Houston on the rise...Fairmont Rockies deal...Niagara getaways...Deal of the day
You don't hear a lot about Houston. At least I don't.
Mind you, I was only there once, and that was back when I covered the Blue Jays and Toronto signed Roger Clemens. My sports editor suggested I call Clemens' agent, whom we both knew, and see if I could dash down and hang around with him for a couple days.
Eager to look good after coming over to the Jays, Clemens - to my surprise - agreed. I got to see his incredibly palatial house, go with him on errands to pick up his kids from school and share a lunch that his wife had cooked. It was pretty cool, and we got some great pictures and a good story. And, yes, a lot has gone one with Roger since that day, for sure.
Intriguing as it was, I have very little image of the city. We stayed at a business hotel centre that felt like Mississauga or Yonge and Eglinton, without much soul. I like my cities compact and full of quirky corners, like San Francisco, Toronto, New York and Vancouver.
Houston I can't quite understand. But a public relations friend of mine keeps trying, and today she sent me an interesting study that gives the town some pretty good marks. Not putting it in Big Apple territory, of course, but with some pretty decent marks.
A poll of readers of travelandleisure.com put Houston #1 at affordable hotels and airport lounges among 29 cities, which is something. They were number two on business hotels, airport food and drink, airport entertainment (sense a pattern here?) and airport staff efficiency. Houston was third in airport shopping and on-time arrivals and departures (Man, I gotta check out that airport), and fourth on diversity and airport design and functionality.
A little further down, but still in the upper third of cities, Houston came sixth in stylish people, seventh in friendly folks and eighth in attractiveness. Houston was fifth in luxury stores (all that oil money, I guess) and also fifth in theatre and classical music and eighth in museums and galleries, which are the categories I find most interesting and surprising now that I look down the list.
Of course, things weren't so good in other categories. The city was 25th for romantic escapes, 19th for neighborhood joints, 24th for people-watching (weird, since they're apparently so damned-good looking) and 27th in public transportation and pedestrian-friendliness.
A press release points out Houston had 30 top-ten finishes in various categories, bested only by the 31 top-tens for San Francisco. Mind you, eight of the Houston top-ten's were for the airport. San Fran collected top spot in noteworthy neighborhoods, fourth in people-watching, second in diversity, third in stylishness and was in the top-seven in all five of the food/dining categories and in the top-seven in all three shopping categories.
Still, I've give credit where Houston is due.
FAIRMONT ROCKIES DEAL
The Fairmont Banff Springs, Chateau Lake Louise and Jasper Park Lodge have introduced the Fairmont Rocky Mountain Season Pass. The pass allows you up to 25 nights at any of the resorts for $3,375 Cdn.
Stays must be booked between November 13, 2009 to May 23, 2010, and black out dates will apply during Christmas and Easter holidays. An exclusive book of 25 certificates in the Pass holder's name that can be redeemed at the hotel during your stay.
For more information visit www.fairmont.com/bsh/seasonpass or contact the reservations team at 403 762 6866.
GO SERVICE ALMOST OVER FOR NIAGARA
Visitors to Niagara Falls will be able to take in the changing fall colours by GO Train for one last weekend as GO Transit wraps up its seasonal weekend and holiday service to the Niagara Region on
So far, more than 40,000 travelers have taken the GO Train from
GO Trains will operate in both directions four times daily in each direction
DELAYS, DELAYS, DELAYS
CNN reports that even though the percentage of delayed U.S. flights has dipped recently because fewer planes are flying during the recession, there's been a 20-year trend of increasing delays, and the increases should continue once economic growth returns, a study released Thursday by the Brookings Institution said.
The average length of U.S. flight delays rose from 40.9 minutes in 1990 to 56.5 minutes in June 2009, according to the study, "Expect Delays: An Analysis of Air Travel Trends in the United States."
JIM'S DEAL OF THE DAY...ORLANDO
Just coming off a multi-million dollar renovation, the