Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Phonebloks: The Lego Style Smart Phone

How many times has only one part of your phone been damaged, requiring you to get a whole new phone? If your camera or speakers break, you're forced to buy a new phone even if everything else still works. Dave Hakkens’ new invention may be the answer to this annoying problem. Hakkens’ Phonebloks is a cellular phone with removable parts – think Legos.

Phonebloks has detachable components on both the front and back of the device. These parts can be upgraded or replaced individually allowing the user to pay for only the part they may need. The device is held together by a pegboard style case. The pieces fit into this case with a replaceable screen that is mounted on the front.

The device also allows users to customize their phone specific to the way they plan use it. Want to be a photographer? Get a high resolution camera. Music obsessed? How about a larger storage block so you can store thousands of songs? Users can also create their own blocks since the platform will be built on open software.

Since Hakkens put the video for Phonebloks on YouTube on Tuesday, the internet community has exploded with support for his idea. He plans to use a service called Thunderclap to send out messages on Facebook and Twitter about the phone. Already over 81,000 people have already signed up to help spread the word, showing that this idea might change the way we use and replace smart phones.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Haunts Around the Country: Halloween Travel

From the Exorcist to The Amityville Horror, haunted happenings have always frightened and fascinated tourists. With Halloween just around the corner, what better time to experience some of America’s most haunted places? Here are some of the most haunted places in the U.S.
Lake Placid, New York holds a 5k Zombie Run every year. They are also host  a “Trick-or-Treat” pub crawl where adults can relive the fun of Halloween all over again. Aside from the annual events, Fort Ticonderoga, located in Lake Placid, is rumored to be haunted. So if you're a more daring traveler you can take a tour and attempt to spot a ghost or two!

The Golden Stage Inn in Ludlow, Vermont was a stagecoach stop back in the days of the Wild West. Under new ownership it was turned into a hotel – one home to a ghost in the attic. Since the discovery many patrons have had there own encounters with the ghost. Some guests have noticed TVs turning on and off on their own, lights turning on and off, and contractors have claimed to have heard footsteps only to turn around and no one was there. This historic hotel prides itself on being a friendly haunted hotel and attracts many ghost hunting guests. 

Telluride, Colorado is a town filled with ghost stories and known for the paranormal. You can  grab a flashlight and listen to ghost stories outside of the Telluride Historical Museum. If you're looking for something a little more thrilling, you can proceed to take a tour of the dimly lit museum that was once a hospital in 1896.

So if you're looking for a new spooky adventure you may want to visit one of these towns, and maybe even have a ghost experience of your own!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Hotels Situated on Great Locations

Location, location, location!! Location is always important in the real estate and hotel industries.  As properties continue to find new ways to entice guests we found a few locations that definitely sparked our interest...

The Amankila hotel in Bali is located right on the Lombok Strait, giving guests a beautiful view. The suites are all free standing and feature canopied beds, patios with coconut shell tables, and cathedral ceilings. The hotel also features gorgeous infinity pools for guests to relax in.

The Blantyre is a Tudor style country house covered in ivy, situated on 117 acres in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. Rooms have huge fireplaces and an extensive book collection. The main dining room serves country cuisine with a French twist and in the winter the tennis courts are transformed into an ice skating rink.

The Four Seasons Resort in Bora Bora lets you watch the sun rise over the Pacific or the sun set over their gorgeous lagoon with Mount Otemanu as a back drop. Buildings have walls made of volcanic stone with mother of pearl accents. Suites include overwater platforms that allow guests to stare at the sky, or even spy dolphins in the ocean around them.

From tucked away escapes to exotic island hotels, the location is always key when selecting your accommodation.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Disney Treasures Come Home to Chicago

Disney is beloved by all, young and old, and right now the Museum of Science and Industry has the "Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives" on display. Walt Disney was born in Chicago, so it only makes sense that the celebration of his life and work would take place here as well.

The exhibit starts with Disney's birth on the South Side, in 1901 and carries on after his death in 1966 - proving that he has truly created a legacy. Johnny Depp's pirate costume is on display from Pirates of the Caribbean, and for older Disney fans take a peek at the original Mickey Mouse watch!

Disney didn't just make movies, he revolutionized the industry. Snow White, the first color animation feature was a huge gamble which paid off with millions at the box office. His company invented the multi plane camera, allowing for a more efficient depth of field. Disney was also an early user of the new media of Television with The Wonderful World of Disney becoming a Sunday night staple.


Chicagoans young and old can enjoy the exhibit, and if you're not from Chicago, it's worth the trip to see some of Disney's treasures!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Underground Escapes: Cave Hotels

Usually people want a room with a view and hotels often highlight their beautiful views. These hotels however, are unique in that they don't have windows or a view, but still offer great stays!

The Locanda di San Martino Hotel e Therme in Matera, Italy is a gorgeous hotel and spa that brings to mind the baths of Ancient Rome. It was carved out of limestone rock thousands of years ago, and has hydro massage and many other spa treatments to reduce stress. The hotel is also located at the center of Matera’s historical district.

The Argos in Capadocia in Turkey is a 53 room underground hotel complex. Rooms are connected by tunnels and they are said to have been inhabited by ancient Christians and Monks. Some of the rooms are outside of ethereal underground pools - this combined with the unique rock formations makes the hotel seem like something out of a fairy tale. There is also a vineyard on the property meaning there is no shortage of people looking to drink some wine and stay underground.

The Grand Canyon’s Cavern is a unique hotel with history. It is so far underground that during the Cuban Missile crisis President Kennedy used it for a bomb shelter. Today however, guests can stay in one of the hotel’s 48 rooms - so deep underground and missing natural light that no animals live down there at all. Because of the limestone the air is virtually moisture free, making it the largest dry cavern in the U.S.

While these hotels aren't for the claustrophobic - if you're looking for a change of pace, a cave hotel might be just right for you.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Secluded Hotels

In today's fast paced world sometimes you just want to get away from it all. Why not try a hotel that helps you escape and unwind? We found a few hotels secluded from the outside world, and while some may be hard to get to they just might be the key to relaxation and retreat from your busy life.

The Green Magic resort in Kerala, India is a childhood dream come to life as the hotel consists of multiple tree houses. Hanging bridges connect the tree houses – some of which are as high 115 feet above the ground. For the less adventurous guests there are some properties on ground level.  Access to the tree houses is via a cane lift which resembles a giant bird cage.


Jules Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida is all in the name – the property literally lets you stay under the sea. Guests have to scuba dive through a beautiful lagoon filled with tropical fish and jellyfish in order to get to the hotel. Your baggage follows behind you – but don’t worry it’s placed in water proof suitcases. 


The Tikichik Narrows Lodge in Bristol Bay, Alaska is 300 miles away from the nearest road system making it accessible only by seaplane. The lodge employs four full time pilots to fly guests from Dillingham, Alaska to the resort and back. Once guests arrive they can enjoy freshwater fishing or take a guided tour in the Alaskan wilderness to view Grizzly Bears.

   Tikchik Narrows Lodge, Luxury Hotel, Bristol Bay, Alaska wallpapers

Are you dreaming up your next getaway yet?

Monday, October 14, 2013

AdTrap: Internet without Advertisements

One of the biggest annoyances of the modern age is dealing with unwanted ads, from YouTube to Google, ads are everywhere and ad blockers only do so much. AdTrap, a new device that started shipping in August blocks the ads before they even reach you, making an ad free browsing experience possible. The company's motto is "the internet is yours again", a throwback to the early days of the internet when there were no ads.

AdTrap is a white rectangular box that resembles a wireless router and blocks the ads before they reach your computer or mobile phone. It retails at $139, which seems pricey when ad blockers are free, but it blocks much more than an ad blocker. The company has already retained lawyers to deal with any potential disgruntled websites or advertisers, since sites like CNN rely primarily on revenue from advertisers to make their money this could hurt their bottom line. Another drawback is there are popular websites it doesn't work with such as Hulu, but they say they are working towards making it work there as well.

AdTrap could be the next big thing, or it could fall to the wayside, it all depends on two things: how badly consumers don't want to see ads and how badly websites want to keep advertising revenue. Only time will tell which side wins.

For more information please visit

Friday, October 11, 2013

Chicago Marathon 2013

The Chicago Marathon is Chicago’s biggest running event and it will take place this Sunday, October 13th. Athletes from around the globe come to our city to test their skills in the grueling 28 mile race. The Chicago Marathon is a much loved Chicago tradition, and this year marks the event’s 36th anniversary. 

While excitement for the Chicago Marathon is readily seen throughout the city, security efforts and restrictions weigh heavily on the event as it will be the first marathon since the Boston Marathon bombings. Security measures require runners to put personal items in clear plastic bags and spectators are no longer able to gather at the start or finish lines. 

For many participants completing this marathon is an incredible accomplishment. And for those of us who let others do the running for them spectator maps give a glimpse of just what an achievement the marathon is. Events like the Chicago Marathon allow for the whole country to unite and be a part of something. And that's why it will always be popular - it allows people to be a part of something bigger than themselves, whether as a spectator or a runner. So for the runners this Sunday, we’ll be cheering for you!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Unbreakable Smart Phones

Imagine never having to worry about cracking your smart phone’s screen again - Samsung's new technology may allow for just that. Samsung has created a flexible smart phone screen, enabling the phone to bend, and ultimately making it virtually unbreakable. This phone features a 6 inch display and could usher in a new era of innovation for smart phones. Bendable technology could be utilized in so many ways within the mobile phone marketplace. Just think – your phone could now fit into virtually any pocket, ah the possibilities!

The product is still in the early stages and companies are working to determine how to mass produce it cheaply while also establishing ways to make the screen heat and water resistant. This type of technology has already proven successful in the technology field - TVs from both Samsung and LG have used a similar type of technology. 

In the smart phone market innovation is imperative – bring on the next best thing or risk sitting on the sidelines. We’re thinking this is something that may just be what the ever-changing, always-upgrading, world of mobile phones may need!  

For more information please visit

Friday, October 4, 2013

Ghosts and Great Service: Haunted Hotels

October brings pumpkins, crunchy leaves, and scary ghost stories - many of which involve hotels. These hotels are known to be haunted, from ghostly apparitions to bumps in the night. All these hotels stand out in an otherworldly way.

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO is widely considered to be the hotel that inspired Stephen King's the Shining. It's not only terrifying because of King's story of a man’s descent into madness, but because guests in real life have experienced unsettling events. Travelers have reported the founder’s wife playing haunting melodies on her piano, and the founder himself is rumored to haunt the hotel.

It should come as no surprise that the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, MA has a haunted reputation. Salem is considered one of the most haunted towns in America due to the Salem witch trials. According to multiple guests, a female apparition is rumored to haunt the hallway outside of room 612. Guests have also reported keys going missing and water and lights turning off with no explanation. Ghosts or no ghosts - the rumors keep people interested.

The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, CO has multiple ghostly apparitions. Guests have reported being escorted to their rooms by an old fashioned railroad conductor complete with a uniform, who vanishes after dropping them off. An employee there also reported seeing a ghostly string quartet (which used to be nightly entertainment at the hotel) and when he asked who they were, one member responded "don't worry we live here".

Haunted hotels aren't for everyone, the scare factor may be too much, but for people looking for a more adventurous hotel experience they could be perfect!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Going Green in 2013

Going green is a popular topic these days – everyone from celebrities to Fortune 500 companies are trying to be more eco-friendly. Many hotels are starting to realize that they can go green, make a profit, and improve their guests’ stays at the same time. Eco-friendly doesn’t have to mean roughing it in a tent in the woods. It’s possible to operate a luxury hotel and care about the environment simultaneously. Let’s take a look at a few hotels that are doing just that…

The Crosby Hotel in New York’s trendy Soho neighborhood, is both eco-friendly and luxurious. It focuses on sustainability - with a rooftop garden the chefs use fresh produce and the garden also reduces heating and cooling costs. They also used local materials when constructing the hotel and use eco-friendly cleaning products. 

The Element Las Vegas in Summerlin, Nevada focuses on eco-friendly policies throughout the hotel. They have in room recycling bins, special parking spots with charging stations for hybrid cars, and energy efficient light bulbs. 

The Rockhouse Hotel in Jamaica provides gourmet dining, morning yoga, Cliffside lounges, and a spa while still being eco-friendly. They have solar water heaters and water saving faucets. This hotel takes eco-friendly one step further as the buildings emerge from volcanic rock cliffs. 

Aranas Del Mar in Costa Rica seamlessly combines luxury with going green. It features some of the nicest rooms in the city. This hotel shows it cares about the native ecosystem as they had researchers study surrounding wildlife before building the hotel so they would not disrupt their habitats. They also use solar panels, a non-chlorine cleaning system in their pools, and have an innovative underground electricity system all proving their commitment to going green.

All of these hotels prove that going green can be part of a successful business model. For more information please visit