Hilton adds two San Francisco hotels. HHonors members should be happy to hear this: San Francisco’s 1,024-room Parc 55 Hotel, located downtown at 55 Cyril Magnin St. near the Powell Street BART station and Union Square — is now a Hilton. The lodging giant said it purchased the Parc 55 (formerly a Wyndham) and four other hotels with the whopping $1.95 billion proceeds from its sale of the Waldorf-Astoria in New York to China’s Anbang Insurance Group. (The Waldorf will continue to be managed by Hilton, the company noted. And word on the street is that a massive, and much needed full renovation of the storied-but-tired property is in the works.) Meanwhile, Hilton is taking bookings starting June 1 for a newly built Hampton Inn a few blocks away from the Parc 55 at 942 Mission Street near the Moscone Convention Center.
Weather update: Nearly 1,700 flights canceled to/from Northeast airports as the area is walloped by yet another winter storm. And another storm is now bearing down on Southeastern states. Airlines are issuing waivers for those wishing to postpone trips. In the meantime, it’s 72 degrees, sunny and springlike in San Francisco and the plum trees are poppin’ purple! Here’s some hope for the shivering masses: Daylight savings starts in just three short weeks! March 8. Still have the winter blues? British Airways just released a video of Oxford University’s all male a capella group Out of the Blue, remaking Wham’s holiday classic, ‘Club Tropicana’ in Malta. Watch the fun video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92wSOebt4Nw
Virgin moves at San Diego. Virgin America Airlines, which flies five times a day between San Diego and San Francisco, has moved its check-in operations at SAN from the dour, aged east side of Terminal 2 to the sparkling new west side. The new Virgin check-in counters and kiosks are located between the Delta and JetBlue positions, and airport signs have been changed to reflect the move. United also operates out of the new west side of Terminal 2.
Which hotel chain has the fastest free wifi? Huffington Post reports that of all hotel chains that advertise free Wi-Fi, good old moderately priced brands like Quality Inns, Ramada Inns, La Quinta and Best Western are among the very best, according to a recent study from Hotel WiFi Test, a site devoted entirely to testing Wi-Fi service. The company’s research found that nearly all midpriced hotel chains, for example, have functioning, free Wi-Fi, and it’s faster than what you’ll find at Hilton, Marriott or Sheraton.
Expedia buys Orbitz. Apparently online mega-travel site Expedia wasn’t satisfied with its recently announced plans to buy rival Travelocity, because Expedia is now planning to gobble up Orbitz and its affiliated companies as well, for $1.6 billion. Besides Orbitz.com, that includes Orbitz for Business, CheapTickets.com, ebookers and HotelClub. Besides its namesake website, Expedia also owns Hotels.com, Hotwire.com and Trivago. This leaves Expedia and Priceline as the two major OTA players. Do you use online travel agencies, known as “OTAs” to book trips why or why not?
HHonors offers lifetime Diamond status. Longtime Diamond members of Hilton’s HHonors program will have that status extended for the rest of their lives, an HHonors spokesperson told TravelSkills. Specifically, the lifetime status will be offered to anyone who has held Diamond status for 10 or more years (not necessarily consecutive) and has completed at least 1,000 nights of paid stays. “Over the past several years we have learned from members that Lifetime Diamond Status is something our most elite members are extremely passionate about,” the spokesperson said, adding that members who met the requirements by December 31, 2014 will receive a lifetime card and a gift in the mail.
Hyatt has new perks for elites. Hyatt’s Gold Passport program is adding some new perks for top-level members. Starting March 1, Diamond members who transfer a free night paid with points to family or friends will have their Diamond in-hotel benefits (like breakfast, Regency Club access etc.) extended to those guests. Also effective March 1, Gold Passport Diamonds will get a pair of free passes each year for access to United Airlines’ airport lounges. And starting February 14, Diamonds and Platinums will get free premium Wi-Fi access at all Hyatts worldwide.
Another posh NYC hotel coming. March 2 is the opening date for the next of New York City’s posh and pricey hotels. This one is The Baccarat, at 20 West 53rd Street. Rates will reportedly start at about $729 a night for a classic king room. As its name suggests, the hotel’s decor will be heavy on glass and crystal touches.
Did you miss out on Saturdays’ Weekend Edition of TravelSkills? Check it out here!
In Case You Missed It…
>American sets schedules for first 787 Dreamliners.
>Chris tries out (and photographs) JetBlue’s new Mint Class.
>InterContinental’s loyalty plan adds Kimpton hotels, new signup bonus.
Have you been following our super popular Planespotting 101 series? Check out our first two installments here:
Like what you just read? Then say so! Scroll back up to the top and LIKE the post on Facebook, post it on Linked In and/or tweet it!
Would you rather get TravelSkills Weekly instead of Daily? No probs! click here to sign up for TravelSkills Weekly.
Please join the 85,000+ people who read TravelSkills every month! Sign up here for one email-per-day updates!