And a Great Tourism Site Shall Guide Them

Tourist and statue

I wanted to love New York. I mean, I do love it – the state. But the recently updated I Love New York website? It’s lovely to look at and has a tremendous amount of information about places to visit, things to do, and stuff to eat and drink.

Why, then, do I think it’s just meh?

Because It didn’t make it any easier for me to plan a getaway. And that’s what a good tourism site should do. Continue reading

Forget Free WiFi. Here’s What I REALLY Want In A Hotel

The Liberty Hotel @The Open Suitcase LLC

The Liberty Hotel in Boston was a prison. The cellblocks overlook the lobby that transforms into a dance club on the weekends. “Jailhouse Rock” anyone?

What defines a great hotel? A billion-dollar location certainly. Would the Plaza Hotel be the Plaza if it wasn’t sitting at the entrance to Central Park? Spectacular rooms? Of course. I’ll take a 4-poster bed with sumptuous pillows and a Juliet balcony at The Gritti Palace in Venice any day.

But I think the hotel industry has forgotten the one feature that can easily take a hotel from good to GREAT. And it’s not free WiFi, heavenly beds, or fragrance butlers. When renovating or building hotels, I’m suggesting that the Marriotts, Hiltons, and Hyatts of the world ignore the rooms, forget modern amenities and bring back a feature of legendary historic hotels: the killer lobby. Continue reading

First and Final Thoughts on Selfies

A disturbing photo gallery from NorthJersey.com popped up in my news feed this morning. Fifty-five reader-submitted travel selfies from the summer of 2014. Almost all of them are weirdly angled close-ups, a bit fuzzy, and you can kinda see something of interest in the background, like this one submitted by Johanna Abahoonie of Seaside Heights. That’s Juliet’s balcony in Verona, Italy, or so she says.

VeronaI’m asking you to consider something extraordinary. Continue reading

We are Here!

Photo:  Random House

Photo: Random House

In the Dr. Seuss classic Horton Hears a Who!, a pachyderm attempts to rescue a population of microscopic critters living on a dust speck. The outside world cannot hear their individual, tiny voices; but when they collectively shout “We are here!”, they are discovered and saved.

Travel agents these days must feel a bit like the Whos. What do you do when the leader of the free world declares you extinct? In August 2011 at a town hall meeting, President Obama said “… one of the challenges in terms of rebuilding our economy is businesses have gotten so efficient that — when was the last time somebody went to a bank teller instead of using the ATM, or used a travel agent instead of just going online? A lot of jobs that used to be out there requiring people now have become automated.” Continue reading

Gifting Outside the Box

What do you get for the boomer who has more than they need or want? Most of my friends are packing up their possessions and selling them on eBay, giving them away on Freecycle or donating them to local charities.

But ‘tis the traditional gift-giving season. In addition to Hanukah and Christmas, I’m still attending milestone birthday parties. Since I hate to shop and am a terrible wrapper, I usually choose experiential gifts to mark these occasions. I’ll take a friend to dinner or give them concert tickets. There are so many great new bands out there playing in small, local venues; it’s an easy way to make a 50-year old feel twenty again.

Or, if you know someone who’s longed for a bit of Indiana Jones-like adventure, how about the chance to play amateur archeologist?

Photo: The Fairfield Foundation.

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