They’re hands-free, allowing activation thanks to Siri, and allowing them to be used without laying so much as a finger on their phone. They offer great sound quality, and are plenty loud. You’re going to be listening to your favorite tunes for a pretty long while thanks to the outstanding battery life.
This unique hoodie makes a great gift for your favorite superhero fanatic. They can go through the Marvel periodic table with all their favorite heroes and villains on it. Enjoy a great fit and plenty of comfort with a unique hoodie from marvel. A stylish hoodie that’s also great for any occasion
Enjoy your favorite songs, TV shows, and conversations with the Powerbeats Pro wireless buds. These headphones also come with active noise cancelation, which is great because of all the remote learning being done these days.
If your kid is into fashion, they’ll definitely appreciate a set of super trendy chunky jewelry. They come in several colors matching up to the rainbow. Rest assured you’re getting exactly what you bargain for. The seller cares and will even go the extra mile to make sure the rings are just right for you.
A comfy pair of slippers can be worn all year round. They’re great indoors and outdoors and come in all sorts of sizes for kids of all ages. They hold up nicely against the elements and are also water-resistant.
A great gift for sleepovers, girl’s nights, or hanging out with her new boyfriend. This box of question cards will help them get to know each other better by inciting deep conversations to build up meaningful connections.
She’ll love this snuggly stuffed animal, which comes in a range of cute designs including a sloth, croissant, corgi, koala, boba, and more. You can heat it in the microwave and it comes with a lavender-scented pouch. It’s great company when you’re watching a movie, or studying for a test.
Great as a weekend bag for the gym. This duffel bag even comes with a separate compartment for your shoes. This duffle bag features a timeless look and utility style that makes it a great companion for the gym and long trips. It’s got plenty of carry options and storage space, including your shoes.
Why doesn’t the Mona Lisa have eyebrows? In what year was shampoo invented? What is the maximum number of holes a bowling bowl is allowed to have? These are just some of the questions you can expect in an unconventional trivia game with more than 400 questions and answers you’ll never see coming.
But Battan, a 58-year-old IT consultant, says he cautions others against mimicking his side hustle, even though heis Swimply’s highest earner out of 25,000 pools in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.
“If people think they’re going to build a pool and turn it into something that will earn $200,000 in two years, it’s a little bit of a fantasy,” warns Battan. “I’ve put a ton of work into it, and you have to have the right mindset. You have to have the right circumstances and a competitive advantage no one else has,” he says.
Here are the three reasons why Battan’s six-figure side hustle isn’t for casual pool owners.
1. Renting out your pool as a side hustle is competitive
When Battan joined Swimply two years ago, the Covid-19 pandemic had shut down public pools and there were only about seven other Swimply pools near West Linn, Oregon, the town of 27,000 people where Battan and his wife live. Now, there are at least 88 pools available to rent near the Portland, Oregon suburb, according to the site.
Battan says that number is growing — and the competition has more than halved his pool’s traffic.
“[Demand] is down even more than 50% over the last couple of months,” Battan says. “Kids are back in school and at soccer practice. On Swimply, there’s been phenomenal growth on the host side, so people have a [larger] array of pools to choose from.”
Despite decreasing demand, Battan continues to out-earn all other pool-owners on Swimply. He pulled in $117,000 last year, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It, but that number has dropped to $58,500 in 2022.
In July, Swimply co-founder and CEO Bunim Laskin told CNBC Make It that increased competition just means the platform is growing, and that successfully run pools will always have swimmers.
“As with any marketplace, there are ups and downs for individual hosts,” Laskin said at the time. “As the word gets out about Swimply, and we add additional hosts to the platform, we are also adding just as many additional users.”
Battan doesn’t regret joining the platform, though some side-effects of Swimply’s growth — from increased competition to occasionally slow customer support — have been frustrating. “It’s been a challenge for me,” he says.
2. Maintaining the pool is expensive
Battan’s 26-foot by 18-foot pool was built in 2012, when his three daughters lived at home and could enjoy it during summers. But Battan, who says he never shies away from a project, wanted the pool to be a luxury experience. He spent $110,000 on its construction, which includes a pool house and attached spa pool that he keeps at 130 degrees year-round.
“I do think of it as an investment,” Battan says of the pool. “When we moved in, I knew that would add to the value of the home. And this home has more than doubled in price in the last few years.”
Battan’s backyard set-up comes with a pool house and spa, which is kept at 103 degrees year-round.
Courtesy of Swimply
Maintenance is costly: He says he’s spent $41,344 on disinfecting and leveling the pool’s chemistry since launching on Swimply.
Keeping the pool in tip-top shape is what keeps customers returning, he says, which is particularly important given that Battan estimates roughly 35% of his swimmers are returning guests.
Still, Battan says the pool has paid for itself and then some: With his extra earnings, he built a “man cave” in his house.
3. It’s time consuming
Because Battan and his wife enjoy vacationing in luxury resorts, they want their pool to mimic a five-star experience. Along with its nearby amenities, he keeps pool toys and towels — plus heated blankets in the winter — within arm’s reach.
They also try to check in with every group of swimmers to ensure a positive experience.
The pool is also near the family’s rescue farm, where Battan’s wife cares for animals like pigs, raccoons and llamas.
There may be no more trendy European travel destination this fall than Dubrovnik, Croatia. Its narrow, cobblestone streets and almost perfectly preserved Gothic, Renaissance and late Romanesque buildings continue to draw visitors long after the summer travel season ends.
Crowds of visitors shuffle along the old town’s historic esplanade under an unforgiving late-summer sun, ducking into gelato shops and pizzerias to escape the oppressive heat. The bravest among them climb the city wall, which affords a stunning view of a turquoise Adriatic.
This year, it feels like summer may never end. At least that’s the assessment of Maris Picunic of the Villa Orabelle, a boutique hotel just outside the city walls.
“We’re getting close to where we were in 2019 in terms of visitors,” she says. Since Dubrovnik is so far south, it has a longer season, so there’s still time to match — and maybe even exceed — the 2019 visitor levels.
Graham Carter, founder of the luxury travel operator Unforgettable Croatia, agrees. He says he’s never seen anything like this.
“We expect the upcoming season to be much busier than previous fall seasons in Europe, with companies perhaps still struggling to meet ongoing demand,” he told me.
That’s good news for Croatia’s tourism industry. But for visitors looking for a deal, maybe not. Picunic says prices have come down “a little” from the end of the traditional summer travel season, but Dubrovnik remains one of the most expensive places in Croatia to vacation. Still, with the euro at parity, it is more affordable than it has been in years.
A new poll by Medjet suggests Europe is a hot destination this fall and winter. In its survey, 91% of respondents said they intend to travel by the end of this year, and 62% plan to travel internationally. The top region is Europe.
But where is everyone going — and where should you go? Once you get there, what should you do? More importantly, how do you find the best deals in Europe?
Where is everyone going in Europe this fall?
So, where’s everyone going this fall? It depends on who you ask.
Demand from U.S. travelers for European vacation homes has more than doubled compared to the same period last year, according to Vrbo. This fall, Paris tops the list of most popular European destinations. It’s followed by Rome, London, Florence, Lisbon and Barcelona.
World Nomads Group looked at its policyholders’ destinations and found that Italy, Greece, Croatia and Austria topped the list of European fall destinations.
“Travelers are less interested in visiting Spain and Germany,” says Christina Tunnah, general manager of global marketing at World Nomads Group. “There’s also been a slight drop in interest in France as a destination.”
Fall bookings to Europe are up 16% from last year, according to Travelport. For the U.K., they rose an eye-popping 70%. In fact, many European destinations were busier than they were in 2019. For the recent Labor Day holiday, Travelport found visits to Italy were up by 8%, Greece by 23%, Portugal by 25% and Turkey by 44%.
It’s difficult to gauge where people are going now because fall travel doesn’t usually attract a lot of attention from statistics-gatherers After all, it’s shoulder season — and it’s supposed to be dead quiet. But not this year.
Pro tip: I’ve interviewed dozens of travel experts about where to go and what to do in Europe this fall. There’s a consensus that choosing a less popular destination will give you the most bang for the buck. So if the prices in Dubrovnik are too high, go to Split. If Paris is too much, check out Nice. (It’s nice there this time of year.)
What to do in Europe this fall
Europe is a draw for all kinds of reasons, say experts. Kim Parizek, a travel advisor specializing in Europe, says her clients returning to countries they’ve visited, but not for the same old experiences.
“I’m spending a lot more time working with destination suppliers to look for new experiences that are off the beaten path,” she says. “The clients are returning to France or Italy for the fifth and sixth time — but now want to explore new and unique excursions, places to stay and restaurants.”
The hope is that they’ll be able to do it without the massive summer crowds that made many European destinations almost unbearable.
“Off the beaten path” seems to be a theme. I spoke with several tour operators who said their clients were looking for solitude — and maybe a place where winter doesn’t start too soon.
Turkey and southern Spain are particularly appealing. “Weather can still be lovely into November, while the crowds tend to disappear,” says Kelly Torrens, vice president of product for Kensington Tours. But, she adds, “It’s important to pack your patience as you set off on your trip.” That’s always good advice.
What are the pros doing? Limor Decter, a travel advisor with Embark Collective, is headed to Sicily in October to enjoy the cultural and natural attractions. She says the hoteliers she’s spoken to are hoping for a quieter fall. “They are looking forward to sharing their hospitality with travelers who patiently waited and avoided the summer of frenzied travel to enjoy a fall visit,” she says.
Pro tip: Many Americans have written off COVID in Europe this fall. But that’s a mistake, says Kate Fitzpatrick, regional security director at World Travel Protection. She notes that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still lists the United Kingdom and much of Europe as a “moderate” COVID threat. The CDC advises you to get up to date with your vaccines before traveling to a Level 3 destination. “This means that you have had not only the full initial vaccinations but any boosters for which you’re eligible,” she says. Here’s my free guide to planning a trip.
How to get the deals to Europe
The sooner you book your fall trip to Europe, the better, according to experts.
“My best advice would be to plan and book your trip well in advance to get the best deals for every stop along your preferred itinerary,” says Rajeev Shrivastava, CEO of VisitorsCoverage.com, a travel insurance marketplace.
Prices tend to drop for the fall travel season, but airlines have already begun pricing their tickets for the holidays.
Prices are all over the map, and you have to look carefully for the best deals. For example, I recently rented a car in Split, Croatia, for a week. On most U.S. travel sites, I couldn’t find anything for less than $600 — not a terrible price. But I found an upgraded car for just $160 when I rented at an off-airport location.
Pro tip: If you’re looking for a lower airfare, shoot for the week of October 10, says Expedia. “Average ticket prices are projected to be 20% lower than during summer for international flights,” says Christie Hudson, an Expedia spokeswoman.
Ready to visit Europe? Now may be the time to go
Despite higher prices and crowds, the fall of 2022 may be one of the best times to visit Europe. The euro is at par with the dollar, which means prices are lower. The crowds have thinned from the frenetic summer travel season. And the weather is cooling off. Even the locals I spoke to in Dubrovnik say the fall weather is here. (“You wouldn’t have wanted to be here in June,” Picunic confided. “It was way too hot.”)
Remember, prices will start to rise again as the holiday travel season approaches. And unless you’re lucky enough to be in a place like Portugal’s famous Alentejo region or Cyprus, you’ll need to bundle up.
To help us on our quest for cheaper travel, Google Flights published five years’ worth of airfare data on Wednesday.
The research supports some classic travel wisdom — like the myth we busted that Tuesday isn’t the best day to find cheap flights. But there are also some results that may surprise well-informed travelers — like prices for domestic flights are lowest between 21 and 60 days out.
The engineers looked at average round-trip airfares on Google Flights between Aug. 1, 2017, and Aug. 1, 2022, for six- to nine-day trips and 13- to 16-day trips departing from 4,000 markets in the United States.
James Byers, Google Flights product manager, says they hope their findings will answer users’ top questions, like when to start shopping, particularly as they consider Thanksgiving and Christmas travel.
“We know that holidays this year are extra important to a lot of travelers who might have had to skip them in past years,” Byers said.
Of course, the findings aren’t ultimate truths; they’re patterns. Your best bet is to set up price alerts early, and jump on good fares when they’re available.
Set your shopping window for travel to Mexico and the Caribbean between 37 and 87 days out. The lowest prices were found about two months from departure.
For Thanksgiving and Christmas
For Thanksgiving and Christmas, they looked at trips departing before and returning after the holiday. The results showed you don’t have to lock something in a year in advance, but you shouldn’t wait until the last minute.
Look for domestic Thanksgiving flights within 36 to 74 days ahead of time. The lowest prices were found 52 days out.
For domestic Christmas travel, price drops have occurred within 20 and 88 days before the holiday. early. The lowest average prices showed up 22 days beforehand, although it may be stressful to wait until December to book.
Spring break data was taken from trips beginning in March or April, and showed domestic travelers should look to book flights 23 to 59 days (nearly two months) before their trip. The Google Flight trends shows they tend to hit their lowest price 38 days out.
Google Flight engineers calculated summer data for trips beginning in July or August. Their results found booking flights for those months are lowest on average 21 days out.
Mallorca has fought hard against its sun, sea and sand stereotype and now tries promote itself more as a year-long travel destination, offering summer and winter sporting options, a burgeoning gastronomy scene and a long-established arts tradition.
I spent three years co-writing and and taking photographs for Faces of Mallorca a new book featuring 59 island characters. I would like to introduce you to five, to experience the essence of Mallorca through their eyes.
Tomeu Arbona, bakery owner
Tomeu worked with “kids on the street” as a social worker, later retraining as a psychotherapist, but lost his job after just four years as a result of the economic crisis. Needing an income to pay for his children’s university fees, he and his wife decided to open a small bakery, Fornet de la Soca, focusing on traditional recipes.
“We were lucky, as people immediately liked our idea of reviving old Mallorquín recipes – I became a real food archaeologist. One important insight I gained was the history of the ensaïmada. Very few people know that ensaïmades [sweet spiral pastries] and panades [little meat pies] come from Jewish culture.”
In addition to owning one of Palma’s most exquisite bakeries, Tomeu also sings traditional Mallorcan songs at special events. Every afternoon he cycles through the downtown area. He’s “in love” with the areas of Pla de Mallorca, Sineu, Pina and Lloret, places that retain a great essence and a certain primitivism, and he likes to to go to the alternative Cineciutat cinema. He recommends that all visitors see the Tramuntana mountains: “It is my little paradise that transcends beauty.”
With his eye for stunning vistas, Tomeu says the Ermita de la Trinitat in Valldemossa is well worth the trip: “I love the peacefulness and the beautiful view of the coastline.”
To eat on a special occasion, he recommends Montimar, “a small restaurant of high-quality traditional cuisine, with a stunning landscape”. Other favourite restaurants include Ca Na Toneta, Botànic and Dins de Santi Taura – “they each represent different, authentic aspects of Mallorcan cuisine”.
Francesca Martí, international artist
Francesca expresses herself through sculpture and multimedia to convey her unique societal reflections. She is perhaps best known for Dreamers, a set of sculptures dotted around Mallorca “shining in solitary contemplation”.
“I live in Sóller and love to visit the Ecocirer hotel, where you can enjoy a delicious and healthy breakfast. In Port de Sóller, there are several restaurants facing the sea. Pick any of these to eat fresh fish – you will not be disappointed! To relax, I like to be out on the water having a picnic or fishing around the coast. Two restaurants I absolutely love, which combine great food with beautiful sea views, are Sa Foradada and C’as Patro March in Deià; they are just super authentic!”
Maria, 84, is a custodian of traditional Mallorcan cooking and a media sensation with a YouTube audience of more than 43,000 and numerous TV appearances. Her first cooking experience as a child was when she stole some dry pasta from her mother’s pantry and attempted to cook it. It didn’t turn out well but her mother made her eat the whole plate of pasta as punishment: “That might have been the moment I decided to become a better cook!”
Seven years ago, her grandson, who lives in Japan, had the idea of making videos in her kitchen and publishing them on YouTube. “Little did we know that this was going to get so much attention. Now I am a bit of a local celebrity!
“I love preparing authentic Mallorcan dishes like sopes mallorquines [bread and vegetable soup], which is one of my favourites, or escaldums [turkey stew with tomatoes and herbs] and I am happy I get to share these original recipes, so they are not forgotten. Few people have the patience for slow cooking – everything has to be fast – but I have a feeling that the meditative experience of taking time to cook dishes in the traditional way is starting to appeal again.”
Maria likes to wander down to the “incredible” restaurant, Bodega La Rambla – “I have to say, Mallorcan variats [Mallorcan twists on tapas] are the best.” She is often to be found walking around the city. “I’m a walker and my passion is to relax by strolling along the promenade of Palma. The old town hides many stories and I find it very beautiful. The Paseo del Molinar and Portixol areas take me back to my childhood.”
Maria also recommends a visit to Palma’s Teatre Principal, and a trip to the village of Deià: “These are beautiful corners of magic and history in our little paradise”.
Nuria and Mikel, sailors
Nuria and her partner Mikel are owners of the beautiful Rafael Verdera, used for sailing trips around the island. Built in 1841, it is the oldest operating boat of the Spanish naval fleet. The couple have lived on board for the past 40 years and Nuria gave birth to their children, Sara and Iñaki, on the boat. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch Sara and Iñaki practising acrobatics on deck.
“I first met Mikel on this very boat, many years ago, and we have been living together on it ever since. I guess there are people who think we are crazy, but we wanted to live our lives on our own terms; we wanted to always feel free.”
Nuria suggests taking advantage of the dolphin and whale watching around Mallorca: “Not so many people know about this.” For keen swimmers, she recommends heading to the beach at El Toro. “The waters are always so calm, and I always have the best swims there.”
She strongly recommends a trip to Cabrera, a tiny island 10 miles off the southernmost tip of Mallorca. It is “an unspoilt oasis with the most aquamarine blue seas – and you have the best view of the stars at night”. Joan Aguiló, street artist
Joan’s huge murals can be found all over the island. They are easily recognisable as his style is unique, typically featuring Mallorcan childhood experiences.
“I discovered street art in Berlin and was immediately fascinated. When I came back here, I thought it would be easy to find other street artists in Mallorca, but this scene barely existed. I am proud that I helped to bring this culture to the island. The annual street art festival I have created in Can Picafort has become quite popular, and it excites me that many of the best street artists from various countries come together for this event.”
Joan’s go-to place in Palma for a good exhibition or interesting cultural event is the CaixaForum Gran Hotel. “It feels like it’s from another era; you can’t tell what century you’re in, and that’s spectacular.”
Out of town, he suggests going to Ermita de la Victoria, with a view of the bay of Alcudia, and hike for about half an hour to the Atalaya, the highest point, to see the bay of Pollença and visit Caló D’Es Cans beach near Colonia de Sant Pere: “It’s a delight!”
India vs West Indies Dream11 Prediction, Fantasy Cricket Tips Dream11 Team, Playing XI, Pitch Report, Injury Update of the match between India and West Indies. They will play against each other for the second time in the three-match T20I series between them.
India vs West Indies Match Details India Tour of West Indies 2nd T20I:
The 2nd T20I match between India and West Indies will be played on 1st August at Warner Park, Basseterre, St Kitts.
This game is scheduled to start at 8:00 PM IST and live score and commentary can be seen on FanCode and CricketAddictor website.
This whole series will be a live telecast on DD Sports. DD Sports is the official and exclusive broadcaster of the India tour of West Indies 2022. The live streaming will be presented by the Fan Code app.
India vs West Indies Match Preview India Tour of West Indies 2nd T20I:
India and West Indies played one match against each other in this three-match T20I series so far where India won that game and is currently leading the series by 1-0.
In the first T20I match, India beat West Indies by 68 runs. In that game, West Indies won the toss and decided to field first. Coming to bat, India posted 190 runs on the board where Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik smashed 64 runs and 41 runs respectively for the team. Alzarri Joseph took 2 wickets for West Indies.
Coming to the chase, West Indies failed to chase down the target and managed to put just 122 runs on the board where none of their batters was able to cross even the 20-run mark. Arshdeep Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi grabbed 2 wickets each for India.
India vs West Indies Match Weather Report India Tour of West Indies 2nd T20I:
The temperature is expected to hover around 27°C on the matchday with 79% humidity and 6-8 km/hr wind speed. There are no chances of precipitation during the game.
India vs West Indies Match Pitch Report India Tour of West Indies 2nd T20I:
Warner Park provides a neutral wicket where both the departments are expected to earn a reasonable amount of help from the surface. Spinners will play a decent role in the middle overs.
Average 1st innings score:
The average first innings score on this wicket is 143 runs.
Record of chasing teams:
The team batting second has great records here. They have maintained a winning percentage of 60 on this ground.
India vs West Indies Match Injury Update India Tour of West Indies 2nd T20I:
(Will be added when there is an update)
India vs West Indies Match Probable XIs India Tour of West Indies 2nd T20I:
India vs West Indies Dream11 Prediction, Fantasy Cricket Tips Dream11 Team, Playing XI, Pitch Report, Injury Update of the match between India and West Indies. They will play against each other for the first time in the three-match ODI series between them.
India vs West Indies Match Details India Tour of West Indies 1st ODI:
The 1st ODI match between India and West Indies will be played on 22nd July at the Queen’s Park Oval.
This game is scheduled to start at 7:00 PM IST and live score and commentary can be seen on FanCode and CricketAddictor website.
This whole series will be live telecast on DD Sports. DD Sports is the official and exclusive broadcaster of the India tour of West Indies 2022. The live streaming will be presented by the Fan Code app.
India vs West Indies Match Preview India Tour of West Indies 1st ODI:
India is on a tour of the West Indies for a three-match ODI series, followed by a five-match T20I series. The ODI series will begin on the 22nd of July and all the matches of this series will be played at the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, Trinidad.
India is currently placed at the third position on the ICC Men’s ODI rankings while West Indies is placed at the ninth spot on the rankings.
India won four matches out of their recent five ODI matches while West Indies failed to win a single game of their recent five ODI games.
These two teams have played 136 matches against each other in this format so far where India won 67 matches while West Indies managed to secure 63 wins.
India vs West Indies Match Weather Report India Tour of West Indies 1st ODI:
The temperature is expected to hover around 28°C on the matchday with 77% humidity and 13 km/hr wind speed. There are no chances of precipitation during the game.
India vs West Indies Match Pitch Report India Tour of West Indies 1st ODI:
The pitch at the Queen’s Park Oval is a batting-friendly surface and is expected to aid the batters once again here. Pacers might get some help towards the latter half of the match while spinners will play a good role in the middle overs.
Average 1st innings score:
The average first innings score on this wicket is 246 runs.
Record of chasing teams:
The team batting second has great records here. They have maintained a winning percentage of 80 on this ground.
India vs West Indies Match Injury Update India Tour of West Indies 1st ODI:
(Will be added when there is an update)
India vs West Indies Match Probable XIs India Tour of West Indies 1st ODI:
West Indies: Kyle Mayers, Shai Hope, Brandon King, Nicholas Pooran, Rovman Powell, Shamrah Brooks, Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph, Akeal Hosein, Jayden Seales, Gundakesh Motie
Top Picks For Dream11 Prediction and Fantasy Cricket Tips:
Ishan Kishan is a left-handed batsman from India who will open the innings for them. He has marked 88 runs in his 3 matches ODI career so far and will be aiming to make a good impact here.
Suryakumar Yadav is a right-handed batsman from India. He has smashed 310 runs in his 10 matches ODI career so far. He will be among the top fantasy picks here.
Shai Hope is a right-handed wicketkeeper-batsman from West Indies. He has hammered 4071 runs in his 98 matches ODI career so far and will be a terrific choice to consider for this match as well.
Alzarri Joseph is a right-handed batsman and right-arm medium fast bowler from West Indies. He has smacked 263 runs and picked up 78 wickets in his 48 matches ODI career so far. He will be a pretty safe pick to consider for this game.
India vs West Indies Match Captain and Vice-Captain Choices India Tour of West Indies 1st ODI:
Captain – Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav
Vice-Captain – Shai Hope, Alzarri Joesph
Suggested Playing XI No.1 for India vs West Indies Dream11 Team:
Keeper – Shai Hope (VC), Ishan Kishan (C)
Batsmen – Shikhar Dhawan, Suryakumar Yadav, Nicholas Pooran, Deepak Hooda
All-rounders – Ravindra Jadeja, Jason Holder
Bowlers – Yuzvendra Chahal, Avesh Khan, Alzarri Joseph
Suggested Playing XI No.2 for India vs West Indies Dream11 Team:
The distance between very good and superb is actually quite far and it requires motivated teams, attention to detail, and above all creativity to break out of commodity service delivery. Here are a few brands, ideas, and services that deserve a tip of the hat.
The pace of travel’s resurgence means this recurring column feature feels right to do twice a year, as I have in the past. There has been a lot to take in, and crisis has been a forcing factor for interesting ideas born from constraint. There is also a bit of bad behavior in the market, with price gouging and formerly iconic names still trading on badge value though their service isn’t up to snuff. Still, we opt for a more cheery outlook, giving airtime to the places and spaces that manage to stand out.
After all, the distance between very good, and superb is actually quite far. And it requires motivated teams, attention to detail, and above all creativity to break out of commodity service delivery.
Here are a few brands, ideas, and services that deserve a tip of the hat:
Best Short-Haul Airline Concept
I’ve heard a lot of rumblings about JSX, but just got around to trying it. And I’m a convert. It takes the best part of private travel, the ability to turn up 20 minutes before your flight, and turns it into its brand superpower. They fly retrofitted Embraers which are perfectly nice, but the true appeal of the product is getting to skip the chaos of summer airports completely. Plus, the company is run by someone who knows brand and operations well: Alex Wilcox, who logged time at Virgin and Jetblue. He’s pragmatic, sharp, and the product has been delivering.
Hotel Brand to Watch
I’ve been patiently watching Alila, born in Asia, and now part of Hyatt. The brand is starting to beautifully come together: it is focused on nature-centric experiences (think Big Sur and Oman). It takes awhile for a brand to find its footing, but my experiences with Alila Marea in San Diego as well as the Alila in Southern Oman showed me a brand that is going to be competing with the big players for luxury spend, set in interesting new areas around the globe. They’ve nicely built off of the hospitality and design of the brand’s Asian roots, and are starting to bring all elements together nicely.
Best Super Luxury Brand
If we’re being honest, there are really only a few chains operating at a hyper luxury space in terms of service, vision, consistency and the “wow” effect. Sharing airspace with Oetker, Aman, Nihi, and Soneva is Airelles, who have been on my radar lately thanks to some interesting openings and strong word-of-mouth from connected travelers. They are expanding their portfolio rapidly in France with two properties in Saint-Tropez, following their launch of their Château de Versailles property last year. The brand’s earlier properties, particularly Courchevel, have a cult-like following and it will be interesting to see if they can scale the touch and service as the brand grows. This is the true challenge at the highest level.
Best First Lounge
It gets a lot of airtime among the long haul set, but Qatar’s Al Safwa lounge has been getting better and better. It is museum-like in its tranquility, and service is polished and professional. The sleeping rooms have gotten me through many long layovers at Doha.
Best Brand Culture
It says a lot about a brand to see who they aspire to hire as GMs. I’ve been really inspired by the design and execution of Proper. Their downtown LA opening is manned by Stephane Lacroix, a luxury veteran who has the new property running crisply. Santa Monica is helmed by the superb Julien Laracine, a veteran of Nihi, who co-runs the hotel with his wife Carla Stoffel. Friends I’ve referred his way come back raving with his attention to detail, warmth and overall vibe. The duo also managed to steward the property through the doldrums of Covid back into its thriving self.
Most Exciting Openings
Two openings caught my eye for their sheer ambition: Raffles London at the OWO and Passalacqua in Lake Como. The former, like the original in Singapore is epic in scale and will be a restaurant and bar destination as well as a hotel, transforming Whitehall in the same way the Ned did the financial district in London. It is manned by a superb hotelier, Philippe le Boeuf. Passalacqua, from the owners of Grand Hotel Tremezzo, has an anytime, anywhere approach to service and one of the best views of the lake, with a JJ Martin-designed pool.
The Rooster in Antiparos is labor of love, built within a 30-acre site of hills, ruins, rocks and sand dunes in Greece. The founder, Athanasia Comninos, created a small, perfectly formed property that feels private, unspoiled, and too good to be true. The fact it is a personal project is very apparent, though there are architectural nods to Aman with some of the room layouts, it also feels completely unique. And because of the friction required to get to Antiparos, it is unlikely to be overun by hedonistic hordes. The room design is tranquil, and fits beautifully with its environs. The roosters crowing nearby in the morning give you a clue as to the name’s origins.
I was in Amman, Jordan toward the end of the year, and was absolutely impressed by the recent re-fit of F&B at the Four Seasons Amman. The hotel has long been a place of diplomatic intrique and hushed conversations, which they playfully parlayed into Sirr, a secret bar with dark wood paneling and some of the best bartenders in the city. They were able to recreate one of my favorites from Employees Only, the Billionare, perfectly. Also, La Capitale was an absolute standout brasserie helmed by people who really loved their jobs. I found myself lured back because things were run so well.
Best Hotel Experience This Year
I thought Auberge’s re-fit of the Mauna Lani on the big island of Hawaii was inspired. They did an incredible job with the design, F&B, and notably the experiences: where as I detailed in a longer column, they manage to thread Hawaii’s cultural depth through their experiences, doing something more soulful and meaningful than the stock-standard island hedonism. Everything was considered, including retail (there’s a Goop), as well as NYC-style deli items among the locally roasted Kona coffee. It’s hard to make all elements come together, and they did.
Sanjiv Hulugalle, Pete Alles and Danny Akaka from Auberge lead with vibes, energy, and optimism. Stephanie Pournaras and Yasmin Natheer Al-Sati of Four Seasons are tight on the details and the craft of hospitality on every level. Rubina Gurung from Al Maha in Doha goes above and beyond. And finally, I’m sending best wishes to the ever elegant Petar Krstic of Aman as he is poised to open the new property in New York.
For the longest time, I noticed an elegant signature on the welcome when I’d check into the Park Hyatt Tokyo: Philippe Roux-Dessarps. He’s a legendary hotelier who I only knew by this signature, and by reputation. We got to spend some time at his new post, The Four Seasons Astir Palace on the Athenian Riviera and followed was a wide ranging conversation on Japan, detail, hospitality, and brand. It was a pleasure to spend time and see how he’s bringing an international career to bear with one of the brand’s priority properties. And it was nice to put a signature to a person, finally.