Disney wants customers to know that its new Star Wars-themed Galactic Starcruiser hotel won’t actually take them to space

star wars hotel cabin mockup
The bedroom windows show views of space, but Disney had to clarify that guests won’t actually be launched into orbit.

Disney’s upcoming Galactic Starcruiser hotel will offer guests Star Wars-themed rooms, activities like lightsaber training, and a window offering changing views of “space.”

The experience is so immersive that Disney warned people on its Frequently Asked Questions page that guests in the hotel won’t actually be blasting off into orbit.

“While your Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser voyage is not an actual trip into space, passengers will experience the sensation of voyaging on a starcruiser through space in a galaxy far, far away – just like you have seen in Star Wars movies and shows,” the FAQ page said.

The experience won’t come cheap – for one of the least-expensive options for the two-night stay, two adult guests would pay $4,809. The hotel is located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, which guests also get access to along with the hotel package.

Disney described the experience as something akin to a Disney cruise, as all guests arrive and depart at the same time. Guests will first go to a Launch Pod, which will simulate the experience of blasting them into space. The windows will show stars zooming by before showing the pod docking at the Halcyon starship.

Given the rise of space tourism, with Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin both launching successful flights into suborbital space, it might be understandable that people are confused by Disney’s hotel.

For now, you’ll have to spend far more to actually go to space. Virgin Galactic’s tickets are currently priced at $250,000.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A hotel manager seeking 3 new hires said he was flooded with 115 applicants in 48 hours despite the labor shortage rocking the hospitality industry

A hotel worker is making a bed.
Businesses in the hospitality industry are scrambling to find workers as travel rebounds amid a huge labor shortage.

  • The owner of two hotels in Bellingham, Washington, said staffing hasn’t been a problem for him.
  • He credits this to the company culture, alongside its suite of perks like bar credits for staff.
  • People are traveling again and hotels, bars, and restaurants are feeling the strain.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A hotel manager in Bellingham, Washington, was only looking for three new hires when he placed a job ad in the spring.

Instead, Jamie Verkist, who manages Hotel Leo and Heliotrope Hotel, was flooded with 115 applicants in 48 hours, he told Insider.

Businesses in the hospitality industry are scrambling to find workers as travel rebounds amid a huge labor shortage.

Verkist said that his hotels are now at between 80% and 100% capacity – and people are starting to book much further in advance, too.

“We were really scared when travel picked up so quickly,” Verkist said. But his hotels were barely affected by the labor shortage, he added.

Read more: California Pizza Kitchen is quietly testing a dining room robot

He credits the hotels’ strong staffing to its culture, which he said has worked on for nearly four years. “We believe a happy team equals happy guests,” Verkist said. “You cannot have one without the other.”

“There is no ‘fear-driven’ leadership in our organization,” he added. “We strive to create a workplace that our team enjoys coming to each day and feels supported.”

Verkist let some staff go early on in the pandemic but stayed in contact with them. Some college students quit their jobs because they no longer needed to stay in Bellingham after their classes went online, but he said the vacancies got filled quickly.

He now hires around 35 workers across both hotels, and doesn’t contract staff from outside the company.

Verkist prides himself on the perks he offers to his staff, too. He said that he raised starting wages to $15 an hour last May, and offers bonuses of between $250 and $500 to up to four staff members a month.

He also gives staff $15 in bar credits for each shift they work to get a free meal at the hotel’s restaurant either during or after their shift. Outside of working hours, staff get a discount at the restaurant, too.

Verkist added that he focuses on promoting from within, and has never hired a manager from outside.

The labor shortage stems from issues ‘that have been laying low for years’

A third of former hospitality workers said in a Joblist poll that they wouldn’t return to the industry.

“This is a mass exodus like I’ve never seen before in my lifetime,” Peter Ricci, head of Florida Atlantic University’s hospitality and tourism management program, told Insider.

This comes as travel is rebounding massively amid the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. “People are traveling like crazy again,” Ricci said.

Ricci said that some business owners had a short-term view and blamed the tight labor market on supplemental unemployment benefits, but that it really stemmed from issues “that have been laying low for years,” like low pay, few healthcare benefits, and a lack of flexible hours.

“If we get closer to starting wages in other industries, we’ll level the playing field,” he said. In the meantime, hotels and restaurants may have to raise their rates and menu prices or reduce their operating hours, he said.

Hotels have been rolling out perks like $1,300 fitness machines, free rooms, and even knife sets to both retain and recruit staff.

“Eventually incentives and benefits will draw workers back,” Joblist CEO Kevin Harrington said – and the “silver lining” is that the labor shortage could create a better environment for workers, he added.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Leisure travel has made a startling comeback, but business travel’s recovery could still be years away

A TSA officer wears a mask at Logan International Airport in Boston in March 2020.
A TSA officer wears a mask at Logan International Airport in Boston in March 2020.

  • Leisure travel is making a strong comeback, but corporate travel is still lagging behind.
  • Combination business and leisure travel is “cushioning the blow,” but won’t save business travel hotels.
  • Patrick Scholes, an analyst at Truist Securities, believes business travel won’t fully recover until 2023.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

It seems like everyone in the US is rushing to book their summer “revenge vacation.” But there’s one segment of travel that’s lagging behind: business travel.

Most of us might be laser-focused on leisure vacations right now, but the revival of business travel is crucial for hospitality and travel companies. Before COVID-19, business travelers made up 12% to 15% of trips on larger airlines but generated about 45% of airlines’ revenue.

And while leisure demand has passed complete recovery, business travel is still lagging behind by 60%, Scott Kirby, United Airlines CEO’s, told John Dickerson on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Similarly Southwest Airlines’ “business travel component” was down 69% in June, Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines chairman and CEO, told Bloomberg. Kelly predicts this segment will continue to be down 50% by September, and will then improve afterwards.

In 2022 and 2023, Southwest plans to bring back more flights catered to business customers.

The consensus is that business travel will accelerate in September after Labor Day, Patrick Scholes, an analyst at Truist Securities, told Insider. And 63% of companies plan to bring back business travel within the next one to three months, according to a Global Business Travel Association survey of over 600 companies.

Read more: Lost business class travel is pummeling big airlines. Industry leaders predict when it might return – and how it could change.

“I don’t think anything will be normal on the other side of this, but we expect that business demand is really going to pick up in September as most of these schools are back in,” Kirby said.

Those who are “bullish” are holding out for a September business travel increase that mimics the recent skyrocket of leisure travel, Scholes said. But he believes there will be a “modest acceleration” after the federal holiday, and that the segment will still be down compared to 2019.

“Some of the more bullish folks in the greater industry think it’ll be a full recovery by the end of next year,” Scholes said. “Some of the more conservative, perhaps not until 2024.”

Both Scholes and Kirby fall somewhere in between: They believe business travel will be back by the end of 2023.

The impact on hotels

Airport pandemic covid travel Illinois
Travelers arrive for flights at O’Hare international Airport on March 16, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

It’s not just airlines: The slow and steady increase in business travel is also impacting hotels.

From June 21 to June 24 (a Monday through Thursday when business travel typically happens) the revenue per available room for generic business travel hotels was down about 45% compared to the same time in 2019. Meanwhile, mid-week stays at economy hotels – like Super 8, which primarily caters to leisure travelers – were up almost 10%.

Luckily, the increasingly blurred line between business and leisure travel has “helped cushion the blow,” Scholes said. But even this won’t “ever fully account for that Wednesday night business travel.”

As a result, “the road to a full recovery for America’s hotels is long and uneven,” Chip Rogers, president and CEO of American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) said in a press release. Like other experts, AHLA predicts business travel won’t fully recover until 2023 or 2024, citing that many conferences, conventions, and in-person events have already been pushed back until 2022.

Business travel recovery depends on factors like persistent COVID-19 concerns, the rise in Zoom, and the newfound work from home comfort that has replaced the time and stress of commuting. However, Scholes doesn’t believe these factors will permanently slice business travel in half, which is what Bill Gates predicted in 2020.

“In my view, that is way off,” Scholes said, predicting that about 5% of business travel customers will be lost in the end.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A second California venue refused to host Matt Gaetz’ and Marjorie Taylor Greene’s ‘America First’ tour

Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene
Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene

  • A convention center in Riverside, California, has refused to host Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz’ “America First” event.
  • The decision was made by a private company that operates the venue, the Riverside mayor said.
  • A hotel last week said it wouldn’t host the event once it realized that Gaetz and Greene were the featured speakers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A convention center in Riverside, California, announced it would not host GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz after it received backlash in the latest blow to the lawmakers’ “America First” tour.

The event was scheduled to take place Saturday evening at the Riverside Convention Center but was canceled by Raincross Hospitality Corp., the private company that manages and operates the venue, just 24 hours before it was scheduled to take place, according to a press release from the office of Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson.

“I recognize this was a divisive issue in our community, and I am glad it has been resolved,” Dawson said in the statement. “I commend Raincross Hospitality Corp. for this decision.”

“Riverside is a diverse and inclusive community, so it is heartening to hear that this event will not move forward,” said Riverside Mayor Pro Tem Gaby Plascencia. “I am disappointed we even got to this point, because these speakers are the antithesis of everything Riverside stands for.”

The tour by two of the most polarizing members of Congress aims to attack Democrats and also Republicans who they believe aren’t loyal to former President Donald Trump. Gaetz has also been embroiled in controversy after reports surfaced in late March that the third-term congressman was under investigation for sex trafficking. Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing.

The decision to cancel the event at the Riverside Convention Center followed a decision by a Laguna Hills, California, hotel last week to cancel the “America First” event after it learned that Gaetz and Greene were the featured speakers. The hotel manager said it previously believed the event to be a “gathering,” according to the Orange County Register.

“We just want to stay clear of that,” the hotel manager told the outlet.

Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, and Greene, a Republican from Georgia, plan to go ahead with the event, hosting it at the Anaheim Event Center in Orange County, closer to the initial venue, according to a report from CBS Los Angeles.

Representatives for Gaetz, Greene, the Riverside Convention Center, and the Anaheim Event Center did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment Saturday

“Democrats are the party of hate,” Greene said in a tweet Saturday morning. “They organized to attack, threaten, & harass every venue we booked in CA to hold an America First rally, which celebrates our great country & freedoms. They think their vicious hate will stop me, but I never give up. See you at the rally tonight!”

“The Woketopians are this scared of a dose of #AmericaFirst in California,” Gaetz said in a tweet on Saturday morning. “Rally still happening today!”

The two controversial House Republicans embarked on their “America First” tour earlier this year, Insider previously reported. It began in a conservative Florida retirement community known as The Villages.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Las Vegas has a new $4.3 billion crypto-friendly resort – take a tour inside the first new casino on the Strip in a decade

a rendering of the exterior of Resorts World Las Vegas
The exterior of Resorts World Las Vegas.

  • The Las Vegas Strip has a new hotel: the $4.3 billion Resorts World Las Vegas.
  • Resorts World has tech-forward amenities like “cashless wagering” and partnerships with Grubhub and Gemini.
  • Take a tour of the new hotel, which officially opened June 24.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The Las Vegas Strip’s newest hotel officially opened on June 24: the $4.3 billion Resorts World Las Vegas.

people by a glowing Resorts World sphere
Resorts World Las Vegas.

The hotel was developed by Malaysia-based Genting Group and its official opening could not have come at a more fortuitous time as people begin traveling again.

People at the casino of Resorts World Las Vegas
The casino.

“A brand-new Las Vegas opening like Resorts World can drive increased visitation,” Barry Jonas, managing director of Truist Securities, told Katie Young and Contessa Brewer for CNBC. “As many customers looking to trial the new property also like to visit multiple properties during their stay.”

fireworks going off next to Resorts World Las Vegas
Fireworks on the opening night of Resorts World Las Vegas on June 24.

Source: CNBC

Any Las Vegas aficionado will know that a crowd-pleasing Las Vegas Strip hotel must have plenty of food, gambling, pool, and drinking options.

an empty Resorts World Las Vegas casino
Resorts World Las Vegas’ casino,

Luckily, Resorts World offers all four, often with a tech-forward twist.

Rolls-Royce Phantom on display with people walking by
A Rolls-Royce Phantom on display at Resorts World Las Vegas on June 24.

Let’s take a look inside.

crowds of people walking around Resorts World Las Vegas
Resorts World Las Vegas during the opening night.

Behind the flashy Resorts World sign lies a well-known hospitality company: Hilton.

people walking around Resorts World Las Vegas while a glowing ball displays the name of the hotel
Resorts World Las Vegas during its opening night on June 24.

In February 2020, the hospitality giant partnered with Resorts World Las Vegas to introduce three Hilton brands to the resort.

two beds with a view at Resorts World' Crockfords Las Vegas palace
Resorts World’ Crockfords Las Vegas chairman’s villa.

The three Hilton brands – Hilton Hotel and Resorts, LXR, and Conrad – make an appearance throughout the 3,500-room hotel.

rendering of Resorts World's Conrad Las Vegas lobby with large lights and people walking around
Resorts World’s Conrad Las Vegas lobby.

The hotel has 236 rooms under Hilton’s luxury segment, LXR.

ornate seating and a chandelier at Resorts World' Crockfords Las Vegas palace
Resorts World’ Crockfords Las Vegas palace.

Guests staying in these rooms will have their own entrance and lobby, and upgraded rooms, suites, and villas ranging from 550 square feet to a whopping 7,000 square feet.

workers at the lobby desk at Crockfords
The lobby for Crockfords.

Then there’s the Conrad segment, which includes 1,496 rooms and suites spanning from 550 square feet to 2,800 square feet.

Resorts World's Conrad Las Vegas premium queen bedroom with two beds and a view
Resorts World’s Conrad Las Vegas premium queen

Finally, the majority of the rooms – 1,774, to be exact – are made up of “Las Vegas Hilton at Resorts World” rooms ranging from 400 square feet to 3,300 square feet.

a bed with tables, chairs and a view at Resorts World's Las Vegas Hilton deluxe king room
Resorts World’s Las Vegas Hilton deluxe king room.

Besides Hilton, Resorts World has a long list of partnerships with recognizable names, such as the Kardashian-Jenner family in the form of a pop-up Kardashian Kloset, the family’s online clothing and accessory resale site.

a pool, gazebo, and seating at Resorts World' Crockfords Las Vegas palace
Resorts World’ Crockfords Las Vegas palace.

Not interested in raiding the celebrity powerhouse family’s closet?

a rendering of the Lily Ballroom with people mingling
The Lily Ballroom.

Resorts World also has a two-floor, 70,000-square-foot shopping venue for guests in need of retail therapy.

a rendering of the exterior of the Pepper store.
The Pepper store.

Besides the Kardashian family and Hilton partnerships, the hotel is also working with food ordering and delivery platform Grubhub.

a worker preparing food alone at Fuhu Shack behind a glass barrier
Fuhu Shack.

Guests can use the Grubhub app or scan the Grubhub QR codes located throughout the resort, to order food or retail items.

a dessert with colorful rainbow decorations
A dessert.

From there, the charge can be placed on the guests’ room or credit card.

a rendering of the Suns Out Buns Out store with graphic fried eggs
The Suns Out Buns Out store.

But that’s not the only tech-forward feature of the modern hotel.

a rendering of the gym and its machines
Resorts World Las Vegas’ gym

It’s 2021, so of course, Resorts World has cryptocurrency capabilities.

Resorts World's with shadows of people
Resorts World’s lobby

Resorts World has partnered with Gemini – a cryptocurrency platform founded by Tyler Winklevoss and Cameron Winklevoss – to turn the property into “one of the most crypto-friendly resorts on the Las Vegas Strip,” according to a press release.

a rendering of RedTail with TV screens, pool tables, games, and the bar
RedTail.

Like more modern hotels, Resorts World also uses mobile check-ins, an artificial intelligence concierge, and digital keys.

a rendering of Wally's Wine and Spirits
Wally’s Wine and Spirits.

The resort even has a tunnel that connects it to the Las Vegas Convention Center via Tesla cars.

a rendering of a of the high occupancy vehicles with passengers
One of the high occupancy vehicles.

Now, let’s take a look at Resorts World’s theater, which has space for 5,000 live entertainment fans or convention attendees.

a rendering of the lobby of the theater
The lobby of the theater.

The theater houses one of the biggest stages on the Vegas Strip, according to the resort.

a rendering of the theater
The theater.

In total, the stage spans 64 feet deep and 196 feet wide, totaling 13,550 square feet.

a rendering of the theater
The theater.

So far, headliners at the massive theater are set to include A-listers like Katy Perry, Carrie Underwood, Celine Dion, and Luke Bryan.

Miley Cyrus holding a microphone up while she performs at Ayu Dayclub
Miley Cyrus performing at Ayu Dayclub at Resorts World Las Vegas on July 4.

The property will also have 250,000 square feet worth of meeting spaces and ballrooms for folks headed to Sin City strictly for work purposes.

a rendering of the Jasmine Ballroom with people mingling
The Jasmine Ballroom.

Moving right along to everyone’s favorite part: the food.

a spread of different food
Food at Famous Foods.

Las Vegas has always been known for its bustling food and buffet scene, among other Vegas attributes.

a rendering of the exterior of Dawg House
The exterior of Dawg House.

Resorts World is no different, and the property will have over 40 food and drink options.

a rendering of the Suns Out Buns Out interior with egg looking chairs
The interior of the Suns Out Buns Out store.

Let’s start off with Famous Foods Street Eats, a 24,000-square-foot food hall with 16 stalls. Several of these stalls include Asian-inspired options and restaurants with Michelin Plate or Bib Gourmand recognition.

an empty Famous Foods Street Eats hall
Famous Foods Street Eats.

There’s even a speakeasy inside the food hall.

A rendering of the speakeasy
The speakeasy.

But don’t fret if a food hall isn’t your scene.

a rendering of the Neon Bar.
The Neon Bar.

Resorts World has a whole list of other food and drink options.

a rendering of shelves and products at Fred Segal's store
Fred Segal’s store.

This includes Genting Palace, an “old-world glamour” Cantonese eatery …

a rendering of the interior of Genting Palace
The interior of Genting Palace.

… sushi and teppanyaki hotspot Kusa Nori …

a rendering of the interior of Kusa Nori
Kusa Nori.

… vegan ice cream from Craig’s, an iconic Los Angeles eatery …

a rendering of the counter at Craig's
The interior of Craig’s.

… and RedTail, a game bar with food options.

a spread of food at Redtail
Food from Redtail.

Speaking of which, what would a Las Vegas resort be without bars?

a person standing on front of a bar adorned with neon lights
One of the bars in Resorts World Las Vegas

Resorts World also has several drinking spots, including Starlight on 66 with views of the city, Nashville-transplanted Dawg House Saloon and Sportsbook, and the “most technologically advanced nightclub in Las Vegas,” Zouk Nightclub.

a rendering of the entrance of Zouk Nightclub
The entrance of Zouk Nightclub.

There’ll even be a champagne-forward Gatsby’s Cocktail Lounge with live music and DJs.

lights hanging above the Gatsby's Cocktail Lounge
Gatsby’s Cocktail Lounge.

Like Resorts World’s theater, Zouk Nightclub and the hotel’s other club, Ayu Dayclub, will have recognizable headliners or residents like Zedd, Tiësto, Jack Harlow, and Madison Beer.

DJ Ruckus holding a microphone while performing at Ayu Dayclub
DJ Ruckus performing at Ayu Dayclub on July 4.

Now moving on to the casino. The 117,000-square-foot space is filled with all the classic gambling options, such as 1,400 slot machines, 30 poker tables, and 117 table games.

a rendering of the poker room and its tables and chairs
The poker room at Resorts World Las Vegas.

Resorts World’s casino even has cashless options, including “cashless wagering.”

a dealer at a table at the Resorts World Casino in front of slot machines
A dealer at the casino.

Think “tap-(or scan)-and-go,” but on a slot machine or at a table game.

a bar packed with people at Resorts World Las Vegas
Resorts World Las Vegas.

If you’ve been gambling indoors for a bit too long, go unwind at the 5.5-acres worth of pools, including everyone’s favorite, an infinity pool.

a view of the pool by the hotel
The cabana pool.

The seven pools also have what Resorts World calls the “largest pool deck in Las Vegas,” as evidenced by the rendering below.

A rendering of the pool complex
The pool complex.

And when it’s time for some rest and relaxation from all the Vegas chaos, head to the 27,000-square-foot spa.

a rendering of the beauty salon
The beauty salon.

If these amenities all sound pretty enticing to you, you’re not alone.

Devin Lucien, DJ Five, and Brody Jenner gathered around the DJ area
Devin Lucien, DJ Five, and Brody Jenner at Gatsby’s Cocktail Lounge on July 2

“We were waiting, optimistic that things would get better when we opened,” Scott Sibella, president of Resorts World Las Vegas, told CNBC. “But here we are at 100% [capacity] and everything’s going well in Las Vegas, and we’re excited to be part of that.”

a view of the exterior of Resorts World Las Vegas
Resorts World Las Vegas.

Source: CNBC

Read the original article on Business Insider

I had the poshest afternoon tea at London’s oldest hotel. Here’s what it was like, and how the very English tradition has changed post-COVID

The table we sat at was where Agatha Christie used to sit
Agatha Christie’s favourite seat at Brown’s

  • I went to Brown’s Hotel, the oldest and one of the fanciest hotels in London, for afternoon tea.
  • Queen Victoria, Theodore Roosevelt, and Agatha Christie were among the big names who dined here.
  • Afternoon tea has gone through some changes post-COVID. Here’s how it’s served differently.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Brown’s Hotel is the first and oldest hotel in London which has welcomed many royals, politicians, and celebrities over the years

Outside of Brown's hotel
Outside of Brown’s hotel

Brown’s Hotel, which was first built in 1837, is London’s oldest hotel, surviving two world wars and now COVID-19. 

The hotel has 33 luxury suites, 82 hotel rooms, a restaurant, bar, spa, gymnasium, and drawing room where afternoon tea is served.

Compared to other London hotels which offer afternoon tea, including The Ritz and The Savoy, Brown’s is more casual, hotel tea manager Karol Kurowski told Insider.

 

 

The room designs at Brown’s have barely changed since nearly 200 years ago

The Drawing Room at Brown's Hotel
The Drawing Room at Brown’s Hotel

The rooms have hardly changed since the hotel was built in 1837, Kurowski said.

The Drawing Room for afternoon tea had wood panelling on the walls, cosy armchairs and sofas, and antiques and artwork dotted around the fireplace and window ledge.

A pianist played a majestic, black, grand piano in the Drawing Room, performing a range of songs from “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers to “River Flows In You” by Yiruma.

I sat in Agatha Christie’s seat where she used to enjoy afternoon tea at Brown’s

Reporter Kate Duffy tastes Brown's tea
Reporter Kate Duffy tastes Brown’s tea

Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and Princess Diana are among the royals who visited Brown’s.

Leaders such as Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Napoleon III also enjoyed what delights the hotel had to offer. 

Writer and journalist Rudyard Kipling spent his final days at the hotel before falling ill and passing away in hospital. Agatha Christie spent her time sat in the chair which I’m pictured in above, writing novels and enjoying her favorite coronation chicken sandwiches.

Brown’s believes that the Drawing Room was the inspiration for Christie’s “At Bertram’s Hotel.”

But it was The Duchess of Bedford, lady in waiting to Queen Victoria, who kicked off the afternoon tea tradition. In the early 19th century, people only had two meals a day; one at breakfast and one at 8pm in the evening.

The Duchess started requesting a light meal and a pot of tea during the afternoon. Soon after, the practice of afternoon tea became fit for a queen.

 

The majority of Brown’s guests come from the United States

Main reception at Brown's
Main reception at Brown’s

Brown’s Hotel’s largest customer base is from the US. Many Americans who stop in the hotel choose to experience the quintessentially British afternoon tea at least one time in their stay, tea manager Kurowski said.

This means that the hotel lost most of its customers during the pandemic.

It closed in each of England’s three lockdowns and was able to open its doors again on May 17th when hotels in the country were allowed to reopen.

Although Brown’s is seeing an increase in the number of guests, Kurowski said staff are looking forward to when full international travel kicks in and COVID-19 restrictions ease, encouraging more people to fly to the UK.

Brown’s had to change how it operated and introduced new innovations to keep the hotel COVID-safe

QR code on the table at Brown's
QR code to scan for the menu

Like many restaurants and hotels, Brown’s has had to adapt to a more hygienic and COVID-safe way of working.

The sugar cubes in a small bowl on the table are now packaged up individually in plastic, so there’s no chance of someone touching your sugar before you pop it into your teacup. 

A small card with a QR code links you to the menu when you scan it with your smartphone, replacing the ordinary menu as we know it. Queen Victoria must have turned in her grave. 

This was the menu that Brown’s gave to their guests pre-pandemic

The menu at Brown's
Brown’s menu

After walking in the footsteps of famous historical figures in a traditional English drawing room, it’s strange to be met with a modern tech feature like a QR code. 

The menu takes you through the history of the hotel and afternoon tea before listing all the teas, food, and champagne. Brown’s also offers a full vegan menu and a kids’ menu which has a range of herbal teas to choose from.

The waiter gave me a small bottle of hand sanitizer when I sat down at the table

Hand sanitizer on the table
Hand sanitizer handed to every table

Further safety measures at Brown’s include sanitization of the rooms and guests’ hands.

Like every hospitality facility in the UK at the moment, face masks are mandatory for staff and the customers, until they are sat down. I was handed a small bottle of hand sanitizer spray containing rosemary and lavender which, unlike other potent hand sanitizers, smelt divine.

Kurowski said Brown’s staff had to wear gloves when the hotel was open between the three lockdowns but now that’s unecessary. They are also tested twice a week to check they’re negative for COVID-19.

There’s also a 30 minute gap inbetween each restaurant and hotel room booking, giving staff enough time to sanitize the area before the next guests arrive, Kurowski said.

 

First, I was served Moët champagne, hot tea, and sandwiches on a Victorian tea-stand

Sandwiches on the table
Table setup at Brown’s

After clinking our glasses of Moët & Chandon champagne, Kurowski brought over two plates of sandwiches on a Victorian silver tea-stand.

The tea came in three traditional silver pots — two for the tea itself and one for the milk.

Scones used to sit on the empty plate in the middle of the tea stand, but now Brown’s keep the scones warm and serve them later with the rest of the cakes, Kurowski said.

The atmosphere was cosy, calm, and relaxing with the tinkling of the piano keys in the background.

Here’s a close-up of the five different sandwiches

Five different sandwiches on the top tier of cake stand
Sandwiches on top of the tier

From the left, the selection included smoked coronation chicken, beef with horseradish mayonnaise, cucumber and cream cheese, smoked salmon and dill, and prawn cocktail.

Each sandwich slither had a different type of bread and was freshly made in Brown’s kitchens.

The coronation chicken sandwich was apparently Agatha Christie’s go-to sandwich, Kurowski said.

 

Brown’s offer 25 different kinds of tea. The first tea I tried was called Afternoon Blend

Waiter pours tea into teacup
Afternoon Blend tea

Afternoon blend, made with Assam tea, was served alongside the sandwiches. This type of tea, which comes from India, was refreshing and complimented the food.

A similar type of tea to the Afternoon blend is the light and invigorating Darjeeling, Queen Victoria’s favorite. Queen Elizabeth’s first choice was Earl Grey, according to Kurowski, whereas Churchill preferred a Lapsang tea, he said.

After finishing the sandwiches, Kurowski poured me a cup of Oolong tea. Originating from China, this rich, dark brown-coloured tea had a smooth, smoky taste.

After the sandwiches, I was served cakes and scones with jam and clotted cream

Afternoon tea setup at Brown's
Afternoon tea setup at Brown’s

After a top up of champagne, another tea-stand arrived, this time with sweet treats.

Five small patisserie cakes sat on the top plate, four scones were on the second plate, and a pot of jam and another of clotted cream was on the bottom.

Don’t be fooled by the small portions though — by the second scone, I was stuffed.

There were five different cakes to choose from on the top tier of the cake stand

Selection of cakes
Selection of cakes on top of the cake stand

On the top plate, there was a chocolate and hazelnut tart, strawberry cake, lime and coconut cheesecake, chocolate and banana truffle, and a raspberry petit gateau.

Kurowski recommended to eat the chocolate and hazelnut tart last because of its richness.

The real question is: does the jam go on the scone first, or the clotted cream?

Scones with jam then cream and then cream with jam
Brown’s scones

The tradition says that the cream is spread on the scone first, and the jam goes on top, according to Kurowski. Jam first and then cream is the Cornish tradition from southwest England, he said.

Despite the British cream-jam debate, Kurowski said he’s seen guests eat their scones in a strange way.

Some have put butter, as well as cream and jam on the scone, while others have sandwiched the two scone halves together like a burger and chomped away.

 

The third tea I tried was a Chinese Jasmine tea which changed flavor after five minutes

Waiter pours another type of tea into teacup
Chinese Jasmine tea

While I was munching away on the cakes, Kurowski poured a third tea for me to try. This one was called a Chinese Jasmine tea, which is classed as a green tea. It tasted fresh and floral but after five minutes, the flavor went bitter due to chemical changes in the tea.

I also tasted a Genmaicha green tea from Japan which had a more delicate taste.

The final tea I tried to finish off the whole experience was a black vanilla tea. This was a richer, sweeter tea which was the perfect end to a quintessentially British afternoon tea.

I even got to take home a goodie bag!

Reporter Kate Duffy holding goodie bag from Brown's
Reporter Kate Duffy holding a Brown’s goodie bag

Although the sandwiches, cakes and scones look small, they’re quite filling! Kurowski kindly packaged up the remaining patisserie cakes so I could enjoy them at home.

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Trump Organization making a second attempt to sell its Washington, DC hotel lease, The Washington Post reports

trump international hotel dc
The north entrance of the Trump International in Washington, DC.

  • The Trump Org. is trying to sell its DC hotel lease for a second time, according to The Washington Post.
  • The company first tried to unload the property in fall 2019 but took it off the market when COVID-19 hit.
  • The move comes as a New York investigation into Trump and his business heats up.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As investigations against the former president heat up, former President Donald Trump is taking another stab at selling the lease to his company’s Washington, DC hotel, The Washington Post reported.

For a second time, the Trump Organization has hired a broker to sell the Pennsylvania Avenue hotel, after the pandemic hindered the first effort in fall 2019. The company took the property off the market after COVID-19 hit.

The Trump Organization has hired real estate advisory firm Newmark Group to market the property, which the company leases from the General Services Administration, according to The Post.

The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Newmark Group declined to comment.

When the company first tried to unload the lease, rooms were running almost half empty, The Post reported, and the property’s revenue last year fell by more than 60%. The hotel continued to face financial setbacks, including the pandemic’s impact on the luxury hospitality industry and ongoing damage to the former president’s brand following the 2020 election and January 6 insurrection.

The move comes one week after Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced he was convening a grand jury as his office investigates whether the Trump Organization violated state law. The inquiry into Trump and his company’s finances is wide-ranging and has been underway for more than two years.

It’s not clear whether the DC hotel will play a role in Vance’s investigation or a related investigation being led by New York Attorney General Letitia James. According to The Post, the property has not been named in any public flings related to either case.

But The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Vance’s office is investigating a slew of properties, including the DC hotel named for the former president.

Trump acquired the property, which is located in the Old Post Office, before he was elected in 2016, but the hotel became a hotbed for controversy during his presidency as Trump continued to own his businesses, spurring allegations of conflicts of interest.

The Trump International Hotel was at the center of several lawsuits accusing Trump of violating the foreign-emoluments clause of the Constitution, which bars public officials from receiving gifts or cash from foreign or state governments without congressional approval.

According to financial disclosures, Trump made at least $40.8 million from the hotel in 2018.

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Marriott is testing contactless check-in via kiosk as travel begins to return – see how to works

Moxy Times Square Exterior
  • Marriott is testing contactless check-in and check-out kiosks and a “grab-and-go marketplace.”
  • The hotel giant is looking to “blend” contactless amenities with face-to-face interactions.
  • The demand for contactless solutions has been on the rise throughout COVID-19.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
COVID-19 spurred a demand for contactless services, and Marriott is now leaning into this by testing its new contactless arrival kiosks and markets, eliminating the need for face-to-face check-ins or snack purchases, respectively.

Large F&B Kiosk Rendering   credit No Brick LLC for Marriott International
The grab-and-go marketplace.

Stephanie Linnartz, the president of Marriott International, has reaffirmed in a press release that COVID-19 has pushed the need for contactless amenities. This echoes the sentiments shared across several industries, from credit card companies to airlines

The kiosks, which help speed up the check-in process, can already be seen at several Marriott locations.

Moxy NYC Times Sq_Contactless_Kiosk_01   credit Marriott International
Moxy NYC Times Square hotel’s contactless kiosk.

These locations include:

  • Moxy NYC Times Square
  • Courtyard New York Manhattan/Midtown East
  • TownePlace Suites Monroe 

The kiosks will also soon be available at Marriott’s Moxy Miami South Beach location.

 

Guests can also grab their room keys from the kiosks, which are equipped with touchscreens that have “antimicrobial technology.”

Moxy NYC Times Sq_Contactless_Kiosk_02   credit Marriott International
Moxy NYC Times Square hotel’s contactless kiosk.

Upon leaving, guests can also opt to check-out from the same kiosks, eliminating the need for any in-person interactions.

Similarly, the hotel giant is also testing its “grab-and-go marketplace” at two Maryland locations: the Fairfield Inn and Suites Frederick, and the Fairfield Inn and Suites Arundel Mills BWI Airport.

Small F&B Kiosk Rendering   credit No Brick LLC for Marriott International
The grab-and-go marketplace.

Craving a hot breakfast sandwich or a little cup of yogurt? Just head to the marketplace kiosks. These stands will offer a variety of both hot and cold snacks and drinks, including the daily complimentary breakfast.

Payments can then be made directly at the kiosks.

Marriott’s push for contactless services isn’t new.

Moxy NYC Times Sq_Contactless_Kiosk_01   credit Marriott International
Moxy NYC Times Square hotel’s contactless kiosk.

The hotel giant already has contactless features that can be accessed through the Marriott Bonvoy app, including check-ins and outs, the room key, food orders, and service requests. 

The new kiosk offerings “help streamline operations,” according to Marriott.

Large F&B Kiosk Rendering   credit No Brick LLC for Marriott International
The grab-and-go marketplace.

However, the hotel giant won’t be going fully digital, and is instead looking to “blend” contactless options with face-to-face interactions, according to Linnartz.

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A hotel owner who was one of the wealthiest men in the UK was reportedly found stabbed to death at his $2 million country house

london street
The streets of London were empty on Monday with the city and parts of southeast England under new coronavirus restrictions to stem the spread of a new strain of the virus.

  • Sir Richard Lexington Sutton was reportedly stabbed to death at his country house in Dorset.
  • The hotel owner was listed as one of the richest men in Great Britain.
  • Sutton is believed to have known his attacker, according to the Dorset Police Department.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sir Richard Lexington Sutton, one of the richest men in Great Britain, was found stabbed to death on Wednesday night, according to the local newspaper Dorset Echo.

The Dorset Police Department launched a murder investigation on Wednesday after finding the 83-year-old Baronet at his country estate, according to multiple reports from the media, including BBC News. Police were called to the scene by a concerned member of the public, according to the local newspaper.

Sutton was pronounced dead on the scene due to the stab wounds and an unidentified woman in her 60s, who is believed to be his wife, was airlifted to a local hospital. The police reported she remains in critical condition.

The police tracked a vehicle believed to be connected to the scene of the crime and arrested an unidentified 34-year-old man who authorities suspect is connected to the incident, according to a press release. The police said the suspect was known to the Sutton family.

Sutton was a high-profile hotel owner, known for his five-star hotels on Park Lane and Piccadilly in London.

The hotelier is listed as one of the country’s richest men on The Sunday Times Rich List. His net worth was valued at about $400 million and he placed No. 435 on the list of the nation’s 1,000 wealthiest residents, ranking above Mick Jagger and George Clooney.

Sutton was the 9th Baronet in the Sutton family and responsible for 7,000 acres of land across the country, according to the Dorset Echo.

A spokesman for the hotel chain Sir Richard Sutton Limited told the publication Sutton would be deeply missed.

“Sir Richard was passionately devoted to both his company and its people, setting the highest and standards for quality in the hotels, farming and property interests within the group,” the spokesperson said. “His loss will be felt by everyone within the company, those who worked with him, and his family who have lost an incredible individual. Our thoughts are with the Sutton family at this tragic time.”

The Dorset Police Department and Sir Richard Sutton Limited did not respond to a request for comment from Insider.

Read the full story at the Dorset Echo.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Britons will soon go on holiday again. Hotel and B&B owners tell guests to expect strict rules around face masks, eating areas, and social distancing – but vaccines won’t be mandatory

People sit in deckchairs on the beach as they enjoy the warm weather on the seafront on July 30, 2014 in Weymouth, England.
People sit in deckchairs on the beach as they enjoy the warm weather on the seafront on July 30, 2014 in Weymouth, England.

  • Hotels, B&Bs and holiday parks in the UK told Insider how they’re preparing for guests this summer.
  • Over 27.6 million Brits have had at least one shot but hotel owners said this won’t be mandatory.
  • Holiday parks will be opening April 12, while hotels and B&Bs will accept guests from May 17.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The holiday season is nearly upon us. But there’s speculation about whether people in the UK will be able to travel abroad due to the increased worry of coronavirus variants spreading and cases rising.

This uncertainty, along with COVID-19 restrictions, is turning more people towards domestic holidays to visit the British coastline, country parks and smaller towns and cities.

In accordance with UK government guidelines, hotels, bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) and other shared accommodation in England are allowed to open on May 17. This is the same date that international travel can continue.

While self-contained accommodation, which requires no shared facilities between guests, can reopen on April 12.

Insider spoke to a range of hotels, holiday parks and B&Bs, which are preparing for guests to come back and how their facilities will be run differently.

Vaccines won’t be mandatory

A plane passes over the Travelodge Hotel at Heathrow.
A plane passes over the Travelodge Hotel at Heathrow.

So far, more than 30 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of the vaccine but most owners said they won’t make this a requirement for guests.

Travelodge, an independent UK chain hotel, which has more than 570 hotels across the UK, currently only allows keyworkers and those who need to travel for work to stay in its hotels, a spokesperson told Insider.

When asked if Travelodge will make the vaccine mandatory for guests, the spokesperson said: “We will continue to stringently follow government guidelines and policy in regards to operating in the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Currently, the government does not require hotel guests to be vaccinated.

The situation is similar in holiday parks. Centre Parcs, which has five short-break holiday villages across the UK, will open on April 12 and have the same COVID-19 safety measures it had in place last year, spokesperson Simon Kay told Insider.

“In line with government guidelines we will not be requiring guests to have been vaccinated,” he said.

Haven Holidays, another chain of holiday parks in the UK, told Insider it’s planning to reopen all of its locations on April 12. A company spokesperson said the government haven’t sent Haven any details about COVID-19 passports and declined to comment on the implementation of them.

Hazelwood Farm
Hazelwood Farm

Hazelwood Farm B&B in York, in northern England, will also be carrying on with coronavirus measures. The owner, Annette McAnespie described making the vaccine mandatory as a “Catch 22 situation” and could be “construed as discriminatory.”

“I am lucky in that most of my gorgeous guests are retirement age so the stats are that most of them would have chosen to have had the vaccine and would have had their first jab, if not their second one too, by the time I can reopen,” McAnespie said.

At the other end of the country, the Penellen B&B, based in Cornwall – a popular holiday destination in south-west England – will open on May 17th with COVID-19 practices that were in place last year.

Paul and Barbara Goldingay, owners of The Penellen, told Insider that they are not making the vaccine mandatory because it would be too difficult to police.

Face masks stay on and social distancing remains

Haven Holidays' employee
Haven Holidays’ employee

Travelodge said, like many other chain hotels, its safety measures include wearing face masks indoors, social distancing, contactless payment and checkout, and no housekeeping teams in guests’ rooms during their stay.

The Penellen and Hazelwood Farm’s coronavirus measures both include wearing face masks.

McAnespie is using two out of the three rooms available on Hazelwood Farm. She plans to steam-clean the curtains and remove cushions from the bedrooms as part of the B&B’s coronavirus policy. She told Insider she hopes to see the back of restrictions in September.

Center Parcs has had a surge in bookings recently, especially from the summer onwards, according to Kay.

COVID-19 safety measures in its holiday parks include fewer guests on-site, wearing face masks where necessary, social distancing in all areas including on beaches and a frequent and improved cleaning regime in the villages.

Haven Holidays, which owns 40 parks across the UK, will bring back the Clean and Safe Charter that it introduced in July. This includes a contactless check-in process, social-distancing measures in all public places, and cleaning teams in the parks.

Eating and dining in accommodation

Haven Holidays
Haven Holidays

Guests staying in Travelodge hotels won’t be able to dine in the restaurants or bars until June 21, when the rest of hospitality is allowed to open, per the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Hazelwood Farm B&B in York isn’t offering its usual breakfast buffet. McAnespie told Insider guests’ cold breakfast orders will be taken the evening before and hot breakfast orders will be taken the same morning with the waitress, Nettie, standing at a distance.

She said the B&B will try to stagger breakfast times for the three rooms as there are only two tables in the dining room with the option to also sit outside. Continental breakfast can also be delivered to the room, as well as any other takeaways from local pubs in the area, McAnespie added.

The Penellen said it will also be serving guests at the table, rather than offering a buffet service.

Holidays parks such as Center Parcs and Haven Holidays offer self-catered accommodation so guests can cook for themselves.

Other restrictions in place

Center Parc Bispinger Heide is written on a sign in front of the park area
Center Parc Bispinger Heide is written on a sign in front of the park area

Center Parcs’ Book with Confidence guarantee offers guests free cancellation and a full refund within six weeks of the arrival date, if they decide to no longer go on holiday to the village. They can also change the dates of their stay.

“It is clear that people want reassurance about the flexibility to cancel or change dates,” said Kay.

As part of Haven’s Caravan Cleanliness Guarantee, a specialist team member checks each holiday home after its been disinfected using virus-killing products and seals up the door. Guests are entitled to a full refund if the holiday home isn’t cleaned to its standards, the company said in a statement to Insider.

Similar to Center Parcs, the company’s Coronavirus Book with Confidence Guarantee means guests can cancel their booking between three and 28 days prior to arrival at no cost and be fully refunded, Haven said.

Paul and Barbara from The Penellen said the majority of bookings for this year are rescheduled from last year.

Their “main worry is people from the UK going on holiday overseas and then returning carrying a new variant,” they said.

“In our opinion, all borders should be closed for non-essential travel for the time being,” they added.

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