London’s calling

London has become the top international destination among U.S. travelers this year, and the Brits have Brexit to thank. That is the finding of a survey of more than 1,000 travel agents, managers and agency owners conducted by Minnesota-based Travel Leaders Group. London rose from the third-most popular international destination last year, behind the Caribbean and Mexico. Britain’s vote in June to leave the European Union pushed the value of the British pound down relative to the U.S. dollar, making it much cheaper to travel to the home of Big Ben and the Tower Bridge. A study of hotel prices by Trivago found that the average nightly hotel rate in London in mid-August was about $221, down 15 percent from the same time last year.

Los Angeles Times

Spirit to shrink personal item, join PreCheck

That personal item you bring free aboard Spirit Airlines flights soon will have to shrink in size. Starting on April 1, the personal item must be no larger than 18 inches by 14 inches by 8 inches (40 inches total), including handle and wheels. That’s about the size of a small briefcase. The size allowed now is a more squarish 16 inches by 14 inches by 12 inches (42 inches total). Spirit tried to shrink the personal item size last spring, but abandoned the idea after public outcry. Now, the plan is quietly back. In more positive news: In November, Spirit will join the TSA PreCheck program so its customers with Transportation Security Administration clearance can use fast security lines at the airports, Schuler says. Spirit also is working on a mobile app, which it does not currently have.

Detroit Free Press

Ski savings

Ski resorts are putting their season passes on sale for early birds. Through Oct. 31, Deer Valley in Utah is selling its adult season pass for $2,185, a $370 saving, and Solitude Mountain Resort has reduced its season ticket by $100 to $879. Bundling five days each at 32 participating resorts, the Multi Alpine Experience, or MAX Pass, sells for $649 until Oct. 12, when the price will increase $50. The pass includes marquee resorts such as Steamboat in Colorado as well as smaller ones like Killington, Vt., and new additions from Crested Butte in Colorado to Minnesota’s own Buck Hill. For skiers and snowboarders poised to make a multi-resort circuit, the Mountain Collective pass includes two days of skiing at each of 14 destinations including Aspen Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Sun Valley and Telluride. It is on sale for $409 (about a 20 percent discount).

New York Times

One hotel, multiple brands

In downtown Los Angeles, the latest hotel trend is visible. On one side of West Olympic Boulevard stands the JW Marriott/Ritz Carlton hotel. On the other side looms the Courtyard/Residence Inn hotel. Major hotel companies have learned that combining two hotel brands into the same building saves on operating costs and staffing, while giving guests a choice between hotels with different nightly rates and amenities. “Five or 10 years ago we never even heard of it,” said Alan X. Reay, a hotel consultant with Atlas Hospitality. “Now we are seeing more and more of it.” Most of these hotels combine brands held by the same hotel company, such as Marriott, which owns 19 brands. But in Chicago, a developer opened a hotel in 2013 with three brands owned by competing hotel companies: Aloft, Fairfield Inn & Suites and Hyatt.

Los Angeles Times