Barnett on Business Travel for 2006

chris December 21: In London, Where the $32 Martini Reigns
When I'm in London and want to unwind, I expect a refuge that's calm and clubby. Where the paneling is at least 100 years older than the whiskey. Where the bartender is part alchemist, part ambassador, has great stories and tells them without spilling a drop. For my money--and you have to bring lots of it to London today--Dukes Bar in Dukes Hotel is the perfect sanctuary.

December 14: Pouring It on Smoothly in New York
Next time you're strolling in Manhattan and you're thirsty for a friendly face, duck into the Carlyle Hotel on Madison Avenue and East 76th Street. Ask mixologist Tommy Rowles to whip you up a libation. Why? Bemelmans Bar may be the last bastion of civilized cocktailing in Manhattan.

November 30: Flyers, Hideaways and Disappointments
Classic Italian cuisine at an airport? Good eats in Madison, Wisconsin? An honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned hangout in Santa Monica? Eleven-dollar pancakes and $18 Manhattans in Manhattan? Here's Chris' latest list of dining finds, flyers, hideaways and disappointments on the road.

November 16: Some Places Still Make 'Em Like They Used To...
La Maison Goyard, the French family-owned luggage maker, has purposely stayed small since its founding. There are only nine stores in the world where you can buy Goyard luggage and leather goods besides the Paris store. Everything in its product line is still made by hand at a workshop in France and the designs are traditional.

November 2: Fine Fare Without the Tourists in San Francisco
I've found that the best value-for-money eateries in my hometown of San Francisco--the ones with inventive food and skilled servers--are not on the waterfront or even downtown, but in the neighborhoods, the tourist-free zones. Here are five places where the locals rule and a business traveler will find fine fare, good wine and terrific service.

October 19: A Majestic Meat-and-Greet Place in Kansas City
Once upon a time, Kansas City's Fitzpatrick Building housed a clothing store, a brothel, a speakeasy and the headquarters of Tom Pendergast, the political boss of "Tom's Town." Now it's called the Majestic and it's the best meat-and-greet place in town, for locals and business travelers.

October 5: The Michelin Man Comes to the Bay Area
The chubby Michelin man came to San Francisco this week, touting the first Bay Area edition of his iconic food and travel guide. He promptly shocked local chefs, foodies and business travelers by deeming the city's restaurants as undeserving of his prized three-star rating. Is it all a tempest in a saucepan?

September 21: Shuttle Diplomacy? Take the Train Instead
Whoever said that fierce competition keeps a lid on prices hasn't bought a ticket on the Washington-to-New York shuttle lately. Despite the fact that at least five airlines fly almost hourly in the East Coast triangle between New York, Boston and Washington, the walkup roundtrip fare for the 214-mile trip between LaGuardia and Washington National is an insane $628. But there are some better options, including a revived Amtrak.

September 7: The Last Days of Watergate (the Hotel, I Mean)
The Watergate hotel, the symbol of corruption and arrogance at the highest levels of government, closes on December 31. The hotel has seen better days--ironically, the roof leaks--but history buffs and business travelers looking for spacious, bargain-priced lodgings in the nation's capital should check into the Watergate before it morphs into a condo complex.

August 24: The Taylor Rules: Shop for Comfort on the Fly
Jim Taylor flies about 200,000 miles a year and has one rule for preserving his sanity: "No matter what happens, don't get angry. I chose a life that requires me to fly and I accept that traveling today is like waiting in cafeteria lines." But the high-powered consultant expects--make that requires--sharp and gracious service from every airline and hotel he uses.

August 10: Donald Trump Has a Gem of a New York Hotel
I never thought I'd be sending The Donald an "attaboy." And I wasn't planning to hand out kudos when my cab pulled up to the Trump International Hotel & Tower opposite New York's Central Park. But the Trump International Hotel is a suave, understated and highly recommended lodging option in the overheated New York market.

July 20: P.S., United Has Something Good to Fly
United Airlines is still riddled with operational problems, but it offers mile-high pampering on its p.s. service. In this little corner of the skies--the bellwether Golden Triangle transcon routes between New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco--p.s. is a pretty smart idea, maybe United's best brainstorm ever in caring for customers.

June 29: Where Business Travel and B&B Meet
Those charming, folksy bed and breakfast inns may be filled with more than antiques, embroidered pillows and romantic couples seeking serenity. Innkeepers are courting business travelers, wooing them with wireless Internet access, office equipment and, in some cases, expert advice on how to get a commercial bank loan or make a shrewd real estate buy.

June 15: On the Road and in the Spa
Businessmen on the road may not break for a pedicure or a seaweed wrap, but more gents are stopping off at the spa to get kinks and knots rubbed out and their faces moisturized. Of course, business travelers, male or female, don't have hours to indulge themselves. But they still want rejuvenation. That's why airport spas and massage bars are cropping up.

May 25: An Extended-Stay Hotel With New York Style
The trailblazer in extended-stay hotels, Residence Inn, has opened a 357-room property conveniently nestled between New York's Garment District and Times Square. Sleek and architecturally stylish, it blends in with the street's modernist streetscape like a high-style storefront. It hardly looks like an "inn." And if you can adjust to the prices--as high as $615 a night--you'll find much to like at Manhattan's first extended-stay property.

May 4: A Seismic Shake-Up at San Francisco's Hotels
The San Francisco lodging business is booming and hotel owners are selling out for fat profits. Business travelers who choose a hotel because of its frequent-guest program and come back so often that they often know the staff could find a new name on the door, new faces behind the front desk and pricier room rates.

April 20: The Hotel-Keeper's Code, According to Stan Bromley
Remember the last time you checked into a hotel and met your host, the general manager? Probably not. Most hotel managers spend their days in meetings fussing over costs, budgets and ways to fill more rooms at a higher rate. But Stan Bromley, who recently retired after 23 years with Four Seasons, says real hoteliers should spend half their time out front greeting and schmoozing guests and employees and the other half of their working day managing their multi-million dollar inns.

April 6: How to Stand By: Pray or Be Prepared to Pay
With more cities gridlocked by traffic, meetings cancelled or running late and itineraries changed in mid-trip, business travelers flying on discounted tickets have two choices when they miss a flight: Stand by for another one and pray that they will somehow get on--or pay the airline a change fee and a fare differential for a confirmed seat.

April 1: The Battle of the Bars in Buckhead
Call it a tale of two taverns, the battle for Buckhead, dueling drinkmeisters, whatever. In Atlanta, a city where entrepreneurial adrenaline rampages, a pair of pubs caters respectively to the young gladiators of commerce and the corporate lions and lionesses. Both roll out fluffy red carpets for out-of-towners and are on opposite sides of Peachtree Street, extremely convenient if you want to take a walk on the wild side and on the mild side in the same evening.

March 23: Women on the Road Still Have Special Gripes
About half of all business travelers are now women, traveling solo and not liking it very much at all. Even worse, most of the travel firms--hotels, airlines and car-rental companies--are run by men with tin ears and no sense of style. That's the criticism of two frequent-flying women with unique insights into life on the road, distaff division.

March 2: No In-Flight Food Please. We're Chefs.
Airline food has degenerated into stale jokes on late-night TV. So how do professional foodies like chefs cope with the salty, high-fat, calorie-bloated meals and snacks served at 40,000 feet? It almost never touches their lips. "Whenever there's food you don't pay for, it's not about quality or taste," says one chef. "It's about how much it costs to put on the plate." Chris Barnett tells tales from the kitchen and many are not pretty.

February 16: Love and Marriage--and Business Travel
Business travel is always enlightening, sometimes exciting and part of the job. But it can often ruin romances and strain marriages and wreak havoc at home. That's especially true for road warriors who spend days and weeks at a time on planes and in hotels. How do business travelers keep it all together these days? With time and love--and creativity.

February 9: Part Supper Club, Part Saloon in San Francisco
Tucked inside a vintage brick building on a narrow, block-long alley called Gold Street, Bix has my vote for San Francisco's best bar. Drop in for a drink and you're instantly swept up in a crowd of friendly locals, loyal regulars, and fortunate visitors who've been tipped off that Bix is not your usual tacky tourist trap.

February 2: Beauty--and Beastly Service--on the Beach
Shutters on the Beach, a Santa Monica refuge for Hollywood's A-List celebrities, is not ready for prime time as a business-travel hotel. The set is beautiful. Some staffers are budding superstars. But quite a few members of the supporting cast need more rehearsal--and more stage direction--in the art of hospitality and caring for busy people.

January 19: Ten Travel Resolutions Three Weeks Late
Compiling a list of the Top 10 travel industry dumb moves of 2005 wouldn't be too tough, but why revisit misery? Instead, with three weeks to work out the kinks, here are Chris' Top 10 New Year's resolutions for traveling smarter in 2006. They will save time and money and make you more comfortable on the road no matter how dumb the travel industry is this year.

Copyright 2001-2009 by Chris Barnett. All rights reserved.