Travel notes: Hersheypark to debut 3 rides


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Hersheypark introduces three rides for its 107th summer season that will appeal to all ages.

Cocoa Cruiser in the park's Music Box Way area, is a six-car train ride -- holding up to 12 riders -- that follows a compact oval track, featuring a midcourse helix, or turn, that forms a radius of more than 360 degrees.

In addition, a Tea Cup ride, featuring six cups, and Sweet Swing join the more than 70 rides and attractions at the 110-acre park.

A tilted tea pot is the centerpiece of the ride of tea cups -- each holding two adults and two children. The riders turn the center steering wheel to spin the cups as fast as they want.

The Sweet Swing is a giant bench, in which each side accommodates six riders.

All three attractions have been built by Zamperla Rides of Italy, which designs family thrill rides.

Among other additions, there will be more food offerings and a Hersheypark map app, where guests can find directions, get information on everything from baby food to roller coasters and search attractions by height limits and other criteria.

The park, which will be open on some weekends in April and early May, will be open daily May 21 through Sept. 1. For special concerts, Bruce Springsteen will perform there May 14 and Bruno Mars on July 12.

For details, go to www.hersheypark.com.

Sleep cycle

Hotels offering bikes to their guests as a way to see the local sights isn't new, but some are now taking the concept to another level with souped-up versions of standard two-wheelers.

At 45 Park Lane in London, for example, guests have access to Brompton bicycles in the hotel's signature purple color. Le Meurice in Paris has pistachio-green bicycles with green baskets, gold bike locks and decorations featuring the footprints of the hotel's mascot, Pistache.

The Gramercy Park Hotel in New York recently introduced Lorenzo Martone-designed bikes that are all white with bright red chains and "GPH" license plates. Chebeague Island Inn on Chebeague Island, Maine, has L.L. Bean-designed bikes, and Montage Kapalua Bay, opening this spring on Maui, will have Panama Jack bikes in different styles and colors -- each one will also have touches such as bottle openers.

Besides their good looks, the best part about these bikes might be that using them is free. Misty Ewing Belles, director of public relations for Virtuoso, the luxury travel network, says that upscale properties are putting effort into how their bikes look because of the growing popularity of biking and as a way to extend their brand. "With bike shares taking off in cities, there is a desire to be more mobile in that way," she said. "Luxury hotels are recognizing this and are offering it as an attractive amenity for their guests."

Silence is golden

If you're against letting airline passengers talk on cell phones, you've gained a powerful ally.

The Global Business Travel Association, a trade group for the world's business travelers, has submitted its opposition to a plan by the Federal Communications Commission to lift a ban on voice calls on planes.

The group, which represents about 6,000 travel managers, called onboard calls "detrimental to business travelers." The association even quoted folk singer Pete Seeger, who borrowed heavily from the book of Ecclesiastes when he wrote, "There is a time to keep silence and a time to speak."

Although the U.S. Department of Transportation has already received hundreds of comments in opposition to in-flight cell-phone calls, business travelers carry extra influence.

In 2012, business travel was responsible for $491 billion in spending, or 3 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, according to a new study by the travel association.

The business travel group released its report on the effect of business travel on the same day that the federal government closed its 30-day period for accepting comments on the cell-phone ban.

The Department of Transportation collected 1,752 comments. Based on a survey of the comments, the business travel group agrees with a majority of air travelers who hate the idea of turning an airplane cabin into a telephone booth.

"No, please, no," an anonymous traveler said in a comment to the agency. "Adding voice calls to the ever shrinking confines of a commercial airline would be like sending passengers to hell with gasoline underpants."

Recharging help

Although cellphone calls are still banned on planes, the airline industry has come to accept that nearly every passenger now packs an electronic device that occasionally needs recharging.

United Airlines, the nation's second-largest carrier, announced last month that it is installing nearly 500 charging stations at its gate areas. Each station has six 110-volt power outlets and two USB ports.

The airline said the charging stations would be installed at Chicago O'Hare International Airport by the end of March, followed by its hubs in Los Angeles, Houston and Newark, N.J., and at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. Stations also will be added at LaGuardia Airport in New York and Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans.

In-room hotel extras

Order a club sandwich from hotel room service in Denver and you will spend an average of nearly $12. Order that same sandwich in Los Angeles and you will be out about $17.

That was one of the findings in a study by the travel website TripAdvisor, in an attempt to find out which cities have the highest costs for in-room hotel extras.

To conduct the study, the website collected prices for a club sandwich, the dry cleaning of one shirt and several mini-bar accessories from hotels in 62 cities, including 15 in the United States.

Las Vegas was found to have the priciest in-room amenities, at an average of $68. Denver was the least expensive at $41. Los Angeles ranked the fourth most expensive city at nearly $61.

The most expensive international city was Helsinki, Finland, where the average hotel amenities bill came to nearly $89 -- including $20 to dry-clean a shirt and a whopping $38 for a club sandwich.

Book now for World Cup

If you're chasing tickets for the World Cup competition beginning June 12 in Brazil, your time is running short.

FIFA, the World Cup's organizing body, started with about 3 million tickets to sell for 64 matches in 12 cities. But most of those seats are spoken for.

The best chance at this point may be a hospitality package that combines match tickets with a hotel room or other amenities. FIFA has authorized Match Hospitality as sales agent for those packages. Match Hospitality has authorized SportsMark as its American sales agent. And SportsMark has authorized sub-agents, including Beck & Score (www.beckandscore.com, based in Culver City, Calif.), Cartan (www.cartanglobal.com, based in Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and Jet Set Sports ( www.jetsetsports.com, based in Far Hills, N.J.).

Prices vary widely, but $7,000 to $9,000 a person, double occupancy, for two matches and seven hotel nights, is common. The sales agents are expected to offer hospitality packages as long as their inventory lasts.


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