Singapore adding seat-beds for business fliers

Business-class passengers flying Singapore Airlines out of Los Angeles soon will be able to take their transpacific trips lying down.

By the end of this month, the airline plans to begin installing seats that convert to beds, dubbed SpaceBeds, in its Raffles (business-class) section on 747-400 flights from LAX to Tokyo, Singapore and Taipei, Taiwan.

The seat-beds are already in Raffles class on routes from Las Vegas and San Francisco as part of a $100-million systemwide upgrade, spokesman James Boyd said. They are not entirely flat but incline at an 8-degree angle. Singapore says that, at 27 inches, they are the widest seat-beds in business class.

Several airlines have installed seat-beds in first class to compete for big-ticket passengers. Singapore has had them in that section for about four years, Boyd said.

Seat-beds in business class, pioneered two years ago by British Airways, are less common; the British Airways beds are flat.

Latin culture takes the stage in three cities

Aficionados of Latin culture will find several exhibits worth a stop this winter. Among them:

Washington, D.C.: "Latin Jazz: La Combinacion Perfecta" focuses on the evolution of Latin jazz in America, using maps, vintage film footage, interviews and musical instruments such as congas and claves. Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building. Free. Open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Exhibit ends Jan. 18, then travels around the U.S. (202) 357-2020,

New York: "Art of the Spanish Americas, 1550-1850" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art has about 70 ceramics, textiles, paintings and sculpture from the Rio Grande to the Andes. Adult admission $12. Open Tuesdays through Sundays; hours vary. Exhibit ends April 6. (212) 535-7710,

Oakland: "Arte Latino: Treasures From the Smithsonian American Art Museum" uses painting, sculptures and photographs to explore more than 200 years of Latino art across the U.S. It includes works by California residents such as painter Frank Romero, muralist Judith Baca and Charles "Chaz" Bojorquez. At the Oakland Museum of California. Adult admission $6. Open daily except Mondays and Tuesdays; hours vary. Exhibit ends Jan. 26. (510) 238-2200,

Bamboo nursery opens trails through forest

One of the largest bamboo forests in America has opened trails to visitors in Aptos, south of Santa Cruz.

The Bamboo Giant Nursery, which sells plants and products, covers 15 acres and has dozens of varieties of bamboo from around the world. Its grounds include a 45,000-gallon pond.

The self-guided tours are free. The nursery is open daily. Hours, currently 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, vary seasonally. (831) 687-0100,

Traveler's note

Aloha Airlines, which last month began twice-a-week nonstops between Honolulu and Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, will begin same-day connections to Rarotonga from John Wayne in Orange County and Burbank starting Tuesday. An introductory round-trip fare of $670.28, including taxes and fees, is offered through Feb. 9 from the two Southern California airports.


Wining, dining -- on the house

The new Inn at Sonoma, opened in the California wine country town by the Four Sisters boutique chain in September, offers a weekday "Dine Sonoma" package that includes dinner for little more than the price of the room.

For $185 to $195 per room (depending on room size) Sunday to Thursday through April 30, you get a room with a fireplace and a private balcony or patio, a $50 certificate good toward dinner at two local restaurants and a tasting at the Arrowood winery. Published rates for the rooms start at $175 or $210 per night, depending on the season. Rates include a full breakfast and afternoon wine and hors d'oeuvres. (888) 568-9818,


Do-it-yourself museum guide

You can print out your own 54-page guide to Washington, D.C., museums by visiting Select "Visitor Information" from the toolbar, then click on "My Smithsonian: Visitor Guide." The guide includes a National Mall map and profiles of the Smithsonian's 16 museums and galleries (plus the National Zoo) and their exhibits.

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