The iPod Amenity Trend

2006 Cruise Update, TravelStore Adds Luxury Division and more

Hotels have gone beyond spas and wireless Web connection to offer the latest perk: iPods.
For example, this month, most of the hotels in the KSL Resorts Collection have begun offering use of the pocket-sized digital music players.

“Our guests expect the amenities of a home away from home, whether it’s Wi-Fi hot spots or access to the very best spa and recreation services,” said Mike Shannon, president and CEO of KSL Resorts. “Our effort to establish an iPod-friendly resort environment is a logical evolution.”

Each hotel puts its own spin on the trend. The Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa in Maui, will offer preloaded iPods for spa patrons to use, while the La Quinta Resort & Club in La Quinta, Calif., will offer 20 Music Suites with iPods that have playlists titled “chilled,” “loungey” and “energized,” among others. Other KSL hotels in Atlanta, Carlsbad, San Diego and Phoenix also offer iPod perks.

2006 Cruise Update
The Musica, which will be MSC Cruises’ largest ship when it debuts next spring, will sail from Port Everglades, Fla., during the fall and winter 2006-2007 season, the line recently announced.

The 89,000-ton Musica will carry 2,550 passengers, nearly a thousand passengers more than the line’s current North American-based products, the Lirica and the Opera.

The Musica is currently under construction at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in France and it will sail in the Mediterranean before crossing to Fort Lauderdale in fall 2006.

Also in 2006, Princess Cruises’ new Crown Princess will make New York its base of operations and will offer a schedule of roundtrip Caribbean cruises from there a first for the line.

The Crown will offer nine-day roundtrip cruises starting in June 2006, and will alternate Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries. It will be one of the first ships to use new cruise facilities at Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos, which it will visit on all 10 sailings.

The Crown Princess currently is under construction in Italy.

TravelStore Adds Luxury Division
TravelStore is attempting to target the high-end travel market by opening a new division customized to luxury travelers.
TravelStore Platinum will specialize in tailoring trips to clients’ more exotic wishes, including African safaris or champagne atop the Great Wall of China.

“As Americans are once again traveling abroad in record numbers, and to increasingly exotic locales, the future of travel planning is in customization, privacy and exclusivity,” said Wido Schaefer, TravelStore president and CEO.

Many of Platinum’s travel experts have lived in the countries in which they specialize, and the company has a full-time concierge to assist clients with hard-to-find restaurant reservations, private tours, theater and special events tickets.

While TravelStore Platinum is free to new and existing TravelStore clients, a consultation fee might be charged based on specific trip requests.

Established in 1975, the Los Angeles-based TravelStore is the largest, independently owned travel agency in California.

America West Moves Closer to Offering Hawaii-Bound Flights
America West airlines is on track to add Hawaii to their flight itinerary, but don’t expect to book a trip any time soon.

The budget carrier is about halfway through the 18-month process to receive Federal Aviation Administration approval, officials said.

The FAA is evaluating 13 of the airline’s Boeing 757s to assure they can make the trek across the ocean, but if these 196-passenger planes are approved early next year, they still might not be Hawaii-bound, officials said.

“We hope that once we get our aircraft certified, we can look to see if flying to Hawaii is a viable option,” said Phil Gee, an America West spokesman, adding that the airline has recently started training flight attendants and cabin crews for the flight.

With hubs in Las Vegas and Phoenix, America West mainly offers flights in the western U.S. and currently offers flights to Hawaii via a partnership with Hawaiian Airlines.