a royal send-off

royal guards

Just when you think there’s nothing left to do, no corner left unexplored, Incheon Airport travels back in time as the Korean Royal Family of the Josean Dynasty make a ceremonial procession through the terminal. Dressed in colorful traditional costumes, an enfilade of noblemen and women (staff from the Cultural Heritage Foundation actually) re-enact a scene from a bygone era: the daily walk of the Royal Family. It turns out that transit travelers spend an average of 5.2 hours at Incheon waiting for connecting flights and the procession is part of a push to make the gateway more than just an airport but also a destination representing Korean society. A Cultureport, if you will, which also includes a Traditional Craft Gallery, the Korea Culture Museum, and the Korean Traditional Cultural Experience Centre, all within the terminal confines. Delirious after five hours of shopping and walking and eating and staring at the departures board it made for one of the more intriguing distractions I’ve ever witnessed in an airport and a fun photo-op, too – not to mention a very royal send-off.

the royal procession

the royal guard

a royal nobleman and woman

me and the royal guard

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andy fraser, tartan butler

Curious about whether you can pull off a tartan plaid in 2012?  Look no further than Andy Fraser, the new Tartan Butler at Edinburgh’s Balmoral Hotel. A master at tracing Scottish ancestry, Fraser scoured over 30 variations of his own family tartan to trace the clan as far back as the early 13th Century. Coming quick to the realization that this talent was more than just an avocation, the local Edinburgh resident partnered with Rocco Forte’s Balmoral to share his expert guidance with guests wanting to find out a little more about their Scottish heritage. The gentleman definitely knows his history, too: “It was the Dress Act of 1746 that tried to bring the warrior clans under government by banning the tartan and other aspects of Gaelic culture,” says the Scotsman. “When the law was abolished in 1782, it was no longer ordinary Highland dress but was adopted instead as the national dress of Scotland.” Just imagine: plaid, a political statement. Once Fraser has established a connection to one of the thousands of clans and traditionally recognized tartans, he can arrange a trip to Kinloch Anderson, one of the city’s most established Highland dress shops. Or better yet head to my friend, kilt maker Howie Nicholsby, for an altogether 21st century kind of statement.

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heritage, history, & hotels, too

May is National Preservation Month, in case you hadn’t heard. Launched by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1973 to showcase America’s historic places, Preservation Month celebration events include architectural and historic tours, river cruises and museum visits across the country. It’s also the perfect excuse to overnight at one of the Historic Hotels of America, a collection of quality hotels that have faithfully maintained their historic integrity and architecture. From the legendary Palace Hotel in the heart of San Francisco, to the iconic Lenox hotel in Boston’s Back Bay, to the luxurious Royal Hawaiian, more than 50 member hotels across the country are offering packages designed to lure you into taking advantage of the social and economic benefits of historic preservation and heritage tourism.  Here are just a few.

Jekyll Island Club Hotel, Jekyll Island, Georgia. (pictured above) Heritage Tour Package includes: traditional accommodations for two nights, hotel history tour, tour of the historic district by tram, afternoon tea one day in the Riverview Lounge, and breakfast buffet each morning in the Grand Dining Room. Rates start at $639 for two nights and are available through September 4.

The Lenox, Boston, Massachusetts. One if by Land, Two if by Sea Package includes a custom town-car tour. Guided by a historian, travel through time and visit Boston’s most famous sites – Paul Revere’s home, USS Constitution, Old North Church, Bunker Hill Monument, and others. The Lenox and Boston History Experience:  Sit down with Bellman Jimmy Fisher and hear stories – from quirky encounters to brushes with fame – acquired over more than sixty years on the job. Since 1949, Mr. Fisher has stood curbside greeting guests to The Lenox and watching Boston history pass through the hotel’s doors.  Rates starting at $700 for two nights are available through December 30.

Bienville House Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana. Discover Quintessential New Orleans Package includes: deluxe accommodations, admission to the World War II Museum, admission to a cruise on the steamboat S.S. Natchez, admission to The Historic New Orleans Collections, welcome cocktail in the Iris Bar or at Hotel Monteleone’s famous Carousel Bar, daily Continental breakfast. Rates from $465 for two nights.

The Wort Hotel, Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Last and Best of the West Package includes: two nights in a deluxe guestroom, dinner in the famous Silver Dollar Grill, a walking tour of historic downtown Jackson Hole, tickets to the National Museum of Wildlife Art, and a special Wort Hotel gift – the history book Meet Me at The Wort. Rates starting at $500 for two nights are available through September 30.

Omni Bretton Arms Inn, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. Preservation Month Package includes: afternoon tea in the Princess Room, guided hotel tour, 20% off retail purchases and spa services of $50 or more, 20% off dining, 20% off the Bretton Woods Canopy Tour. Members of the National Trust for Historic Preservation also receive 10% off their guestroom rate, plus a copy of A Century of Grandeur, the hotel’s coffee table history book. Rates starting at $119 per night are available May 1, 2011, through July 31. Not valid May 27–29, 2011, and July 1–3, 2011. Two-night minimum stay. Subject to tax, and nightly amenity fee.

The Royal Hawaiian, Honolulu, Hawaii. From the moment it opened its doors on a pristine expanse of Waikiki Beach in 1927, The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, has ushered in a new standard of exotic resort travel. A magnet for Hollywood’s elite and distinguished guests from around the globe, its enveloping pink glow reflects both the radiant beauty of Hawaii’s spirit and the essence of indulgent escape. 1927 Package includes a fifth night at just $19.27 when you stay four nights at the normal rate. Rates from $315 per night. Valid through June 30.

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