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February 14, 2014 6:47 pm
Virgin Atlantic check-in staff have been equipped with Google Glasses and Sony Smartwatches as part of a six-week technology trial designed to improve customer service. A number-plate recognition system will identify limousines pulling up at Virgin’s business-class reception at London Heathrow Terminal 3, and the names and flight details of the passengers will be “pushed” to the check-in staff’s wearable devices. The idea is for the check-in staff to be able to greet the passengers by name, and immediately update them on their flight’s status. virgin-atlantic.com
Founded in Manchester, the once British-based company Natural Retreats, which offers environmentally sensitive, concierge-assisted holiday rentals in or on the edge of national parks, has moved its base to Charlottesville, Virginia, in order to expand in the US. Having opened on the Rockefeller estate on Snake River in Idaho, on the edge of Yellowstone, in 2012, it has announced three further openings for 2014: in Valdez, Alaska; on Lake Toxaway in North Carolina; and in Taos, New Mexico. Properties being offered in Taos include Wilderness Lodge, with space for up to 14 guests and interiors by Alexandra Champalimaud – at an altitude of 3,200 metres, just below Kachina Peak, it is the highest chalet in the state. As well as being a great base for skiing, with the Kit Carson National Forest, Williams Lake Glacier and Rio Grande Gorge all within striking distance, it should be wonderful in summer too. naturalretreats.com
This spring sees the opening of the final stretch of the Carian Trail, a 800km path – Turkey’s longest – that runs through the Mugla and Aydin provinces of southwest Turkey, taking in the ancient sites of Loryma, Knidos, Idyma, Halicarnassos, Pedasa, Mylasa, Labranda and Alinda. From late April, Exclusive Escapes is offering three-day guided treks, involving 15km-16km walking per day, in the company of the path’s creators, Altay Özcan and Dean and Ayse Livesley. exclusiveescapes.co.uk
In an effort to boost visitor numbers to Manhattan and, more specifically, attendance at its theatres, next week is Off-Broadway Week (actually a fortnight, February 17 to March 2), with 49 playhouses offering two-for-one deals on tickets. nycgo.com/offbroadwayweek
Running concurrently with this year’s Marrakech Biennale (February 26 to March 31; marrakechbiennale.org), La Mamounia, the city’s most celebrated hotel, is hosting an intriguing exhibition of work by revered Moroccan artist Hassan El Glaoui and his unlikely artistic mentor, Winston Churchill. The two met in 1943, when GLaoui was 20. “Without that fateful meeting,” he wrote, “my parents’ attitude might have prevented me [becoming] an artist.”
February 20 to March 3, mamounia.com
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