About Travel Features Syndicate

Karen Rubin is an eclectic travel writer who has been spanning the globe for more than 30 years reporting on interesting, intriguing people and places to explore for magazines, newspapers and online. She publishes Travel Features Syndicate in newspapers and online including examiner.com, Huffington Post and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate and blogs at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com. "Travel is a life-changing and an interactive experience that mutually benefits travelers and community." Contact Karen at FamTravLtr@aol.com. 'Like' us at www.facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Historic Hotels of America Announces Top 25 Haunted Hotels

Jekyll Island Club Resort, Jekyll Island, Georgia, is among this year’s Historic Hotels of America Top 25 Most Haunted Hotels © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

WASHINGTON, DC—Historic Hotels of America has over 300 hotels with long and storied histories. Some hotels have reported ghosts and paranormal activity throughout the halls and in guestrooms giving those who stay a fright. From ghosts who have been around since the Revolutionary War to jilted lovers, heartbroken, there are an abundance of ghostly sightings in historic hotels.

Here is a listing of the Top 25 Most Haunted Hotels:

Concord’s Colonial Inn (1716) Concord, Massachusetts
The original part of the Inn was built in the early 1700s before the Revolutionary War. With such a long and robust history, it’s no wonder there are spirits that still wander the halls of this historic hotel. One of the most famous, haunted and sought-after guestrooms is room 24. During the Revolutionary War, the right side of the Inn was privately owned by Dr. Timothy Minot. When patriot soldiers were injured at the Battles of Lexington and Concord at the North Bridge, they were brought to his home to be cared for. Dr. Minot used what is now the Liberty Room as a hospital and room 24 as an operating room. Several soldiers who were operated on in room 24 died during surgery. They were then carried directly downstairs into room 27, which was used as a morgue. It’s no wonder then that guests have reported lights flickering in room 27 or turning on and off completely. One guest woke up in the middle of the night and every light was on in the room, including the television! Others have heard hushed whispers coming from the closet and have seen the door to the room slamming shut on its own.

The Red Lion Inn (1773) Stockbridge, Massachusetts
Ghostly rumors continue to swirl at the inn which has seen the likes of many paranormal investigators and mediums. The fourth floor, in particular, has been said to have the most activity. Both cleaning staff and guests have claimed to see a “ghostly young girl carrying flowers” and “a man in a top hat.” It has been said that guests have awoken to the feeling of someone standing over them at the foot of the bed. Cold spots, unexplained knocks, and electrical disturbances have all been reported. Guestroom 301 is also known to be a haunted hot spot.

Omni Parker House, Boston (1855) Boston, Massachusetts
This hotel was opened by Harvey Parker and he was involved with the operations of the building until his death in 1884. Over the years, many guests have reported seeing him inquiring about their stay—a true “spirited” hotelier even after his death.

The Sagamore (1883) Bolton Landing, New York
The Sagamore has its own American ghost story. Opened in 1883 as a playground resort for summer residents of Millionaire’s Row, this rambling historic hotel sits in a 6 million-acre state park and is rumored to accommodate a ghost or two. Stories persist of the ghost of a silver-haired woman wearing a blue polka-dot dress descending from the second floor to the Trillium, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant.

1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa (1886) Eureka Springs, Arkansas
The 1886 Crescent Hotel, well known today as being a mountaintop spa resort in the Arkansas Ozarks, was once used as a Cancer Curing Hospital which was under the control of the hospital’s owner, reported charlatan Norman Baker from Muscatine, Iowa. Baker operated his Eureka Springs’ facility from 1937 until December 1940. There are many paranormal patrons with terrifying tales to tell. Among those are Michael, the Irish stonemason who, while constructing the building back in 1885, fell to his death in the footprint of what is now Room 218. He has thought to be a frequent visitor to the room since the day of his death. There’s also Theodora – a patient and helper during the days when the hotel was owned Norman Baker, resides in Room 419. Guests have reported that she will put bags in front of the door from the inside making it hard for guests to open their door upon their return. Dozens and dozens of ghost like encounters, and creepy, unexplained occurrences happen at this hotel on a regular basis.

Jekyll Island Club Resort (1887) Jekyll Island, Georgia
Over the years, the Jekyll Island Club Resort has seen many families come and go since it opened in 1887. With all that time, comes the stories and mysteries, the staff, as well as guests have encountered firsthand. One such encounter involves the family of J.P. Morgan. Sans Souci, one of the buildings at the Jekyll Island Club Resort, is a handsome four-story structure erected in 1896 as one of the first condominiums to ever be built. It was built originally for families to use, including the family of J. Pierpont Morgan. His family rooms were located on the third floor, north end of the property facing the Jekyll River. He was particularly fond of the large porch which graced the front of his apartment allowing him a beautiful view of the river. Mr. Morgan was a lover of cigars. As the story goes, one could tell where he was by following the trail of smoke. In order to avoid criticisms for his favorite hobby, he would rise early every morning by 5 am to have a smoke on the porch. While most contemporary guests are not rising at such an early hour for a cigar, those who have stayed in the Morgan’s old apartment swear they have awakened to the faint smell of cigar smoke wafting about when there is absolutely no one else awake.

Union Station Nashville, Autograph Collection (1900) Nashville, Tennessee
One of Nashville’s most iconic landmarks, Union Station Hotel resides in a building that previously served as the city’s buzzing railway station. Guests are reminded of the building’s rich history through another kind of encounter: with the hotel’s resident ghost, Abigail. Legend has it that during World War II a young woman, Abigail, said goodbye to her soldier on the Union Station train platform before he shipped off to France. When she arrived at that same spot to greet him on his return, she was instead met with word that he was killed in action. Distraught, Abigail threw herself in front of a passing locomotive. The forlorn spirit of Abigail, still looking for her lost love, can reportedly be seen wandering the main terminal and her presence felt in Room 711. Now known as the Abigail Room, guests can request to stay in the haunted suite, which is decorated unlike any other room in the hotel with antique furnishings, a four-poster bed and artwork inspired by her tale.

Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa (1901) Honolulu, Hawaii
On February 28, 1905, the untimely death of Jane Stanford, co-founder of Stanford University, made headlines everywhere. Stanford, who was vacationing in Hawaii following a strychnine poisoning attempt on her life, died in her room at the Moana. There have been reports that the ghost of Stanford still frequents the hotel, whose beautiful ocean vistas brought her short-lived peace. Guests and hotel staff have said that they’ve seen her walking at night trying to find her room.

Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods (1902) New Hampshire
Known affectionately by staff members as “the princess”, Caroline Foster, was a long-time inhabitant of the hotel. Princess Caroline Foster’s ties to the resort go back to its inception when her husband, railroad tycoon Joseph Stickney, built the grand resort in 1902. Incorporating special accommodations for his wife, construction of the resort included an indoor swimming pool and a private dining room for Caroline known today as the “Princess Room.” A prominent figure at the resort since its opening, many guests who have visited continue to report sightings of the regal Caroline. Visions of an elegant woman in Victorian dress are often spotted in the hallways of the hotel, there are light taps on doors when no one is outside and items suddenly disappear and then reappear in the exact place they were lost. But perhaps the most common sighting of the beloved Caroline is in room 314, where guests report seeing a vision of the woman sitting at the edge of their bed.

The Seelbach Hilton Louisville (1905) Louisville, Kentucky
Legend says two lovers were to be married at the hotel in 1907, but the groom met an untimely death on his way to the wedding. His distraught bride threw herself down the elevator shaft, falling ten stories to her death. The bride is said to continue to haunt the halls of this historic hotel.

Mizpah Hotel (1907) Tonopah, Nevada
Built in 1907 and beautifully restored to its former grandeur and glory. The hotel is home to several ghostly figures. One of which is the former bellhops has been seen roaming the halls of the hotel trying to give guests a hand with their luggage. The town of Tonopah was well known for silver mining and just beneath the Mizpah are old mining tunnels. The hotel had a run-in with a few very greedy miners and lost out on a large sum of money. As legend is told, three miners dug a hole into the old bank safe and robbed the hotel. One of the men turned his back on his two accomplices and shot them. He left them for dead and took off with the money and was never been caught. To this day, those two miners still lurk in the basement of the Hotel.

The Omni Grove Park Inn (1913) Asheville, North Carolina
There is a strange, but gentle spirit residing within the gray, granite walls of Asheville’s historic Grove Park Inn. Known simply as the “Pink Lady”, she has been seen, felt and experienced by hotel employees and guests for nearly a century. Although the Pink Lady is believed to have met her demise on the Palm Court floor after falling two stories from the fifth floor to the third floor, she has been seen and experienced in a number of places throughout the resort. The Pink Lady has been described as a dense pinkish smoke with a presence that can be felt by guests throughout the grounds of the Inn.

La Fonda (1922) Santa Fe, New Mexico
Shot to death in 1867 in the hotel lobby, John P. Slough, Chief Justice of the Territorial Supreme Court, is said to have never left. Meanwhile, a distraught salesman, who jumped into the hotel well after losing a card game, has been seen emerging from the fountain by visitors and guests alike.

The Emily Morgan San Antonio- a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel (1924) San Antonio, Texas
The Emily Morgan is known to be one of the most haunted hotels in all of Texas. According to various reports, even some given by the hotel’s own management team, the most haunted floors are the seventh, ninth and fourteenth floors in addition to the basement.
It was these particular floors that at one time functioned as the psychiatric ward, surgery level, waiting area and morgue, respectively. At the Emily Morgan, almost all of the paranormal reports involve ghosts and spirits from days gone by when the building was the medical building.
Guests have reported strange things occurring on these particular levels. Those staying on the fourteenth level of the Emily Morgan generally have one thing to say: that the smell is acutely reminiscent of a hospital. Guests have reported to opening the doors to the hallways only to find a scene from a hospital waiting right inside.

Francis Marion Hotel (1924) Charleston, South Carolina
In the early 1930s, New Yorker Ned Cohen was visiting his Southern lady friend in Charleston. Whatever happened was never clear, but he was found face down, body smashed in the middle of King Street facing toward the old Citadel’s parade grounds. Today, visitors hear eerie and unexplained sounds at night, all too familiar to the bell staff and room attendants walking the halls. Sounds of rustling silk drapes, rattling windows, and an unexplained vision of a man questioning either himself or the witness. Some see the ghost in short sleeves, others just feel his presence throughout the hotel.

Hawthorne Hotel (1925) Salem, Massachusetts
The city of Salem is notorious for the Salem Witch Trials in 1692 and is prone to hauntings and spirits of its own. The hotel has ghost stories, mostly attributed to the sea captains who were returning to their gathering place. In particular, guests staying in rooms 612 and 325 have reported of lights turning off and on and experiencing a general uneasy feeling throughout the rooms.

Hotel Viking (1926) Newport, Rhode Island
Hotel Viking has had many guests and staff members come and go, reporting stories of spirited guests. The story that has been reported repeatedly is of a little boy is often seen cleaning the floors of the historic wing of the hotel. There have been about 10 different guests regaling a similar story of a young boy cleaning. This has also been confirmed by most of the housekeeping staff.

Hotel Saranac, Curio Collection by Hilton (1927) Saranac, New York
This historic hotel was built on foundation of a former High School. It is the only hotel building remaining of 13 luxury hotels that once served this community. While fires led to the downfall of some of the area’s hotels, survived by design: made of steel and brick, Hotel Saranac was the area’s first fireproof hotel. The hotel had a civil defense tower on top, where it is said that Boy Scouts would wait to watch for Russian Bombers. Room 308 – Emily Balsam, was a guest at Hotel Saranac and worked at a local college. She had a cat. The story is told that she was not feeling well for a while and got tired of people checking on her and just wanted to be left alone. She had her phone disconnected and stopped all housekeeping. She did not want to be disturbed for any reason. No one saw much of her after that. At some point the guest and staff started to complain about the smell coming from that room and the cat always “crying” and Emily refused to answer the door. The manager at the time went up to talk to her and found she had been dead for weeks and the cat was still alive. The cat was taken to a shelter but it is said that the ghost of Emily’s cat can still be heard crying or scratching at the wall, perhaps wandering the hotel looking for her.

Hotel Monteleone (1886) New Orleans, Louisiana
A maid, known as “Mrs. Clean” reputedly haunts the hotel. Paranormal researchers once asked why she stayed, and the maid, whose mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother also worked at the hotel, said she was picking up after housekeeping to ensure high standards.

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa (1927) Sonoma, California
It is said that ghosts haunt where they were the happiest. Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa welcomes guests past and present and tells the tales of guests who never wanted to leave. When the evenings are still and the fog rolls in from the Bay, a hauntingly beautiful woman has been seen strolling the hallways of the Inn in period dress. Victoria, as she is fondly referred to by many of the Inn’s tenured employees and whose family traces back to the founding fathers of Sonoma Valley, is said to have celebrated her wedding and many anniversaries at the resort.

Hassayampa Inn (1927) Prescott, Arizona
The year it opened, the Hassayampa Inn developed its most famous legend. A very young bride named Faith Summers checked into a balcony suite with her much older husband in 1927. According to the story, Faith’s husband went out to buy cigarettes and never returned. Faith waited for three days and then took her life in despair. Since then, countless hotel guests and employees have reported encounters with a young woman throughout the hotel crying at the end of a bed, dressed in a pink gown in the hallway, appearing and disappearing from rooms. One housekeeper saw a woman by a bed, holding flowers and crying. When asked if she needed help, the woman vanished. Kitchen staff have reported feeling Faith’s presence in the kitchen, right before the burners on the stove suddenly went out. Others have reported strange cold spots in Faith’s honeymoon suite. The heartbroken ghost appears unable to move on from her anguish. Many think that though Faith is heartbroken, she enjoys staying at the Hassayampa Inn.

The Don CeSar (1928) St. Pete Beach, Florida
Over the years there have been a number of reported “sightings” and strange occurrences at this historic hotel. Although there are various stories, the most common presence felt through the building is that of Mr. Thomas Rowe, the man who brought the Don CeSar to life and is the focal point of the love story surrounding the hotel. It is rumored that people have reported seeing Mr. Rowe throughout the hotel, on the beach, and even interacting with guests and staff. In the evening it has been reported that from time to time guests have looked up to the windows on the fifth floor and see the figure of a man watching from above.

Lord Baltimore Hotel (1928) Baltimore, Maryland
Over the course of its more then 90-year history, the Lord Baltimore Hotel has had reports of paranormal activity. Built in 1928, the hotel was one of the tallest building in the city (the Great Fire of 1904 destroyed Downtown Baltimore) and around the time of the Great Depression, there were at least 20 documented reports of “jumpers” from the 19th floor rooftop deck. The most spoken about is that of a couple who attended an event at the hotel with their daughter – and then proceeded to jump off the building. Their daughter, “Molly,” is typically seen in the halls wearing a white dress and playing with a red ball. There has also been a lot of paranormal speculation around a handprint of a child on a wall in one of the hotel’s penthouses that won’t go away.

Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, DC (1930) Washington, DC
During the Shoreham’s early years, three people died unexpectedly in suite 870. At that time the apartment was occupied by one of the hotel’s owners, Henry Doherty. Juliette Brown, the family’s housekeeper dropped dead mysteriously one night at 4 am. Doherty’s daughter and wife also perished mysteriously in the same suite. During its vacancy there were claims of mysterious noises, doors slamming shut and furniture moving—many of which happened around 4 am, the time of Juliette’s death.

Tubac Golf Resort and Spa (1959) Tubac, Arizona
There have been hauntings throughout the resort that have been reported by guests by at least four unique ghosts including a boy, a lady in gray, a very active gentleman spirit, and a cowboy. Some of these spirits are believed to date back to the early age of the resort when it was the Otero Ranch. The haunts have been investigated by the Phoenix, Arizona Paranormal Society and featured on the “Haunted Series, Arizona.”

“The spirits reported to reside within these Historic Hotels of America have been described as sad to happy, shy to friendly, slowly meandering to in a rush, in work clothes to elaborately dressed, and range from young to old,” said Lawrence Horwitz, Executive Director, Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide. “Some pre-date the construction of the hotel and others figure prominently from the early years of the historic hotels.”

For a complete listing of haunted historic hotels, visit https://www.historichotels.org/MostHaunted.php.

Historic Hotels of America is the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for recognizing and celebrating the finest Historic Hotels. Historic Hotels of America has more than 300 historic hotels. These historic hotels have all faithfully maintained their authenticity, sense of place, and architectural integrity in the United States of America, including 44 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Historic Hotels of America is comprised of mostly independently owned and operated historic hotels. More than 30 of the world’s finest hospitality brands, chains, and collections are represented in Historic Hotels of America. To be nominated and selected for membership into this prestigious program, a hotel must be at least 50 years old; has been designated by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark or listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places; and recognized as having historic significance. For more information, visit HistoricHotels.org.

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The Travel Corporation, TreadRight Foundation Pledge to ‘Make Travel Matter’

Brett Tollman, chief executive officer of The Travel Corporation, commits the company and its 42 brands, and the TreadRight Foundation to “Make Travel Matter” for the planet, people and wildlife© Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

On one issue I take exception to the courageous climate activist, Greta Thunberg: travel – even airline travel – is not the enemy of the climate action crusade, travel is its best ally. She may have taken two weeks to sail the Atlantic to reach the United Nations Climate Action Summit, but the thousands of diplomats and heads of state she scolded and shamed into action, could not.

“What would happen if we stopped traveling, stopped flying? Would we save the planet or unleash a global conservation crisis? There would be global conservation crisis,” asserted Costas Christ, chairman of The TreadRight Foundation, a philanthropy created by The Travel Corporation’s 42 brands, to preserve and protect the planet, people and wildlife.

Christ, who came out of the Wildlife Conservation Society, pointed to the three great forests on the planet – New Guinea, Amazon Basin, Central African rainforest including Gabon. But in the early 2000s, Gabon’s economy was dependent on mining and timber concessions.

The Wildlife Conservation Society went to Gabon’s president and said, “If you continue mining, cutting trees, the party is over in 50 years, but if put aside area for conservation, travelers will come, alleviate poverty and save the forest – your great grandchildren will be able to make their livelihood here.

“With stroke of Gabon President’s pen, he created 11 national parks, protecting 13 million acres – Travel Matters,” Christ said. “Travel is the alternative to exploitation – preserve and protect instead of poach and encroach.”

“If travelers did not go to the African continent, the future would be unrelenting poverty. Travel is hope, conservation.”

Colombia, where The Travel Corporation has introduced new travel programs, is one of the 30 places on the planet which are the “Noah’s Ark of Life,” a biodiversity hot spot harboring one out of 10 species.

“If we are able to help Colombia protect its natural resources we will protect the second largest biodiverse place on the planet.”

“We make an impact when travel supports conservation, protects wildlife and alleviates poverty. Travel matters when it is planned, managed well, sustainable. Then magic happens – we deliver on our promise to make the world a better place.

It is significant that travel benefits the destinations, but travel also enriches individuals, in a mutually virtuous circle.

What is wanderlust and why do we seek out other places? Christ asks. Marco Polo understood. So did John Steinbeck, who, in his Pulitzer-Prize winning book, wrote:

A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike.

And all plans, safeguards, policies and coercion are fruitless.

We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.

Mark Twain, who actually was a travel writer, wrote in “The Innocents Abroad,” “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Costas Christ traveled to meet the Dalai Lama, who travels constantly, to ask ‘Why travel?.’ “He said, ‘in ancient Tibetan ‘gropa’ is the word for human being, but the literal meaning is ‘one who goes on migrations.’ We define the essence of being human to travel – to travel is to be human.

“We think of the word ‘progress’ as hitting goals, but to pro-gress is a kind of travel. In Middle English, “progress” means “to go on a seasonal journey” – so success is a journey, success is linked to travel.”

The TreadRight Foundation, a not-for-profit organization created 10 years ago as a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) family of brands, takes a percentage of profit from 42 companies to make sure goes to projects that make a difference. TreadRight supports 55 projects in 280 communities in 26 countries in three basic categories: planet, people and wildlife.

TTC, a member of the World Travel & Tourism Council, is joining in a commitment for the industry – which accounts for one in 10 jobs around the world and accounts for 10% of the global economy, to become carbon neutral by 2050. TTC will also take steps to eliminate plastics through its supply chain, and reduce carbon emissions.

“We’re committed to be carbon neutral before 2050 and not through carbon offsets. Carbon is what’s destroying climate, not offsets,” Brett Tollman, Chief Executive, The Travel Corporation and Founder, The TreadRight Foundation. said at a reception marking TreadRight’s 10 years.

“We are at an unfortunate tipping point, where unless we careful, this industry will be the poster for all that’s bad,” he said. “We have the opportunity to make change, but we have to be courageous.”

But though travel – particularly airline travel – does have a carbon cost (until the technologies improve), not traveling would be far worse for the quest of saving the planet and communities from the impacts of climate change and promoting a more just society.

Christ points to places devastated by climate catastrophe that have rebounded because of tourism, communities and cultures destroyed by war and conflict, like Bosnia and Croatia, rebuild and thrive because of the economic support of travel dollars.

For example, working with the Jordan tourism Board, TreadRight supports the Queen Noor Iraq Alamei, a cooperative that employs women as potters and artisans – giving women jobs outside the home but within the village. With TreadRight support, the cooperative built up a gift shop and opened an Air BnB.

New travel programs in Colombia help create a wildlife nursery and install solar panels, while another program in Sierra Nevada, through Trafalgar, creates an opportunity for visitors to be hosted by a family.

“Travel is an incredible gift. It has the ability to open our eyes to the unique cultures and spellbinding beauty of the natural world. But with this gift comes a responsibility – to protect the world as we know it. At TreadRight, our mission is clear; to have a positive impact on the people and communities we visit, to protect wildlife and marine life, and to care for the planet we call home.”

Craig Kielburger, the co-founder of WE charity, explained how Treadright’s family of travel companies is partnering with We.org, which builds schools, promotes sustainable agriculture, brings pure water to communities – to offer programs in which travelers can immerse themselves into that community.

The Travel Corporation and TreadRight Foundation are partnering with Craig Kielburger’s We charity to create Me to We voluntourism trips to places like Kenya © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
In partnership with ME to WE, travelers have the opportunity to visit three iconic destinations: India, the Ecuadorian Amazon and Kenya. In conjunction with TTC, guests can book ME to WE Immersive Volunteer Trip extensions on upcoming set departure dates or as a requested custom trip. Travelers stay among local communities in comfortable lodges, owned and operated by ME to WE. All meals, ground transfers, transportation and local sightseeing excursions hosted by an expert facilitator are included.

[caption id="attachment_5253" align="alignleft" width="1500"] The Travel Corporation and TreadRight Foundation are partnering with Craig Kielburger’s We charity to create Me to We voluntourism trips to places like Kenya © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

You can run with the Masai, help build a school, see what it feels like to have to carry water barrels on your back; stay in a family’s home in Ecuador; in India, visit an elephant rescue preserve instead of riding on one. (See TreadRight.org site, https://www.TreadRight.org/trips/).

“Travel is a privilege,” said Celine Cousteau, a documentary filmmaker and TreadRight Ambassador and storyteller. “Experience places and people, become a part of who they are. Travel fosters profound change. Travelers become storytellers. Traveling on an airplane has a carbon footprint, yes, but the value it brings more than compensates. Travel is an opportunity to bring a thriving economy, conserve, preserve. Make a choice to do good and if travel, make it count.”

TTC’s ‘Make Travel Matter’ Pledge

TreadRight has made #maketravelmatter its mission and its theme and on this year’s World Tourism Day, made this pledge:

The Travel Corporation (TTC) has just announced its new Make Travel Matter Pledge, in celebration of World Tourism Day. Guided by The TreadRight Foundation, a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s family of award-winning brands, including Trafalgar, Uniworld, Insight Vacations, Luxury Gold, Contiki, African Travel, Inc., Lion World Travel, Brendan Vacations and Red Carnation Hotels the pledge serves as the next step in a long standing commitment to sustainable tourism and conscious travel.

“This World Tourism Day, Friday, September 27th, 2019, engaged citizens will examine the positive impact travel has on the globe and TreadRight is making its commitment public to Make Travel Matter,” the company stated.

Celine Cousteau, TreadRight ambassador, speaks of the difference between tourists financing the cruel treatment of elephants, versus visiting elephants in a rescue preserve © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Inspired by Palau’s First Lady, Debbie Remengesau who introduced the Palau Pledge, every one of TTC’s 10,000 team members and 42 companies worldwide are committing to make travel matter, with its new official pledge standing to help protect people, planet and wildlife. In celebration of World Tourism Day, all members of TTC’s family of brands will use the opportunity to stand up and personally commit to share TreadRight’s ethos as travelers, as travel providers and as members of the global travel industry.

“Our Make Travel Matter Pledge is another step on our journey and an impactful one as it further solidifies our commitment to helping protect the destinations we work with, its communities and local wildlife,” Tollman said. “As responsible travelers, TreadRight’s ethos has become part of our company’s DNA and what we stand for, and we share our pledge with our guests as well as partners in hopes they will join us.”


I will make my travel matter – for our planet, for people and for wildlife.

When I explore this planet, I will do my best to TreadRight.

I will refuse single use plastics when I can and recycle what I cannot avoid.

When possible, I will offset my travels.

When I meet new people, I will honor their home as I do my own and do so in the spirit of diversity and inclusion. I will purchase locally made items wherever possible and pay a fair price.

When I experience wildlife, I will do so in nature.

I will not ride animals that ought not be ridden, nor support animal cruelty in any way.

Together, we will TreadRight upon the earth – and we will make our travel matter.

More information at TreadRight.org. #MakeTravelMatter

For more information about TTC, visit www.ttc.com.

TreadRight is not the only entity that facilitates authentic, transformative, responsible travel experiences – there is a whole travel industry subcategory, many represented by Center for Responsible Travel (responsibletravel.org), Global Sustainable Tourism Council (gstcouncil.org), Earthcheck (earthcheck.org) and the Rainforest Alliance (https://www.rainforest-alliance.org).

See also:

NYT Travel Show: How to Be a Responsible Traveler… and Why

What I Learned From Traveling Around the World in 23 Days


© 2019 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Hotels with Hearth and History

Getting into the mood to celebrate Presidents’ Week? Warm up this winter and cozy up to real wood-burning fireplaces at historic hotels across the country and sip fireside cocktails at Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Benjamin Harrison’s, favorite getaways, not to mention John Steinbeck’s, and John D. Rockefeller’s and feel transported in time. Here’s a sampling:

Baron’s Cove in nearby Sag Harbor offers historical cocktails in honor of its impressive literary background. Sip “The Steinbeck” – renamed Jack Rose cocktail was one of John Steinbeck’s favorite libations.

BARON’S COVE, Sag Harbor, N.Y.
Offering one of the coziest spots and sweeping harbor views in the Hamptons year-round is the sophisticated Baron’s Cove in Sag Harbor, New York. This 67-room luxe resort offers three wood-burning fireplaces for guests to enjoy — one in its lobby lounge, a popular retreat for happy hour, live local music, and where guests gather for pre-dinner artisanal cocktails before heading upstairs to dine fireside at The Restaurant at Baron’s Cove. The third wood-burning fireplace is located on the hotel’s covered veranda, the ideal spot for small plates and drinks in the warmer months.

Fun historical fact: Located walking distance from Sag Harbor’s main attractions and town, Baron’s Cove, its restaurant, and fireplaces were once the go-to destinations for prominent guests including John and Elaine Steinbeck, Paul Newman, Art Garfunkel, George Plimpton, Billy Joel, Richard Kind, Truman Capote, Jason Pollock, and Willem and Elaine de Kooning.

What to sip fireside: Baron’s Cove offers historical cocktails in honor of its impressive literary background. Sip “The Steinbeck” – this renamed Jack Rose cocktail was one of the author’s favorite libations.

The Broadmoor has been a gateway for travelers to experience the American West since it opened its doors in 1918, when John D. Rockefeller was its first celebrity guest. Cozy up at century-old fireplaces after a day enjoying wilderness activities.

THE BROADMOOR, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Head out to where the west begins for fireside warmth. Set in the Rocky Mountain foothills of Colorado Springs,The Broadmoor has more than 50 sleeping room fireplaces and eight public fireplaces (not including exterior firepits!). While not all of the fireplaces are wood-burning (there are seven fireplaces using wood located throughout the resort, including three in the resort’s luxurious Estate House), these comfortable and elegant hearths offer the ideal setting after a long day of western adventure for an evening of Rocky Mountain relaxation.

The Broadmoor has been a gateway for travelers to experience the American West since it opened its doors in 1918 – that means that guests have been enjoying these original fireplaces for a century. With its 5,000 acres, wilderness experiences, iconic golf courses, and award-winning restaurants and spa, this legendary property offers its guests distinct, luxury accommodations and authentic western adventures and experiences such as real cattle drives, falconry, fly fishing.

Fun historical fact: John D. Rockefeller was the Broadmoor’s first celebrity guest at the private opening of the historic hotel back in June 1918.

What to sip fireside: The Broadmoor’s founder, Spencer Penrose, enjoyed an occasional cocktail and even had a bloodshot glass eye that he would put in to replace his clear glass eye after he had been drinking. One of Penrose’s favorite drinks was the Fish House Punch – a nod to his membership in Philadelphia’s Rabbit Club, which was founded in 1866. Modeled after the Rabbit Club, Penrose founded the Cooking Club in Colorado Springs in 1908 and introduced Fish House Punch, which is still served there today. The Broadmoor’s “Fish House” was named in honor of that tradition and serves Fish House Punch made with the original recipe with Appleton Rum, brandy, peach schnapps, and prepared sweet and sour.

Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Benjamin Harrison have all stayed at Congress Hall, in historic Cape May, NJ, over the past two centuries and likely sipped a drink while conversing around the same fireplace guests relax around today.

For more than 200 years, Congress Hall, the Big House by the Sea, has charmed visitors not only during the popular summer months at the South Jersey shore, but during the winter months as well. A haven of relaxed elegance, fun, and historic charm, Congress Hall is just a few stops from the ocean in the heart of Cape May’s famed historic district. Guests love to gather around the massive wood-burning fireplace in the recently redesigned Brown Room, a sophisticated lounge, while enjoying expertly crafted cocktails and small plates and listening to live music. The Blue Pig Tavern, the hotel’s signature restaurant that features farm-to-table menu items from their own 62-acre farm just a mile away, boasts a wood-burning fireplace surrounded by a beautiful brick mantelpiece. The fires are always burning from morning to night – making it a wonderful place for guests to enjoy an early cup of coffee or a late night cocktail while basking it its glow.

Fun historical fact: United States Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Benjamin Harrison have all stayed at Congress Hall over the past two centuries and likely sipped a drink while conversing around the same fireplace guests relax around today.

What to sip fireside: The hotel offers a list of Presidential Cocktails inspired by the Commanders-in-Chief who visited the property. Try the “drunken theatrics,” inspired by Franklin Pierce, who was known to have a passion for enjoying a nice whiskey during his stay at Congress Hall.

Situated on 1,300 acres in the woodlands of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and boasting over 600 rooms plus its own on-property waterpark, the award-winning Grand Geneva Resort & Spa offers a variety of adventures and distinct, relaxing accommodations including its popular lobby lounge fireplace which immediately invites you to sit back and relax. Throughout the year guests can be found savoring cocktails next to the lobby lounge’s roaring wood-burning fireplace while enjoying live entertainment and views of the resort’s outdoor pool and Wisconsin countryside. Dinner guests at the resort’s Ristorante Brissago also get to enjoy fresh seasonal dishes prepared over the restaurant’s very own wood-burning stove, offering an authentic wood-fired cooking and dining experience.

Fun historical fact: In its earlier life, before becoming Grand Geneva in 1993, the resort was the Lake Geneva Playboy Club, the first Playboy Club Hotel to open in the United States with a cabaret stage that attracted some of the era’s most famous acts, including Bob Hope and Sonny and Cher. In 1968, Lake Geneva government officials and local dignitaries joined Hugh Hefner in celebrating the property’s grand opening.

What to sip fireside: There’s no better cocktail to enjoy while sitting fireside than the resort’s drink by the same name made with Bulleit Bourbon, Oloroso Sherry, Giffard Abricot du Roussillon, simply syrup, and bar keep Chinese bitters.

KINGSMILL RESORT, Williamsburg, Va.
Kingsmill Resort, a AAA Four Diamond condominium resort on the James River in Williamsburg, Virginia, offers newly renovated one-, two- or three-bedroom condos featuring wood-burning fireplaces. During winter months, Kingsmill guest service members bring firewood, build and light the fire for you on request. Late fall through Jan. 1, guests are given complimentary s’mores kits at the front desk before heading out each night and can roast them by the outdoor wood-burning fire pit from 5-10 p.m. Kingsmill features four restaurants and a wealth of activities from championship golf to tennis, from bike riding to pools. All multi-bedroom condo accommodations feature a full kitchen, massive living room/dining room and washer/dryer.

Fun historic fact: On the colorful scorecard, hole 17 at Kingsmill Resort’s River Golf Course should read: “You are about to play the most historic 177 yards of golf in America. Take it all in. Don’t rush. Look around and imagine how this very land played a role in American history starting in 1607.” Thanks to its strategic and inviting position overlooking the James River, the tee box features clearly visible remnants of the earthen works (a hastily made fort or defensive structure) from the American Revolution, which was then repurposed (location, location, location) in the War Between the States. Today a Civil War cannon and flag guard this sacred ground. But well before aggression – or the early settlers who arrived to this very shoreline in seek a new home – Native Americans lived here and enjoyed the oysters still plentiful and being served up at the 19th hole here at Kingsmill. Today, when golfers walk between the tee box and the green at the River Course’s 17th hole, they are stepping on the same land where the Jamestown settlers stepped off their boat in 1607. Those settlers would later sail upriver and start what is now the United States of America at Jamestown. The old pilings in the river are the location of their original port and start of the road from the James River to Williamsburg, the amazing colonial town that’s still thriving 400 years later. To the left of the hole are the foundations of what was basically a pub, early warehouse, hotel and some say a brothel all dating way back before 1776. That’s 177 yards of history from the Native Americans to the Jamestown Settlers, Williamsburg, the American Revolution and Civil War to where LPGA players now tee off in an annual professional golf tournament. Kingsmill Resort is also the place where Presidents Clinton, Bush (43) and Obama have come to meet, relax, work and rehearse for debates. Today golfers, families, couples and friends come to Kingsmill Resort’s hallowed ground to make their own history.

What to sip fireside: Sit by the heat and dream of warmer days to come with the hotel’s Sunset Martini made with Malibu, Crème de Banana, and Pineapple.

Located on the fringe of the French Quarter, The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans offers guests the comforts of wood-burning fireplaces in its Ritz-Carlton Suite, Library Lounge, and Club Lounge.

Fun historic fact: The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans is housed in the original 1908 Beaux Arts Maison Blanche building.

What to sip fireside: Curl up with a glass of wine from the hotel’s very cool wine dispensing machine. The wine dispenser is The Enomatic Elite wine serving system based out of Italy created by two Tuscan entrepreneurs. It’s an innovative DIY system for preserving and serving wine by the glass, allowing countless benefits such as preserving the taste, ensuring proper temperature, and the perfect pour of 6oz. There is even a function that allows the user to get a taste before they decide to go for the full 6oz pour.

The hotel serves chilled white varieties such as Steven Kent’s Ritz-Carlton Cuvee Chardonnay, Montevina Chardonnay, Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc, Leth Riesling, Terlato Pinot Grigio, and Mantanzas Creek Chardonnay.
© 2019 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

N-Y Historical Society Extends Hours to See ‘Harry Potter: A History of Magic’ Before Closes Jan. 27

“Harry Potter: A History of Magic” on view at the New-York Historical Society until Jan. 27 is laid out as if you were walking through Hogwarts: Potions, Alchemy, Herbology, Charms, Astronomy, Divination, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Care of Magical Creatures. N-YHS is extending hours to see the exhibit for the final week © Travel Features Syndicate

By Laurie Millman, Travel Features Syndicate

With just days to go before closing for good on January 27, New-York Historical Society is extending its evening hours for people to see its blockbuster exhibit, Harry Potter: A History of Magic in its final week.

Because of the extraordinary popularity of the exhibit, the museum is staying open until 7 pm most weekdays and until midnight on Friday and Saturday of the final week. Advance booking of the timed-tickets is essential.

Visitors will also receive 10% discount for dinner at Storico, the restaurant within New-York Historical, when they present an exhibition ticket during the last week of its run.

The blockbuster British Library exhibition at New-York Historical Society captures the traditions of folklore and magic at the heart of the Harry Potter stories with manuscripts from J.K. Rowling’s personal archives, original illustrations from Harry Potter artists, costumes and set models from the award-winning play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and centuries-old books, manuscripts, and magical objects from the British Library, New-York Historical, and other museums.

“Harry Potter” is a must-see on so many levels. It isn’t just for fans of J.K. Rowling’s wildly popular series, providing amazing insights into her creative process through glimpses at original hand-written drafts and drawings, but insights into the history of magic – the centuries of folklore, myth and legend – that provided the foundation for her stories. You see the original documents and artifacts that Rowling drew on history and tradition (I thought it all came from her imagination, and did not realize everything, even the names she used, had a foundation in history. You also realize how magic and witchcraft actually provided the foundation of science and medicine.

See also ‘Harry Potter: A History of Magic’ is Spellbinding Exhibit at New-York Historical Society

Visit harrypotter.nyhistory.org to book your timed-tickets in advance.

So Much to See

We spent an entire day at the Historical Society. There are so many fascinating exhibits – some which are permanent, like a collection of Tiffany lamps and a room devoted to everyday objects of old New York that remind you of the Smithsonian, and some exhibits which are temporary and constantly change.

One of the exhibits, Women’s Voices, is an innovative, interactive wall display showcasing American women who had an impact on New York City and America. The projected touch screen is fun to choose a written bio or an interview of the selected woman. An historic timeline offers further insights into related topics. The selection of women will continue to grow over time, especially as there are so many disciplines where women made an impact – from community activism to the arts to engineering to education to politics.


Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow
Now through March 3, 2019
Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow explores the struggle for full citizenship and racial equality that unfolded in the 50 years after the Civil War. When slavery ended in 1865, a period of Reconstruction began, leading to such achievements as the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution. By 1868, all persons born in the United States were citizens and equal under the law. But efforts to create an interracial democracy were contested from the start. A harsh backlash ensued, ushering in a half century of the “separate but equal” age of Jim Crow. Opening to mark the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, the exhibition is organized chronologically from the end of the Civil War to the end of World War I and highlights the central role played by African Americans in advocating for their rights. It also examines the depth and breadth of opposition to black advancement. Art, artifacts, photographs, and media help visitors explore these transformative decades in American history and understand their continuing relevance today.

Mort Gerberg Cartoons: A New Yorker’s Perspective
COMING SOON: February 15 – May 5, 2019
Artist Mort Gerberg grew up with a pencil in his hand, creating cartoons from the time he was a young boy in his native Brooklyn. Illustrated with a sensitivity and humor that have made him beloved by his audiences, his work has been featured in major publications, including the New Yorker and Saturday Review. The 100 cartoons on view in this exhibition cover a range of topics, such as life in New York City, women, youth, old age, and politics.

Meditations in an Emergency
Now through April 28, 2019
The New-York Historical Society’s first artist-in-residence, Bettina von Zwehl, presents new works inspired by her study of the Museum’s collection of American portrait miniatures and silhouettes, including profile drawings by Benjamin Tappan (1773–1857). The 17 silhouette portrait photographs of New York City teens—a silent memorial for those who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day 2018—serve as a catalyst to engage viewers with ideas of protest and teen activism. Based in London, von Zwehl is an internationally recognized fine art photographer whose work explores the form and practice of portraiture by drawing upon historical iconography as well as the traditions of painted portrait miniatures and cut-paper silhouettes. Her powerful and intimate photographs honor the past while expanding the boundaries of portraiture.

Betye Saar: Keepin’ It Clean
Now through May 27, 2019
Contemporary artist Betye Saar has shaped the development of assemblage art in the United States, particularly as a device to illuminate social and political concerns. A key figure in the Black Arts Movement and the feminist art movement of the 1960–70s, Saar’s distinct vision harmonizes the personal and the political. Over the years, Saar has transformed the representation of African Americans in our culture by recycling and reclaiming derogatory images such as Aunt Jemimas, Uncle Toms, sambos, and mammies to confront the continued racism in American society and create representations of strength and perseverance. This exhibition focuses on one facet of her work—washboards—created between 1997 and 2017. Presented in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery, part of the Center for Women’s History, the exhibition is organized by the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles.

Audubon’s Birds of America
Visitors have the unique experience of viewing John James Audubon’s spectacular watercolor models for the 435 plates of The Birds of America (1827–38) with their corresponding plates from the double-elephant-folio series, engraved by Robert Havell Jr. Each month, the exhibition rotates to highlight new species—featured in the order they appear in Audubon’s publication—which showcase the artist’s creative process and his contributions to ornithological illustration. Other works from New-York Historical’s collection, the world’s largest repository of Auduboniana, illuminate Audubon’s process. January welcomes the Northern Parula, and in February, the Peregrine Falcon is on view. Accompanying the Peregrine Falcon is a photograph of Damien Mitchell’s mural located at 752 St. Nicholas Avenue inspired by Audubon’s watercolor.
Objects Tell Stories, the Gallery of Tiffany Lamps, and the Center for

Women’s History on the Fourth Floor
Explore American history through stunning exhibitions and captivating interactive media on the transformed fourth floor. Themed displays in the North Gallery present a variety of topics—such as slavery, war, infrastructure, childhood, recreation, and 9/11—offering unexpected and surprising perspectives on collection highlights. Touchscreens and interactive kiosks allow visitors to explore American history and engage with objects like never before.

As the centerpiece of the fourth floor, the Gallery of Tiffany Lamps features 100 illuminated Tiffany lampshades from its spectacular collection displayed within a dramatically lit jewel-like space. Within our new Center for Women’s History, visitors discover the hidden connections among exceptional and unknown women who left their mark on New York and the nation with the multimedia digital installation, Women’s Voices, and through rotating exhibitions in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery. Objects from the Billie Jean King Archive are also on view.

Collector’s Choice: Highlights from the Permanent Collection
Since 1804, the New-York Historical Society has been welcoming to its collection some of the most esteemed artworks of the modern world. Collector’s Choice: Highlights from the Permanent Collection showcases a selection of paintings that reflect the individual tastes of several New York City collectors who donated their holdings to New-York Historical. Joining Picasso’s Le Tricorne ballet curtain are featured American and European masterpieces spanning the 14th through the 21st centuries from Luman Reed, Thomas Jefferson Bryan, and Robert L. Stuart, including colonial portraits of children, marine and maritime subjects, and an installation showcasing recently collected contemporary works.

New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West (at 77th Street), 212-873-3400, nyhistory.org.

Just Ahead Voted Among Top 5 Best New Travel Apps

Just Ahead (http://www.justahead.com/), an award-winning smartphone app for road tripping through national parks, was recently voted a top five Best New Travel App by USA Today 10 Best readers. USA Today’s 10Best.com provides users with original, unbiased and experiential travel coverage of top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for top destinations in the US and around the world.


This distinction wraps up Just Ahead’s first full year of producing distinctive GPS-guided smartphone audio tours of this country’s most dramatic landscapes. To date, Just Ahead has concentrated on narrations on the lore and not-to-miss features of national parks in the West. It has produced 13 audio tours covering 15 national parks and monuments, and is gearing up to extend its coverage nationwide. Scheduled for early 2016 release are Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee, Petrified Forest National Park and Canyon de Chelly in Arizona, and South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills, and Badlands National Park. 

In addition to the USA Today honor, Just Ahead has been named Best Travel App by the North American Travel Journalists Association and Best App by the editors of Sunset magazine.

The Just Ahead mobile app turns an Apple or Android smartphone into a hands-free audio guide to the most beautiful places on earth by delivering professionally written and narrated audio tours to vacationers who want an informed travel experience as they drive.

Just Ahead utilizes GPS technology to know exactly where drivers are on the road, and delivers stories and maps relevant to their exact location. The groundbreaking app points out not-to-miss features while also helping drivers avoid getting lost. It suggests directions and tells drivers why they should turn or not, what they should do after a turn, and the best direction to take if there are multiple route options.

A satisfied user had this to say about the app and tour guide, “LOVE this idea! It’s like you went into my brain and pulled out something I never even knew that I wanted but now can’t think to live without.”

Just Ahead guides are currently available for the following National Parks: Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Zion & Cedar Breaks, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands & Arches, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Rocky Mountain. Many additional park and road-trip guides are in production.

The Just Ahead app is a free download available through the Apple App Store (iPhone) or Google Play (Android), and each destination guide is available as an in-app purchase. Guides range from $7.99 to $9.99 and include a free trial and free guide updates.

Just Ahead’s award-winning audio guides work without an Internet connection or phone service and use a smartphone’s GPS to deliver hands-free, customized audio tours based on a vehicle’s location. The guides and built-in maps also provide helpful suggested directions, and offer more points of interest and stories than any other GPS audio travel app. Ideal for families, Just Ahead’s audio guides help create shared experiences, conversations, and memories that will last a lifetime. The Just Ahead app is a free download, and each destination guide is available as an in-app purchase that includes free guide updates.

For more information, visit www.justahead.com.


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Newly Launched Triller App for iPhone Lets You Turn Vacation Experience into Celebrity-Quality Music Video

Triller™, a game-changing music video maker app for iPhone®, lets you turn your vacation experiences into a celebrity-quality music video you can instantly share.

Just in time for the family vacation season, what a way to engage children in their experience, creating their own celebrity-quality music video on their iPhone! Launching today, Triller™, a game-changing music video maker app for iPhone®, can be downloaded today for free on the App Store℠.

(PRESS HERE to download today for free on the App Store℠)

Triller is the first of its kind, allowing users to create lip sync videos for their favorite songs with an editing algorithm that uses intelligent audio and facial analysis to decide when to cut. Music fans simply pick a song, choose a section of the song, and shoot a few video takes. Then with the push of a button, Triller edits the takes together to create a stunning music video.

PRESS HERE to watch a preview of the app.

Triller is the creation of award-winning music video director Colin Tilley, — director of videos for Justin Bieber, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj, Jason Derulo, Lil Wayne among others – who helped design Triller’s beautiful filters and its editing algorithm, and app developers David Leiberman and Sammy Rubin (creators of Mibblio®, the first interactive musical storybook, and the chart-topping Disney Frozen: Karaoke).

Rounding out the Triller team is Matt Graham, President of BRND MGMT and manager of major pop artists such as Cody Simpson.

“With Triller, you don’t have to be Colin Tilley to make a music video that looks like it was shot by Colin Tilley,” said Leiberman. “The app truly democratizes the music video creation process. Whether you’re hanging in the park with friends or an artist on tour, Triller makes it easy and fun to create great-looking music videos.”

Triller lets you make celebrity-quality music videos with your iPhone. With auto-editing technology powered by a proprietary algorithm, the app takes the hard work out of making a music video so you can just focus on being creative and having fun.

You simply pick a song, select the portion of the song you want to use, shoot a few takes, and with the tap of a button you have produced your own celebrity-quality music video starring yourselves which you  can share instantly with friends and family right from inside the app.

Not only is Triller easy to use, but it offers infinite creative possibilities with stylish filters, zooming capability, and even the power to tweak the video’s edit to the individual’s liking. Once users create their videos, they can either share publicly to social networks like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, share privately to their friends via text message or WhatsApp, or just save to their camera roll.

Artists like Alli Simpson are already using Triller as a tool to make music videos more easily, and social media stars such as Selfie C are sharing videos set to their favorite songs with their Instagram followers.

“My editing friends and I always knew the iPhone was gonna lead to some kind of game-changer in video editing,” said Tilley. “Triller is it, and I’m really excited to be involved.”

Triller is available for free on the App Store. For more information, visit www.triller.co.

Follow Triller on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Vine to stay up to date on new versions, featured videos and the latest contests.

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Vakast Introduces Personalized Concierge Service for Online Vacation Home Rentals

Villa Cristina is a charming 2 bedroom house in Sorrento, Italy, which can be rented for $206 per night

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.— Vakast, an online travel agency with the largest inventory of vacation rentals, has introduced a Concierge program offering 24/7/365 live customer support and assistance for its guests and VIP members worldwide.

Billed as a “virtual concierge with a human touch,” Vakast aims to bridge the gap between a traditional hotel concierge and a virtual assistant by recommending and booking amenities and activities anywhere its guests travel.

“Our clients are requesting expert guidance in creating personalized, authentic experiences, which has been lacking in the vacation rental industry to date,” said Monique Berry, COO, Vakast. “Our goal is to take care of our guests by providing services to meet all of their travel needs. Whether our members need concert tickets or want to try shark diving, Vakast’s Concierge team can tap into trusted resources across the globe, eliminating the time consuming process of booking from multiple sites or agencies.”

Working with its integrated, proprietary database, the Vakast Concierge team can assist with arranging a range of services, from the expected to the exotic, in the categories of Food & Drink, Home Services, Spa/Beauty, Entertainment, Entertainers, Activities, Classes, Mail Service, and Professional Referrals. Whether members are planning a special event or traveling for business or pleasure, Vakast’s Concierge team is trained to find top and highly rated service providers worldwide.

Vakast works with dozens of industry partners to pull vacation rentals all over the spectrum, from condos to castles. Partners include HomeAway, HouseTrip, Wimdu, Villas of Distinction and many other smaller firms, giving Vakast a wide breadth and range of offerings. Vakast has access to 1.5 million properties in 196 countries They are the only vacation rental aggregator to have a full staff of travel specialists working 24/7 to help guests not only book their vacation rental, but any other travel needs they might have.

The Vakast Luxury line pulls only the most exclusive villas and estates – but you can find plenty of budget-friendly apartments, condos, and homes on the site as well with pricing starting at $100 per night.

Examples of properties include the incredible Black Rock Estate in Lahaina, Maui: http://www.vakast.com/myproperty/160000037/

Villa Cristina, a charming 2 bedroom house in Sorrento, Italy, which can be rented for $206 per night: http://www.vakast.com/myproperty/32005911/

This beautifully decorated 2 bedroom lot in Venice, CA is perfect for a trendsetter’s getaway: http://www.vakast.com/myproperty/50017992/

Vakast’s Concierge service is available free of charge for one week prior and through the duration of a trip booked via Vakast.com. For ongoing assistance, Vakast offers a range of membership packages to provide clients with day and night year round access to their team of trained specialists, whether the member is home or on the road.

Vakast Concierge Membership plans include:

Vakast Premier (VP) Concierge

Length of Coverage:  One Year

Membership Required:  Yes

Cost:  $300 ($25 every month)

Services:  All

Perfect For:  Frequent travelers, corporations, families, groups and gifts.

Terms:  Transferrable up to five pre-appointed travelers.

Cancellation allowed prior to six-month renewal period.


7 Carat Concierge

Length of Coverage:  One Year

Membership Required:  Yes

Cost:  $150 ($75 every six-months.)

Services:  All

Perfect For:  Families, groups, business and overseas travelers.

Terms:  Non-transferrable. Cancellation allowed prior to six-month renewal period.


30/30 Concierge

Length of Coverage:  30 days

Membership Required:  No

Cost:  $30 (one time fee)

Services:  All (excluding Airline bookings)

Perfect For:  Families, groups, business and overseas travelers.

Vakast Concierge is available now by calling (855) 397-0180 or visiting http://www.vakast.com/.


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HotelsByDay Introduces Mobile App to Book Intra-Day, Short Hotel Stays in US Cities

HotelsByDay has introduced an app to enable travelers to book short-term, intra-day stays at hotels in New York City and other major cities © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

NEW YORK  – A new travel technology company, HotelsByDay, has launched aiming to facilitate booking flexible, same-day hotel stays in top U.S. markets. The technology provides access via mobile app on I-Phone and Android, and online, to short-term rooms available in New York City, Chicago,  Philadelphia, and Washington, DC, which new cities  added every month.

The service is geared to business and leisure travelers to work comfortably,  refresh after a long flight, enjoy a daycation in a luxury hotel or to simply upgrade from the crowded coffee shop to a business class experience.

Intra-day rooms – that is, staying between check out and check in time – can be booked via mobile apps for Android and iPhone or through the website HotelsByDay.com.

“Prior to HotelsByDay, there was not an easy or affordable way to book an upscale hotel for less than a day,” said HotelsByDay co-founder Yannis Moati. “Younger travelers want spontaneity and instant access to last-minute bookings via their mobile device. The HotelsByDay app offers a sleek and easy way to peruse and find a hotel tailored to each individual traveler’s needs, from free WiFi and a spacious desk to a posh rooftop pool and bar.”

Founded by an experienced team of hotel and travel technology leaders, HotelsByDay has uncovered a sharing economy opportunity that benefits the hospitality industry by marketing clean, empty rooms to mobile travelers.  Defined as the time between early check-outs and late check-ins, the intra-day segment is an estimated $20 billion global market. In the U.S. alone, 23 percent of hotel rooms are empty each night, and 11 percent more are available for intra-day bookings due to early check-outs/late check-ins. That results in 34 percent of all U.S. hotel rooms being available for intra-day stays.

The HotelsByDay app offers a sleek and easy way to find and book intra-day stays in 3-, 4- and 5-star hotels in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.  HotelsByDay will add intra-day inventory in Los Angeles, Miami and Fort Lauderdale in March, with San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, and Charlotte soon after.

The HotelsByDay mobile app uses geo-location to display intra-day rooms based on the user’s location.  The easy-to-book interface means a last minute reservation is only seconds away.  Users can browse hotels by time available, location, amenities and price. Intra-day stays are generally morning, mid-day or afternoon and range from four hours to eight hours depending on hotel availability. Travelers also have the option of booking up to two months in advance via the app or website.

Top use cases include:

Business Travelers in need of a quiet, private room to:

  • Work remotely from on a business trip
  • Participate in a conference call in a secure environment
  • Prepare for a presentation
  • Recover and refresh from a red-eye flight
  • Work or nap while waiting for a late night flight
  • Work in between meetings
  • Shower and change after a run while on the road

Leisure Travelers and Day Trippers:

  • Family travelers in need of a quiet room for kids to nap or simply downtime
  • Shoppers in need of a place to rest and/or store purchases
  • Eventcationers in the city for a concert, gala, or sporting event who need a place to freshen up and change
  • Cruisers needing a place to rest pre- and post-cruise
  • Place to rest while waiting out a long layover
  • Oasis for a staycation

The short-term bookings can be made via mobile apps for Android and iPhone, or online at HotelsByDay.com.


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Historic Hotels of America™ Launches Romance Super Site, Guide to Getaways, Weddings, Celebrations

Jekyll Island Club, Georgia, a member of Historic Hotels of America which has just launched a super site dedicated to romance © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

WASHINGTON, DC- Looking for a weekend getaway or a romantic vacation or a destination wedding? HistoricHotels.org/Romance is your source for romance inspired travel and heartfelt ideas. Use Historic Hotels of America as your guide to plan a luxury retreat, a garden wedding, or a romantic night out on the town. From romantic escapes to reunions, weddings to honeymoons and of course, anniversaries, Historic Hotels of America turns romantic celebrations into life’s most cherished moments. With over 260 historic hotels, inns, and resorts, Historic Hotels of America is home to the largest collection of romantic hotels. When history meets romance, nothing can be sweeter.

Historic Hotels of America has launched its all new romantic escapes e-guide, featuring more than 150 pages of new and expanded content highlighting its most romantic historic hotels, more content and destinations continue to be added. From romantic getaways to reunions, weddings to honeymoons and anniversaries, the new HistoricHotels.org/Romance puts romantic historic hotels and destinations in the spotlight, turning romantic celebrations into life’s most cherished moments. HistoricHotels.org/Romance has a number of inspirational sections for travelers to peruse the site’s many romantic escapes, including:

Romantic getaways. Historic Hotels of America has romantic inns, hotels, and resorts that blend history, luxury, and location into the ultimate destination, perfect for weekend getaways or vacation stays. Home to one of the world’s largest free-span dome, the West Baden Springs Hotel (1902) in French Lick, Indiana is an architectural wonder and just one of many marvels that will take your beloved’s breath away during your stay. This hotel has been designated by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark French Lick Springs Hotel (1845), also located within French Lick Resort boasts a spa that offers the best in tranquility, the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing treatment with your loved one. Travelers can select from more than 30 romantic hotels in the upper Midwest.

Grand Hotel (1887) on Mackinac Island, Michigan is the ideal location for a couple to steal away for a romantic getaway. In addition to the hotel’s five-course dinner served in the Main Dining Room, the Woods Restaurant, an opulent Tudor mansion accessible only by horse-drawn carriage, nestled in the wooded interior of Mackinac Island.

Weddings. Ambiance, architecture and history blend to create a storybook wedding. In Paso Robles, California where orange rays streak through lush gardens, your wedding photos will be works of art thanks to the Paso Robles Inn’s (1891) breathtaking gardens. With a number of outdoor wedding venues to choose from, couples can exchange their vows next to a babbling brook, then dance the night away at a fireside patio reception. Select from more than 19 romantic hotels in California.

Eureka Spring, Arkansas is often known as “The Wedding Capital of The South.” The 1886 Crescent Hotel’s (1886) picturesque location atop West Mountain and its proximity to Thorncrown Chapel make the hotel one of the most photographed wedding ceremony and reception sites in the contiguous six-state region.

Honeymoons. Create the honeymoon experience of your dreams and sweep your new bride or groom off their feet. Historic hotels are the perfect backdrop to set off on your newlywed celebration. The Caribe Hilton San Juan (1949) is the perfect locale for your romantic honeymoon with tranquil waves lapping at the shore of the secluded beach and seductive trade winds swaying into exotic gardens. Guests will come to understand why this AAA Four Diamond award-winning San Juan beach resort is the perfect backdrop for a honeymoon, or select from four romantic hotels in Puerto Rico.

As Waikiki’s only true destination resort, Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort Honolulu (1955) has everything newlyweds will need for the most romantic honeymoon including breathtaking beaches, luxurious accommodations, fine dining, scenic views, and fun activities. Or select from the Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa (1901), the first lady of Waikiki, or The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort (1927) the pink palace of the Pacific.

Celebrations. Take time to celebrate life’s special moments. From engagement parties, anniversary getaways and life’s other important celebrations, Historic Hotels of America has just the right setting to commemorate your important milestone. The Lord Baltimore Hotel (1928) in Baltimore, Maryland is the ideal setting for an engagement party, bridal shower, or anniversary party. With a great city-center setting, The Lord Baltimore is the perfect location for all of your out-of-town guests with attractions and shops mere steps away. The French Kitchen sits at the top of the lobby’s grand staircase in the historic mirrored Versailles Room, and focuses on market-driven interpretations of classic French bistro fare, perfect for your special party or event. Travelers can also select from over 28 romantic hotels in the Maryland, DC, and Virginia region.

Reunions. Family history is born out of love and strengthened when those roots are cherished. For this reason, historical, romantic settings lend way for great family reunion inspiration. One of America’s most scenic routes, the Blue Ridge Parkway is the perfect setting for romantic drives and family adventure. Winding through North Carolina, this scenic highway boasts hazy mountains and colorful woodlands, idyllic for a family reunion getaway. The Green Park Inn (1891) in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, is a reunion favorite with generations of history peaking in the High Country mountains. Choose from over 12 hotels in the Carolinas.

“This is a year-round campaign launching in time for Valentine’s Day. Romance is not just one day a year, it is year-round at our historic hotels,” said Lawrence Horwitz, Executive Director, Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide. “Love stories are breathless moments that stand the test of time. Write your next chapter at one of the many Historic Hotels of America, where ambiance, architecture, and history blend to create timeless romance. Historic Hotels of America is the largest collection of the most romantic hotels anywhere. Whether you’re courting, celebrating, rekindling, or reminiscing, we have the romantic escape for you.”

From booking a romantic getaway with your stunning sweetheart or planning the next family reunion, take a look on HistoricHotels.org/Romance where Every Day is Valentine’s Day at Historic Hotels of America.

Historic Hotels of America® is the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation® for recognizing and celebrating the finest Historic Hotels. Founded in 1989 with 32 charter members, today, Historic Hotels of America has more than 260 historic hotels. These historic hotels have all faithfully maintained their authenticity, sense of place, and architectural integrity in the United States of America, including 44 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Historic Hotels of America is comprised of mostly independently owned and operated properties.  More than 30 of the world’s finest hospitality brands, chains, and collections are represented in Historic Hotels of America. To be nominated and selected for membership into this prestigious program, a hotel must be at least 50 years old; has been designated by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark or listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places; and recognized as having historic significance. For more information, visit HistoricHotels.org.

To receive the free Discover & Explore e-newsletter each month with advance notice about Insiders Savings, special discounts, epic package, and up and coming events in historic hotels in 30 countries, plus free or reduced rate admission to historic and cultural sites, click here.

To view the Historic Hotels of America 2015 Annual Directory eBook, click here.


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Not Just for Valentine’s Day: From Paris to Prague, Phuket to Palm Beach, Romance is in the Air

Jekyll Island Club, Georgia, an island retreat, is a member of Historic Hotels of America © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Romance, like beauty, is clearly in the mind of the beholder. And while we mark romantic occasions with chocolates, flowers, teddy bears, even jewelry, it is a feeling, an experience, ephemeral and effervescent. Travel evokes that same kind of excited sensibility, being together in some new (romantic) place. What could be more romantic than whisking away to Paris or Prague, Phuket or Palm Beach. So here are just a sampling of travel treats – and a suggestion: if you can’t actually get away for Valentine’s Day, the promise of a getaway, and all that anticipation that is evoked, is romance itself.

Here are some ideas to inspire you:

To find a romantic place for your getaway, you can’t go wrong with Historic Hotels of America, a membership organization of hotels and resorts  which tend to be the grand dames that have distinct personalities, character, and a very special sense of place and sensational ambiance. Also, they tend to hearken back to an era of style and service. The website, www.historichotels.org, has a whole section on “Romantic Getaways” (historichotels.org/romance).

For example, Cavallo Point (dating from 1901) in San Francisco, California, a sustainable luxury hotel, known for its green living. Resort amenities include shuttle service to San Francisco and Sausalito, morning yoga class, access to Healing Arts Center & Spa and outdoor meditation pool, daily afternoon wine hour, and valet parking.

Also: The Heathman Hotel-Portland, Oregon (where we stayed, and which is set right in the heart of the city’s cultural center, but more to the point, The Heathman Hotel-Portland served as one of the settings in the popular and romantically themed 50 Shades of Grey book and has many extravagant and romantic services and packages available for guests with romance in mind); Oheka Castle in Huntington, New York, one of the last remaining Gold Coast mansions; the Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods, NH (stay and ski free); The Vinoy Renaissance, St. Petersburg, Fla.  Another on my list of favorites is the Jekyll Island Club Resort, on a Georgia island (island destinations have particular romantic appeal). The list goes on and on.  You can get ideas for romantic getaways and destinations at historichotels.org/romance.

Established over a century ago, Relais & Châteaux (www.relaischateaux.com) is an association of some of the world’s finest hoteliers, chefs and restaurateurs that has set the standard for excellence in hospitality by emphasizing holistic experiences. Relais & Chateaux member, Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa, is on the Ontario side of Niagara Falls, which once was the world capital for honeymoons and romance. To find Relais’ most romantic locations and packages, visit www.relaischateaux.com/en/sejours/romantique.

As a group, you can’t go wrong with Kimpton Hotels, which pioneered and continues to set the standard for boutique hotels. The group currently has 62 hotels and resorts in 26 cities in the US, including the charming Hotel Monaco in Washington DC, and nine boutique hotels in San Francisco, where the company began. Special touches include free WiFi (standard), a nightly hosted wine hour. complimentary use of bikes, and if the love of your life is your pet, Kimpton accommodates them too at no extra charge (kimptonhotels.com).

Small Luxury Hotels of the World

With Valentine’s Day falling on a Saturday this year, there is no better excuse to surprise loved ones by whisking them off on a romantic weekend. Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) offers a whole host of specially-designed packages around the world. For those that aren’t able to get away for the actual day, there are plenty of other special Valentine-themed treats at SLH hotels. Here’s a selection of some of the packages that are still available; for more Valentine’s ideas, visit slh.com):

Carmo’s Boutique Hotel, Ponte de Lima, Portugal: Sitting in the oldest town in Portugal, Carmo’s Boutique Hotel is an intimate and stylish residence where you can experience the traditions, cultural heritage and romance of the beautiful Minho region. SLH’s two night Romantic Saint Valentine’s Getaway at Carmo’s features Portuguese cuisine, fine wines, candles, spa treatments and other romantic surprises. The package, valid Feb. 13-15, includes breakfast and evening meals including a gourmet Portuguese dinner with matching wines-and a traditional candlelit meal with live music and a champagne toast. It also includes two aromatherapy massages an in-room hot bath ritual and access to the pool and Jacuzzi at Carmo’s spa.

Hôtel Juana, Juan Les Pins, on the French Riviera: Nestled amidst a pine tree forest and just steps away from the Mediterranean, the Art Deco styled Hôtel Juana is wonderfully understated and ideal for a romantic getaway, close to both the beach and the chic town of Antibes. SLH’s Sweet Valentines package allows couples experience the glamour and romance of the French Riviera with a night’s accommodation, a Valentine dinner in the hotel’s trendy new restaurant “Bistrot Terrasse”, homemade chocolates on arrival and breakfast the following day.

The Ampersand Hotel, in London’s South Kensington is serving a dedicated Valentine’s Afternoon Tea in the romantic setting of the hotel’s Drawing Room, with freshly baked white chocolate heart-shaped scones, savory gougères and a selection of other romance-inspired sweet pastries. Throughout February, The Ampersand is also inviting guests to personalize their pillows with a special message or image for a unique Valentine’s gift. The hotel will print a design of your choice onto two crisp white pillows, ready to surprise your other half when they’re about to lay their head for the night.

Château de l’Ile, Strasbourg, France: For the archetypal Valentine’s treat in a 19th century castle, complete with an extravagant French candlelit meal, live music, indulgent spa treatment and plenty of Champagne, look no further than Château de l’Ile. The enchanting castle sits in parkland on the banks of the sleepy River Ile and is a wonderful setting to while away a romantic few days. The one night Romantic Valentine’s Break offered by SLH includes a four course dinner of exquisite local French fare with Champagne and live music, half bottle of Champagne in the room, buffet breakfast and a spa treatment in the Asian Villa spa, which also has a sauna, Hamman and swimming pool.

L Hotel Seminyak Bali, Indonesia: The focus at L Hotel Seminyak Bali is on ultimate relaxation, rejuvenation and re-energizing, making it a peaceful retreat to spend some quality time with a loved one. With SLH’s Valentine Package, guests will experience a Balinese massage and special Indonesian dinner in the cozy restaurant Lola, featuring the aptly-named Love Bar for an intimate after dinner cocktail. Every guest is assigned a personal butler on arrival, dedicated to servicing their every need during their stay, while guests on the Valentine package will also receive special romantic gifts and amenities in their room.

The Bannister Hotel, Samana, Dominican Republic: Nestled between the mountains and the sea on the Samana Bay coastline on the north east of the Dominican Republic, the intimate Bannister Hotel has a two night My Funny Valentine package that offers couples an automatic upgrade to a Deluxe Ocean View Suite, breakfast each morning at the hotel’s Le Deauville Restaurant, and a three course romantic dinner with a glass of sparkling wine at the Café del Mar.

Anticavilla Hotel, Cuernavaca, Mexico: Romance is the theme of the month at Anticavilla Hotel in the heart of Cuernavaca, south of Mexico City, which has special Valentine’s menus at its Maikiki Spa and at its VerdeSalvia restaurant. The specially-curated spa menu for couples offers guests side-by-side massages in the candle-lit private couple’s suite with an ‘antioxidant’, ‘relaxing’ or ‘activate your senses’ package. The packages include a full body chocolate exfoliating massage and antioxidant facial.

The Chesterfield Hotel, Palm Beach: Sitting along the palm-lined boulevards of Florida’s elegant Palm Beach, the historic Chesterfield Hotel offers couples the perfect combination of beach, city, nightlife and award-winning dining for a Floridian romance. SLH’s Lover’s Escape package at The Chesterfield Hotel includes a bottle of Champagne, chocolate-dipped strawberries and a single red rose on arrival, a romantic turndown with rose petals and candles, and English breakfast the following morning.

What a View! Bavaria’s Sightsleeping Hotels

Bavaria’s collection of Sightsleeping® hotels are a new option in experiential travel, where arts and culture are as important in the hotel where you stay as they are in the destination you visit.

Membership in this exclusive collection, which is under the aegis of the Bavarian Tourism Organization, is based on agreement by a jury of art experts, professional designers, journalists and tourism experts based on their aesthetics. Their motto: “Sleeping with an eye for art”.

“Sightsleeping® stands for a new type of travel, in which the hotel experience plays a central role. You are as you sleep. The arts are your muse,” explains theme manager Kristina Nagl.

For example, you can stay in a castle hotel like Burg Wernberg; a design hotel like the InterContinental Berchtesgaden; or a traditional Bavarian style like Hotel Maximillian.

Included among Bavaria’s Sightsleeping Hotels is the 12th century castle, Hotel Burg Wernberg (photo supplied by Bavaria Tourist Office).

Included among the Sightsleeping Hotels is the 12th century castle Hotel Burg Wernberg. Painstakingly restored and furnished with all contemporary luxuries, each room is individually appointed with antiques and designer furniture. The picturesque courtyard, the romantic chapel and the elegant ballroom draw visitors to the castle, which is part of Relais & Chateaux. Burg Wernberg’s gourmet ”Kastell“ restaurant of Michelin star-awarded chef Thomas Kellermann is the epicurean heart of this hotel. A short walk from the castle is the ”Gedankengebäude“ – the contemporary seminar building created by the Milan based designer Michele de Lucchi with its airy wood and glass construction stands in sharp contrast to the ancient walls of the castle. The castle is set in the heart of the Upper Palatinate forest nature reserve. Golfing fans need only to travel just a short distance from Burg Wernberg to the Schwanhof golf club which has an 18-hole landscaped course designed by the US-Open champion Jerry Pate.

Staying at the Landhausvilla Eichholz is like sleeping in a 21st century “Russenhaus”. This Sightsleeping-Hotel is noted for its wonderfully atmospheric rooms and suites with paintings by Gina Feder adorning the walls and sculptures in the Karl-Förster garden, which dates back to 1935. Enter one room and you will be met by Antoni Tàpies, in another you will be greeted by a print by Tom Wesselmann. Exhibitions, readings, concerts, painting and sculpting courses are staged. Adjacent to the Art-Hotel am Eichholz is Feder’s art gallery in Murnau displaying  paintings, sculptures, photographs, objets d’art in wood, glass and ceramics by international artists. Art lovers will also enjoy trips to the Murnau castle museum, the Münter Haus and the Buchheim Museum in Bernried. The lakes around Murnau, the amazing panoramas of the Upper Bavarian mountains and the Zugspitze itself  provide artists with plenty of inspiration.

So far, there are 43 hotels in the collection. The Sightsleeping® jury meets each year to decide which new candidates to admit. Information about Sightsleeping® hotels, events and a downloadable catalogue are available at http://www.bavaria.us/sightsleeping-hotels-bavaria.

Seven Most Romantic Hotels in the Czech Republic

Walking in castle gardens, dinner in a gazebo lit only by candles, a top wellness center where pampering is the order of the day. The Czech Republic is inviting you to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the spirit of undying romance.

Prague – rustic-style luxury under Prague Castle: The 4-star Romantik Hotel U Raka offers a fusion of luxurious facilities with the romance of the streets of Old Prague. The intimate atmosphere of the hotel built in a rustic style is enhanced by an open fire in indoor and outdoor areas, a garden full of herbs and the luxurious, but cozy room interiors. The history of the building U Raka, of which the hotel is part, dates back to 1739, when stables were built there. The whole area of the hotel is a registered historic landmark and captivates with its unique atmosphere and location in the heart of Prague. The hotel has an art gallery (www.romantikhotel-uraka.cz/en/).

Aristocratic tradition in the castle chambers of Central Bohemia: The ecological five star castle hotel Chateau Mcely offers an elegant castle interior, wine cellar from the 17th century and spa. 23 castle hotel rooms and suites, the patio restaurant Piano Nobile (winner of the national competition for the best restaurant) and the castle park with an outdoor jacuzzi and sauna house are used by romantics and lovers of luxury wellness holidays. The hotel also offers specially adapted children’s apartments for princesses, baby baths, tea parties and picnics held in the park or alchemical mixed drinks according to medieval recipes (www.chateaumcely.cz/en/)

Renaissance romance in the heart of Český Krumlov: One of the most extraordinary boutique hotels in the Czech Republic with the poetic name Rose, is situated in the building of the former Jesuit college from the 16th century and the local university. The hotel features original Renaissance elements, ancient frescoes and paintings. The Swedish King Carl XVI Gustav and the Oscar-winning director Miloš Forman as well as former president Václav Havel, have stayed at the hotel which opened in 2000. Steeped in the heritage of the Rosenbergs, the hotel is located in the heart of the historic center of a city registered on the UNESCO list of cultural heritage and offers a wellness center with spas built along the lines of spa healers with wooden vats, where it is recommended to pamper your body in peat wraps. (english.janhotels.cz).

Ancient romance in the heart of the city of the Hussites: Hotel Nautilus, a boutique hotel named after Captain Nemo’s submarine, is located in the heart of South Bohemian Tábor surrounded by a landscape dotted with ponds. The spacious rooms with antique furnishings, , oil and acrylic paintings and the stained glass door panels look directly on to the square Žižkovo náměstí. Enjoy Valentine’s Day romance in the region of lakes and ponds and pamper yourself on silken cushions. In the hotel spaces, 380 million old fossils and over 180 million year old limestone tiles, that adorn the bathtubs in hotel rooms, are preserved. On Valentine’s day, have a toast with the local wines offered from the New and Old World (www.hotelnautilus.cz).

Virtuous privacy on the border of Bohemia and Moravia: Halfway between the two largest cities in the Czech Republic, Prague and Brno there is a small village called Počátky, surrounded by two dozen ponds. Summerhouse of St. Adalbert preserves the atmosphere of the so-called First Republic, between the first and second world war), a  haven of luxury for romantic souls escaping the city bustle. It offers 11 exclusive suites and rooms with original antique furnishings with modern elements – large bath tubs placed directly in the bedroom, four-poster beds, original renovated tiled stoves and armorial decoration in the rooms. A stylish atmosphere is also provided by the local restaurant offering contemporary dishes. In nearby Počátky you can also visit Saint Catherine Resort with an extensive spa and wellness center, including massage cabins, steam baths and saunas built according to the principles of pilates, which is practiced daily there, along with yoga (www.svatyvojtech.cz, www.katerinaresort.cz/en).

Luxurious getaway for romantics: The wooden cottages standing on the edge of the deep forest of the Moravian-Silesian Beskids are the ideal choice for romantic adventurers, who seek maximum comfort. The cottages Orlí hnízdo (Eagle’s Nest), Vlčí doupě (Wolf’s Lair) and Medvědí skála (Bear’s Rock) are located on the edge of the forest under the highest mountain in the Czech Republic and can accommodate up to ten people, including children, who can experience a real adventure in the surrounding woods. The fully equipped dining room, home theater connected to a game console, a passive fireplace with a meat smoker, private jacuzzi and sauna provide the guests with every comfort. Let yourself be beguiled by a romantic stay in the unspoiled countryside of the Moravian Beskids (http://chaticka.eu/).

For more information, visit www.czechtourism.com.

TripAdvisor’s Most Romantic Hotels

TripAdvisor has just come out with its 2015 Travelers’ Choice Awards for Top Hotels.. The list is based on the millions of reviews and opinions collected in a single year from TripAdvisor travelers worldwide and feature winners in eight categories, including top hotels for romance:

Top 10 Romance Hotels in the United States

1.       Inn on Oak Creek – Sedona, Arizona

2.       Desert Riviera Hotel – Palm Springs, California

3.       Hotel California – Palm Springs, California

4.       Bardessono – Yountville, California

5.       Wentworth Mansion – Charleston, South Carolina

6.       Old Edwards Inn and Spa – Highlands, North Carolina

7.       Olea Hotel – Glen Ellen, California

8.       Orchid Key Inn – Key West, Florida

9.       The Wine Country Inn – St. Helena, California

10.   Belamere Suites – Perrysburg, Ohio

Top 10 Romance Hotels in the World

1.       The Place Luxury Boutique Villas – Ko Tao, Thailand

2.       Riad Noir d’Ivoire – Marrakech, Morocco

3.       2Inn1 Kensington – Cape Town, South Africa

4.       The Old Rectory Hotel – Martinhoe, United Kingdom

5.       Akademie Street Boutique Hotel – Franschoek, South Africa

6.       La Fortuna at Atitlan – Santa Cruz La Laguna, Guatemala

7.       Anastasis Apartments – Imerovigli, Greece

8.       The Dairy Private Luxury Hotel – Queenstown, New Zealand

9.       La Minerva – Capri, Italy

10.   The Clarence Hotel – Portsmouth, United Kingdom

To see all 8,151 winners of the 2015 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice awards for hotels go to: www.tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice-Hotels. Travelers can also follow the conversation on Twitter at #travelerschoice.

More Romantic Getaways

Eau Palm Resort Manalapan, Florida, is reimagining “Palm Beach” luxury with a combination of indulgence and playfulness © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com)

For a grand resort stay and the most indulgent spa experience anywhere, choose the Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa which has re-imagined a “new-fashioned” Palm Beach experience with touches that are both unexpected and playfully indulgent. For winter, receive a resort credit of up to $600 for stays through April 19, 2015. (Eau Palm Beach, 100 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan, Fl 33462, 800-328-0170, eaupalmbeach.com).

French-Inspired Weekend Escape to the Westgate Hotel, San Diego:  Valentine’s Day brings out the creativity in hoteliers. For an over-the-top amorous escape, look no further than the The AAA Four Diamond-rated Westgate Hotel, an iconic property in the heart of downtown San Diego designed to rival the mythical palaces of Europe. The glamorous French-inspired locale is offering three getaway packages including the extravagant $3,300 Etre Amoureux package which features a private chef and in-room butler! All packages include an exquisite suite, a romantic four-course dinner for two complete with wine pairings and of course all the traditional Valentine’s Day trappings: roses, chocolate and champagne. (See www.westgatehotel.com/events-promotions/special-events/valentines-day-events, visit www.westgatehotel.com, call 619-238-1818).

La Réserve Paris Hotel and Spa just opened by La Réserve Hospitality Collection following two years of fastidious work by more than 120 artisans. The 40-room hotel and spa,  designed by Jacques Garcia, occupies a Haussmannian mansion previously owned by the designer, Pierre Cardin, off the Champs-Elysées at 42 Avenue Gabriel, tucked away in the 8th Arrondissement – a stone’s throw from the Palais d’Elysée and Place de la Concorde – with views of the Eiffel Tower, Grand Palais, Pantheon, and Luxor Obelisk. La Réserve Paris is a serene escape from the bruit de fond of France’s capital city. Interiors of the 26 spacious suites (including four Presidential Suites) and 14 rooms that pay homage to the chic style of the Belle Époque. The large rooms feature period antique furniture, rich fabrics, regal colors, and muted lighting. It also offers a private lounge, bar, courtyard, smoking parlor, library, and a seasonal French restaurant Le Gabriel, helmed by Jérôme Banctel, former Chef du Cuisine of the two-Michelin-starred restaurant, Senderens. Suites include personal butler service, and in-room wine coolers.The spa consists of three treatment rooms, gym, sauna, and a 52 foot indoor pool. The treatment menu features the world-renowned Swiss anti-aging treatment, Nescens.La Réserve Paris Hotel and Spa, 42 avenue Gabriel, 75008 Paris – France,  +33 1 53 70 53 70, hotel@lareserve-paris.comwww.lareserve-paris.com/en.


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