first_img in Data January 28, 2014 404 Views New,Kroll Factual Data Brings on New Sales Talent Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Investors Kroll Factual Data Lenders & Servicers Movers & Shakers Service Providers 2014-01-28 Tory Barringercenter_img Share “”Kroll Factual Data Inc.””:, a provider of risk mitigation and third party verification services to the finance industry, announced the hiring of Jay Giesen as SVP of sales.[IMAGE][COLUMN_BREAK]Working out of Kroll’s office in Loveland, Colorado, Giesen will lead the company’s sales force in all national and regional efforts, focusing on pushing key strategic accounts and increasing customer acquisition and retention.His most recent post prior to Kroll was at Sigue Global Services, Ltd., where he oversaw operations as president. “”With his wealth of senior level management experience and proven track record of success, I am confident Jay will be a great addition to the Kroll Factual Data team,”” said Kroll president Rod Bazzani.In addition to Giesen’s hiring, Kroll also brought on three new recruits in key sales positions: Katherine “”Kitty”” Derose and John Thomas, who will both serve as senior strategic account executives; and Andrew Mapes, who will work as senior account executive.last_img read more

first_img Share October 23, 2014 436 Views Fannie Mae FHFA Freddie Mac Home Prices 2014-10-23 Tory Barringer Home price growth accelerated in August following a slightly better than reported July, according to a new release from one of the nation’s housing regulators.The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported Thursday that U.S. house prices rose a seasonally adjusted 0.5 percent month-over-month in August. The increase follows a revised 0.2 percent improvement in July (up from an original estimate of 0.1 percent).On a year-over-year basis, FHFA’s price index was up 4.8 percent, putting it roughly in line with its August 2005 level and 5.8 percent below its peak in April 2007.Across the nine census divisions, seasonally adjusted month price changes ranged from declines of 0.6 percent in the New England and South Atlantic divisions (the only two divisions to see prices fall) to growth of 1.2 percent in the Mountain division.Year-over-year, the Pacific division continued to lead all others with an appreciation rate of 7.8 percent. At the bottom was the Middle Atlantic, where prices in August were up only 1.9 percent from the year before.As a measure of home prices based on mortgages sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, FHFA’s index gauges price changes exclusive of high-cost, non-conforming mortgages. As with most other measures, the index has seen a gradual slowdown in the last year as the housing market steps back from the kind of gains observed in 2012 and 2013.center_img FHFA Home Price Index Up 0.5% in August in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Government, Newslast_img read more

first_img Share ATTOM Data Solutions technology 2016-08-17 Seth Welborn Todd TetaComprehensive property data solutions provider ATTOM Data Solutions, based in Irvine, California, has announced the hiring of Todd Teta as chief technology officer.Teta has two decades of experience in technology and product innovation, and he will leverage that experience to lead ATTOM’s technology and product teams, including the company’s three consumer websites:,, and“Todd brings the kind of customer-focused technological and real estate data management experience that will enable us to provide our clients with competitive advantage by leveraging our vast data, analytics, people and processes,” said Rob Barber, CEO at ATTOM Data Solutions. “His expertise in growing and scaling new technologies will guide us as we take additional steps to drive market growth and product innovation, leveraging the immense resources of the ATTOM Data Warehouse.”Teta previously served as chief technology officer with Meyers Research, a Kennedy Wilson Company, leading new product initiatives such as Zonda, the first mobile-based real estate data and analytics platform targeting the new homebuilding industry. His positions prior to joining Meyers Research include vice president of technology at CoreLogic (where he launched the company’s first mobile applications); and president and co-founder of VisionCore, Inc., a technology product and services firm focused on the real estate and financial services industries. At VisionCore, Teta led sales, business development, client relations, and business management.“I’m thrilled to be working with ATTOM Data Solutions,” Teta said. “This is a unique opportunity to use ATTOM Data Solutions’ comprehensive housing market data to create new products and services and drive innovation in the real estate marketplace.” in Headlines, News, Technologycenter_img ATTOM Data Solutions Hires New Chief Technology Officer August 17, 2016 524 Views last_img read more

first_img Ellie Mae Originations 2017-03-15 Staff Writer in Daily Dose, News, Origination March 15, 2017 619 Views Home loans for purchases increased to 57 percent in February, up from January’s 53 percent, according to the latest Origination Insight Report from Ellie Mae. The report also said that the average time to close all loans in February decreased to 46 days, down from 51 days in January.“The purchase market led the way in February, representing 57 percent of total closed loans,” said Jonathan Corr, president and CEO of Ellie Mae. “Along with the growing purchase market, we’re seeing the time to close all loans decrease and FICO scores decline, trends that we will continue to watch in the coming months.”As the 30-year note continued to rise in February, average FICO scores dropped. The average FICO score on all closed loans was 720.Scores on refinance loans: Conventional refinance FICO scores dropped to 728 in February, down from 732 in January.FHA refinance FICO scores dropped to 649 in February, down from 651 in January.VA refinance FICO scores dropped five points to 702 in February.Scores on purchase loans:FICO scores on purchases stayed consistent from the prior month.FHA purchase FICO scores – 686,Conventional purchase – 752VA purchase – 707.Closing rates for all loans decreased to 70.6 percent, down from 72.2 percent in January. Refinance closing rates decreased to 65.4 percent, down from 67.9 percent the month prior, and purchase closing rates decreased from 76.8 percent in January to 75.9 percent in February.Additional research by Ellie Mae concerning the mortgage process indicated that 57 percent of homeowners applied for and completed their latest mortgage completely in person. In addition, 28 percent applied for their most recent mortgage using a combination of online and in-person interaction. Another 11 percent of homeowners applied for their latest mortgage completely online with no in-person interaction.When asked what factor would have improved the mortgage process, approximately 40 percent of homeowners indicated they would have liked a faster process with fewer delays. Twenty percent indicated that a shorter, easier to understand application would be preferable, while 11 percent asked for more communication with their lender throughout the process.Millennials were the most likely generation of homebuyers to begin their mortgage application online and finish it with an in-person interaction with their lender (30 percent). Gen X (28 percent) and Baby Boomer (20 percent) borrowers weren’t far behind in using this online and in-person approach.“There’s no question that technology is playing a larger role in the home buying experience,” said Joe Tyrrell, executive vice president of corporate strategy at Ellie Mae. “As we expected, many homeowners are seeking a faster and more streamlined experience. And it’s not just a millennial phenomenon; it’s homebuyers of all ages and both genders.”Note: The Origination Insight Report focuses on loans that closed in a specific month and compares their characteristics to similar loans that closed three and six months earlier. The closing rate is calculated on a 90-day cycle rather than on a monthly basis because most loan applications typically take one-and-a-half to two months from application to closing. Loans that do not close could still be active applications or applications withdrawn by consumers or denied for incompleteness or non-qualification.center_img Share Purchase Loans Up to 57 Percent in Februarylast_img read more

first_img Share May 7, 2018 597 Views McCalla Raymer Leibert Pierce Announces Leadership Changes in Headlines, journal, Newscenter_img Kelly McInerneyAtlanta-based McCalla Raymer Leibert Pierce, LLC is pleased to announce that Kerry McInerney has joined the firm as Managing Partner of the firm’s Alabama and Mississippi Litigation and Trial Practice Group. The firm is also pleased to announce that William Tate, previously a partner in the firm’s Commercial Litigation Group, has been named Managing Partner of the firm’s Georgia Litigation and Trial Practice Group. McInerney and Tate will manage teams of experienced litigators handling a variety of complex matters. They will also join the firm’s Management Committee.Managing Partner and CEO Marty Stone expressed great excitement about these appointments: “Kerry and Will bring a vast amount of experience, goodwill, and enthusiasm to their Groups. We are extremely pleased they are assuming these new leadership roles at the firm. The addition of Kerry and Will to the Management Committee adds undeniable depth and bench strength showcasing the firm’s commitment to both growth and quality of litigation services in Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia.”Kerry McInerney brings a stellar reputation and over 22 years of litigation experience with him to the firm. Before joining McCalla, McInerney was a shareholder with Sirote & Permutt, P.C., where he handled complex lender and servicer liability cases and served as co-chair of that firm’s Mortgage Litigation Group. Over the years McInerney successfully defended lenders and servicers against class actions and a myriad of individual cases asserting claims of fraud, wrongful foreclosure, and allegations of violations of consumer protection statutes such as TCPA, FCRA, FDCPA, TILA, RESPA, and UDAAP. He will be based out of the firm’s Birmingham office and will oversee all litigation matters in both Alabama and Mississippi.William TateWill Tate began his legal career as an associate in the creditors’ rights group at Morris, Manning & Martin LLP in Atlanta in 2009. Tate joined McCalla in 2013 as a senior associate in the Commercial Litigation and Transactions Group and was named a partner in that group in 2016. Tate has extensive experience in Georgia foreclosure confirmation law and enforcement of debt instruments. Tate’s broad creditors’ rights practice includes the representation of lenders in all aspects of loss mitigation and litigation, including workouts, actions for receivers, confirmation actions, deficiency actions, collections, and representation of creditors in bankruptcy cases. He will be based out of the firm’s Atlanta, Georgia office and will oversee all litigation matters in Georgia.McCalla Raymer Leibert Pierce, LLC’s offices are located in Atlanta, Georgia; Birmingham, Alabama; Chicago, Illinois; Hartford, Connecticut; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Iselin, New Jersey; Las Vegas, Nevada; Long Beach, California; Orlando, Florida; Oxford, Missouri; New York City, New York; and Tampa, Florida. Company News McCalla Raymer Leibert Piece 2018-05-07 David Whartonlast_img read more

first_imgThe Week Ahead: 2019 Housing Market Outlook in Daily Dose, Featured, News Share On Tuesday at 10 a.m. PST, Carrington will present a webinar titled 2019 Housing Market Outlook: Danger Ahead? where Rick Sharga, EVP, Carrington will discuss what happened to the U.S. Housing Market in 2018, and what’s likely to happen in 2019.The webinar will give insights on what happened in a year that started out with great promise but ended with home sales figures falling below its 2017 numbers despite a strong economy, and how this trend can create a drag on the economy. It will also dwell upon the question of the inventory shortage and if rising prices and mortgages have made housing unaffordable for potential homebuyers.During the webinar, Sharga will discuss if we are seeing the beginning of a fundamental market shift with the next wave of potential homeowners opting to rent more often than prior generations and if all these factors together suggest another downturn for the housing market or a necessary correction.Here’s what else is in store in the week ahead:Black Knight Mortgage Monitor, Monday 9 a.m. ESTCoreLogic Loan Insights Report, Tuesday, 9 a.m. ESTMBA Mortgage Apps, Wednesday, 7 a.m. ESTFreddie Mac Primary Mortgage Monitor, Thursday 8 a.m. ESTFed Balance Sheet, Thursday, 2 p.m. ESTcenter_img Carrington Home HOUSING Inventory loan mortgage sales webinar 2018-12-09 Radhika Ojha December 9, 2018 942 Views last_img read more

first_imgairlines Air Malta and Alitalia have released a joint statement saying the two airlines have agreed to terminate the talks which would have led to Alitalia becoming a 49% shareholder in Malta’s national carrier. The statement says “… the current changing landscape in the airline industry was not ideal for a such a transaction and that both airlines would concentrate on the current challenges without entering into a partnership.”Air Malta and Alitalia will continue to collaborate closely through a recently-launched extensive codesharing program.last_img read more

first_imgThe beachfront resort has spent more than $300,000 revamping its restaurant, bar, kitchen and reception areas, as well as introducing a new luxury spa, and is preparing for the arrival of a new $100,000 purpose-built boat for guest transfers, and diving and fishing expeditions to Vanuatu’s world class wrecks and secret coral gardens. Hot on the heels of Air Vanuatu’s agent and companion fare sale, Aore Island Resort on Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu is also offering travel agents a great deal, to celebrate the completion of a major refurb at the resort that has elevated it to 4-star status.Agents can stay in a Studio Beachfront Bungalow for $150 per night, and a One Bedroom Beachfront Bungalow for $200 per night. agentsAore Island ResortEspiritu Santoindustry discountVanuatucenter_img Aore Island Resort owners Lisa and Brad Gray, who took control of the property just over a year ago, say the upgrade program will continue, with plans for a major renovation of its beachfront bungalows now in development.“The resort’s authentic culture and spectacular setting have always resonated with Australian families, couples and adventure seekers looking for an island escape,” says Brad Gray.“That appeal is now being enhanced through an ongoing investment in new guest experiences and the unveiling of a fresh and contemporary look and feel designed to meet the specific needs of the Australian market.”Find out more herelast_img read more

first_imgFollowing the recent Helloworld Travel Owner Managers Conference (OMC) in Adelaide, 13 Helloworld Travel Branded and Associate Owner Managers extended their stay in South Australia to experience a post-OMC famil to Kangaroo Island for two nights.Taking in some of the many highlights, agents stopped by the Birds of Prey show at Raptor Domain, got up close and personal with some seals at the Seal Bay Conservation Park, sampled a variety of Gin at Kangaroo Island Spirits, explored the Admirals Arch and the Remarkable Rocks and went looking for wildlife after dark on the Nocturnal Tour.On top of all the activities, the group was very well catered for, sampling some of Kangaroo Island’s famous produce and wine in spectacular locations throughout the famil, which was kindly supported by the South Australia Tourism Commission.Pictured above L-R:Danielle Bruno – SATC Host, Jennifer Phillips – Helloworld Travel Nambucca, Irene O’Donnell – Helloworld Travel Morwell, Robyn Flanagan – Wauchope Travel, Mayur Manshuklal Harishanker Shukla – Barolin Travel Bundaberg, Bhavana Shukla – Barolin Travel Bundaberg, Margie Heffernan – Duck Creek Mountain Travel, Rachael McGuirk – Helloworld Travel Scone, Brett Robinson – Helloworld Travel Leopold, Mick Boylan – Helloworld Travel Host, Harry Zaharopoulos – National Seniors Travel, James Flanagan – Wauchope Travel and Kristie Hale – Burnie Brae Travel Connections. (Missing: Suraj Hewa Arachchige – Helloworld Travel Booval) FamilsHelloworld TravelHelloworld Travel OMClast_img read more

first_imgBrisbanecruiseDream Cruises Ahead of Dream Cruises’ deployment of Explorer Dream to Australia and New Zealand from October 2019, the cruise line has announced six ex-Brisbane itineraries, including four Australian coastal cruises and two Trans-Tasman options.Australian coastal cruises depart throughout November 2019, visiting Sydney, Newcastle, Sunshine Coast, Gladstone and Mooloolaba. The Trans-Tasman options depart from Brisbane to New Zealand via Sydney, Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound and Dunedin, with the option to disembark in Wellington or continue on to Auckland (via Gisborne).Fares ex-Brisbane start from $1180 per person for a six-night cruise.last_img read more

first_imgThe first Australian to ever appear in a Super Bowl, Graham has punted the past three seasons for Arizona including in 2009 when he tied the NFL single-season record with 42 punts inside the 20-yard line. He began the 2008 season with the New York Jets and punted the first four games of the season before being released on September 29. He punted one game with the Saints that season before signing with the Cardinals. He originally entered the NFL with the Jets as a 31-year old rookie in 2005 after playing 11 years in Australia with the Geelong Football Club where he played in 219 games (1993-2004). For his career, Graham has punted 429 times for 18,966 yards with 148 punts inside the 20-yard line. Maui’a played in 15 games with four starts last season with the Cardinals after re-signing with the team on September 14 following training camp. He originally signed with the Cardinals on August 5, 2009 during training camp but was released in the team’s final roster cut that year and was out of football. Maui’a started two games in 2008 for the Cincinnati Bengals and was inactive for three others after being claimed off waivers from the Miami Dolphins on September 3, 2008. He originally entered the league with the Dolphins as a sixth round selection in the 2007 NFL Draft out of Hawaii. Top Stories What an MLB source said about the D-backs’ trade haul for Greinke Batiste is back with Arizona after first signing with the team last November. He played in one game for the Cardinals and five others earlier in the season with the Broncos until he was released by Denver on October 16. He has played in 18 career games with four starts since entering the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Louisiana-Lafayette in 2006. He appeared in eight games in 2009 with the Washington Redskins until being released and signed to Denver’s practice squad. He also started four games with the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 in addition to being on the active roster of the Carolina Panthers as a rookie in 2006.Claxton was inactive for all 16 games last season with the Cardinals. He played in one game in 2009 and spent the rest of the season as a reserve linemen and backup center. Claxton originally signed with the Cardinals on February 4, 2009 after spending the 2008 season on the Detroit Lions practice squad. Drafted by the Denver Broncos in the fifth-round of the 2003 NFL Draft out of Mississippi, Claxton has played in three games during his NFL career. Graham returns to the Cardinals after punting 94 times for 4,080 yards with 29 punts inside the 20-yard line last season. D-backs president Derrick Hall: Franchise ‘still focused on Arizona’ He has appeared in 33 career games and has four carries for five yards and four receptions for 25 yards. Spach started a career-high 11 of 15 games played in 2010 for the Cardinals with seven receptions for 40 yards. He played in seven games for the Cardinals in 2009 and had four catches for 38 yards. Spach originally came to Arizona as a free agent on October 28, 2008. He entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with Philadelphia in 2005 out of Fresno State and played in 13 games, collecting seven receptions for 42 yards as a rookie. He was released by the Eagles in 2006 and spent training camp with the Minnesota Vikings in 2007 before signing with the New England Patriots where he appeared in three games that season. For his career, Spach has appeared in 51 games and has 20 receptions for 135 yards and two touchdowns.In addition, the team has also signed cornerback Bryant Nnabuife, an undrafted rookie free agent from California.Nnabuife played in 29 career games at Cal where he had five starts and collected 59 tackles, five tackles for loss, one interception and three passes defensed. He also scored two touchdowns off of blocked punts by teammates. Last season as a senior, Nnabuife played in nine games with one start and had 24 tackles, three tackles for loss and one interception. He started his college career by playing one season at Blinn College in 2007 before transferring to Cal. Comments   Share   center_img Tempe – The Arizona Cardinals announced that the team has re-signed the following eight players who were free agents: center Lyle Sendlein (five years), safety Hamza Abdullah (one year), cornerback Michael Adams (two years), tackle D’Anthony Batiste (one year), center Ben Claxton (one year), punter Ben Graham (two years), fullback Reagan Maui’a (two years), and tight end Stephen Spach (one year).The Cardinals also reached deals with restricted free agents wide receiver Early Doucet and tackle Brandon Keith who have both signed their one-year qualifying offers. Doucet registered career-highs with 26 receptions for 291 yards and a TD while starting a career-best five of 10 games played before an injury landed him on injured reserve in 2010. In his last 14 games, Doucet has totaled 46 receptions for 507 yards and four TDs. Selected in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft out of LSU, Doucet has appeared in 26 games with 57 receptions for 595 yards two TDs in three seasons with Arizona. In four postseason matchups, he has 15 receptions for 141 yards and two TDs.Keith was selected by the Cardinals in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft out of Northern Iowa and worked his way into the starting right tackle position at the beginning of the ’10 season. He started the Cards first nine games at RT before a torn hamstring against the Seahawks in Week 10 ended his season. Now entering his fourth NFL season, Keith has appeared in 13 games with nine starts for Arizona.Sendlein has made 54 consecutive starts, including the postseason and is one of three offensive linemen to start every game for the Cardinals since the beginning of the 2008 season. He was named a team captain last season for the first time in his career. A Scottsdale, AZ native, Sendlein originally signed with Arizona as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Texas in 2007. Nevada officials reach out to D-backs on potential relocation He has played in 60 games with 50 starts over the first four years of his career. He also started in all six of the Cardinals postseason games in 2008-09. Abdullah played in six games last season after re-signing with the team in 2010. A seven-year NFL veteran, Abdullah originally joined the Cardinals in December of 2009 and played in one regular season game and two postseason contests that season. He has spent time with Tampa Bay, Denver, and Cleveland after being drafted by the Buccaneers in the seventh-round of the 2005 NFL Draft out of Washington State. For his career, Abdullah has played in 31 games with 62 tackles, seven passes defensed, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble and 16 special teams tackles.Adams set career highs with 38 tackles, two interceptions and six passes defensed while recording four starts in 16 games played last season. He originally joined the Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Louisiana-Lafayette in 2007 and has played in all 32 games over the past two seasons. Known for his special teams play, Adams scored his first career TD last season while returning a fumbled kickoff for a touchdown in Minnesota. For his career with the Cardinals, Adams has played in 44 games and collected 74 tackles, three interceptions, 11 passes defensed, and 38 special teams tackles. Cardinals expect improving Murphy to contribute right awaylast_img read more

first_img The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Sure, you could read the box score and know who won, but we all know that won’t tell you everything that happened in a football game. So, we will give you Bird Bits providing you with the analysis, quotes and notes from the Cardinals 21-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Final Score: Vikings 21, Cardinals 14The Good:LaRod Stephens-Howling had a career day, rushing for a 104 yards to go along with 45 receiving yards and the Cardinals’ lone rushing touchdown. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling 0 Comments   Share   Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Top Stories • Sunday’s loss marks the eighth straight time the Cardinals’ franchise has dropped a road game in Minnesota. Their last win was in 1977.• Larry Fitzgerald’s homecoming wasn’t much fun for the ninth-year pro. He had just four catches for 29 yards.• The Cardinals entered Sunday allowing the most sacks of any team in the NFL. The offensive line gave up seven more sacks against the Vikings in Week 7 and now have allowed 29 over their last four games.Coming Up Next:The Cardinals limp into next week’s Monday Night Football showdown at University of Phoenix Stadium with the NFC West leading San Francisco 49ers. Monday’s contest will begin at 5:30 p.m. The defense did allow 21 points for just the second time this season (although seven of which came from the Vikings’ defense), but they bothered Christian Ponder all day, intercepting him twice and allowing him to complete just eight passes for 58 yards.The Bad:John Skelton was much more accurate in Week 7 than his previous stint against the Bills, but a costly interception by Hunter Smith gave the Vikings enough breathing room to coast to a comfortable victory in the second half.The Cardinals’ defense limited Ponder, but could not contain running back Adrian Peterson. The perennial all-pro back ran for 153 yards and a touchdown.Jay Feely’s 47-yard miss to end the first half marked the third time in as many games that he’s missed on an attempt.One of the Cardinals’ best scoring chances in the second half was stalled at the Minnesota 18-yard line, when Ken Whisenhunt elected to go for it on fourth down rather than have Feely attempt at 35-yard attempt. Skelton was promptly sacked by Antoine Winfield when he attempted to run for the first down.Noted:• The Cardinals’ three-game losing streak is the team’s longest since they dropped six straight in 2011.last_img read more

first_img Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires 0 Comments   Share   Top Stories The Cardinals interviewed Haley, but Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator apparently set a ‘very high’ price for his services. Rank CoachReason#3 Jay Gruden Gruden interviewed with the Cardinals last week and they appear to be looking for an offensive-minded coach. Rank CoachReason#4 Rank CoachReason#5Todd Haley The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactcenter_img Rank CoachReason#2 Ray Horton Arizona’s defensive coordinator does not appear to be going anywhere, but it’s worth wondering if the Cardinals view him as head coach material. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling The Arizona Cardinals fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt on December 31. Since then there have been various reports about who the Cardinals are targeting and who is interested in the job. Some of the candidates are former coaches with varying degrees of success, while others are coordinators searching for that first head coaching job. Below is a list of the most likely candidates along with notes pertaining to their likelihood of coming to Arizona. The rankings will change along with the winds of the search. Bruce Arians The Colts offensive coordinator will meet with the Cards, but he may not keep DC Ray Horton around For more information on every candidate click here. – / 8 Rank CoachReason#1Darrell Bevell The Cardinals are reportedly bringing the Seahawks OC in for an interview.last_img read more

first_imgGLENDALE, Ariz. — Larry Fitzgerald is not a hockey player, and that was apparent from the moment he stepped on the ice Monday afternoon at Gila River Arena to skate with Shane Doan and other Coyotes.Fitzgerald traded his cleats for skates in part to help promote Saturday’s Coyotes game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, which is also “Larry Fitzgerald Night” — 10,000 bobbleheads of him in a Coyotes uniform will be given out. “It’s really exciting,” he said. “I know my kids are excited; I’m excited to be there and watch the game.“I haven’t been for about a year or so, so it’s always good to come out and support. Hopefully, we come out with a W Saturday.”Fitzgerald said taking the ice at Gila River Arena was something he had always wanted to do but never tried, and to his credit, he never fell down and only a couple times appeared to stumble. He was also able to corral some short passes from Doan as well as get a couple pucks to the Coyotes’ Captain.Turns out, none of this was tough to put together.“When they told me that they were potentially thinking about doing a bobblehead night, I was very receptive,” Fitzgerald said. “Shane didn’t have to call me or try to tug me on it. I wanted to do it.“I’m a big fan. I love my local teams. The Coyotes are always very active in the community, their players are always out doing great things. I wanted to come out and lend some help to try to get some people to come watch the game.”Alas, the 33-year-old who last week announced he was going to continue his Hall of Fame football career in 2017 will not likely be looking to change sports anytime soon, which is fine with the Cardinals and their fans, who are excited to have another season with one of the best players in the franchise’s history. Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling A good guy — nay, a great guyOn Saturday at the NFL Honors, Fitzgerald was named a co-winner of the Walter Payton NFL Many of the Year Award. He is sharing the honor with New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.“I’m still just extremely humbled by it,” he said. “I don’t think anyone who has ever won sets out to win a humanitarian award; I don’t think that’s the essence behind serving.“But to be recognized with three outstanding men, and then it was even cooler to have Kurt Warner invited to the stage — a past recipient and the newest Hall of Famer — it was just a really cool night and one I will never forget.”Warner won the same award while with the Cardinals in 2008, with the trophy being presented him prior to Super Bowl XLIII, in which Arizona played.Kurt’s in CantonFitzgerald, who caught 39 touchdown passes from Kurt Warner, was excited to see his former teammate finally get the Hall of Fame nod.“It’s great to see Kurt get in,” he said. “I know he’s been waiting for the call and to see him up on that stage with some of the greatest to ever do it, it was a lot of fun. I’m so happy for him. Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Top Stories center_img “He’s meant a lot to me on a personal level and obviously on a professional level, and to see that smile on his face and know the sacrifices he’s made, to be able to finally get up there was great.”That BobbleheadMost of the time, bobbleheads have a pretty strong resemblance to the player (or person) they are meant to honor. Fitzgerald is pleased with his.“They kept me abreast of the whole process when it was going,” he said. “It came out good. I’ve got a good looking bobblehead.”Fitzgerald, who is donning the Coyotes’ home sweater, thinks they got the important details right.“I think so. It’s got my hair, it’s got my earrings, it’s got my big teeth,” he joked. “I think it’s got me sewed up.” The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Make sure to pick up this sweet @LarryFitzgerald bobblehead on Feb. 11 for Larry Fitzgerald Night vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins. #Coyotes— Jeffrey Sanders (@JeSanders11) January 9, 2017 Why keep going?That Fitzgerald decided to return for another season may not have come as a surprise to some, especially since he is still playing at a high level and was under contract for another season.But still, Fitzgerald did contemplate calling it a career. He reiterated that he just couldn’t see his playing days end on a season like the last one.“Just got unfinished business,” he said. “We had a great year the previous year, then came back and didn’t have the kind of year we wanted to have.”Fitzgerald said the standard the organization has set was not met in 2016, and he is sure they can do better.“We have too much talent and ability,” he said. “Everybody knows the windows in sports are very small, and when you have a team that possesses the talent and ability to make a run, you want to keep the nucleus together.”The Cardinals finished last season 7-8-1, but that final record does nothing to limit Fitzgerald’s belief.“I just know the kind of talent we have. Offensively, defensively we can compete with anybody,” he said. “We have a roster full of very gifted players; we just need to be able to put it together for 16 weeks to get us a chance to get in the dance. 0 Comments   Share   last_img read more

first_imgThe group has been widely praised, with both Arians and Larry Fitzgerald talking about its incredible depth.Holt agreed.“Very deep group and I’m standing beside them and they make me feel so small because everybody’s 6-3, 6-4, 6-5, and for us in St. Louis, in my era, guys were 6-foot, 188 pounds, they can move, get in and out of breaks.“Now, the guy from Rutgers (Carlton Agudosi) is 6-foot-6. I’m like, damn, that’s Harold Carmichael — shouldn’t you be in the NBA Finals or something? The Cavs could use you right now.”Holt complimented how the Cardinals have big, long receivers who can move and get in and out of breaks. He also praised the team’s receivers coach, Daryl Drake, for having the players’ respect.“I think the biggest thing I noticed with the group is the camaraderie and the open communication that they have within the group, and that’s important,” he said. “The years that, when we were rolling in St. Louis, we were a very tight-knit, close group, and I think that’s very important for your teams and this particular group.”Follow Adam Green on Twitter TEMPE, Ariz. — Back in 1999, Torry Holt thought he would be an Arizona Cardinal.A receiver coming out of North Carolina State, he seemed like a good fit for Arizona, who held the eighth overall selection in the draft.It was not meant to be.Holt was chosen by the St. Louis Rams sixth overall, leaving the Cardinals to snag Ohio State wideout David Boston with their first pick.Nine-hundred and twenty receptions, 13,382 yards, 74 touchdowns, two Super Bowl appearances, one Super Bowl title and seven Pro Bowls later, it’s safe to say things worked out well for Holt, who was on the Cardinals’ practice field Tuesday wearing team gear and coaching wide receivers. It also provides an opportunity for Arizona’s staff to get an up-close look at someone who could find his way onto a sideline — possibly theirs — in the near future.Asked if coaching comes natural to him, Holt said, “People tell me it does.”“I just love being around the game; I love being around the guys,” he said. “I love talking X’s and O’s, I love watching tape, I like seeing guys improve, and I like good offensive football — it’s good to hear B.A. talk offensive football and the strategies and the schemes and the concepts that they do out on the perimeter and in the running game.”Holt mentioned David Johnson, who he compared to former teammate Marshall Faulk in that he also has the ability to do everything. Getting a chance to be around players like that brings a smile to his face.“So it’s been good,” he said. “I’m looking forward for these next couple of days, and once my schedule does open up more and they decide to have me back, I’ll be back out.”A former WR’s take on the current WRsAs long as he was around, it made sense to ask Holt — who played with some great receivers during his time — what he thought of Arizona’s wideouts. 0 Comments   Share   Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires “So here I am. Good first day.”Holt said his time in Arizona will end with mini-camp, as Heritage’s training camp is at the same time as the Cardinals’ and he is also does not want to be away from his son, who will be a junior in high school.“Once he gets older and gets — I feel comfortable with him ready to take that next step to college — then I have some time that will open up and we’ll see,” he said.Whether or not Holt lands back in the NFL as a coach down the road remains to be seen, but for as long as he is with the Cardinals, they are happy to have him.“Another great set of eyes that has done it at a very high level,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said of the benefit to having Holt around. “I think Torry will get more out of it than they do.“I think Torry’s going to be a hell of a coach some day and our job as coaches, established coaches, is to bring the next group of coaches along.”Arians added that they had hoped to have Holt around all spring, but the brief time they will have him will be valuable both for him and his players.If nothing else, Holt’s stint in Arizona allows him to get a better idea of what it is like to coach at the NFL level, while the Cardinals have another set of eyes on their players. The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo – / 12 Top Stories Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling “I’m familiar with this organization, I’ve been familiar with this organization a long time,” Holt said following the team’s minicamp practice. “Talking about the draft and then when I came and used to play in this division and playing against these guys.“But it’s good to be here. It feels good because I know (Steve) Keim, I know Larry (Fitzgerald) and I know a lot of the coaches, Byron Leftwich, so I feel very comfortable here.”Holt looked like a natural instructing Arizona’s bevvy of wideouts, which makes sense given his pedigree as well as the fact that he is a wide receivers coach, albeit for Heritage High School in North Carolina.He is in Arizona to get a taste of coaching at the NFL level.The 40-year-old said he has kept in touch with Keim, whom he played with in college, and while coaching at the NFL PA Bowl had a chance to chat with Cardinals scouts Adrian Wilson and Josh Scobey.“Got to talking and they came back and said some good words on my behalf, and I called Steve, and I said, ‘Hey look, I don’t know if I want to get into coaching right now, but I do have some interest. Would you be open for me coming out to Arizona, spending a couple days out at mini-camp,’ and he said, ‘Sure.’ Torry Holt speaks with the media following a Cardinals mini-camp practice June 6. (Photo by @CardsMarkD) Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img read more

first_imgGo back to the e-newsletterHolidaymakers can enjoy the highlife without the high price tag with huge savings of up to 80 per cent now available at stunning cliff-top property, Semara Luxury Villa Resort Uluwatu.Regarded as one of Bali’s very best villa experiences, Semara Uluwatu offers stylish suite rooms plus seven individually designed villas each with 30 metres of cliff frontage and world class features including two tennis courts, putting green, gym, spa, Selatan Clifftop Restaurant and famous Finn’s Beach Club.Now is the perfect time to start planning an indulgent getaway to Semara Uluwatu where suites for couples have been slashed by 80 per cent to USD$238* per room per night, plus 21 per cent tax and service charge for visits until 31 May 2016. Based on accommodation in a Garden Terrace Suite, the offer includes daily breakfast, free Wi-Fi, gym, tennis and putting-green use plus free VIP entry to Finn’s Beach Club.For families and larger groups, the villas are available for 70 per cent off the  regular price meaning groups of up to 10  people can enjoy a five-bedroom villa from just USD$1018* per night plus 21 per cent tax and service charge, or as little as $101* per person per night.Valid for stays from now until 31 May 2016, the villa packages include services of a private butler and chef daily from 7am to 10pm Free Wi-Fi, gym, tennis and putting-green use plus Free VIP entry to Finn’s Beach Club.Perched high on the limestone cliffs of the Bukit Peninsula overlooking the Indian Ocean, Semara Luxury Villa Resort Uluwatu is an A-Lister’s retreat offering a helipad, private beach, two tennis courts, putting green, fully equipped gym, pampering spa, refined cuisine and world-class services.Go back to the e-newsletterlast_img read more

first_imgGo back to the e-newsletter THE PENINSULA BEIJINGThe Peninsula Beijing: An Imperial RebirthThe newly unveiled renovation of The Peninsula Beijing marks the latest chapter in The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels’ long tradition of hospitality excellence in China. With a front-row seat at the heart of the country’s capital city, the company’s hotels have witnessed firsthand the remarkable transition of China into an economic superpower. With its new rooms and suites being available from 1 September 2016, The Peninsula Beijing now offers the largest rooms in the Chinese capital.To celebrate its reopening, the Peninsula Beijing is offering a Virtuoso Re-launch Package valid until 28 February 2017, which includes a stay in a Superior Room from RMB 1800 and is inclusive of:The full range of Virtuoso amenitiesVOIP international and local callsInternet accessFlexible check-in and check-outPacking and unpacking servicePressing for one business suitPersonlised welcome amenitiesTHE HOTELSThe Peninsula Hotels partners with Stokke to offer exclusive VIB (Very Important Baby) Experience The Peninsula Hotels is expanding its family programme this summer with the announcement of an exclusive partnership with premium Norwegian baby brand, Stokke, providing a range of furniture and baby gear for families staying in suites at its 10 hotels worldwide. Additionally, enhanced Peninsula Academy programmes for families offer unique ways to explore each destination and keep the whole family engaged on vacation.Proposed Peninsula Hotel development in Yangon, MyanmarThe Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited (HSH) has entered into a non-binding heads of agreement with Singapore-based Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd. (Yoma) for a proposed hotel development in Yangon, Myanmar on the site of the former headquarters of the Burma Railway Building on Bogyoke Aung San Road in Yangon.THE PENINSULA HONG KONGThe Peninsula Hong Kong Launches ‘Movies Under The Stars’ ExperienceThere are few more cinematic locations in the world than Hong Kong, and the city has provided both the inspiration and the backdrop for some of the most memorable films of all time. Drawing on this enchanting strand of cultural heritage, The Peninsula Hong Kong is hosting a season of exclusive film screenings from October 2016 to March 2017 on the seventh-floor Sun Terrace. Featuring unrivalled views of the Hong Kong Island skyline and Victoria Harbour, as well as the luxurious surroundings and attention to detail for which The Peninsula is renowned, the ‘Movies under the Stars’ experience is a truly unmissable treat for film buffs and casual viewers alike.New bespoke Peninsula Academy Programme The Peninsula Hong Kong has been welcoming families to indulge in its inimitable hospitality and create memories that last a lifetime since 1928. Now, with the launch of a new programme of Peninsula Academy experiences curated especially for families, Hong Kong’s Grande Dame is bringing a touch of magic to a whole new generation of guests and their children. The enticing activities in the new Academy programme include: learning the time-honoured art of paper lantern making with a Hong Kong master craftsman; the ‘Stokke® Suite Experience’, a Peninsula stay enhanced by the luxury and safety of the premium Stokke® baby products range; and family-friendly buffet dining at The Verandah restaurant.THE PENINSULA SHANGHAI The return of Chef Tang Chi Keung as Executive Chinese Chef at Yi Long CourtThe Peninsula Shanghai is pleased to announce the return of Michelin-starred Executive Chinese Chef Tang Chi Keung, and the introduction of his sumptuous new menu at Yi Long Court. Hong Kong-born Chef Tang opened Yi Long Court at The Peninsula Shanghai in October 2009, and helmed the kitchen until January 2011. Chef Tang returns to The Peninsula Shanghai after five years spent creating authentic Cantonese-inspired menus for guests at Hei Fung Terrace at The Peninsula Tokyo, and LiLi at The Peninsula Paris.  THE PENINSULA TOKYOThe Peninsula Tokyo presents the Pokémon hotel adventurePikachu, Lucario and friends star in an interactive Pokémon luxury hotel experience exclusively designed for The Peninsula Tokyo by The Pokémon Company. Guests of all ages five and up don a Pikachu hat and, equipped with a Poké Ball, set forth on an imaginative hotel-wide quest to seek out Pokémon characters!THE PENINSULA PARISThe Peninsula Paris celebrates art and culture with new Keys to Paris programme The Peninsula Paris invites guests to discover the “Keys to Paris”- a brand new programme offering an unparalleled selection of the City of Light’s most popular exhibitions and acclaimed artistic experiences. THE PENINSULA NEW YORKThe Peninsula New York unveils new signature offering: The Fifth Avenue SuiteThe Peninsula New York is thrilled to announce the newest addition to the hotel’s collection of signature suites, with the unveiling of the Fifth Avenue Suite this northern autumn. Located on the 17th floor and boasting spectacular views of Fifth Avenue, the new suite is now the second largest at the Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond-rated property, with an elegant dining room, expansive living room, gourmet kitchen and custom handcrafted touches by world-renowned artisans. The Fifth Avenue Suite also marks the introduction of The Peninsula group’s signature advanced guest room tablet technology to the hotel.Inside the Intrepid:  A Legendary ExperienceJust in time for summer, The Peninsula New York has added a new family-friendly activity to its iconic experiential program, The Peninsula Academy, to take place at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum called Inside the Intrepid: A Legendary Experience. A National Historic Landmark located in New York City, the Intrepid Museum is a non-profit, educational institution featuring the legendary aircraft carrier Intrepid, the space shuttle Enterprise, the world’s fastest jets and a guided missile submarine.Camp Peninsula Package for kids and familiesWhile most holidays require an iPad and a suitcase full of toys to entertain the little ones, families can now leave the extra baggage at home and bring the kids along for a Big Apple adventure thanks to the Camp Peninsula package, now available at The Peninsula New York. The perfect place for an unforgettable family vacation and ideally located in the heart of midtown Manhattan, families who reserve a one-bedroom suite can book an adjoining room at 50 per cent off the regular rate to create a two bedroom suite to easily accommodate a family of four.THE PENINSULA CHICAGOThe Peninsula Chicago announces completion of guest room redesignCelebrating 15 years in one of America’s favourite cities, The Peninsula Chicago has unveiled the final results of a year-long comprehensive guest room redesign that sets a new standard for luxury accommodations.  The reimagined rooms and suites introduce the brand’s advanced guest room technology to the United States, along with three new service initiatives: 24-hour check-in for web bookings, a Mobile Concierge service and Keys To The City – 15 programmes offering special access to Chicago’s best destinations and experiences. Encompassing 331 guest rooms and suites, the project showcases The Peninsula’s evolution of luxury design and enhances every guest’s stay with ease, elegance and the ultimate in personalisation.THE PENINSULA BEVERLY HILLSBelvedere reopening The Belvedere at The Peninsula Beverly Hills opened its doors following an extensive four-month remodel, unveiling striking new interiors and full transformation of the menu. Building on a rich, 20-year history of exceptional cuisine, the reimagined menu, under the direction of Executive Chef David Codney, now features Mediterranean-inspired dishes with a focus on locally sourced ingredients and wild-caught seafood.Belvedere artwork The Peninsula Beverly Hills unveiled a collection of privately curated art within its newly remodelled signature restaurant, The Belvedere. The restaurant’s bright and spacious interior now serves as the perfect backdrop for 11 works by acclaimed international artists such as Yayoi Kusama, Sean Scully and Robert Indiana, as well a striking Fabienne Verdier piece commissioned specifically for the restaurant.THE PENINSULA MANILA The Peninsula Manila sets the stage to celebrate 40 years of memories The Peninsula Manila will be celebrating its 40th anniversary with its special day on 14 September 2016. From unveiling the Peninsula Jeepney, the restoration of a priceless art collection by a Philippine National Artist, the introduction of new Peninsula Academy programmes that aim to promote the best of the Philippines and giving back to the community with its corporate responsibility and sustainability (CRS) projects, The Peninsula Manila aims to honour its legacy during its epic 40th year anniversary.Go back to the e-newsletterlast_img read more

first_imgIn a major partnership, AccorHotels has joined forces with LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network on the Internet, to enrich its mobile app with a new service for travellers.All AccorHotels guests can use this new feature, Business Check powered by LinkedIn, to create and facilitate business opportunities. By allowing travellers to identify people in their professional network who are based in the city they are in and suggesting relevant profiles to connect with, this new feature enables professionals to stay connected on the move.Romain Roulleau, Senior Vice President for E-commerce & Digital Services at AccorHotels commented, “This partnership between AccorHotels and LinkedIn is a world first in the hospitality industry. It will enrich the services we already offer on our mobile app which is used before, during and after the stay, notably by business travellers, who represent 60 per cent of the app’s users. This new feature creates business opportunities, and our app will therefore facilitate and foster seamless, instinctive business travel sharing, thus generating guest engagement and visibility for our hotels.”Joshua Graff VP Marketing Solutions EMEA at LinkedIn commented, “There are over 26 million business travellers on LinkedIn and by partnering with one of the world’s leading travel groups, these professionals can now be even more informed, connected and productive while on the go. We all like to get the most out of our business trips abroad and this new feature will make it even easier to connect with clients, prospects, suppliers and colleagues old and new.”Before and during the stayWith Business Check powered by LinkedIn now available on the AccorHotels app, mobile and tablet users with bookings in an AccorHotels establishment can:Connect to their LinkedIn account and share their next business trip destination with their network in one click.Find out which of their LinkedIn contacts reside in the city they are staying in again, see them again or get to know them better and contact them directly using either a personal email or Inmail.Develop their network thanks to Business Check powered by LinkedIn’s suggested list of relevant profiles residing in their travel destination.This new service rounds out AccorHotels’ feature-rich app which is designed to assist travellers before, during and after the hotel stay and is currently downloaded five times a minute.last_img read more

first_imgAt three events held simultaneously across Canada in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, Air Canada today unveiled for its customers and employees a bold new livery inspired by Canada for its entire fleet, elegant new uniforms for its employees, and a taste of some of the new onboard menu offerings that its customers can look forward to.Air Canada’s new livery signals a pivotal inflection point in our 80-year history. On the occasion of Canada’s 150th anniversary year, with our new livery, new uniforms for our employees, the award-winning international cabin standard introduced with the launch of our Boeing 787 aircraft, and enhanced onboard offerings, the future Air Canada represents the strength of our nation and the future-looking spirit of our airline.Benjamin Smith, President, Passenger AirlinesAir Canada’s fleet of 300 mainline and regional aircraft are being repainted in a black-and-white design that highlights its iconic red maple leaf encircled ensign, or “rondelle”, that returns to the tail of the flag carrier’s fleet after an absence of 24 years. Reflecting Canada’s seasons, with references to its wildlife and First Nations heritage, the new fleet livery was designed by international design firm Winkreative, headed by Canadian entrepreneur Tyler Brûlé. Following today’s events, the first three aircraft sporting this new livery will enter service immediately.With the new livery providing a sleek, contemporary backdrop, Air Canada premiered elegant charcoal grey and black employee uniforms with red accents and accessories by Canadian designer Christopher Bates. The stylish uniforms combining urban chic and international flair complement the charcoal greys, natural tones and red accents featured in the new interior cabin design of Air Canada’s international fleet. The airline’s pilots, flight attendants, airport customer service agents and other uniformed personnel comprising approximately two-thirds of its 30,000 global workforce will start wearing their new uniforms later this year.On hand at the event at Air Canada’s main hub in Toronto were Tyler Brûlé and Christopher Bates to celebrate with customers and employees, together with the airline’s award-winning culinary partner, British Columbia-based chef David Hawksworth, and renowned Quebec-based sommelier, Véronique Rivest, both actively involved in developing Air Canada’s premium menu choices. Air Canada’s selection of signature dishes, created by Hawksworth, showcases the finest Canadian ingredients from across the country available since it was launched in October 2015 for Air Canada’s International Business Class customers. Rivest will expertly pair the dishes and develop Air Canada’s wine programme with a selection of Canadian, old and new world wine that are changed seasonally to highlight the best wines to be enjoyed at 30,000 feet.In addition, guests were treated to a sampling of some of the new onboard menu choices that will be available for Air Canada customers starting this April, including Lavazza premium Italian coffee that becomes the airline’s new coffee offering among its complimentary beverage selections for all customers, and Toronto-based Dufflet Pastries’ pumpkin spice loaf which will be featured on flights to Europe in Premium Economy and Economy Class cabins. Guests also sampled a selection of Quebec fine cheeses including Oka, camembert and cheddar, alongside freshly baked bread from Quebec artisanal bakery Première Moisson, paired with a Vineland Estates Winery white wine from Ontario’s Niagara region and Les Athlètes du Vin, a French Pinot Noir, both selected by Rivest, which will debut for Air Canada’s International Business Class customers in April.In 2016, Air Canada significantly increased its global footprint with the launch of 28 new routes including 15 new international and 12 U.S. trans-border routes. With new service to Morocco, the airline joined the elite club of global carriers serving all six continents. In 2016, Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge started new services between Toronto-Seoul, Toronto-London Gatwick, Toronto-Prague, Toronto-Budapest, Toronto-Warsaw, Toronto-Glasgow, Montreal-Casablanca, Montreal-Lyon, Vancouver-Delhi, Vancouver-Brisbane and Vancouver-Dublin.In 2017, Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge will continue its global strategic expansion and will launch new international services between Toronto-Mumbai, Toronto-Berlin, Toronto- Reykjavik, Montreal-Shanghai, Montreal-Algiers, Montreal-Marseille, Montreal- Reykjavik, Vancouver-Taipei, Vancouver-Nagoya, Vancouver-Frankfurt and Vancouver-London Gatwick. Air Canada will also receive its first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft at the end of 2017, marking the start of its narrow-body fleet renewal programme, to be followed in 2019 with the delivery of its first Bombardier C Series aircraft.last_img read more

first_imgThe Keio Plaza Hotel is located right in the heart of Shinjuku, less than a 10-minute walk from the world’s busiest station, which makes it extremely accessible by bus or train. However, there’s a plethora of activities on tap for travellers in the area, without having to set foot on public transport. Have a picnic in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and then visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building observation deck to get a bird’s-eye view of the city for a fun and entirely cost-free afternoon. Another day, you could visit a cat or an owl cafe, go shopping and grab a bite to eat at Kabukicho and finish the day off with dinner at an exciting Robot Restaurant.RoomAs I was led to my room, I could feel my excitement growing. Of the 1,438 guest rooms across the two soaring towers of the Keio Plaza Hotel, I was lucky enough to be staying in one of the eight Hello Kitty-themed rooms. It didn’t disappoint; it was like I’d died and gone to Hello Kitty heaven. The room was over-the-top in the best way, with walls painted to resemble the Sanrio Puroland (which is 30 minutes by train from the hotel) and photos of Hello Kitty herself at the hotel’s grand opening. Sitting on the bed was a take-home special edition Hello Kitty doll, complete with trademark Keio Plaza eyelashes, rosy cheeks and miniature robe (along with a larger, matching robe for me). Moving to the bathroom, I was delighted to find a pink tub and all Hello Kitty amenities.But if the kawaii feline isn’t your thing, the hotel also offers a number of other room types such as the traditional Japanese suite with tsubosan and a Japanese cypress bath. However you choose to stay at the Keio Plaza Hotel, you will experience the sophistication and culture encompassed by the Japanese hospitality philosophy of omotenashi.FoodThe hotel is a food-lover’s dream come true, with 15 restaurants and seven bars on site serving everything from delicate French and Italian cuisine to the finest cuts of steak, to traditional teppanyaki and sushi. A recent addition is the Premier Grand Club Floors: 111 suites and premium club rooms, plus the Premier Grand Club Lounge on the 45th floor and a renovated Sky Lounge Aurora where you can enjoy your sake 160 metres above the ground. If you’re staying in a Hello Kitty suite, you will be greeted each morning with an extra-special Hello Kitty breakfast, complete with Hello Kitty-shaped sandwiches, omelette and delicious beverages.FacilitiesKeio Plaza offers a range of cultural experiences with the intention of helping guests to “experience the beauty of Japan from within the hotel”. There’s the Sado tea ceremony held in the So-fu-an tea room, the Ikebana flower arrangement workshop with flower artist Hiroki Maeno, the Yukata casual kimono experience and a range of traditional craft exhibitions. And when it’s time to unwind at the end of the day, guests are free to enjoy the sky pool or the fully equipped gym.last_img read more