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Cool Meeting Venues Conference rooms are dead Ocean Deep, Mountain High The nature of Vancouver

Intriguing, Enduring Istanbul An ancient, ageless city on the edge of two continents


Golf in Rio Never Get Lost Again Happy Landing in the Caribbean


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n Inside October 2016

On The Cover 30 Intriguing, Enduring Istanbul Ancient and ageless, the city on the Bosporus unwraps its secrets

Special Reports 12 Consumer Demand Luxurious new places to stay and play in Beijing

26 Conference Rooms Are Dead

The world’s coolest venues and meeting spaces await your next get together



22 Ocean Deep, Mountain High Nature is never far away in Vancouver

Departments 08 Upfront One on One with Sek Eng Lee, Singapore Airlines’ Regional VP Americas. Japanese officials OK Iberia’s inclusion in JV. IHG and Alipay partner.

18 Take offs & Landings Down to the Wire: Airport minimum connecting times. Plus new route news

16 Loyalty Update Airline and hotel rewards programs news and promotions

36 Tried & Tested INNSIDE NoMad, New York Kulm Hotel, St. Moritz


Intermedia Travel Group Eleven Ryerson Avenue, Suite 201, Pompton Plains, NJ 07444 P: (973) 839-6200 F: (973) 839-4390


Group Publisher Jerry Allison – (973) 839-6200 Principal/Chief Content Officer Ross Atkinson – (703) 395-7145 Subscriptions – (973) 839-0620 Advertising Sales – (973) 839-6200 Jim McGinley – (818) 712-0672 Mike Shevlin – (847) 749-0168 Editorial Director Dan Booth – (336) 766-1961 Editorial Assistant – Ralf Walters Contributors Christopher Beanland Minty Clinch Lark Gould Mark Graham Dan McCarthy Alex McWhirter Ramsey Qubein Jenny Southan

Designer & Art Director Michele Cameron ML.Cameron Production Marylee DeFerrari

50 40 Lifestyle News Virgin Atlantic adds live TV. Aloft unveils ‘Project Jetson.’ AT&T offers roaming for Cuban travel. Westin’s concierges get active.

42 Technology of Things

56 4 Hours In Melbourne pgrad to

58 World Wise Easythingy for TheHighFlyers – So many tech-related travel startups

Never Get Lost Again – New apps let us find any place, any time

46 Well Being Business Traveler® North America is published ten times a year at our address as above. The magazine is independent of commercial interest. Unsolicited manuscripts will not be accepted for publication. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the publishers who cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part of the text, photographs or illustrations without permission is prohibited.

Olympian Challenge – Now Rio has more reasons to love golf

50 Escape To Happy Landing – The living is easy on Saint Martin and Anguilla

54 The Scene We round up some top events in the upcoming months.


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n Talking Point

Markers Along the Journey Just because it’s a cliché doesn’t mean it’s not true


ometimes we rely on a cliché to express an idea that’s easy to say, but hard to prove. For example in our business it’s cliché to say that travel broadens one’s horizons. But no matter how many stamps we’ve accumulated in our passports or what our frequent flier status is, it’s difficult to quantify exactly how all those miles translate to a broader world view. But there’s little doubt in my mind that they do. So in the absence of a formula that equates trips taken with horizons expanded, it’s up to each of us to find the magic connections between the places we go and the ways in which those experiences will change our outlook. Along the highways and byways in most of these United States, you’ll find plaques noting important sites or memorializing individuals who have had some impact on history. These markers give just enough detail to be tantalizing, but seldom reveal the whole story; they’re intriguing, but hardly complete. Plus it’s impossible to slow down long enough to read them without snarling traffic. Sometimes there’s enough of the story to motivate me to it look up on my smartphone. But mostly I pass these historical markers by with just a vague unrequited itch in my curiosity, as if a little corner of my world view has a blind spot. Each month your editorial team at Business Traveler reviews literally dozens of news items, press releases and media reports to discover stories that we think will be of interest to you, our readers. I can never predict which of these will be – like an intriguing roadside marker – interesting enough to stop me in my tracks, but it does happen with predictable regularity. This month, one that piqued my curiosity was a report that in 2016 UNESCO put 21 more places on its list of World Heritage sites around the globe. Since 1972 UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – has worked to identify and preserve significant cultural landmarks and unique natural locales by designating them World Heritage sites. So far, the list contains just over 1,000 of these historical and natural wonders, so the

addition of nearly two dozen new ones turns out to be a big deal. The additions cover everything from the prehistoric Antequera Dolmens in Andelusia to ancient Philipi in Greece to the 20th century architecture of Le Corbusier scattered around the world. Natural sites range from the Lut Desert in Iran with its aeolian erosion forming iconic corrugated ridges (you’ve seen the pictures) to the enigmatically named Mistaken Point in Newfoundland. Altogether, from the Statue of Liberty to the Serengeti, these thousandplus landmarks represent the cultural and natural heritage of all humankind. In other words, this is the best that we and the earth we inhabit have to offer. They are places that, in the opinion of UNESCO, are definitely worth investigating. As travelers, we can find ourselves surrounded by the intriguing, the beautiful, the unique on every trip – if we know where to look. Researching this story has given me a new appreciation for what it means for a landmark to be a World Heritage site, and it’s added lots of new items to my bucket list. May I suggest on your next trip, look up something about your destination. Make time for a little exploring, whether it’s a World Heritage site or a museum or some historic monument. The point is, don’t pass the opportunity by; instead – and here’s another one of those cliches – stop and smell the roses. Or at least, slow down and read the roadside marker. BT

— Dan Booth Editorial Director

Keep In Touch Stay Informed: sign up for the Business Traveler weekly newsletter at

6 n September 2016


n Upfront

on ONE N E

Ways & Means Singapore Airline’s Sek Eng Lee, Regional VP Americas, explains some of the decisions that go into the airline’s rising US presence

BT: Singapore Airlines has certainly been boosting its services in the US recently. Can you give us some background on how that’s developed? LEE: If I bring you back to how this market grew, our relationship with North America started more than 30 years ago when we first operated in San Francisco. So all this while, the US has been an important strategic market for Singapore Airlines and we believe we have quite a role to play here. Singapore Airlines is a network global carrier, so it would be remiss of us not to have the North American market to be prominent in our network. BT: One big piece of news is the non-stop service from San Francisco to Singapore. What factors played into the decision to launch that route? LEE: Our consumers have been asking us for a nonstop flight from the US to Singapore. The challenge in flying such a long-haul flight is finding the right aircraft that would make economic sense for us. With the A350 we are able to achieve the necessary range capabilities and significant improvements in terms of operating costs. So with the combination of these factors, we now have the approach that makes nonstop service possible. BT: You’re facing some competition on that route. Why should a business traveler choose Singapore Airlines? 8 n October 2016

LEE: It really boils down to a few things: One of them is definitely the product that we offer, and of course that comes with industry-leading service. This is one aspect of it. And also very important for business travelers is our broad network of destination options beyond our Singapore hub. If you look at our network footprint in Asia, Singapore Airlines, Silk Air and our associated companies, Tiger and Scoot, collectively fly to 56 points in Southeast Asia and India. I don’t believe any of the competition offers such a wide network with such convenience. These are all very compelling reasons for anybody to consider Singapore Airlines when they fly to Asia. BT: How does your airline make decisions about where to fly? LEE: Singapore Airlines is commercially-driven, and we are very cognizant of how we deploy our resources. So there are regular reviews of our network from time to time. Those changes that you are seeing now to the West Coast of the USA – the launch of non-stop flights from San Francisco to Singapore, the debut of flights from LA to Singapore via Incheon – these are all the consequence of these regular network reviews. And it’s important to be nimble about these changes so that we are able to respond to customer demand when the time is right. BT: What about the return of New York service we’ve heard about? LEE: The new version of the A350-900 is coming in two

years time. Just to clarify, we’re planning to deploy the new aircraft in both the New York and Los Angeles markets. BT: Is the industry today being more responsive? LEE: I think you hit the nail on the head. Customers expect more and more from airlines. What keeps customers flying on Singapore Airlines – and I believe this is a key consideration – is that we continue to raise the bar with new products, services and service standards, so our customers will keep coming back to us. BT: What can we expect that’s new from Singapore Airlines? LEE: Numerous flight and network changes are coming our way. And with these flight changes, we will also be enhancing the customer experience by deploying our latest products in Economy, Premium Economy, Business and First Class, including our next-generation First Class seat that was designed by BMW DesignWorks. This seat is currently offered on our San Francisco -Hong Kong – Singapore flight, and will now be launching for the first time from our Los Angeles gateway, both to Singapore via Seoul and to Singapore via Narita. So that’s some of what we have announced so far, but stay tuned – there are more announcements planned. We never stop; we continue to raise the bar.


InterContinental Hotels Group has announced a global partnership with Alipay, China’s leading third-party online payment solutions company. The deal makes IHG the first global hotel company to give Chinese guests the ability to pay via Alipay through all of IHG’s online and mobile channels, as well as across its hotels globally. The arrangement will initially apply to IHG’s existing portfolio of more than 270 hotels in Greater China, as well as a number of hotels around the world that participate in IHG’s China Ready Program. The global rollout of Alipay will begin in 2017. The announcement builds on IHG’s existing agreement with Alipay, which is currently available in 70 countries and regions across the world. The payment system was launched in China in 2004. For more information visit or


Upfront n

Delta Relocates All Flights to Heathrow T3 Beginning Sept. 14, Delta Air Lines has shifted all its operations to London Heathrow’s Terminal 3 for better alignment with joint venture partner Virgin Atlantic. This will impact five routes that currently operate out of Terminal 4 to the following US destinations: Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and Philadelphia. “Our joint venture with Virgin Atlantic is all about making it easy for our customers to connect between our airlines and having our Heathrow service under one roof is crucial to delivering a synched-up, more convenient service,” said Nat Pieper, Delta’s Senior Vice President - Europe, Middle East and Africa. Details are available at

Lufthansa Becomes Europe’s First Pre Check Carrier

Lufthansa German Airlines has become the first European

Finnair, ViaSat Partner For High-Speed Inflight Wireless

Finnair has announced a new partnership with broadband and technology company ViaSat Inc. ViaSat will provide an end-to-end inflight connection service for the entire Finnair fleet, including the installation of a high-speed wireless Internet network on the carrier’s entire Airbus A320 series short-haul fleet flying in Europe. The setup of the WiFi equipment will start in May 2017, and is projected to be complete by June 2018. Finnair is currently operating six A350-XWB aircraft which already offer wireless connectivity, with another five slated for delivery by the end of next year. Finnair is also retrofitting its entire long-haul fleet of Airbus A330 aircraft with WiFi connectivity by May 2017. Finnair’s wireless Internet access is free for Business class passengers, Finnair Plus Gold and Platinum customers, and oneworld Sapphire and Emerald level customers, and is available for purchase in economy class. To learn more visit

Europcar and Taxeo Team Up To Speed VAT Recovery Whether renting a car or booking a hotel, business travel in Europe incurs VAT costs. European car rental provider Europcar and Taxeo, a provider of paperless VAT refund services, have entered into a partnership which allows their mutual clients to reclaim VAT more quickly and easily according to local laws. Taxeo receives electronic invoice data from Europcar and creates tax-compliant electronic invoices that are used for VAT recovery. The result will give Europcar Corporate customers an opportunity for significant savings. Every year companies lose out on €5 billion VAT incurred on international travel. The Taxeo solution is designed to streamline today’s manual paper-based VAT recovery process. For details visit Visit

air carrier to participate in the US Transportation Security Administration’s Pre-Check program. Passengers enrolled in Pre-Check are eligible to be directed to an expedited screening lane, allowing them to keep on shoes, belts and light outerwear, as well as leave laptops and 3-1-1 compliant bags in carry-on baggage. Pre-Check information is embedded in the passenger’s boarding pass barcode and the TSA Pre-Check printed on it. When TSA scans the barcode at the security checkpoint, the passenger may be referred to an expedited screening lane. Currently, US citizens, dual citizens, and lawful permanent residents are eligible to apply to the TSA Pre-Check Program, as well as members of US Customs and Border Protection’s Trusted Traveler programs such as NEXUS for Canadian Citizens, as well as Global Entry which is currently available for eight nationalities including Germany. The convenience of TSA Pre-Check is also available for members of the US Armed Forces. For more information about Pre-Check visit

PROPERTY PIPELINE AND OPENINGS n Oakwood to Bow in Vietnam – Oakwood Asia-Pacific will enter the Vietnam market with the fourth quarter opening of Oakwood Apartments Ho Chi Minh City. The 68-unit property will be located in District 3 near the main business center. Visit n Malmaison Plans York Property – Malmaison plans to debut its brand in York, according to local media reports. A city center building will be transformed into a 124-room hotel, together with 49 serviced apartments. No start date has been set for the project. Visit n IHG Signs Five Holiday Inns in Germany – Intercontinental Hotels Group has signed five new German properties under its Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express brands. The hotels will be located in the Bavaria, BadenWuerttemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia regions, and will open between 2017 and 2019. Visit n Hilton Sets Conrad and Garden Inn Debuts in Kuwait – Hilton Worldwide has announced plans to open two new properties, the 158-room Conrad Kuwait and a 430-room Hilton Garden Inn Kuwait. The properties, located in the expanded Avenues Mall, are scheduled to open in early 2019. Visit n Hilton Unveils World’s First “Rainforest” Hotel – Hilton Worldwide is planning to open a new 450-room Rosemont Hotel & Residences property in Dubai in 2018. The property Dubai features a five-story “podium” housing an indoor rainforest – a world first. For more information visit October 2016 n 9

n Upfront

Japan Officials Approve Iberia’s Inclusion in JV Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has granted an extension of the anti-trust immunity to include Iberia in the joint business agreement between Japan Airlines, British Airways and Finnair, allowing the four airlines to cooperate commercially on flights between Europe and Japan. Iberia is expected to join the existing joint business between the other three airlines beginning Oct. 18 with non-stop operations between Madrid and Tokyo. Its addition to the joint business will provide customers with a larger network, more flights, better connections and more frequent flier loyalty benefits. The revenue-sharing agreement will strengthen the oneworld Alliance and enable it to compete more effectively around the world with other global alliances.

Conrad Xiamen Opens for Business Conrad Hotels & Resorts has announced the opening of the brand’s first hotel in Fujian province, the Conrad Xiamen on the southwestern coast of Xiamen Island. The property is the brand’s sixth in China and joins the larger Hilton portfolio of over 70 hotels in the country. Offering 241 guest rooms and suites, the hotel occupies the 37th to 54th floors of the landmark 985-foot Shimao Straits Tower. The property hosts five restaurants and bars, over 21,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and a 24-hour health club with a heated 25-meter indoor pool. For more information visit

911Buddy Links Distant Emergency Calls to the Right 911 Center

IHG’s Even Hotel Debuts in Brooklyn

InterContinental Hotels Group has opened a second Even Hotel in NYC, for a total of four under the new brand. The 202-room property is adjacent to IHG’s Holiday Inn Brooklyn Downtown which opened in April. The hotel offers on-site dining at the Cork & Kale Market and Bar, plus a two-level fitness center which features spin and yoga in addition to group runs to the Brooklyn Bridge Park led by the property’s chief wellness officer. Free WiFi is also available throughout the hotel. Discover more at

Hilton’s Digital Key Opens Two Million Doors

Hilton Worldwide has released figures for the use of its Digital Key service, a year after its launch. The group says that the technology, which allows Hilton HHonors members to open room doors using their mobile phones, has opened two million doors at 400 hotels. Initially launched in the US, the service is now also available in Singapore, and Hilton says it will continue to roll it out globally during 2017. In addition new features are also set to be added, including the option to have multiple digital keys per room by early 2017. Digital Key, part of the Hilton HHonors app which is available via the Apple App and Android Google Play stores, also features digital check-in with room selection via interactive digital floor maps. Learn more at 10 n October 2016

911Buddy is a new app that finds and connects an emergency call from a distant city through your smartphone to the correct 911 center. It works this way: Let’s say you’re in Atlanta when your teenage daughter in Chicago calls you with an emergency – she’s in a car accident, smells smoke, fears an intruder, etc. You activate 911Buddy which puts her call on hold. You then drag her contact information from your phone’s contacts into 911Buddy, which instantly finds the correct 911 jurisdiction, and connects all of you at once. Your daughter, 911 in Chicago, and you in Atlanta, are all on a three-way call. “Most people think that 911 call centers can link you to the center in your town, or provide you with a direct number to call the 911 facility you need,” said Michael Beattie, a 911 emergency call center supervisor in Key West and creator of 911Buddy.“They usually can’t.” The app can also be programmed to provide other critical information to first responders as well, such as pass codes and medical details. Having the app does not affect your ability to make 911 calls in your immediate vicinity. 911Buddy is currently available on the Apple App store for $99.99 a year. Versions for other smartphones are due out in 2017. BT

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n Special Report

Consumer demand China’s booming middle class is driving growth in luxurious new places to stay and play in Beijing


By Mark Graham

12 n October 2016


Special Report n


he China anti-corruption campaign may have seen an end to ostentatious ordering of auspiciously priced bottles of $8,888 Lafite, and grand banquets with endless courses of exotic fare, but for people at the slightly lessrarefied end of the Beijing wining and dining spectrum, the choices are widening by the day. The engine driving the city’s restaurant and hotel growth is the Chinese middle class – the affluent, white-collar segment of society that has traveled overseas, sampled fine-dining restaurants and stayed in posh hotels. Visit any restaurant in Beijing these days and most of the people perusing the sushi menu or studying the wine list will be locals rather than expats or foreign visitors on expense accounts. Likewise, the main revenue driver of the high-end hotel trade is, increasingly, executives on business trips to the capital from Shanghai, Shenzhen or Shenyang. “We have seen the unleashing of the Chinese consumer,”says Michael Faulkner, general manager of luxury hotel East Beijing, who has lived in the city for seven years.“Traveling overseas has opened their eyes to new food styles and design, and you can see trends emerging from that such as eating organic produce. The dynamic changes are very fast and you have to be flexible in terms of menu items and service style.” All of this is great news for the estimated four million annual overseas visitors to Beijing, who can pick from an everincreasing choice of upmarket places to stay and independent restaurants aspiring to London, Paris and New York standards.


Hotels The most significant recent opening has been the 283-room Rosewood Beijing, a downtown property that arrived in October 2014, earning instant gold-medal status from travelers. The location helps – directly opposite the CCTV Tower and a short stroll from the central business district – as do the generous rooms – over 500 square feet for entry-level accommodations. The wide range of enticing restaurants include the rustic Country Kitchen, with its gourmet updating of traditional peasant dishes and fruitwood-roasted Peking duck. It will be a hard act to follow for a number of new hotels – and revamped old-timers – that are set to join the fray in the next year or so. The first of these was the 303-room Intercontinental Beijing Sanlitun, which opened in August. The hotel boasts spiffy location in Sanlitun, a buzzing district that’s home to scores of bars, restaurants and boutiques. In-house the options include tapas, Chinese and Japanese eateries and a bar specializing in whisky and beer. The hotel occupies the first 23 floors of a 38-story tower. The only other five-star residence of note in the immediate area is the trendy 99-room Opposite House, a favorite of the fashion and design crowd. Art is one of the dominant themes of Nuo, opened in June last year, the first hotel from a Chinese state-run group with global aspirations. That grand ambition is reflected in the capacious lobby area, with its oversized Ming dynasty-inspired porcelain jars. The 438-room hotel has its own art gallery and is within easy reach of the 798 Art Zone, now one of the city’s top ten attractions. October 2016 n 13

n Special Report

Above: Intercontinental Beijing Sanlitun Opposite, clockwise from top: Nuo; the Peninsula; 1949 The Hidden City

Nuo is aiming for the luxury end of the market, in particular well-heeled Chinese travelers. The ultimate aim is that there will be Nuo properties in major international cities, which are designed and operated with Chinese sensibilities in mind. A hotel group that has been mixing and matching the best of China and the West for many years is the Peninsula. The Hong Kong-based company’s Beijing outpost, a short stroll away from Tiananmen Square, was the first genuine five-star in Beijing when it made its debut two decades ago, but the grand hotel has begun to look its age in recent years. A radical approach to refurbishment has been undertaken, with the number of rooms more than halved, to 230. The first batch – available in August – are a minimum 640 square feet; other changes include an expanded lobby and a lighter, brighter color scheme. The renovations are to be fully complete early next year. Other high-end properties scheduled to open include the long-delayed, 241-room Mandarin Oriental in the fire-afflicted, yetto-open building next to the CCTV Tower. A second boutique property, the 74-room Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, is set to open in 2017 in a new, mixed-use complex. Next year will also see the debut of the 120-room Bulgari in the embassy area, north of the Sanlitun nightlife zone. Restaurants For all the razzle-dazzle newness in Beijing, two of the most significant restaurants to open of late are located in quiet historical zones, far from the soaring skyscrapers and car-clogged freeways that have come to symbolize modern Beijing. TRB Bites at the Courtyard (trb-bites. com) is the latest venture by Belgian entrepreneur Ignace Lecleir, the city’s go-to guy for fine-dining in heritage surroundings. TRB Bites is located in a three-story building on the eastern edge of the Forbidden City’s moat, offering glorious views over the water towards the imposing vermilion walls. It is less complicated than Lecleir’s gourmet venue, TRB (Temple Restaurant Beijing), serving set menus that might include a choice of pork loin with mustard seeds, squid with cauliflower purée, or pork with purple potato. The upper-level Sky Room or lower-level Water Room offer private dining options. Another notable newcomer is the Georg ( by Georg Jensen, where visitors can browse the showrooms of the

14 n October 2016

lifestyle company before enjoying a meal in the restaurant. The Georg is located in a quaint part of the city, next to the Jade River, and offers Scandinavian-influenced dishes such as grilled parsnip with squid and black garlic, duck breast with beetroot and potato cream, and slow-cooked short rib with carrot and turnip. Diners can opt to sit in the amply spaced main room or a private dining space. Okra (, the Japanesestyle restaurant operated by US chef Max Levy, is a smaller space but with a large and dedicated following among Beijing foodies. Located in “1949 The Hidden City” – Sanlitun’s dining and entertainment complex – Okra’s emphasis is on quality and originality, featuring a dish where the eel-preparation process takes three whole days, fish-head teriyaki, salted pork belly and dry-aged wagyu beef rib. Bars Another welcome addition to Beijing’s after-work scene is the new breed of craftale bars. Also within 1949 The Hidden City is Jing A (, which serves a wide range of brews. Among them are Worker’s Pale Ale, Flying Fist IPA and the extra-strong Airpocalypse Double IPA, dedicated to the city’s notoriously awful pollution; when the foul-air index rises, the price of the beer goes down. The godfather of the city’s craft-ale scene is American Carl Setzer, who now has three branches of Great Leap Brewing (, where up to 20 options are on tap at any one time. The flagship offering is Honey Ma Gold, a beer made with Sichuan peppercorn. Other distinctively named ales are Liu the Brave Stout, Dubbel Happinessand Cinnamon Rock Ale, brewed with Vietnamese cinnamon and Chinese rock candy. Two of the three Great Leap Brewing outlets are on the fringes of the Sanlitun nightlife zone, and serve hearty and tasty pub food. Another popular brewpub, Slowboat (, operates in a traditional leafy hutong (alleyway), not far from Lama Temple. A guided tap-room tour is offered by Bespoke Travel Company. Founded by long-term resident Sarah Keenlyside, it specializes in quirky tours. Choose from motorbike-and-sidecar tours, electric scooter expeditions and Great Wall walks with historians, as well as unusual venues for meetings. There’s no shortage of ways to impress clients in Beijing these days. Visit

Special Report n


October 2016 n 15

n Loyalty

“Choose Your Path” to More Marriott Rewards Points

Marriott Rewards has announced the return of the MegaBonus and this time, members will be able to choose one of two ways to earn up to 50,000 bonus points. Through Jan. 15, 2017, members will be able to “Choose Your Path” – either earning 10,000 bonus points for every 10 nights, up to 50,000 bonus points, or earning 5,000 bonus points after the second stay (max 5,000 bonus points). Participating brands include: JW Marriott, EDITION, Autograph Collection, Renaissance Hotels, AC Hotels by Marriott, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Gaylord Hotels, Courtyard by Marriott, SpringHill Suites by Marriott, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott, TownePlace Suites by Marriott, Moxy and Marriott Vacation Club. The Ritz-Carlton participates as the exclusive luxury partner to Marriott Rewards The MegaBonus is open to all Marriott Rewards members as well as new enrollees who are registered for the promotion. Registration is open through Dec. 15. Visit to learn more.

National’s One Two Free Returns For Emerald Cub Members National Car Rental has announced the return of its annual One Two Free promotion. Registered Emerald Club members can get one free rental day for every two qualifying rentals. Each qualifying car rental completed before Jan. 31, 2017, is worth 300 points, with a free day awarded once an Emerald Club member earns 600 points. In addition National has increased earning opportunities by awarding unlimited bonus points for rentals booked through National’s mobile app and allowing members to earn bonus points for purchasing Sirius XM Satellite Radio as part of their rental. Other bonus points are awarded for renting vehicles in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as referring friends to join Emerald Club and register for the promotion. Free days earned through the promotion are in addition to a member’s chosen rewards earnings. Up to three free days can be redeemed per rental at any time, including weekends, and are redeemable through June15, 2017. To join the Emerald Club, register for the promotion or find out details, visit

U.S. News Ranks Top Hotel Rewards Programs U.S. News & World Report, has announced its list of the Best Hotel Rewards Programs for 2016-2017. The ranking identified 18 of the most prominent hotel loyalty programs and scored them based on membership perks, network coverage, ease of earning and redeeming free nights. Topping the list was Wyndham Rewards with an overall score of 4.77. Wyndham Rewards members earn points for stays in any of the Wyndham Hotel Group’s more than 7,800 properties across several distinctive brands, including Days Inn, Dolce Hotels and Resorts and Wyndham Grand Hotels. Tied for second place were Choice Privileges and Marriott Rewards with overall scores of 4.64. Marriott Rewards members can earn points at the 17 affiliated brands, including Ritz-Carlton, Courtyard Marriott, Renaissance and more. There are more than 6,300 hotels participating in the Choice program, including brands like Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, and Econo Lodge. Choice Privileges jumped to second place on the list, up from eleventh on the 2015-2016 ranking. Rounding out the top five spots, Best Western Rewards scored 4.26 and La Quinta Returns posted a score of 4.21.

Cash Back on Travel with American Express Blue The Blue Cash credit cards from American Express has announced a limited time promotion aimed at travelers. In addition to the sign-up bonuses, new cardholders can also get 5 percent cash back on up to $4,000 in travel purchases. Eligible travel purchases in the first 6 months on the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express earn 5 percent cash back, up to $200. In addition, $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months on a new card earns another $100 back. For the American Express Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card Earn eligible travel purchases in the first 6 months 5 percent cash back, up to $200. Plus, receive $150 cash back on $1,000 in purchases on a new Card within the first 3 months. The annual fee on the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express is $95. Existing cardholders aren’t eligible for this bonus. Other terms and conditions apply so visit for details. BT

16 n October 2016


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n Take Offs & Landings

down As competition for airport trasnfer traffic becomes fiercer, minimum connecting times are being eroded By Alex McWhirter

18 n October 2016

to the

wire Visit

Take Offs & Landings n


he subject of minimum connecting times is one that is endlessly discussed by frequent fliers. Just what does the minimum connecting time (MCT) mean when transferring between flights? Most people assume that it’s the standard connecting time and that they have no need to worry. They also assume – wrongly in many cases – that if their flight is late the connection will wait. Some believe it’s the time you need to allow when changing planes, even if you are traveling with separate tickets. Others think that it’s the guaranteed connecting time and should their connection be missed, they can blame the airline. In fact, all four assumptions are incorrect. According to the International Air Transport Association’s definition: “A minimum connecting time interval is the shortest time interval required to transfer a passenger and his/her luggage from one flight to a connecting flight. MCT intervals are also referred to as ‘official’ or ‘standard’ MCTs.” It adds:“MCTs must be observed by all ticketing and reservations outlets worldwide and also are used as input for automated reservation systems.”However, airlines are free to deviate from MCTs in a given airport if necessary, it says. Best Laid Plans All well and good. So why do missed connections and delayed luggage problems occur from time to time? It’s because MCTs are devised for optimal travel conditions, so the unexpected can cause a lot of disruption. Our online forum ( has seen much debate about the best and worst airports for connections. Much will depend on individual experience, but what comes through clearly is that when bad weather slows down an airport’s operations and causes delays to flights, the domino effect can result in tens of thousands of passengers missing their connections. So why can’t airlines and airports extend their MCTs to allow for weather, operational delays and so on? It’s a sensible question but, sadly, something that is unlikely to happen as carriers, airline alliances, hub airports and regions compete aggressively for traffic. When competition was less fierce, connections were often timed so that passengers had longer gaps between flights. But today, airports and airlines want to offer the speediest connections and shortest overall journey times. Among European airports, for example, London Heathrow is a Oneworld hub so it will compete against Amsterdam Schiphol and Paris Charles de Gaulle (both Skyteam) and Frankfurt (Star Alliance). Having short MCTs means airports and airlines can offer passengers the shortest flight routings, and gain a better position on airline websites and GDS systems, such as Amadeus and Galileo. MCTs can therefore be considered a marketing tool in the battle for passengers. There’s another compelling reason as well for European airports to squeeze connection times. Previously, they were competing against one another; now it’s Europe against the Gulf. Hubs such as Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai are attracting more and more of the long-haul passengers that Europe, not so long ago, would have considered its birthright. It means Europe wants to offer speedy transfers to Indian travelers flying between Delhi and North America, to Chinese nationals en route from Beijing to Latin America or Africa and to passengers from Southeast Asia going between Singapore or Bangkok and the US East Coast. But recent years have seen Gulf


carriers such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways become more established in these regions. As a result, MCTs are being reduced to the bare minimum. In the most extreme cases, the margin for delays is just a few minutes. It is true that within Europe, airlines pad schedules to allow for setbacks. For example, a London-Paris flight time (terminal to terminal) 35 years ago was 50 minutes, whereas today it can be 90 minutes. But air travel is so unpredictable that allowing extra time is not always the solution. Exceptions to the Rule Across the Atlantic, North American airports face a different set of scheduling challenges when setting timetables at major hub airports. For starters, there’s the sheer volume of aircraft movements at major connecting points like Atlanta or Chicago. Then add to the mix the logistics of passengers moving between sometimes-distant concourses and baggage being transferred from plane to plane. It’s easy to see how the task of locking down the

MCTs are devised for optimal travel conditions, so the unexpected can cause a lot of disruption minimum amount of time necessary to get from one flight to the next can get to be a scheduling Rubik’s cube. In Atlanta, for example, the MCT for domestic flights is listed as 35 minutes – that is, unless your inbound flight is aboard an A330, 747, 777, or an internationally-configured 767, then the minimum connection time is 50 minutes. Caveats to ATL’s international MCT – which is a nominal 1 hour 25 minutes – can vary depending on what cities the flight is inbound from. Chicago too has a list of overseas departure airports that can impact its official 1 hour 15 minute MCT for international flights. Airports say they sit down with their airline customers and work out feasible MCTs. Many have connection guides for passengers on their websites. Many airlines will have similar advice, too. But no airline or airport could ever guarantee a connection – aviation is too uncertain for that. Heathrow T5 has the airport’s shortest MCT when you fly BA and connect internationally, at only one hour (it’s 70 minutes within T3, and 90 minutes between T5 and other terminals). But how achievable is that if conditions are less than perfect? BA says: “We always recommend leaving sufficient time when connecting between flights. We provide our customers with connecting time information on to help plan their journeys. WHY MCTs VARY Timings depends on factors such as: n Whether you are using the same carrier or alliance when connecting n Airport size and layout n Whether you have to change terminals n Connecting to a flight where additional security checks may be necessary n Domestic-international connections n Customs and immigration delays

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n Take Offs & Landings

Other European international airports with short – and some would say unrealistic – connecting times include Helsinki and Munich. The former has MCTs of 35-40 minutes, while the latter’s is as little as 30 minutes within Terminal 2 (mainly used by Star Alliance carriers) or 35 minutes in Terminal 1. It should also be pointed out that the hubs of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways have all come under pressure, mostly from the

No airline or airport could ever guarantee a connection – aviation is too uncertain for that

We keep this information under review and listen to feedback from our customers.” Vienna airport boasts a 25-minute MCT for Star Alliance carriers. That’s achievable when things run well but not otherwise. Amsterdam Schiphol airport has a 40-minute MCT between short-haul and 50 minutes between long-haul flights with KLM and other Skyteam services. That was OK when Schiphol was smaller but now its single terminal is far larger, and walking distances between piers can be vast, especially when connecting in Amsterdam to or from a Schengen area country. KLM says it is aware that it takes longer if the connection involves the Schengen area. It now advises:“If you are traveling to/ from Schengen and non-Schengen countries you should count on having to go through additional security checks and customs inspections. These can substantially extend the time it takes to complete your transfer procedure.”

AIRLINE NOTES n Southwest Launches New LAX-Mexico Routes – Southwest Airlines has announced new routes to Mexico from LAX beginning Dec. 4, pending government approval. The flights will serve three cities in Mexico – Cancun(CUN), San Jose del Cabo/ Los Cabos (SJD), and Puerto Vallarta (PVR). For more information visit n Delta Expands Boston Services – Delta Air Lines is expanding in Boston with new services to San Francisco and Nashville, as well as adding flights to Seattle and Milwaukee. The new service will include two daily flights to San Francisco International Airport (SFO), and one daily flight to Nashville International Airport (BNA). Additions to the schedule include a second daily flight to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and a second daily flight to General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee (MKE). Beginning mid-December service from Boston to Orlando will be boosted to three daily trips year round. Visit for more information. n ANA Revises 2016 Schedule ANA announced its schedule for the remainder of 2016. ANA will begin daily non-stop service on routes between Haneda and New York and Chicago on Oct. 30. The flights will operate a Boeing 777-300ER with three classes of service. 20 n October 2016

sheer weight of traffic, although bad weather, most commonly fog, can cause delays. Qatar now enjoys a new hub in the form of Hamad International. Although Dubai has the new Al Maktoum International airport to look forward to, there are no immediate plans for Emirates to move its operations there, while Etihad is waiting for its new Midfield Terminal to open in 2017. The Middle Eastern hubs do have some key advantages, however. Unlike their European counterparts, they have fewer short-haul flights connecting with long-haul services. The longhaul flights have more opportunity to regain time en route via favorable tail winds and other factors should they suffer a delay on departure and, in addition, the Gulf hubs are open 24 hours. On a final note, if you are using separate tickets, allow extended connecting times of several hours to be on the safe side. (Remember that with separate tickets an airline is not obliged to through-check you or your luggage, so you may have to clear customs or security and check in again.) BT

The carrier will also cut in half the number of routes between Narita and JFK as well as on the Narita and Chicago route. ANA has added flights between Haneda and Kuala Lumpur, Narita and Ho Chi Minh City and Haneda and Hong Kong. The changes will go into effect on Oct. 30, 2016. n Aeromexico Adds Austin Service – Aeromexico has announced the addition of flights between Austin, TX, and Mexico City to its route network beginning Nov. 17, 2016. Austin is the carrier’s fourth destination in the state of Texas. The fourtimes weekly flight will operate aboard a 76 seat Embraer 170 aircraft: For details visit n Norwegian Announces New US to Europe Routes Norwegian Air Shuttle has announced it will launch flights from four cities in the US – Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, New York City/Newark and Oakland/San Francisco - to Barcelona, Spain, in June 2017. Norwegian will also add twice-weekly service from Oakland/San Francisco to Copenhagen beginning in March 2017. The announcement follows the recent launch of service from the US to Paris, in July this year. Prior to its debut at CDG, Norwegian launched four other key long-haul routes from the US – Boston-London on March 27; Boston-Oslo on April 2; OaklandLondon on May 12; and Boston-Copenhagen on May 17. For details visit Visit

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n Destinations

Ocean deep, mountain high From whale watching to alpine hiking, nature is never far away from this corner of British Columbia

By Jenny Southan

22 n October 2016


Destinations n



anada’s west-coast city of Vancouver is consistently rated highly in terms of quality of life, so if you are in town on business, make sure you add a weekend to explore. You can split your time between downtown and the mountains (for skiing, Whistler is just 90 minutes by car), or take a boat to Vancouver Island for some whale-watching. The City A wealthy seaport city of green glass and liberal vibes, downtown Vancouver is a grid of glittering towers surrounded by water on three sides. If you’re weary from jet lag, the breeze blowing over False Creek is reviving, as is a meal of the national dish, poutine (French fries, cheese and gravy), good any time of the day or night. Quirky Granville Island is a short hop via Aquabus across the water from downtown – here you will find Edible Canada, which has a bistro with an outdoor terrace and a shop selling local produce. Once an industrial site, Granville’s corrugatedtin factories and warehouses have been reappropriated for farmers’ markets, boutiques, galleries and craft shops, as well as Molson’s Brewery and the Liberty Distillery, which opened in 2013 – pop in for a snifter of Endeavour gin. If you’re short on time, the best way to get a sense of the city’s geography is to zoom out of the inner harbor on a highspeed inflatable Zodiac boat. Tours with

Above from left: Shannon Falls, Sea to Sky Gondola


Sea Vancouver (C$42/$32) take you around the shores of Stanley Park at the tip of the peninsula (here you can rent a bike, see totem poles and lounge on sandy beaches), and under Lions Gate suspension bridge, which crosses the Burrard Inlet. The Mountains Rising for an early breakfast at the Opus hotel (, take the Sea to Sky Highway to Squamish, less than an hour’s drive away. The dramatic mountain road looks down on Howe Sound, where shipwrecks lie at the bottom, waiting for curious scuba divers. Shannon Falls, just over a mile from your destination, is a good stop, but it is at a higher altitude that the adventure begins. The Sea to Sky Gondola (C$37.95/ $29) opened in 2014 and delivers you via cable car 2,900 feet up to Summit Lodge, previously a half-day’s hike, in a matter of minutes. A prime starting point for the alpine trails that weave through coastal forest, it’s also a stunning spot to get lunch while enjoying views of Howe Sound and the granite face of the Stawamus Chief, which is popular with daredevil climbers who paraglide off it. When venturing into backcountry, watch out for bears, cougars and wolves. The Island If you choose to head to Vancouver Island, take a boat from outside the Westin Bayshore hotel and put on the canaryyellow waterproofs given by tour company Prince of Whales, whose office is in the lobby. (Visit; tours May-Oct, C$150/$115.) October 2016 n 23

n Destinations

Clockwise from below: feeding a seal; Inner Harbour of Victoria; Fisherman’s Wharf; Butchart Gardens; Stanley Park beach; Pedaler bike parked for coffee break,

Although sightings aren’t guaranteed, killer whales, minke whales, humpbacks, porpoises and sea lions all reside in these cold waters, and are a thrill to see firsthand – the sea’s surface broken by the dark curve of a whale’s back breaching, and then its tail, rising in slow motion as it prepares to dive. Humpbacks can remain underwater for as long as 30 minutes, and there is no telling where they will come up again, so boats frequently radio each other to alert captains of their whereabouts.

A meal of the national dish, poutine (French fries, cheese and gravy), is good any time of the day or night 24 n October 2016

The crossing takes you through the Haro Strait, which straddles the border between Canada and the US, and past forested shores draped in mist. Shipmates are told not to go swimming as plunging into American waters would mean you’d need more than a passport to be welcomed back on board. By lunchtime you will be pulling into the quaint harbor of Victoria, on Vancouver Island. At 12,000 square miles, much of it mountain wilderness, it is one of the largest landmasses off this side of North America, although British Columbia’s sleepy, bohemian capital of Victoria feels more like a village. Just past the waterfront Inn at Laurel Point ( is a huddle of brightly painted floating houses. Here

you can buy some fish to feed the seals at Fisherman’s Wharf, and admire the dinky seaplanes as they take off on their return to Vancouver. (Air Canada operates from Victoria International.) To venture further afield, join a threehour bicycle tour organized by rental shop the Pedaler, on Belleville Street. The “Beans and Bites” circuit takes in tastings of local baked goods (the cinnamon rolls are pure pleasure) and coffee (the cold-brew carbonated espresso at Fernwood is like Coke on steroids). Other options include the“Hoppy Hour”beer ride. Victoria may be peaceful in the day, but there’s some lively nightlife to enjoy. At the Strathcona hotel’s surf-themed rooftop bar (complete with sandy volleyball courts), youngsters jostle for cocktails served in Visit

Destinations n

plastic buckets. At the Bard and Banker you can listen to live Irish folk bands, or go to Swans Brewpub for bluegrass. The locals are friendly, too – Vancouver Island is a place you are guaranteed to make friends. There’s no shortage of fine food either. Canoe Brewpub (just off Chinatown) does a hearty maple bacon burger, while around the corner, Olo serves inventive small plates such as sprouted wheat garganelli, Hollie Wood Zen oysters, and orca bean tempeh (also known as calypso beans). Drive half an hour out of town and you can sample the wares of the Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse, which is on the Saanich Peninsula. Its organic orchards grow 50 varieties of apples and flights of cider can be tasted at long tables. (The rose-red Bramble Bubbly is highly Visit

quaffable, but more discerning palates may yield to the Pippins.) A short drive from the farm is Butchart Gardens (C$29.90/$23), one of the island’s most famous attractions. Back in the late 1800s, the site was home to a limestone quarry mined by Robert Butchart until his cement-making business exhausted its resources. After that, his wife Jennie turned it into a magnificent sunken floral garden, which was finished in 1921. Further gardens, ponds and lawns were added over the years and, today, more than a million bedding plants in 900 flower varieties bloom between March and October. If you have time, meander your way through the Japanese garden and then finish with lunch at the elegant Dining

Room – no weekend would be complete without Yukon Gold potato bisque and some wild British Columbian salmon. Getting There From Vancouver International Airport (YVR), Air Canada operates to a growing number of global destinations, including Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles International, Newark Liberty and San Francisco, plus seasonal service to Anchorage. In addition Air Canada Express flies to Portland, OR, San Jose, CA, and Seattle, with two more being added – San Diego on Dec. 15 and Dallas/Fort Worth beginning in February. Air Canada Rouge serves Hawaiian destinations, plus Palm Springs, Las Vegas and Phoenix. For details visit BT October 2016 n 25

n Special Report

Conference Rooms Are

DEAD Why settle for a bland meeting room? The world’s coolest venues and meeting spaces await your next get together By Dan McCarthy


Yes, ballrooms and multi-purpose facilities will usually fill the bill if you just need a room for hosting a conference. You have the seating, the table and, if you’re lucky, snacks and soft drinks you’ll need for delivering your content. However, a memorable conference entails having a charismatic speaker; it also has everything to do with the venue. Instead of a generic rental space for your next venue, why not select a facility that has that “wow” factor that can be felt the minute guests walk in? The following venues are so out of this world that your audience may actually look forward to that conference for a change.


here’s no need to mince words here: most conferences are boring. Sure, a room with a table and a few swivel chairs will suffice, but having a typical meeting room at a typical venue doesn’t exactly induce awestruck wonder in your attendees. An unconventional venue, however, just might be what’s needed to boost memorability and morale. Plus, when guests are in amazement at their surroundings, they just might come up with better ideas and insights, thus contributing to a more productive outcome.

26 n October 2016


Special Report n

Top row: Craig Y Nos Castle, Madison Square Garden, Bottom row: The Eden Project, St. Regis Bal Harbor Resort, Dalston Gem

MADISON SqUARE GARDEN New York This venue is worth considering if for no other reason than its name recognition. Surely guests will be more inclined to attend your event knowing that it’s taking place in one of New York’s oldest and most iconic landmarks. The facility has hosted countless major events and sporting activities for nearly 50 years. It’s been the location of several NBA and NHL All-Star games, not to mention the location for the World Wrestling Entertainment’s first Wrestlemania. If you manage to secure this venue, make sure you point these facts out in your promotional material. It will without a doubt help attract a bigger crowd. CRAIG Y NOS CASTLE Wales Any venue that happens to be a centuries old castle is definitely going to stand out. The Craig Y Nos Castle, nestled in Wales’ Brecon Beacons National Park, was erected in 1841. It’s not exactly a medieval keep, but it still has that ancient and majestic feel of a locale that has been standing since the previous millennium. The castle has reportedly also been the subject of numerous instances of Visit

paranormal activity, thus adding an air of mystery to the venue itself, especially for guests hoping to snap a selfie with a ghostly specter just barely visible in the background. THE EDEN PROJECT Cornwall What’s more awesome than having a conference inside a spherical dome filled with thousands of specimens of native plant life? The presence of the plants creates a climate that simulates Mediterranean conditions and a rain forest environment, so you may want to inform guests to dress appropriately. The domes are made almost entirely from glass, so your gathering will feel almost like it’s in an outdoor setting with all the amenities of the indoors. This is a great venue if the conference includes a planned gala and social hour. DALSTON GEM London The Dalston Gem is actually a local fried chicken shop. So why would anyone ever want to host an event at a diner, and not even a gourmet one at that? Well, for starters, the venue serves some of the best herbed bird in town – no rubber

chicken dinners here – plus plenty of local beers, cocktails and ice cream. When your guests’ tummies are full, they are going to be content and much more inclined to be all ears for your presentation or conference. Secondly, the venue also has that oldtime local hangout feel, which makes it ideal for smaller and more intimate events, or as an after-event hub for VIP members. ST. REGIS BAL HARBOUR RESORT Miami It’s no coincidence this venue is often referred to as “Miami’s Best Address.”It’s located adjacent to the Bal Harbour Shops, a longtime tourist favorite. It’s also just minutes from South Beach, so guests will benefit from the warm coastal climate and oceanfront hot spots. Guests will definitely have no shortage of nearby attractions to check out before and after the event, so you’ve already got plenty of promotional material built-in. More Than The Ordinary Conferences by nature are not exactly the most exciting events to attend. While factors like an entertaining speaker, room layout and direct audience engagement matters, it’s equally important that you have an out-of-the-box setting that October 2016 n 27

n Special Report

Top row: Google’s Cable Car Meeting Rooms, King Arthur Round Swing Table Bottom row: Poseidon’s Resort, Saatchi & Saatchi Headquarters, Boys and Girls Lego conference room

contributes to the event’s success through its sheer wow factor. And just because an event is small in number doesn’t mean its venue can’t have a big impact. Take for example these intimate settings: GOOGLE’S CABLE CAR MEETING ROOMS Zurich Meeting rooms consisting of nothing more than a table and set of chairs are pretty bland, at least when compared to Google’s cable car meeting room. As the name suggests, this is a meeting room designed with a twist. Amenities include cable cars converted into miniature private rooms for a group of two to four people. Further, there are also small pods that serve a similar function. On top of that, the facility has plenty of other fun features, including an adult-sized playground slide, pool tables, foosball and massage chairs. KING ARTHUR ROUND SWING TABLE London For small conferences or meetings consisting of no more than 12 people, consider King Arthur’s Round Swing 28 n October 2016

Table in London. This venue is a small room that features a large round table with 12 seats – which is how the venue got its name. Here’s the kicker: Those 12 seats are actually swings. Meeting planners can opt for an indoor or outdoor table, or choose tables that come with geo shading. With this venue, attendees can have fun like a child again as they attend that very important conference of yours. BOYS AND GIRLS LEGO CONFERENCE ROOMS Dublin What’s not to like about anything Lego? With this conference room, the table surface is made entirely from Lego blocks. As you begin your conference, your guests can’t help but constantly stare at the table and just wonder how many pieces went into erecting it. The table is encased in glass, so no worries about it crumbling around your feet. SAATCHI & SAATCHI HEADqUARTERS Beijing Saatchi & Saatchi Headquarters in the Chinese capital is truly an architectural feat

of magic. The room utilizes lots of round and spherical elements in its design. One of its more striking features is a meeting room encased in a half-dome of glass that rotates. Once inside, this venue will make you feel that you have just been transported 50 years in the future. POSEIDON’S RESORT Maldives A conference meeting literally hosted under the sea. Does that sound like science fiction? It’s very real, in fact. Poseidon’s Resort offers suites and meeting rooms that are literally submerged below the surface of the water. Guests are practically surrounded by an aquarium full of exotic underwater wildlife. Any meeting in such an awe-inspiring venue is bound to be positively received. BT Dan McCarthy is event manager at Venueseeker, a comprehensive online venue guide based in the UK. Dan has 5 years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events and currently he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Visit or follow Dan on Twitter @DanCarthy2. Visit

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n Cover Story

Intriguing, Enduring Istanbul Ancient and ageless, the city on the Bosporus unwraps its secrets at the edge of two continents By Lark Gould


hatever can be said about Istanbul, the word resilience may describe it best. Istanbul, if not Turkey, stands against the centuries of change and conflict – through Greek settlements and Roman conquests, through Muslim penetration and Ottoman domination, through Allied alignment and national independence, through its membership in NATO, to its place today at the forefront of an ever-emerging Middle East predicament. The pillars of the Blue Mosque present a certain majesty as the sun sets behind the seven hills on which Istanbul was built. The sight stirs awe in the Strait of Bosporus, as passengers on cargo and cruise ships pass between Europe and Asia making their way from the mighty Mediterranean to the land-locked Black Sea. In this history-laden metropolis the future is busy at work – creating, building, inventing, responding to the demands of a city on the edge. Istanbul is a city that has gambled everything it has on keeping its place as one of the top destinations in the world for business, industry and tourism while aggressively preserving its legacy as guardian to the crossroads of civilization.

30 n October 2016

While recent months have brought some unfortunate events to Istanbul’s doorstep: a foiled government coup attempt in July, an attack at the international airport the month before, an attack at a tourism site in January, and a geopolitical situation that makes the country vulnerable to, if not right at the epicenter of, the ongoing migrations to Europe from Syria and other volatile territories, Turkey has stood up to these challenges and just kept on going. In August it opened what is, in fact, the world’s broadest suspension bridge – nearly 200 feet wide, ten lanes across with towers rising more than a thousand feet (the tallest suspension bridge towers in the world) over the Strait of Bosporus. The $3 billion Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge is Istanbul’s third for the crossing of this strategic waterway. Meanwhile, a third of the first phase of Istanbul’s new airport was recently completed – a project touted to be the largest project so far in Turkey’s modern history. The project began in May 2015 and is expected to be capable of handling some 200 million passengers annually as well as flights to some 350 destinations when finally completed. The first phase completion, with a goal for managing Visit

Cover Story n


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n Cover Story

Left: The Basilica Cistern, Below: Blue Mosque

90 million passengers, is targeted for winter 2018. By contrast, Los Angeles International Airport handles between 70 million and 75 million passengers annually. In 2015, Turkey announced seven projects totaling a record $44.7 billion, according to World Bank figures. They include motorways and shipping canals as well as the new Istanbul Finance Center, with a front and center purpose of making Istanbul into one of the leading financial centers in the world. A leading symbol of Turkey’s ambitions is Turkish Airlines. The Star Alliance member has been busy raising its profile over the past decade to become a key player in global transportation with a fleet of 86 wide-body aircraft and a route system that includes 290 destinations. While still reeling from the effects of the July coup attempt and recent drops in tourism arrivals, the company continues to push on with new routes and an aim to become a top hub for transfer traffic along global flight paths. Rolling Out the Welcome Mat There is no doubt that tragic events of recent months have fallen hard on Turkey’s tourism industry, but the country is working on maintaining and strengthening its position as a safe place to conduct business and a place like no other to experience ancient and modern history all together. “While no destination can ever claim to be ‘safe’ due to any number of unforeseen situations that may impact a traveler, Turkey’s position in the region in and of itself wouldn’t normally make it less safe for travelers to main tourist destinations like Istanbul than if they were visiting any other major western city that has suffered 32 n October 2016

terrorism attacks in recent years, like Nice, Orlando, Brussels, Paris, and Sydney, or Madrid, London and New York,”says Mrs. Gorkem Kursunlu Karakus, counselor, Embassy of Turkey, culture and tourism counselor’s office. In fact, a US State Department Travel notice issued in July warned Americans to avoid travel to southeastern Turkey, particularly to areas near the Syrian border some 500 miles away from Istanbul. There are no current travel warnings for Istanbul. Visits to Istanbul by Americans had been growing at a steady clip through last year, according to ministry statistics. At 562,337, the number of US visitors to Istanbul was up 5 percent from 2014, ranking fourth among the total of 12.5 million visitors to the city last year. For the country as a whole, some 40 million international visitors came last year, according to the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization. David Scowsill, head of the World Travel & Tourism Council estimates Turkey’s recent problems may have contributed to a 20 to 25 percent drop in visitor numbers this year. Still, Americans and tourism industry suppliers usually have short memories when it comes to troubled destinations

and, at a time when trends and politics seem to be shifting all over the globe, unsettling events are becoming just another part of the landscape no matter where they occur. To that end, for the dedicated leisure traveler or the get-‘er-done road warrior, Istanbul is a wonderland of sights, smells, tastes, intrigues and awe. Through this megalopolis of 14 million people, visitors find modern streets and throughways that wind around the ruins of Roman aqueducts, crumbling crusader fortresses and medieval mosques that still call the people to prayer. Where To Start Digging On any first visit to Istanbul there are a few musts not to miss. These are the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Tokapi Palace, Basilica Cisterns, Dolmabahce Palace and the Grand Bazaar. Yes, they are tourist magnets with throngs and lines and groups huddling in a variety of languages but the upshot is the same. The spots are significantly historic, the beauty and preservation magnificent, and they undeniably contribute to the mosaic of what is Istanbul, no matter what the purpose for visiting. For cost-efficiency, start with the Istanbul Museum Pass and simply follow the map. The pass costs TRY85 (around $30) and allows easy access to twelve of Istanbul’s most popular museums, without having to endure the long queues. Purchase the pass through the concierge desk at international hotels. It is valid for 120 hours starting with your first museum visit and offers ancillary discounts at smaller private museums as well as shops around the city. Visit Tokapi is notable if only for the immensity of it. In its heyday (1465–1856) the castle residence held some 5000 inhabitants attended by 8000 staff, and contrary to the 1964 caper film starring Melina Mercouri and Peter Ustinov, the jewels are still there – in particular, the Spoonmaker’s Diamond that carries with it a legacy of history and intrigue. Be prepared to spend time at the palace, a good half day to wander through courtyards, museums of all manner of sacred relics, elaborate digs where concubines spent their time or kitchens where cooks prepared meals for a city each day. Don’t miss the relic of Mohammed’s footprint, easily as big as an elephant’s; also, a walking staff believed to be Moses’. Visit

YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MEETING OF THE DAY Savour our authentic Turkish coffee on board every flight, so you arrive refreshed and ready for whatever the day brings.

n Cover Story

Left to right: Galata, view from hotel rooftop, Grand Bazaar

The surroundings at Hagia Sophia are equally impressive given its survival through nearly 2,000 years of religious and political upheaval. The reconstruction and preservation is ongoing but does not take away from the dizzying vaults and domes and intricate artwork produced and protected against all odds. The Blue Mosque is no less extravagant in tilework. Some 20,000 handmade ceramic Iznik tiles that date back to the 1600s complemented by sunlight filtering in through 200 stained glass windows produce a rather angelic setting for the orange prayer carpet used by worshipers throughout the day. Prepare to de-shoe and women need to scarf up upon entrance (one will be provided). Talk in whispers. Use the time to get quiet and feel the peace. A visit to the Dolmabahce Palace, built in the mid-1800s and home to the last six Ottoman sultans, takes up where Topkapi leaves off. In fact, the palace was built as an answer to the older palace’s lack of modern amenities. The three-storied Dolmabahce palace has 285 rooms, 68 toilets, six Turkish Baths, 43 halls and approximately 2,700 windows. It has survived intact with its original decorations, furnishings and appointments and remains filled with paintings and ceiling illustrations by French, Russian and Italian artists. Perhaps what is below the city is just as intriguing for its beauty, geometry and history. The Basilica Cistern, considered the Sunken Palace of Istanbul, is an enormous subterranean waterway and was originally a great basilica. Built beneath the site of Hagia Sophia during the Justianian era, supposedly by the blood and sweat of 7,000 slaves, the caverns provided filtered water to the palaces. Cathedral-sized in dimensions and as ornate, with carved marble columns topped by the heads of angels and characters of myths, it’s a model of ancient engineering and has served as a backdrop for Bond films, novels and even video games. Put it all together at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum – actually three museums – the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Orient and the Museum of Islamic Art, located in the Eminönü district near Gülhane Park and Topkapi Palace. It may have the world’s largest collection of artifacts from this 34 n October 2016

cradle of civilization, totaling more than a million historic objects representing nearly all eras in world history from ancient to modern. The Art of Shopping A stroll through the legendary Grand Bazaar and nearby Spice Market will satisfy any shopping list if it includes Turkish Delight candies or any variation of blue glass evil eye protection charms on it. The scenes here are as colorful and aromatic as they are magnetic. While not the best place to purchase a kilim, the local food products, colorful garb, cheap jewelry, even shoes, are a good snag. Beware the more expensive items. Shopkeepers here have packed centuries of experience into helping consumers part with their money. And don’t expect great bargaining power. Rather, enjoy the vaulted architecture and the sense of history (the bazaar dates back to the mid-1400s, although the surroundings now are late Ottoman). Have a coffee in the buzzing book bazaar. A more unusual place to wander artsy streets for fashion and local color is Galata. Located in Beyoğlu, between Karaköy and İstiklal Avenue, Galata was once the neighborhood where minority populations lived, such as Jews, Greeks and Armenians as well as merchants of the Ottoman times. But today it is the epicenter of Istanbul’s own bohemian quarter teeming with artists, musicians and coffee houses. Wander alleys to discover art shops, bookstalls, unusual clothing collections and crafts as live jazz wafts from cafes and bars. A Night in Istanbul Istanbul offers some 99,000 beds and among that number are more than 191 four- and five-star hotels. Many hotels in Istanbul are located near the convention centers, airports and business areas both on the European and Asian side. Recent events have resulted in severe drops in occupancy in Istanbul but that may mean more favorable rates for those who have time to negotiate. For example, consider the Ciragan Palace Kempinksi. There’s nothing like staying in

a former sultan’s fortress to feel safe and wrapped in a fairytale akin to A Thousand and One Nights. Overlooking the Strait of Bosporus the hotel makes a grand presence and offers plenty of story to go with it. Find 315 rooms, 12 grand suites and one sultan’s suite, all comfortably equipped and worthy of five-star designation. There are ballrooms, intimate rooms and ambient outdoor spaces for meetings and events and several dining venues that make you feel like you are in the middle of an exciting spy thriller. Another favorite: Pera Palace. Now owned by Jumeirah, the circa 1892 property is replete with history – starting with the brass elevator moving amid the property’s four floors and not excluding the Agatha Christie room or the Mustafa Kemal Atatürk room, the revolutionary who established the Republic of Turkey in 1923 and preserved exactly as they had lived in them. The 115 rooms are on the smallish side but keep the 19th century ambiance alive with vintage touches among modern conveniences. The Pera might also be preferred for its location in the hip and walkable Beyoğlu area of Istanbul. North American chains to be found in Istanbul include the Four Seasons, W, St. Regis, Grand Hyatt, Hilton and others. House Hotels is a homegrown brand in Istanbul, with convenient locations catering mostly to European and Gulf travelers. BT Visit

n Tried & Tested

INNSIDE NoMad New York BACKGROUND: Meliá Hotels International is a Spanish hotel group that dates back to the mid-1950s. Today it operates 374 properties in 40 countries under several brands, including Meliá, Gran Meliá, ME by Meliá and INNSIDE by Meliá. The group launched its first property in New York City in March this year with the opening of the four-star INNSIDE NoMad. WHERE IS IT? The hotel is located at 132 West 27th Street between 6th and 7th Avenue, in the NoMad neighborhood of Manhattan, so-called because it’s North of Madison Square Park. The property is convenient to a number of Midtown landmarks including the Empire State Building, Times Square and Madison Square Garden. WHAT’S IT LIKE? Surprising is the first word that comes to mind. Over the years, I’ve come to expect slick high-design Manhattan hotel lobbies with a penchant for cramped spaces, murky lighting and lots of black granite. So when my cab pulled up in front of the INNSIDE NoMad I was astonished to be greeted by a sparkling, airy space with plenty of light and white. The surroundings seemed to rub off on the staff as well, who were cheery and accommodating (in a no-nonsense New York kind of way). The atmosphere also extended beyond the lobby into the restaurant, and upstairs into the hallways and guestrooms. ROOM FACILITIES: The urban lifestyle hotel is situated mid-block on 27th Street and all the rooms face either uptown or downtown. That means the views out the floorto-ceiling windows are either 36 n October 2016

TESTED BY Dan Booth HOW MANY ROOMS? 313 rooms and suites PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS New-build hotel features iconic Manhattan views and bright, elegant décor. PRICE Internet rates for a 260-squarefoot queen in September was $194 per night. CONTACT

of the Empire State Building or south toward One World Trade Center. It doesn’t get more New York than this. My room continued the light-bright theme with modern neutral décor highlighted by splashes of color. The WiFi and minibar were both complimentary, and the room had clever touches for convenience, like an outlet in the back of the laptopcapable safe. In the bathroom, the entire shower wall facing the exterior window was frosted glass which allowed daylight in, keeping things light and open while still being completely private. One small gripe: The excellent bath products are INNSIDE’s own and are affixed to the shower wall in refillable bottles to cut down on plastic waste. Admirable, but apparently whoever did the affixing was a lot taller than I, meaning it was an awkward reach. RESTAURANTS AND BARS: The generous downstairs space off the lobby is Im-

pero Caffé, the hotel’s in-house dining spot. In the morning, it takes on the feel of an Italian coffeehouse with pastries and espresso. For lunch and dinner, it serves bistro-style Italian cuisine, including fresh pasta, risotto and seafood created by celebrity chef Scott Conant. During my stay I never saw the lobby bar slow down; clearly since the hotel’s opening, it has become a favorite of NoMad denizens. BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES: Two meeting rooms cater to different meetings styles; one is set up around a typical conference table, while the other has a team-oriented, casual arrangement, complete with couches, high tech SMART boards and a mini-bar and coffee station. Of course, the two rooms can be combined to offer flexible space for gatherings of up to 70 people. LEISURE FACILITIES: The hotel’s ‘Wellness Suite’ is spacious by New York standards – which is to say, not very,


if you’re used to vast gyms and spas. But it’s more than adequate, the equipment is modern, and best of all, there are windows, so you don’t feel like you’re working out in a subterranean grotto. VERDICT: The INNSIDE NoMad has a different approach to what it means to be a hotel in Midtown Manhattan. This four-star property offers convenience, cheerful interiors, personable staff and all the comforts a business traveler could ask for. BT Visit

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Kulm Hotel St. Moritz, Switzerland BACKGROUND: This legendary hotel is a cradle for winter sports; the hotel grounds hosted the 1928 and 1948 Olympic Winter Games. Founded by the Badrutt family – who later established the nearby Badrutt’s Palace – the Kulm is known for its understated glamour. The hotel is open seasonally: winter months are the biggest draw for well-heeled European and North American snow bunnies longing for the luxurious tradition of this celebrated lakeside ski town. WHERE IS IT? Sitting a couple of curves higher up the mountain than the Palace, this property offers even more exquisite village and lake views. Notable celebrities date back to Charlie Chaplin, but the latest star check-ins are rather protected by the doting staff. If you want a complimentary lift to the lake, the nearby ski area or sister Grand Hotel Kronenhof, luxury sedans and vans stand at the ready. WHAT’S IT LIKE? This restored palace is one of the top five-star hotels in town (quite a feat in a village stockpiled with five five-star properties). The property is actually several buildings that run along the hillside; as the buildings transition, the interior design of guest rooms changes from rustic-meets-elegant to more traditional ski lodge. The more traditional lobby drips crystal chandeliers and expensive fabric-coated furnishings. ROOM FACILITIES: Depending upon your room category, the view and style can change quite drastically, with almost no two rooms alike. It begins with the difference between Superior and Deluxe (the former facing town while the latVisit

TESTED BY Ramsey qubein HOW MANY ROOMS? 172 rooms and suites PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS Central location, celebrity-style service, throwback elegance PRICE Internet rates for a standard room including breakfast begin at CHF357 ($370) CONTACT Kulm Hotel 7500 St. Moritz, Switzerland, tel +41 81 836 80 00,

ter offers panoramic lake and village views). Hypo-allergenic carpeting is pillow-like with brocaded fabrics lining the tall windows that open for fresh (and we’re talking the freshest) air. Many feature furnished terraces, and all come with narrow work desks, small sitting areas with fresh fruit bowls, and flat-screen cable TVs that swing out for angled viewing. Free wireless high speed Internet is available throughout the hotel. Marble bathrooms feature heated floors, oversized towels, rainfall showerheads, and vanities stocked with Asprey Purple Water toiletries. RESTAURANTS AND BARS: As with most seasonal properties, some restaurants only open in the high season (here, wintertime). Open year-round, however, is the exemplary pizzeria with creative pizzas, freshly made pastas (the hotel is minutes away from the Italian border), and a view that is one of the

best on the property. Chesa al Parc is a short walk from the main property and operates as a truly Swiss restaurant with outdoor terrace favored by locals. The lobby bar features live music most evenings and the cigar bar devotes its wall of windows to amazing Lake St. Moritz views. The hotel’s grand restaurant serves a lovely buffet breakfast and elegant a la carte dinner with old world touches like a finely dressed sommelier and tableside presentations. BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES: The hotel features numerous wood paneled conference areas with natural light and the latest audiovisual capabilities. Don’t forget the card room, typically used by those playing bridge or poker, but with the option to turn it into meeting space – as is the case in some of the restaurants. LEISURE FACILITIES: The spa is a major draw with an outdoor hydrotherapy plunge


and a glass-coated indoor swimming pool. Besides a modern fitness center, there are tennis courts and the Alps’ first nine-hole golf course. Guests also have access to a larger spa at the nearby Grand Hotel Kronenhof. VERDICT: Bask in the glory that is ritzy St. Moritz. Whether it is summer or winter (the hotel closes during the off season), this exquisite Engadine mountain palace is a charming respite away from this village’s glittering lifestyle. BT October 2016 n 37

40 News


42 Never Get Lost Again

46 Olympian Challenge

50 Happy Landing

54 What’s On 56 Melbourne


58 Easythingy for TheHighFlyers

50 Visit

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n Lifestyle News

Virgin Atlantic Adds Live TV to Dreamliners As a result of a partnership with onboard providers Panasonic Avionics and IMG, Virgin Atlantic is offering passengers the ability to tune in to live TV via their seat-back screen or via their own devices using the onboard WiFi, at no extra cost. Initially three channels will be available – Sport 24; BBC World News and CNN International. The service is being rolled out aboard the 787 Dreamliners with all 13 aircraft equipped by the end of the year. By summer 2017 Virgin Atlantic will offer WiFi connectivity across all its aircraft. To learn more visit

Kommen Rolls Out Uber ‘Scheduling for Later’

Need Advice on an Activity? Ask Westin’s Concierges Westin Hotels & Resorts has announced the expansion of its concierge program in North America. Many Westin concierges will expand their tradition roles to provide expert insights into surfing, skiing, hiking and cycling, among other physical activities. “We know that today’s travelers are more active and more socially-connected than ever before but with much less free time, so the way they engage with hotel concierges has evolved,”explains Bob Jacobs, vice president, brand management, Westin Hotels & Resorts.“Expanding our concierges’ expertise to offer diverse active experiences feels like a natural extension to continue to take the stress out of staying active on the road.” For more information visit: 40 n October 2016

Kommen llc, a company that creates complementary software products for Uber drivers and passengers, has announced “scheduling UBER for later”support in 33 countries. Following a public beta launched in April, the product has been made available for download in 33 countries: the US, the UK, Canada and Mexico, India , Austria, Australia, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium, Denmark, Dubai, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Jordan, Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Israel, Kenya, Lebanon, Republic of Ireland, South Africa. The product also supports Uber scheduling for UberGo, UberX, UberBlack and UberPool. Kommen is available for download on Android devices from the Google store.

AT&T to Offer Roaming Options for Cuban Travel AT&T and Empresa De Telecomunicaciones De Cuba (ETECSA) have reached agreements to offer roaming and direct interconnection for travelers to Cuba. Now that airlines are beginning to fly to this region, customers who do business will be able to connect with the United States via AT&T. “Cuba is a growing international calling destination for our customers,” said Bill Hague, executive vice president, AT&T Global Connection Management.“With this agreement, AT&T customers soon will be able to seamlessly connect with talk, text and data while visiting Cuba. We will announce commencement of wireless roaming availability and pricing for AT&T customers visiting Cuba at a later date.” More information is available at

Hainan Airlines Launches Michelin-starred Chef Menus Hainan Airlines has announced the launch of new menus in its “Exclusive Restaurant on Board” program. The airline’s flights departing from Paris, Berlin and Brussels will feature these new menus. Chefs will also be on board upcoming flights to visit with the passengers, and have them sample cuisine as they share stories behind the research and development that went into the creation of the new meals. The airline plans to continue rolling out new culinary creations aboard its new international routes when are launched in the future. For more information visit

Aloft Unveils “Project: Jetson” Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has revealed the results of its top secret“Project: Jetson”experiment, the firstever voice activated hotel

room using “Hey Siri.”Each Aloft voice-activated room is equipped with an iPad running a custom Aloft app to control the in-room guest experience, with HomeKit-enabled accessories including room temperature, lighting options and music. In addition, the iPad can be a virtual concierge, allowing guests to explore local attractions like natives. They can also browse the Internet, check the weather and more. At the end of each stay, all iPads are reset and all personal preferences are removed from the device. The Siri-equipped rooms are available at Aloft Boston Seaport and at Aloft Santa Clara. For more information visit BT Visit

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Technology of Things n

Never get lost again GPS has transformed the way we navigate our world, but new apps mean we will be able to find any place, any time By Jenny Southan


hen was the last time you got lost? Throughout my years of travel, I have spent hours struggling to find my way out of Shinjuku station in Tokyo, been unintentionally driven into the desert by a non-English speaking taxi driver in Marrakech, pounded endless dark roads in Beijing in search of my hotel, and have nearly been robbed by street kids in Paris when wandering into the wrong arrondissement. Research from O2 Travel has suggested UK tourists spend an average of 22 million hours lost abroad each year. And it’s not just vacationers – even well organized, smartphone-wielding business travelers have this problem. You might not have an Internet connection to check your whereabouts; your driver can’t read the address you have given him; you can’t decipher the street signs – if they exist at all; you’re trying not to draw attention to yourself by looking at a map; or the route you have been given is wrong. It’s stressful, time consuming and can leave you vulnerable. It can also equate to inefficiency and a loss of earnings on a grand scale. Think about delivery companies such as UPS, which supply their drivers with trucks without doors to save them a few extra seconds. When a drop-off location is hard to find, fewer parcels can be signed for in a day. In 2013, UPS started using computer platform Orion to show optimal routings for the average 120 daily deliveries each of its drivers has to perform on a possible 55,000 US routes. The algorithm, running at 1,000 pages long, is expected to save the company $300 to $400 million a year when fully up and running in 2017. A saving of one mile a day per driver would mean UPS would be $50 million a year better off. Streets with No Name For consumers, satnavs and navigation apps from Google Maps, Sygic and


October 2016 n 43


n Technology of Things

Waze do a similar job to Orion, helping drivers get around cities and providing real-time alerts for traffic jams and accidents. The eyes in the sky have delivered us aerial footage of every inch of our planet – Google Earth allows us to fly through 3D-rendered metropolises, between canyons and over oceans, while Google Street View has seamlessly stitched together stills of cities in more than 65 countries. The Internet giant’s Cardboard project also lets you experience 360-degree panoramas in 3D. However, what’s been missing from all this is a hyper-specific address system. The UK may be one of the best-addressed countries in the world but more than six million deliveries a year have a problem reaching their addressee. This perplexing situation is far much worse for the four billion people across the globe who don’t have a legitimate physical address at all – creating an endless nightmare of problems when it comes to simply opening a bank account, registering for benefits, getting online, voting or setting up a business. These aren’t just Syrian refugees, Mongolian nomads and Brazilian slum dwellers – the address system in Tokyo, for example, is opaque and imprecise. Most streets in Japan have no names so you have to rely on the building number. 44 n October 2016

In the UAE, cities are developing so fast that even locals don’t know where things are. To combat the problem, Dubai began introducing “geo-addresses” of ten-digit GPS coordinates for every building in the emirate, and earlier this year a new geographic address system started to be implemented.“People should know which district they live in and where they are going, and that will be easier with the district names written on street name signboards,” said Traffic Director Hussain Al Banna of the Roads and Transport Authority in a report. It seems so obvious. Much of the rural United States has no address system at all, as described in a 2013 article on West Virginia in The Atlantic. In McDowell County,“residents picked up their mail at the post office and had Amazon packages delivered to city hall or the bank. Directions were proffered in paragraphs; landmarks such as ‘the stone church,’‘the old sewing factory’… functioned as de facto street signs.” If you needed to call an ambulance or the fire brigade, people had to stay on the phone and tell the operator if they could hear the sirens getting louder, the writer reported. It was only three years ago that things started to change, at least in this state. Telecom company Verizon agreed to invest

$15 million in “one of the most ambitious mapping projects in recent decades,” working with the local population to create hundreds of thousands of formal addresses. Already home to the small town of Cucumber, West Virginia is now home to Beer Can Alley and Cougar Lane. Three Little Words As frequent flyers, we’re pretty adaptable, being armed with the necessary experience, technology and on-the-ground assistance to navigate the world’s most daunting cities. However, as we all know, even if we have a driver or are in a familiar destination, the process of navigation isn’t always as simple as it should be. I recently tried to order an Uber in Miami, but its seemingly logical grid system wouldn’t allow me to get to Little Havana because I couldn’t type in the intersection I wanted. On top of this, my driver spoke no English and didn’t know the area. With roads miles long, you need an exact address (for example, 3501 SW 8th) to get anywhere. After driving fruitlessly for 20 minutes, I finally made him stop the car. Sometimes travel can make us feel stupid. One UK start-up, however, is on its way to changing the world. Launched in 2013, What3Words has designed an algorithm that has divided the planet into Visit

Technology of Things n

57 trillion 3-square-meter sections, and then assigned each plot a unique threeword address. For instance, if you want to visit the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, instead of inputting its long GPS code (N63° 52’ 51.646”W22° 26’ 27.985”) into your satnav, you could simply select “richer.jades. apologies”on the app’s map to receive driving directions. “The geospatial industry is worth more than $150 billion, and has trillions of dollars worth of industry associated with it,”says Giles Rhys Jones, chief marketing officer of What3Words.“However, there is no simple way to talk about location consistently and globally – there are 135 countries in the world that don’t have a good street addressing system. All you have instead is latitude and longitude. It’s incredibly accurate but it’s 18 digits long, so it’s impossible to remember and prone to error when telling others.” You can use these three-word geocodes to isolate an equipment drop at a convention center; locate a hard-tofind restaurant or Airbnb apartment in Bangkok; find an unaddressed office in Abu Dhabi or a community center in a South African township; book a drone delivery to a construction site in Paris; or alert authorities to houses in Nepal hit by an earthquake. (People on the ground can share virtual pin drops for buildings that have collapsed.) “We worked that out with a list of 40,000 words in the English language; fortythousand times 40,000 times 40,000 equals 64 trillion, so that gives you enough to do every single square,” Rhys Jones says. “We’ve taken out homophones, very long words, hyphenated words and rude words, and distributed shorter words in places that are going to be more commonly used, such as in central London.” Visit

Expanding Horizons Already available in ten languages, with more on the way, What3Words has so far partnered with more than 50 organizations, including the UN and Hg2 travel guides, to radically transform and simplify everything from e-commerce and aid deliveries to helicopter landing points. Rhys Jones says: “In Brazilian favelas, millions of people are putting stickers on their houses with their three-word address so Carteiro Amigo can deliver post, and in Tanzania we are being used by the Red Cross to flag up water points contaminated by cholera.” He adds: “Our intention is to be a globally recognized way to talk about location: word.word.word.” World travel organizations that have so far employed the revolutionary What3Words geo-address app include the Independent Map Company (IDMC), which is a platform for unknown or hidden shops, bars and restaurants (visit supporter. spare.hood for Prohibition-era cocktails in Liverpool), and transit app Tripgo, which provides step-by-step routings to pindrop locations for cyclists, pedestrians and people using public transport. Another geo-location tool is driving navigation app Navmii. Used by more than 24 million people, its maps for 190 countries can be used offline and are being built into in-car systems. Grocery deliveries from Ocado are also powered by Navmii. “We don’t have the resources of Google, of being able to hire vehicles with cameras on the roofs,” explains Zoe Laycock, Navmii’s chief marketing officer. “We wanted to build mapping and local information through crowdsourcing. GPS ‘trace data’ [showing routes that have been driven] is one of the ways we do this, but we also encourage people to get involved through the Open Street Map initiative [] – London is a good example of a place where maps are very accurate but in terms of traffic management, speed limits and one-way systems, that can change, and we need users to report these things in real time.” Navmii is also working on “last mile” navigation, Laycock says.“What you can’t do yet is pinpoint a multistory car park that has spaces available. Over the coming months we will be working directly with NCP, for example, to provide that data so you know how many spaces there are free on each floor.” Soon you won’t have any excuse for being late for a meeting because you couldn’t find parking.

A Short History of Navigation In the Age of Discovery of the 15th to 18th centuries, explorers employed latitude for north-south measurements, taking the equator (0 degrees) as its base point. With the angle measured from the center of the Earth, plus 90 degrees took you to the North Pole, and minus 90 degrees the South Pole. Longitude, for east-west, was more complicated – as centuries of seafarers will attest. The 0 degrees reference point has been set at the Greenwich Meridian in London, with longitude measured as up to 180 degrees east or minus 180 degrees west of this point. As the Earth moves 360 degrees a day, or 15 degrees an hour, there is a direct relationship between longitude and time. If you are three hours ahead of UTC (Coordinated Universal Time, formerly GMT), for example in Mogadishu, you will have a longitude of 45 degrees east. For this reason, having a reliable clock was essential. GPS coordinates rely on latitude and longitude. The Empire State Building has a latitude of north 40º 44’ 54.388”, while the longitude is west 73º 59’ 8.39”. Global Satellite Positioning, however, wasn’t developed until the 1970s, when the US Department of Defense took inspiration from the way radio signals were being transmitted by Russian satellite Sputnik. When Korean Air flight 007 was shot down after accidentally entering Soviet airspace in 1983, the US government extended the technology to civilian airlines, but it wasn’t until 2000 that it became available to everyone. GPS continues to be owned by the US government. So far, just over 70 satellites have been put in Space although not all are in service – the minimum number required for a “full constellation” is 24. While a few early attempts at producing in-car GPS and handheld receivers had entered the market in the nineties, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that the technology became accurate enough to be really useful. The first successful personal navigation device (PND) was released by TomTom in 2004, with Garmin and Magellan quickly getting in on the act. By 2008, more than 18 million units had been sold in the US, but sales went into decline with the emergence of built-in GPS on smartphones. Google Maps Navigation with turn-by-turn directions entered the scene in 2009, with Apple Maps following in 2012. BT October 2016 n 45

n Well Being

Olympian challenge With the 2016 Olympics – the first to include golf in more than a century – Rio has more reasons than ever to embrace the game


By Minty Clinch

1 THE OLYMPIC COURSE Where is it? 25 miles west of Rio. What’s it like? The expense involved in building a venue for the first Olympic golf tournament since 1904 was widely criticized, not least by Rio’s existing clubs, which wanted to stage it themselves. Environmentalists reacted because part of the course is in the Reserva de Marapendi nature park, but the project was greenlighted on the understanding that it would become Rio’s first public golf course, a boost for a game that has been restricted to those who can afford private members’ clubs. 46 n October 2016

The layout occupies gently undulating land near the ocean in the suburb of Barra da Tijuca, home to the Olympic Park, the main stadium and the athletes’ village. Its 15 competition venues include swimming, cycling, tennis and athletics. The golf course has been designed by American Gil Hanse, known for, among others, the courses at Castle Stuart on the Moray Firth in Scotland and the Trump International Golf Club, Dubai. The land has been reclaimed, with two large artificial lakes as the centerpiece for fairways, greens and thick rough, but the real challenge lies in the stiff and steady, south Atlantic winds. Contact Avenida das Americas, Barra da Tijuca; Price To be announced. Facilities 18 holes, par 71, 6,522m (7,133 yds); golf academy, driving range, practice area, putting green. Visit

Well Being n







2 ITANHANGA GOLF CLUB Where is it? 16 miles southwest of Rio. What’s it like? This exceptionally welcoming private club was established in 1933 by President Getulio Vargas, Brazil’s longest-serving political leader, first as dictator from 1930 to 1945, then as elected president from 1951 until his suicide in 1954. He set up Itanhanga as the antidote to Gavea, known in those days as the “Englishman’s Club”and, therefore, unacceptable to a dedicated nationalist. A passionate, if indifferent, golfer – his handicap was 30-plus – Vargas took time out from his program of industrialization and social reform to play on a flat course laid out in the imposing shadow of Devil’s Visit

Rock. Nowadays, 10,000 trees from a mix of 86 different species shed 30 billion leaves a year, a daunting task for greenkeeping staff. Coconut palms dominate, but mangos provide protection from the sun and a succulent snack from November through New Year. The river that snakes among the fairways is at its most menacing at the Three Twins, par fours at seven, eight and nine with water to the left that wreck many a promising card. Contact Estrada da Barra da Tijuca 2005; tel +5521 3883 8323; Price Championship course, weekdays R$300/$92, weekends R$425/$130; nine-hole course, weekdays R$180/$55,

weekends R$245/$75; caddie (compulsory for visitors) R$100/$30 plus tip; cart R$150/$45; club rental R$150/$45 for 18 holes (brands include Callaway, Taylor Made and Titleist). Club hours 6:00 AM – 7:00 PM. Visitor tee times available on weekdays and at weekends after 1:00 PM. Maximum handicap 32 Facilities Championship course, 6,695 yds, par 72; nine-hole course, 2,840 yds, par 36; driving range, putting green. After the golf The spacious clubhouse has a terrace with seating overlooking the 18th green, and serves an international menu. There’s a large outdoor pool, plus the only polo club in Rio. October 2016 n 47

n Well Being

3 GAVEA GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB Where is it? 12 miles southwest of Rio. What’s it like? The grande dame of Rio golf, opened in 1926 by Scottish and English expats, and redesigned by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., and Stanley Thompson in the 1930s, retains the exclusivity that repelled Vargas. That’s no reason not to play it – its location at the foot of the huge Pedra da Gavea mountain is spectacular, and it has the yesteryear charm of a course where strategy and skill are more important than pure power. When city expansion demanded a new highway, Gavea demanded a tunnel to access the four holes nearest to Sao Conrado beach; not that you’d know it, because a high wall keeps beachcombers out.

As befits the stratospheric value of its real estate, this is a short, compact layout, with the emphasis on landsaving doglegs. The opening holes loop over hilly terrain above the clubhouse: The par 3 fourth provides the best overview, but don’t admire the seascape at the expense

of your tee shot as missing left carries a heavy penalty. After the ninth, players duck under the highway to tackle 10 to 13, dominated by hazardous lake, before ducking back for the final stretch. Contact Estrada da Gavea 800, Sao Conrado; tel +55 (21) 3323 6050; Price Weekdays R$350/$107; weekends R$450/$137; caddie (compulsory) R$80/$25 plus tip; cart R$200/$60; golf shoes R$30/$10; clubs R$50/$15. Club hours 7:00 AM – 9:00 PM, visitor tee times available Mon/Wed/Fri from 8:00 AM, Tues/Thurs from 12:30 PM. Maximum handicap For men 24 and for women 28. Facilities 18 holes, 5,950 yds, par 69; floodlit driving range, practice area and putting green. After the golf The clientele is international, with Rio’s elite well settled on the clubhouse’s long terrace, and the interior is luxurious, with floral chesterfields and brass chandeliers.

4 PETROPOLIS GOLF CLUB Where is it? 37 miles north of Rio. What’s it like? Petropolis was named after the popular Emperor Pedro II, nicknamed “The Magnanimous,” who used it as a summer haven during a reign that lasted from 1831 until 1889, when the monarchy was abolished. No golf in his day, but 20th-century enthusiasts were quick to appreciate the benefits of playing in cooler, drier air at 3,000 feet above sea level. The Petropolis course, located in the lovely Nogueira Valley in the mountains overlooking Rio, opened on March 1, 1939; pictures in the clubhouse suggest it hasn’t changed much. Expect a bit of a workout, as the terrain is steep and must be tackled twice to complete 18 holes. The course is very much a world of its own, confined by the surrounding hills and dominated by the river that runs along the valley floor. The opener is an inviting downhill drive, a bit of sweetener for hostile camber and watery perils ahead. Tropical flora growing here includes flame trees, sapucaia (meaning“monkey pot,” named after its bowl-shaped fruit containing edible seeds) and pink ipe, Brazil’s national flower. Contact Avenida Country Club 6321, Nogueira, Petropolis; tel +55 (24) 2221 2534, Price 18 holes weekdays R$120/$37, weekends R$200/$60; caddie R$50/$15 plus tip; cart R$100/$30; club rental R$70/$21 (random mixed sets; brands include Callaway, Titleist and Ping). Club hours 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM daily. Maximum handicap Men 28, women 36. Facilities 18 holes (nine with two tee boxes on each), 6,268yds, par 70; driving range, practice area and putting green. After the golf The clubhouse has a simple restaurant and bar. There is also an on-site hotel and a riding center. BT

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n Escape To


landing The living is easy for on the islands of Saint Martin and Anguilla

By Jenny Southan


here can’t be many places in the world where you can sunbathe on a beach, drink a cold beer and watch a giant Air France A340 take off roaring just feet over your head. Sure, there are signs saying “danger of death” on the fence separating the road from the landing strip, but it doesn’t stop people standing there gazing up in awe. It’s not unusual for fully-grown adults to be thrown into the sea by the sheer force of the engines – just look on You Tube. Half French, half Dutch, the 13-square-mile Caribbean island of Saint Martin (Sint Maarten in Dutch) is not particularly picturesque, there aren’t any cultural sights and the bars are outrageously tacky – at Maho Beach’s Sunset Bar and Grill, topless

women drink for free. (Who cares about feminism when you can enjoy endless servings of Runway Rum Punch?) But for a self-confessed “av geek” like me, the plane-spotting opportunities are all that matters. (Keep an eye out for superyachts, too – I spotted Roman Abramovich’s Eclipse moored offshore.) Princess Juliana airport (SXM) was named after the princess of the Netherlands, who touched down in 1944, a year after it opened. From the US mainland, you can get here via Miami with American Airlines. Make sure you get a window seat. Onward connections from SXM can also be made to islands such as St. Barths with local carrier Winair, Antigua with Liat, or Curaçao with Insel Air. While the all-inclusive Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Casino offers a prime position for observing low approaches, the classiest From left: Malliouhana garden; the approach to Princess Juliana International airport

50 n October 2016



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October 2016 n 51

n Escape To

hotel is the five-star Belmond La Samanna, just over the border on the French side (the island is actually two countries). Set among cliff-top gardens, sand-dusted steps lead down to the pristine curve of Baie Longue. Take a paddleboard out on the water, or retreat to the peace of a lounger farther along the shore. Swapping city life for sun-kissed downtime, it can be hard to adapt to doing nothing. The temptation to answer e-mails is always there (there is free WiFi everywhere) but it’s a first-world problem that has to be overcome. After turning my phone off, I take a seat in the shade of my veranda and get out my book. While entry-level Deluxe Ocean View rooms are sumptuous in themselves, some suites have their own plunge pools and roof decks with hot tubs. In the Swapping city evening, I order up the catch of the life for sun-kissed day at open-air Trellis restaurant, which offers panoramic sea views. downtime, it can For a change of scene, take a be hard to adapt speedboat from the dock near the to doing nothing airport to Anguilla, 20 minutes away (, $65 but you can haggle). Established as an independent British overseas territory in 1980, this 35-square-mile island is one of the flattest in the Caribbean, at just over 200 feet above sea level at its highest point. The coral atoll was first colonized by the British in the 17th century, and, although US dollars are the go-to currency (along with Eastern Caribbean dollars), many residents still hold UK passports. A steady stream of Anguillans have even emigrated to the UK, setting up in industrial towns such as Slough, of all places. Much of this tranquil island is covered in scrubby bushes interspersed with colorful churches. Its capital, the Valley, is little more than a sleepy village with chickens and goats running around, while the primary tourist attraction is the quaint Heritage Collection Museum. Curated by local historian Colville Petty OBE, it displays everything from slave shackles to traditional cooking implements. Anguilla was originally settled by the Arawak, an indigenous South American tribe. The name they gave to the island was Malliouhana. Adopting this moniker for itself, chic boutique hotel the Malliouhana opened at the far end of Meads Bay Main: Baie Longue Left and right: Belmond La Samanna

52 n October 2016


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in 1984. It was later taken over by Much of Anguilla Auberge Resorts and, in 2014, was is covered in given a multimillion-dollar facelift scrubby bushes to compete with celebrity favorite the Viceroy at the other end of interspersed with the mile-long beach. Its Moorishcolorful churches. inspired villas are discreetly placed among palms, tropical foliage and neatly trimmed lawns, while the 44 spacious bedrooms have been freshened by white furniture and shades of pale mint. Called the culinary capital of the Caribbean (and “the most friendly”island), there’s good eating to be had on Anguilla—at Malliouhana’s, a formal restaurant, I savor a superb white gazpacho and deliciously rich mahi fish pasta with tomato, olives, garlic and capers. One of my favorite joints is Blanchards Beach Shack, a 10-minute walk away, where tables are laid out on the sand and trees are strung with lights at night. Frozen daiquiris and wholesome fast-food are ordered from a hatch – try the “Big Bowl” of rice, beans, corn salsa, cheese, sour cream and jerk chicken. Next door is Blanchards restaurant (, which specializes in lobster bisque, jerk shrimp and grilled crayfish.

Trace a line of footprints along the surf in the moonlight and you will come to the Straw Hat ( – order up some red snapper crudo or shrimp tacos, and listen to the rhythmic crashing of the waves. In February, Shoal Bay East saw the arrival of the 63-room Zemi Beach House ( Among its five drinking and dining hotspots is the Rhum Room, with more than 100 small batch, single-estate rums. My days, however, are happily spent at the Malliouhana, where not only are there cabanas and two infinity pools but a secret beach. It can be a wrench to leave a resort like this, but a trip to Sandy Island ( is unforgettable. The tiny sandbar is accessed from Anguilla’s Sandy Ground harbor. After boarding the Happiness motor launch ($10), I’m soon marooned with nothing but a frozen pina colada for company. Once the sky deepens to deep orange and navy, the boat returns me to shore. Following the sound of music, I head to the Pumphouse, where a reggae band plays Adele covers. The hours go by drinking and dancing until sometime after midnight, I stroll across the empty street to Elvis beach bar. Here I find a few lingering punters swigging bottles of Carib and singing along to John Denver’s “Country Roads.”Take me home? I never want to leave… BT Visit

October 2016 n 53

n The Scene

What’s On

Around The World

Andong Maskdance Fesival

We round up some of the top events in the months ahead from all over Kurama Fire Festival

Andong, South Korea September 30 – October 9 The Andong Maskdance Festival celebrates the rich cultural heritage of Korea’s Andong region. Dancers don intricate masks for the World Mask competition, the National and International Mask Dance Performance, the World Mask exhibition and other events. Visit

Kurama, Japan October 22 Hi Matsur, the Kurama Fire Festival, is an autumn festival held in this mountain village north of Kyoto. Revelers carry huge torches weighing up to 175 lbs. to light bonfires throughout the night, and later bring a mikoshi (portable shrine) from Yuki Shrine in Kurama. Visit

FINA Swimming World Cup 2016

International Art Fair of Bogota

Dubai October 4 – 5 With the Olympics over, top athletes from around the globe dive into the FINA/Airweave Swimming World Cup. The Hamdan Complex in Dubai hosts swimmers fresh from the Beijing meet in the next round of this world-class competition. Visit

Imagine Peace Tower Reykjavík October 9 – December 8 Each year at this time, the Imagine Peace Tower dedicated to John Lennon is lit as a beacon of peace. Located on Viðey Island, the wishing well design conceived by Yoko Ono has the words IMAGINE PEACE inscribed in 24 languages. See details at

Boo at the Zoo Washington, DC October 21 – 23 With more than 40 treat stations, animal demonstrations, keeper chats and decorated trails, this annual event makes for a frightfully fun Fall evening at the National Zoo. Enjoy music, magicians and jugglers, and try you luck in the spooktacular scarecrow field. Visit 54 n October 2016

Bogota, Colombia October 24 – 29 The International Art Fair of Bogota brings together the best of national and global artists. ARTBO is both academic and cultural, to inspire the public and invite cultural exchange. It is held in the city’s Coferias convention center. Visit

Festival du Monde Arabe Montreal October 28 – November 13 The Arab World Festival of Montreal is dedicated to encouraging dialogue between Arab and Western cultures. Through performing arts, cultural exhibitions and film, the FMA presents works that interpret Arab heritage and challenge common misconceptions. Visit Cumhuriyet Bayramı Turkey October 28 – 29 October 29 is a national holiday in Turkey known as Cumhuriyet Bayramı, or Republic Day. It actually starts the preceding day, celebrating the proclamation of the Turkish republic in 1923 with parades, torchlight processions and fireworks. Visit BT Visit

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n 4 Hours

and it also hosts intriguing temporary exhibitions. Through January 2017, the RMIT Gallery is presenting Morbis Artis, which explores the conjunction between the biomolecular and the artistic in eleven separate installation works, using disease as a metaphor to raise issues that challenge life today. Open Mon-Fri 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Sat 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM; admission is free. 344 Swanston Street;


OLD MELBOURNE GAOL A two-minute stroll around the corner and along Russell Street brings you to the Old Melbourne Gaol. In the 1800s, people did everything they could to avoid this stark Victorian


MELBOURNE Discover intriguing art, indigenous wildlife and Ned Kelly’s death mask in Australia’s second city


By Christopher Beanland



DOCKLANDS Start in the city’s brash and breezy Docklands, which can be reached from the central business district via the pedestrian bridge over the rail tracks that funnel into Southern Cross station. The dazzling glass-walled skyscrapers that have sprung up around the waterfront are all the proof you need that it’s boom time in this southern port town. Gold may have lured people here in the 1800s, but today’s Melbourne is building flashy apartment, shops and restaurants such as Berth ( on New Quay Promenade, which looks out at Victoria Harbour. The huge Etihad stadium, which hosts football (a.k.a. ‘Aussie rules’ or ‘footy’), rugby and pop concerts, is located here, 56 n October 2016

and there are plans to open an artificial $18.5M surfing park in 2017. There’s a trail around the Docklands that you can download at au/walk/609 – in less than half an hour it will take you past historic dock buildings, old ship jetties and sculptures as well as some of the area’s swish new buildings.


RMIT GALLERY Catch the number 30 tram from Etihad Stadium Docklands to Swanston Street/La Trobe Street and head into the gallery at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). Its art collection is primarily made up of work by Australian artists such as Russell Drysdale, Jock Clutterbuck and John Olsen,

3 Visit

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edifice, and yet today it’s a popular tourist attraction. Why? Mostly because we delight in the horror of the past; a horror that’s made all too real here in the cells and at the gallows of the city’s old prison, which was decommissioned in 1929. These are the gallows, in fact, that claimed the life of outlaw Ned Kelly in 1880 – among the artifacts are the death mask that was made only an hour after Kelly was hanged. Open 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM daily; admission AU$25 ($19).


CARLTON GARDENS Another two-minute walk to the end of La Trobe Street brings you to more rarefied surroundings – Carlton Gardens.

This beautiful park is home to all manner of Australian flora and fauna, including brushtail possums, as well as exotic Indian myna birds. At the heart of the gardens is the Royal Exhibition Building, which opened in the same year as Ned Kelly’s demise and, in 1901, hosted the first Australian parliament. But in 2017, don’t miss the world renowned 22nd Annual Flower & Garden Show, Wed. March 29 – Sun. April 2. It’s the most confident building Melbourne possesses, paying homage to Florence’s cathedral, Indian exoticism and British muscle, and the interiors are just as sumptuous – daily tours take place at 2:00 PM and 3:00 PM.


BRUNSWICK STREET Walk east along Gertrude Street and you’ll come to Brunswick Street, the city’s hippest drag. Head north through the Fitzroy district and you can indulge in a famous flat white at one of the many coffee shops. Admire trendy, colorful street art in this counter culture neighborhood. Stores sell trendy clothes and records, and there are dozens of bars and music venues. One of the best is the Labour in Vain ( at number 197a, where you can finish off your tour with a cold “stubbie” of James Boag’s Tasmanian beer and a sausage fresh off the barbecue. The 11 tram runs all the way down Brunswick Street and will get you back to the CBD in ten minutes. BT










2 1






4 Visit






October 2016 n 57

n World Wise


TheHighFlyers for So many tech-related travel startups By Ross Atkinson


o, that title is not a mistake. Last month we featured an article that was a personal favorite of mine. It was on crowdfunding and follow-on success of a company called Priority Bicycles (Kicked into High Gear, September 2016). The company reinvented the traditional bicycle to be rust- and maintenance-free, as well as easy to ride. And while they were building a non-traditional bike, they were starting a company using non-traditional means. With the story’s angle on providing bikes to hotels for guests to use during their travels, I was intrigued to explore more startup companies that touch our travels and our experiences. My first find was Easythingy and, yes, at first glance I too thought it was a spelling error. In fact, aside from tickling my“humorous,� there appeared to be something worthwhile in the company’s product; it actually turns your e-mails with travel-related content into your personal all-in-one travel app, making that content usable while you’re on the road. This new “thingy� was just released this month at the TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Alley. E-mail may not be dead, but searching through them to find travel details is deadly! I thought the name was an organization for people who travel often, but I was sorely mistaken: It’s not about how often you fly. But it is nonetheless an interesting concept, more about communicating and interacting with others on your flight. One specific feature I would probably use is its ability to let you see interesting things on the ground as you are passing overhead. It reminds me of the “Delta Glass Bottom Jet� app for the iPad a few years ago. The app connected you to scenery and landmarks, photos and even friends in that area as you were passing over at 35,000 feet.

58 n October 2016

Surrounded by Apps Two new apps hardly constitutes an avalanche of startups in the travel space. So I had to look beyond just the fun names of the new companies, and cast a wider net across the entire category. Thinking broader, I turned to the iTunes store to help me sort it down a bit further. What are the apps people really use? You see, I was hoping for a “Top 10 New� list of travel apps. But I discovered that travel apps are quite popular and the list for the travel category had 240 of the most sought after ones. That’s still a big number, but it gives a good perspective. What I did find is that most of these new companies or apps are focused on a specific area of our journey. Here are some examples across our travel experience: s0LANNINGANDBOOKINGn(OTELSCOM 8%#URRENCY s)TINERARY TIME ANDPERSONALMANAGEMENTn,OUNG"UDDY Worldmate s.AVIGATIONn7AZE -APWAYAPPSFORTRAINS s%XPERIENTIALn6ELOCITY #HEFS&EED s$ESTINATIONn&OODSPOTTING 7I &I&INDER s#OMMUNICATIONn7HATS!PP 3WEARPORT -ESSENGER And in keeping with the spirit of my original thought, there are plenty of other“thingy’s�in the mix. Back to the subject of startups; it would be a bit of hyperbole to say that the number of new travel-related startups is countless. It was, however, a difficult number to ascertain, so I share this to give it some perspective. According to statistca, as of June 2016 there were 4.2 million apps in just the Google Play and Apple App store, with Google Play in the lead. Apple alone is taking 1000 new applications for apps every day. Even if only 1 percent of these are related to travel, that would add up to a very large number of existing and new travel related companies looking to win over today’s frequent flyers. Although putting number on the new startups difficult, connecting to this community is actually quite easy. I use several channels worth sharing. One group, with chapters of travel insiders in hundreds of locations around the world, often hosts a casual monthly meetup inviting visitors from other chapters. Another startup called Startuptravels is worth a glance. Aside from being very fitting for our topic, it ties directly to LinkedIn and will connect you with like-minded entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts in over 160 countries. Next time you travel, try one of these “thingy’s� to connect with someone in another part of the world.



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Business Traveler - Oct 2016  

Business Traveler (USA) - Oct 2016 | 60 pages

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