Welcome to The Check-In, our weekend feature focusing on all things travel.
Want to witness the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris? It's time to start planning
The 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris will make history — and if you want to be part of it, read on.
For the first time ever, the opening ceremony will take place outside of a stadium, specifically on the River Seine. Each Olympic delegation will have its own boat, and this parade will glide by spectators lining a four-mile route. Organizers say at least 600,000 people will be able to attend this opening ceremony — ten times more than in an Olympic stadium — and tickets won't be necessary to view the spectacle from higher levels. Those who want a closer look will need to purchase seats, and for international visitors, that is done through the official ticketing website.
The Summer Olympics will run from July 26 to Aug. 11, and to get tickets to the opening and closing ceremonies and any of the more than 750 Olympic events, you have to sign up for the lottery (the deadline to enter is April 20, 2023, at 6 p.m. Central European Time). If you're one of the lucky ones selected, you'll receive an email after May 9 with a time slot to buy tickets. The Paralympic Games are set for Aug. 28 to Sept. 8, and tickets will become available this fall.
Hotels are getting more creative with their resort fee offerings
If you've ever grumbled when your $100 hotel stay jumped up to $150 thanks to a resort fee, you're not alone.
The American Hotel and Lodging Association defends the fees, telling The Washington Post in a statement they "directly support hotel operations — including wages and benefits for hotel staff — and when they are applied, hotel websites clearly and prominently display them for guests during the booking process, in accordance with [Federal Trade Commission] guidance." Scott Mayerowitz, executive editor of the Points Guy, disagrees, calling them "a pure money grab for these properties," adding, "in many cases, they're just making up anything that they can to justify these costs."
The typical amenities that come along with resort fees are things like bottled water, access to a fitness center, and WiFi, but the Post found that some hotels are getting very creative with what's covered. The Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, for example, lets guests husk coconuts, take ukulele and hula lessons, and rent GoPro cameras as part of its $50 daily resort fee. The Viceroy in Washington, D.C., offers white noise machines as part of its $26 "mandatory guest amenities fee," while the $30 daily destination fee at The Nines Hotel in Portland, Oregon, provides access to a library with a pool table, shoe shining, and electric bike rental. Read more about these eclectic offerings at The Washington Post.
These festivals are a fun way to discover the flavors of the USA
If you're in the mood for a culinary adventure, there's no need to go far — the United States is home to all sorts of flavorful fetes, from the sweet (New Orleans' Beignet Fest) to the savory (The Cheese Curd Festival in Ellsworth, Wisconsin). Here are a few to consider if you want to take a bite out of the USA:
Looking for a spicy way to mark Labor Day? The National Buffalo Wing Festival, on Sept. 2 and 3, is happening in — where else? — Buffalo, New York. The festival is returning to Highmark Stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills, and attendees will have the chance to try wings from several different restaurants, all while mingling with other enthusiasts on an NFL field. There are also a few competitions to enter, like the Most Creative Amateur Wing Sauce Recipe contest. You might not be able to beat the original buffalo sauce, but it's sure fun to try.
Get your fill of gumbo, étouffée, and other delights during the inaugural Louisiana Food and Wine Festival, Sept. 14-17 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Celebrating Cajun and Creole heritage and cooking, this fest is all about good food and spirits, with tastings throughout the weekend. There are multiple events scheduled, including Fire on the Lake, showcasing grill and pit masters, and the Zydeco Brunch, with live jazz. Several chefs will also be on hand for culinary demonstrations and talks, with Meg Bickford of Commander's Palace and Ryan Hacker of Brennan's both on the roster. Tickets range from $89 to $200, and are on sale now.
Now in its 32nd year, the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta has grown from a one-day event with 20 restaurants and 20 wineries to a five-day extravaganza with more than 60 restaurants and 90 wineries. Running from Sept. 27 to Oct. 1, the fiesta is both fun and educational, with several wine seminars and chef demos offered, and one way to experience the celebration is by hopping on a bike and taking part in the cycling tour between gourmet food stations. Tickets go on sale July 5.
While you're in New Mexico, consider adding the Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail to your itinerary. A culinary staple in the region, there are stops in Taos, Las Cruces, Albuquerque, Gallup, and, of course, Hatch, the "Chile Capital of the World." Each restaurant puts its own spin on the green chile burger, and your tastebuds will be singing their praises.
If it's bourbon you're after, you'll find it in abundance in the Bluegrass State. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail takes visitors to 18 signature distilleries, with stops at James Beam, Maker's Mark, Wild Turkey, and Bulleit, to name a few. If you want to visit each one, give yourself at least five days (and please, be responsible!) and make reservations at the distilleries ahead of time. The official starting point is at the Welcome Center at the Frazier Museum in Louisville, where you can pick up field guides, maps, and other resources to make the journey easier, but Bardstown, home to 11 distilleries, is another great place to start your adventure. It's a good idea to leave the driving to someone else, and there are several transportation options, including chauffeured party buses and the Bourbon Boat, which combines a ride on the Kentucky River and a tour of the Buffalo Trace Distillery.
Plan accordingly: Upcoming events to add to your calendar
Next month, Malibu Barbie is saying goodbye to the Golden State and hello to the Big Apple. On May 17, the popup Malibu Barbie Cafe will open in New York City, an immersive dining experience featuring a menu designed by MasterChef semi-finalist Becky Brown (try the Pacific Paradise Pancakes or West Coast Wave Wedge Salad) and tons of photo opportunities (yes, you can pose inside a life-sized Barbie box).
The Malibu Barbie Cafe is the latest creation from Bucket Listers, the team behind the Golden Girls Kitchen, and a second location will pop up in Chicago on June 7. Tickets go on sale April 19, starting at $35 for kids and $50 for adults. Each ticket includes an entree and side item, and reserves your time slot.