Category Archives: Holiday travel

Hotels Poised for Strong Holiday Season Powered by Uptick in Business Travel

Hotels continue hiring spree to meet demand, ask Congress for help with more workers

New York City’s Hotel Peninsula decked out for the holidays. The business outlook for hotels remains strong for the remainder of 2023 thanks to an uptick in business travel and a healthy preference among business and leisure travelers to stay in hotels, the AHLA forecasts © Karen Rubin/

WASHINGTON (Nov. 16, 2023) – The business outlook for hotels remains strong for the remainder of 2023 thanks to an uptick in business travel and a healthy preference among business and leisure travelers to stay in hotels.

According to a survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association and conducted by Morning Consult, 68% of Americans whose jobs involve travel said they were likely to travel overnight for business during the last three months of 2023, up from 59% in 2022. Hotels are the top lodging choice for 81% of business travelers surveyed.

The survey found that 32% of Americans are likely to travel overnight for Thanksgiving, up from 28% a year earlier, while 34% are likely to travel overnight for Christmas, up from 31% last year. Meanwhile, 37% of Americans said they were likely to travel overnight for leisure during the last three months of 2023, down slightly from 39% in 2022.

The survey also found that travel attitudes have largely returned to pre-pandemic norms. 71% of Americans now say their likelihood of staying in hotels is the same as prior to the pandemic, and nearly 70% of business travelers say their employers have either returned to the pre-pandemic normal or increased amounts of business travel. This is good news for hoteliers, as business travel is one of hotels’ main sources of revenue.

The survey of 4,006 adults was conducted Sept. 18-23, 2023.

Other key findings:

  • 45% of Americans said they are more likely to stay in a hotel this holiday season than they were last year. 
  • 44% of Americans said they are likely to take more leisure/vacation trips this holiday season than they did last year.
  • 59% of those planning to travel overnight for Thanksgiving plan to stay with family or friends, while 30% plan to stay at a hotel.
  • 62% of those planning to travel overnight for Christmas plan to stay with family or friends, while 26% plan to stay at a hotel.

“Hotels are going above and beyond to take excellent care of guests as travel approaches pre-COVID levels, and this survey underscores that fact,” said AHLA President & CEO Chip Rogers. “America’s nearly 62,500 hotels are a bright spot for the nation’s economy. To continue growing, they need to hire more people, but a nationwide shortage of workers is preventing hotels from regaining all the jobs we lost to the pandemic. There are a number of steps Congress can take to help address our industry’s workforce challenges. Those include establishing an H-2B returning worker exemption, passing the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act, and passing the H-2 Improvements to Relieve Employers (HIRE) Act.”

More hotel industry facts:

According to Indeed, there are nearly 85,000 hotel jobs currently open across the nation.

As of September, the United States had 9.6 million job openings, but only 6.4 million unemployed people to fill them, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As of September, national average hotel wages were $23.36/hour.

Since the pandemic, average hotel wages (+24.6%) have increased more than 30% faster than average wages throughout the general economy (+18.8%).

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New from Off the Map Travel: Meet Santa Claus in an Adventure-filled Winter Holiday in Finland

A new seven-day, six-night Ultimate Christmas Invitation itinerary transports visitors to the Arctic Circle to meet Santa Claus in his home, deep in the Lapland forest (Inari Wilderness Hotel)

(Rovaniemi, FINLAND)   A new seven-day, six-night Ultimate Christmas Invitation itinerary transports visitors to the Arctic Circle to meet Santa Claus in his home, deep in the Lapland forest. The Finland-based program includes dog-sledding, a visit to a reindeer farm, and snowmobiling. 

The festive journey starts in Helsinki before heading to Lapland with a personalized, handwritten letter and photobook from Santa Claus, highlighting all the ways guests have been “nice” this year and requesting the traveler’s presence at a one-on-one meeting at Santa’s home in Lapland.

Designed to enthrall all ages, the Ultimate Christmas Invitation from specialist travel company Off the Map Travel, creates a personalized experience for each member of the traveling party. Perfect for pre-Christmas shopping and celebrating throughout the festive season, the program is offered from November to January and begins with an overnight in Helsinki in the art deco boutique hotel Lilla Roberts where guests receive a “golden ticket” for the “Polar Express” overnight night train from Finland’s capital city to Rovaniemi, above the Arctic Circle.

“The itinerary builds suspense and anticipation up to the moment of meeting Santa in person. With no queues and a location in the most festive place on earth, the trip is a dream for those who love Christmas and Santa Claus,” noted Jonny Cooper, Arctic travel expert and founder of Off the Map Travel.

Guests can also stargaze and search for the Northern Lights through huge skylight windows in exclusive Aurora loft rooms at Rovaniemi’s contemporary Arctic Light Hotel. The magical city, just above the Arctic Circle is perfect for an immersion into Christmas and for numerous shopping opportunities.

To complete the experience, the tour continues to Inari, a center of winter activities, the birthplace of Finnish Sami, and the home of Santa. There, with winter clothing provided, guests can choose from outdoor programs including dogsledding, a reindeer farm meet-up and sleigh ride, and snowmobiling through the brilliant Lappish landscape.

In Inari, at Santa’s workshop, participants have a personal meeting with Kris Kringle himself with plenty of time to chat about Santa’s feelings about this year’s holiday, his elves and, of course, you.  Since no Christmas holiday is complete without a gift, visitors receive something very special before embarking on a sleigh ride to the Wilderness Hotel Inari, an unusual “round” log cabin resort with comfortable beds, a personal sauna in each cabin, and views over Lake Inari or River Nukkumajoki. In the evening, the cabin’s open fire invites you to cozy up and search for the Northern Lights in the clear skies.

The seven-day, six-night Ultimate Christmas Invitation itinerary is priced from $3806 per person (at the time of this writing) including all activities, transfers, one night’s accommodations in Helsinki , one night’s accommodations in Rovaniemi, three nights’ full board accommodation in Inari, and the overnight train to Rovaniemi from Helsinki. Flights are additional. As with any itinerary from Off the Map Travel, this program can be tailor-made to fit the wishes and requirements of the guest.

The team at Off the Map Travel works with experiences and destinations that allow people to explore hidden wonders of our planet. Specializing in Soft Adventure OTMT creates tailor-made holiday itineraries offering authentic experiences not offered by many larger travel companies.  For more information on Off the Map Travel itineraries visit; call 1-646-701-0041, email [email protected].  

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Belmond Unveils Calendar of ‘Festive Invitations’ Virtual Workshops, Events Celebrating Timeless Traditions

A treasured Thanksgiving past-time, Michelle Weaver, Executive Chef at Belmond Charleston Place, will share a special Southern tradition with her Grandma’s favorite ‘sweet potato biscuits’ recipe – filling the home with the nostalgic and comforting scent of freshly baked bread. The live bake-along will also include the sommelier’s perfect wine pairing for this year’s more intimate Thanksgiving occasion.

This holiday season, the luxury travel company Belmond is presenting ‘Festive Invitations,’ a calendar of virtual workshops and events celebrating timeless traditions that bring us together in a year like no other. From a fragrant winter wreath workshop to the ritual of baking Thanksgiving recipes passed down through generations or mastering the art of hand-crafted Christmas crackers to an uplifting musical season finale – join live via Belmond’s Instagram throughout November and December.


Celebrating a magical winter tradition, celebrity florist and a Belmond Good Living Experience Maker, Simon Lycett will share the steps to create a fragrant winter wreath. Materials for the workshop can be gathered and foraged such as scented pines and berries. The mindful process of creating art using nature’s ingredients is a reminder of the life-enhancing joy of connecting with nature, something the world needs now more than ever.


A treasured Thanksgiving past-time, Michelle Weaver, Executive Chef at Belmond Charleston Place, will share a special Southern tradition with her Grandma’s favorite ‘sweet potato biscuits’ recipe – filling the home with the nostalgic and comforting scent of freshly baked bread. The live bake-along will also include the sommelier’s perfect wine pairing for this year’s more intimate Thanksgiving occasion.


A time-honored British tradition, the crackle and pop of a Christmas cracker is an uplifting festive ritual made for sharing and the anticipation of the gift within. Luxury event designer, Fiona Leahy will host a festive workshop to create the most elegant handcrafted crackers. As a beautiful table setting or gift to share, the crackers can be filled with specially selected and personalized gifts and handwritten messages with promises of brighter times ahead.


Ending the year with an invitation to sing-along with internationally acclaimed singer and pianist, Joe Stilgoe will perform songs from his Christmas album. A musical evening full of sparkle and cheer to stir the soul and lift spirits, we say goodbye to 2020 and look forward to the future.

For shopping and material lists to prepare for each session, visit

“While the season’s festivities may be a bit different this year, Belmond wishes to savor the moments that really matter and make promises for brighter tomorrows.”

Belmond Ltd., part of one of the world’s leading luxury groups, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, has been a pioneer of luxury travel for more than 40 years, building a passion for authentic escapes into a portfolio of one-of-a-kind experiences in some of the world’s most inspiring and enriching destinations.

Since the acquisition of the iconic Hotel Cipriani in Venice in 1976, it has built a portfolio of 46 properties extending across 24 countries, encompassing three luxury safari lodges, two river cruises, seven luxury trains, including the iconic Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, and the legendary ‘21’ restaurant in New York. From historic city landmarks like Belmond Cadogan Hotel and Belmond Copacabana Palace to hidden retreats at Belmond Cap Juluca and Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor, each property has its own timeless story to tell. See

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Smart Lemur Highlights 5 Exotic Places to Experience Christmas Holidays

Christmas Island

In December, natural phenomena, perfect weather and local Christmas traditions make such exotic locales as Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Svalbard, Christmas and Galápagos islands some of the most marvelous destinations for travel.

Smart Lemur, a website specializing in “authentic travel” experiences, is highlighting these five unexpected Christmas destinations, explaining what makes them so special during the holiday season: 

Sri Lanka, South Asia

December in Sri Lanka, an island country surrounded by the Indian Ocean, is the most pleasant time – sunny and not overcrowded with tourists. The average daily temperature for this month is 27°C.

Visitors spending Christmas here enjoy the best tea and cinnamon in the world, exchange presents on the sandy beaches, drink from coconuts and watch wild elephants. Seeing these giants from close up in their natural habitat is one of the unique attractions in Sri Lanka.

Those eager to have more traditional holiday activities, are welcome to visit the capital Colombo, offering festive markets, special dinners, live music events and dance performances.

Mauritius, Indian Ocean

Mauritius, also called the pearl of the Indian Ocean, is a tiny island full of lavish nature, ranging from crystal-clear waters and coloured layers of sand to tropical forests and lively underwater world.

During December, air temperature is likely to reach 29°C, and travellers get to enjoy up to nine daily hours of sunshine. Lovely fuss, preparations, and Christmas songs in such weather allow visitors to experience celebrating Christmas in shorts and flip-flops.

Winter season is the time of abundant tropical fruits and splendid flame trees blooming in bright red fiery flowers. Fresh mangoes, pineapples, litchis (Lychee), Longan (Dragon Eye Fruit) and watermelons grow all around the island.

The most prominent attraction in Mauritius is swimming alongside dolphins.

Svalbard, Norway

Svalbard is one of the northernmost settlements in the world, luring travellers who dream of Arctic Christmas.

From mid-November to late January, this Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean enters into a mystical dark season known as Polar Night. During this period, the sun is hidden from the horizon and everything is pitch-dark around the clock.

Furthermore, winter is the time to hunt the Northern Lights. Svalbard is the only permanently inhabited place on Earth where visitors can experience dayside Northern Lights.

Christmas Island, Australia

Christmas Island is in the Indian Ocean, 1,550km north-west from the Australian mainland.

Apart from its obvious affiliation to Christmas after being named so on December 25th in 1643, the island is rich in spectacular nature.

It is the only place on Earth to witness one of the most incredible natural processes – an annual red crab migration. Bright-coloured crabs from all over the island start marching towards the ocean, all at the same time. And it usually occurs in December.

Furthermore, with 40 seabirds per capita, Christmas Island is a regional leader in this metric. Nature lovers can meet endemic species, such as the Christmas Island frigatebird and the elegant white-tailed tropicbird.

Despite the natural wonders and sandy beaches, the destination is still under the radar, receiving just 2000 visitors a year.

Galápagos Islands, Ecuado

The Galápagos Islands is a volcanic archipelago, famous for its diverse wildlife and jaw-dropping scenery.

December is a warm and dry season with air temperature reaching 27°C. Visitors get a chance to see rare animals like marine iguanas, sea turtles, flamingos, Masked Boobies and White-cheeked Pintails, which tend to stay away during other months.

Ecuador’s rich Christmas traditions make tourists feel part of a big family. The locals sing carols and celebrate with delicious meals like roasted turkey.

Smart Lemur is a website created by a group of travel enthusiasts who are passionate about unique and authentic travel experiences. Visit

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Gift of Travel: Insight Vacations’ Offers Special Discounts to Europe, Eastern Mediterranean, Egypt and Morocco Thru Nov. 8

Sistine Chapel, Vatican (c) Karen Rubin/

For those looking to get their holiday gifts early this year, you can give the gift of travel this season with Insight Vacations’ air offers to Europe and beyond.

Delight your loved ones with wine under the Tuscan sun, a cruise over the turquoise-blue waters of Greece or even a private tour of the magnificent architecture of ancient Egypt. When they travel with Insight Vacations, they won’t just see a destination, they’ll meet it, feel it and taste it. Insight Vacations creates the opportunity to experience countries in depth with deliciously authentic dining, immersive experiences with locals and hand-picked, luxurious hotels— located in the heart of the destination. Our passionate Travel Directors will be with you every step of the way providing a seamless, magical and unforgettable experience.

From now until Nov. 8, you can save 10% on Insight’s immersive vacations to Europe plus $300 off economy air per couple.

Insight Vacations is offering 10% off trips with its popular Early Payment Discount on trips to Europe for those who book and pay in full by December 18, 2019. In addition, past guests and Club Bon Voyage Members can save up to 5%.

By choosing flights with American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair and Iberia, you can save $150 off per person on Economy, $200 off per person on Premium Economy or $300 off per person on Business Class on departures to Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean, Egypt and Morocco from Oct. 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020, and Sept. 1, 2020 to Nov. 15, 2020.

Insights’ immersive trips to Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean, Egypt include:

Best of Italy (11 days): Showcasing Italy’s grandest attractions, this remarkable journey takes guests to historic landmarks with a local expert such as the Vatican Museum, the Bramante Staircase, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. In Tuscany, guests experience a guided visit through the house of the Italian Renaissance diplomat and writer, Niccolò Machiavelli, with a special opening of his private office where he wrote “The Prince.” Afterwards, guests taste wines made from vineyards surrounding the home. They’ll also visit the Italian garden for a view of Florence’s iconic domed cathedral and explore the historic cellar connected to one of the oldest restaurants in Italy by a secret tunnel.  On Giudecca Island, guests will admire the age-old skill of glassblowing by skilled artisans at an arts center, and in Venice they will ride on a gondola while being serenaded through the historic canals under starry skies. Travelers also take a private cruise to the Isle of sun-kissed Capri to enjoy breathtaking views of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Wonders of Egypt (9 days): Guests begin this spectacular journey by visiting the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and viewing the treasures of Tutankhamun with Insight’s professionally trained Egyptologist. They experience the splendor of the Great Pyramids and venture inside one of the inner chambers before gazing upon the mythical Great Sphinx. Clients then take a scenic flight to Luxor, where they explore the massive temple complex of Karnak before boarding their cruise ship then visiting the Temple of Luxor, a UNESCO World Heritage site. On the west bank of the Nile they’ll explore the Temple of Hatshepsut and the Valley of the Kings, home to the magnificent tombs of Egypt’s pharaohs, and visit a working bakery to watch local artisans making authentic Egyptian bread. The following evening clients experience a traditional Egyptian dinner and galabeya party, and on the final day they see the imposing Aswan High Dam, the Unfinished Obelisk, and the majestic Temple of Isis. The trip ends with a ride in a traditional Nile felucca, where clients learn about the art of sailing this ancient craft from a local sailor.

For more information, contact Insight Vacations at 800-582-8380 or visit

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Busabout Brings Europe Home for the Holidays

Busabout offers several trips that allow those with itchy feet to celebrate the holidays in exotic locales among like-minded fellow travelers. These late December adventures combine food, fun, and festivities in European locations steeped in holiday spirit, like New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh, Scotland.

BOCA RATON, Fla.– Free-spirited travelers may well reconsider that old expression “home for the holidays” after hearing about the European feasts and festivals they can enjoy on an end-of-year trip with Busabout.

Busabout, the flexible travel expert, offers several trips that allow those with itchy feet to celebrate the holidays in exotic locales among like-minded fellow travelers. These late December adventures combine food, fun, and festivities in fantastic European locations that are steeped in snow and holiday spirit.

  • Rise Festival 2018 Ski Adventure: Combine hard rigid peaks with penetrating grooves on this ice cool festival adventure to France and England that visits the one and only Rise Festival. Party in mountain bars after shooting down soft-snowy Alpine slopes, mellow-out with meditation marathons in incredible ice caves, and have the chance to mount husky-sleds, helicopters, and snowmobiles. Then attend the unique festival, which merges dance moves with mountain views.9 days; departs December 14, 2018. Priced from $759 pp.
  • Eastern Festive Trek: This December, discover all the jingles and bells of Eastern Europe, and show Santa you’ve been a good little traveler. Stuff your stockings in the markets of Krakow and Vienna, get merry under the mistletoe in the parties of Krakow, admire the craggy mountains around Zakopane, and ring in the New Year in Prague. You’ll also visit Budapest, Vienna, and Český Krumlov. Even if you’re a little bit naughty, we’ll make sure Santa’s little helpers give you a good gift! 11 days; departs December 22, 2018. Priced from $1,229 pp.
  • Mega Highland Christmas (operated by HAGGiS)This is one truly traditional Scottish Christmas to remember. Imagine a Highland setting for Christmas, with lochs, glens and rugged mountains. Then add a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings followed by a ceilidh (traditional Scottish dance party) and a dram or two! A wee bit different to sitting by the TV… eh? Throw in a real Christmas cracker, the magnificent Scottish Highlands covered in a blanket of snow, and have the time of your life with Christmas Day spent in a Highland hotel fit for the royals. Visit Edinburgh, Loch Ness, and Inverness. 5 days; departs December 23, 2018. Priced from $799 pp.
  • Highlands and HogmanayScotland is simply one of the best places in the world to ring in the New Year! On this trip you’ll celebrate it in so many ways: attend the incredible Edinburgh torchlight procession, participate in traditional Scottish ceilidh dancing, attend the sparkling Winter Festival, and party with thousands at the Hogmanay Street Party amid an eye-popping fireworks displays. On New Year’s Day attend the early-morning Aussie and Kiwi New Year celebration before getting the chance to plunge into the sea during the insane “Loony Dook” in the Firth of Forth. This trip also includes a day trip to the stunning Scottish Highlands. 7 days; departs December 27, 2018. Priced from $799 pp.

Busabout offers a distinctive Hop-on Hop-off bus network across Europe and guided Adventure trips around the world, Busabout and its partner companies Shamrocker Adventures and HAGGiS have been helping independent-minded travelers of all ages see the world affordably and without too much hand-holding since 1998. Their “freestyle” form of travel combines the flexibility that independent travelers crave with the best aspects of traditional tours. Sometimes they show you around, other times you are free to explore. Either way, you get plenty of local knowledge of destinations and the chance to make unforgettable memories alongside like-minded friends.

For more information, visit or call 1-844-888-0216.

Created as a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) family of brands, The TreadRight Foundation is a not-for-profit working to help safeguard the planet, wildlife & people for generations to come. To date, TreadRight has supported over 50 sustainable tourism projects worldwide. The Foundation’s guiding principle is to encourage sustainable tourism through conservation, leadership and support for communities. The Foundation’s priorities are set by the Steering Committee. Past project partners include WWF, Conservation International, WildAid, The Travel Foundation and The National Trust in the UK. Current initiatives include supporting various women’s social enterprises, the recently announced Wildlife Conservation Society’s Big Cat fund, and working with inspiring nature advocates like Céline Cousteau, Costas Christ and Terri Irwin. To learn more visit; follow  on Facebook Instagram, and Twitter using hashtag #MakeTravelMatter.


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Wishes Can Come True: 5 Holiday Adventures Abroad

A dream come true: celebrating Christmas on the Rhine.
A dream come true: celebrating Christmas on the Rhine.

The holidays are about making wishes come true. How about that wish for a magical holiday in some exotic place? Here are five holiday adventures abroad:

Christmas in Poland – Visit of one Poland’s famous hand-blown Christmas ornament factories. Learn how to make traditional Polish-style pierogi with your own private chef. Dine with a Polish family for a traditional Wigilia, the Christmas Eve vigil and dinner. Prices start at $3,595.

Christmas on the Rhine – Begin your winter adventure in Amsterdam, amidst the city’s legendary canals and colorful holiday surroundings. Next, visit Heidelberg and Cologne, famous for its majestic Cathedral and bustling Christmas markets. Weave through the fabled Black Forest region and the Alsace region as you make your way toward Basel, then disembark your ship, MS Amaprima, for a visit to two of Switzerland’s loveliest cities, Lucerne and Zürich, where you can enjoy a lake excursion, magical Christmas markets, and pristine Alpine vistas.  Prices start at $4,059.

New Year’s in Russia – New Year’s Eve is the most festive holiday of the year in Russia, with parties, presents, and vodka toasts. MIR Corporation has specialized in Russia travel for 30 years and offers a one-of-a-kind celebratory tour built around New Year’s Day in glorious St. Petersburg, with Moscow merrymaking and a visit to 12th century Suzdal also included Prices start at $4,995 per person.

Antarctica New Year’s Celebration – Ring in the new year with penguins, elephant seals, and first-landing buzz. With summer in full swing, penguin highways are busy with traffic between rookeries and beach as parents hurry to fatten up chicks. Glaciers shed ice with an echoing roar and waterways are alive with feeding and breaching whales. Zodiacs whisk you on whale watching cruises and amongst glorious icebergs. The near-midnight sun powers an explosion of life. What an unforgettable way to start the year! Prices start at $8,725.

New Year’s Cycling Canary Islands – For those who truly long to go off the beaten path, discover the most sought-after places in Europe by cyclists who love to ride all year round. Gran Canaria is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a perfect place for cyclists due to its excellent road network, temperate climate and environment that make for perfect riding conditions. Since the cycling season runs nearly all year long, Gran Canaria is a superb winter getaway which offers a diverse landscape with soaring views of the sea, lush forests, deserts, canyons and volcanic mountains. Prices start at $4,595.


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