"I travel for travel's sake…
Not to go anywhere, but to go.
The great affair is to move."
Robert Louis Stevenson
As 2016 comes to a close, I once again look back on another year fulfilled by travel. Some of you may have shared my adventures...some of you may have had your own. Some of you may have day-dreamed along with me in the past...some will fantasize with me in the future. Though often weary, and a bit frayed at the edges, I would arrive home from my travels only to find myself thinking about the next trip while still unpacking from the last. I need only look back on my year's highlights to start planning for the year ahead. The year of 2016 abounded with such travel favorites as the following:
Cruise: My Caribbean cruise on Silversea’s Silver Spirit was pure pleasure…pure pampering…pure rest…and pure relaxation. Yet I felt not an ounce of guilt on this 24-karat gilt trip. As the ship glided away from the pier, headed for the Florida Straits and the Caribbean Sea, I knew that I was in for a special eight days. From the moment of embarkation, when that first flute of champagne was thrust upon me, I was pampered by a dedicated crew that catered to my every whim and indulged me with the distinctive luxuries and celebrated lifestyle that I could become acustomed to very easily.
SILVER SPIRIT ANCHORED IN BELIZE
Domestic Resort: The Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas, Texas served as my home away from home in Irving. Located between Dallas and Fort Worth, the hotel radiates the relaxed warmth of a sophisticated urban hotel, yet it offers the resort amenities of a private country club. The hotel’s TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas is an 18-hole, par-70 course that is home to the AT&T Byron Nelson PGA Tour annual event. On the 18-hole, par 71 Cottonwood Valley Golf course, the number one signature hole's green, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., is in the shape of Texas (with a bunker in the shape of Oklahoma and a lake resembling the Gulf of Mexico.
Foreign Resort: Silversea’s Silver Spirit sailed me to Santo Tomas, Guatemala where I opted for the Amatique Bay Resort tour that allowed me to chill out completely in one of Central America’s finest resorts. Departing the pier via a panga boat (a modest-sized, open, outboard-powered, boat) we sailed to the five-star Amatique Bay mega-resort that features a botanical garden surrounded by Mayan archaeological sites, exotic landscaping, and a wide array of lush flora and fauna.
|WELCOME TO SANTO TOMAS, GUATEMALA|
Ranch: Southfork Ranch was Life in the Fast Lane! And that was the vicarious life that millions of people around the world lived as they sat glued to their televisions for 13 years watching “Dallas”, the prime time soap opera saga of The Ewing family and its giant oil empire. And, if you promise not to tell anyone, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Southfork Ranch, the Dallas home of television’s legendary Ewing family is not in Dallas, Texas. Built in 1970, Southfork Ranch is actually in Parker, Texas. But little does geography matter to the millions of “Dallas” fans who faithfully watched the show year after year. To them, and to me, Southfork Ranch will always be in Dallas.
SOUTHFORK RANCH: A PEEK INTO LIFE IN THE FAST LANE
New Hotel: The Hilton Columbus Downtown, opened in 2012, has a stellar collection of over 150 original works by local artists with dramatic ceiling murals that float above each guest room. The unique spiral staircase undulates from the second floor to the lobby. The 15,000 sq. ft. skylight provides a feeling of being in the great outdoors while in the middle of a bustling city.
Value Hotel: On multiple visits to Ft. Lauderdale, the Embassy Suites on the 17th Street Causeway serves as my home away from home. And there is a good reason for that. The room rates are reasonable, there is a full complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast, and every night there is a complementary manager’s reception with open bar and snacks. The hotel also offers free use of the fitness and business centers. The suites are spacious, the property is meticulously maintained, te verdant pool area is inviting and the friendly, courteous staff takes its cue from its ebullient manager Don Friedman.
Spa: The Well & Being Spa at Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas, Texas is an innovative fusion of spa and wellness, play and purpose, insight and indulgence. And indulged I was. After 4-days of hard-core touring, on my last day at the hotel, I booked a Blues Be Gone Massage. This heavenly ritual began with a steaming Blue Eucalyptus Inhalation and was followed by a Ginger Root Bath & Body Oil Massage and some mystical acupressure techniques.
|WHIRLPOOL AT FOUR SEASONS LAS COLINAS SPA|
Luggage: My ecbc Falcon 22-inch Rolling Duffle, is TSA checkpoint-friendly. Its FastPass System lets me unzip the specialized well-padded electronics compartment, lay the wheeled duffle bag flat on the security conveyer and go through the TSA checkpoint without unpacking my i-pad and cables. Italso came equipped with a Portable Power Pack that allows me to recharge my tablet right in the carry-on.
Travel Accessory: NapAnywhere is a portable travel pillow that made traveling easier and more comfortable than my old u-shaped neck pillow. And, as an additional bonus, it is smaller and less awkward to carry. This innovative head-support pillow worked as well when I was a car passenger on a road trip, as when I was flying on an airplane.
Cultural Event: Cincinnati Ohio’s Symphony Orchestra, and its ebullient conductor John Morris Russell, presented an uplifting celebration of African-American musical heritage featuring Oscar and Golden Globe award winning artist Common, the “King of Conscious Hip Hop”. “Glory”, the powerful John Legend/Common collaboration from the civil rights film “Selma”, brought Music Hall’s sold-out audience to its feet.
|JANET STEINBERG WITH COMMON AT CINCINNATI’S MUSIC HALL|
Lunch on Land: Lunch is taken to a new level at The Zodiac, the elegant restaurant on the 6th floor of the original Neiman Marcus Downtown Dallas. The restaurant was the brainstorm of founder Stanley Marcus who conceived the restaurant for out of town shoppers who would spend the entire day in the store. Guests are welcomed with a complimentary demitasse cup of chicken broth and Neiman’s traditional signature popover and strawberry butter. This venerable dining destination, which has been serving fine cuisine for over 50 years, features an exquisite, classic menu selection of seasonal entrée selections.
Lunch at Sea: Seishin, an innovative Asian-fusion restaurant aboard Silversea’ Silver Spirit is the intimate dining spot where seafood vied for the attention of our taste buds. The restaurant features a large round chef's table as its centerpiece. From our table at lunchtime, we watched the chef at work sculpting fresh sushi and sashimi. It tasted as good as it looked.
PICTURE PERFECT LUNCH ABOARD SILVERSEA SILVER SPIRIT
Dinner on Land: The Whitney Restaurant and Ghost Bar is an historic Detroit landmark. In 1894, The Whitney Mansion became home to the family of lumber baron, David Whitney Jr., the wealthiest man in Detroit. Today, this iconic turn-of-the-century, Romanesque Revival mansion is a world-class restaurant that retains all of its charm and refinement yet appeals to contemporary tastes.
|THE WHITNEY RESTAURANT AND GHOST BAR|
Dinner at Sea: At Le Champagne, aboard Silversea’s Silver Spirit, we indulged ourselves in an evening where fine wines complemented a set tasting menu of regionally inspired dishes. In an intimate elegant setting, in the only Wine Restaurant by Relais & Châteaux at sea, I was privy to an enriching, flavorful, and memorable dining experience.
Dinner in a Church: An outstanding dinner at The Refectory Restaurant was my introduction to Columbus Ohio’s innovative culinary scene. This upscale restaurant, complete with soaring ceilings & stained-glass windows, has a long and distinguished history in Columbus. The building was first used as a church built in the mid-1800s. In the 1980s it assumed its role as Columbus’ premier French restaurant. For its 17,000 bottle wine cellar, The Refectory is the only restaurant in Ohio that has received The Wine Spectator’s Grand Award, and is one of only 95 restaurants world-wide to receive this prestigious award.
WHO EVER THOUGHT THAT DINNER IN A CHURCH WOULD LOOK LIKE THIS?
Domestic Port of Call: On my Silversea Silver Spirit's Caribbean cruise, my favorite domestic port was Key West, Florida. Located closer to Havana than Miami, Key West is an around-the-clock happening. For an overall view of the city I opted for Silver Spirit’s City View Trolley Hop-On Hop-Off tour. I then headed to President Harry Truman’s Little White House. Next I was off to the Ernest Hemingway House, the Florida home of the author of a myriad of classic books such as “The Sun Also Rises”. No day in Key West would be complete without downing a few at Sloppy Joe’s, Hemingway’s favorite honkytonk saloon. Sloppy Joe's is much more than mere saloon. It is a symbolic personification of Key West itself.
Hidden Gem: In 1492, Columbus discovered America. In 2016, I discovered Columbus. Now one of the fastest growing cities in the Midwest, Columbus took the dams down on its old sludgy river and reclaimed 33 acres of parkland, adding walking trails and a beautiful promenade along the river. The result was Scioto Mile, an urban oasis that reconnects downtown with the river through a system of parks, boulevards, bikeways and pedestrian paths. Columbus is a dynamic blend of Old-World charm and cutting-edge sophistication. In Columbus, I learned the most surprising fact of the year…that the #3 fashion hub of America is not in California...not in Florida…not in Texas. Surprise! Surprise! It is in the mid-western city of Columbus, Ohio.
Sculpture: The Mustangs of Las Colinas, at Williams Square in The Urban Center at the heart of Las Colinas, Texas, is the worlds’ largest equestrian sculpture. Nowhere in the world is there a sculpture that comes close to the free-spirited bronzes that appear to be snorting through flared nostrils, as they splash through a stream of water in the midst of a granite office complex in urbanized Irving, Texas. A concealed fountain spray system suggests the splashing of water around the horses’ hooves as they cross midstream. These nine larger than life-size horses pay tribute to the heritage of Texas…not only the geographical Texas, but also a Texas personified by free-spirited individuals and entrepreneurs.
|THE MUSTANGS OF LAS COLINAS|
JANET STEINBERG, Travel Writer/Editor/International Travel Consultant with The Travel Authority, is the winner of 43 national Travel Writer Awards.