Blog Posts by Bekah Wright

  • New data: Americans say bring on the heat for spring and summer travel

    Soccer-mad Brazil will host the 2014 World Cup, making it a top summer destination this year. (Photo: Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

     

    The dawn of warmer weather already has travelers focusing on summer getaways. A Memorial Day and Summer Travel Trends study by travel-booking website Kayak reveals that when it comes to summer travel, winter-weary Americans choices are declaring: the hotter the better.

    “This Memorial Day, our data show Americans are headed south to the Caribbean, Mexico and to a few southern U.S. cities.” Kayak spokesperson Maria Katime told Yahoo Travel.

    Kayak analyzed flight and hotel searches on its site from January 1 through mid-March, gaining insight into where Americans are choosing to spend their summer holidays. The report also looked at the average costs of flights and hotels.

    Going international

    (Source: Kayak)When Kayak looked at flight and hotel searches combined, the 10 most searched destinations for Americans seeking to get out of town this summer were international.

    “Thanks to the World Cup, demand for flights and hotels in Rio de Janeiro is blowing up, making it the No.1 trending destination this

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  • Five Miles Up: Alysia Reiner of 'New Black' on her favorite travel bag

    (Photo: Josh Merwin - CREATIVE CULTURE-ID)“Total bitch” is a term Alysia Reiner has given to describe her character, Natalie “Fig” Figueroa, on the Netflix hit “Orange is the New Black.” With the series return this summer, there’ve been hints of big surprises, including learning what drives Fig, and not just as prison administrator/assistant to the warden. Which leads us to wonder … When Reiner takes a break from her character’s “prison life,” what drives her travel-wise? Voluntourism? Spa treatments? Dining on insects? Check, check and check.

    What’s something you never fail to pack in your suitcase?
    My journal and watercolors.

    Carry-on or check-in?
    Carry-on only, baby, even for a month-long honeymoon. Even a ski trip. My new obsession is my LeSportsac Light as a Feather roller bag carry-on. It packs so much in so little space, and it’s super cute, too.

    Window or aisle?
    Window. God, I love daydreaming out plane windows.

    What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?
    For a weekend: beach, book, booze and my boy. For a week: European

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  • Surveys reveal travelers’ favorite hotel amenities

    The Hotels.com survey asked travelers about their favorite in-room and property amenities. (Source: Hotels.com)

    Hotel perks, bonuses, fringe benefits and certain extra touches make time on the road, well, homier. Those were the subjects of just-released Hotels.com survey rankings for travelers' most desired room and property amenities.

    The hotel booking website used the results of its 1,000-person survey to create two lists: 10 Most Important Hotel Property Amenities and Top 10 Most Important In-Room Amenities. It found that free wireless Internet connectivity ranked first among in-room priorities and third for top property amenities.

    In our technologically tuned-in society, what elbowed Wi-Fi out of top position for property amenities? Complimentary breakfast. “To purchase breakfast, lunch and dinner for an entire traveling family adds up quickly,” Taylor L. Cole, a travel expert with Hotels.com, told Yahoo Travel in an email. “Having the option of eating the first meal of the day for free can save families cash they can otherwise use to explore their surroundings.”

    Hotels.com has even set up

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  • TripAdvisor names travelers’ top picks for US, world destinations

    Istanbul took the top spot on TripAdvisor's world destinations list. (Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images)

    Travelers planning their summer getaways got hot tips on Tuesday — 50 of them, to be exact, when TripAdvisor announced the winners of its sixth annual Travelers’ Choice Awards. Vacation planners’ go-to locales make up the top-25 Traveler’s Choice Destination Lists for the United States and the world.

    Winning destinations make the lists based on reviews and opinions from travelers who use the review and booking site.

    "The Travelers’ Choice Destinations were determined based on the millions of reviews and opinions gathered over a 12-month period (Feb. 2013-Feb. 2014)," Julie Cassetina, TripAdvisor’s senior public relations specialist, told Yahoo Travel.

    "Separately, we were able to identify the months for each destination that received the highest traffic. For example, Istanbul saw the highest traffic in May of 2013."

    Nearly 500 destinations worldwide grabbed coveted spots on the lists. “We saw new additions on both the US and World Destination Lists that people are excited about,

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  • Five Miles Up: Camilla Luddington of 'Grey’s Anatomy' is always on the run

    (Photo: Troy Jensen)
    On ABC’s "Grey’s Anatomy," Camilla Luddington plays Dr. Jo Wilson, a scrappy go-getter who fought from being a poor foster child to becoming a surgical resident at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. What’s Jo going through as the hit series nears hiatus? Says Luddington, “In addition to trying to become a brilliant doctor, Jo’s got her hands full with personal relationships  – she’s done with Ross and wants him fired, she’s supporting a humiliated Stephanie and she’s standing by her man, Alex (Dr. Karev).” Sounds like Jo could use a vacation. Perhaps she should take a tip from Luddington and head someplace sunny and secluded.

    What’s something you never fail to pack in your suitcase?

    My running gear. I try to work out wherever I travel.  I'm more likely to forget a pair of heels than running shoes. 

    Carry-on or check-in?

    Check-in.  I pack for every possible situation, which of course ends up being way too much to carry on. Plus I love to explore the airport (especially London Heathrow,

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  • Five Miles Up: Dr. Jane Goodall isn't slowing down at 80

    (Photo: Michael Neugebauer)
    Bring on the bubbly, cake and balloons! There’s lots of celebrating to be done for Dr. Jane Goodall this week. Today, the world-renowned conservationist and authority on chimpanzees releases her latest book, “Seeds of Hope,” giving readers a glimpse unlike any other into botany of the world. Then on Thursday a live, global 80th birthday party will be thrown in her honor on YouTube/Google+Hangout. What we’re wondering? What Mr. H will be wearing for the occasion.

     What’s something you never fail to pack in your suitcase?
    I always take Mr. H (a stuffed monkey) with me, but never in my suitcase. Unfortunately, what I have to take is clothes! I wish I were an animal with fur.

    Carry-on or check-in?
    Both.

    Window or aisle? 

    Aisle on a long flight, unless I’m upgraded to business on a flight where there’s a divider, then I’d choose a window, as it’s more private.

    How many hours are you in the field?
    (Photo: The Jane Goodall Institute / Chase Pickering)
    This is all in the past. My days now are lectures, hotels and planes. Many of these days are

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  • Five Miles Up: How chef Alain Ducasse eats up the world

    (Photo: Mikael Vojinovic)
    How does one sum up world-renowned chef Alain Ducasse in numbers? Michelin stars, we stopped counting at 33. Restaurants, 24. Their locations include eight countries and a list of cities including Paris, London, Tokyo, Monaco, New York and Saint-Tropez. Châteaux & Hôtels Collection inns, three so far; two in Provence, one in Tuscany. What we’ve derived from these calculations? Not only does Ducasse love his work, he’s definitely putting his stamp on the globe in a self-proclaimed “quest for excellence.”

     

    Carry-on or check-in?

    Carry-on preferably because of how often I travel. I usually don’t stay in one place for more than a couple of days.

     

    Window or aisle seat?

    Aisle.

     

    What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?

    Wherever I am, I always try to visit the local farmers’ markets. This is where you find the real soul of the region. It’s hard to choose just one, but three of my favorites are the farmers’ market in New York City's Union Square; the Cours Saleya food market in Nice on

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  • Five Miles Up: Joe Morton of 'Scandal' and the Power of Gold

    (Photo credit: Bobby Quillard)


    Upon seeing the photo of Joe Morton above, fans of the ABC series “Scandal” may react with a chill snaking up their spine. The image is, after all, of Rowan Pope, father to “Scandal’s” Olivia. No, Morton’s not as sinister as his character, though he did confirm a running theme with FMU for his character this season – retaliation. So does the New York native have anything in common with the “Command” of B613? Only Sunday dinners. Morton’s quite the foodie. The dish he most likes served up… luckily, it’s not revenge.

    What’s something you never fail to pack in your suitcase?
    Toothbrush, lotion, shaving cream and a razor.

    Carry-on or check-in?
    I usually check-in, depending on where I’m going.

    Window or aisle?
    Window.

    What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?
    We went to Zihuatanejo in Mexico. We had this wonderful apartment that overlooked the water, had views of the mountains in the distance and wonderful sunrises. We even had a wading pool outside of our room. The food was delicious. That

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  • Fantasy meets technology in ocean resorts’ underwater art show

    Divers installed the Plexiglas-encased photos around the underwater spa and lounge. (Photo: courtesy of Per Aquum resorts)

    Where does one go to see an art exhibition in the Maldives? Under the sea, of course — the Indian Ocean, to be exact. Two of the island nation’s luxury resorts will be showcasing underwater works from photo artist Andreas Franke’s “Phantasy Fairytale” through May.

    The sites, Huvafen Fushi and Niyama, are sister properties in the posh Per Aquum collection, where rooms start at about $600 a night. Rather than in some stuffy gallery, the “Phantasy Fairytale” showings are in Subsix, Niyama’s underwater music club, and Huvafen Fushi’s Lime spa, also below sea level.

    Two photo shoots were necessary to create each fantasy-themed piece, one using an underwater backdrop and the other taken in a studio with real-life models. The superimposed images are encased in Plexiglas and stainless-steel frames, and divers put each piece — priced from $15,000 to $12,000 — in place per Franke’s specifications.

    What will visitors see in the “Phantasy Fairytale” galleries? Some familiar faces are captured in

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  • Five Miles Up: Jon Batiste makes music everywhere

    (Photo: Peter Lueders)

    A question on every FMU column focuses on travel playlists – music that evokes a time or place. Jon Batiste’s urban jazz befits destinations from the sultriness of New Orleans to the instant communities of New York’s subway platforms, both locations where he and his band, Stay Human, have been known to strike up impromptu concerts. If a spot on his travel wish list comes to fruition … look out Mars! Some riffs from his debut album, “Social Music,” will be heading your way.

    What’s something you never fail to pack in your suitcase?
    Harmonabord, Bible, and my Native American, black-and-white, linen pants

    Carry-on or check-in?
    (Photo: By Peter Lueders)Carry-on.

    Window or aisle?
    Aisle.

    What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?
    Being somewhere that has magic and people who inspire me.

    Tell us about a vacation you’ve taken that’s come close thus far.
    I’ve never taken a vacation as an adult. The last vacation I took was to Disney World when I was a kid. For that time, it felt like the perfect vacation.

    What’s the worst

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