Correction: An earlier version of an item in this column misstated the first name of the owner of the new Public hotel that will open in Chicago in October. He is Ian Schrager, not Julian. This version has been corrected.
Coupon “clipping” has advanced beyond rotisserie chickens and yoga classes, and into travel.
Starting later this month, Groupon Getaways with Expedia, a new enterprise forged by the coupon king and the online booking engine, will offer discounted travel based on the Groupon model.
This is how it works: The site will list travel deals (about 50 percent off retail rates) for a limited time. Consumers must purchase the deal before the clock runs out but can redeem the voucher on future travel. The companies plan to open with hotel deals in the United States and Canada but expect to expand worldwide with packages, airline tickets, car rentals, cruises and destination activities. Sign up at www.expedia.com or www.groupon.com/getaways.
Ian Schrager is “sick of slick.” The famed hotelier says boutique hotels, a concept he helped pioneer, have morphed into the “Frankenstein” of hotels.
His response: Create a new, pared-down brand of hotel. The first Public hotel will open Oct. 11 in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, in the former Ambassador East Hotel.
The design will be heavy on simplicity and neutral colors. Expect some luxury and boutique features but within a limited service model. At the front desk Public Express, for instance, guests can customize their mini-bars at check-in or “grab and go” snacks, toiletries and other sundries 24 hours a day.
Public spaces will encourage lobby socializing. The living room and the library will have intimate seating areas, communal work tables and computer stations. The library will serve as a coffee bar by day and a lounge and bar at night. The candlelit backroom will also double as the Screening Room. The hotel’s legendary restaurant, the Pump Room, is undergoing a complete renovation and will be run by master chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Preview rates begin at $135 a night but will probably increase to $195.
Pop go the pianos in a New York public art project featuring 88 pianos in parks and public spaces across the city’s five boroughs. Sing for Hope’s Pop-Up Pianos runs from June 18 to July 2 and will feature concerts, surprise events and instruments painted by designers such as Diane von Furstenberg and Kate Spade. For locations: www.singforhope.org . . . Delta is no longer offering some discounts on checked baggage fees paid online. For domestic flights (plus Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), the fee is $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second. The carrier will now also charge $30 for a (previously gratis) second checked bag on flights to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. It also upped fees for a second checked bag to Europe. The cost is now $60 online and $75 at the airport.