Is this the year that hotels end the dreaded resort fees?

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The pandemic has put hotels in a tailspin and they are dreaming up ways to fill rooms and generate revenue. One of the very few positive things to come out of this COVID mess has been that almost all hotels have suspended charging resort fees. Prior to this year many hotels and resorts charged a $25 to $75 a day resort fee in addition to the room rate when you checked into the hotel. These often “hidden fees” were nothing more than a way for hotels to increase their revenues as much as 50% with little transparency to the traveler. Let’s hope that this is the last we see of these hidden hotel fees.

Hawaii is finally opening up on October 15 for travelers who test negative to COVID – United Airlines last week announced they are offering a rapid COVID test for travelers prior to boarding flights to Hawaii from their SFO hub. Those travelers testing negative will not have to quarantine for 14 days when they arrive in Hawaii. This will basically open up travel to the Aloha state which has been shut down for over 8 months.  This might be a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit the Hawaiian islands for the next 90 days as there will be very few tourists until the airline infrastructure can be rebuilt later next year. The only bad news is that we understand the COVID tests being offered by United Airlines cost as much as $250 a person which in some cases can be more than the cost of a cheap airline ticket from the coast to Hawaii.  CLICK HERE to read more.

I am betting COVID testing will open up international travel soon – Many countries around the world require that a traveler must quarantine for 14 days upon the arrival. Obviously, this puts almost all international travel in a practical state of limbo. With the new COVID testing packages that will soon be available, this will make it easier for countries to open up without a 14-day quarantine. The new $5 Abbott BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Ag Card offers results in 15 minutes and I think will be the magic needed to start international flying back up. The company says they will offer up to 50 million tests in October. I predict that all airlines will require that international travelers use these or other tests before they allow international travelers into their country. CLICK HERE to read more about this new test.

Expect outdoor dining for restaurants to continue this winter – Thousands of restaurants have closed because of COVID. The ones that have survived have often been able to build outdoor dining areas to supplement the limited indoor seating allowed by health officials. (25% to 50% of pre-COVID seating). New York City just announced that their outdoor seating will become permanent. In some cities, whole streets have been closed to allow for the extension of restaurants to build tents and seating outside. Outside seating will be fun in October but they better have a lot of patio heaters and sheepskins to keep people warm and cozy when the snow starts falling. Many restaurants in Europe offer year-round outdoor restaurant seating that is warm and cozy and has a fun and festive feel to it. Let’s hope we can duplicate that atmosphere here this winter.  CLICK HERE for a good article and pictures of some fun looking outside seating.

Here is an amazing fall foliage map that predicts when is the best time to catch peak color each year – One question that people constantly ask me is when should they visit different parts of the U.S. to experience fall foliage during peak color. The map below offers a week by week look at different parts of the country and when they offer the best fall foliage experience. CLICK HERE to see the 2020 Fall Foliage Map.

I’m worried about our airline partners– I know it is sometimes hard to love the airlines as historically they have offered service that is frustrating, irrational, and impersonal. But in the next few days, all the major airlines are basically facing the possibility of having to lay off tens of thousands of employees as the travel industry has not rebounded as they had hoped.  I would have bet a nickel that Congress would have offered another support package for the airlines this week but it appears politics got in the way. My best guess is the airlines will now have to buckle down and cut about 50% of their flights and schedules to be able to remain financially solvent. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the airline staff that has been and will be laid off by the effects of this monster pandemic.

Guess when I will get my passport renewal back and win a free airline ticket – Despite the U.S. Department of State’s warning against sending in your application to renew your passport because of limited staffing, I decided to mail my passport renewal application and check in on Wednesday, September 16. Experts are predicting it could take months upon months to get a passport renewed while some friends said it has taken them as little as 8 weeks. I have had so many people say they are following my saga that I have decided to add a little fun into the waiting game by offering one free airline ticket (continental U.S.) to the person who guesses the date that I receive my new passport back in the mail from the Department of State. Simply click the link below and guess the correct date and you will be the winner of a FREE airline ticket. (If multiple people guess the same date we will draw the winner from a hat). Have fun! Get your friends and neighbors in on the action.