5 Ways to Travel Solo Without Going It Alone

Solo travel has become a hot topic. Unlike “single(s)” travel, it is a broader group. It can include those who are single, married or have a partner/significant other. It may be a business person looking to add a leisure weekend or extension to a trip for work. Two stumbling blocks to solo travel can be: I. whether it is lonely to vacation as a “party of one” and ii.whether eating alone, especially dinner, is really uncomfortable.

Now having visited 68 countries and all 50 states, I have found 5 good ways to go alone without feeling you are “going it alone”.

1. River Cruise and Small Ship Cruises

I highly recommend river cruises and small ships. They are especially a good fit for a first time solo traveler. However, they are also great for well-traveled solos in two cases. That is where destinations like Cambodian boat villages are not otherwise easy to reach. Secondly, they work well in places where security is an issue.

Here are the key advantages of such river and small ships for solo travelers, they:

  • Give you time alone but a group for tours and meals
  • Can be competitively priced when compared to a piecemeal approach
  • Make unpacking a one-time chore
  • Work well with land packages
  • Often have discounted package pricing including flights

2. Select your own lodging, and take day trips.

Here are the key advantages of this independent approach:

  • Affords you the opportunity to select your own interests and travel style.
  • Provides more opportunity to interact with local residents.
  • Gives you a “day-off” when you need it.
  • Works with a range of budgets.

3. Combine both of the above approaches.

I really favor this approach when I travel. On solo travel for 17 days at New Year’s, I toured Southeast Asia. I started with a private taxi tour in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I then joined a top Mekong River Cruise on to Vietnam. On the last leg, I had five days in a 5-star hotel in Bangkok. In my last stop, I tried all 3 ways of sightseeing: 1. A large bus tour 2. A private guide and 3. Self-directed subway tour.

This blended approach puts you in the driver’s seat and:

  • Will let you set your own course while being free to pick and choose
  • Gives you a part-time group of travel mates but also time alone
  • Makes it possible to follow a budget (or splurges) tailored to what works for you

4. Sign up ahead for a class abroad.

This has become very popular now for cooking classes in France and Italy. However, for decades, language classes abroad have lured students for short-term or full summer programs. Add to that options for photography classes, skiing and scuba diving.

Here are the key benefits to this approach:

  • Provides you with a ready-made group
  • Gives you a local contact to hear what not to miss off the tourist path
  • Make it possible to connect with classmates for meals or sightseeing
  • Results in providing local contacts in an emergency

5. Join a volunteer group or exchange program.

I have done this twice. My first trip out of the US was at 18 joining 5 other girls on a summer YMCA project in Trinidad and Tobago. It was the best way to learn about day-to-day life in another country and participate in community activities.

The benefits were endless. They included:

  • Meeting local residents outside of the typical tourist path
  • Seeing distant and often more unusual destinations
  • Providing volunteer efforts to communities than may have experienced natural disasters or other hardships.

If you are new to solo travel, take a look at each of these options. You will be surprised how fast solo travel gives you the chance to make new life-long friends from around the world so that you feel you are solo to more.

Windy City winters can't stop kids

Sure, Chicago winters are cold, but hearty locals try not to let that get in the way of work and play.

“I’m a Windy City baby, so I just prepare myself,” said Edna Hackman, 51, to a Chicago Tribune reporter. “I’m used to it.” Hackman and dozens of others were out doing laundry at a Laundromat despite the recent cold snap. “You’ve got to come out to do what you’ve got to do. You can’t sit up in the house just because it’s cold.”

That’s especially true for kids. There’s only so much to endure indoors before they think about painting the cat, or start wondering what happens to grapes in a microwave (they can burst into flames – don’t do it).

Thanks to Chicago CityPASS, there are numerous dazzling activities families can enjoy together, no matter what the weather is doing.

Start Skyward
Everyone will forget about the chill in a nanosecond when they zoom up 103 floors to Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower. Formerly known as the Sears Tower, the Willis Tower is the Western Hemisphere’s tallest building. CityPASS holders can skip the cashier line and head on up in a high-speed elevator that rises 1,600 feet per minute.

At the top, you can enjoy “Reaching for the Sky,” a 9-minute video about the rise of Chicago architecture.

Then, if you can stand it, step out onto The Ledge: a 4.3-foot, glass-floored platform, jutting out from the Skydeck. At 1,353 feet in the air, just looking down is going to quicken the pulse of kids and adults alike. From there, you can look down on Wacker Drive and the Chicago River. Tell the kids, NO SPITTING.

The Skydeck itself offers 360-degree views of up to 50 miles where sharp-eyed visitors can view four states from their perch: Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. One would think that would be enough, but there’s also a Skydeck scavenger hunt, quizzes and interactive displays.

Go See Sue
Few things will pierce the protected dreams of your little tykes like Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever found. At 13 feet tall and 42 feet long, this many-toothed fossil stands in a ready-to-pounce pose at The Field Museum.

With a wealth of natural and historical displays, The Field Museum can occupy a solid day. Chicago CityPASS holders get expedited entry into permanent and ticketed exhibitions. A CityPASS ticket also gets you into one 3D feature. Now showing is “Titans of the Ice Age 3D”. Peek into a time of saber-toothed cats, wolves, giant sloths and mammoths. The film will keep the kids still for a bit.

Other exhibits include a journey into an ancient Egyptian tomb (complete with 23 mummies); plus there’s Underground Adventure, where you can pretend that you’ve been reduced to the size of a bug.

For the truly adventurous, The Field Museum holds sleepovers called Dozin With the Dinos, with family workshops, self-guided tours, and other activities before sleeping by favorite exhibits … including Sue.

Dazzle Inquisitive Minds
Museum of Science and Industry may be the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere, but it’s hardly frumpy. Until May 4, MSI is presenting Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives, featuring 300 artifacts and covering 90 years of Disney wizardry. Many nuggets are rarely seen, including clips of Walt Disney’s earliest animated pre-Mickey works. There are props, models and costumes from classics such as “The Little Mermaid”, “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Mary Poppins”.

Another exhibit is Black Creativity Innovation Studio, through March 1, which highlights important contributions of African-American innovators to science, technology, engineering and medicine. Also, The Last Reef: Cities Beneath the Sea, which plunges visitors into a colorful undersea world of this important ecosystem.

Imagine a Space Adventure
Use your CityPASS to take the family to Adler Planetarium — America’s first. There, you’ll marvel at the tight quarters astronauts endured in NASA’s Gemini 12 space capsule in the Shoot for the Moon exhibit. Younger kids will have fun creating their own space adventure in Planet Explorers. And the Adler’s galleries and theaters will enthrall all ages with the wonders of the night sky and beyond. A CityPASS ticket includes a VIP Adler Pass that offers flexible admission, your choice of one 3D show, and the Atwood Sphere, which shows the night sky over Chicago as it appeared in 1913.

Meet a Beluga Whale at Shedd
Last, but most definitely not least, is Shedd Aquarium. There’s so many animals to see (32,500), you’ll probably just spend the day running after your kids. You’ll share in the eerie tingle of seeing tanks of sharks circling overhead and stingrays floating by. And you’ll giggle at the dolphins and beluga whales.

CityPASS admission includes entry into 80 different habitats in the Waters of the World galleries. And let’s not forget the snakes, caimans, spiders and rays in Amazon Rising; the moray eels, parrotfish and turtles in Wild Reef; and the popular Polar Play Zone for younger kids. There’s also a 4D film.

The Shedd’s newest feature is the Beluga Encounter, where visitors can stand with a trainer and come face-to-face with a whale. The session includes learning some training techniques and an opportunity to touch the beluga’s skin. It’s not cheap, however, at $250 a person, and must be reserved in advance. The 30-minute Penguin Encounter is less expensive, $68.95 for adults and $58.95 for children.

On Feb. 21, the Shedd is holding its Asleep with the Fishes Group Overnight event. Kids ages 6-12 should bring pajamas, a sleeping bag, a check for $65, and join the staff for an evening of special aquatic adventures, games and activities. Another sleepover is planned for March 14.

What You Need to Know About the Notting Hill Carnival

This event welcomes the vibes of calypso music, food stalls offering Caribbean flavors and delights and so much more. It is important to note at this point that the roads used by the parade are closed off, so if you are thinking of attending, it’s worthwhile making use of the local bus service to get to the carnival and back home or to your hotel.

This carnival has been held in Notting Hill since 1966 and has more than fifty thousand participants taking part in the parade and event with thirty sound systems which are strategically placed throughout the streets and more than one million people attend each and every year.

There are some very important things you are going to want to remember if you are thinking of attending the Notting Hill Carnival this year with the first being that you will want to use the bus service and to your own vehicle or the tube. While the tube may appear to be the most convenience, the tube service is suspended during the event, but there are extra buses which are put on service to manage the spectators and ensure you get to and from the event safely. It’s worthwhile speaking to your concierge service to identify what bus service to use, along with the time for that day.

The next thing is as a woman, don’t fall into the trap of wearing high heels, ensure you wear flat shoes, sandals if it’s a nice day. There isn’t much seating space and if you want to move along with the parade and experience all the carnival has to offer, then you will be thankful for wearing sensible shoes rather than high heels which can make the day uncomfortable.

In addition to this, the Notting Hill Carnival does take place in the summer months and the sun in London can get exceptionally hot, especially if you are not used to it. Be sure to pack a bag for you and the family which includes sun cream, a sun hat and sun glasses. It’s advisable to throw in a few bottles of water to reduce the risk of dehydration while attending this fun event.

Remember this is a day of family fun, so take the children along. If you have younger children, ensure that they have comfortable shoes. That they have your telephone number in case they get lost and for younger ones, take the push chair. You may think the push chair is going to get in the way, but when you spend a day on your feet enjoying the festivities, carrying your youngest child is not something you are going to want to be doing you will be thankful you packed the push chair to take along with you.

When you choose where to stand to watch the parade, take careful note of where the speakers are located and try and move a little bit away. Remember these speakers are catering to thousands of people and they can be exceptionally loud. Unless you love loud music, you may find moving away slightly will make your experience a little more enjoyable.

5 Major Attractions of Nepal

Nepal experiences a huge diversity in terms of tourists as different people are tempted to visit this country for a variety of reasons. While some fancy the adrenaline pumping of the Himalayas, some are intrigued by the outstanding culture and traditions of the country. A lot of travelers visit Nepal in a hope to rediscover the soul from within and in turn attain a spiritual awakening. The country is blessed with the stupendous beauty of nature, huge mountains, vivid landscapes, beautiful temples and monasteries, and vibrant places like Kathmandu. This article briefs about the 5 major attractions of Nepal among the wide choices to explore in here.

1. Kathmandu

The capital city of Nepal is a must-visit place as nearly every itinerary begins from here. The beauty of Kathmandu is incomparable and unmatched to any other city in the world. The lively ambiance, vibrant monasteries, with sights of looming snow-capped peaks in the backdrop makes it a sight to cherish forever. There are a lot of outstanding places to explore in Kathmandu, the Pashupatinath Temple, the Monkey Temple, the Buddhist Shrine are among the finest places to visit. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Durbar Square is a primary attraction in Kathmandu, which was damaged by the 2015 earthquake but still boasts the grandeur in the best way.

2. Pokhara

The gateway to the Himalayas at a distance of 200 km from Kathmandu, the Pokhara rests at the base of the foothills and is surrounded by supreme sights of some of the highest mountains of the world. The picturesque beauty of the surrounding Mt. Manaslu, Annapurna I, and Dhaulagiri makes the landscape postcard perfect. The region around the Lake Phewa is blessed with an unparallel serene ambiance ideal for a relaxing stay. The second largest town of Nepal is much less chaotic than Kathmandu and gifted with an enchanting landscape.

3. Chitwan National Park

Nepal gets a lot of attention for the enticing trekking routes and the high mountains, but the Chitwan National Park packs a different kind of thrill for the tourists. It is a beautiful place that showcases the best of wildlife of Nepal and homes to some amazing animals like the Rhino, Bengal Tigers, Sloths, Leopards, Bears, and many others. The elephant ride lets you explore the best of this National Park blessed with a Tropical Monsoon Climate. A journey through this amazing place creates a memory that will be etched in the heart of the travelers for long.

4. Trekking in Annapurna Region

Trekking and hiking in Nepal is a fascinating thing to do as this rewards the travelers with the bewildering and enthralling sights of nature’s extravaganza. The Annapurna Trekking route is the most popular trekking route of the country as it covers a number of outstanding locations and can be modified according to the wants of the trekkers. The Annapurna Region is also a delight to explore as it displays the enchanting glory of the Nepalese country side and even features of the Tibetan Plateau. This journey also gives an insight into the culture, traditions, and life of the locals at a large.

5. Trekking in Langtang

Another bewitching destination in Nepal is the Langtang Region. It is an outstanding place that ideally serves the travelers with an incredible hiking experience and some captivating sights. The high passes, vibrant landscapes, magnificent views, old monasteries, pukka mountain scenery, and the compelling beauty of the Rhododendrons are a delight for every traveler. A much easier and less tiring destination in comparison to the Annapurna and Everest Trekking trail, the Langtang Region packs some commanding sights that bask in its own glory.

Apart from these 5 destinations, Nepal is also well known and popular for many other mesmerizing locations that can make our extension from India a truly delightful experience. Experience the best of Nepal as it has loads and loads to offer.

15 Things Not to Do in Japan

If you have plans to visit Japan, there are some things you need to know. Familiarizing yourself with some basic Japanese cultural practices will go a long way in making your trip there enjoyable. Also, you are not likely to get into trouble. Here are things you should not do based on Japan culture.

1. Don’t enter a house wearing your shoes

Are you used to walking around in your house in your shoes? Well, you might get yourself in trouble if you do that in Japan. There is a special place where you should keep your shoes before entering the house. Also, there are slippers for guests when entering a room.

2. Don’t shout on the train

Trains are very common in Japan. However, people don’t make noise while in trains. They are always silent. If you have to speak to someone, do it in a low tone. Use your earphones if you have to listen to some music.

3. Don’t use your phone on trains

As indicated earlier, Japanese don’t like any noise in the trains. You will rarely find someone using his phone to make a call in the train. If you have to use your phone, send a message or talk in a low tone so as not to distract other people.

4. Don’t eat on trains

Japanese do not eat when traveling on commuter trains. Drinking is okay unless the train is too crowded. However, in long distance trains, eating and drinking are allowed. Food and beverages are also sold in such trains.

5. Don’t forget to remove toilet slippers

Once you get to Japan, you will notice that there are slippers only used when going to the toilet. These slippers are easily noticeable since they have particular words or pictures. Always remember to remove them when entering your house or walking on the streets.

6. Don’t tip anyone

While it is common to tip anyone after an excellent service in many cultures, Japan is an exception. No matter how satisfied you are with their service, they never accept tips. In fact, someone will come running after you, returning the tip!

7. Don’t ignore someone you are speaking with

If you are talking with a Japanese person, always stay calm and attentive. You may sound impolite and rude by just failing to show that you have understood a point. Whenever speaking, show your attentiveness by talking back.

8. Don’t photograph everything

Despite Japan being a beautiful country, you are not allowed to take photos everywhere. It is advisable to always ask someone before taking photos. You must be granted permission to take pictures in museums, temples, and shrines.

9. Don’t hug anyone you meet

Hugging is common in western countries. However, in Japan, it is not. You don’t hug someone you come across in Tokyo streets. Most of the older folks don’t like the habit. If you want to hug someone, then it’s best to know their age group and whether they are comfortable with it.

10. Don’t eat or drink when walking

It is uncommon to find Japanese eating or drinking while they are walking. Even on the streets with food stalls they always find a place to sit. Now you know how to behave when you are on Japanese streets so you don’t look foreign.

11. Don’t receive a present with one hand

Whenever receiving a gift or a visiting card from a Japanese, use your two hands and bow. Then tell him thank you. On receipt of a gift, don’t open it until the person who has given it to you has left.

12. Don’t throw away trash haphazardly

Another thing you might find hard to get used to is how to handle your trash. In most cities around the world, there are a lot of trash cans however, Japanese cities are different. People are encouraged to carry their trash until they find a place to dispose of it.

13. Don’t fail to say “thank you”

The verb “thank you” is highly valued in Japan. Learn to say it after being served in a hotel or store. Familiarize yourself with how bowing is done in Japan. You must always bow and say thank you when you meet with elders.

14. Don’t write down a person’s name in red ink

In Japan, it is OK to write “goodbye” in red ink but not a person’s name. The Japanese consider it to be disobedient. Therefore, if you have to write down your Japanese friend’s name, you know which color to avoid.

15. Don’t be shy

It is common for tourists to ask for help from locals. When you get to Japan, don’t be shy or afraid of asking for anything. They are very friendly and helpful. Even when you accidentally forget something somewhere, go back as no one is going to take it away.

Choosing A Houseboat In Alleppey For The Most Rewarding Trip

Alleppey in Kerala, India is probably most popular because of the endless backwaters, lagoons and canals it has to its name. It is therefore not a wonder that the Nehru Trophy Alleppey Snake Boat Race is among the most attractive for travelers including myself. Considering that the race falls in August, I have always planned my travel to be around the same time to ensure that I get to enjoy all the fun. Don’t get me wrong, Alleppey does have lots of other attractions including religious places, stunning beaches, old temples and paddy fields but houseboat cruises make some of my favorites here.

To complete my trip, I always make sure that I get myself a boathouse; there is really nothing as fulfilling like it. The well inter connected canal, lakes and rivers here make houseboat living simply amazing. Kerala may have lots of other places where house boat cruises can be enjoyed, but Kerala beats them all. The best thing is that I get to decide just how long I wish to enjoy the houseboat; it is possible for me to rent one for a few days to make my trip here nothing but rewarding. But for this to happen, I am always keen on the houseboat that I settle for and the process as well to get me the best.

  • I start by inspecting the houseboat before I commit to anything. I do not believe in booking early unless it is during peak months. Booking early before getting to Alleppey increases chances of having to deal with agents which could increase the costs. I believe in seeing my boathouse beforehand so I can ensure it has everything that matters and that the decoration is just superb. The boats here are in good condition, but it does not hurt to be sure before paying anything for mine.
  • Before paying for my houseboat in Alleppey, I also take time to compare the available options. By looking at a few of the available boats, it is easier for me to select the one I love most. The quality is not the same and hence sampling a few make it possible for me to end up with the best. Some of the things that matter when making the selection include bed, mattress, bathroom, mosquito net, air conditioning and meals. It is important to ensure that there is ample supply of bottled water, snacks and meal that I prefer so my needs are covered throughout the cruise.
  • Just like looking at any other accommodation property, size does matter when I am going through the houseboat options. Of course it will depend on the number of people I am taking with me and the kind of cruise I wish to enjoy. I love houseboats with an upstairs deck and an eating area downstairs. This way, I get to enjoy lots of privacy upstairs and enjoy amazing views from here separated from the staff offering important services.

The Ideal Cars for Transporting Many People

Do you ever find that you need to transport many people at a time but don’t have a big enough car to do it? Maybe it’s time for you to get a bigger car. Here are a 6 bigger cars to consider.

Ford Transit Connect LWB

This seven passenger car can fit two more people than the average car. The passengers also don’t feel as cramped as they would in a standard car. Not only does it have extra leg space but it also has head space for the taller people. The car also doesn’t use too much fuel considering its size and the amount of people it can carry.

Mercedes-Benz M-Class

Although it is considered a status brand, this might be one of the cars that could fit many people. It’s bigger than many other SUVs and it also has an impressive engine. It is powerful and comes with the option of 4matic all-wheel drive.

Honda CRV

This is an SUV that has loads of space. It has more than enough space for large items of luggage and a decent amount of space for any of your passengers. It is also a modern and affordable car that can accommodate a number of passengers.

BMW X Series

Like the Mercedes, BMW is also on top of the status list because of how amazing the engineering is. The X series might be a five seater car but it has a large amount of space in the back. Packing luggage and briefcases won’t be a problem with this car.

Kia Soul

Perhaps one of the cheapest cars for a family, it still has the quality and space that you are looking for. The Kia Soul is nicely compacted for easy driving and parking. Plus the frame of the car is quite large so you will have extra space on the inside.

Toyota Fortuner

This off-road car is one of the older models that have always been a favorite for adventure enthusiasts. Going on a camping trip with friends has never been easier and as comfortable. Not only can you enjoy the space on the inside but you also won’t have to worry about damaging the suspension and the tyres because of the way it was built.

When traveling with many people you have to make sure that you are doing it legally. By law, you are not allowed to overload a car with more than the intended amount of people.

Spring break 2014: AAA poll shows Las Vegas as top travel location

If you live every day in a veritable paradise of sunshine, blue skies, and miles of warm beaches, where do you go from there for a vacation?

According to a March 12, report in Pacific Business News, a poll conducted by AAA-Hawaii, placed Las Vegas as the top travel location, for college spring break travel.

Reportedly, the poll found that 21 percent of spring break travelers are heading for the gambling capital of the United States, which is affectionately referred to as Hawaii’s ninth island.

Overall poll results:

Las Vegas, 21 percent
Big Island, 18 percent
Los Angeles, 17 percent
San Francisco, 16 percent
Oahu, 14 percent (outer-island travel)

The 2014 poll also shows a 19 percent increase over the 2013 poll, in the overall number of residents planning to travel during the next three-months.

According to AAA-Hawaii, “Overall, 54 percent of the people polled said that they are going to take at least one fun trip, a 19 percent increase over last year. Forty percent said they plan to take two trips.”

Is Your Hotel Ready for the Millennial Traveler?

Before I continue, let’s first make sure we’re on the same page about who were referring to when we use the expression ‘millennial traveler’.

Millennial, also more commonly referred to as Generation Y or Generation Next, are people who were born between the early 1980s and early 2000s. They make up about 20% of international travelers and it is estimated that by 2020, they will account for more than 320 million international trips.

Phew. Those are some staggering numbers right there! It’s no wonder that hotels are wooing them with everything they have. But for all the effort they’re making, do hotels really have what Millennial want? Do they even know what Millennial are looking for?

If you’re not quite sure, let me drop a few hints your way

Hint No.1: Technology is their life force

Technology is to Millennial what water is to fish – life itself. The perks that most of us consider good to have – Internet, WiFi, hi-speed mobile data – are essential to their way of living.

What this means for hotels

According to a report, almost 71% of Millennial travelers considered free WiFi an important factor when choosing a hotel. So hotels, pull up your socks and put the technology in place for them. Or they’re likely to walk up to your competitor and book a room with them.

Hint No.2: Millennial love their smartphones

‘Technology at your fingertips’ is an expression that’s taken very seriously by the Millennial. He is likely to go for hours without food and water, but not without checking his smartphone. He works, plays, chats, networks, writes emails, watches videos, and stays up to date on news using his phone. Other more complicated actions like booking tickets, making hotel arrangements, and paying bills can also be competently handled by his handset.

What this means for hotels

It’s absolutely imperative that hotels invest in superior mobile technology, starting with a website that adapts to different screen sizes and resolutions. With more than half of millennial travelers using mobile devices to discover and book hotels, the hospitality industry is paying a heavy price for not investing in a mobile responsive website. You might also want to consider getting an app for your hotel, to facilitate functions like mobile check in, check out, payments, and en-cashing loyalty points.

Hint No.3: Millennial are ‘social’ creatures

Generation Y is often criticized for shirking the forms of social interaction that their parents were fond of. They’re considered aloof, standoffish, and a little bit asocial. But the truth is that Millennial do tend to connect to each other, just not in ways that are familiar to us. The online world, especially social media, takes precedence in their social life. Facebook, Twitter, What’sApp, GChat, and Snapchat is where they hang out, check in, upload pictures, start conversations, and share details of their life.

What this means for hotels

Given that social media is one of the biggest influencing factors in the life of a Millennial, hotels must make a concerted effort to have a presence on various platforms. In fact, they must go beyond the token Facebook and Instagram page and build a community online. Reach out to your audience, engage them, solve their problems, and invite them to leave reviews. An active social media profile inspires confidence among Millennial and is likely to win you brownie points in the long run.

Hint No.4: Millennial place great faith in peer reviews

Generation Y is a suspicious lot and they can recognize a marketing gimmick from a mile away. For this reason, they rely heavily on ‘peer review’ to gather information about a place. Whether they’re buying a new gadget or trying out a restaurant in the neighborhood, you’ll see them pouring over reviews before deciding to do anything. They consider it a more authentic and ‘real’ source of information. And you can be 100 per cent sure that they’ll be reading up about your hotel before deciding to stay there.

What this means for hotels

Do not try to patronize or trick the Millennial traveler. All your online properties (website, blog, social media profiles) should display accurate information, accompanied by up-to-date pictures. If you’re offering a deal or discount, lay out the terms in black and white. Encourage your visitors to leave you a review on platforms like Trip-advisor or your Facebook page; incentivize the process, if you have to. Should you receive a negative review, take steps to address it and resolve the situation.

Millennial don’t expect you to be flawless. However, they do expect you to be transparent and sincere. Mistakes are an inevitable part of your industry and if you’ve taken every possible step to rectify the problem, you will be forgiven. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself at the receiving end of a nasty review posted for the entire world to see.

Hint No.5: Millennial are into Bleisure

Generation Y is relatively unencumbered by responsibilities at home and are more open to taking business trips. However, unlike the previous generation, almost 62% of millennial travelers will extend their business vacation to explore the place and gain cultural experiences.

What this means for hotels

Gone are the days when that solitary desk in the hotel room took care of any ‘business needs’ that travelers had. Millennial do not like working inside their rooms. This is the generation that steps out to a coffee shop to sit with their laptops and work for hours. The concept of the ‘third space’, independent of home and office, has been popularized by them. Design hotel lobbies to cater to this demand, so that when they step out in search for a place to work, they don’t have to go very far.

Hint No.6: Millennial look for authentic experiences

Despite what might look like their preoccupation with the cyber world, Millennial are always looking for unique and meaningful travel experiences. They want their stay personalized and won’t pass up an opportunity to learn something valuable. Not content with hitting the high spots of a tourist destination, they crave interaction with locals and enjoy immersing themselves in a variety of cultural experiences.

What this means for hotels

Reject the cookie cutter approach to the services you offer your guests. Offer them a genuine travel experience, one that is immersive, interactive and hands on. Don’t just take them on a regular sightseeing tour that showcases the city from behind the panes of a bus or car window. Take them to meet local artisans, show them the way to the hip and happening underground bar, and expose them to interesting customs and traditions. That’s the only way to add true value to their life and create an experience they will cherish for life.

There’s no denying that Millennial are driving the hospitality industry with full force. They already account for a third of the hotel guests in the world, and by 2020, the figure is expected to climb to 50 per cent.

To keep pace with growing demands, hotels must show a willingness to evolve and reinvent themselves. They have to put aside traditional methods of functioning, revisit their marketing strategy, and curate unique experiences for Generation Y.

Besides, it is in their best interest that hotels up their game. By updating their offers, hotels stay relevant within the industry and equipped to deal with the demands of changing times. Millennial travelers are the cash cow that every industry dreams of, and by catering to them, hotels are ensuring themselves a solid revenue stream for the next few decades, at least.

Why Is Display of Art In Hotels So Significant?

Are luxury hotels becoming fine art spaces?

Art has been a part of the hospitality industry for a very long time now. Hoteliers have often had to embrace creative strategies to make a hotel standout. By placing interesting and eye-catching artwork throughout the hotel, they’ve offered an exclusive experience to their clientele.

Artwork helps build the identity of a hotel and offers a superior aesthetic experience by creating inspiring and stimulating ambience. While the smaller accommodation options prefer cost efficiency and core amenities, artwork is almost integral to luxury, boutique, and design hotels.

The Need for Art

Artwork is a representation of the society because they served both as functional and symbolic elements. While some may say that art is a display of their ethnic sophistication, for some it may be more of an individualistic expression. As a functional element, artwork is utilized for psychological and healing purposes, for social causes, and even as a mode of communication. Personally, they connect people to their roots or the broader human condition. Artwork also evokes curiosity, interest and provides an exuberant experience.

Elevating the Style of Hotels through Artwork

Curating art for a hotel is often done by the hoteliers themselves, and, for this reason, it often reflects their values, creativity and the theme they are tying display. There is a separate budget earmarked for this purpose, and even though the investment in art is limited, it has given rise to different types of marketing strategies for hoteliers.

Use of paintings, sculptures or creative features in hotels, is without a doubt an effective way to revamp its look without investing in the structural changes, which could prove to be more expensive and time-consuming. Hoteliers who are experienced often say that simple changes in the color of the walls or the readjustment of the furniture can visually expand the room by as much as a feet. In fact the rooms that have framed artwork by famous painters are more expensive than others.

Integrating Artistic Communities and Galleries with Hotels

Famous luxury hotels are generally aided by the artistic community for new and exciting artworks. This helps hotels remain up to date with the latest trends while artists get a canvas to showcase their talents. It is a collaboration that is beneficial for both parties. As quoted by Paul Morris, the famous host of numerous international art fairs, including the Armory Show in New York City, “Hotels really can’t get away with putting mallard prints on the wall anymore. Therefore they need to tap into the artistic communities for help.”

Independent art consultants and interior designers are also known to frequently collaborate hotels. Not only do they help define the look of the property, they are able to source art locally from the best talent and get it at a great bargain. With the help of interior designers and consultants, hoteliers are able to achieve new heights in creativity.

Hotels That Have Brilliantly Integrated Art

In these times, art has become fundamental to a hotel instead of just being ornamental or an element of its design. As a result, hoteliers are inspired to think outside of the box and curate art in the most exquisite and unexpected ways possible.

Take for instance, the typical room at the Thompson LES hotel in Manhattan, which has an industrial-chic loft with exposed concrete columns and floor to ceiling windows. But what really catches your eye in the room is the artwork that hangs above the bed. It is a giant light box inside which there is a photo of a tree from photographer Lee Friedlander’s ‘Apples & Olives’ series. Stunning as the installation is, it also perfectly complements the organic setting of the room.

In the past decade, hotels like the Wynn Las Vegas, Chambers in Minneapolis, the Sagamore in Miami Beach and the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Orlando have all displayed wide-ranging collections of art. The Gramercy Park Hotel, after being refurbished, has high-caliber artwork on display. In fact, the Museum of Modern Art is known to have taken a tour group to the hotel. I would call that high praise indeed!

Abstract artist Lynette Shaw painted a series of eight serene, textured canvases as large as eight feet across for the lobby and restaurant at the Wyvern Hotel in Las Vegas. Today the artwork is the most attractive quality of the hotel. Other hotels with famous artwork include the Ace Hotel in New York with four art-centric properties. The Pod Hotel in New York also features frameless art. J. M. Rizzi, the artist, has painted city scenes and abstract shapes directly on to the walls of the lobby and the corridors.

Most hotels commission and collect art that bring out the elements of the city inside the hotels. In some cases, they create a visual record of the rapidly developing neighborhood. For example in South Miami, the owner Michael Achenbaum commissioned Deborah Anderson, a London-based multimedia artist to shoot some of the area’s Art Deco architecture and also staged shots of tattooed models with ’50s hair and clothing. The photographer finally compiled 300 photographs, which were made into the 2,800 prints to be hung throughout the Gansevoort South.

Art in Indian Hotels

If you’re wondering where India stands on incorporating art in the hospitality industry, we have some stellar examples of our own. And why not! Indians have a reputation for being artistically inclined and we have some of the most beautiful examples of architecture in the world. There’s absolutely no way that we’d be left behind when showcasing artistic talent on the walls of our hotels.

Take for example the Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad. In a land that’s famous for the creative sensibilities of the Nizams, the hotel does justice to its legacy and heritage. Falaknuma’s frescoed ceilings, carved furniture, and Venetian chandeliers have art aficionados in throes of ecstasy. The library in the hotel is a replica of the Windsor Castle in U.K. and is home to 6,000 books. You’re free to take a tour of the Falaknuma Palace accompanied by the hotel’s historian, who takes you through a trip back in time as he regales you with stories from days gone by.

Yet another name that pops to mind is the ITC Maurya in the capital of India. As soon as you enter the hotel’s lobby, you’re greeted by the stunning visual spectacle that is Krishen Khanna’s ‘The Great Procession’ – a rich depiction of the vibrant life in India. But your artistic experience doesn’t end here. There are other exemplary works scattered around the hotel, including Tyeb Mehta’s ‘Bull in the Landscape’ painting and AR Ramachandran’s Ashoka ‘After Kalinga War’ – a sculpture etched with Ashoka’s anti-war inscriptions in Devanagri.

There is no end to instances of brilliant exhibition of art in hotels. It is significant to their identity and being. In fact artists consider it an achievement to have their paintings hang at famous hotel chains. The melange of art in hotels is what makes them an aspiration place where people want to spend their holidays. And in many cases, it forms an intrinsic part of the memories that a traveler carries back with him when he comes away from the hotel.