The Travel Adviser: Now is the winter of our discontent

The title is a reference to the first two lines of William Shakespeare’s Richard III: “Now is the winter of our discontent/Made glorious summer by this sun of York.”

Yes, I’m aware Shakespeare scholars will criticize me for using the word “sun” instead of “son.”

While casual theatergoers might interpret these lines as a negative comment, the true meaning is one of unbridled optimism following a radiant summer.

In our country, no such debate need take place.

After a summer of war, we are now entering a winter of discontent, with terrorism and its barbaric attacks affecting our daily lives. When it comes to tourism, the mere threat of terrorism has scared off all but the hardiest.

I reiterate: Tourism and terrorism do not mix.

No name has been given to the latest and constant threat of violence. Personally, I prefer to describe it as the “Jerusalem intifada” though of course, random terrorist acts have taken place elsewhere.

Yet as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said, “We’re in the midst of a terrorist offensive focusing on Jerusalem.”

Back on July 8, when Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, tourism to the Land of Milk and Honey plummeted. By the time the open-ended cease-fire was declared on August 26, the damage was formidable. Occupancy rates at Israeli hotels plunged to record lows. Future bookings were nonexistent and other than the High Holy Days and the upcoming Christmas season, few tourists were planning on visiting Israel.

Tour operators and hotel executives collectively realized that while 2014 was a washout, 2015 could be capitalized upon, providing quiet and security pervaded throughout the rest of the world.

The advent and increasing frequency of attacks, combined with extensive press coverage and the knee-jerk reaction of several foreign governments that issued warnings about traveling to Jerusalem, have left the city’s tourist industry reeling. A press release from the Jerusalem Hotel Association stated that most hotels are averaging barely 40-percent occupancy, compared to the far healthier 65%-70% average rates during this time of year. Inquiries for future bookings remain few and far between, and the reality is that the mere perception there is no solution to be found has profoundly affected potential tourists.

The strategy thus must be to increase internal tourism to Israel’s capital. Readers of this column have often contacted me bemoaning the high price of hotels in Israel and postulating that if rates dropped dramatically, the hotels would find their rooms filled. Sadly, most of Israel’s hotel executives either believe in miracles as Hanukkah approaches or simply presume that holding steadfast, their expensive rates will find a naïve audience.

Several hotel executives believe the mere fact they offer good service with a great product will entice Israelis to visit the capital. Blithely commenting that there is violence everywhere, they have maintained that Israelis and tourists will elect to stay in Jerusalem regardless of the strained environment.

Indeed, new deluxe properties have recently opened up, shimmering in the Jerusalem twilight, which offer levels of decadence rarely seen to date in the Holy City. Management of the Waldorf Astoria, the capital’s newest deluxe hotel, hold constant in their staunch view that tourists will pay the nearly $600 daily rate, in spite of the ongoing violence.

Many hotel chains are offering their normal 10% winter discount, in the feeble hope that the winter events planned for the city will entice visitors.

Assisting them in this endeavor, the Jerusalem Municipality and tourism bureaus are using all their resources to convince Israelis and foreign tourists to come to the city now and support its businesses. A wide range of activities are being planned for December, from cultural events to weekend tours; hotels are participating by offering reduced rates for meals at their properties, and the vast majority of the events will be free or charge a nominal fee.

Time will shortly tell if this marketing plan is successful.

Yet anecdotal evidence does not bode well: There appears to be a drop of nearly 80% in the number of Israeli tourists visiting Jerusalem. I have had too many friends hold events, from a bar mitzva at the Western Wall to a surprise birthday party in a movie theater in the heart of the city, at which friends and family from Tel Aviv were no-shows.

Tour guides report a near absence of work because of the situation.

Airlines, too, have reacted cautiously. Few have elected to stop flying to Israel, but have simply cut their frequency from daily flights to thrice weekly or even less. Plans to initiate new routes, such as Easy Jet flying from Paris to Tel Aviv, have been shelved in favor of commencing in the spring.

El Al, in particular, is the worst-affected airline.

This is clear in comparison to United Airlines, which averages over 5,300 flights a day including twice-daily flights between Newark and Tel Aviv.

Losing revenue from a dearth of incoming tourists to Israel will have a near-zero effect on their bottom line. In fact, as United Airlines focuses more on the Israeli side of the equation and the burgeoning business enterprises between the US and Israel, it may barely feel a dip in its passenger load statistics.

El Al can find no such solace. Its budgeted income will continue to plunge as tourists from afar, such as South Africa and the UK, elect not to visit Israel.

Its only option is to reduce fares in the local market, in the furtive hope Israelis will fill the planes. Unfortunately, the moment El Al announces a price reduction, the other airlines match it – thus canceling out any advantage.

This leads us to a small glimmering of hope. Like Rumpelstiltskin spinning straw into gold, a delicacy from a country known more for its leader’s proclamations of hatred for Israel has arisen. Lokum is a family of confections based on a gel of starch and sugar. Usually consisting of chopped dates and nuts bound by the gels and generally flavored with rosewater, the confection is often packaged and eaten in small cubes dusted with icing sugar. This delectable desert is more commonly called Turkish Delight.

Delighted and dazed was the Israeli reaction when the Turkish tourism association announced that it aims to send 100,000 Turkish tourists to Israel next year to promote peace.

“One of the synonyms of tourism is peace. We want to make a contribution to maintaining peace in Jerusalem by increasing the numbers of tourists there,” said Basaran Ulusoy, head of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies. He went on to point out that only a mere 10,000-15,000 Turks traveled to Jerusalem in 2014, but he has high hopes the number can be increased almost tenfold.

“We want to increase this number to 100,000 in 2015 by preparing special package tours to Jerusalem with the help of the promotional activities of the Tourism Ministry,” Ulusoy said, noting that Turkey’s airline companies will also start discounted flights to the city. This is in addition to the fact that Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Air, the two dominant Turkish airlines flying to Israel, already fly nearly 40 times a week between Tel Aviv and Istanbul.

Remaining an optimist in our troubled times is never easy and while I believe Ulusoy’s goal to be a pipe dream, I applaud his desire.

Keep in mind that with over 1.3 million travelers over the first 10 months of 2014, including Israelis and tourists, the US is Israel’s No.1 partner. Close behind, though, is Turkey – which saw over 1 million travelers pass through its airports. The emphasis, however, is on the word “pass” – as over 80% of those 1 million travelers simply used Istanbul as a conduit for switching planes to far-flung destinations.

Germany, Italy and Russia make up the next three countries topping the list in 2014.

In fact, those five countries produced over 5 million travelers in the first 10 months of 2014, numbers that make tourism a vital entity to governments around the world.

So while 100,000 tourists may sound like a drop in the bucket, everyone in the tourism industry will be delighted with any increase.

The writer is CEO of Ziontours, Jerusalem. For questions and comments:

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Travel Gift Guide: Editor’s picks

As The Chronicle’s travel editor, I abuse and torture gadgets, clothing and bags all year in the name of figuring out what travel gear is worth taking along. Here are a few of my top picks for 2014:

The Navigator Duffel Bag from Timbuk2 is a no-muss, no-fuss duffel that easily converts to a backpack with adjustable straps that can be tucked inside when not being used. This rugged bag has a large main compartment (this is not a carry-on bag in any universe), as well as small outside pockets and a separate interior sleeve for shoes. The same sleeve is a case for storing the duffel when not in use. Vitals: Navigator Duffel Bag, $119 at, Timbuk2 stores or outdoor gear suppliers.

If you bought a GoPro camera back when there was no screen and no Wi-Fi and the settings required a secret decoder ring, it’s time to step up. On the GoPro Hero 4 Silver, the touch-screen alone is worth the upgrade, if only for being able to frame shots and review footage, as well as easily change the settings with a finger. Also improved: low-light performance, sound quality and photo capture — up to 30 frames per second of 12-megapixel shots. (The Hero 4 Black edition has far superior resolution and a faster processor, but both are probably more than the average user needs.) Vitals: GoPro Hero 4 Silver, $399 at or most camera and outdoors stores.

ExOfficio’s Give-N-Go Boxers are odor resistant, moisture wicking, breathable and quick drying (for hotel sink laundry), and the Sport Mesh version is similar, but with softer, stretchier material and a style and cut more suited to biking, trekking, running and other sweaty pursuits. They do everything the original promised and really are more comfortable because of the silkier material and the sport mesh. Vitals: Give-N-Go Sport Mesh Boxer Brief by ExOfficio, $30-$32 (6-inch or 9-inch inseam) at REI stores or at

The Tile is a plastic tracking gadget about the size of a poker chip that can be attached to pretty much anything you don’t want to lose. Once you register the Bluetooth chip, attach it to frequently misplaced valuables — keys, TV remote, camera — and use the Tile App for iPhone and iPad (coming soon to Android) to locate the objects. A community feature allows you to find lost (or stolen) items through other Tile users. The app supports up to eight Tiles, and automatically records the last place your phone saw the Tile. Vitals: Tiles and Tile App, $25 for one, $70 for four at

The Plattan ADV by Urbanears is an upgrade of headphones that were already well suited for travel. This version is still collapsible, has a mike and remote for calls, and is equipped with a ZoundPlug, an outlet that allows others to plug their headphones directly into yours for shared listening without an adapter. Improvements include better padding, a detachable cable, better hinges and a headband cover that can be removed for cleaning. Vitals: Plattan ADV headphones, $60 at or at Urban Outfitters.

The RFID Travel Vest by Scottevest features an RFID-blocking pocket to “protect your valuables from high-tech skimmers that can steal your identity.” On top of the added security, the vest includes 26 pockets (some obvious, some hidden) for everything from camera to keys to iPad to travel documents. This version has improved features for wiring the vest with earbuds and a chest-level phone pocket for easy access. Vitals: RFID Travel Vest

(for men or women), $135 at or at Book Passage bookstore in Corte Madera.

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Thanksgiving Weekend Travel: Slippery in Northeast; Wet, Snowy in the West

This video discusses breaking weather conditions from across the nation.

As millions return home from Thanksgiving trips this weekend, slippery roads will be a hazard in part of the Northeast. An onslaught of storms, bringing snow and rain, will disrupt travel in the West.

Watch for Slippery Spots in the Northeast

While drier and milder weather will arrive across the Northeast this weekend, refreezing of melted snow remains a concern.

A winter storm plastered the region with piles of wet snow Wednesday and Wednesday night. The storm knocked out power to more than 300,000 customers in the Northeast at the height of the storm. Thousands remained in the dark on Thanksgiving.

As milder weather reaches the snow-packed Northeast, the snow will melt during the day.

“Wet and water-logged roads and sidewalks will freeze up at night this weekend, creating dangerous travel conditions in the region,” said Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.

The icy roads will be the most prevalent travel threat this weekend, especially across the interior.

“Travel during the daytime hours will be much safer,” said Anderson.

Those traveling at night or around dawn this weekend should be prepared for slick spots.

The snowmelt could bring standing water across low-lying and poor-drainage areas, but any flooding should be isolated.

A few brief rain showers and even a brief period of snow will be found over the interior this weekend, but there will be no widespread weather-related threats to ground or air travel.

Wet Weather to End Weekend From Ohio Valley to Lower Lakes

For people heading home late in the weekend into Monday, milder air and moisture sweeping northward ahead of a cool front will lead to some rain in part of the Midwest to the central Appalachians.

According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, “Motorists will encounter wet roads at times in the swath from Evansville, Indiana, and Louisville, Kentucky, to Cincinnati, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Buffalo, New York, Sunday into Monday.”

“Allow extra stopping distance between vehicles on the wet roadways.”

The air may turn cold enough to allow some wet snow to mix in at the tail end on Monday in parts of northern Indiana to western New York.

Snow, Freeze-Up for Northern Rockies; Rain to Dampen California

Snow will taper off across Montana and the northern Rockies through Sunday, while periods of rain will soak northern California.

A blast of arctic air spurred snow across Montana and Wyoming Saturday, but Sunday will be drier across the region. However, frigid air will threaten to keep snow and ice on roadways in the region.

PHOTOS: Snowstorm Creates Frenzy for Millions of Thanksgiving Travelers MinuteCast
Winter Weather Center 2014

Travelers on Interstates 90 and 15 should anticipate the threat of snow-covered roadways through Sunday as several inches of snow piles up in the region.

The cold weather even brought wintry weather across the Pacific Northwest as some snow fell in the Seattle area early Saturday. As temperatures bottom out in the 20s early Sunday morning, some slick spots may persist in the area.

Farther south, periods of rain will visit northern California this weekend, including San Francisco. The rain will make roads slick as it combines with oil buildup, including I-5 from Redding to Sacramento, California, as well.

The rain will not be heavy though, so incidents of flooding and disruptions to air travel should be limited.

Mild, Dry in the South

An expansive area of dry and rather mild weather will encompass nearly the entirety of the southern United States. Sunshine will prevail for the most part as highs soared into the 70s and 80s.

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Get Your Detroit Small Business Passport and Travel to Detroit Shops on Small …

Grow your business smarter.

Visit CBS Detroit’s

Small Business Center.

When you plan your holiday shopping travels during this festive weekend, chock-full of specialty sales, make a plan to shop local. Ryan Patrick Hooper, Creative Director at Pure Detroit, designed the “Detroit Small Business Passport” to help local shoppers do just that this season.

The Detroit Small Business Passport allows shoppers to ‘travel the globe’ of Detroit shops services, unlocking discounts at 23 participating small business. Each featured business offers a discount to reward customers for thinking big, shopping small, and supporting small business in Detroit. With each stop, patrons will receive a stamp in their passport.

Passports are currently available for pick up at Pure Detroit’s trio of locations in the Renaissance Center, Guardian Building, and Fisher Building. The passports will be active valid through January 31, 2014 at all participating businesses – so whether you’re a Thanksgiving weekend shopper…or need some last-minute gifts as we round the corner to the holidays – you can rack up your small business stamps for the next two months!

“We’re building a backbone in the city of Detroit around the positive impact small businesses play within each neighborhood,” says Hooper, with regard to his Detroit Small Business Passport. “Small Business Saturday is a day to rally the troops, put your dollar into the local economy and show just how strong the small business community is here in Detroit.”

Participating businesses include Pure Detroit, Vera Jane, Stella Good Coffee, Workshop, HUMAN, RUNdetroit, Cass Corridog, Nest, City Bird, Detroit Hardware, Source Booksellers, the Fashion Place, Detroit Athletic Co., Hugh, Nora, Detroit Gallery of Contemporary Crafts, the Rowland Cafe, People’s Records, the Zenith, the Peacock Room, Frida, Wheelhouse Detroit Detroit Institute of Bagels.

Each business is offering 10% ­to ­25% off (items available for discount vary per store) with the Detroit Institute of Bagels offering a free bagel to each passport holder. The passport was made possible with generous support from Midtown Inc.

Detroit Small Business Saturday – and the Detroit Small Business Passport – were recently featured in a national ad campaign for American Express. Watch the 2-minute featurette here: 

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Day before Thanksgiving is a busy travel day — but not the busiest

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is often called the nation’s busiest travel day of the year, and it surely feels that way sometimes. But it’s probably not entirely true.

A U.S. Transportation Department study based on 2001 figures found that when cars are taken into account — along with planes, trains and buses — Thanksgiving Day itself is actually a heavier travel day.

See also: The worst things people do on airplanes, ranked

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving didn’t even make the top 10 busiest airline travel days of 2013, the Transportation Security Administration found.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving was No. 1, with 2.2 million airline passengers. The Friday before Memorial Day was next on the list, at 2.1 million.

However, Amtrak said Wednesday will, in fact, be its busiest day, with 135,000 to 140,000 passengers expected, compared with 77,000 on a typical Wednesday.

An estimated 41.3 million travelers will be on the nation’s highways between Wednesday and Sunday, a 4.3% increase over last year, according to AAA.

AAA predicts that travel for the Thanksgiving weekend will be at its highest since 2007.

Additional reporting by Mashable

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

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9 travel deals for Black Friday-Cyber Monday

Here are nine deals for Black Friday/Cyber Monday shoppers who are looking for savings on hotels, ski resorts, cruise lines and other travel services.

Where to begin? Shop around online to see whether your favorite hotel brand or tour operator is offering deals on Friday, Monday or over the weekend. 

Here are some places to start looking.

Black Friday: Mobile app Hotel Tonight is offering rooms for Friday only for $7 (or 7 pounds if you’re in the United Kingdom). Check the app for the Black Friday Blowout deal. You’ll also find rooms for $70 available over the weekend.

Black Friday: Expedia takes 90% off selected hotels in places such as San Francisco, New York City, Honolulu, Las Vegas and Cancun, Mexico. Shop for your dream stay until 9 p.m. Pacific time on Friday only.

Black Friday: Mammoth Mountain ski resort in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., offers this deal: Buy an $88 early season lift ticket and receive a second one free. Tickets must be used on consecutive days between Sunday and Dec. 11.

lRelated Black Friday-Cyber Monday: 10 hotel deals worth checking out
California the WestBlack Friday-Cyber Monday: 10 hotel deals worth checking outSee all related

Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Six nations surrounded or kissed by the Caribbean are holding a massive weekend-long sale on hotel rooms — some as low as $100 a night. Hotels are discounted 20.15% (for the new year) for stays from Jan. 5 to Dec. 15, 2015. Each nation’s deals are posted on their tourism sites; sale is on from Friday to Monday. Here are the links: Barbados, Antigua, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Nicaragua and Anguilla.

Black Friday/Cyber Monday: MSC Cruises started its sale a week ago with cruises to various destinations starting at $99 per person for a two-night cruise, $299 for four nights, and $349 for seven nights. The sale continues through Monday. 

Cyber Monday: Orbitz fans who book a hotel with online pay service Visa Checkout will receive $100 off a hotel room that costs more than $100. For example, if you find a room for $145, you pay just $45. The offer is good on selected hotels for stays from Monday to June 30; use “VisaCheckout” code to get the deal.

Cyber Monday: Celebrity Cruises offers discounts of $50 to $500 per person on selected seven-day cruises to the Caribbean, Europe and Alaska. Pre-discount prices start at $499, $1,299 and $599 respectively.

Cyber Monday: Small-group tour company Intrepid Travel is offering 20% off all tours, whether it’s a Cuba sailing adventure (pre-discount price $1,302 per person for nine days) or a northern lights tour to Iceland (pre-discount price $1,635 per person for seven days).

Cyber Monday: Budget motel chain Red Roof Inn offers up to 30% off rooms for stays through March 31.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

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JetBlue and Zappos Give Back to Flyers on the Busiest Travel Day of the Year

The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year in the US. This year in the Northeast, weather made it even more difficult and stressful. According to USA Today, nearly 700 flights were cancelled on Wednesday.  In order to bring a little humanity and happiness to the holidays, JetBlue and Zappos created a special day of thanks at New York’s JFK airport.

The program was an extension of a similar event Zappos did last year at arrivals at JFK. This year they teamed up with JetBlue, expanding to both departures and arrivals in Terminal T5. Check out this two-minute YouTube video entitled Happiest Travel Day :

In airport arrivals, a game board was created on a baggage carousel. Bags fell onto prize panels. Winning passengers received prizes ranging from round trip travel certificates on JetBlue to UGG slippers from Zappos. In departures, a cheering section helped travelers make it through security and prep them for their upcoming flight. Both brands pulled stories from pre-security and relayed them to the cheering section. Zappos and JetBlue staff made handmade signs, greeting passengers with personalized cheers as they walked out of security. 

Photo Credit: YouTube

The idea of airlines doing something special around the holiday isn’t new. Look no further than Spanair’s Unexpected Luggage in 2010:

or Westjet’s Christmas Miracle in 2013:

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41 million people expected to travel nation’s highways this Thanksgiving …

ST. GEORGE – A record number of people are expected to travel this holiday weekend, according to AAA Travel. An estimated 46 million Americans are expected to celebrate Thanksgiving away from home – the most since 2007, and with gas prices being the lowest in five years, more than 41 million people are are expected to travel the nations highways.

The Utah Highway Patrol will be out in full-force enforcing traffic laws to help keep the roadways safe. However, it’s up to all drivers to follow the rules for safe travel.

(Story continues below)

Videocast by Melissa Anderson, St. George News and KCSG

The No. 1 safety tip is to buckle up. Travelers are also expected to obey speed limits and to move over for emergency response vehicles.

UHP troopers are warning drivers not to drink and drive. They also discourage the use of mobile devices which can distract drivers from watching the road.

The holidays are among the busiest times of the year for travelers in Southern Utah and especially Washington County, UHP officials said.

One of the things we like to do is give travel tips,” UHP Sgt. Danny Ferguson said. “Some of those tips include wearing seat belts. It is a law in the state of Utah that you wear your seat belt and obviously, we consider it a lifesaver.”

Ferguson also said speeding is the No. 1 contributor to accidents along the 42 mile-stretch of highway that passes through the county. That’s why troopers pull over those breaking the speed limit, he said.

Drivers should also only drive as fast as the conditions allow, despite what the speed limit is.

“It’s a fact that you can be driving 35 miles an hour in a posted 80 mile-an-hour zone and you could be driving 30 miles an hour too fast for the conditions.” Ferguson said. “You need to adjust the speed for the conditions around you.”

Fatigued driving is another factor in car accidents, Ferguson added. He suggested getting plenty of rest before traveling. He also suggests packing emergency equipment in case your vehicle breaks down in inclement weather.

The UHP cautions all drivers to play it safe, obey all rules, and give yourself plenty of time to get to and from your destination so you and your family may arrive alive.

Related posts


Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.


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Online travel firms

AMAZON, it seems, is about to enter the online travel business. Skift reports that the internet retailer is striking deals with hotels around New York, Los Angeles and Seattle, with a view to listing them on the site from January 1st. Presumably, this will be a prelude to a full-scale assault on the market in the near future.

It should probably not be a surprise. Having conquered books and electronics, and eyed up groceries, travel is an obvious next step. The market is huge: last year online travel agents had combined sales of $278 billion, according to Euromonitor. 

Amazon must stand a good chance of success. Internet hotel-booking is dominated by two big players, Expedia and Priceline (which owns, and one rapidly rising competitor, TripAdvisor. But Amazon will have some inbuilt advantages. The first is its worldwide clout. It is a brand most people are familiar with and is rightly lauded for its customer service. One could well imagine that those who have not yet taken the plunge and booked a hotel online (the majority of travel sales, even in America, Britain and Germany,  are still not completed on the internet) will be reassured to do so on Amazon.

The other big advantage could be user reviews. The reason that TripAdvisor is becoming such a threat to the established players is because it has a huge cache of content from ordinary customers. As we reported earlier this year, Tripadvisor is…

…such a good example of a network effect that it is the subject of a Harvard Business School (HBS) case study. The more users post reviews, the more useful the site is to those about to book a holiday. This makes it more important to hotels and travel agents, who offer better deals. This results in more traffic—and more reviews—closing the virtuous circle. Last year TripAdvisor reported revenue of $944.7m. Because users post reviews free of charge, in 2012, Jeffrey Bussgang, an HBS lecturer, calculated that its gross margin was an astounding 98%.

Amazon users are accustomed to leaving feedback (sometimes in funny and inspiring ways, as the 425 reviewers of the Delicious Women’s PhD Darling Sexy Costume prove). And while sites firms Expedia and Priceline are desperately trying to encourage more customer content, one could imagine Amazon, with its billions of garrulous consumers, soon providing a deep well of opinion. 

According to Skift, Amazon will take a 15% commission from hotels that sign up in the first wave of its project and perhaps 20% after that. Given that not only Amazon but also Priceline and Expedia have a reputation for driving the hardest possible bargain with their suppliers, the increased competition must bode well for consumers. Hoteliers, meanwhile, will have even more incentive to up the standards of their customer care. Rather than offering you next-day shipping, Amazon, it seems, will soon be offering to ship you somewhere. 

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How to Adjust Your Body Clock on Long-Haul Flights


Yoon Li Yong is executive director of Kuala Lumpur-based Royal Selangor International, the world’s largest pewter maker and retailer, founded in 1885.

The Malaysian executive spoke with the Journal about classic-car races, gaining Buddhist wisdom in Nepal, and Kuala Lumpur’s best spot for Marmite crabs and chili clams.

How often are you up in the air?

On average, I travel twice a month for both long-haul and regional trips. I oversee the design and marketing functions of the business, so I travel internationally to meet designers and to collaborate with organizations such as London’s Victoria and Albert [Museum] and the National Palace Museum in Taipei. I also join our overseas teams at trade fairs in the U.S. and Europe. It is at trade fairs that you can get inspiration and merchandising ideas for new products.

Favorite hotel?

The PuLi in Shanghai is a thoughtfully designed property. I always enjoy my stays there.

Favorite airline?

As I’m based in Kuala Lumpur,

Malaysia Airlines

is convenient, and their in-flight service is top-notch. However, I also enjoy Cathay Pacific flights on U.S.-bound routes. Their office in KL is super friendly and accommodating.

Best airline seats?

I like window seats. They give me extra space and privacy, especially on the upper deck of Malaysia Airlines’ A380 services to Europe.

Which airline has the best tableware?

The tableware on Qatar Airways isn’t too bad. The menu and wine list is pretty good, too.

Favorite airport?

Hong Kong International Airport is always a good place to be. My wife is from Hong Kong, so in a way it’s like coming home. Doha’s Hamad has a good selection of shops and wonderful public spaces. I can’t wait to try their lounges.

Which city has the best taxis?

London, but Taipei with its friendly drivers, comes a close second.

Preferred luggage?

With all the bad experiences I have had with luggage handlers and the TSA [Transportation Security Administration], I try to not check anything in. So I stuff my [Louis Vuitton] Mon Monogram Keepall with sufficient clothes for a five-day stay. For trips of a longer duration, I use the Rimowa Classic Flight, which is sturdy enough for reference books, catalogs and pewter prototypes.

Packing strategies?

I don’t have any. As long as my passport, some foreign currency and my trusty Comyns silver business-card case is with me, I am sorted.

Which travel apps do you use?



Travel app is simple, effective and informative. It syncs with my calendar, provides updates and alerts me if there are changes in the coordinates to my gate or baggage carousel.


What’s your best travel advice?

Work out, adjust the body clock while on the plane with a glass of Champagne, and hit the ground running at your destination.

How do you stay fit while traveling?

I plan my hotel stays around gym locations, because I have learned that hotel gyms aren’t that well-equipped. I like Home Hotel in Taipei because it’s next to the 25,000-square-foot Fitness Factory. In Hong Kong, Hotel LKF used to be near a California Fitness branch, but the gym became a bank. New York is the easiest place to find a great gym. There is one on every block. I carry my [protein] shaker [bottle] and trainers everywhere I go.

Best travel experience?

I belong to a global business network called the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. A couple of years ago, the chapter in Nepal arranged a once-in-a-lifetime experience in their country. We visited tranquil monasteries, listened to lectures by learned monks, dined in Bhaktapur’s town square, and traveled by helicopter to Lukla. On the trip, I met like-minded people who are now great friends.


What’s left on the bucket list?

I would like to participate in the Mille Miglia, the iconic classic-car race in Italy. My father and I enjoy owning and restoring classic cars and we have participated in a couple of rallies in Malaysia. Our most memorable [expedition] was the Equator Run in 1993. However, the Mille Miglia is every classic-car enthusiast’s dream.

Favorite city?

London. My wife and I met in the U.K. We continue to spend a lot of time there. Also, many retailers carry our products throughout the city and the country. So whenever I’m in London, I like popping into Harrods and Selfridges to check out our displays, and if there is time, I enjoy taking a stroll through the museums for some inspiration.

Favorite restaurant/bar?

I cannot resist a good seafood meal at Mei Keng Fatt, a restaurant on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. The Marmite crabs and the chili clams are always a treat.

—Edited from an interview by Mark Lean

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