Category Archives: Hotels

By @ 09/28/16 in Billy Kolber, Hotels, Marriott, Starwood

Marriott/Starwood loyalty merger

When the Marriott/Starwood merger closed last Friday, the frequent traveler world was surprised with a same-day linkage of the two loyalty programs, immediate reciprocal elite memberships, and the ability to shift points between the two programs freely, at a 1 Starpoint = 3 Marriott Rewards point ratio.

Starwood Gold Elite members (who only needed 10 stays or 25 nights to qualify) got the biggest bonus, since Marriott Rewards Gold (which requires 50 nights) offers benefits more closely aligned with SPG platinum, notably free breakfast and lounge access at most Marriott hotels. Elite qualification nights are not shared or transferable currently, so you’ll need to be careful not to split your nights in a way that jeopardizes your status.

The combination of the Marriott/Starwood programs created some unexpected bonuses for elite members. And some newly minted ways to instantly become Marriott Rewards Gold — like spending $30,000 on the SPG Amex card in a year.  Even better, are these seven sneaky clever ways to get or leverage your new status for significant travel benefits.

1. If you have an American Express Platinum Card, you’re now gold with Marriott.

Platinum Amex Cardholders get awesome benefits, including SPG Gold Elite membership. Which gives you Marriott Rewards Gold, which is even more valuable: it includes free breakfast and lounge access at most Marriott hotels — a benefit you only get at the Platinum level with SPG.

2. If you’re a Delta Skymiles Diamond or Platinum Member, you’re now gold with Marriott.

Like American Express Platinum card holders, you’re also entitled to automatic SPG Gold Elite through the Crossover Rewards program. Once you register, your SPG Gold status gets you Marriott Rewards Gold.

3. If you’re a Platinum SPG member, you’re now silver with United MileagePlus

RewardsPlus, a Marriott/United Airlines partnership offers Marriott Platinum Elites a United MileagePlus silver elite. Once your SPG and MR accounts are linked, you can apply for the benefit with United based on your Marriott Platinum status.

4. If you’re a Marriott Rewards Platinum Member, you’re now silver on Delta

SPG Crossover Rewards grants Delta Skymiles Silver membership, Once your Marriott Rewards and SPG accounts are linked, you can link your SPG and Delta accounts.

5. If you’re United Mileage Plus Gold Elite member, you’re gold with Starwood.

RewardsPlus grants Marriott Rewards Gold to United MileagePlus Gold members. And that of course, gets you SPG Gold once your Marriott and Starwood accounts are linked.

6. Transfer 90,000 Starpoints into 132,000 United Mileage Plus points.

Almost every SPG airline partner offers a 1:1 point transfer ratio. But the united ratio was 1:2, requiring twice as many starpoints. But transfer 90,000 Starpoints into 270,000 Marriott Rewards points, and redeem for a RewardsPlus vacation package. Those 90,000 Starpoints become 132,000 MileagePlus miles, and a free 7-night Marriott Category 1-5 hotel stay. (Same offer with 7 nights at a Category 9 hotel is 130,000 Starpoints; 180,000 Starpoints at Tier 5 Ritz-Carlton).

A similar Travel Package offer is available for 60,000-120,000 miles on the following carriers: Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Alaska Airlines, AirBerlin, Air Canada, Air China, Air France/KLM, Alitalia, American Airlines, ANA, Asia Miles, Asiana Airlines, Avianca-TACA, British Airways, China Eastern, China Southern, Copa Airlines, Delta Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Frontier Airlines, GOL/Varig,  Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia Airlines, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, Jet Blue, Korean Air, LAN, Lufthansa, Multiplus, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Saudia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways Voyager, Southwest Airlines, TAP Air Portugal, Turkish Airlines,Virgin America. Virgin Atlantic

7. Double Your Credit Card Enrollment Bonuses

You likely already have one or the other. But you should have both, earn the enrollment bonuses, and freely transfer points between the programs. Currently, you can earn 25,000 Starpoints for getting the Amex Card, and 87,500 Marriott Rewards points for their visa card. Once you’ve earned the Marriott bonus, switch your everyday, non-Marriott spending to the SPG American Express card, since the 1 Starpoint per $1 is worth three times as much as the 1 MR point per $1 from the Marriott Rewards card.

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By @ 08/11/16 in Gay honeymoon, Gay marriage, Gay travel, Hotels, ManAboutWorld, South Africa, Travel

12 apostles poolWhen trying to decide where to spend your honeymoon, most places make you choose: the cosmopolitan city life or the quiet rural getaway? The sunny beach paradise or the intrepid adventure? Luckily, when you choose South Africa, you can do them all.  And when you go, you stay at the Twelve Apostles Hotel, an intimate five-star property romantically nestled between a breathtaking mountain range and the ocean. Get inspired (and get plannin’) for your upcoming honeymoon in Cape Town or beyond with ManAboutWorld’s FREE guide

Cape Town remains a pioneer in gay hospitality, and the Twelve Apostles furthers that notion with their exquisite honeymoon packages which include personalized embroidered towels, sparkling wine, a rose petal turndown, a sensual couples massage, and a visit to their gorgeous spa.

12 Apostles in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

The hotel itself is across the street from Oudekraal Beach, far enough away from Cape Town’s city center to ensure the serenity and peace you and your new hubby desire, but close enough to zip into town for some urban nightlife. It’s also near Camps Bay, a fabulous beach community with gorgeous vistas. The rooms are a mix of African art and modern amenities, a country-chic vibe made tropical with sweeping ocean views. We suggest a romantic dinner for two at one of the hotels haute restaurants, a five-star dining experience that won’t break the bank (remember, the Rand is currently .70 cents on the dollar, making Cape Town’s honeymoon bliss as affordable as it is luxurious.)

12 Apostles in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineIf your lofty honeymoon dreams haven’t been achieved with those sunset beach strolls and romantic dinners, we recommend a scenic drive to the gorgeous town of Stellenbosch, a bucolic wine country getaway, where you’ll swear you’ve been transported to Tuscany. Spend an extra day or two with your husband sipping on local South African wines and noshing on some of the best cuisine in the continent.

For honeymooners who love the intimacy of romantic beach walks, sunset naps, breathtaking excursions into the wild, city life craziness and the respite of wine country heaven, South Africa has it all. And when we want to do South Africa in affordable style and luxury, Twelve Apostles is the only five-star resort we choose.

For affordable luxury, culture and romance in Cape Town and beyond, check out ManAboutWorld’s FREE guide now12 Apostles in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine.

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By @ 07/08/15 in Daily Dose, Gay travel, Hotels, ManAboutWorld, New York, Travel
Amazing NYC views at Kimpton in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

View from “Heaven over Hell” suite

Today we had a tour of the new “Heaven over Hell” suite/function area at the top of the Ink48, a Kimpton Hotel with amazing views of NYC (and specifically Hell’s Kitchen, hence the name of the suite). With no tall buildings near the hotel, the views are unobstructed and  sweeping. These are westward-facing views but there are also views north, south and west towards the Hudson River and New Jersey. The suite is a splurge of course but suitable for a wedding celebration and honeymoon or other special event. (DDTI*: Daily dose of travel inspiration.)

Ink48 is also rolling out a new room product, a light, airy update on its current look and feel. Think Miami-esque white versus the current more New York-y red-and-brown palette in the rooms now. More on that later this fall.

Amazing NYC views at Kimpton in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

Check out our unique digital-born gay travel magazine for savvy gay travelers by downloading the ManAboutWorld App on the iTunes App Store or Google Play. We support iPads, Android tablets, iPhones and Android phones. There are a few free publications in all of the apps, and you can click here to register for a FREE three-month subscription. Go on, what are you waiting for!

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By @ 06/26/15 in Boston, Gay travel, Hotels, ManAboutWorld, Travel

hotelGay-friendly Boston welcomed a new hotel last fall (rebranded from a Fairmont property). Located on the waterfront next to Boston’s North End, Battery Wharf Hotel consists of 150 large units spread among several modern buildings siting atop a pier jutting into Boston Harbor. There are sea views in every direction and the Coast Guard is right next door. (There’s a pic of a Coast Guard vessel below with the Bunker Hill monument in the distance).

The hotel offers a modern Italian restaurant specializing in seafood — Aragosta Bar and Bistro — an Exhale spa, a new lobster tour (where guests can help harvest their meal for the evening!). Expect a full write up later in ManAboutWorld magazine.

coast

You can check out our unique digital-born gay travel magazine for savvy gay travelers by downloading the ManAboutWorldApp on the iTunes App Store or Google Play. We support iPads, Android tablets, iPhones and Android phones. There are a few free publications in all of the apps, and you can click here to register

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By @ 05/06/14 in Gay travel, Hotels, ManAboutWorld, Travel, Travel Tips Tuesday

hotel

Booking the Best Hotel Rates

Yield management has totally changed the ways hotels are priced. Just like airfares, the price of a hotel room isn’t static, but fluctuates widely to match demand. Technology allows hotels to constantly raise their rates as rooms sell out at their own property and at nearby ones. Add negotiated rates, package deals and flash sales to the mix, and the price variation can reach hundreds of dollars a night. Frequently, the rate at a hotel’s own website (and even the rate you’ll get calling) will not be the lowest rate available. How does a savvy traveler win this game? Here are the four strategies we use to book the best hotel deals:

1. Comparison Shop First

If you’re a member of a frequent guest program, you’ll likely have to book through the program or hotel site in order to earn points. While these sites all promise “guaranteed lowest rates,” that lowest rate is often not on their site — you’ll have to find it, and then make a guarantee claim. We start all our hotel searches on kayak.com. This is a quick way to check multiple sites at once, and see if there are any major price discrepancies. When occupancy rates are high, hotels.com frequently has negotiated bulk rates that can be hundreds of dollars less. Verify the rate, and then use the “guaranteed lowest rate” procedure to match or beat it, and still get your frequent guest points. (When a hotel isn’t part of a frequent guest program, we usually book through hotels.com, taking advantage of their Welcome Rewards program.)

2. Membership Has its Privileges

The American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program offers Platinum and Centurion Card members preferential rates, along with upgrades, breakfast and other benefits. One stay can often offset the card’s annual fee. The program has been widely copied and adapted by other paid and free programs, like Tablet Hotels’ Tablet Plus, Founders Card, Want Me Get Me and Virtuoso. If you stay at larger high-end mainstream and boutique properties, these programs are worth checking out.

3. The Package Deal

We don’t like “opaque” bookings, where you don’t know the name of the hotel until after you’ve booked, but some of those same rates are bundled into package deals, like those offered by Expedia.com. Booking your hotel in conjunction with your airfare, or even just a car can often result in big savings. Many airlines also package hotels with bulk inventory deals that can mean big savings — especially when large conventions or events gobble up room rates.

4. Call in a Secret Agent

Many hotels have negotiated rates with large travel agencies and consortiums, particularly American Express and Virtuoso agencies. Using a travel agent affiliated with one of these can grant you access to these privileged rates. And since hotels still pay travel agent commissions, many agents will make hotel bookings without a service fee. If you frequently stay at high-end boutique properties, using an agent specializing in luxury travel will often get you VIP treatment on arrival as well. If you’re looking for an agent, you’ll find some great ones among our Global Correspondents.

 

Photo credit 

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By @ 12/02/13 in Event, Gay travel, Gay travel magazine, Gay-Friendly, Hotels, ManAboutWorld, Miami, Travel
Meyer Riegger Miriam Cahn Nachdenken über cyan, magenta etc. 8.11.2010 Courtesy Meyer Riegger

Meyer Riegger
Miriam Cahn
Nachdenken über cyan, magenta etc. 8.11.2010
Courtesy Meyer Riegger

What a great excuse to escape from whatever chilly winter place you live in. Art Basel Miami (December 5-8) is one of the most important gatherings of artists, curators, galleries, collectors and looky-loos on the plane with over 250 of the world’s leading galleries participating and over 50,000 visitors every year.

And what a setting. With its endless sandy beaches and beautiful Art Deco architecture, not to mention a few great art museums, buzzing restaurants and thumping nightlife, Miami is a fabulous place to take in art and other objects of beauty, namely hunky guys running, biking and swimming. For a full rundown of what’s happening visit the Art Basel website. To find out where to stay, eat and play in an absolutely fabulous way, download our our Miami issue (Jan/Feb 2013).

Wynwood, the arts district, is one of the centers of action during Art Basel. Be sure to check out R House, an exciting new gay-owned restaurant, art gallery, lounge set to open the same week. It’s owned by Tom Shirk who also owns the fabulous White Porch Inn in Provincetown, which has recently been named one of the “Top Art Inns” by BedandBreakfast.com.

 

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By @ 08/04/13 in Boston, Ed Salvato, Gay travel, Gay travel magazine, Gay travel magazine for iPad, Hotels, ManAboutWorld, The CheckOut, Travel
Perfect for a grand entrance!

Perfect for a grand entrance!

Rates
From $239 per night, but deals are available on their website as well as offers, including free WiFi when booking direct.

Basics
Formerly the Meridien and before that the Federal Reserve, this fabulous property comes with a rich history and luxurious touches from an elegant entrance and professional service to a really nice fitness facility and pool all in a convenient downtown location.

Location
Located on a beautiful oasis of green (the tiny but stunning Post Office Park), the Langham is truly meant for the business traveler but with easy access to the Orange Line subway stop at State St. (a three-minute walk), it’s an easy jaunt to gay-centric South End (get off at Back Bay Station and walk south along Clarendon or Dartmouth Streets). There’s also a Hubway bike station just outside so you can peddle pretty much anywhere in Boston, Cambridge or other nearby towns for dollars a day. It’s also within walking distance to South Street Station (Amtrak/busses) and the two high-speed Provincetown ferry lines.

Room
The rooms are spacious and have big windows. The lighting is terrific: easy to figure out and within easy fumbling distance in the middle of the night. There’s a light in the closet and lots of hangers. There are plenty of outlets in handly spots for easy re-charging of your electronic gadgetry.

Bathroom
Luxurious. Plenty of counter space to spread out your toiletries. Lots of extra towels because you know how dirty us gay travelers can be.

Amenities
We love the fitness center. Big for an urban hotel with great equipment. The pool is a luxurious treat. There’s also a sauna and jacuzzi. Bond Restaurant is a nice option and serves full meals till 10 p.m. then a lighter menu. The space becomes a nightclub/lounge on the weekends with a DJ and attracts beautiful young straights — good-looking men and women dressed to the nines. It offers great people and a really nice atmosphere and great food. If they’re on offer, try the duck flat bread and Thai spring rolls. The spa looked nice but we didn’t get an opportunity to enjoy it during our all-too-brief stay.

Room service
Available 24/7.

Bottom line
This is a great choice if you’re either on business during the week and want to stay an extra night or if you’re heading to or from Ptown or New York via the ferry or Amtrak.

Gay factor
Not the gayest hotel we’ve stayed in though Grindr showed a few people 18 to 35 feet away which sounded awfully close and likely in the hotel. This being Boston, Massachusetts, which has always been at the vanguard of progressive LGBT politics, it is of course super comfortable. No one bats an eyelash at two guys or two gals holding hands or enjoying a romantic dinner.

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By @ 03/04/13 in Gay travel, Gay-Friendly, Hotels, Porn, Sex

Now that all the big name hotel chains are fighting over the pink dollar, it’s time to re-examine what really makes a gay-friendly hotel. Attention hoteliers: Here are new benchmarks from the editors at ManAboutWorld Magazine.

Have you stayed in a hotel that makes the grade? Tell us about it in the comments!

1. Electricity.
Not just the vibe at the bar, but the number of accessible outlets in the room. You’ve seen the research. We’re early tech adopters, and our stylish satchels are filled with Bluetooth-enabled devices that need charging. We may be quite adept at getting down on our knees, but don’t make us do it looking for an outlet.

2. Lighting.
Just one criteria here: Dimmers. Low lighting is sexy, romantic and makes everyone look better… especially those of us on the north side of 25. Even CFL bulbs are dimmable now, so don’t pull the environment card on us. They’re more expensive. We’re worth it.

3. The Deep Clean
Your rooms? Obviously. But I’m talking about that internal cleaning we perform in preparation for butt sex. (In case it got lost in that sanitized-for-the-Fortune 500 marketing survey you bought: butt sex is one of the defining activities of the gays, after the gym, but well before brunch or shopping.) Give us a hand-held shower we can connect a douche nozzle to. Or at least a showerhead we can hang a Streem Master on. That ceiling-mounted rainforest showerhead is chic, but if we have to call the Whatever/Whenever desk for a six pack of enema bottles, it’s not cute.

4. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Speaking of sex, we often like to watch and film ourselves having it. Give us a strategically placed mirror — facing the bed please, not the closet we came out of a long time ago.

5. Equal Access Porn
Don’t try to appease us with a few generic gay and bi titles on demand. Just give us an easy way to connect our computer/iPad/camcorder to the TV screen, and enough bandwidth to stream TimTales. Is that too much to ask?

6. Do Unto Others
There was a time when your float in New York’s gay pride parade meant something. Now it feels like pandering. If you want to appeal to our sense of social justice, we want to see your rainbow flag fly in places where our gay brothers and sisters face intolerance, injustice and violence, like Jamaica, Uganda and Russia. That will impress us.

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By @ 12/08/12 in Gay travel, Hotels, ManAboutWorld, New York, Travel

The second annual Hotel Week NYC™ takes place January 4 – 20, 2013, with room rates of $100, $200 and $250 available at a variety of hotels — some of which typically charge upwards of $500 a night.

Guests can check in for a fraction of the cost of a regular stay over this 17-day period in January, which is typically one of the slowest months in New York City for tourism.

Click to read the hotels and prices below. Be sure to download our brand new NYC-guide available for the iPad as a stand-alone guide to NYC for $2.99 in the ManAboutWorld App.


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By @ 09/18/12 in Gay travel, Hotels, New York

Photo Credit: flickr.com/istolethetv

With gay travelers welcomed at virtually every hostelry in the city, it can be hard for visitors to choose. Indeed, the paradox of choice leaves travelers spending hours poring over maps, reading reviews, comparing rates, and dissecting user-generated comments before making a reservation.

ManAboutWorld Magazine makes it easier, with opinionated recommendations that cut through information overload. There are 431 New York Hotels listed on TripAdvisor, yet fewer than 1 in 8 make our list. (Our list could be called the 50 Shades of Gay Hotels, since there’s only one truly gay hotel in New York.)

You’ll save lots of travel planning agita by reducing your consideration set to the 51 hotels (and 3 B&B’s) chosen by ManAboutWorld’s in-the-know Global Correspondent team, and grouped by neighborhood with advice for choosing among the neighborhoods as well.



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