Travel News

By Judy Newell

Mexico Travel News

Hot new hotels

Keeping up with all the new luxury properties and developments throughout Mexico could be a full-time job. Condé Nast Traveler editors have made the task a little easier, naming five Mexico properties to the 2013 Hot List, a list of worldwide favorites that have opened in the past year. From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende, you have a world-class choice of attention-grabbing new accommodations.

Mexico City is home to two of the award-winners: the converted 17th-century palace Downtown, with 17 guest rooms, and the brand-new 135-room highrise Live Aqua Bosques.

The magazine notes the eclectic Hotel Bo in San Cristobal gives a “different breed of traveler beyond the typical backpacker” a reason to visit; and the ecology-minded Endemico, Resguardo Silvestre “ups the cool cred of once sleepy Valle de Guadalupe, newly favored by weekenders from SoCal.”

In San Miguel de Allende, Nena Boutique Hotel is a former private estate with six guest rooms in what “feels like the home of a millionaire friend.”


International News

Australia remains top dream destination

Affluent travelers named Australia as their top dream destination for the third consecutive year in Virtuoso’s seventh annual Travel Dreams survey. The survey asked readers of Virtuoso Life magazine where they want to travel next. This year’s responses came from nearly 8,000 of the magazine’s readers.

Europe, particularly Paris and Rome, was also among the top locales for dream destinations, city getaways and culinary trips, while cruising continues to rank high as well. The top 10 dream destinations are, in order: Australia, Italy, New Zealand, Ireland, France, South Africa, the Caribbean, Greece, England and French Polynesia.


Air News

Southwest Airlines offers fliers free in-flight TV

Southwest Airlines is letting passengers watch TV for free on their personal devices when they fly on the carrier’s Wi-Fi enabled planes. They will be able to stream the content on their iPhones, iPads, iPod touches and most other Internet-ready personal devices.

As part of the “TV Flies Free” offer satellite TV provider Dish network will offer customers 14 live TV channels and up to 75 on-demand shows on the airline’s more than 425 Wi-Fi equipped planes, about 75 percent of its fleet. Previously, the service cost US$5.

JetBlue Airways and Virgin America have offered free live TV for years, but they have done so on seat-back screens.


United forgets toilet paper on 10-hour flight

News sources are abuzz with the story on a United Airlines flight to London on June 24 that forgot to bring one essential − toilet paper. The 10-hour flight from Heathrow to San Francisco went paperless for hours (in economy class, that is) until flight attendants finally relented and offered passengers cocktail napkins and paper promotional handouts as a substitute.

The airline subsequently issued a mea culpa, saying, “We apologize to our customers on this flight for the inconvenience and would like the opportunity to welcome them back.” There was no mention of free mileage or upgrades, simply an invitation to come back.

Could the tissue issue be one reason why United came in last in a recent survey of airline customer satisfaction?


Spirit’s new in-flight beverage: US$7 canned wine

Spirit has begun selling “Wine in a Can” on its flights. Friends Fun Wine boasts that it has invented a new category of wine it dubs “Fun Wine.” What that means is that it offers such flavors as Strawberry Moscato and Grape Melon with relatively low alcohol content. It’s sweetness in a soda can with only six percent alcohol. But all snootiness aside, if your tastes run to the sugary end of the spectrum, this might be just the thing to take your mind off the multitude of ancillary fees you’ve paid to cram in a seat with industry-lagging legroom.

Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza isn’t worried. “People adapt,” he said. “Your choices at 30,000 feet are pretty limited.”

This is the latest cost-saving move from the Miramar, Florida airline, which charges US$3 for a drink of water and US$35 to place a bag in the overhead bin.

Deal of the Week

Ultimate White Christmas cruise in Antarctica

Crystal Cruises is offering the “Ultimate White Christmas” voyage, because the Crystal Symphony is spending the holidays in Antarctica. The 18-day December 21 Buenos Aires-to-Valparaíso voyage spends three days in Antarctic waters before sailing to Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Falkland Islands, Cape Horn and the Chilean Fjords.

This is the luxury line’s only Antarctic cruise in 2013 and 2014. Crystal is one of the few cruise lines permitted to sail to Antarctica, due to strict environmental regulations. The itinerary visits Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Puerto Madryn, Port Stanley, Ushuaia, Punta Arenas, Puerto Montt, and Valparaíso.

The ship will be decorated for the holidays and offer gourmet holiday feasts, a champagne New Year’s gala, religious services and junior cruiser events (including Santa). All-inclusive cruise fares begin at US$9,740 per person and include US$600 per person in savings if booked by August 30.

Judy Newell heads the travel company Perfect Journeys, which specializes in custom-designed independent tours, cruises and travel for singles, couples and friends. Her private small-group trips for 2014 will be announced shortly. Contact Judy by cell phone at 415-111-8765, by email at, or on the website

Sources: Mexico4Agents, Travel Plus, USA Today, Smarter Travel, The Associated Press


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