The Midwest Travel Writers’ Convention, the birth of three great-grandchildren, and the wedding of my grandson, were among the reasons that kept me from traveling abroad this past year. However, in spite of the fact that there was no time for traveling internationally, those reasons didn’t keep me from having many fascinating experiences. Come along with me as I share my favorite domestic travel experiences of the past year in our own beautiful country.
EASTERN CITY: New York, New York...a city so great they say their name twice. Nicknamed "The Big Apple" in 1971, the term was originally used in the 1920s and 1930s by jazz musicians as a way of saying, "There are many apples on the success tree, but when you pick New York City, you pick the Big Apple." It came to mean "the big time".
NEW YORK CITY VIEWED FROM THE 86th FLOOR OF THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING
MIDWESTERN CITY: St. Louis, Missouri offers much more than Judy Garland sang about when she invited moviegoers to meet her at the 1904 World’s Fair. Symbolized by the internationally recognized Eero Saarinen Arch on the west bank of the Mississippi River, this Route 66 city oozes small town comfort and exudes big city sophistication. You’ll get your kicks on Route 66.
GATEWAY ARCH IN ST. LOUIS
COMEBACK CITY: Detroit’s resurgence is evident in the gleaming new buildings that reflect the images of their aging neighbors…in the grand restoration of the landmark Book-Cadillac Hotel and the glorious Fox Theater…in the planned restoration at the Downtown Synagogue…in the performance of traveling Broadway shows such as “Motown the Musical”… in the flocks of people visiting the Motown Museum, one of Southeast Michigan’s most popular tourist destinations…and in the upcoming hotel, retail, and condominium complex to be built on the site of the Joe Louis Arena.
DETROIT’S RIVERFRONT WAS VOTED ONE OF TOP TEN IN AMERICA
BOUTIQUE HOTEL: The Quin, New York City’s newest luxury lifestyle hotel, provides the sophisticated traveler a refined urban sanctuary. Situated on 57th Street, a short block away from Carnegie Hall, this elegant 17-story pre-War building has a history that is fully intertwined with an entire era of world-class music. The former Buckingham Hotel, once home to icons like Paderewski and Tebaldi, has been rechristened the Quin and re-imagined as a new luxury hotel where art, design and nature blend seamlessly to create a sanctuary from the city. The Quin delivers the quintessential essence of New York in an atmosphere of serene elegance.
GRANDE DAME HOTEL: The historic 1924 Book Cadillac Detroit Hotel has been restored to its original grandeur. This luxury landmark has returned its legendary style and splendor to downtown Detroit. Built by Detroit’s famous Book brothers, this Italian Renaissance-style hotel, with sweeping views of the city skyline or the Detroit River, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
PALATIAL HOTEL: The New York Palace, a luxury midtown hotel is known for unparalleled splendor, spectacular views, spacious rooms and exquisite service. Located across the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral and only steps from Rockefeller Center, the hotel’s world-renowned Madison Avenue courtyard, provides a dramatic entryway to the hotel’s grand lobby. The courtyard incorporates motifs from several 15th-century Italian cathedrals and has served as the entranceway to the historic Villard Mansion since 1882.
COURTYARD OF THE NEW YORK PALACE HOTEL
BARGAIN HOTEL: I love getting value received. At the Embassy Suites Ft. Lauderdale I always get just that…in spades. Under the astute management of a young man named Don Friedman, it has become one of Ft. Lauderdale’s most value-priced destinations as well as the number one choice for pre-cruise tours in Ft. Lauderdale. The reasonably priced hotel includes a lovely pool area, a complimentary, full cooked to order breakfast; complimentary Manager’s Reception; complimentary business and fitness center…and the newly renovated atrium area is stunning.
LOVELY POOL AREA AT EMBASSY SUITES FT. LAUDERDALE
NIGHT ON THE TOWN: Nestled within the Carlyle hotel, a pinnacle of luxury on New York’s Upper East Side, is The Carlyle Restaurant, a must-do venue for an exquisite meal. The gracious setting of plush banquettes, Aubusson rugs, mirrored alcoves, a dramatic six-foot-tall floral arrangement, and English hunting scenes, transported me to an intimate English manor House. A divine dinner transported me to heaven. Following dinner, we headed to the Carlyle’s Bemelmans Bar.
THE CARLYLE RESTAURANT
BAR: Bemelmans Bar was named in honor of Ludwig Bemelmans, a successful artist and the creator of the classic Madeline children’s books. In exchange for accommodations at the Carlyle Hotel, Bemelmans transformed the hotel’s bar with whimsical scenes of Central Park that included picnicking rabbits and ice skating elephants. Good taste and sophistication with a dash of wit. This “veddy veddy” civilized Art Deco Bar, with its 24-karat gold leaf-covered ceiling, is the only surviving Bemelmans commission open to the public. And, oh yes, in addition to the décor, the drinks and the “jazsical” (jazz and classical) music are also divine!
SPA: Immerse Spa at the MGM Grand is a total sensory experience wrapped in urban luxury. Tranquil waters…rich woods…soothing light. I transcended relaxation with a thermal massage that combined a soothing massage with heated basalt stones. The heat from the stones was transferred into my stiff aching muscles.
ENTRANCE INTO MGM GRAND DETROIT, HOME OF IMMERSE SPA
BREAKFAST: From the grand staircase of The New York Palace, a glowing wall of gold Champagne bottles welcomed us to Villard Michel Richard, a refined and elegant restaurant in the New York Palace. This is a prime spot for power breakfasts or that special luxury-priced breakfast. Amid the frescoes and marble pilasters of the landmark Villard Mansion, renowned Chef Michel Richard showcases his masterful culinary techniques and vibrant artistic imagination.
BARGAIN SIGHTSEEING: For bargain touring in New York City there is a thrifty trio that will save you big bucks…a ticket for the GrayLine Hop-on Hop-off bus…a New York Pass book…and a New York CityPASS. The first will take you on your choice of city loop tours on a double-decker bus. The second and third will give you admissions, discounts, privileges (such as line-skipping), etc. to a plethora of attractions, museums, restaurants and shops. As the saying goes: “You pays your money and you takes your choice”.
DRYBAR: No cuts! No color! Just blowouts! Need your hair styled in New York City? Forget those fancy salons with their 3-figure prices. For $40 you get a choice of hairstyles from their menu. Their weapons of mass perfection include brushes, flat iron hair straighteners, a high-performance arsenal of products, and an assortment of clips, headbands, and scarves. And, lest we forget Buttercup, the yellow upside down blow dryer that is the official mascot of Drybar. Drybar will simply blow you away!
DRYBAR’S SIGNATURE YELLOW BLOW DRYERS FORM THE SALON’S CHANDELIER
JANET STEINBERG is an award-winning Travel Writer and a Travel Consultant with THE TRAVEL AUTHORITY in Mariemont, Ohio.