On a number of occasions over the years we have expressed doubts about bigness, growth for growths sake. Weve frowned on mergers. Weve poked fun at mega ships and mega resorts.

But the mega ships and mega resorts keep coming.

In this issue, Royal Caribbean grabs the bragging rights for the worlds biggest ship, as it begins construction of the Freedom of the Seas. And MGM Mirage rings the bell in Las Vegas with plans for a $4 billion city. No mere resort, mind you, but a city.

These events are rolling by against the backdrop of industry rumors that more mergers among mega agencies are in the pipeline. There are reports in the financial press that consolidation among airlines is both essential and inevitable.

The delightfully fragmented hotel industry has been on the consolidation road for years. Among the acquired within just the last year were Baymont, Extended Stay America, Prime Hospitality, Boca Resorts and John Q. Hammons.

The North American ski industry, explored in this issues Centerpiece report, is mostly the domain of a handful of players -- all big.

Size, of course, is no guarantee of success, but it is often its symbol and reward. Some of the most successful companies in travel started very small and now rank among the biggest -- Carnival, Hilton, Marriott, Carlson, Southwest, Expedia. 

Like it or not, we are reminded this week that travel is a big business, and some of our big industry leaders are doing what the best big leaders tend to do: producing bold, expensive, forward-looking innovations.

Anybody can run a tour boat or open a bed-and-breakfast. But a mega ship? A city? For that, you need the big guys. So, heres to you, big guys.

Big Apple

Congratulations to the Big Apple, once again. Those sophisticated readers of the Sunday Times of London Travel Magazine have voted New York as their Best Worldwide City.

The magazines editor in chief, Jane Knight, has been quoted as saying, New York deserves to win. We agree. Think of it: Best in the world! How cool is it to beat Paris and Venice?

Of course, its just a magazine popularity contest. No big deal, really. Still, as Big Apple boosters, well take it.

Big deal

Barring last-minute snags, Orbitz will be a part of Cendant by the time you read this.

Orbitz, in its brief life as an instrument of airline world domination, produced far more anxiety than it deserved to, and were glad that age of anxiety is over.

The Cendant family includes such mainstream travel industry citizens as Avis, Budget, Galileo, Ramada and Howard Johnsons.

Hardly The Addams Family.

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