6 safer, expert-backed vacation ideas during the pandemic, whether you’re taking a last-minute spring break trip or planning ahead for summer

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All our ideas on safer summer travel 4x3

  • Despite the pandemic, many US travelers are eager to take a spring break vacation, but safely.
  • For safer vacation ideas during COVID, we compiled options based on expert advice and research.
  • From remote hotels near beaches to vacation rentals and road trip essentials, consider these ideas.

Table of Contents

With vaccine rollouts well underway, it finally feels like there might soon be light at the end of the tunnel. However, the pandemic continues across the country, and some are worried that spring break trips could lead to new spikes in cases. Though pandemic fatigue may be setting in, it’s still vital to seek safe vacation ideas for closer-t0-home getaways right now.

For those of us wondering if it is safe to travel right now, the answer depends on many variables, namely, how you plan to do so, where you want to go, the rates of infection in your chosen destination, and your anticipated behavior once you arrive.

To help determine the risks associated with each mode of travel during COVID, we reached out to experts including infectious disease and ER doctors, cleaning specialists, travel industry professionals, and representatives from major rental cars, hotels, Airbnb, and transportation organizations, to reveal both the risks and best practices associated with various forms of lodging and safe travel during COVID. We’ve also taken into account the latest guidance from the CDC.

Of course, it’s impossible to guarantee any place other than your home is safe right now. The pandemic is an evolving situation and it’s crucial to follow guidelines set forth by organizations such as the CDC and WHO, and practice safety measures, no matter where you go, including wearing a mask, washing your hands, and maintaining social distancing. Additionally, consider quarantine mandates for your destination, as well as your own level of risk and whether you’re traveling from or to a hotspot, so as not to increase the rate of infection.

However, if you’re fully vaccinated, Dr. Thomas Russo, chief of the division of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo, does note that “flying, travel, and life, in general, is significantly safer.”

But that doesn’t mean you’re totally in the clear. “The vaccines are very good, but they’re not perfect. While you’re much less likely to transmit the disease or get it, there is still a chance,” says Dr. Russo.

The CDC advises that even those who are vaccinated should continue to wear masks in public areas. Additionally, keep in mind that you need to be at least two weeks out from receiving your final dose to be considered fully vaccinated.

If you do want to take a safe vacation during COVID and are seeking safer spring break ideas, we compiled several options based on expert insight that suggests travel this year will stick close to home, with travelers choosing safer travel alternatives to traditional choices. Think regional road trips over far-flung flights, lodging that prioritizes hotels with stringent COVID policies, and private vacation rentals instead of crowded resorts. Both Airbnb and Vrbo have seen an uptick in bookings compared to last year and, according to Airbnb, domestic vacation rentals will continue to be a trend throughout 2021.

From beaches and mountains to lakes and islands, as well as private vacation home rentals, remote hotels, and how to prepare for a road trip, the following list includes close to home vacation ideas during coronavirus. Additionally, if a spring ski trip is on your list, start with this guide where we break down if skiing is safe, all the changes to expect at ski resorts this year, plus expert-backed recommendations for precautions to take.

Travel looks different right now, but it’s still ready and willing to welcome you as safely as possible.

Here are 6 ways to take a safe vacation during COVID:

Book a socially distant hotel stay

We already know that most major hotel chains have announced wide-reaching new cleaning policies made in combination with health experts. These policies focus on social distancing and contact-free transactions such as virtual check-in and out, digital keys, limited dining, and more.

However, the experts we interviewed still feel that the answer to the question ‘Are hotels safe during coronavirus’ is highly subjective and depends on whether an individual also takes proper protective measures like wearing a mask, distancing, and disinfecting.

best santa fe hotels four seasons rancho encantado

If you swear by staying in hotels, make sure the property has announced rigorous new cleaning measures, and look for signs they are implementing such procedures, from check-in to common spaces like the elevator or pool, and of course, in your room. Some are even promoting COVID-friendly WFH – work from hotel – travel deals aimed at the socially distant traveler. Also, consider more remote properties with plenty of wide-open spaces and outdoor-friendly amenities.

If you’re worried about flexibility, many hotels are offering more generous cancellation policies right now than usual.

To help facilitate a socially distant hotel stay, the following destinations and hotels all detail new COVID policies and are well-suited for a domestic getaway. Think wide stretches of beaches, remote mountain retreats, idyllic island escapes, and other places that embrace the great outdoors.

Book a private vacation rental to limit interactions with others

After breaking down the risks of both hotels and vacation rentals such as Vrbo or Airbnb, the doctors and experts we spoke with agreed private vacation homes are likely safer than hotels because they come with fewer person-to-person interactions.

“While there is no question hotels are working diligently to keep their hotels clean and sanitized, Airbnb has a huge advantage given that the renter is generally the only one occupying the property,” said Dr. Neil Brown, K Health’s chief diagnosis officer. “With Airbnb’s new Enhanced Cleaning Initiative, the company provides a better option than public hotel spaces,” he said.

Additionally, the CDC’s current lodging guidelines note that private vacation rentals with members of your own household are a safer option than hotels or staying with family.

Airbnb

For those who like social distancing of aspect of vacation rentals, but prefer the comforts of hotels, consider in-between options like Sonder or Marriott Homes & Villas, which offer professionally managed vacation rentals with hotel-like amenities.

We detailed everything to know about vacation rentals, from what to know about Airbnb’s new cleaning protocol to the platform’s COVID cancellation policies and Airbnb Plus program, plus key differences between Airbnb and other vacation home rental sites such as Vrbo.

If you’re ready to hit the road, these are some of the best places in the US to rent a vacation home right now:

Nationwide

Northeast

The South

Midwest

West

Hawaii

Plan a socially distant road trip during COVID

Remember when planning a road trip simply meant queueing up a great playlist and stocking up on snacks?

These days, they’re one of the safer-seeming ways to travel while limiting exposure, especially compared to planes, trains, and other mass transit. And should you feel any discomfort, or worse, become sick, you can hop back in the car and drive home.

road trip

From expert-recommended precautions to take and products to pack, to getaways that are close to home, scenic drives, and more, here are our top tips and ways to hit the road right now:

Camp somewhere remote

If you want to get away and embrace nature, but feel uncomfortable checking into a hotel or private lodging, there are plenty of other outdoor options from camping to glamping that make it easy to avoid crowds.

Book a home on wheels or pack your gear into the car and pitch a tent. These ideas all afford a charming level of rustic charm where you can control just how much, or little, you encounter the rest of the world. Even in colder areas, camping can be a cozy option, provided you bring plenty of warm supplies and a heavier sleeping bag. You may also want to consider car camping or truck camping to help ensure you’re plenty warm.

Consider safer alternatives to traditional travel

Ultimately, if you plan to head out on a trip, consider adapting your vacation plans in ways that provide safer alternatives that can help can reduce your risk of virus exposure while away from home.

To come up with a list of safer approaches to air travel, ground transportation, lodging, activities, and more, we culled the advice from our interviews with experts – including medical, sanitization, and travel industry professionals.

travel during the coronavirus

Do note, however, that many public health and medical professionals (including some of those we talked to) still advise limiting nonessential travel in the pandemic, as it poses inherent risks.

Here are four safer travel ideas based on expert advice – public charters over commercial flights, private home rentals overcrowded resorts, and much more

Work with a travel agent

While many travelers previously booked travel independently, some are returning to travel agents. These seasoned professionals have spent years in the business and are well-equipped to help clients identify viable locations with vetted, flexible policies. They may also have better insights into new practices at specific hotels to help determine how clean and safe they will be, and whether facilities and amenities may be impacted.

Their advice is to plan now, travel later (most of their clients are looking to travel between March and May of 2021), book refundable options, be aware of cleaning policies, try to travel domestically or close to home, opt for socially distant places, take advantage of deals, and assess your own comfort level with risk before booking.

Read the full story on key takeaways to learn from travel agents and tour operators about how to book travel right now, and into next year.

For more reporting on whether it’s safe to travel right now, click a link below to jump directly to related coverage:

Read the original article on Business Insider

Expedia and Marriott rise as stimulus checks and easing restrictions boost optimism for travel and hospitality

family travel road trip
  • Expedia stock ended Thursday’s session at a record high and Marriott gained as travel optimism grew.
  • The US will begin sending $1,400 checks after President Biden signed off on a stimulus package.
  • New York State will lift some travel restrictions starting on April 1.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Shares of Marriot and other hotel chains pushed toward record highs Thursday as investors anticipated that new stimulus checks for millions of Americans and relaxed travel restrictions will lead to more bookings.

Hotel names rode up alongside other consumer discretionary stocks, in turn drawing the Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR Fund up by 1.5% at the close.

Online travel bookings site Expedia rose by 2.1% at end at a record close of $171.08. Marriott tacked on 1.6% to end at $148.83, a third winning session. The stock two weeks ago logged its all-time high of $159.98.

The S&P 500 closed at an all-time high Thursday, the same day President Joe Biden signed off on a $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus package passed by Congress. With his signature, the government will begin sending $1,400 checks to most Americans with the aim of assisting them until the economy fully recovers.

Some industry watchers have said consumers having more spending money can help the travel sector recover from the coronavirus crisis, but hurdles remain. The pandemic is still not over and millions of Americans are still out of work, they’ve cautioned.

But COVID-19 case counts “continue to decrease every day,” as more people are vaccinated, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday as the state lifted its requirement for domestic travelers to quarantine after arrival, effective April 1. International travelers will still be required to quarantine.

Among other travel stocks, Hyatt rose 1.6% and InterContinental Hotels Group added on 0.6%. Hilton had been more than 1% higher intraday before turning lower, ending down by less than 1%.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Airbnb’s 15 most popular online experiences, including drinking with drag queens, making pasta with grandmas, and a Harry Potter tour

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Sangria and Secrets with Drag Queens Lead Image

  • Airbnb offers an extensive catalog of online experiences you can do from the comfort of home.
  • Filter your search to explore matches for your interests, budget, and schedule.
  • Below are 15 of Airbnb’s most popular online experiences, including cooking, dancing, magic, and more.

While travelers are choosing Airbnb for lodging because private residences pose a lower risk than hotels in the pandemic, the home-sharing platform also provides another popular entertainment option that comes with no risk at all: online experiences to do at home.

Many Airbnb online experiences provide both the flavor of travel and a chance to learn something new: Topics include food and drink, history and culture, dance, music, and more. You can filter your search by price (the average price of an experience is a budget-friendly $23), language (at least 14 are offered), and length (go for a quick 30-minute session, or commit to several hours).

Insider’s associate travel editor reviewed two of the Airbnb online experiences first-hand, including a Moroccan cooking class and a tango lesson. Her verdict? That she would readily sign up for more.

Whatever your tastes, budget, and schedule, there’s an online Airbnb experience sure to pique your interest.

Here are 15 of Airbnb’s most popular online experiences right now.

Sangria and Secrets with Drag Queens

Sangria and Secrets with Drag Queens Airbnb Online Experiences

Sangria and Secrets with Drag Queens

This is Airbnb’s most popular online experience in the world. This group of Lisbon-based drag queens offers a live cocktail-making class, teaching guests how to make authentic, fresh, and tasty Portuguese sangria from scratch. But the cabaret-style drag performance is also a major part of the appeal: think fireworks, smoke effects, lights, and over-the-top costumes. Hang out with the queens after to talk about Lisbon, drag culture, life — whatever you like.

Follow a Plague Doctor Through Prague

Follow a Plague Doctor Through Prague Airbnb Online Experiences

Follow a Plague Doctor Through Prague

This one might be a little too on the nose for some…. but if living through a pandemic for a year has only inspired you to delve deeper into historical plagues, this is the experience for you. Virtually walk the empty streets of Prague during the Black Death and other plagues of the 17th and 18th centuries, and get a peek into the PPE of the time. In this 60-minute experience, live audio accompanies professionally shot video filmed during quarantine in the abandoned town.

Booty Shake with Colombian Choreographer

Booty Shake with Colombian Choreographer Airbnb Online Experience

Booty Shake with Colombian Choreographer

Sure, you could hit those dumbbells in the garage. But that seems pretty ho-hum when you compare it to this fitness experience: shaking your culo with a choreographer from Colombia, live. (Plus, you can apply your skills when it’s safe to hit the dance floors all over the world again.) In this hour-long class, you’ll learn basic or advance booty shaking or twerk techniques. The instructor especially recommends this class for groups of girlfriends; no prior experience is required.

GINspiration History & Cocktails at Home

GINspiration History & Cocktails at Home Airbnb Online Experience

GINspiration History & Cocktails at Home

In this virtual class for gin lovers (or wannabe aficionados), you’ll learn how to turn basic ingredients into elevated drinks. You’ll delve into the history of the spirit, craft some delicious cocktails, and, of course, drink them.

Cook Mexican Street Tacos with a Pro Chef

Cook Mexican Street Tacos with a Pro Chef Airbnb Online Experience

Cook Mexican Street Tacos with a Pro Chef

Learn to make a Mexican street taco, and all of its accoutrements, from scratch in this 90-minute class. The first half hour is an intimate meet-and-greet with the chef, located in Mexico City, and an overview of the recipe. In the next hour, prep traditional red salsa, taco filling, and flour tortillas in easy-to-follow steps. Vegan options are also available if preferred. 

Meditation with a Japanese Buddhist Monk

Meditation with a Japanese Buddhist Monk Airbnb Online Experience

Meditation with a Japanese Buddhist Monk

If sitting in front of your computer doesn’t always feel like the most Zen experience, this one will be a breath of fresh air. In this 60-minute class, you’ll sit with a Japanese meditation practitioner who will teach two methods. First is a 20-minute chanting mantra, followed by a 10-minute breathing-out meditation. Afterward, you can share questions and thoughts on the practice. It’s especially ideal for a professional team-building exercise or group session; the host can lead private groups of up to 30 guests.

Pasta with the Grandmas

Pasta With the Grandmas Airbnb Online Experience

Pasta with the Grandmas

What’s the next best thing to eating pasta in Italy? Cooking pasta with an authentic Italian nonna (grandma). In this 90-minute experience, you’ll do just that — but it’s far from an amateur setup. It uses four professional sets with four cameras each for an immersive, high-quality experience. Sign up to make pistachio pesto, fettuccini ragu, ravioli with ricotta and spinach, classic lasagne, and other dishes. Saturdays are for tiramisu.

Harry Potter Magic in Edinburgh Tour

Harry Potter Magic in Edinburgh Tour Airbnb Online Experience

Harry Potter Magic in Edinburgh Tour

Virtually visit the Scottish city of Edinburgh through a J.K Rowling lens in this 60-minute class. You’ll see all the places from where the author drew her inspiration, including the school believed to be the inspiration for Hogwarts, the shops of Diagon Alley, the graveyard where her characters’ names came from, and more. Costumes encouraged.

Living Room Legends Scavenger Hunt Game

Living Room Legends Scavenger Hunt Game Airbnb Online Experience

Living Room Legends Scavenger Hunt Game

This energetic, interactive scavenger hunt game invites participants to compete in fun, challenging missions for points and virtual prizes. You can race random guests from other locations, or sign up together with friends, family, or colleagues. It’s a chance to showcase your collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving skills — so it works especially well for corporate team building.

One Day in Paris with a Parisian

One Day in Paris with a Parisian Airbnb Online Experience

One Day in Paris with a Parisian

Experience Paris virtually through this 60-minute experience. Your Parisian host will share insights and history about the City of Light, including why the Eiffel tower should not be standing today, where Parisians go off the beaten path, and how they shop the open-air markets to prepare a perfect Parisian picnic.

Solve the Mystery Escape Room

Solve the Mystery Escape Room Airbnb Online Experience

Solve the Mystery Escape Room

This digital escape room is all about solving a mystery. It starts with getting to know your teammates. Next, learn the rules and the plot of the game. Now, become a team of detectives trying to creatively solve a case in just one hour. Book with a group to play together as a team.

Tango Concert with Latin Grammy Nominee

Tango Concert with Latin Grammy Nominee Airbnb Online Experience

Tango Concert with Latin Grammy Nominee

This 60-minute experience merges a live concert with a history lesson… and a cocktail party. This group of musicians with decades of stage experience will lead virtual guests from the origins of tango in the 1890s to Buenos Aires’ modern music scene, sharing culture, music, and conversation with the virtual attendees.

 

Family Magic Show and Magic Lesson

Family Magic Show and Magic Lesson Airbnb Online Experience

Family Magic Show and Magic Lesson

No fancy equipment needed for this family magic show with your Japan-based host. The interactive experience is right for kids and adults alike. The show comprises about two-thirds of the 60-minute class, with the last third devoted to a magic lesson. 

True vs. False Funny Historical Game

True vs. False Funny Historical Game Airbnb Online Experience

True vs. False Funny Historical Game

This might be a version of history class, but be aware it’s not for kids. The regular version gets a bit racy (but you can also choose milder versions for corporate or family events). Expect to hear strange stories and kinky details from ancient Greece, along with some funny made-up stuff. Can you identify the truth from the fake news? 

Coffee Masterclass

Coffee Masterclass Airbnb Online Experience

Coffee Masterclass

Your hosts for this class are Elena, who is currently traveling, and Christian, who is located in Mexico. They’ll teach you what’s considered a great cup of coffee and why, covering concepts including the basic neuroscience of flavor. Next, you’ll learn the different processes and tips for brewing the best cup ever. A barista handbook is included.

 

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Emirates’ president continues to slam Boeing and its leadership over the 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner scandals

Emirates Tim Clark
Sir Tim Clark, president of the Middle Eastern mega carrier Emirates.

  • Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates, is concerned about Boeing’s continued issues on its newest planes.
  • Clark cited issues with the Boeing 737 Max, 787 Dreamliner, and 777X aircraft in a recent interview.
  • The 737 Max was just ungrounded after issues with the aircraft’s software caused two crashes.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Most airlines are ready to move on from Boeing’s 737 Max crisis following the plane’s 20-month grounding – but one executive continues to sound the alarm about the company’s performance in recent years.

Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates, criticized the manufacturer’s leadership and recent problems with three of its important planes in an interview with The Air Current published Tuesday. Specifically, Clark criticized Boeing’s 737 Max, 787 Dreamliner, and 777X, all of which have been marred by safety concerns, quality control issues, and production delays.

The problem, he says, stems from Boeing’s board of directors.

“Culpability for the culture, strategy, direction, priority of that company rests with the Boeing board and nobody else, Clark told The Air Current. “And that’s where the buck should stop. And that’s where they need to get themselves sorted out.”

Clark has long been outspoken over the issues at Boeing, levying similar complaints in a January Reuters interview: “Clearly there were process and practices, attitudes – DNA if you like – that needed to be resolved from the top down,” he said at the time.

Boeing shuffled its top leadership amid the Max grounding, firing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and installing Dave Calhoun, a board member, as his replacement. But Clark said it wasn’t enough: “It is pointless shuffling the deck.”

“Boeing need to take a good hard look at themselves; I’m sure they have,” he continued.

Emirates operates hundreds of Boeing 777 aircraft and will be the first airline to take delivery of the upcoming 777X. The largest twin-engine jet aircraft in the world, the 777X has been delayed again until late 2023, partly due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Emirates is also set to receive a 787 Dreamliner in 2023 following a 2019 order.

Both the 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner have been under near-constant scrutiny in recent years following safety and quality control issues. The 737 Max, notably, causing the deaths of 346 passengers across two crashes due to a software issue.

Quality control issues at Boeing’s South Carolina plant have called the Dreamliner’s safety into question and prompted additional groundings. Boeing may have to spend additional hundreds of millions to resolve the issues.

Emirates doesn’t operate the 737 Max and has largely been spared of those issues. The plane returned to the skies in November, and has flown more than 2,700 flights since. Meanwhile orders have been pouring in from airlines including United Airlines, Ryanair, and Alaska Airlines.

Still, Clark remains a vocal critic of the aircraft as it returns.

“I regret having to say all this, but I kind of, I think it needs to be said, otherwise, we’re just going to move on our of the Max era, as if nothing happened,” Clark told The Air Current.

Only two Max flights have encountered issues since the ungrounding, and both were due to engine incidents unrelated to the faulty software that brought down the Max aircraft. An American Airlines flight, most recently, was forced to land with one engine shut down due to a mechanical issue.

Canada’s WestJet also scrapped a Boeing 737 Max flight after its pilots encountered an engine warning light that the airline said required an engine run, a spokesperson told CBC. The airline, which used the Max for flights as far as Hawaii and Europe prior to the grounding, has since resumed flights without issue.

Boeing declined to comment for The Air Current story and when asked by Insider about Clark’s concerns,

“I believe they still have work to do in Boeing to get themselves sorted out,” Clark told Reuters. “There is a top-down culpability and accountability and they need to recognize that.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Southwest Airlines just resumed Boeing 737 Max flights and may go all-in with a reported order for ‘dozens’ of new jets

Southwest Boeing 737 Max
Southwest Airlines’ grounded Boeing 737 Max fleet.

  • Southwest Airlines resumed flights with the Boeing 737 Max on Thursday.
  • The day has 32 departures planned to 15 different cities in the strongest Max resumption of any US airline.
  • Southwest is reportedly nearing a deal for “dozens” of new Boeing 737 Max 7 jets, Reuters reported.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Southwest Airlines is all in on the Boeing 737 Max.

Passenger flights on the aircraft for the Dallas-based carrier resumed on Thursday in the latest milestone for Boeing’s infamous jet. The first four flights departed from cities across the US at 8 a.m. Dallas time, just two days short of the two-year anniversary of the Federal Aviation Administration’s order to ground the aircraft on the heels of a fatal Max crash in Ethiopia.

Southwest started the day strong with 32 flights planned to 15 cities in an opening salvo unrivaled by any of its competitors in their Max debuts. American Airlines, for example, started with just two daily departures and United Airlines started with 24. Alaska Airlines, with only one aircraft in its fleet, started with four departures on its first day.

But Southwest has also waited the longest to get the Max back in the air, a surprising choice considering the low-cost carrier had the largest pre-grounding fleet of 34-strong Max aircraft.

The first flights are the culmination of over 200 proving flights that the airline has performed with the Max since its November ungrounding as part of its return to service. Southwest pilots flying the Max are also now required to undergo training in a 737 Max simulator and classroom setting, which was not required before the grounding.

“To be clear, I have the utmost confidence in our ability to safely operate the Boeing 737 MAX 8,” CEO Gary Kelly said in a letter to customers. Kelly was aboard one of the proving flights, describing it as “quiet and smooth.”

The same 15 cities are slated to see the Max in March, per current Cirium data, including Atlanta; Fort Myers, Florida; Baltimore; New Orleans; Columbus, Ohio; Phoenix; Denver; Orlando, Florida; Chicago; Houston, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; Salt Lake City; Las Vegas; San Antonio, Texas; and Portland, Oregon. After a month, however, the Max will quickly grow in the US with Southwest planning 252 daily departures starting April 12, according to Cirium.

Hawaii is a likely destination for the Max in the future as travelers flock to the islands for a tropical reprieve amid the pandemic. Southwest’s pre-grounding schedule shows that the airline considers the Max to be truly interchangeable with its current fleet and will fly both the longest and shortest flights in the airline’s route map.

Travelers still uncertain about flying on the Max can opt to switch flights free of charge, a policy adopted by all four US airlines operating the aircraft.

A massive new Boeing 737 Max order

March 10, a date that was slated to commemorate the loss of life on Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 in 2019, became a hopeful day for Boeing as reports indicated Southwest was nearing a deal to buy more Max aircraft from the manufacturer, Reuters reported.

Southwest is eyeing the 737 Max 7, the smallest aircraft in the Max family and one that’s yet to enter commercial service with any airline. If the order comes to fruition, the Max 7 aircraft will gradually replace the 737-700 Next Generation aircraft in Southwest’s fleet.

Boeing and Southwest declined to comment on the deal.

Southwest had driven a hard bargain to secure a favorable deal, even suggesting it might consider taking on the Airbus A220, the smallest aircraft in the European plane maker’s lineup. The order for “dozens” of Max jets is reported to be in the billions, with the list price of $99.7 million per jet, and would put another high-profile order between Boeing and the Max grounding.

The Max 7 could fly any of Southwest’s current routes, including those to Hawaii, thanks to its superior range. Its cost-saving economics combined with commonality with the larger Boeing fleet means Southwest can easily swap the aircraft in on underperforming flights to minimize losses, which may be critical if aviation’s recovery from the pandemic is protracted.

“I would not hesitate for a second to put my wife, daughters, and sons-in-law, and granddaughters onboard the plane,” Kelly said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

11 US hotels with in-room fireplaces, from a ski resort in Vermont to a romantic California retreat

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best hotels with in-room fireplaces

  • There’s nothing cozier than curling up in a hotel room with its own private fireplace.
  • Studies have even shown sitting by a fire can lower your blood pressure and decrease your stress levels.
  • We found hotels across the US at a range of prices that offer the ultimate in-room amenity: a fireplace.

Do you feel like your stress level goes down a number of notches when you’re sitting by a roaring fire? You’re not imagining things. Scientists have found that an open fire lowers your blood pressure – and the longer you stay in front of a fireplace, the more relaxed you get.

So it’s no surprise that some of my most memorable hotel experiences have happened by a fireplace, from the time I got happily stuck during a blizzard at the XV Beacon Hotel in a room with a gas fireplace, to a romantic escape at New York’s Lake Placid Lodge back when my husband and I were first dating.

And here’s the thing about a fireplace: It doesn’t have to be the dead of winter to create a cozy atmosphere. I have equally fond memories cozying up at Phoenix’s historic Hermosa Inn in August. Luckily, the desert cools off at night, but trust me – I would have run the air conditioner all night long just to be able to enjoy my room’s beautiful beehive fireplace.

And let’s admit we’ve all gotten used to the idea of lounging around in our pajamas over the past year. So if the idea of snuggling up next to a fireplace in your PJs on your next hotel stay is appealing, check out these welcoming US hotels that have private, in-room fireplaces.

I’ve selected these properties based on the following criteria:

  1. In addition to my own travel experiences, along with insights from other friends and industry colleagues, all hotels are highly rated and reviewed on sites such as Trip Advisor, Booking.com, and Hotels.com.
  2. Scattered across the US, each one of these properties delivers not only with an inviting in-room fireplace, but also by offering a well-rounded travel experience that includes useful amenities, creative programming, and top-notch service.
  3. Most of the hotels on this list start under $400 in low season, but there are also a few more luxurious options for people who want to splurge. (Perhaps a fireplace in the room will help make up for that Amalfi Coast honeymoon that got canceled because of COVID-19?)
  4. These hotels also feature enhanced COVID-19 policies, which are highlighted below.

All that said, if you’re not sure whether it’s safe to stay in hotels right now, it’s important to understand the risks associated with travel during the ongoing pandemic. While vaccinations are becoming more widespread, there is still no guarantee of safety. It continues to be crucial to follow guidelines from the CDC, wear a mask, wash your hands, sanitize, and maintain social distancing. Additionally, it’s important to check current state travel restrictions before booking, assess your own risk levels, and consider whether your travels might increase infection rates in other areas.

Read on for the best hotels with in-room fireplaces across the US.

Topnotch Resort – Stowe, Vermont

Topnotch Moss Glen

Book Topnotch starting at $241 per night

Spread across 120 wooded acres with jaw-dropping mountain views, Topnotch is the ideal place to get away from it all and experience nature at its finest. At the main hotel, three of the suites have sleek fireplaces that are great for warming up after a day on the slopes or hiking some of the state’s most spectacular trails. For people who want to have even more social distancing, there are also spacious two- and three-bedroom Resort Homes, each with a fireplace that will take the edge off the chilliest Vermont night.

In case you haven’t gotten your fill of fireplaces, Topnotch also has a massive fireplace in Roost restaurant where everyone gathers (safely) après ski, as well as a firepit outside that’s perfect for roasting s’mores and enjoying a craft cocktail while overlooking Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s tallest peak.

TripAdvisor Ranking: 8 out of 25 hotels in Stowe

Booking.com Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Pros: Reviewers say that the staff is friendly and welcoming to everyone from children to dogs. The food at the in-house restaurant gets high marks. They also appreciate the indoor pool and hot tub.

Cons: Guests complain that some of the services aren’t available or are reduced due to COVID, which has resulted in — for example — longer waits for a table in the restaurant. 

COVID-19 status and policies: This hotel is currently open. Many services and amenities have been updated to ensure the well-being and safety of guests, team members, and the community, including:

  • The frequency of cleaning and disinfecting has been increased in all public spaces.
  • Some in-room disposable amenities are available only by request. 
  • Physical distancing and mask-wearing is enforced throughout the resort.
  • Restaurants and bars will reduce seating capacities to allow for a minimum of six feet between each seated group.
  • You can read more here.

Eastwind Hotel – Windham, New York

Suite at Eastwind

Book the Eastwind Hotel starting at $279 per night

In Windham, a charming little mountain town in the Catskills, Eastwind is your Instagram dream come true. This former bunkhouse for hunters and fly fishermen dates back to the 1920s — but it has been given a thoroughly modern overhaul. Rooms now have sleek Scandinavian furnishings and the grounds are dotted with Lushna cabins with huge picture windows overlooking the hotel’s lush 17 acres. But the heartwarming showstopper is the Suite within the property’s Bunk House. At 600 square feet, it’s as big as some Manhattan apartments and features not just one but two King-sized beds, two seating areas, and a private fireplace. Pull up a chair and wrap yourself in one of the Faribault wool blankets — perfect for cuddling. 

If you weren’t able to snag the Suite (or just want to get out and explore), Eastwind has plenty of outdoor firepits scattered around the property. Plus, the hotel offers amenities like wood barrel saunas and drinks delivery — just the thing you need when you’re craving a craft cocktail in your room or a thermos of mulled wine by one of the firepits. 

TripAdvisor Ranking: 4 out of 8 B&Bs in Windham

Booking.com Rating: 8.9 out of 10

Pros: Rooms are stylishly designed and guests rave about the extra touches like complimentary mulled cider, hats, blankets, and s’mores kits. The property is also dog-friendly.

Cons: Reviewers complain that the bathrooms are lacking in storage space. Also, many restaurants in the area are closed mid-week due to COVID-19, so finding food at off-times can be a challenge.

COVID-19 status and policies: This hotel is currently open, and contact-free check-in is available. Many services and amenities have been updated to ensure the well-being and safety of guests, team members, and the community, including:

  • The main lodge is open at reduced capacity.
  • All rooms will remain empty for a minimum of 24 hours before and after your stay.
  • Drinks from the bar are by delivery.
  • The hotel is equipped with contactless check-in/out via key code entry.
  • Cleaning of property amenities occurs daily and additional sanitizer stations are positioned near all amenities.
  • You can read more here.

Read our full review of Eastwind Hotel’s Lushna Suite cabins

High Peaks Resort – Lake Placid, New York

High Peaks waterfront suite living room

Book High Peaks Resort starting at $129 per night

With so many hotels sporting in-room fireplaces, you could call Lake Placid the fireplace capital of the world. Besides Lake Placid Lodge — which helped me fall in love with the concept of a fireplace in a room — another appealing destination is the High Peaks Resort. The hotel has several lodging options, but it doesn’t get much better than the Waterfront Hotel, set right on the shores of Mirror Lake. Five out of seven junior suites, as well as the Waterfront Suite, have fireplaces, in addition to priceless views of the lake.

The hotel lends out free ice skates and snowshoes and also gives guests admission to Lake Placid’s full-service Nordic Center, with access to more than 12 miles of groomed trails for cross-country skiing. So you can spend your days exploring the surrounding 6-million-acre Adirondack Park, then come back to the room and rejuvenate by your very own fire. 

TripAdvisor Ranking: 10 out of 33 hotels in Lake Placid

Booking.com Rating: 8.6 out of 10

Pros: Reviewers rave about the hotel’s convenient location right in town and right next to Mirror Lake. Guests also like the indoor and pools.

Cons: Some guests complain about the additional resort fee, as well as reduced services due to COVID. 

COVID-19 status and policies: This hotel is currently open, and contact-free check-in is available. Many services and amenities have been updated to ensure the well-being and safety of guests, team members, and the community, including:

  • The frequency of cleaning and disinfecting has been increased in all public spaces with an emphasis on frequent contact surfaces.
  • Rooms are sealed with a sanitation label. All in-room disposable amenities are available on request.
  • Physical distancing and mask-wearing is enforced in public areas.
  • You can read more here.

White Elephant – Nantucket, Massachusettes

White Elephant guestroom

Book White Elephant starting at $185 per night

The White Elephant — a Nantucket landmark since the 1920s — is the height of preppy New England elegance, with gray shingles and white trim. This is the place where families visit for generations and brides dream of being married, an island institution with a main hotel, multi-room residences, and two lofts with balconies. The one-, two- and three-bedroom Residences are ideal for families. Much like your own personal beach getaway, the homes feature private entrances, pantry-style kitchens, and — you guessed it — fireplaces that invite guests to linger longer. There are also select rooms and suites at the main 21-room inn that feature fireplaces to snuggle next to after the sun sets — a welcome amenity on cool Nantucket summer nights. 

Located just steps from town and one of the only hotels on Nantucket with a pool, White Elephant allows for easy access to the island’s restaurants, shopping and water activities. White Elephant will reopen for the season on April 15, 2021. 

TripAdvisor Ranking: 6 out of 12 hotels in Nantucket

Booking.com Rating: 9.2 out of 10

Pros: Guests rave about the spacious and impeccable rooms, the top-notch staff, and the convenient location close to the harbor.

Cons: Naysayers complain about the high prices, and some guests say that the rooms could use updating (while others rave about the decor). 

COVID-19 status and policies: This hotel will reopen for the season in April 2021. Many services and amenities have been updated to ensure the well-being and safety of guests, team members, and the community, including:

  • Increased vigilance and frequency in sanitizing and cleaning, especially public areas.
  • The hotel is in regular contact with Town of Nantucket health officials.
  • You can read more here.

Kingsmill Resort – Williamsburg, Virginia

Kingsmill fireplace

Book Kingsmill Resort starting at $179 per night

Set along the James River in Williamsburg, Virginia, Kingsmill was founded by the Busch Family, which is known for Budweiser beer and the nearby Busch Gardens. The sprawling property keeps its guests entertained with a lazy river, waterslide, outdoor and indoor pool, two 18-hole golf courses, tennis courts, and more.

The resort offers basic guest rooms, but for people who need more space — and pampering — there are one-, two-, and three-bedroom condos featuring wood-burning fireplaces. During winter months, Kingsmill guest service members bring firewood and will build and light the fire for you on request. If you really want to stretch out, splurge on the four-bedroom estate that was once the private mansion for the Busch Family and has its own private chef, custom golf carts for getting around, and — no surprise — multiple fireplaces.

TripAdvisor Ranking: 13 out of 71 hotels in Williamsburg

Booking.com Rating: 8.6 out of 10

Pros: Convenient location for families who want to visit Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens Williamsburg (with free shuttle service), and Water Country USA water park. There are plenty of restaurants and activities on-site.

Cons: Condo buildings do not feature elevators, and the daily mandatory resort fees that start at $22 do not include all activities.

COVID-19 status and policies: The hotel is currently open. Many services and amenities have been updated to ensure the well-being and safety of guests, team members, and the community, including:

  • Implementing the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Safe Stay industry-wide initiative.
  • Resort guests and employees will be required to wear a face mask in all indoor settings.
  • Parking is available directly in front of guest rooms and the shuttle is suspended.
  • Guest rooms have private entrances.
  • You can read more here.

The Campbell House – Lexington, Kentucky

The Campbell House VIP Suite Fireplace

Book The Campbell House starting at $104 per night

The oldest operating hotel in Kentucky horse country pairs southern elegance and charm with a warm and inviting atmosphere. Originally built as an equestrian farm, the Campbell House was recently renovated. Now, the hotel’s historic beauty is discretely captured through its reimagined decor, including a selection of suites where a separate living area features a crackling fireplace. 

Fun fact: The Campbell House was recently inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and its Rackhouse Tavern features over 300 bourbons. So order a tasting from one of the city’s famed distilleries, head back to your room, and chill out by the fire with a good book, a snug blanket, and a glass of Kentucky’s finest.

TripAdvisor Ranking: 42 out of 77 hotels in Lexington

Booking.com Rating: 7.7 out of 10

Pros: Guests love the stylish common spaces, thanks to a recent remodel, and the cleanliness of the rooms.

Cons: Critics complain about not having enough towels in the room, as well as hearing noise from people in the hallways and nearby rooms. 

COVID-19 status and policies: This hotel is currently open, and contact-free check-in is available. Many services and amenities have been updated to ensure the well-being and safety of guests, team members, and the community, including:

  • Following Hilton’s CleanStay guidelines.
  • Social distancing and mask-wearing enforced in common areas.
  • Temporarily simplified breakfast services.
  • You can read more here.

Big Cedar Lodge – Ozark Mountains, Missouri

Big Cedar Lodge 415 Spring View Premiere King

Book Big Cedar Lodge starting at $209 per night

Picture yourself sipping hot cocoa as you lounge by the fire at Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains, just south of Branson. Each of the log cabins and lakeside cottages comes with a wood-burning fireplace and a spa-like bathroom with heated stone floors. With its wide open spaces, this sprawling 4,600-acre wilderness resort — developed by Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris — is just what you need during COVID. You’ll find a variety of nature-based experiences including fishing, boating, and hiking. 

Want to explore? Just 25 minutes away is Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, a 10,000-acre nature park that is the Midwest’s best-kept secret for wildlife lovers and bald eagle spotting. But you won’t want to stay away too long because a peaceful fire awaits you back at the ranch.

TripAdvisor Ranking: 1 out of 2 hotels in Ridgedale

Hotels.com Rating: 9.2 out of 10

Pros: Guests rave about the fireplaces in the rooms and the service; wood is constantly restacked, even in an ice storm. Reviews also give a nod to the breathtaking scenery and range of outdoor activities.

Cons: Guests complain that the hotel’s Valley View Lodge rooms need some updating. Some reviewers mention that the food at the Devil’s Pool restaurant is overpriced and underwhelming.

COVID-19 status and policies: This hotel is currently open, and contact-free check-in is available. Many services and amenities have been updated to ensure the well-being and safety of guests, team members, and the community, including:

  • Disinfecting all commonly touched screens, keypads, handles, phones, counters, and switches, multiple times daily, with CDC recommended products. 
  • Housekeepers have added extra sanitation steps to room cleanings.
  • Placing hand-sanitizing stations strategically across the property.
  • Social distancing and mask-wearing is enforced in common areas.
  • Overnight guests are provided masks in-room upon check-in.
  • You can read more here.

The Broadmoor – Colorado Springs, Colorado

Broadmoor Penrose Suite

Book The Broadmoor starting at $230 per night

At The Broadmoor, which been hosting travelers in the Colorado Rockies for over 102 years, you’ll find more than 50 rooms with fireplaces (just be sure to request one in advance). And as if that weren’t enough, there are also eight fireplaces in the resort’s lobbies, as well as dozens of firepits scattered around the 5,000-acre resort — perfect for making s’mores or gathering safely outdoors.

This part of Colorado is known for its picturesque mountains, streams, and canyons, as well as endless ways to enjoy the gorgeous nature around you — ziplining, fly fishing, horseback riding, golf, and more. But the best part of a stay here is kicking back by a crackling fire at the end of a rugged day of adventures, just like the prospectors would have done back during Colorado’s historic gold rush.

TripAdvisor Ranking: 6 out of 114 hotels in Colorado Springs

Hotels.com Rating: 9.6 out of 10

Pros: Guests rave about the professional staff and seamless service, as well as the beauty of the hotel and the grounds.

Cons: Critics complain about the changes due to COVID, which has resulted in some long waits for restaurants, drinks, and the spa.

COVID-19 status and policies: This hotel is currently open. Many services and amenities have been updated to ensure the well-being and safety of guests, team members, and the community, including:

  • Adhering to mandated directives on both the federal and state levels, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Utilizing professional products and tools by EcoLab that are hospital-grade and approved by the EPA.
  • Using electrostatic sprayers to apply Penetrexx, an antimicrobial coating, to high touch areas and fabrics at the property.
  • Appropriate signage will be present throughout the property reminding guests and staff of required social distancing.
  • Interactive guest texting is available.
  • You can read more here.

Jackson Hotel – Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Hotel Jackson

Book The Jackson Hotel starting at $419 per night

Set in the heart of downtown Jackson Hole, Wyoming, just minutes away from Grand Teton National park and an hour away from Yellowstone National Park, the Jackson Hotel will be your basecamp for a number of outdoor adventures. In winter, there’s skiing, snowshoeing, ice hiking, and snowmobiling. In summer, you can go white water rafting, ziplining, hiking, and fly fishing. The hotel has incredible fireplaces throughout the property, from the public spaces (like the Sacajawea Library, which serves craft cocktails) to every guest room and suite. 

A LEEDS-built property, the woodsy, rustic hotel blends reclaimed barn wood, soft leather detailing, and modern western decor. As you relax by the fire in your room, gaze out the window at the breathtaking views of the mountains. 

TripAdvisor Ranking: 3 out of 40 hotels in Jackson

Booking.com Rating: 9.3 out of 10

Pros: Guests rave about the convenient location, the excellent service, and the food at the in-house restaurant.

Cons: Guests complain about the strict cancellation policies, as well as the high rates — especially during high season.

COVID-19 status and policies: This hotel is currently open, and contact-free check-in is available. Many services and amenities have been updated to ensure the well-being and safety of guests, team members, and the community, including:

  • After departure, each room is treated with Ultraviolet C (UVC) light for 30 minutes for sanitization. If possible, rooms are aired for 24 hours between guests. 
  • Only individuals with reservations for the hotel or with reservations for our restaurant are permitted to enter the building.
  • Contactless check-in is available.
  • Reservations are required at restaurants.
  • You can read more here.

Mt Ada – Catalina Island, California

Mt. Ada - Avalon, Catalina, California

Book Mt Ada starting at $480 per night

Experience a bit of California history at Mt Ada, the former island home of William Wrigley Jr. (of chewing gum and Chicago Cubs fame). This grand residence — named after his wife, Ada — showcases the style and sophistication of the 1800s, when the couple came here to escape from civilization. Each of the six guest rooms reflects a bygone era, and four have fireplaces in them — the perfect way to have a modern-day escape. The hotel also has a grand communal fireplace in the living room, with a portrait of Ada over it.  

Don’t miss the lower level of the property, which features Mr. Wrigley’s former billiards room, now a den with a bar, fireplace, and majestic island views. A spectacular wrap-around terrace looks out to Avalon Bay and is a great place to spot one of Catalina Island’s resident Bald Eagles.  

TripAdvisor Ranking: 2 out of 8 B&Bs in Avalon

Pros: Reviewers love this “carefully preserved piece of living history” and the gracious staff that works hard to make people feel welcome.

Cons: Loyal guests miss some of the former perks like a free lunch and other reviewers complain about the high prices.

COVID-19 status and policies: This hotel is currently open. Many services and amenities have been updated, though it does not go into specifics on the website. You can read more here.

Posthotel – Leavenworth, Washington

Posthotel__DSF9966

Book Posthotel starting at $475 per night

Located in Leavenworth, a small Washington town with strong Bavarian influences, the adults-only Posthotel is the next best thing to staying at a European-style wellness spa in the Alps, complete with saunas, steam rooms, hydrotherapy treatments, a saltwater swim-out pool, and plenty of other indulgences. And with fireplaces in the rooms, as well as hand-carved marble soaking tubs, you might never want to leave. 

But that would be a mistake. This beautiful part of Washington state is known for its outdoor activities — snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, biking — and rentals are included in the room rate. After you’ve worked up a sweat, come back to the hotel to relax in the spa and have breakfast or lunch (also included in the rate). Then head straight back up to the thing that drew you here in the first place — the fireplace in your room.

TripAdvisor Ranking: 13 out of 19 hotels in Leavenworth

Booking.com Rating: 9.7 out of 10

Pros: Guests rave about the hotel for recharging and relaxing and love the amenities like the saunas and pools.

Cons: Critics say that some of the other guests aren’t respecting mask rules and complain that some services have been reduced because of COVID. Smoking is also allowed in some rooms, which is bothersome to other guests.

COVID-19 status and policies: This hotel is currently open. The hotel does not go into specific new COVID policies on its website, but you can read more about the hotel here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 10 best Airbnbs on the Jersey Shore for families, couples, and solo beach-goers

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

best Jersey Shore Airbnbs

  • Amidst the continuing pandemic, many travelers are still seeking close-to-home domestic getaways.
  • The Jersey Shore offers an easy East Coast vacation with sandy beaches and retro towns.
  • We chose top Jersey Shore Airbnbs from Point Pleasant to Cape May, ranging from $88 to $375.

Though the pandemic is still ongoing, there’s hope on the horizon with vaccine rollouts well underway and many day trippers and weekend warriors are itching to get back down the shore this year.

In general, the boardwalks are made up of small businesses, so the opening and distancing rules of each establishment will vary, and it will continue to depend on how the COVID-19 situation evolves.

Last year shore icons like the Wildwood tram car installed plexiglass dividers and a twice-per-hour wipe down, measures that will likely continue. But, despite the recent changes, Jersey’s beaches still offer an easy coastal vacation with plenty of appeal, both in summer and the less crowded off-season, which sees lower prices.

And if you’re wondering if travel is safe, experts consider private vacation homes, such as those on Airbnb, as one of the safer places to stay, especially when compared to hotels. This is because you can book an entire home protected from interaction with others. Airbnb also has rigorous new Enhanced Cleaning Protocol procedures that all hosts must now follow.

Of course, there is still no firm guarantee with regard to safety. It’s crucial to continue to follow guidelines and advice from organizations such as the CDC and WHO, and practice safety measures including wearing a mask, washing your hands, and maintaining social distancing. Additionally, even once you’re vaccinated the CDC advises you should continue to wear a mask in public areas.

If you do decide to take a jaunt down the shore, we searched the most popular Jersey beach towns for Airbnb listings. The area has mostly shaken its party reputation, and towns like Asbury Park and Ocean City are excellent for families. Though, if the Point Pleasant house from MTV’s hit is what you’re looking for, it’s bookable, too.

We chose the best Jersey Shore Airbnbs based on the following criteria:

  1. Airbnb listings are for the entire home, so you don’t have to worry about sharing a bathroom or keeping distance.
  2. The home is affordably priced, ranging from $88 to $375, with availability to book as of publishing time.
  3. All are highly-rated Airbnb listings with a review score of 4.8 or higher.
  4. Properties are unique and modern with free parking and offer close proximity to the beach.

Although not a perk offered by all of these Airbnbs, ask your host if beach badges will be included. They are required to access most beaches in New Jersey and can save you from paying a pesky fee.

These are the best Airbnbs on the Jersey Shore, sorted by price from low to high.

Cozy oceanfront condo with amazing views in Atlantic City, $88

best jersey shore airbnbs - Atlantic_City_Condo

Book this oceanfront condo starting at $88 per night

Wake up and see nothing but blue. With a panoramic window overlooking the ocean, this high-rise studio condo in Atlantic City is a chic and minimalistic alternative to a room at one of the casino hotels. With parking included, you won’t need to worry about where to keep your car and can enjoy direct access to the boardwalk. The listing also mentions a shared gym and pool in the building, but these may be closed currently.

One unique design element of this apartment is the window above the Jacuzzi tub, which lets in a lot of natural light, but can also be covered up for more privacy.

This Airbnb has scattered availability in the next couple months, with more dates open in May.

Beach block apartment in Atlantic City, $157

3_ _Atlantic_City_Apartment

Book this beach block apartment starting at $158 per night

This second-floor studio apartment was recently remodeled and includes a parking pass that will allow you to park on the street.

Inside, you’ll find a modern kitchen, smart TV, and nice tile work in the shower. It’s a relatively new listing, but the space feels fresh and up to date. Ideal for couples or solo travelers, the location is this listing’s biggest draw. You can see the boardwalk and beach from the first-floor patio (which guests have access to).  

This home has full availability over the next several months.

Two-bedroom beach apartment in Asbury Park, $164

14_ _Asbury_Park

Book this two-bedroom apartment starting at $164 per night

Asbury Park, aka Bruce Springsteen’s stomping grounds, is only a two-and-a-half-hour train ride from New York City. This newly renovated two-bedroom apartment is also within walking distance of the beach and the main strip of shops and restaurants, making it a convenient home base.

The kitchen is fully stocked and in addition to the four beach badges provided, guests also are able to borrow beach chairs, towels, and even a beach tent for babies. With hipster flair — think llama paintings and pops of color — and a porch furnished with cushioned outdoor furniture, this Airbnb is as thoughtful as any modern hotel, and certainly more spacious.

This home has decent availability over the next few months and opens up fully starting in August.

Family-sized home on the lagoon in Mystic Island, $175

4_ _Mystic_Island

Book this home on the lagoon starting at $195 per night

With three bedrooms and room for six, this huge house on the Mystic Island Lagoon, between Atlantic City and Long Beach Island, is great for a family-focused getaway with water views.

In addition to the outdoor seating area, hammocks, fire pit, and grill, this listing includes a huge dock that puts you right on the water. Rent kayaks or use the house’s pedal boat free of charge. The home’s decor is nautical without being kitschy and the deck views, complete with an outdoor breakfast nook, are lovely. 

This popular home has scattered availability over the next few months and becomes fully available in September.

Large house with private balcony and patio in Ventnor City, $188

7_ _Ventnor_City

Book this house starting at $184 per night

Not far from Atlantic City and only two blocks from the Ventnor City Beach, this house is so spacious with three bedrooms spread over two floors that there’s room for nine guests.

Staying here includes complimentary beach badges and chairs and space for two cars to park. The decor is modern and light, but still beachy with a touch of sophistication. While here, you can gather the crew around the kitchen island or sit out on the big patio and enjoy the salty air. For an extra fee, you can even bring your four-legged friends to join you.

The house has good availability over the next few months, but is already booking up fast for summer weekends.

Newly renovated apartment in Seaside Heights, $200

9_ _Seaside_Heights

Book this apartment starting at $199 per night

Despite being the epicenter of every Jersey Shore stereotype, there’s a reason why Seaside Heights is so popular — it’s a lot of fun. And this newly renovated three-bedroom apartment located right on the beach provides a wonderful counterbalance to the boardwalk’s gimmicky charm. The interior is tasteful, dressed in light beach tones that make it feel airy and bright. Bookings include beach badges, as well as a shared outdoor space with picnic tables, a grill, and an outdoor shower.

There are four apartments in total in this building, so if you have a large group, you may even consider renting out the whole space. And given the beachside location along Jersey’s most famous strip of sand, it’s actually quite the steal.

This listing has availability starting in June, but books out early. It may be worth booking a summer vacation now.

Oceanfront condo in Wildwood Crest, $218

13_ _Wildwood_Crest

Book this oceanfront condo starting at $218 per night

The balcony of this ocean-facing condo overlooks Wildwood’s famously large beach, and its location on the crest, south of the main boardwalk, also means it’s a quieter alternative to the more boisterous side of town.

The decor is light and calming thanks to the serene tones of turquoise accents, aquamarine walls, and wooden furnishings. This is a small studio apartment ideal for a couple or small family with a Queen-sized bed plus a pull-out sofa that numerous guests have praised for its comfort. A large flat-screen TV, board games, and access to a shared pool make it a worthy pick.

This Airbnb has good availability for the next few months, but it already booking up fast for summer weekends.

Chambourcin cottage at Willow Creek Vineyard in Cape May, $271

11_ _Cape_May

Book this cottage starting at $271 per night

Willow Creek Winery lists multiple cottages varying in size on Airbnb, but the second-floor Chambourcin Cottage strikes us as the coziest and offers the best value. The open layout includes a comfortable living area with two plush couches, a nicely-tiled bathroom with walk-in shower, a stocked kitchen, and a Queen-sized bed. 

The apartment’s two porches overlook 50 acres of grapevines, which you’ll be free to walk around throughout your stay. The quaint atmosphere offers a romantic spot for couples looking to nestle in for a weekend.

Although this listing isn’t directly on the beach, it’s only two miles away from the iconic Cape May Lighthouse.

There is good availability over the next few months and the calendar is wide open starting in August.

Townhouse with ocean view in Sea Isle City, $279

10_ _Sea_Isle_City

Book this townhouse starting at $279 per night

With four bedrooms, as many as 11 people can enjoy this huge townhouse located steps away from the Sea Isle City Beach. The decor is clean and bright with a hint of a beach vibe and there’s even an indoor fireplace, in case you want to get cozy on chilly nights. Soaring ceilings, a full kitchen, and well-kept bedrooms make it feel extremely liveable.

But the best standout feature is the three-tiered roof deck, which is a prime spot to take in incredible sunsets. Past reviewers also praise how easy it was to communicate with the host.

There’s good availability in April and May, but summer is already booking up.

Bay house in Wildwood Crest, $375

15_ _Wildwood_Crest_(Bay)

Book this bay house starting at $375 per night

This enormous house might be at the top of the price range, but with four bedrooms, room for 12 people, and a full deck that leads out to a boat dock on Sunset Lake, it’s a solid deal.

If you know you’re not going to wake up early enough to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic, at least you’ll know you’ll never miss a sunset with the bay for your backyard. The decor leans beachy, but amenities include everything from paddleboards and kayaks to crab traps and fishing poles.

Guests share the deck with other apartments on the property, but it’s possible to book the whole house and property as well if you have a really big group.

The house has good availability in April and May but is already largely booked for the summer.

 

Discover more great beach getaways

best airbnbs cape cod chatham waterfront
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JetBlue is abandoning back-to-front boarding as more travelers take to the skies and vaccinations take off

JetBlue Airways Airbus A220
JetBlue Airways’ first Airbus A220-300 aircraft.

  • JetBlue is ending its back-to-front boarding policy for travelers.
  • Delta and United airlines will keep the back-to-front boarding as their primary boarding policy.
  • The CDC still recommends limiting travel, even for those who have been vaccinated.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

JetBlue is ending its back-to-front boarding policy less than a year after implementing it at the onset of the pandemic, as more Americans are traveling and airfares are hitting record lows.

In an emailed statement to Insider, the company said, “We continue to work within public health guidelines and take clinical guidance from own medical experts to ensure we are doing everything we can to keep our customers and crewmembers safe in this next phase of our ‘new normal.'”

JetBlue was one of only a few airlines to adopt the back-to-front boarding policy when the coronavirus first broke out last year. Delta and United airlines also implemented it, both of which are still keeping it as their primary boarding policy for the time being, according to the companies’ websites.

Other airlines such as Southwest, American, Spirit, Sun Country, and Frontier are using group- or zone-boarding as their primary boarding policy for travelers.

JetBlue credits “mandatory face mask use and the hospital-grade air filtration on board every JetBlue aircraft” as being “the keys to greatly reducing the risk on board.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since February have required travelers to wear masks on any form of public transportation such as planes, buses, trains, and any other form of public transportation in the US. The guidelines also require air travelers to have “a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board a flight to the United States.”

JetBlue said it remains “focused on keeping our crewmembers healthy through safety protocols and screening” as it resumes its group boarding process. The airline will continue to sanitized and disinfect commonly touched surfaces.

Since mid-February, the US has seen an increase in daily passenger numbers, according to TSA data, even as the CDC still recommends that people, including those who have been vaccinated, limit travel.

Many experts expect travel to pick up as more people get vaccinated. Kendra Thorne, owner of Royal Travel and Tours travel agency in Chicago, told NPR that “people are tired of being at home” and that she has noticed a “uptick” in people wanting to book vacations.

On Monday, the CDC released new guidelines for what fully vaccinated people are allowed to do. Those activities included being able to gather indoors, unmasked with other fully vaccinated people. These updated guidelines apply only to “fully vaccinated” people, meaning those who have waited about two weeks after the second doses of Pfizer’s and Modera’s shots, or two weeks after the single-dose shot from Johnson & Johnson.

Even if you are fully vaccinated the the CDC still recommends wearing a mask in any other setting that may involve unvaccinated people.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Flights are the cheapest they’ve ever been as airlines slash costs and try to coax back travelers

airport time
  • Airfare is lower than ever as carriers try to draw customers back in.
  • The average domestic ticket price is $245, the lowest on record.
  • Airlines are using available cheap planes and laid off flight crews to offer low prices.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Airlines are using cut-rate ticket prices to appeal to customers ready to travel again after a year of the pandemic.

The latest average domestic fair reported by the Department of Transportation is $244.79, the lowest on record according to DOT. That price is down 30% compared to last year at the same time, Bloomberg reported.

Carriers around the world cut $1 billion in daily expenses last year as demand for travel plummeted, Bloomberg reported. Those savings are giving the airlines the freedom to slash fares and entice customers back.

Experts are predicting a return to normal as early as summer 2021, and vaccination rates continue to rise. Airlines are offering cheap rates and flexible booking policies to get people in seats as soon as possible.

All three big US airlines, United, Delta, and American, along with other smaller ones have stopped charging change and cancellation fees on many flights, excluding the lowest basic economy fares. Insider previously outlined which airlines are the best bets to book in 2021 here.

Major airlines are also continuing to add new destinations as they seek to capitalize on the downturn and come out stronger. Low-cost carrier Southwest announced it will add Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Bellingham, Washington; and Eugene, Oregon this summer. These newest destinations were in addition to the Florida and Montana destinations and the 19 new routes Southwest announced in December, including service between Houston and Chicago, Houston and Dallas, and others.

Domestic budget airline Allegiant Air similarly took on a major expansion, announcing 21 new routes and three new destinations beginning in March. Small carriers like Allegiant are expected to recover from the effects of the last year faster than larger airlines that rely on domestic and international trips, Tom Pallini reported.

Airlines can save on costs even further with the availability of thousands of employees laid off in the last year looking for work, and the chance to buy unwanted planes from cancelled orders at discount prices. Traveler numbers, however, remain about 50% of last year’s levels, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

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The 10 best Airbnbs in Key West including a yacht, a cottage with a hot tub, and an oceanfront condo

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Best Airbnbs in Key West - One bedroom condo steps from Duval, $250

  • Key West is one of the most popular US destinations thanks to its laid-back, tropical vibe.
  • Its stunning beaches are family-friendly, but it’s equally great for couples and solo travelers.
  • We rounded up some of the best Airbnbs in Key West, ranging in price from $147 to $447 per night.

As a long-term Florida resident, my family and I love to take the three-hour road trip down from Miami to Key West. It’s one of those places that we find ourselves returning to year after year thanks to its beautiful beaches, historic attractions, and fantastic food.

Some of our favorite beaches are Smathers Beach and Fort Zachary Taylor Beach, which is a National Historic Landmark and home to a Civil War fort.

Key West is only about four miles long and two miles wide, and most of the shopping, dining, and nightlight is situated on Duval street, the main road that runs down the middle of the island, from the Gulf to Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. Whether you want to be at the heart of the action or opt for a more tranquil beach getaway will largely dictate the best location for your stay.

Regardless of where you’re based, you won’t want to miss dining at Blue Heaven and Santiago’s Bodega in the Bahama Village, and no trip is complete without stopping in for a slice at the Southernmost Key Lime Pie Shop on Duval. Get a dose of culture at The Key West lighthouse and The Key West Museum of Art and History, or do as we do and take your kids to Mallory Square to watch the various street performers and the sunset celebration that takes place every night.

While Key West offers a tropical paradise with no passport necessary, it’s important to remember that there’s still risk involved with traveling during the pandemic. It’s always important to follow guidelines from the CDC, wash your hands, wear a mask, and social distance. Also consider if you’re traveling to or from a hot spot area and take extra precautions if so.

With that in mind, if you do decide to soak up some sun in Key West, Airbnbs can be a safer option for travelers right now because of the added space and limited interactions with others.

We rounded up the best Airbnbs in Key West based on the following criteria:

  1. All listings are for the entire home, per current expert safety recommendations.
  2. All listings have at least a 4.7 rating and excellent recent guest reviews.
  3. We’ve chosen properties that range from $147 to $447 per night, but beware that through the end of March is considered peak season for this area, when prices tend to be at their highest.
  4. While all of the properties listed have some availability as of the time of publishing, keep in mind that because of its popularity, properties in Key West are often booked months in advance, so be sure to plan as far in advance as you can to snag the best spots.
  5. These properties are located close to the beach or within walking distance to popular Key West attractions on Duval Street.

Here are the best Airbnbs in Key West, sorted by price from low to high.

Central-based studio one block from Duval, $147

Best Airbnbs in Key West - Central based studio one block from Duval, $147

Book this central studio starting from $147 per night

Located just one block from Duval Street, this studio apartment is an ideal base for a quick getaway. There’s also a private parking spot, which is a serious perk when visiting Key West as parking comes at a premium. 

This first-floor studio is small but well laid, with a Queen-size bed and a separate kitchen and dining area, complete with granite countertops. A large wooden wardrobe easily allows travelers to unpack and settle in. The unit is part of a historic building and though simple in decor, it has all the necessities and even boasts a deck with a small sitting area. Past guests rave about the property’s cleanliness and its proximity to many of Key West’s major attractions. 

Visit the famous Sloppy Joe’s Bar, opened in 1933, or the nearby Key West Butterfly Nature Conservatory. You’ll also find plenty of shopping and restaurants right nearby. 

This spot is popular, but has a few scattered dates open over the next few months.

Oceanfront studio on a private beach, $199

best airbnbs key west oceanfront studio

Book this oceanfront studio starting from $199 per night 

This second floor, oceanfront studio is a rare property in Key West at this price point, which means that bookings fill up quickly. The condo has a King-sized bed and a large balcony that overlooks the Atlantic ocean. As an added bonus, the home also includes access to the pool and hot tub on the property grounds, though these are shared amenities. 

Visitors will get the best of both worlds with the beach and nightlife right at their fingertips, as this condo is just a five-minute walk to Duval street. There’s also a free garage parking spot that comes with a unit. The studio sits on its own stretch of private beach, so guests can go for a swim or lay out on lounge chairs that are provided by the property. 

Inside there’s a collection of wood and wicker furniture and a plush armchair in soft, pastel tones. The bedroom has four plantation shutters that look out to views of the ocean and ample closet space to unpack. There’s also a small fridge and microwave at your disposal, though there isn’t a full kitchen. 

This listing books up well in advance. While there are a few scattered dates open over the next several months, you may want to consider booking a winter trip now. 

Sailing yacht, $224

Best Airbnbs in Key West - Three bedroom sailing yacht, $224

Book this sailing yacht starting from $224 per night 

One of most unique properties in Key West, this spacious yacht is ideal for adventurous travelers. Nicknamed “The Someday Soon”, the yacht features three sleeping areas with a setup that’s especially ideal for families, including a Queen size bed in the aft cabin, a Full-size bed in the midship, and two Twin beds in the forward cabin. 

The yacht is a vintage Mason boat with a mid-century modern interior that includes turquoise accents, carved wood trim, and polished wood floors. The eating area has a comfy breakfast nook and large windows that open up to let in the light. If you want to eat your meals on board, there’s a four-burner gas stove, an oven, and a refrigerator and freezer in addition to a grill on the deck. 

The full-size bathroom has a shower and lots of storage space under the sink. While the vessel is roomy inside, there’s also lots of seating outdoors. The cockpit is furnished with taupe and turquoise cushions and pillows, making it an ideal reading retreat.  

As an added option, the booking comes with a day sail, and the marina can provide a captain at an extra charge. Guests are also welcome to use the marina amenities like the heated pool and the gym. 

This boat has a few open dates in May and June, with more dates opening up starting in July.

Modern townhome right on Duval, $225

Best Airbnbs in Key West - Two bedroom townhome in the heart of Key West, $225

Book this modern townhome starting from $225 per night 

This large townhome puts guests at the heart of the action, thanks to its location right on Duval. Large spaces at this price point are hard to come by in Key West, so this property is a gem for families or larger groups. The inside has been recently renovated with calming neutral tones and standout features include two comfy couches with pops of colorful pillows and a round wooden dining table that seats five.  

There’s a parking spot included, although you probably won’t need your car during your stay since many of the most famous Key West restaurants, like DJ’s Clam Shack, are only feet away. 

The lower level of the townhomes includes an open floor plan with a kitchen, dining room, and full bathroom. Upstairs, the pitched roof makes the bedrooms extra cozy and there’s also a sitting nook. 

This home has some availability in May and June, but fully opens up starting in July.

Cozy cottage with a hot tub, $243

Best Airbnbs in Key West - Cozy cottage with a hot tub, $243

Book this cozy cottage with a hot tub starting from $243 per night 

A great property for families, this large cottage is loaded with rustic charm, from the wood paneling throughout the kitchen to the retro bathroom fixtures. Each bedroom is outfitted with a plus, King-sized bed, and the living room boasts a comfy sofa and side chair along with a dedicated workspace.

The home has a fenced backyard with a beautiful garden area. The outdoor oasis includes a private hot tub, a bamboo enclosed outdoor shower, and a patio dining set that seats four. 

It’s tough to beat the location, just one block from Duval street, and there’s a parking spot included. The cottage is also walking distance to Mallory Square, which is home to the best street entertainers and sunsets in Key West. If you’re a pet owner, you can bring your pooch to this dog-friendly property. 

This popular listing has limited availability over the next few months, but availability is subject to change.

Colorful condo steps from Duval, $250

Best Airbnbs in Key West - One bedroom condo steps from Duval, $250

Book this colorful condo starting from $250 per night 

The huge deck and central location make this condo in downtown Key West a prime choice. Aptly named Bella Vita, or “good life,” the property has a wrap-around porch with white Adirondack chairs for relaxing or some good old-fashioned people watching during downtime.  

The interiors are decorated in bright, cheery colors, including orange and turquoise walls, a red leather sofa, and blue accent pillows. The large master bedroom has a King-sized bed, a desk/vanity space, matching bedside tables, and a sound machine to enjoy a peaceful sleep. and the bathroom has an indulgent frameless glass walk-in shower. The galley-style kitchen includes bar seating at the kitchen counter. 

The ground-floor condo is also close to nearby bike and scooter rentals, so you can cruise around the island in style. 

This home has availability starting in July. It typically books well in advance, so it’s worth planning ahead and booking a late summer or even a fall or winter trip now.

Cheerful condo near Mallory Square, $280

Best Airbnbs in Key West - One bedroom condo near Mallory Square, $280

Book this cheerful condo starting from $280 per night 

With a large, shaded balcony overlooking the nearby cluster of Victorian-style homes and located within a quiet gated community in the Truman Annex, it’s no surprise that this listing gets a near-perfect rating. 

The inside of the condo is painted in bright yellows and blues, creating a sunny vibe that matches its location. The living area is found upstairs and includes plenty of seating options for lounging around, including a contemporary sofa lined with oversized pillows and a velvet armchair.   

The dining area seats up to five, and the kitchen was recently updated with white shaker cabinets and gray stone countertops. There’s a porthole above the kitchen sink that gives it a slight maritime theme, which continues with seascape art and a floor-to-ceiling bookcase filled with model ships and starfish. 

The historic Hemingway house, Maritime Museum, and Truman White House are all close by. The condo is also a short walk to Zachary Taylor Park, one of the top public beaches in Key West. Bike rentals are only a block away, and the condo includes bike storage for guests.

Currently, the owners require a 28-day rental commitment, though that may change in the coming months.  

Tropical Old Town bungalow close to the beach, $304

Tropical Old Town bungalow close to the beach, $304

Book this tropical bungalow starting from $304 per night

Step inside this breezy bungalow located in between Key West’s Art Gallery District and the Historic District, two pedestrian-friendly areas of Key West. 

The interior of the unit is bright and airy, decorated in complementary shades of coral, lime green, and blue. The main living area has an open floor plan and the kitchen has a two-tier island that overlooks the living room. Relax on the cream-colored couch that’s adorned with palm leaf printed pillows under a palm leaf fan to really get into beach mode. 

A matching palm leaf fan is found in the bedroom, which also boasts an elevated deck with a hot tub and high-top dining setup. Back inside, the bathroom has a spacious walk-in shower, and there’s a full-size washer/dryer in the hallway. 

There’s a shared courtyard space with a pool and a grill, and the property is also less than a mile from the beach, so after you settle in, you can make a beeline for the warm waters.

This home still has a few dates open in May and June, with more dates opening up in July and August.

Secluded hideaway with a private hot tub, $311

best Airbnbs in Key West - Secluded "mango" hideaway with a private deck, $311

Book this secluded hideaway starting from $311 per night

Tucked away in historic Old Town, this quaint cottage is great for those who want want to be close to the action on Duval Street (only half a block away), and who also value their privacy. 

The space is decorated in a tropical theme with green and turquoise linens and dark wood furniture. The kitchen features new cabinets, granite countertops, and full-sized stainless steel appliances. There’s also a deep brown leather sofa bed in the living room that’s within eyesight of the open-plan bedroom. Both the bedroom and the living room have large French doors that lead out to the deck, creating a relaxing indoor/outdoor setup when fully open. 

The spacious deck is the real selling point of this property, with a four-person jetted hot tub,  rattan patio seating, and a grill for making meals al fresco. The property even includes a large mango tree that has been lovingly preserved by being integrated into the design of the deck. 

There’s also a shared pool about a block away, and the cottage is within walking distance to the famed Cuban Coffee Queen and the free Duval shuttle bus. 

This home still has a few dates open in May and June, with more dates opening up in July and August.

Historic Key West suite in Old Town, $447

Best Airbnbs in Key West - Historic Key West suite in Old Town, $447

Book this historic Key West suite in Old Town starting from $447 per night 

Guests staying at this property get to experience a piece of Florida history. This suite is part of a property in Old Town that was built in 1889, and it’s only three blocks from Duval Street. 

Though technically a guesthouse suite, the first-floor accommodation has its own entrance and is entirely private. The kitchen has modern appliances, warm recessed lighting, and a dining area with an expandable table. In the sitting area, there’s a loveseat that can fold out into a bed and a folding screen that can be used to create a private sleeping space.

Outside, there’s an expansive deck and a wicker patio set with a coffee table and an ottoman, ideal for sipping coffee in the morning or cocktails in the afternoon. The grounds of the yellow guesthouse feel like a secret garden, with a brick path winding around the tropical landscaping to a pond. Guests can also access a pool that’s shared with other units. Past guests have described this listing as a “tropical paradise.”

This home still has a few dates open in April and May, with more availability in June and July.

More great Florida Airbnbs

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