Travel News: A Green Hotel Made Just for Do-Gooders

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A room at the Good Hotel in San Francisco, California.

For the week of Dec. 1, 2008


Low Fares. Act Now! Heading home to see the family for the holidays? Or flying out of town to get away? Check out American Airlines' big fare sale. Round-trip domestic fares start at $49 one-way from Dallas to St. Louis and $129 one-way from New York to San Diego. Internationally, you can go from Boston to London for $213 one-way or Los Angeles to Japan for $513 one-way. But decide quickly, tickets must be purchased by Dec. 1.

Jet Blue is also having a sale: Fly from New York City to Oakland, San Jose or Long Beach, Calif., for $109 one-way, or from Burbank, Calif., to Las Vegas for $49 one-way. Hop on it. Fares must be booked by Dec. 4.


Be a Voluntourist. The Good Hotel, a newly renovated 117-room hotel in San Francisco's trendy SOMA neighborhood, is in name and mission a good hotel. The building is constructed out of recycled and reclaimed materials, the lobby vending machine dispenses gifts also made from reclaimed materials (no potato chips here) and the hotel has partnered with the nonprofit volunteer organization One Brick to encourage guests to become "voluntourists." A phone in the lobby connects guests to the agency, which guides people to local charities seeking short-term help. Special opening rates from $119 to $139. 112 7th Street, San Francisco, CA; 415-621-7001

Value Lodging. Hampton Inn is offering 10% off rates at participating hotels Thursday through Sunday through Jan. 5, 2009, along with a $10 Visa gift card (mailed to you within a week of your stay). Rooms come with a complimentary hot breakfast and hi-speed Internet access. Plus, you'll earn 250 Hilton HHonors bonus points per stay toward rooms at any Hilton property.

Mood, Music. Book the W Hotel's "Feel the Wuv" package and take a romantic time out with your significant other. O.K., the name is a bit cringe-worthy, but you get free bubbly and chocolates, a Jimmyjane Spin Me game (a dirty version of spin the bottle), feather tickler, "seduction sash" and a thoughtful 2 p.m. check-out. Rates vary depending on location.

W is also offering a special music package: Guests get a free six-month membership to Bono's new online music magazine (Red)Wire, which will send you one new song a week. Even if you don't book the special package, W guests who stay between Dec. 1 and 31 will get a one-week trial membership to the site. The promotion kicks off on Dec. 1, World AIDS Day, with special video and musical performances in select W lobbies.

Westward, Ho. Portland, Ore., has a deluxe new hotel, The Nines, so-called because it occupies the top nine floors of the landmark former Meier & Frank department store. It's got a steakhouse that serves locally ranched beef, plus a library whose collection of wares was curated by a famous local bookstore, Powell's. The hotel has a couple of specials: For arrivals Thursday through Saturday through March 31, 2009, for every night you stay at the regular rate, you get the next night for half off. There's also a package for shoppers: Get a $100 Saks Fifth Avenue gift card each night of your stay, along with breakfast for two and complimentary parking. 525 SW Morrison Street, Portland, OR; 877-229-9996


Mobile Menu. Feed your pumpkin-pie sugar high at the Dessert Truck, parked in New York City's Midtown. The truck's famous bread pudding and dark chocolate mousse bombe are cooked up by former Le Cirque pastry sous chef Jerome Chang. It's high-end food at street-level prices, the new recession-era way to eat. The Dessert Truck is parked on Park Avenue, between 51st and 53rd Streets on weekdays from noon to 4 p.m.; at night, from 6 p.m. to midnight, it's at Third Avenue and 8th Street.


Aesthetic Extravaganza. For a few days in early December, Miami will become the center of the art and design world: During Art Basel Miami (Dec. 4-7), 250 galleries will exhibit 20th- and 21st-century painting, sculpture and anything else that can be defined as art. At the concurrent Design Miami (Dec. 3-6), you can take a gander at furniture, lighting and everything else design-related exhibited in flashy spaces. Even if you have no money to spend, the art, objects and people make an interesting spectacle.

Rock Outreach. If you can't get to the original Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, the museum has opened a 25,000-sq.-ft. branch in downtown New York, focusing on that city's contribution to the music world. Admission is a steep $22, but the money buys you a look at David Byrne's Stop Making Sense suit, letters between Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel when they were teenagers, and a urinal from CBGBs, the legendary Lower East Side punk-rock club, which closed in 2006. 76 Mercer Street, New York City; 646-786-6680

Like Zagat, Only Hipper. The pocket-size Black Book guides review bars, restaurants, clubs and hotels in 23 cities worldwide, with specific food, drink and seating recommendations, useful tips like "crazy buzzy, come at a weird time" or "warning, your plastic has no power here," plus Q&As with local luminaries. If you're looking for something less stodgy than Zagat and more personal than Michelin, the Black Book may be for you. You can also download the free Black Book app to your iPhone, if you don't want to spring for the paperback.


Special Seating. Proctor & Gamble puts up 20 luxury public bathroom stalls for visitors in New York City's Times Square. The stalls have attendants, stroller parking and baby changing stations. Duracell has set up a Power Lodge above the rest rooms, so you can recharge cell phones and iPods for free. Both the potties and the power stations are open through New Year's Eve. 1540 Broadway, at 46th Street, next to the Virgin Megastore