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Over 100 Years Old, This Colorado Hotel is Still an Eye-Catching Marvel

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. Continue reading

Summer Cycling With Aspen’s Little Nell

There are certain bragging rights that come with riding my beat-up used bike as I slalom between the trucks and taxis in New York City. Last July, however, I decided to exchange the exhaust of Manhattan’s avenues for the pristine air of the Rockies and my $200 Taiwanese ten-speed for a state-of-the-art Orbea road bike as I put my vacation in the hands of the “adventure concierges” at Aspen’s Little Nell.

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The Lincoln Nautilus Plug-In Hybrid: Eco-Friendly Luxury Unrestrained

In the ever-evolving landscape of automotive engineering, a harmonious blend of luxury and sustainability has become the holy grail. Enter the Lincoln Nautilus Plug-In Hybrid, the latest SUV offering from the Lincoln Motor Company. With its innovative design, new world technology, and commitment to eco-conscious driving, this vehicle raises the bar for the modern luxury SUV.

 

Design and Elegance

At first glance, the Nautilus captivates with its sleek and sophisticated exterior design. Every curve and contour is meticulously crafted to exude an aura of elegance and refinement.

Step inside, and you’re greeted by a sanctuary of comfort and tranquility. The spacious interior is adorned with premium materials and exquisite craftsmanship, creating an ambiance that indulges the senses. Luxurious amenities such as heated and ventilated seats, ambient lighting, and genuine wood trim elevate the driving—and being driven—experience to unparalleled levels of sophistication.

 

Efficiency and Performance

Beneath its stylish facade lies a powerful yet efficient hybrid powertrain engineered to deliver superior performance while minimizing environmental impact. The Lincoln Nautilus Plug-In Hybrid seamlessly integrates a responsive gasoline engine with an advanced electric motor and high-capacity battery, providing ample power and impressive fuel efficiency.

Drivers have the flexibility to choose between different driving modes, including pure electric, hybrid, and gasoline-only, tailoring the driving experience to suit their preferences and maximize efficiency. Whether navigating city streets or embarking on long journeys, the Nautilus Plug-In Hybrid offers a smooth and refined ride, with precise handling and confident acceleration.

 

Advanced Technology

True to Lincoln’s reputation for innovation, the Nautilus Plug-In Hybrid is equipped with an array of cutting-edge technology designed to enhance safety, convenience, and connectivity. A suite of driver-assist features, including adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and automated parking, provides peace of mind on the road, while intuitive infotainment systems keep passengers entertained and informed throughout the journey.

 

Furthermore, the Lincoln Way™ App allows owners to remotely monitor and control various vehicle functions, such as charging status, climate control, and vehicle location, from their smartphone or smartwatch. This seamless integration of technology ensures that the Lincoln Nautilus Plug-In Hybrid remains at the forefront of automotive innovation.

 

Commitment to Sustainability

Beyond its luxurious amenities and impressive performance, the Lincoln Nautilus Plug-In Hybrid represents a significant step forward towards a more sustainable future. Lincoln is committed to sustainability not only in its products but also in its operations. From manufacturing processes to supply chain management, the company continuously seeks opportunities to minimize its environmental footprint and promote sustainable practices throughout its business operations.

 

In a world shifting toward greener horizons, the Lincoln Nautilus Plug-In Hybrid proves that you don’t have to compromise style for eco-consciousness. This ride is a testament to what happens when luxury and responsibility collide, setting a new standard for what’s possible.

 

Where 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.

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Immunology for Longevity—An Unlikely Partnership in Health, Wellness…and Beauty!

In the relentless pursuit of defying time and embracing vitality, the intersection of science and progressive lifestyle practices has become more and more of a practice. It’s no surprise, therefore, that Immunocologie®, a skincare maverick deeply entrenched in the science of immunology, and Blue Zones, the pioneering researchers unearthing the simple secrets of eternal youth (and a NetFlix mega hit), have forged an unusual, yet intriguing alliance.

 

First Line of Defense

Immunocologie represents a paradigm shift in skincare, integrating principles of immunology into its skincare formulas. Founded by Karen Ballou, a veteran skincare expert with a background in immunology, the brand emphasizes the skin’s immune system’s key role in maintaining health and vitality. Central to Immunocologie’s philosophy is that our skin acts as a barrier, protecting the body from external aggressors while also communicating with the immune system. We don’t always consider our skin when thinking about our immune system, but it should be no surprise that the epidermis—our largest organ—plays such a pivotal role.

 

Bioactive, Natural Ingredients

 

Forged from nature’s arsenal of defensive ingredients that help thwart off attacks, Immunocologie’s formulations pack a punch with bioactive ingredients like French green clay and adaptogenic plants—including baobab oil, desert date tree oil, grape seed oil, sunflower seed oil, moringa seed oil, and shea butter. These ingredients are selected for their ability to support the skin’s immune response, enhance cellular regeneration, and restore balance.

 

How Immunocologie Works

Working with the skin’s natural delivery system, the line utilizes ionized water, purified French green clay, marine algae, and a roster of minimally processed, cold-pressed, and fermented plant-based ingredients to transport crucial minerals and vitamins directly to the skin’s microbiome. By promoting skin health at the immunological level, Immunocologie offers a holistic approach to skincare that goes beyond surface-level concerns, addressing the underlying factors that influence skin aging and resilience.

 

“Created by our ethnobotinist from France, the science focuses on delivering to the skin the 12 essential minerals such as zinc, iron, magnesium and copper that are vital to our body and benefit the skin along with specific plant-based ingredients,” explains Immunocologie founder, Karen Ballou.  “It all started with the Vital Oligo Science, a patented ionic exchange technology that is anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory.”

 

 

“The conduit for this delivery system is our ionized clay water derived from our French Green Clay—known in scientific circles as montmorillonite clay—enabling the absorption and adsorption of these minerals and removing toxic build up while adding other key nutrients to our largest organ, our skin!   The skin ‘recognizes’ and utilizes these minerals and nutrients and actually craves them—especially immune-compromised and sensitive or unbalanced skin.  In fact, when someone experiences dryness, acne, or rosacea, they’re experiencing a disruption of the skin’s immune system. The mineral content in our products support the skin barrier, helping it maintain a healthy microbiome that defends against inflammatory stressors, thus helping all skin types reach homeostasis or balance again, which firms the skin and makes it glow!”

 

Blue Zones?

 

So what exactly are Blue Zones, you ask? Prior to 2023, the public at large didn’t often understand the term Blue Zones. That is before “Live to 100, Blue Zones” became the #1 most streamed series on Netflix the month it debuted in 2023, skyrocketing the awareness of Blue Zones. The term, coined by National Geographic Explorer and journalist Dan Buettner (and founder of the organization) refers to covert regions in the world where people live significantly longer and healthier lives than the global average. Through extensive research, Buettner and his team identified common lifestyle practices and environmental factors that contribute to longevity in these regions. These practices include a plant-based diet, regular physical activity, strong social connections, and a sense of purpose.

 

By studying the habits and environments of centenarians in places like Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), and Nicoya (Costa Rica), Blue Zones offers insights into the interplay between lifestyle choices, social dynamics, and longevity.

 

A Sensible Partnership

By marrying Immunocologie’s science-backed, natural ingredient-based skincare products, with Blue Zones’ wisdom, this partnership is all about rewriting the rules of aging.

No, this isn’t just about slapping on some fancy creams and calling it a day. It’s about a lifestyle—an ethos. It’s about trying new things, nourishing your body with plant-based badassery, staying active, forging unbreakable bonds, and living every day like it’s your last.

 

Put another way, it is a multifaceted approach—leveraging immunology, skincare science, lifestyle medicine, and healthy living practices—to promote longevity and well-being.

These products not only nourish and protect the skin but also integrate ingredients and formulations that align with the dietary and environmental factors associated with longevity. By leveraging the synergies between skincare science and lifestyle medicine, Immunocologie and Blue Zones aim to empower individuals to prioritize their health and well-being proactively.

 

Phase 1 of the partnership will introduce three of Immunocologie’s signature, earth-friendly products to Blue Zone believers: purified French Green Clay; Vital Iconic Mist topical wellness spray made from clay water, and a self-heating Lava Mask. The earth-derived products help ground the user, contributing to mind-body balance.

 

The collaboration between Immunocologie and Blue Zones signifies a sensible blend of scientific innovation and age-old wisdom, transcending mere aesthetics to provide skin with natural, immune-enhancing nutrients. While the reception of their product line among consumers is yet to be determined, we like their strategy.

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12 Essential Travel Tools for the Modern Adventurer

In today’s fast-paced world, traveling has become more accessible and exciting than ever before. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or embarking on a round-the-world adventure, having the right travel tools can make your journey smoother, more enjoyable, and stress-free. From reliable travel blogs and advisors to convenient booking platforms and smart devices, here are 12 essential travel tools that every modern adventurer should consider. These tools range from providing valuable information and recommendations to simplifying travel logistics and ensuring peace of mind throughout your journey.

 

The Points Guy TPG

The Points Guy is a popular online resource that caters to savvy travelers looking to maximize their travel rewards. This website offers insightful tips, tricks, and strategies to help you earn and redeem points effectively, allowing you to enjoy upgrades, free flights, hotel stays, and more. With comprehensive guides on loyalty programs, credit cards, and travel hacking, The Points Guy is an invaluable tool for those seeking to make the most of their travel experiences.

 

Travel Blogs

Travel blogs provide a wealth of information and inspiration for travelers worldwide. These online platforms are written by experienced globetrotters, offering personal anecdotes, destination guides, itineraries, and insider tips. From adventure travel to luxury escapes, there is a travel blog for every type of explorer. By following these blogs, you can discover hidden gems, learn about local customs, find budget-friendly options, and gain insights into off-the-beaten-path destinations. Popular travel blogs include Nomadic Matt, Adventurous Kate, and The Blonde Abroad, among many others.

 

Travel Advisors

While travel blogs offer a plethora of information, sometimes it’s beneficial to have a human touch. Travel advisors, also known as travel agents or consultants, are professionals who specialize in curating personalized travel experiences. These experts have extensive knowledge and industry connections to help you plan your dream vacation with ease. Whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway, family vacation, or adventure tour, travel advisors can provide valuable insights, handle complex bookings, and offer recommendations tailored to your preferences. Their expertise ensures a seamless and unforgettable travel experience.

 

Booking.com

Booking.com is a widely recognized online platform that simplifies the process of finding and booking accommodation. With an extensive database of hotels, hostels, vacation rentals, and even alternative accommodations, such as treehouses and houseboats, Booking.com offers a vast selection to suit every traveler’s needs and budget. The platform provides user-friendly search filters, detailed descriptions, reviews, and competitive pricing, making it a go-to tool for travelers worldwide. Booking.com also offers flexible booking options and excellent customer service, ensuring a hassle-free experience from start to finish.

 

HotelsTonight

For spontaneous travelers or those seeking last-minute accommodation deals, HotelsTonight is a game-changer. This mobile app allows you to find discounted hotel rooms for the same day or up to a week in advance. HotelsTonight partners with various hotels to offer unsold inventory at reduced rates, allowing travelers to find affordable options on short notice. The app provides user-friendly filters, detailed hotel information, and real-time availability updates. HotelsTonight is perfect for those seeking to save money or find a comfortable place to stay when their plans change unexpectedly.

 

Airline Credit Card

An airline credit card can be a valuable tool for frequent travelers. These credit cards offer various benefits, such as airline miles or points, priority boarding, lounge access, and free checked bags. By using an airline credit card for your everyday purchases, you can accumulate rewards that can be redeemed for flights, upgrades, or other travel-related expenses. Additionally, some airline credit cards offer travel insurance, purchase protection, and other travel perks. Research different airline credit cards to find the one that aligns with your travel habits and preferences, and start earning rewards towards your next adventure. Chase Sapphire Preferred, Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and American Express Platinum are just a few of our favorites. See our full review of Best Airline Credit Cards for 2023.

 

Apple iWatch

The iWatch is a versatile travel tool that can simplify your journey. From displaying flight itineraries and hotel reservations to tracking your fitness and monitoring your health, the iWatch and other high-end smartwatches offer convenience and functionality on the go. With built-in features like GPS, heart rate monitoring, and connectivity to your smartphone, you can navigate unfamiliar cities, stay active, receive notifications, and even make contactless payments. The iWatch’s compact design and multiple functionalities make it a practical companion for any traveler.

 

Travel and Lifestyle Websites

Travel and lifestyle websites, such as TripAdvisor or Lonely Planet, provide comprehensive travel information and recommendations beyond just accommodation. These platforms offer insights on local restaurants, attractions, shopping, and nightlife, ensuring you make the most of your destination. With user-generated reviews and ratings, lifestyle websites allow you to gather authentic feedback from fellow travelers, helping you make informed decisions about where to eat, what to do, and what to see. By exploring these websites, you can discover hidden gems, avoid tourist traps, and immerse yourself in the local culture.

 

Travel Magazines

Travel magazines, both in print and digital formats, offer a curated collection of inspiring travel stories, stunning photography, and expert recommendations. These magazines cover a wide range of destinations, cultures, and travel styles, providing a source of inspiration and wanderlust for travelers. Whether you’re flipping through the glossy pages on a long flight or exploring digital articles on your smartphone, travel magazines transport you to different corners of the globe and offer insights into unique experiences. Some popular travel magazines include National Geographic Traveler, Condé Nast Traveler, and Travel + Leisure.

 

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is an essential tool for any traveler. It provides financial protection against unexpected events, such as trip cancellations, medical emergencies, or lost luggage. Travel insurance policies typically cover medical expenses, emergency evacuation, trip interruption, and personal liability, among other benefits. Before embarking on your journey, it’s crucial to research and purchase travel insurance that suits your needs and covers your destination. This ensures that you have peace of mind during your travels, knowing that you’re protected in case of unforeseen circumstances.

 

Cheap Flight Alerts

Cheap flight alerts services, such as Going.com (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) or Airfarewatchdog, help you find the best flight deals and save money on airfare. These services send you email notifications or app alerts when there are significant price drops or mistake fares, allowing you to book discounted flights before prices rise again. By subscribing to these services and being flexible with your travel dates and destinations, you can take advantage of incredible flight deals, explore new places, and stretch your travel budget further.

 

TripIt

TripIt is a travel organization app that consolidates all your travel information in one place. By forwarding your flight, hotel, and car rental confirmations to TripIt, the app creates a master itinerary that can be accessed offline. It provides essential details like departure times, gate information, and confirmation numbers, ensuring you have everything you need at your fingertips. TripIt also offers features like real-time flight updates, alternate flight suggestions, and syncing with your calendar. This app keeps your travel plans organized, simplifying your journey and minimizing stress.

Summer Cycling With Aspen’s Little Nell

There are certain bragging rights that come with riding my beat-up used bike as I slalom between the trucks and taxis in New York City. Last July, however, I decided to exchange the exhaust of Manhattan’s avenues for the pristine air of the Rockies and my $200 Taiwanese ten-speed for a state-of-the-art Orbea road bike as I put my vacation in the hands of the “adventure concierges” at Aspen’s Little Nell.

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Angels, Devils and a Turkey

Belles and beaus are readying their bells and bows for the premier event of the South: the Kentucky Derby. And amid the horses and hoop skirts, that oh-so-Southern cocktail, the mint julep itself, is poised to make its annual gallop through the world consciousness. A genteel concoction of sugar, water, ice and mint; founded upon that most Southern of spirits, bourbon; the mint julep is to the South what the martini is to the North. (See Our Tips for Perfecting the Mint Julep and Drinking It in Style). Continue reading

Over 100 Years Old, This Colorado Hotel is Still an Eye-Catching Marvel

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. Continue reading

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Nomad Hotel Library Bar

Best Library Bars

Ah, the library bar. An urban oasis steeped in history (quite literally). Vintage, deep-seated armchairs, mahogany shelves and leather bound books ease the soul, while a single malt scotch calms the nerves after a long day of work. Ron Burgundy’s kind of place. My kind of place. Continue reading

7 Great Hotels In San Francisco

While San Francisco may have become too expensive to live in, it is still relatively affordable to visit. Unlike New York City’s hotel scene, which seems to grow and grow, with trendy newcomers stealing the show, many of San Francisco’s top places to stay are the same properties they have always been—albeit some minor name changes.

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Raw Bar Hopping—8 Great Oyster Bars in NYC

In the book The Big Oyster, Mark Kurlansky writes “before the 20th century, when people thought of New York, they thought of oysters.”  Though that sentiment along with New York’s oyster population has diminished over the past two centuries with the city’s drastic growth, oysters are currently making a strong comeback in Mahattan via the Oyster Restoration Research Project. Continue reading

Where To Stay, Play, and Eat Gourmet In Charleston: America’s Top City

Move over, New York. Step aside, Chicago. Not you, Los Angeles. In the opinion of Travel + Leisure magazine, the top city in America for 6 years running does not have a major sports team, a thriving economy, or even a handful of famous people that call it home. But somehow, Charleston, SC, the city of approximately 135,000 people on the Atlantic coast of South Carolina has earned the top spot in the U.S. for the 6th year in a row and 8th year in row respectively by popular travel magazines Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. It was also named the #1 city in the WORLD back in 2016 by Travel+Leisure. So what makes this famous Civil War port town so great? I recently took a trip to Charleston to see what all the hype was about.

History

Founded in 1670 as Charles Town, in honor of King Charles II of England, Charleston is known for its rich history (the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumptner), well-preserved architecture, distinguished restaurants, and mannerly people. It is also a popular tourist destination, receiving a large number of accolades over the past decade. In addition to “Best City in the US” it was also named “America’s Most Friendly City” by both Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler and “Most Polite and Hospitable City in America” by Southern Living.

The southern charm, mysterious history, and world-class dining generally top the list of those who boast about this city. But like any trendy locale that receives critical acclaim from travel magazines and lifestyle aficionados, you need to spend a few days there—minimum—before deciding for yourself. And there really is no better time to do it than mid to late fall, when those balmy southern temperatures are beckoning to northerners bidding adieu to their Indian summer. With that said, here are a few recommendations from my own jaunt of where to stay and dine, visit and unwind in Charleston.

Hotels

Belmond Charleston Place exudes southern charm. From the bronze fountain out front to the lobby with its Georgian open-arm staircase, Italian marble floors and glistening chandelier, the hotel is glitzy yet elegant with authentic southern class. If location matters, and it usually should when visiting a city for the first time, then Belmond won’t disappoint. It is in the middle of everything you want to see, including shops, restaurants, bars and cultural sites. Belmond is also home to Charleston Grill—considered one of the best restaurants in Charleston—as well as The Thoroughbred Club, a uniquely small and classy sports bar that is both unexpected and much appreciated (bless its heart).

Belmond Charleston Place
 

Vendue, which T+L ranks the #1 hotel in Charleston and #9 in the country, was renovated and “reborn” in 2014 to create Charleston’s first and only hotel dedicated to the arts. In addition to a rotating art exhibition, daily art tours with a specially appointed Art Docent, and a working art studio, the hotel is equipped with over 300 pieces of original art for guests to enjoy. Even the stylish boutique guestrooms accent antique furnishings with bright bursts of contemporary art.

Vendue
 

Continue your aesthetic experience at The Drawing Room, Vendue’s popular upscale eatery. Executive Chef Forrest Parker employs his own inspired vision to create seasonal and locally-sourced dishes that are as eye catching as they are delicious. And if you’re flying down from the Northeast, you can even extend your al fresco season just a tad longer at/on The Rooftop, where the views alone will make your trip worthwhile. Oh, and Vendue’s pièce de résistance? Milk and cookies are out for the taking each and every evening. Yes ma’am.

 

See Also: 

The Miami Beach EDITION—Five Things I Loved and Two I Did Not

The Carneros Resort in Napa Typifies What Younger Travelers Want in a 5-Star Hotel

 

Across the bridge

The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor & Marina is the new kid on the block. Across the harbor in Mt. Pleasant, The Beach Club opened its doors in 2016 and has received rave reviews, both from the travel press and quasi travel press (i.e. Trip Advisor). Pairing good ole hospitality and luxury amenities, The Beach Club is part of the Leading Hotels of the World collection and is located just over the bridge and minutes away from Charleston’s historic district. Each guestroom features elegant décor and stunning views of Charleston’s waterfront. While relaxing in your room and enjoying the view might be your first order of business (it was for me), there is no shortage of options at the Beach Club to keep you busy.

The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor & Marina
 

From the 30,000-square-foot Tropical Pool and Deck, to the Tranquility Pool with Whirlpool, to Private Poolside Cabanas, the pool scene is on par with even the grandest big city hotspots. Those not in the mood for lounging can indulge in a bit of seaside competition on the private bocce court or some lighthearted fun on a life-sized chessboard. Once you’re ready to explore, be sure to take advantage of the hotel’s complimentary trolley service and bikes to see the city. Alternatively, the Water Taxi, while a small fee, is the best ride into downtown Charleston. At night, head back to the hotel to enjoy a sumptuous seafood dinner at the Fish House, one of Charleston Living Magazine’s “Top 25 Restaurants in Charleston.”

 

Thanks in part to its sheer size, The Beach Club is also able to offer custom experiences that few hotels in Charleston can match. Its staff has teamed up with Suzanne Pollak, Dean of the Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits, to offer guests an insider’s view of America’s favorite city. Through cooking classes, hosting how to’s, wedding planning, cocktail party etiquette and even an exclusive intimate hands-on southern entertaining lesson, Pollak will teach y’all the true meaning of southern hospitality.


Charleston Hotels:
Belmond Charleston Place ($325-$750)
Vendue ($179-$419)
The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor & Marina ($167-$567)


 

Dining

At FIG you’ll find elevated takes on Southern classics with seasonal ingredients served in an upscale-bistro setting. The restaurant prioritizes (if not exclusively uses) only locally grown & harvested goods to prepare an array of innovative menu items. Indulge in their smaller yet decadent plates, like sautéed mushrooms, fish tartar with whipped avocado, or their famous chicken liver pâté, or go big (but don’t go home just yet) with the ricotta gnocchi topped with lamb Bolognese or Suckling Pig. The options abound and the “Food Is Good” at FIG.

FIG
 

It’s not often you see a restaurant whose two locations are in Charleston and Nantucket but that’s the case at 167 Raw. And if you’re dealing with super fresh seafood it’s understandable why they chose these two locations. Take a seat on one of the bar stools for a feast of Atlantic coast seafood, from fresh oysters to yellowfin tuna tacos to voluminous lobster rolls, dense with claw meat and light on mayo—bringing some Nantucket magic to the Lowcountry. Of course scoring a seat at this tiny, subway-tiled bar is half the battle, so don’t go at peak hours and expect a short wait. Reservations are unfortunately not an option, so employ some nice southern manners and be patient.

Raw 167
 

 

When you walk in and are immediately welcomed by none other than the owner and proprietor, Ken Hall, you know there is something a little different—in a good way— about Halls Chophouse. This family steakhouse restaurant located in the Upper King District of Charleston has quite a following. Great hospitality, great American cuisine and a dining experience that is second to none in Charleston make Halls a true must visit if you’re willing to splurge a bit. Favorites? The New York strip steak was as good as any I have had in NYC, while the ribeye was out of this world, with all the flavor you expect yet a perfect texture and almost filet-like meatiness.

Halls Chop House
 
For more casual eats and drinks…

Red’s Ice House and Fleet Landing have you covered. Red’s, across the harbor in Mt. Pleasant, is perfect if you’re looking for a friendly spot to enjoy a cold beer & fresh local seafood in a laid back setting. Located on historic Shem Creek in Mt. Pleasant, the original Red’s is the perfect spot for taking in Lowcountry wildlife and scenic Charleston sunsets. The food is not the draw here—rather cold beers and people watching is—but step out onto the deck overlooking Shem Creek and you’ll understand why it’s such a popular spot. Fleet Landing, is also all about the scenery, but the food sure isn’t shabby either (try the crabcakes). Offering unobstructed views of the harbor from a 1940s retired naval building, Fleet combines a commitment to quality food and sustainable practices with a delightful nod to the area’s maritime heritage.


Charleston Restaurants:
Red’s Ice House ($$)
Fleet Landing ($$)
FIG ($$$)  
Raw 167 ($$$)
Hall’s Chop House ($$$$) 


Oaring and Touring

One of the best ways to relax and explore the Lowcountry is from the seat of a kayak. Paddling through the calm saltwater creeks nestled behind the aforementioned Folly Beach, you will discover the natural wonders and wildlife that call this area home. You can also  get up close and personal with wading birds, oyster beds, barrier islands, wild dolphins and more.

Coastal Expeditions, whose slogan is, “You Haven’t Seen Charleston, Till You’ve Seen It From The Water” (some truth there) is one of the top outfitters in the area. Their three hour outings are the most popular, taking you into the saltwater estuaries to see dolphins, pelicans, ospreys and maybe even a sea turtle or manatee.

Coastal Expeditions
 

For a more practical jaunt around the city, there is always just good ole walking. And if you like history—and Charleston has plenty of it—there is no better way to get around the city than on foot. After all, downtown Charleston—also known as “the peninsula”—is only about 4 to 5 square miles. But in this area you can find at least 100 buildings from before 1776 and 1,000 from before 1861—state buildings, churches, mansions, and townhouses—almost all of which come with historic plaques explaining exactly what their function was roughly 200 years ago.

Charleston Strolls
 

While the resources on your iPhone should be enough to steer you in the right direction, there is nothing wrong with leaving your walkabout to the professionals. Charleston Strolls—recommended by both the NY Times and Southern Living—will take you on a historic walking tour of Charleston (where carriages and motorcoaches are not allowed) that highlights both Charleston’s rich history and colorful past.

Beaches

You can’t enjoy the complete Charleston experience if you don’t pay a visit to one of its beautiful beaches while in town. While there are 3 public beaches within a few minutes drive from downtown Charleston, Folly Beach is by far the most revered. Though the water will be a bit cool for swimming by November (though peak temps are actually reached in September), the beaches in Charleston are some of the prettiest in the country and there is never a bad time to visit. Water lovers can also enjoy kayaking, paddle-boarding, boating and fishing, while thrill seekers will enjoy the 72 suspended obstacles at Wild Blue Ropes Adventure Park.

Folly Beach Pier (Photo: Shutterstock/Dave Allen Photography)
 

Perhaps known a little more for its golf courses, Kiawah Island is also a beach haven—rated the second “Most Romantic Beach in America” by National Geographic Traveler. Kiawah Island is unique among the barrier islands because—unlike Hilton Head or Myrtle Beach—commercial development is virtually non-existent here. This island was meticulously planned to be environmentally sound and very relaxing. A semi-tropical climate hosts alligators (often seen basking in the sun on the banks of Kiawah’s many lagoons), sea turtles, bobcats and some very friendly dolphins. Along with over 40 miles of bike trails, there are five world-class golf courses, several tennis courts, and 10 miles of the most beautiful beach on the Atlantic coast. Kiawah is a gated community with restricted public access, but absolutely a site to look into if you’re making the trip.

Kiawah Island Real Estate
 
Golf

Kiawah’s beaches are world-renowned and so are its golf courses. Named the #1 golf resort in the world by Travel + Leisure, Kiawah Island Resort is home to nine elite courses. Among the nine is the Ocean Course—home to the 1991 Ryder Cup matches (known as the “War by the Shore”), the 2012 PGA Championship (won by Rory McElroy) and will be host to the 2021 PGA Championship.

Where should I stay on Kiawah you ask? Because so many people have second homes on Kiawah that lay vacant much of the year, there are plenty of options to choose from on Airbnb at very reasonable prices—especially considering what you get. If you really want to splurge though, you can’t go wrong with the world renowned The Sanctuary. The exquisitely designed oceanfront hotel, just 21 miles from downtown Charleston, captures the spirit, history and charm of the beautiful south while still offering 255 spacious rooms and suites. Their king rooms are among the largest on the East Coast with the smallest measuring 520 square feet.

Ocean Course – Kiawah Island Golf Resort
 
Holidays

Maybe it’s the way the historic homes are grandly decorated for Christmas, or the unique view of Palmetto trees adorned in twinkling holiday lights. Pick your own reasons, but it’s hard to deny that Charleston is a near perfect blend of intimate historical ambiance and the luxuries and activities of a metropolitan city.

Photo: Shutterstock/Tymonko Galyna
 

Some seasonal favorites among locals and visitors include The Nutcracker, performed by the Charleston Ballet, the Holiday Walking Tour—a must for out-of-towners looking to see the city—and the Annual Progressive Dinner at Circa 1886 at Wentworth Mansion, one of the city’s grandest venues. Also held at Circa 1886, in it’s 15th year, is the Dickens Dinner. A night at Circa 1886 is always an indulgence, but on the night of the Dickens Dinner (Thursday, December 8th) guests will enjoy a live retelling of the classic Charles Dickens’ Christmas Story along with their meal. The annual dinner—while notably festive—is just as much about the food, with a lavish four-course holiday menu influenced by the tale itself.

Well, what are you waiting for? Temperatures are dropping, wanderlust is rising and Charleston is ready and waiting to charm you.

—Chelsey Pieretti contributed to this article.

The Lovely Lillet

Like many delicious aperitifs, digestifs, liqueurs, and other items in bottles, Lillet was underutilized for many years. In those somewhat barren times (and here I’m talking about, oh, the early 1960s through about the turn of the century) many of the more intriguing mixtures fell a bit off the cocktail map. Continue reading

OPINION & VARIETY

Q&A with Maria Zec, General Manager of The Peninsula Chicago

Pursuitist presents its Q&A with Maria Zec, Regional Vice President, and General Manager, at The Peninsula Chicago. Named one of the top luxury hotels in Chicago, renown luxury travel expert Christopher Parr interviews Maria Zec as the celebrated Peninsula property celebrates 20 years of luxurious travel, spa, and dining experiences on Michigan Avenue.

Maria Zec’s legendary hotel experience throughout the United States makes her a particularly valuable leader to manage operations in New York and Chicago, having worked at a number of luxury hotels in both cities and understanding the markets, communities and hospitality industries well. She also possesses considerable knowledge and expertise of five-star culture and what it represents to the hotel’s customers.

Zec joined The Peninsula Chicago in March 2002, shortly after the opening of the 339-room property, located at 108 East Superior Street at North Michigan Avenue. Under her leadership, The Peninsula Chicago achieved the Forbes (formerly Mobil) Five Star and AAA Five Diamond awards within her first year as General Manager for the property. The hotel has continued to receive these coveted awards since 2002, with recognition from Conde Nast Traveler to Travel+Leisure.

Christopher Parr, Q. By the numbers, what does 20 years look like at Peninsula Chicago?

Maria Zec, A. In 20 years, we have hosted 2.4 million hotel guests, which is an average of nearly 120,000 per year, 10,000 per month. We have served more than 8.3 million guests in our restaurants in 20 years, which averages to 35,000 per month, 1,100 per day. 20% of our staff have been here for 20 years. Very few people work for the same company for 20 years. In fact, our entire laundry department, have all been with us for 20 years.

Q. As the Peninsula Chicago turns 20, what does that milestone signify to the Peninsula Hotel brand?

A. Bringing Peninsula Hotels’ renowned hospitality to the Midwest, provided the company with the opportunity to build awareness for the brand in a region that would likely have no knowledge or familiarity with Peninsula Hotels. Over the past two decades, guests and residents are now very much aware of The Peninsula Hotels’ brand either via The Peninsula Chicago’s reputation or their personal experiences at the hotel. This exposure to a midwestern audience has broadened the brand’s reach with more customers.

Q. Compared to the other luxury hotels in Chicago, how has the Peninsula Chicago remained distinctively different and unique?

A. We describe our service approach as ‘Midwestern Hospitality combined with Far Eastern Graciousness.’ This is represented in the reserved, discreet, refined type of service style one would experience in Asia, blended with the genuine, warm, caring, and friendly nature you find in Midwesterners.

Our service style is also anticipatory. We engage guests during the reservation process to understand more about what brings them to the city and through this brief conversation, we can anticipate the types of services and amenities the guest will likely need, and we mobilize from here.

 

Pursuitist Q&A with Maria Zec, General Manager of The Peninsula ChicagoPIN IT

 

Our goal is to create beautiful, lasting memories for our guests. This starts with our compassionate employees who are genuine and considerate, taking great pride in their work to go above and beyond for our guests and their co-workers at every opportunity.

Q. Luxury hospitality means a lot different things to a lot of different people, but what does it mean to Peninsula Chicago?

A. We strive to provide an attentive, personalized service experience in line with each guest’s individual expectations. In some cases, visitors don’t require or want much interaction. In other cases, they seek our advice and assistance throughout their time with us. We are thoughtful in our approach to ensure we understand the personalized needs of each guest and then tailor our services around them. We aim to create a memorable and meaningful experience and want all our guests to feel welcome and at home at The Peninsula Chicago.

Q. The property has received many awards and accolades over its celebrated 20 years, what honor has meant the most to you?

A. We’ve been honored to have received numerous awards over the years, every one of which is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our incredible team members. Many of these accolades have been awarded by various travel-related organizations which demonstrate how The Peninsula Chicago is viewed by our industry colleagues. But for us, our main focus is always on the feedback provided by our guests.

Q. In looking back at 20 years, how has Peninsula Chicago transformed luxury travel on Michigan Avenue?

A. Our goal is to constantly remain the leader within the industry and not a follower. To do this successfully one has to evolve and adapt to the changing expectations from travelers. We’ve never been ones to rest on our laurels; we’re always thinking about what we can do next. An example of this was conceiving and building Z Bar. It was a few years in the making, but this new venture has kept us relevant and allowed us to expose The Peninsula brand to the next generation of luxury travelers.

Q. And how is The Peninsula Chicago going to transform and evolve for the next 20 years?

A. It is important we evolve with the changing times—ensuring we develop our products and services based on the future of customers’ desires and passions (while still providing for our current customers), providing the very best in terms of accommodations, cuisine, wellness, and cultural experiences.

Herbal Remedies

One of the greatest elements of summer is the garden–may it be on a rooftop or balcony, in a backyard or wherever else the sun shines. There’s nothing like grabbing a ripe tomato from your garden and putting it directly into a salad. But summer’s spoils are not just relegated to the dinner table. Continue reading

Venice Beach—With Kids?

Fifi+Hop’s Corey Cook takes us to energetic Venice Beach which, despite it’s edginess, can be a great place to take kids. You just need to know where to go.

Some may look at the title of this post – Venice Beach with Kids – with speculation, but Venice was actually my girls’ self-proclaimed favorite part of our L.A. family vacation. They loved it. This post is all about things to do in Venice with kids, and why it should be on every family’s L.A. must-see list.

Venice Beach with Kids

 

Venice, CA, bohemian in spirit, has always been the funkier side of town, filled with eclectic shops and people, restaurants, street entertainers, and, in general, an off-beat vibe all its own. It’s never really had a reputation as a family-oriented kind of hood. Yet it’s this colorfulness of Venice which is exactly why I wanted to take my kids – all the action and eye-candy, I knew, would entertain them for hours.

 

We decided to allot 1 day in Venice, out of our 5 days. How did we go about planning our 1 day in Venice itinerary? I knew just who I wanted to show us around – my blogging friend Hilary from the blog HilaryStyle. She is the eyes and ears of L.A. and would be the perfect person to show my kids everything that makes Venice, Venice.

 

Venice Beach with Kids, HilaryStyle and mePin this image on Pinterest

 

Hilary and Me!

Hilary was on board for our visit, and then some. We covered it all, and by the end of the day my girls were reeling from all the fun they had. Here’s all the fun things to do in Venice Beach with kids. (Tip: we went first thing in the morning around 9:30, which was a perfect time to start our day, as there were hardly any crowds and it was very manageable with the kids).

WALK ALONG THE VENICE BOARDWALK (AKA OCEAN FRONT WALK)
Venice Beach with kids, walk along the Venice Boardwalk

 

The famous Venice Boardwalk spans about 1 ½ miles, with beautiful, white sand and the Pacific Ocean on one side, and funky storefronts and eateries on the other. Whatever bric-a-brac shops you can think of, the Ocean Front Walk has: souvenirs, sunglasses, surf and skate shops, t-shirts, tattoos, etc. My girls got their L.A. souvenirs here, in the form of sweatshirts, and have been wearing them ever since. Both say Venice Beach in different patterns, and they think they are the coolest girls in town when they wear them!

We walked for a while along the path, and Hilary pointed out all the other interesting things to see that make Venice the happening place it is. We saw people biking, rollerblading, playing paddle tennis, which are some of the activities you can do while you’re there (though we did not). And then there is of course Muscle Beach, an iconic part of the boardwalk where all the body builders work out. This is where Gold’s Gym got its start, begun by 70’s and 80’s superstar body builder, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

 

Later in our walk the girls got henna tattoos, which was a big hit – there are tattoo shops, fortune tellers and other off-beat things like that scattered all over the boardwalk. As well as restaurants – we ate at Wee Chippy at the recommendation of Hilary as having the best fries anywhere, and I have to say, she was right! In general, the Venice Boardwalk has an energy that appeals to any age, and is just plain FUN.

 

WATCH THE SKATEBOARDERS AT VENICE SKATE PARK
Venice Beach with kids, Venice Skate Park

Venice Skate Park is truly an amazing skate park, and definitely worth a visit. If you’re like us then you will love watching all the skate boarders do their tricks. The boarders span all ages, and you can see older men as much as younger kids skate about. It’s a lot of fun for the kids, and it can take up as much or little time as you want it to.

CHECK OUT ALL THE STREET ART AND WALL MURALS
Looking at the Venice Beach street art with kidsPin this image on Pinterest

 

Venice Beach wall mural

Venice is known for its abundance of street art, and seeing as Hilary is the street art expert, she showed us mural after mural, art piece after art piece, all throughout Venice. I’ll get to some of these places below, but we saw street art in many of the side streets off of the boardwalk, on our way over to the canals, and along Abbot Kinney Boulevard. There are wall murals everywhere, some I would have probably walked right by had it not been for them being pointed out – so make sure to keep your eyes open and on the look-out. They are colorful and whimsical and great fun for the kids to pose in front of for vaca pics.

 

Venice Art Walls with kidsPin this image on Pinterest

One of the highlights of our day in Venice was making some street art/ graffiti of our own! Hilary brought cans of paint with her, which the kids sprayed out on the beach. There is a designated area called the Venice Art Walls where the public can spray paint themselves, and the kids went to town – a great, unique activity that they will always remember!

 

WATCH THE STREET PERFORMERS
Watching the street performers and dancers on Venice Beach

We’re from New York, and whenever there are street performers doing their thing (always) in the subway, on the streets, Union Square, Times Square, wherever, we like to check them out. The girls love watching their shows. Venice is no stranger to street performers so we of course had to see them too. They are a big part of the chemistry that makes up Venice, with a contagious energy that you can’t help but feel a part of. Until they want you to join the show! We watched one group do their break dance, gymnastic stunts, etc. until they started to head our way to get the kids to participate. We immediately high-tailed it, but up until then it was a lot of fun for the kids, with a huge crowd getting into it.

 

WALK ALONG THE VENICE CANALS
Walking along the Venice Canals in Venice Beach, CA

It is no coincidence that the “Venice of America” has the same name as its Italian counterpart. Venice was founded by millionaire developer Abbot Kinney and modeled after his favorite European city, Venice. In the early 1900’s the canals that we see today used to be wetlands, and the perfect spot to build canals. Today (especially after a major renovation project completed in the 90’s), they are one of L.A.’s most unique neighborhoods and so much fun to walk around. I really enjoy walking along the canals and over the bridges, and so did my kids.

 

Giant Unicorn float in the Venice Beach canals in Venice Beach, CAPin this image on Pinterest

 

With the renovation came many newly built, modern homes, and looking at the houses is just as much a part of the appeal. So many of the city’s beautiful homes are located in the Venice Canals. We particularly liked looking at all the different boats home owners had, from canoes to kayaks to unicorn rafts!

STROLL ABBOT KINNEY BOULEVARD

Checking out the wall murals in Abbot Kinney in VenicePin this image on Pinterest

 

Having fun at Avatar Nation in Abbot Kinney in Venice Beach           

 

Perhaps the chicest part of L.A., Abbot Kinney Blvd. is filled with Boho fashion stores, home design shops, fabulous restaurants and an overall trendy vibe. You can’t go to Venice without hitting Abbot Kinney. What’s in it for the kids? Good question – it’s mostly for adults. But for the adults who are visiting with their kids and don’t want to miss out, there are some gems to take the kids. We went to Salt n Straw ice cream, which has amazing, unique flavors and which the kids loved. We found plenty of street art to take pics of them with, and we found fun stores to take them in too – one of them being Avatar Nation. The kids played ping pong in the back, it’s full of bright colors, and they loved it. It was a welcome respite for us adults too to take a break and let the kids play.

Why ResortPass is a Great Service and the Company They Should Partner with to Be Even Better

Have you ever stayed at an impressive resort that, while teeming with the promise of pristine pools and soothing hot tubs, seems to be a bit lacking in any actual partakers? The offerings, sure, are plentiful, but the sauna and steam room in their world-class spa? Empty. This may sound problematic for their business, but in the efficiency-driven, “as-a-Service” economy we live in today, it also presents a smart opportunity for mutually beneficial partnership. Enter ResortPass, a service poised to connect locals and day trippers seeking relaxation with access to a partnering property’s all too available amenities.

 

Some might say the company has taken a page out of the Airbnb book by leveraging the under-utilized assets at resorts and selling them as an experience, for a fee. Well, the model is certainly working out for both parties. Launched in 2016—with Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba and “The Point’s Guy,” Brian Kelly, as early investors—ResortPass is starting to hit their stride this year. Not only have they grown their network significantly, but they also closed a $26 million “B” round this past November. They now partner with over 900 hotels and resorts around the world, all allowing users to enjoy luxury experiences on a day pass basis.

 

The price, you might be musing, is surely where the catch lies. Not necessarily, as it is more so reflective of the level of service and amenities offered, as well as the brand. The Four Seasons, for example, will likely cost you more than a Marriot. The range might be from $25-100 per day for a standard pass—more for daybeds and cabanas. The cost for children is less, if not free, depending on age.

 

Carneros Resort—Napa Valley, CA

 

It’s early days yet and hard to forecast the level of overall demand there will be for ResortPass, but I do have one prediction. The “stickiness” of this service will ultimately reside more with travelers than locals. According to Michael Wolf, CEO of ResortPass, the early data disagrees. So far, the majority of ResortPass’s users are locals who want to experience the amenities of hotels in their own or nearby cities. A staycation, or even “day”cation, as they say.

 

“Our local users never had the opportunity to access the hospitality industry locally,” says Wolf. “They thought they had to get on a plane to enjoy those sorts of amenities.”

 

Miramar Resort—Santa Barabra, CA

 

 

To be fair, ResortPass does acknowledge all types of users, from locals to cruise ship passengers alike, and I’m sure they are targeting all sorts of people in various situations where the service would be compelling. Whether the local demographic remains their top revenue source is anyone’s guess, but I would wager that the true value of this service lies with a certain type of traveler staying at a certain type of place.

 

For example, guests staying at a boutique hotel—one that offers a terrific experience but without resort-level amenities—would seem to be likely customers. Vacationers staying with friends are another plausible group to appeal to, as they might still want a bit of pampering and that vacation vibe while they’re out of town. And then there is their ultimate customer, the ones where the value of ResortPass truly becomes apparent—and for me, it’s full circle back to Airbnb and its guests.

 

I love Airbnb. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t appreciate the service. They created a whole new segment of lodging at price-points that are generally more attractive than hotels, especially if you require multiple bedrooms. What Airbnb sorely lacks, however, is amenities. Sure, you can get a great pad with a pool, large kitchen and epic view of the ocean or mountains, but you cannot get the kind of facilities and social intangibles that luxury hotels and resorts offer. There is no way to spell a bustling hotel lobby, or expansive pools surrounded by chaises and cabanas, with dining and cocktail service at your fingertips.

 

Williamsburg Hotel—Brooklyn, NY

 

Ritz Carlton Bal Harbor—Miami, FL

 

And therein lies the true value of ResortPass. The best products and services are the ones that fill a void. It’s fine to build a better mouse trap and plenty of companies have made a living doing this. Even the most innovative companies in the world owe a lot of their success to products and services that already existed which they simply improved upon. Apple didn’t invent the smart phone; they just made it better. A lot better. But filling a void is the ultimate goal for most entrepreneurs. See Uber, Venmo and yes, Airbnb.

 

I think Airbnb would be wise to partner with—or dare I say, even purchase—ResortPass. It may start out as just an incremental supplement to their service, as it’s only useful if there is a qualifying resort nearby. Nonetheless, it would be a natural fit that could yield larger, more impactful results in the future. The Batman and Robin of travel disruptors, if you will.

 

ResortPass gets the GLR stamp of approval as a rising star in the resort space. Mark my words, they’re going places—and not just for the day.

 

Interview with Travel Flights Analyst Adam Kwan of TomFlies.com

TomFlies.com is an NYC-based, new-concept travel agency that aims to provide several essential aspects of travel that may have been overlooked throughout the years. Not selling exaggerated experiences, but rather leading their clients to genuine discovery is a key goal at the new age travel agency. We asked their Lead Flights Analyst, Adam Kwan some questions about the future of travel and how TomFlies.com plans to be a part of it. Here is what he had to say.

 

Q.It appeared for a while that the Internet (and D.I.Y. booking) would deal a major blow to travel agencies, however they have actually seen a strong resurgence in recent years. Why is this and how does the pandemic factor in?

 

A.What we try to do for each one of our clients is to identify where we can add value above and beyond the services they can book themselves. Whether it be monetary value from negotiated rates or service-oriented benefits such as expertise and personal vetting of providers and vendors, we think this goes a long way in showing clientele the benefits of booking with us.

 

People nowadays are inundated with what are essentially cookie cutter options that provide instant gratification. Just go on Amazon and you’re a couple clicks away from getting whatever you want, shipped straight to you from a warehouse containing hundreds of the same whatever-you-wants. We believe that this type of standardized mass merchandising is not befitting of people’s travel needs. People don’t buy vacations as nonchalantly as they do household goods. They want to be sure that they will get the best experience and best value for their travel. Especially since, for many people, a vacation is a significant expense relatively.

 

Right now, travelling in a pandemic-stricken world, people are more nervous than ever. Their confidence has been shaken and many people are unsure what will await them when they exit their plane. Making sure that people are confident that their travel will go off without a hitch has always been one of our main goals, so we view travel consultants as more beneficial than ever. There is a deluge of information out there with each country having different regulations. The last thing someone wants to do is spend their hard-earned money on a trip, only to find out they cannot board the plane or leave quarantine during their stay. That’s where we step in, making sure that our clients are making completely informed decisions with confidence.

 

Shutterstock

 

Q. Loyalty and rewards programs play a much larger role for airlines and hotels than meets the eye. Can you discuss how and why these programs are so vital for the travel industry, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic?

 

A. We see two main benefits to loyalty programs. The first is obvious—reducing customer churn and encouraging purchases with your company over your competitors; i.e. customer loyalty. The second benefit is liquidity through corporate partnerships.

 

Reducing customer churn (the rate at which customers stop buying your product over time) is important for every industry, but even more so in leisure travel where each individual customer may only purchase something once a year or less. It is tantamount that a travel company remains prominently in view of their clientele. Regular newsletters, deals, and targeted ads help with this, but a loyalty program will take this a step further. Loyalty programs create a sense of investment in your clients and strongly encourage them to return to you for their travel needs. There have been many detailed studies done on the psychological effects of loyalty programs, but the benefits are essentially the following:

 

  • Goal Anticipation – Creating something for your client to work for. By giving them a concrete goal and a way for them to track their progress towards that goal, people will be strongly motivated to complete that goal; i.e. purchase more. Not only that, but customers will invest more to complete the goal the closer they are to achieving it.
  • Positive Reinforcement – Encouraging customers to stick with you by giving them rewards is an obvious example of positive reinforcement. But just as important is the converse. Not only are you encouraging people to purchase through your company, but you also create a sense of “lost value” when they book with your competitors. Studies have shown that people generally tend toward being risk-averse when faced with a value-loss proposition.
  • Creating a sense of exclusivity – Simply put, people like being in exclusive groups and feeling unique and appreciated. Top-tiers of loyalty programs offer this prestige. If you make JetBlue Mosaic, you’re going to feel pretty good being the first one on the plane.

 

 

The second main benefit is more simply explained. Airlines and hotels will create liquidity by selling their points to corporate partners. When Chase or American Express offer their cardholders point exchanges or deals with specific travel partners, that likely means the bank has purchased points in bulk from the travel provider. This accounts for a surprisingly significant portion of the liquidity for several travel companies and is important in supporting daily operations and business development.

 

Both of these benefits are eminently important during the pandemic. When your clients are ready to travel again, you want to make sure they come back to you. And while traditional sales dry up, you want the extra liquidity from corporate points sales to keep things running.

 

Q. Should consumers be thinking any differently about their loyalty/rewards memberships during this period? Are there any tips or strategies you have for people who travel frequently and accrue a lot of points?  

 

A. There are a few tips and tricks we have for maximizing the value of your points, however more so in general rather than specifically during the pandemic.

 

First is to absolutely do your research. There’s no way of knowing if you’re getting a good value for your points unless you know the baseline value of them. For example, TrueBlue points are worth 1.1 cents each on average. I would only book flights with points where you meet or exceed that exchange rate. During COVID, we’d suggest to make sure that there is no expiration on your points and benefits, at least until you’re ready to travel again. If there is, ask the airline or hotel if they can extend the expiration for you.

 

Second is to shop around. Just because you have points with American Airlines doesn’t mean you can’t buy a British Airways ticket with them. Airlines have partners which often allow you to book the same exact flight through them. For example, Alaska Airlines offers many of the same flights operated by its partner American Airlines, however the flights usually cost fewer Alaska Airlines miles than AAdvantage Points. You can simply transfer your points from AA to Alaska and use them there for more value per point.

 

Philip Pilosian/Shutterstock

 

Q. What have been the most frequently asked questions by your clients during the pandemic and how are you advising them? 

 

A. Far and away the most asked question is whether a traveler will have to quarantine when they arrive at a destination or if they will have to take a COVID test before travelling. We’re keeping track of the ever-changing regulations for each of our most popular destinations so we can make sure all of our clients are fully informed.

 

Q. What destinations, US and international, do you expect to see the most interest in once virus fears subside and travel returns to pre-pandemic levels—or close? 

 

A. Hard to tell, but it’s between the Caribbean and the Mediterranean in our opinion. We’re already seeing a large uptick of interest in the Caribbean, especially for all-inclusive resort destinations like Cancun and Punta Cana. The amount of interest can only go up from here. We think that the private and comprehensive experience offered by all-inclusive resorts does add a sense of security for their guests. Knowing that everything you need is in an environment you’ve seen being sanitized goes a long way towards making people feel safe during a pandemic. They can have it all without having to go out into unfamiliar surroundings that may not be clean.

 

Positano at sunset/Shutterstock

 

We also think people are just itching to head back to the Mediterranean, we know we are. Italy, Spain, Egypt, Israel, and Greece et al have always been some of our most requested destinations, and people miss those places more than ever now that travel is restricted.

 

Q.What is the single biggest reason to use a travel advisor?

 

A.Simply that the cost to benefit ratio is great. With our agency’s negotiated rates and worldwide reach, we can offer prices competitive with OTAs while also offering the added benefit of travel planning expertise and dedicated e-concierge services and support before, during, and after travel. Essentially, people will be able to pay roughly the same amount of money for their travel as if they booked it themselves, without actually having to do anything themselves.

 

Q.In just a few words, what is your philosophy at TomFlies.com?

 

A.“Always wander!”

 

See our full report on The State of Travel: 2021