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R BlockHotel Colorado

A century ago, hotels were built to rival European estates, with hundreds of rooms, sweeping manicured lawns and spectacular vistas. Few of these grand estates remain. While tourists still flock to the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, Michigan; The Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina; The Breakers in Florida and The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, it’s The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, that is the queen of the grande dames, and with good reason. Read more »

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R BlockWhere The Figawi?

The Story Behind the Annual Boat Race Between Hyannis and Nantucket

In 1972, a friendly conversation among friends at Baxter’s Boathouse in Hyannis, MA escalated to a challenge to see who could sail their boat to Nantucket the fastest over Memorial Day weekend. This was the inception of Figawi Race Weekend, a Nantucket and Cape Cod tradition that has grown considerably in popularity since it’s informal start in 1972 thanks to names like Kennedy and Koch joining the competition in the 80s and beyond. Read more »

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R BlockA Breed Apart

Americans go horse mad during the first week of May every year. The Kentucky Derby turns casual race fans into serious race fans. Maybe it’s the pomp and circumstance surrounding the race at Churchill Downs or maybe it’s the chance to win big money. But it probably has more to do with the majesty of the thoroughbreds racing around the mile-long track. Read more »

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R BlockTicket to Ride

Before the advent of the automobile, most travelers traversed the countryside via rail. Whether Stateside or overseas, tourists and locals ate in opulent dining cars, reclined in wood-paneled lounges and slept in lavish staterooms with all the comforts of home—if your home was a palatial estate. While cars have made rail travel almost obsolete in the United States, trains are still a great way to get around overseas. Read more »

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R BlockCulinary Capital

The rows of Cabernet Sauvignon stretch as far as the eye can see. This is my first visit to California’s Napa Valley and like most first-time visitors, I am hopping from one storied winery to another, packing in as many tastings as I can in two days. But Napa isn’t just about wine. Read more »

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R BlockLovely Bones

Maybe you’ve come to Miami to rest and relax in the sun. Or perhaps you fancy the vibrant nightlife. No matter your business, it’s important to note—especially for you restless souls who grow tired of sunbathing—that a fishing mecca lies only a few miles south in the Florida Keys. Read more »

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R BlockRooms With a View

Hotels built around their natural environment are nothing new. The Explora Hotel Salto Chico in Patagonia is situated on the banks of a waterfall in the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. The Tsala Treetop Lodge in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, allows guests to live out their childhood fantasy of sleeping in a tree house—albeit a luxurious one. And in the United States, you have the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California, built on the craggy cliffs of the Santa Lucia Mountains. Read more »

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R BlockPrim(land) and Proper

Start the morning off with 18 holes of PGA quality, Scottish-links style driving and putting action on the #1 public golf course in Virginia. Next, grab a quick lunch and a cold pint at the 19th Pub before your afternoon ATV tour starts at 2 p.m. After a bumpy ride through the Blue Ridge Mountains, your body will most likely need a break, so settle back in at your luxurious mountain suite for an afternoon siesta. Read more »

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R BlockA Timeless Playground

When you think of the most luxurious, nature-based way to relax after a long day of sightseeing, do you wonder what could top a massage enjoyed in the cool of a desert evening? Now, picture yourself taking this getaway with the kids, and the entire family finding unique and spirited ways to bond as a unit

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R BlockKing of Trains

James Bond had it shaken – not stirred – on it, Wilhelmina Murray owes her immortal soul to it, and Mr. Rachett got whacked in it. It’s the Orient Express, synonymous with romance and exoticism (and intrigue and mystery) and the unsung hero of “From Russia with Love,”Dracula,” and “Murder on the Orient Express.” And yes, it still runs. Read more »

 

The pod people are coming. And they have their own hotels.

 

When he first introduced the property in the cutthroat hotel-scape of New York five years ago, Richard Born of BD Hotels went against convention — hard. While other debuting spaces one-upped each other with ever more rarified levels of luxury and exclusivity, the Pod 51, at 230 East 51 Street in Manhattan’s Midtown East section, shot for the modest-of-means hipster crowd. The rooms were small. The showers were communal. The starting price was $119 a night.

 

The success was immediate.

 

And, riding the wave of that success, this month witnesses the Pod becoming a chain. Using Pod power to reincarnate the old Allerton House at 145 East 39 Street as the new Pod 39, says Born: “This is a rare instance where a hotel genre has developed organically. When we opened the first Pod, we found it attracted a very particular kind of person: Individuals who thrive on travel and are looking for a hotel that enhances their exploration of a place. For them, the communal experience in the hotel’s public space is vital, being plugged-in is essential, and terrific style at an affordable price is expected.”

 

Translated, Pod people reveled themselves to be all about form and function, but frills? Not so much. And at either property, stepping into your room, whether it be the Single Pod, Double Pod, Queen Pod, Bunk Pod — it’s just what you think it is — or one of the Odd Pods (a townhouse studio-type space or a room with two double beds, depending on which hotel), is to step into an environment as efficient as your college dorm room but without the cut-rate color scheme and unflattering fluorescent lighting.

 

To some, to have the moniker “pod” brings to mind those vaguely unsettling honeycomb hotels in Japan, but with the Pod 39, Born and his team created an environment as welcoming as it is efficient. Of the 366 rooms, there are 57 singles, 83 bunks, 88 doubles, 137 queen-sized, and one double bunk, and the starting price remains a ridiculously-cheap-for-New-York $119 a night. Into each room designer Vanessa Guildford integrated bedside media hubs with a full range of ports allowing guests to connect to the room, view personal photos, videos and entertainment on wall-mounted flat-screen TVs. WiFi is free. But while the tech is 2012, the design, like that of the Pod 51, is decidedly a pared-down mid-century mod: the light fixtures are a classic design from Leucos, the calendar wall clocks are inspired by the concourse displays and next train indicators. (Unlike its predecessor, and in a possible relief to the modest among us, the Pod 39 features private bathrooms in every room.)

 

Pod 39 Hotel NYC

 

While Pod 39 stays close the DNA of Pod 51, the 17-floor Allerton House, built in 1918 and whose brochure described it as having “quiet, refined, club-like homes that provided socially respectable, economical housing for hard-working, refined, ambitious young men and women,” provided Born with more funky finishes than those at the original space. The vast ground-floor lobby is reconfigured to create distinct public spaces while promoting a natural flow from one to another. After passing through a vibrant red-tiled vestibule, guests enter a high space with a “window box” reception desk, a coffee bar, and a Pod-particular feature: A “screening wall” where guest photos and videos are projected around the clock. The original Gentlemen’s Sitting Room upholds its illustrious heritage by remaining proudly all-purpose: Part restaurant-lounge, part library, part workspace and part communal center of the Pod 39 social experience as a whole. The terra cotta floors and enormous east fireplace remain intact; the ceiling soars.

 

The rooftop setting is styled into the ultimate under-the-stars shmoozing zone. In keeping with the building’s ornate Romanesque architecture, the two-story “cloister” is framed with brick arches and terra cotta columns. New York icons rise in in every direction: East to the river, south to the lower-Manhattan skyline, southwest to the nearby Empire State building, and north to the even closer Chrysler building.

 

“The Pod is like no other hotel brand I know,” says Born. “From the moment we opened five years ago, we attracted a self-selecting community of individuals who really relish travel and the social experience around it. We have always looked to them to determine how to evolve. With Pod 39, we’re building upon all of that knowledge. It’s been an exciting process because it feels like we’re capturing the essence of travel, which is discovery.”

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R BlockRocky Mountain Resort Towns

Typically viewed as a nuisance in the city, alpine villages view snow as the gift of all gifts from mother nature. For the big mountain resorts in the Colorado Rockies, significant snow storms represent cash falling from the skies.  If you count yourself among those wanting to hit the slopes and carve a few black diamonds before the warm weather arrives, there is no better time for a weekend getaway. Read more »

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R BlockThe Road to Middle Earth

In 2012, director Peter Jackson returned to Middle Earth for a new trilogy based on the works of beloved author J.R.R. Tolkien. An Unexpected Journey, the first installment in The Hobbit series, received mixed reviews from fans and critics alike, with many quibbling over Jackson’s decision to release the film in a controversial high frame rate format. Nevertheless, it helped spark a renewed interest in the real-life locations used in the film. Read more »