Tag Archives: Focus

Focus: Breaking Travel News investigates: Urban Cowboy Lodge in the Catskills

The Urban Cowboy Lodge is situated in the centre of the 68-acre Big Indian Wilderness, a nature preserve that boasts numerous trails and watering holes, all set to the backdrop of a haunting, mountainous landscape.

Due to its isolated and rural location, it is strongly advised that you travel to the property, which opened in spring last year, by car. As you find yourself driving down the highway and deeper into nature, there is a beautiful moment when your cell loses service and the breath-taking Catskill mountains suddenly come into view. Your GPS will stop working too, so be sure to download a map and directions in advance, as well as the curated Spotify playlist that the property will send you to accompany your journey.

Prior to my trip, the staff at the lodge were extremely communicative, their tone was chatty and familiar, ensuring I was fully prepared for my stay. Right from the off, the standard of service was set high, which left me feeling I was going to be well looked after during my two-night visit. They did not fail to deliver on arrival, when I was welcomed with a choice of bubbles or bourbon at check-in. When I was shown to my room, there was also a hand written note welcoming me on my bed.

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Now, about my room. No doubt the focal point of the Alpine Bathing Suite was the bright copper bathtub in the centre, with great views overlooking the Catskill Mountains. The décor takes on a maximalist feel, with a campy and yet considered approach to anything and everything woodsy – it felt like a Wes Anderson take on Twin Peaks. Every texture and print mismatched and no surface is left plain. But instead of this feeling overwhelming, the combination works. It felt inviting and cosy, from the plaid curtains, patterned woollen blankets and oversized wooden panel headboard. The colours are rich and warm, contrasting the pink cooper bathtub with deep greens and mustards. I felt immediately at home and at ease.

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Further comforts in the room included a functioning cast iron stove, heated floors and a large leather armchair. The ‘keeping it American’ theme is found in the mini bar, with its locally sourced candy, chips, beer and ales from a nearby brewery. There are also ready-made cocktails, crafted in house. The toiletries – provided by Khus & Khus and Detox Babe – are all botanical-forward brands using organic ingredients. To top it all off, a rubber ducky dressed as a cowboy was my companion during my multiple baths. 

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As the day came to a close over the Catskill mountains, I headed over to dine at the main cabin, which is where you can also find the bar, games room (aka ‘the Den’) and a private cinema (to be booked out in advance). Since the restaurant opened earlier this year, it has been thriving. It is evident that they have worked to create a menu as unique as their space. Sustainable-meets-simple-yet-delicious, seems to be the main theme of the menu, with a vegetable-heavy focus and an intentional use of proteins. This was evident with their pork dish, for which the restaurant buys an entire quarter back of a pig, with the cuts evolving through the night as they serve. Cooked and plated with a caramel and fish sauce, it was sticky and sweet with complex flavours.

I paired my meal with the locally baked Wilson’s bread (which only needed pickles and butter to complement its taste) and the beer battered shiitakes, a fun take on bar food. But the unsuspecting show stopper was the 18-hour slow cooked cabbage, which has been on the menu since opening. Cooked overnight, the dish was meaty enough to satisfy any carnivore, the charcoaled exterior crispy, with the inside soft and chewy. Served with parsnip and packed full of flavours such as apple and mustard, it was hearty and extremely satisfying.

As dusk settled in and I enjoyed my dinner, I admired the handpicked wild flowers on my table (a decorative touch seen throughout the Urban Cowboy Lodge). I watched the fire flies dance upon the vast green lawn, and I felt at peace.

The next morning, coffee was delivered to my room in thermos flask big enough for two, along with my choice of milk and breakfast. I chose to enjoy my coffee on the balcony, to admire the view of the mountains once more. Another sight that caught my eye as I sat back absorbing the view was the number of other guests doing just the same (all suites come with a balcony). All of us, in our jade green Pendleton robes, soaking up the morning. It was a vibe.

The room also comes with a guide to local activities within the Catskills area, as well as onsite events that the property hosts. The team at the lodge will meet weekly to discuss and keep the guide current as well as weather relevant. It is comprehensive to say the least, but I still had some further questions, so decided to head back to find out more. After a few words of advice, I hiked up Giants Ledge for stunning views, visited a local brewery with a pop-up food fair and swam in a waterfall. Following another conversation with the onsite bar-tender about the origins of their cocktail ‘Mahogany Ridge,’ I was also able to discover a local bar which housed a retro wooden ten pin bowling alley.

All of these unique experiences helped to make my stay so memorable and special. It is no wonder that so many of the lodge’s guests (despite being open for just over a year) are returning. I learned that the grand piano in the Den was actually a gift from a local who dines regularly, wanting to give it to a home where it would be loved. Talking to the staff it is clear that they are passionate about their place of work and its future plans, with an Estonian sauna due to open in a matter of weeks.

The finale of my stay was a trip along the recently cut ‘Jesses Trail,’ an onsite 20-minute stroll scattered with wild flowers, daisies and buttercups. On completion of the trail, there is the option to indulge in nature swim in the Esopus creek. While it certainly was cold, it will invigorate you more than any morning coffee and I highly recommend.

After staying at the Urban Cowboy, their tag line “arrive as strangers leave as friends” makes perfect sense to me. At the time of my stay, the lodge was fully occupied, so I encourage to book while you can and make yourself a part of the Urban Cowboy family.

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An easy escape from NYC, the Catskills are the perfect getaway for effortless social-distancing, offering a plethora of opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities, stunning views and excellent accommodations.

Urban Cowboy Lodge is only 2.5 hours from New York City and offers rustic luxury accommodations, dating back to 1898, that have been artfully revived by Lyon Porter’s signature design style of bold patterns, repurposed structures, and hand-picked Americana antiques with a commitment to elemental experiences inspired by the power of nature.

Find out more on the official website.

Words: Emily Clark

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This post originally posted here Breaking Travel News

Focus: Breaking Travel News interview: Flavia Santoro, president, ProColombia

Colombia has announced a new brand manifesto for the destination: ‘Colombia, the most welcoming place on Earth.’

With the restart of international travel on the horizon, the country aims to stimulate international tourism growth and ignite travellers’ wanderlust by spotlighting the warmth and kindness of its populace.

The new manifesto, which is led by ProColombia, is the result of extensive quantitative and qualitative research, which identifies the core essence of Colombia to be the warmth and kindness of its people.

Here Breaking Travel News chats with Flavia Santoro, President of ProColombia, to find out more.

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Breaking Travel News: Where does tourism in Colombia stand in July 2021? Are the borders open to travellers? What requirements are currently in place to slow the spread of Covid-19?

Flavia Santoro: International air connectivity in Colombia is open.

Today the country is connected to 22 countries with 21 airlines, which means that we have recovered 62 per cent of the air frequencies we had in early 2020.

And during 2021, 28 new routes have been announced, flying from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Ecuador and Peru and 15 of these have already started operations.

New guidelines for the arrival of international travellers to our country include the following:

  • It is not mandatory to present a negative PCR test before the flight.
  • Travellers must fill out the Check-Mig form at least one to 24 hours before the flight.
  • Travellers must wear masks at all times.
  • They must report symptoms associated with Covid-19: cough, shortness of breath, sore throat or fatigue and should not board if they have these symptoms.
  • International passengers are obliged to give real information about their health status, their recent contact with suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19, comply with the instructions of the health authorities and give exact information about their telephone number and address in Colombia. Foreign travellers must provide a national telephone number so they can be easily contacted.

BTN: There is hope the situation may return to something like normal over the coming months as vaccines begin to impact on the virus. What are your ambitions, in terms of visitor numbers, for Colombia this year?

FS: We are very optimistic about the future of tourism in Colombia.

The country had been enjoying steady, year-on-year growth in visitor numbers prior to the coronavirus pandemic, with the annual number of visitors in the 2012-2018 period growing at nearly double the average world rate.

Also, growth between 2014 and 2019 rose 11.6 per cent.

Average international tourism growth in the Americas between 2012 and 2019 was 4.4 per cent, less than half of the 9.1 per cent Colombia saw.

We are sure that we will continue improving on the good numbers that we have already been registering.

According to a recent study by Despegar, one of the most important online travel agencies on the continent, Colombia is one of the countries in the region with the greatest recovery of its tourism sector above countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and the United States.

There are also very good projections regarding the arrival of non-resident travellers to Colombia according to a study by FowardKeys, which reports more than 115 thousand air reservations made to our country, mostly from the United States, Chile, Spain, Argentina and France for travel in April – September 2021.

BTN: The country has seen continued political unrest in recent weeks – is this impacting on reopening, or tourism promotion, plans?

FS: The world has faced extremely challenging times due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and Colombia has not been an exception.

However, our country is an example of how difficult times can be transformed in a positive way.

With a rich and diverse history Colombia has been through periods of transition and growth, always remaining resilient with a spirit of warmth and openness at its heart. We know we will rise again stronger together from the current situation.

We will continue to make every effort to promote the prompt recovery of our tourism industry, we are working to adapt the sector to the new requirements of international and local travellers.

We strongly believe tourism is a powerful and transformative tool for local communities with a tremendous impact on the development of the regions and we are looking to leverage this.

Colombia has undergone a positive transformation in recent years, and we have earned recognition as a must visit destination and key commercial ally for many markets.

People who visit Colombia know that Colombians are extremely friendly, welcoming, and warm!

There is no doubt that nowadays, Colombia is one of the trendiest destinations.

We are proud to won recognition at the World Travel Awards Latin America Gala Ceremony in 2020.

These same awards nominated the country again this year in 22 categories highlighting our biodiversity and cultural wealth.

We have also been considered a successful example of innovation and social transformation and as we continue to welcome visitors and show them that Colombia is a modern and evolving country, we believe our reputation as a safe, friendly and inclusive nation will only continue to strengthen.

BTN: As the market begins to reopen, ProColombia has launched a new, consumer-facing manifesto for the country. What can you tell us about that?

FS: Yes, I’m delighted to announce the destination’s new brand manifesto is ‘Colombia, the most welcoming place on Earth.’

At a time when a warm welcome, a kind embrace and a feeling of true community has never been so important, we feel that our bold yet simple message encapsulates what global travellers are seeking.

To clarify, we conducted extensive quantitative and qualitative research with more than 1,500 surveys and focus groups with Colombians and foreigners to identify what the core essence of Colombia is and ultimately, the warmth and kindness of our people lay at the heart of it.

When people say you can judge a place by its people, I couldn’t agree more and this is precisely why Colombia has chosen to build its new manifesto narrative around the warmth and kindness for which our people are known.

The international launch will be on Monday, July 19th and while we appreciate that those with wanderlust may need to wait a little longer before experiencing the warmth of

Colombia first-hand, we invite travellers and travel trade alike to experience ‘the most welcoming place on Earth’ via our dedicated ‘Neighbourhood of Neighbourhoods’ webpage.

Designed to look like a map of Colombia with local communities, the interactive ‘map’ will help visitors discover each of the six Colombian regions, showcasing it as a melting pot of cultures, flavours, rhythms and colours all underpinned by a consistent, familiar and local welcome.

With authentic video content and local narratives, we hope the ‘Neighbourhood of Neighbourhoods’ webpage will act as an extension of Colombia’s community, demonstrating its welcoming ethos and extensive offering.

We like to say ‘whatever you are looking for and whatever your needs, Colombia is a place where you don’t have to knock, because the door is always open’.

BTN: The new campaign seeks to place the people of Colombia as central to its offering. How is this different from how the country has been promoted in the past?

FS: We highly value the Colombia Country Brand; it is an asset that has informed the world about our wonderful country for the last ten years.

First, the message was “Colombia is Passion”.

It focused on showing the creativity, resourcefulness, talent and passion that characterises Colombians.

It served to reawaken a sense of national belonging and thanks to this foundation, in 2012, we moved to “The Answer is Colombia,” a message focused on telling the world that we were the answer to all its needs.

With this message, we focused on using facts and data to demonstrate the important progress that Colombia had made in terms of competitiveness.

With “The Answer is Colombia,” we decided to align the campaigns to promote ProColombia’s lines of work: non-mining and non-energy exports, foreign direct investment and international tourism.

ProColombia will incorporate these campaigns into the new Manifesto while retaining many of the prior campaigns’ elements and messages.

This manifesto has been created to get back to the beginning of it all, as the studies carried out demonstrate that Colombians’ warmth is what we are known for globally.

We are getting back to people, to what makes us unique.

BTN: How important is tourism to Colombia and how do you expect this to change over the coming years?

FS: In the last decade, tourism in Colombia has become an important source of foreign exchange and employment for the country.
President Duque has called the sector “the new petroleum”.

In 2019, the tourism sector reached historic figures: 4.5 million non-resident visitors arrived in the country, an increase of three per cent compared with 2018; hotel occupancy was 57 per cent (the highest in the last 15 years) and generated 6,751 million dollars, two per cent more than in 2018, which makes it the non-mining energy sector that generated the most foreign currency that year.

Last year was undoubtedly a year of high expectations for the sector.

However, the pandemic forced Colombia to change plans and quickly adapt to the new conditions.

So, we took isolation as an opportunity to prepare a safe reactivation of the tourism sector and at ProColombia we created a recovery plan with three priorities: adapting to change, facilitating air connectivity and generating confidence in the international traveller to visit Colombian destinations.

For us sustainability is more than an attribute, it is the heart and the pillar of our tourism industry.

We are making steady progress in this regard.

For example, the ministry of trade, industry and tourism reformed the general tourism law, putting sustainability as a fundamental axis.

It now formally recognises that the protection of the environment and local communities is essential for the recovery of the Colombian tourism industry after the pandemic.

In addition, we are the second most biodiverse country in the world; ornithologically, we come top with more than 1,900 species of birds, we also come top for our orchids and recently for butterflies too, as declared by the Natural History Museum of London’s study.

Also, we are second place for amphibians, third for plants and reptiles and fourth for mammals.

This means great responsibility that we embrace with total commitment.

More Information

ProColombia is a government entity responsible for promoting international tourism and foreign direct investment in Colombia, non-mining energy exports and the country brand.

Through its national and international network of offices, it offers Colombian companies support and comprehensive advice through services or instruments focused on encouraging the design and execution of their international strategies, as well as facilitating the generation and development of business opportunities.

Images: ProColombia

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This post originally posted here Breaking Travel News

Focus: MyGolfHeaven: Our three favorite golf courses in Thailand

MyGolfHeaven: Our three favorite golf courses in Thailand

Francesco Diomaiuta, owner of MyGolfHeaven, tells golf fans from around the world the best places to play in this east Asian tourism powerhouse…

Thailand is a Golf Country! Maybe because Tiger Woods has family roots in Thailand, the weather allows you to play pretty much the whole year or because it is the world tourism capital.

If you haven’t played in Thailand yet, we have reviewed our top three golf courses in Thailand to help you make a pick when you’re here!

Combine this with an afternoon at the beach or a track through the jungle, and you have yourself the perfect golf holiday!

Keep reading!

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Black Mountain – Hua Hin

The Black Mountain Golf Course is located around two hours south of Bangkok, in a small beach village called Hua Hin.

You get there by public transportation from Bangkok or arrange a direct transfer from the airport. Contact the Black Mountain staff before your arrival, and they’ll be happy to arrange a transfer for you!

The award-winning, 27-hole golf course is split into three routes; East, North, and West. At the beginning of your round, you’ll be able to select which route you’ll play.

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Pro Tip – the North-West route offers you the best views of the mountains!

In 2012, Golf Digest awarded this course for being one of the best 100 golf courses outside the US and the best course in Asia in 2017. Many international competitions are being played here until this day.

As the name suggested, Black Mountain is located at the foot of lush, green hills and the fairways offer tricky angulations and changes in altitude.

Including the Championship tee-box, there are six different tee-boxes to choose from. The length ranges from 5,617 to 7,507 yards.

The course is known for its fast greens, tight fairways, and tricky design. The course is always in top condition and makes for an incredible playing experience!

If you tee off on the first hole, you’ll be able to see Thongchai Jaidee’s holiday residence right next to the tee-box!

The fact that a Thai PGA pro has a house right next to this course should already tell you that it is without a doubt one of the best courses you can play in Thailand – and probably the world!

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Nikanti – Bangkok

Yes, one of Thailand’s best golf courses is located in Bangkok! Or near Bangkok, to be exact.

What makes this golf course so good is the brilliant design by Pirapon Namatra, one of Thailand’s leading golf course designers, the immaculate conditions on the course, and the probably trickiest greens you can find in all Asia!

Everything is just a touch better at Nikanti – All caddies are professionally trained, all golf carts are equipped with GPS technology, Food, snacks, and drinks are complimentary for the whole day you’re playing!

The course itself is relatively short, only 6,789 from the back tees. Length won’t be the challenge of this course, as you can imagine.

You might decide to keep the driver in the bag for most of your round, and hitting a green in regulation doesn’t guarantee a par just yet. Driving Iron off the tee will often be the smarter choice!

The hole locations are always tricky, and the greens feature distinct angulations, which genuinely require you to plan your approach on every hole.

Hitting the ball on the wrong tier of a green might as well add an extra put unless you get lucky!

Fortunately, the greens are always pure, and despite the angulations, these are our favorite greens to play on in Thailand. While they are tricky, they roll pure and add another layer of complexity to the golf course.

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Grand Prix Golf Course – Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi is dubbed “The Switzerland of Thailand” because of its mountains and incredible views.

As a Swiss person, I can’t but agree.

Finding a top-notch golf course in a remote location like this might surprise you, but the Grand Prix Golf Course is truly a hidden gem, worth a visit!

Unlike Black Mountain, this is a links course and play anywhere from 5,534 – 7,111 yards! It features many water hazards, and strategically placed bunkers protect the greens.

What we love about this golf course is that it requires you to plan your approach shots carefully. Many fairways are split and need you to decide whether or not you lay up.

The greens have tiers, and depending on the pin location for the day, you’re left with a tricky put, even if you hit the green in regulation.

The greens are pure and run from anywhere between a 9.5-11 on the Stimp meter. They can also run quicker, depending on the weather conditions leading up to your round.

You are surrounded by picturesque mountain views on every hole, and the course is always in immaculate condition! What would you want more!

What To Do Next?

Thailand is an excellent place for your next golf holiday. It’s hard to pick only three courses to review, considering that the weather and typography of Thailand make for a fantastic golf experience!

Make sure you visit any of the courses on our list if you’re in town, and we hope you have an unforgettable experience playing some of Thailand’s best golf courses!

Visit MyGolfHeaven  for more Tips, guides, and equipment reviews!

Words and images: Francesco Diomaiuta

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This post originally posted here Breaking Travel News

Focus: Breaking Travel News interview: Arvind Bundhun, director, Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority

Mauritius has unveiled plans for a phased reopening strategy over the coming months.

There are hopes the destination can be fully open to international travellers by October.

From today, 14 Mauritian ‘resort bubbles’ will open, with each having been specially set up to welcome vaccinated international travellers. 

Air Mauritius, Emirates and other global airlines will also add additional flight capacity this month.

Phase two of the reopening will begin on October 1st, whereby vaccinated travellers will be allowed entry without restrictions and be able to travel around the island.

This will mark a full reopening of the island ahead of its peak winter season.

Here we find out more from Arvind Bundhun, director of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority.

Breaking Travel News: Where does Mauritius stand with its vaccination programme against Covid-19 – and have tourism professionals been prioritised ahead of the reopening?

Arvind Bundhun: The response to the pandemic has ranked among one of the best in the world, as the Mauritian government responded promptly with stringent control measures and protocols.

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The safety of Mauritians and visitors has been a top priority since the outbreak of Covid-19 and the success is a result of a joint effort by the Mauritian government and the population of the island.

The responsiveness of the Mauritian authorities and the effectiveness of the health system are the core reasons behind our low death rate.

Due to the precautionary measures put in place by our government, we have been successful in containing the spread of the pandemic.

This is itself a reassuring message for visitors who can see the efforts that both the government and private sector in Mauritius have implemented to ensure safety of locals and visitors.

The local community had really banded together to respect the rules, follow guidelines and work together for the destination to reopen and we are very proud of how we have, and continue to, overcome this challenging period in our history.

The announcement follows the acceleration of the vaccination campaign and the progress made towards herd immunity by the end of September.

Tourism employees were prioritised during the vaccine rollout.

This has enabled a prompt and safe restart of the Mauritius tourism industry.

As of now, the island is well on track to reach its herd immunity as Mauritius has received most of its stock of vaccines.

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BTN: You have unveiled plans for a cautious reopening over the coming months – what can you tell me about that?

AB: Throughout the pandemic we have taken a cautious approach, placing the safety of our visitors and Mauritians at the forefront of our actions.

The reopening on July 15th is the first stage in a phased approach, with the first phase running to September 30th and enabling vaccinated travellers to experience our class-leading resorts and the varied range of facilities including pools, beaches, restaurants and many resort activities.

This will lead into phase two beginning on October 1st, whereby vaccinated travellers will be allowed entry without restrictions so will be able to once more enjoy all that our wonderful island has to offer.

We have been working hand in glove with our island stakeholders to move forward to this stage and are delighted to have a clear roadmap in place.

The UK is, of course one, of our most important and valued markets and we are greatly looking forward to working with the UK trade to invite holidaymakers back to our island and extend a warm welcome.

BTN: ‘Resort bubbles’ have been set up across the island – what will life be like for travellers during their stay?

AB: A total of 14 ‘resort bubbles’ have been specially set up to welcome vaccinated UK and international visitors to the island from today and enabling travellers to enjoy a resort holiday on the island.

The approved Covid-19 safe resorts are available on a new website.

Holidaymakers will be able to enjoy facilities within their chosen resort premises, including the swimming pool and beach.

If guests stay for 14 days and have negative PCR tests during their stay in the resort, they will then be able to leave the hotel and travel about the island freely for the rest of their stay, exploring the island’s many attractions.

However, for shorter stays, they may leave the resort earlier and travel back home.

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BTN: You have seen strong support from the aviation sector, with carriers returning. What role will Air Mauritius play after its administration process?

AB: Air Mauritius has confirmed a new schedule of three flights per week from Paris to Mauritius from July 15th in line with the reopening of Mauritius borders to international travellers. 

There are currently regular connecting flights using Air Mauritius partner carrier Air France from multiple regional points in the UK to Paris.

Air Mauritius will be confirming further updates for direct flights from Heathrow to Mauritius in the lead up to the full reopening on October 1st.

In addition, British Airways is currently working on scheduling direct flights to Mauritius from August, and Emirates and Turkish Airlines are looking to resume their indirect flights soon too.

BTN: What are your expectations in terms of visitor numbers for 2021?

AB: Our Mauritius hotel partners and UK tour operators are reporting strong forward bookings for quarter four of 2021.
We believe Mauritius is a strong destination brand and remains in the mind and heart of travellers when they leave, therefore we strongly believe tourism to Mauritius can bounce back in the long term.

More Information

Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority is considered the Indian Ocean’s Leading Tourist Board by voters at the World Travel Awards.

Find out more about visiting the island on the official website.

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This post originally posted here Breaking Travel News

Focus: Hotelmize & Qtech Software | a Partnership Promising to Revolutionize the Hospitality Industry

Hotelmize & Qtech Software | a Partnership Promising to Revolutionize the Hospitality Industry

Due to the adverse effects of the global pandemic on the tourism industry, accommodation providers have spent the downtime looking to improve their service for the expected post-corona tourism boom.

One of the ways that hospitality specialists have sought to accommodate this upcoming trend in tourism is by implementing modern technology solutions. It becomes apparent when you look into ambitious partnerships such as Hotelmize, big data booking solutions, and Qtech Software, industry-leading Travel Technology Provider.

With this partnership, Hotelmize will now integrate its big data booking solutions directly with OTRAMS Travel ERP – Qtech Software’s flagship travel software platform. This partnership provides an opportunity for Travel Businesses to benefit from the cutting-edge tech offered by both companies.

Speaking about this development, the CEO of Qtech Software, Paresh Parihar, said, “Travel Businesses are looking to improve their revenue and margins, especially after the latest slump. Seamless business operations on OTRAMS coupled with Hotelmize’s AI-based booking solution will give travel businesses the necessary tools to meet their revenue and profit goals. OTRAMS is not only the leading travel ERP solution, but it is the only comprehensive platform that offers the complete range of features required for business operations, expansion and profitability”.

Qtech Software is a World Leading Travel ERP Technology provider that serves travel companies in over 36 countries around the globe and is renowned for its innovative solutions. Its flagship travel ERP platform – OTRAMS, is used by over 200,000 Travel agents globally.

Outside of OTRAMS, Qtech Software has been diligently working to develop top-shelf solutions for the upcoming post-pandemic uptrend in global tourism. 
They’ve been making some key partnerships, such as the one with Hotelmize.

Furthermore, Qtech has been expanding its technology portfolio through acquisitions and partnerships and investing in Big Data, AI, and Data Science. That’s where the big data solutions offered by Hotelmize come into play.

Hotelmize is a travel tech company powered by AI, Machine Learning, and Big Data, this innovative post-booking solution compares fluctuating hotel rates and predicts prices. That’s how it enables travel companies to uncover hidden revenue opportunities and boost hotel booking profits and margins.

Dor Krubiner,  CEO of Hotelmize commented: “Hotelmize’s technologies have already paved the way for the future of the travel industry, the partnership with Qtech is the perfect next step for our solutions to positively impact an even larger audience”.

Hotelmize was also named as one of the most promising startups of 2020 by Phocuswright, and by UNWTO, for the Healing Solutions for Tourism Challenge, as one of the most disruptive startups driving solutions to mitigate COVID-19’s impact on tourism.

Last year, Hotemize received the EMEA People’s Choice Award at the Phocuswright Europe Innovation Summit 2020 – only adding to the company’s rising star status.

How Combining Technology Will Transform Tourism
Combining technologies that are yet in their infancy and applying them to an industry currently on pause might just help change the tourism industry for good.

With the advent of improved booking, data silence, and IoT – accommodation providers can give their clients a far higher standard of service, making them stand out from their competition.

The mutually beneficial partnership between Qtech and Hotelmize shows promise to innovate the tourism industry at large while improving the solutions on both sides.

What This Means for Qtech’s Customers
Qtech is a company with a long-standing reputation of offering cutting-edge solutions – and by partnering with a company such as Hotelmize, they are adding extra value to their existing offer with AI, ML, and big data solutions.

Furthermore, existing Qtech clients will have a chance to benefit from this partnership as Hotelmize can bring new technology and reshape existing practices in the tourism industry alongside Qtech.

www.hotelmize.com

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This post originally posted here Breaking Travel News

Focus: 13 Of Dubai’s craziest world records

13 Of Dubai’s craziest world records

Dubai is one city that loves to create records. There is actually a full library of such records kept by the city, and there seems to be no end in sight to their desire for global acclaim. The desire, allure and urge to continue packing these world records does not seem to wane.

Just a week ago, the Dubai based British philanthropist and artist, Sacha Jafri gained another accolade, as she delivered to the world the largest art canvas. When this new world record was confirmed, we decided to take a look at some of the most impressive, wonderful and weird Guinness World Records that belong to Dubai.

Hitman 3 “On Top of the World” Speedrun
So the first mention on our list is actually set in Dubai, the Burj Khalifa to be precise, and this record is actually held by 2 separate players. The stage is cleared in just 9 seconds and popular CS:GO gambling, news and esports media site CSGOBook.com reports that Der_Launch_Linus and Wreak had found a crucial vantage point which allowed them to scope the 2 targets out in mere seconds.

Biggest Prize Pool for Horse Racing
The biggest amount ever paid in a single day racing amounts to $ 26.25m, and this happened in the 2012 edition of the Dubai World Cup that took place at the Meydan Racecourse. The single day event commanded a prize pool of up to $ 26.25m, which beats all records before it and set a new one.

Fastest Marathon in an American Football Kit
Now, the fact is that taking on a marathon could be attributed to crazy people, as we see it as one of the craziest things people do. But when you eventually take on one that is kitted in full American football gear, it turns into something else. That was what Ozzie Alistair Kealty did in the 2019 version of the Dubai Marathon, as she crossed the line in an amazing 3 hours, 33 minutes, 42 seconds.

Largest Flower Structure, Arrangement
What do you say about a city that also sees the simple flower bed as an avenue to rack up more records?  There is a mélange of teaming green thumbed gurus in the miracle garden, and their razz floral endeavors have seen them to the world records book. They have the record for pruning the largest flower structure ever, and the flower in question is their petal representation of an Airbus A380, measuring 72.95m by 78.34m long and 21.98m tall.

Largest Synchronized Car Dance
Dubai is hugely in love with motors, and its love for the national bird of the country is even bigger. Because of that, they centered the world’s largest synchronized car dance on the falcon.  This happened at the Rugby 7s stadium in Dubai, where the movement of 180 vehicles was choreographed by Nissan, to form an outline of the popular flighted symbol.

Largest Tin of Caviar
Here, they synced their love for records with their love for food and the luxury world. The largest tin of caviar was available for guests that attended a gala on New Year’s Eve. This is not a small accomplishment, as the said tin of caviar weighed more than 50.0kg. This is an amazing way to get off the New Year. Don’t you think so?

Largest Water Fountain
This is one of the most recent records by the city. The Palm Fountain would be remembered as the largest in the world. The Pointe now has an entire new life, given by the waterfront attraction, underlining the allure. When the fountain is in full flow, it can blast up to 14,000 ft² of water up to 105m skyward. This show is so special that you need to experience it at least once in your life.

Longest Line of Piles
We are already concentrating on the British pie week, so it won’t be appropriate for us to forget to applaud the tastiest of all pies in the world. It was in January that a perfect line up of 2,209 pies was presented, as a collaboration between Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, Emirates Culinary Guild and USA Pears.

Longest wheelie (distance) on a quad bike (ATV)
It could be fairly easy to cover 60 clicks, but when you think of covering that when doing wheelie on a quad bike, you see how difficult it could be. But the man named Abdulla Al Hattawi was not dissuaded by the difficulty, as he steered his ATV 60 km while he was enjoying a wheelie on the Sheikh Zayed Road. Meanwhile, whatever you do, never try this during the rush hour.

Longest Underwater Live Radio Broadcast without Support
Was the radio star really murdered by video or were they sent under the sea instead? The very unique record of hosting the longest underwater live radio broadcast is held by Atlantis the Palm, and this happened in its Atlantis Ambassador Lagoon Aquarium. The presenter that manned the microphone was radio anchor Stu Tolan, as he stayed underwater 3 meters down for more than five hours in the 11m liter tank.

Most people to parachute from a balloon simultaneously
Every other day and all through the day, skydivers are seen moving up the earth above The Palm at the same time. However, you rarely see many descending from the heights simultaneously. Because of this, the world record of the most people to descend simultaneously from a balloon is held by the 25 thrill seekers that came down simultaneously at The Palm. That day was full of adrenaline and had many records to go home with.

Tallest Hotel
The number of luxury hotels in Dubai is too numerous to count, but amidst all, one stands as the tallest. The fortunate thing is that it’s one that you can’t miss. Here, we are talking about the 75-storey Gevora Hotel with a gold top. Located on the Sheikh Zayed Road, and stretching more than 356.33m to the clouds, the highest rooms amidst the 528 are found on the 71st floor. This is made for people that love and can stand heights.

Tallest…….. Lots of Things
The Burj Khalifa is a tall building, yes, we are aware, and you are aware too. But it is not the only one, and does not reduce the intrigue of the avalanche of records available. It is actually the tallest building in the universe, as it is 828m tall. But this gives rise to many other titles. They include the highest number of stories in the universe, the tallest freestanding structure ever, the highest occupied floor in the world, and the highest outdoor observation deck the world has ever seen. It also stands as the building with the tallest elevator ever, and the elevator that has the longest distance on earth.

Tallest Residential Building
It is one thing to stay in hotels in lofty surroundings; it’s another thing to lay your head down in the sky every other night. The 101 storeys Princess Tower rises 413.4m high, making it the tallest residential building on the planet. It has the highest occupied floor as 356.9m above the sidewalk.
These records have succeeded in placing Dubai perpetually in the minds of seekers of intrigues. They wish to see those and experience them, even when the cost puts a hole in their pocket.

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This post originally posted here Breaking Travel News

Focus: Top 5 benefits of booking flights online

Top 5 benefits of booking flights online

The development in technological advancements is a boon for every commoner. You can now do everything online by just touching a few buttons. From booking tickets to shopping, you will do everything swiftly. As far as airline reservation is concerned, the benefits are a lot.

You will not find it necessary to rush to your preferred airport to stand in queues for check-in. Today, you may handle every activity without leaving the comfort of your home because many airlines offer e-check-in options. Some of the benefits of booking a flight online include:

1. Cancelation and Changes of Travel
It is normal for travelers to cancel or change their online reservations. They will not have to call their airlines and wait for a service representative to give them a hand.
Booking a flight online means you may do everything provided have internet access. Some airlines offer bookings without cancellation fees, while others provide online cancellations and changes for free, as long as you do it within 24 hours of departure.

2. Early Check-Ins
If you want to fly within the country, you might check-in in advance and as late as one hour before taking your flight. On the other hand, international flight booking allows travelers to check in between three and 24 hours before taking their flights.
All you need to do is visit the site of your preferred airline and find your reservation so that you can enter your details. Main airlines also provide mobile check-in options, where travelers will receive a bar code on their phones.

3. Maximize Efficiency
There are a lot of aspects of booking online, which have been automated. Time is valuable, and all the time you spend unnecessarily to put information into booking flights can be spent assisting customers in the queue.
Strong online booking tools, such as TTS WeBook, are a great way to take the workload off yourself. By setting a customized page, you will make sure that you get all the details you require to secure bookings.

4. Special Amenities or Deals
From time to time, airlines provide loyalty bonuses and other additional benefits for online booking. These may range from free Wi-Fi, beverage credits, and food to additional miles and special packages.
These benefits and deals will motivate you to book directly since they might not be available through third parties.

5. Time Saver and Less Hectic
The internet has everything, so you may easily create packages from scratch based on your personal preferences, dates, and budget. You will also find affordable flights ready tailored to concert tickets, booking hours, and museums.
Hence, there will be no need to reach out to a representative and wait to receive feedback. Online booking allows you to reserve a seat any time of the day.

In a Nutshell!
Bygone are the days when a traveler was required to visit a nearby local travel agent so as to book a flight. Today, you no longer have to visit a travel agent as you can book a flight at the comfort of your sofa.

If you are always busy and still want to take a trip with your family overseas, ensure you book your flight and get tickets online.

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This post originally posted here Breaking Travel News

Biden forced to pivot foreign policy focus to crises in neighboring nations

But recent incidents in the Caribbean mark a moment in which the Biden administration may be in uncharted territory.
While issues related to Russia, China and the Northern Triangle have been at the forefront of the Biden administration’s foreign policy priorities, violence and demonstrations taking place just off of America’s coast have forced the White House’s response.
Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was killed during an attack last week on his private residence in the capital of Port-au-Prince. Haiti’s first lady, Martine Moïse, was also shot in the attack and evacuated to a hospital in Miami for treatment.
The assassination has left the nation in deeper turmoil, leaving a power vacuum and coming as Haiti has been dealing with a wave of extreme violence, a growing humanitarian crisis and a worsening Covid-19 pandemic.
Thousands of Cubans took to the streets on Sunday to protest a lack of food and medicine as the country undergoes a grave economic crisis aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic and US sanctions.
The dual crises come at a time when the President would rather be focusing his attention on domestic issues like infrastructure and voting rights, a subject on which he’s set to give a major speech on Tuesday. When it comes to foreign affairs the White House has been preoccupied with the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and resetting American foreign policy to focus on powers in the Eastern Hemisphere like Russia and China.
To a certain extent, the dealings with those nations are ones that previous administrations also had to figure out how to handle, but the issues bubbling up in the Caribbean will be among the first unique foreign crises to test Biden and his team.
Biden on Monday indicated that the US is “ready to provide assistance” to both Cuba and Haiti, but it’s unclear exactly what form that help will take.
The Haitian government last week requested US troops to help protect infrastructure, ports, airports and energy systems, Elections Minister Mathias Pierre told CNN. Mathias said the request was for a limited number of around 500 troops and that he anticipated the threat to be “potential mercenaries.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that request is still under review.
A US delegation traveled to Haiti on Sunday at the Haitian government’s request and that delegation briefed Biden on Monday morning after their return. The State Department disclosed Monday that they are aware of a third American citizen detained in Haiti after the assassination. CNN reported Monday evening that several of the men involved in the operation that killed Moïse previously worked as informants for US law enforcement, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, another complication for the US response.
Psaki said the US is assessing how the country can directly aid the Cuban people. She said it is too early to predict any potential policy change when it comes to Cuba. So far, that has come in statements encouraging the Cuban regime to listen to the protesters and words of support for the people of Cuba.
Biden expressed support for the Cuban people on Monday, calling on Cuban President Miguel Diàz-Canel’s regime to “hear their people and serve their needs.”
“Folks, I want to start recognizing remarkable protests taking place in Cuba,” Biden said when speaking to reporters at the White House. “I don’t think we’ve seen anything like this protest in a long, long time — quite frankly, ever.”
Biden said the Cuban people “are demanding their freedom from an authoritarian regime,” and asserting “their universal rights.” He also warned the Cuban government against “attempts to silence the voice of the people of Cuba.”
But earlier this spring, Psaki indicated that Cuba was not among the administration’s top policy priorities.
“A Cuba policy shift or additional steps is currently not among the President’s top foreign policy priorities. But it is an issue, of course, we will remain engaged in and focused on,” Psaki told reporters in April.
Pressed on whether the weekend events in Cuba have changed the administration’s priorities, Psaki said on Monday, “We will be looking to provide support to the people of Cuba. We certainly, you know, support the freedom of speech, the freedom of press, the freedom of — when we believe they deserve to have access to the economic support and medical support, health supplies that many of them are asking for.”
In nationally televised remarks Sunday, Díaz-Canel placed blame for the economic conditions on sanctions from the US.
Under the Obama administration, Cuba oversaw the reopening of embassies and relaxing of many restrictions long in place since the embargo. But the Trump administration enacted some of the toughest economic measures against Cuba in decades, reinstated travel restrictions and before leaving office, named Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism.
The Biden administration has yet to take action, but Cuba’s actions haven’t exactly encouraged the administration to move quickly to change policy.
The country has continued to support oppressive Latin American regimes and crackdown on dissidents. Brain injuries that have appeared to target Americans diplomats abroad have also included many originating in Cuba, leading to the name “Havana Syndrome.”
One major voice of opposition to returning to Obama-era Cuba policies is New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, who told CNN he’s offered a list of policy recommendations to the White House.
Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper on Monday why Biden had not yet taken action to lift the Trump policies on Cuba, Menendez said on “The Lead,” “I think the President has had time to review the actual policies under President Obama and all of the openings that President Obama made, which were one-sided — unilateral in terms of concessions — showed themselves to create absolutely no change inside of Cuba.”
“The regime enriched itself. The Cuban people never saw any benefit from it. So the result of that, I think, is that the Biden administration looked and said, ‘Wait a minute — that didn’t seem to work. We have to think about what exactly we should do in this regard,’ ” Menendez continued.

The former President used his speech to focus on a single subject: The 2020 election he lost eight months ago. He won’t stop lying that he won.

But former President Donald Trump’s current dishonesty is overwhelmingly focused on a single subject: the 2020 election he lost eight months ago but won’t stop lying that he won.
In a rambling Sunday address to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Trump returned again and again to election-related lies — some of them detailed and wrong, most of them vague and wrong.
What can you even say about claims so disconnected from reality? Here’s a brief fact check of eight of them.
Trump: “And we were doing so well until the rigged election happened to come along. We were doing really well.”
The election was not rigged. Trump lost fair and square.
Trump: “Unfortunately, this was an election where the person that counts the votes was far more important than the candidate, no matter how many votes that candidate got — and we got record numbers of votes.”
Joe Biden was the candidate who earned a record number of votes: more than 81 million. Trump earned more than 74 million votes — a record for a sitting president, but that’s not what Trump said here.
Trump: “You know, the New York Times asked me a question: ‘What happened in 2020 — that was different from 2016.’ I said, ‘Well I’ll tell you: we did much better in 2020 and we got 12 million more votes. We won by a much bigger margin.”
Trump lost. Biden beat him by 74 votes in the Electoral College, 306 to 232, and by more than 7 million votes in the national popular vote.
Trump did receive about 11.2 million more votes than he did in 2016 — side note: that doesn’t round to “12 million” — but Biden received about 15.4 million more votes than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton got in 2016.
Trump: “Every time the media references the election hoax. they say the fraud is: ‘Unproven! And while there is no evidence…’ No evidence? No evidence? There’s so much evidence.”
There was no election hoax. And while there were some scattered cases of fraud, including some by Trump supporters, there is indeed no evidence of widespread fraud or outcome-altering fraud — as Republican elections officials in various states, Trump-appointed former Attorney General William Barr, and numerous others have pointed out.
Trump: “…the Justice Department, they failed to call out a late-night ballot stuffing that took place in Georgia, remember that? Where they made up a story of a water main break in order to get people and security to leave the premises. And then they went into a rampage of stuffing, essentially, the ballots.”
There was no ballot “stuffing” at an elections facility in Georgia. While initial reports of a burst pipe or broken water main at State Farm Arena did turn out to be inaccurate — the reality was that a urinal had overflowed — Trump’s claim that local elections workers proceeded to stuff the ballot box has been debunked by the office of Georgia’s Republican elections chief, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Trump: “They deleted, Georgia, over 100,000 votes.”
Didn’t happen. Rather, Raffensperger announced in June that more than 100,000 names would be deleted from Georgia’s voter registration rolls to keep the state’s voter files “up to date,” saying “there is no legitimate reason to keep ineligible voters on the rolls.” That is not even close to the same thing as deleting actual votes.
Trump: “The drop boxes were off very late. ‘Where are they? Where are they? What happened?’ They’re supposed to be — they’re not. I could tell you what happened. Sometimes late by days in showing up to the vote-counting areas.”
There is no evidence that ballot drop boxes were delivered improperly late. There is no evidence for Trump’s suggestion that something nefarious happened with ballot drop boxes.
Trump: “Detroit was so corrupt.”
There is no evidence that Detroit was “corrupt” in the 2020 election. In fact, a Republican-led investigation debunked some of Trump allies’ false claims about what happened in Detroit, such as their inaccurate assertion that large numbers of ballots were cast in the names of deceased Detroit residents.

Focus: The world’s 3 most glamorous casinos

The world’s 3 most glamorous casinos

Have you ever wondered how the rich and famous feel when they visit the casino? What sort of casino would they pick? Just how luxurious would the experience be? And of course, how can you enjoy a slice of that yourself? Casinos are something you can find all over the world but that doesn’t mean they are equal. Some stand out for pushing the limits and making people redefine what they consider glamorous and luxurious. Here’s a look at the world’s three most glamorous casinos, all of which you may want to put on your bucket list.

The Bellagio, Las Vegas
For those who like to mix a luxury casino visit with the potential of running into a big name American sports star, you’re going to need to head to Las Vegas, Nevada which is known for attracting all kinds of celebrities. Las Vegas is the gambling capital of the United States and, while it offers visitors a massive selection of casinos, it’s The Bellagio that truly stands glamorous.

The Bellagio has recently undergone room renovations to ensure that guests continue to get the luxury experience they are after. On-site amenities include some of the most striking courtyards, cabanas and pools on the entire Las Vegas strip, spectacular high-end shopping, a spa and salon, several restaurants, a fine art gallery, the one-of-a-kind Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden, the world-famous fountains that line the entire exterior expanse of the hotel, and plenty of nightlife. If you want to push the envelope, you can look into the luxury air and hotel packages.

The Venetian Macao
If you’re a fan of The Venetian in Las Vegas, why not take things to the next level and visit The Venetian Macao? This property is owned by the very same company that owns the Las Vegas version – Las Vegas Sands Company – and it’s clear no expenses were spared when constructed this property. What makes this one so special is that it manages to also appeal to families, which isn’t always the case with casino resorts.

The rooms are nothing short of spectacular as each room is a suite. Standout amenities include gondola rides which leave you feeling like you’re actually in Venice, a massive beautiful pool, mini-golf, kids’ activities, entertainment, shopping and plenty of dining options.

Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex, Melbourne
Melbourne is home to a very famous and luxurious casino, which means you won’t even have to travel to another country to pamper yourself. The Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex has made quite the reputation for itself. While not as massive and sprawling as the other casinos on the list, this one has a more sophisticated feel to it. The hotel and spa will leave you feeling pampered and relaxed, the on-site restaurants are sure to have your mouth-watering, and the casino action is non-stop.

This is just a very quick look at some of the most glamorous casinos in the world, and it can be the perfect must-visit list for you.