Founded in Monterey, Mexico in 1895 Topo Chico’s uber-bubbly mineral water is now a world-wide brand. The story of this seemingly innocuous sparkling water that was born in Mexico, raised in Texas and is now flourishing on multiple continents—thanks in part to its acquisition by Coca Cola in 2017—dates back over 125 years. History of […]
Founded in Monterey, Mexico in 1895 Topo Chico’s uber-bubbly mineral water is now a world-wide brand. The story of this seemingly innocuous sparkling water that was born in Mexico, raised in Texas and is now flourishing on multiple continents—thanks in part to its acquisition by Coca Cola in 2017—dates back over 125 years.
History of production and relationship with Coca-Cola
Speaking of its parent company Coca Cola, Topo Chico and Coca Cola have a relationship that dates back about 100 years. In fact, long before Coke acquired Topo Chico, Topo Chico actually acquired the licensing rights to bottle Coke in Mexico, roughly 100 years ago. Needless to say, they have been working with Coke for many years so it’s not a big surprise that Coke decided to acquire them.
When Topo Chico was founded in 1895, it sourced and bottled the water from a spring near a small mole-shaped hill that it was named after. “Topo” means “mole” in Spanish and “chico” means “small.” 127 years later,it still sources water from the very same “Cerro del Topo Chico” spring.
The minerals matter
Topo Chico is not just ordinary sparkling water, like seltzer or club soda. It is actual mineral water, containing naturally occurring mineralsand electrolytes like Sodium, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese. For comparison sake, “La Croix” sparkling water (another popular brand) is simply seltzer and does not contain any minerals. So what’s so special about these minerals? Sodium is needed for blood regulation (absence can cause serious impairment of bodily functions), regulates bodily fluids and transmits electrical impulses in the body; Calcium is an important nutrient and major component for bones and teeth; Magnesium aids in digestion, helps muscles recover and promotes a sense of calm; Potassium provides fuel for the heart and promotes kidney and nervous system function; Manganese is an antioxidant that benefits your bones and increases collagen production (healthy looking skin).
I’m not saying drinking Topo Chico everyday will solve any of your health problems but it certainly won’t hurt and the extra mineral intake could have some positive effects—if nothing else the electrolyte-laiden water will help keep you hydrated.
It now comes in 3 flavors but you may like the original
In addition to their original unflavored version, TC also comes in three litely flavored mineral waters; Twist of Lime, Twist of Grapefruit and Twist of Tangerine—all zero calorie.
While Topo Chico’s flavored versions are quite popular, their original unflavored water tastes quite good too. The naturally occuring carbonation, while plenty effervescent (more on this in a sec), has a softer mouthfeel than other sparkling waters, as if the bubbles are smaller but greater in quantity, leading to a texture that is mellow and inviting. Also, despite the minerals, TC also has a very mild, neutral aftertaste, if any at all—something I would imagine most people want in a sparkling water. I know I do. Less is more when it comes to a water’s taste.
It all about the bubbles
While less may be more on the aftertaste, more is more when it comes to carbonation. Yes,Topo Chico’s secret weapon—you guessed it—is in its bubbles. Simply put, the naturally occering carbonation in Topo Chico is more explosive and lasts longer than other brand I have tried. No wonder it is a cult-favorite for consumers and bartenders alike who like a vibrant Vodka Soda or Tom Collins with ferocious fizz that doesn’t go flat.
Leave an open bottle of TC out overnight and the next day it will taste like you just opened it. And while all mineral waters naturally contain sodium—which can be off-putting to some people—the sodium level in TC is fairly low and provides a thirst-busting sensation (Gatorade’s secret thirst busting recipe has ample sodium for a reason).
What is Ranch Water?
You cannot make an authentic Ranch Water cocktail without Topo Chico. What is a Ranch Water you ask. It’s simply a tequila and soda with lime—a popular drink these days due to its low calorie, low hangover appeal. It is only a Ranch Water though if you use Topo Chico. It is also the unofficial cocktail of Texas—which is the unofficial home-away-from-home of Topo Chico. Yes, Texans love their Topo Chico and likely have played a big part in TC’s meteroic rise in popularity over the past decade.
In March of 2021 Topo Chico released a lineup of Hard Seltzers onto the market—hardly a surprise in today’s hard seltzer crazed world. The flavors include: Tangy Lemon Lime, Exotic Pineapple, Strawberry Guava and Tropical Mango. Almost a year later TC released a new lineup of hard seltzer “Margaritas” (with salt, lime and tequila flavors) in four tropical flavors including Signature Margarita, Tropical Pineapple, Strawberry Hibiscus, and Prickly Pear. Seperately, during the same launch campaign, TC released their highly anticipated “Ranch Water” Hard Seltzer. Inspired by the taste of the popular cocktail recipe made famous by Texas bartenders, Topo Chico Ranch Water Hard Seltzer features real lime juice and a refreshing, crisp taste.
Delays at airports are not as woeful as they used to be. That is, if you are lucky enough to be stranded in a choice terminal replete with the type of trendy dining and watering-hole options that rival our very cities. If you find yourself in an airport for an extended period of time this coming holiday season—or any time for that matter—hopefully it’s at one of these terminals.
Developed by Ian Schrager in partnership with Marriott International, Miami Beach EDITION is a hip luxury hotel with lots to offer in the heart of Miami Beach.
Located in the Mid-Beach area on a three and a half-acre private enclave stretching from Collins Avenue to the ocean, Miami Beach EDITION exudes Shrager-esque style without compromising on the comforts and accoutrements that you would expect from a five-star hotel.
The hotel, which opened in 2014, boasts two ocean-facing pools, a wellness spa with a gym, a nightclub, a bowling alley and an ice-skating rink (in the basement) that doubles as a nightclub, as well as chic indoor and outdoor event space. It is also home to the Jean George-developed MATADOR BAR and MATADOR ROOM, a visually stunning space with an equally impressive dining experience. More on that to come.
A Fair Comparsion
Having stayed at 1Hotel the previous three years (and having loved it) it is only natural for me to compare The EDITION to its neighbor and natural rival a few blocks south. I say rival because are both relatively new (they opened their doors within months of each other), both are immensely popular and command one of the higher price-points on Collins Ave—though The EDITION is slightly less expensive. They also seem to have similar clientele—several people I spoke to while at EDITION had previously stayed at 1Hotel.
1Hotel excels in many ways that few hotels in Miami Beach can match. Their focus on natural materials like reclaimed wood (including local driftwood) as well as the abundance of live greenery curated throughout the hotel exudes a mellowness and underlying current of energy that is truly unique. Meanwhile their standard rooms and bathrooms—equip with rain showers, jacuzzi tubs, large sinks and warm stone floors—are huge and extremely comfortable. Then you have the enormous main pool with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean from its second story perch as well as the rooftop bar and pool with even better views, and it’s no wonder they have been one of the most popular hotels in Miami Beach since they arrived in 2015.
The layout and expansiveness of the hotel, however, has some slight drawbacks. It takes quite a while to get from the pool up to your room, and while I appreciate their eco-friendly-designed elevator system—designed to maximize the number of guests on each ride—it can be confusing for first time guests and slow at times. And while the lobby is beautiful and expansive with a bar/dining area, gift shop and a large sitting area with a plethora of couches and chairs to relax in or do some work from, it is not on your route from room to pool/beach, nor does it have a view of the ocean. While some guests might not see this as a detractor or care, it is still worth noting.
It is worth noting because this is where The EDITION excels. And with that, here is what I liked most about The Miami Beach EDITION:
It’s Easy To Get Around and Has Everything You Need
The layout at The Edition is simple and intuitive. Virtually everything is a stone’s throw from the lobby (the ocean might be more like a 9-iron) which makes getting around easy and efficient and adds a sort of whimsical flow of positive energy and comradery to the place. Everyone is coming and going to or from something enjoyable. The hotel is also outfitted with just about everything you could want. One of Shrager’s top goals with the hotel was to make it a “one- stop shopping” experience, providing everything a guest could imagine—dining, nightlife, socializing, recreation, culture, work and meeting space—within the complex. Once there, one has no reason to leave if they don’t want to. Personally, I can’t imagine forgoing a dinner at Joe’s Stone Crab or walking across the street to the Broken Shaker and Twenty Seven restaurant which are both at the Freehand Hotel, but if you’re the type that just likes to chill at your hotel, Miami Beach EDITION has you covered.
The lobby is visually stunning with its pristine white marble floors and polished white pearl Venetian plaster walls, highlighted with subtly variegated tones of gold and the deep green of indoor palm trees. One of the few hotel lobbies in Miami Beach to offer a view of the ocean, the spirit of the space, like the hotel itself, is “barefoot chic” or “new tropical” as Shrager likes to say. “You might see people in golf attire, a bathing suit, a Pilates uniform, formal evening clothes or jeans,” Schrager notes, “all comfortable, all being themselves, all connected by a certain sensibility.”
The lobby is also the central nervous system of the hotel with a fun pool table (a great hang out place for kids) and adjacent MATADOR BAR right there—plus the pool, beach and “Tropicale” outdoor tiki bar just a short jaunt away. Once you are downstairs there is really no reason to get on an elevator.
There are several dining options at EDITION including the Jean George developed “Marketplace” which offers indoor and outdoor seating, with lots of tables, and is perfect for Breakfast or an afternoon snack if you need to get out of the sun or satiate the kiddos. Meanwhile, overlooking the pool with Miami Beach in view is the “Tropicale” Bar with tiki bar cocktails, light bites and fun island music that keeps things chill.
The real attraction however is MATADOR. Upon entering the stately MATADOR BAR, one cannot help but feel instantly transported to another era where class and glamour reign supreme. An expansive black walnut and stone bar is the room’s centerpiece, with floor-to-ceiling windows that provide an unobstructed view of the ocean and palm trees dancing in the wind. In the early evening when the thin, sunlight-permeable curtains are closed it presents an even more mystical setting with the tropical setting silhouetted in background perfection. Additional LED lights in the ceiling illuminate the walnut-paneled walls which are covered with photographs by famed French photographer Lucien Clergue and portray the art of bullfighting. Additional floor lights illuminate the half-oval shaped bar making it look almost like it’s levitating at times.
After having a Martini at the bar, make your way into the MATADOR ROOM, the hotel’s main restaurant—a grandly proportioned, glamorous oval-shaped space that recalls all the excitement of Miami Beach’s heyday (the kind of place, Schrager says, “one might expect to see Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers waltzing through”) and sample Top Chef winner Jeremy Ford’s modern interpretation of Latin cuisine influenced by Spanish, Caribbean and South American flavors. The seasonal menu, composed of small and large plates, utilizes a bounty of locally sourced, Floridian ingredients. The space’s original chandelier has been restored and is suspended over the sunken oval dining room that is reminiscent of the glamorous supper clubs of the 1940s and 50s.
The Beach (and getting there)
Access to the beach is VERY close to the hotel. This is not unique to The EDITION as most of the top hotels in Miami Beach have easy access to the beach but the proximity of the beach to the main pool, for example, seems extra close at EDITION. For comparison-sake I will again use 1Hotel. The pool at 1Hotel is the most impressive I have seen in Miami, particularly because it is hoisted up the second floor thus giving guests an unparreled view of the ocean when sitting poolside. The caveat however is that you need to walk a little further, down some outdoor stairs, to get to the beach. At EDITION the walk to the beach is 30 seconds max from the pool. It may seem like a small perk but if you like to go to and from the beach several times a day it can add up and the close proximity was appreciated.
Of course, if you want to spend the day at the beach, EDITION has plenty of beach chairs—guests recieve two chairs complimentary—and food and drink service.
The stretch of beach at the hotel is also a bit unique due to a line of rocks at both ends that gives it a sort of “cove” feel and also lessens the overall foot traffic making it feel like you are on your own strecth of private beach.
While I doubt “kid friendly” is the first adjective Ian Schrager wants popping into people’s heads when they think of his hotels, Miami EDITION is surprisingly quite hospitable towards little ones. From the centrally located pool table in the lobby to the basement bowling alley and skating rink to the ping pong table that is tastefully located (out of site) in the sandy, palm-tree sheltered area of the pool, aptly named “the sand box,” the hotel is friendly with kids.
…And Did Not Love
As for the aspects of Miami Beach EDITION I did not love? To be clear, there was nothing at the hotel I did not like. There were just a few aspects that I did not love. In no way are these deal breakers.
It’s not that the rooms are not nice. Standard rooms are sizeable and chic with coconut white and light wood colors that give them a stylish and elegant Miami look that is easy on the eye. My standard room at EDITION was plenty big and looked the part, however the minimalist design does not help from a functional standpoint.The bathrooms in particular are a bit lacking (especially compared to 1Hotel). A perfect example would be the sink which essentially has no cavity to it so with barely any downward curvature the water in the sink lingers after you have brushed your teeth or washed your face. This is by no means a dealbreaker but something many guests will pick up on and wonder if this type of sink design really makes sense.
Pools & Benches
Like with the rooms, the pools at EDITION are perfectly fine…I just didn’t LOVE them. The smaller pool (shown below) is actually the main pool or feels like more like the main pool while the larger “Tropicale” pool has fewer benches, seemed to get less sun and was more popular with familes given the extra space and proximity to the outdoor bar (a Bahama for mom and dad and Organic Chicken Strips for the kids…ahmem).
My main gripe is more with the positioning and comfort of the benches than the pools themselves. Half the benches have morning sun and half have afternoon sun so you kind of have to choose when you want sun. And yes, I understand this is a problem for many Miami hotels given that the sun sets in the west (directly behind the ocean-side pools), but it seemed more pronounced at EDITION vs 1Hotel. Of course, many people today will actually appreciate this as younger generations are much more careful about sun exposure, especailly in a tropical or sub-tropical location where the sun is very strong.
Additionally, the benches are very low to the ground and very stiff. Once again, the minimalist design Shrager is famous for can sometimes look more comfortable than it actually is. Think futon not featherbed.
The Final Verdict…
The beauty of Ian Shrager’s hotels is that their minimalist design provides style and panache at a reasonable price. While The Miami Beach EDITION is certainly not cheap—for a five-star hotel on Miami Beach, with everything it has to offer at one property, it is still a good value. It has everything that sun deprived vacioners could want, including two very nice, ocean facing pools with beach access that is as easy as it gets in Miami Beach. The most unexpected treat however was the MATADOR Bar which does, as Sharager likes to say, “transport you back in time to an era where class and glamour reigned supreme.” Order The Pineapple, served in a custom-made copper pineapple and made with the vodka, sherry, house-made bitters and a pineapple-rosemary syrup over crushed ice, or opt for a simple Martini while you enjoy the surroundings. Either way you won’t be dispappointed.
The French painter Paul Cezanne once wrote that, “The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.” His pronouncement has proved prescient, if not necessarily in the way he predicted. The first shots of the food revolution in the United States were, arguably, fired by Alice Waters at Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, who raised the banner on behalf of local, organic and sustainable cuisine.
The political implications of mixed seasonal greens with local goat cheese have become clear over the decades. She, joined by other chefs and food critics, has educated diners about the health risks of pesticides, the environmental costs of factory farms and the carbon footprints of certain fruits and vegetables imported from South America during our winter.
The solution proposed by countless politically-minded chefs has been to support small-scale farms close to home. And while the cause has been advanced by both humble food co-ops and celebrity chefs, spurring a locavore and farm-to-table movement that has swept across America in recent years, there are a few chefs and restaurants that have garnered particular attention for their use of local ingredients. Many of these chefs and their respective restaurants have also taken the extra step toward environmental practices, in some cases earning LEED-certifcation for their low carbon outputs and sustainability.
Of course, sourcing from local farms and adhering to the latest practices sustainability means nothing if your food is average. Thankfully, when it comes to the food, some of the most environmentally mindful restaurants across the country are now also some of the best, with Michelin stars to prove it. Here are a few that stand out:
Founding Farmers, Washington, D.C.
Quite a few eateries in the Washington, D.C. make area “best of farm-to-table” lists but Founding Farmers stands out from the pack. And no, it’s not because President and Michelle Obama are frequent visitors. It was Washington, D.C.’s first LEED Gold Certified restaurant and the first upscale-casual, full-service LEED Gold restaurant in the country.
Since 2008, Founding Farmers has been an eco-friendly leader in the food and beverage industry. The 8,500-square-foot restaurant was built with reclaimed and recycled materials—heart-of-pine wood from an old textile mill was used for the flooring—and utilized VOC paints and adhesives in its construction. Ninety percent of the construction waste was recycled. The restaurant has an in-house water filtration system, installed low-flow toilets in restrooms and uses biodegradable garbage bags and recycled paper products (menus) throughout the space. The restaurant is carbon neutral, offsetting 100 percent of it’s carbon emissions by purchasing green power credits.
Then there’s the food. Founding Farmers doesn’t always use locally sourced produce and meat because it feels it doesn’t necessarily imply the smallest carbon footprint. Instead, the restaurant buys ingredients from 42,000 family-run farms around the country, thereby helping small farmers, ranches and fisheries. Farms and fisheries include Anson Mills in South Carolina, Piedmont Ridge Farm in Maryland and Cleanfish in California. As a result, the food is flavorful and most importantly, good for you. Brunch showcases regional specialties such as New Orleans–style stuffed French toast and glazed yeast donuts. Supper draws in crowds because of its friendly atmosphere and lovely farmhouse setting. Diners relax at communal wooden tables or comfy booths under reclaimed wood beams and dine on dishes such as line-caught plank salmon and southern pan-fried chicken with white gravy. Even the wines, spirits and beer are from small town distilleries and breweries.
1924 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington, DC 20006 202.822.8783
ABC Kitchen, New York, NY
While perhaps not known for it, Jean-Georges Vongerichten has served organic and sustainable dishes for quite some time—it just hasn’t been a “thing” for him. In fact, the trademarks of his cuisine has been the exotic touches that can be traced back to his stint at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. Vongerichten’s dishes have long been scented by chilis, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves at his flagship Jean-Georges and his Spice Market restaurants. At Prime, another if his restaurants, the grass-fed and organic steaks that dominate the menu are delicious but not especially sustainable. At ABC Kitchen, on the other hand, the menu is inspired more by the Hudson Valley than Southeast Asia, and while it isn’t vegetarian by any means, meat serves more as an accent rather than as slabs of beef. Here, Vongerichten explores the possibilities of local and sustainable cuisine: whole wheat pizzas are topped with Jersey tomatoes, the potatoes served with his classic blackened sea bass come from upstate.
The décor of the restaurant also reflects the sustainable ethos: The menus are printed on recycled paper, tables are made from reclaimed wood and the vintage dessert plates and flatware reflect a commitment to reusing and recycling. The waitstaff is outfitted in studied casual outfits of Converse sneakers and flannel shirts – sometimes it feels like the entire borough of Brooklyn has been redecorated in a similar country farmhouse look – but we like that.
While admittedly not the first of their kind, Vongerichten and his executive chef, Dan Kluger, have brought their own particular take on this craze. The free-range fried chicken arrives light as tempura, in a beer batter crust, and while I’m not sure what is local or sustainable about the caramel sundae, it would get my nod for dessert of the year. Other authorities were similarly impressed: The New York Times awarded ABC Kitchen two (of three) stars and the eatery also won the James Beard Award for “Best New Restaurant” of the year. Vongerichten’s rebirth as a locavore is, we hope, not a sign that a chameleon chef has found the latest gimmick to attract diners, and instead that when it comes to what and how we eat, ABC Kitchen is a sign that conscious and not conspicuous consumption is here to stay.
35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003 212.475.5829
Uncommon Ground, Chicago, IL
Chicago’s Uncommon Ground is the poster child for green restaurants in the United States, and we aren’t the first to have noticed. In 2013, they received recognition from the Green Restaurant Association as the “World’s Greenest Restaurant.” Mayor Rahm Emanuel stated, “Uncommon Ground is a great example of what our city can do and what our country can do, use water and energy more efficiently, grow more sustainable food, while boasting the world’s most sustainable businesses.”
Not only does the restaurant divert 95 percent of its waste from the landfill through a robust composting and recycling program, but they also produce onsite renewable energy. The interior design is warm and earthy, donning wooden table tops from trees that came directly from ones downed in Jackson Park in Chicago.
Most notably, they built the first Certified Organic rooftop in the nation, which patrons can go up and visit. When dining there once, I was pleasantly surprised at how much time their rooftop farmer spent giving me the grand tour of his elevated bounty and explaining the building process. The rooftop is fit with solar panels surrounded by manicured raised garden beds of herbs, tomatoes and more.
Obviously a rooftop can only supply so much for the restaurant, but the local concept goes beyond just their own building, to a commitment to source the majority of their food from local, sustainable organic producers – 24 percent of which comes from within 300 miles of the restaurant. Their menu is constantly changing according to the seasons, which makes each visit a unique experience that gives patrons a strong sense of time and place.
While people rave about the fried chicken and collar greens, true midwesterners like myself will can vouch for their hearty meatloaf, made with local grassfed beef and of course, wrapped in bacon and served with mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, and fried nordic creamery cheese curds (a product commonly found amidst Chicago’s lively farmers markets). For dessert, I’d venture toward the seasonal crème brulee or s’mores tart.
They support the local economy by more than just helping out local farmers, but also local artisans, as you will regularly find local artist’s work featured inside and local musicians entertaining diners.
They’ve even gotten into the local brewing business, boasting their own in-house brewery at one location called Greenstar Brewing, where they brew up seasonal, sustainable concoctions that are served up at the restaurant.
On the spirits side, Uncommon Ground created what they call an “eco-cocktail”, the Agripolitan, featuring organic vodka and orchard fruits. This eco-cocktail program has raised funds to plant over 10,000 trees in India as well as to work with Chicago Rarities Orchard Project (CROP) to build a community rare-fruit orchards in Chicago. The eco-cocktail’s ingredients change according to the seasons with varying orchard fruits.
They’ve also received accolades as a World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) Humane Restaurant, The Governor’s Sustainability Award and the Green Business of the Year by the Chicago Chamber of Commerce.
Original Lakeview Location: 3800 Clark Street Chicago, IL 60613 773.929.3680
New Edgewater Location: 1401 West Devon Ave. Chicago, IL 60660 773.465.9801
Providence, Los Angeles, CA
Before he opened a top rated restaurant in Los Angeles (arguably the best if you love fish), Chef Michael Cimarusti grew up on the east coast, in the great state of…you guessed it, Rhode Island, where he spent many a weekend fishing and digging for razor clams.
Cimarusti’s resume is not short on experience, having attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY (graduating with honors) and honing his skills at An American Place (NYC), The Forager House Restaurant (New Hope, PA) and Le Cirque (NYC).
Cimarusti is completely dedicated to procuring the finest sustainable seafood—from regional coasts and international waters—and treats those ingredients with uncompromising respect and sophisticated technique. “First and foremost, what guides us here is sustainability,” Cimarusti says. “We use only wild-caught, sustainable products, mostly from American waters, and look to highlight their finest qualities.”
The accolades for Providence include multiple James Beard Award nominations; “Top 50 Restaurants in the United States” by Gourmet magazine; “Best Seafood Restaurant” by Los Angeles magazine; the #1 ranking in “Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants” in the Los Angeles Times; and two highly coveted Michelin stars.
5955 Melrose Ave Los Angeles, CA 90038 323.460.4170
SingleThread Farm, Healdsburg, California
Since opening in late 2016, no property in Sonoma has received more buzz than this five-room Inn designed by the restaurant architect gurus of AvroKO. Give the Inn and its designers their due but perhaps its greatest asset—bringing people from near and far to its property—is the Japanese-influenced, three-Michelin-starred restaurant which has drawn comparisons to Napa’s French Laundry. And like French Laundry, which helped champion in the use of locally sourced produce and livestock, SingleThread Farm has a full working farm, located five miles away, while a number of their ingredients, such as herbs, fruit, and vegetables, are sourced straight from their beautiful rooftop garden.
Nearly 80 percent of the ingredients come from the owners’ farm, which is located 10 minutes away between the Russian River and the historic San Lorenzo Ranch in Healdsburg, California. Farmed by Head Farmer Katina Connaughton along with the SingleThread Farm team, the property consists of a greenhouse, shade structures, loamy fields, chicken coops, an heirloom fruit orchard, olive trees, beehives, and a cattle paddock all surrounded by Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay vines. The farm supplies vegetables, fruit, herbs, flowers, honey, eggs, and olive oil to the restaurant.
If a world class spa, beautiful pool overlooking Napa Valley, afternoon wine tastings, gourment farm-to-table cuisine and the peace-of-mind knowing that the resort is a leader in sustainability practices is the kind of resort you would like to stay at—then give the Carneros Resort a try. It checks all of these boxes and more—especially for millenials and younger generations who genuinely care about those things.
Situated in the heart of wine country, sandwiched between Napa and Sonoma, the Carneros Resort (formerly “Carneros Inn”) is a quiet haven (and heaven) amidst the well-trodden wine country tourist trail.
As the world enters a new reality and many of us are returning to our offices, it’s a good moment to reinvent your commute. Whether you are on a hybrid schedule or at a desk every day, a bicycle can bring an element of joy (along with its health and environmental pluses) to getting back out into the world again.
Here we have gathered some of our favorite commuter bikes in a variety of styles and functions—folding bikes, cruisers, hybrids, gravel bikes and even some e-bikes, for those riders who would like a little help on any hills. While many of the bicycles gathered here are top-of-the-line models that will give you years of smooth rides, we have also included a few budget-friendly alternatives.
The history of e-bikes, or electric bicycles, is almost as long as the history of bicycles themselves. In the 1870s and 1880s, inventors were devising ways of connecting batteries to bicycles. Issues around batteries—above all their weight—meant that many designs remained on paper, but advances in technology especially pedal assist designs, have led to a boom for e-bikes. One source estimates that there will be 40 million e-bikes on roads around the world by 2023.
For commuters e-bikes offer some assistance when necessary. On flat stretches you can rely on pedal power while on hills or anywhere else you want a little extra help, just add a little juice. The Cannondale Adventure Neo seamlessly incorporates its battery into its lightweight step-through aluminum frame. The Bosch battery has a life of up to 65 miles and can provide 20 mph of assist. It’s ideal for both errands in the city and weekend rides.
E-bikes as a rule are serious investments and even the least expensive will be more expensive than conventional bicycles. Propella’s Single-Speed Drivetrain isn’t as sleek as the Cannondale Adventure Neo, and its battery’s range is more limited (between 20 and 38 miles) but it is relatively light at 35 pounds and is also easier on the wallet. It can be an ideal starter or occasional e-bike, and if you find yourself converted to the e-bike life you can splurge on a fancier model down the road.
From the name, you might think a gravel bike is designed to be ridden on gravel paths. Thanks to their hybrid designs that combine elements of road bikes and mountain bikes, they are actually suited to all terrains. If your commute includes shortcuts through unpaved areas or along potholed roads, the wider tires and lower gearing offer stability.
Surly Bikes’ Midnight Special has an elegant old-school design while not sacrificing anything when it comes to functionality or quality. The high-volume tires allow for tire pressure to be adjusted according to the surface—let some air out for those off-road adventures and top them off when you’ll be traveling on well-paved roads. This solid and dependable bike also has flat-mount disc brakes and front and rear through axles.
Cruiser-style bikes let their riders sit tall in their seats, all the better to scan the road for vehicles while also being more visible to drivers. Cruiser bikes are generally built for comfort and not speed with wide handlebars and comfortable seats. If your commute is over well-paved roads, a cruiser is a good option.
Marin Bikes first made its name making mountain bikes, but their Larkspur 2 is designed with urban adventurers, and commuters, in mind. The step-through steel frame makes mounting and dismounting easy, even if you decide to add a basket or baby seat. Disc brakes and wide tires are some mountain-bike details that give the Larkspur 2 the ability to handle various terrains.
Hybrid bikes, as the name implies, combine features from both mountain and road bikes. Most have flat handlebars, as is typical of mountain bikes, allowing for an upright ride that most commuters prefer. On the other hand, they have the lighter frames and thinner tires associated with road bikes. The result is an ideal commuter vehicle—it has the ability to handle a variety of terrains and a lightness that means pedaling to the office doesn’t feel like a serious workout.
The Cannondale Quick is a good option on paved roads, while the Quick CX 4 is more of an all-terrain option with suspension forks to absorb any bumps. The aluminum frame is light—the bike weighs 28 pounds—and the 24 gears assure a ride calibrated to every incline and terrain.
Single-speed bikes are an ideal option especially if you live in a city with good-enough roads and without any hills. If you don’t have to face inclines and you will typically be riding along at a leisurely pace, skip the extra weight of derailleurs and gears. By foregoing all those extra parts, single speeds are also easier to maintain—there are fewer parts to get clogged with dirt and grease. Another advantage of these pared down bicycles is they are generally cheaper, so you can get a first-class model for the same price you might pay for an average road bike.
The Ribble Urban 725s is a marriage of simplicity and quality. There aren’t many components—a large part of the appeal of single-speed bikes—but those it does have are all top of the line. The solid steel frame is well-suited to the stresses of urban commuting. The bicycle can also be easily switched to a fixed gear one, if you want a taste of fixie life.
Much like e-bikes, folding bikes have a much longer history than many people realize. In the late 19thcentury a number of inventors filed for patents for foldable bikes (though in reality many of them were less foldable than easily disassembled). In the 1960s there was another spike of interest with bicycle manufacturers in Europe and North America producing many foldable bikes and then later, in the early 1980s, models from Brompton and Dahon became popular.
The folding bike has some obvious advantages for the urban commuter—it doesn’t take up space in small apartments and rather than leave it on the street outside your office, it’s easy to break them down and bring them inside. Among the best folding bikes is Tern Bicycles’ BYB S11. It’s 30 percent smaller than other folding bikes, has 11 gears (Shimano), and Kinetix Pro X wheels.
If Tern’s BYB S11 is more than you want to spend on a folding bike, there are some lower-cost options. Among our favorites is Zizzo’s Folding Bike Urbano. It has eight gears (Shimano) and weighs in at a light 24 pounds thanks to its LX aluminum frame. Depsite its modest price, it’s a bike capable of handling most terrains and folds up to a size small enough that it’s easy to throw into your trunk for a weekend away, as well as sliding into a corner of your office during the workweek.
Since GLR launched in 2010, we have pledged to dedicate a certain amount of our coverage to the eco-friendly lifestyle niche—from hotels, to restaurants, to products you can buy on Amazon. In particular, we love to cover businesses in the hospitality arena whose products and services are enhanced—not compromised—by their environmental stewardship. In fine dining, for example, the attenion to sustainability by sourcing produce, meats and other ingredients from local farmers and fine food purveyers, actually leads to fresher, tastier and more wholesome dishes. When these restaurants and chefs are already among the best in the world, the results are both delicious and good for the planet.
It is no wonder then that the world’s best known independent restaurant guide, The Micheline Guide, has launched a new “Green Star” award to highlight restaurants at the forefront of the industry when it comes to their sustainable practices. According to The Michelin Guide a Michelin Green Star is awarded (annually) to restaurants that “offer dining experiences that combine culinary excellence with outstanding eco-friendly commitments and are a source of inspiration both for keen foodies and the hospitality industry as a whole.”
What Kind of Things Do Michelin Green Star Restaurants Do?
According to Michelin, all Green Star recipients are different in unique ways but they all make a quantifiable difference and act as role models.
This includes, working directly with growers, farmers, fishermen and foragers; including those that use “regenerative methods such as no-dig vegetable gardens and successional cover crop growing.”
Many of these suppliers go beyond environmental considerations to also address “issues related to ethics and wellbeing, as well as contributing to local, national or global charitable and educational projects.”
Does the Michelin Guide Have Any Specific Criteria?
In terms of specific criteria, Michelin does not give a lot of information on what the inspectors are looking for, noting, “there is no specific formula for awarding a Michelin Green Star, as every restaurant and its surrounding region has a unique set of conditions.”
While the guide does give some insight into common “green” practices that these restaurants follow to produce delicious food with a small carbon footprint there is also the issue of the restaurant itself and its carbon footprint. The guide is somewhat vague on these practices.
Having covered this area quite a bit over the past 12 years, however, we can make an educated guess as to what sort of sustainability practices these restaurants incorporate.
Examples might include: Menus printed on recycled paper; tables made from reclaimed wood; reusing and recycling flatware; composting vegetable waste; incorporating solar power; reusing LED, halogen or fluorescent bulbs (or using low energy light bulbs); reducing water usage with low flow spray valves; rain water reclamation systems.
Who Are the Leaders in Green Fine Dining?
To date The Michelin Guide has awared 359 restaurants around the world with Green Stars. So which countries are leading the green, fine dining movement? Not surprisingly, France has the most green stars with 87, followed by Germany with 67, Italy with 30, UK and Spain with 27 each and Japan with 23. Perhaps a bit surprising, the US—despite having 1366 restaurants with at least 1 Michelin star—has only 11 Green Stars, leaving us with plenty of room for improvement in the green, fine dining space.
Here Are The 11 US Recipients of a Michelin Green Star
While booking a summer rental has its merits, there is something about beach resorts—convenience, amenities and hospitality to name a few perks—that can make it much easier than hassling with the research and paperwork normally associated with summer rentals. Here are 6 resorts in New England that are sure to satiate your summer travel cravings, without any hassles.
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, 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.
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)
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 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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
The secret that used to be Nantucket has long been out. Each summer, the island receives an increasing influx of tourists in the months between Memorial Day and Labor Day who come to experience this unique place. Outside that time period, though, Nantucket is a much different world. In fact, a long weekend in mid-May may be the perfect time to experience the real Nantucket.
While working out in the comfort of your home or at the local gym or fitness studio is great, there’s nothing quite like taking your workouts outdoors. Getting that all-important dose of vitamin D, breathing in plenty of fresh air and meeting other people are all benefits that taking your workout outdoors can provide. To ensure that you get the full benefit from your workouts, it’s important to venture outdoors a little more often for exercise.
Whether you take your yoga class onto your deck, do your bodyweight routine at the local park, or simply go for a hike, there is no shortage of ways to stay fit and healthy outdoors. You can try a brand new activity or simply progress even further with whatever exercise you are doing now. Taking your workout outside will not only help you enjoy all of the benefits of the outdoors but can also add a new, exciting dimension to your current workout.
Let’s take a closer look at four simple ways that you can take your exercise routine out into the world.
Get On Your Bicycle
Moutain biking has become increasingly popular amongst all generations. Electric bikes have also become very popular in recent years, offering a great solution for older cyclists and those living in hilly areas.
Cycling in general has proven itself to be a fantastic activity that will help people of all ages to burn calories, stay in shape and make friends in the process. There are countless cycling groups and clubs that you can join to meet other fitness enthusiasts who are braving the elements. Riding a bike is also a low-impact activity making it a great solution for anyone recovering from injury or returning to exercise after an extended break.
Lace-Up Your Running Shoes
There’s nothing quite like lacing up your running shoes and hitting the pavement with enthusiasm. Turn up the volume on your favourite playlist or simply get together with your mates and get some mileage in. Running doesn’t require any equipment other than some good footwear to get started. If you’re not ready for running just yet, try alternating running and walking until you get a little fitter.
Head For The Hills
Whether you live near the mountains by the coast or in the bush, there are countless options for walking all over the country. From scenic coastal walks to epic multi-day hikes, whatever your style, you can be sure that it will be catered to. Hiking is a wonderful way to take your workout outdoors and spend some quality time with your friends and family. Hiking can also be an effective active-recovery activity if you have been training particularly hard.
Outdoor Fitness Classes
From yoga to boxercise, bootcamps and Zumba, there is a never-ending list of outdoor fitness classes that you can sign up for. Many providers will have a first class free offer so you can try the class first and see if you like it. Get some friends together and sweat together at an outdoor fitness class that will be challenging and enjoyable.
Enjoy The Benefits Of Taking Your Exercise Routine Outdoors
If you have been working out exclusively indoors until now, it’s time to shake things up a bit. Getting out into the great outdoors, trying new things and spending time with your loved ones will encourage you to stick with your new outdoor exercise regime. Not only will you stay in shape but getting fit outside will ensure that you get a healthy dose of vitamin D, have less stress, breathe in cleaner air and have more energy. Take your next workout outdoors and enjoy all of the benefits of spending time outside for yourself!
This article was originally published on Pursuitist. Republished by permission.
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 →
Even in a destination as packed with luxury accommodations as New York City, there’s always room for 1 more. On the scene since 2017, 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge quickly became a must-book for eco-conscious travelers looking to trade in the bustle of Manhattan for the greener (in every sense) pastures of Brooklyn Bridge Park.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
I would not be surprised if most Rivian owners name the gear tunnel as their favorite feature. It’s simple yet brilliant utility. Exactly like it sounds, the gear tunnel is an 11.6 cubic foot storage area that runs right through the middle of the truck, between the cab and bed, accessible through small doors on both sides of the truck’s exterior. You can also access the Gear Tunnel through an opening between the rear seats.
The uses for the gear tunnel are endless. As the name suggests, it is obviously great for storing gear—fishing rods, skis, golf clubs, camping gear…whatever your jam is. The tunnel’s doors also double as seats or as a foot stool to reach the truck’s roof. And since the engineers at Rivian don’t like any wasted space, the doors also have small cubbies for additional storage. But Rivian did not stop there. Realizing that this space has so many applications, they thoughtfully outfitted a few custom products—designed specifically for this space—that slide in and out of tunnel. The coolest one by far is the…
Portable “Camp Kitchen”
While an expensive option, there is no denying how cool this custom feature is. The camp kitchen includes a countertop, a two-burner electric stove, a 4-gallon water tank for the sink, and a 30-piece dish-ware set that includes plates, utensils, carving knifes, and more. All of this folds up like a transformer into a unit that slides into the gear tunnel like a glove so you’ll never hear it bouncing around. Of course, if you are not planning on camping anytime soon, then simply take it out and leave it in your garage until it’s needed and use the storage space for something else.
Onboard air compressor
The obvious use for an air compressor would seem to be if you got a flat tire or had a slow leak and needed some quick air in a tire in order to make it to a mechanic. And having an onboard air compressor is certainly a comforting accessory should this scenario present itself. But the Rivian was built for rugged terrain and sometimes—whether it be driving on a beach or over rocks on a mountain road—deflating your tires can be prudent. The integrated compressor—seamlessly built into the side of the bed—comes with a kit that includes a 20-foot hose that extends to all four wheels, for inflating your tires after airing down for rough terrain. It also includes a quick-connect nozzle and adapters to fill up myriad other gear including your bike tires, an air mattresses, raft, or even just a basketball. Just set the pressure and hit a button, and voila, you have air whenever you need it.
Portable Blue-tooth Speaker
The built-in (but portable) Bluetooth speaker weighs only 5 pounds and docks seamlessly within the truck’s center console for easy storage when not in use. It charges when docked or can be plugged into an external USB Type-C port when docking isn’t an option.
The flashlight with its own integrated door pocket
Powered by a single cell from Rivian’s battery pack, the flashlight fits—James Bond-style—right into a cylindrical opening on the side of the door (when the door is open). Assuming you always pop it back into place, it will always be fully charged. To access the flashlight you simply press inward on the end of the device (almost like pressing a button) and it pops out. Taking up virtually no space, who wouldn’t want this?
LED lights built into sideview mirrors
The Rivian is the ideal vehicle to go camping with. The folks at Rivian know this and added a lot of simple features that do not add any bulk to its overall form factor. The LEDs built into the side-view mirrors—which can light up a campsite or tailgate—is a perfect example. While they are not as bright as the headlights, they add additional lighting to your camp site or beach BBQ. Don’t like them? Don’t use them. They blend in seamlessly.
In today’s high tech world—where even email threads seem archaic in comparison to a Google hangout—the continued merits of business travel are up for debate. Ask the salespeople and the dealmakers, and they’ll laugh in the face of the modern digital landscape. In their world, nothing beats an in-person meeting when a deal is on the line and you’re looking to close. But does that triumph outweigh the mental and physical strain of balancing on-the-go with on-the-job? Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
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.
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 →
When GoodLife Report first launched in 2010, I pledged to dedicate a certain amount of our coverage to the eco-friendly lifestyle niche—from hotels, to restaurants, to products you can buy on Amazon. At that time, though, most of the applicable products and places, especially those within the travel industry, came with a bit of a caveat: Continue reading →
Asheville, N.C., surrounded by the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, is a quirky, artsy, musical town considered by some to be the black sheep of the state. To townies, though, this is something to be celebrated. Continue reading →
It’s hard to imagine life without pickles — those crunchy delights straight out of the jar, the tangy, sweet surprises tucked into a burger, or the sliced spears served fresh, ready for the tasting on the side of your plate. Continue reading →
Weighted blankets have exploded in popularity of late. They’re used therapeutically for a variety of issues including sensory processing disorder, anxiety, depression, autism, insomnia, ADHD and simply getting a better night’s sleep. Continue reading →
Fifi+Hop’s Corey Cook talks to the talented family and portrait photographer Justine Knight about the secrets to taking better travel pics.
I am very pleased to have on the blog today the talented photographer Justine Knight! Justine is a family and portrait photographer in Westchester, New York. She and her family travel quite a bit, often times to far flung places, so I thought she would be the perfect person to provide some insight into some useful tips on travel photos. I know we all, myself included, could use some advice on how to best capture those precious family vacation moments in photos!
Below is my interview with Justine where I’ve asked her some questions on how to take great photos while traveling. I love Justine’s work, and think you will too (just look at her photos!), and am so glad she can share her knowledge with us all. Justine loves to photograph families the way she photographs her own family – relaxed and being their own (sometimes crazy) selves. From timeless portraits to kids rolling around in the grass with a dog, she loves to photograph it all!
WHERE ARE SOME PLACES YOU AND YOUR FAMILY HAVE TRAVELED? WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME FAVORITE VACATIONS?
We LOVE to travel!! I am Australian and my husband is South African so we spend a few weeks each year travelling to either country. We also love exploring the US.
Over the last few years, we have been to Australia, South Africa, the UK, France, Turks & Caicos, St Martins, Colorado, Maine, North Carolina, Arizona, Massachusetts and Washington DC.
The more we travel, the longer our list of places that we want to go to next is!!
Our next trip over the summer is to Utah for a family biking and camping trip in Canyonland.
WHICH CAMERA DO YOU TRAVEL WITH MOST OF THE TIME AND WHY?
I always carry too much camera gear and recently I have realized that I don’t need to carry it all! On a trip to South Africa earlier this year, I principally used my film camera and my iphone. I love shooting film for my family as it looks beautiful and ensures that I don’t take too many photos as I have to pay for every photo to be developed!
I also always carry my iphone. The quality is amazing and is so effortless to take great photos without carrying lots of gear around. It also makes sharing images with family and friends so quick and easy.
MOST PEOPLE USE THEIR PHONES TO TAKE PHOTOS WHILE TRAVELING BECAUSE THEY’RE EASY AND COMPACT – DO YOU HAVE ANY PHONE CAMERA TIPS?
As with all cameras, looking at the light within the environment you are photographing can make a huge difference to your images. Take a minute to look around you and look at the direction of the light. Sometimes moving slightly left or right of your subject can really improve the way you utilize light on your subject.
Take some steps back and use more of the environment around your subject to tell the story. This is so important when on vacation – as much as I love a nice portrait, capturing your family within these different surroundings really adds visual interest.
Tapping on the screen to set the exposure on your subject makes a huge difference to your photos.
Use some of the really fun app editing tools – I love using VSCO to edit my photos on my iPhone.
MANY OF US TRAVEL TO THE BEACH, WHICH CAN BE A VERY DIFFICULT PLACE TO TAKE PHOTOS DUE TO THE SUN REFLECTION OFF THE SAND AND WATER. ANY TRICKS?
The most perfect times at the beach are sunrise and sunset in terms of light but this is not always practical when you have kids. Most days we are not at the beach at these times so you need to embrace more tricky lighting conditions.
Use the reflections to your advantage! If your subject has the sun behind them, use the sand or water as a giant reflector to reflect the light back on your subject.
Try not to have your subject facing the sun when you are taking their photo. Eyes will be squinty and shadows can be harsh. Engage your subject in an activity so they are not staring into the sun.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE PLACE/ LANDSCAPE TO TAKE PHOTOS WITH OR WITHOUT THE KIDS, AND WHY?
I love the beach. It’s my happy place as I love the open space and the water.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE YOU CAN GIVE TO FAMILIES WHO WANT TO CAPTURE THOSE PERFECT FAMILY VACATION PHOTOS?
Perfection is overated!
Enjoy your time with your family BUT the most important thing for creating memories for your family is to get those photos off your hard drive and iphone and PRINT them! Make prints, make a photo book! You will be amazed at how much you and your family will enjoy looking at these images over the years if they are printed.
Someone once told me that a photo does not exist unless you can hold it in your hand!
My favorite company to make vacation photo albums is with Blurb. The quality is amazing and the software easy to use.
Other photo album companies include Artifact Uprising, Shutterfly and Chatbooks.
Thank you for joining us Justine, such helpful tips! I particularly like the last piece of advice about the albums because I think that is something most of us are guilty of – we take a ton of photos, but then, what about the albums? It’s so easy to procrastinate. Which is why I look forward to having Justine on the blog again with a dedicated post about making family vacation albums. So look out for that post, coming soon!
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.
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.
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 →
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.
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.
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.
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?
Have you ever wondered why it might be good to eat foods according to the season? You probably notice how there are certain fruits and vegetables available in the fall (apples, pears, squash) versus what is seen in the spring/summer (melons, papaya, asparagus). Continue reading →