Secret Gardens

The slow food revolution continues to sweep across the country. While restaurants in Europe and elsewhere have been utilizing locally sourced produce, meat and dairy for some time, Americans were slow to catch on. Beginning decades ago with activists like chef Alice Waters (Chez Panisse) restaurateurs around the country are continuing to realize the benefits of buying locally, whether its to help local farmers and purveyors or to have fresher and more beneficial foodstuff. If you live near a large city, chances are, you’ve eaten at a farm-to-table restaurant.

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How to Optimize Your Airline Points and Other Tips From a Travel Expert

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.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Philip Pilosian/Shutterstock

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Positano at sunset/Shutterstock

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

A.“Always wander!”

 

See our full report on The State of Travel: 2021

6 New England Beach Resorts to Stay at This Summer

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.

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5 “Green” Restaurants Across the Country Everyone Should Dine At

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.
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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
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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.

Eco-decor

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
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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.

Rooftop gardens

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.

In-house brewery

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
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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

Photo: SingleThread

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.

Photo: SingleThread

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.

7 Farmers Markets To Visit This Summer

It seems to be basic human nature to take everything outdoors in the summer. Answer us this: Why dine at the kitchen table when you could have a barbecue out in the sunshine? Who hits the treadmill when they could take a breezy sunset jog? It’s simple – when the weather’s nice, we want to be out in it, absorbing all that wellness-inducing vitamin D. Continue reading

7 Great Hotels in San Francisco

While San Francisco may have become too expensive to live in, it is still relatively affordable to visit. And unlike New York City’s hotel scene which seems to grow and grow, many of San Francisco’s top places are the same properties they have always been—despite minor name changes. And we like that. 

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How Topo Chico Went From Local Cult Favorite to Worldwide Phenomenon

Founded in Monterey, Mexico in 1895, Topo Chico’s uber-bubbly mineral water is now an internationally recognized 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 minerals and electrolytes like Sodium, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese. For comparison sake, “La Croix” sparkling water 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 (for 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, 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 aftertaste, if any at all—something I would imagine most people want in a sparkling water. Less is more.

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 any 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.

What is Ranch Water?

You cannot make an authentic Ranch Water cocktail without Topo Chico. Ranch Water—should you not be familiar—is 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, however, 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 its meteroic rise in popularity over the past decade.

 

Ranch Water Cocktail

Photo Courtesy: Valerie’s Kitchen

 

TC launches hard seltzer lineup (no surprise there)

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.

 

Topo Chico Hard Seltzer Margarita Variety Pack

 

Dining Departures

The Best U.S. Airport Terminals To Be Stuck At 

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.

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

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.

 

Matador Terrace

 

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

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.”

 

Lobby

 

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.

 

Dining

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.

 

Tropicale Bar

 

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.

 

MATDOR BAR—Lucien Clergue Paintings on Wall

 

Afternoon drinks at MATDOR BAR

 

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.

 

Inner circle seating at MATADOR ROOM (there are also tables around the permiter of restaurant)

 

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.

 

Main Pool, benches and cabanas, beach and ocean

 

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.

 

Kid Friendly

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.

 

Lobby pool table

 

Basement bowling alley

 

…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.

 

The Rooms

Ocean View Room

 

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).

 

Pool at night overlooked by Matador Terrace

 

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.

 

“Tropicale” Pool

 

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

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.

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The Real Rosé Season Starts Now

Don’t wait till Memorial Day to load up on your favorite rosé—many won’t still be around!

Most people, when they think of rosé, think of the enjoyment it can bring on a hot summer day. Personally I love the salmon colored elixir anytime of year though warm summer weekends certainly lend themselves the most.

It might come as a surprise therefore that summer is not actually rosé season—at least not from a retail standpoint. This is because rosé wines— from the motherland in Provence, across Italy, Spain and even in California and Oregon—are released every year in March and April, when a lot of the country is still thawing out. A decade ago it may have been safe to wait till May or June to buy a case of your favorite rosé. But now, due to the soaring popularity of rosé there is no assurance that your favorite one will still be around come Memorial Day. Ultimately it depends on the allocation your local wine shop gets and how they decide to stagger it, but why leave it to chance. If you prefer to buy wine by the case or you plan on entertaining in early summer and you want to make sure there is plenty of your favorite summer sipper once the warm weather arrives, don’t wait.

Look for value

As for what to buy. That depends, but I am a firm believer that one should never pay a premium for rosé as there are so many great values on the market. Despite having worked in the wine business for a number of years (for a large importer/distributor in California and for Wine Spectator in New York) I am no more qualified to tell you what’s good than the next guy. I do however have a knack for finding value whenever I can (or at least I try) and that is what I have tried to do with the list below. In addition to all these wines being of good value I have only picked wines that have large case production, thus making it likely you will find them at your local wine store…so long as you don’t wait till the middle of the summer to stock up.

Wolffer Estate Rosé Long Island – $18.99

Varietals: Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Riesling.

This is hands down my favorite rosé from Long Island and one of my favorites period. The varietals Wolffer uses are not the typical ones you would find in the south of France, but somehow the final product tastes very similar to something from Cotes de Provence—and is always good. It’s dry, with good minerality and just enough fruit. Wolffer Estate goes quickly though, so don’t wait too long to buy!

Minuty “M” Rosé Cotes de Provence – $16.99

Varietals: Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah

A classic blend of grenache and cinsault. Good acidity with notes of peach and citrus and an extremely fresh, quaffable finish. The curvy bottle and sleek label also make it stand out at events.

Beckmen Vineyards Grenache Rosé – $24.99

Varietals: Grenache, Syrah

A sophisticated, dry rosé with medium-pink hue, this is actually a blend of 87% Grenache and 13% Syrah. What I love about this wine is that it has the characteristics of a Provence style rosé that I like, but is more amplified. This is perhaps accomplished through their fermentation process which involves longer skin contact that imparts hints of tannin (not typical in most roses) and full, refined fruit flavors. Beckmen was one of the first wineries in Santa Barbara to bottle a rosé and is one of my favorite Rhone varietal producers in the area.

Domaines Ott “BY.OTT” – $19.99

Varietals: Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah

Its big brother—with a price tag north of $40—is the type of hifalutin rosé that flies in the face of the very thing rosé is known for—a good value. But at $19.99, the second label Ott offers much of the same freshness and elegance—with peach and citrus notes—at half the price.

Château Vignelaure La Source Rosé – $14

Varietals: Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah

This large estate, one of the most famous in Provence (northern Provence), specializes in red wine but also makes three rosés. The La Source Rosé is rich with good concentration and structure thanks to the Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah in the blend. Notes of strawberry, dried orange peel and peach intertwine with limestone earthiness making it quite complex for a rose.

Henri Gaillard Côtes de Provence – $16.99

Varietals: Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre

This rosé is perfect for a hot summer day. It’s light, dry, crisp and refreshing with great acidity and minerality and just enough fruit to round it out. A classic blend of Rhone varietals results in very delicate notes notes of strawberry and citrus with a very clean finish. Perfect for a warm summer day with oysters.

Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare Rosé – $18.99

Varietals: Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Carignane, Mourvedre, Cinsaut and Roussanne

A little easier to find on the west coast than the east, this wine is named in honor of the cigar-shaped alien craft banned from landing in the vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape by decree of the village council in 1954. Made with Rhone varietals, from California’s central coast, in a Provence style, this wine is a true amalgamation of flavors but ultimately has that classic Provence style taste we like.

Elouan Rosé – $19.99

Varietals: Pinot Noir

Rosés made from Pinot Noir—common in California and Oregon—can often be bright red, brimming with raspberry and cherry and a bit tart on the finish. Others, like the Elouan Rosé from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, are more restrained, striking a nice balance between old world and new world styles. This is the style I like in new world rosés made from Pinot Noir. The Pinot Noir flavors are evident but the fruit is not in your face, with enough terroir to gain good balance. Dried strawberry and ripe peach shine through on the palate, with a delicate earthiness—thanks to the fertile soils of the Willamette—resulting in a somewhat sweet, yet deftly balanced rosé.  Much of this balance can be attributed to the areas where Elouan sources their fruit from—three regions along Oregon’s Coast: Willamette, Umpqua, and Rogue Valleys.  The diversity of these cool climate areas combined with a long growing season creates a wine with intensity of fruit flavor, structure, and a fresh vibrant acidity.

(Top photo: Horseneck Wines & Liquors, Greenwich, CT)

5 Spas To Help You Rejuvenate This Spring

If the recent warm weather is not enough to alert your senses, then let me inform you. Winter is on its wane and spring is on its way, waiting in the lurches, ready to…well, spring.


While you might not be motivated to zealously hit the gym or give up the hamburger-and-fries combo meal just yet, a great way to recharge your batteries is through a trip to the spa. A week-long stay is the best option as most spa programs combine healthy cuisine, fitness classes and therapeutic treatments to help guests garner optimum results. But even a day trip to your neighborhood spa can aid in detoxifying your system. Great spas exist throughout the country and almost everyone can afford an hour of relaxation. GLR has chosen five spas, from New York to California and in between, that offer a great way to dispel the late winter blues.

 

Peninsula Hotel, New York, NY

A Forbes Five Star-rated spa, the Peninsula Spa is an intimate, indulgent environment featuring a wide range of innovative spa treatments, magnificent facilities and great staff. Try one of their popular facials by the French luxury skincare line Biologique Recherche or opt for the ultimate in relaxation with the signature Deep Tissue Experience.

The Spa features a stunning collection of 10 treatment rooms including a spacious Private Spa Suite, Nail Care Suite, men’s and women’s private relaxation lounges, an Asian tea lounge, and changing rooms with luxurious heat experiences.

There are nearly a dozen different types of treatments at the Peninsula Spa, including the Tulasi Detox Signature Journey, a detox that starts with a mineral-rich, aromatic foot soak that creates a sensory-rich start to the ritual and the Deep Tissue Experience, one of their signature spa experiences—a powerful therapeutic treatment that utilizes a vigorous, free-flowing joint release technique, which replaces stressful tension.

Spa Solage, Calistoga, CA

Set in beautiful Napa Valley where spas are not exactly a rarity, Solage sticks out with its farmhouse-style buildings and geothermal pools, compliments of the strong thermal springs that Calistoga is famous for. Artfully designed and ecologically conscious, Spa Solage is the ultimate retreat to experience relaxing and invigorating services, including new twists on the renowned Calistoga mud and mineral water therapies.

Experience the healing geo-thermal waters at Spa Solage with a pre-treatment soak to improve circulation and restore health. Choose to soak in the co-ed geo-thermal pool warmed to body temperature, or in the privacy of our separate men’s and women’s clothing optional areas featuring 103° jetted mineral pools. The clothing optional areas also include a rejuvenating cool plunge and eucalyptus steam for whole-body purification. Arrive 30 minutes prior to your treatment to enjoy the famed hydrotherapy bathing ritual or linger after your treatment to deepen relaxation.

Finally there is the Mudslide, which Solage calls “a modern twist on the traditional Calistoga mud bath” which can be enjoyed solo or as part of a couple or group.

Wellhouse Spa, Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN

While Blackberry Farm has been welcoming guests for several decades, its Wellhouse spa is still in its early childhood, having opened in June 2014. Nonetheless, the rustic stone-and-wood building feels established and the spa and wellness menus are comprehensive and enticing. Registered guests of Blackberry Farm have full access to the wellness and spa menu. Sample Spa Treatments include:

The Wellhouse Soothe: a custom Blackberry Farm massage utilizing a combination of classic Swedish techniques and gentle stretches to relieve muscle tension and stress,

Smoky Mountain Mist Skin Glow: a blend of pomegranate seed, orange peel powder and essential oils that exfoliates and conditions the skin while relaxing in a private steam bath, followed by a full-body massage with nutrient-rich body butter follows.

The Blackberry Man: an exclusive spa menu dedicated to every man’s-man featuring relaxing, therapeutic, feel-good services like the Muscle Melt, High-Adventure Foot Restoration and the Saving Face facial.

LakeHouse Spa, Lake Austin Spa Resort, Austin, Texas

Holistic spas are popping up around the country and one of the best is the LakeHouse Spaat the 19-acre, bucolic Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Texas. The 25,000-square-foot renovated facility has 30 treatment areas (some situated in the picturesque garden), an outdoor pool, an indoor lap pool, a hot tub and cabanas. Choose from more than 100 spa and salon treatments, many of which are based on ancient therapies including Ayurveda, Moortherapy and Thalassotherapy. Many of the herbs used in treatments are grown onsite at the resort’s Healing Gardens. Opt for the Bamboo Bliss massage or the Texas Sage Herbal Infusion body treatment.

LakeHouse believes in using your body’s defenses to keep illness at bay. Instructor Paul K. Smith teaches specialty yoga classes that allegedly relieve allergies and asthma. Acupuncture is also offered and many spa programs can be tailored to meet the needs of guests who want to decrease stress, lose weight fast or jumpstart their fitness routines.

The resort has 40 luxury accommodations in Texas Hill Country. Rooms feature Egyptian cotton sheets and down comforters, artesian afghan throws, handmade quilts, Kohler soaking tubs and LCD TVs.

Canyon Ranch, Tucson, Arizona

Canyon Ranch is one of the oldest destination spas in the country and also one of the most luxurious. Founded in the Santa Catalina Mountains in 1979, Canyon Ranch, which also has locations in Lenox, Massachusetts, and Miami, boasts a dizzying array of treatment rooms, fitness facilities and places to relax for guests looking for a week or longer detox. Nestled on 150 acres, amid cactus, desert blooms and bubbling streams, the Tucson property has a 80,000-square-foot spa with six gyms, a pilates studio, fitness rooms, racquetball and squash courts, as well as a 11,000-square-foot aquatic center, a golf club and tennis courts. Guests can choose from 50 fitness classes daily, including yoga, tai chi and qi gong.

Spa treatments run the gamut, from facials to scrubs to massages, all with a therapeutic theme. Wellness and health are the focus. You won’t find trendy treatments with Swarovski crystals here. Instead, you’ll find centuries-old therapies such as Ayurvedic treatments. The wellness portion of the resort focuses on disease prevention, smoking cessation, weight loss and stress management. The Life Enhancement Program (LEP) is a week-long program stressing specific medical, wellness and lifestyle concerns of participating guests.

The 240 guest rooms have a Southwestern feel with featherbeds, red and brown printed throws, carved wooden furniture and original art.

9 Green Luxury Hotels We Love

While a lot of the heavy lifting to help curb climate change and other environmental concerns requires governmental initiatives there are plenty of things individuals and the private sector can do to make a difference too. Continue reading

Where to Stay, Play and Eat Gourmet in Scottsdale, AZ

Billed as “the greatest show on grass” the WMPO is truly a unique tournament for both the players and spectators alike. Construction of the stands and other venues at TPC Scottsdale’s stadium course start nearly four months in advance. I can vouch for this timeline as I’ve played the course in late October and construction crews had more than begun work, with workers out on a Saturday, assembling the grandstand. It takes construction crews months of ‘round-the-clock’ work to build the “city” at TPC Scottsdale for this one-of-a-kind tournament.

“The People’s Open”—as it is affectionately known—was named the Tournament of the Year by the PGA TOUR in 2019, an honor it has received four times in the last six years (2014, 2015, 2018, 2019) helping the tournament gain legendary status for being perhaps the most lively, if not rowdy event in golf. The most popular spot on the Stadium Course is the 16th hole, a par 3 that, during the tournament, is the only fully enclosed hole on the PGA tour. A 20,000-seat grandstand plays host to fans who typically respond to great—and bad—shots alike with raucous excitement.

Grandstand at TPC Scottsdale’s Waste Management Phoenix Open

While the WMPO is certainly a treat for golf enthusiasts, a weekend in Scottsdale itself is no consolation prize. There are numerous reasons to visit this part of Arizona in January, February or March—weather being the focal point of course. Nearly 314 days of sunshine per year and some of the warmest year-round temps in the U.S. make this a top desert destination for 8.9 million visitors per year. 51 area golf courses, diverse shopping hotspots, and engaging arts and culture attractions elevate Scottsdale to the top of the must-visit list for anyone in search of warmer weather.

The Jewel of Sonoran

Known as the jewel of the Sonoran Desert, Scottsdale is located on the eastern edge of Phoenix, Arizona, surrounded by sun-drenched mountains and dotted with brightly colored cacti that radiates its natural beauty. The city’s warm climate will come as no surprise, but its desert location might mean you don’t expect to also find world-class food, art, architecture and golf courses that have earned Scottsdale its “Beverly Hills of the Southwest” reputation.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet of where to “Stay, Play and Eat Gourmet” in Socttsdale, AZ.

Where to Stay:

The Phoenician Resort and Spa

Mother of Pearls Pool at Phoenician

Since 1988, Scottsdale’s The Phoenician Resort has been a vast oasis in the desert, a 250-acre luxury property offering guests some of the Southwest’s best in dining, spa, golf and more. In short, it has everything you could possibly want—great rooms, restaurants, a world-class spa, newly redesigned 18-hole golf course and 9 (yes 9!) pools—while unwinding in the desert.

If you’ve been to The Phoenician pre-2016 you might be surprised to know that it has undergone a multi-year renovation, because, quite frankly, it didn’t appear to need one. But great hotels are always evolving. In 2016, the 60 guestrooms in the Canyon Suites, a AAA Five Diamond, Forbes Five Star boutique hotel within the resort, were redesigned as was its pool area and lobby. Also that year, the Phoenician’s main building was renovated, 557 rooms total.

Most of the public areas got a face-lift in 2017, and 2018 brought a new three-story spa that features a rooftop pool as well as a fresh golf course and athletic club.

Mother of Pearls

Perhaps the most impressive asset on their 250-acre property is the pools—a three-tiered complex that features the iconic, hand-tiled Mother of Pearl pool on the lower level; and three separate, recreational-styled pools on the upper level. A newly designed center lounge area offers reserved, family-friendly seating on the north side; and adult-only accommodations with pool and cabanas on the south side. For kids, a variety of imaginative escapades awaits at the premiere treehouse and waterslide, along with the splash pad.

Phoenician Spa Exterior

Also impressive is the Phoenician Spa. Called the Centre for Well-Being, the 22,000-square-foot complex offers everything you could want to make your stay just a touch—or a whole lot—more relaxing. Featuring 24 treatment rooms—including a Tranquility Suite for couples—as well as a quiet relaxation room and locker rooms with a vitality pool, steam and sauna, this brand-new, three-story facility allows you to unwind from everyday stresses and feel completely rejuvenated. Enjoy aerial yoga, meditation and cardio classes in the Movement Studio, or work out in the Fitness Center. Or tap into your competitive side with some outdoor tennis, pickleball or half-court basketball action at their “athletic club.”

Athletic Club at Phoenician
Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa 
Sanctuary Spa Courtyard

Built into the side of Camelback Mountain (the 900m-high rocky outcrop shaped like a camel’s head that dominates the local skyline) is the upmarket Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa. While it may not have the pure scale of offerings as the Phoenician—smaller pool(s), fewer dining options and no golf course, it’s about quality over quantity at this relaxation-centric resort, especially if you like a world-class spa. Retreat to ultimate comfort within a spacious casitas, suites or Sanctuary’s exclusive villas, each offering the most spectacular views of the famed Paradise Valley.

When all the relaxation has you hungry they have you covered, compliments of Food Network star and Executive Chef Beau MacMillan and his award-winning cuisine. With unrivalled views of the area, an award-winning spa, an excellent restaurant and bar and famous mid-century modern design, it understandably attracts a high-end crowd. Rumor has it that Jay-Z and Beyoncé even honeymooned there.

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North 

With 40 acres of awe inspiring desert scenery as a backdrop, the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North sits in a prime location between downtown Scottsdale and downtown Phoenix. 210 well-proportioned rooms are spread out over the property in a series of one and two-story casita-style designs. The resort recently completed a $13 million renovation inspired by the natural grandeur of its Sonoran Desert setting.

Designed by Whitespace Interiors, all of the resort’s spacious casitas and suites got a makeover. Intended to enhance the luxury desert experience with natural elements set against a subtle earth tone palette the contemporary new furnishings, streamlined décor, and modern artwork capture the warm, peaceful essence of this rocky desert retreat.

Other solid choices: Fairmont Scottsdale, W Scottsdale, Andaz Scottsdale.

Where to Play:

This part is hard because golf courses are very personal in taste. Also, there are literally dozens of great golf courses in Scottsdale—54 to be exact. Here are a few I like. And these also happen to be—purely by coincidence—some of the most popular (if that matters to you).

Troon North

Troon North Golf Club

If Scottsdale is the “crown jewel” of the Sonoran Desert, many might consider Troon North to be the crown jewel of Scottsdale golf courses. Newer courses have taken some of the spotlight away from this desert classic, but Troon North’s two 18-hole courses remain a hallmark of Scottsdale golf. Immaculately groomed fairways, bentgrass greens and exceptional customer service create the renowned Troon Golf Experience. Troon North’s Monument and Pinnacle courses consistently rank at the top of every golfer’s must-play list. Recent course renovations by original designer and British Open Champion Tom Weiskopf have created two new layouts that bring his original concept to life.

We-Ko-Pa Golf Club
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club “Saguaro” Course

Offering breathtaking views of the McDowell Mountains, Red Mountain, Four Peaks and the Superstitions, We-Ko-Pa Golf Club—which opened in 2001—lies on Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation land that will never be commercially developed. With two award-winning golf courses, We-Ko-Pa Golf Club delivers one of the best golf experiences in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area. Scott Miller designed the Cholla Course, while Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw teamed up to create Saguaro. The results have captivated the golf world ever since opening for public play to much acclaim by industry leading publications such as Golf Magazine, Golfweek and Golf Digest.

GreyHawk Golf Club
Grayhawk “Talon” Course

Established in 1994, Grayhawk Golf Club features two par-72 golf courses—Talon and Raptor—engineered with their own distinctive personalities. Talon offers a desert-style test of golf that skirts thick stands of Sonoran Desert and box canyons on the way to large multi-tiered greens. Raptor delivers more traditional challenges clearly laid out come-and-get-it style with generous fairways and deep greenside bunkers guarding crowned greens. Both of the highly acclaimed layouts at Grayhawk Golf Club are widely considered to be among the best golf courses in Scottsdale.  are available to gear up before golf as well as clean up after.

If you are heading straight to the golf course from the airport Grey Hawk is a great place to start as the club house is fully loaded with amenities including full service men’s and women’s locker rooms and great food and beverages at Phil’s Grill when you are finished.

TPC Scottsdale (Stadium and Champions Courses)
TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course 13th Hole

Surrounded by the stunning McDowell Mountains, TPC Scottsdale boasts two championship courses for players to enjoy—the world famous Stadium Course and the stunning Champions Course. As Arizona’s only PGA Tour property, you’ll experience the standards of quality and service normally reserved for the tour professionals. Home to the Waste Management Phoenix Open,

The Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale has hosted some of contemporary golf’s greatest moments since opening in 1986. The course was designed by Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf specifically to serve as the stage for the tournament—what’s now become the largest spectator golf event in the world.

Rivaling its famous sister course in both beauty and playability, the Randy Heckenkemper-designed Champions Course offers an ideal desert golf experience. Built on the former site of TPC Scottsdale’s Desert Course, the layout was completely revamped in 2007 to flow seamlessly within the naturally rugged terrain, meandering between natural ravines and through picturesque foothills.

And Eat Gourmet:

Mastros City Hall Steak House

Mastros City Hall Steak House Exterior

If you only have one night to dine out in Scottsdale and you like red meat, there is only place to go—Mastros. Not necessarily because they have the best steak in town—Scottsdale has a lot of competition in that department—but because it’s simply a great scene (though the steak, sides, appetizers and wine list will not disappoint). The sleek, if not gaudy interior screams American opulence, but in a fun, lighthearted way that is exciting. If that’s not reason enough, the restaurant also just underwent a renovation that encompasses nearly every aesthetic from floor to ceiling of the 12,000-square foot space, along with new menu items.

One of the more visually noticeable changes is the wine bottle display that hangs over the bar. It has been adjusted to display on both sides for maximum admiring. A new wine wall displays an impressive collection of reds while temperature control makes it fully functional. As for new menu items? What new menu items could a cavernous steakhouse with a huge menu really add. How about Authentic Kobe beef: The restaurant recently acquired a license to sell the meat coveted for its pedigree, exclusivity and marbling. Diners can choose a 4-ounce portion served in one of two ways: Sliced and served on a hot stone accompanied by jalapeno ponzu, hot sesame mustard and chimichurri sauces; or, a hand-cut steak divvied up in 2-ounce pieces that’s seasoned with coarse salt and cracked black pepper.

Dominick’s Steakhouse
Dominick’s Steak House

While Mastros may reign supreme when it comes to history and word of mouth- driven cache, Dominick’s Steakhouse is hard to beat—in any category. From their 28 day wet-aged steaks, to the thoughtfully manicured wine list to their crowd-pleaser sides (corn brulle, shishito peppers) and appetizers (from fresh burrata to a loaded seafood tower) they have everything you want in a steakhouse. But the atmosphere is perhaps its greatest asset—a vibe of sophistication and elegance that even Mastros can’t challenge. With leather embossed walls lined with tasteful artwork and hand-crafted chandeliers hanging from the ceiling the main floor offers guests one of the most luxurious restaurant settings in Scottsdale while the second floor gives diners a modern feel as they enjoy steaks at one of the tables surrounding the rooftop pool.

Virtu Honest Craft

Celebrated as one of the top 20 “Best New Restaurants” in the U.S. by Esquire Magazine immediately upon opening in 2013, as well as nominated by the prestigious James Beard Foundation for “Best New Restaurant” in 2014, Virtù is Chef Gio Osso’s intimate, stylish gathering spot tucked inside Old Town Scottsdale’s charming Bespoke Inn bed and breakfast. Menus feature handmade pastas, premium seasonal produce sourced from some of Arizona’s most celebrated farmers, superb seafood imported from the most notable fish markets in North America and southern Europe, as well as a seasonal cocktail program crafted with fresh-pressed juices and unique spirits.

ShinBay

Sushi at ShinBay (Facebook)

Chef Shinji Kurita specializes in the traditional Japanese coursing menu with modern twist. In 2012, ShinBay in Scottsdale was a James Beard Foundation semifinalist for “Best New Restaurant”. In 2013, Chef Shinji Kurita was a James Beard Foundation semifinalist for “Best Chef Southwest”. Kurita’s two-hour omakase dinner (Japan’s freewheeling version of the tasting menu) is a fish-centric joyride with one of the city’s great talents, a perfectionist who sources rare, top-quality fish, uses age-old cooking methods and applies the Japanese principle of subtraction (akin to “less is more”) to every dish – painstakingly creating beautiful bite-size masterpieces that honor time and place. In Kurita’s capable hands, simplicity looks so easy.

FnB

Once called “the epicenter of creative Arizona cuisine” by Food & Wine Magazine, as well as named “Best New Restaurant” by nearly every major publication in the Phoenix area upon its debut in 2009, FnB has continued to receive acclaim both locally and beyond for its richly flavored, globally accented seasonal menus, continually showcasing the best of Arizona’s abundant farming and agricultural community. Tucked inside the charming and historic Craftsman Court, in the heart of downtown Scottsdale, FnB owes its praise and passion to its owners, Chef Charleen Badman and Front of House Manager and Beverage Director Pavle Milic. Notes the New York Times “Few restaurants have done as much as FnB in Old Town to illuminate the agricultural bounty of Arizona.”

Roaring Fork

The Roaring Fork’s Wood Fired Cooking captures the spirit of bold American cuisine, creating flavors that crackle with a rugged edge. In the Old West, the best food was prepared on a simple wood fire. This same spirit, freshness and flavor are at the heart of every dish we serve. Select from lamb, chicken, beef, pork and fresh fish entrees all perfectly prepared by wood fire rotisserie, open flame grill or wood oven roasting. Add to this our impeccable service and an atmosphere as inviting as our food, and you’ve got a dining experience you’ll come back for again and again. Roaring Fork’s ideal blend of energy and intimacy has made it a favorite for over a decade.

Mowry & Cotton 
Mowry & Cotton Dining Room at Phoenician

Located at the Phoenician, Mowry & Cotton offers modern American cuisine  prepared using cooking techniques of fire, coal and smoke. A large, hearth oven stands as the central focal point of the lively, approachable restaurant. Chef de Cuisine Tandy Peterson injects her own signature style and knowledge of international cooking techniques into the eatery’s regionally inspired American dishes. From flatbreads adorned with locally-sourced ingredients to fresh fish, hearty proteins and ample options for vegetarian diners, Mowry & Cotton’s straightforward menu features great fare from one of the area’s top emerging culinary talents.

Thirsty Camel
Thirsty Camel Lobby Bar at Phoenician

Also at the Phoenician, located right in the lobby, is The Thirsty Camel—one of most beautiful, relaxing and visually magnificent “lobby bars” you will ever come across. But don’t just take my word for it. They happened to be awarded the Forbes Travel Guide “World’s Best Hotel Bars” for 2019. Thirsty Camel features spectacular panoramic views of the resort and valley beyond, as well as a Sonoran inspired food and beverage menu with diverse and exceptional selections of bourbons, whiskies, premium spirits, and handcrafted cocktails for locals and resort guests alike. Their spicy margarita is spot on perfect.

Escape to Crested Butte’s Scarp Ridge Lodge

I toured Eleven Experience’s flagship property, Scarp Ridge Lodge—in the heart of downtown Crested Butte, CO—this past summer and loved it! I can only imagine how comforting it must be to stay here after a long day of skiing in the winter. Perhaps even “snowcat skiing” via their partnership with Irwin Guides (more on that).

A former Croatian saloon, with its Western façade still in tac, this European ski chalet-meets-Rocky Mountain lodge makes for an ideal place to stay for private groups and families.

Eleven Experiences

You may be wondering, what is Eleven Experience? Eleven Experience is an exclusive accommodation and experiential travel brand which seeks out unique and authentic places and properties around the globe. They tend to be off the beaten track, and are mostly all-inclusive, full buy-out type properties. Think 5-star accommodations, but in the comfort of a private home. In addition to seeking out these special properties, Eleven Experience also provides customized experiences with private guides.

 

Scarp Ridge Lodge in Crested Butte, COPin this image on Pinterest

 

The bar at Scarp Ridge Lodge in Crested Butte ColoradoPin this image on Pinterest

Eleven Experience has a few properties in Crested Butte, Scarp Ridge Lodge being its lead property. I visited the lodge this summer, when I was in Crested Butte, and had a wonderful tour. The property is fabulous.

 

Scarp Ridge Lodge in Crested ButtePin this image on Pinterest

 

Scarp Ridge Lodge—The Flagship

Scarp Ridge Lodge, with its 5 King bedrooms and bunk room with 7 beds (including a nanny’s room), functions as a retreat for private groups during the winter, and as an upscale B&B during the summer. During winter, Crested Butte is known for its excellent skiing, as well as a plethora of other outdoor winter sports. Think Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, snowmobiling, fat biking (extra fat tires to allow you to bike on the snow), and cat skiing.

 

Scarp Ridge Lodge living roomPin this image on Pinterest

The lodge has its own, custom snowcat that comes each morning and takes guests to exclusive ski terrain in nearby Irwin. This is part of the “experience” Eleven Experience offers its guests here. Along with a private snowcat, private guides, amazing terrain, and two mountain cabins for eating and apres skiing, guests of the lodge can enjoy a completely unique and plush experience.

 

Rooftop hot tub at Scarp Ridge LodgePin this image on Pinterest

 

Indoor pool at Scarp Ridge Lodge in Crested Butte, COPin this image on Pinterest
Relax and Unwind

After a long day on the mountain, Scarp Ridge Lodge itself is the perfect place to relax and unwind. With a rooftop hot tub, indoor hot tub, indoor salt water pool, sauna and steam room, gym, and media room, there’s not much the lodge doesn’t have. It even has its own oxygen-enriched air system for those who are having a hard time to adjusting to the high altitude. There is a bar for post-skiing drinks, and an open kitchen with fully stocked fridge accessible 24/7. And no worries about cooking – a private chef will do that all for you. Though I must say – the restaurants in Crested Butte are pretty great! You can dine out too.

 

Bedroom at Scarp Ridge Lodge in Crested Butte, ColoradoPin this image on Pinterest
Playing in the bunk room at Scarp Ridge Lodge in Crested ButtePin this image on Pinterest
Bedrooms

Each of the 5 bedrooms has its own en-suite bathroom and is uniquely decorated, with rustic touches in a contemporary setting. We were able to see a bunch of them, all cozy and inviting. The lodge really does feel like a home. The bunkroom, with its 7 beds, is awesome – it had my kids grinning from ear to ear. Based on the board game Chutes & Ladders, it’s adventurous and fun, and just plain cool. There is a loft you can climb up to, and if the kids are young and need some watching after, no worries – there is a nanny’s room right next to it. My kids have been begging to go back. I keep telling them, we will.

 

Hanging out in the media room at Scarp Ridge LodgePin this image on Pinterest
The kitchen at Scarp Ridge Lodge in Crested Butte Colorado

 

As I mentioned, we toured Scarp Ridge Lodge during the summer, when it is a B&B. Not only a ski town, Crested Butte is amazing to visit during the summer. Known for its mountain biking, hiking, flower festival, a happening downtown, and gorgeous scenery, Crested Butte is a special place to visit any time of the year. The lodge is conveniently located in downtown, making it a very easy and accessible home away from home.

—Corey Cook, Luxury Travel Advisor at Elli Travel Group and founder of Fifi+Hop Travel Blog

 

See also: Rocky Mountain Resort Towns

 

culinary appliances

Culinary Comforts

Whether your personal preference is centered on design and style, or on food and entertainment, here’s our list of the top high-end culinary brands that will suit your preferred lifestyle.

Live, and dine, in luxury with these incredible kitchen appliance brands, as Pursuitist presents the Best Kitchen Appliances for 2020:

Bertazzoni

Italians are renowned for their passionate love of food. Bertazzoni continues that tradition, as a fifth-generation, family-owned Italian manufacturer of high-end kitchen products. The company’s products include free-standing ranges, built-in cooktops, ventilation hoods and other design-coordinated accessories.

See also: 28 Beautiful Bars Across the Country

Gaggenau

Gaggenau is the world’s preeminent brand of high-performance restaurant-grade cooking technology for the modern home. Specializing in cutting-edge, built-in home appliances, its sleek portfolio includes ovens, gas, electric and induction cook-tops, ventilation, dishwashers, modular refrigeration and freezer columns and wine storage units. Gaggenau also produces specialty appliances such as steamers, grills and deep fryers, and the Asian-influenced Teppan Yaki – all crafted for the luxury American kitchen.

La Cornue

Each Château and each Cornuchef is assembled by hand and by one person; this person will follow production through to the end and finalize every last detail. Each kitchen range is monitored, controlled and tested at all the stages of production. Even if you happen to be the Queen of England, you will have to wait at least two months for your Château La Cornue. The superior ranges simply cannot be made any quicker. For three generations, La Cornue has loved and served cuisine in the same way as a stringed-instrument craftsman loves and serves music. La Cornue cultivates an ideal of excellence.

Dacor

Working together to redefine the modern kitchen, the Dacor family has produced an impressive array of industry firsts. Patented features abound throughout their full line of cooking appliances. Features like an infrared gas broiler inside an electric oven, a Pure Convection system for even heat distribution, a Butterfly Bake Element for an extraordinary traditional bake, and extra-large Dacor Greats that simplify cooking with large pots and pans.

Miele

Each Château and each Cornuchef is assembled by hand and by one person; this person will follow production through to the end and finalize every last detail. Each kitchen range is monitored, controlled and tested at all the stages of production. Even if you happen to be the Queen of England, you will have to wait at least two months for your Château La Cornue. The superior ranges simply cannot be made any quicker. For three generations, La Cornue has loved and served cuisine in the same way as a stringed-instrument craftsman loves and serves music. La Cornue cultivates an ideal of excellence.

Viking

In spite of its tremendous growth and success, Viking Range Corporation remains essentially the same entrepreneurial company it was at its inception. This small, close-knit company culture serves Viking and its customers well, and greatly contributes to the company’s ongoing growth and success. By carefully preserving this unique, creative and stimulating environment, and through offering only the very finest, highest quality products, Viking plans to continue its aggressive growth and expansion to further increase its already strong presence in the worldwide major appliance and related culinary lifestyle industries.

 

Sub-Zero Refrigeration

For 60 years, Sub-Zero has offered innovative, aesthetically appealing and technologically advanced solutions to meet virtually any home refrigeration need. Through foresight and responsiveness, the company has earned its position as an industry leader – a position Sub-Zero intends to maintain well into the new millennium.

GE Monogram

GE has been a leader in American manufacturing for years, gaining a corporate reputation for unmatched reliability and innovation in their products. Their Monogram line consists of their premier professional-grade products, from refrigerators to cooking appliances and everything else you can dream up for your kitchen. Should you ever take issue with a Monogram product, GE employs a nationwide fleet of vans and repairpeople to provide prompt service on your appliance.

 

Thermador

Thermador has been at the forefront of cooking technology for more than seven decades, fusing state-of-the-art performance with classic design to satisfy the most demanding culinary enthusiasts. From introducing the first built-in wall oven almost 50 years ago, to revolutionizing gas cooktops with the patented Star Burner, Thermador’s innovations have helped to transform the kitchen from a mere workplace into the social and entertaining center of the modern American home.

Wolf

For more than 70 years, Wolf has been synonymous with professional cooking equipment for restaurants and hotels. Now, as part of Sub-Zero, the Wolf line has been adapted for the serious in-home cook. With their superior performance and leading-edge design, Wolf instruments fuel a passion for cooking.

Bosch

Also for 70 years, the beauty of Bosch exterior design is how well it blends with your kitchen decor. Their integrated system allows you to match the dishwasher to your cabinets, complementing the entire look of your kitchen with ergonomically-designed controls are at your fingertips.

Jenn-Air

This company creates luxury appliances that are more than a facet of your kitchen, they make your house more of a home. Ranked #1 for the last four years in their creation of built-in refrigerators, Jenn-Air will never fail to impress guests in your home.

AGA

Aga has nearly a century of experience of enriching kitchens around the world. The Classic Aga Range employs cast iron construction and energy efficient heating, which combine to offer a truly unique cooking experience. Available in a variety of enameled colors; Aga ranges offer tremendous design flexibility. Now enhanced with complementary undercounter refrigeraton Aga continues to redefine upscale kitchen design coupled with professional cooking prowess.

 

And that concludes our list of the best luxury kitchen appliances for 2020. What culinary brand, from refrigeration to cooking, do you own? Share this on social and add your favorite brands!

 

See also: Best Juice Delivery Services for 2021

Rocky Mountain Resort Towns

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

6 Sneaky Cool Features of the New Rivian R1

The Gear Tunnel

I would not be surprised if most Rivian owners name the gear tunnel as their favorite feature. It’s a 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 the 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 knives, 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 from different angles to your camp site or beach BBQ. Don’t like them? Don’t use them. They blend in seamlessly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yucatan Three Ways

As we dip our toes back into travel after a year of social distancing, it may feel hard to decide where to go and what to do first. Does a beach vacation sound most appealing or would you prefer an urban getaway focused on shopping, dining, and culture? Perhaps an escape to the country and days of waking to birdsong, dining on farm fresh meals, and exploring small towns is the trip you are dreaming of.

 

Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula makes the process of picking a destination easier, as you can choose from all three of these holiday options in one place. It also offers the convenience of flying into and out of Cancun, with flights from more than a dozen American hubs. After you land, you just have to decide whether to drive south, to the beaches along the Riviera Maya; west, to the lively and charming capital of the state of Yucatan, Mérida; or into the countryside, for a stay at a sprawling hacienda reborn as a luxury hotel.

 

Escape to the Seashore

With its dramatic Maya ruins sitting atop a bluff overlooking the Caribbean and its small resorts strung along the sea, it’s not surprising that Tulum has become a favorite of those travelers looking for beach time in the winter but who aren’t interested in the mega-resorts of Cancun.

 

God of Winds Temple, Tulum, Mexico (Shutterstock)

 

The plus of Tulum’s emergence as a destination has been the opening of new hotels and restaurants that have transformed what was once a sleepy backpacker destination into a decidedly stylish one.

 

Getting There: From Cancun it’s a straight shot south on a well-maintained highway. If you are driving, expect the journey to take between 90 minutes to two hours. There are also buses and shuttles, though renting a vehicle will give you the freedom to explore some nearby sites like the Sian Ka’an Biosphere and the Maya ruins at Coba, a much larger complex than the one in Tulum.

 

Where to Stay: Olas Tulum is a small B&B that has a very Tulum-like boho-chic atmosphere and attitude. A plus is that it is to the south of most of Tulum’s hotels—you can enjoy the quiet of the location for naps on the sand in the afternoon but when cocktail hour comes around it’s a short walk to Tulum’s other bars and restaurants.

 

Don’t Miss: Make sure to have at least one meal at Hartwood Tulum which helped lead Tulum’s transition from modest beach town to jet-setter destination. Chefs and owners Eric Werner and Mya Henry opened the restaurant in 2010 and it has made its way on to many “best-restaurant” lists thanks to dishes featuring farm-fresh produce from the Yucatan and seafood straight from the Caribbean in simple preparations that let the ingredients shine.

 

Country Living

Much of the Yucatan peninsula is dotted with haciendas that used to produce henequen (a fiber that is, in English, more commonly called sisal, after the port of Sisal where much of it was exported from). Sisal was essential to rope-making and huge fortunes were made growing the crop. The Mexican Revolution and, more importantly, the invention of nylon led to the bust of that boom though today many haciendas are enjoying second lives having been reborn as luxury hotels where you can spend days lounging by pools or visiting off-the-beaten path villages, convents, and Maya sites. You’ll fall asleep each night to the captivating sounds of the jungle wildlife at night.

Getting there: There are haciendas throughout the peninsula, though there tend to be more of them in the states of Yucatan and Campeche (on the northern and western sides of the peninsula—Quintana Roo, where Cancun is located, runs along its eastern side). You’ll want to rent a car if you intend to spend your days exploring the backroads, but most haciendas will happily arrange for transfers to their properties if you intend to spend your days relaxing on the grounds.

Chablé, Yucatan

 

Chablé Yucatan

Where to Stay: Chablé Yucatan is the most luxurious of the reborn haciendas, though most accommodations there are in newly built free-standing casitas while the historic buildings house common areas, lounges, and restaurants. Hacienda Petac is an appealing smaller hacienda that is rented exclusively to one group at a time and can accommodate up to 14 guests. Marriott’s Luxury Collection includes five beautifully restored haciendas.

 

Don’t Miss: The Maya sites of Chichen Itza and Coba are world-famous, and the crowds at them are evidence of that. An advantage of a stay at a hacienda, however, is that it’s easier to visit some of the less-popular Maya sites. Uxmal, which is just over an hour south of Mérida, is one of the most magical of them. It is built in the so-called Puuc style which is known for being more decorative than other Maya styles with intricate carved geometric patterns and designs.

 

Uxmal Pyramid

 

A City Escape

Mérida, the capital of the state of Yucatan (and the largest city on the Yucatan peninsula) has emerged in recent years as one of the most exciting cities in Mexico. It has long been known for its laidback pace and impressive collection of historic buildings spanning the 16th to 19th centuries (within Mexico, only Mexico City has a larger historic district). Now the city can also boast about its lively dining and shopping scene, supported by both a growing expat community and travelers who have discovered Mérida’s appeals.

 

Getting There: Mérida is roughly 3.5 hours from Cancun on a toll road. The colonial town of Valladolid and the Maya ruins at Chichen Itza are appealing stops en route. (It is also possible to fly to Mérida directly.)

Guilermina Restaurant, Merida

Where to Stay: Mérida has an abundance of rental properties in historic homes that have been lovingly restored and you will want to check out the options on AirBnB and VRBO. If you prefer a hotel, the recently opened Wayam has a cool, contemporary style and also one of Mérida’s best new restaurants, Cuna, which serves delicious updated takes on Yucatecan cooking.

Cuna Restaurant at Wayam (Photo: Orbitz)

Don’t Miss: Mérida is not only a state capital but a culinary one too. It’s a place to sample both street food like the simple tacos served at stands at the Santiago Market (a small neighborhood market that is less intimidating than the central one) to the innovative Mexican cuisine of Picheta which overlooks Mérida’s cathedral and central square.

—John Newton, Founder, Signal Custom Content. (John previously worked as an editor at AFAR, Condé Nast Traveler, and Travel+Leisure and has written travel stories for many other publications and websites.)

8 Hip Hotels in NYC

[Above: The “Bar Room” at The Beekman Hotel] 

 

Anyone who lives in New York City will tell you—fall and spring are the best seasons to visit.  Just in time for that first hint of cool—but not too cool—air, we’ve got the deets on eight of NYC’s hottest hotels that will add a touch of current to your fall season.

 

The Crosby Street Hotel — For Country Accents Inside a Modern Delight in the Heart of SoHo 

 

Situated on a quiet cobbled street in the heart of SoHo, The Crosby Street Hotel is the perfect choice for those seeking fresh, contemporary digs in one of New York’s most vibrant neighborhoods. Though each of its 86 bedrooms and suites features floor-to-ceiling warehouse style windows, make sure you book on one of the upper floors if you’re looking to gaze out at lower Manhattan. In addition to The Crosby Bar, the hotel boasts a bevy of extras for guests, including: a private leafy garden, drawing room, fully equipped gym, luxurious 99-seat screening room, and several private event and meeting rooms.

While every aspect of Crosby Street blends tastefulness with comfort, the rooftop bar—one of the more aesthetically pleasing spaces in the area—is perhaps it’s greatest asset. Unlike many other rooftop bars in New York, the CHS outdoor terrace (as it’s called by the hotel) is only eleven stories high. But what it lacks in panorama, it makes up for in cozy views of the surrounding neighborhood. You’ll feel as if you’re at a secret hideout tucked away in downtown Manhattan, which is as much rare as it is wonderful.

What’s more, the rooftop is home to a beautifully appointed urban fruit and vegetable patch, which actually yields produce for some of their favorite menu items. In fact, the quality and freshness of everything served is guaranteed to make a big impression. We recommend the Croque Madame, followed up—of course—with the famous cinnamon sugar-coated Crosby doughnuts. And if you’re in the mood to change up your drink palate, try the hotel’s signature cocktail: The Tiger’s Eye mixes Stolichnaya, Champagne, lemon juice, star anise, pear puree and cinnamon.

And no cosmopolitan hotel is complete these days (in our opinion) without a solid commitment to going green. LEED-certified, the hotel has two small but bountiful gardens for aesthetic serenity, terraces for outdoor dining and an outdoor sculpture garden for lounging. In addition to the small rooftop garden, the hotel’s main vegetable garden—designed by the Crosby Street’s Head Chef, Anthony Paris—supplies the on-site restaurant with melons, blueberries, tomatoes and herbs when in season. The hotel is also home to a chicken coop which shelters the four Araucana chickens who supply the kitchen with fresh eggs. Tres chic(ken).

79 Crosby St, New York, NY 10012

 

One Brooklyn Bridge — For The Newest, Trendiest Hotel Across the Bridge

The third and latest iteration of the 1 Hotels lifestyle brand (with sister locations in Central Park and South Beach) 1 Brooklyn Bridge is pairing their core philosophy of melding eco-friendly design, sustainable architecture, philanthropic partnerships and superior service with the allure of East River panoramic views. Combining west coast chill with the thrill of the Big Apple? Hallelujah.

It won’t take you long to see why this brand isn’t called 2. Upon arrival at 1 Brooklyn Bridge, you’ll be entranced by the lobby’s 25 foot green wall, compliments of landscape architecture firm Harrison Green. Comprised of steel grating adorned with hand-placed plants and ever-growing vines, this greenery might have you feeling more connected with Mother Nature than when you were standing outside. This lush display is contrasted by an industrial spiral staircase that climbs two stories and features an obsidian rock boulder sculpture. The man-made meets Earth-given vibe permeates the entire hotel and lends perfectly to the eco-luxe ambience.

Such chic and yet functional surroundings were no coincidence, of course. According to founder Barry Sternlicht, the careful curation of every material and an overall focus on retaining the hotel’s purpose to both serve and inspire guests helped shape his vision for the space.

“Confronted with how far Americans were lagging behind in changing our consumption habits, I created 1 Hotels to show sophisticated travelers that they can do good, live well, and connect with both the world and the community around them,” said Sternlicht.

From regional and reclaimed materials—the pine beams you’ll admire are from the former Domino Sugar Factory and the walnut comes straight from Brooklyn Botanical Gardens— to the property utilizing 100 percent wind power energy, to a rain-water reclamation system that irrigates Brooklyn Bridge Park during the summer, the eco strides are very real and noticeable.

If your mind isn’t put to ease by the hotel’s eco-conscious efforts, it will find much needed rest and relaxation in its simple yet stunning guestrooms. The property boasts 194 of them, including 29 two- to six-bedroom suites and a 2,000-square-foot Presidential Suite dubbed The Riverhouse. No worries if you aren’t living the suite life—all rooms feature a sleek floor-to-ceiling sliding window with skyline views, tasteful leather and wood accents by local artisans, custom hemp-blend mattresses with 100 percent organic cotton sheets, and marble rain showers (timer included so you’ll get that gentle reminder to conserve). In-room yoga mats are provided, so feel free to turn on the LCD 55-inch smart television and flip to one of the on-demand meditation programs by brand Meditation Leader, Biet Simkin. Oh, and complimentary cozy socks are yours for the taking because they’re just good for the soul.

60 Furman St, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11201

 

The Nomad — For The Artsy Bookworm

Elegant and upscale with a decidedly European feel, the NoMad Hotel—a design standout in it’s own right—is the crown jewel of the NoMad neighborhood. Housed in a turn-of-the-century Beaux Arts building with interiors by French designer Jacques Garcia and world-class dining and drinking from Daniel Hum and company (Eleven Madison), The Nomad has it all.

The rooms are cozy but elegantly appointed, featuring large beds with studded leather headboards, velvet tapestries, antique Heriz rugs, and free-standing clawfoot bathtubs. Throw in a breathtaking private rooftop, a Maison Kitsuné and the occasional cocktailed magic show starring Dan White, and there’s little reason to even leave the premises.

Perhaps our favorite feature? The fully curated, two-level library, connected by an original spiral staircase imported from the South of France. Guests can lounge throughout the day on custom-made furnishings and enjoy light fare and finger foods which are served alongside coffee, tea, wine and cocktails. An eclectic literary collection is available, featuring extensive volumes on such wide-ranging topics as The History of New York, Music, and Cocktails and Spirits. And if you’re feeling famished you can order off the regular menu, which includes their signature chicken for two—a whole chicken stuffed with foie gras (plus one optional).

1170 Broadway, New York, NY 10001

 

The Mark — For The Fitness Junkie

Sure, travelers to the Big Apple have a cornucopia of gyms to choose from, but why spend your en perdiem bucks on a day pass? Located just a couple blocks from both Central Park and the Met in New York’s classy Upper East Side, The Mark is a luxury boutique hotel—and given the limited space, they take a smart approach with their gym. Rather than settle for a treadmill and some free weights, guests can schedule their workout with renowned fitness expert, Dan Flores, or opt for one-on-one personal training with kickboxing and MMA pros from Punch Fitness (owned by former national champ, Adelino DeCosta).

Of course, The Mark wouldn’t make it on our list if all it had to offer was a good fitness center. The Mark is one of the chicest and prettiest hotels in New York. And because of it’s low-key, boutique feel on a rather quiet block between Madison and 5th Avenue on 77th Street, its popular among celebs and other well-heeled folk who prefer to trade the fast pace of lower Manhattan for the quieter and more old-fashioned elegance of the Upper East Side.

Oh, and did we mention the Jean Georges restaurant? Every good workout calls for a little rest, relaxation, and refueling.

25 E 77th St, New York, NY 10075

 

The Beekman — For the “Top Chef” Binge Watcher

An architectural gem hailed for its iconic nine-story atrium and pyramidal skylight, The Beekman unites some of the world’s greatest talent, including the sophisticated design of Martin Brudnizki and the culinary cachet of restaurateur and chef Tom Colicchio. This boutique hotel also features a restaurant by Keith McNally, his first in the neighborhood.

Located within the center of Lower Manhattan’s “New Downtown,” nestled between both the East and Hudson Rivers, The Beekman is surrounded by some of Manhattan’s most cherished attractions—the Brooklyn Bridge, the World Trade Center, South Street Seaport and City Hall. The hotel boasts 287 fully appointed rooms (including 38 suites and two signature penthouses within its iconic “turrets”), each with private rooftop terraces overlooking One World Trade Center, the Woolworth Building and City Hall Park.

The excellence extends far beyond the rooms and décor, though. Colicchio pulls inspiration from the rich history of the building and his own culinary journey to provide a menu of classics, old and new, reinvented with his signature seasonal touch. The a la carte and five-course tasting menu at Temple Court—a one-of-a-kind setting for dining set with rich, jewel-toned furnishings and antique accents—features dishes such as Maine Lobster with chanterelle mushrooms and tarragon, presented in the style of Lobster Thermidor.

In the mood for something more casual? The Bar Room at Temple Court, with plush lounge seating and a distinctly old New York feel, is located beneath The Beekman’s stunning, nine-story Victorian era atrium and offers an ideal setting to enjoy a list of handcrafted cocktails alongside an all-day menu.

The Beekman is undoubtedly one of New York’s best new hotels, but don’t just take our word for it. Since its soft opening in Fall 2016, The Beekman has received unprecedented acclaim and recognition worldwide: Condé Nast Traveler US’s 2017 “Hot List”, Travel & Leisure’s 2017 “It List”, USA Today’s “Reader’s Choice” Award, Food & Wine’s “Hotel Award”, and U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hotel in New York” Award.

123 Nassau St, New York, NY 10038

 

The Standard Highline — For a Retro Twist on Modern Luxury

The Highline may be at its most popular in the summertime, but this autumn’s favorable temperatures lend well to maintaining high traffic to its trendy surrounding neighborhood. And The Standard Highline just happens to rise up right above it.

Situated in New York City’s very popular Meatpacking District, this hotel’s inviting public spaces are what make it a year-round favorite for travelers and locals, alike. At ground level, it has the young professional’s casual weekend haunt of choice, The Standard Biergarten. If you aren’t looking to lay low, you can reverse it straight up to the penthouse, where funky discothèque Le Bain hosts world famous DJs. Alternatively, if you’re feeling particularly fancy, the legendary Top of The Standard is the perfect spot for sunset drinks and appetizers. This sophisticated lounge will steal your breath with its views and quest your thirst with its specialty cocktails. For dinner (or brunch, if you prefer), there’s the award-winning Standard Grill, which melds a brasserie atmosphere with new American cuisine.

When it comes to accommodations, think sleekly simple but still everything you may need. All rooms feature floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows that open to sweeping city or Hudson river views, and include amenities galore. The beds are adorned with sumptuous Italian sheets and fluffy down pillows, the bathrooms feature rain showers, the mini bars are overstocked, the cozy robes are extra large, and the room service is 24-7.

Oh, and did we mention the hotel has its own ice rink? Bring the family back for a winter re-book.

848 Washington St, New York, NY 10014

 

Refinery Hotel — For the Fashion Forward Traveler

Once home to a Garment District hat factory, the Refinery Hotel maintains its industrial aesthetic and fashion heritage with an updated sense of luxury. The decor is sleek and modern, yet inviting and comfortable. The location is convenient, and just steps from Bryant Park.

Drawing inspiration from their storied past, each of the spacious rooms at Refinery Hotel feature industrial accents such as 12-foot ceilings and distressed hardwood floors. While the 197 rooms call attention to the Colony Arcade’s early life as a hat factory, modern amenities like free WiFi, Noir bath products, and a mini bar stocked with Dean & DeLuca gourmet foods and local Hudson whiskey provide luxurious comforts.

Serving breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner and cocktails in a nostalgic atmosphere, Parker & Quinn, The Refinery’s main restaurant, features classic design touches from the building’s early life as a working factory. Executive Chef Jeff Haskell takes a straightforward and rustic approach in his kitchen, relying on high-quality and locally sourced ingredients to produce balanced, approachable American dishes.

The Refinery Rooftop, however, is the crowning jewel of the space; a rooftop bar and lounge featuring over 3,500-square feet of cinematic views of the Manhattan skyline and Empire State Building. A cozy interior space is complete with fireplace, water feature, and wooden ceilings constructed out of wood salvaged from the original building’s water tank. An expansive indoor/outdoor space capped by a retractable glass roof, an outdoor terrace with porch swings, and spectacular city views from every direction make the Refinery Rooftop one of the most dynamic and tasteful (if not a bit lavish) rooftops in the city.

Lunch menu favorites on the Rooftop include Seared Yellowfin Tuna, Grilled Hanger Steak Flatbread and the Little Gem Caesar salad with watermelon radish and frico. At night, lively crowds gathers for signature cocktails developed by In Good Company mixologists with a focus on natural ingredients paired in surprising and refreshing combinations.

63 West 38th Street, New York, NY 10002

 

Wyeth Hotel — For Farm-to-Table, the Brooklyn Way

When the Wythe Hotel opened in 2012, it brought the city’s vibe with it. From the towncars and taxis pulling up at the corner to its bustling lobby, it feels more West Broadway than Wythe Avenue. The 72-room hotel blends old and new; the building’s circa-1901 industrial details are offset with luxury amenities, floor-to-ceiling windows, and, in many rooms, outstanding Manhattan skyline views (another perk to being on the “wrong” side of the river).

The Wythe Hotel’s restaurant, Reynard, is owned by the same group that first put Williamsburg on the culinary map over a decade ago with the opening of Diner. Their newest venture offers a daily-changing menu based on farm-to-table classics. During balmier months, The Ides rooftop bar feels like the Brooklyn version of the Standard Hotel Rooftop (but hey, it’s not that cold yet). This industrial-chic gem is across the bridge in Williamsburg, which might scare off some diehard Manhattan loyalists, but trust us when we tell you the city skyline views from your loft-style room will more than make up for a little extra travel time.

80 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249

Bermuda Old and New

Years after a Spanish captain first discovered Bermuda in the early 1500s, a fleet of British ships departed Plymouth to sail to the then-colony of Virginia in 1602. Several weeks into the crossing, a storm felled one of the ships, Sea Venture, separating it from the rest of the fleet. The ship ran aground on one of the reefs near Bermuda’s eastern coast. All 150 passengers survived and made it to land, and thus Bermuda became inhabited.

Continue reading

8 Great Commuter Bikes To Get You Back To the Office in (Eco) Style

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 the 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.

 

Best all-around e-bike: Cannondale Adventure Neo ($2700)

 

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.

 

 

Best budget e-bike: Propella’s Single-Speed Drivetrain ($1099)

 

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.

 

 

Best gravel bike: Surly Midnight Special ($2225)

 

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.

 

 

Best cruiser-style bike: Marin Bikes Larkspur 2 ($1199)

 

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.

 

 

Best hybrid bike: Cannondale Quick / CX4 ($700)

 

 

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.

 

 

Best single speed bike: Ribble Urban 725s ($688)

 

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.

 

 

Best folding bike: Tern Bicycles BYB S11 ($2499)

 

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.

 

 

Best budget folding bike: Zizzo Folding Bike Urbano ($430)

 

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.

 

 

 

American Splendor: New England’s Fall Foliage Trail

Now that the summer heat has given way to cooler temperatures, we can all enjoy the great outdoors without sweltering. Fall is the perfect time to spend an afternoon at the cider mill, go pumpkin picking for Halloween or hike up mountains. It’s closing in on peak foliage time in the Northeastern United States, arguably the best place to see the changing leaf colors. Continue reading

10 Outdoor Dining Spots We Love

Rooftop Bars have been all the rage of late in big cities, from New York to L.A. and everywhere in between. And while this trend shows no sign of stopping, with more and more watering holes opening up atop dormant rooftops, most are suited for drinks and appetizers and are not true outdoor dining destinations. Continue reading

5 Great Juicers

Juicing — the process of extracting the juice from fresh fruits or vegetables — is popular because it can increase the variety of nutrient-rich foods in your diet so you can take advantage of all of fruits and vegetables’ healthy benefits.

There are three styles of juicers: slow, centrifugal, and citrus. Slow juicers and centrifugal juicers are usually best for fruits and vegetables, while citrus juicers are dedicated for simply squeezing citrus, like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit.

No matter what kind of juicer you’re looking for, there are many on the market today. But we’ve narrowed them down to our top 5 favorite juicers. Here they are in ascending order:

 

 

Hurom’s H101 Easy Clean Slow Juicer ($499)

The H101 is on our top juicers list because it really was designed with cleaning in mind. It has grooved strainers and a tiled juicing chamber that pours out more — and leaves less mess inside — so you can really enjoy all the benefits of juicing without the messy cleanup. There’s also a pulp outlet, aka trap door, that opens 180 degrees so you can easily flush out any remaining pulp inside the chamber. This slow juicer mimics the motion of fruit squeezing by hand, rotating at a speed of just 43 revolutions per minute, which produces delicious fresh juices in their most natural state. Hate pulp? Love it? This one has a function to control the amount of pulp to suit your own taste preferences. And we should also mention this top juicer also can juice nuts and soybeans into a variety of smoothies and nut milks.

 

 

Novis Vita Juicer ($500)

We love the bright, sleek and shiny exterior design of this juicer, and it comes in seven colors! This top juicer is amazing because it truly has the benefit of all three juicing options, including its own attachment for citrus. It’s simple to use, with just one button to operate everything. And an AutoSpeed function auto-senses the best speed for each food, adjusting the speed of the press and centrifuge according to your chosen fruit or vegetable. There’s a large tube, so you won’t need to cut all of the fruits and vegetables, and every part of the juicer can be easily cleaned in the dishwasher.

 

 

The Smeg Citrus Juicer ($180)

As the name implies, this one is specifically for citrus, and therefore best for oranges, lemons, and limes. It is the top juicer that has our favorite look, sophisticated and retro, and a design that comes in a few cool colors. Its superior performance pairs with reliability, showing off a powerful 70W motor with an integrated on-off sensor. And using it is simple thanks to a non-drip spout which prevents spillage, keeping kitchen surfaces clean.

 

 

 

Kuvings Whole Slow Juicer ($600)

Kevin’s Whole Slow Juicer stands out for its versatility. It does an efficient job of juicing greens, veggies, and fruits alike. Its 3.2” wide-mouthed two-way feed tube reduces prep time and allows you to insert different types of ingredients without jamming. It has patented low speed extraction technology that prevents nutritional loss and minimizes oxidation. Multiple strainers, including a sorbet and a smoothie strainer attachment, allow for even more food options. And it even has a handle so you can carry it with you.

 

 

Breville Juice Fountain SL Cold Plus ($350)

The Breville Juice Fountain is SL Cold Plus Pursuitist’s overall favorite juicer for its power, ease of operation and clean-up. Its super sized 70 fl.oz. jug seals and stores so you can make large batches, and the 3.5” wide chute shortens prep time — seriously, you can put a whole apple in, core and all, and it juices. The “cold” its name refers to Breville’s “Cold Spin Technology” that reduces the amount of heat transferred while juicing. Set-up couldn’t be simpler, your juice will be pulp-free and delicious, and clean-up is a breeze. What could be better than that?!

 

This article was originally published on Pursuitist. Republished by permission.

The State of Travel: 2021

In December of 2020 Airbnb, after a long-awaited debut, finally went public on the NASDAQ Stock Market. I watched on CNBC as the newly issued stock went from $68 a share to $150 within milliseconds of the initial offering—establishing its market capitalization at a cool $100 Billion. As Scott Wapner, host of the channel’s “Halftime Report” show, astutely pointed out, Airbnb was now worth roughly the same market cap as Hilton and Marriot…COMBINED!

In this report we look at some of these trends and services, with analysis and commentary from bona fide travel insiders such as travel advisors, hotel executives and wellness experts.  We also look specifically at what the state of travel might look like post-pandemic, including “Key Findings” from a survey we conducted exclusively with travel industry executives.

To make it easier to read we have provided an abbreviated version (below) that includes all of the editorial content in the report. However, you can also access the full report, which is available in a vivid, easy-to-read PDF format with all the data from our “Key Findings” section. Read Full Report

We hope you enjoy the content!

—Whit Cook

 

Resurgence of the Travel Agent

If there’s one thing we can collectively embrace in 2020, it is a bit of nostalgia. Sure, we are still trying to be mindful, and grateful, and present, but the past can be a comforting balm when living in the moment looks more like “Groundhog Day” than “Eat, Pray, Love.” Whether you have been staring dreamily at old vacation photos on your camera roll or grinning at the sight of Mark Hamill and R2D2 back on your TV screen, being reminded of the days of old (or, you know, any day prior to February 2019) has been energizing and damn near delightful. GLR doesn’t mind that you’re fondly reminiscing—we are, too!—but might we suggest a tip for marrying the comfort of the past with the prospects of a vaccinated future? If “Saved By the Bell” can get a reboot, so can an old travel industry standby. (Re)enter:  the travel agent. (Read more)

 

Yucatan Three Ways

As we dip our toes back into travel after a year of social distancing, it may feel hard to decide where to go and what to do first. Does a beach vacation sound most appealing or would you prefer an urban getaway focused on shopping, dining, and culture? Perhaps an escape to the country and days of waking to birdsong, dining on farm fresh meals, and exploring small towns is the trip you are dreaming of.

 

Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula makes the process of picking a destination easier, as you can choose from all three of these holiday options in one place. It also offers the convenience of flying into and out of Cancun, with flights from more than a dozen American hubs. After you land, you just have to decide whether to drive south, to the beaches along the Riviera Maya; west, to the lively and charming capital of the state of Yucatan, Mérida; or into the countryside, for a stay at a sprawling hacienda reborn as a luxury hotel. (Read more)

 

Interview with Lead Flights Analyst Adam Kwan of Contemporary Travel Agency TomFlies.com

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. (Read more)

 

Interview with LeAnn Campas, CEO of Social Platform Travevel

Q. Why are travel and social media so synergistic?

A. Social media is visual and there are few things more visually interesting than travel images and videos. The two were made for each other. Additionally, the vast majority of us put more weight on personal experiences, and there is no better way to share our adventures, explore others’ experiences and interact with them than through a social platform. (Read more)

 

Wellness Warriors

They say you can foretell future trends by looking at what the big thinkers and pioneers are doing now.  So, what’s up with wellness warriors in 2020?

Let’s start with an example of the future of business travel in the wellness arena.  In spite of in-person events being canceled across the board, the Global Wellness Summit—an international organization that brings together leaders and visionaries to positively impact and shape the future of the global wellness industry—had the fortitude and determination, in spite of some resistance, to go forward with their first ever hybrid (both in-person and virtual event) Nov 8 to 11 at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida. (Read more)

 

Nomadic Nutrition—Foraging in the COVID Era

In the Time of COVID, the wide blue yonder is both my escape hatch and my sanity maintenance pill. Specifically the swath of public lands east and west of my home in Seattle. Out there, in the ancient forests and lonesome mountains of the Cascades and Olympics, I can breathe in the fresh air and not worry about tainted particles of disease, those “air-born droplets” we’ve heard so much about.

Only, those same mountains aren’t so lonely these days. (Read more)

 

The Family Truckster

I work in the travel industry as both a travel advisor and a travel writer. I’ve owned the travel blog, Fifi + Hop, for the past 6 years, and write mainly about family travel, as I have two kids. Between my conversations with other family travel bloggers and my colleagues in the travel agency world, there are certain trends that will no doubt play a part in family travel in 2021. We’ve seen them already, and they will continue for a while. (Read more)

 

Read full report 

 

Nomadic Nutrition—Foraging in the Covid Era

In the Time of Covid, the wide blue yonder is both my escape hatch and my sanity maintenance pill. Specifically the swath of public lands east and west of my home in Seattle. Out there, in the ancient forests and lonesome mountains of the Cascades and Olympics, I can breathe in the fresh air and not worry about tainted particles of disease, those “air-born droplets” we’ve heard so much about.

 

Only, those same mountains aren’t so lonely these days.

 

It turns out there are plenty other Americans with cabin fever, and outdoor recreation is seeing a boom like never before. Retail stores are sold out of camping equipment, fishing gear, bikes, and cross-country skis. Trailheads overflow with cars. Popular spots for hiking and angling are busier than Grand Central Station.

I enjoy all those activities, too, but thankfully I’m also a forager, which encourages me to get off the beaten path to go on a more solitary outdoor treasure hunt for wild edible foods. Foraging is a perfect way, in fact, to forget about the downward spiraling news cycle and find literal sustenance in nature.

 

Chokecherries, common across much of North America, make tasty jam

 

Foraging is in fashion

And in case you’ve been squirreled away in deep quarantine, foraging is hip these days. It’s now cool to traipse through the woods, woven Guatemalan basket in hand, in search of chanterelle mushrooms for the table, or to brave the bite of stinging nettles for a pot of soup. Every Michelin-aspiring chef has wild foods on the menu, and the bearded hipsters in their logging shirts from Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine, are learning how to tell a Death Cap mushroom from a delicious clump of porcini.

 

Fiddlehead ferns, lovely and full of earthy flavor

 

But…about those Death Caps… If you’d like to learn how to find a few untamed foods to spice up dinner during lockdown, just remember the forager’s Golden Rule: Never, ever, eat anything from the wild without one-hundred percent certainty of its identification. While there aren’t many deadly poisonous plants and mushrooms, there are a few, meaning it’s a good idea to learn how to recognize, for instance, a common weed such as poison hemlock (looks a bit like parsley!), yes the same one that killed Socrates.

If you’re new to foraging, try to go beyond leafing through field guides or surfing YouTube videos. Take a class or workshop if possible, join a mycological or horticultural society (most club meetings are via Zoom these days, but it’s a start), and best of all, find a more experienced friend or willing teacher who can mentor you.

 

Pan-seared diver scallops with morels and potatoes in stinging nettle sauce

 

Regional specialities coast to coast

There’s ample foraging just about everywhere across this stricken nation, including within city limits. Every region boasts of a few specialties: prickly pear cactus in the Southwest desert; wild rice in the Great Lakes; onion-y ramps up and down Appalachia. In many places you can harvest something as ubiquitous as the humble-yet-nutritionally-off-the-charts dandelion year-round, or go for the more advanced art of clam digging or mushroom hunting in season.

Regardless of quarry, wild food foraging is a great way to get outside for a while and forget about what ails us.

Langdon Cook, award-winning author of Upstream and The Mushroom Hunters.