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Hoodoo Moab, Curio Collection by Hilton Review

The great American West meets higher flyer luxury

Moab, Utah, despite its remote location on the Colorado Plateau, is a hub for intrepid explorers, nature enthusiasts, and backpacking tourists.  Its close proximity to two ruggedly beautiful national parks — Arches and Canyonlands — is the main draw, and Moab attracts more and more visitors with each passing year.  The local hotel scene is expanding in order to cater to them, and the town’s first upscale property, the Hoodoo, opened in Summer 2019.  As part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, it’s a charming, well-designed, and luxurious four-star, but it’s also one of the most expensive places in the area.  To the delight of higher flyers though, these costs can be easily offset with points and, better yet, there’s plenty good value to be had!

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The recovery has begun, but…

The Daily Flyer

Welcome to the ninth edition of “The Daily Flyer,” The Higher Flyer‘s newsletter that gathers up and summarizes some of the day’s most important travel-related happenings.  Today, May 20, 2020, we’re venturing out of our coronavirus slumber (it’s been two months!) to cover the measures airlines and hotels are taking to prepare for the post-outbreak “return-to-normalcy,” and the hurdles that some must clear to get there.  Read further for coverage on a potentially interesting service concept from Delta, a guide to aspirational hotels worth visiting after this is all said and done, and the story of a single man living in a massive luxury hotel.

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DoubleTree hotels are nice and boring

A recent review on the The Higher Flyer has prompted a few to ask:  “what’s wrong with DoubleTree hotels?” and as a follow up:  “why do you hate them?”  Well, despite what my review of the DoubleTree in Madrid may imply, the answer is a resounding “nothing.”   Nothing is wrong with Hilton’s business-traveler-centric brand and I’d gladly stay in one if presented the opportunity.  That said though, these hotels don’t really lend themselves well to scenes of higher flying; they don’t evoke visions of luxury like Waldorf Astorias do, nor do they offer the incredible value that Hampton Inns do.  DoubleTrees instead are synonymous with bland-yet-practical accommodations for the well-paid road warriors of the world.

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DoubleTree Madrid-Prado Review

A Hilton DoubleTree masquerading as a quaint boutique hotel in the heart of Madrid

Hilton as a brand doesn’t have a particularly aspirational reputation.  Sure, its hotels are mostly comfortable and are more than serviceable, but the average Hilton usually lacks the glamour or pizzazz or charm that a mid-level Hyatt or a legacy Starwood property (RIP) might have.  Hilton’s DoubleTrees are some of the worst offenders when it comes to generic corporateness — they’re typically marketed to business travelers, and utilitarian design doesn’t lend itself well to pleasing aesthetics — but the brand’s sole property in Spain is an obvious outlier.  While “DoubleTree” might not evoke images of boutique luxury, the one in Madrid should very well challenge your assumptions.

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10 Hampton Inns for President Obama to Visit

Former President Obama recently professed his preference/appreciation for Hampton Inns.  While they’re far cries from the penthouse suites he enjoyed during his time in office, there’s a certain comfort in the consistency.  As Obama put it (as quoted by The Washington Post), “In the Hampton Inn, there’s like one light switch, one bathroom door, and the bed, and the TV remote; I’m good.”  But there are thousands of locations (2,500 or so to be specific), and naturally, not all of them are created equally.  In the spirit of the former president’s comments, here are some of the top Hampton Inns for him to visit on his future trips.

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Obama: “If I was just in the Hampton Inn… I’m good.”

Higher flying doesn’t necessarily refer to the top tier, most-luxurious accommodations.  If something presents a good value for your money and makes sense for you and your travel goals, indeed, that option can be just as valuable as one that costs significantly more.  If you don’t believe me, ask Barack Obama instead!  The Washington Post recently quoted the former president singing the praises of Hampton Inns, one of Hilton’s budget-friendly brands and not one that you would associate with some/one of the most powerful people in the world.  They’re far from glamorous, but if they’re good enough for Obama, certainly they can suffice for everyone else.

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AC Hotel Times Square, New York Review

An exciting new option at a shocking price

For better or for worse, Marriott has spent the past few years expanding its footprint (independent of the Starwood merger) by increasing the presence of its eurocentric subsidiaries stateside. The AC Hotel brand for instance, whose original parent was headquartered in Spain (and established by a Spaniard named Antonio Catalan), expanded to New York’s Times Square at the end of April 2018. This marks AC’s first big splash in the North American market, and with physically stunning spaces and kind, responsive staff members, it’s a worthy addition to the Marriott portfolio.  Continue reading “AC Hotel Times Square, New York Review”

L’Hermitage Gantois, Lille, France Review

A series of charming yet jarring juxtapositions (and a really comfy bed)

After fulfilling my professional obligations in London, I hopped on a train and soon found myself in Lille, a French town located so far in the north of France that it’s practically Belgium. It’s often overlooked by international tourists, and with a population of around 200,000, many of whom are students, it’s not the most burgeoning hotel market either. There is an unsurprising amount of hostels (which is to say: “there are lots”), but the other end of the spectrum is lacking. If it’s luxury you seek, you’ll have better luck in Brussels, which is a short ride away… but if you must be in Lille, I’m pleased to report that the Marriott-affiliated L’Hermitage Gantois is worthy of your attention.

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The Aviary Hotel, Siem Reap Review

Far more than a bird house

A few days before we were set to arrive in Siem Reap, we received an email from the management of the Aviary Hotel with some exciting news: they were arranging a complimentary airport transfer for us. Seeing that we landed just as the daily monsoon was rolling in, we were really happy that we didn’t have to find our own way to the property. The driver who met us in the arrivals hall was a hotel employee, and he was kind and welcoming. He took our bags and offered us bottled water and cold towels… all before we settled into the van! In hindsight, we shouldn’t have been so surprised by the high standards of service; such hospitality is the norm, not the exception, at the Aviary.

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