A slow stretched out launch in Boracay

December 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Hospitality, Philippines, Travel Logs

MANILA, 6 December 2017:  Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts claims it is setting new hospitality standards in Boracay, the Philippines, with the “launch of a new resort located on one of the tropical island’s most beautiful unspoiled beaches.”

But a check of TripAdvisor reviews indicates the Mövenpick flag, fluttering in the breeze, was welcoming guests to this hotel in October 2016.

That begs the question; how do hotel groups define ‘launch’ and ‘new’ these days? Read more

Too much of a good thing

December 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Editor's Post, Travel Logs

BANGKOK, 4 December 2017: Thailand’s new Minister of Tourism and Sports, Weerasak Kowsurat, will have his work cut out for him, although he is no stranger to tourism, having served as its minister in 2008.

After a roller coaster ride spanning decades,  due in part to fickle Thai politics, coups and demonstrations that curtailed growth, Thailand’s tourism is now enjoying an astounding recovery.

This year, international visits will exceed 32 million and there are reliable projections that estimate arrivals could easily exceed 35 million before 2020 dawns. Read more

ITB Asia’s poor carbon footprint

November 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Editor's Post, Travel Logs

BANGKOK, 6 November 2017: Travel shows are embracing technology fast and it shows in the reduction of paper waste.  We no longer have the bulky sellers and buyers catalogues. Instead, there are apps that provide a calendar and online databases to provide sellers with access to buyer profiles.

It’s a pity that ITB Asia official trade media is living in the past churning out pulp dailies on heavy glossy paper that are destined for the garbage trucks.

Who takes ITB Asia show dailies home? Apart from the weight, the dailies are freely available online, downloadable to a flash drive in seconds. Read more

Housekeepers hassled and underpaid

October 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Editor's Post, Travel Logs

BANGKOK, 24 October 2017: Equality in the hotel workplace still remains a big issue with far too few women taking up the top posts in management.

The hotel industry will quote the vast improvements that have been made noting the high number of women who head marketing, sales and public relations. It may even quote the fact that the majority of housekeepers are women.

Oxfam Canada’s latest report on women’s rights in the hotel industry begs to differ and it focuses particularly on the disparity in wages for women housekeepers. Read more

How accurate are tourist spend estimates?

October 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Travel Logs

CHIANG RAI, 10 October 2017: I always thought I got the best beach deal on a room when in the early 1970s I stayed in an A-Frame wooden “villa” with a rickety balcony and a view of the entire expanse of Phuket’s Karon bay stretching 7 km into the distance.

Run by a Karon-born family, the cluster of A-Frame huts was a perched on a rocky outcrop at the southern tip of Karon.  For THB300 a night the owner threw in a hearty breakfast. There were no plus, plus calculations when the bill arrived and the only proof you had of your stay was a scratchy record in a crumpled exercise book.

I was telling this tale to a 23-year old traveller, who is heading for Phuket this week. We were sharing travel notes separated by almost 50 years. Read more

Cruise beyond money matters

August 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Myanmar, Travel Logs

BANGKOK: Heritage Line a river cruise operator in Myanmar is a mite shy about sharing its prices online so discovering just how amazing the latest offers are becomes problematic for the online booker.

But there is definitely demand for river cruises in Myanmar from travellers who want to explore rural scenes beyond the popular urban destinations; Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan.

Just this week a Singaporean traveller asked me what I thought about cruising between Mandalay and Bagan? Read more

Cut the cost of a China visa

August 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Travel Logs

BANGKOK, 4 August 2017: China has been making it easier to travel to and through the country without any cost since last year. But the message might not be getting through.

UK’s Independent newspaper alerted UK travellers that they can now visit Shanghai stay for up to six days on what is for all intents and purposes a free transit visa. Read more

Airlines in sneaky seat squeeze

August 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Travel Logs

BANGKOK, 3 August 2017: Passengers measuring leg room between airline seats is not a trendy habit in Asia, but apparently it’s a hot topic in the US.

CNN reported the squeeze on the typical airline seat made it all the way to a Congress hearing when the spotlight shone on how airlines have quietly eroded the centimetres between seat rows.

CNN reported that American Airlines is planning to squeeze in more seats on its new Boeing 737 Max aircraft due for introduction later this year. Apart shaving space between seat rows it may also introduce slim-fit  toilets. Read more

Art shines In Her Eyes

July 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Events, Travel Logs

CHIANG RAI, 25 July 2017: An art exhibition by 26 female artists living in this far-north Thai province, underscores efforts to brand Chiang Rai as a “City of Art.”

The ‘In Her Eyes’ exhibition opened last Saturday at the town’s ArtBridge that has more than 300 members many of them artists in their own right and residents who support the arts. The exhibition runs until 20 August displaying more than 60 paintings.

Efforts to brand Chiang Rai based on its strong art community date back to 2015 when the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports funded an exercise to assist the province to discover a path to branding its tourism identity.

A series of seminars were held after the inaugural briefing and presentations at the town’s Legend Hotel. Nothing much came of the initiative until earlier this year, when it became apparent tourism officials had settled on the tag “City of Art”. Very little has been carried out since to present the branding to the province’s travel industry and the TAT office in Chiang Rai was conspicuous by its absence from the launch of the In Her Eyes exhibition. Read more

Exception to a rule

July 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Travel Logs

CHIANG RAI, 18 July 2017: I thought it was a pretty simple decision to make. I wouldn’t ride elephants. But that all changed when my grandson visited last month.

“Grandpa,” he said just minutes after he exited Chiang Rai’s airport terminal building after a six-hour flight from Singapore, “I want to ride an elephant”.

Grand fathers are not supposed to pontificate on what’s politically correct. They make things happen, perhaps beyond the peripheral vision of mum and dad. Anyway, he wasn’t going to take no for an answer.  That’s when I realised that there are always exceptions to the best of rules. Read more

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