LOOKING INTO BOOKING SITES
In its campaign to bring attention to hotel-booking websites that may mislead consumers into thinking they are booking directly with a hotel, rather than a third party, the American Hotel & Lodging Association has an ally in Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa.
In a letter dated May 19, Senator Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote to the Federal Trade Commission recommending that the agency look into the matter involving websites that appear to be hotels or hotel chains but in fact are third-party booking sites.
The letter states, “At the very least, many consumers have found themselves frustrated in not receiving what they thought they had paid for, such as a room with particular amenities. At worst, consumers may be providing their payment information to companies that, through the use of hidden booking fees, end up charging more than what the hotel of choice would have charged for the same room, or they may be exposing their payment information to insecure networks.”
In an interview, Senator Grassley made an exception for legitimate online travel agencies like Expedia, which he said he and his staff use to plan their travel. The offenders often use logos and designs similar to the hotels they purport to represent, he said.
“I think they are very cagey in making themselves look like hotel chains and that’s deceiving the consumer into thinking they are booking with the hotel rather than with a third party,” he said. “I think it should be investigated and they should be put out of business.”
A TOAST TO CHARITY
In case you need an excuse to belly up to the bar over the next seven days, Negroni Week, running today through June 7, offers more than 3,000 locations worldwide where you can drink altruistically.
Established in 2013, the campaign, founded by the beverage-focused Imbibe magazine, encourages participating bars to designate a charity of their choice and donate at least $1 per negroni sold that week to it. Last year, Negroni Week raised $120,000 for charities from 1,300 participating bars.
“It is a sophisticated cocktail but incredibly simple,” said Karen Foley, publisher of Imbibe, describing the negroni, made with equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. Its simplicity also lends itself to creative interpretations. “It’s timeless and has iconic status so we thought it would be the perfect cocktail to get people excited about,” Ms. Foley said.
CYCLING IN PORTLAND
Cycle-happy Portland, Ore., just introduced its annual Sunday Parkwaysprogram in which one neighborhood each month is closed to automobile traffic for cyclists, skaters and pedestrians. Sunday Parkways will again take place June 21, this time in North Portland, shutting down 9.5 miles of streets to bikes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Plan to bike Northeast Portland on July 26, Southeast Portland on Aug. 23 and Tilikum Crossing and Sellwood on Sept. 27.