Travel briefs


Theme Parks

Work begins on Legoland hotel

Legoland Florida has broken ground on a Lego-themed hotel at the park’s entrance that is scheduled to open in 2015.

Park executives hope the four-story, 152-room hotel will draw more guests for multi-day visits to Legoland. Currently many visitors stay in Orlando and drive to Legoland in Winter Haven, about 45 miles away.

The new hotel will overlook Lake Eloise, where pirate-themed water ski shows are held.

This will be the world’s fifth Legoland Hotel; there is currently Lego-themed lodging in California, England and Denmark. Another hotel is under construction in Malaysia.


American lets passengers bid

for an upgrade

American Airlines is testing the idea of letting customers bid for upgrades to first class.

Passengers can submit a bid — along with a credit card number — up to six days before the flight.

“Make us an offer — and we will email you before check-in to let you know whether your offer was accepted,” the airline says on its website.

American says that winning bidders will also get priority check-in, boarding and baggage, and complimentary food and beverage. However, passengers will earn frequent-flier miles based on the class of service that they bought with the ticket, not the upgraded class.

American began the test quietly last month. It wouldn’t disclose the number or location of routes being tested or how much a winning bid might cost.

“We’ll evaluate the results in the coming weeks to determine if this is something our customers value,” said airline spokesman Matt Miller.

On the website, American says upgrade requests by elite-status members of its AAdvantage frequent-flier program will continue to get priority and won’t be affected by the test. It says the new “Plusgrade” upgrades are for passengers who aren’t AAdvantage members or bought tickets that normally aren't eligible for upgrades.

In the fine print, American says it doesn’t promise that any of the bidders will get upgrades even if seats are available, and it won’t guarantee specific seat assignments.

The airline also won’t promise that successful bidders will get a first-class meal. The promised complimentary food could be snack items or meals that are available for purchase in the main cabin, Miller said.

New service

American Airlines has launched service between Miami International Airport and four new international destinations: Cozumel, Mexico; Curitiba and Porto Alegre, Brazil; and Milan, Italy.

Suspended Service

Regional Caribbean carrier Liat has suspended its five weekly roundtrips on the Antigua-Nevis route from Dec. 3 to Jan. 14. Liat said the suspension was due to a current fleet transition and limited resources, although management assured Nevis officials it would “seek to resume the services on Jan. 15.”

Liat flights to St. Kitts have not been disrupted.

Antigua serves as a main connecting point in the Caribbean for interisland flights as well as a gateway for flights from the United States and Europe.

Nevis currently is served daily by Cape Air and Tradewind Aviation from San Juan, Puerto Rico.


old Breezes reopens

as a Royalton

The former Breezes Trelawny Resort & Spa on Jamaica’s northwestern coast has reopened as the 352-room Royalton White Sands after a $40 million renovation.

Two more Royalton-branded properties are scheduled to open by year’s end in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Luxe hotel boom

in China

China is experiencing a boom in luxury hotels, and not just in major cities like Shanghai and Beijing — evidence that finer amenities and a touch of Western comfort are becoming more important to the country’s growing number of domestic tourists as well as to international visitors.

One telling example: Ritz-Carlton recently opened two new properties: one in Chengdu, Sichuan province in the southwest, and another in Tianjin, a port in the northeast. Both cities are headquarters to several multinational corporations, manufacturers and technology companies, drawing business travelers from all over the world, but they are also gateways to more remote destinations in each province.

An estimated 2.2 million Americans will go to China in 2014, most of them business travelers.

Miami Herald

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