Boeing (BA) Reports Staggering Q4 Loss

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Dow component The Boeing Company (BA) is trading lower by more than 3% in Wednesday’s pre-market session after reporting a staggering fourth quarter 2020 loss of $15.25 per share, much worse than $1.63 loss estimates. Revenue fell 14.6% year over year to $15.39 billion, matching modest expectations. The company cited COVID-19 and 787 production issues for the shortfall but delivered over 40 MAX-737 jetliners and returned another five to its fleets.

Key Takeaways

  • Boeing reported a much greater-than-expected quarterly loss of $15.25 per share.
  • The stock is trading below $200 for the first time since November.
  • The aerospace giant pushed delivery dates toward 2023 and beyond.
  • Delivery projections may be too optimistic due to huge supply issues.

Commercial airline revenue fell 37% year over year, rising 31% compared to the third quarter. The 737-MAX program is expected to deliver 31 jetliners per month in 2022, when 787 production rises to just five per month. The company pushed back 777x deliveries to late 2023, but all projections are suspect because Boeing has done a poor job predicting demand since the Ethiopian jetliner crash in 2019.

The MAX-737 jetliner returned to the skies in the fourth quarter, but there’s little demand for the aircraft, with severe travel restrictions around the world. In addition, the pandemic has forced carriers to mothball hundreds of aircraft, generating a massive supply that will lower demand for new planes well into the future. Adding to long-term concerns, many analysts now believe that business travel will never return to pre-pandemic levels because corporations have adapted to the virtual meeting space, saving billions in travel budgets.

Wall Street consensus on Boeing hasn’t improved in the past three months despite positive 737-MAX developments, with a “Hold” rating based upon 10 “Buy,” 1 “Overweight,” 11 “Hold,” 2 “Underweight,” and 3 “Sell” recommendations. Price targets currently range from a low of $150 to a Street-high $306, while the stock will open Wednesday’s session nearly $30 below the median $222 target. There’s room for a little upside with this placement, but the huge quarterly loss won’t stir buying interest.

Tip

Demand is an economic principle referring to a consumer’s desire to purchase goods and services and willingness to pay a price for a specific good or service. Holding all other factors constant, an increase in the price of a good or service will decrease the quantity demanded, and vice versa. Market demand is the total quantity demanded across all consumers in a market for a given good.

Boeing Weekly Chart (2013 – 2021) 

TradingView.com


The stock returned to the 2007 high at $107.83 in 2013 and broke out, entering a broad trading range on top of new support. It held within those boundaries into a secondary breakout in 2017, with committed buyers generating impressive returns into March 2019’s all-time high at $446.01. A second MAX crash then triggered a worldwide grounding, sending price into a tailspin that initially found support near $320 in the third quarter.

Boeing broke range support in February 2020, plunging to a seven-year low in the double digits, and bounced back above $200 in June. A multi-month consolidation carved a higher November low, yielding a strong buying impulse that mounted second quarter resistance before fizzling out below the 200-week exponential moving average (EMA) in December. The stock has been pulling back since that time and is trading below $200 for the first time since November.

The monthly stochastic oscillator is grinding through a buy cycle, while the weekly indicator’s sell cycle has crossed into oversold territory. Taken together, this downswing is likely to bottom out quickly, allowing bottom fishers to take exposure at cheaper prices. Even so, the November gap between $158 and $172 remains unfilled, potentially acting as a magnetic target when investors realize that the old Boeing may be gone for good.

Tip

A stochastic oscillator is a momentum indicator comparing a particular closing price of a security to a range of its prices over a certain period of time. The sensitivity of the oscillator to market movements is reducible by adjusting that time period or by taking a moving average of the result. It is used to generate overbought and oversold trading signals, utilizing a 0–100 bounded range of values.

The Bottom Line 

Boeing is selling off after posting a much worse-than-expected fourth quarter loss and announcing delays in key milestone dates. 

Disclosure: The author held no positions in the aforementioned securities at the time of
publication.

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Cleaning robots are powering an automation revolution in hospitality

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One day last summer, the newest member of YOTEL Boston’s housekeeping team pulled up to work in a big crate.

“It was an imposing box,” recalled general manager Trish Berry, who watched as a team of robotics professionals then unpacked the employee, a tall cleaning bot nicknamed “Vi-YO-Let.” After getting programmed to understand the property’s floor plan, Vi-YO-Let (pronounced like “violet”) began roaming like a germ-zapping Roomba — becoming, in the process, one of the first ultraviolet bots to arrive in a United States hotel.

While Vi-YO-Let, the product of a partnership with Denmark-based UVD Robots, might play cute tunes and light up as she moves, she has a serious job: disinfecting the air and surfaces around her. And she does so remarkably well: Her array of UV lights, which look like a bundle of lightsabers, kill more than 99 percent of viruses and bacteria, including the coronavirus.

“It gave me a little peace of mind that I could offer something extra for our guests,” Berry said, and it seems to give travelers the same. More and more guests are requesting the robo-cleaning package, currently a complimentary add-on. “Cleanliness is now the new luxury,” Berry said.

The cleaning routines at most busy airports and hotels had remained relatively unchanged for decades. But as the pandemic rages into its second year, major brands are increasingly turning to the world of high-tech disinfection to strengthen their cleaning protocols. It’s a trend that’s slowly transforming housekeeping — and accelerating the pace of automation in hospitality.

Welcome to the ‘pathogen-free sanctuary’

Until recently, only health-care workers would frequently interact with disinfecting bots, which cost upward of $125,000 each. It’s a steep investment, but if it boosts travelers’ confidence, it’s worth it, said Morris Miller, CEO of Xenex, one of several leading companies in UV robotics.

When an epidemiologist founded the San Antonio-based firm in 2008, “the robots were designed and typically used in hospital settings,” Miller explained. But starting last spring, Xenex found rising demand in other sectors, and has raced to keep up since.

The appeal to the hospitality sector of virus-slaying UV light is obvious. Hospitals have found Xenex’s patented machines kill “22 times more pathogens” when compared with a room cleaned to CDC standards alone, Miller said. “The robots [are not] dependent on housekeeping,” he added, framing their consistency in cleaning as a scientifically backed “competitive advantage” travelers can trust.

Claims about the rigor of robot cleaning routines have recently become rather surreal marketing campaigns. Take the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. The iconic hotel, famous for hosting the annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony, boasts in one promotional video that its Xenex robot staff “zaps every inch before your arrival,” leaving you a “pathogen-free sanctuary” where you’ll “rest assured you’re sleeping in the safest room possible.”

Today, travelers might stumble on UV bots anywhere from five-star hotels and convention centers to train stations and cruise ships. Upscale Hilton and Marriott hotels, airports such as Heathrow and Key West International, London’s St. Pancras train station, and convention centers in Oklahoma City and San Antonio are only a few of the notable hospitality hubs that have hired disinfecting robots, according to spokespeople for several major robotics companies.

In Odense, the “robot capital” of Denmark, the rise of cleaning bots in hospitality has led to a “big increase” in sales for UVD Robots, said PR coordinator Camilla Almind Knudsen. And she predicts the pandemic is only the tipping point.

“We expect the market for autonomous cleaning robots to grow in hospitality as well as other sectors,” Knudsen wrote in an email. She cited a May 2020 forecast from Verified Market Research that projects the market for UV disinfecting bots will grow to more than $5.5 billion by 2027. A fresh class of cleaning bots unveiled at this year’s virtual CES — including a more affordable model from LG — shows how many tech firms believe the robots are here to stay.

A new wave of automation

This is not the first time robots have beeped and booped their way through hospitality.

Aloft Hotel in Cupertino, Calif., rolled out two of the world’s first robotic butlers in 2014. A 2016 partnership between Hilton and IBM led to a trial of Connie, a novelty robot concierge. Before the 2018 Winter Olympics, South Korea’s Incheon International Airport unveiled robots that could help travelers find their gate, among other tasks. And Japan’s famous Henn na Hotel has claimed to be the first hotel staffed by robots, though in 2019, the hotel fired about half of its 243 bots for underperforming (and, alarmingly, potentially exposing guests to hackers and peepers).

But the new wave of pandemic-era robots stands out from such predecessors, both because of the bots’ wider adoption and the more practical jobs they fill. Some robot makers refer to these kinds of bots as “cobots,” a portmanteau of “collaboration” and “robots,” because they’re intended to work alongside people rather than replace them. And while current bots like Vi-YO-Let may not compete with housekeepers, experts say such a future now seems more likely than ever.

Back in 2017, spatial economist Johannes Moenius, a professor at the University of Redlands in California, co-authored a report that predicted more than 60 percent of jobs in hospitality-dominated cities like Las Vegas could be automatable by 2025 — job losses that would exacerbate income inequality and disproportionately harm women of color.

At the time, he reasoned that certain hospitality jobs, those where face-to-face customer service is a key part of the experience, were less vulnerable. “If you had asked me a year ago how likely it is we would see a robot waiter, I would say, ‘Yeah, in Tokyo,’ ” Moenius said with a laugh. “That [analysis] has entirely changed now.”

He’s joined in that appraisal by a growing number of experts, who argue the pandemic is likely to accelerate the automation of jobs in sectors like hospitality. “Some share of the population now seek out places where human interaction is avoided,” Moenius said. “That was pretty much impossible for me even to conceive, to imagine, a year ago.”

Workers’ uncertain future

Where do people go if the robots come for our jobs? It’s a question labor leaders in hospitality have been grappling with for some time.

“I’ve been focused on [the rise of automation] for four years. Candidly, I got focused after going to the CES show here in Vegas in ’17,” said D. Taylor, international president of the Unite Here union, which represents workers in hotels, casinos, food service and more. “If they can develop driverless cars, if they can develop the whole variety of different things I saw there, certainly the jobs in our industry are going to change.”

Elected officials continue to underestimate the economic threats of automation in sectors like hospitality and tourism, Taylor says, which is why Unite Here negotiates “extensive technology language” into its labor contracts. This helps ensure that workers can retrain for new skills, transition to other roles or at least receive severance pay if their jobs are automated out of existence.

But the union also acknowledges the reality: Even as new technologies create new roles, some types of jobs may go away for good. “We’re not a bunch of Luddites. We want to collaborate, not be run over by technology,” Taylor said. That will require hospitality brands not to “disregard the workers that, frankly, got them to the dance in the first place.”

Rest assured, self-sufficient androids like Rosie from “The Jetsons” still seem a far way off. In the nearly six months since starting her new job, Vi-YO-Let has acquired no new skills in folding sheets or fluffing pillows — that isn’t what she was made to do. She has, however, created some new work for the staff.

A few team members at YOTEL Boston have become certified to drive Vi-YO-Let through the hotel’s smaller, harder-to-navigate rooms. “It’s kind of like playing video games,” Berry said. For now, even a state-of-the-art robot sometimes requires the delicate human touch.

Read more:

The U.S. is requiring covid-19 tests for international entry. Experts say the approach is flawed.

Hitting the road? Here’s what to know about your rest-stop risks.

6 ways the Biden administration could change travel

Will cruises require vaccines? One line just set a standard.

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My travel dream for 2021: top 12 readers’ tips | Travel

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Winning tip: A perfect ’stan

Covid willing, we’ll be heading to Kyrgyzstan. It’s at that perfect point where the infrastructure supports a great travel experience, but it’s not become spoiled by tourists. Bishkek is modern and vibrant, and in the stunning rural areas it’s possible to stay with nomads living the traditional life. It’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with delicious locally sourced food. Kyrgyz community-based tourism proved an affordable way to experience the life of horse-riding nomads living in yurts, and the money goes into the community itself.
Minnie Martin

Where the map takes us, Wester Ross

Evening sunlight over Achnahaird Bay, Wester Ross.
Evening sunlight over Achnahaird Bay, Wester Ross.
Photograph: Lorraine Yates/Alamy Stock Photo

The west coast of Scotland is our wild goal. During the neverending house tidy of 2020, we found the Gairloch & Ullapool area OS map and pored over it – a bit of geography home learning for my son, who liked the wriggly contour lines and the consonant-heavy names of the lochs and mountains. We’ll take the high road to Gairloch to see orca and minke (Hebridean Whale Cruises, £64 adult, £35 child), stay in a wooden wigwam at Sands campsite (from £52pp), and walk to the beach humming the Skye boat song.
Nancy Gladstone

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Readers’ tips: send a tip for a chance to win a £200 voucher for a Canopy & Stars stay

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Guardian Travel readers’ tips

Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and may appear in print. To enter the latest competition visit the readers’ tips homepage

Island dream, Lundy

Tourists land from MS Oldenburg on Lundy Island.
The MS Oldenburg landing on Lundy. Photograph: Backyard Production/Getty Images

My son, daughter and I have been making lists of where we want to go since the first lockdown. We’ve booked a few days on Lundy for next August in the hope that it will be safe to travel again by then. It only involves a five-hour drive to Ilfracombe, Devon, and then a couple of hours on HMS Oldenburg (which for my three-year-old boy will be the holiday made before we even get there). We’ll stay in Castle Cottage, in the keep of a castle built by Henry III in 1250. There’s nothing to do but explore cliffs, beaches and lighthouses, and look for the crashed bomber plane in the heather. And there’s no internet.
Kate Attrill

All a-Twitter for York

Curtor holding an 800-year-old figure of Christ
An 800-year-old figure of Christ returned to York last year and on display at the Yorkshire Museum. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

I’d love to go to York and visit the Yorkshire Museum as their wonderful tweets – mainly about odd or mysterious items in their collection – have kept me entertained and brought history alive this year. A pint or two in the city’s ancient pubs and a wander home to characterful lodgings would just cap a cultural visit off nicely!
Liz

Mind-Boggling Whitby, North Yorkshire

Boggle Hole YHA, Robin Hood’s Bay.
Boggle Hole YHA near Robin Hood’s Bay. Photograph: Ian Bottle/Alamy

Low cost and close to home, a stay with the YHA at Boggle Hole is always a welcome relief. A converted watermill with a reception, bar and cosy sitting room complete with a log fire and leather couches, it’s in a pebbled cove overlooking the sea, with wooded cliffs on either side. Go in spring or early autumn and the prices are as low as £29 a night. Walk across the sandy beach to Robin Hoods Bay or over the jagged cliffs to Ravenscar to see the seals.
Safiya El-Gindy

Golden Glasgow

Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.
Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. Photograph: Black Jake/Getty Images

I long for the wide expansiveness of Glasgow boulevards: west-facing, bathed in the golden glow of light glancing off sandstone. I long for the cobbled alleyways, armpit-piled bookshops, curiosity shops crammed with treasure; and also the glitzy, glassy, high street emporiums filled with unafforded luxuries. I long for views of the university, the Campsie Fells, the high flats, the rivers snaking through. And the tearooms, pubs, gastropubs, curry houses, Asian street food haunts, delis and restaraunts high end and greasy spoon. It’s only two hours away but has been impossibly out of reach. I long for full immersion, to be sated by all its gritty, impossibly romantic, unabashed grandeur.
Fiona

Simply sublime, Cotswolds Way

The Cotswold Way at Crickley Hill.
The Cotswold Way at Crickley Hill. Photograph: Alamy

In 2021 I want to carry on enjoying the benefits of the simple pleasures of travelling that 2020 led us to – like walking and talking. I want to walk the Cotswolds Way from Broadway to Bath, breathing in fresh air, wondering at big skies, scanning rolling hills in the distance while getting fitter without going to gyms or swimming in chlorinated pools or using mobile apps. Its 120 miles should take about a week, staying in village pubs along the way. Travel, like life, should be about connecting reality to your imagination by inspiration, which can come in the purest, most simple of forms.
Nick

Faroes football

My dream is to fulfil a Covid-delayed bucket-list trip to see the ultimate sporting underdog story, and take my football-crazy nine-year-old on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. We will be travelling to see the Faroe Islands play an international match on home turf. They’re due to play Scotland on 12 October in a World Cup qualifier. Fly into the capital, Torshavn, and you can walk to the stadium. Hire a car for the full Faroes experience: it’s the bird-watching capital of Europe. Hotel Streym in Torshavn has Atlantic views and doubles from £90.
John Connolly

Harvest festival with a difference, Ukraine

Harvest time on a farm near Lviv, Ukraine
Harvest time on a farm near Lviv, Ukraine. Photograph: Martin Charlesworth

It will take the best part of a day and a half but here’s my plan: a few buses, some trains and a flight from my home in the Ribble valley to Ukraine, crossing the Polish border at Przemyśl. I’m expecting Lviv to be “bruised but not broken” as the Ray Davies song goes, with coffee, cake and varenyky (dumpling) culture still largely intact. I plan to go in August for the Saviour of the Apple feast, an Eastern Orthodox celebration of harvest. The reason for going is not necessarily the destination or the festival but the sweet joy of a long journey to a foreign land and interaction with strangers at long last.
Martin Charlesworth

Totally ore-some, Mauritania

The iron ore train, Mauritania

For 2021, I want to travel somewhere that is remote with low population density and gives me an adrenaline rush. After a bit of research, I’ve chosen to go on the iron ore train in Mauritania. The 700km journey on a cargo train from the north of the country to the west coast takes around 34 hours. This train is among the world’s longest and heaviest and riding it is totally free. From time to time, I look at the photos and videos of the journey on the internet and instantly get goosebumps. See for yourself. It’s total madness.
Venkata K C Tata

Silk Road: Samarkand to Baku

The Registan place in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
The Registan place in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Photograph: Andrey Vishin/Alamy

As we enter 2021 with unbridled hope and optimism for a better year filled with limitless freedom and a vaccinated global population, never have I wanted more to return to completing my journey of the Silk Road, started in 2019. Beginning in Xi’an and Kashgar, China, I headed west to Almaty, Kazakhstan, before crossing over into Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. My trip allowed just enough time to reach dazzling Samarkand in Uzbekistan. My trip ended at the Shah-i-Zinda necropolis, a breathtaking marvel from which I hope to restart my adventure in 2021. My aim is to reach Tehran, from where I will return to Baku, one of my favourite cities, for a deserved cup of coffee.
Scott Strachan

Mountain overload, Georgia

Kazbegi, Georgia.
Kazbegi, Georgia. Photograph: Franka Hummels

I want to be overwhelmed by Georgia’s Kazbegi region again. I want to get so exhausted by marvellous hikes – where I will not meet a soul – that the next day will be spent on a balcony with a book that gets little attention because the mountains take my breath away. I will only leave that balcony to eat terrific vegetarian Georgian food, with the same view. That balcony I left and want to return to is at Rooms Hotel, where doubles go for $100 – steep by Georgian standards but worth it and not as steep as those mountain slopes.
Franka Hummels



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China city offers cash for tip on test evaders

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BEIJING (AP) — A city in northern China is offering rewards of 500 yuan ($77) for anyone who reports on a resident who has not taken a recent coronavirus test.

The offer from the government of Nangong comes as millions in the city and its surrounding province of Hebei are being tested as part of efforts to control China’s most serious recent outbreak of COVID-19.

The offering of cash or other rewards for information on political or social nonconformists has a long history in China, but the pandemic is putting a new face on the practice. Those found noncompliant will be forced to undergo testing and a two-week quarantine at their own expense.

China has largely controlled local transmission through the use of measures considered by some to be extreme and highly intrusive, including lockdowns of entire cities and close electronic monitoring of bans on traveling to and from parts of the country.

With next month’s Lunar New Year travel rush looming, the government is telling people to stay put as much as possible and not travel to or from the capital Beijing, disrupting the country’s most important time for family gatherings. Schools are also being let out a week early, although many, including those in Hebei, have already reverted to online learning.

China on Friday reported 53 new cases, including 33 in Hebei. Of those, 31 were in the provincial capital of Shijiazhuang, host to some events for next year’s Winter Olympics.


In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— Thailand reported 205 new virus cases, a slight dip from previous days as it tightened controls on domestic travel. Taweesilp Visanuyothin, a spokesperson for the COVID-19 coordinating center, said Friday that 131 of the new cases were local transmissions, 58 were migrant workers and 16 international arrivals. That brought the country’s total to 9,841, including 67 deaths. Of that total, 5,367 cases have been found since the start of the new surge on Dec. 15. Infections have surged following months that saw only a handful of cases. Most of the new cases have been migrant workers from neighboring Myanmar employed in seafood markets and factories in a province next to Bangkok. Most were quarantined in their dormitories and in quickly established field hospitals. Many of the remaining cases have been blamed on itinerant gamblers, most of them stemming from a single hotspot outside Bangkok last month.

— Australia is nearly halving the number of passengers allowed to arrive by plane in a bid to prevent the spread of a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus first identified in Britain. A cleaner at a Brisbane quarantine hotel diagnosed with COVID-19 on Wednesday is the first person infected with the variant found in the Australian community. Other cases have been detected among travelers while in hotel quarantine, where there is little risk of community spread. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said state leaders had agreed that international arrivals to New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia state airports would be halved until Feb. 15. Arrivals at Victoria were already relatively low and would remain unchanged. Quarantine workers would be tested for the virus daily. Authorities in Brisbane are locking Australia’s third-most populous city down for three days beginning Friday evening to contain the spread. Australian Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly said anyone who had been in Brisbane since Jan. 2 should also isolate.

— Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong received a vaccine against the coronavirus on Friday as the island nation started immunizing its small population. It took delivery of the first vaccines, manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, on Dec. 23 and hopes to cover its entire population of about 4.5 million and its foreign residents. The vaccine will be free. It has not said how many it has purchased but hopes to inoculate everyone by the third quarter of 2021. Health workers and the elderly will be among the first to receive the vaccine.

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Man found in crashed car fatally shot in Santa Ana – Orange County Register

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A 20-year-old man was found in a car with a fatal gunshot wound on Raitt Street in Santa Ana on Wednesday night, Jan. 20, police said.

It was shortly after 11 p.m. when police officers were responding to a call when they heard gunshots somewhat nearby, the Santa Ana Police Department said on Thursday.

The officers went to the area the shots came from, on the block of 100 South Raitt Street, and found a car with an unresponsive man inside with a gunshot wound to the torso, police said. It was unclear if he was shot while the car was moving.

The Honda Accord had jumped a curb and hit a pole, Cmdr. S. Enriquez said.

Officers gave him medical aid until paramedics arrived. The man, who police were still trying to identify, was taken to a hospital, where he died.

Police asked that anyone with information about the case to call them at 714-245-8390, or Orange County Crime Stoppers to provide anonymous tips at 1-855-TIP-OCCS.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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Bring it on home: Puerto Rico | Travel

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Who and where Stephen and Valerie Cuppett of Glen Carbon at Luquillo Beach in Puerto Rico.

The trip • They spent a week on the island in February 2020. Highlights included the El Yunque tropical rainforest, Old San Juan, Arecibo Observatory and their oceanfront condo (Ocean Villas next to the Wyndham Rio Mar Beach Resort).

Travel tip • Visit El Yunque National Forest early in the day so that there are no other people in your photos of the various waterfalls. The trail leading to the Mount Britton tower takes about 40 minutes and is well worth the view from the top of the tower.

Contribute • Email your photo to stlpost@gmail.com. Include the full names of everyone in the photo, including where they are from and where you are standing in the photo. Also include your address and phone number. Please also tell us a little about the trip and a travel tip. We’re looking for interesting, well-composed, well-lighted photos.

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Tell us about a tranquil place you’ve found for the chance to win a £200 holiday prize | Travel

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With everything going on in the world right now, it’s essential to try to carve out moments of calm. Where do you go to tap into tranquillity? Perhaps it’s a spot on a local river, a particular park bench, a hidden coastal cove, or even a serene city cemetery. It could also be somewhere you revisit in your mind that induces a sense of peace.

If you have a relevant photo, do send it in – but it’s your words that will be judged for the competition.

Keep your tip to about 100 words

The best tip of the week, chosen by travel expert Tom Hall, will win a £200 voucher from glamping specialist Canopy & Stars, which has more than 700 places to stay amid nature. The best tips will appear on the Guardian Travel website, and maybe the paper, too.

If you’re having trouble using the form, click here. Read terms of service here.

We’re sorry, but for legal reasons you must be a UK resident to enter this competition.

The competition closes on Tuesday 2 February at 9am GMT

Have a look at our past winners and other tips

Read the terms and conditions here

If you’re having trouble using the form, click here. Read terms of service here

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On the Road Again with the Avs: What a difference 25 years makes

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BUENA PARK, Calif. – My first-ever regular-season road trip with the Avs was to Los Angeles. I still remember everything about it.

Oct. 7, 1995, Avalanche at Los Angeles Kings, second game in the history of the new team in Denver. I was there for the Denver Post, a game won by Wayne Gretzky and the Kings, 4-2 at the Great Western Forum, aka the Fabulous Forum. Gretzky, I remember, played with a silver stick that gleamed when angled just right.

I remember Claude Lemieux making fun of my shoes (I bought new ones right away). I remember Pierre Lacroix looking at me with a bit of scorn (I’d just written about how some of his players were unsigned, RIP Pierre). I remember how most every player had a cup of coffee in their hand walking to the team bus for the game, a bus I also rode. I remember going into the Forum and thinking “wait, this is it? 

It was kind of a dump, really. But it still felt unbelievable being inside of it.

The Avalanche stayed at the Marriott Los Angeles Airport, aka as the LAX Marriott. Man, if those walls could talk. In the hotel’s large sports bar after games, the hookers sometimes outnumbered the patrons 2-1. I vividly remember my first time getting off the airplane at LAX and looking up at the palm trees and thinking, “Holy (bleep), I’m actually in Los Angeles.” I’m a kid from small-town New Hampshire and Vermont, who grew up on the Beverly Hillbillies and Johnny Carson and the bluish glow from late-night TV, all of which seemed to come from this fantastical place called LA and Hollywood. Games on TV from the Fabulous Forum, all were on late at night and all seemed of science fiction. How is it that a game can start at 10:30 my time, yet only be 7:30 where it’s at? Where is the snow and the greasy faces of fans who had just put in a long day of physical labor, like it seemed every Boston team’s fan had?

Did this place, Los Angeles, even exist? Would I ever get there? I’m not even kidding when I tell you that I didn’t really know what an airplane really was back then. I didn’t really know what a company credit card was, or what a hotel was. You mean, you stay in this room that’s not yours and you just get to do what you want, basically, in it?

Well, that part isn’t true. I stayed in many hotel rooms while selling timesharing as a college kid, on summer and winter breaks, on Cape Cod in the mid-to-late ’80s. But let’s just say, by 1995, it had been a good eight years or so since I’d last stayed in one. Besides, I never stayed in a big, airport hotel.

The more mystical place, in my mind, was California. Los Angeles.

LA.

All the times I’ve been here – and it’s probably been about 75-80 times by now – I never feel quite like my actual self. I always feel like…I’m in LA.

It is never normal. I feel like my actual self a lot when I’m in other cities, like in St. Louis on a Thursday night in the regular season. But whenever I’ve been in Los Angeles, I feel like I’m in some ethereal world where oranges really do grow on trees and where it really is 75 degrees on a late January day, like it was today. It’s always been somewhat out-of-body for me here, which leads me to tonight’s column.

I’m not actually in LA tonight, but in Buena Park, about six miles from Disneyland, about 45 minutes from the Staples Center, where the Avs will play the Kings tomorrow night. I’m staying here at a Days Inn, for a total cost of $350 for seven nights, and that includes the tax. I’m here partially because of you, some of my best subscribers, who also chip in to the Avs Travel Tip Jar.

I think I’m one of the first sportswriters to have done this – basically started a Go Fund Me for travel to cover a team. That $350 has already been covered by several of you, and I want to thank some of them personally here, but only by their twitter handles, people like @aaronmcali, @fletchmonger and some others by the names of Janice and James Michael and John and Helen and Lorene, who didn’t want their full names used. (And yes you too, mom. Thank you, for everything).

I can’t believe your generosity here. I can’t believe you’re helping me pay for this road trip. Just like I can’t believe how many of you helped pay for my 50 days in Edmonton last summer to cover every single Avs playoff game.

I hope to make it up to every one of you somehow. That sounds way too grandiose though, I know. I hope I’m not sounding a bit too precious here, maybe pandering for false likes on Twitter. Just know my best way of paying it back, at least in the workaday sense, is to just go to the four games in SoCal this week – two against the Kings and two against the Ducks – and try to cover the hell out of them, as best I can in a Covid-19 landscape.

I can’t go into the Avs locker room, and I can’t go to the morning skates here in locked-down Cali. But I can go to the games themselves, and I know that gives me a perch that should be truly cherished, much more than the days when sportswriters like me took everything for granted (wait, what, where are my between-period quote sheets????)

No, I was never that bad. I’ve always thought this was a pure miracle, doing what I’m doing now and what I did 25 years ago. And, I’m as frugal now as I was then.

This a true story: my first Ave game I ever covered in Anaheim was Nov. 15, 1995. Again, I CAME FROM A SMALL TOWN IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, WHERE EVERYONE WAS POOR AND WE ALL COUNTED OUR PENNIES.

I had a Denver Post corporate travel account, back when the paper was making about $200 million a year. But I just didn’t really know anything still back then, and I thought that you had to look for the very best deal on things like this. I stayed in a $30 a night EconoLodge in Anaheim for that game, a room that had a door to the outside and a flimsy lock and plenty of noise from the outside. I thought that’s what you were supposed to do. I used to take airport shuttle busses where they stopped about six times before they got to your hotel, just to save a few bucks.

Come to find out: big-timer writers like Woody Paige and Mike Monroe and even my own sports editor cursed me out and made fun of me as a dumb hayseed for such frugality in covering the Avs.

“You’re in the bigger time now, kid. We can afford a night at the local Marriott, stop making us look bad and giving management any ideas.”

Woody, I remember, got really pissed at me. I didn’t know. I thought anything over $100 a night for a hotel room was scandalous.

For most of that first season, when I wasn’t actually flying with the team and staying at their hotel at the team rate, I still took airport shuttles that took about two hours but shaved off about 10 bucks off what a cab would cost. Come to find out later…the Post could write off all those travel expenses off their corporate taxes.

Ha ha, stupid me. The owners of the Denver Post are still raking in millions in profit every year, and here I am at a Days Inn in Buena Park, working for my own site now.

But I couldn’t be happier. In the same sense as when I got off that plane 25 years ago, I’m still living in a dream. I’ve had the big, fat, corporate credit card and I’ve had the skin-of-your-teeth existence. Hey, the former was great, no complaints there. But none here, either, in my perfectly good room, with full cable, running water and a locked door (to the outside).

This is more the real me.

Thank you to all of you, and I can’t wait to get to the rink tomorrow.

Here is a shot I took today off the Manhattan Beach Pier, which is an awesome place that I hope every one of you gets to visit some day soon. I’ll never forget my first time here in 1995 (after that first road trip to LA, for the single Avs game). I don’t know how I came across this place, but I did somehow and have been back ever since.

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