Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library And Museum Sneak Peek

We had a chance to visit the new Lincoln Museum located in downtown Springfield, Illinois this evening. Although some exhibits are not quite finished yet, the musuem staff felt confident enough to show it off to staff and family tonight. The Treasure Gallary featuring items owned by Lincoln and is family is still not finished. However, it will be up and running in plenty of time before the scheduled official opening on April 16, 2005.

Both the libary and the museum buildings are spectacular. They are well designed. The furnishings are beautiful. They are very well done. Kudos to everyone involved.

Their web site touts a combination of showmanship with scholarship. The museum certainly fits the showmanship side.

In fact showmanship gets a grade A. The two multi visual presentations we saw Ghosts of the Library and Lincoln's Eyes lean heavily toward special effects and less toward historical content. Ghosts features a process called Holavision. Holavision allows a live actor to interact with smoke and ghost Lincoln during the show. It is live special effects and done very convincingly. During the Lincoln's Eyes presentation the floor shakes, cannons fire, and your seat jumps. In the meantime the show tells the Lincoln story with an emphasis on the controversy surrounding the Emancipation Proclamation all in 20 minutes.

Content gets a D. Now the emphasis of showmanship and the inevitable comparison and criticism that the museum is too close to Disney World has some merit. But we don't think that this was the purpose of creating the museum. It is really a non-historical, dare we say dumbed down, popular approach to Lincoln and his time with Scholars have the library and its vast collection to use. Families and tourists have the museum to visit and enjoy. Each building serves its audience well.

We understand that the museum will have a $7.50 admission charge. Visiting every exhibit and viewing every show should take an average visitor less than two hours. Setting aside the appropriateness of charging and admission to a state owned facility, we believe that the museum will have tough time justifying the cost for such a short visit. However in their defense the Clinton Presidential Center charges $7.00 and we bet there isn't one cannon fired in the place.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Las Vegas' seven deadliest sins...don't include the Imperial Palace

The Chicago Tribune's March 13, 2005 Travel Section article "Vegas's Seven Deadly Sins" really hammers the venerable Imperial Palace.

Author Steve Friess writes "The Casino Gold deal at the Imperial Palace (3535 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-731-3311). The IP thrives mainly because of its center-Strip location, but that's no excuse for blowing $85 a night for a weekend of tramping through an obnoxious casino with a section where cards are dealt by low-rent Elvis and Michael Jackson impersonators. The Casino Gold package—which wisely replaces their notoriously horrific room-of-mirrors-everywhere Luv Tub offerings of years past—includes a gym day pass that's invalid on Fridays and Saturdays, passes to a squalid buffet that's invalid for dinner and a why-bother $5 blackjack matchplay. Granted, the newly updated deluxe rooms are more palatable and the free passes to the auto collection are worth a half-hour of fun."

As an alternative Friess recommends the new off strip Westin Casuarina Hotel and Spa (160 E. Flamingo Rd.; 702-836-9775) . This property is newer and significanly more expensive than the Imperial Palace. Despite what he says we believe the location is not "at least as good" as the Imperial Palace.

When selling Las Vegas to first time visitors we often recommend staying at the Imperial Palace. Why? Location. A friendly looser casino. And the most affordable room rates in the center strip area . No one will confuse the Imperial Palace with the Bellagio. The elevators are slow and crowded. The buffets can be better. We've eaten at better ones for less money. But the Imperial Palace remains one of the few, if any others still exist, non-corporate locally owned casinos on the strip, a leader in hiring handicapped employees, and great value for someone visiting Las Vegas wanting to walk to the great surrounding Mega resorts. You can't beat the location. The rooms are clean. The monorail station is an easy walking distance at the back of the resort. The Casino Gold package is meant to keep you playing at the Imperial Palace. As far as one of Las Vegas' deadliest sins, don't rule out the Imperial Palace. It is find.

One Billion Air Passengers

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prediction of domestic air passenger growth to almost one billion passengers by the year 2010 is good news for us in the travel industry. The number of air passengers will be almost double from current levels. The FAA prediction is a warning about the need to meet demand with capacity. Does the crystal ball predict longer security lines and more crowded airplanes or more flights and more streamlined efficient security screenings? Already Chicago's Ohare airport has been subject to FAA enforced restrictions in landings because of limited capacity. The FAA predicts more growth for smaller regional airlines and smaller growth for the major legacy airlines. The airline business model continues to evolve to the more efficient and profitable low cost carriers such as Southwest, AirTran and Jet Blue. All in all the good news for the travel industry is growth in demand hopefully as partners with the government to meet the growing capacity.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

New Planet Travel In House Reservation System

After being on vacation for two months our new in house reservation system in up and running. Check it out. It is powered by Sabre, the most powerful travel reservation system available anywhere. It is easier to use. It offers more features, especially when searching for hotels, than before. It is non biased. Its search results includes the premier low-cost carrier Southwest...not included on Orbitz. You can book airfare, car rentals and hotels world wide. You can't on Orbitz. After testing a few hotel searches it returned better prices than Orbitz's touted low fare saver rates for our test run in St Louis for Memorial Day weekend. And probably the best feature is it serviced by Planet Travel locally. Have a problem you can reach one of our friendly agents seven days a week for assistance.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Airline Airfare Sale

The major and the minor airlines(legacy and non legacy) have just announced major airfare sales for the next two weeks. With fares starting as low as $49.00 each way plus tax, now is time to book summer air travel. We watched with amazement this morning as the new fares went into effect as fares quoted just this morning, fell as much as $50.00 each way when we went to book the tickets. Good news fellow travelers. Get the best rates while they last.