ATM to focus on Chinese outbound travel market

Hoteliers in China reported 45% occupancy levels over a recent national holiday as country recovers from Covid-19-related restrictions

The upcoming Arabian Travel Market (ATM) Virtual event will see Middle East travel professionals looking at how and when to start planning for inbound Chinese visitors.

The upcoming Arabian Travel Market (ATM) Virtual event will see Middle East travel professionals looking at how and when to start planning for inbound Chinese visitors.

The event taking place from 1-3 June 2020 will feature the Virtual China Tourism Forum about the potential of the Chinese outbound leisure market following the country’s easing of Covid-19-related restrictions and the growth of its domestic tourism. 

“Travel and tourism professionals around the globe will not need reminding that the global industry has been hit badly by the effects of Covid-19 – but in China we are witnessing the green-shoots of recovery,” said Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director Middle East at ATM.

“The relatively swift rebound of domestic travel during the May Golden Week Holiday in China for example, underscores the bullish view of certain analysts regarding China’s integral role in leading the global tourism industry post Covid-19’s closed borders,” he said, adding some hoteliers in China were reporting occupancy levels of over 45% during the recent national holiday, with resort markets seeing close to 70% occupancy.

The Virtual China Tourism Forum will also focus on the potential recovery of outbound travel, and how Chinese travellers have changed the way they contact local hotels, tour operators and ground handlers. Moderated by Dr Adam Wu, CEO of leading outbound travel portal CBN Travel & Mice and World Travel Online, it will take place on Tuesday June 2 at 11am to 12pm GST and will feature panellists Dr. Taleb Rifai, Chairman, International Institute of Peace for Tourism (IIPT) and former Secretary General of the UNWTO; Khalid Jasim al-Midfa, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority; Helen Shapovalova, Founder & Director, Pan Ukraine; Lisa Dinh, Tourism Director, VIA Outlets and Tony Ong, Chief Business Officer and Vice President of HCG International Travel Group.

The experts will share their insights on how to overcome the current crisis by identifying new buying patterns and demand streams, as well as innovative ways of reaching customers.

Members of the online audience will be able to ask questions through a Q+A function at the end of the session.

Over three days, ATM Virtual will also feature comprehensive webinars, live conference sessions, roundtables, speed networking events and one-to-one meetings. 

Sessions will include ‘The Hotel landscape in a post-COVID-19 world,’ ‘Bouncing Back: Tourism Strategies for the Future,’ and ‘Restructuring to attract sustainable investment and customers in the new world order’ among others. 

The yearly physical ATM event which takes place in the UAE has been postponed to 16-19 May 2021.

Arabian Business digital magazine: read the latest edition online

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Cabin crew reveals the pilot knows this about passengers – even if they never see them

Flight attendants are one of the most recognisable features of a flight, on hand to offer service with a smile and look after the wellbeing of every passenger onboard. Meanwhile, pilots are often hidden away in the flight deck, manning the flight’s operations and getting everyone from A to B safely and efficiently.

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Though you may only catch a glimpse of the pilot at the beginning and the end of the flight, it turns out they know a lot more about every passenger onboard, even if they never see you.

This is largely thanks to the crew, as one anonymous flight attendant revealed in a Reddit forum.

They explained: “I don’t think a lot of people realise how much we keep the flight deck in the loop on everything that’s going on.”

This is particularly true in instances where passengers begin to behave badly.

“If you drink too much and we cut you off when you ask for your fourth double vodka tonic in an hour, don’t try and pull the wool over our eyes and ask someone else,” they continue.

“We know about you, the onboard manager will know about you and the Captain will know about you.

“As soon as I cut someone off, I let the crew working with me know that I’ve stopped giving 28B alcohol.

“When the manager calls us (every half an hour at my airline) we let them know that 28B has been cut off, and in turn they’ll let the Captain know.”

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Even when bad behaviour is not involved, pilots have a lot of information about who is onboard in order to ensure the safety of everyone.

This includes a full list of the number and names of passengers and crew onboard.

Prior to take-off they are then updated with an up-to-date weather report and passenger count ahead of departure.

Although the pilots aren’t the ones dealing with the passengers head-on, it is often up to them to make the final decision on whether a member of the public is removed from a flight.

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As this can result in a diversion in a worst-case-scenario or the headache of restraining a dangerous or disruptive passenger for the crew, it is a decision they do not take lightly.

Petter Hornfeldt, a training captain and owner of the YouTube channel MenTour Pilot, has revealed the protocol a pilot must follow when alerted to a disruptive passenger.

Mr Hornfeldt explained: “Disruptive passengers are divided into many different categories. Most of the time when we’re talking about really disruptive passengers, it is people who have psychological problems or who are under the influence of some type of drug or alcohol.”

He added: “Those tend to be the most common types of disruptive passengers.”

Cabin crew are highly trained to deal with disruptive passengers and have a series of steps they will follow to try and calm a passenger down.

However, they also work in unison with the flight deck to ensure all staff onboard are aware of any potentially dangerous situations unfolding.

Firstly, the flight attendant will outline any onboard instructions to the passenger in a calm manner.

Mr Hornfeldt explained: “If the cabin crew sees someone who is doing this [smoking, drinking own alcohol or being aggressive], the cabin crew will nicely, in a calm manner, inform the passenger that they’re not allowed to do that.”

If this does not work, they will then warn the passenger of the consequences that may come as the result of not following certain rules.

One of the most serious consequences is “offloading”, and the police may be called in this instance.

If neither of these steps pacify the disruptive party, the pilot will then contact the police.

If the plane is still on the ground and the cabin crew wishes to offload the passenger, the pilot will ask for the local police at whatever airport the plane is using, to escort the passenger off the flight.

Mr Hornfeldt explained he must then fill out a passenger offload form stating the reason for the offload.

This must be a tangible reason. Mr Hornfeldt continued: “It cannot be something like, ‘I didn’t feel safe with this person’ or ‘I didn’t like the look of that person’, it has to be something that they have actually done.”

Passengers who cause a plane to be delayed or diverted as the result of police intervention can even face a fine covering some or all of the costs incurred.

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San Diego’s Next Big Thing: Chula Vista Bayfront Coastal Redevelopment Project

Among San Diego County’s southernmost cities is Chula Vista (which means “beautiful view”), just north of the Mexican border and the second-largest city in the metropolitan area. While it has not been particularly touted thus far as a tourist trap or the most sought-after part of town, the city has plans to elevate its profile among travelers and sun-seekers.

The Chula Vista Bayfront project, a joint project of the City of Chula Vista and the Port of San Diego, is on track to become the area’s next leisure destination for both residents and coastal visitors. The Bayfront project will transform a largely vacant and underutilized 535 acres of industrial landscape into a thriving, world-class recreation, resort and residential area.

Approximately 230 acres (over 40 percent) of the land will be dedicated to parks, open space, the restoration and preservation of wildlife habitats, native species and coastal resources. New parks and open spaces are slated for 130 of those acres, which are set to include promenades, bike trails and other public access networks linking the entire bayfront area.

Also planned for inclusion are:

—Costa Vista, a luxury RV resort property from Sun RV Resorts, offering a mix of well-appointed, traditional RV stalls and vacation rentals. High-end, onsite amenities are planned to include a swimming pool, day spa, indoor/outdoor fitness centers, dual-level restaurant, arcade, playgrounds and more.

—Easy access to the Living Coast Discovery Center, a beloved local nature center located on San Diego Bay at Chula Vista, which provides up-close animal encounters, wildlife camps, private events and outreach programs.

—Sweetwater Bicycle Path and Promenade, a scenic, shoreline pedestrian and bicycle pathway adjacent to Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, which will wind through the future Sweetwater Park and link the regional Bayshore Bikeway to waterfront amenities.

—A total of 2,850 future hotel rooms, conference space and visitor-focused amenities.

—600,000 square feet of space to house retail, restaurant and marina-support activities.

—220,000 square feet of mixed-use commercial recreation and marine-related offices.

Construction work began in April 2020, initially focused on the Costa Vista RV Resort project, and will continue in phases. The redevelopment is expected to generate over $2 billion annually at buildout, create thousands of local jobs and help to expand upon tourism within the San Diego region.

For more information, visit portofsandiego.org/projects.

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Travelers Appear to Enjoy Memorial Day Weekend as Places Reopen

It was a weekend of mixed results as many Americans engaged in a dual celebration – the Memorial Day Holiday combined with the first real release from lockdown and shelter-in-place restrictions that have been prevalent since March due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

While some folks at beaches and lakes and other public areas wore face masks and practiced social distancing, others did not. That prompted authorities to, literally, police areas and ask crowds to be more diligent, while health officials warned that disregarding safety measures could trigger a second wave of COVID-19.

At some spots in Florida and California, authorities closed parking lots near beaches to discourage more people from setting up shop on the sand.

It prompted warnings and advisories on social media.

The public parking lots on Clearwater Beach are all currently at capacity. There is still room in the Hyatt parking garage. Be sure to check https://t.co/PNofQgQtdN for beach and parking lot closure updates throughout the day. pic.twitter.com/wVGcRr5aOK

But in other places like Maine and Virginia, where swimming was prohibited, people were respectful and simply walked quietly on the beach.

And even in New Jersey, one of the hardest-hit states by the virus, people were diligent.

Big wide beach&big beautiful blue skies&sunshine in Wildwood for easy social distance summer of 2020 start. And beautiful blowing USA flag, reminding of sacrifices of so many on foreign beaches in past wars who died for freedom. Thanks Wildwood Beach Patrol for pic @FOX29philly pic.twitter.com/jq1KrzNXPS

But this was the scene at St. Simon’s Island, Georgia.

Social distancing… pic.twitter.com/iKwLoMRBxN

And Ocean City, Maryland, one of the most popular and densely packed tourist areas on the eastern seaboard because of its famed three-mile boardwalk, was packed with visitors from Washington D.C., Baltimore, Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey.

Chris Sexton, who traveled to Ocean City from Baltimore, told a local television station it was ‘heaven.’

“Hallelujah! I would think there would not be that many people, but it was more than I expected,” he said.

With the relaxing of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions, visitors crowd the boardwalk on Memorial Day weekend in Ocean City, Maryland. REUTERS Photo by Kevin Lamarque pic.twitter.com/jTLCizWwr4

And folks were not afraid to visit destinations far from home.

“I mean, I think we are keeping our distance from other families and other groups of friends. I feel really safe out here,” Carolina Camp, who drove from Nashville, Tenn., told 4News in Folly Beach, S.C.

Folly Beach looked similar to Memorial Day Weekends of the past, even though there’s plenty that’s different going on.

But if you want to get to the sand at some point this weekend, mayor Tim Goodwin stresses to show some patience when it comes to traffic and parking. @ABCNews4 pic.twitter.com/uZaqWdjzfy

But perhaps no place was wilder than Lake of the Ozarks in Osage Beach, Missouri.

This video is on Snapchat in the Lake of the Ozarks? Unreal. What are we doing? pic.twitter.com/m0qsEQ4KLp

John Olivarri, mayor of Osage Beach, said that short of shutting down the popular destination there was little he could do.

“My concern is for our workers and whether some of the folks that have come down might be creating a health problem for the community, absolutely,” Olivarri said. “But the only other thing that you could do would be shut it down. I don’t know how you would shut down Lake of the Ozarks. There’s no way to control that.”

Alan Hull, the front-desk manager at the Days Inn told the St. Louis Dispatch, “We are a lot busier this year. All the hotels here around the lake are busy.”

But at Disney Springs at World Disney World in Orlando, capacity was trimmed to help aid social distancing, according to TravelPulse writer Brooke McDonald, who traveled from Illinois to Florida this past weekend.

Crowds were light enough at Disney Springs today that social distancing came naturally. Orange and lime garages both had a ton of spaces at 3:45pm. #DisneySprings pic.twitter.com/mYbSUjI4YA

The death toll from the virus is expected to reach 100,000 shortly in America. But it’s not just in the U.S. where people are stretching their legs, so to speak, after being confined to their homes for the better part of two-plus months.

This was the scene at Bournemouth Beach in England on Monday.

The Cummings lockdown-ignoring effect… Bournemouth beach today. pic.twitter.com/MOcZ2mz3PZ

The Memorial Day holiday weekend was certainly different this year because of the global pandemic, but that didn’t stop some from traveling to nearby destinations to partake in festivities.

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Cruises: When will cruises start again?

The global cruise industry is taking an unprecedented break from operations as travel restrictions due to coronavirus take hold around the world, including advice against all non-essential travel from the UK Government, which is still in place despite other lifted restrictions.

The Foreign Office currently warns: “British nationals aged 70 and over, and those with underlying health conditions like chronic diseases and diabetes, are advised not to travel on cruise ships.”

For years the cruise holiday industry has steadily expanded, with almost every cabin on almost every vessel filled.

New cruising passengers continually take up the space vacated by old cruisers who have taken their final voyage, and before coronavirus the industry showed no signs of slowing down.

The industry is most popular with the older generation, with cruise holiday’s designed to be as catered for as possible.

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It also appeals to the older generation because of the amount of time a cruise takes – some cruises can take months to complete, so not best designed for those still in work.

But, cruises made the headlines earlier in the coronavirus crisis as 100s of cases were reported onboard cruise ships, leading to holiday-goers being confined to quarantine in their rooms.

Since the Diamond Princess was quarantined in Yokohama on February 4, cases of COVID-19 were been reported aboard dozens of vessels, and tragically a number of passengers have died onboard cruise ships.

The first cruise operator to announce it was suspending its river and ocean cruises for the lockdown was Viking on March 11, closely followed by Princess Cruises.

Practically all other major cruise lines then made similar announcements since then.

Some 30 million people embark on a cruise every year, and cruises provide a crash course in seeing some of the world’s most beautiful sights.

According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents the owners of nearly 300 big cruise ships, the industry also sustains 1.2 million jobs.

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Which cruise lines have announced reopening?

There is no industry-wide ban on cruising, however, the companies have been forced to shut down in the face of international travel restrictions.

A handful of cruise lines have announced dates and time frames in which they hope to be back on the oceans.

Among those opening earlier, Riveria Travel will resume services on June 1.

Amadeus River Cruises, ATP Cruises, Saga Cruises, Star Cruises and Marella Cruises have a proposed resumption date of July 1.

P&O Cruises, AmaWaterways and Royal Caribbean Cruises have both proposed a restart date on August 1.

Princess Cruises have not outlined a date but hope to be active again in the autumn.

However, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office currently has a travel advisory out against travelling anywhere in the world outside of the UK.

Cruises are still available to book at heavily discounted prices, although travel restrictions apply worldwide.

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Winter sun: Where to catch some Sun this winter

That well-earned holiday may be cancelled this summer, but you might be able to take a trip away by the end of 2020. Express.co.uk chatted to Nicky Kelvin The Points Guy UK to find out the hot holiday destinations for October, November, and December.

October holidays

Slovenia

Looking for something affordable but still spectacular? Try Slovenia, if travel restrictions are lifted.

Nicky said: “This burgeoning tourist destination nestled amid Italy, Croatia, Hungary and Austria is one of Europe’s most affordable destinations, especially during the shoulder season.

“It offers an underrated wine region, skiing (the country borders the Alps) and a stunning network of caves to explore. For nature lovers, about half of Slovenia is covered in forests.

“In October you can visit one of the most popular attractions, Lake Bled, and admire the iconic castle framed by gorgeous fall foliage and the clear-as-glass lake without battling other tourists for the view.

“If Lake Bled is too mainstream, Lake Bohinj, a 30-minute drive away, sits a little more off the beaten path amid alpine scenery.”

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New York City

Always fancied a trip to the Big Apple? October is the perfect time of year to go if all is well.

Nicky said: “October still has pleasant fall weather without the humidity and blistering heat of summer.

“Beat the snow and freezing temperatures with a weekend in New York City, strolling around Central Park in an oversize wool sweater, sipping a fragrant pumpkin spice latte and admiring the brilliant foliage.”

Tanzania

Never been to Africa? Why not head to Tanzania in October, if Government advice allows you to.

Nicky explained: “October marks the dry season in most of Tanzania, which practically guarantees you’ll be able to spot animals congregated around watering holes.

“It’s the very end of the season before the rains hit, meaning you’ll likely get better lodge and safari deals too.

“Travellers wanting to catch the wildebeest migration should head to the very north of the Serengeti in the Lobo area close to the Kenyan border or the Mara River area near Lake Victoria.

“It’s also a great time to see elephants cooling off.”

November

Tuscon, Arizona

In the second last month of the year, you will see clear skies in Tuscon, Arizona.

Nicky said: “This desert enclave is a dream for travellers of all stripes — foodies, hikers and anyone wanting a warm, sunshine-filled November holiday with virtually no chance of rain.

“Though Scottsdale is the more popular choice for a luxury resort escape, Tucson has a quirky, small-town vibe with Native American and Chicano cultural influences.

“This means you can relax to an outdoor country-music concert in a public square or spend the afternoon exploring the colonial Spanish San Xavier del Bac Mission on the grounds of the San Xavier Indian Reservation in the Tohono O’odham Nation.”

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thailand is a popular destinations for Brits seeking the sun, and it is just as gorgeous in November.

Nicky said: “Though the area will definitely be crowded and hotel rates likely higher during the busy lantern festival time.

“Seeing thousands of lanterns set into the sky and floating down the river under a full moon, complete with traditional ceremonies, dance and song, is an unforgettable way to experience Thai culture.”

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Tbilisi, Georgia

If you to learn all about the history of Georgia while indulging in some delicious delicacies, you will love this holiday.

Nicky explained: “This former stop along the Silk Road is one of the world’s oldest cities, dating back to 4000 B.C.

“Affordable, rich in history and home to thermal baths, ancient caves, street markets and an array of architectural styles, Tbilisi offers plenty to do and see during a visit — if you can take a break from eating and sipping the wine, that is.

“Make sure to try khachapuri (savoury pie made of melted cheese and eggs) and khinkali, or hearty meat dumplings, with a glass of Akhasheni or Kvanchkara — both semisweet red wines.”

December

Miami, Florida

Miami is the perfect holiday for those who love chilling out on the beach in the day and experiencing an exciting nightlife in the evening.

Nicky said: “Miami in December is a dream, with abundant sunshine and average daytime temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius.

“And while an afternoon of sandy beach bliss is a given, lately, Miami’s intrigue lies beyond the typical too-trendy South Beach haunts.

“Consider exploring some of the more up-and-coming neighbourhoods like the Miami Design District and Little Havana, both seeing an uptick in new hotels and buzzy restaurants like Cafe La Trova alongside revered relics like Máximo Gómez Park and Versailles.”

Andorra

Interested in a Ski trip? Andorra is the place for you.

Nicky said: “This tiny nation is nestled between France and Spain — and has some of the best skiing in the Pyrenees. Resorts like Vallnord, Arinsal and Grandvalira are some of the most popular.”

Western Australia

Australia is a long way to travel, but totally worth it to get away from the dreary British winter.

Nicky said: “Beach bums will love Western Australia in December.

“This is the region’s summer season, with warm temperatures, light breezes and very little rain.

“Beautiful sandy shores are within easy reach, starting with the crystalline waters of Mettams Pool, just a 20-minute drive north to the tranquil coves of nearby Rottnest Island, an easy ferry ride away from the mainland.”

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Seabourn Extends Relaxed Cancellation Policy for Sailings Through 2021

Luxury cruise line Seabourn has enhanced its “Book with Confidence” policy that eases cancellation policies.

The enhanced policy, which now applies to 2021 departures, also includes a “Best Fare Guarantee” benefit so guests can request the lowest publicly available fare for their voyage if fares fall after booking.

Seabourn suspended its global operations through October and November of 2020, depending on the ship, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For existing and new bookings made by July 31, 2020, on sailings departing by Dec. 31, 2021, guests may cancel up to 30 days before departure and receive a 100 percent future cruise credit of any payment made to Seabourn and currently within cancellation fees.

The future cruise credit will be valid for 12 months and can be used to book sailings through Dec. 31, 2022.

In addition, the new “Best Fare Guarantee” benefit will let guests who booked by July 31, 2020, request an adjustment if fares drop for their specific voyage and suite category.

Guests and travel advisors should contact Seabourn directly if they see a lower rate listed on Seabourn’s website, but they must do so at least 30 days before departure. For details, click here.

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Stranded Cruise Ship Employees Finally Disembark in Barbados

As several cruise ships remain stranded at sea with hundreds of crew members still on board, Barbados has remained a haven for the vessels despite concerns about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

According to Loop News Barbados, around 370 Royal Caribbean employees who had been quarantined at sea since March 16 were permitted to leave their ship on Sunday after sailing to Barbados from The Bahamas several days before.

The crew members disembarked from the ship with “smiles and laughter” as they began the long process of returning home. Many were forced to wait up to five hours at Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) in Barbados while going through immigration, health and security screenings.

The line of Royal Caribbean employees extended throughout the airport, with people sitting on benches, their luggage and even the floor as they waited to board their rescue flight arranged by British Airways and local authorities.

“In the beginning, it was not a lot of information,” an unnamed crew member on the ship told The Loop. “I don’t think anybody knew cause the rules kept changing. Nobody knew what was happening or what to do.”

Employees said living on a ship without guests was “no fun and nothing close to normal,” but they had Wi-Fi to help them get by since everything onboard was closed.

Last week, Royal Caribbean executives confirmed the company would extend its temporary suspension of global cruise operations through July 31, except for its China business.

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10 of the best books about mountains – for a virtual climb

For the past 10 years, I have chased up and down mountains in wind, rain, snow and sun. Walking, rock-climbing, swimming and camping: a trip into the hills is always intense, visceral and life-affirming. I love meeting the elements and discovering what the mountain has to offer on any given day. Nan Shepherd’s seminal book on the Cairngorms, The Living Mountain, opened my eyes to the many ways of perceiving a mountain.

In picking these books, I’ve steered away from the macho-mountain trend (not all hill-goers are male daredevils pitting themselves against nature). These stories of joy, wonder, fear and wisdom go some way towards filling the current void. Their voices lead me back into the remote high lands.

Space Below My Feet by Gwen Moffat

Britain’s first female mountain guide, Moffat discovered the “free and splendid world of mountains and mountain climbing” in 1946, then deserted her post as a driver in the army and committed to a new way of life. Her spartan existence in postwar Britain included sleeping under hedges and washing in freezing tarns (activities that might now be re-branded wild camping and wild swimming). From Cornwall to north Wales, Langdale to Skye, these pages circle through landscapes that will be lovingly familiar to outdoors enthusiasts across the UK. Moffat pads barefoot up steep rock faces, teeters along icy edges, sleeps on frozen hay and picks watercress from clifftops. In crisp prose, this memoir describes many strange and delightful moments from a free-spirited lifestyle.

Mountaineering in Scotland by WH Murray

Famously written on sheets of toilet paper in prisoner of war camps across Europe, Murray had almost completed the first manuscript of Mountaineering in Scotland when the Gestapo found his precious sheets and destroyed the text. With the tenacity of a true mountaineer, Murray refused to be deterred: he rewrote the entire book; later stating that the Gestapo had done him a favour by forcing him to produce a much-improved second draft. Winter sunrise, moonlit nights and endless midsummer days … Murray captures the startling movements of light and weather in the mountains of Glen Coe, Ben Nevis and Skye. Struggling through snow and ice, delighting in the technical interest of rock climbs and looking out to dazzling views across land, sea and hills, Murray’s book will appeal to anyone who loves the Highlands.

The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

For mystics craving revelation, Matthiessen’s quest is a gift. The Snow Leopard hails from the 1970s counter-culture era when spiritual seekers sought to dissolve the ego and achieve oneness. While many experimented with hallucinogenics, Jung and eastern philosophy, Matthiessen travelled to the Crystal mountain in the remote Dolpo region of the Nepalese Himalayas. Gentle, reflective journal entries recount his path towards enlightenment. Sights, sounds, people and nature are observed with a gentle curiosity; hopes and frustrations unfold alongside his desire to experience “the infinite in every moment”. Walking with Matthiessen through Nepalese villages, high mountain passes and Buddhist monasteries is a privilege. Snow falls and prayer flags flutter as he journeys on, hoping for a glimpse of the near-mythic snow leopard.

A Croft in the Hills by Katharine Stewart

Perched atop the steep banks over Loch Ness is Abriachan, a scattered hilltop community with a rich crofting heritage. From hill fires to haymaking, calving to ceilidhs, Stewart brings this remote neighbourhood to life. Her portrait of 1960s crofting is not a romanticised image of escape and rural idyll: a precarious existence lived “near to the bones of things” is described in simple, sharp prose. Among the snowdrifts, troublesome goats and interminable turnip drills, intimate relationships develop between people, animals and land. This is a tale of hardship and adversity faced with steady pragmatism, kindness and curiosity. “You foresaw the worst and so were quietly thankful for the best”: Stewart’s grounded hill wisdom is an earthy tonic for challenging times.

No Map Could Show Them by Helen Mort

Interest in women’s mountaineering has surged in recent years, and yet when I go to the bookshops, still I find shelves dominated by men’s stories. Helen Mort’s radical book redraws the map, bringing the forgotten narratives of remarkable mountain women to light. From a crinoline-clad Jemima Morrell crossing the Swiss Alps in 1863 to Alison Hargreaves on K2, this evocative collection also includes vivid descriptions of Mort’s own climbing and running across the UK. With exquisite rhythm and heart-stopping imagery, this book helps you to discover that mountains exist in unexpected places. “You zip your jacket up / And nobody notices you are a mountain.”

Mountains of the Mind by Robert Macfarlane

Why are we so obsessed with climbing mountains? Just three centuries ago, mountains and wild landscapes were revered but not seen as something to be conquered; now, each year, more than 350,000 people flock to the summit of Snowdon. Macfarlane’s modern classic charts the cultural revolution in our attitude to high places. The route from sacred to awesome challenge is related through a colourful cast of mountaineers who have pushed into extreme terrain over the past few centuries. While the scientists, explorers, poets and climbers may set out with different goals, their mindset is broadly similar: from Coleridge to Mallory, each character is driven by a blend of curiosity, compulsion and the ability to tolerate extreme suffering. For keen hill-goers, this book is deeply reassuring. Since Macfarlane suggests that the imagination is key to being a mountaineer, then I can now count all my time indoors reading, dreaming and obsessing as legitimate mountain activity.

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby

Like no other mountaineering book, Newby’s begins with a London fashion show. Frantically preparing the 1956 Spring Collection, Newby is struggling with an obstinate dress when he decides enough is enough and sends a fateful telegram to his friend, Hugh Carless. From here the book lurches from one misadventure to another as the hapless Englishmen travel to Nuristan, Afghanistan, to climb previously unconquered peaks. Sweating their way up steep roads and desolate gorges, past thundering torrents and mulberry trees, their story is narrated with a humour and modesty that will make you laugh aloud. However, the comedy does not disguise the fact that they were travelling through dangerous territory. One night, Newby awakes to see men in dark cloaks riding past, silently. The next day they find the body of a traveller whose skull had been smashed in with a rock. Vultures circle: Carless and Newby moved on, swiftly. Nuristan has since been the scene of intense guerrilla warfare and Taliban insurgency. This is a rare glimpse into a region that is now very much off-limits.

The White Spider by Heinrich Harrer

Not one for the faint-hearted. The action of this book takes place on the fearsome North Face of the Eiger. Avalanches, rockfall and brutal storms abound in Harrer’s record of a significant period of mountaineering history. From 1935-1958, personal ambitions and national rivalries funnelled climbers from across Europe to take up ropes, crampons and ice axes in pursuit of a glorious new conquest: the first ascent of the North Face. Teamwork, competition, tactical retreats, heroic rescues and desperate tragedies unfold on this unforgiving, icy face. The White Spider takes readers to a place where few can follow. Harrer illuminates the profound lessons that are learned on the severe edges of our world.

A Herd of Red Deer by Frank Fraser Darling

Frank Fraser Darling’s study transports you to the Scottish Highlands where, for two years, he followed a herd of red deer (in the remote north-west), observing how they live, eat, mate, socialise, raise young and respond to the environment. Darling is no detached observer: he seeks to build an intimacy with the deer and their habitat, spending hours in silence, emptying his mind and walking barefoot to raise the threshold of his awareness. I love the vivid descriptions of deer on the hill and the incredible insights gleaned through Darling’s meticulous attention to his subject. This pioneering study was published in 1937, when studying animals in their natural environment was considered “unscientific”. Through Darling’s words I see a little more of the “total” mountain: as a complex, social ecosystem.

Sky Burial by Xinran

When Shu Wen’s husband disappeared in Tibet, the young Chinese doctor set out on an epic journey into wild, unknown lands to find him. This extraordinary true story spans vast distances of space and time. Wen’s journey begins in 1958, during the tumultuous years of the Chinese “liberation” of Tibet. Early in her search for answers, Wen is attacked by resistance fighters and rescued by a nomadic family. For 30 years she lives on the high plateau with Buddhist nomads. Cut off from the world, she slowly adapts to their way of life. Years pass, Wen ages, her skin darkens and her old identity fades, but still she clings to her husband’s tattered photograph. Finally, Wen travels to the holy mountains, where she finds beautiful and devastating answers. War, peace, love, loss and reconciliation: this is a haunting book of immense power.

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How Will the US Hotel Experience Change Post COVID-19?

As hotel occupancy ticks up ever so slightly, the lodging industry is putting new standards in place to enhance cleaning and ensure guest safety.

One organization working overtime to make sure that these new measures are clear and communicated effectively to the public is the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), which has created Safe Stay guidelines for the industry.

“Safe Stay was developed specifically to ensure enhanced safety for hotels guests and employees. While hotels have always employed demanding cleaning standards, this new initiative will ensure greater transparency and confidence throughout the entire hotel experience,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “The industry’s enhanced hotel cleaning practices, social interactions, and workplace protocols will continue to evolve to meet the new health and safety challenges and expectations presented by COVID-19.”

Travelers in states where shelter in place and stay at home orders have been lifted may be looking to travel and stay in a hotel soon. What will that look like in the “new normal?”

Hygiene will be the number one priority. The Safe Stay guidelines promote frequent handwashing for employees, hand sanitizer dispensers, signage, instructions for mask-wearing and more.

Major hotel brands have launched their own programs, too, partnering with brands such as Clorox and Lysol and the Mayo Clinic.

Hilton CleanStay was launched in partnership with the makers of Lysol as well as the Mayo Clinic. Marriott announced a Global Cleanliness Council, a panel of experts on everything from food and water safety, infection prevention and hygiene, and hotel operations.

Visitors will have a much more contact-less experience when they visit properties while maintaining social distancing guidelines and new standards of cleanliness.

Hilton will have a CleanStay room seal on guestroom doors and guests will no longer find shared amenities such as pens and paper in the room and room directories will be made digital.

Travelers are also likely to find keyless entry to rooms and disinfecting wipes for touching elevator buttons. Room service menus and ordering will likely be done on mobile apps.

Guests should also arrive expecting to self park their vehicles. Resorts such as Omni have limited valet services and instituted social distancing protocols where self-parking is unavailable.

There will also be limits on the number of people allowed to congregate in different areas with limited seating in lobbies, bars and restaurants in order to observe social distancing guidelines. The days of buffet dining may also be a thing of the past. AHLA guidelines say that room service should use contactless delivery and that buffets should be limited and served by an attendant in personal protective equipment. Pre-packaged and grab and go options are encouraged.

Guests may have to plan out their visits to the gym. Expect fitness centers to close multiple times per day for cleaning as well as socially distanced pool areas with lounge chairs six feet apart.

Behind the scenes there will be new cleaning technologies utilized.

One example is Marriott’s deployment of electrostatic sprayers and the use of the highest-grade disinfectant products. Electrostatic cleaning really gives a deep clean to surfaces, the spraying is a method where a device is used to apply an electric charge to a disinfectant, enabling the disinfectant to more effectively cover a surface than traditional cleaning methods.

One of the aspects of hotel stays that remains unknown is how many properties will institute temperature checks but travelers should expect the practice may become quite common.

The Venetian in Las Vegas said that it will use thermal scanners at entry points for a non-invasive temperature check.

Many properties will screen the health of their employees and include temperature checks.

Caesars Entertainment said that it will institute health screenings for all employees that include taking temperatures and COVID-19 testing.

While most hotel guidelines call for near-constant cleaning and disinfecting, travelers can also do their part.

Hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer should be frequent when traveling. Many properties plan to provide face masks and disinfectant wipes, but it doesn’t hurt to bring your own and wipe down surfaces, doorknobs and buttons.

Wearing a face mask is also recommended to protect both you and those around you.

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