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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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.

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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

ResortPass:  We’ll Stay for the Day — GLR Opinion

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

 

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

 

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

 

large pool overlooking valley
Carneros Resort—Napa Valley, CA

 

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

 

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

 

pool surrounded by canabas and chairs and palm trees
Miramar Resort—Santa Barabra, CA

 

infinity pool overlooking river valley
Miraval Resort—Austin, TX (Photo: James Baigrie)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

hotel pool in city overlooking skyline
Williamsburg Hotel—Brooklyn, NY

 

hotel pool next to bay with palm trees and dining tables
Ritz Carlton Bal Harbor—Miami, FL

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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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The First-Ever Michelin Guide for Hotels in the United States is Out

In a welcome, yet unsurprising move, the renowned Michelin Guide has expanded into luxury hospitality with its inaugural hotel issue, released on April 24, 2024, for the United States. A significant development in the realm of hospitality ratings, this move, says Michelin, “follows four years of thorough evaluation and careful selection, resulting in a comprehensive list of over 5,000 hotels worldwide.”

 

Hotels are evaluated based on criteria such as architecture, service quality, personality, value, and overall contribution to the guest experience. The guide will give 1, 2 and 3 “Michelin Keys”—akin to their “Michelin Stars” for restaurants—highlighting the pinnacle of luxury hospitality across the United States—as they see it. As you might expect, given that hotels these days offer much more than just a room to rest your head, the ratings are reflective of the “total travel experience” that they offer.

 

In total, the 2024 Michelin Guide hotel selection in the United States includes 11 Three Key hotels, 33 Two Key hotels, and 80 One Key hotels. The array of distinguished accommodations spans cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington DC, showcasing the breadth and depth of luxury hospitality in the country—though quite a bit of concentration in New York City, Miami and California (Los Anglese, San Francisco and Wine Country).

 

Here’s how they distinguish between One, Two and Three Keys:

 

One MICHELIN Key: a very special stay

“This is a true gem with its own character and personality. It may break the mould, offer something different or simply be one of the best of its type. Service always goes the extra mile and provides significantly more than similarly priced establishments.”

 

Georgian Hotel, Santa Monica, CA

 

Two MICHELIN Keys: an exceptional stay

“Somewhere truly unique and exceptional in every way, where a memorable experience is always guaranteed. A hotel of character, personality and charm that’s operated with obvious pride and considerable care. Eye-catching design or architecture, and a real sense of the locale make this an exceptional place to stay.”

 

Bardessono Resort Hotel, Yountville, CA

 

Three MICHELIN Keys: an extraordinary stay

“It’s all about astonishment and indulgence here – this is the ultimate in comfort and service, style and elegance. It is one of the world’s most remarkable and extraordinary hotels and a destination in itself for that trip of a lifetime. All the elements of truly great hospitality are here to ensure any stay will live long in the memory and hearts.”

 

Aman Hotel, New York City

 

Is the list too focused on major markets? Perhaps. Nonetheless, we like a lot of the hotels on the list. Here are some notable hotels (including a few we particularly like) from all three levels:

 

Three Keys:

Crosby Street Hotel, New York, NY

Crosby Street Hotel, New York, NY

 

Nestled in the vibrant heart of SOHO, Crosby Street Hotel blends contemporary flair with British charm. Beyond its inviting atmosphere and top-notch service, what truly sets Crosby Street apart is its ingenious incorporation of sustainable features (LEED-Gold certified) within the context of SoHo’s iconic cast-iron architecture. Situated on one of the neighborhood’s most intriguing cobblestone streets, between Spring and Prince, Crosby Street retains its historic character while being just steps away from all the great restaurants (Balthazar) and shops in SOHO.

 

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, CA

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, CA

 

Perched atop the craggy cliffs of the Santa Lucia Mountains in Big Sur, Post Ranch Inn provides a secluded sanctuary amid breathtaking natural beauty. With eco-friendly guestrooms boasting sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and award-winning cuisine at the esteemed Sierra Mar, PRI blends nature and luxury in near perfect unison—a bona fide bucket-lister that is truly unique.

 

The Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles, CA

Steeped in Hollywood glamour and history, this legendary retreat in West Hollywood offers a glimpse into the golden age of cinema, with iconic bungalows and storied history.

 

SingleThread, Healdsburg, CA

SingleThread Restaurant & Inn, Healdsburg, CA

 

Right in the heart of California’s wine country, SingleThread Restaurant in Healdsburg is a culinary haven celebrated for its 3-star, Japanese-inspired, multi-course tasting menu that is truly “farm-to-table.” Like many of the top chefs in Sonoma, SingleThread’s chef Kyle Connaughton takes full advantage of the produce that grows in Sonoma County, tapping his 24 acre, biodiverse farm, to provide the restaurant with much of its bounty. While SingleThread is still mostly known as a dining destination, above the restaurant, is their meticulous, if not tiny, five-room hotel that has 3 keys to go along with the restaurants 3 stars. A tranquil retreat with elegant rooms and personalized service, the inn is complemented by an extravagant daily breakfast. Oh, and did we mention, Inn guests enjoy preferential booking.

 

The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta, GA

Embodies southern hospitality at its finest, situated in the heart of downtown Atlanta, with elegant accommodations, impeccable service, and unparalleled amenities.

 

Other Three Key hotels we like or have written about…

Auberge du Soleil, Auberge Resorts Collection, California

Meadwoood, California

 

Two Keys:

Faena Hotel Miami Beach

Faena Hotel, Miami, FL

 

Inspired by Alan Faena’s vision and crafted by architectural virtuosos, the namesake Faena Hotel Miami Beach blends vintage Hollywood glam with modern chic. As you step inside and encounter Damien Hirst’s striking mammoth sculpture in the lobby, sophistication and flair envelop you. With decadent guest rooms offering ocean views and a lineup of top-notch dining, plus live performances at the Faena Theater, it’s a playground for the discerning and daring alike.

 

Peninsula Chicago

Peninsula Hotel, Chicago, IL

 

Situated in the heart of Chicago’s lively Magnificent Mile, the Peninsula Chicago exudes timeless elegance and luxury. Its sleek design and impeccable service create a refined sanctuary amidst the city’s energy. From breathtaking views of Lake Michigan to award-winning dining experiences, the hotel embodies excellence in every detail.

 

The Mark Hotel, New York

A street view of the atrium entrance of The Mark Hotel, NYC

Other Two Key hotels we like or have written about…

Bardessono, California

Cavallo Point Lodge, California

Montage Healdsburg, California

Montage Laguna Beach, California

Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club, Florida

 

One Star Hotels

Harbor House Inn, California

Harbor House Inn, Mendocino, CA

 

Nestled on the rugged, redwood-lined Mendocino coastline, the Harbor House Inn blends nature, sustainability and luxury with near perfection——much like it’s neighbor to the south, The Post Ranch Inn. If you are a foodie who loves gourmet cuisine that is caught, foraged or grown nearby and a natural setting that begs for hiking and exploring to burn off those extra calories, you can’t go wrong at this majestic property.

 

The Little Nell, Colorado

The Little Nell Resort, Aspen, CO

 

An iconic luxury hotel nestled in the heart of Aspen, The Little Nell offers tremendous service and breathtaking mountain views. It is also an oasis of great food, drink and otherwise pampering accommodations replete with just about everything you could want to relax in the heart of Aspen. If you are not the relaxing type, they will also set you up with biking, fishing, hiking, kayaking and just any other mountain activity you crave in the summer. In the winter it has an enviable ski-in/ski-out location at the base of Aspen Mountain, while drivers will also shuttle you to nearby Snowmass and Buttermilk.

 

The Beekman, New York, NY

The Beekman Hotel, New York, NY

 

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.

 

Other One Star hotels we like or have written about…

1 Hotel South Beach, Florida

The Betsy – South Beach, Florida

The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, Florida

Nobu Hotel Chicago, Illinois

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, New York

Wythe Hotel, New York

Ace Hotel Brooklyn, New York

1 Hotel San Francisco, California

Four Seasons Vail, Colorado

Stanly Ranch, Auberge Resorts Collection, California

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.

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 
Spa in arizona desert at dusk with mountains in background
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

Golf course in arizona desert with cactus and foothills in background
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 showing fairway, sand traps and green in the arizona desert
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 green in the arizona desert

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)
13th Green with fairway beghind it at TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course
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

Lighted exterior of Mastros City Hall Steak House at night in Scottsdale Arizona
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
Table and bar at Dominick's Steak House in Scottsdale Arizona
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

Variety of sushi at ShinBay Japanese restaurant in Scottsdale Arizona
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 
Empty dining room at Mowry & Cotton restaurant at Phoenician Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, AZ
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 at night with bay window and dark blue sky
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.

An NYC Gem that Bucks the Inflation Trend

Moxy is Marriott’s design brand for millennial travelers, but it has grown to become a favorite of all age groups thanks to its affordable approach to luxury. It may not have the largest guest rooms (that’s by design), but its public spaces focus on striking interiors and appealing entertainment that brings in the local community as much as its guest list.

 

 

The six New York Moxy hotels are a bit of a showpiece for their community-buzzed bars and restaurants. In other parts of the world, Moxy properties combine the front desk with the bar and create a 24/7 co-working and dining and gathering space.

 

At Moxy Lower East Side, guests may think they have entered one of New York’s most buzzing bar-scene hotels, but this is actually a popular mix of business and leisure travelers. The rooftop bar and lounge plus a lobby bar just adds to the scene. Marriott Bonvoy fans know about Moxy already and how this is one of the brand’s stand-out neighborhood gathering spots. For everyone else, here are five reasons to visit Moxy Lower East Side.

 

Lobby

 

Doormen swing open the glass doors across a bridge with two descending staircases on either side taking you down to the award-winning dining options here. If you continue forward, you are met with dazzling chandeliers and greenery dangling from the ceiling. It’s almost Alice in Wonderland magical until you reach the check-in stand where reality sets in. But, even then, the welcoming staff is so gracious on their laptops as they complete formalities you might not realize this is a hotel, rather a chic nightclub. During the day, many guests order coffee and work in the snazzy lobby space.

 

The hotel is located on Bowery Street and is adjacent to Chinatown, New York University and a slew of other interesting venues (downtown’s financial buzzers are not far away either) giving this middle-ground spot plenty of attitude and fun to enjoy. If you want to crowd-watch from the lobby or up on the rooftop, the energy is constant. The piano bar helps to draw people in and has become a fast-favorite in the neighborhood.

 

Rooftop

 

From this vantage point, the city is your oyster. While many rooftop bars in midtown Manhattan hotels dazzle, the magic is knowing that the view from afar is even more impressive. The entire skyline unfurls from this all-weather spot. Moxy Lower East Side knows that its top-floor spot is a go-to bullseye. You can count on weekends getting busy here with thumping music and patrons through the wee hours of the morning. On other nights, the venue is more subdued, but the magical views never change.

 

Design

 

Moxy is all about design, but its secondary focus is on price. That is, wants to win over the trendy younger generation who may not fork over for more expensive venues just yet. The brand is able to do this with smaller rooms (but it also has suites, too) that make great use of space. Think wall hooks, under-bed bag storage and desks that fold up and down with just one little handle. There are even rooms with bunk beds that work well for families, but even better for bachelor or bachelorette parties (or whatever else) with friend groups traveling together on a budget.

 

Another design point is that the vanity areas are often open to the room to minimize the space needed for the shower and toilet area. The design is not for everyone, especially if space and modesty are top of the list, but the price point of Moxy does not lie. It has been appealing to hotel developers and hotel guests aplenty.

 

Clever Promotions

 

Moxy is always looking for ways to stir up conversation and provide new ways for travelers to learn more about the destination and themselves. For example, Moxy and Sanctuary came up with a unique partnership that will last all year. Sanctuary creates astro-adventure guides that tap into astrocartography to help travelers find the ideal travel date, location and companion recommendations based on their particular sign and the network of Moxy hotels around the world.

 

There is also a special cocktail menu based on different astrological signs and a new cosmic twist on Moxy’s Bedtime Stories (short, one-minute stories to wind down your day with a smile or laugh). There are other events coming soon related to this new partnership.

Of course, Moxy is also part of the Marriott Bonvoy program, and members can earn and redeem points to use at other Moxy (and Marriott family hotels) around the world.

 

Dining

 

This hotel is drawing in the crowds like no one would have expected (and there are plenty of other chic restaurants and design hotels in the neighborhood). The more casual guests may settle for a house-made pastry or evening tipple in the piano bar here. But, those that live nearby swear by the Japanese restaurant Sake No Hana, part of Tao hospitality group (of Hakkasan fame).

 

 

In addition to several other bars, up on the rooftop, there is also a day and evening menu. Don’t expect a breakfast buffet here (there is a tasty a la carte menu though). This is the type of hotel where every meal has a story to tell (and at this property, the guests want to tell).

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.

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

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

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

 

First Line of Defense

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

 

Bioactive, Natural Ingredients

 

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

 

How Immunocologie Works

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

Blue Zones?

 

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

 

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

 

A Sensible Partnership

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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.
founding_farmers

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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abc_kitchen_food_007

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
Uncommon

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.

Miami Beach EDITION: Five Things I Loved, Two I Did Not

Miami Beach EDITION, a collaboration between Ian Schrager and Marriott International, is a vibrant and luxurious hotel situated in the heart of Miami Beach. With its distinctive Shrager-esque style and uncompromising five-star comforts, the hotel offers an array of amenities and experiences that cater to discerning travelers.

 

An Enchanting Location

Nestled in Mid-Beach on a private enclave stretching from Collins Ave to the ocean, Miami Beach EDITION boasts a sprawling three and a half-acre property. This prime location ensures guests have convenient access to both the vibrant city scene and the serene beachfront, creating an ideal setting for a memorable stay.

 

Unparalleled Facilities and Amenities

Since its opening in 2014, Miami Beach EDITION has become synonymous with luxury and entertainment. The hotel features two ocean-facing pools, a wellness spa with a well-equipped gym, a unique basement ice rink doubling as a nightclub, and a bowling alley. Additionally, the indoor and outdoor event spaces offer chic settings for various gatherings. The highlight of the hotel’s dining options is the Jean George-developed MATADOR BAR and ROOM, an visually stunning space offering an equally impressive culinary experience.

 

Matador Terrace

 

Effortless Navigation and Comprehensive Offerings

Miami Beach EDITION stands out with its straightforward and user-friendly layout. Virtually everything is within easy reach from the lobby, fostering a seamless flow of energy and camaraderie among guests. The hotel aims to provide a one-stop shopping experience, encompassing dining, nightlife, socializing, recreation, culture, work, and meeting spaces. With a wide array of amenities and services available on-site, guests may choose to indulge in everything the hotel has to offer without the need to venture outside.

 

Even the lobby of the hotel is a captivating space, featuring pristine white marble floors and polished white pearl Venetian plaster walls. The carefully curated indoor palms and subtle gold and deep green accents contribute to the hotel’s signature “barefoot chic” ambiance. Offering a rare ocean view, the lobby serves as the central hub, connecting guests to various facilities such as the MATADOR BAR, pools, beach, and the outdoor tiki bar called “Tropicale.”

 

Easy To Get Around…Has Everything You Need

 

The layout at The Edition is simple and intuitive. Virtually everything is a stone’s throw from the lobby which makes getting around easy and efficient and adds a whimsical flow of energy and comradery to the place. Everyone is coming and going to or from something enjoyable. The hotel is also outfitted with everything you need. 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 you are there, there is no reason to leave if you 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 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 pristine white marble floors and polished white pearl Venetian plaster walls, highlighted with subtle tones of gold and deep green form the indoor palms. 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 (great for the kids) and adjacent MATADOR BAR—with the pools, beach and outdoor tiki bar, “Tropicale,” just a short jaunt away.

 

Dining Delights

Within the hotel, guests can explore a range of dining options. The Jean George-developed “Marketplace” provides indoor and outdoor seating for breakfast or a quick snack. Overlooking the pool with stunning views of Miami Beach, “Tropicale” offers tropical drinks, light bites, and a relaxed island atmosphere.

The pièce de résistance, however, is the MATADOR BAR, a space that transports guests to an era of timeless glamour. It is the kind of place, Schrager says, “one might expect to see Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers waltzing through.”

The bar’s expansive design, black walnut and stone centerpiece, and ocean vistas create an unforgettable setting. Adjacent to the bar, the MATADOR ROOM welcomes guests with its grandeur, offering a splendid dining experience inspired by Latin cuisine with modern twists..

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MATDOR BAR—Lucien Clergue Paintings on Wall

 

Afternoon drinks at MATDOR BAR

 

Adjacent to the bar, the MATADOR ROOM welcomes guests with its grandeur, offering a splendid dining experience inspired by Chef Jeremy Ford’s modern interpretation of Latin cuisine with modern twists—with a variety of dishes that are ideal for sharing.

Equally impressive is the setting. The space’s original chandelier has been restored and is suspended over the sunken oval dining room, 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)

 

Beach Access and Atmosphere

The proximity of the beach to Miami Beach EDITION is a notable advantage. Guests can effortlessly transition between the main pool and the beach, making it convenient for those who enjoy multiple visits throughout the day. The hotel’s beach area has a unique ambiance, thanks to the rocks at both ends, creating a sense of privacy and exclusivity away from excessive foot traffic.

 

Main Pool, benches and cabanas, beach and ocean

 

Family Friendly

While the Ian Schrager brand might not immediately evoke a family-friendly image, Miami Beach EDITION surprises with its welcoming environment for children. The hotel offers various amenities catering to younger guests, including a pool table in the lobby, a ping pong table in a palm-tree sheltered area, and a basement bowling alley and skating rink.

 

Lobby pool table

 

Basement bowling alley

 

Room for Improvement

Though Miami Beach EDITION excels in many aspects, there are a few areas that could benefit from further attention. While the standard rooms showcase elegant design, some functional aspects, like the low-draining sinks, could be improved for a more seamless experience. The pools and benches, while satisfactory, do not stand out as exceptional, and the positioning of the benches could be better optimized for sunlight exposure and comfort.

 

Ocean View Room

 

 

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. While this may be a problem for many Miami hotels it seemed more pronounced at EDITION. Of course, many people today will actually appreciate this as we’re more careful about sun exposure, particularly in places where the sun is so strong. But the benches are also quite stiff and low to the ground. The minimalist design Shrager is famous for can sometimes look more comfortable than it actually is—think futon not featherbed—unlike their neighbor, 1 Hotel, which has a more impressive pool situation.

 

“Tropicale” Pool

 

Final Verdict

Miami Beach EDITION, with its modern minimalist design and reasonable price-point for a five-star hotel, offers a comprehensive and stylish retreat for sun-seeking travelers. The hotel’s beach access, ocean-facing pools, and vibrant dining options, particularly the enchanting MATADOR Bar, make it an enticing destination for those seeking class, glamour, and a touch of nostalgia. Whether indulging in a signature cocktail or reveling in the surroundings, guests are sure to find Miami Beach EDITION a delightful escape.

The most unexpected treat? MATADOR Bar. Shrager is right. It does indeed, “transport you back in time to an era where class and glamour reigned supreme.” Order The Pineapple, served in a custom-made copper pineapple or opt for a simple Martini while you enjoy the surroundings. Either way you won’t be disappointed.

Escape to Crested Butte’s Luxuriously Rustic 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

 

A Timeless Treasure in London

In the bustling heart of Mayfair, London, stands a true testament to refined elegance and unparalleled luxury—The Connaught Hotel. With its rich heritage, impeccable service, and unrivaled attention to detail, The Connaught has become synonymous with sophistication and has captured the hearts of discerning travelers from around the world. This iconic establishment offers a haven of tranquility and indulgence, making it a destination unlike any other in the vibrant city of London.

An Enduring Legacy

The Connaught Hotel has a storied history that dates back to 1815 when it was originally built as a private residence. Over the years, it has evolved into a symbol of timeless grandeur, attracting an elite clientele that includes royalty, celebrities, and influential figures. The hotel’s reputation for excellence has been carefully cultivated, and it continues to set the standard for luxury hospitality in London.

 

Timeless Elegance

Stepping into The Connaught is like entering a world of refined beauty and understated opulence. The hotel’s interior design seamlessly blends traditional British charm with contemporary sophistication. The public areas feature plush furnishings, exquisite artwork, and tasteful décor, creating an atmosphere of warmth and serenity. Every corner of the hotel reflects meticulous attention to detail, from the elegant corridors adorned with fresh flowers to the discreetly attentive staff who anticipate guests’ every need.

 

Exquisite Accommodations

The Connaught offers a range of luxurious accommodations, each meticulously designed to provide an oasis of comfort and tranquility. The rooms and suites exude an air of timeless elegance, with sumptuous fabrics, bespoke furnishings, and modern amenities seamlessly integrated into the classic design. Guests can expect the utmost privacy and personalized service, ensuring a truly unforgettable stay in the heart of London.

 

Culinary Excellence

One of the highlights of The Connaught is its extraordinary dining experiences. The hotel boasts several acclaimed restaurants, each offering a unique culinary journey. At Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, guests can savor exquisite French cuisine created by Michelin-starred chef Hélène Darroze. The elegant surroundings and impeccable service complement the extraordinary flavors and artistic presentation of the dishes. For those seeking a more relaxed atmosphere, The Connaught Bar is a world-renowned destination for cocktail enthusiasts, where expert mixologists create innovative concoctions that push the boundaries of taste and presentation.

 

The Aman Spa

The Connaught Hotel takes pampering to new heights with its exclusive Aman Spa. Nestled within the hotel, this serene sanctuary offers a holistic approach to well-being, drawing inspiration from both Eastern and Western traditions. Guests can indulge in a range of luxurious treatments, including massages, facials, and rejuvenating therapies. The spa’s tranquil ambiance, coupled with the expertise of highly skilled therapists, ensures a blissful experience that rejuvenates the mind, body, and soul.

 

Unparalleled Service

What truly sets The Connaught apart is its legendary service. From the moment guests step foot inside, they are enveloped in an atmosphere of warmth and hospitality. The staff is dedicated to anticipating guests’ needs and providing personalized attention to ensure a flawless experience. Whether it’s arranging a private tour of London’s hidden gems, securing reservations at exclusive establishments, or simply delivering impeccable room service, the staff at The Connaught goes above and beyond to exceed expectations.

 

Mayfair’s Cultural Haven

Situated in Mayfair, one of London’s most prestigious neighborhoods, The Connaught offers easy access to a wealth of cultural attractions. Guests can explore the nearby art galleries, high-end boutiques, and world-class theaters, immersing themselves in the vibrant pulse of the city. The hotel’s prime

12 Essential Travel Tools for the Modern Adventurer

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

 

The Points Guy TPG

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

 

Travel Blogs

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

 

Travel Advisors

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

 

Booking.com

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

 

HotelsTonight

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

 

Airline Credit Card

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

 

Apple iWatch

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

 

Travel and Lifestyle Websites

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

 

Travel Magazines

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

 

Travel Insurance

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

 

Cheap Flight Alerts

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

 

TripIt

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

Ram’s Gate Winery: A Perfect Day Trip From San Francisco

The wine tasting scene in Napa and Sonoma has evolved significantly since I first frequented these picturesque “twin valleys,” dotted with vineyards and beautifully framed by the Mayacamas and Vaca mountain ranges, many years ago.

 

Gone are the days of hopping from one tasting room to another, savoring the array of wines for a mere $10 to $20—often with a complimentary tasting upon purchase of a bottle. The transformation is attributed to a combination of the evolving wine culture, influenced by changing times, and the lasting impact of the Covid pandemic. Today, the wine-tasting experience has taken on a more comprehensive and upscale character. It’s now customary for visitors to focus their attention on a single winery, yet one that offers a more holistic experience. Ideally this would include a winery with an extensive selection of wines and a beautiful setting—both inside and outside—to enjoy your tasting experience. It might also include gastronomic options and other customized experiences.

 

Unfortunately, discovering a winery that seamlessly combines all these desired attributes can be a challenging quest. Many high-end wineries boast stunning settings and may even feature gourmet dining options, yet they often specialize in only a limited selection of varietals, such as Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc. Meanwhile, the larger, more value-oriented wineries often provide an extensive range of wines (various red and white varietals), however, they tend to offer a somewhat standardized experience that mirrors what it was a decade ago, albeit with advance reservations required. Finding that elusive gem of a winery that offers the best of both worlds—diverse wine offerings, a picturesque estate, bespoke services like a thoughtfully curated lunch to complement your wine tasting—is a rare find.

 

Perched on a hill in the southern tip of the Carneros AVA, Ram’s Gate Winery offers such an experience. With a diverse selection of wines—they produce 24 different wines, though tastings usually focus on 5 or 6 styles—exquisite food options and a breathtaking setting, there is no need to go anywhere else to satiate your wine country thirst. Perhaps the most amazing feature? It’s only a 45 minute drive from San Francisco!

 

Here are some of the most alluring elements of Ram’s Gate Winery that make it an ideal “day trip” from San Francisco for wine and food lovers.

 

Proximity to San Francisco

 

Ram’s Gate Winery is conveniently situated in the heart of the Sonoma Valley, making it easily accessible from San Francisco. Located less than an hour’s drive from the city, this winery allows visitors to escape the urban environment and immerse themselves in the stunning natural beauty of wine country in no time.

 

The scenic drive to Ram’s Gate takes you through picturesque landscapes, with breathtaking views of rolling hills and vineyards, while saving you an additonal hour of dricing compared to “up-valley” destinations in places like St. Helena or Calistoga. Visitors can maximize their time at the winery without spending hours in the car.

 

Array of Wines

 

One of the most significant attractions of Ram’s Gate Winery is its wide array of wines. Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or a casual enthusiast, the winery offers something to suit every palate.

 

Known for its cooler-climate wines, Ram’s Gate provides a great foray into the various micro climates within Sonoma Valley. Their wine portfolio currently includes 24 different wines. Varietals include Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rosé, and a Blanc de Noirs sparkling wine—great for celabratory occasions!

 

 

Ram’s Gate doesn’t offer your run-of-the-mill tastings; they provide a portfolio of six extraordinary experiences that cater to every palate and passion: the regal Seated Wine Tasting, the divine Seasonal Wine and Food Experience, the tantalizing Wine and Bites Experience, the exclusive Caviar Experience (paired with some of their finest white wines), the opulent Luxury Picnic, and the lively Group Tastings.

 

If the “experiences” are more than you were bargaining for, the winery also offers a more standard tasting, which can be enjoyed inside or outside, at the main tasting bar or various tables throughout the winery. While they run a tight operation at Ram’s Gate, the hospitality crew and tasting room staff are also flexible and will work with you on offering the ideal experience.

 

 

A Beautiful Compound

Outdoor sitting area (Photo Credit: Rocco Ceselin)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designed by Howard Backen, Ram’s Gate is a stunning architectural masterpiece that beautifully blends the elements of nature with modern design.

 

At first glance, the winery captivates visitors with its understated elegance and organic charm. Howard Backen, renowned for his commitment to creating spaces that honor their surroundings, seamlessly integrates the winery into the rolling hills and vineyards that define the region. The design approach is characterized by simplicity, natural materials, and a deep appreciation for the site’s unique topography.

 

The entrance to the winery is marked by a long, meandering driveway that gradually reveals the beauty of the estate. Upon arrival, visitors are greeted by a stunning main building that serves as the focal point of the winery. The structure combines elements of traditional agricultural buildings with contemporary touches, resulting in a design that exudes both rustic charm and modern sophistication.

 

Front of winery (Photo Credit: Rocco Ceselin)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The main building of Ram’s Gate Winery immediately captivates with its low-slung profile and extensive use of glass, allowing for breathtaking views of the surrounding vineyards and hills. Backen’s design seamlessly integrates the indoor and outdoor spaces, blurring the boundaries between the two. This connection is further emphasized by the use of natural materials such as weathered wood siding, which adds warmth and texture to the building’s exterior.

 

Inside, the winery exudes an inviting atmosphere with its open-plan layout and a focus on natural materials. Reclaimed wood, stone, and metal elements create a sense of authenticity and timelessness. The design allows for effortless transitions between different areas, including the tasting rooms, barrel storage, and production facilities, enhancing the overall visitor experience.

 

One of the standout features of Ram’s Gate Winery is its expansive outdoor terrace. This beautifully designed space overlooks the vineyards, providing a serene and picturesque setting for guests to savor their wine. The use of natural stone, wood, and comfortable seating creates a relaxing ambiance that invites visitors to immerse themselves in the surrounding landscape.

 

Courtyard (Photo Credit: Rocco Ceselin)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In line with Backen’s commitment to sustainability, the design of Ram’s Gate Winery incorporates environmentally friendly features and practices. From the use of reclaimed materials to the implementation of passive design strategies, the winery minimizes its ecological footprint while maintaining a high level of comfort and functionality.

 

Commitment to Sustainability

Joe Nielsen, the Winemaker and General Manager of Ram’s Gate’s estate vineyard, has taken remarkable strides in enhancing the vineyard’s sustainable farming practices. His innovative methods, such as utilizing soil diagrams and pressure bombs to assess the vineyard’s water requirements, have led to a significant reduction in water consumption by 33%.

 

Estate Vineyards (Photo Credit: Rocco Ceselin)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe is now steering the estate vineyard and winery towards an even more eco-friendly future, with the ambitious target of achieving organic certification by 2024. Embracing the philosophy that Mother Nature provides the best tools for nurturing a thriving vineyard, Joe and his team have implemented various natural solutions.

To control weeds and enrich biodiversity, they employ a flock of sheep for winter mowing, allowing them to naturally fertilize the vineyard. For the challenge of birds and rodents damaging the vineyard, Joe introduced owl boxes and perches to attract natural predators, while also collaborating with a local falconer for additional pest control during the growing season. Even when confronted with an increase in deer that defied fencing, a pack of coyotes naturally traversed the vineyard, highlighting the team’s commitment to harnessing nature’s own mechanisms to maintain balance in their estate farming practices.

 

Culinary Delights

Beyond its impressive wines, Ram’s Gate Winery also offers a culinary experience that elevates the visit to a whole new level. The winery’s commitment to farm-to-table cuisine ensures that visitors can indulge in delectable food options that perfectly complement their wines.

 

 

The Ram’s Gate Winery’s culinary team sources fresh ingredients from local farms and purveyors to create a seasonal menu that reflects the flavors of the region. From artisanal cheese platters to flavorful charcuterie boards, the food offerings are thoughtfully curated to enhance the tasting experience.

 

For those seeking a more substantial meal, the winery has a fully equipped kitchen and offers a delightful dining experience, compliments of Executive Chef Ruby Oliveros. The menu, inspired by the bounty of Sonoma Valley, showcases dishes with a focus on locally sourced foods, that pair harmoniously with their wines. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely lunch while taking in panoramic views of the vineyards and surrounding landscapes, immersing themselves in the quintessential wine country ambiance.

 

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Unique Experiences

Ram’s Gate Winery goes above and beyond to provide unique experiences that engage visitors and deepen their understanding of wine culture. The winery hosts educational seminars, blending workshops, and wine-pairing classes, allowing enthusiasts to expand their knowledge and appreciation of wine.

 

For those seeking a more immersive experience, Ram’s Gate Winery offers private tours that provide an insider’s perspective on the winemaking process. These tours offer the opportunity to explore the vineyards, witness the winemakers in action, and gain insights into the complexities of crafting exceptional wines.

 

Moreover, the winery frequently hosts special events, including wine release parties, winemaker dinners, and live music performances, creating an atmosphere of celebration and camaraderie. These events present an excellent opportunity to engage with fellow wine lovers and connect with the vibrant wine community.

 

Private dining and tasting room (Photo Credit: Rocco Ceselin)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ram’s Gate Winery is a hidden gem that offers a remarkable day trip experience from San Francisco. Its proximity to the city allows visitors to escape the urban environment and immerse themselves in the beauty of Sonoma Valley without spending excessive time on the road trekking through Sonoma or Napa Valley—which can be dangerous if you over-indulge, or expensive if you require an Uber. With its diverse selection of wines, ranging from elegant Chardonnays to robust Cabernet Sauvignons, the winery caters to wine enthusiasts of all preferences. The exceptional culinary offerings, which highlight the region’s flavors, perfectly complement the wines and elevate the overall experience.

 

(Top Photo Credit: Rocco Ceselin)

Six Shoulder Season Stays Worth the Trip

Shoulder season, often referred to as the travel industry’s best-kept secret, is an ideal time to embark on adventures. This transitional period between peak and off-peak seasons offers a harmonious blend of favorable weather, fewer crowds, and attractive prices. Travelers can revel in the beauty of destinations without the hustle and bustle of peak season crowds, allowing for a more immersive and authentic experience.

 

Whether it’s enjoying the vibrant fall foliage in New England or the temperate conditions of the California coast, this time of year is ideal for comfortable weather, serene landscapes and fewer people. Here are six places we recommend.

 

Woodstock Inn (for fall foliage and quintessential New England atmosphere)

 

Nestled in the picturesque town of Woodstock, Vermont, the Woodstock Inn is a luxurious, yet quintessential New England retreat that embodies timeless charm of the area. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Green Mountains, this historic inn has been welcoming guests since 1793, offering a seamless blend of tradition and modern comfort.

 

The architectural elegance of the inn reflects the region’s colonial heritage, with its white-clapboard exterior, dormer windows, and inviting front porch. Inside, guests are greeted by a warm and welcoming atmosphere, featuring cozy fireplaces, comfortable furnishings, and tasteful decor that captures the essence of Vermont’s rustic elegance.

 

 

The inn boasts a range of accommodations to suit every traveler’s preference, from charming guest rooms to luxurious suites. One of the inn’s highlights is its commitment to culinary excellence. The Red Rooster Restaurant, located within the inn, showcases Vermont’s farm-to-table ethos. The menu features locally sourced ingredients that celebrate the flavors of the region, providing a true gastronomic experience for guests and visitors alike.

 

For those seeking relaxation, the Woodstock Inn’s spa offers a serene haven with a range of treatments designed to rejuvenate the mind, body, and spirit. Guests can also explore the surrounding area, where outdoor activities abound, including hiking, skiing, and exploring the charming town of Woodstock with its boutique shops, art galleries, and historic sites.

Throughout its rich history, the Woodstock Inn has retained its commitment to providing a welcoming and unforgettable experience. Whether savoring gourmet meals, unwinding in the spa, or simply enjoying the tranquility of the Vermont landscape, visitors to the Woodstock Inn can expect a stay that captures the essence of New England hospitality and natural beauty.

 

 

Ocean House (for luxury at a slightly discounted rate)

 

While Newport may get the majority of summer visitors to Rhode Island, Watch Hill—just over the boarder from Connecticut—has a quiet charm that many prefer over the towns further up the coast. It also has some of the best beaches in New England, with comfortable ocean temps—thanks to the guldfstream—well into the early fall.  And while you have views of both eastern Long Island (Montauk, The Hamptons) and Block Island it is open ocean.

Watch Hill has a few lodging options, but the best remains the Ocean House. In fact, the Ocean House might be the nicest resort in all of New England. CNN named it one of the “20 Most Beautiful Hotels in the US” (2016), Coastal Living named one of the “10 Best Beach Resorts in the World” and Travel+Leisure named one of the “10 Best Hotels in the Northeast” and “Top 100 in the World.” While the Ocean House is affordable to few during peak season, the offseason offers a little bit of financial respite.

 

 

Built in 1868, the Victorian mansion was a favorite summer retreat for the well heeled until it was torn down in 2005, before being rebuilt as nearly an exact replica—from the exterior at least. Preservationists were initially up in arms but the architects’ lovingly reconstructing of the landmark building—albeit at a smaller scale (but with a hefty $140 million price tag)—quelled a lot of those complaints. Guests can choose from 49 rooms (159 existed in the original structure) furnished in a British colonial style with colorful New England flourishes, all with dramatic views of the ocean. iPads are available for use and guests have access to other modern amenities, including flat panel TVs with multimedia connectivity.

Visitors can swim in the open Atlantic and frolic on the dune-y beaches (Watch Hill Beach, Main Beach and Misquamicut Beach) which are some of the most pristine beaches on the east coast. Go for a sunset stroll and grab a drink along the way at Paddy’s Beach. Or grab a fishing pole and head to Block Island Sound. Surfers journey to Westerly or Narragansett. A number of good public and private golf courses exist in the area. The rates can’t be beat at Winnapaug Golf and Country Club, a public course in nearby Westerly. Bottom line, if you are looking for a classy beach resort in New England with all the comforts of a 5-star hotel, you cannot go wrong with The Ocean House. Since it’s 2010 renovation it has become the gold standard of New England beach resorts.

 

Foundry Hotel Asheville (for hip, mountain vibes)

 

The Foundry Hotel stands as a unique blend of industrial charm and modern luxury in the scenic mountains of western North Carolina. Housed in a former steel factory dating back to the 1920s, the hotel seamlessly marries its rich history with contemporary design and upscale amenities, offering guests an unforgettable stay.

 

The Foundry Hotel’s exterior pays homage to its industrial heritage, with weathered brick walls and steel accents that evoke a sense of authenticity and character. Upon entering, guests are greeted by an atmosphere that combines rustic elements with sleek sophistication, creating a welcoming ambiance that reflects Asheville’s eclectic spirit.

 

The hotel’s accommodations range from well-appointed guest rooms to spacious suites, each thoughtfully designed to provide comfort and elegance. High ceilings, exposed beams, and a blend of modern and vintage furnishings create a distinct sense of style that pays homage to the building’s past while catering to the needs of today’s travelers.

 

Dining at The Foundry Hotel is an experience in itself. The hotel boasts a renowned restaurant that showcases locally sourced ingredients and Southern-inspired cuisine. Guests can savor delectable dishes in a setting that fuses industrial aesthetics with a contemporary dining atmosphere.

 

The hotel’s commitment to relaxation is evident in its amenities, including a spa and wellness center that offer a range of treatments to soothe and rejuvenate. For those who wish to explore the vibrant city, The Foundry Hotel’s central location places guests within walking distance of Asheville’s art galleries, live music venues, and unique boutiques.

 

A stay at The Foundry Hotel is not only a chance to experience the allure of a bygone era brought to life, but also an opportunity to immerse oneself in Asheville’s vibrant culture. With its seamless blend of history, design, and hospitality, The Foundry Hotel invites guests to discover the dynamic spirit of Asheville while enjoying the comfort and luxury of a truly exceptional accommodation.

 

Big Cedar (for a Midwest golf magnate)

 

 

Nestled in the heart of the picturesque Ozark Mountains in southern Missouri, Big Cedar Lodge stands as a premier wilderness resort that offers a harmonious blend of nature’s beauty and luxurious comfort. Surrounded by the serenity of Table Rock Lake and the lush woodlands, this expansive resort provides an idyllic escape for those seeking a tranquil retreat.

 

Big Cedar Lodge captures the essence of rustic elegance with its charming cabins, lodges, and accommodations. The resort’s architecture and design pay homage to the region’s natural beauty, blending seamlessly into the landscape. From cozy cabins to spacious lodges, each accommodation is meticulously appointed with modern amenities while exuding a warm and inviting atmosphere.

 

The real allure of Big Cedar however, is undoubtedly the 4 world-class golf courses, including the Jack Nicklaus-designed Top of the Rock course. This par-3 course is renowned not only for its challenging design but also for its stunning vistas that showcase the Ozark Mountains and the pristine Table Rock Lake. Golfers are treated to an unparalleled experience as they navigate through meticulously designed holes, some of which are perched atop the cliffs, offering breathtaking panoramic views.

 

Beyond the Top of the Rock course, Big Cedar Lodge offers the Buffalo Ridge Springs course, designed by renowned architect Tom Fazio. This 18-hole championship course is known for its strategic layout, incorporating natural rock formations, water features, and lush fairways that seamlessly blend with the surrounding wilderness.

 

Whether you’re a passionate golfer or simply looking to appreciate the artistry of the sport amidst stunning scenery, Big Cedar Lodge’s commitment to providing exceptional golf experiences makes it a destination that truly stands out on the map of golf resorts.

 

Post Ranch Inn (for nature, nurture and nourishment)

 

Perched on the dramatic cliffs of Big Sur, the Post Ranch Inn is a captivating retreat that offers a harmonious blend of luxury and natural beauty. With its innovative architecture and eco-conscious design, the inn seamlessly integrates into its stunning coastal surroundings. Guests are treated to breathtaking Pacific Ocean views from exquisite accommodations that include treehouses and ocean-view suites.

 

These retreats boast a blend of indoor and outdoor spa tubs, inviting wood-burning fireplaces, sumptuous leather furniture, elegant wooden ceilings, and expansive king-size beds. Beyond the comfort, each abode treats guests to majestic vistas of either the rolling surf or the grandeur of the mountains.

 

On the southern expanse of the property, the Cliff Houses, Peak Houses, and Pacific Suites beckon with their unique allure. Constructed using reclaimed lumber, they boast floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the breathtaking panorama. The Peak Houses even feature cantilevered terraces, offering an immersive connection with the surroundings. The accommodations afford a sense of seclusion, as if the sprawling land extends solely for your enjoyment.

 

The Post Ranch Inn’s dedication to preserving the environment is intrinsic to its philosophy. Using natural and sustainable building materials, minimizing wattage in lighting, and safeguarding rare and endangered species, the inn ensures that its luxurious offerings harmonize with the surroundings without compromising the integrity of the ecosystem.

 

While the mesmerizing views from your terrace are captivating, the resort presents a spectrum of activities to engage in throughout the day. Guided nature walks lead you through the enchanting redwood and oak forest, while evenings bring cosmic wonder through the eyes of the resident astronomer and the electronic telescope that unveils the night sky’s brilliance. Moreover, the inn’s proximity to central coast wineries allows for captivating wine journeys.

 

Within the resort, the acclaimed Sierra Mar restaurant garners recognition in esteemed publications like Food & Wine. Dinner offers a seasonal, shared experience that changes daily and is inspired by the harvest from our dynamic Chefs Garden. To complement these delights, an extensive wine list features California’s finest varietals, rounding out the culinary experience with finesse.

 

Ojai Valley Inn Spa (for relaxation, recreation, and rejuvenation)

 

Surrounded by the Topatopa Mountains and embraced by the vibrant energy of the Ojai Valley, this iconic resort offers a captivating blend of relaxation, recreation, and rejuvenation—a luxurious haven where natural beauty meets refined elegance.

 

Accommodations at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa are a testament to comfort and sophistication. From cozy rooms and suites to luxurious private villas, each space is meticulously designed to embrace the region’s Spanish colonial heritage while providing modern amenities and serene views of the surrounding landscape.

 

The inn’s crown jewel is its award-winning spa, a sanctuary of serenity that embraces the spirit of the Ojai Valley. Indulge in a plethora of treatments and therapies that draw inspiration from the local flora, ensuring a harmonious connection with the environment. The Kuyam, a unique treatment inspired by Native American traditions, offers a communal journey of purification and rejuvenation.

 

The culinary offerings at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa are a celebration of farm-to-table excellence. The Oak, the resort’s signature restaurant, sources ingredients locally to craft a menu that showcases the region’s bounty. Guests can savor delectable dishes in an inviting atmosphere that captures the essence of Ojai’s relaxed sophistication.

 

Beyond its remarkable amenities, the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa fosters a sense of community and connection. The Artist Cottage and Apothecary provides a space for creative exploration, while the resort’s dedication to sustainability and environmental stewardship reflects its commitment to preserving the natural beauty that envelops it.

 

From the invigorating spa experiences to the world-class golfing and the culinary delights, the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa offers an unparalleled escape where guests can immerse themselves in the serenity of the Ojai Valley while enjoying the pinnacle of luxury and hospitality.

 

 

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

If a world class spa, beautiful pool overlooking Napa Valley, afternoon wine tastings, gourmet 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 millennials 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.

At first glance, this secret treasure might appear to be one of many throwback, charming farm properties, with barns, silos and rancher’s cottages lining the landscape, but a closer look reveals one of Napa Valley’s most luxurious yet unique resorts. The place was designed to give you the sense that you are in a small village: Amidst the pastoral, authentic wine country feel, you won’t simply find your typical resort staples but also a gourmet market, espresso bar, bocce ball courts, an outdoor lounge and even their very own post office centered around a “town square.” Sitting on a plush 27 acres of vineyards and apple orchards, the resort has managed to strike a balance between fitting into the local agrarian scenery and providing a refined luxury experience.

 

There is no doubt Carneros Resort offers plenty of family-oriented activity, but the resort earns its major kudos as a lovers’ respite. Travel + Leisure calls it one of the “World’s 25 Most Romantic Getaways” and bridal media has overwhelmingly deemed Carneros Inn “a beautiful setting for any bride’s dream wedding.”

 

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Your own cottage

 

If you are looking for privacy, you are in the right place here, with 85 percent of the resort being accessible to registered guests only. The Orchard Cottages, which can be bought as a time share, contain a rustic wood-burning fireplace, private garden and deck, as well as an outdoor shower and whirlpool. Private full ownership homes and resort suites offer alternative alluring accommodations.

 

While you might have come to wine country to indulge in the cornucopia of local California cuisine or toss back the vintner’s libations at leisure, there is no lack of bustle for the health conscious at Carneros Resort. What I find to be a most charming inclusion is that one can take a joy ride on a complimentary cruiser bicycle. Ride over to the fitness center for a private yoga, pilates or other fitness training class. For the early riser or those uber motivated to stay active while your sweetheart lounges late in bed, they offer boot camp, Zumba, and morning walks and runs through the vineyards.

 

World-class Spa

 

Shed some stress with one of their spa treatments, all of which are inspired by the natural Carneros surroundings. Utilized ingredients include the rich minerals of the soils of Carneros and farm abundance like goat butter and milk (these have inherent skin healing abilities), as well as flowers, herbs, oils and fruits native to the area. Condé Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Poll gave the spa a perfect 100 score for setting and service, while rating them as one of the top 55 spas in North America.

 

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Wining & Dining

 

PlumpJack Group, owner of Carneros Resort, also happens to own the esteemed Cade Winery, and may offer guests comps toward a visit. With its modern, stoic design, Cade received GLR’s GreenLux Award in 2010 for Greenest American Winery and provides a stunning hilltop view of Napa Valley. Cade’s sister, PlumpJack Winery, lends itself to a more bucolic flavor, tucked away at the bottom of the Vaca Mountain range. If you are in the mood for wine tasting but don’t want to venture too far from your eden, there are wonderful options only a few minutes away: Etude Winery, located right across the street, is known for their Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, while Domaine Carneros, the local sparkling wine producer, offers a stunning backdrop to enjoy your bubbly. For a wider variety of Carneros wines, Artesa Vineyards & Winery offers all sorts of varietals and – on clear days – a view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.

 

Nothing makes you hungrier than a rough day of wine tasting out in the hot, dry sun. Luckily, travelers have a variety of dining options at their fingertips at the Inn, from the most casual deli to fine dining. While local, sustainable and organic farm-to-table fare has come to be expected in much of Northern California, the Inn takes the mantra quite seriously, endeavoring to source from within 150 miles and harvest from their own farm and orchards. On-site green thumb Peter Stonebreaker runs a half-acre culinary garden, a proudly touted feature. Taking the artisanal ideal one step further, they also bake all their own breads, pastries and charcuteries.

 

Gourmet and FARM Fresh Cuisine

 

FARM at Carneros Inn welcomes those on the lookout for a sophisticated evening, where one can dine sumptuously in their outdoor living room-esque alfresco lounge, underneath Cathedral ceilings, next to cozy fireplaces or on the patio. Inspired by the natural abundance of Napa Valley, FARM features an elevated menu by Chef John Carney based on locally sourced produce.  In addition to the super fresh locally sourced foods, the restaurant makes sure that all food waste is then put back into the culinary garden for soil reconditioning.

 

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The Hilltop Dining Room is just as you would imagine, with spectacular vistas of the all-encompassing vineyards and offering what they call “wine country-inspired” cuisine. Have a nightcap at the adjoining Hilltop Bar, where you can sit admiring the Brazilian cherry wood while you sip on a handmade cocktail straight from the orchards.

 

Casual Dining at Boonfly Cafe

 

Looking to mingle with the locals? Head on over to Boon Fly Café, a spot named after a Carneros pioneer who grew and cultivated orchards and vineyards back in the 1800s. Somehow the place is able to magically bridge the gap between a contemporary and down-to-earth feel. They describe their style as “rustic cuisine based on the agricultural heritage of the region.”

 

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While at Boon Fly, do not pass up the flatbread with Point Reyes Blue Cheese (whose farmstead cheese company is worth taking an afternoon trip up Highway 1), bacon, onions, portobello mushrooms and thyme. Since you are already stuffing yourself indulgently with all this fried chicken and cheese, you might as well go all out and order the truffle fries with parmesan, too, right? Wash it all down with their Bacon Bloody Mary with Smirnoff, a secret special spice blend mixed with tomato juice and garnished with a celery salt rim and an entire strip of bacon. Now that you are in this deep, it can’t really hurt to leave with a baker’s dozen of their supposedly “world famous” donuts for that oh-so-sad drive home.

 

Family Friendly Too

 

Carneros Report is undoubtedly an ideal for adults of any age to unwind in Napa Valley wine country and enjoy all the amenities you’d expect from a five-star resort, yet it is surprisingly family friendly too! The resort recently launched (March 2022) their “Little Seedlings” program which will run through the duration of the spring season. The program is designed to perfectly encapsulate the family-friendly offerings at the resort, while inspiring kids of all ages to get their hands dirty and connect with nature in a curated way that’s wholly Carneros.

“Napa doesn’t just have to be an adults-only experience,” says Managing Director Edward Costa. “Modern families are seeking experiences that enrich the whole family in engaging, hands-on ways that also deliver opportunities to learn and grow – in this case, quite literally. The Little Seedlings program was designed to inspire our youngest guests with meaningful and educational experiences while allowing the adults to fully embrace the charm and amenities of our luxury resort.”

 

Explore or Relax… or Do Both!

 

Whether you are traveling with kids, significant others or by yourself Carneros Resort offers the ultimate combination of luxury and relaxation among Napa Valley’s natural setting. Take advantage of all the wineries and restaurants just a short drive from resort if you desire, though there is no need to ever leave the grounds.

 

Be lazy with breakfast in bed one morning during your stay; Inn staff will bring it straight to your doorstep with a private meal served in the comfort of your cottage, suite or home. For a mid-day munch after taking a dip in the infinity edged lap pool, order a sandwich from Otto’s Snack Shack and relax under a shady cabana. Or, if you are planning a day of exploring, grab a gourmet sandwich, latte, bottle of wine or other organic and artisanal picnic goodies from The Market and espresso bar on site. Heck, they will even put together a personalized picnic basket for you if you so desire. Now, that’s first-class service. Soak it up while you can.

 

Carneros Inn

4048 Sonoma Highway

Napa, Calif. 94559

(707) 299-4900

 

Photos courtesy of Carneros Inn

 

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.

Continue reading

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

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

The history and relationship between Topo Chico and Coca-Cola can be traced back approximately 100 years, highlighting a long-standing association between the two companies. Interestingly, prior to Coca-Cola’s acquisition of Topo Chico, it was actually Topo Chico that obtained the licensing rights to bottle Coca-Cola in Mexico a century ago. This enduring partnership with Coca-Cola over the years made Coke’s decision to acquire Topo Chico a natural progression.

Founded in 1895, Topo Chico initially began its journey by sourcing and bottling water from a spring located near a small hill shaped like a mole, from which it derived its name. The word “Topo” means “mole” in Spanish, while “chico” translates to “small.” Remarkably, even after 127 years, Topo Chico still relies on the same pristine water source, the “Cerro del Topo Chico” spring, to provide the exceptional water quality that has become its hallmark.

The minerals matter

Topo Chico stands out from ordinary sparkling water, such as seltzer or club soda, due to its distinction as mineral water. It naturally contains essential minerals and electrolytes like Sodium, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, and Manganese. In contrast, popular sparkling water brands like “La Croix” only offer seltzer without any added minerals. What makes these minerals so remarkable?

Sodium plays a crucial role in regulating blood and bodily fluids, and its absence can significantly impair bodily functions. It also facilitates the transmission of electrical impulses in the body. Calcium, an important nutrient, serves as a vital component for bones and teeth. Magnesium aids in digestion, helps muscles recover, and promotes a sense of calm. Potassium acts as a fuel for the heart, supports kidney function, and aids in the proper functioning of the nervous system. Manganese acts as an antioxidant, benefiting bone health and boosting collagen production for healthier-looking skin.

While consuming Topo Chico on a daily basis may not single-handedly solve all your health issues, it certainly won’t harm you, and the additional mineral intake could yield some positive effects. Moreover, the electrolyte-rich nature of this water will aid in maintaining hydration, which is beneficial in itself.

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

When it comes to the aftertaste, less can be more, but when it comes to carbonation, more is definitely more. This is where Topo Chico truly shines—its secret weapon lies in its bubbles. Put simply, the naturally occurring carbonation in Topo Chico is both explosively effervescent and remarkably long-lasting, surpassing any other brand I’ve tried. It’s no wonder that it has gained a devoted following among consumers and bartenders alike, who seek a vibrant Vodka Soda or Tom Collins with a ferocious fizz that refuses to go flat.

Even if you leave an open bottle of Topo Chico out overnight, the next day it will taste as if you just cracked it open. Unlike some other mineral waters, which can contain high levels of sodium that may deter some individuals, Topo Chico boasts a relatively low sodium content, providing a refreshing and thirst-quenching sensation without overwhelming the palate.

What is Ranch Water?

When it comes to creating an authentic Ranch Water cocktail, Topo Chico is an absolute must. If you’re not yet familiar with Ranch Water, it’s a refreshing drink consisting of tequila, soda, and lime—a popular choice nowadays due to its low-calorie profile and reduced hangover potential. However, it’s important to note that a true Ranch Water can only be achieved by using Topo Chico. As the unofficial cocktail of Texas, which happens to be the unofficial home-away-from-home for Topo Chico, this beloved drink has played a significant role in the meteoric rise of Topo Chico’s popularity over the past decade. Texans, known for their deep affinity for Topo Chico, have undoubtedly contributed to its widespread acclaim.

 

Ranch Water Cocktail

Photo Courtesy: Valerie’s Kitchen

 

TC launches hard seltzer lineup (no surprise there)

In March of 2021, Topo Chico introduced a range of Hard Seltzers to the market, a move that hardly came as a surprise in today’s craze for hard seltzers. This lineup offered an array of enticing flavors, including Tangy Lemon Lime, Exotic Pineapple, Strawberry Guava, and Tropical Mango. Building on their success, almost a year later, Topo Chico unveiled a new collection of hard seltzers called “Margaritas,” featuring flavors inspired by the classic cocktail. These delightful options included Signature Margarita, Tropical Pineapple, Strawberry Hibiscus, and Prickly Pear, each capturing the essence of tropical indulgence with a dash of salt, lime, and tequila flavors.

During the same launch campaign, Topo Chico also unveiled their highly anticipated “Ranch Water” Hard Seltzer, drawing inspiration from the renowned cocktail recipe made famous by Texas bartenders. The Topo Chico Ranch Water Hard Seltzer was crafted with real lime juice, offering a truly refreshing and crisp taste that echoes the beloved original cocktail. This release further demonstrated Topo Chico’s commitment to innovation and their ability to capture the essence of popular flavors in a convenient and effervescent form.

 

Topo Chico Hard Seltzer Margarita Variety Pack

 

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 Puerto Rico

The island of Puerto Rico is the heart and soul of the Caribbean and is known for its gorgeous beaches, tropical sophistication, vibrant culture, and adventurous spirit. Check out our curated Top 5 Things to Do in Puerto Rico by renowned luxury travel expert Christopher Parr.

The beautiful Fairmont El San Juan is the perfect blend of tradition, culture, and sophistication since its opening in 1958. Located in Old San Juan, romantic cobblestone streets, vibrant restaurants, boutiques, and shops are just outside your door. Designed by Miami Beach architect Morris Lapidus, the hotel embodies the island heritage, along with modern luxury after a 65 million dollar remodel. With 266 guest rooms, the property can accommodate any type of room you may need, with 36 suites and 3 specialty suites, including the palatial Presidential Suite and 83 Banyan, Pool, and Ocean Villa Rooms.

Once you have arrived, you won’t ever want to leave with access to Award-winning Isla Verde Beach, where you can spend the afternoon jet skiing, kayaking, paddle boarding or just relaxing by one of four pools. When the sun sets, head to  Foxwoods El San Juan Casino for non-stop gaming, entertainment, and live music.

 

 

Wyndham Rio Mar

Located on Puerto Rico’s northern shore, the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar is situated on a two-mile stretch of white sand beach surrounded by the El Yunque Rainforest, sun, and surf. Find your perfect retreat in one of 400 guest rooms and suites, well-appointed with balcony views, plush bedding, a mini-fridge, and complimentary modern conveniences like free WiFi, water, and Puerto Rican coffee. Enjoy two championship golf courses & tennis center, a spa, a fitness center, 10 restaurants & bars, a casino, two nature reserves, and a guest experience program to explore all that nature has to offer.

 

 

The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico

Built on a former coconut plantation and ties you directly to nature at the foot of El Yunque National Rainforest. Nestled on a former coconut plantation, the property offers sustainable activities like naturalist-guided bird-watching and kayaking tours to discover over 240 unique species of flora and fauna, including tropical birds and leatherback turtles.

TRY AUTHENTIC PUERTO RICAN CUISINE

With Spanish, African, Asian, and Caribbean influences, Puerto Rico has some vibrant cultural dishes. With a close influence on the sea, freshly caught seafood is a must-try. If you haven’t tried some of the local specialties, Purto Rico offers so much more than just fried plantains, spit-roasted pork, stuffed Mofongo, and rice & beans. If you want to explore Old San Juan like a local, try a food tour with https://thespoonexperience.com. Founded by a group of artists, event planners, and former executives with a passion for food, culture, and the island of Puerto Rico Island, this is the perfect chance to taste several dishes and two beverages, with stops to points of interest along the way.

 

 

EXPLORE ADVENTURE & NATURE

With over 1,200 beaches around the island and over 270 miles of coastline, there is a beach for everyone. Enjoy the rays on white sand beaches with crystal blue waters, or try snorkeling, surfing, or scuba diving.

If you are looking for adventure, try leaping off a waterfall in the rainforest, cave rappelling, zip-lining over the forest, or paddling through the glow-in-the-dark bioluminescent bay. In the spectacular El Yunque National Forest on the Sierra de Luquillo mountains, you can hike to waterfalls, take a Rainforest Foothills & Beach Tour, or even a Bio Bay Kayaking Adventure Tour.

If you are looking for a unique day trip, take a Catamaran Day Trip to Culebra with East Island Excursions. Travel by catamaran to snorkel at the reefs of the Island of Culebra, explore the marine life at the famous Flamenco beach, Cayo Luis Peña, and Culebrita Island.

 
ART & CULTURE
Explore the local art scene with theartwalkpr, an independent local cultural project designed to promote Puerto Rico’s art scene through curated art experiences, exhibition projects, and community art-based initiatives. The “rutas y experiencias” spans a range of experiences from group tours of the murals at “Calle Cerra”, casual cocktails at Santurce’s alternative art spaces, to sit-down dinners at an artist’s studio to artist community-based projects. theartwalkpr can also tailor-make experiences.
Explore Modern Art at the Museum of Contemporary Art
Founded in 1984, the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico (MAC) is the only institution on the island expressly dedicated to the study, collection, preservation, exhibition, and promotion of art produced since the mid-20th century in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Spread over two floors, this is one of Puerto Rico’s best collections of contemporary art by local artists and those from other Caribbean islands.
VISIT HISTORIC SITES
Old San Juan
Dating back to 1521, Old San Juan is one of the oldest cities in the United States. Stroll through cobblestone streets lined with brightly colored houses with buildings dating from the 16th century, including the San Felipe del Morro and San Cristóbal fortresses. The Bautista Cathedral houses the tomb of Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León, and Old San Juan is home to cocktail bars and Caribbean fusion restaurants.
Old Forts
Old San Juan is home to several massive fortresses with historical importance, with the most famous being Castillo San Felipe del Morro (“El Morro”). Located on the coast, the fortress was an important military post during the First and Second Wolrd Wars. Don’t miss Castillo de San Cristóbal, one of the largest forts built in America, that took over 250 years to build.  Then, stop by the governor’s mansion, La Fortaleza, built between 1533 and 1540 and is the oldest executive mansion in continuous use in the New World.

The Resurgence of the Travel Agent

If there’s one thing we can collectively embrace in the COVID era, 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.

 

We know what you’re thinking:  you have a plethora of online booking options at your fingertips, which are already almost permanently glued to your keyboard or phone at this point. Redirect that side eye and hear us out, though. Sure, widespread, global travel is not greenlit just yet and we understand if you are still too spooked to count the proverbial chickens of 2021. With the FDA’s approval and roll-out of vaccinations now on track, though, it just might be high time for wanderlusters to seek out a helping hand in a changed landscape.

 

“The role of the travel advisor has become more important now than ever, as people need help navigating all of the Covid details, including which counties are open for travel, entry requirements, testing sites, and more,” says Corey Cook, an agent for Elli Travel in Larchmont, NY and GLR’s resident travel advisor.

 

Jolie Goldring of the NYC-based agency In The Know Experiences (ITKE) has a similar take on the logistical benefits of using a travel advisor. However, the veteran advisor also points out the additional perks she can get her clients, noting amenities such as resort credits, daily complimentary breakfast, small personal touches and often confirmed upgrades—not to mention the general hand-holding that her clients have become accustomed to receiving.

 

“Whether it be leveraging our relationships to help with more flexible deposit and cancel policies, deciphering airline cancel and refund policies, or guiding clients about testing and quarantining policies that may be required, we are offering an invaluable service and peace-of-mind,” says Goldring.

 

 

Cook also sees the role of travel agent as similar to other sought after experts that the average person seeks out on a regular basis, such as a financial adviser or interior designer. Due to all the travel sites that have spawned across the web for years, many think that planning a trip is no longer something they need to outsource. According to Cook, though, she has recently seen her job become en vogue again, and hey, we get it. After all, why scour the internet for the best flight deal or agonize over conflicting hotel reviews when you could instead enlist the help of an individual who has made a career of knowing these things?

 

“The web has become oversaturated with travel information, and it’s simply overwhelming for many people. Which hotel should I book? What are the better activities/tours to do? There’s a million options,” Cook opines. “That’s where travel advisors come into play. We cut through all of that confusion to properly guide our clients and help with the bookings.”

 

Furthermore, studies in recent years have shown that the use of travel agents, even pre-Covid, was still more prevalent than the average I-can-do-it-myself hodophile might have guessed . The 2018 Global Passenger Survey completed by the International Air Transport Association, which garnered 10,408 responses from 145 countries, found that about 43 percent of passengers preferred to use a travel agency, travel management company or corporate travel department to book flights. Another particular standout from that 2018 survey that rings particularly relevant was a finding from the responses that passengers wanted “a human touch when things go wrong.”

 

Ahem. Case closed, are we right?

 

See our full report on The State of Travel: 2021

 

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