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When the Classroom Comes With Room Service and Poolside Cabanas



This summer, Michelle Carucci’s family canceled its annual Jersey Shore vacation because of the pandemic. So when Ms. Carucci, who lives in White Township, N.J., learned that The Great Wolf Lodge, a family-favorite indoor water park in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, was setting up a “schoolhouse” and socially distanced activities this fall, she jumped at the chance to take her youngest child.

Gianna Carucci, 11, has all her classes online, and during the mornings of her and her mother’s two-day stay (in the middle of the week, when rates were lower and crowds were smaller), she headed to “Wiley’s Schoolhouse”: a large conference room repurposed to be a socially distanced learning space for children ages 5 and up.

Named after the brand’s wolf mascot, each space is equipped with desks that are placed eight to ten feet apart and fitted with plexiglass partitions. Open Monday through Thursday, the room is staffed to help children connect with their schools, provide snacks and lead break-time activities. Reservations are required for the program, which costs $85 per day. All participants must wear masks.

It would be “nice to have a few hours to myself while Gianna is in school,” Ms. Carucci, 45, a health and fitness coach, said in an interview before their trip. After classes wrapped up, she and her daughter played at the lodge’s water park together.

The coronavirus has left hotels and resorts scrambling for guests as occupancy rates plummeted in the spring. Some properties have tried to drum up business by touting new cleaning regimens, rethinking amenities and offering free nights. Others closed entirely, waiting or unable to wait for the public health situation to improve. Now, with the pandemic ongoing and millions of school-age children juggling remote learning, some hotels are beckoning families with offers of “schoolcation,” including new staffed learning spaces, technology and tutors — even partnerships with museums and other educational experts.

The assorted packages, available at a variety of hotel types, aim to provide parents some help and peace of mind. Prices range from free to hefty.

Usually, families with schoolchildren are tied to their school’s calendar, with vacations often limited to during the holidays, spring break and summer.

But now, for those with the flexibility and desire to travel, “there’s an opportunity for a change in scenery,” said Kathleen Reidenbach, chief commercial officer with Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, a line of boutique hotels owned by IHG.

Kimpton recently introduced a “chief virtual learning officer” to nine of its properties this fall, an on-site employee who will take on this role to help with Wi-Fi, virtual meeting software or other technical needs. Some locations will also provide free school supplies, kid-sized desks or booster seats, snack packs, document printing and flexible checkout times to guests with school-age children.

Ms. Reidenbach said that while many families can now travel in September and October, they may need help managing remote work and school. “We wanted to adjust our programming,” she said, to make that possible. (Ms. Reidenbach has experienced some of the issues firsthand: Vacationing at a California beach with a fourth and an eighth grader, “we needed to find a way to print out work sheets and reading logs,” she said.)

Nancy and Jim Liddell from Darien, Conn., decided to venture into New York City for a few days this month with their three children. The family hoped to go to the newly reopened Metropolitan Museum of Art and to see the new Suffragist statues in Central Park.

The Liddell daughters, ages 9 to 13, attend public school and now have a school week that alternates between in-person and online instruction depending on the day. “We planned to go when class was online,” Mr. Liddell said. Staying at the Kimpton Muse Hotel in New York City, the girls were given festive school supplies and had the desk space and Wi-Fi they needed to attend class.

“The hotel made sure we didn’t have to worry about the girls not being able to complete their school work,” said Mr. Liddell, 43, who works in financial services. He also rented an additional room at a reduced day rate where he and his wife, who runs a line of health and beauty products, could go to for their own meetings or phone calls.

While five Great Wolf Lodge properties are repurposing conference rooms into “Wiley’s Schoolhouses,” the brand is not alone in carving new “virtual classrooms” out of existing space. The W South Beach hotel in Miami, after closing completely in March, plans to reopen in November with poolside cabanas that can be set up with desks, including small ones for grade schoolers, as well as Wi-Fi and a sound system. Prices range from $500 to $700 a day (Private academic tutors are also available, as are personal trainers to provide physical-education classes. Pricing is ala carte.) Also in Florida, the Four Seasons Orlando Resort is outfitting a dedicated staffed learning spaces for a maximum of six children per room, with an outdoor terrace for breaks and craft time. Half-day sessions cost $50 per child.

Some hotels that don’t have the space are partnering with a local museum: Schoolchildren staying at the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach can complete their schoolwork at the nearby Clearwater Marine Aquarium Education Center, in a socially distanced setting, and then can participate in tours and activities with a marine biologist there. Stays include two spa treatments for the parents and start around $479 per night.

Technology offerings are expanding too. At the Domio extended stay hotels, with locations in Chicago, Miami, Nashville and New Orleans, guests can make use of laptop-expansion kits, which include a monitor, keyboard, mouse and power strip. The equipment is free to borrow for guests who book directly through the hotel website.

Hotels are also marketing existing offerings with language meant to catch a parent’s eye. The “Teach by the Beach” package at The Shores Resort and Spa in Daytona Beach, Fla., highlights learning “the physics of waves” at surfing class, biology lessons viewing birds at a nearby nature preserve and history with “a touch of PE” as children climb the local lighthouse. Midweek rates start at about $170. San Diego Mission Bay Resort’s “Recess at the Pool” package includes S’mores and rental bikes with midweek rates starting at $205.

Earlier this year, Kimberly Bolan, a 51-year-old waxing-center franchisee, had planned a short getaway alone with her husband from their home outside of Memphis to the Casa Marina resort in Key West, Fl. But when school for the couple’s three children, ages 13 to 19, went online, the couple decided to take them along. Casa Marina, part of the Waldorf Astoria Resorts brand, offered a “Home School Package” with tickets to local museums and a bottle of wine for “the teachers.” Prices start at about $475 per night, with a four-night minimum.

Their eighth grader, Gabriela Bolan, brought a five-day homework packet and “got started on the plane,” she said, so she would have more time for fun. The teens interspersed swimming and fishing with Zoom classes and work on schoolwork packets.

“It’s a new world and I feel like we should take advantage of it,” Ms. Bolan said.

By: Julie Weed
Title: When the Classroom Comes With Room Service and Poolside Cabanas
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Published Date: Thu, 24 Sep 2020 17:42:58 +0000

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What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?




People have always liked to drink on board flights, especially people from Australia. Therefore, it should be no surprise to anyone that there was an inflight bar offering in the 1970s.

Ansett Airlines were a major player in the Australian domestic market up until their demise in September 2001. For many years, there were two domestic airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) and Ansett.

Ansett’s Inflight Bar

At the time, Ansett operated Boeing 727s, Douglas DC-9s and Fokker F27 Friendships on domestic routes in the country. Airline tickets were quite expensive, with tariffs agreed upon by both airlines thanks to Australia’s weird two-airline policy at the time.

While tickets were expensive and food complimentary, you still had to pay for a drink at the bar. Here is an inflight bar menu from the era, showing the drinks available and their prices.

Clearly the pricing is astounding by today’s standards – 30 cents for a beer? I’ll have thirty-three please! I like how Australian gin is 35c while the imported gin is just 5c more. Which would you choose?

You can tell it is from another era as you can buy cigarettes on board. These price up at 45c, a far cry from the extortionate prices people in the west pay these days for a smoke!

Overall Thoughts

The on board offering is pretty comprehensive for internal flights, and I imagine you’d be hard pressed not to find something you might like. In those times, all payments would have been by cash as well, which would have meant a lot of coinage being handled on board.

Of course, things haven’t changed too much over the years. On many airlines you pay for your drinks just as they did back in the 1970s. Shame the prices aren’t the same of course!

Did you ever buy drinks on board flights from the inflight bar back in the day? Do you still? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Daniel Tanner on via Wikimedia Commons.
Menu image by Ikara on Australian Frequent Flyer.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?
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Published Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:03:14 +0000

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These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?




The shrimp stop swimming at dusk and gather near the river’s edge. After sunset, they begin to climb out of the water. Then they march. All night long, the inch-long crustaceans parade along the rocks.

The parading shrimp of northeastern Thailand have inspired legends, dances and even a statue. (Locals also eat them.) During the rainy season, between late August and early October, tourists crowd the riverbanks with flashlights to watch the shrimp walk.

Watcharapong Hongjamrassilp first learned about the parading shrimp, and the hundred thousand or more tourists who come each year to see them, about 20 years ago. When he started studying biology, he returned to the topic. “I realized that we know nothing about this,” he said: What species are they? Why and how do they leave the safety of the water to walk upstream on dry land? Where are they going?

Mr. Hongjamrassilp, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to answer those questions himself. His findings appeared this month in the Journal of Zoology.

Working with wildlife center staff members, Mr. Hongjamrassilp staked out nine sites along a river in Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani province. They found shrimp parading at two of the sites — a stretch of rapids, and a low dam.

The videos they recorded revealed that the shrimp paraded from sundown to sunup. They traveled up to 65 feet upstream. Some individual shrimp stayed out of the water for 10 minutes or more.

“I was so surprised,” Mr. Hongjamrassilp said, “because I never thought that a shrimp can walk that long.” Staying in the river’s splash zone may help them keep their gills wet, so they can keep taking in oxygen. He also observed that the shells of the shrimp seem to trap a little water around their gills, like a reverse dive helmet.

DNA analysis from captured shrimp showed that nearly all belonged to the species Macrobrachium dienbienphuense, part of a genus of shrimp that live mostly or fully in freshwater. Many Macrobrachiumspecies spend part of their lives migrating upstream to their preferred habitats.

Most parading shrimp that Mr. Hongjamrassilp captured were young. Observations and lab experiments showed that these shrimp probably leave the water when the flow becomes too strong for them. Larger adult shrimp can handle a stronger current without washing away, so they’re less likely to leave the water.

Walking on land is dangerous for the little shrimp, even under cover of darkness. Predators including frogs, snakes and large spiders lurk nearby, Mr. Hongjamrassilp says. “Literally, they wait to eat them along the river.”

And the shrimp can survive on land for only so long. If the parading crustaceans lose their way, they may dry out and die before they get back to the river. A few times, Mr. Hongjamrassilp came across groups of lost shrimp dead on the rocks, their once-translucent bodies baked pink.

Yet most navigate upstream successfully, and scientists have spotted other freshwater shrimp around the world performing similar feats, scaling dams and even climbing waterfalls.

Leaving the water when the swimming gets tough may have helped these animals spread to new habitats over their evolutionary history, Mr. Hongjamrassilp said. Today, the number of parading shrimp in Thailand seems to be declining. He thinks tourist activity may be a factor, and learning more about the shrimp might help protect them.

The study’s authors made “some really excellent observations,” said Alan Covich, an ecologist at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the research. But understanding why the Ubon Ratchathani shrimp move upstream, and how far they travel, will require more research, he said.

“The most surprising thing to me was that it attracted so many tourists,” Dr. Covich said. He doesn’t know of any other example of people gathering to appreciate a crustacean in quite the same way.

“We have crayfish festivals, we have all kinds of things,” Dr. Covich said, “but generally it’s people eating them, not watching them move.”

By: Elizabeth Preston
Title: These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?
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Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:02:07 +0000

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Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?




There are reports that Aer Lingus have applied for 1,500 slots at Manchester Airport for the Summer 2021 season. This will allow the airline to base four aircraft there and service flights to the United States.

At present, there have been no press releases from the airline stating what is going on. Even so, it probably makes sense for the Irish airline to do this in the current market.

Aer Lingus And Manchester

From what is known, there will be three Airbus A321LRs and an A330 based at Manchester. These will operate non-stop services to New York JFK, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, and the season starts on 28 March 2021.

With Thomas Cook having gone out of business, there is likely space for another competitor. New York and Orlando will see competition from Virgin Atlantic, while the other two routes have no airline flying at the moment.

Aer Lingus has been connecting passengers over Dublin very successfully from the UK regions for a while now. Due to this, they will have visibility on traffic patterns, potential yields and more, making this an informed decision.

I imagine they also hope to cream off some of the connecting traffic that routes through London Heathrow on British Airways and Amsterdam on KLM among others. It would prove to be quite successful.

Transatlantic Joint Venture Approval

The US Department of Transport has tentatively given its approval for Aer Lingus to join the oneworld transatlantic joint business. This is operated by American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair.

These airlines coordinate schedules and pricing, share revenues and expenses. For the consumer, it means more choice – those making a booking on British Airways across the Atlantic will also see options on American Airlines on the BA web site as one example.

Theoretically, it would allow people seeking flights on the British Airways web site to automatically be given options to fly non-stop with Aer Lingus, along with the Manchester-London Heathrow-US city connecting itinerary.

Whether Aer Lingus will join the oneworld alliance, even in a oneworld connect capacity remains to be seen. Frequent flyers would welcome it, especially those in Ireland.

Overall Thoughts

No doubt the boffins have been working behind the scenes to see if the business case for transatlantic flights from Manchester stack up. As things have proceeded as far as a slot application, I would guess chances are good that it will go ahead.

Either way, let’s see if this happens and if it does, whether Aer Lingus will stay for the long haul. If they can make more money elsewhere, they’ll up sticks and leave. Regardless, it is an interesting development in European aviation.

What do you think of Aer Lingus starting transatlantic services from Manchester? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

To never miss a post, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
All my flight and lounge reviews are indexed here so check them out!

Featured image by N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons.
Aer Lingus A321neo LR by Pitmanaaron via Wikimedia Commons.
Business class cabin via One Mile At A Time.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?
Sourced From:
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:03:48 +0000

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