first_imgIndian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) celebrated its second ‘Capital Markets Day’ on February 19 at Taj Lands End, Mumbai. Touted as South Asia’s largest hospitality chain, IHCL reaffirmed Aspiration 2022, besides throwing light on new initiatives.Speaking of the event, Puneet Chhatwal, MD & CEO, IHCL said, “The management is pleased with the progress in its first year of Aspiration 2022. The reimagined brandscape with its portfolio of distinct brands allowed us to deliver a robust development pipeline. The Company scaled up its inventory with the signing of 20 new hotels adding approximately 3,000 rooms across key cities such as London, Dubai, Makkah, New Delhi and Kathmandu. Strong fundamentals helped us drive higher returns through focused initiatives for margin expansion and asset management. All our employees have rallied around this one unifying goal and have helped the Company stay motivated on executing the strategy.”Driven by the zeal to continue upholding the Taj legacy, IHCL plans to move forward with a focus on wholesome portfolio growth, operational excellence and sustainability in the hospitality industry. This year, the company has already achieved several milestones in retaining its iconic status. IHCL has retained Taj Mahal in New Delhi, renewed the contract for Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur and won the bid for The Connaught in Lutyens’ Delhi.Taj Aravali Resort & Spa Udaipur; Taj Theog Resort & Spa, Shimla; Vivanta Kathmandu and Vivanta Katra have already been added to the Taj portfolio alongside SeleQtions which will be rolled out by end of March.Capital Markets Day was the chosen occasion for IHCL to announce the launch of AMA Trails & Stays, its first-ever foray into plantation stays and homestays. AMA plantation will comprise nine heritage bungalows in Coorg and Chikmagalur along with two more in Goa. AMA homestays will begin operation with two bungalows in Candolim, Goa.The occasion also witnessed the unveiling of a new brand logo for TajSATS, a company veteran in providing in-flight catering at Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Goa and Bengaluru.Capital Markets Day saw IHCL putting their best foot forward, reminiscing the past and planning for a successful future. IHCL will continue to strive for all-around excellence in the coming days.last_img read more


first_imgInspector: Better Guidance Needed from FHFA on Multifamily Loan Exams Share The “”Office of the Inspector General””:http://www.fhfaoig.gov/ for the “”Federal Housing Finance Agency””:http://www.fhfa.gov/ (FHFA-OIG) says in a new report that the agency needs to provide better guidance for investigators examining the GSEs’ multifamily loan portfolios.[IMAGE]In the “”report””:http://origin.www.fhfaoig.gov/Content/Files/AUD-2013-004.pdf, OIG notes rental demand has increased dramatically since the housing crisis, with an estimated 4.9 million new renters hitting the market since 2006. However, private sector financing has been somewhat dry, giving “”Fannie Mae””:http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/index.html and “”Freddie Mac””:http://www.freddiemac.com/ a dominant presence in the multifamily secondary market. As of December 2011, the two Enterprises collectively held about 33.8 percent ($285 billion) of outstanding multifamily mortgage debt.Given the size of their investment and their dominant role in the secondary market, OIG says it is “”imperative”” for FHFA–as conservator of the GSEs–to supervise Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s multifamily businesses and ensure underwriting standards are being upheld.While FHFA has been active in conducting targeted examinations of the Enterprises’ portfolios, the inspector general says the practices used by examiners need improvement.For example, FHFA’s Fannie Mae examiners pulled a random pool of 60 loans in the GSE’s portfolio and reviewed only 30 “”due to resource constraints.”” While OIG acknowledges the sample used “”may have been adequately representative,”” the examiners failed to retain documentation that would allow the inspector’s office to fully assess the sampling methodology.On the other hand, the Freddie Mac examiners reviewed a more limited sample of 17 loans and specifically excluded 829 multifamily loans valued at approximately $11.5 billion because those loans may contain additional “”nuances”” like credit enhancements.Further, while the Freddie Mac sample had an average multifamily loan size of $13 million, only one sampled loan actually exceeded that amount. As a result, OIG says the sample may not have given FHFA reasonable assurance of asset quality.””Not only are larger loans inherently more risky–one $90 million loan in default may be worse than nine $5 million loans in default–but Freddie Mac’s underwriting requirements become more restrictive as loan values and risks rise,”” OIG comments in the report. “”Because the largest loan FHFA examined was $18 million, whereas the overall population included loans up to $205 million, these more restrictive underwriting standards were effectively outside of the examination’s review.””OIG attributes the difference in sampling techniques used by the two investigative teams to the absence of FHFA policies of procedures on how to collect samples for review. In contrast, many of FHFA’s industry peers (and its Federal Home Loan Bank examiners) have adopted sampling guidance that requires representative or proportional methods to select adequate samples from loan populations.These examinations are particularly critical to supervising risk given indications that the Enterprises are expanding their multifamily books of business and have relaxed some of their underwriting standards in the past. These standards have a direct, material impact on the level of risk associated with their multifamily loans. Thorough FHFA oversight is key to balancing these risks with the potential returns in order to ensure that the taxpayers’ interests are protected,”” OIG concludes.FHFA issued a response to the report, agreeing that “”there is an opportunity to enhance [FHFA’s] supervisory approach by providing additional guidance to examiners in the area of sample selection, specifically for the review of multifamily loans.”” The agency said it is in the process of developing such guidance. in Origination, Secondary Marketcenter_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Fannie Mae FHFA Freddie Mac Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Rental Properties Service Providers Underwriting Standards 2013-02-22 Tory Barringer February 22, 2013 444 Views last_img read more


first_img February 26, 2013 432 Views Major commercial real estate (CRE) sectors continue to improve, albeit at a slow pace, the “”National Association of Realtors””:http://www.realtor.org/ (NAR) said in its latest quarterly CRE forecast.[IMAGE]The outlook, published by NAR’s Research Division, projects national vacancy rates to decline across all commercial sectors in the next year, with the largest drop hitting the office sector as “”gradual economic improvement and job creation [drive] absorption of space.””In the office market, vacancy rates are forecast to fall from a projected 16.0 percent in the first quarter of this year to 15.6 percent in the first quarter of 2014. At the same time, office rents are expected to increase 2.6 percent in 2013 and 2.8 percent next year, building on the 2.0 percent growth seen in 2012. Net absorption of office space in the United States–which includes the leasing of new space coming on the market as well as space in existing properties–is expected to total 34.0 million square feet this year and 42.3 million square feet in 2014.Industrial vacancy rates are “”likely to decline from 9.6 percent in the first quarter of this year to 9.2 percent in the first quarter of 2014,”” NAR said, with net absorption of industrial space totaling 121.8 million square feet this year and 103.5 million next year. Annual industrial rents are projected to rise 2.3 percent this year and 2.6 percent next year after rising 1.7 percent in 2012.Meanwhile, in the retail sector, vacancy rates are forecast to slide from 10.7 percent in Q1 2013 to 10.4 percent in Q1 2014. Net absorption of retail space is seen at 11.9 million square feet in 2013 and 16.4 million in 2014.Average retail rents will likely rise 1.5 percent this year and 2.1 percent next year. Retail rents rose about 0.8 percent last year.The multifamily market is forecast to see the smallest decline in vacancy rates as space remains tight, NAR said. Vacancy rates in the apartment rental sector are forecast to ease from 4.0 percent in 2013’s first quarter to 3.9 percent at the same time next year. NAR explained that vacancy rates below 5 percent “”generally are considered a landlord’s market with demand justifying higher rents.””””Rent increases have been higher in multifamily housing where supply is not matching strong demand, thereby allowing landlords to raise rents at faster rates,”” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR.Average apartment rents are expected to increase 4.6 percent this year and 4.7 percent in 2014 after rising 4.1 percent last year. NAR Forecasts Strong Demand, Falling Vacancy in CRE Sectors Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Commercial Real Estate Investors Jobs Lenders & Servicers National Association of Realtors Processing Rental Properties Service Providers 2013-02-26 Tory Barringercenter_img Share in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicinglast_img read more


first_img When purchasing a home, it’s important to consider the extra or hidden costs. Many homeowners are blissfully unaware of just how much these additional fees can costs on top of their mortgage. Zillow and Thumbtack recently released a study that found homeowners can pay more than $9,000 in hidden and home maintenance costs every year.Zillow and Thumbtack calculated several unavoidable, hidden costs like property taxes and insurance, as well as some commonly forgotten maintenance costs like yard care and carpet cleaning to help buyers be more prepared for additional costs associated with homeownership. Data for this study was taken for the entire nation and across 15 metros.”Home buyers too often fixate on the sticker price or monthly mortgage payment on a house, and don’t budget for the other expenses associated with ownership–which can add up quickly,” said Amy Bohutinsky, Zillow CMO. “For example, new buyers can get really excited about having a backyard of their own for the first time, without budgeting for how they plan to maintain that space.”According to the study, homeowners pay an average $6,042 per year in unavoidable hidden costs, nationally. This includes homeowners insurance, property taxes, and utilities. Homeowners in the Boston metro have the highest property taxes and can expect to pay $9,413 annually, the highest amount of all the markets analyzed. Meanwhile, in Phoenix, homeowners pay an average $4,513 for these same additional costs.Those that prefer to outsource when it comes to cleaning their home or doing yardwork, instead of using the do-it-yourself method, still find themselves spending an equally comparable amount on additional expenses, the study found. Thumbtack users visit the site to request help for house cleaning, yard care, gutter cleaning, carpet cleaning, and pressure washing. On a national level, these tasks add up to an average $3,435 per year. In San Francisco, homeowners will pay the highest amount in the metros reviewed at $4,653 per year, compared to Denver homeowners who pay around $2,782 for the same projects.”Maintaining a home is time consuming and costly, and in some regions hiring help gets you more bang for your buck than in others,” says Jon Lieber, Thumbtack chief economist. “As we know, this winter was especially harsh in some parts of the country, and in the aftermath, homeowners can face a lot of unexpected expenses to keep their home in top condition. It’s imperative for buyers to consider these inherent maintenance costs when budgeting for their big purchase.”Click here to view Zillow’s and Thumbtack’s complete study. in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News Hidden Costs Thumbtack Zillow 2015-06-18 Staff Writer Sharecenter_img June 18, 2015 462 Views Homeowners Could Spend Up to $9,000 Every Year in Hidden Costslast_img read more


first_img June 14, 2017 820 Views in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, Headlines, News FOMC Interest rates Janet Yellen Mortgage Interest Rates the fed 2017-06-14 Joey Pizzolato The Federal Open Market Committee voted Wednesday to raise interest rates for the second time this year to 1-1.25 percent, a move that was widely expected amongst economists and industry professionals and described as “prudent” by FOMC Board of Governors Chair Janet Yellen. Back in March, they voted to increase the rate a modest quarter of a point to maintain the Fed’s goal of maximum employment and market stability. The FOMC is of the opinion that waiting too long to scale back accommodations could potentially cause a rapid increase in rates, which could disrupt the market and send the economy into another recession. June’s rate increase reflects this continued belief, and follows Janet Yellen’s comments from March that, “we continue to expect that the ongoing strength of the economy will warrant gradual increases in the federal funds rate to achieve and maintain our objectives.” It is currently unclear how the hike in interest rates will affect mortgage rates. On Tuesday, Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, stated he didn’t foresee mortgage interest climbing much—if at all—because rates are more closely tied to a 10-year Treasury bond, something that is not really affected by short term rate hikes made by the Fed. Conversely, Brad Walker, CEO of Income&, thinks it will have a short term effect on mortgage rates. “We expect to see an increase in mortgage rates in the short term, just as we did with the two previous increases. However, current housing demand and its effect on housing prices can diminish or exacerbate this rise in mortgage rates.”What is clear, according to Curt Long, Chief Economist of the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU), is that the Fed’s choice to increase rates is a good sign for the future.“The actions taken by the Fed reflect confidence in the labor market and a perception that global risks have declined in the first six months of the year,” he said. “Nevertheless, the outlook for the second half is uncertain. Inflation has slowed recently and the debt ceiling debate poses political risk. But with the Fed stating its intentions to start reducing the size of the balance sheet this year, it is offering a clear vote of confidence for the economy.” In Wednesday’s press conference, and in the previously released addendum to the Policy Normalization Principles and Plans, Yellen confirmed that “changing the target range for the federal funds rate is its primary means of adjusting the stance of monetary policy.” As such, NAFCU is reporting that one more quarter-point rate hike is due in 2017, three in 2018, and three to four in 2019, although the FOMC made it very clear that they are constantly amending their stance as the economy changes, so nothing is set in stone. The FOMC is scheduled to meet again July 25-26. center_img FOMC Hikes Interest Rates; Will Mortgage Rates Follow? Sharelast_img read more


first_imgOf Mortgage Rates and Refis in Daily Dose, Featured, News The extended period of low mortgage rates is drawing to a close, but it’s definitely left its mark on the U.S. housing market. According to a new report by the Urban Institute, 91 percent of mortgages as of September had average rates below 5 percent.By comparison, there were almost no mortgages with rates that low in 2001 and less than a quarter of U.S. mortgages had rates that low in 2010.But while that’s been good for consumers, Urban Institute reports that it’s been less of a positive for the GSEs.“One consequence of the increase in mortgage rates is that the pool of borrowers who are able to save money by refinancing their mortgages has shrunk substantially,” the report states. “We have seen this in recent months, as the refinance share for all three agencies has plummeted.”According to the report, all three agencies were at or near their lowest point for refis in recent history in August. The refinance share for all three agencies grew slightly in September, but refinance was much lower than it was a year prior.September shares finished at 32 for Fannie Mae, 26.5 for Freddie Mac, and 21 for Ginnie Mae.“This also has implications for the options homeowners have for extracting equity from their homes,” the report states. Typically, these include cash-out refinances, home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs.According to the institute, the cash-out refinance share of conventional refinance mortgages rose to 77 percent in Q2. That’s the highest level since the third quarter of 2008 when the share was 78 percent.“In 2008, however, the cash-out spike was due to borrowers overleveraging their homes,” the report states. Today’s numbers are attributable to the reduction in rate refinances.The effects on loan originations have been slight. According to the report, first lien originations totaled $820 billion in Q2, which was down only a bit from Q2 of 2017. That’s mostly due to higher interest rates.The share of portfolio originations was 32 percent in the first half of 2018, up from 30 percent in 2017, the report states. The GSE share was around 44 percent, down from 46 percent in 2017. The FHA/VA share was slightly down: 22 percent for the first half of this year, versus 23 percent in 2017.Origination of private-label securities was under just under 2 percent, which was higher than the 2017 share of 0.6 percent. November 1, 2018 733 Views center_img homes HOUSING Mortgage Rates Refis The Urban institute 2018-11-01 Scott_Morgan Sharelast_img read more


first_img U.S.-based retail chain Walmart says it is disappointed that British regulators have blocked a merger between its U.K.-subsidiary, Asda, and rival Sainsbury’s.The proposed tie-up between the U.K.’s second and third-largest retailers – which would have created the country’s largest supermarket chain – was halted by the U.K.’s competition watchdog on Thursday over fears it would raise prices for consumers.The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) also said it would raise prices at the supermarkets’ petrol stations and lead to longer checkout queues.On Friday, Walmart said that despite “the clear customer benefits of the proposed merger”, as a result of the CMA’s findings, Asda, its parent Walmart and Sainsbury’s have mutually agreed to terminate the transaction.“We have been clear from the beginning of the proposed merger about two things. Firstly, that retail is rapidly changing and standing still is not an option, and secondly that we will always ensure our international markets are strong local businesses powered by Walmart,” said Judith McKenna, CEO of Walmart International. April 26 , 2019 You might also be interested in “The UK remains one of the most competitive retail markets in the world and Asda’s seven consecutive quarters of year-on-year growth show it is a strong business with a clear strategy and focused leadership.”It was against that backdrop that we decided to explore the proposed merger with Sainsbury’s – an opportunity which would have further strengthened the Asda business and delivered real benefits for UK customers.”While we’re disappointed by the CMA’s final report and conclusions, our focus now is continuing to position Asda as a strong UK retailer delivering for customers. Walmart will ensure Asda has the resources it needs to achieve that.”Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe said the regulator was “effectively taking £1bn out of customers’ pockets”.The deal would have created the UK’s biggest supermarket chain, accounting for £1 in every £3 spent on groceries. Sainsbury’s and Asda had said the planned tie-up would have cut their costs, allowing them to lower prices for consumers across the U.K.Analysts say that the proposed merger was part of the companies’ strategy to better compete with discounters like Aldi and Lidl, which are increasing their share of the U.K. retail market. U.K.: Asda overtakes Sainsbury’s as second-largest …last_img read more


first_imgRaffles Hotels & Resorts, the top luxury brand of AccorHotels Group, has entered into a partnership with the Hinduja Group and Obrascon Huarte Lain Desarrollos (OHLD) to transform London’s iconic Old War Office building in Whitehall into a unique hotel – The Raffles London Hotel.Close to 10 Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, the Old War Office was completed in 1906 and purchased by Hinduja Group and OHLD in December 2014 following a public bid. Planning permission was grantedfor a multi-purpose development including 125 rooms (of which 40% are suites), 88 private residences, restaurants and other amenities. Completion is expected in just over three years.The Grade II* listed Old War Office was the office to many of the United Kingdom’s most important and influential political and military leaders of the twentieth century, notably Sir Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George, Lord Kitchener, Herbert Asquith and T.E. Lawrence. It was also the haunt of the British Secret Service who had their own, more discreet entrance!Commenting on the new partnership, Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO of AccorHotels said: “I am delighted to announce this long-term management contract with the Hinduja Group and OHLD. This is the start of an important partnership for Raffles Hotels & Resorts and will create a new and vibrant landmark for London. This is a significant step for Raffles and a strategic addition to the Group’s Luxury portfolio. We remain committed to providing guests with unparalleled service and experience.”Gopichand P. Hinduja, the Hinduja Group’s Co-Chairman said: “Our new partnership with Raffles Hotels and Resorts is a significant milestone in our vision to transform the Old War Office into London’s finest luxury destination. Raffles brings a unique understanding of British heritage and tradition that will help revive this great British landmark.” AccorHotelslondonRaffleslast_img read more


first_img#AZCardinals announced that the team has promoted TE Ricky Seals-Jones to the active roster from the PS and released LB Philip Wheeler.— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) September 25, 2017Seals-Jones played four seasons for Texas A&M before joining the Cardinals in 2017 as an undrafted free agent. The 22-year-old rookie played as a wide receiver in college, but converted to tight end after signing with Arizona. Top Stories Former Texas A&M wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones runs a drill during Texas A&M NFL Pro Day at the NCAA football team’s indoor training facility, Thursday, Match 30, 2017, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith) The Arizona Cardinals announced they have released linebacker Philip Wheeler and promoted rookie tight end Ricky Seals-Jones from the practice squad to the active 53-man roster Monday. The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retirescenter_img Wheeler originally joined the Cardinals on July 27.The nine-year NFL veteran has 513 tackles, 133 games and 66 starts for the Colts, Raiders, Dolphins and Falcons on his resume. Last season for Atlanta, he recorded 28 tackles in 16 appearances.The move comes after tight end Jermaine Gresham was limited in practice all week and listed as questionable for Monday’s night game against the Dallas Cowboys. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact 3 Comments   Share   last_img read more


first_imgFormer United States Vice President Joe Biden is also among those expected to honor McCain at North Phoenix Baptist Church at 10 a.m. Thursday. Rest in peace to an American hero, statesman, servant of the people, and dear friend. Godspeed Senator McCain. My prayers for Cindy and the beautiful McCain family. pic.twitter.com/Tj87Hb8MtY— Larry Fitzgerald (@LarryFitzgerald) August 26, 2018Just before Christmas of 2017, after McCain’s cancer diagnosis, Fitzgerald penned a letter about his admiration of the senator in Sports Illustrated. In it, he spoke of McCain’s heroism and how much it influenced his own travels and pursuit of learning history.We should be a nation of fairness and equality. We should be a country with justice for all. One of the reasons I admire Senator McCain is that he doesn’t always just vote his party. He votes his conscience, and that can seem like a rare quality these days.The Cardinals receiver wrote of visiting the lake where McCain, a Vietnam War pilot, was shot down. He said he thought of McCain’s years as a prisoner of war when he visited Vietnam, or World War II camps Dachau or Auschwitz.I saw the very jail cell where he was held as a POW and I tried to imagine what it must have been like to be him. I took a photo of myself next to his flight suit, the suit he was wearing when he got shot down. So powerful. So meaningful. Those images will never leave my mind.Related LinksFormer Vice President Joe Biden to speak at McCain service in PhoenixJohn McCain’s allegiance to Arizona teams felt real because it wasCardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald sends heartfelt message to John McCainArizona sports teams, athletes react to death of Sen. John McCainIn recent years, McCain invited Fitzgerald to serve as a guest panelist at his global summit in Sedona, Ariz., near the senator’s home. Now, the receiver will again brush shoulders with respected acquaintances of McCain before Fitzgerald joins the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium for his team’s preseason finale on Thursday against the Denver Broncos. Top Stories Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald will join other dignitaries to speak at late Arizona Senator John McCain’s Phoenix service on Thursday, McCain’s former campaign manager Rick Davis said Monday.In his nearly decade-and-a-half of playing pro football in Arizona, Fitzgerald built a deep relationship with McCain, the long-time politician and Vietnam-era war icon who died at the age of 81 years old Saturday. The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires During moment of silence before #AZvsDAL, @AZCardinals, including @LarryFitzgerald, salute @SenJohnMcCain.. pic.twitter.com/S2tjegEtZp— Paul Calvisi (@PaulCalvisi) August 27, 2018Former Coyotes captain Shane Doan and former Diamondbacks outfielder Luis Gonzalez will be pallbearers at the service as well. (Twitter / Larry Fitzgerald) 2 Comments   Share   Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img read more


first_imgGo back to the e-newsletterFrom the creation of the very first milk and white chocolates, to industry-leading innovation designed to improve the taste and texture of this savoury sweet, no country’s history is more infused with chocolate than Switzerland. Now, guests of Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts, a brand inspired by the Swiss experience, can be fully immersed in the art and taste of authentically Swiss chocolate through experiences at its properties worldwide.Swiss people have long been the authority on chocolate indulgence – 2015 statistical data shows that they are not only the largest consumers of chocolate, but that the average Swiss person eats almost 20 pounds of it each year.  In support of these findings, the brand is excited to be taking its expertise in understanding and elevating this tasty treat to the next level.“We are dedicated to delivering Swiss authenticity and chocolate is a very tangible way for us to bring that experience to life in our locations around the world,” said Lilian Roten, Vice President, Swissôtel Brand. “Our hotels aim to be creative and to innovate, and are always looking to elevate this sweet staple in a unique way that celebrates chocolate as a dynamic, complex and inspiring ingredient that enhances both body and mind.”Chocolate has more than 600 unique flavour combinations and a multitude of benefits, making it a delicious option for health conscious consumption. Dark chocolate contains more disease-fighting flavonoid antioxidants than any other food, while milk chocolate triggers the release of endorphins that boost energy and reduce pain and stress.To share these benefits with guests, Swissôtel is incorporating chocolate culinary delicacies into its Vitality programming across the portfolio. At Swissôtel Kolkata, the annual Chocolate Brunch features gastronomic stylings – from main course to dessert – by a guest chef from the renowned Barry Callebaut Group, who have been producing chocolate and cocoa products for more than 150 years. The menu is curated to elevate dark, milk and white chocolate through unconventional pairings, including olives, gruyere and caviar. At the Swissôtel Mètropole Geneva, chocolate touch-points can be found throughout the hotel, including Swiss chocolate fountains and custom gifts boxes. This experience cumulates in the ultimate chocolate celebration – an annual Christmas challenge that brings local five-star hotels together to showcase chocolate creations. And for the winter traveller looking for warmth during the holiday season, Swissôtel Chicago’s Amuse restaurant features decadent hot chocolate offerings and specialized desserts.This year, Singapore’s Swissôtel The Stamford will even launch their very own chocolate bar – made from smooth milk chocolate with a delicious blend of honey and nougat flakes, combined to produce a truly Swiss taste.Beyond the kitchen, Swissôtel Büyük Efes, Izmir makes art a focal point with more than 800 masterpieces featured within a gallery onsite. The gallery includes famed Colombian artist Fernando Botero’s sculpture, ‘Man on Horse’, which was not only displayed here for the first time in a common area in Turkey, but has also been replicated in chocolate as an exclusive gift for VIP guests.Chocolate is also highlighted in Swissôtel’s exclusive Vitality Meeting packages at hotels worldwide, which feature signature afternoon coffee breaks paired with the sweet treat to re-energize travellers after a long day.Go back to the e-newsletterlast_img read more


first_imgRevellers booking cheap flights to Edinburgh this August can look forward to a “vital and vibrant” festival this year.This is according to Sinead Feltoe, VisitScotland’s regional director for Edinburgh and Lothians, who said that the city’s population doubles during the festival, which is the largest cultural event of its kind in the world.”The festivals provide a great opportunity to sell Scotland to the world in an innovative way, bringing millions of visitors and billions of pounds to the country,” she explained.Aside from the festival, Ms Feltoe went on to say, Edinburgh’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its “stunning architecture and atmospheric cityscapes”, makes it a destination that offers “something for everyone throughout the year”.The Edinburgh International Festival, which is now in its 63rd year, runs from August 13th to September 5th, with organisers hoping to attract similar numbers to the 400,000 people who attended last year.According to VisitScotland, UK residents took 2.1 million tourist visits to Edinburgh in 2008, spending some £505 million in the process.ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map Related10 Music Festivals Around the World 2010Skyscanner introduces ten excellent music festivals around the worldEdinburgh Fringe Festival: Skyscanner recommends…Edinburgh Fringe Festival: Skyscanner recommends…12 unmissable Edinburgh Festivals experiencesThe Edinburgh Festival Fringe may be over, but Edinburgh has many more exciting festivals coming up!last_img read more


first_img RelatedPassenger numbers recovering at European airportsThe number of passengers passing through European airports increased by four percent in FebruaryEurope’s airports record passenger increasesMore passengers travelled to and from European airports in July than compared to the same month last yearPassenger growth recorded at European airportsIncreasing numbers of passengers travelled on flights from UK and European airports between January and March There was a 5.3 percent increase in the number of passengers passing through European airports in August compared to the same month last year.This is according to figures from Airports Council International (ACI), which revealed that passenger traffic levels were maintaining their positive growth pattern.A 3.6 percent year-on-year increase was recorded in the period between January and August, while the biggest rise in passenger numbers (7.3 percent) came at Group 4 airports – those that accommodate fewer than five million passengers per year.Smaller airports recording the largest passenger number increases were Brindisi (51 percent), Charleroi (35.9 percent) and Eindhoven (34.6 percent).Notable rises were also recorded among Group 1 airports, which welcome more than 25 million passengers annually. Rome Fiumicino (9.1 percent), Munich (7.7 percent) and Franfurt (6.6 percent) recorded the largest increases.Earlier this month, the ACI revealed that international passenger traffic had increased by 6.3 percent in August compared to the corresponding month in 2009.ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Maplast_img read more


first_imgKate ditched at hotelIt seems that a life-size cut-out of Kate Middleton is easily left off the packing check list. UK hotel chain, Premier Inn, has revealed some of the most unusual items holidaymakers ditched in their hotel room over the summer. A cardboard Duchess of Cambridge, 18 masks of the Queen and 12 masks of Prince Philip were amongst the oddest items left behind.Pizza the action in PhillyThin and crispy or deep pan? Pizza Brain, the first museum dedicated to the world-famous Italian export, has them all. Philadelphia’s unique pizza parlour has been recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as housing the largest collection of pizza memorabilia. From headphones shaped like pizza slices, to artwork of perhaps pizza’s most famous patrons, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Cowabunga!Ecuador’s Equator blunderA theme park in Ecuador has lost its claim to fame. Middle of the World, visited by half-a-million tourists a year, does not in fact lie across the middle of the world, park authorities have admitted. Rather than lying directly on it, it lies 240 metres north of the Equator. The blunder was discovered using the latest GPS technology.ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map Ostriches save jetlagA fitful 40 winks with your head against the plane window isn’t going to help you arrive at your destination fresh-faced. But developers at Kawamura-Ganjavian studios have come up with the ultimate travel pillow, designed to make napping on the move much more comfortable. The (synthetic) Ostrich Pillow sounds pretty comfy, just a shame that it looks like a padded balaclava!New sliding seats for speedy boardingDo you hate having to stand in the aisles, waiting for other passengers to take off their coats, stow away hand luggage and generally faff around when you’re boarding a flight? A company in Denver have designed the first ‘Side-Slip Seat’ to speed up boarding. The aisle seat folds on to the middle one, widening the aisle from 19 to 43 inches. This means you get more time to browse the duty free and the airplane takes off on time: win-win all-round! Coming to a budget airline near you – hopefully! RelatedHow to survive a long-haul flightEight hours or more in a crowded aircraft cabin might sound like your worst nightmare, but flying long-haul can be heaven with a little preparation and a few home comforts. Follow our 10 survival tips for long flights and you’ll emerge refreshed, relaxed and ready to start your holiday as…How to survive a long-haul flightEight hours in a stuffy aircraft cabin might sound like your worst nightmare, but flying long-haul can be a dream with a little preparation and a few home comforts. Follow our 10 survival tips for long flights to emerge refreshed, relaxed and ready to start your holiday when you touch…10 travel tips to get a good night’s sleep on a long-haul flight with Air TransatWhat’s your trick for getting to sleep on a plane? A luxury eye mask? Noise-cancelling headphones? Meditation?last_img read more


first_imgFor you, is coffee the elixir of life? Can you not function without a morning cup of joe? Do you live on lattes, mochas and espressos?If so, these coffee capitals are guaranteed to get your heart racing. They are the perfect destinations for all you caffeine-fuelled explorers out there. 1. RomeIn Italy, coffee is so much more than a drink, it’s a lifestyle. Rome is the ultimate caffeine capital, around every corner you’ll find busy coffee shops (or bars in Italian) packed full of people swigging cups of the stuff. Order a short black coffee (un caffe) – the Italian staple – at the bar and enjoy the loud and rowdy chaos of Italian commuters. Or better yet, sit outside with a cappuccino, accompanied by some coffee flavoured gelato.Read more: The 10 most luxurious hotels in RomeFind flights Related6 Cheap summer holiday flights from £36Need a break but stressed out by scary summer prices? Take our advice and bag a cracking cheap getaway in July.Amsterdam’s finest cafes and coffee shopsMuch more than just good coffee, Amsterdam’s cafés promise a healthy hit of Dutch culture. From the traditional Koffiehuis to the cosy ‘brown cafés’ and the infamous coffee shops, there’s a cool Amsterdam hangout for every occasion. Read on for where to find them and – crucially – how to…10 best cheap hotels and hostels in RomePlanning a cheap city break in Rome? Whether you’re looking for hotels near the Colosseum or a hostel close to the Trevi fountain, the ideal accommodation in Rome doesn’t need to break the bank. Here are some brilliant budget options for those of you looking for cheap hotels in Italy’s… 8. LondonIn a city as large and diverse as London, it’s really no surprise that it has its fair share of eclectic coffee shops. From oh so hipster artisan cafés offering quirky décor and micro-roasted, organic lattes, to authentic greasy spoons, there is no doubt you’ll find a place that suits your taste. In the first week of May the city also hosts the London coffee festival that celebrates the city’s coffee scene. If you get sick of it all, you’re in the land of high-tea (just kidding – more coffee)!Find flights9. SingaporePerhaps a surprising addition to the list, but you’ll find coffee in abundance throughout Singapore. Coffee or Kopi is the national drink and kopitiams are the hub for all things social throughout the city. Kopi differs from regular coffee as the beans are roasted using butter, giving it a unique aroma and texture – this is the city to push your obsession even further.Read more: 10 best things to do in SingaporeFind flights 6. ViennaThe atmosphere in a Viennese Kaffeehaus is like no other café in the world. The décor is usually undeniably swav, making you feel as if you’ve almost stepped back in time. Having your coffee served to you on a platter with a glass of cold water makes the experience even classier. It wouldn’t be hard to spend a whole day soaking up the atmosphere and sampling all the tasty cakes and pastries on offer.Find flights7. IstanbulThe coffee is so good in Turkey that UNESCO named it the ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Turks’. The novelty of it, other than its rich taste, is the beautiful cezve that it is boiled in and the decorative cups that it is poured into. You’ll need some of this potent fuel to take on the frenzy of Istanbul! Read more: 10 best things to do in IstanbulFind flights 2. ReykjavikScandinavians consume more coffee than anyone else in the world, and the Icelanders in particular are pretty partial to a well-crafted brew. Independent coffee shops are plentiful in this chilly northern city, many being in cosy bookshops called bókakaffis. Read more: Not just the Northern Lights – top things to do in IcelandFind flights3. Addis AbabaThanks to Mussolini’s failed 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, there are a surprising number of inviting Italian-style espresso bars throughout the city. However, if it’s something more traditional that you are after, head to an Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Traditionally performed in people’s homes, it is also now possible to experience it in shops or restaurants. It involves a healthy dose of incense while coffee is freshly ground in urns over a charcoal brazier, then poured into small cups with a little sugar.F**ind flights** 10. SeattleOk, Seattle isn’t a capital, but if you’re going to award a city the title of coffee capital it’d have to be given to the home of Starbucks. Like ‘em or loathe ‘em, Starbucks is completely synonymous with coffee culture. A trip to the original is almost like mecca for us pumpkin spiced latte aficionados. Find flightsEnjoy this? Then check these out:Cat care and coffee: 9 of the world’s best cat cafés, from London to Japan12 places to go before you diet10 best hangover cures around the worldSkyscanner is the world’s travel search engine, helping your money go further on flights, hotels and car hire.ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map 4. HavanaCuba is one of the biggest exporters of coffee beans in the world and there is nowhere better to enjoy a cup of café cubano, than in its colourful capital of Havana. The perfect coffee if you’ve got a sweet tooth, this full-bodied espresso is brewed with sugar and accompanies most meals throughout the day. It’s perhaps best enjoyed in the evening along with a nice Cuban cigar.Find flights5. Rio de JaneiroIf you are going to try coffee anywhere, perhaps it’s best venturing to the world’s largest producer of coffee. And if you’re super keen you can delve into the history of your favourite drink by visiting some of the regions oldest coffee plantations.Read more: 10 places to visit in Brazil: in picturesFind flightslast_img read more


first_imgWhere to go for a family holiday in England?Family holidays in the UK are not just about Cornwall and the south (as beautiful as it is). Instead, herd your family up to the other end of England and try Northumberland. This old Borders badlands may be most known for its tumultuous struggles with the Scots, but for families it’s all about the clean, sandy beaches that unfurl up the North Sea coast. The best are in and around the pretty village of Alnwick, such as Bamburgh Beach and its seafront castle. In fact, legendary castles are rife round these parts and eagle-eyed little ones will recognise Alnwick Castle from the Harry Potter movies. It also boasts one of the world’s only ‘Poison Gardens’ – perfect gruesome fodder for older kids. Where to stay? One of our round up of the UK’s best holiday cottages, Crookhouse Mill in Kirknewton sits inside the Northumberland National Park and has four bedrooms and four bathrooms. Find cheap flights to Newcastle here and plan your northern escape! Where to go for a family holiday in Italy?Think your dreams of visiting Venice have to be put on hold when you have kids? Think again and head for Marina Venezia, a sprawling holiday oasis that is strikingly set on a massive Adriatic beach. You could spend a week here in the (free) water park, with the kids enjoying all sorts of entertainment, messing around on the beach with its watersports and dining in the many the many restaurants across the site. But then the charms of Venice await just a short vaporetto boat trip away – a giant playground of covered bridges, gondola rides and hidden nooks and crannies. We reckon this break offers the best of both worlds for city slickers with families in tow! Where to go for a family holiday in Scotland?Edinburgh is one of Europe’s top city breaks – and it’s ideal for families too. A great city for walking around, its most visited attraction is a crag-top castle straight out of a fairytale, plus it boasts Edinburgh Zoo and its celebrity panda couple, a flurry of family-friendly restaurants like Filling Station (branches on Rose Street and Royal Mile) and loads of green spaces. Then there is Our Dynamic Earth, a brilliantly fun hands-on experience that lets kids have fun, but also learn about the human and natural world as they go. Handily, it’s next door to the city’s favourite park, Holyrood, where adventurous families can also hike up Arthur’s Seat, the city’s highest point. Need a city guide to make sure you don’t miss a thing? Here you go… Image: Matthew Hartley, CC BY-SA 2.0.Want a complete guide to staycations in the UK? You’re welcome. ##**Where to go for a family holiday in Slovenia?**You might think that cities and kids don’t really go together, that is unless you’ve been to **[Ljubljana](http://www.skyscanner.net/flights-to/lju/cheap-flights-to-ljubljana-airport.html)**. The bijou Slovenian capital is seriously family-friendly and much of the city centre has been pedestrianised. The best way of getting around is by bike – head over to the Slovenian Tourist Information Centre on Kopitarjeva Uleva to join in with the easy, eco-friendly [Ljubljana Bike](https://www.visitljubljana.com/en/visitors/explore-the-region/traffic-and-transport/ljubljana-bike/) hire scheme. There’s the fairytale Ljubljana Castle to explore (which you can reach on a fun funicular railway) and there are loads of cute shops in the old town to delve into. Throw in boat cruises along the Ljubljanica river and the green delights of Tivoli Park and Ljubljana offers a compelling cocktail even without its two kiddie big hitters: [Atlantis Water Park](http://www.atlantis-vodnomesto.si/sl-si/) and the brilliantly fun [Mini City](http://minicity.si/). **For more ideas on entertaining the kids in Ljubljana, including dragon-spotting and sailing, check out [our guide to the city’s unmissable attractions](http://www.skyscanner.net/news/top-11-things-do-ljubljana).**![The Ljubljana skyline](http://content.skyscnr.com/072a25dd6acbf95b8198ed26e95b2509/ljub_494314513.jpg “Ljubljana cityscape”)### **Want more advice on taking the perfect family holiday? Read on:**### **[Flying with children: 20 top tips for keeping kids happy on board](http://www.skyscanner.net/news/flying-children-20-top-tips-keeping-kids-happy-board)**We’ve collated top tips from Skyscanner staff and travel blogger mum Monica Stott on how to survive a plane journey with the family so you feel prepared for take-off.### **[Family fun: top 5 beach destinations for kids](http://www.skyscanner.net/news/5-best-beach-destinations-families)**Sun, sea, sand and plenty of activities to keep the kids (and the adults!) entertained. We reveal the top five beach destinations for families.### **[Where to stay with the family in The Canary Islands](http://www.skyscanner.net/news/hotels/top-11-family-hotels-canary-islands/)**The Canary Islands are packed with family-friendly hotels where mum and dad won’t have to forego luxury to enjoy a fuss-free break with the kids, whatever their age. Here’s our pick of the 11 best family hotels in the archipelago._Skyscanner is the world’s travel search engine, helping your money go further on [flights](http://www.skyscanner.net), [hotels](http://www.skyscanner.net/hotels) and [car hire](http://www.skyscanner.net/carhire)._ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Mapcenter_img Where to go for a family holiday in Spain?Tenerife really is the summer holiday island with it all. You’re talking Spain’s highest mountain (families can take a cable car up), an epic sweep of beaches, kid-friendly restaurants and a swathe of welcoming resorts. Then there’s the hugely popular waterpark [Siam Park](http://www.siampark.net/index.php/en/) (are you starting to see a pattern yet?) and an impressive zoo, [Loro Parque](http://www.loroparquetenerife.com), where you can watch Europe’s only killer whale show. Of the southern coast resorts, **Los Cristianos** has nice beaches and a more relaxed atmosphere than the more raucous Playa de Las Americas. For a serious touch of family luxury head further along the coast to the [Gran Melia Palacio de Isora](hhttp://www.skyscanner.net/hotels/hotel/Gran+Melia+Palacio+De+Isora?idx=0&id=115447661&sd), where kids can enjoy their own tiny dressing robes, private pools and even spa time. **For more Spanish summer holiday inspiration, check out [this guide to Spain’s most beautiful beaches](http://www.skyscanner.net/news/best-beaches-spain-top-10-perfect-playas-pictures).**![A golden sandy beach in Tenerife](http://content.skyscnr.com/eb46dc690bf0e78b27429e53def7031c/GettyImages-488663659.jpg “Tenerife beach”)##**Where to go for a family holiday in [France](http://www.skyscanner.net/flights-to/fr/cheap-flights-to-france.html)?**Got itchy feet and don’t want just one destination for your family summer holiday? Then hop on a boat and cruise France’s waterways for a week or two. You don’t need to be an experienced skipper to enjoy a live aboard self-guided cruise on the famous **Canal du Midi** with the likes of [Le Boat](http://www.leboat.com/vacations/destinations/france/canal-du-midi). This makes for a seriously relaxing family break as you ease along at an _escargot’s_ pace, mooring up and exploring anywhere that takes your fancy. There are a surprising number of leisure parks and other kid’s attractions in this part of the South of France, including brilliant watersports at Lac de Jouarres in Homps, and **Carcasonne**, a medieval walled city which will enthrall young history buffs. Retreat to your floating hotel at night, and sip a glass of French wine from the local vineyards of **Minervois** under the stars when the kids fall asleep. **[Fly to Carcassone](http://www.skyscanner.net/flights-to/ccf/cheap-flights-to-carcassonne-airport.html) to start your French holiday.**![The lavender fields of southern France](http://content.skyscnr.com/e7bbd7c3c56ed678982f85cb78a0d27a/fr_492264117.jpg “French countryside”)##**Where to go for a family holiday in [Florida](http://www.skyscanner.net/flights-to/mco/cheap-flights-to-orlando-international-airport.html)?**Pick anywhere else in the USA but Florida for a family holiday and you may have some serious explaining to do to your disgruntled little ones. Florida is clearly the number one choice for families heading Stateside, with the legendary charms of ‘Theme Park Capital of the World’, Orlando, just for starters. From the massive Disney World (really four theme parks in one) and Universal Studios, through to Seaward and Busch Gardens, you’ll be hard pushed to cover them all in a week so book at least a fortnight. For real theme park junkies you just have to stay at [Disney World](https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/), with everything available from camping through to luxury villas and plenty of options down the road like [Disney’s Boardwalk Inn](http://www.skyscanner.net/hotels/hotel/Disney%27S+Boardwalk+Inn?idx=1&id=115040723&sd), just under a mile from the Epcot entrance. **You can [fly direct to Orlando](http://www.skyscanner.net/flights-to/mco/cheap-flights-to-orlando-international-airport.html) from the UK with British Airways and plenty of other major airlines.**![Go to Orlando for a family holiday in Florida](http://content.skyscnr.com/c28501cdbe2c9e109ba3a073fcc58357/GettyImages-176999562.jpg “Go to Orlando for a family holiday in Florida”)##**Where to go for a family holiday in the Caribbean?**The Caribbean, as many North American families know, is not just for romantic honeymooners and cruise worshippers. The region boasts bath-temperature seas, dependably warm weather and epic sights that will awe the kids, from hazy mountains to old plantation trains like the [St Kitts Scenic Railway](http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20141226-the-last-railway-in-the-west-indies). This is also, of course, the land of the all-inclusive holiday, but these don’t have to be all about adults enjoying free cocktails. At [Beaches’ Ochios Rios resort](http://www.skyscanner.net/hotels/hotel/Beaches+Boscobel+Resort?idx=0&id=135884543&sd) in **Jamaica** it’s more about kid-friendly pools and swim-up soda bars. The rainbow-coloured Caribbean sunrises and sunsets come as part of the package, as do the sandy beaches and amazing natural attractions like nearby Dunn’s River Falls, a giant staircase of waterfalls and lagoons fun for older children – if you make sure you go with a reputable guide and watch out for deeper sections, younger kids can enjoy the scramble, too. [Montego Bay airport](http://www.skyscanner.net/flights-to/mbj/cheap-flights-to-montego-bay-airport.html) is around two hours from Ochios Rios, but before you search for flights on Skyscanner, **have a quick look at [the other amazing activities Jamaica has to offer](http://www.skyscanner.net/news/9-best-things-do-jamaica)**.![White sandy beach in Jamaica](http://content.skyscnr.com/58f966d2aa709e8f1474c741802f857a/GettyImages-100689479.jpg “Jamaica beach”)##**Where to go for a family holiday in Iceland?**Not a fan of boiling on the beach and getting sand between your toes? Then head for the frozen north for the milder climes of Iceland. Base yourself in the capital, **[Reykjavik](http://www.skyscanner.net/flights-to/kef/cheap-flights-to-reykjavik-keflavik-airport.html)**, an ideal family base with plenty of hotels, restaurants and shops, as well as great transport links. Hop on a bus or [hire a car](http://www.skyscanner.net/car-hire-in/reyk/car-hire-in-reykjavik.html) to get to the geothermal pools at the legendary **Blue Lagoon** with older kids, or thrill younger ones with dramatically spouting geysers, tumbling waterfalls like Gulfoss (Golden Falls) and sparkling icy lakes. Then there are whale watching trips and scooter rides on massive **Sólheimajökull** glacier – look up local tour operators like [GeoIceland](http://www.geoiceland.com/geoiceland-iceland-day-tours.html) for a good selection of day trips. And if you can’t make it to Iceland this summer then consider a winter holiday here to [see the awesome Aurora Borealis](http://www.skyscanner.net/news/6-best-places-see-northern-lights-winter-2015-2016) (or Northern Lights) from about November onwards. Where to go for a family holiday in Portugal?For families heading to Portugal it has to be the legendary oasis of the Algarve. The beaches here are superb and well set up for kids of all ages, and there are waterparks aplenty. The Zoomarine theme park is the number one family attraction, as you can enjoy dolphin and sea lion shows, plus kiddie-focused fun rides and plenty of water-soaked fun. The main family-friendly resorts are Albufeira and Praia da Luz. For those looking to chill at night rather than party, Rocha Brava Village Resort is set back from Praia do Carvoeiro beach in a lovely garden with three pools and a free kids club; apartments are kitted out with handy kitchens and washer/dryers. The nearest airport to the Algarve is Faro. Take the plunge and book a cheap holiday in Portugal, but before you do, imagine yourself on one of their perfect beaches. RelatedUK day trips: Fun things to do with the kids this summer holiday”I’m booooooored!” Worried this will be the battle cry of this year’s summer holiday? Arm yourself with our guide to Britain’s best family activities and we reckon you’ll hear nothing of the sort.12 of the best British weekend breaks for your wanderlust fixLooking for a weekend break in the UK? Let us help you find a short break that’s perfect for that last minute escape from it all. Whether you’re more at home among galleries and museums, or love a bonny beach, here’s everything you need to plan a weekend away right…Downton Abbey: 15 beautiful filming locations in the UKAs the sixth and final series of Downton Abbey hits the box this September, we invite you to take a tour of some of the TV show’s most memorable film locations – and help plan your pilgrimage to some of them.last_img read more


first_imgDon’t waste your timeNo one is going to buy a totally blurry image, even if you think it’s arty. And try to avoid logos on shops, buildings or cars as these can cause legal issues. Anything with nudity is likely to be stopped by filters, no matter how tasteful or innocent, so don’t waste your time. And a beautiful subject with a distracting object right next to it will rarely sell.Some of these problems – such as the distracting object or logos – can be sorted with a quick clean-up using photo-editing software, such as PAINT.net. Many computers have this pre-installed. But for more advanced controls, the premium choice is Adobe Photoshop, while a more budget option is free photo-editing software, such as GIMP.org. The essential settingMicrostock photo libraries only want high-resolution images, so you need to ensure yours are larger than four megapixels. Don’t confuse megapixels with megabytes (the size of the file). Megapixels are about the amount of tiny spots of colour in the image. The good news is that most modern phones take images at this quality, but to check, all you have to do is right click on your image on your desktop, go to properties (or Get Info for a Mac), and under image details it will tell you the image width and height in pixels. To find out how many megapixels your image is, enter these figures into the calculator at www.toolstud.io/photo/megapixel.php. If you check a couple of images and find they’re the right size, then it’s likely all of your phone’s images are. If not, adjust the ‘image quality’ to high-resolution or high-quality in your phone’s Camera-app settings (typically found through your phone’s main settings app).Top microstock sites Your phone snaps can earn you £££Most of us come back from holiday with hundreds of photos on our phone, but did you know you can make money from them? Microstock photo libraries let you upload your travel pictures for free and then sell them to their clients, such as website and publishing companies. These clients pay a fee for the privilege and you get a cut. Related10 top tips for travel photographers10 invaluable travel photography tips, like how to get the best shots, what equipment to use, and more.10 Paycations: how to make money on holiday10 holidays where you can make money, rather than just spend it.Top 20 travel hacks and money saving tipsYou may be skint, but you can still holiday in style; here’s how. Shutterstock.com**Pros:**This site is huge – it has over 38 million images and buyers from 150 countries use it. The sheer volume of traffic boosts the chances of your photos selling.Cons:Its popularity means there’s a lot of competition.Need to know:Your images must be over four megapixels, and they will verify the quality.Profit potential:You can initially expect to earn 14p per image, which can rise to up to £70 per image. If you upload 2,000 images, you can expect around 10,000 downloads per year. Picfair.com**Pros:**The best thing about this site is it lets you set your own image price.Cons:It’s smaller than Shutterstock, so it doesn’t have the same pull of the bigger sites, and you’ll need to have to do some research to make sure you price your photos correctly.Need to know:The maximum file size is 20mb and you have to upload each file individually, which is time consuming. All images are judged by Picfair staff, and the best are given a star rating which pushes them up the search ranks.Profit potential:You get to set the price for each image at whatever you like, but most pictures range from £1-£50 – and you receive all of that money. Picfair makes its profit by charging a 20 per cent commission on top to the buyer. It’s difficult to estimate how much you can make as a new photographer, but online there are reports of a photographer making £400 in one day.Fotolibra.com**Pros:**This site accepts any images as long as the resolution is above 4.3 megapixels and the size less than 100mb. And unlike some sites, they pay in sterling, so you don’t lose any money in the currency conversion.Cons:The business model is different – you have to pay a £6 a month membership fee after you upload your first 12 shots.Need to know:It’s a good idea to test this site by uploading 12 great free images and seeing if they’re making any money before committing to the membership fee.Profit potential:Images sell for between £10-£25,000 (rarely!) – recent sales average out at £61 per image, which gets split 50-50 with the photographer. Sciencesource.com**Pros:**Because this site is niche – it specialises in wildlife and science photos – fees are higher. Cons:They won’t let you submit two images that are similar, so this will often reduce how many images you can upload. Need to know:Your shots must be excellent quality – over 10 mega pixels and a minimum size of 26mb.So this rules out a lot of phone images. Most photos on the site have been taken using a digital SLR camera. Profit potential:It charges much more than other stock sites – often hundreds of dollars per image – and you can earn up to 50% commission on each one sold.To take the best photos, read 10 top tips for travel photographersFor inspiration, find out which travel Instagram accounts to follow in this articleReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map A word is worth a thousand…When uploading your images to Microstock photo libraries, it’s vital to do proper ‘tagging’ if you want your picture to be found – and sold. Tags are a list of simple words or two-word phrases – aka ‘keywords’ – to help potential buyers find your images. Always include:Subject matterLocation (i.e. the town or city, plus the country)Setting (i.e. beach, farm, sunflower field, etc)Time of day (morning, dusk, sunrise, etc)Orientation (landscape or portrait)If you do clean up your images using a photo-editing programme you can often add these into the image metadata, and the Microstock sites will automatically register it, so you won’t have to do it for each site separately. Picture thisA few tips to maximise your profits:The best-selling pictures have a distinct subject with little in the background. Opt for a wild animal in its native habitat or a beautiful object rather than your partner posing cheesily. Shots taken at sunrise, sunset, and in mist, rain or snow are quite popular. If you’re taking landscape photos, make sure something in the image provides a sense of scale – a dog, a tree or a boat, for example.Pictures with bright colours sell better than those with dull tones or neutrals.If you’re at a famous monument, take it from an unusual angle. These images will stand out among all the straight-on choices. Good photos of people sell well, but only if you have the appropriate model-release form. You can Google ‘model-release form’ to get friends and family to sign this retrospectively, but this obviously won’t work with strangers.last_img read more


first_img by The Associated Press Posted May 15, 2018 10:07 am PDT Last Updated May 15, 2018 at 1:21 pm PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email ABC’s prime-time schedule for the fall:Monday8 p.m. — “Dancing with the Stars”10 p.m. — “The Good Doctor”Tuesday8 p.m. — “Roseanne”8:30 p.m. — “The Kids Are Alright”9 p.m. — “black-ish”9:30 p.m. — “Splitting Up Together”10 p.m. — “The Rookie”Wednesday8 p.m. — “The Goldbergs”8:30 — “American Housewife”9 p.m. — “Modern Family”9:30 p.m. — “Single Parents”10 p.m. — “A Million Little Things”Thursday8 p.m. — “Grey’s Anatomy”9 p.m. — “Station 19”10 p.m. — “How to Get Away with Murder”Friday8 p.m. — “Fresh Off the Boat”8:30 p.m. — “Speechless”9 p.m. — “Child Support”10 p.m. — “20-20”Saturday8 p.m. — “Saturday Night Football”Sunday7 p.m. — “America’s Funniest Home Videos”8 p.m. — “Dancing with the Stars: Juniors”9 p.m. — “Shark Tank”10 p.m. — “The Alec Baldwin Show” ABC’s new schedule for the fall TV seasonlast_img read more


first_img by Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press Posted Jun 11, 2018 4:55 am PDT Last Updated Jun 11, 2018 at 5:40 am PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email A theme of tolerance, inclusion at this year’s Tony Awards NEW YORK, N.Y. – A small-scale, intimate musical about hard-won cultural understanding was an altogether apt Tony winner on a night where tolerance and inclusion were constant themes.“The Band’s Visit,” about an Egyptian police band that gets stranded in a remote Israeli desert town, forcing both sides to get to know each other, triumphed over much flashier shows to win best musical Sunday night — and a total of 10 awards. The closest runner-up, with six, was the blockbuster London import “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” which won best play.One by one, the winners of “The Band’s Visit” referenced the show’s themes of acceptance and finding a common humanity. Tony Shalhoub, named best actor in a musical, spoke of his father’s arrival at Ellis Island from Lebanon in 1920. “May we, their descendants, never lose sight of what they taught us,” he said. Ari’el Stachel, who won for best featured actor, praised the show for “telling a small story about Arabs and Israelis getting along, at a time that we need that more than ever.” Addressing his parents in the audience, Stachel, whose father was born in Israel, confessed that “for so many years of my life I pretended I was not a Middle Eastern person.”The show also won awards for its luminous lead actress, Katrina Lenk, and its director, book and score, among others. Producer Orin Wolf said the message was one of unity, in a world that “more and more seems bent on amplifying our differences.” Composer David Yazbek, speaking later at the Tony after-party, said the show had special resonance amid “the climate of divisiveness that we’re seeing.” The show isn’t just about Jews and Arabs, he said, “It’s about any tribes that have figured out reasons to be at odds with each other.”The Middle East conflict, immigration, LGBT equality, gun control — many social issues came up, explicitly or implicitly, during the ceremony, which was hosted with a light (and musical) touch by Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban. The night’s first big winner, Andrew Garfield, best actor in a play for “Angels in America,” earned hearty cheers when he declared, “Let’s just bake a cake for everyone who wants a cake to be baked.” He was referring to last week’s Supreme Court decision in favour of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of religious objections.Garfield dedicated the award, his first Tony, to the LGBTQ community, for a “spirit that says no to oppression. It is a spirit that says no to bigotry, no to shame, no to exclusion. It is a spirit that says we are all made perfectly.”Lindsay Mendez of “Carousel,” named best featured actress in a musical, tearfully recalled that early in her career, “I was told to change my last name from ‘Mendez’ to ‘Matthews,’ or I wouldn’t work.” She went on to say: “To all of you artists out there, just be your true self and the world will take note.” In other acting awards, Nathan Lane won his third Tony — his first in a dramatic role — for playing Roy Cohn in “Angels in America.” Glenda Jackson, 82, won best actress in a play for her fiery portrayal of an elderly woman in “Three Tall Women,” and her co-star, Laurie Metcalf, won featured actress.While there was clearly an undercurrent of resistance to the current administration in Washington, winners did not overtly attack President Donald Trump. Then came Robert De Niro, who arrived to present the most anticipated moment of the night — a performance by Bruce Springsteen — and began by launching an expletive at the president, pumping his arms for emphasis. And then he did it again. Many in the audience stood and cheered, while TV censors quickly bleeped out the offending words.“That was the best part of the whole evening!” commented actor John Leguizamo later that night at the Plaza Hotel after-party. “I jumped to my feet.” He added that “the Tonys have never been this political.” Leguizamo himself, accepting a special Tony, brought up the fate of immigrant children in detention centres and the deaths of thousands of Puerto Ricans in Hurricane Maria. He also declared, “I’m an immigrant, and I’m not an animal” — referring to Trump’s recent remarks that some people living in a country illegally or without legal permission are “animals.”Several winners noted that elections are coming in November — among them playwright Tony Kushner, who wrote “Angels in America,” which won best revival of a play. He told viewers they have “21 weeks to save our democracy and heal our planet.” (On a lighter note, he also gave a shout-out to Judy Garland’s birthday.) Best musical revival went to “Once on This Island,” in a surprise win over “My Fair Lady” and “Carousel.”By far the most emotional moment of the evening evoked the nation’s divisions over gun reform, when Melody Herzfeld, drama teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was honoured from the Tony stage. Herzfeld, the one-woman drama department at the school, has been credited with saving lives by barricading students into a classroom closet during the Valentine’s Day mass shooting that killed 17 people. She later encouraged many of her pupils to lead the nationwide movement for gun reform.Herzfeld spoke during the pre-show. But later, students in her drama department surprised the audience by appearing onstage to sing “Seasons of Love” from the musical “Rent.”They got the biggest ovation of the night.___AP writer Mark Kennedy contributed to this report.___This story has been corrected to show that the official after-party was at the Plaza Hotel, not the Ritz Hotel.center_img Co-hosts Sara Bareilles, left, and Josh Groban dress as each other at the 72nd annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 10, 2018, in New York. Groban was dressed as Bareilles from “Waitress,” and Bareilles was dressed as Groban in “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.” (Photo by Michael Zorn/Invision/AP) last_img read more


first_img LONDON – The original hand-drawn map of Winnie-the-Pooh’s Hundred Acre Woods has sold at auction for 430,000 pounds ($571,000), a record price for a book illustration.E.H. Shepard’s drawing sold at Sotheby’s in London on Tuesday for almost three-times its pre-sale estimate.Shepard’s 1926 sketch features beloved characters including Pooh and Christopher Robin, and landmarks including “Bee Tree” and “Eeyore’s Gloomy Place.”It was last sold in 1970 for 1,700 pounds.Shepard’s illustrations helped cement the popularity of A.A. Milne’s “bear of very little brain” and his woodland friends. In 2014, an ink drawing of the characters playing the game poohsticks sold for a then-record 314,500 pounds.The map and four other Shepard Winnie-the-Pooh illustrations sold for a total of 917,500 pounds at Tuesday’s auction. Original Winnie-the-Pooh map breaks auction record In this photo dated May 31, 2018, Philip W. Errington holds the original map of Winnie-the-Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood by E H Shepard. Shepard’s 1926 hand drawn original map has sold at auction in Sotheby’s in London on Tuesday July 10, 2018, for 430,000 pounds (US dollars 571,000), a record price for a book illustration. (Yui Mok/PA via AP) center_img by The Associated Press Posted Jul 10, 2018 9:46 am PDT Last Updated Jul 10, 2018 at 10:20 am PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Emaillast_img read more