BARNETT ON BUSINESS TRAVEL FOR 2009|
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT CHRIS BARNETT
Frequent flyer Chris Barnett writes about business-travel tactics and strategies that save time and money and help minimize hassles. He is based in San Francisco and has written for a wide variety of major newspapers and national magazines. Barnett on Business Travel is currently syndicated by Creators Syndicate. Chris was a contributing editor of Frequent Flyer when JoeSentMe.com founder Joe Brancatelli was the magazine's executive editor and he was the first columnist Joe approached to join JoeSentMe.
December 17: FOUR SEASONS, FIVE STARS AND PLENTY OF TROUBLE
Until recently, the Four Seasons San Francisco had been a marketing success story. It won the coveted Mobil five-star designation in 13 months, a record at the time. Today, however, it is headed for foreclosure, a victim of the prolonged economic tailspin and a crapshoot by its owners. But the Four Seasons managers continue to try to command sky-high rates while it slashes basic services.
December 3: THE SCIENCE OF A LIFE ON THE ROAD
Research biologist Dr. Jean de Gunzburg treks about 150 days a year as a keynoter on the global symposium circuit, commuting from his London home to his Paris office and heading a non-profit that operates in 100 countries. But all he really wants to do is tour the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. "The irony is I travel a lot but have no time to visit anything that interests me," laments de Gunzburg.
November 12: ANDAZ IS HYATTSPEAK FOR 'COOL'
After more than 40 years of building the same old bunkhouses in major U.S. cities, Hyatt is trying hard to cut loose. And Hyatt's next project is Andaz, which I think is the hottest version yet of a "cool" hotel by an American lodging chain. At the very least, Andaz has been a remarkable conversion for the old "Riot Hyatt" on Sunset Strip.
October 8: A GREEN GASTROPUB IN LONDON
Despite its Victorian ancestry, humble décor and cozy charm, the Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington neighborhood is on the cutting edge of the global effort to preserve the planet's health. The Duke says it is the world's first and only certified organic gastropub, where libations and everything on its eclectic menu have never been touched by herbicides, pesticides or any environmental villain.
August 27: PARIS WHEN IT SWIZZLES
Looking for a bar in Paris when the work is done? Chris checks out Le Bar in the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome and finds inventive cocktails (how about a martini that replicates lemon meringue pie?); a pricey, but comprehensive, Champagne menu; and a barman who gives lessons (literally) on how to do everything he does--at home.
August 6: A BIG BET ON A SAN FRANCISCO REVIVAL
New owners have poured $40 million into the Westin St. Francis Hotel, the palatial but tired landmark that withstood the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. The payoff for travelers? Room rates starting at $149 a night, half the price of a year ago.
July 23: IN NEW YORK, SMALL(ER) IS BEAUTIFUL
The collapse of the financial markets and the economy forced New York hotels to get real about rates. Still, New York remains by far the most expensive town in America to rent a hotel room. If you need to visit New York and save money on your lodging, here is a money-saving tip: Check out New York's cornucopia of smaller hotels that don't have a marquee name and aren't a link in a major national hotel chain.
July 9: BACK TO A VELVET FUTURE IN CLEVELAND
The Velvet Tango Room, a few blocks from downtown Cleveland, is a throwback to the days when going out for a cocktail and conversation was exhilarating or calming or both. It's Shangri-La for lovers of perfectly prepared cocktails. The drinks can take five or even 10 minutes to measure and mix and true aficionados don't mind the wait.
June 25: STILL 'LA DOLCE VITA' AT HARRY'S BAR IN ROME
Harry's Bar in Rome gained instant notoriety for its location on the Via Veneto, the fashionable boulevard featured in filmmaker Federico Fellini's 1960 tour de force, La Dolce Vita. It's still where locals and visitors go to quaff classic cocktails and partake in the fantasy of the sweet life.
June 11: THE SKY-HIGH PRICE OF A POP IN THE SKY
Next time you say "Set 'em up, Flo" at 40,000 feet, do ask the flight attendant for the price of that Scotch- or Amaretto-induced diversion. Depending on the airline, those teeny-weeny plastic bottles of your favorite liquor now cost as much as $7 a pop in domestic economy class. That's a sobering hike of as much as 40 percent for a mix-it-yourself-in-a-plastic-glass cocktail over the five bucks we used to pay for a little comfort in the skies.
May 28: ON THE FLY WITH PETER GREENBERG
In a little over a week recently, Peter Greenberg, a travel-media whirlwind, flew from Los Angeles to Shanghai; back to LAX to catch a red-eye flight to Washington/Dulles; then on to Cancun, Mexico, and back to New York, where he had weekend duty as a volunteer fireman on Fire Island. Then he flew to Washington, then Sao Paolo and back to New York. The question is why. The answer is complicated.
May 13: THE BOILER HOUSE IN TORONTO IS NO BOILER ROOM
The Boiler House sounds like a hot, steamy pipe works festooned with valves and gauges. Might have been a century ago. Today, however, the 167-year-old brick building in Toronto is a dark, sexy, high-energy saloon and restaurant lit with flickering candles.
April 30: LEADING THE WAY AT LUXURY LODGINGS
Ted Teng, the new chief executive officer of Leading Hotels, faces unhappy hotel members whose occupancy and daily room rates are plummeting. His plan: Have reservations agents dial Leading's loyal customers, repeat guests or potential "first-timers." Greet them like old friends and tell them what's new with member hotels. Oh, and have them pitch discounts, too.
April 16: A WINE "CELLAR" WITH A HIGH-TECH TWIST
Think the ultimate wine-tasting room is a musty, dank, candlelit cave piled high with French oak barrels? Not in New York, it isn't. Clo is high-tech, high-design, free of furniture and wine snobs and prepared to automatically dispense about a hundred rare, cult and boutique vintages with the swipe of a card.
April 2: CHOICE HOTEL SAYS NO DISCOUNTS FOR YOU
Not all hotel chains are taking a chainsaw to their room rates to lure frequent travelers and hang on to existing customers. Choice Hotels International, for instance. With 10 folksy sounding, mid-priced and economy lodging brands ranging from Comfort Inns and Cambria Suites to EconoLodge and Sleep Inn, Choice has persuaded its franchisees to "hold the line on prices," says chief marketing officer Chris Malone.
March 19: A (REALLY) BIG-TICKET BAR IN PORTLAND
With its swanky 1940s supper club ambiance, El Gaucho restaurant has made its bar a destination for discriminating and well-heeled drinkers. The bar in Portland, Oregon, sells beverages that retail for as much as $750 a snifter. All about this most interesting watering hole on the road.
March 5: ON THE ROAD AND ON A BUDGET
A year ago, Jeanne Branthover wouldn't think twice about flying business class "almost anywhere." Now, she asks her assistant to scour Web sites and other sources for the best possible airline and hotel deals. That's the life on the road many of us are now living.
February 19: MEANWHILE, BACK ON THE ROAD...
With trillions of dollars of economic stimulus, banking bailouts and housing rescues dominating the business news, it's not hard to understand why some business-travel topics have lately been overlooked. But road warriors are still out there, nose to the grindstone and carry-on bag in the overhead compartment. Here's some of what you need to know.
February 5: IN LAS VEGAS, A "HOUSE" FOR LOCALS
Hidden in a nondescript neighborhood strip mall nine miles north of the neon and traffic of the Las Vegas Strip, Rosemary's Restaurant is an unpretentious oasis of fine dining and drinking where the cocktails are as inventive as the acclaimed food. It's where the locals go to avoid the tourists.
January 22: AFTER BUSINESS TRAVEL ENDS, MORE TRAVEL
What does a business traveler do when he hangs up his briefcase? If his name is Charles Veley, he keeps trotting the planet and aims for the dubious crown of "the world's most traveled man." He claimed it in 2004 and no one has disputed him.
January 15: WHAT'S A HOTEL "DEAL" LOOK LIKE?
Hotels are rolling out fluffier, brighter red carpets to business travelers as they work to hang on to loyal guests as the economy dives. But outright rate-cutting remains selective and hoteliers are desperate to seduce you with value-added deals instead.
January 8: NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS FOR THE ROAD
Who knows what the airlines, hotels and car-rental firms will do this year? But travelers can change their behavior in 2009 and engineer their own savings of time and money. Here are some New Year's resolutions that can make a difference in your life away from home.
Copyright © 2001-2009 by Chris Barnett. All rights reserved.