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Monthly Archives: September 2007

Chicks Away: What Woman Want?

Chicks Away
Meme the original Travel Chick

I copied and pasted the text below as a draft post for further review and editing, but accidentally pushed the publish button. It appeared I had to replace my keyboard as it hung. A couple of hours later I realized the post was published in raw and un edited format and gobbled at by many feed readers already.

It seems like a press release, but I copied it from somewhere else…I simply don’t know where I picked it up, but I am sure I will find out when doing some refining and editing of the post…. Ah it also appears on the Chicks Away Blog itself…..

Chicks Away, the Social Media site for Women and Travel, launches at the Student Youth and Travel Association Conference (SYTA) in Whistler, BC

Chicks Away, the innovative website community for women to Dream, Connect, Share and Remember their travel experiences, officially launched at the SYTA Conference held in Whistler, BC last week.

Developed by A Couple of Chicks e-Marketing and its parent Company, Kuikene Inc, Chicks Away is the first Social Media website dedicated solely to women and travel, and was officially launched last week at the annual Student Youth and Travel Association Conference.

Recognizing women travel differently than men and assume different roles when they travel: mother, wife, sister or friend, Chicks Away allows women to customize their own travel website and share experiences with other women.

According to women’s travel expert, The GutsyTraveler, “it is estimated that women will spend $125 billion on travel within the next year. Last year alone, US women took 32 million trips with 80% of the travel decisions made by women.”

Until the launch of Chicks Away, there were no on line travel agencies, portal websites or social media sites that addressed what is important to women as a unique traveling consumer, and allowed women a voice to share travel experiences.

“Our vision is to provide a community for women to connect with other like minded women to discuss travel dreams, plan a vacation or business trip and share experiences,” said Patricia Brusha Co-founder and Principal of Chicks Away. “Our intent is to ensure that women’s voices and ideas are heard by the travel industry and to allow them to create a central resource for both dialogue and research – a women’s version of Wikipedia for Travel and so much more.”

Chicks Away uses a simple platform combining Blogs and Groups. Women can join for free and immediately create a travel blog, upload photos, videos and invite friends to view and comment. These blogs can be fully imported into other social media applications such as Facebook, so women can use Chicks Away as a main source to discuss and share their travel experiences.

Groups are created by women based on their own individual travel interests. Such diverse groups as single mom getaway weekends, honeymoons, Tuscany travel and dream trips are a few of the initial groups started. All travel oriented business’s including hotels and destinations are encouraged to start their own groups. Both Blogs and groups are being indexed by the search engines and have the ability to be found through natural search.

The website provides a multidimensional on line community and recognizes that women are unique when researching; planning and booking travel. Led by “Meme the Travel Chick,” Chicks Away will become a trusted source for women planning travel as the content will be created by its users.

About Chicks Away

Chicks Away is a new social media site for women to plan, share and connect about their travel experiences. The concept was developed by the online marketing firm A Couple of Chicks e-Marketing, who together with its parent company www.kuikene.com combined social media technology, and online travel industry expertise to create a social media portal for women who travel. Co-Founders Patricia Brusha and Alicia Whalen have developed three distinct business units around online marketing, tourism marketing and online marketing education with the successful e-marketing conferences held annually in Canada, www.onlinerevealed.com; online media firm A Couple of Chicks e-Marketing and the new www.chicksaway.com . The “Chicks” have published over 25 articles and offer interactive e-marketing workshops which take them on many travel adventures of their own. Visit www.kuikene.com for more information.

I took out the reference to Idea Hatching of Alicia as it is my view that reference should not be made in such press release as it is overkill and a bit strange that Alicia didn’t break the news on her Blog…….

I changed my tag WWW into WWW (What Woman Want) and still have to do some editing, but must address other matters for now.

Istanbul Museum of Modern Art: Times Present Times Past

We visited the 10th Istanbul Biennial. On that occasion the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art had a temporary exhibition on the whole ground floor called “Times Present Times Past” with an overview of the 9 past Biennials.

The building itself is excellently located on the Bosphorus. I was mezmerized by the restaurant and bar: what a stunning view over the Bosphorus while having a lunch or simply an expresso (or Turkish Coffee).

What struck me most were four photo’s of Shirin Neshat from her series “Woman of Allah”.

Woman of Allah
One of the four exhibited
Photo © Shirin Neshat

As one of the most controversial of contemporary artists, Shirin Neshat will participate in the exhibition with her works from her series Women of Allah, which was part of the 4th İstanbul Biennial in 1995. In René Block’s biennial, Neshat’s work was introduced to the international community and widely discussed. The Iranian-American artist, who participated in the 4th, 5th and 8th İstanbul Biennials, was recognized internationally after her Women of Allah series, in which she used the images of Iranian revolutionary women who were ready to die for their convictions and combined a poetic expression with a problematical political content. Neshat left Iran in 1979 at the time of the Iranian revolution to resume her studies in the U.S.A. and had to live in exile until 1990. When she returned to her country after having spent 11 years in the U.S.A, she began questioning the role of women in the public sphere under the Islamic regime; in the series Women of Allah, which she produced between 1993 and 1997, she concentrated on issues relating to womens’ body, text and political action.

Immediately I associated these photos with the film Submission made by then controversial member of Dutch Parliament and current Bush think tank associate Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh, a distant relative of Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh who was murdered after the film was presented.
Last edited by GJE on December 7, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Istanbul and the art of booking a hotel online: Nothing Zen! Part 4

Istanbul View Golden Horn
Istanbul: View of the Golden Horn.
A Turk singer and three Derwish
dancers preparing for a video shoot
Photo © Happy Hotelier

I just returned from a week’s trip to Istanbul with a group of 26 and a lot of information to share with you.

Trip and organization

First I would like to address the actual travel details.

We flew with KLM (a flight shared with KLM’s partner NW) directly from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Istanbul Attaturk Airport without any delay.The fact that KLM is now a subsidiary of Air France apparently did something good to KLM: Flying in time. Flight attendants who behave much more gracious and hospitable and even the food simple, but better than I remember from years ago, when I used to fly business class and decided not to fly KLM anymore due to exorbitant rates, very unfriendly flight attendants, and horrible food and had handed my frequent flier card in. Kudos for KLM!

The trip was partly booked through a Travel Agent No Beach. They also did a wonderful job in getting the group transferred by private couch from and to the airport, provided two nice guides fro some sightseeing, fully bilingual in Turkish and Dutch (to be more precise: one was speaking with a Flemish tongue, the Belgian version of Dutch). They organized some intermediate transport by coach and ferry to a nice restaurant at the Asian side of the Bosphorus and finally the transfer back to the airport. They made the hotel reservations solved some issues arising from an an overbooked hotel. All in all very conveniently organized. Once more the experience convinced me that for a group you should rely on an experienced travel agent and not on your own time consuming Internet rummaging and the hassle of negotiating with hotels you don’t know. Kudos for No Beach!

Hotels
As the frequent reader may remember from the two previous posts in this series, Part 1 in January and Part 2 in April, we had arrived at a shortlist of a couple of hotels:

Lady Diana Roof View
Hotel Lady Diana
Photo © Happy Hotelier
Celal Sultan Front
Celal Sultan Hotel front
Photo © Happy Hotelier

It turned out that part of the group stayed a couple of days in Lady Diana and I would suggest that as the hotel to stay in when you like to be in the old center and in the walking vicinity of several of Istanbul’s highlights, several good restaurants and in the vicinity of a very easy cross city tram by which you can avoid the car congestions you will face when taking a taxi (apart from the fact that almost every taxi driver tries to make enormous detours to jinn up his bill).

I myself stayed in The Celal Sultan Hotel fro the whole week. The owner lives in Belgium (hence the Dutch spoken) and the hotel has being decorated by a Belgian interior decorator. This is a very nice hotel, very nice staff, good service and good amenities, a cozy lounge and two nice roof terraces with view on the Aya Sophia, but we stayed in a standard room which is more the size of a room in a Pod Hotel than of a decent hotel room, which is a bit too much if you are used to 75 sqm suites in your own hotel. Their superior rooms have the usual 4 star size and are acceptable.

The main reason for my verdict in favor of the Lady Diana is that their roof terrace is much more spacious and spectacular than that of the Celal Sultan with a far better view over the city, the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara with the possibility to have breakfast on the roof. The Celal website is the best of the three. It gives good photo impressions of its interior, but is scarce in giving rates and prices. They should upload newer photo’s of their renovated roof terraces. At least the rack rates I saw announced in the lounge of the Ceal Sultan are higher than the rack rates of the Lady Diana published on their website. As everything in Istanbul one should negotiate the best rates.

Kybele Front
The Kybele Hotel Front view with owner in red and rosa
Photo © Happy Hotelier

The Kybele Hotel is just located between the two others and is also a very nice place for a drink, a lunch or a diner. It has a street terrace and a nice and cosy inner court terrace, without view, and is probably the cheapest of the three. I did not actually see their rooms, but I like the owner who decorated the hotel with thousands of small Turkish lamps (which he sells off course) and who, when we were looking at an Europa Cup football match between Istanbul’s Fenerbace and AC Milan, wore an AC Milan shirt, but was very satisfied that Fenerbace won 1-0 against AC Milan, the 2006 Europa Cup winner.

Dutch Design (20): Amstelveen: Citizen M and the Neighbourhood

Last Saturday the reverent Dutch Daily Newspaper

published a story about one of the future locations of a Citizen M Pod Hotel in Amstelveen, a suburb of, and connected with, Amsterdam. It gives more insight about the format of the Citizen M Pod Hotel concept.

It appears that the neighborhood, a middle to up class residential area, is contending the plans of Citizen M in court, as the building permit has been granted.

  • First there is an office building that has to be demolished to make place for the new hotel. I would say the building is not that disgusting, that it has to be demolished.
Citizen M Amstelveen
The building that will be demolished
Photo Maurice Boyer
  • They don’t like the design of the new building as it is not consistent with the architecture of the neighborhood. This is off course a very difficult discussion about “taste”
Citizen M Amstelveen Plan
  • Then they don’t like that the hotel will be located in a residential area. They fear too much traffic and too much parking problems, as no specific parking space is foreseen for the Hotel. The lawyer representing Citizen M claims that the guests will mainly arrive by international air transport and by taxi. I highly doubt that to be a truthful statement.
  • They fear it to become a by the hour rendez-vous Hotel and fear an influx of cheap backpackers tourism. The last argument is unlikely as the much cheaper hostel concept specifically caters for the backpackers.
  • They fear loss of privacy as guests will be able to look in their homes from the many windows. This is a bit strange argument if one knows the very Dutch habit of not closing the curtains when the sun sets, that many of our foreign guests find a rather peculiar typical Dutch habit.

It seems to take some time before the building permit will be finally granted….

The Private Islands Blog

Private Islands Blog Banner

Note: I have reworked this post entirely on December 30, 2009.

Sometimes I get requests to pay attention to this or to that. Sometimes I honor those requests, sometimes I definitely won’t honor them and sometimes I forget them.

Some time ago someone (I’ll refer to him further as Mr X) asked me to give his Blog some attention. I forgot, but recently remembered that there was a rumor that a real online casino would be established on the (in)famous Principality of Sealand about which Island Mr X had written once in one of his posts on his blog, as I did myself in February, which rumor seems a recurring rumor…without becoming true.

Added September 25, 2007:

According to the first commenter to this post, there is somebody out there who claims Mr X to be a fraud. I really don’t know and don’t want to get involved in a feud. I don’t know who to believe. The commenter doesn’t give away a lot of information about her/himself. So be careful who to believe! This is especially the case as there is another Private Islands Blog Out there: The Official Private Islands Blog.
Again: Who to believe?

Added December 30, 2009
Mr X commented somewhere here on the blog on December 18, 2009 out of the blue:

Dear Sir, the following page has numerous highly libelous links attacking me, can you please delete the page?

http://www.happyhotelier.com/2007/09/21/the-private-islands-blog/

and gave his name telephone number and e-mail address.

[ there were two spelling errors in his comment that I redressed here. Because of the highly personal information I've deleted the comment ]

My reaction was this:

Mr X
I don’t agree that the post is libelous it self.
I’m not here to attack you.
Therefore I’ll make the post private.

And you know what? The original link he gave me is now a dead blog anyway….

But after making this post privat, I got 404 errors when people were trying to reach this post.

I now have published the Rules of Engagement to make more clear what I want and don’t want here.

Thereafter I have reworked this post and made it public again to make it visible for everyone ….and deleted the comment with the links that mr X may or may not find libelous. Again I don’t want to get involved.