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Hotel Housekeeper making up bed

Hotels in New York City will provide housekeepers with personal panic buttons. This decision comes after a hotel maid’s charge, last May, that she was sexually assaulted by former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Now housekeepers at all of the top hotels in the city will be equipped with the devices.

The new panic buttons, a 29-percent salary increase and health insurance for workers, are all part of a contract proposal presented on Tuesday to the city’s hotel union. The Hotel Association of New York approved the devices last week, which requires employers to give panic buttons to any hotel worker entering an occupied guest room.

In a recent Reuters interview, association spokeswoman Lisa Linden said, “They can quickly and easily activate these devices to effectively summon prompt assistance to their locations.”

So while we’re talking New York City hotels, check out a few of these Oyster.com hotel recommendations in the Big Apple.

Oyster.com’s NYC Hotel Recommendations
NYC Luxury Hotels
Best New York Wedding Hotels
Best Hotel Pools in NYC
Top NYC Hotel Cocktails
Romantic Places in New York City
New York City’s Best Business Hotels

Airplane Ticket

Looking for cheap airfares? Well, you might notice a couple changes now that the Department of Transportation’s new airfare regulations are in effect. One of the new federal guidelines makes it harder for airlines to hide airfare taxes and fees from consumers.

Published airfares — online, on billboards, in print and over the phone — must include all taxes and fees. That means that that when you book your flight with an airline, ticket agents or online booking site (e.g. Expedia, Orbitz, Kayak), the taxes and fees that were added on at the end of a transaction will now be posted up front for you to see. But, wait there’s more you should know.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

With the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial opening to the public just last summer, this will be the first MLK Day you’ll be able to visit the memorial. If Monday draws even a fraction of the thousands of people who attended the memorial’s dedication in August, plan ahead and prepare for crowds.

Here’s what you’ll need to know when planning your visit:

Location
Off the Mall, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is located in a remote and beautiful 4-acre site in West Potomac Park along the Tidal Basin. It’s close to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial and on a direct line between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials (which makes for a fantastic view and plenty of photo ops).  The official address of the memorial, 1964 Independence Ave, SW, commemorates the year that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law.

How to Get There
Like all the memorials on the National Mall, parking is extremely limited so your best bet is to take public transportation and prepare to walk a bit. The closest Metro stations are Smithsonian and Foggy Bottom. For a longer but more scenic walk, get off at Arlington National Cemetery and walk over the Arlington Memorial Bridge, crossing the Potomac with the Lincoln Memorial ahead of you. Metro has helpful walking directions from all these spots, which you can find here.

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mysteries-at-the-museum_ishi

The year’s almost over, but don’t let it pass by without a nod to this historic milestone: 2011 marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Ishi. Who was this mysterious man? Learn the amazing story of this Native American in tonight’s episode of Mysteries at the Museum. Here’s the backstory:

It’s the summer of 1911, and a man in a fur cape emerges from the wilderness on the outskirts of a California gold-mining town. “To find a wild person in 1911 was extraordinary,” says Christiaan Klieger, curator of The California Museum. Even more extraordinary was the story this man’s life pointed to: He was, anthropologists determined, a member of a lost Native American tribe. But how did Ishi survive all alone? And was he really the last survivor? Learn the full story tonight at 9/8c!

black-dhalia

The bright lights of Tinseltown have lured their share of young women. Among them was a raven-haired girl from Massachusetts who hoped to make it big in Los Angeles. But in the end, Elizabeth Short came to be known as the tragic Black Dahlia. In tonight’s episode of Hidden City: Los Angeles, at 10|9c, host Marcus Sakey explores Short’s mysterious death, which culminated in the gruesome discovery of her mutilated body in a vacant lot in 1947.

Sadly, Short was hardly the only woman whose life ended young — and, in several cases, under mysterious circumstances. Call it the Black Dahlia Club. If you’re planning a trip to Los Angeles, take a detour down these haunted streets; echoes of lives cut short still resound (hat tip: Esotouric and photographer Derek Hutchison): READ MORE

Real Pirates of the High Seas

The mere mention of the word “pirate” can spark images of fantasy and adventure. You know, Johnny Depp aka Captain Jack Sparrow. But in life, pirates don’t just flash smoky eyes and put on a good show. They kill. For real.  Tonight at 9/8c, Mysteries at the Museum offers a heart-stopping look at one high-seas drama.

In April 2009, the Maersk Alabama cargo ship was sailing through the Indian Ocean when it was hijacked by a speedboat with 3 Somali pirates onboard. In the  moments that followed, Captain Richard Phillips was tied up, with an AK-47 assault rifle held to the back of his head. Hear host Don Wildman explain what happened next.

In other cases, it’s travelers who end up in the crossfire. This year an American couple saw their sailboat hijacked by pirates several hundred miles off the coast of Oman. But if you dream of one day setting sail for the high seas, don’t fret. Just be smart about it. Stay current on high-risk waters and travel advisory warnings.

And if you’re looking for pirate adventure (safely tucked in the past), plenty of options await — just check out the links below.

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The Real Pirates of the Caribbean

Finding Pirates in the Caribbean

by Christina Ricchiuti,
PackedSuitcase.com

 

Harry Potter fans celebrate plans for new theme park in Hollywood

Get ready, West Coast Muggles … the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is coming to Universal Studios Hollywood in California!

Just when you might think that our favorite boy wizard’s been replaced by the latest literary craze (I’m looking at you, Hunger Games …) Universal goes all-in and continues to make Harry the cornerstone of its amusement park empire.

This looks to be a good move. The Orlando attraction, which opened to the masses in June 2010, led to a 68% increase in attendance during the first 3 months of 2011 and continues to be a top incentive to visit the older Universal Studios parks. Needless to say, the Orlando version has been a resounding success, and the Los Angeles attraction is sure to draw its fair share of fans as well. READ MORE

Marilyn Monroe

Tonight at 9/8c, Mysteries at the Museum, examines the death of Marilyn Monroe, the blonde bombshell who still manages to fascinate the world nearly 50 years after her death. Her story may have been one of high glamour, but it was also universally relatable. Marilyn was “seeking the oldest of rainbows — to be herself and unafraid,” as director John Huston once put it. That may explain why some 40 books have been written about her. And dozens of actresses have played her. The latest is Michelle Williams, whose turn as MM in My Week With Marilyn, is already generating Oscar buzz.

But for all the focus on Marilyn “the lost girl,” another part of her story remains equally fascinating: the circumstances surrounding her death. In tonight’s episode of Mysteries at the Museum, host Don Wildman explores some very unsettling questions. Like, what exactly was Marilyn Monroe’s housekeeper doing on the night Marilyn died? And whatever happened to Marilyn’s diary-gone-missing? (The one in which she probably had a thing or 2 to say about the Kennedy brothers.) Did Marilyn simply die from an overdose? Or did she know too much?

Check out our sneak peak for clues and tune in tonight for Mysteries at the Museum at 9/8c to find out more.

Organic Skincare Products for Men

Tis’ the holiday season! Christmas is right around the corner, and finding the perfect gift for your significant other can be a hassle. Well, Travel Channel already has a few gift guides on the website, but we wanted to include a few gift-giving suggestions for the consummate gay traveler.

The Gift Guide for the Gay Guide is not only for the gay traveler, but it’s for women or that stylish straight guy who’s always on the go. Our list includes something for everyone, including skincare products, a unique relaxation mat, an emergency roadside spotlight/beacon and much more. READ MORE

By  The Lost Girls

The Lost Girls in Time Square

Soaring ticket prices, delayed/canceled flights, bumper-to-bumper traffic and misplaced luggage—all part of the festive homecoming experience—can turn even the most put-together Lost Girl into a cheerless Grinch.

Here are just a few of the ideas that we’ve tried and traded amongst ourselves…all of which have helped us sidestep the most frustrating seasonal travel hassles. And if you wouldn’t mind sharing your own tips and strategies in the comments below, we’d consider it your holiday gift to us! 

Amanda’s Tips

Holiday Saver #1:  Don’t accept the first price—from any online source: For the longest time, I figured all airline ticket search engines, spit out the exact same fares for identical flights. Not so! After finding the “lowest-possible” (but still expensive) fare on a round-trip flight over Thanksgiving weekend on my favorite booking engine, I did a little more digging—and realized I could save nearly $100 by booking a series of one-way tickets on my airline’s own website. Because you can also cancel online reservations, penalty-free, within 24 hours of booking, I was able to make the change—and book the least expensive flight home. READ MORE

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