A recent bunionectomy (yes, Virginia, there is such a word) drew a slew of get-well cards. By coincidence, Insider got several of the same card from different well-wishers within the travel industry. smell the roses...The card in question had a travel theme and a direct reference to travel agents, leading us to wonder if the latest commission caps had pushed some industry pros from ticketing air to moonlighting for Oatmeal Studios in Rochester, Vt. The front of the card bore the message "Acapulco I could understand, Paris would have been nice, Aruba is great anytime ..." And on the inside: "... but the hospital? (I'd get a new travel agent if I were you.) Get well soon." Actually, the foot surgery did not require a hospital stay, only a doctor's order to wear one of those clunky adhesive-tabbed, open-toed sneaker-shoes that resemble little blue battleships. To spiff it up, Insider accessorized the thing with artificial flowers, an idea immediately copied by our travel agent in New Jersey, who, coincidentally, had had the same procedure. Now, when was the last time you knew two people who had bunionectomies in the same calendar year?

Hospitality knocks

Insider encountered a weird housekeeping rule at a Jamaica hotel. The high-rise, modern property had no hair dryers in the rooms, as well as no clock radios, hand lotion, coffeemakers or newspapers. The room also did not have an iron or ironing board. Insider called housekeeping to borrow both the hair dryer and the ironing setup. Here's what we were told, verbatim: "You can have the hair dryer for 15 minutes. You can have the iron and ironing board for 15 minutes. At the end of 15 minutes, we will collect the equipment from your room." Clearly, this presented something of a timing problem. So we borrowed the hair dryer first, returned it in the allotted time (there was a knock on our door after 15 minutes), then made another call, ordered up the iron and ironing board and pressed one jacket, two shirts and a pair of shorts in 14 minutes and 30 seconds. The knock came, we handed the equipment over and went for a Coke from the mini-bar. There wasn't one -- either a Coke or a minibar.

Greater than greatest

Insider attended the first International Golf Travel Market in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where we found the well-represented Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau patting itself on the back in blatant style. The CVB officials had signage and other printed matter referring to the organization as the Greater Than Ever Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. We figure it must have been salary-review time at the bureau. Can we expect more of the same from the Greater Miami and other such Greater CVBs?


palm tree on beachIt's official: Dania, Fla., is a beach. Some background: Locally, Dania has been known mostly for its jai alai fronton. The town always had a mile-long beach, although it is under long-term lease from the city of Hollywood. But few people outside the area associate the town with the beach. In fact, Dania is one of nine communities that share Greater Fort Lauderdale's 23 miles of beachfront. Perhaps if Dania had more than one mile of beach, tourists would not confuse it with Davie, a few miles inland, which is noted for the Davie Rodeo. According to Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, Dania politicians tackled the town's identity problem and succeeded in changing the name of Dania to Dania Beach. Now, what to do about the name of the jai alai arena, given that jai alai cannot be played on a beach?

Ice ice baby

Air travel to the islands during winter can be a crap shoot. Ice storms, blizzards and sleet can -- and do -- play havoc with airline schedules. Case in point: Many of the delegates headed to an industrywide hotel conference in Puerto Rico were victims of a weather system that brought not only ice and freezing rain but also long flight delays and outright cancellations. When weather-weary victims dragged into hotel lobbies many, many hours behind schedule, the standard champagne-welcome conversation went thus:
"Where are you coming from?"
"New York."
"How late?"
"Seven hours."
"Were you de-iced?"
"How many times?"
"I got it three times."
"Where's that guy with the champagne?"

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