-paneled walls arranged in a semicircle around a trough-style shared sink. Special features include gold faucets and candelabra light fixtures.

“We pride ourselves on creating community wherever possible,” said Katie Watkins, Community Manager for the Jupiter, “Our low-lit separated sink area offers a space to connect and say hello to other guests – both local folks and hotel patrons – before heading out to make the most of your stay in Portland.”

Flush with French flair

In Charlotte, North Carolina, La Belle Helene is a brasserie-style restaurant designed by noted Parisian architect Richard Lafond.

“We invested in every part of the restaurant, from the pewter-poured bar and the gorgeous chandeliers and leather banquettes to the bathroom,” said Scott SteenrodManaging Director at Constellation Culinary Group.

The vanity in the unisex restroom offers a shared space for guests and the hand-painted mural reflected in the mirror offers a great backdrop for selfies.

Modern Moroccan

The restrooms at Mourad, a Moroccan fine dining restaurant in San Francisco, California, blend old and new; tradition and innovation. Each fully enclosed stall is decorated in a different color of floor-to-ceiling Moroccan mosaic tile, features a handy marble shelf and mirror and opens to a communal marble-countertop sink.

Go stylish at the mall

At the Natick Mall in Natick, Massachusetts, the women’s restrooms include a waiting room with a chandelier, makeup stations and two private changing/nursing rooms with a lounge chair and outlets. Each stall also includes a marble shelf to hold your bag.

Italian adventures

Each of the four single-user washrooms at Jianna Restaurant in Greenville, South Carolina uses color, texture, tiles, lighting and accessories to reflect a different aspect of Italian culture.

“Our client challenged us to design the restrooms so that they added something special to the great food and the drinks and the overall atmosphere in the restaurant,” said project manager Missy Games, from McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture. “The restaurant has been open a few years and you still have people coming back to the table saying, ‘Oh wow, did you see the blue bathroom?’ It’s not your typical dinner conversation.”

Bathrooms for a community-oriented brewpub

Processed with VSCO with kp8 preset

The Butcher and the Brewer brewpub in Cleveland, Ohio has an in-house butcher and charcutier and a sense of community that extends to the bathrooms. There, a communal entryway leads to green subway-tiled accents walls and a communal sink. Private stalls for men are on the right; stalls for women are on the left.

Yes, cool loos at New York’s LaGuardia Airport

LaGuardia Airport Terminal B, Location: Queens, New York, LaGuardia Gateway Partners

If the restrooms at LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B are among the finalists for America’s Best Restroom, there may indeed be hope for the overall success of the airport’s current rebuild. 

With an eye to efficiency, aesthetics and innovation, these new restrooms have stalls large enough to accommodate luggage, trough-style sinks with a raised counter above; live orchids, custom mosaic tiles at the entryway and over the urinals and graphics depicting New York City on the stall doors.

Making good use of Seattle rain 

Swanky new restrooms are part of a massive renovation project for the North Satellite at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

These feature a flushing system that will harvest rainwater to the tune of more than 750,000 gallons a year. The modern loos also have separate sinks inside the ADA stalls, family restrooms with adult changing tables and built-in custodial support closets.         

“We realize no good work is done until the paperwork is done,” said Sea-Tac spokesman Perry Cooper, “And we appreciate that people think we have some of the best seats in the house. We like to think, that’s how we roll.”

Museum quality restrooms

The minimalist design of New York City’s New Museum of Contemporary Art is the work of Pritzker Prize-winning architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the architecture firm SANAA. When it came time to create the restrooms, the Tokyo-based architects settled on a super-graphic wall pattern featuring pixilated cherry blossoms against bright fields of turquoise or orange.

Two airport restrooms in the running for America’s Best Restroom

A clean public restroom? We vote yes!

Courtesy Mourad

The lid has been lifted on the finalists for this year’s America’s Best Restroom contest and this year restrooms in two airports on opposite sides of the country are on the list.

LaGuardia Airport’s loos in the running

LaGuardia Airport Terminal B, Location: Queens, New York, LaGuardia Gateway Partners

If the restrooms at LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B are among the finalists for America’s Best Restroom, there may indeed be hope for the overall success of the airport’s current rebuild. 

With an eye to efficiency and innovation, these new restrooms have stalls large enough to accommodate luggage, trough-style sinks with a raised counter above; live orchids, custom mosaic tiles at the entryway and over the urinals and graphics depicting New York City on the stall doors.

Courtesy LaGuardia Gateway Partners

“Terminal B’s new restrooms combine cleanliness, innovative aesthetics and advanced technology together to create a top-class guest experience that travelers deserve,” said Stewart Steeves, CEO of LaGuardia Gateway Partners. 

On a roll at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Courtesy Port of Seattle

Lovely new restrooms are part of the major renovation project for the North Satellite at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

These new loos feature a flushing system that harvests rainwater to the tune of more than 750,000 gallons a year. The modern loos also have separate sinks inside the ADA stalls, family restrooms with adult changing tables and built-in custodial support closets.         

“We appreciate that people think we have some of the best seats in the house. said Sea-Tac spokesman Perry Cooper, “That’s how we roll.”

The eight other restrooms on the list of finalists this year include loos at the Nashville Zoo, at the Natick Mall in Massachusetts, at the Jupiter NEXT hotel in Portland and at restaurants, a brewpub and the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City.

Courtesy New Museum

You can cast a vote for the coolest commode through September 13. The winning loo will take a throne in America’s Best Restroom Hall of Fame and receive $2,500 in facility services from contest sponsor Cintas Corporation.

Adorable airports of the future

Airports around the world are getting makeovers. In some countries, new ones are being built.

Travelers are excited about that, of course, but so are architects and people who appreciate great design.

In this article from Architectural Record, the Airport Construction Council notes that at least $70 billion is being spent over five years, beginning in 2017, to modernize 50 medium and large U.S. airports.

Most of that money and effort is going toward revamping, expanding or constructing terminals.

Some of the other airports and airport terminal projects featured in this article include Pittsburgh International Airport, Singapore Changi Airport and JFK Airport.

Courtesy Pittsburgh International Airport
Photo by Harriet Baskas

The new Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport is mentioned as well.

Courtesy HOK and WSP

How to make your home smell like an airport

My house smells like an airport. Yours can too.

My story this week for CNBC is about airports, airlines, hotels and other places – including Disney and National Parks – that have unique and, at times, bespoke, fragrances that you may want to take home.

If only we could do a scratch and sniff blog post today!

Singapore’s Changi Airport dazzles passengers with spiral tube slides, a butterfly garden, free movie theaters and the new $1.25 billion Jewel shopping and entertainment attraction built around the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.

The award-winning airport also has a special amenity that can’t be seen: a bespoke fragrance that’s diffused into many areas of the sprawling terminals.

The airport’s signature scent has fresh floral notes of orchid, Damask rose, Asian spices and essential oils said to calm nerves and lower blood pressure. And travelers who want that soothing aroma for their homes can have it: a gift shop in Jewel’s mall sells the Changi Scent line of candles, reed diffusers and perfume oils for $14-$18.

Other airports in Asia, as well as in Europe and the United States, scent their public spaces as well.

“Honestly, we borrowed the idea from the hotel industry, where many properties have branded scents that welcome guests to the lobbies,” said Kevin Bumen, director of California’s San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport (SBP).

When the airport opened its new 6-gate terminal, improving the passenger experience was a high priority.

“We decided one thing we could do was to add scent in the ticketing areas and in bag claim,” said Bumen, “Those are the first and last areas passengers experience, and they can be points of stress and confusion. So tested several fragrances and chose a spa-like scent that conveys the idea that the airport is fresh and clean and relaxing.”

Tampa International Airport (TPA) is toying with adding scents into its terminal areas as well.

“We’ve redesigned much of the airport and improved our aesthetics. Now we’re looking into how to enhance that with scents,” said TPA spokeswoman Emily Nipps, “We’ve narrowed it down to three scents and I can tell you we’re sticking with scents that reflect the Tampa Bay Region – ocean, wood, tropics, greenery, that sort of thing.”

Airlines adopt aromas

Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Virgin Atlantic, Delta and United are among the carriers that use bespoke and specially chosen fragrances in some gate areas, lounges, lavatories, jetways and airplane cabins.

Japan’s ANA (All Nippon Airways) has a unique fragrance that it is a blend of 12 natural aromas, including traditional Japanese umbrella-pine, Yoshino Japanese cedar, mint and rosemary. Customers can purchase the scents on-line and on flights with in-flight shopping.

British scent designer Rachel Vosper created a bespoke scent called “Air” for Virgin Atlantic that has notes of lemon, rose, vanilla and essential oils such as lavender and eucalyptus. The airline sells candles featuring the fragrance for 30 British pounds (about $37).

Cathay Pacific’s unique scent, designed by Air Aroma, is a mixture of subtle woods, white florals, and fresh green tea notes, while Delta Air Lines’ “Calm” scent was created with lavender and chamomile.

Alaska Airlines’ “Ocean Citron” scent, used in lounge soaps and hand lotions, was custom made by Seattle-based Antica Farmacista, and is designed to evoke “the allure of the cool blue ocean,” with notes of California Lemon, Soft Jasmine, Lavender, Green Tea, among others. 

To create its signature scent, called “Landing,” United Airlines tried to avoid notes that were too polarizing as well as notes that might be considered too feminine or too masculine, said airline spokeswoman Maddie King. The final product, used in the airline’s lounges and warm towels on board, includes a blend of orange peel, bergamot, cypress, fir balsam, black pepper, black tea, violet wood, sandalwood, cedar, amber, leather and patchouli.

The time and money airlines spend on choosing or developing a signature scent “Is truly all about customer experience,” said Logan Andres, Director of Products and Marketing for ScentAir, a company that provides and creates scents for airlines, airports resorts and hotels as well as casinos, stores, spas, auto dealerships and even doctors’ offices and funeral homes.

“Our research on this found that for airline passengers a good smelling and welcoming gate area while you’re waiting for you plane is only second behind having someplace to plug in your smartphone. And it was more important than cushy seats. We were kind of surprised.”

Aroma to go

It’s not surprising that many travelers want to take home a nice-smelling souvenir of a place they’ve enjoyed.

Disney has a new line of plush toys infused with the scent of iconic park foods, including Mickey Mouse ice-cream bars and pizza slices and Minnie Mouse cupcakes and donuts.

Paddywax sells a collection of candles with scents inspired by the country’s national parks.

In addition to raising funds for the National Park Foundation, “These scented candles transport you to the wilderness of our national parks, filling the mind with treasured memories from trails and vistas experienced with loved ones,” said Stefanie Mathew, the National Park Foundation’s senior vice president of corporate partnerships.

Sometimes, the souvenir scents are free.

Through its Scent Concierge program, guests at Hotel Spero in San Francisco can choose a wooden wand infused with one of four distinct scents and either take their wand home or use it to create a special fragrance in their rooms.  

And at Casa Velas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, guests are given a small complimentary bottle of the hotel’s signature citrus-lavender scent as a checkout amenity.

“Research has shown that smell triggers emotions and memories,” said Luis Angarita, the resort’s Managing Director, “So we thought an amenity of our signature scent would be the perfect takeaway for our guests. Whenever they open the bottle, they’ll think of their special times at Casa Velas.”

And maybe book another trip.

Do you notice the scent of airports, airplane, hotels or other venues you visit? Would you want to take any of those scents home?

Celebrating the Apollo 11 Moon Landing anniversary

Straight to the Moon – well, Houston.

This week pretty much everyone is celebrating and commemorating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 launch and the first manned mission to land on the Moon.

And today, July 17 -the same day Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin Buzz Aldrin made their first TV transmission from Earth to space – United Airlines is hosting a special celebration flight from Newark Liberty International (EWR) airport to Houston’s Georg Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).

Why fly to Houston now?

Houston is also known as “Space City”  because it is home to NASA’s Mission Control Center at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.

StuckatTheAirport.com is going along on Flight 355. We’re promised space-themed entertainment, inflight gifts (yay!) and “special onboard guests who have first-hand experience in space.”

We think that means astronauts will on board…

Once we land in Houston, we’ll join Space Center Houston’s Apollo Anniversary Celebration and get to tour the Apollo Mission Control Center, among other activities.

We’ll also try to taste some of the special cocktails and menu items being served this month at two OTG restaurants at IAH that were inspired by meals the astronauts ate during the Apollo 11 mission.

The astronauts were served “meals” that look like this:

But the special “Eat Like an Astronaut” dishes on the menu at Ember Tavern and Tanglewood Grille in United Airlines’ Terminal C and E at IAH look far more appetizing:

 Stay tuned here and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for Apollo 11 celebration pictures along the way.