InterContinental Times Square Rooftops are Buzzing…Literally!

New York City is known as the city that never sleeps, and the people and places are always bustling. But things are literally buzzing at the InterContinental New York Times Square with the installation of its first rooftop beehive.

The hive, located on one of the two green rooftops, is expected to produce 20-30 pounds of honey within the next year. The first harvest is set for July 2012—making a very sweet addition to the hotel’s dishes, cocktails, bottled gifts and amenities!

This is the third apiary for the InterContinental hotel chain, with one at the InterContinental New York Barclay and the other at the InterContinental Boston. Traveling apiculturist Zainal Khan will commute between New York and Boston to oversee the beehives while training Chef Andrew Rubin in its day-to-day maintenance. InterContinental New York Times Square plans to introduce an additional four hives to the roof by Summer 2013.

The green rooftops, located on the 2nd and 7th floors, also have a fully functioning herb garden that serves as a local source to the hotel’s restaurant, Ca Va Brasserie.

Locally sourced materials are just a few of the many green initiatives by the hotel chain, which is currently pending LEED-certification. Other features that keep InterContinental New York Times Square committed to the environment include: energy efficient lighting, motion detectors and an energy management system; using green cleaning products and changing sheets/linens less frequently; building on an urban, rather than greenfield site; and various recycling programs throughout the property.

For more images of InterContinental New York Times Square’s first rooftop beehive, check out the slideshow on Condé Nast Traveler.

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Local 5K RunWalk a Success!

About 100 people attended the first annual Willing Togo 5k run/walk this past weekend at Austintown Township Park, Ohio to help support the orphan children of Gbentchal, Togo, West Africa—some of which ran with 5 gallon water jugs to reinforce the conditions in the village. Our goal was to raise money for the orphans in Gbentchal and awareness within our own community. 

I became involved with a group from my church who’s working with national humanitarian organization, Mentor Leaders, after my sister signed up to go on a mission trip to Gbentchal this coming June.

Mentor Leaders is a non-profit organization whose community-based efforts are to provide basic education, fresh water wells, sanitation and create economic stability, all while maintaining the dignity of culture. They offer a variety of ways to support their cause: internships, run water (half and full-marathon fundraisers) and sponsoring a child. Check out www.mentorleaders.org.

My sister and I created the t-shirts for the event and had an amazing time designing the shirts and the storefront as well as marketing them as a mission project in and of themselves. It’s been rewarding to get to do the marketing/branding that I love, while helping a cause that is so worthwhile. I am blessed to have two young healthy children. It is unimaginable to me the conditions the 1000+ orphans in Gbentchal live in. After hearing their story and seeing an opportunity to make a change, our t-shirt company was formed to help this cause. We hope to continue to do so, check it out www.brownhorsegarments.com. Order a shirt, become part of the story. ~KatieImage

TripAdvisor’s Annual Summer Travel Survey Results Revealed

Summertime is here! School’s out and all the activities that make your schedule hectic year-round are lightening up. This is the perfect time of year to take the family on a summer vacation—and according to this year’s TripAdvisor Summer Travel Survey, others agree! With over 1,800 U.S. respondents, survey results show that 86% of travelers are planning leisure trips this summer—an increase from 81% that traveled last summer.

Check out the other results of TripAdvisor’s annual survey!

Popular Destinations

According to U.S. travelers, these are the top five most popular summer destination types:

  1. City – 58%
  2. Ocean – 41%
  3. National Park – 20%
  4. Lake – 18%
  5. Resort – 16%
  • 40% said the main reason for visiting their destination is because of tradition or it being their favorite place, while 27% are going for a new experience.
  • Survey results said that New York City, Las Vegas and Chicago are the three most popular U.S. destinations for summer travel this year.

Vacation Activities

  • While some travelers consider doing nothing as the perfect vacation, others do enjoy active recreation during their summer vacations. At 31%, hiking is the most popular activity, with water sports coming in as a close second with 25%.
  • While on vacation, 41% of travelers will visit a historical landmark, 15% will attend a concert and 12% will ditch their diets for a food festival!

Summer Vacation Spending

  • More than a quarter of the surveyed travelers (27%) said they will spend more on summer vacations than they did in 2011, while 47% said they plan on spending the same amount and 26% hope to spend less.
  • 70% will stay at a hotel this summer, 31% will stay at the home of family or friends and 20% will enjoy their trip in a vacation rental home.
  • With the recent declining gas prices, 70% of travelers will voyage by car, while 64% will fly.
  • No need to make plans in advance—if they found a great deal, 79% of travelers would make a spontaneous trip!

“The majority of U.S. travelers are committed to their leisure summer travel plans, whether gas prices are up or down,” said Karen Drake, senior director of communications for TripAdvisor. “Even if it takes cutting back on mileage and staying closer to home, the vast majority of Americans will take summer trips.”

For an extended list of the survey results, check out TripAdvisor’s Summer Travel Survey for 2012 today!

So…where do you plan to travel to this summer?

Ritz-Carlton Launches New Mobile App

This is for all you tech-savvy travelers out there: there’s another app to add to your smartphone.

It may have taken them a while, but Ritz-Carlton Hotels launched their iPhone and Android mobile app this month, and it’s more than just an easy way to book a room.

The app uses tons of Quick Response (QR) codes, which are dispersed throughout individual Ritz-Carlton hotels and give a variety of information—from interesting city facts to hotel activities.

Check out some of the Ritz-Carlton’s around the world using QR Codes:

  • At the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, guests can learn about the hotel’s art collection using the QR codes found and scanned in the app.
  • By scanning QR codes, guests can learn about wine pairings at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong.
  • The Ritz-Carlton Berlin gets kids involved by letting them participate in a digital scavenger hunt using QR codes and clues at each stop.
  • By scanning the QR code on the Ritz-Carlton Battery Park (New York) cocktail napkin, guests can obtain the recipe for the hotel’s signature 10-year anniversary drink.

The QR code function is built into the app, using your smartphone’s camera, so you don’t need to download anything additionally.

Don’t have the time trying to find and scan QR codes all over your hotel? The app has many more features!

  • Your phone’s GPS technology can identify when you have stepped into a Ritz-Carlton, signaling the app to gather landmark tips from Ritz-Carlton concierges from the mobile app, Foursquare.
  • The app has an activity calendar for every individual Ritz-Carlton, so guests can be in the know on the ongoing events during their stay.
  • You can look up other Ritz-Carlton locations.
  • You can make reservations for your next stay.

For more information on the Ritz-Carlton’s mobile app, check out HotelChatter!

InterContinental Hotel Group Expands Hotel-Soap Recycling Program

We are so happy to hear that InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) is significantly expanding its hotel toiletry-recycling program with the non-profit organization, Clean the World.

Clean the World is an organization that collects and recycles partially used hotel soaps, lotions and shampoos. New and clean soaps are then distributed to needy families in U.S. shelters and around the world.

Today, 62 IHG-brand hotels participate in the soap-recycling program. But IHG officials expect most of its 3,274 North American hotels to join in very soon—adding about 400,000 more rooms to the Clean the World program. “Each property is encouraged to join the Clean the World program immediately upon announcement of the corporate partnership,” Paul Snyder, IHG Vice President of Corporate Responsibility told USA Today.

IHG says their guests will know that they are staying in a participating hotel by placing a Clean the World postcard near their toiletries. The company wants to ensure that their customers “…see how the soaps they leave behind will be recycled to benefit others around the globe.”

Those 62 IHG-brand hotels have so far contributed 268,517 bars of soap to Clean the World. By recycling the partially used soaps, about 41 tons of waste have been diverted from local landfills.

According to Snyder, the 62 hotels that have been collecting and recycling toiletries have showed the company “that it’s easy for the hotels to implement.”

For more information on IHG’s expansion with Clean the World, check out USA Today!