NYC: The MAve Hotel opens July 2, with a discount
It's not so easy to open a sleek boutique hotel these days in Manhattan, where room occupancy is down and practically everything's on sale. The new MAve Hotel has taken note and trimmed rates to lure guests.
An Urban Full (full-size bed) starts at $169 and a Madison (queen-size bed) at $189 through September 7, plus the Stay NYC Style promotion gives you a third night's stay for free until mid-August. Seize the moment as the MAve's current plan calls for rates to jump to $249 for an Urban Full and $269 for a Madison.
The 72 rooms have modern graphic art, 32" HDTVs, H20 bath products, and velour bathrobes. Wi-Fi is included, as is breakfast—and that's no stale roll and weak coffee, as a hotel rep pointed out to me. Artisanal, a nearby French bistro with its own cheese caves, supplies three kinds of cheeses, four breads, and same-day roasted coffee beans.
The MAve, which rhymes with "wave" and references Madison Avenue, got its name by popular online vote. It's a few blocks north of the landmark Flatiron Building and Madison Square Park, where you can brave the Shake Shack's notoriously long lines. 62 Madison Ave., near 27th St., 212/532-7373, themavehotel.com, a part of the Desires Hotels collection.
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Rental car rates skyrocket, despite recession
We keep hearing about last-minute hotel deals and 11th-hour airfare deals, but we never hear about last-minute rental car deals. And here's why: There are none. In the past year, rental car companies have sold more than 400,000 vehicles in the used car market, creating an artificial scarcity. They're now able to jack up prices to pretty much whatever they want. The New York Times Practical Travel columnist Michelle Higgins has the scoop: In May, the average rate for a weekly airport rental of a compact car booked seven days in advance was $346, up a whopping 73 percent compared with $199.65 for the same month last year, according to the Abrams Consulting Group, based in Purchase, N.Y., which tracks rental rates. So what is a traveler to do? • Search beyond the major name companies. Metasearch giant Kayak covers all the major car rental companies along with a broad array of mom-and-pop operations, the latter of which may rent cars for less because they don't spend money on large national marketing efforts. Other travel websites are known to overlook these smaller operations. • Consider Toyota. You may not realize that many Toyota dealerships also rent cars. Some will even deliver the cars to your hotel for free pick-up. Find a list of dealerships that rent at toyota.com/rental. • Skip the airport rental car counter and head straight to your hotel. Then rent from a company near your hotel. Rental car locations in downtown and suburban destinations usually charge lower rates than airport rental car counters do. That's partly because airports charge high taxes and fees. In the U.S., concession fees can add between 9 and 11 percent to your bill. In Europe, aiport taxes may add up to 19 percent at major airports, such as Frankfurt, Germany. So to get to your hotel, hop that free hotel shuttle or opt for cheap public transportation. And if you're heading to a hotel in suburban America, consider using a cab to get there and then renting from Enterprise, which will deliver the car to you at the airport and let you drive it back to the airport when you're finished at no charge. Plus, Enterprise covers about 90 percent of the suburban U.S., which is more than the other national chains. • Try a blind-booking site like Hotwire or Priceline, which offer cars only from a handful of top national chains. Pre-pay your booking, and you'll save up to 40 percent. The catch? If you cancel your trip, you'll be out the money.
Worth reading: Summer airfares may have bottomed out
A few of our favorite links from around the 'net this week. Airfares: Analysts say summer prices may have hit bottom. So if you've been on the fence, book now. [USA Today] 10 international menu mistakes that'll crack you up. [Tripbase] Amsterdam: A new display at the van Gogh museum features the artist's letters to his younger brother. [Jaunted] A new study by Harvard and MIT shows that "Travel Broadens the Mind." [World Hum] The Appalachian Trail, experiencing a bit of celebrity these days, is a classic American trek. [Gadling] Google takes baby steps into travel. [Tech Crunch] For more travel blogs, go to Alltop.
Worth reading: Greece's new Acropolis Museum opens
A few of our favorite links from around the 'net this week: After delays, Greece's new Acropolis Museum opens, amid an international debate over the Parthenon Marbles. [AP via Yahoo! News] Looking to travel this summer? Procrastination may pay off. [CNN] A traveler finds that a Hotwire four-star room in Spain isn't worth four-stars but is still really great. [Upgrade: Travel Better] The Grand Canyon: With the heat and the terrain, it can be a dangerous place for the unprepared. [Gadling] A street-art guide to Berlin's graffiti scene. [EuroCheapo] Cute baby animal news: Man steals baby parrots at The Breakers hotel in Palm Beach. [HotelChatter ] For more travel blogs, go to Alltop.
New York: Statue of Liberty Crown tickets now for sale
You can once again visit the crown of Lady Liberty. Ticket sales online resumed this morning after a multi-year pause. Visits begin July 4, but the first few days have already sold out. The cost for adult admission is $15, including the cost of the $12 ferry ride and access to the rest of the national park. Although the base, pedestal, and lower observation deck reopened to the public in the fall of 2004, the crown has remained closed since 9/11. But an interior redesign has now made it possible to evacuate people from the top in case of an emergency, and the Statue's crown once again offers views of the harbor. Park officials are responding to a big downturn in visitor numbers: 3.6 million people visited the Statue of Liberty in 2000, but six years later, that number had gone down to 2.5 million. —JD Rinne and Sean O'Neill