Travel Newsstand for Oct. 12-26, 2017
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Read all about it: Amazon.com is buying up the shopping malls it helped put out of business. An historic hotel in Atlanta is returning to its roots. How the Las Vegas airport became a haven during this month's deadly shooting. Vacationing on St. Helena, where Napoleon was exiled. The world's "healthiest" airports. Durian fruit explained. And more.

The De-Malling of America's Landscape
Sears Canada this week said that it wants to close its 130 stores and liquidate its assets. U.S. Sears shops (and Kmart stores) may not be far behind. It's all part of the existential remake of the retail landscape throughout North America. And it's come at a breathtaking pace. After all, it was only about 30 years ago when books were written about the "malling of America." It's fewer than 20 years ago that outlets such as Salon.com were mulling the impact of malls on American life and culture. But the rapid rise of the Internet--and especially Amazon.com--has turned malls into a losing bet. As many as 400 shopping centers could close this year. But guess who's snapping up some of these obsolete relics? Yup, Amazon.com. The Internet retailing giant is snapping up disused malls and turning them into distribution centers. It's actually a logical and efficient reuse of the bricks and mortar. Unless, of course, you want to go to church in a mall.

Back to the (Historic) Past in Atlanta
A seemingly unremarkable DoubleTree by Hilton in Atlanta has been something of a Velcro hotel in recent decades. Before the downtown building flew the DoubleTree flag, it was also a Marriott, a Wyndham and even a Best Western. The hotel's address has been something of a Velcro project, too. The pentagonal-block-sized edifice is now on 160 Ted Turner Drive, but the road was known as Spring Street until 2015. Why does any of this matter? History. American history. The property then on Spring Street opened in 1962 as the Americana Motor Hotel and it was the first integrated lodging in Atlanta. In fact, the lodging policies of the Americana helped convince the then-Milwaukee Braves baseball team that it was okay to relocate to Atlanta. The hotel is soon dropping the DoubleTree name and adopting a new identity as "The American." An interior renovation will honor its mid-century history with retro styling. What won't change, however, is the exterior design, which bears no resemblance to the Americana's days as Atlanta's first integrated lodging.

Tales From the Front After Weeks of Horror
Weeks of nonstop horror--earthquakes, hurricanes and the awful mass murders in Las Vegas--and the tales keep coming. From storm-ravaged Puerto Rico is the story of how one hotel general manager and his staff pick up the pieces. As Caribe Hilton boss Pablo Torres explains, the hotel weathered Hurricane Jose, got whacked by Hurricane Maria and had to switch gears to help displaced island refugees as well as refugees from St. Thomas and the British Virgin Islands. "We don't know exactly when and how we are going to open the property," he explains. Meanwhile, Bloomberg News offers a fascinating look at the fate of an estimated 360,000 hurricane-damaged vehicles. There's a surprisingly vibrant aftermarket for cars that the insurance companies deem a near- or total loss. Finally, what has to pass as "good news" in these dreadful times. The Associated Press explains hundreds of people used McCarran Airport as a shelter from the Las Vegas shooter. "As bullets began flying ... a pack of 300-plus people ran about a mile to the Las Vegas airport," the AP reports. "They kicked down chain-link fences, hobbled over razor wire and were briefly mistaken by security officials for being attackers instead of shooting victims."

Tight Connections ...
      Napoleon complex Sara Clemence has a fabulous look at St. Helena, the flyspeck island that served as Napoleon's final exile. The tiny British outpost in the south Atlantic is finally getting a scheduled flight and a new hotel.
      "Healthy" airports A wellness Web site (try saying that three times fast) has chosen its nine healthiest airports around the world. It likes DFW's walking path, Singapore Changi's butterfly garden and the wide range of fitness and sports facilities at Seoul Incheon.
      Strange fruit First-time visitors to Asia are often knocked off-kilter by a distinct odor that's offensive to Occidental noses. We're talking about the durian, a large, spiky fruit that is much loved by many--but hardly all--Asians. Both BBC News and the ABC Network of Australia report scientists finally have cracked the genetic code of the durian's unmistakable scent. -- Joe Brancatelli


This column is Copyright 2017 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2017 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.