Saturday, May 28, 2011

Orbit Tower: Becoming London's Coolest Attraction

Artist rendering of the completed Orbit.
View through the twisted rings.
(all images: ARUP/Getty Images)
Before the Skyvue Las Vegas Super Wheel is completed to compete with the London Eye, England's capital will be one step ahead with a new big attraction. The Orbit Tower is currently under construction and scheduled to be completed late this year for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Located near the new Olympic stadium, the blood-red steel sculpture designed by Indian-born artist Anish Kapoor will reach 377 feet (115 meters) making it taller than the Statue of Liberty. From a viewing platform, visitors will be offered a breathtaking view of Olympic park and London.

When Orbit finally opens, visitors will enter at ground level through an atrium. Then visitors take one of two elevators to the viewing platform which opens to a 360-degree view. Large mirrors inside the structure will reflect the sky. The twisted design incorporates five rings to symbolize the Olympic rings. One report describes Orbit as a roller coaster that's survived a hurricane.

The Olympic committee is managing the site and expects about 1 million people a year to visit resulting in revenues of $16 million (£10 million). The 2012 London Olympics opens on July 27, 2012.  Follow the construction at

The Orbit as of May 2011.
Ground eye view rendering of the completed structure.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Skyvue Las Vegas Super Wheel On The Strip

Artist renderings of the Skyvue Las Vegas Super Wheel
(images: Compass Investments)
It appears Sin City will gain a new visitor attraction and one that could become one of its most popular and iconic landmarks. In details released by the developers this week, a 500-foot viewing wheel called the Skyvue Las Vegas Super Wheel similar to the London Eye is set to open in early 2013. Skyvue will be located across the Strip from Mandalay Bay Hotel Casino and will be taller than the London attraction.

Plans for the $100 million project will include a roller coaster and 200,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space. Skyvue, on an 11-acre site being cleared this week, will rotate perpendicular to Las Vegas Boulevard and offer an unobstructed view from each of the 40 gondolas. Each gondola will hold up to 25 passengers and be available for private events. It should be noted that Caesars Entertainment Corp is planning a viewing wheel as part of its Linq project located behind several hotels on the Strip.

The developers cite one reason the project will be successful is the London Eye attracts 3.5 million visitors per year.  The Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing plans to determine if the wheel's height may interfere with flights at McCarran International Airport located nearby. Let's see if developers will figure out a way to place slot machines in each gondola.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Truth About Airline Fuel Surchages

(image credit: flyforfun/flickr) published an interesting article about the arbitrary pricing of fuel charges added to the price of airline fares. With how complicated airfare pricing has become this article sheds some additional light on the subject. Here are parts of the article:

The truth is that the only figure that matters is the total price—base fare plus fuel surcharge—and looking at either separately is rank idiocy.
(image credit: josepha/flickr)
Here's the problem. Some airlines, mostly based outside the United States, are splitting their true fares into a phony base fare plus equally phony fuel surcharges. As a case in point, I checked flights from San Francisco to Munich, leaving May 16 and returning on May 30, through both Lufthansa and United. Here's what I found:
  • Lufthansa's total round-trip fare for the route's only nonstops was $2,140, figured as a base fare of $1,560 plus fees and taxes of $580, of which $420 was for a "fuel and security" surcharge.
  • United's total round-trip fare for the exact same flights, but sold as a United flight through a Lufthansa codeshare, was also $2,140, this time figured as a base fare of $2,013 plus taxes and fees of $127.
And there you have the story in a nutshell.
The real fares on either line are virtually identical. The two lines just chose to present the fees differently: honestly on United, not so honestly on Lufthansa. Parenthetically, both lines offered lower fares on some connecting itineraries, but fares to Europe really are high this summer.
When you ask an airline why it goes through this charade, you get a long sermon about fuel costs, but that doesn't really answer the question. The question is why they don't just raise fares to cover increased fuel costs, the way U.S. lines (and most other businesses) do—why instead they split the real fare into two components, and they never answer that.
Visit for for the complete article by Ed Perkins who also offers theories regarding airline fuel charges.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pork Inspiration Cafe: I Wished I Knew You

Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais.
(all images: Diane Bondareff/AP Images for National Pork Board)
The marketing gimick of a pop-up store once more appeared in NYC last month albeit and sadly for just one day. Called the Pork Inspiration Cafe, it's an eatery where I would have likely tried every dish. This statement is from a guy who eats pre-cooked bacon straight out of the bag. The adage that everything is better with bacon could be one of my mottos.

For the launch of the Pork Be Inspired campaign from the National Pork Board, Top Chef All-Stars Richard Blais joined the opening to serve up 'inspired pork dishes' free of charge. He also demonstrated how pork can be part of any menu, time of day, cuisine or lifestyle. Each pork dish served contributed to America's pork producers' donation of 125,000 servings of fresh pork to Feeding America.

Bacon Ice Cream 
Pear-Brined Pork Chops
The eatery served pork lovers on April 14th and was located at 470 park Ave South. Combine three of my favorite things: bacon, NYC and Top-Chef and I believe this place would be a winner in my book. I definitely would have tried the bacon ice cream. Other dishes served included a ham and herb schnitzel with 6-minute egg, pearl-brined pork chops, ginger ale pork ribs, malta and agave braised pork shoulder and pork bolognese.

Visit for more information including recipes, pork basics, and nutrition. Visit to learn more about the National Pork Board. Visit to learn how to help to feed America's hungry.

Customers lining up for the first serving.
Customers receiving their pork inspiration dishes from Chef Blais.
Display of pork at the cafe.

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