ADVERTISEMENT

Memphis: A new Holiday Inn shows off the brand's new look

By Kate Appleton
October 3, 2012
blog_blog_holidayinnmemphisbedroom_original.jpg
Courtesy IHG/Holiday Inn

Relatives of founder Kemmons Wilson turned out for the official opening of Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Memphis-Wolfchase Galleria last weekend in the city where the iconic American brand got its start in 1952.

It was another big moment for Holiday Inn, which is in the middle of an unprecedented relaunch of all its franchises worldwide—that's now more than 3,200 hotels and 419,000-plus guest rooms. We blogged about the chain's $1 billion new look almost two years ago, when it announced plans to introduce contemporary furnishings, brighter lighting, shower heads with stronger water pressure, and a restyled logo.

The 133-room Memphis property shows off these features while also paying tribute to the brand's history. A bed, a desk, a lamp, and a chair from the first Holiday Inn are arranged in the lobby, and 80 displayed photos include Wilson pictured with Pope John Paul II. It's about 18 miles from the hotel to attractions like Graceland, the National Civil Rights Museum, and Beale Street. Rates start at $136 a night.

Holiday Inn's changes stem from the results of a survey of 18,000 customers as well as a desire to be even more competitive and appealing. (Consider the company's stat that 9 out of 10 travelers have stayed in a Holiday Inn.) Interestingly, the under-30 crowd already ranks the brand as its preferred hotel chain.

Does this makeover pique your interest in Holiday Inn? Anyone stayed at a revamped hotel yet?

Keep reading
News

Paris cuts its sales tax, but are bistros cutting prices?

You may have heard that the sales tax (TVA) for French restaurants was recently slashed, dropping from 19.6 percent to 5.5 percent on July 1. Does that mean that prices have fallen in eateries across town? Sadly, no. Only some restaurants—not all—are passing on the savings to customers. Unlike the sales tax you see on most American restaurant tabs, the French TVA is largely invisible to consumers. The tax is included in the price of each item. And rather than pass the savings on to customers, many restaurant owners are keeping their prices the same—and keeping more of your money. Some of that money will be used to hire additional staff or complete renovations. Some of it will simply help restaurants, who are struggling in this recession, to keep from going under. Price reductions are varied but underwhelming. Mom and pop bistros are discounting more modestly than Applebee's-type franchises, some of whom (Hippopotamus, Bistro Romain) are trying to lure new business with splashy ads about their falling prices. The Secrets of Paris site noticed "a big sign promoting lowered prices at the Ristorante Bottega aross the street from me (the same group as Bistro Romain and Léon de Bruxelles)," but blogger John Talbott wrote that "two chefs I've talked to, both before and after July 1st, said they were just trying to hold their own, keeping costs down, not increasing prices, trying to hire a sous-chef and praying." For my part, I've seen the plat du jour at Mon Vieil Ami drop in price from €15 to €13, and (at the other end of the price spectrum) the special-occasion lunch menu at l'Arpège has dropped from €130 to €120. These reductions are hardly impressive, but we're hoping that the lower tax means means restaurants will be unlikely to raise their prices anytime soon. MORE ON AFFORDABLE PARIS Which Paris restaurants are open in August? Great Paris 'hoods: The Canal Saint-Martin Budget Travel's picks for hotels in Paris

News

A blow to Turkey's new smoking ban

Enraged at having his cigarettes confiscated, a customer shot and killed the owner of a restaurant in the southwestern town of Saruhanli, according to a report by Reuters earlier today. It's the first—and hopefully last—casualty since a nationwide ban on smoking inside bars, coffeehouses, and restaurants took effect on July 19. Similar bans have caught on in places where smoking seemed stubbornly ingrained in the everyday culture (consider Paris, Rome, NYC, and more recently India), but Turkey has a daunting number of smokers to win over. More than half the Turks aged 15 to 49 who were surveyed in a May 2007 Gallup poll said that they had smoked on the day before the survey. Among the 100 countries surveyed, the next up were Lebanon (41%), Greece (40%), and Cuba (40%). Official statistics say almost one in three adults smoke in Turkey. On the other hand, recent surveys suggest overwhelming public support for the ban, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who the AFP describes as "a tobacco hater," has thrown his weight behind the issue. City establishments will face regular inspections, with fines starting at $381 for a first offense; individuals who light up will be fined $45. With the smoke clearing, are you more likely to consider spending time in Turkey and its cafés?

News

Lights out: A total solar eclipse captivates millions in Asia

Reports are streaming in from the 21st century's longest total solar eclipse, which unfolded over more than six minutes on Wednesday morning. Special eclipse-viewing glasses were a common theme among spectators who gathered everywhere from the banks of the holy Ganges River to downtown Shanghai. Watching the sun temporarily disappear as the moon slips between the sun and the earth can provoke astonishing responses, as we noted in a story on how to witness the eclipse. The BBC reported on mixed reactions in India and Nepal, where some viewed the eclipse as a bad omen. Schools were closed in Kathmandu, and some pregnant women in Delhi hid indoors. The BBC's article includes photos, video, and a first-person account. The Lede blog has posted videos of the eclipse from several news agencies. A clip from Al Jazeera focuses on the Indian town of Taregna, an epicenter of the eclipse, where residents' enthusiasm about the event (and the related press attention) was dampened by overcast weather. Among the locally-based news coverage, Xinhua News Agency has posted photos from across China; The Japan Times shows kids in Hiroshima gazing skyward; and Bdnews24 reports that spectators at Panchagarh Stadium in northern Bangladesh broke out in applause and a standing ovation when the sun reappeared. Wish you'd been there in person? Six more total eclipses are on the horizon between 2010 and 2017, including one that will be visible in the U.S. Our eclipse-chasing story has details and route maps.

News

Moon landing celebrations take flight

Moon pie, Tang, astronaut-shaped cheese… It must be the anniversary of the first moon landing. On July 20, our country marks the 40th anniversary of the successful Apollo 11 mission with celebrations nationwide. A favorite spot is Wapakoneta, Ohio, which is the birthplace of the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, and home to the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum. Wapak (as locals call it) has ramped up its annual Summer Moon Festival, which runs through July 20, for the occasion. Among the highlights are a July 18 cooking contest requiring one special ingredient: yes, Tang. Also on exhibit—and eventually set to be consumed—is the world's largest moon pie, at 55 pounds, 40 inches in diameter, and 6 inches high, with 14 pounds of marshmallow and 6 pounds of chocolate (we won't tell you how many calories!). See it on display July 17–18, with the tasting July 19—after the pie-eating contest, of course. And a moon celebration just wouldn't be complete without cheese or, say, a life-size astronaut made entirely of the stuff—1,800 pounds of it! Watch Sarah Kaufmann, a.k.a. The Cheese Lady, carve the six-foot-tall astronaut July 17–18, with an unveiling at the museum July 19. Note: This piece of food art will not be eaten. The festival will also host the debut of the limited-edition Lunar Lager beer today, July 16, courtesy of Akron, Ohio-based Thirsty Dog Brewing Company. Lunar Lager was created exclusively for the Wapak area's moonwalk celebration. On the more educational side, on July 19 the Neil Armstrong Museum will host a special NASA exhibit, from its Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, called "Journey to Tomorrow," which includes a lunar-landing simulator. The Neil Armstrong Museum will offer half-price admission ($4; free for Auglaize County residents) and special hours (noon–5 p.m.; the museum is usually closed on Mondays) on the official anniversary of the landing July 20. Regular exhibits include a 76-foot geodesic dome containing a theater experience of the sights and sounds of space, a moon rock Armstrong brought back, and the Gemini 8 spacecraft he flew in 1966, along with space suits and other memorabilia from his life and space career. Elsewhere in the country: The Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., where Apollo 11 was launched, will celebrate today, July 16, with the opening of the Apollo Treasures Gallery, which features rarely seen artifacts from the Apollo moon missions; on hand will be the second man to step on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, along with various other Apollo astronauts (visitor complex admission $38). In D.C., the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum today will premiere "Alan Bean: Painting Apollo, First Artist on Another World," an exhibit of space-related paintings and drawings by Bean, an artist and Apollo 12 astronaut (runs through January 13). That day also has been dubbed Countdown to the Moon Day at the museum, with various educational activities for families throughout; it's also the home of the Apollo 11 Command Module (all museum activities are free). Houston, a.k.a. Space City, will be the setting for "Fly Me to the Moon: A Community Celebration of the First Lunar Landing" July 18, a free event featuring a 1960s-style picnic, an outdoor viewing of the moon landing on a giant screen, and astronomer-guided stargazing with telescopes. Seattle's Museum of Flight through September 7 is running the exhibit "Apollo 11: An Artist's Perspective - Original Sketches from NASA Artist Paul Calle," featuring the work of Calle, who documented the activities of the Apollo 11 astronauts in the hours before their historic flight (admission $14). Visit NASA's 40th anniversary website for more events nationwide. If you can't make it to one of these celebrations, you can relive the Apollo 11 mission "live" at wechoosethemoon.org. Launched today at 9:32 a.m., exactly 40 years to the minute from the launch, the site will post archival audio, video, and photos coordinated with the timeline of events in 1969. Users can sign up for "real-time" updates of events and follow the progress via Twitter. The site is a project of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

ADVERTISEMENT