Here's a tip - a Chicago hotel without tips...Little Mermaid to China...Rising dollar...
As a frequent traveler who spends a lot of time scrambling for dollar bills - or fives - I like this idea.
The Elysian Hotel in Chicago, which opened in the Windy City last year, has adopted a no-tipping policy, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"I haven't seen (a policy like this) anyplace else," said Joe McInerney, president and chief executive officer of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
McInerney pointed out that visitors likely would love it, but what about doormen and bellhops?
A spokeswoman for the Elysian Hotel said employees get good paycheques and benefits, suggesting they don't need tips. Perhaps, but I bet they wouldn't mind. The spokeswoman said employees are told to decline tips when first suggested, but that visitors who insist on being generous won't be turned down. In which case it seems to me a lot of folks will make out all right.
The Euros will love it; they don't tip much in North America, folks say. But I'd find it hard not to leave money for a cleaning person or someone who helps with my bags.LITTLE MERMAID SWIMS TO CHINA
It seems that the Little Mermaid statue, which is the number one tourist attraction in Denmark (pretty funny when you think about it), has been uprooted from her usual spot off the city's waterfront and is being sent lock, stock and barrel to Shanghai, where Denmark will have a pavilion at the coming World Expo 2010.
The 5-foot (1.5-meter) landmark, which honors the memory of Danish
fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen, was lifted by a crane and
lowered onto the back of a truck at a ceremony in the Danish capital, Associated Press reports.
"The temporary move is controversial in Denmark, where some considered it disrespectful to ship a cultural treasure halfway across the globe as a PR tool. Critics suggested the government should have sent a copy to China — an idea dismissed by Christopher Bo Bramsen, Danish commissioner-general for Expo 2010."
Thanks to Reuters for the nice photo.Makes me wonder what Canada will do for Shanghai. The Canadian pavilion - I saw it briefly a couple weeks ago - looks nice enough from the outside. But if they want a Canadian iconic symbol, do you think we could ship the CN Tower to Shanghai? If so, do you think we could convince the Chinese to keep it? CUBA TRAVEL BAN...ENDING SOON FOR AMERICANS?
U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan said he will bring a bill to lift the ban on travel to Cuba to the Senate floor this summer and that more than 60 Senators will vote for it. The North Dakota Democrat spoke today by telephone from Washington to a conference of Cuban and American tourist industry representatives in Cancun, Mexico.
I know things have changed in the U.S. under President Barack Obama, but I'll believe this when I see it....
LEAPING LOONIE PUTS EUROPE ON SALE
I've mentioned in this space a couple times lately how the Mighty Canadian Dollar (MCD for short) has been rising up the charts and how affordable European holidays have suddenly become. But credit to the Star's Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew for pulling it all together in today's Star business section.
Yew quoted Sean Shannon of Expedia.ca as saying there's been a "steady, strong growth to a wide variety of markets across Europe."
Melanie Paul-Hus of Atout France, the French Tourist Agency based in Montreal, was telling me the same thing Wednesday night at a reception at the ROM, explaining how folks are finding not only great values within France on their own, but a great deal given the strength of the loonie.
I hadn't realized the Euro had dropped to something like $1.40 vs. the Canadian dollar. The British Pound is way down at $1.55 or so.
Over the past two years, Yew reported, the loonie has moved up 50 per cent against the British pound and 14 per cent against the euro, touching record highs.
"The pound averaged around $1.79 Canadian during the summer of 2009 but it was worth only $1.55 Canadian by March, the Conference Board of Canada noted in its latest five-year travel forecast for Europe," Yew wrote.
Against the euro, the Canadian dollar is at its highest level since January 2006. Last summer, the euro was worth $1.57 Canadian. That declined to $1.40 Canadian in March.
VANCOUVER DINING DEALDine Out Vancouver, Tourism Vancouver's eighth annual promotion, starts April 26 and runs for 11 days. Visitors can sample three-course dinner menus at more than 200 restaurants, with prices set at $18, $28 or $38, not including taxes, alcohol and tips (too bad they're not at the Elysian Hotel in Chicago or there'd be no tipping).
The restaurants will be revealed April 19, after which consumers can make reservations online at tourismvancouver.com.The tourism folks also have created a dine-and-stay deal with a dozen partner hotels. Packages start at $169 and include a one-night stay and a three-course Dine Out Vancouver meal for two.Those packages can be arranged prior to April 19, so check it out at www.tourismvancouver.com. Among hotels taking part are the Wedgewood Hotel and Spa (with the Bacchus Restaurant) and the Fairmont Pacific Rim (Oru Restaurant).The Fairmont Pacific Rim opened just before the Winter Olympics. With the Games (sadly) over, the Fairmont Pacific Rim has a plan with rates beginning at $229. The Fairmont Chateau Whistler has a "Bronze Package" with one night accomodation, daily breakfast and a $100 activity credit for skiing or other sports. Rates start at $495 per night.Fairmont has tons of other deals at properties ranging from St. Andrews in Scotland to the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club in Africa, as well as Le Manoir Richelieu in Quebec - a spot I quite enjoyed on a golf trip a couple years ago.