Barnett on Business Travel for 2008
December 18: THIS ELITE FILLMORE JOINT IS NO GAMBLE
The Elite Café at 2049 Fillmore in San Francisco transcends the trends and generations of the boulevard and it is now a favored hangout for locals, business travelers and vacationers. It has history, a friendly bar, New Orleans cuisine and a relaxing personality. And a shady past as a gambling joint.
December 4: MY KINGDOM FOR A TICKET JACKET
Ticket jackets are a vanishing breed if you fly economy class. It's a sure sign that civilization as we know it is in irreversible decline. And where am I going to stash all my receipts, boarding passes, baggage checks and all the other paperwork of the road?
November 13: THREE WEEKS A MONTH ON THE ROAD
Michael Macho is like a fire horse. He can get a call at six at night from the chief executive of a prospective customer in Toronto and will be up at 3 a.m. the next morning to catch the first flight out of Los Angeles International. He says it wows the boss of the potential customer when the president shows up the next day to present the company's wares.
October 30: A CLASSIC BAR IN THAT TODDLIN' TOWN
The bar at Coco Pazzo in the River North neighborhood of Chicago is a hideaway for Chicagoans. It's known for its authentic Tuscan cuisine, Italian wines and wood-burning oven rather than its gin and tonics. And Coco Pazzo's bar is comfortable, not snooty.
October 15: BASIC TO BASICS (REALLY BASIC) AT NORTHWEST AIRLINES
Northwest Airlines' reputation has taken such a fierce pounding over the years that I was reluctant to buy a roundtrip ticket from San Francisco to Madison, Wisconsin, even though I snared a good fare. I'm glad I did. The one-stop flight was uneventful. Just plain, no-frills air travel that didn't sit on the tarmac or at the gate and arrived on-time.
October 2: THE FIX IS IN (LUGGAGE DIVISION)
Chris Barnett talks to the general manager of the luggage-repair firm that the airlines use to fix our bags after they've damaged them. You might be surprised by his choice of best mass-market luggage brands.
September 18: A SAN FRANCISCO BAR LONG ON CHARM
From the Jazz Era to the 1950s, the Long Bar, a joint about 10 minutes west of downtown San Francisco, boasted one of the longest bars in the world. It stretched from the front door on Fillmore Street all the way back to the next block. Now it's back.
September 4: THEY DON'T FLY THEM LIKE THEY USED TO
Bob Meltzer spent 52 years in the toy industry and all of them on airplanes, hopping around the country and the world. Starting on the DC-3, he always flew first class. He has fond memories of the lush life on airlines that are mostly dead and buried. But like a lot of other regular travelers, Meltzer is finding it rough going in the skies today.
August 21: ONE LAWYER, LOTS OF TRAVEL OPINIONS
Lawyers are never miserly with their opinions. Just ask John Jardine for his stand on the current state of business travel. Jardine--a pseudonym to protect his anonymity--says his colleagues at the top rung of the U.S. airline frequent flyer programs may "get treated a little better than I do but it can't be worth all that extra flying."
August 7: HISTORY AND HOSPITALITY IN SPOKANE
Most gilded, gracious, grand dame hotels strike me as catering to visiting rulers of Third World countries, dowagers hoping to marry off their granddaughters or to meeting planners hoping to fill the ballrooms with conferees. But the 94-year-old Davenport Hotel and Tower in Spokane, Washington, courts social lions, visiting dignitaries and business travelers upgrading their usual lodging experience.
July 31: A BAD NAME FOR A SUAVE, SOUTHERN BAR
I've long held that history flows better in the barroom than the classroom. So pull up a leather stool here in TJ's Lounge in Richmond, Virginia, and let me tell you why we devotees of the civilized cocktail today owe Thomas Jefferson a major debt of gratitude. This is a great bar, we have to do something about the name.
July 17: CLEVELAND ROCKS, CLASSIC BAR DIVISION
Cleveland has undergone at least a couple of renewals. Fancy hotels have sprouted downtown and friendly thirst parlors have rolled out the red carpet to visitors, not just locals. But the place to go these days is a place that has been beloved by Clevelanders for years.
July 10: A DAY ON THE ROAD, NO HASSLES NEEDED
On a trip this week from his home base in San Francisco to Spokane, Chris Barnett didn't have to worry about paying $25 a day for airport parking. Nor did he shell out $25 to check a garment bag, $2 for a soft drink or a dime extra for a seat assignment. And he didn't have to endure an understandably grumpy flight attendant who recently took yet another pay and benefits cut and was sweating a layoff. How'd he do it?
June 26: GETTING OFF THE BRANDED HOTEL TRACK
Bound for San Antonio or Charleston, South Carolina? Skip the same old hotel marquees and check into some local places that are long on history, charm and folklore.
June 12: IN PARIS, A SECRET 'NO-STAR' HOTEL
Why would a more-than-serviceable Paris hotel for business travelers boast about having fewer stars than it deserves? In Paris, ratings are not what they seem. (PS, it's about taxes...)
May 29: A TEXAS HOTEL WITH A STYLISH BAR
Austin, Texas, is better known for music than martinis, but David Highfill, the mixologist at the Driskill Hotel, has a foot in both worlds. He's been stirring and pouring for 26 years at the Driskill's popular pentagon-shaped bar during the days. At night, he morphs into drummer "Dave The Rave" and grabs gigs at pubs around town.
May 22: SPIFFING UP THE HOTEL ON THE HILL
The new general manager of The Fairmont San Francisco is an old-style hotelier with an up-to-the-nanosecond mindset on how to treat travelers: Give them everything they want even if they have to pay for it and emblazon your brand of hospitality in their brain so they never forget you.
May 8: WOMEN AT THE BAR ON THE ROAD
Decades after women were banned from barrooms or had their own door at the saloon and were separated from male imbibers, thirst parlors in the civilized world are passionately courting females to take their place at the bar. But women business travelers, who make up an estimated 42 percent of today's road warriors, are choosy about the lounges they will frequent. And they don't always feel comfortable sitting on a stool and bellying up to the bar.
April 24: A FIRST-CLASS RIDE AT A SWEET PRICE ON VIRGIN AMERICA
Virgin America is a discount carrier with style, some wonderfully fresh ideas--and a few brainstorms that are a pain in the rear for anyone over 50. Business travelers are just now discovering Virgin America. And things are good (and affordable) up front.
April 10: A SPECIAL BAR IN BATON ROUGE
You'll be surprised by the details on one of the most interesting taverns in Baton Rouge. And don't we all need a drink just now!
March 27: GOOD NEWS FROM A BAD WEEK OF FLYING
American Airlines and many of its passengers had a very bad week thanks to the reinspection of about 300 of the airline's MD-80s. But Chris Barnett had four segments on American and things went swimmingly well. Some good news for a change.
March 13: I STILL FEEL SAFE FLYING SOUTHWEST
Southwest Airlines, the 37-year-old, peanut-pushing carrier built on cheap fares and public relations savvy, has its first black eye. But I, for one, feel safe flying Southwest. Besides the airline continues to offer value, convenience and surprising in-flight comfort.
February 28: HOW THE OTHER HALF FLIES OVERSEAS
It's shocking but true: Not every business traveler flies in the front of the plane when they travel overseas. Yet it sometimes seems that we're all living the lush life up front--if you listen to the recent press coverage of international business travel.
February 21: MERGER MANIA. WATCH YOUR WALLET.
Hold on to your wallet, brace yourself for confusion, prepare for sour faces in-flight and get used to tighter seating in smaller planes on longer trips. After all, airline mergers are in the air. Again.
February 7: LORE AND LIBATIONS IN WEST PALM BEACH
E.R. Bradley's Saloon in West Palm Beach doesn't exactly pledge loyalty to its namesake, a legendary scoundrel, sportsman, steel-mill laborer and shrewd 19th-century speculator. But with six bars, 21 barkeeps on a busy day, bargain buffets, stunning views of the Intracoastal Waterway and an endless parade of boats, Bradley's is one of Florida's legitimate hot spots.
January 24: A DARK, STORMY AND COSTLY HOTEL NIGHT
Be prepared to dig deep this year for a hotel room in a major city. And don't expect your corporate rates or frequent travel program status to mean much. A weak dollar and an influx of overseas visitors means hotels are free to raise rates to stratospheric levels.
January 10: THE ART OF WOO ON THE ROAD
Mario Moussa roams the nation advising corporate behemoths on how to get their way without stomping on their competition. His approach is spelled out in his book, The Art of Woo. But can subtle wooing help a frustrated traveler win a few battles? The frequent-flying Moussa says that it can.
Copyright © 2001-2008 by Chris Barnett. All rights reserved.
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