DRINKING AND FLYING
Good news for folks who like to buy wine when they travel.
The Transportation Security Administration in the U.S. said recently it expects that by next fall they’ll be able to lift restrictions that limit passengers to carrying 3-ounce bottles of liquids, gels and aerosols in airplane cabins. TSA chief Kip Hawley told USA Today that passengers still would have to remove liquids from carry-on bags at airport checkpoints and put them through X-ray machines separately.
A bit of a pain, but it would allow folks who travel to say, California, to carry a couple bottles of Cabernet or Sauvignon Blanc with them on the plane and not weigh down their suitcases (and thus possibly incur overweight baggage charges; not that airlines would ever be so money-hungry as to penalize someone in such a manner) or risk having their merchandise spill all over their shirts and skirts.
"That's a major milestone for security," TSA spokesman Christopher White said this week. "We're confident it's going to happen in 2009."
Hawley suggested airports in other countries that adopted similar restrictions on liquids (such as Canada) should be eased at the same time the U.S. makes its move.
Apparently there are new x-ray machines on the way that will be able to tell the difference between a bottle of Coke and a bottle of something that could explode on board an airplane. Whether it can tell the difference between Baby Duck and Veuve Clicquot, we’re not sure.
I LEFT MY HEART ....
Speaking of California Cabernet (how’s that for a segueway, folks) San Francisco remains number one on the list of top U.S. cities to visit, according to Conde Nast magazine. But Charleston, South Carolina, took over the number two spot in the latest survey, dropping New York City down to a surely disappointing third.
We’re not sure how Mayor Michael Bloomberg took the news, but surely it has to rankle the Big Apple to see some upstart southerners drop them down to a bronze medal.
Magazine readers were asked to name the top cities to visit in the Americas, excluding the U.S. Topping the charts was Buenos Aires, followed by Vancouver, Quebec City and Victoria. Montreal was seventh and Toronto was ninth, sandwiched between Oaxaca, Mexico and Rio de Janeiro. Not bad, but it could be better.
A recent report from the California Travel and Tourism Commission shows that Canadians made 1.148 million visits to the Golden State in 2007; the highest number ever. It was an 11 per cent increase over 2006, no doubt due in part to the strength of the loonie. It remains to be seen how the latest slump in the Canadian dollar will impact on those figures.
But your eagle-eyed (well, something like that) travel observer noted that as of Oct. 27, the Canadian dollar was worth something like $1.42 New Zealand dollars. Which means this winter might not be a bad time to check out the delights of Auckland or Wellington or check up on early work for the Hobbit movie, which apparently will be filmed in some of the same locales used for The Lord of the Rings.
The loonie also is strong compared to the Australian dollar, so keep that in mind when the snows come in January.
Regular Star contributor Greg Coates reports that WestJet is offering free flights on Halloween for guests with the last names Candy, Orange, Web or Webb, and Sweet. Guests with those surnames will pay applicable fees and taxes only for flights booked before midnight Oct. 30 (MT), for travel anywhere in Canadaon Halloween, Oct. 31.
Guests booking a return flight for any day after Oct. 31 will pay regular fare for that flight. The offer is only available by calling 1-888-937-8538. Government-issued identification must be provided at check-in to verify surname.
WEST COAST CHIC
Got to spend a recent Friday night at the fabulous Voya restaurant, located in the la-de-da Loden Hotel in Vancouver. People talk about the laid-back west coast lifestyle and all, but the crowd at Voya would’ve put Bay Street types to shame. The ladies were dressed to the nines (anyone know where that phrase comes from? why are people not dressed to the sevens or eights?) and the guys were a close second from what we could tell. Very chic, very stylish, very happening, and no polar fleece in sight.
The Loden is one of several new hotels coming on stream in Lotus land, and it’s a beauty. They’re still working out some minor equipment issues (lots of folks apparently are having problems figuring out the clock radios and the iPod docking station), but one interesting feature is that the key to your room gives you access only to your floor. In other words, nobody can just walk into the lobby and take the elevator to your floor because they wouldn’t have a key. It might be a minor inconvenience for hotel guests who have friends coming by to have to clear them at the front desk or have someone let them upstairs, but it certainly adds a level of security that could be especially comforting for women.
The rooms are ultra-modern with lots of glass and chrome but also lots of warm colour. And great bathrooms. The hotel is on Melville Street near Coal Harbour, and only a couple blocks from the action on Burrard.
You know there’s a change in the wind, or maybe that should be trade wind, when Hawaii is on sale.
With all the doom and gloom in the economic world (see TSE latest report, part XXIII), it’s heartening to know that there are some great deals to be made. And one of our favourites, Hawaii, is one of them.
The folks at one of the top resorts in the world, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on the Big Island of Hawaii, can get a complimentary fourth night with three consecutive paid nights through Dec. 18. Guests staying in an ocean-front room or a Four Season Executive Suite can choose two rounds of golf per stay at the Jack Nicklaus-designed course or two complimentary spa treaments per stay. Visit fourseasonresorts.com/hualalai or call (888) 236-3026 for more information.
A little bit to the north and west on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, the folks at Disney have announced a Hawaii hotel complex at the Ko Olina resort. It’s the first such complex outside a theme park for Disney, which tells you something about the lure of the islands.