New owner promises finest Keys resort

KEY LARGO — A new resort will be opening in Key Largo in 2017 on the bayfront spot of the current Point of View RV Resort at 99060 Overseas Highway. Jerry Johnson, the developer who purchased the property in December for $11.2 million, has high ambitions for it.

“We intend to build a resort that will not only be the finest in the Florida Keys, but will rival some of the greatest hotels in the world,” he said in a press release.

Johnson is the founder and owner of Johnson Resort Properties, an affiliate of Cheeca Holdings, which owned and operated Cheeca Lodge Spa in Islamorada from 2003 to 2011. Under Johnson’s stewardship, the upscale resort attained a high-gloss status, making Travel + Leisure’s “500 Greatest Hotels in the World” list. It was sold in 2011 for $100 million.

Since selling Cheeca Lodge, Johnson told the Free Press that he traveled the world and visited fine boutique hotels.

“I enjoyed seeing what’s new and what’s not so new, what people like,” he said during a phone interview last Thursday. “I plan on bringing all that to this property.”

Johnson has 30 years of experience in developing, owning and operating hotels, including properties where he is based in Wyoming: the Rustic Inn at Jackson Hole and the Lodge at Jackson Hole. But he has also developed another lodging in the Florida Keys, the Inn at Key West.

“I enjoy the Keys,” he said. “I’ve done Key West and Islamorada. It’s time to try Key Largo.”

When asked why he enjoys the Keys, he mentioned the watersports and the fishing. But as a developer, coming here is simply good for business.

“It makes for a great hotel business when you don’t have the risk of an area being overbuilt,” he said in reference to the island chain’s strict development laws. “But yet you still have a need for new product, which there is very little of in the Keys.”

To make his “new product” rival the best in the world, he plans on capitalizing on the water views: 60 to 70 percent of the planned 138 rooms will be on the water. “This site is all about sunsets,” he said.

Johnson said he was inspired by sunset photos on the Facebook page of the current Point of View residents, who he said posted “phenomenal” pictures.

Most rooms will be 800 square feet and have private outdoor plunge pools. The resort will also feature a world-class spa, and indoor and outdoor dining venues.

He will also focus on personal service.

“At the end of the day, it’s the service,” he said. “The property will have an owner presence. The fact of the matter is, I was there at Cheeca Lodge and I would talk to the guests.”

He explained that he is a hands-on developer who designs, builds and operates the properties, and he plans on being even more of a presence at the new property, which as of yet does not have a name.

Johnson is represented locally by agent Jim Saunders, who built Point of View through his company, the Upper Keys-based BayView Homes. The 11.7-acre resort was owned by Northstar Resort Enterprises and has been open since March 2013.

Northstar had already nailed down a development agreement with Monroe County in 2011 that gave the company permission to build a 138-room hotel on the property up until the year 2021.

In a move that may make the permitting and construction process move much faster, Cheeca Holdings will do only small adjustments on the site, rather than change its density plan. To that end, Saunders applied for a “minor deviation” with the county on Feb. 2.

Saunders anticipates that the county will approve the minor deviation application at the beginning of April.

“Once approved, Cheeca Holdings will submit a building permit plan for approval. Then construction approvals shouldn’t take long,” Saunders said.

Mayté Santamaria, senior director for the county’s planning and environmental resources department, confirmed to the Free Press that Cheeca Holdings’ minor deviation application is currently being reviewed and gave an even quicker time for approval.

“My guestimate is approximately 45 days for the processing of this application,” she said.

Johnson said that Point of View will operate through the summer, and he plans to start construction in September. The current goal is to open the resort in the third quarter of 2017, he said.

For those who fear that yet another high-end property will change the quirky, casual sensibility of the Florida Keys, Johnson said he wants to avoid that. He explained that many developers try to bring South Beach to the Keys, but he won’t be doing that.

“The Keys are a more casual environment that often gets lost in translation,” he said. “At the Cheeca Lodge, we had a phrase we used way back when: ‘barefoot elegance.’ It’s going to be all those things and be a luxury property.”

The latest: John Armstrong likely out at Health

Senate President Andy Gardiner on Wednesday all but slammed the door on state Surgeon General John Armstrong‘s chances of getting confirmed this session. That would make him the first state agency head in two decades to be rejected by the Senate.

Asked whether a vote on Armstrong’s confirmation would come to the Senate floor, the Orlando Republican told reporters, “At least not from my standpoint.”

Gardiner said he’s not inclined to bring it up. Two-thirds of the 40-member Senate could force the issue to the floor, though that bar seems unreachable given Armstrong’s bipartisan negative rating in the chamber.

“We’ve heard from members of the Democratic caucus and others that there’s a concern” with Armstrong’s leadership at the state Department of Health, Gardiner said.

The Senate’s inaction means Armstrong is out of the job. The Senate also did not confirm him last session, and the rule is “two strikes you’re out” with agency heads.

The Senate Ethics and Elections committee did not take up Armstrong’s confirmation. The panel postponed the hearing several times.

Naples Republican Garrett Richter, the committee’s chairman, said  Armstrong’s confirmation was postponed because members still had questions.

Armstrong’s leadership of the agency had been questioned, including over the state’s growing rate of HIV/AIDS and the delays in implementing of the state’s medical marijuana law.

Gardiner said he had no concerns about Armstrong, a former trauma surgeon and retired Army Medical Corps colonel, and said he would have voted to confirm him.

“But clearly the votes were not there in Ethics and Elections to move his confirmation forward,” he said.

Newsmax’s 50 Best and Most Unique Hotels in America

Whether you’re away from home on vacation or for a business trip, why not make it an especially delightful experience by staying at one of America’s unique and unusual hotels?

Sleep in luxury in a cave grotto, scuba dive underwater and watch fish swim by your window on a coral reef, put your feet up inside a surprisingly posh railroad boxcar, or hole up in a former jail cell — these are just a few options that will turn your typical trip into a truly fun, once-in-a-lifetime jaunt.

Here, Newsmax has put together a list of the 50 most unique hotels in America, each one guaranteed to elevate any trip.

Latest: What’s Your Favorite Type of Vacation? Relaxing or Exploring?

1. The Liberty Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts — No bread and water here, but the hotel in a previous life was the granite-walled Charles Street Jail, dating from 1851 and formerly housing inmates such as Malcolm X and ex-Mayor James Curley. Eighteen of the rooms are actual former jail cells, but with some luxurious accommodations no convict would recognize. Alibi, the hotel lobby bar, is housed in what once was the jail’s drunk tank.

2. The Dog Bark Park Inn in Cottonwood, Idaho — This hotel offers the truly offbeat experience of sleeping inside a giant dog. Shaped like a huge beagle and measuring 30 feet high, the hotel also features doggie-themed rooms and a gift shop selling chain-sawed dog statues.

The Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum in Fall River, Massachusetts — This is the actual site of the infamous 1892 axe murders of Andrew and Abby Borden, allegedly by their daughter Lizzie, although she was acquitted of the horrendous hatchet slayings. You can stay in the John V. Morse room where Abby was slain, and get a free guided tour of the home, and there are rumors, of course, that the house is haunted.

4. Winvian Farm in Litchfield Hills, Connecticut — This upscale hotel offers 18 unique cottages, including a tree house cottage, the Beaver Lodge, with a lattice of interwoven branches over the bed; the Maritime Cottage, with the appearance of a lighthouse; the Camping Cottage with a tented bed; the Charter Oak Cottage, built silo-style around a huge live oak tree and several others. You can even stay in a room inside a helicopter.

5. Wigwam Village in Holbrook, Arizona — Located on historic Route 66, the Wigwam Village offers visitors a chance to sleep in a Plains Indian teepee, complete with vintage cars in the parking lot. There are 15 “wigwams” and a museum, and the hotel sign inquires, “Have you slept in a wigwam lately?”

6. The Aurora Express Bed and Breakfast in Fairbanks, Alaska — Take a step back into railroad history at this bed and breakfast, which features five cars with names like the “Bordello” and the “Golden Nellie Caboose,” fully restored into luxurious sleeping accommodations. Eat in the Dining Car with its stunning overhead painting of the Northern Lights.

7. The Shady Dell Vintage Trailer Court in Bisbee, Arizona — The hotel’s 11 fully restored vintage travel trailers — with names like El Rey, Airstream, and Royal Mansion, dating from the 1950s — whisk you back to the nostalgic days of American road travel. TVs play only in black and white and old magazines and vintage music on the radios complete your fantasy of stopping off from a trip on the highways back in the “I Love Lucy” days.

8. McMenamins Kennedy School, Portland, Oregon — Take a journey back to school in the 57 guest rooms, many of them former classrooms. In McMenamins, rooms are decorated with desks and blackboards and drinks are served up in the Detention Pub. An elementary school in 1915, it closed around 1974 or 1975 and reopened as a hotel in 1997 with the ceremonial ringing of the principal’s bell.

9. Kokopelli’s Cave Bed Breakfast in Farmington, New Mexico — Spend the night reliving your “Flintstones” fantasies while snoozing in a 1,700-square-foot rock-walled cavern located 70 feet beneath the surface and reached by walking down a cliff face on sandstone steps. Once inside, you’ll find a waterfall shower, Jacuzzi tub, and a replica Native American kiva. There’s only one cave which accommodates four, so reservations are mandatory.

10. Turpentine Creek in Eureka Springs, Arkansas — Do you like cats? Big cats? Then you’ll love Turpentine Creek, a wildlife sanctuary housing tigers, lions, cougars, and leopards. Visitors can stay in five posh lodges or even a tree house bungalow. Enjoy feeding time for the big cats and wild feline education lectures while savoring the Ozark Mountains scenery.

11. The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee — If you haven’t seen the daily parade of the Peabody Mallard Ducks, you’ve missed something very special. The Peabody’s 464 guest rooms, including 15 suites, are luxurious in the Old South manner, but the highlight is watching the “Duckmaster” escort the ducks through the lobby at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. every day in what has become a Memphis tradition dating from 1932. The ducks live in a Royal Duck Palace on the roof and, when their three-month tour of parade duty is complete, they are released back into the wild.

12. The Queen Mary in Long Beach, California — Since 1966, the Queen Mary, a luxury ocean liner built in England in the 1930s, has rested in Long Beach as a posh hotel with 314 rooms, shops, a spa, and world class dining. The first class staterooms and suites are said to be haunted and there is a tour of the liner’s paranormal hot spots available.

The Heceta Head Lighthouse in Yachats, Oregon — This working lighthouse/hotel on the Oregon coast dates back to 1893 and the 205-foot-high lighthouse sends its beam of light up to 21 miles out to sea. While viewing the light, you can stay at the bed and breakfast — which accommodates 15 guests — in the Mariner’s Room, the Lightkeeper’s Room, Victoria’s Room, the Cape Cove room, or the Queen Anne Room, and enjoy a seven-course breakfast.

14. Out ‘n’ About Treehouses Treesort in Cave Junction, Oregon — Guests stay in 18 luxuriously appointed treehouses with names like “Treezeebo” and “Yurtree,” and some of the picturesque aerial homes can be reached only by traversing a swinging bridge or riding a zipline. Located near the magnificent Siskiyou National Forest, the hotel offers a truly unique woodlands adventure.

15. Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida — Thirty feet under the ocean is one of America’s strangest lodgings — a self-contained hotel that includes hot showers, cozy beds, TV and music, a stocked kitchen, and 42-inch windows through which you can watch fish cavort among the mangroves. If you’re not a certified SCUBA diver, Jules’ lodge provides a Discover SCUBA course, which enables you to swim down and enter the lodge’s two comfortable and adventurous rooms. However, you do have to be able to swim.

16. The Ultima Thule Lodge at St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska — You can’t get there by car — it’s 100 miles from the nearest road — but if you want a genuine, luxurious Alaskan wilderness experience, it’s well worth flying in by private plane. Five private two-bedroom cabins, a wood-fired sauna, hiking, fishing, and sumptuous dining along the Chitina River make this an experience to be savored.

17. The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado — Given that this hotel inspired Stephen King to write “The Shining,” your stay could be a bit spooky, but will be relieved by the 1909 posh hotel’s suites, lodge rooms, condos, and Presidential Cottage. Highly rumored to be haunted, the hotel notes that the Stephen King Suite and rooms 401, 428, and 1302 are especially known for paranormal activity, just in case you’d like to schedule a spectral visit during your stay.

18. Hotel Du Pont in Wilmington, Delaware — A great classic 217-room hotel dating back to 1913 and featuring Old World grandeur, the hotel also features a 1,250-seat Du Pont Theater, where you can catch the latest Broadway shows during your stay.

19. Travaasa Hana Resort in Hana, Hawaii — Resting at the remote eastern tip of Maui, the hotel offers spectacular views of the ocean with rooms which include whirlpool spas. There is no TV or air conditioning, but plenty of healthy spa activities, yoga, and Hawaiian cultural classes and events.

20. The Drake Hotel in Chicago, Illinois — A full-service luxury hotel, the Drake has 537 rooms and 74 posh suites, and overlooks scenic Lake Michigan. Scads of celebrities, political luminaries, and presidents have stayed at the upscale Drake. Best of all, in 1954, when Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe got married, the blissful vandals romantically carved their initials in the Cape Cod Room’s bar. The initials are still there. The Drake’s afternoon teas are a tradition that have attracted Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth II, and the Empress of Japan.

21. Crowne Plaza Hotel at Historic Union Station in Indianapolis, Indiana — This converted train station gives you a choice of sleeping in one of its 273 luxury rooms or staying in an authentic railroad Pullman car room.

22. Fanta Suites in Greenwood, Indiana — Fantasy is the key, and each of the hotel’s themed suites is built around a specific dream state. Stay in the Space Odyssey Room inside a 10-sided recreation of a Gemini space capsule, or try Caesar’s Court, with its marble whirlpool and columns. Indulge in the Geisha Garden Suite, the Pink Cadillac, the Sherwood Forest room, or the Wild Wild West, where you sleep in a tepee or covered wagon. Or pretend you’re James Bond in the Casino Royale Suite. Either way, your imaginings become real for a night.

23. Jazz Quarters in New Orleans, Louisiana — Located next to the famed French Quarter and across the street from Louis Armstrong Park, this hotel is for music lovers only, with rooms named after famous jazz musicians and a selection of Creole cottages, some dating back to the early 1800s

24. Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan — Want to escape busy city traffic? Then try this hotel for your vacation, where cars are forbidden and the favored transportation is by horse-drawn carriage. Out of its 386 rooms, no two are the same in decor, so you can never tire of return visits, but choose carefully — it’s open only from May to October.

25. Northern Rail Traincar Inn in Two Harbors, Minnesota — Spend the night in a railroad boxcar at this rustic bed and breakfast. With 17 rooms built in antique railroad boxcars, the hotel opened in 2002 and features campfire evenings in cool weather, complete with fire-roasted s’mores, on the northern shore of Lake Superior.

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26. Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale, Mississippi — Spend a night like the old blues players did — in two-room shacks that were once homes to poor sharecroppers. You can even take a blues guitar lesson in the lobby. The hotel has its own juke joint where the blues can be heard while sipping a cold beer, and it also hosts a guitar and bass jam camp.

27. Jailer’s Inn Bed and Breakfast in Bardstown, Kentucky — Once the old Nelson County Jail, this hotel features seven guest rooms inside stone walls measuring 30 inches thick. Originally built in 1874, the inn was still a jail until 1987, and it even includes an “upstairs dungeon” for housing the more recalcitrant prisoners.

28. Earthship Biotecturein Taos, New Mexico — A sustainable community with solar and wind power, thermal heating and cooling, and contained sewage treatment can be enjoyed for nightly stays for those itching to live “off the grid.” There are four unique desert dwellings, or “Earthships,” where you can stay and learn how to make your own home more energy efficient and self-sustaining.

29. Treebones Resort in Big Sur, California — Sixteen plush yurts — round canvas-walled and topped tent-like abodes — give stunning views of the Pacific from their redwood decks, or guests can stay in a truly unique “human nest” constructed of woven wood branches, for campers who want to relish the great outdoors. The resort also features eco-tours and kayaking.

30. Saugerties Lighthouse in Saugerties, New York — This bed and breakfast is located in an 1869 lighthouse on the Hudson River and offers two rustic guestrooms with enchanting views of the river, tours of the lighthouse, and a maritime museum room.

31. Garth Woodside Mansion in Hannibal, Missouri — Stay where Mark Twain did — in a hotel named after his good friend John Garth. On the outside, the historic hotel looks like every other haunted mansion in every horror movie ever made but, inside, the eight rooms and three cottages are decorated in plush Victorian style to waft visitors back into the past.

32. Triple Creek Ranch in Darby, Montana — You don’t have to rough it just because you might want to awaken your inner cowboy. Triple Creek offers log luxury ranch cabins and ranch homes, gourmet cuisine, fabulous scenery, cattle drives, and riding adventures.

33. Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina — Known primarily for golf, the 102-year-old granite-walled Omni Grove has other delightful features, such as a subterranean whirlpool spa surrounded by rock with multiple water treatments and an elevator built inside an old chimney.

34. Hotel Donaldson in Fargo, North Dakota — With 17 artist-inspired rooms which are very cutting-edge in design, the Donaldson lures you into a peaceful, artful sleep after enjoying its rooftop hot tub and bar and the HoDo Restaurant, serving organic, locally grown foods.

35. 21c Museum Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio — Ever stay in a hotel which had is own in-house art museum? 21c does, and the 100-year-old building, once the Metropole Hotel, has 156 luxurious rooms and a rooftop cocktail terrace. The museum continually presents the work of well-known artists.

36. The Skirvin Hilton in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma — With 225 rooms downtown, the Skirvin celebrated its 100th birthday in 2011. In the past, it has hosted Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Hoffa, Roger Staubach, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Bob Hope and, legend has it, still hosts a ghost. Effie, a housemaid who supposedly had an illegitimate baby fathered by the owner, lived in an upstairs garret and leaped with her baby to her death. When you’re not ghost-watching, try the Red Piano Bar or the Park Avenue Grill.

37. The Red Caboose Motel and Restaurant in Ronks, Pennsylvania — Like trains? Located in the middle of Amish country, the Red Caboose has 38 rooms, most of which are located in 25-ton train cabooses or sleeping cars. The motel also features a dining room, a petting zoo for the kids, and Amish buggy rides, and is located near the Strasburg Rail Road line and the Pennsylvania Train Museum.

38. Sylvan Lake Lodge in East Custer, South Dakota — Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the lodge was built in 1937 and now includes 32 cabins that provide luxury living near Mount Rushmore, Wind Cave National Park, and the Crazy Horse monument. And you just may wake up with a buffalo or two grazing in your front yard.

39. Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee — The hotel offers lodging in either Pullman train cars or the MacArthur or Empress Buildings, and guests can enjoy themselves in the Track 29 music venue, the Revelry Room, or the Comedy Catch, the hotel’s on-site comedy club. The main dining room features the elegant dome of the Chattanooga Terminal Station, which the hotel once was before transitioning in 1974.

40. Settlers Crossing Bed and Breakfast in Fredericksburg, Texas — Live like early Texas settlers did in seven log cabins and homes, and even a stone barn with rifle slits in the front, dating back to the 1790s. Your historic experience is enhanced with genuine antique furnishings. Giant oak trees on the 35-acre property lend luscious scenery to the surroundings.

Amangiri in Canyon Point, Utah — Get ready to gasp. Amangiri features accommodations built into the wall of majestic rock formations and offers hiking, climbing, balloon rides at dawn, and fossil hunts over some of the most spectacular landscape on earth, as well as wellness retreats, yoga, and a spa.

42. Twin Farms in Barnard, Vermont — Formerly owned by Sinclair Lewis and Dorothy Thompson, this very upscale resort offers 20 lodge, farmhouse, or cottage rooms, a 15,000-bottle wine cellar, and world-class dining in an area famed for skiing and snowshoeing, along with fly fishing, sledding, hiking, and ice skating.

43. Primland in Meadows of Dan, Virginia — Of course they have golf, tennis, fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, and spas, but what hotel you’ve stayed at offered its own in-house planetarium complete with a telescope and observatory dome? Posh accommodations, including three tree houses, give spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.

44. The Hangar Hotel in Fredericksburg, Texas — With its curved metal roof, the Hangar Hotel is designed to replicate an aircraft hangar from the 1940s. Catering to flight enthusiasts, the interior features airplane memorabilia and models, as well as guest rooms with rattan and mahogany furniture, bomber jacket upholstery, and an observation deck to watch planes take off and land from the adjacent Gillespie County Airport. It also features a searchlight from WWII measuring 10 feet in height and a flyable 1946 North American Navion airplane.

45. The Baldpate Inn in Estes Park, Colorado — Perched 9,000 feet atop Twin Sisters Mountain, the Baldpate Inn takes its theme from the mystery novel “Seven Keys to Baldpate,” and was christened by the book’s author and hotel guest, Earl Derr Biggers, who also wrote the Charlie Chan series of detective novels. Guests oddly responded by donating keys to the hotel. Today, the 20,000 keys left at the 100-year-old hotel stand as the world’s largest key collection, according to the hotel’s website. Rooms are available in private cabins or the main lodge, where guests can view the hotel’s autographed photo collection, which includes entries from several presidents, movie stars, luminaries like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Jack London, and Western heroes like Buffalo Bill Cody.

46. Hotel Vertigo in San Francisco, California — Are you an Alfred Hitchcock fan? If so, don’t miss this step back into Hitchcock-style ambiance in the hotel that made a cameo in the movie “Vertigo.” The film continuously plays in the lobby and, the website states, “The hotel’s baroque-modern sensibility represents a head-spinning union of old and new.” Located in the posh Nob Hill area, the hotel used to be known as the Empire.

47. Kate’s Lazy Meadow Motel in Mt. Tremper, New York — Owned by Kate Pierson, the red-headed retro singer with The B-52s, the Catskills motel features ’50s decor in its eight suites, which are awash in retro kitsch, which Pierson calls “mind-blowing mid-century modern/space age/rocket-your-socks-off decor.” The property sits on nine acres on scenic Esopus Creek and walking into any of its rooms brings an instant flashback to the era of early rock ‘n’ roll.

48. Falls Brook Yurts in Minerva, New York — Mongolian-styled yurts offer a backcountry experience to those wishing to get back to Mother Nature. Wood-floored and canvas-walled, with open skylights giving a view of the overhead stars, the yurts have kitchens and propane lights, easy access to secluded woodland hiking trails, and the bubbling of Falls Brook at night to help you fall asleep.

49. El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas — This quirky Bunkhouse property has everything you might want in a unique hotel — a collection of travel trailers with names like Vagabond, Battleship, and Little Pinky, a 22-foot-diameter yurt, several brick-floored tepees, and even cozy wall tents. While there, check out the workshops on camp cooking, camp construction, and Movie Mondays, complete with free popcorn and films.

50. Clown Motel in Tonopah, Nevada — With a lobby decorated with hundreds of clowns dolls, paintings, and costumes, clown-themed rooms with paintings of Bozo, Emmett Kelly, and Pagliacci, the Clown Motel makes it very clear that you better like clowns if you stay there. To make things more interesting, the motel is reportedly haunted by long-gone clowns who pop up now and then to terrify visitors.

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Airlines expect record numbers for spring travel

WASHINGTON – Airlines are projecting a record spring travel season, the trade group Airlines for America said Wednesday

The group forecast 140 million passengers during March and April, a 3% rise compared to the same period a year ago. That total would be the highest ever for spring travel, topping the 136.2 million passengers who flew during March and April of 2015, the group said.

“The continued growth in passenger volumes can be attributed to the accessibility and affordability of air travel today,” said John Heimlich, the group’s chief economist. “To meet the extra demand, airlines are deploying new and larger aircraft on many routes.”

Ten publicly traded airlines reported a combined $23.2 billion in pre-tax earnings during 2015, which led to complaints about fares not dropping along with fuel prices.

But fares are generally lower during the last decade when factoring in inflation. Airlines invested $17 billion on improvements such as new aircraft, in-flight entertainment and ground equipment, Heimlich said.

“They are reinvesting improving cash flows to benefit customers, employees and investors,” Heimlich said. “With more reliable operations, lower airfares, more seats in the marketplace and a steady stream of new and larger aircraft, airlines are seeing a record number travelers,exceeding 790 million last year.”

The estimated spring increase of 63,000 passengers per day is comparable to what the Transportation Security Administration projected for spring break.

Sharon Pinkerton, senior vice president for legislative and regulatory policy at Airlines for America, urged TSA to reduce wait-times in the short term through better staffing assignments during peak travel times and additional canine teams.

“We need to make sure they’re going to the right spaces,” Pinkerton said. “We urge TSA to focus on short-term wins to try to make sure that we keep those wait-times reasonable.”

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders to square off after Michigan upset

At the very least, Sanders likely extended the Democratic contest for weeks with his show of strength in the Midwest in a way that will force Clinton to confront his critique over her ties to Wall Street, her past support for free-trade deals opposed by the Democratic base and what he says is a corrupt economy and political system weighted against the middle and working classes.

The debate in Miami follows a testy faceoff between the rivals in Flint, Michigan, at a CNN debate on Sunday night. That showdown was punctuated by impatient complaints by Sanders that Clinton was talking over him, so the tone of Wednesday’s debate will be closely watched.

Since the debate will be broadcast by Univision, the candidates can expect questions on issues that are particularly important to the Latino community, including immigration reform.

Clinton had a 2-1 lead over Sanders in a Washington Post/Univision Poll last month among Latino voters. And in the Texas primary last week, 71% of Latino voters voted for Clinton, who has vowed to aggressively push immigration reform in her first term as president and to extend President Barack Obama’s executive orders shielding some undocumented migrants from deportation.

Sanders has said he would take a similar stance on the executive orders and backs comprehensive immigration reform and a path toward citizenship.

At a Democratic debate in February on MSNBC, however, Clinton hammered Sanders for opposing a bipartisan comprehensive effort to reform the immigration system during the George W. Bush administration.

“I don’t think it was progressive to vote against Ted Kennedy’s immigration reform,” she said.

Sanders said he voted against the bill because it included big increases in a guest-worker program that he says undercuts American workers by importing cheap labor and leaves those who come into the country at the mercy of unscrupulous employers.

In Nocatee, Marco Rubio preaches the Reagan Gospel to Starbucks Republicans

Nocatee, in St. Johns County, is the #3 Best Selling Planned Community in the U.S. The community has all the amenities, from fitness and RV trails to zip lines.

Just a few miles from Jacksonville, it’s where many families with money move to raise their kids. It’s a great place to grow up.

The moms and dads commute to the city up north, reserving their property taxes for a different county; the kids get to grow up in a planned community that avoids failures to plan on the governmental level that created the inexorable exodus from Jacksonville to Nocatee and places in St. Johns and other nearby counties like this.

The community has yet to grow into its infrastructure. The Nocatee Parkway: six lanes, no congestion. Even the Publix parking lot was half full at PM rush.

People with money, college degrees, and families: this is Marco Rubio’s base, conservatives of circumstance, more J. Crew than Russell Kirk. And so it was that a Tuesday evening rally at Nocatee was logical with a capital L.

The crowd – hundreds of them – by and large clean, with fresh haircuts, with all their teeth, with the bright smiles of the possibility of the American Dream. No need to “make America great again.” For these folks, it already was great. How could it be otherwise?

The synthesized beats and emotive vocals of pop-dance hits of recent vintage (this generation’s version of the Miami Freestyle that was the soundtrack to Rubio’s youth) played as hundreds upon hundreds stood in a field, the cool March breeze blowing across the Publix shopping center parking lot across the street.

Kids capered, adolescents had beaming permanent smiles, and there was no tension in the crowd. It was easy, very easy, to see why the grievance politics of Trump doesn’t play here. And why Rubio’s does.

Rubio opened with positive messaging, getting applause with “our rights come from the creator; our rights come from God.”

Then, a “crossroads,” after “eight years of Barack Obama, and two decades of failure in Washington,” which would seem to encompass the Bush/Cheney era.

The crowd didn’t pop for that. Rubio then went into the David Vs. Goliath story of his slaying of Charlie Crist.

“I chose to run against those odds, and Florida believed in me,” Rubio said, getting scattered applause.

From there, recounting his Senate achievements got a modest response. The best applause: for “sanctions against Hezbollah” and for standing up to the “Obama agenda.”

Then: “only a President can set the agenda… to craft a new course for America’s future.”

“We are going to return to the principles that made America’s greatness possible,” Rubio said.

As well, “the balance of the court and the Constitution are at stake,” Rubio said, espousing originalism over “what these liberal judges are doing now.”

The “for the first time in eight years” line resonated through his remarks, as in Jacksonville Saturday, before he extolled having “fixed problems” in the State Legislature, saying that solutions are best reached “at the state level, not the federal level.”

“After I take the Oath of office, I will go to the oval Office, and repeal every single one of Obama’s Unconstitutional Executive Orders.”

Free enterprise? “It works… you can lift everybody up, and not tear everybody down.”

Socialism? “It doesn’t work.”

And for this crowd, who believes – who must believe – in strict capitalism, the dichotomy works.

The “Commander in Chief is weak” line popped up, again, as does the Trump “believes the Nuclear Triad is a rock band.”

It got strong response; comfort food, as much as the familiar songs before the event.

Rubio reprised his warnings about “gutting our military” in the face of encroaching ISIS and “radical Islamic jihad,” and brought back his “pilots are younger than the planes” line.

It all worked: got appropriate levels of applause, at appropriate times, building up to a “Reagan style rebuilding of the US military,” which got a short Mar-co, Mar-co chant.

The hard line national security riffs continued, including reminders that Trump “wouldn’t take sides… between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” and that President Obama pays the ayatollah of Iran more respect than Netanyahu.

It all worked. The pathos lines, in this speech: a reminder of the problems with the VA, including his brother Mario’s issues getting dental treatment, and “calls to the VA’s suicide hotline going to voicemail.”

“No one has been fired,” Rubio said. “This is an outrage.”

Rubio, as in Jacksonville, “took a moment to thank our police officers and our firefighters for all they do for us,” before pivoting into a defense of “traditional values” and “strong families,” both of which abounded in this crowd.

Marco Rubio may never be the President of the United States. But to see him in this setting, a world away from lead poisoning in Flint, or even the casual horrors of Eureka Gardens in Jacksonville, or even the traffic jams of Julington Creek, yesteryear’s suburban idyll in these parts, it is clear who his base is.

Whether this is where the country is in 2016, or will ever be again, is much more opaque. The appeals that Trump makes are light years away from this world, in which Rubio seems inevitable.

These people are all really nice. But in 2016 in the GOP electorate, they are far from critical mass.

The irony: Marco Rubio, the youngest person in the race, has a message that would have played better in 1988 or 2000 than in 2016. The pre-rally music may be new and on top of the charts. But the message is not.”

“We must stop and remind ourselves what conservatism truly is… Ronald Reagan defined it for a full generation.”

Ronald Reagan has been gone a long time now.

“We have never been an angry people. We have always been an optimistic people…. But we must return to these principles of conservatism, and apply them to our times,” Rubio said.

Familiar stories followed about his family rising up from immigration to the American dream. Stories about family sacrifice. Stories about personal sacrifice.

“That is the American Dream… separates us from every country in the world… we can save it now, or explain to our children why we lost it.”

The crowd listened stoic, until the “when I am President, this generation will do its part” line got applause.

“I know that times are tough, but I want you to believe as Reagan did… that we can do anything,” Rubio said.

There is an “audacity of hope” aspect to Rubio’s most aspirational rhetoric. But it’s undercut: by the pleading for a vote. By the realization that, without some sea change, this moment and this movement are done.

6 travel apps for people who trust strangers

For most, the prospect of making yourself vulnerable to strangers is terrifying. This list is for the minority that has no problem depending on the kindness of strangers.

Although one of the best parts of traveling is meeting new people and making new connections, recent advances in technology walk a fine line between informative and just plain creepy.

SEE ALSO: I joined an app that paired me with a stranger for life. Now to find them.

These six apps can either be a great resource for learning about a city from friends you haven’t met yet or a horror film in the making.

So just be smart out there, guys — and don’t say nobody warned you about stranger danger.


Image: overnight

Made for people who love waking up in the morning and trying to remember where they are, Overnight is the Airbnb for spontaneous (and trusting) people.

Users drop a pin where they are, and nearby hosts can offer to put them up. As the list of available pads pours in, users choose where they want to stay and make the booking for that night. 

Overnight only works in Los Angeles and Austin right now, but the company is planning expansion to New York and San Francisco.


Wingman started off as a tongue-in-cheek way to find like-minded people on your flight and maybe join the mile-high club. But the idea has expanded to help travelers “meet people at your airport, on your flight, and at your destination.” 

If pre-travel, you’re swiping through people on your flight and someone looks cute, you can arrange to sit next to them for the entirety of your voyage. Maybe that person will shower regularly, not be racist and understand the rules of sharing armrests on the plane. Or not.

The app doesn’t officially launch until this summer, but eager travelers can sign up to be one of the first people onboard on the Wingman’s website.


Image: screenshot / findery

Findery advertises itself as a sort of virtual treasure hunt, using people’s real life experiences as clues along the way. It’s a solid resource for finding out about new restaurants or hidden bars, but it can get creepy fast

While swiping through nearby locations, one woman’s blind date popped up. From there, it was easy to access all of her other favorite spots. It didn’t take long to figure out where she hangs out regularly, what times she goes there and what she does while there.

However the creepy feeling took a long time to wash away.


If you’re looking for a truly authentic travel experience, why not just stalk a local?

The app Follower is an art project by Lauren McCarthy, and doubles as a travel app for either following someone else or being followed.

Following someone else is a great way to discover new parts of a city that you normally wouldn’t explore (like outside of a stranger’s apartment or office building!). And for those that are followed, the app aims to help you enjoy each moment more thoroughly, knowing that someone is watching everything you do.

It’s also a great option for someone who is traveling alone and can’t afford a photographer: The person following you will secretly take pictures of you and then send one to you via the app!

Follower is only available in New York City. 


Image: screenshot / tripwire

Tripwire allows adventurous travelers to get the lowdown on the best things to do, places to go and who will be there. The app features a live feed of content that is tailored to each user’s routes.

It all sounds like fun and games until you start exploring and realize that you’re able to see who else is in town and how far away they are. But the creepiest feature is a map that tracks each user’s path. Once you become friends with someone, you can see their past and future paths and they can see yours. Choose your friends wisely. 

However, via the app, it’s possible to find really cool events. (We got invited to a secret ramen pop-up that looked really cool.)

Winston Club

Share your hotel room with a stranger! Save money! Maybe don’t make it out alive!

This is the premise of Winston Club (minus that last bit). The app lets users split hotel rooms with strangers. When the app officially launches in March, it will work in Las Vegas, Portland, Seattle and San Francisco.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

What Bernie Sanders’s big Michigan bet may be overlooking

Bernie Sanders will face a crucial electoral test in Michigan on Tuesday. His performance there will either give him a path to challenging Hillary Clinton for the nomination or put his campaign on life support.

“It’s really crunch time for Sanders,” says Kyle Kondik, of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “If Sanders doesn’t win Michigan, what would lead you to think he’d win Illinois or Missouri or Ohio? If he’s really going to challenge Clinton in this race, he needs to find some big states to win.”

Sanders’s campaign has itself recognized Michigan as a critical battleground. Though Sanders has trailed there by double digits in most polls, the Vermont senator’s staff has argued that Michigan should be fertile ground for his populist economic message.

“I think his message on trade in particular will be very powerful out there,” Jeff Weaver, Sanders’s campaign manager, told the Washington Post about Michigan.

What Sanders’s bet on Michigan may be overlooking

The Sanders campaign has decided to invest substantial resources and time in its “big Michigan bet,” according to a report published by Politico. The Post said Weaver considers Michigan “ripe Sanders territory” in part because the state had suffered job losses and economic restructuring.

But it’s not clear that this is a narrative Michigan’s voters — particularly Michigan’s Democratic primary voters — will find persuasive.

In fact, by most measures, Michigan’s economy has done well under President Barack Obama, with gains in employment, population, and economic growth since 2009, according to Dr. Donald R. Grimes, a University of Michigan researcher who studies the state’s economy.

“Since Obama took office, Michigan has been doing great. And people will correctly attribute some of that to him and some of that to [Gov. Rick] Snyder,” Grimes said.

That should help Clinton, who has sold herself as a continuation of the Obama presidency. And overwhelmingly, voters who say the Democratic nominee should continue Obama’s policies have backed her over Sanders, according to exit polls. Those who want the next president to pursue more liberal policies have supported Sanders by a 6- to 10-point margin.

On first glance, Michigan’s strong economic recovery during the Obama administration appears to translate into an advantage for Clinton — one that may make Sanders’s gamble on the state not make much sense.

Michigan’s economy looks much weaker if you zoom out

But there’s a major flaw in this analysis: Michigan’s economy may have improved since 2009, but it’s still down sharply from where it was in 2000, particularly for low-income workers, according to Grimes.

Like the rest of the country, Michigan suffered a serious economic downturn beginning around 2001. (Michigan’s began a little earlier, in 2000.) But while much of America rebounded from that recession within the year, Michigan’s free fall largely continued uninterrupted until 2009, according to Grimes.

“Michigan was just hit incredibly hard in that nine-year period, from 2000 to 2009,” Grimes said. “Housing prices were collapsing, people were losing jobs, people were leaving the state. Those nine years or so were almost depression-like in terms of decline.”

By that metric, the past two decades still look pretty terrible for the Michigan economy. And if that’s the time frame Michigan voters have in mind when they head to the polls, Grimes noted, they’re probably much more likely to seek a major break with the status quo at the ballot box. That’d probably play to Sanders’s advantage.

“If your perspective is back to 2000, you say: ‘Life sucks, and we need to throw the bums out and start the revolution, and somehow get to where we were in 2000,'” Grimes said. “We’ve undergone this tremendous income loss over this long, 16-year period back to 2000. … When you ask a person here if they’re happy, if they’re better off, it depends on if you’re talking about compared to 2009 or 2000.”

Another problem with this strategy: shifts in what the Democratic Party looks like

Clinton remains the prohibitive favorite in Michigan. The former secretary of state has led Sanders by at least 10 points in every poll of the state since September 2015, according to RealClearPolitics.

“If Sanders won Michigan, it’d be a huge upset given what the polls have said,” said Kondik, of the University of Virginia.

There are two major regions where Grimes expects Clinton to do very well: in Oakland County, where there’s a large number of high-income voters; and in the city of Detroit, which is about 90 percent African-American.

Sanders, meanwhile, will probably need to win in places like Macomb County and in the city of Lansing, which have a higher number of white, working-class voters. If there’s higher turnout in those places and in Washtenaw County — home of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor — Sanders may be able to give Clinton a real challenge.

But even banking on these voters may be risky for the Vermont senator. Grimes noted that poorer white voters in the state have increasingly left the Democratic Party and voted Republican.

“I think the Democratic Party in Michigan has increasingly become a party of upscale voters,” Grimes said. “But it may be fertile territory for the ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan.”

This Groundbreaking High Fat Diet Could Combat Diabetes and Promote Weight Loss

One diet that has existed for more than 80 years is making a comeback as a way to ease symptoms of diabetes. Diabetes affects the body’s use of glucose, a type of sugar that is found in the bloodstream and a fuel source for cells in the body. According to the American Diabetes Association, Type 1 diabetes affects younger individuals, while type 2 diabetes occurs when an individual can’t produce enough insulin to keep up with the blood’s glucose levels.


The ketogenic diet may slow the effects of the debilitating disease. Originally used to treat children with epilepsy, how can a diet that focuses on high fats possibly be a solution to diabetes?


Read more: How to Eat Healthy and Avoid a Ramen-Only Diet When You’re a Broke College Student


The keto diet is high in fat but low in carbohydrates, according to Healthline. The diet is all about changing the way your body stores and converts energy, burning fat instead of carbs. Carbohydrates are generally converted into glucose, but the keto diet forces the body to use fat as energy for the body instead. Burning fat instead of carbs helps ease the symptoms of diabetes and may decrease blood glucose levels.


Dr. Jay Wortman, a Canadian physician, conducted a study of the keto diet in an aboriginal community in the Namgis First Nation in Canada.


“We designed a study, trying to do something different, because clearly what we were currently doing to manage these problems wasn’t working,”  Wortman said during a dieting summit in Cape Town, South Africa, according to BizNews. “We approached a small aboriginal community and suggested they try on a low-carb, ketogenic diet based on their traditional diet. People lost weight and improved their metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.”

View photo

.This Groundbreaking High Fat Diet Could Combat Diabetes and Promote Weight Loss

Source: Matthew Mead/AP


Of course, this doesn’t seem to mean go out and gorge yourself with every type of fat. According to Healthline, “heart-healthy fats are the key to sustaining overall health,” so dieters should try healthy fats like eggs, fish, cottage cheese, avocados, and almond butter.


Not all researchers believe that low carb, high fat diets are healthy options. But Dr. Eric Westman, an associate professor of medicine at Duke University Health System, has been using the diet for several years.


“While not all experts agree that a LCHF diet is a healthy way of eating (like I do), most experts agree that the LCHF diet is a therapy for many of the chronic medical conditions that we see today: type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heartburn, polycystic ovarian syndrome and fatty liver disease, to name a few,” Westman told Whole Foods Magazine. “I have been using the LCHF diet as a first-line treatment for obesity and type 2 diabetes for eight years.”


The keto diet may also benefit the wallet as well. “I lowered my grocery bill 20% to about $75 a week,” Joshua Schall, a business consultant, told US News World Report after trying the keto diet. “The main difference was being able to buy cheaper cuts of meat from my traditional lean cuts.”

Being ‘out of shape’ ups diabetes risk regardless of weight

Reuters Health – For adolescents, low cardiorespiratory fitness and poor muscle strength increase their risk for type 2 diabetes later in life, regardless of body weight, according to a study of young men in Sweden.

“Not only were both low aerobic and muscular fitness linked with a higher long-term risk of diabetes, but this was true even among those with normal body mass index,” said lead author Dr. Casey Crump of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

These risk factors had a synergistic effect. In other words, the combination of low aerobic and muscular fitness increased diabetes risk more than the sum of the two individual risks, Crump told Reuters Health by email.

The researchers used data on more than one million 18-year-old military conscripts in Sweden between 1969 and 1997, without a history of diabetes.

The researchers followed these men until 2012, identifying type 2 diabetes diagnoses using national hospital and outpatient registries.

About 2%, or 34,000 men, were diagnosed with diabetes during follow-up, which lasted into middle age for most. Half were diagnosed after age 46.


Those who were least fit as 18-year olds were three times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than those with better measures of aerobic capacity and strength, even for young men with a healthy body mass index, as reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, March 7.

“This study showed that fitness traits were important for the prediction of future diabetes at any body weight so it should not be ignored,” said Peter T. Katzmarzyk of Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study.

But “every study uses a different definition of ‘fitness’ and it is not really possible to come up with a single number that can define fitness level, especially given the known difference across ages and between men and women,” he told Reuters Health by email.


Activity level and genetics are major determinants of physical fitness, but activity level is the most important modifiable factor, Crump said.

“More studies will be needed that measure physical fitness as well as diet and BMI at other time points across the lifespan to examine age windows of susceptibility to these factors in relation to diabetes,” he said.

These should include women and other populations, he said.


“Young people should maintain regular exercise and both aerobic and muscular fitness, and avoid barriers to this such as screen time,” Crump said.

Current guidelines recommend 60 minutes of exercise daily, most of which should be aerobic activity, but should also include muscle-strengthening activities at least three days per week, he said, but only about half of U.S. children and youth meet these guidelines.




Ann Intern Med 2016.

Diabetes: Yet another reason to get out of that chair

Earlier studies have shown that sedentary behavior can lead to type 2 diabetes and many other diseases including cardiovascular problems, cancer and other chronic conditions. There’s a reason physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth-leading risk factor for death for people all around the world, according to the World Health Organization.

So what can you do to reduce your sitting time?

There are some really simple things. Experts suggest one may be as simple as being aware of exactly how much you sit. Make it a goal to get up for a few minutes every hour. Some pedometers will now even send you reminder notes to get up if you get too engrossed in your work. If you do have to sit for your work, switch to a standing desk.

If you watch TV at night, don’t zoom ahead during the commercials with your DVR. Instead walk around or at least stand up during the show break.

Whatever you do get up and move. Your body will thank you if you do.

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