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Archive: Gary Lee

Ten Favorite Hotels

I am leaving The Post as of Nov. 2, so this is my final blog in this space. As the Post travel writer assigned to the hotel beat for the past seven years, I have had the good fortune to critique hundreds of accommodations all over the world. I toured...

By Gary Lee | November 2, 2007; 09:33 AM ET | Comments (7)

Moscow Calling: Tips for the Trip

Fresh from a week in the capital of Russia, I've learned a few things, even though I'm fairly familiar with the city. My first tip: Use the subway. Travelers unfamiliar with the city should study a map of the system on the way over and hop on it as frequently...

By Gary Lee | October 26, 2007; 11:38 AM ET | Comments (4)

In D.C., It's Easy Going Green

Eco travelers rejoice! You don't have to go to Costa Rica to take advantage of eco-friendly lodging. In keeping with the movement across the hotel industry to go green, a couple of properties in Washington are moving to make their properties more ecologically correct. * Residence Inn Capitol by Marriott...

By Gary Lee | October 25, 2007; 01:41 PM ET | Comments (0)

Are Cruise Ships Safe?

Federal law enforcement officials gave a report of recent crimes aboard cruise ships at a congressional hearing a few days ago and the figures are daunting. There were 207 reports of serious crimes aboard ships in the period between April 1 and Aug. 24, an FBI official told a congressional...

By Gary Lee | October 4, 2007; 10:03 AM ET | Comments (7)

Hotels with Women-Only Floors: A Good Idea?

Even though Marriott has scrapped plans to set aside a women's-only floor at a major new property, the concept is still being batted around among hoteliers. Marriott had originally designated the 19th floor of its new $100 million, 340-room JW Marriott in Grand Rapids, Mich., to be exclusively available to...

By Gary Lee | September 27, 2007; 07:01 AM ET | Comments (0)

Hip New Hotel Review Site

Vibeagent.com, a new travel site launched not long ago by a couple of young travel entrepreneurs, is positioning itself to be the first trip-planning stop for savvy travelers. One key feature of the site is the personal takes by Joe and Jane Traveler of hotels that they have patronized. So...

By Gary Lee | September 20, 2007; 09:55 AM ET | Comments (2)

Is Canada the Boring Girl Next Door?

Travel from the United States to Canada fell by 8.1 percent in the first part of this year, compared with 2006. The 2006 rates were also down from 2005. Such figures miff fans of Canada to no end. Our neighbor to the north has some stunning attractions to offer visitors....

By Gary Lee | September 13, 2007; 07:02 AM ET | Comments (0)

Cheap Hotels in Europe

Just as we enter the shoulder travel season, when airfares to Europe begin to dip to affordable levels, Eurocheapo, which features budget hotels throughout Europe, is expanding its offerings. The site has has led us to some pretty cool digs at great prices in the major European capitals (examples: the...

By Gary Lee | September 6, 2007; 01:22 PM ET | Comments (0)

Fort Lauderdale Mayor vs. Gays

A rift between Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Mayor Jim Naugle and the city's tourism officials reached a new peak a few days ago and the city's repuation as a top destination for gay travelers is at stake. Tensions started last month when Naugle said that gay sex is rampant in public...

By Gary Lee | August 30, 2007; 11:01 AM ET | Comments (5)

Domino's Pizza and Other Healthy Dining Options

Just as travelers have begun craving locally grown and organic meal options, along comes HealthyDiningFinder.com, a Web site designed to help folks locate restaurants with menu items that are low in calories, trans fats and all other horrible things, and high in fiber and other stuff that's nutritional. The site,...

By Gary Lee | August 27, 2007; 01:06 PM ET | Comments (7)

Put That French Fry Down!

As Americans take their growing appetites for healthy foods on the road, many hotels and restaurants are responding by offering more items that are organically grown, raised on sustainable farms or locally produced. Although many folks view vacations as good opportunities to get away from tofu and indulge (greasy burgers...

By Gary Lee | August 10, 2007; 10:08 AM ET | Comments (0)

Hip Hotel Watch

Hey, ye roadsters who like to stay on the cusp of trends, take note of the upcoming openings of a handful of fresh, innovative hotels. Located in different parts of the U.S. -- Tacoma, Miami, Boston, North Carolina -- they're all well outside the typical chain lodging box. 1. The...

By Gary Lee | August 2, 2007; 09:33 AM ET | Comments (1)

Favorite Hotels -- or Not

Ritz Carlton nudged just ahead of JW Marriott and Four Seasons as the favorite luxury hotel of guests surveyed by JD Powers, an information agency. The 46,634 guests who were questioned also rated their favorite hotels in upscale, midscale, budget and extended stay categories. The just-released 2007 North America Hotel...

By Gary Lee | July 26, 2007; 10:22 AM ET | Comments (12)

Hurricane Season: Too Risky for Caribbean Travel?

This year should bring a more stormy hurricane season to the Caribbean than 2006, by the account of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In all, we should expect 13 to 17 named storms, seven to 10 hurricanes and three to five major hurricanes, NOAA said in its annual...

By Gary Lee | July 19, 2007; 10:54 AM ET | Comments (0)

Euro Blues

It's not getting any easier travelingl overseas, is it? All this week, the dollar has been losing ground to the euro. At its peak, the exchange required travelers to give $1.37 for every euro. The British pound also traded at a sky-high rate of about $2.03 on Wednesday. Both currencies...

By Gary Lee | July 12, 2007; 10:20 AM ET | Comments (13)

Hotel Blogs: The Users Check In

Dig the blogging thing? (Well, you must, since you're reading this.) Or are you simply into hotels? Fans of both will find nirvana in several Web sites specifically dedicated to blogs about individual hotels or chains. I have checked out a couple of the blogs devoted to chains: www.starwoodlobby.com and...

By Gary Lee | July 10, 2007; 10:18 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Wired Is Your Room?

High-speed Internet? Of course. In-room iPod and docking station? Check. IP Video on Demand in High Definition? Er, coming right up! As hotels compete for tech-savvy travelers, the most forward-thinking have begun offering videos on demand in high definition. Many properties have offered HDTV in guest rooms for some time....

By Gary Lee | June 28, 2007; 10:12 AM ET | Comments (0)

Boutique Hotels: Thumbs Up or Down?

Thanks to a plan in the works by Marriott International, a new line of boutique "lifestyle hotels" may soon be coming to street corners across the country. Is this welcome news for travelers? Are these the kind of properties you are looking for? A few days ago, Bill Marriott, Marriott's...

By Gary Lee | June 25, 2007; 03:41 PM ET | Comments (5)

Pride Festivals

The season of Pride festivals -- a major travel incentive for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people -- has kicked off with events planned in cities throughout North America and in several international destinations. Kimpton, a chain of hip hotels, is offering a 15 percent discount to travelers who book...

By Gary Lee | June 15, 2007; 09:43 AM ET | Comments (0)

Best Beds for the Buck

Consumer Reports has just released its tally of hotels that offer the best value. These are the results of a 2006 survey of 35,000 CR subscribers. They spent a total of 139,000 nights in hotels. The respondents nominated what they found to be the best hotel deals, determined by value,...

By Gary Lee | June 6, 2007; 02:27 PM ET | Comments (2)

Pilfering From Hotel Rooms

Today's news flash: a gold bathtub (estimated value: $987,000) was taken from a 10th-floor guest room at the Kominato hotel, south of Tokyo. The tub was apparently in a bathroom shared by guests. The theft raises several questions. Among them: Why was a $1 million tub in a shared bathroom?...

By Gary Lee | May 31, 2007; 10:53 AM ET | Comments (0)

Wash a Few Dishes for Lunch

Remember the days when diners who came up short had to wash a few plates to pay for lunch? Those days are alive at SAME (So All May Eat) Cafe, a neat new restaurant I tried out in Denver not long ago. The owners offer a pretty healthy, mostly organic...

By Gary Lee | May 24, 2007; 09:55 AM ET | Comments (2)

$32 Tip Included

In the latest salvo in the debate over how much to tip hotel staff, a guest at the posh Phoenician in Scottsdale, Ariz., is suing over mandatory gratuities included in his room bill. It seems that upon check-out Jim Schulevitz got a bill that included a $4 daily tip for...

By Gary Lee | May 17, 2007; 11:04 AM ET | Comments (32)

Greener Travel Options

Good news for environmentally conscious travelers: Hotels are getting religion on ecology. Leading Hotels of the World, a conglomeration of some of the finest properties across the globe, has introduced a new booking site, www.lhwgreen.com, which includes several eco-friendly tools travelers can use. As part of its Leading Green Initiative,...

By Gary Lee | May 8, 2007; 10:05 AM ET | Comments (0)

Traveling for a Civil Union?

How much has the debate over civil unions and same-sex marriage affected travel habits? New Hampshire recently became the fourth state allowing civil unions between same-sex couples in the U.S. The others: Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey. And Massachusetts allows same-sex marriage. The movement for same-sex legal unions has been...

By Gary Lee | May 3, 2007; 09:53 AM ET | Comments (4)

Waiting For Hotel Info? Get In Line!

Ever send an e-mail off to a hotel asking whether you can check in early or some other question and never hear a peep back? Apparently you're not alone. Twelve percent of the e-mails travelers send to hotels are ignored, according to a study just released by the Customer Respect...

By Gary Lee | April 26, 2007; 10:02 AM ET | Comments (0)

Escaping Holiday Inns (and Other Chains)

In my ongoing search for lodging that is above the ordinary, I recently discovered Provenance Hotels, a group that offers just the kind of creative off-beat properties I like. All of the group's four properties (and a new one opening soon) are unique. The hotel deluxe, located in Portland, Ore.,...

By Gary Lee | April 19, 2007; 03:18 PM ET | Comments (5)

Report From Jamaica

As a travel section reporter, I have written about crime in Jamaica -- and other islands -- in the past. Now, fresh from a trip to Montego Bay -- one of the Jamaica's three top resort areas -- my strongest impression was that crime and aggressive panhandling are less prevalent...

By Gary Lee | April 3, 2007; 12:06 PM ET | Comments (1)

Gay-Friendly Destinations

Which of the following destinations has the hottest scene for gays and lesbian travelers: Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, New York City, San Francisco or West Hollywood? PlanetOut.com, a popular Web site featuring news, travel tips and other info geared toward gays, wants to know your view. For its annual travel awards,...

By Gary Lee | March 21, 2007; 03:05 PM ET | Comments (5)

That Room Costs What?!?

I recently saw a report showing that hotel room rates shot up at a hefty rate across most of Europe in 2006. The report was from TRI Hospitality Consulting, a London-based company that keeps track of the costs of hotels in Europe. By TRI's account, the most expensive hotels in...

By Gary Lee | March 20, 2007; 02:25 PM ET | Comments (12)

Black History Month: An Anachronism?

Now that February, officially designated as Black History Month, is past, I have been reflecting on whether it is an anachronism. This year, as always, some extraordinary events have been staged commemorating the occasion. The offerings, ranging from the Pan African film festival in L.A. to a reenactment of a...

By Gary Lee | March 6, 2007; 09:50 AM ET | Comments (16)

Private Tour Guides: Worth It?

Most times I like poking around cities on my own. But sometimes a great tour guide offers glimpes of a place that I would have a tough time discovering on my own. Not long ago, I found myself in need of a guide who could take visiting friends around Washington....

By Gary Lee | March 5, 2007; 03:51 PM ET | Comments (19)

Not Your Dad's Concierge

Before a recent trip to New York City, I logged on to Yahoo's Trip Planner to see what cool venues other travelers had recently uncovered. The service, which went fully live a few weeks ago, allows you, among other things, to view the itineraries other travelers have taken to your...

By Gary Lee | February 21, 2007; 10:04 AM ET | Comments (4)

Hotels With Shared Baths: Ewww or Ahhh?

With hotel room rates at record highs, especially in major U.S. and European cities, one way to cut back on travel costs is going for a room with a shared bath. In my case, they have made trips affordable that otherwise might not have been. And options pop up everywhere....

By Gary Lee | February 15, 2007; 03:00 PM ET | Comments (19)

Hotel Search SOS

Need help figuring out a good hotel for a family reunion? Or want to compare the different prices offered on the Web for a room in the same hotel? Or to find a hotel meeting space good for a book club or other social group? In my research as a...

By Gary Lee | February 5, 2007; 03:48 PM ET | Comments (0)

Room Service: Hold the Trans Fats

Hotels are jumping into the healthy-eating trend. Marriott International has just joined a growing list of hotels and food service companies that are banning trans fats. In an announcement yesterday, the hotel chain said it is phasing out the use of trans fats in the cooking of French fries and...

By Gary Lee | February 2, 2007; 02:22 PM ET | Comments (3)

How Clean Was Your Hotel Bedspread?

TripAdvisor, the travel review site, has just come out with its 2006 list of the ten dirtiest hotels in the U.S. The list, based on travelers' reviews: 1. Tropicana Resort Hotel, Virginia Beach 2. Hotel Carter, New York City 3. Days Inn Downtown, Port, Miami, Fla. 4. Budget Inn, Knoxville,...

By Gary Lee | January 31, 2007; 03:18 PM ET | Comments (0)

Dissed at the Velvet Rope?

Not long ago, during after-hours revelry in Riga, Latvia, I decided to pop into Centri Balti Krekli, a hot music and dance club. (You might ask what I was doing hanging out in a provincial city so far north that even Russians find it cold, but that's another story.) The...

By Gary Lee | January 26, 2007; 12:12 PM ET | Comments (18)

Skip the Creme Brulee and Head for the Gym

A new list of the top 11 hotel gyms in the U.S. is the kind of reference that sports-minded travelers will want to keep. However, a close look at the list, compiled by the San Diego-based Athletic-Minded Traveler, suggests that many of the gyms recommended are in the least fitness-minded...

By Gary Lee | January 18, 2007; 02:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

Blogger Profile: Gary Lee

Travel writer Gary Lee loves dive blues bars, silent monasteries, vineyards and taxis (yes, he's a travel writer who doesn't drive and it hasn't slowed him down a bit). But his real passion is indulging in exotic digestibles: ducks' tongues in China, mare's milk in Mongolia, barbecued baloney in Oklahoma...

By | December 8, 2006; 10:31 AM ET | Comments (0)

 

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