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Six people found dead in luxury hotel

<p>A disturbing theory has emerged after six people were found dead in a luxury hotel room in central Bangkok. </p> <p>According to Bangkok’s Metropolitan Police commissioner Thiti Saengsawang, hotel staff at the Grand Hyatt Erawan discovered the bodies of six people in a fifth-floor room after they missed check out time by more than 24 hours.</p> <p>After concluding that the incident did not appear to be a robbery and none of the bodies showed any signs of physical violence, Thai Police are exploring the possibility that the people were poisoned.</p> <p>Police shared that they "needed to find out the motives", and that the deaths were the result of a "killing", not a suicide.</p> <p>Authorities conformed they are investigating the potential poisoning after Thiti said cups with traces of a white powder were located in the room, along with untouched food that had been ordered earlier.</p> <p>As police continue their investigation into the shocking deaths, they are currently searching for a seventh person who was part of the hotel booking and is now a possible suspect.</p> <p>Two of the dead were US citizens of Vietnamese background, while the other four were Vietnamese nationals.</p> <p>Thiti said police believe one member of the group had tried to reach the door to escape but fell and died before they could get there.</p> <p>The Thai government issued a statement after the killings, with Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin saying, "There were no signs of a struggle," adding, "We need to conduct an autopsy."</p> <p>He also "ordered all agencies to urgently take action to avoid impact on tourism,” given that the luxury hotel is situated in a popular tourist area.</p> <p><em>Image credits: BBC / Royal Thai Police </em></p>

Travel Trouble

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10 tips for a better night’s sleep in a hotel room

<p>From noisy neighbours to unbearable bedding, a good night’s sleep in a hotel room can be hard to come by. Here are 10 tips to help you get decent shut eye.</p> <p><strong>1. Book a room midway down a hallway</strong></p> <p>This is generally the quietest part of the floor, way from ice and wending machines, laundry facilities, exits, closets and any other places where sudden noises might occur.</p> <p><strong>2. Try to avoid rooms facing a pool</strong></p> <p>While the view is something to admire, pools can also be the sight of noise generating late-night gathering and any sounds generally echo loudly off the water.</p> <p><strong>3. Inquire at the front desk about pillow options</strong></p> <p>If the wrong pillow gives you back or neck pain have a chat to the front desk when checking in. Most hotels stock pillows of varying firmness, and can offer a better fit.</p> <p><strong>4. Pack earplugs and eyeshades</strong></p> <p>When you’re struggling to get to sleep the tiniest noise or ray of light can end up being a huge distraction. Nip this in the bud by packing earplugs and eyeshades.</p> <p><strong>5. Turn your mobile phone off</strong></p> <p>Mobile notifications can be a huge distraction (particularly when they’re coming from friends and family in different time zones). Turn your phone off, and enjoy the bliss. </p> <p><strong>6. Make use of your ‘do not disturb’ sign</strong></p> <p>If you’re planning to sleep in make sure you put your ‘do not disturb’ sign on the outside doorknob, otherwise you might get a rude awakening from a housekeeper.</p> <p><strong>7. Report any noises immediately</strong></p> <p>Sometimes a quick pound of the wall will quiet down a noisy neighbour, but this doesn’t always work. If the people in the room next to you won’t keep quiet, make sure you let the front desk know and they can take the necessary actions.</p> <p><strong>8. Adjust the room temperature</strong></p> <p>Most people sleep better in a cooler room, so make sure you adjust the temperature to whatever is the best fit for you to get sleep. Even just opening the window a tiny little crack can make a big difference in terms of your overall comfort levels.</p> <p><strong>9. Ask the front desk about blackout shades</strong></p> <p>Particularly if you’re staying in a city that’s full of lights, noises and distractions, blackout shades can provide you with a level of peace and comfort that will help you sleep.</p> <p><strong>10. Consider bringing your own sheets</strong></p> <p>Particularly if you’ve got skin sensitives, it’s generally a good idea to bring your own sheets (if you’ve got enough space). The familiar scent and feel will really help you sleep.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

Travel Tips

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The truth about hotel bathrobes

<p>When the time comes to check out of a hotel, it is hard to resist the urge to search the room for any freebie items that can we can slip into our suitcase.</p> <p>Robes and slippers are the hotel items that cause the most confusion among guests about whether they can take them home without any consequence.</p> <p><a href="https://www.escape.com.au/travel-advice/to-steal-or-not-to-steal-what-you-can-and-cant-take-from-hotel-rooms/news-story/7fa7f374957edf51512c0c5dc62f4ed2" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Escape</span></strong></em></a> has revealed that robes are off limits for most hotels and that guests will also be hit with an extra charge if one goes missing.</p> <p>Hotel bathrobes are laundered and then reused for the next guest.</p> <p>However, most hotels do not mind if slippers are taken by guests because they will not be used again.</p> <p>“Slippers won’t be used again,” explained Hotels.com marketing manager David Spasovic. </p> <p>“So you may as well stash them away for you to use on your next flight – they’re ideal for wearing on a long haul. Hold back on the robe though.”</p> <p>There are plenty other items that are up for the taking at hotel rooms, but it is important to make sure you don’t get too carried away.</p> <p>“The general rule of thumb is that if it can't be reused then it can be taken,” said David. </p> <p>“Miniature toiletries, shower caps, combs, disposable razors and toothbrushes. These are all goodies that can be swiped.”</p> <p>Pier One Sydney Harbour Hotel’s general manager, Kim Mahaffy said, “We expect guests to either use or to take consumable items, including soap. But preferably not two dozen from the housekeeping cart!”</p> <p>As a general guide, pillows, towels, robes, bed sheets and electrical items cannot be taken from hotels.</p> <p>But slippers, soap, shampoo and conditioner, tea and coffee and pens, are up for grabs.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Travel Tips

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Bold idea sees hotel offer thousands in cash back if it rains

<p>In a move that's making waves in the travel industry, a posh hotel in the heart of Singapore has rolled out a revolutionary offer: rain insurance. Yes, you heard it right – rain insurance!</p> <p>InterContinental Singapore, a sanctuary for jet-setters seeking respite from both the humidity and the occasional tropical deluge, has unleashed a game-changer for travellers. Dubbed the "Rain Resist Bliss Package", this offer promises to keep your spirits high even when the rain gods decide to throw a dampener on your plans.</p> <p>Picture this: you've booked your suite at this 5-star haven, eagerly anticipating your Singapore escapade. But lo and behold, the forecast takes a turn for the soggy, threatening to rain on your parade – quite literally. Fear not, dear traveller, for with the Rain Resist Bliss Package, you can breathe easy knowing that if your plans get drenched, your wallet won't.</p> <p>Now, you might be wondering, how does this rain insurance work? Well, it's as simple as Singapore Sling on a sunny day. If the heavens decide to open up and rain on your parade for a cumulative 120 minutes within any four-hour block of daylight hours (that's 8am to 7pm for those not on island time), you're entitled to a refund equivalent to your single-night room rate. The package is available exclusively for suite room bookings starting from $SGD850 per night – so that’s around $965 rain-soaked dollars back in your pocket, no questions asked. No need to jump through hoops or perform a rain dance – just sit back, relax, and let the rain do its thing.</p> <p>And fret not about having to keep an eye on the sky – the clever folks at InterContinental Singapore have got you covered. They're tapping into the data from the National Environmental Agency Weather Station to automatically trigger those rain refunds. It's like having your own personal meteorologist ensuring that your plans stay as dry as your martini.</p> <p>But hey, if the rain does decide to crash your party, fear not! The hotel has an array of dining options to keep your tastebuds entertained while you wait for the clouds to part. And let's not forget, Singapore isn't just about sunshine and rainbows – there are plenty of indoor activities to keep you occupied, from feasting at Lau Pa Sat for an authentic hawker experience to retail therapy at Takashimaya.</p> <p>And here's a silver lining to those rain clouds: fewer tourists! That's right, while others might be scrambling for cover, you could be enjoying shorter lines, less crowded attractions, and even snagging better deals on accommodations. Plus, let's not overlook the fact that the rain brings a welcome respite from the tropical heat, making outdoor adventures all the more enjoyable once the showers subside.</p> <p>So, pack your umbrella and leave your worries behind. With InterContinental Singapore's Rain Resist Bliss Package, you can embrace the unpredictable and turn even the rainiest of days into a memorable adventure. After all, as they say, when life gives you lemons, make Singapore Slings and dance in the rain!</p> <p><em>Images: InterContinental Singapore / Getty Images</em></p>

International Travel

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Iconic Victorian Sphinx Hotel up for sale

<p>The iconic Sphinx hotel is in Geelong, Victoria is up for sale for the first time in over 50 years. </p> <p>The Ramia family, who built a 14m-high replica sphinx on the roof of their pub, are looking to sell their property after 53 years of ownership. </p> <p>“We’ve got to the stage where we all want to do our own thing and it’s quite a large family,”  George Ramia, the owner of the hotel said. </p> <p>“We’re up to nearly 53 years here and I think we’re getting a bit tired.</p> <p>“I started work here when I was about 14. I recall those days I wasn’t allowed in the pub but I used to do all the beer lines.</p> <p>“Johnny O’Keeffe used to play a lot and he always asked me to play pool, and I was a pretty good player because it’s all I was allowed to do.”</p> <p>Ramia who started working at the former Golf View Hotel when he was 14, saw the venue change throughout the decades from a home for live music to a bistro and recently renovated sports bar.</p> <p>He also saw the venue grow in popularity, after a period of financial difficulties, when the pub was remodelled with the 14m-high Sphinx on the roof, completed with Egyptian-style motifs including hieroglyphics and even a mock gold pharaoh’s tomb in the 1990s. </p> <p>The pub continues to host live bands and events, including the Geelong Elvis Festival.</p> <p>The Sphinx Hotel is positioned on a 15,000sq m freehold land parcel, with 16-rooms of various configurations, with approvals in place to develop a further 24 rooms.</p> <p>It also features 67 electronic gambling machines, multiple bar areas and function rooms, an outdoor beer garden, a TAB and a recently renovated sports bar.</p> <p>The sale of the property also include the drive-through bottle shop and a licence capacity for 1010 patrons.</p> <p>The hotel is available as either a new long-term lease or a freehold going concern, which is currently being managed by CBRE Hotels’ senior director Scott Callow. </p> <p>“Geelong’s Sphinx Hotel presents a compelling investment opportunity in the thriving gaming and entertainment industry,” the CBRE Hotels’ senior director said. </p> <p>“We anticipate strong interest from a range of investment segments seeking to gain a significant foothold in Victoria’s tightly held gaming market.”</p> <p><em>Images: Sphinx Hotel / Facebook</em></p>

Real Estate

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"This is insane": Woman's intense hotel safety routine divides audiences

<p dir="ltr">A woman has gone viral for the elaborate routine she undergoes every time she checks into a new hotel room. </p> <p dir="ltr">Victoria posted a TikTok of her intense seven-step routine that she undertakes when staying in a hotel, with the video quickly racking up over 14 million views. </p> <p dir="ltr">In the now-viral clip, Victoria starts off by putting the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the doorknob and locking it from the inside.</p> <p dir="ltr">Then, she blocks the peephole with a tissue, jams a washcloth into the deadbolt to "close the gap" and rolls up a bath towel behind the handle to stop anyone opening the door.</p> <p dir="ltr">She also positioned an ironing board against the door to stop it from being able to open, and then used a clothes hanger to clip everything together.</p> <p dir="ltr">After going through the seven step routine, Victoria's comment section was flooded with messages as the video prompted a mixed response. </p> <p dir="ltr">"By the time I do all that, it's morning again," one user wrote, while another simply said, "This is insane."</p> <p dir="ltr">While many of the comments were quick to judge how extensive the safety routine is, others shared their own different security preferences. </p> <p dir="ltr">"I take two portable locks, and a mini camera that links to my phone for when I'm out," one said.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, one person pointed out that Victoria's set-up was a bit of a hazard, saying, "And now imagine trying to get out of that in the dark in a fire in the middle of the night."</p> <p dir="ltr">Another said they had "never stayed in hotels where I felt so unsafe," adding, "Is it an American thing? I am genuinely curious."</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: TikTok</em><span id="docs-internal-guid-7c5325f2-7fff-e317-45e9-c3cf2bb0c143"></span></p>

Travel Trouble

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Hotel guest wakes to find his toes in the manager’s mouth

<p>A Hilton guest in Nashville has experienced the stuff of nightmares during his overnight stay, having woken in the middle of the night to find the hotel’s manager sucking on his toes. </p> <p>The now-former employee allegedly crept into Peter Brennan’s room using a ‘ghost key card’, according to Brennan’s lawyer, and a warrant has been placed for the arrest of the 52-year-old culprit, David Neal. </p> <p>Brennan is also looking to sue the Hilton Hotel where the incident occurred, <em>WSMV</em> have reported. </p> <p>“I woke up at about 5am,” Brennan explained, “and I was being sexually assaulted by a man who had broken into my room.”</p> <p>Metro police reported that Neal was the night manager at the establishment, and attorney Michael Fisher has claimed that Neal had access to hotel keys despite a criminal past. </p> <p>As court documents note, Neal was previously indicted by the Wilson County Grand Jury in 1996 for second-degree murder in relation to his roommate’s death. In 1997, a jury had found him guilty of manslaughter, while Neal claimed self-defence.</p> <p>And as <em>WKRN</em> have reported, for his 2023 toe sucking offence, Neal allegedly told investigators that he had gone into Brennan’s room without permission using a duplicate key because he could smell smoke and had wanted to check in on its occupant. </p> <p>Brennan, upon waking to find Neal there, confronted his assaulter immediately. He also recognised him as someone who had entered his room the previous day, alongside another hotel employee, to check out a TV issue with the room.</p> <p>"[I] instantly jumped up and was screaming,” he told <em>News Channel 5</em>. “Went into sort of fact-finding mode. ‘Who are you? Why are you in my room? What are you doing here?’</p> <p>"I could see he was wearing a uniform, he had his name tag on. He was talking to me but not giving me any substantive answers."</p> <p>A spokesperson for the hotel directed the station to the hotel’s local manager for comment, though they refused to comment, telling them that “the safety and security of our guests and team members is our highest priority. We are working closely with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, and, as part of company policy, we do not comment on ongoing investigations."</p> <p>Which can’t have come as much comfort to Brennan, who was trying to come to terms with what he’d been through, and noted that he was “having problems sleeping frankly, I’m going through some PTSD, talking to a therapist.</p> <p>"I still don’t really feel safe in my own home."</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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10 shocking examples of bad hotel etiquette

<p>Travel website Expedia has released an exhaustive study on hotel etiquette, asking thousands of travellers around the world to rank the 10 types of hotel behaviour that aggravate them the most. Some of these examples left us scratching our heads!</p> <p><strong>10. The elevator chatterbox</strong></p> <p>The 10th most annoying hotel-etiquette-gripe for travellers cited by Expedia is hotel guests with a tendency to be a little too chatting on elevators. While you can’t fault anyone for wanting to have a chat, the confined nature of an elevator can make the conversation a little bit awkward.</p> <p><strong>9. The boozer at the hotel bar</strong></p> <p>Watching this guy drink his way through his per diem is a sight to behold, and not in a good way. You might just want to have a quiet drink at the hotel bar in peace, but because this guy is hell-bent on turning his business trip into the last days of Rome odds are you’re going to be rudely interrupted.  </p> <p><strong>8. The couple canoodling in the hot tub</strong></p> <p>The one thing we can take solace in here is the fact that a lot of the germs won’t be able to withstand the hot tub temperatures. But the thought of jumping into the biological soup formed by a couple canoodling in the hot tub is one that definitely makes our stomachs turn!</p> <p><strong>7. The loudly amorous couple</strong></p> <p>Coming in at number seven on the list is the couple that are having the romantic escape of a lifetime, which you have unfortunately had to listen to every minute of. It’s in moments like this many travellers have whispered a silent prayer of thanks that earplugs exist.</p> <p><strong>6. The group partying by the pool</strong></p> <p>There’s nothing like a relaxing dip in the hotel pool, but when this group is hanging out it’s hard to get a foot in the water! The only thing that seems to be greater than their obnoxious behaviour is their omnipresence outside of the pool everywhere – don’t they have rooms to stay in?</p> <p><strong>5. The bickering couple</strong></p> <p>Hey, will someone let these two know that they’re on holidays? Whether it’s a very uncivil discussion as to whether they should have a spa or massage tomorrow, or a fire-breathing fight concerning whether they should go to a café or have the breakfast buffet, these two need to calm down a bit.</p> <p><strong>4. The in-room revellers  </strong></p> <p>These people seem to be intent on achieving two things in life – partying all night and inhibiting your ability to get some much needed shut eye as they do so. No amount of pleading (or banging on the hotel walls) will seem to get these people to quieten down and show some respect.  </p> <p><strong>3. The excessive complainers</strong></p> <p>Some people are so intent on complaining you’d think that’s half the reason they went away at the first place. When these people aren’t at the hotel bar questioning the amount of bitters in their lemon lime and bitters at, they’re at the concierge desk making all sorts of ridiculous requests.</p> <p><strong>2. The hallway hellraisers</strong></p> <p>Often mistaken for a stampede of wild horses (at least by the amount of sound they’re making as they move through the hotel, hallway hellraisers get from the lobby to their hotel room with the grace and finesses of an elephant walking around in platform heels two sizes too small. </p> <p><strong>1. Inattentive parents</strong></p> <p>Children bring joy into this world, but not when they’re wreaking havoc in hotel lobbies. The only thing worse is the inattentive parents who are too engrossed in their own world’s to control their kids, which is why travellers ranked this as the most aggravating example of poor hotel etiquette.</p> <p><strong>The study also revealed some hidden habits of people staying at hotels, mainly:</strong></p> <ul> <li>26 per cent have hoarded toiletries to take home with them;</li> <li>9 per cent have invited multiple people into their room overnight without telling the hotel;</li> <li>8 per cent have secretly taken items from their hotel room;</li> <li>6 per cent sneak down to the pool first thing in the morning to “reserve” a spot by placing towels on chairs;</li> <li>5 per cent have smoked in a non-smoking room;</li> <li>2 per cent have deliberately eavesdropped on guests in a neighbouring room.</li> </ul> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Travel Tips

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12 things you should always do before you leave your hotel room

<p><strong>Check under the bed and dresser</strong></p> <p>“I always get down on my hands and knees and look under the bed and under the dresser,” says Suzanne Markham-Bagnera, a former general manager at hotels. Young kids especially like to hide things, and then forget about them.</p> <p>“You get the frantic phone call that a child has left their Lovey, their stuffed animal, or their toy and they realised once they get in their car and start driving, but they’re not able to come right back to the hotel,” she adds.</p> <p><strong>Pull the bed linens back</strong></p> <p>Markham-Bagnera typically removes the bedding to both help out the housekeeper and make sure she hasn’t forgotten anything. “That’s my way of securing: I’ve done the clean sweep of the bed. I’m good,” she says.</p> <p>Guest aren’t expected to strip the bed, but should you decide to, make sure to leave the comforter on a chair or in the closet, not on the floor. And don’t ball the bed linens up with the blanket, keep them separate.</p> <p><strong>Leave the used towels in the tub</strong></p> <p>Markham-Bagnera puts all the towels on the bathtub, especially if they’re still wet. That way they’re out of the way and all together in the pile. And the room attendant only has to pick up one pile of dirty linen. “It makes it a lot faster to pick up,” Markham-Bagnera says.</p> <p><strong>Take the food you want to keep</strong></p> <p>If you’ve used the refrigerator, make sure that you take out the items that you want. “The ones that you don’t want, throw away,” she says. Some guests leave alcohol as a tip for the housekeeper, but policies vary from hotel to hotel on whether they can accept it or not.</p> <p><strong>Stack overflow takeaway boxes next to a waste bin</strong></p> <p>Hotel waste bin are pretty small, and the remnants of last night’s dinner may not fit. If you’ve got overflow, pile the boxes next to the waste bin instead of leaving them scattered all around the room. “The messier you leave the room, the harder it is for the room attendant to clean that room,” Markham-Bagnera says.</p> <p><strong>Check between the mattress and box spring</strong></p> <p>When a room doesn’t have a safe, hotel guests will sometimes hide items they don’t want to leave around the room between the mattress and the box spring. Housekeepers have recovered weapons and sex toys there, Markham-Bagnera says.</p> <p><strong>Move the furniture back </strong></p> <p>If hotel guests are travelling with children, they sometimes move one of the beds against the wall so there’s less opportunity for a child to fall out of the bed. That’s fine, but the courtesy is to move the furniture back where you found it before you leave.</p> <p><strong>Take your medications and supplies with you</strong></p> <p>Forgetting your medication can be dangerous for you, but leaving supplies like needles in your room could also be hazardous to your housekeeper. Also, if you gashed yourself shaving and used a towel to stop the blood flow, separate the towel out from the rest.</p> <p>“Hotels will have protocols for how to clean it or for how they have to bag it and have a company come and dispose of it. Because they can’t just put that in the regular trash and be done with it in a hotel,” Markham-Bagnera says.</p> <p><strong>Make sure you have your charger!</strong></p> <p>“If I had a dollar for every charger that I found, I could take my whole family on vacation,” says hotel manager, Adam Sperling. These days, it’s bad news if your phone dies, so take that last look around. “It’s things that get left behind that can often cause you stress at the end of your journey,” he says.</p> <p><strong>Think about a tip</strong></p> <p>Room attendants are typically paid hourly, so their position is different from a bellhop or a server that might make less per hour with the expectation that they will make more in gratuities, Markham-Bagnera says. That said, room attendants work incredibly hard and tipping is appreciated.</p> <p>Things to consider? The quality of the hotel, whether you’re staying one night or multiple nights, and how messy you’re leaving the room. “If you’ve got a lot of people staying in the room and you’ve got a pullout sofa or a cot, and you’ve used a lot more towels, it certainly is nicer to leave a little extra,” Markham-Bagnera says.</p> <p><strong>Call down to the front desk for transportation </strong></p> <p>Mornings can be hectic at hotels, with out-of-town guests rushing to make meetings and flights in cities they don’t know. You can save yourself some of the hassle by doing a little prep before you leave the hotel room.</p> <p>“Call down and say, ‘hey, I’m leaving at 7.30 tomorrow, can my car be waiting for me?’” Sperling suggests. “That helps everybody. Your car’s waiting for you and we’re not scrambling to go get it at 7.25 when you need it at 7.30.”</p> <p><strong>Book your next stay</strong></p> <p>If you really liked your room and are planning to be back in the area, before you leave your hotel is a great time to rebook, Sperling says. He recommends you ask for the front desk manager for face-to-face treatment that can trump the savings online. “You’re likely to get a great rate, and you’re likely to get upgraded,” he says.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/12-things-you-should-always-do-before-you-leave-your-hotel-room?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Travel Tips

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“It tastes like rich”: Hotel sells $32 coffee with gold sprinkles

<p dir="ltr">At the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, you can treat yourself to a cappuccino for a whopping $32AUD, although you’re not <em>really</em> paying for the coffee alone. </p> <p dir="ltr">The cappuccino, which is found at the hotel’s Le Cafe by the Fountain comes with 23-karat gold sprinkled on top and it has been named the Emirates Palace Golden Cappuccino. </p> <p dir="ltr">The pricey cap is not the only item on the menu that is embellished with gold, with the hotel advertising a camel milk vanilla or chocolate ice cream with a 23-karat gold leaf for $29.</p> <p dir="ltr">In the mood for a cold drink? The Emirates Palace has got you covered with their Hawaiian Candy Colada, a mocktail topped with 23-karat gold flakes for $26. </p> <p dir="ltr">Tourists have shared videos on social media, with one showing a barista shaking a can of gold flakes over a row of cappuccinos, much like one would with the average cocoa powder topping. </p> <p dir="ltr">Another video posted by a worker shows her adding gold flakes with a spoon.</p> <p dir="ltr">One TikToker who got to try the luxurious coffee wrote, “The gold cappuccino was 8/10 but the vibes were 100/10.” </p> <p dir="ltr">One user wrote, “It tastes like rich.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Another agreed, writing “It tastes expensive.” </p> <p dir="ltr">A Canadian coffee content creator, Brodie Vissers, better known as The Nomad Barista online reviewed the hotel’s cappuccino on YouTube. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Our drinks have arrived, I’m a little bit nervous. It used to be 24-karat, now they’ve reduced it to 23-karat but it is still gold sprinkled on this coffee,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I don’t even know what to expect from this drink,” he said before trying the luxurious drink. </p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s actually not bad. Of course the foam on the latte is not like a perfect flat white or anything. It’s actually not as sweet as I expected. It’s got a nice balance to it. It’s an interesting drink.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We cannot forget about the dates. Having dates with coffee is a very traditional thing here in the Middle East.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Let’s see how that pairs with the latte. Wow, that is so good. I recommend it if you’re around. It’s a kind of unique opportunity here in (Emirates) Palace. What better place to drink coffee with gold on top.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credit: Instagram </em></p>

Food & Wine

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4 things you can take from your hotel room – and 6 you can’t

<h2>What you can take: soap or shower gel</h2> <p>If there’s one thing most hotels reliably have in their rooms, it’s soap. And according to Ousman Conteh, hotel general manager, these mini bottles are OK to take from your hotel room. “Often hotels receive negotiated pricing for items from another brand,” he says. However, Curt Asmussen, managing director of ObieHospitality, notes that it’s not encouraged to take these items – but guests aren’t penalised in any way if they do.</p> <h2>What you can take: Shampoo or conditioner</h2> <p>Much like the mini soaps stocked in the bathroom, the travel-size shampoo and conditioner are also fine to take from your hotel room. Hotels sometimes brand these items too, Conteh says. So taking their shampoos and sporting the hotel brand name can help the word out about a hotel.</p> <h2>What you can take: Anything “complimentary”</h2> <p>Complimentary items could include things like dry-cleaning bags, coffee, creamers, sugar packets and certain marketing collateral pieces, Asmussen says. It’s fair game to take them with you. Joanna McCreary, hotel general manage, adds that some hotels even give exclusive complimentary gifts which you are, of course, free to take. “We love giving people champagne on check-in on peak arrival days,” she says. “We don’t advertise it, but do get a good deal on it, and complimentary surprise champagne you will find is a very easy sell.”</p> <h2>What you can take: Paper and pens</h2> <p>These paper items also usually have the hotel brand name on them and serve as a marketing tool. Feel free to take them with you!</p> <h2>What you can’t take: Sheets and towels</h2> <p>Sheets, towels and other linens are definitely something you shouldn’t take from hotel rooms. As McCreary explains, the hotels’ goal is to prepare the perfect room for the next guest. Taking pricy essentials, like sheets, make it harder for hotel staff to do their job. According to the Telegraph, however, 68 percent of people in a survey admitted they steal linens and towels from hotel rooms. Beware that some hotels can track stolen towels thanks to electronic tags, HuffPost reports.</p> <h2>What you can’t take: Electronics</h2> <p>Conteh notes that in most cases, there are disclaimers on all items that shouldn’t leave the room – especially in the case of pricy electronics. “They note that there will be a cost levied on the room charge if a tablet or other item of value goes missing or removed from the premises.</p> <h2>What you can’t take: Robes</h2> <p>These plush robes are one of the most common items people think they can take from hotel rooms, but can’t, according to Conteh and McCreary. You will be charged! Slippers, on the other hand, won’t be used again and are typically OK to take.</p> <h2>What you can’t take: Wooden hangers, glass bottles and mugs</h2> <p>There is a chance that taking these items from your hotel room could lead to consequences beyond an extra charge to your room – including being “blacklisted,” NBC reports. Hotels keep a record of guests who trash hotel rooms or steal items and might ban these people from booking rooms again. In rare scenarios, some people could get arrested. The Telegraph reports a couple in Japan was arrested for stealing robes and an ashtray. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so only take the complimentary items that you really need. Remember, just because you can take something doesn’t mean you should.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/travel-hints-tips/4-things-you-can-take-from-your-hotel-room-and-6-you-cant" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>This article originally appeared on Reader's Digest.</em></a></p>

Travel Tips

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The most luxurious presidential suites around the world

<p>You don't need to be the leader of the free world to holiday like one. Feel like the commander-in-chief of your own life when you spend the night in one of these fancy hotel suites.</p> <p><strong>The St. Regis New York</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/1-st-regis-nyc-770.jpg" alt="" width="1024" height="665" /></strong></p> <p>It’s only fitting that in the city that never sleeps, The St. Regis New York offers 24-hour access to English-style butlers to guests in the Presidential Suite. You also get postcard-worthy views of Central Park and Fifth Avenue from its floor-to-ceiling windows. While you pretty much have everything you need within the master suite – bedroom, private sitting area, spa-style bathroom, and expansive dressing room – you’ll want to take advantage of the entire 311 square metre suite, which includes an exquisite wood-panelled library and full kitchen.</p> <p><strong>Conrad Bora Bora Nui</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/2-Conrad-Bora-Bora-Nui-770.jpg" alt="" width="1024" height="665" /></p> <p>How do you make an overwater villa even more extravagant? You add a second floor and call it presidential. At the Conrad Bora Bora Nui, the expansive two-storey Presidential Overwater Villas is the ideal venue for relaxation. Indulge in a massage in your own well-being room, sweat it out in your personal sauna, or simply enjoy unobstructed sunset views from the pool, whirlpool, or daybeds in your private outdoor living area.</p> <p><strong>InterContinental Sydney</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/3-Presidential_Opera_Suite_Piano_Gallery-770.jpg" alt="" width="898" height="583" /></p> <p>Blending old-world wonder with contemporary flair, this five-star hotel’s Presidential Opera Suite lives up to its name, offering unparalleled views of Sydney Harbour and its iconic landmarks – including the Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House and Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens – from all rooms, courtesy of its lofty position on the 29th floor. Set across 245 square metres, it has its own private outdoor terrace complete with sumptuous sun bed, while the luxurious interior is meticulously appointed down to a stunning central grand piano.</p> <p><strong>Burj Al Arab in Dubai</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/4-Burj-Al-Arab-Jumeirah-770.jpg" alt="" width="1024" height="665" /></strong></p> <p>You get double the fun in the 667 square-metre Presidential Suite at Burj Al Arab in Dubai. Decorated in royal shades of purple and gold, the two-bedroom suite includes two bars, two loungers, and two full-size Jacuzzis in each master bathroom, not to mention his-and-hers dressing rooms. And to ensure the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had, the hotel offers a selection of 17 types of pillows. You’ll want to tuck yourself into your king bed just as soon as you finish the evening with in-suite cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.</p> <p><strong>The David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/5-David-Citadel-Hotel-770.jpg" alt="" width="1024" height="665" /></p> <p>Renovated in 2016 by Italian designer Piero Lissoni, the Presidential Suite at The David Citadel Hotel offers modern elegance in historic Jerusalem. Oak parquet flooring connects the bedroom, living room, dining area, and study area of the 89 square-metre suite with a furnished balcony running the entire length of the space. Before you explore the local sights, including the Old City, the Western Wall, Tower of David, and the colourful Machane Yehuda market, grab a few complimentary bottles of mineral water and enjoy the delicacies of a full Israeli buffet breakfast.</p> <p><strong>The InterContinental Presidente Mexico City</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/6-InterContinental-Presidente-770.jpg" alt="" width="1024" height="665" /></strong></p> <p>It’s fitting that one of the world’s largest cities is home to one of the largest presidential suites. Designed by Mexican architect Felipe Ramos, the Diego Rivera is 604-square metres of modern luxury and innovation. It’s hard to decide what feature is most impressive about the suite, but it likely has something to do with water: The master bathroom boasts an enormous walk-in glass shower, a steam bath, and a large standing bath, and the second floor offers an indoor Jacuzzi and pool.</p> <p><strong>Waldorf Astoria Berlin</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/7-Waldorf-Astoria-770.jpg" alt="" width="1024" height="665" /></p> <p>Your Presidential Suite perks begin at the airport with complimentary limousine service to the Art Deco-style Waldorf Astoria. Located high above the city on the 31st floor, the 260 square-metre suite offers panoramic windows at every corner. When you’re not taking in the sights down below, you can relax in front of your fireplace, tickle the ivories of your very own grand piano, and eat like royalty on specially-designed porcelain from the Royal Porcelain Factory.</p> <p><strong>The Hassler in Rome</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/8-Hassler-770.jpg" alt="" width="1024" height="665" /></p> <p>Location, location, location! Enjoy the spectacular view of the Spanish Steps from a chaise lounge on the panoramic terrace of the San Pietro Presidential Suite. A well-designed mix of ancient Roman artefacts and modern amenities, the sixth-floor suite at The Hassler has a living room and dining area, bedroom, and two bathrooms. The master bath in white and grey marble, naturally, features his-and-her sinks plus a separate shower and bathtub.</p> <p><strong>Ashford Castle in Ireland</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/9-Ashford-Castle-770.jpg" alt="" width="1024" height="665" /></strong></p> <p>It’s hard not to feel like European royalty when staying in any room of an 800-year-old castle, but the Reagan Presidential Suite manages to take that experience up a notch. Named after President Reagan, a personal friend of the former owner, the split-level suite is located in the oldest wing of the Irish castle and boasts an original fireplace, an antique George III-style four-poster bed, and original portrait art. It’s easy to pretend you’re a member of the royal family with 24-hour housekeeping, a complimentary bar, and a gift delivered daily.</p> <p><strong>The Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/10-Beverly-Hilton-770.jpg" alt="" width="1024" height="665" /></strong></p> <p>The Presidential Suite at The Beverly Hilton is “presidential” in every sense of the word. The historic three-room suite – master bedroom, living room and dining room – has hosted important guests from all over the world. Did JFK, President Clinton, or President Obama relax on the furnished patio or enjoy the spa-inspired bathrooms in your suite before your visit? More traditionally styled, the space features custom-made European furniture thoughtfully chosen to complement the elegant decor.</p> <p><strong>The Franklin in London</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/11-The-Franklin-770.jpg" alt="" width="1024" height="665" /></strong></p> <p>Just a short walk from Harrods and The Victoria &amp; Albert Museum in London, The Franklin combines the charm of an English townhouse with the opulence of a five-star hotel, thanks to acclaimed British designer Anouska Hempel. Its Presidential Suite is the perfect size for two guests and features a private lounge, walk-in closet, and marble bathroom with double sinks. Decorated in rich shades of grey, brown, and cream with modern herringbone flooring, the suite shines with marbled surfaces and mirrors. Of course, it wouldn’t be a truly British experience without your own electric kettle and assortment of hot beverages.</p> <p><strong>The St. Regis Washington, DC</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/12-The-St.-Regis-DC-770.jpg" alt="" width="1024" height="665" /></strong></p> <p>Let the President have the White House. To feel truly important in the US capital, spend a night in the Presidential Suite at The St. Regis Washington, DC. Recently renovated in clean neutrals and bespoke accents, the 233 square-metre suite features upholstery with Italian beading, handmade French trim and tassels, carved French mirrors, and English furniture. While the suite may offer many of the convenience as your own home, you probably don’t have a St. Regis Butler on hand to draw your shades and deliver your morning coffee or unpack and store your luggage. Enjoy it!</p> <p><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-b7779c5c-7fff-75db-00f8-084f39d16030">Written by PJ Feinstein. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/the-most-luxurious-presidential-suites-around-the-world" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA87V" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></span></em></p>

International Travel

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21 secrets hotels won’t tell you

<p><strong>Insider tips to get the best from your next hotel visit</strong></p> <p>Hotel receptionists spill their best secrets – from how to score a discounted room to how to get that Wi-Fi charge waived from your bill!</p> <p><strong>Don't try to bargain with the reservation number we give you</strong></p> <p>The 1-800 reservations number will probably send you to a central office with set rates. If you call the hotel directly instead, you can negotiate.</p> <p><strong>We don't get everything from online booking sites</strong></p> <p>Hotels can pay a commission of up to 30 percent to online hotel booking sites. So offer me 20 percent less than the online price, and we both come out ahead.</p> <p><strong>Don't expect a discount if we are not independently owned</strong></p> <p>Independently owned hotels are far more likely to give you a discount. Some chains baulk at dropping the rate.</p> <p><strong>Give the housekeepers time</strong></p> <p>If you show up at 11 a.m. and check-in time is 2 p.m., please don’t be upset if your room isn’t ready. I can’t make the housekeepers go any faster. And you don’t want them to rush.</p> <p><strong>Ask in private for a room upgrade</strong></p> <p>Don’t ask me for an upgrade when other guests are within earshot. Want a more spacious room without paying more? Request a corner room.</p> <p><strong>Ask the front desk about excursions</strong></p> <p>Some concierges get kickbacks for sending you to pricey tourist traps. If you want an unbiased recommendation, ask me.</p> <p><strong>We all lie</strong></p> <p>Sometimes my boss makes me lie, like when the elevator’s not working and I tell you someone is coming to fix it soon. I know it won’t be fixed until Monday, because the manager doesn’t want to pay the repairman’s weekend rate.</p> <p><strong>Don't call during check-in time</strong></p> <p>Don’t call between 9am and 1pm with a special request. Chances are I’ll have a long line of guests waiting to check out or in and will just want to get you off the phone.</p> <p><strong>Being a maid means a lot of different things at a hotel</strong></p> <p>My official job description: errand runner, toilet plunger, bow-tie tier, towel deliverer and chef (that free continental breakfast doesn’t appear from above). I’ve also sprinkled rooms with rose petals and dealt with dead bodies. All for about a minimum wage.</p> <p><strong>Please take the shower soaps</strong></p> <p>We love it when you steal the soap, shampoo and lotion. That’s why we put our logo on them. But pillows, bedspreads and irons? We’re billing your credit card.</p> <p><strong>Keep it down</strong></p> <p>Even the best hotels aren’t totally soundproof, and I’m the one who has to send the security guard up to knock on your door when someone complains.</p> <p><strong>Save the Wi-Fi bill for checkout</strong></p> <p>It’s a lot easier for me to remove Wi-Fi charges from your bill at checkout than to agree to waive them in advance.</p> <p><strong>Hourly rates aren't a good sign</strong></p> <p>No, we don’t have an hourly rate. You don’t want to be at a hotel like that anyway.</p> <p><strong>Most of us are happy to help</strong></p> <p>If you ask us to, we’ll tell callers you’re not registered at the hotel, or tell you where to park so you can’t see your car from the interstate. But we’re also talking behind your back about what you might be hiding.</p> <p><strong>Always request clean linens when you check in</strong></p> <p>We wash the sheets every day, but blankets often only get washed once a week. And the bedspreads? If there’s no visible stain, it’s maybe once a month.</p> <p><strong>In this economy, everything is negotiable </strong></p> <p>If your hotel offers a hot breakfast buffet as well as a free continental breakfast, ask if you can get the hot breakfast with your room. Very rarely will we tell you no.</p> <p><strong>If you travel frequently, use the same hotel each time</strong></p> <p>Get to know the staff. Regulars are recognised and treated as VIPs. You could get free upgrades, discounts and more.</p> <p><strong>Never use the long distance calling feature</strong></p> <p>Unless you want to pay $10 for a five-minute call, it’s best to specifically ask for it to be turned off. We’ve had situations in which housekeepers have made calls from a guest’s phone.</p> <p><strong>If you request a king bed, there's no guarantee</strong></p> <p>No matter how confident the reservations agent sounds, call the hotel directly and make the request again a few days before you travel. Then do it again on the day of. If we still don’t have one when you get there and you’re nice about it, we may comp your breakfast or upgrade you to a suite.</p> <p><strong>Don't act like you own the place</strong></p> <p>Our policy is to automatically upgrade people if we’ve got the space – but I’m not going to do it if you’re snarky.</p> <p><strong>It seems to have gone out of fashion to tip your room cleaner</strong></p> <p>Most are paid minimum wage with the expectation of tips. Take care of them and they’ll take care of you.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/travel-hints-tips/21-secrets-hotels-wont-tell-you?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Travel Tips

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12 gross things hotels do to save money

<p><strong>Looks can be deceiving</strong></p> <p>Since there’s such a quick turnaround between guests, perhaps it shouldn’t come as all that much of a surprise that hotels aren’t as clean as they should be. In fact – and only read on if you have a strong stomach – one study found that 81 per cent of hotel surfaces contained at least some faecal bacteria.</p> <p>Here’s the issue: hotels are in the business of making money, and one way they keep more of that money is by cutting corners where they think they can get away with it. And we hate to break the news to you, but surfaces aren’t the only things you need to worry about in your guest room, though, of course, some spots are dirtier that others.</p> <p><strong>They reuse the sheets</strong></p> <p>If there aren’t stains, some hotels won’t clean the sheets regularly between guests, says Philip Biton, the co-founder of NDOband who also helps hotels find ways to generate money from their rented rooms. In fact, three out of nine hotels tested secretly didn’t change sheets (insert vomit emoji), according to an Inside Edition investigation. But, Biton says, “sheets should always be replaced.”</p> <p>After all, bodily fluids, hair, and other seriously gross stuff from previous guests could be lurking there. In your own home, this is how bad it is to not wash your sheets every week. Now imagine that at a hotel, with multiple people you don’t know rolling around on them.</p> <p><strong>They choose colourful carpets on purpose</strong></p> <p>The purpose: to hide stains. Let your mind envision any stains you want, and chances are, they’re embedded in your lush, colourful carpet, according to Bustle.</p> <p>Yes, tiles are easy to clean, but those colourful carpets can also be viewed as works of art, according to Hotel Management, so they’re technically doing double duty. The most recent popular colours include greys, brown tones, and non-directional designs with heavy layers of texture.</p> <p><strong>They skimp on washing the glasses</strong></p> <p>It’s easy to make a glass look clean: You simply have to rinse it under some water or quickly wipe it with a towel, especially if the previous guest only drank water out of it. And if the housekeepers have limited time to clean each room, there’s a good chance they’re going to save some of those precious minutes by not washing the glasses properly, according to an undercover investigation by ABC News in 2009. As a result, 75 per cent of the glasses failed ABC’s clean-glasses test. Most were just wiped down and rinsed out instead of being properly sanitised.</p> <p>While this study was the most in-depth on the topic, a more recent look at the state of hotel glasses didn’t find any better news, according to the Daily Mail: instead, they reported that cleaning staff washed the glasses with dirty cloths and with spray that was not suitable for drinking. Pro-tip: BYO reusable water bottles when you stay in a hotel.</p> <p><strong>They don't wash the coffeepots</strong></p> <p>Let’s be honest here: when was the last time you washed your own coffeepot? Exactly. So, you really shouldn’t expect a hotel to do a better job. One ABC News exposé found that hotels aren’t using soap or any other cleaners to clean their coffeepots.</p> <p>And researchers from the University of Valencia examined nine hotel Nespresso machines that had only been used for a year and found bacteria in all of them. That’s why we bring our own mini French Press with us when we travel. We know the last time it was cleaned properly.</p> <p><strong>They don't change their mattresses often</strong></p> <p>Mattresses are expensive. As a result, high-end hotels tend to change their mattresses every three to five years, while less expensive hotels will change mattresses every ten years, according to Traveller.com.</p> <p>Even if the mattress is torn or stained, many hotels will simply hide or clean the issue, as it’s too expensive to swap out a mattress every time there’s a problem.</p> <p><strong>They neglect the pillowcases</strong></p> <p>Often, hotel beds are piled high with pillows, and chances are, you aren’t actually sleeping on all of them. And even if you do sleep on a pillow, do you really leave a mark? The Today Show investigated top hotel chains in the United States and found that many of the housekeepers put the pillows on the chair next to the bed while they changed the sheets.</p> <p>Then, they fluffed the dirty pillows and put them back on the bed. No visible stains equals a reuse. Plus, the pillowcases last longer that way, saving the hotels even more money in the long run.</p> <p><strong>The light switch is never cleaned</strong></p> <p>We all touch them multiple times per day, but the light switches in hotels aren’t cleaned properly…or maybe ever, say researchers from the University of Houston. And this is a huge problem because the light switches – especially those on bedside lamps – are covered in bacteria. Light switches and TV remotes were the worst offenders in the room, according to this study.</p> <p>Since housekeepers are only allotted 30 minutes to clean each room, they don’t have time to wipe down everything, and they also inadvertently carry bacteria to multiple rooms by reusing the same sponge and mop. As a result, bacteria in the hotel rooms were found to be between two and ten times higher than the levels accepted in hospitals. For this reason, you should probably skip the hotel hair dryer as well, or use antibacterial wipes first.</p> <p><strong>They don't change the bedspread</strong></p> <p>The first thing you should do when you get into your hotel room? Don a pair of gloves and remove the bedspread from your bed. Seriously, don’t touch it. Most hotels clean bedspreads just four times per year, according to TravelTruth.com.</p> <p>If that bedspread is colourful, it’s more likely that it’s one of those special ones that’s not changed regularly. It was created to look good and hide stains, saving the hotel money in the process since it doesn’t have to be washed for each new guest.</p> <p><strong>They don't bother with the throw pillows</strong></p> <p>You know, the decorative ones that you toss off your bed and onto that gross carpet as soon as you enter your room? The housekeeping staff simply pops those germ-laden throw pillows back onto your bed – touching your (hopefully) clean pillowcases, according to Thrillist.</p> <p>Super-duper gross. Are their throw pillows ever washed? Are yours?</p> <p><strong>Some have poor water pressure</strong></p> <p>Hotels can save money by controlling the flow of water, according to the Hotel Association. Conserving the flow of water not only saves on water costs, but it also saves money on energy and more – so the hotels may have actually installed low-flow devices.</p> <p>What does this mean for you? Aside from poor shower quality, you’ll also get linens that aren’t so clean and an overall filthy vibe.</p> <p><strong>They don't always change their towels</strong></p> <p>“They utilise the apathy of guests by stating that only towels left in the bath and shower will be changed,” says Jeremy Scott Foster, CEO of TravelFreak. “This can save hotels so much money on labour, detergent and electricity.” Previously, Foster says, all towels not on the original rails were washed. Still, some good does come out of this cost-cutting policy: It benefits the environment.</p> <p>Laundry makes up 16 per cent of a hotel’s water usage, and by not washing those towels, the hotel can save on water, sewer, labour and energy costs, according to National Geographic. This is one reuse we don’t actually mind, especially since we’re the only ones using and reusing those towels.</p> <p><strong>They skip cleaning days completely</strong></p> <p>Some hotels are up-front about skipping cleaning days. They will offer their guests credit if they choose not to have their room cleaned, or alternatively (at different hotels), they’ll tack on additional costs for daily cleaning. These hotels have realised that it’s not cost-effective or necessary to do a thorough cleaning every day, so they’re offering these alternatives to save money.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/12-gross-things-hotels-do-to-save-money?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Travel Tips

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11 breathtaking underwater hotels around the world

<p>Your new dream vacation spot is six metres below sea level.</p> <p><strong>Be their guest!</strong></p> <p>Talk about a tropical oasis! These stunning hotel rooms from around the world share one thing in common: they’re all underwater. So whether you’re an ocean lover by nature or are always looking for your next adventure, take a deep dive into some of these exquisite stays.</p> <p><strong>Conrad Maldives Rangali Island – Rangali Island, The Maldives</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/10/02_-conradhotel_Underwater-Hotels-Around-the-World-that-Look-Too-Beautiful-to-Be-Real_VIA-CONRADHOTEL.COM-770-1.jpg" alt="" width="770" height="500" /></p> <p><em>Image: Courtesy conradhotel.com</em></p> <p>This island resort is famous for its Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, the world’s first all-glass dining establishment completely submerged underwater.  It’s also one of the only locations in the world where you shouldn’t be afraid of sharks staring at you. Above ground, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island provides spectacular views of the Indian Ocean. Stop for a unique massage in the Over Water Spa, tiki hut-style rooms with glass floors that allow you to watch colourful fish swim below you during your treatment.</p> <p><strong>The Manta Resort – Pemba Island, off the coast of Tanzania</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/10/03_themanta_Underwater-Hotels-Around-the-World-that-Look-Too-Beautiful-to-Be-Real_themantaresort-COURTESY-THEMANTARESORT.COM-770.jpg" alt="" width="770" height="500" /></p> <p><em>Image: Via </em><em>themantaresort.com</em></p> <p>The most exciting part of this underwater hotel isn’t even attached to the hotel. It’s called the Underwater Room, your own private floating island where you can sleep under the sea or under the stars.  A boat takes you from the mainland to your little paradise. The landing deck with a lounge area and bathroom is at sea level. Climb up the ladder to sunbathe or stargaze on the rooftop, or head below deck to your bedroom for a nearly 360-degree view of underwater life. Prepare to see exotic fish, squid, and even an octopus during your stay at the Underwater Room.</p> <p><strong>Atlantis The Palm – Dubai, United Arab Emirates</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/10/04_atlantisthepalm_Underwater-Hotels-Around-the-World-that-Look-Too-Beautiful-to-Be-Real_VIA-ATLANTISTHEPALM.COM-770.jpg" alt="" width="770" height="500" /></p> <p><em>Image: Via atlantisthepalm.com</em></p> <p>Atlantis The Palm with its picturesque views of the Arabian Sea is well worth the trip. It was the first resort built on an island and is located on the world’s largest man-made island, Palm Jumeirah, which actually looks like a palm tree. Atlantis The Palm also offers floor-to-ceiling views of the sea in its underwater suites, even in the bathrooms. Guests can dine at not one, but two underwater restaurants, Poseidon Café and Ossiano. The latter is renowned for its seafood, though it may feel disconcerting to eat the same creatures swimming mere feet away from your plate.</p> <p><strong>Resort World Sentosa – Sensota Island, Singapore</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/10/05_resortworldsensota_Underwater-Hotels-Around-the-World-that-Look-Too-Beautiful-to-Be-Real-VIA-RWSENTOSA.COM-770.jpg" alt="" width="770" height="500" /></p> <p><em>Image: rwsentosa.com</em></p> <p>No need to waterproof your mobile phone when you want to take pictures here at this underwater hotel. The Ocean Suites at Resort World Sentosa are similar to two-story townhouses, the upper level being an above-ground patio with Jacuzzi and the lower level a private underwater suite looking into the depths of the Singapore Strait. Guests can see any number of the over 40,000 kinds of fish that live in the area from the comfort of their own beds. Plus, with seven hotels, four amusement parks, a museum, a cruise ship, and a casino all located on resort property, it’s safe to say this resort has something for everyone.</p> <p><strong>Planet Ocean Underwater Hotel – Florida, US</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/10/06_Underwater-Hotels-Around-the-World-that-Look-Too-Beautiful-to-Be-Real_PlanetOceanUnderwaterHotel-COURTESY-PLANET-OCEAN-UNDERWATER-HOTEL-LLC-770.jpg" alt="" width="770" height="500" /></p> <p><em>Image: Courtesy Planet Ocean Underwater Hotel LLC</em></p> <p>While you’re in Florida visiting the best beaches in the US, take a detour to Key West, home of the Planet Ocean Underwater Hotel. Located almost 10 metres below the surface, the hotel’s 12 bedrooms are accessible via a glass elevator and provide a panoramic view of aquatic life. A marine biologist will accompany guests to explain the marine life around them. But here’s the catch: Only 90 groups (with 12 couples each) will be able to stay at the Key West location once it officially opens. After that, the hotel will travel to other locations – Okinawa, Japan, Singapore, and Thailand are listed on the hotel’s website – to bring the experience to other citizens of the world. Better make your reservation fast for this underwater hotel.</p> <p><strong>Utter Inn – Vasteras, Sweden</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/10/07_utterinn_Underwater-Hotels-Around-the-World-that-Look-Too-Beautiful-to-Be-Real_VIA-VISITVASTERAS.SE-770.jpg" alt="" width="770" height="500" /></p> <p><em>Image: Via visitvasteras.se</em></p> <p>We would call this one of the strangest hotels you can ever visit, but technically it isn’t even a hotel. It’s an art project designed by artist and sculptor Mikael Genberg, which conveniently doubles as a hotel room. Guests enter the Utter Inn through a red Swedish-style house floating on the water, then climb down a hatch in the floor for the main attraction: the underwater bedroom surrounded by windows looking into Sweden’s Lake Malaren.</p> <p><strong>Outlaw’s at Al Mahara at Burj Al Arab Jumeirah – Dubai, UAE</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/10/08_burj-al-arab-nathan-outlaw_Underwater-Hotels-Around-the-World-that-Look-Too-Beautiful-to-Be-Real_jumeirah-VIA-JUMEIRAH.COM-770.jpg" alt="" width="770" height="500" /></p> <p><em>Image: Via jumeirah.com</em></p> <p>Burj Al Arab Jumeirah rightly earns its place as one of the most outrageous resorts in the world. Its ambitious architecture resembles a sail blowing in the wind, each room is two stories with state-of-the-art amenities, and Hawksbill turtles are rehabilitated right on the resort’s premises. Its restaurant Nathan Outlaw at Al Mahara famously serves the best seafood in Dubai, and the floor-to-ceiling aquarium gives you an authentic underwater dining experience without actually being underwater.</p> <p><strong>Poseidon Undersea Resort – Katafanga Island, Fiji</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/10/09_Underwater-Hotels-Around-the-World-that-Look-Too-Beautiful-to-Be-Real_poseidonresorts-VIA-POSEIDONRESORTS.COM-770.jpg" alt="" width="770" height="500" /></p> <p><em>Image: Via poseidonresorts.com</em></p> <p>In some cultures, rain on your wedding day is considered good luck. But what about getting married in an underwater hotel? Poseidon Undersea Resort can host wedding ceremonies and vow renewals in its underwater chapel, which has a transparent wall overlooking a coral reef. We’re not sure if a mermaid-style marriage will bring good luck and happiness, but at least it will bring spectacular views. The five-star resort is only accessible via a submarine that you can learn to drive, if you wish. Register online to get notified when the resort starts taking reservations.</p> <p><strong>Lovers Deep Submarine from Oliver’s Travels</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/10/10_submarine_Underwater-Hotels-Around-the-World-that-Look-Too-Beautiful-to-Be-Real_oliverstravels-VIA-OLIVERSTRAVELS.COM-770.jpg" alt="" width="770" height="500" /></p> <p><em>Image: Via oliverstravels.com</em></p> <p>After your aquatic wedding, keep the undersea fun going at this literal submarine hotel. The self-proclaimed founders of the Mile Low Club are on hand to make your submarine stay just the way you want it. Lovers Deep Submarine can be marooned wherever you’d like for your boarding. A personal chef will design your own aphrodisiac tasting menu. Other optional services include a free rose petal scattering service and champagne breakfast in bed. It sounds too good to be true – and it is. Just one night aboard the sub costs $450,000 per night.</p> <p><strong>Subsix at Niyama Private Islands – The Maldives</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/10/11_Underwater-Hotels-Around-the-World-that-Look-Too-Beautiful-to-Be-Real_niyama-VIA-NIYAMA.COM-770.jpg" alt="" width="770" height="500" /></p> <p><em>Image: Via niyama.com</em></p> <p>You definitely don’t want to forget proper dining etiquette when you eat at this luxurious restaurant, which serves champagne breakfasts, prix fix lunches, and gourmet dinners six metres below the Indian Ocean. Getting to Subsix involves taking a speedboat from the mainland and descending a three-tier staircase; you will undoubtedly feel like James Bond in doing so. As the world’s first underwater club, Subsix also throws glow parties twice a week so you can dance with the fish, eels, and sea turtles all night long.</p> <p><strong>Hydropolis – Dubai, UAE</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/10/12_Underwater-Hotels-Around-the-World-that-Look-Too-Beautiful-to-Be-Real_dubailime-VIA-DUBAILIME.COM-770.jpg" alt="" width="770" height="500" /></p> <p><em>Image: Via dubailime.com</em></p> <p>This underwater hotel could join the ranks of the most expensive resorts in the world – if it ever opens. Hydropolis has been in the works since 2005, was supposed to open in 2009, and is still incomplete in 2020. The project has been postponed indefinitely due to costs (only $850 million) and to address the impact the building could have on marine life, but the artist renditions of what it could look like are still breathtaking. The above-ground portion looks like something out of The Jetsons, and the undersea section contains the 220 luxury suites designed with transparent walls. Those working on Hydropolis call it a 10-star hotel. We’ll need to wait until it opens to find out if that’s actually true.</p> <p><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-5030694d-7fff-c881-05b2-7dc89a447fae">Written by Claire Nowak. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/flightstravel-hints-tips/11-breathtaking-underwater-hotels-around-the-world" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&utm_medium=articles&utm_campaign=RDSUB&keycode=WRA87V" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></span></em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

International Travel

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Hotel worker busted going through traveller’s luggage

<p dir="ltr">A traveller has shared a hotel story from hell, revealing he secretly filmed a hotel worker going through his possessions after he checked in and unpacked. </p> <p dir="ltr">The guest captured the footage of a housekeeper appearing to sift through his belongings and look in his safe, after he utilised the hidden webcam on his laptop. </p> <p dir="ltr">Sharing the video on TikTok, the traveller issued a warning to his followers, with the caption, “Pro travel tip: you can turn your laptop into a security camera.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The video then shows the housekeeper helping himself to a beverage out of the mini fridge, before starting to rummage through the wardrobe.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Be careful when you’re travelling. This was the first time I set up a camera and caught this.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Luckily, the housekeeper didn’t take any belongings from the savvy traveller, although they still reported the incident to hotel management. </p> <p dir="ltr">They said the hotel “managed the situation professionally”, and the housekeeper was fired “on the spot”.</p> <p dir="ltr">The guest said when booking the hotel, they noticed a series of reviews mentioning thefts but weren’t able to find any proof, hence they felt the need to set up the camera. </p> <p dir="ltr">The video has racked up over 170,000 likes, with many people in the comment section saying they rely on similar technology to keep their belongings secure. </p> <p dir="ltr">One nervous traveller commented, “This is exactly why I barely take anything out of my suitcase, always keep my lock on it and always travel with the keys.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: TikTok</em></p>

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Former housekeeper shares things she would never use in a hotel room

<p dir="ltr">After working as a housekeeper for many years, Tara knows a thing or two about hotel rooms. </p> <p dir="ltr">The former cleaner has made a frank admission about what goes on behind closed doors when cleaning and tidying hotel rooms for the next guests. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Hate to break it to you, things aren’t as clean as you think they are,” Tara said on her TikTok.</p> <p dir="ltr">She went on to list the things she would never use in hotel rooms after her years in the industry, beginning with basic kitchenware. </p> <p dir="ltr">“The first thing I would never ever use is the coffee pot or any of the glassware.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“Usually the housekeeper rinses these things out in the bathroom sink and dries them off with the same rag they clean the rest of the room with.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The next thing she avoids using or touching is the ice bucket.</p> <p dir="ltr">“A lot of times people just innocently use these as water dishes for their pets but then other times, people do much worse things to these buckets... and I don’t ever want to talk about that,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">She also advises travellers to remove the bedspread as soon as you check in to your hotel room. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Take that s*** off the bed the minute you walk in there and do not put it back on the bed,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“They are so filthy, they only get washed once a year unless there’s a visible stain on them.</p> <p dir="ltr">“So unless someone has puked, bled, p***ed or s*** on them, they do not get washed for an entire year.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Seriously, I’ve seen some things.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In a follow-up video, she explained why parts of hotel rooms are neglected during the cleaning process. </p> <p dir="ltr">“You would actually get in trouble if you took too long to clean hotel rooms and you would get in trouble for backing up the laundry if you’re sending down too many bedspreads and blankets and things like that.”</p> <p dir="ltr">She added, “Totally depends on hotel, training, employee and management but I’m turned off for life because of what I’ve seen.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: TikTok</em></p>

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13 travel secrets only hotel managers know

<p>There are all kinds of suggestions for finding the best hotel deals and getting upgrades, but we wanted to know the insider secrets so we went straight to the source: Hotel managers. Find out the 13 incredible hotel amenities that will make you want to book a room ASAP.</p> <p><strong>Just show up</strong></p> <p>Hotels pay a significant commission to booking agents, so if you simply walk in without a reservation (and the hotel has rooms available), you may be able to negotiate a better price, says Flavio Serreti, manager at Soprano Villas in Italy. “Even if we undercut our website’s listed prices a little, we would still make more revenue than if we had to pay commission,” Serreti says.</p> <p><strong>Be nice</strong></p> <p>Simply being nice and cordial to the front desk agents –since these are typically the people who assign the rooms –will give you a better chance at an upgrade, says Michael Nenner, area general manager for Gurney’s Resorts with properties in New York and Rhode Island. Tipping the housekeeping staff won’t hurt, either.</p> <p><strong>Tweet</strong></p> <p>Most hotels are more connected real-time to their guests through social media services like Twitter and Instagram, and review sites like Yelp, says Patrick Cook, hotel regional director. Chances are good that they will quickly respond to any comments posted from the moment you arrive.</p> <p>“Hotels want nothing more than to surprise and delight you during your stay, so if you are celebrating a special occasion, let the front desk know; if you had a great meal in the restaurant, spread the word,” Cook says. “It’s very possible the hotel will show its gratitude with a special treat in your room.”</p> <p><strong>Don't ask about the best restaurants</strong></p> <p>Instead, ask, “‘Is there a local food or drink specialty that I should experience while I’m here?’” says Ric Tanner, hotel general manager. That way, you’ll be directed to the spots that you really must try.</p> <p><strong>Request a late check-out early</strong></p> <p>The chances of receiving your late check-out will improve if you request it early in the day rather than at the last minute, Tanner says. Since they can only let a few rooms have late check-outs, it’s typically first-come, first served.</p> <p><strong>Bring binder clips</strong></p> <p>Black-out drapes sometimes gap in the middle, Tanner says. If you like a dark room, travel with a few binder clips to keep them snug. “A skirt hanger from the closet will also work in a pinch,” he says.</p> <p><strong>Bring liquor</strong></p> <p>When Michael Wilson, hotel director of sales and marketing, dines at the hotel restaurant, he always takes a 6-pack of local beer or a bottle of bourbon for the kitchen staff to enjoy later. “I give it to our server as he or she takes our first drink order,” Wilson says.</p> <p>“The response from the server and staff is always very appreciative, and they usually send extra bites, apps, shooters –and the chef will usually pop out and say ‘hello’ as well.” Try it with the front desk staff and you may get a free hotel room upgrade.</p> <p><strong>Book well in advance - or at the last minute</strong></p> <p>There are often deals to be found when planning well in advance or waiting until the day before to make your reservation, says Megan Walters, guesthouse manager. “Hotels want to fill spaces and get heads in beds,” she says.</p> <p><strong>Check social media</strong></p> <p>Follow your hotel’s social media pages, as that’s where deals, promotions and sales are often posted, says James Adamson, hotel general manager at Kimpton Hotel Philadelphia, which has a “social password” which can be used at check-in for a surprise like free parking or a bottle of wine.</p> <p>The catch: the only way to find it is on Facebook and Instagram. Plus, when people book through the link in the bio of the hotel’s Instagram page, they’re automatically upgraded to the next room type based on availability.</p> <p><strong>Trust your concierge</strong></p> <p>Your concierge is 1,000 times more valuable and reliable than the online reviews, says Anderson Foote, hotel general manager. Foote suggests looking for the Les Clefs d’Or distinction of wearing gold crossed keys. This is a globally recognised professional organisation of hotel lobby concierges. “Know you’ll be guided well,” Foote says.</p> <p><strong>Join the loyalty program</strong></p> <p>In addition to some great hidden perks like free Internet and discounted food and beverages, you are much more likely to be granted upgrades during low occupancy dates, says Robert Hannigan, hotel general manager. “Singing up during check-in will often get you an immediate upgrade or amenity from the front desk agents who are tracked on signups,” Hannigan says.</p> <p><strong>Book the right hotel at the wrong time</strong></p> <p>Depending on the type of area you’re visiting, look at the shoulder seasons for a particular city, Hannigan says. “If it’s a short term stay, book a weekend visit at a business hotel, and a midweek stay at a resort,” he says. “In addition to a better rate due to lower occupancy, you won’t have to deal with the crowds.”</p> <p><strong>Use the bellman</strong></p> <p>They’re here to assist you, to orient you to the building and are often your best resource for immediate help and recommendations, Hannigan says. “Bellstaff are experts in what the locals are doing,” he says. “They’re a perfect resource for finding out about that hole-in-the-wall bar, or small family restaurant that everyone in the city loves, but is reluctant to share with someone from outside the area.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/travel-hints-tips/13-travel-secrets-only-hotel-managers-know?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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