Have Bitcoin, Will Travel? 4 Strategies for Crypto-Holidays - Kanebridge News
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Have Bitcoin, Will Travel? 4 Strategies for Crypto-Holidays

A host of companies–including luxury ski resorts and at least one surf town—let you pay for R&R services with digital cash.

By R.T Watson
Wed, Mar 30, 2022 3:19pmGrey Clock 3 min

MAYBE YOU’RE still flush with crypto cash. Or perhaps your Bitcoin portfolio is hemorrhaging value amid the recent turbulence. Either way, if turning digital assets into rest and relaxation sounds appealing, you have options. Marko Jovic, a 41-year-old telecom engineer from Belgrade, Serbia, began using crypto to pay for vacations in 2021. He said despite a recent fall in value he can pay for a lot of things with his crypto. “You can basically do anything you want with crypto,” said Mr. Jovic.

Now that you can get debit cards linked to cryptocurrency portfolios, it’s never been easier to use digital cash while on the move. But for travelers who want to avoid the extra fees associated with using a crypto card, the alternative is to seek out merchants willing to accept cryptocurrency like Bitcoin directly. Luckily, a growing list of companies, hotels and destinations are eager to do business with crypto consumers. Here, a few up-to-the-minute moves:

1. Book a trip via an online travel agency

Travala.com has emerged as the leader among the handful of online booking sites that accept crypto. It may offer fewer routes and destinations than traditional air-travel sites do and sometimes list slightly higher prices, said Mr. Jovic, who recently used it to book a flight to Budapest, but he finds the ability to pay with crypto outweighs those factors. While Travala co-founder and CEO Juan Otero, who worked at Booking.com in the late 2000s, agrees his company needs to be more competitive on airfare, he argues that its luxury hotel offerings compare well to rivals’. Of Travala’s monthly active users, Mr. Otero said, an-above average number opt for “four- and five-star hotels.” Omar Hamwi, a 37-year-old crypto professional from Washington, D.C., and self-described loyal customer of Travala, booked a stay most recently at the five-star Fairmont Orchid in Hawaii. “I have idle crypto so I generally do like to use it when I can,” he said.

2. Buy a flight ticket directly with the airline

You can book flights directly with at least one crypto-friendly airline—AirBaltic, Latvia’s premier carrier which services more than 70 destinations, primarily in the Baltics and Europe—but if you’re not flying out of Riga, it may be hard to take advantage. Still, according to the airline, since it began accepting crypto back in 2014, more than 1,000 customers have purchased tickets that way.

3. Reserve a swanky hotel

The Chedi, a chic luxury resort in the Swiss Alps lets guests pay with Bitcoin or Ethereum, as long as they’re spending more than $200 when paying for rooms or services like ski rentals and spa days—easily done since room rates generally start at $650 a night. The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts, a boutique hotel group with locations in Europe and Asia including Rome, Amsterdam, Bali and Phuket, also accepts cryptocurrency bookings. For travelers who prefer to spend their crypto gains stateside, there’s the Kessler Collection, whose portfolio include several hotels in the southern U.S., as well as a ski lodge in Beaver Creek, Colo.

4. Visit a ‘cryptopia’

If anything close to a crypto Utopia exists, it’s the surf town of El Zonte, El Salvador, otherwise known as “Bitcoin Beach.” There, travelers can grub on pupusas after a day of surf lessons at El Zonte’s point break, and pay for it all with Bitcoin. “Most of the merchants accept Bitcoin,” said Carol Souza, a Brazilian influencer focused on educating people about crypto. Other cities are expected to follow suit. Earlier this month, the small picturesque city of Lugano, Switzerland, announced it is also adopting cryptocurrency as legal tender.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: 28 March 2022.



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I.M. Pei was the confident visionary behind such transformative structures as the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong and the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, but he was also humble, and for years resisted a retrospective of his work.

Pei, a Chinese-American architect who died in 2019 at 102 , would always protest any suggestion of a major exhibition, saying, “why me,” noting, too, that he was still actively at work, recalls his youngest son, Li Chung “Sandi” Pei. A decade ago, when Pei was in his mid-to-late 90s, he relented, finally telling Aric Chen, a curator at the M+ museum in Hong Kong, “all right, if you want to do it, go ahead,” Sandi says.

A sweeping retrospective, “I.M. Pei: Life Is Architecture,” will open June 29 at M+ in the city’s West Kowloon Cultural District. The exhibition of more than 300 objects, including drawings, architectural models, photographs, films, and other archival documents, will feature Pei’s influential structures, but in dialogue with his “social, cultural, and biographical trajectories, showing architecture and life to be inseparable,” the museum said in a news release.

As a Chinese citizen who moved to the U.S. in 1935 to learn architecture, Pei—whose full first name was Ieoh Ming—brought a unique cultural perspective to his work.

“His life is what’s really interesting and separates him from many other architects,” Sandi says. “He brought with him so many sensibilities, cultural connections to China, and yet he was a man of America, the West.”

Facade of the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong in a photograph commissioned by M+ in 2021.
© South Ho Siu Nam

Pei’s architectural work was significant particularly because of its emphasis on cultural institutions—from the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., to the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar—“buildings that have a major impact in their communities,” Sandi says. But he also did several urban redevelopment projects, including Kips Bay Towers in Manhattan and Society Hill in Philadelphia.

“These are all places for people,” Sandi says. “He believed in the importance of architecture as a way to bring and celebrate life. Whether it was a housing development or museum or a tall building or whatever—he really felt a responsibility to try to bring something to wherever he was working that would uplift people.”

A critical juncture in Pei’s career was 1948, when he was recruited from the Harvard Graduate School of Design (where he received a master’s degree in architecture) by New York real estate developer William Zeckendorf.

With Zeckendorf, Pei traveled across the country, meeting politicians and other “movers and shakers” from Denver and Los Angeles, to Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Boston, and New York. “He became very adept at working in that environment, where you had to know how to persuade people,” Sandi says.

During the seven-year period Pei worked with Zeckendorf, the developer fostered the growth of his architecture practice, supporting an office that included urban, industrial, graphic, and interior designers, in addition to architects and other specialists, Sandi says.

When Pei started his own practice in 1955, “he had this wealth of a firm that could do anything almost anywhere,” Sandi says. “It was an incredible springboard for what became his own practice, which had no parallel in the profession.”

According to Sandi, Chinese culture, traditions, and art were inherent to his father’s life as he grew up, and “he brought that sensibility when he came into America and it always influenced his work.” This largely showed up in the way he thought of architecture as a “play of solids and voids,” or buildings and landscape.

“He always felt that they worked together in tandem—you can’t separate one from the other—and both of them are influenced by the play of light,” Sandi says.

View of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, on the mesa, in a photograph commissioned by M+ in 2021.
© Naho Kubota

Pei also often said that “architecture follows art,” and was particularly influenced by cubism, an artistic movement exploring time and space that was practiced in the early 20th century by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and the sculptor Jacques Lipchitz, among others. This influence is apparent in the laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., and at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, N.Y. “Those two buildings, if you look at them, have a play of solid and void, which are very cubistic,” Sandi says.

Yet Sandi argues that his father didn’t have a specific architectural style. Geometry may have been a consistent feature to his work, but his projects always were designed in response to their intended site. The resulting structure emerged as almost inevitable, he says. “It just was the right solution.”

Pei also intended his buildings “not only to be themselves a magnet for life,” but also to influence the area where they existed. “He never felt that a building stood alone,” Sandi says. “Urban design, urban planning, was a very important part of his approach to architecture, always.”

After he closed his own firm to supposedly “retire” in the early 1990s, Pei worked alongside Sandi and his older brother, Chien Chung (Didi) Pei, who died late last year, at PEI Architects, formerly Pei Partnership Architects. Pei would work on his own projects, with their assistance, and would guide his sons, too. The firm had substantial involvement in the Museum of Islamic Art, among other initiatives, for instance, Sandi says.

Working with his father was fun, he says. In starting a project, Pei was often deliberately vague about his intentions. The structure would coalesce “through a process of dialogue and sketches and sometimes just having lunch over a bottle of wine,” Sandi says. “He was able to draw from each of us who was working on the project our best efforts to help to guide [it] to some kind of form.”

The M+ retrospective, which will run through Jan. 5, is divided into six areas of focus, from Pei’s upbringing and education through to his work in real estate and urban redevelopment, art and civic projects, to how he reinterpreted history through design.

Sandi, who will participate in a free public discussion moderated by exhibition co-curator Shirley Surya on the day it opens, is interested “in the opportunity to look at my father anew and to see his work in a different light now that it’s over, his last buildings are complete. You can take a full assessment of his career.”

And, he says, “I’m excited for other people to become familiar with his life.”