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Sunday, November 23, 2014         

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New apps allows travelers to share trips exclusively

By Erika Engle

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Visitors to Hawaii and elsewhere now have a seamless way to access information and post travel photos to a journal they can share with family and friends online.

TripAdvisor's year-old City Guides app has a new feature called Trip Journal enabling users to "check in," to places they visit and to personalize those check-ins with pictures and captions.

City Guides works for 50 destinations around the world, Hawaii among them.

But wait, you say, why wouldn't travelers just use existing services like Foursquare, Facebook, Instagram and the like? Well, they can, but the Trip Journal function of the City Guides app offers "several advantages," said City Guides General Manager Joost Schreve.

"First, TripAdvisor City Guides don't need a data connection, which is a big deal while traveling, especially abroad, since the cost of data roaming is high."

Users can check in while offline, and share their check-ins to Facebook when back online, say, with their hotel's WiFi network.

The app will synch up automatically once online access is available.

"Second, as opposed to check-ins on Facebook and Foursquare, TripAdvisor check-ins are exclusively focused on travel-related locations and not mixed with check-ins from your friends' daily lives," Schreve said. "Travel is a special experience in people's lives, and we want to give them a feature that is uniquely focused on their travel experiences.

"Since millions of people are already using TripAdvisor City Guides while traveling, we think it makes sense to enable travelers to check in using the same app they already use during their trip," he said.

Case in point: One of the reviews for the Hawaii app insists anyone traveling to the islands use it.

"If you go to Hawaii and don't have this app you are missing out on the best vacation enhancer ever," said Paul, a tourist who only gave his first name. "We ate at two excellent restaurants on Maui this year based totally on recommendations in this app. We probably never would have found them, Da Kitchen in Kahu­lui and Star Noodle in Lahaina, or even gone in if we had happened by them," he said, exhorting those contemplating a download to "Get this App!"

Da Kitchen is a local favorite, as is Star Noodle. The latter was nominated for a James Beard Foundation "Best New Restaurant" award and is where executive chef Sheldon Simeon also was a semifinalist for a James Beard Foundation "Rising Star Chef of the Year" award, and as one of the best up-and-coming chefs of the Northwest & Pacific region by Food and Wine magazine.

The app is free and is available in the Google Play store for Android users, while an iOS version of City Guides with Trip Journal will be available later this fall.

HGTV likes us

They really like us.

A second Hawaii home will be featured on HGTV cable network's "Million Dollar Rooms," of which new episodes air Tuesdays.

A publicist for the luxury home in Hualalai on Hawaii island was told the episode featuring a room in the manse would likely air Tuesday but that the date was subject to change. The HGTV website indicates a Nov. 6 air date.

The 1.3-acre property is named Hale Ku Mana, or "House of Spiritual Strength." The 10,056-square-foot house, designed and built by C.F. Turnley, has five bedrooms, 51⁄2 baths, and it was the bathroom in the master suite that caught the attention of Executive Producer Nate Harrington.

The bathroom also was covered in Forbes magazine in a spread about homes with stunning, over-the-top showers and bathtubs.

Oh, and if you're interested in becoming the new owner, you should contact Realtor Beverly Molfino, who has the $13.5 million listing.

If you missed the show that included coverage of Maui artist Christian Riese Lassen's great room, it will air again Nov. 13 and 25, according to the HGTV website.

Whether additional Hawaii properties will be featured on the show this season could not be determined, as HGTV officials did not reply to queries.

The air times for "Million Dollar Rooms" depend upon on which programming service you use. On Oceanic Time Warner Cable, for instance, show times depend on whether you have regular digital cable or the high-definition package.

So, as the saying goes, check your local listings.

———
Reach Erika Engle at 529-4303, erika@staradvertiser.com or on Twitter as @erikaengle.






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