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Travel News


By Judy Newell

México News

Ten Five Diamond Properties Added—Five in México!

Ten properties have been added to AAA’s Five Diamond Award list. The newcomers join an exclusive group that accounts for only 0.4 percent, just 121 hotels, of the more than 27,000 locations AAA has inspected.


The ten new hotels AAA added this past year are:

*Baccarat Hotel New York (New York City)

Banyan Tree Mayakoba (Playa del Carmen, (México)

Fairmont Pacific Rim (Vancouver, Canada)

Hotel Emma (San Antonio, Texas)

Montage Los Cabos (Cabo San Lucas, México)

NIZUC Resort & Spa (Cancun, México)

Rosewood San Miguel de Allende (San Miguel de Allende)

The Dominick Hotel (New York City)

The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston (Houston)

*The St. Regis México City (México City)

According to the director of AAA Inspections and Diamond Ratings, the group awards the distinction to properties with “extraordinary physical qualities, extensive amenities, and impeccable standards of excellence in delivering a highly personalized experience.” The group’s evaluation includes in-person inspections, anonymous overnight stays, and a review by a panel of experts.

International News

Tokyo: Henn-na Hotel Fires its Robot Staff

It seems that robot workforce domination won’t be happening anytime soon. A Japanese hotel known for its predominantly droid staff recently fired half of its robot workers.

Henn-na Hotel was the world’s first hotel to be run mostly by robots with 243 “employees” on the payroll. The robots, some of which were dinosaurs, were responsible for every aspect of the hotel stay, including check-in, luggage collection, concierge service, and in-room assistance.

Unfortunately, malfunctions forced the hotel to rethink its staffing approach. Hotel guests were becoming more reliant on human staff to help with basic tasks such as photocopying passports.

One hotel guest had trouble with the in-room assistance when it mistook his snoring for a request. The robot woke him up by asking, “Sorry, I couldn’t catch that. Could you repeat your request?” the Wall Street Journal reported.

Other guests complained the concierge wasn’t all that helpful compared to their iPhone assistant, Siri, who found information in just seconds.

The reception, concierge, and bellhop duties will now all be completed by human employees, putting an end to the hotel’s robotic dream only three years after the hotel opened.

It is unknown whether the robot employees received severance packages.

Cruise News

Explore European Cuisine with a Foodie Cruise

Foodie culture has made culinary voyages all the rage, but gastrocruises are more than a fad and offer a relaxing way to explore the cuisine of a region.

The award-winning Oceania Cruises, known as the foodie cruise line, will whisk passengers away on a food-focused tour from Amsterdam to Lisbon in 12 nights, starting September 17 aboard the Marina. Guests will be treated to a thorough survey of European cuisines that spans five countries.

Join Master Chef Jacques Pépin, Oceania’s executive culinary director, on Vineyards & Castles. This unique voyage, perfect for culinary aficionados, features exclusive signature menus, heartwarming lectures, cooking demonstrations, and much more.

An overnight stop in Bordeaux adds to the gastronomic feel. There, guests will dine at a grand châteaux, eat at a chef’s table at the Relais & Châteaux Saint-James restaurant in the village of Bouliac, visit vineyards, and tour a cognac distillery. Pépin is formerly chef to three French heads of state, including Charles de Gaulle. He will share his expertise with guests in talks and classes onboard.

Fares are from US$3,599 per person for an inside stateroom, US$4,699 for an ocean view stateroom, US$5,399 for a verandah stateroom, and US$7,599 for a suite.

Words of the Wise and Well-traveled

“Jobs fill your pocket, but adventures fill your soul.” —Jamie Lyn Beatty

Deal of the Week

Royal Scotland: Mary Queen of Scots Tour

Walk in the fated footsteps of Mary Queen of Scots on this seven-night Scotland tour. Visit the historical sites that played a role in Mary’s life as well as some of the filming locations for the recently-released film, Mary Queen of Scots. While the tour begins and ends in Edinburgh, you will be treated to overnight stays in Pitlochry, Inverness, and Stirling.

Along the way, you will also visit two major filming locations—Glencoe and Blackness Castle. This tour includes a 14-day All of Scotland Pass, which grants you access to over 70 top visitor attractions, so be sure to explore some of the castles you see along your driving route.

From US$1,538 per person


*7 nights in unique properties throughout Scotland, including a night in a five-star castle

Small group tour of Edinburgh City

Historic Explorer Pass—includes entrance to castles and many historic attractions along your route

Guided food tour of the Old Town section of Edinburgh, the Scottish capital’s oldest neighborhood

Loch Levan Castle Tour (seasonal April to October)

An evening of music and whiskey in Inverness (seasonal April 15–October 21 )

Inspiration Loch Ness cruise

Expert advice and seven-day travel helpline

*Risk-free cancellation policy


*Automatic transmission compact car rental for your time outside of Edinburgh—includes insurance, unlimited mileage, and all taxes


*Sumptuous full Scottish breakfasts each morning

Points of Interest

*Spend three nights in captivating Edinburgh

Visit Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots

See stunning Edinburgh Castle, birthplace of Mary’s son, James VI

Revel in the history and scenic splendor of Glencoe, filming location for Mary Queen of Scots

Explore the unspoiled landscape of Cairngorms National Park

Visit Callander House, the home of Mary’s guardian, Alexander Livingston

Stay in Inverness, the administrative center of the Highlands

Stop by the National Museum of Scotland and view a rich selection of objects associated with Queen Mary

*Discover unique history at Stirling Castle, where Mary was crowned queen of the Scots at just nine months old


Judy Newell, an international travel consultant for over 40 years, heads Perfect Journeys and specializes in unique travel experiences to destinations around the world. She custom designs journeys that are tailored to suit your interests, abilities, and budget. Please contact Judy for further information on Travel News topics and around-the-world travel; cell phone 415 111 8765; Vonage 949-300-3682; email Her office is in Rancho Los Labradores, carr a Dolores Hidalgo. View the latest travel specials on the website

Sources: Travel Pulse,, The Week, Authentic Vacations


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