Gogo, a leader of in-flight connectivity and a pioneer of wireless in-flight digital entertainment solutions, announced today a partnership with previous ‘Disruptor of The Day’ recipient HotelTonight to bring last minute hotel deals to passengers who connect with Gogo using their tablet or mobile device. The service will be available to those passengers flying to more than 30 + destination cities in the U.S. served by HotelTonight. A complete list of destination cities can be found here.
Access to HotelTonight will be available through tablets and mobile devices only and will be free. To access HotelTonight while in flight, passengers simply need to open their Wi-Fi enabled tablet or smartphone, launch their browser and click on the HotelTonight promotion on the Home page.
“This unique mobile partnership is one more way Gogo is bringing relevant destination related content to passengers through our multimedia platform,” said Ash ElDifrawi, Gogo’s chief marketing officer. “Our new multi-media platform enables our airline partners to customize online experiences in air to reflect their brand and offers them the flexibility to provide a robust set of experiences such as destination-related content, travel information, news, movies, shopping and more. Much of this content is free to passengers via their own Wi-Fi enabled device.”
“HotelTonight brings consumers simple access to same-day deals at top rated hotels,” said Sam Shank, CEO of HotelTonight. “Working with Gogo, travelers can score a great hotel deal, whether they are on a last-minute trip or just forgot to book a room – even at 35,000 feet.”
To find out what’s new on Gogo’s multimedia platform and what airlines will offer access to HotelTonight, visit Gogo on Facebook.
If your plans include conquering Mt. Whitney this summer, you’ll need training — and a $15 hiking permit. This year the annual lottery for the highly sought-after Mt. Whitney Trail permits will be conducted online.
There’s high demand for a shot at hiking or backpacking up the 14,497-foot Eastern Sierra peak, the highest point in the Lower 48. In the past, the Inyo National Forest has handled the lottery but now the process moves over to the online reservation system Recreation.gov. Applications for the lottery opened Feb. 1 and will be accepted through March 15.
Via the online system, hikers can apply for overnight or day use permits for up to 15 different date choices. Lottery results will be e-mailed to applicants before April 1. (You pick up the actual permit before your trip at the Eastern Sierra InterAgency Visitor Center in Lone Pine, Calif.)
Daily permits for the strenuous 11-mile hike to the top are limited to 60 overnight campers and 100 day hikers between May 1 and Nov. 1. Under the new system, you pay a $6 transaction fee (whether or not you prevail in the lottery) on top of the $15 per person permit fee.
Permits for other trails overseen by the national forest (John Muir, Ansel Adams and Golden Trout wildernesses) cost $5 each and also can be reserved at Recreation.gov.
For more information on permits for Mt. Whitney or other trail heads in the Eastern Sierra, contact the Inyo National Forest Wilderness Permit Office at (760) 873-2483. To enter the lottery for Mt. Whitney permits, go to Recreation.gov.
PARIS – France’s leading pilots’ union threatened Thursday to extend a strike that has canceled hundreds of flights worldwide and cost Air France tens of millions of euros (dollars).
Passengers faced a fourth day of cancellations at French airports on Thursday because of the strike. Pilots, cabin and ground crews are protesting a draft law that would forbid workers from holding unannounced walkouts.
Air France said it was canceling up to 35 percent of long-distance flights worldwide and 25 percent of other flights Thursday because of the strike. Paris’ busy Charles de Gaulle airport saw the most flights canceled.
The strike is set to end Thursday night, and unions meet with the Transport Ministry on Friday to discuss their complaints about the bill.
Depending on how those talks go, unions may resume striking in the coming days, said Yves Deshayes, head of the SNPL pilots’ union.
“Tonight we will suspend the conflict. Tomorrow morning at the meeting at the Transport Ministry, we will allow the opportunity for labor dialogue to take place, before eventually resuming this strike,” he told reporters at Charles de Gaulle airport.
The airport was generally calm and less busy than usual Thursday because of all the canceled flights. A group of puzzled Japanese tourists waited in one terminal, trying to figure out when they would make it home after their flight was annulled.
Air France said it has been losing (EURO)8 million to (EURO)10 million ($10.6 million to $13.3 million) a day because of the strike.
The airline recommended that passengers postpone any flights planned through Friday. Flights operated with partner airlines in the Skyteam alliance have also been affected by the cancellations, an official with the Paris airport authority said.
Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.
BEIJING – The U.S. Embassy in China is promising to streamline visa requests and hire more people to process applicants as part of President Barack Obama’s push to boost tourism to the United States.
The embassy said in a statement Thursday that it will expand its visa processing capacity by opening new facilities in Guangzhou and Shanghai and adding around 50 new consular officers across the country.
That would be a 50 percent increase in staffing.
The embassy says it will launch a program on Monday to allow officers to waive interviews for some qualified applicants who are renewing their visas.
It says it processed 1 million non-immigrant visa applications in China last year, up 34 percent from the previous year.
The best time to go whale-watching in Egypt would have been about 37 million years ago. Smithsonian magazine recently profiled the amazing whale boneyard at Wadi Hitan where fossils reveal an important evolutionary tidbit: the whales had little legs and feet.
In California, it’s whale-watching season right now — for Pacific gray whales, without feet. It’s also a time when Mendocino and nearby towns host festivals to mark the whales’ northbound journey from Mexico to Alaska.
For landlubbers, Point Cabrillo Light Station in Mendocino sits atop headlands that overhang the ocean. It’s one of the best places to take in the action. Whale-spotting docents will be on hand March 3-4 and 17-18 with binoculars to help visitors track the grays.
And then there’s all those festivals. The Mendocino Whale Festival from March 3 to 4 includes a wine-tasting with local varietals ($30 per person), a chowder sampling event, art shows and marine life exhibits, and “An Evening of Wood and Steel” concert ($20 in advance, $25 at the door).
The Little River Whale Festival from March 10 to 11 features a Taste of Little River, where chefs prepare specialties and pair them with local wines, as well as sea cave kayak tours and hikes.
The Fort Bragg Whale Festival from March 17 to 18 includes a whale run and walk, chowder tasting ($10 per person), wine-tasting ($20 per person), microbrew beer tasting ($30 per person) and live music each night. Ricochet Ridge Ranch offers a chance to see whales while horseback riding along coastal trails. And there’s always the more typical whale-watching tours too — by boat.
Contact: Mendocino Coast Whale Festivals
BELLEVUE, Wash., Feb. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ –
Expedia.com®, the world’s leading online travel agency, today revealed the results of a study of American behaviors surrounding Valentine’s Day. Commissioned by Expedia and conducted online by Harris Interactive among 2,236 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, the “Expedia® To the Rescue” study revealed that among those who celebrate Valentine’s Day, planning is often done within a few days of the holiday, with imperfect results. Nearly half (46%) of U.S. adults report that they have had loved ones who had forgotten the date entirely, or canceled plans. 33% of the forgotten reported having taken action in response, ranging from guilt trips and silent treatments to temper tantrums.
Although the gift of travel isn’t common, it is growing more so. 27% of U.S. adults have given the gift of travel in the past and 58% of those who celebrate Valentine’s Day would “definitely or probably” take advantage of an inexpensive getaway deal for Valentine’s Day with a week or two weeks’ notice, if they hadn’t already made other plans.
“Travel is a non-traditional Valentine’s Day gift but its surging popularity makes sense. Expedia’s last-minute and flash sales can be purchased on the fly and you don’t need to take the trip immediately,” said Sarah Keeling, Expedia’s resident romantic travel expert. “Now even if it’s February 13, there’s no reason to be in the doghouse when you can be at the beach.”
Expedia now offers several options for last-minute-planners in the form of last-minute travel deals.
The company’s newly-introduced Last Minute Deals program relies on user-generated deals and user-informed travel trends to find the best near-term travel deals. Expedia Last-Minute Deals effectively crowdsources the search process, by showcasing deals found by other customers.
Groupon Getaways with Expedia couples the flash-sales expertise of Groupon with Expedia’s unparalleled global network of travel suppliers. Groupon Getaways with Expedia follows Groupon’s voucher model, where travelers book a hotel room or package at an exceptional rate, then travel when the time is right. Groupon Getaways with Expedia deals are also transferable, making them ideal gifts.
ASAP (A Sudden Amazing Price®) deals are live and bookable for up to 12 hours, offering unlimited access to deals at up to 50% off of Expedia’s everyday rates. Expedia offers multiple ASAP deals every day.
“Expedia To the Rescue” Results Among other survey findings:
Forget me not. Nearly half (46%) of adults report that their loved ones have ever forgotten or cancelled plans for Valentine’s Day. 33 percent of these admitted to reacting through a variety of means. These include:
The Guilt Trip
10% reported that they “tried to make [their significant other] feel guilty for not caring enough.”
3% reported planning an actual Guilt Trip with friends – they took matters into their own hands and made travel plans, leaving their significant other behind.
The Silent Treatment
8% went the silent route.
8% stopped planning or celebrating Valentine’s Day in future years.
The Temper Tantrum
4% “lost my cool/composure/temper.”
The Friends Night Out
10% spent the evening with friends instead, leaving their significant other behind.
Romantic trips are the option of choice for many couples. Among those who celebrate Valentine’s Day more than 50% (54%) of adults wait until a few days before or the day of to plan for Cupid’s holiday. Only 12% of loved ones plan more than a few weeks out. More than half of adults in the US (58%) would whisk their loved one away for Valentine’s Day if they came across a last-minute getaway deal and they hadn’t already made plans. Westerners are the most spontaneous travelers: they (66%) are significantly more likely to indicate an expressed interest in a last-minute romantic trip for Valentine’s Day if they hadn’t already made other plans, versus 53% of Midwesterners and 54% of Northeasterners.
Nearly four out of ten adults (38%) don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day at all. Those in the Northeast (66%) are more likely to indicate they celebrate this holiday than those in the West (57%). And households with children (77%) are significantly more likely to indicate they celebrate Valentine’s Day than those households without children (57%).
The Non-Valentine’s Day Getaway. 78% of those who have single friends would want to go away with them to celebrate “Non-Valentine’s Day” (i.e., going away for that weekend around Valentine’s Day but not with a romantic partner) to any of seven listed destinations. The top four Non-Valentine’s Day destinations for these adults are: the beach (20%), followed by the casino (18%), a city trip (13%) and a cruise (11%).
Expedia Valentine’s Day DealsExpedia is now offering last-minute deals of varying size and stripe: package deals to New York, Aspen, Miami, Napa, Paris and the Mexican Riviera, as well as a wide assortment of cruise options. Four- and five-star hotels are currently available for 30 to 50% off standard rates and travelers can save up to 75% off select cruises if booked by February 29. The top Valentine’s Day deals include:
Groupon Getaways with Expedia:
Westport Inn, an Ascend Collection Hotel (Westport, CT): One night romantic getaway for $89 and a bottle of Champagne: a 50% discount. Must travel by May 24, 2012.
Oasis Suites (Nags Head, NC): A romantic two-night suite stay for $209 (normally a $471 value). Eligible dates: February – March 31, 2012. Another option is a two-night romantic suite stay for $279 (normally a $626 value). Eligible dates: April – May 24, 2012.
Royal Caribbean Cruise: Book select Royal Caribbean cruises to Europe or Bermuda and receive a complimentary Romance Package which includes a bottle of sparkling wine, chocolate-covered strawberries, and roses delivered to your stateroom.
About Expedia.com, Expedia.com is the world’s leading online travel site, helping millions of travelers per month easily plan and book travel. Expedia.com (
http://www.expedia.com/ , 1-800-EXPEDIA) aims to provide the latest technology and the widest selection of vacation packages, flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises and in-destination activities, attractions, and services. With the Expedia Best Price Guarantee, Expedia.com customers can get the best rates available online for all types of travel.
Expedia, Expedia.com and the Airplane logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Expedia, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other logos or product and company names mentioned herein may be the property of their respective owners. © 2012 Expedia, Inc. All rights reserved. CST # 2029030-50
Survey MethodologyThis survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Expedia from January 30-February 1, 2012 among 2,236 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please see contact information below.
Copyright (C) 2012 PR Newswire. All rights reserved
Article source: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/expedia-study-reveals-that-nearly-50-of-us-adults-report-having-been-forgotten-on-valentines-day-expedia-now-offering-last-minute-flash-sale-travel-for-the-forgetful-and-thoughtful-alike-2012-02-10?reflink=MW_news_stmp
Valentine’s Day deals don’t come cheaper than this: $14 for a day of skiing at Squaw Valley or a ticket to the tableaux vivants Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach this summer. And really, you could take advantage of both. Isn’t that better than chocolates and flowers?
Sister ski resorts Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows in the Lake Tahoe area are selling Share the Love 1-Day lift tickets for $14 each (usually $92 for adults). They’re good only on Valentine’s Day. Tickets must be bought in advance and are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. Buy tickets at Squaw.com or SkiAlpine.com.
Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach offer’s a Valentine’s Day special of $14 tickets until Tuesday for its 80th year themed “The Genius.” Performances of the “living art” show (actors strike poses of famous paintings and sculptures) run from July 7 to Aug. 31. Discounted tickets are available for shows Sundays-Thursdays for Director’s Tier Side seats (usually $30 each). Buy tickets at the Pageant of the Masters website or call (800) 487-3378.
ATLANTA – A northwest Georgia county has bought the garden where the late folk artist Howard Finster held court for tourists and art lovers from around the world.
Chattooga County, where Paradise Garden has been based since Finster began building it in 1961, used donations and grant money to buy the small plot for $125,000, said Jordan Poole, executive director with the Paradise Garden Foundation. The foundation will continue to work on restoring the quirky garden, which was featured in a 1983 R.E.M. video.
Finster, a bicycle repairman and preacher who turned to art to spread God’s word, has long been considered the grandfather of the American folk art movement. He filled the garden, located about 100 miles northwest of Atlanta, with primitive mosaics, sculptures and buildings. It was the setting for numerous weddings that Finster presided over.
The garden fell into disrepair after his death in 2001. The county’s ownership will protect it from ever being closed down, Poole said Wednesday.
“It means Paradise Garden is still owned by an entity — it can’t be snatched up by a private investor who goes in there and starts removing everything,” Poole said.
The county bought the four-acre plot in late December after receiving news it had won an Appalachian Regional Commission grant, said the county’s sole commissioner, Jason Winters. The county is in a much better position to apply for grants to help restore the crumbling structures in the garden than the nonprofit that bought the property from Finster’s family, he said.
Winters said he hopes to create a tourism economy around the garden, which drew more than 2,000 visitors last year with no marketing. The county will lease the garden to Poole’s foundation, which will be in charge of maintaining and restoring the property, Winters said.
“Finster was a citizen of Chattooga County first, and he was proud of his home and we need to be proud of him,” Winters said.
So far, volunteers have helped shore up the tier wedding cake-like World’s Folk Art Church and put on a new roof with money raised by auctioning off art from the garden. Volunteers also help guide tours of the garden for visitors who show up on its doorstep.
The foundation has also revived FinsterFest, a folk art festival that Finster held every year in the garden to help promote hundreds of unknown artists.
“It’s exactly what my father would have wanted,” Beverly Finster said Wednesday night.
Her father began creating what he called “sacred art” in 1976 after a vision appeared to him in a dollop of paint on one of his fingertips. His art, which featured everything from ants to Elvis, gained national fame after members of R.E.M. befriended him.
The artist painted the covers of albums for R.E.M., Talking Heads and other bands in the 1980s, and soon his primitive paintings and sculptures became famous, drawing thousands every year to his home near the Alabama-Georgia border.
His art spilled from the basement of his home into his backyard, where he carefully placed mosaic Bible verses into the sidewalk and turned objects like bicycles, car motor parts and dolls into sculptures. Some of the objects in the garden look like the contents of a child’s toy box or a recycling bin were dumped into piles of wet concrete, drying into a misshapen heap.
A shack is made out of bottles embedded in concrete. Trash cans are painted with messages about transforming trash into treasure. One wall is a scrapbook of family photos and clippings from newspapers, all preserved behind glass.
Everything about the garden is folksy, right down to the name, which is Paradise Garden or Paradise Gardens, depending who you ask. Howard Finster — who sometimes wrote his name as “Finister,” which is the way residents in Chattooga pronounce it — used both in legal documents, Poole said.
The artist eventually produced 48,000 pieces, including quirky wooden statues and sculptures made from other people’s trash. He awed architects with his complex folk art church, which seemed impossible for a man lacking formal engineering training.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – An Italian real estate group is suing to keep residents of a tiny town south of the Grand Canyon from putting a stop to its plans for major development that include hotels, 3 million square feet of commercial space and hundreds of homes.
A group of Tusayan residents critical of the plan gathered enough signatures to put rezoning and annexation agreements approved by the Town Council up for a vote in May. But Stilo Development Group USA contends the referenda are legally insufficient, and it sued the town Tuesday.
The lawsuit filed in Coconino County Superior Court is part of what’s expected to be a hard-fought battle in the town where residents have long disagreed over how an area seven miles outside the Grand Canyon’s park gates should be developed.
The lawsuit contends that petitioners didn’t accurately describe the ordinances passed by the Town Council, nor do the referendum numbers match up to them. The lawsuit further also argues that a development agreement between Stilo and the town is an administrative action, not a legislative one, so it cannot be referred to the ballot.
Stilo has asked a judge to grant a preliminary injunction to keep any election materials from being printed and stop the referenda from being placed on the ballot. A hearing is scheduled Feb. 28.
“I don’t think it’s any accident that what’s missing from all of the descriptions, in terms of being accurate, is that there would be housing and open land in the rezoning,” Stilo attorney Keith Beauchamp said Wednesday.
The town’s attorney, Bill Sims, said late Wednesday that he was still reviewing the lawsuit along with the mayor and council.
Some of Tusayan’s residents and the town’s neighbors say Stilo’s plan is vague and would dramatically alter the character of the town and mar the beauty leading to the Grand Canyon. Specifically, they want to know how Stilo intends to deliver water to its developments and to what extent it would provide affordable housing for residents.
“Never once does it say anything about an amount, exactly what they are going to get,” said Clarinda Vail, who is part of a committee named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
She defended the petitions as sound and said that Tusayan residents should not be denied a chance to vote.
SAN FRANCISCO – Federal environmental regulators have given final approval to a rule that bans cruise ships and large cargo vessels from releasing sewage into the ocean within three miles of California’s coast.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday that the new rule will strengthen existing state law which bans cruise ships from releasing a host of toxic pollutants into coastal waters.
EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld said the rule bans all sewage discharges, treated or not, along California’s 1,624-mile coast and around major islands.
Blumenfeld said the “no discharge zone” will prevent more than 20 million gallons of vessel sewage from entering the state’s coastal waters.
The rules will cover cruise liners, which can hold 6,000 people at a time, and cargo vessels of 300 gross tons or more.