Photo: Nina Kokotas Hahn
This past weekend, Grand Hotel (286 Grand Ave., 800-334-7263) threw open its doors to kick off its 127th season with Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor, a brand-new ice cream shop exclusively scooping Michigan-based Hudsonville Ice Cream, a classic brand that is a perfect match for the old-fashioned summer retreat. But the big news is the $126 room rate, offered now through May 20; watch for prices during the peak summer season to climb to $600 a night. Plot your spur-of-the-moment pre-summer excursion with Chicago magazine’s weekend guide to Mackinac Island.
Travel Tech: Still Nickled and Dimed for Hotel WiFi, But Things Are Getting Better
A recent report reveals that more hotels than ever before—roughly two thirds worldwide—are offering free WiFi. “Free” means outright free, free if you join a loyalty program, or free with some other caveat. While the trend suggests that hotels are finally wising up to the age of always-on access to the Internet, you may be appalled to find out that a few luxury brands are guilty of assessing the most criminally steep WiFi fees (think $20-plus a day). Read HotelChatter’s 2013 WiFi Report for the whole picture.
New and Shiny: Brass is Out! The Biggest Hyatt in the World Just Got a Makeover
Marking the completion of a three-year $168 million dollar overhaul that included new guest rooms and restaurants, Hyatt Regency Chicago (151 E. Upper Wacker Dr., 312-565-1234) unveiled its new East Tower Lobby last week. The largest Hyatt in the world has redressed its soaring two-story lobby in black beams and big white spaces that connect the concierge areas with new entertainment options, including Big Bar, which claims to be the longest freestanding bar in the world. Condé Nast Traveler has a slideshow.
Pocketbook Issues: Why Your Airplane Ticket Is So Expensive
Remember when it was possible to find cheap airfares to the best destinations—$99 one-way to San Fran!— far beyond the Midwest? Sadly, except for the occasional flash sale and spontaneous fare wars, “the age of rock bottom prices are simply over,” writes travel blogger Nomadic Matt. He cites decreased competition and high fuel prices, among other reasons. Read Matt’s take on the new normal.
Go Now: Do Something Grange-y in Healdsburg, California
Shed (25 North St., 707-431-7433)—a locally-driven market, café, and events center rolled into one lovely two-story space—opened on April 15 in downtown Healdsburg. “Our vision was to create a place that celebrates good farming, good cooking, and good eating,” says Cindy Daniel, who runs Shed and a nearby farm with her husband, Doug Lipton. Go before the masses find out and take along Chicago’s Sonoma County travel guide.