travel

Southwest selling tickets to Hawaii. Flights start soon.

Want to go to Hawaii? One more airline is now flying there from the west coast.

Southwest Airlines announced it will start flying between Hawaii and the mainland on March 17, 2019, with an inaugural flight from Oakland International Airport (OAK) to Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL).

On April 7, Southwest will start service from Oakland International Airport to Kahului Airport (OGG).

In May, Southwest will start service from Norman Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) to Honolulu on May 5 and to Kahului on May 26.

Southwest is also adding interisland service and will fly roundtrip between Honolulu and Kahului four times daily beginning April 28 and four times daily between Honolulu and Ellison Onizuka International Airport at Keahole (KOA) on Hawaii Island.

Still to come: details about the schedule for Southwest’s flights from San Diego and Sacramento, and for flights that will serve Lihue, on Kauai.

Sale prices for the announced flights were offered – and sold out within minutes – on Monday, but poke around and you may still find some great deals on Southwest’s flights to Hawaii.

No doubt other carriers, such as Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska, United, American, and Delta, that fly to Hawaii from gateways across the U.S. may kick off sales and special promotions of their own in the coming days.

In fact, here’s a link to a flash fare sale Alaska Airlines rolled out today on flight to Hawaii…

Visting the Bankside hotel in London

I’m in London this week for a few days to be part of the judging panel for the second annual Travel Retail Awards program for TRBusiness. 

My assignment: evaluate spirits, cosmetics, chocolates, small electronics and other products sold in airport shops.

Tought job, right? But I’m taking the testing and evaluating very seriously.

While in town, I did take the change to stop by the Bankside, a new very fun and “design-forward” hotel in a cool neighborhood on the the south bank of the River Thames. (Sea Containers London, another swank London hotel I’ve had the pleasure of staying in before, is just a few doors down the street.)

I wasn’t able to spend the night at 161-room Banskside (part of Marriott’s Autograph collection of properties), but I did get a tour around the art-filled lobby, a look at a room and a lovely (hosted, thank-you!) dinner in the Art Yard Bar & Kitchen.

While I couldn’t try everything on the menu, I can heartily recommend the dishes I tried, especially the Monkfish Catapanla, (a hearty fish stew for two with several types of seafood), as well as the Pear Parfait and Dark Chocolate Fondant desserts.

The Bankside has several ‘bonus’ amenities that seem unique and/or quite amusing.

Guests find marshmallows on their pillows at turndown. Bars with taps to dispense several types of water (sorry, not beer) are in each hall. And just outside the elevator on each floor is a vending machine where guests may purchase small bottles of pre-made cocktails, wine, liquor and other ‘necessities,’ such as an emergency engagement ring, and handmade sparkly pants.

Worms to whales: the wildlife that shows up at airports

Bearded Seal on runway at Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport in Utqiaġvik (fomerly Barrow) Courtesy Scott Babcock, Alaska Dept of Transportation & Public Facilities.

My “At the Airport” column on USA Today this month is all about the wildlife that shows up – uninvited – at airports.

The story details some of the visitors, such as the seal (above) that showed up on the runway during a snowstorm at Alaska’s Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport in Utqiaġvik (fomerly Barrow) last year, the wily coyotes that can climb over barbed wire fences and the loons, carbiou, alligators and, mostly, birds that airport wildlife management teams must deal with.

This moose stopped by Jackson Hole Airport in October 2015. Photo courtesy Philip Bollman

To report the story I did a ride along with Nick Atwell, wildlife manager at the Portland International Airport, and talked with wildlife biologists who work with airports around the country. You can read the full column – From worms to whales, the wildlife that worries airports – at the USA Today site, but here are few more fun photos.

Coyotes chased this bear cub across a Colorado airport. USDA Wildlife Services tranquilized, tagged and relocated the cub. Photo_USDA Wildlife Services

 

The USDA’s Wildlife Services staff helps capturs and relocate alligators – some up to 9 feet long – at many southern airports. Courtesy USDA

Buffalo standing outside terminal doors at Yellowstone Airport. Courtesy Jeff Kadlec.

Coffee-making robot coming to Austin-Bergstrom airport

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is well-loved for its weekly schedule of live, local music and for the great array of local food outlets in the terminals.

Now AUS is getting a new “attraction” – a robotic coffee-making machine, courtesy of Austin-based Briggo.

The machine will be located across from Gate 8 and travelers will be able to order coffee, hot chocolate or Chai tea via an app or at the machine. App users will get a text when their order is ready to pick up.

Briggo says theirs is the first app-based, robotic, 24/7 specialty coffee system installed in an airport, although Orville the robot prepares and delivers coffee in the IT Experience Zone in Terminal 2 at Incheon International Airport in South Korea – photo below.

Travel Tibits: hotel packages to perk up your summer trip

Whether it’s a week at the beach or a weekend in a hip urban center, the hotel you choose can be a defining part of the journey.

Fluffy towels, oversized beds, luxury bath amenities and large, flat screen TVs with loads of free movies are nice basics, but a unique or over-the-top package such as the $30,000 Championship Experience package for golfers at The Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach, CA, can transform a getaway into an epic adventure. Here are a handful of other experiences to consider booking this summer that I put together for a recent CNBC story

In New York: Martinis and Montauk

(Courtesy Montauk Yacht Club Resort & Marina)

Both New York City, with its theaters, museums and nightlife, and Montauk, offering parks and beaches on the iconic East End of Long Island, are popular vacation spots during the summer.  The Martinis & Montauk package gives visitors a chance to experience both.

The “deluxe” version of the package offers guests two nights in a suite in the Loews Regency New York Hotel and two nights in a Water View room at the Montauk Yacht Club Resort & Marina. Included are two round-trip transfers between the two properties via the Hampton Ambassador luxury bus service and vouchers for two Brooklyn Gin martinis at the Regency Bar & Grill. Rates start at $2519.

Be theatrical in New York

 

(Sofitel New York – credit: Getty Images/via hotel)

 The 72nd annual Tony Awards for this season’s Broadway theater productions are just over, but theater fans can extend the award-night vibe with a stay in the show stopping Tony Awards Suite at the Sofitel New York.

The suite has views of Manhattan’s skyline and is filled with theater-themed memorabilia and amenities, including a Tony song book, award-winning scripts, opening number photography, programs, invitations, Playbills from 1960 and beyond, and more. (Rates start at $2,000 a night; available through July 15, 2018.

Bed and baseball in Boston

(Courtesy Hotel Commonwealth, Boston)

Boston’s Hotel Commonwealth (the Official Hotel of the Boston Red Sox) offers several over-the-top “insider” experiences for baseball fans this season.

In addition to the Fenway Park Suite (Rates start at $700/night), which is filled with a bounty of baseball memorabilia and sports an outdoor terrace with view of the iconic ballpark, the hotel is offering two unique fan-experience packages.

The “Can You Believe It?” package includes a night in the Fenway Guest Room with views of the park, two game tickets in the State Street Pavilion Club seating, a pregame meet-and-greet with Boston Red Sox radio announcer Joe Castiglione and the opportunity to call and record a historic play-by-play alongside Castiglione himself. (Package starts at $2995.00; a portion is donated to Red Sox Foundation).

The “Top Dawg Tonight” packages include overnight accommodations in a Fenway Guest Room, breakfast for two, two top-shelf night game tickets, a visit to the announcer booth for autographs and selfies with all-star second baseman, Hall of Famer and announcer Jerry Remy. (Rates start at $1499).

Shop with the chef in Denver

 

Denver’s Kimpton Hotel Born, adjacent to the revitalized Union Station in Downtown Denver, has just launched a package that includes a shopping experience with the chef from the hotel’s restaurant, Citizen Rail, to the Union Station Farmer’s Market next door. In addition to a cooking demonstration, a three-course meal and a Friday night hotel stay, the package includes pre-shopping mimosas and recipes to take home. (Rates start at $349 for double occupancy; available July 7, August 4 and September 8, 2018).

Rock out in the Pearl Jam suite (or the Beatles suite) in Seattle

 Pearl Jam Suite – courtesy Edgewater Hotel, Seattle.)

 The Edgewater, Seattle’s iconic over-the-water hotel where world-famous musicians ranging including The Beatles, Frank Zappa and Stevie Wonder have stayed, has a new suite paying tribute to the legendary Seattle-based band, Pearl Jam

Historic Pearl Jam tour posters adorn the room, which has an L-shaped couch and floor lamps activated by guitar pedals. Other amenities in the suite include wall graphics of Pearl Jam fans, a Pearl Jam-curated library of books, vinyl turn table and cassette players, set-lists from past shows, a state of the art sound system and loaner guitars and fenders amps. (Rates start at $2,000; 10 percent of suite revenues booked through August 10, 2018 will be donated to programs fighting homelessness in Seattle).

Not a Pearl Jam fan? The hotel also recently revamped it Beatles Suite with new Mop Top memorabilia, turntables, records and more.

Catch and cook in Oregon

 

(Courtesy Stephanie Inn, Cannon Beach, Oregon)

 The Stephanie Inn, on the waterfront in Cannon Beach, Oregon, offers complimentary daily classes for guests staying two days and a series of special for-guests-only“ Sojourns. The annual “What a Catch” excursion takes place this year on August 21 and includes a Columbia River salmon fishing excursion with a fishing guide and the inn’s chef, a box lunch, 5-course ocean-bounty dinner and a portion of the day’s catch shipped home. ($1299/per person; overnight accommodations not included.)

Not a fisher? The Stephanie Inn Sojourn: Inside the Mind of a Winemaker will take place October 4 and includes a 3-hour wine blending class at Adelsheim Vineyard, 2 bottles of your own blend to take home and a 5-course wine pairing dinner at the inn. (Price: TBA).

Marriott moments expansion 

In addition to selling hotels, Marriott hotels offers guests the opportunity to create their own packages through the recently expanded Marriott Moments program, which boasts more than 100,000 experiences that can be booked online. Offerings include everything from a scavenger hunt in Denver ($15) and a walking tour of London locations made famous in movies ($22) to a day in Paris that includes an Eiffel Tower dinner, a Seine River cruise and a Moulin Rouge show ($333) and a day of golf with a golf tour professional near San Francisco ($850).