9/11 hospitality in Newfoundland ...Starwood goes Aloft in India...Disney Hawaii
There are a couple of lovely stories in the Star today about 9/11, and the hospitality showered upon surprise visitors who found themselves stranded in Gander, Newfoundland when their planes weren't allowed into U.S. airspace on that fateful day.
It's no surprise to folks who've visited that fair province. I can honestly say I don't remember any group of people being so friendly anywhere I've been.
The first night I was there a few years ago, I wandered into a bar on George St. and started listening to a Celtic band. After a few minutes, a nice-looking woman came up to me and started chatting and batting her eyes. Why, I thought, how friendly.
"I'll be right back," she said at one point, and ducked outside the bar and turned left. I immediately went out of the bar and turned right, not needing what seemed like her brand of friendliness.
The first full day trip I had was a hike out towards the lighthouse on Signal Hill. As I walked past the beautifully painted clapboard homes along the cliffs that line the harbour, I spotted a crude but wonderful homemade sign that pointed out hiking directions.
Anyone can put up a sign, and that's nice. But someone had taken the time to add the word "enjoy," and that's what did it for me.
A couple days later, I was up in Twillingate looking for icebergs and chatting with locals when I spotted a fine-looking trail out to a point. Sadly, it seemed to wander through several backyards, so I was hesitant to go.
"Excuse me," I said. "Is it possible to go out on that point and get some pictures? I don't want to trespass on someone's property.
They looked at me like I was daft, not that that's an uncommon happening in my life.
"Oh, just go ahead," they said. "Nobody minds."
I went out and found some glorious views of the harbour and local headlands. I went back and tried to find another trail out to another point when I spotted yet another sign. This one was written in black paint on a plain, wooden board and simply said, "Private Land - Foot Traffic Welcome."
Again, notice the added verbiage here. They didn't write "Private Land - Foot Traffic Accepted" or "Private Land - Foot Traffic Bedgrudgingly Allowed." No, they added the word "Welcome." And I think that pretty much says it all.
I spent only a few minutes in Gander on that trip, as I drove from St. John's to Corner Brook stopping to look at icebergs and play golf at some of Newfoundland's best courses - and there are many. But I'm not shocked that so many people from around the world were pleased by what they found.
I've been many places in the world, but Newfoundland has to be tops of the hospitality charts for sure. Toss in breathtaking scenery, good food and fun cities such as St. John's, and you've got yourself one remarkable tourist destination.
STARWOOD IN INDIA
An item in the Economic Times says Starwood's Aloft brand continues to soar in India.
"We will be opening one Aloft hotel in Chandigarh by the end of this year and another in Ahmedabad next year. Currently we have Aloft brand hotels in Bangalore, Chennai and Coimbatore," Rajan Bahadur, regional director (sales and marketing), South Asia told reporters after opening the hotel in this Tamil Nadu city.
The Aloft brand made its debut in India last year in Chennai and the second one was in Bangalore.
"This is one the fastest growing hotel brands in the world. In four years time we have 52 hotels in the world," said Bahadur.
DISNEY HAWAII HOTEL SHOWS RESTRAINT
Hard to imagine that the folks who brought us the tacky Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland can show this kind of restraint, but apparently Disney has nailed its new resort property on Oahu.
A solid report in the Los Angeles Times says the Aulani hotel does a fine job of representing Hawaii without the faux tiki torches and that it pulls things off "with style, grace and beauty, resulting in a modern Hawaiian resort that delivers on its promise and its considerable marquee name."
Located a few minutes outside Honolulu on the leeward coast of Oahu, the $800 million property has 359 rooms, 460-time-share units, two restaurants, two bars, a spa and a conference centre. An official grand opening is scheduled for Sept. 22, the Times said.
AIR CANADA WOES
It sounds like there's plenty of trouble at Air Canada brewing. Flight attendants are angry that the airline is said to be training would-be replacement workers in anticipation of a possible walkout.
The Globe and Mail today reports that industry observers are "expecting a strong mandate for a walkout that could begin at 12:01 a.m. on Sept. 21."