Etymology of Thailand and Bangkok

Etymology of Thailand and Bangkok  |  Thailand  |  A brief Did you Know? moment.  The etymology of Thailand is: Thai (freedom). The Thai use the phrase “land of the free” to express pride in the fact that Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia never colonized by a European power. Bangkok, same consists of two words Bang (meaning city or the plain area) and Kok (olive tree) “city of the olive tree”. Thank you Wirachai Chakumrod – Chief Concierge of Hyatt Bangkok and Vice President of Les Clefs d’Or Thailand, for sharing this with me during are lovely dinner at Baan Khanitha Restaurant. CM
 
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Pineapple symbol of Hospitality

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Pineapple symbol of Hospitality | Did you Know | I guess everyday we lear something new, you just need to ask. Since I have got to England, I have been seeing pineapples everywhere, yes you read right, pineapples… and mostly associated to very high-end brands. Today while having my pre dinner cocktail, the silver tray had a pineapple inscription, so I there to ask. Excuse me, what’s the meaning of the Pineapple.? Well this is what I found out by the expert comments of my buttler at Hartwell House. Pineapple has been, since Christopher Columbus, a treat of the Kings mostly in the renaissance of Europe. The concept of hospitality, the warmth, charm and style with which guests were taken into the home. Rare pineapple, was a true celebrity, measured by its rarity, espense and attractiveness. Therefore to be welcomed and offered to share this exclusive fruit, would express by all means a sense of good cheer, human warmth and affection. Now I know why Hesto Blumenthal uses a pineapple as the logo of his restaurant Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, or why my friends and colleagues at Pineapple Hotels, have chosen this name. CM

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Alligators in New York City Truth or Myth

Alligators in New York City Truth or Myth | New York City, US |  Ha Ha Ha, I always heard about this Urban Myth that there are Alligators living in the sewers of Manhattan, and today when I saw this funny piece of art at the subway station on 14th. Street, it came back to my mind. We all have seen the colony of rats that live across the city, some on Park Avenue, others in Harlem and the most adventurous in New Jersey, but alligators, that is a whole other league. Continue reading Alligators in New York City Truth or Myth

Short-Term Rental Ban in New York City

Short-Term Rental Ban in New York City |  New York City |  Are you one of those, that use to come for a week to New York City and choose to stay at an apartment over a hotel.? Well I don’t know if you heard, but a law regulating vacation rentals in New York City was passed (end of 2010) and it took effect on May 1, 2011. This new law will ban the renting of apartments that do not hold a hotel license for rentals of less than 30 days duration, or in buildings that have more than 2 dwelling units and that do not hold a hotel license. What does this mean to you.? that most of Manhattan apartments will not be able to be rented legally for Short-Terms or vacation purposes. Most websites, are now proposing lots of apartments in the north part of the city (south Harlem) and in Brooklyn that can be legally rented for less than 30 days. The reason is that in these neighborhoods (which are great neighborhoods by the way) you can find lots of 2 dwelling unit houses, which are not affected by the law. Continue reading Short-Term Rental Ban in New York City

Travel Agent or NOT Travel Agent that is the question

Travel Agent or NOT Travel Agent that is the question |  How does your brain work when you have to travel for work or decide to set away on holidays and book your flights, hotels, tour packages etc. ? Most of the gay travelers, nowadays, specially in the range of +/- 35 years old, find themselves booking online. They spend incalculable amount of hours researching online, trying to pick the brains of every single well travelled friend, not to mention if they happen to have a fellow travel agent in their close circle of friends… and then, in the end they book online.!!! Thinking HELL YES I made it, I got the best deal, and if not who cares, most of the online sites nowadays would send me a check, if someone books the same flight or hotel at a lower rate. Yeah right. !!!! don’t wait for too long next to the mailbox. Gays are very savvy travelers, I have to give you that, but nothing can compare or match the experience of an Old School / Well Traveled / Specialized Travel Agent (aka. ME – Carlos Melia ) ha ha ha.
I have recently joined the family of Virtuoso®, becoming part of an ELITE, and one of the few openly gay Virtuoso Travel Agents in the world. For those not familiar with organization, Virtuoso® is a network of the world’s finest travel agencies with knowledgeable advisors who draw upon first-hand experience to craft the perfect vacation for you. Virtuoso affiliated travel advisors have global connections with the best hotels, cruise lines, airlines, tour companies, restaurants and concierges. For you, this means access to exclusive travel offers that you can’t get on your own, along with your best value for the money. That’s the Virtuoso difference.
On the last issue of the magazine Virtuoso Insights (February/March 2011), they published a very interesting article that I want to share with all of you. The article was titled VIRTUOSO ADVANTAGE, and basically outlines the reasons by relaying on a Virtuoso Travel Advisor for your vacation planning makes A REAL DIFFERENCE in the way your experience travel. The case of study consisted on DO IT YOURSELF vs. VIRTUOSO Travel Advisor: They gave a budget of USD 4000 each to plan a three-night to the Big Apple, centered on a Broadway show. They compared the shocking final results, showing that while booking the exact same services, the Virtuoso Travel Advisor performance came with:
(1). Savings over the final Grand Total of USD 400
(2). The booking through the Virtuoso Travel Advisor took 30 minutes in total, while Do it Yourself spent over 7,5 hours.
(3). The Virtuoso Travel Advisor got extra amenities and room upgrades at no cost.
(4). The Virtuoso Travel Advisor added extra services to the package, like Transfers without adding extra to the final cost.
…among many other benefits and perks, that I invite you to check on your own reading the article (click on the image below)

So now you know, next time you plan to travel, think twice and give your travel agent the chance to show you, that not for nothing we think, breath, dream Travel and spent 8 hours a day, 5 times a week talking to vendors, hotels, airlines, tour companies… so we know what we are talking about. In the end do you know what the BIG Truth is…? most airlines, hotels are trying to cut distribution costs reaching out directly to customers, this way charging you the exact same price keeping to their own pockets that 10 – 15% Commission they are supposed to pay to Travel Agents. So Travel Agent or NOT Travel Agent, That is the question. Trust me they wont share that candy with you. Thank God, there are still out there many hotels and other travel related businesses willing to work with us, and offer exclusive benefits for our clients to reward their loyalty. CM

Book your flights in advance next time

Book in Advance next time • Follow your Travel Agent’s advice and next time you plan to fly Domestic of International, book in advance. This is a screen shot of a very interesting documental that CNBC did on the Airlines business and how this affects passengers and Travel Agents. Above is an example of what airlines call REVENUE MANAGEMENT and BUCKETS (same system applies for many hotels). Depending on the time, season and how in advance you book or purchase your ticket the final fare that you will end up paying. For the same AA flight 2412 passengers seating in the same cabin with exactly the same service paid from USD 50 up to over USD 700. So do not be shocked next time you ask the person seating next to you on the plane, how much they paid for their ticket. Book in advance, plan wisely and save money. For some of you this might sound OBVIOUS but most travelers still do not understand this basic principle of Supply and Demand, that also applies to airlines worldwide. We travel agents know how to do that so trust us. CM

CM by Carlos Melia rocks New York City

CM by Carlos Melia rocks New York City • It is official NOW…. I am a NEW TENANT at the Rockefeller Center Building.  CM by Carlos Melia brand new headquarters in New York City @ Rockefeller Center – 630 Fifth Av. Suite 2207.

Been in this business for over 20 years working for major airlines, hotels, travel agencies among other travel related services worldwide. For the last 10 years been working for/with the GLBT Community successfully promoting INBOUD travel to Argentina and Uruguay and I felt that it was time to grow. On my search to spread my wings and offer new options to my loyal clientele I have decided to take the challenge of CHANGE. !!!!! Change that will mean new destinations, more reviews on hotel and restaurants…. and much much more, but now based in New York City. !!!
I will continue with the usual Tailor Made Travel Services to Buenos Aires, rest of Argentina, Uruguay and New York City that most of you already know me for. But on top of that…. I have teamed up with Pisa Brothers Travel Services (with a presence of 11 offices all over the United States) a well renown and stablished New York based Tour Operator, member of the VIRTUOSO Network from where I will be offering the same personalized services you are already used to, but on a more diversified range of destinations for us all to explore. (so if you need Flights, Hotel Bookings, Tours, a Wedding Planner, you name it …. across the world… feel free to reach out. )
The second project I am working on is Your own Virtual Office and Agent in New York city. How does this work.?  If you are a small or mid size Hotel, Short Term Apartment Rental, Tour Operator, Destination, Restaurant or other Travel related service/product, and wish to have a permanent presence at the Big Apple, but you cannot afford it.? Contact ME now. I can help you with Marketing, Press, Public Relations, Promotions, Events, Sale Calls… and much more. Your own office, presence and agent right where you have to be. If you can’t make it here, you can’t make it anywhere. !!! My native tongue is Gay, but I am fluent in Straight… so everyone is Welcome.!!!

CM by Carlos Melia • www.carlosmelia.com • www.carlosmeliablog.com |  Carlos Melia | Gay Travel Consultant  | South America Travel Specialist. Tel. (212) 399.6161. Cell. (347) 944.0026. Toll Free 800.729.7472 ext. 205. Fax. (212) 265.8753. Twitter / Facebook / Skype carlosmelia

DINKs vs. DIWKs Gay Marketing

DINKs vs. DIWKs ( Gay Marketing ) • Words define us and our behaviors, and as so, they mutate over the years along in sync with the society, the culture and the reality that surround us, becoming sometimes outdated and obsolete allowing new models to develop. Well this is the case of DIWKs. Both acronyms portrait how our society is changing over the time and therefore the consumption patterns of the Gay and Lesbian community worldwide. DINKs ( Double Income No Kids ) is commonly used in reference to Gay and Lesbian couples who are childless and able to afford a more expensive consumer lifestyle than heterosexual couples. Worldwide, Pink Money is valued at £350 billion across a variety of sectors — especially entertainment and consumer goods. But the question raises to… what happens now with the DIWKs ( Double Income With Kids ). ? when strictly referring to the GLBT market segment. Will our consuming behavior develop to be same as the heterosexual couples ? or not ?…. This is a question that will, once again, differentiate minorities in times where rights are becoming equal for everyone, at least in the Western World.
The economic power of Pink Money has been seen as a force positive for the gay community, creating a kind of “financial self-identification” which helps gay and lesbian individuals feel like part of a community which values them.

ANTARES Brewery & Restaurant Mar del Plata

ANTARES Brewery & Restaurant Mar del Plata • Antares is a classic of Mar del Plata. Today after a long day of traveling to ” La Feliz “ ( the Gay ) as many know Mar del Plata, and press conferences and meeting… I needed to relax and enjoy a great diner. You know that I am always ready to find the drink, dish or thing that defines the destination where I am… and as sent to me from above I get invited to try the best Traditional and PREMIUM Beer of this region which is ANTARES.
ANTARES, was conceived originally as a game for Pablo and his two business partners (all Chemical Engineers), and became one of the most renown and prominent breweries of Argentina. With over 5 locations and restaurants all over the country, producing and average of 80 thousand liters of beer a month.

The name ANTARES comes inspired by the Antares Star, which is red. So there you have the name of the company and the colors of the logo. Nothing is random in this life is it ?

If you come to Mar del Plata and you like beer, please take your time to either visit their Brewery where they do private groups with bookings in advance, where they will take you on a journey through how the brand was developed, the process of producing beer and a final degustation from the same tanks. OR come to the Antares Restaurant, located at – Cordoba 3025, Las Lilas neigborhood – where you will be delighted by the beer degustation tables (see above) and the local cuisine… all using products or sauces, with base of beer. Pablo Rodriguez – one of the owners – secretly trusted me with TOP QUALIFIED information. His favorite flavour is he SCOTCH Beer, that goes great with red meats and pork (alcoholic level 6%). CM

(*) For more information on ANTARES click here

Traveling by Bus around Argentina

Today I have, once again, experience the BUS service system of Argentina…. and I have to admit that I am quite favorably impressed. My trip was from the city of Buenos Aries to Mar del Plata (a 5 hours ride). The bus left Retiro Bus Station terminal, almost in time and came along in a very comfortable and professional way.
I chose the SUITE Premium Serice, which means that your seat, almost like the first class seat of an airline in features and size, will recline 180 degrees to turn into a flat bed.
As this was not all for the minimum price paid, when I sat down the bus attendant handed me a box that was FULL of goodies….. to eat during my trip, since this was a non stop service linking the two cities. Bathroom on board + free coffee and water were a plus. Believe me, I AM VERY SPOILED and when it comes to travel… WORST…. but this was a great experience over all. The only thing missing, to freaks like me…. was that still they do not have WiFi access on board the bus, as the do in the United States and destinations in Europe. You would not imagine my internet withdrawal once I came off the bus and ran to my hotel to get connected back to my virtual life. And here I am sharing all with you. Cheers. CM

(the panoramic view from my seat)

(*) Argentina has a very professional and extensive net of buses that will take you anywhere and everywhere within Argentina and neighbor countries. A safe, comfortable and affordable way of travel if you can manage the time.

(**) The RETIRO Bus Terminal in the city of Buenos Aires is not located in the most safe area of the city. Despite this if you take a taxi from your hotel to the terminal, once there and inside is completely safe. Just a warning that you will not be too impressed by the panoramic view of the nearby slums that surround the terminal. Wish one day come and see a complete different scene, but I guess I have been wishing that for too long now and I do not see any future changes in the air anytime soon.

(***) Tickets for buses may be purchased ONLINE and picked up directly at the bus terminal 30 minutes prior boarding. Do not hesitate to Contact ME in case you wish to book a Bus to explore beautiful Argentina. Just keep in mind that the highest cost in this case will be the time you will spend traveling, Argentina is a large country and travel between major destinations may take rides of up to 24 hs.