While the phone traffic going into travel agent offices is by far greatest for travel to winter vacation resorts, the questions this week related to both sunspot travel and worldwide destinations.
QUESTION: I want to go overseas to Europe. I don't like many of the older hotels that seem to be so common in most of the countries. I like some of the newer, less expensive good quality places we can book here in Canada. What is available in this regard over there?
ANSWER: Consumers are waiting with anticipation for the opening of the next IKEA.
But the wait is not just for the big new addition to Winnipeg's retail landscape. The company is branching out well beyond its tradition furniture and home-fixture retail model upon which it has built its success.
It has recently announced it is moving into the hospitality sector with the establishment of at least 100 budget design hotels.
After studying research, they found the fastest expanding sector of the European hospitality industry is in boutique-style properties that are marketed at prices the ordinary traveller can afford.
Concluding this fits in with their style of consumer thinking, the first series of properties will be opened in Europe under a different name and managed in conjunction with an as yet unannounced established hotel operator that understands the European visitor market.
The first one will likely open in Germany with others scheduled for the U.K., Netherlands and Poland.
The North American trend that has really gained traction over the last few years in the accommodation sector revolves around budget properties as well.
Both business and leisure travellers are filling brands that offer free breakfasts, complimentary Internet, and quality beds in small but well-appointed rooms. The boutique style addition to the budget equation is certain to be a great success as it takes foothold in Canada and the United States whether it is by IKEA or other progressive hotel chains.
There is already a number of this style of accommodation in most places in Europe. They may not always be in the central core of the major cities but they are available.
QUESTON: I have been deeply disappointed at the removal of both Panama and Manzanillo from our non-stop sun destination options. What will be the popular places to go this year, and can we look forward to anything new in the future out of Winnipeg?
ANSWER: While Mexico will continue to attract the majority of vacationers, simply because of the numbers of flights available by all the tour operators, my bet for this year is Jamaica.
It, too, has lost some lift out of Manitoba, but it is gaining momentum out of two celebrations that are putting it at the publicity forefront.
With Usain Bolt's achievement as the recognized fastest man on Earth, the coverage of his and other Jamaican runners has been nonstop all over the world. …