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• Dr Bronner’s magic soap has “18 different uses-in-one!” from toothpaste to massage to nappy wash!
• Wearable luggage – Jaktogo is a very ugly coat made out of plasticky pockets so you can smuggle up to 10kg extra hand luggage on to your flight … It also comes in dress form!
• “Round the world pants” – cities instead of days of the week … £70!
Pretentious and silly travel concepts …
• Who knows what a concierge normally does, but this year they specialised. There was the “food truck concierge” at New York’s Thompson Hotels; the “sleep concierge” at The Benjamin, also in NYC; the “art concierge” at the Hazelton Hotel in Toronto; and, best of all, the “horcierge”, to attend to guests’ horse-related needs, such as buying jodpurs, at the Stafford London Hotel.
• Giving a fancy name to something we do already and calling it a new trend is hugely popular in the travel industry … think “wild swimming” (swimming outside), wild camping (camping not on a campsite) and this year’s fave, “the inter-generational holiday” – going on holiday with your kids, your mum, and your nan.
• Have you got what it takes to survive? asked the new Bear Grylls Survival Academy. “What it takes” being £1,899 for a five-day course in the Highlands. Oh, and Bear himself won’t be there. And you have to catch your own breakfast. And sleep outside.
• The 2012 award for most pretentious concept goes to BrewDog for their “craft beer cocktail speakeasy in Shoreditch”. Sounds like the marketing team just googled “most-used hipster terms” and strung them together to form a new bar. It also has a “Japanese street food menu”. Of course it does.
• A Hello Kitty spa for children opened in the summer in Dubai.
• Immersive experiences that let punters experience the sort of terror depicted in slasher movies were the breakthrough event of the year. From a Horror Camp Live weekend break to zombie shopping mall shootouts in Reading.
Dog-related holidays and products …
• The fashion world may have moved on from dogs, declaring cats and a very well-dressed monkeys the animals of 2012, but in the world of travel dogs still dominated. Pampered pooches and adventurous canines were catered for with a variety of innovative services and products. Our favourite doggy development in 2012 was the dog blog phileasdogg.com, “the only UK travel site written by dogs … for dogs”. That’s right, a two-year-old mongrel called Attlee Common heads a team of Rover reporters who sniff out dog-friendly holidays and places to stay. Even if you are not a dog owner we urge you to look at this site.
• Attlee would surely approve of Best Western’s response to “a surge in enquiries over the past month from guests requesting something special for their dogs to eat on Christmas Day” – the £105 dog’s dinner, a selection of matured Kobe beef, the finest filet mignon and porterhouse steak, all cooked to order and served by a dog butler (we’re not sure if this is a dog dressed as a butler or a human being). It’s more expensive than the priciest Christmas meal available to guests …
• And what should a pampered pooch wear to dine on such luxury fare? Why, a cashmere coat of course, a snip at £161, from petsinpyjamas.com, which as well as selling outrageously expensive dog-wear also has a travel section.
• More practical – and affordable – canine clothing comes from Equafleece. Its 2012 contribution to dog-wear is the “portable hug” for dogs scared of fireworks. The £13 T-shirt is designed to help dogs feel supported and “therefore more able to breathe and cope with fears”.
Stupid stunts … and stupid surveys
• At the start of this year, Jurys Inn hotels offered a free night to guests with a cheesy name, such as Mr Stilton or Mrs Cheddar to celebrate National Cheese Lovers’ Day, while earlier this month The Cavendish in London was choosing one guest who would be allowed to pay for their room with chocolate coins.
• As royal fever swept the travel industry, all hotels felt obliged to provide a jubilee afternoon tea, a “right royal knees up” weekend package or, in the case of Marriott hotels, a free “corgi” cocktail to any guest called Elizabeth.
• A sea of PR swept along in the royal couple’s wake as they travelled the world, and any country they visited, from the Seychelles to Canada, expected the “William and Kate effect”. Then last month dozens of holiday companies started pushing their “royal babymoons”.
• “Boris voted Britain’s favourite beach buddy” said social travel network Gogobot, while “Going on holiday more stressful than giving birth” said some “research” by Continental Tyres.
• A terrible summer meant most festivals were a washout but some fared worse than others. London’s first Bloc music festival was shut almost immediately due to dangerous levels of overcrowding, Creamfields was called off due to flooding, while the British Biscuit Festival failed to deliver a slam dunk.
• The poshing-up of festivals reached ridiculous levels, with an Anthropologie tent at Port Eliot, and banquets delivered by a Michelin-starred chef at Wilderness. Even Reading had glamping options that included “Podpads” and “Yurtels”.