Rhode Island’s Marvelous Attractions, Festivals Are Easily Reached by Train, Bus

WaterFire Providence, taking place Sept. 27, Oct. 11, 25, is described as "a unique and beautiful artistic installation" by Barnaby Evans - but that does not even begin to describe how spectacular. Now in its 20th year, WaterFire features braziers placed along the middle of the Providence River and set aflame, music, artistic performers, food and drink and brings both locals and visitors out to celebrate the city © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WaterFire Providence, taking place Sept. 27, Oct. 11, 25, is described as “a unique and beautiful artistic installation” by Barnaby Evans – but that does not even begin to describe how spectacular. Now in its 20th year, WaterFire features braziers placed along the middle of the Providence River and set aflame, music, artistic performers, food and drink and brings both locals and visitors out to celebrate the city © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In a time when the challenges of air travel only seem to become more complex and automobile travel more frustrating, the allure of train travel grows. Trains are easy on/off, allow continual WiFi use, have excellent on-time performance, and are affordable.

And now, you can reach one of the most sensational getaway destinations on the planet via passenger rail: Amtrak to Rhode Island.

Amtrak services Rhode Island via two routes: The high-speed Acela travels daily between Boston, New Haven, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC. The Northeast Regional includes those cities as well as smaller stations such as Kingston, RI, in the southern half of the state, close to the beaches and Newport.

Once in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority’s system of trolleys and buses makes navigating the entire state a breeze, especially the cities of Providence and Newport (see bus directions below to each destination) – not to mention superb biking (one of our favorite bike trails is the East Bay, which goes from Providence 14.5 miles, hugging the shores of Narragansett Bay to Bristol).

And Rhode Island’s great fall festivals and foliage excursions make visiting at this time of year all the more memorable. The great food scene here, from high-end, nationally-award-winning restaurants to waterside seafood shacks, is allure all by itself, and will only make your stay more enjoyable, no matter what your taste.

Making Connections

Getting around Providence is a snap, not just because it’s an eminently walkable city, but because RIPTA’s system of tourist-friendly public transportation is fantastic. RIPTA’s hub is located in Kennedy Plaza in the center of downtown Providence, a 5 minute walk from the train station. Check out the dozens of routes at www.ripta.com.

Getting to Newport is even easier. Regular bus service runs between Providence, Kennedy Plaza  and Newport’s Gateway Center. Buses leave every 30 minutes.

Once in Newport getting around via public transportation is easy too! Newport’s public transportation hub is the Visitors Information Center at 23 America’s Cup Avenue in downtown Newport. RIPTA provides trolley and bus service to attractions throughout Newport, including the mansions, Cliff Walk, Beaches, Fort Adams, Downtown Newport, the Gateway Center, and more.  Van/car service is available from the Kingston station to Newport. Call (401) 295-1100 for information and reservations (required).

Riders can buy a day pass or pay as they go directly from the bus driver. RIPTA riders pay just $2 for all-day parking at the Visitors Information Center and receive discounts to many area attractions, including mansion and harbor tours.  For more information call: 401-781-9400 or log on to RIPTA.com or see specific schedules here:

Route 60 (Providence/Newport)
Route 63 – Purple Line (Broadway/Middletown Shop)
Route 64 – (Newport/URI/Kingston Train Station)
Route 67 – Yellow Line (Bellevue/Mansions)

 Not-to-Miss Fall Festivals and Events

Rhode Island Chinese Dragon Boat Races and Taiwan Day Festival (Sept. 6): The Blackstone Valley is one of the few places outside of China where you can experience these authentic and beautiful wooden dragon boats, made and shipped from Hong Kong, race. Boat crews consist of a drummer and 20 paddlers. The top team wins $10,000.  The day also includes other festivities celebrating Asian culture. School Street Pier, Pawtucket, 401-724-2200. www.dragonboatri.com

To get there from Providence: Board Bus 11 in Kennedy Plaza towards R-Line North. The 11 departs every 20 minutes. In about 24 minutes, you’ll arrive at the Pawtucket Transit Center. Transfer to Bus 78. Travel three stops to School and Beechwood streets. Take a right and walk five minutes to the Pawtucket Boat Launch. Total travel time 40 minutes.

The 9th Annual Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival (September 19-21):  Held in one of the most spectacular settings in America, Rosecliff and Marble House mansions, this remarkable weekend experience features hundreds of wines from around the world, fabulous food, cooking demonstrations by nationally-renowned chefs, live and silent auctions and a gala celebration. www.newportmansions.org

To get there from Providence: Board Bus 60 in Kennedy Plaza towards Newport. This bus departs every 20 minutes. In about an hour and 13 minutes, get off at Marlborough and Duke streets in Newport. Walk about a minute straight ahead to the next bus stop at Marlborough and Thames streets. Board Bus 67 and ride 9 stops to the corner of Bellevue and Narragansett avenues. Exit the bus and walk 5 minutes to Marble House. Total travel time is 1 hour 37 minutes.

WaterFire Providence (Sept. 27, Oct. 11, 25): A unique and beautiful artistic installation by Barnaby Evans, WaterFire, in its 20th year, is celebrated the world over. Featuring braziers placed along the middle of the Providence River and set aflame, WaterFire features music, artistic performers, food and drink and brings both locals and visitors out to celebrate the city. www.waterfire.org. (see slideshow).

To get there: Exit the Providence Train Station and make a left onto Gaspee St. Walk one minute and take a left on Francis St. Walk three minutes to the Providence River and the first viewing point for WaterFire, which starts at sunset.

International Polo Series (Through September): This royal sport has taken Rhode Island by storm. Polo matches take place every Saturday June through September. Spectators may rent tents or bring chairs and reserve space on the grounds for picnics. Teams competing come from throughout the world. Glen Farm in Portsmouth. www.nptpolo.com

To get there from Providence: Board Bus 60 in Kennedy Plaza towards Newport. This bus departs every 20 minutes. In about 55 minutes, exit the bus on East Main Rd opposite the corner of Glen Rd. Cross the street and walk about 10 minutes to Glen Farm Rd. and make a right. The polo fields will be 5 minutes down on your left. Total travel time is 1 hour 13 minutes.

The Jack O Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo (Oct. 2-Nov. 2): This annual festival features 5,000 artistically and intricately-carved pumpkins in all shapes, sizes and themes. Set along the pathways that lead throughout the Zoo, the lit-from-within pumpkins draw as many as 100,000 visitors for a part-beautiful, part-spooky celebration of the season. 1000 Elmwood Ave., Providence, 401-785-9450. www.rwpzoo.org

To get there from Providence: In Kennedy Plaza, board Bus 22 towards Providence. It will turn into Bus 20. Ride for 18 minutes to the corner of Elmwood Ave. and Carlisle St. Exit the bus here and the entrance to Roger Williams Park is directly across the street. Enter the park and walk 6 minutes to the Zoo. Total travel time is 26 minutes.

Newport’s International Octoberfest (Oct. 11-12):  This bona fide Bavarian weekend bubbles over with juicy bratwursts, yodeling and folk dance performances, a rousing entertainment lineup and more. This year, there will be three Biergartens and expanded outdoor courtyard space for endless amounts of festivities. A kid-friendly Kindergarten area rounds out fall’s choice festival as a place for the whole family to sample Oktoberfest’s multitude of flavors. All held along the beautiful Newport waterfront at the Newport Yachting Center. www.newportwaterfrontevents.com/event/international-oktoberfest/

To get there from Providence: Board Bus 60 in Kennedy Plaza towards Newport. This bus departs every 20 minutes. In about an hour and 13 minutes, get off at Marlborough and Duke streets in Newport. Exit the bus and walk straight ahead two minutes to Thames St. Take a left and walk 7 minutes to the Newport Yachting Center on the right side of Thames St. Total travel time is 1 hour 24 minutes.

Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival (Oct. 18-19): Honoring the “harvest of the sea,” the Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival offers copious amounts of seafood, continuous live music, and family fun, all beneath the wharf’s colorful tents. Neighboring restaurants and fisherman’s associations serve up their most celebrated seafood dishes (lobster dinners, clam chowder, stuffed quahogs, clam cakes, shrimp, scallops, raw oysters and clams, as well as a few dishes for landlubbers and kids). Under the music tent, live music – folk, Celtic, sea shanties and blues – are just a taste of what you’ll hear. Bring your dancing shoes, because these bands promise to get your feet moving! www.bowenswharf.com/events

To get there from Providence: Board Bus 60 in Kennedy Plaza towards Newport. This bus departs every 20 minutes. In about an hour and 13 minutes, get off at Marlborough and Duke streets in Newport. Exit the bus and walk straight ahead two minutes to Thames St. Take a left and walk 5 minutes to Bowen’s Wharf, on the right side of Thames St. Total travel time is 1 hour 22 minutes.

Blackstone Valley Fall Foliage Tour (Oct. 22): One of the most unique ways to see Rhode Island’s gorgeous fall foliage. Hop aboard the Blackstone Valley’s Fall Foliage Train. On Oct. 22 at 9 am the train departs Woonsocket for a day-long excursion to Putnam CT, where you can shop for antiques and dine. One Depot Sq, Woonsocket. www.tourblackstone.com

To get there from Providence: Board Bus 54 in Kennedy Plaza towards Lincoln. After 51 minutes, exit the bus at 113 Clinton St. near the corner of High St. Cross the street and make a right and walk one minute to Depot Square. Total travel time is 56 minutes.

New and exciting places to stay

The Urban Beach House at The Attwater, Newport

The Attwater is a design-driven boutique hotel with a chic and modern edge not often seen in historic Newport. Urban Beach House rooms feature “outdoor style” showers and a “sand lounge” gathering spot in the front yard of the hotel. Top-notch amenities and stylish comfort are the order of the day. 22 Liberty St., 401-846-7444, www.theattwater.com

The Dean, Providence

A brothel-turned boutique hotel, the 52-room Dean is an urban oasis for Downcity travelers. With a decidedly cool Brooklyn vibe (it was designed by Brooklyn-based ASH NYC), the hotel merges cool (there are bunk beds) with a homegrown aesthetic (many of the furnishings and accessories are crafted by RI artists). 122 Fountain Street, Providence, 401-455-DEAN, 401-732-3100. www.thedeanhotel.com.

For further information:

Newport Convention and Visitors Bureau, 23 America’s Cup Avenue, Newport, RI 02840, 401-845-9151, 800-326-6030, www.gonewport.com.

Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau, 144 Westminster St., Providence, RI 02903, 401-456-0200, www.GoProvidence.com.

Rhode Island Tourism Division, 315 Iron Horse Way, Suite 101, Providence, RI 02908, 800-556-2484, www.visitrhodeisland.com.

See also:

Cocktail Culture, Culinary Arts, WaterFire spice up summer visit to Providence and slideshow

Newport’s Gilded Age Mansions Provide Narrative to Women’s Rights Movement

For more travel features, visit:

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

www.examiner.com/international-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com

moralcompasstravel.info

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‘Get Outdoors Responsibly’: Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers Offer Tips to Preserve Natural Landscape

'Get Muddy' say The Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers: A giant mud puddle in the middle of your trail? Get muddy and walk right though it to avoid trampling and the loss of important plants and small trees living along our trails © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘Get Muddy’ say The Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers: A giant mud puddle in the middle of your trail? Get muddy and walk right though it to avoid trampling and the loss of important plants and small trees living along our trails © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Summer is winding down but there’s still time to celebrate summer’s final days in the outdoors with park picnics, road trips, camping, water sports, hiking and much more. Americans logged 1.6 billion visits to national and state park lands last year. The Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers encourage people to get outside and enjoy America’s parks, forests, lakes and oceans responsibly during the last few weeks of summer.

The Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers are teams educators that travel throughout the United States in their Subaru hybrids and reach millions of people each year. They conduct hands-on educational trainings and outreach, teaching the public about Leave No Trace principles while promoting stewardship of the outdoors, protection and preservation of our public lands and support of outdoor recreational activities.

“The best way to celebrate the end of summer is to get outside,” according to Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer, Dani Rowland. “With the growing number of visitors on our public lands, it’s easy for these natural areas to be negatively impacted. The teams travel the country teaching straight-forward skills to help people protect the outdoor places they cherish. Learning and practicing Leave No Trace goes hand-in-hand with your end of summer celebration.”

These five, new tips from the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers to help you Leave No Trace on your next picnic, camp outing or park visit are easy to implement and will help protect our nation’s favorite natural lands for years to come:

 

1. Keep Wildlife Wild

Human food is unhealthy for all wildlife and feeding them can have unfortunate consequences such as drawing them to people and roads and making them sick.

 

2. Get Muddy

A giant mud puddle in the middle of your trail? Get muddy and walk right though it to avoid trampling and the loss of important plants and small trees living along our trails.

 

3. Be Careful With Fire

Burn all wood to ash and be sure the fire is completely out and cold before you leave to avoid starting a wildfire.

 

4. Trash: A Burning Issue

Burning trash and leftover food in your campfire attracts animals and releasing harmful chemicals into the air. Put all leftover food and trash in a trashcan.

 

5. Water Wisdom

Keep soap, food and human and pet waste out of lakes and streams to keep them clean. We all depend on clean water.

 

To learn more tips on Leave No Trace and when the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers will be in your area visit www.LNT.org.

Subaru has a long history of supporting active lifestyle enthusiasts and the organizations that are important to them. In 1999, Subaru of America and the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics joined forces to promote responsible recreation across the United States. The Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer program consists of four teams of two educators that travel across the country in their Subaru hybrids teaching people how to protect and enjoy the outdoors responsibly. The Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers work with the general public, volunteers, nonprofit organizations, friends groups and governmental agencies to reduce the impact of recreational activities in selected endangered areas.  In 2014, alone, the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers will reach 15 million Americans.

Leave No Trace is a national, nonprofit organization that is dedicated to protecting the outdoors by teaching people how to enjoy it responsibly. Since 1994, Leave No Trace has been the most widely accepted outdoors program used on public lands in the United States. Through targeted education, research, outreach, volunteerism and partnerships, Leave No Trace ensures the long-term health of our natural world. Their Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers are mobile teams educators that visit 48 states every year delivering Leave No Trace programs. Leave No Trace has mobilized more than 30,000 volunteers to provide outreach and training impacting more than 22 million people annually in the U.S. For more information visit www.lnt.org.

 

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Documentary about ‘Sugihara Visa’ Jewish Refugees Escaping Nazi Europe Inspires New Tour of Japan

The documentary "Transit to Freedom," produced by the Japan National Tourist Office sparked a Jewish heritage tour of Japan of sights related to destinations associated with Japanese Vice-Consul Chiune Sugihara in Lithuania, known as Japan’s Oskar Schindler, who issued the transit visas for 6,000 European Jews, saving them from Nazi extermination.
The documentary “Transit to Freedom,” produced by the Japan National Tourist Office sparked a Jewish heritage tour of Japan of sights related to destinations associated with Japanese Vice-Consul Chiune Sugihara in Lithuania, known as Japan’s Oskar Schindler, who issued the transit visas for 6,000 European Jews, saving them from Nazi extermination.

A portrait of an unknown Jewish woman featured in a short documentary film of the history of Japan tourism has been identified by her own children.  The film was originally intended to trace the modern history of Japan tourism, but the photo led to discovery about the oldest Japanese travel agency’s little known role in helping Jewish refugees escape from Europe to the United States and is being used to cultivate more Jewish travel to Japan.

As Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) was researching the past 100 years of Japan tourism, there was an unexpected finding from World War II that showed Japanese involvement in helping Jewish refugees escaping Nazi Europe.

The finding led to a documentary, as well as a Jewish Heritage tour of Japan. And the documentary led to the identification of a Jewish woman by her children.

The documentary “Transit to Freedom” was a collaboration of the New York Film Academy   and JNTO, and was premiered at Japan Week, the tourism promotional event at Grand Central Terminal in New York City in March 2014. The screening as well as the coverage in the New York Times, ignited public attention to the documentary, and the documentary was made available online to reach a wider audience.

The film was based on a true story in a book by Akira Kitade, a former executive at JNTO, that his former boss went through during the wartime.

Kitade’s former boss was assigned to escort European Jews when Japan Tourist Bureau (the predecessor of the Japanese travel agency, JTB Corp.) was contracted to transport them through the rough water of Sea of Japan between Vladivostok of the Soviet Union and a Japanese port city of Tsuruga.

The Jews on this ship were on so-called Sugihara visa, which was the transit visa signed by a Japanese Vice-Consul Chiune Sugihara in Lithuania, known as Japan’s Oskar Schindler, who issued the transit visas for around 6,000 European Jews, even if it was against the order from the Japanese government under the Tripartite Pact between Japan, Germany and Italy.

I became familiar with Chiune Sugihara, during an exhibit, “Diplomats of Mercy,” organized by the Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives at Queensborough Community College at the Village of Great Neck Plaza. “‘In a conspiracy of goodness,’ Sugihara persuaded Soviet officials to let Jews with Curacao visas pass through Japan. The Japanese government refused, but he did it anyway, signing 2,000 visas by hand before the consulate was closed by Soviets. After the war, he was dismissed from the foreign service as retribution.”

Sugihara and his wife Yukiko, are honored as “Righteous Gentiles” for their efforts to save Jews during the Holocaust (see www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/sugihara.html).

JTB USA offers a tour for Sugihara-related destinations in Japan.  For further details, see here. https://online.jtbusa.com/SpecialInterest.aspx

While escorting Jewish refugees across the Sea of Japan, the Japanese travel agent received seven portraits from the refugees as a token of gratitude.

Inspired by this first-hand story, Kitade submitted copies of these photos to the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.  One of the portraits posted on the Yad Vashem’s website caught the attention of a Montreal resident Judith Lermer Crawley, a daughter of Sugihara Visa’s recipients.  She perceived an undeniable resemblance to her late aunt, Sonia Reed (maiden name Zosia Gertler) in the young girl, and was convinced when she read the New York Times article on Transit to Freedom in March.

She contacted her three cousins who are Sonia’s surviving children in the United States and Aya Takahashi, a Vancouver-based journalist, who sent the web link of the documentary to them.

When they saw the 73-year old photo in the film, they immediately recognized the girl on the screen was their late mother.  “My first reaction was one of surprise and amazement, chills and goose bumps.  I know my sister and brother had the same reaction…  I was struck by how young, beautiful, sad and vulnerable she looks in the photo, and was greatly moved by it,” says Deborah Reed, one of Sonia’s daughters.  “I was greatly moved by what she wrote on the back (of the photo). [She wrote in Polish, “Remember me – to the nice Japanese person.”]  To me, this speaks to the kindness of the Japanese people who were helping her and to her own feelings of uncertainty about her fate.  It brings home both the tragic and difficult circumstances she found herself in, and her great good fortune in being helped, actually saved, by the Japanese people.”  After finding a safe haven in Japan, many refugees were able to travel on to the United States and Sonia was one of them.

Deborah knew that her mother had escaped from Poland through Russia and Siberia to Japan, but she knew few of the details as Sonia almost never spoke to her children about her experience before and during the war years, though she remembers her saying how kind the Japanese people were to her.  “The photo and the documentary gives me a window into her experience, makes it more “real” and profound to me than it had been.  My own reaction (to this film) was, and is, a richer understanding of my mother’s experience, and very deep gratitude to Mr. Sugihara and the many other Japanese people who helped my mother and other Jewish refugees escape from Europe, survive and go on to create meaningful lives for themselves and their families.”

According to Sonia’s son David, his parents owned a small factory on Long Island, NY and they had a business trip to Japan in 1979.  “They were extremely enthusiastic about their visit.  They very much appreciated the Japanese culture.  They were impressed by the (Japanese) industriousness and serious dedication to customer satisfaction…While my father evaluated the equipment, my mother supported his decision to purchase from a Japanese company.  They were both very dedicated to America and frankly reluctant to purchase from a non-American source…It shows how appreciative she was of Japan that she endorsed this –for them a very major – transaction.”

With little funding available, the New York Film Academy volunteered to produce the documentary.

In addition to Kitade, Rabbi Marvin Tokayer, an expert on Jewish history in Asia and the author of “The Fugu Plan” (co-authored with Mary Swartz) as well as Dr. Sylvia Smoller who experienced the hardship firsthand and has written a book based on the lives of her parents,are interviewed.

You can view the documentary film “Transit to Freedom: How Ordinary Japanese Citizens Helped Jewish Refugees in WWII” here.

“With this film, we hoped to help shine a light on a little known story of Japanese helping Jewish refugees during World War II,” said documentary director Michael Young.  We were captivated by compassion and bravery shown by Vice-Consul Chiune Sugihara and by the members of the Japan Tourist Bureau.  Despite their government’s close alliance with Hitler, individual Japanese opened their doors and their hearts to these homeless and persecuted Jews.”  The New York Film Academy wishes to celebrate this story, and welcomes Japanese students and students from all over the world to shine their lights on other stories and make films to share with the world.

JNTO hopes to identify the rest of the survivors in photos by encouraging people to view the film.  “We never had much opportunity to introduce our country to the Jewish community before, so we would be delighted if they feel intrigued by the film to know more about Japan,” says Yuki Tanaka, the executive director of JNTO New York Office.  “Not many people know this but if you look back at the history, Japan has a surprisingly long relationship with Jewish people, so please come visit my country to discover an amazing link between us.”

Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) is a nonprofit tourism board committed to the promotion of inbound tourism to Japan.  For information on travel to Japan, visit www.japantravelinfo.com.

To find information on JTB USA’s tour of Sugihara-related destinations in Japan, see https://online.jtbusa.com/SpecialInterest.aspx.

See also:

Burkat Global Tour Explores 3000 Years of Jewish India Up to Present

For more travel features, visit:

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

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moralcompasstravel.info

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Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Announces 2015-16 Global Perspectives Speakers

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic in Antarctica
Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic in Antarctica

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic has announced the guest speakers in their Global Perspectives Program aboard the National Geographic Explorer for the 2015/2016 season. Drawn from the top tiers of journalism, science, and world affairs to add relevant insights, the Global Perspectives Speakers have been chosen to share the expedition experience as active participants and fellow travelers, which allows guests to hear them in the context of their lounge talks, and to spend time with them throughout the voyage while cruising in a Zodiac, on a hike, or during dinner.

Depending on the expedition, guests can explore with a National Geographic Explorer-In-Residence; a scientist doing research in the region they are voyaging, an author, a foreign dignitary, or even a former head of state. A partial listing of the special guests include:

  • Jared Diamond:  A professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, Jared is the author of Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed and the widely acclaimed Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, which won him a Pulitzer Prize as well as Britain’s 1998 Rhone-Poulenc Science Book Prize. Antarctica, February 14, 2015
  • Barry Lopez: Best known as the author of Arctic Dreams, for which he received the National Book Award, he has authored 14 books of fiction and nonfiction.  Among his other books are About This Life and Of Wolves and Men, a finalist for the National Book Award.   Arctic Svalbard, June 8, 2015
  • Alasdair McGregor:  Writer and historian, he wrote the definitive biography of the renowned expedition photographer/adventurer on Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, Frank Hurley: A Photographer’s LifeAntarctica, South Georgia & the Falklands, November 7, 2015; Antarctica, November 27, 2015.
  • César Gaviria: Former President of Columbia, César Gaviria is known throughout Latin America as an advocate of democracy, staunch supporter of regional integration, and defender of human rights.  An engaging and insightful speaker, President Gaviria will return to the National Geographic Explorer to welcome guests to his country and introduce them to the economic and political climate of Latin America. Coastal Treasures from the Panama Canal to Peru, September 27, 2015.
  • Captain Alfred S. McLaren: Capt. McLaren has explored beneath the Arctic ice on numerous expeditions, the last as commander of his own sub.  After retiring from the Navy in 1981, he earned a Ph.D. in polar studies and focused his research on the Arctic’s role in climate change.  President of the American Polar Society and Honorary Director and President Emeritus of the Explorers Club, in 2012 he received The Explorers Club’s highest honor, The Explorers Club Medal. Norway’s Fjords & Arctic Svalbard, May 19, 2015.
  • Edward J. Larson: Pepperdine University professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Edward Larson’s latest book, An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science, places the famed voyages of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, his British rivals Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton, and others in a larger scientific, social, and geopolitical context, much enlivened by his own Antarctic travels. Antarctica, January 7 & 17, 2015.
  • Gil Grosvenor:  Grosvenor serves as Chairman Emeritus of the National Geographic Society’s board of trustees and its Education Foundation, as well as an Honorary Director of the Explorers Club. He retired in 1996, as President of the Society—the fifth generation of his family to serve in that position.  Canadian Maritimes, September 11, 2015.
  • Dr. Joe MacInnis:  Dr. Joe MacInnis is the first person to explore the ocean beneath the North Pole.  He led ten research expeditions under the Arctic Ocean to develop the systems and techniques to make scientific surveys beneath the polar ice cap.  His teams built the first undersea polar station and discovered the world’s northernmost known shipwreck.  Antarctica, January 6, 2016.
  • Peter Hillary:  Peter is the son of Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to summit Mount Everest along with Tenzing Norgay. Peter has climbed the highest mountain on every continent, including Mount Everest, and established a new overland route to the South Pole. Antarctica, February 6, 2015; Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falklands, February 16, 2015.
  • Fen Montaigne: Journalist and author of Fraser’s Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctica, Fen has long studied the impact of rapid warming.  His work has appeared in National Geographic, The New Yorker and others. Svalbard, Iceland, Greenland, June 22, 2015.
  • David Doubilet: Acclaimed leading underwater photographer David Doubilet has produced more than 70 stories for National Geographic magazine.  In 2010 he was part of the Elysium Project, a team of explorers who followed in the footsteps of Sir Ernest Shackleton from the Weddell Sea to South Georgia, documenting the current state of this last pristine wilderness.   Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falklands, February 15, 2016.

For more information or to book your Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic voyage, visit http://www.expeditions.com/destinations/antarctica/celebrating-the-centennial/ , call 1-800-EXPEDITION or your travel agent.

Burkat Global Tour Explores 3000 Years of Jewish India Up to Present

Travelers at Magen Aboth Synagogue in Alibag on the Konkan Coast following the path of Jews shipwrecked there more than 2,000 years ago. The synagogue is two hours from Mumbai by private boat and bus on Burkat Global's "3000 Years of Jewish India" tour starting in Mumbai, January 26, 2015 © Burkat Global, LLC
Travelers at Magen Aboth Synagogue in Alibag on the Konkan Coast following the path of Jews shipwrecked there more than 2,000 years ago. The synagogue is two hours from Mumbai by private boat and bus on Burkat Global’s “3000 Years of Jewish India” tour starting in Mumbai, January 26, 2015 © Burkat Global, LLC

Coming upon a pastel pink synagogue with hot pink trim is only one of the surprises travelers will uncover on Burkat Global’s 3,000 Years of Jewish India tour.  In Southern India you’ll walk in the footsteps of the Jews who arrived as spice traders 3,000 years ago and those who settled there.2,000 years ago after the destruction of the second temple.

The journey begins in Mumbai (aka Bombay), India’s  most sophisticated city, where you’ll shop in ancient bazaars and visit colonial relics.  You’ll also tour breathtaking synagogues and historic sites,  take a private boat across Mumbai harbor  to visit age-old synagogues and oil pressers on the Konkan Coast, and take another private boat to Elephanta Island to explore  early Hindu caves.

A short flight takes the group to Cochin (aka Kochi) and the backwaters of Kerala, “the Venice of the East,”  for Ayurveda massage, yoga, or just relaxing. You’ll enjoy a Kathakali performance and traditional Kerala home-style meals.   There’s also a lazy afternoon on board a luxury houseboat, dining and taking pictures of villagers fishing, palm-fringed paddy fields and brightly-painted houses and churches.

In the city of Cochin you’ll have a cooking lesson and visit  a “secret” synagogue;  tour ancient Jew Town’s spice markets, antiques shops, Jewish cemetery and India’s oldest synagogue; view contemporary art on a special tour of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale; and see the Dutch Palace, Vasco da Gama’s church and more. In Muziris, where Jewish traders settled even before Cochin, you can work with archaeologists digging up the past, and swim in the Arabian Sea.  You’ll see recently-restored synagogues and an ancient Jewish cemetery in a town where Jews, Hindus, Muslims and Christians  have lived peacefully  for millennia.

There are about 5,000 Jews left in India, Howard Burkat tells me. “Because no one really knows the exact number, sometimes the number is thought to be as many as 7,500. There were substantially fewer than 100,000 before Israel became a state. Again, an exact and reliable number is very hard to come by. The vast majority of Indian Jews left the country to settle in Israel  in the years immediately after that country’s gaining independence in 1948.

The synagogues that remain are in many cases still used as places of worship. They were built in the 17th-19th centuries and most have been used by the community ever since. However, some are in excellent condition. Some need sprucing up. And some are in terrible shape waiting to be restored.

Recently the government of the southern state of Kerala, where the synagogues around Cochin are located, has  restored a number of synagogues beautifully, he says. “In fact Dr. Shalva Weil of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who is the scholar in residence on our tour and travels with us, was heavily involved in a number of these restorations.”

Dr. Shalva Weil of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem speaking at Bombay's 1884 Temple Knesset Eliyahoo, built by the Sassoon family, prominent Jewish philanthropists. On Burkat Global's "3000 Years of Jewish India" tour, Dr. Weil is the scholar in residence speaking daily on tour destinations. © Burkat Global, LLC
Dr. Shalva Weil of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem speaking at Bombay’s 1884 Temple Knesset Eliyahoo, built by the Sassoon family, prominent Jewish philanthropists. On Burkat Global’s “3000 Years of Jewish India” tour, Dr. Weil is the scholar in residence speaking daily on tour destinations. © Burkat Global, LLC

In Mumbai on the holidays a few hundred people might attend services; out on the Konkan coast in the country outside Mumbai, fewer than a dozen people might worship. In still other synagogues, no one attends – they are museums maintained by government entities.

There is an old, beautiful synagogue, nearly 300 years old, hidden deep in the marketplace in Cochin. It is not visible from the street. You must be led to it through a large pet store and garden center whose Jewish owner will take you through his stores and into the synagogue to tell you its history.

“There are no regular services now, the last rabbi returned to Israel more than two years ago,  but on our tour, Sabbath worship will be arranged,” Burkat says., “Travelers sit under chandeliers ordered from Europe in the 1700s, and walk on tile floors from China, each one different from the next, that have been in place for hundreds of years.”

Dr. Shalva Weil of The Hebrew University, considered the world’s leading expert on Jewish India, will be the scholar in residence, traveling with and teaching the group.

Along the way there are delicious meals of Indian food—not hot unless you like it hot—and special Jewish Indian Shabbat dinners.  (Note that tour meals are not kosher, but are  vegetarian and fish.)   Hotels, all green award winners, include the legendary 5-star Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, Kerala’s lakeside Coconut Lagoon Resort, which Condé Nast Traveler has called one of the world’s best getaways, and the Brunton Boatyard, which combines 19th-century atmosphere with 21st-century luxury on an historic stretch of Cochin’s celebrated harbor.

There are also opportunities to meet local people. “In Mumbai and Cochin we arrange dinners with local Jewish community leaders. Our ground operator and guides are members of the Bene Israel community in Mumbai – they are leading our group into their own community.”

“3000 Years of Jewish India” makes three stops. In Mumbai and Cochin the group travels to numerous Jewish and non-Jewish sites. “Doctor Shalva Weil explains and lectures on the Jewish sites each day when we are visiting them. We also spend four days at the Coconut Lagoon resort, one of the most luxurious in India. This is a wonderful indulgence stop. There is a chance to learn about the literary heritage of Kerala and also see its famous Kathakali dances. There may be a lecture by Dr, Weill, but there is not Jewish heritage component here as there is in Cochin and Mumbai.

The tour is geared organized by the Burkat family and designed for families.

The small-group, land-only tour costs $7,995 per person, double occupancy, and includes almost everything: accommodation in luxury hotels, all intra-India transportation and transfers, daily breakfast, 21 lunches and dinners, bottled water,  sightseeing with entrance fees, the services of expert Indian Jewish guides, taxes and gratuities.  There is one departure: January 26, 2015; the tour is limited to 20 people.  International air fare is not included.

For more information about the “3,000 Years of Jewish India” tour, visit www.burkatglobal.com.  For reservations, call 914-231-9023.

 

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Jim Kane, Founder of Culture Xplorers, Joins Board of World Food Travel Association

Food is a natural bridge-builder and point of connection between cultures, says Jim Kane, founder of Culture Xplorers, a travel company whose signature is delving as deeply as possible into other cultures.
Food is a natural bridge-builder and point of connection between cultures, says Jim Kane, founder of Culture Xplorers, a travel company whose signature is delving as deeply as possible into other cultures.

Food is a natural bridge-builder and point of connection between cultures, says Jim Kane, founder of Culture Xplorers, a travel company whose signature is delving as deeply as possible into other cultures.

“There is an exciting movement afoot that is opening up new frontiers of food travel” Kane explained. “Around the world, visionary farmers, producers and chefs are changing the way we think about our relationship with food and with each other.”

“In a similar vein, there is a revolution taking place in the way food travel is being interpreted and experienced. The new frontier of food travel is physically active, intellectually engaged, emotionally connected and truly transformative. It leverages the power of food to affect positive social changes and fosters genuine bonds that endure long after the trip ends,” said Kane.

Kane recently accepted a two-year appointment to serve on the board of directors of the World Food Travel Association (WFTA).

“I am looking forward to the privilege of helping to solidify the Association’s position as the world’s leading authority on culinary tourism,” said Kane.

Founded in 2003 by Association Executive Director Erik Wolf, the WFTA’s mission is to grow and professionalize the food and drink tourism industry as the central hub that supports the creation of successful, profitable businesses and the protection and promotion of local culinary cultures world-wide.

“We’re excited to have Jim join our Board of Directors,” said Wolf. “Jim has a wide range of experience with other industry trade associations and an interesting view that he can bring to bear in his service with the World Food Travel Association.”

Kane happily shares what he sees as three developing trends in the future of food travel:

#1 Adventure Foraging: “Autumn is a great season for foraging in Cataluña, Spain, where you can easily travel from the Pyrenees to the coast in the same day. One of my favorite adventures here is to accompany a seasoned botanist — alongside plenty of local ‘boletaires’ (mushroom hunters) — on a quest for highly prized, seasonal wild mushrooms in the forested foothills of the Pyrenees. Then switch gears and kayak along the Catalan coast in search of edible seaweed and aromatic herbs.”

#2 Trekking & Terroir: “This form of connecting with the land and local producers is already in full bloom in many places around the world. One of my favorite recent experiences is shadowing a Basque shepherd on an engaging variation of his morning rounds. First we try our hand at milking one of the indigenous Latxa breed of sheep which produce the region’s famed Idiazabal cheese. We make and chill ‘cuajada’ (fresh cheese curd) and taste some of the farmhouse cheese washed down with a bottle of refreshing, txakoli (sparkling) wine. A 90-minute walk through rolling hills and pine-covered trails works back our appetite just in time for lunch! “

#3 Food for Social Change: “This is a budding movement which is particularly strong in Latin America. One of my favorite regional projects is the Pachacútec Culinary Institute (ICP) just north of Lima.  Peruvian super chef Gastón Acurio partnered with the Fundación Pachacútec to create a top notch culinary school along the coastal desert in Pachacútec. It recruits students from some of Lima’s poorest communities and costs a tenth the tuition of a private institute, offering life-changing opportunities to its graduates. As part of Culture Xplorers’ unique partnership with the ICP, we bring travelers for a cooking lesson side-by-side with the students, who then share this meal with the visitors.”

Culture Xplorers (http://www.culturexplorers.com/), a leader in sustainable travel, offers handcrafted journeys that deepen understanding and foster connection between travelers and local communities around the world.

Culture Xplorers trips are created from the ground up, built on three founding pillars: people, traditions and impact. Their travelers meet the people of the places they visit, engaging in the living traditions that make each destination unique, and in doing so, create a lasting, positive impact through tourism. Genuine connections with people and place are formed farm-to-fork and around the table, via participation in local celebrations and through authentic exchange with community leaders and members.

Countries where cultural exchanges are fostered are Peru, Guatemala, Argentina, Mexico, Spain, Portugal and Cuba. The Culture Xplorers Foundation was founded in 2007 to help foster the sustainability of local culture in at risk communities worldwide. Its positive impact partnerships focus on sustaining endangered traditions, strengthening education, fostering community-based travel and breaking the cycle of poverty through the support of comprehensive micro-loan and education programs.  See: http://www.cxfoundation.org/

For 2014-2015 season information, tours, availability and reservations contact Culture Xplorers at 215-870-3585 or email: info@culturexplorers.com.

 

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The Edgewater in Madison, Wisconsin Joins Historic Hotels of America

The Edgewater in Madison, Wisconsin has joined Historic Hotels of America®, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Edgewater is one of more than 250 hotels and resorts throughout the country that is recognized by Historic Hotels of America for preserving and maintaining its historic integrity, architecture and ambiance. The Edgewater is the only Madison-based property to be included in the portfolio.

“We are delighted to induct The Edgewater, a storied lakefront hotel in the Midwest, to Historic Hotels of America prior to the hotel’s grand reopening after a $100-million renovation this September 2014.” said Lawrence Horwitz, Executive Director of Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide. “We welcome The Edgewater’s Owner Robert Dunn and leadership team into Historic Hotels of America.”

To be selected for membership in Historic Hotels of America, 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; listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places or recognized locally as having historic significance.

“We are extremely honored to be a member of the Historic Hotels of America,” says Ronald E. Morin, general manager and senior vice president of The Edgewater. “The people of Madison have pride in the hotel as a civic asset, a gathering place and a destination that defines the best of the city. Therefore, we are committed to honoring The Edgewater’s legacy as we enter the next chapter of the hotel’s history.”

The Edgewater is rich in history and architectural integrity.  The hotel opened in Madison, Wisconsin 65 years ago and quickly became one of the city’s main attractions. Almost overnight, the hotel became the signature location for local residents and visiting guests to enjoy all things that define Madison. With an extraordinary location right on the shore of Lake Mendota, the new Edgewater, just as the previous structure, will service as a gathering place for significant family events from casual waterfront relaxation to fine dining.

Visiting celebrities stayed at the hotel from Elvis Presley to Sammy Davis Jr. and Elton John to Bob Marley, as well as many visiting notables. Local developer Robert Dunn, with a passion to recreate the unique destination, acquired The Edgewater with an ambitious plan to develop the property and return it to its cultural significance in the city.

After a multimillion-dollar expansion and renovation, The Edgewater will reopen in September 2014 at 1001 Wisconsin Place in Madison, Wisconsin, as a portal to Madison’s waterfront in the heart of Wisconsin’s capital city. A project of Madison developer Robert Dunn, the revitalization of the historic hotel property includes the construction of a new hotel tower as well as the preservation of the two original buildings erected in the 1940s and 1970s. The Edgewater will feature more than 200 guest rooms, new food and beverage concepts, a state-of-the art fitness and wellness center, a multitude of indoor and outdoor event spaces (including two rooftop spaces), an outdoor public plaza and even an outdoor skating rink in winter.

For more information, visit www.theedgewater.com or call 800-922-5512. Connect with The Edgewater on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation with 32 charter members, today, Historic Hotels of America has more than 250 historic hotels. These historic hotels have all faithfully maintained their authenticity, sense of place, and architectural integrity in the United States of America, including 46 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.

See also: Historic Hotels of America Announces 2014 Award Nominees

 

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Historic Hotels of America Announces 2014 Award Nominees

Jekyll Island Club Hotel (1886) Jekyll Island, Georgia, is nominated in several categories, including Best Historic Resort © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Jekyll Island Club Hotel (1886) Jekyll Island, Georgia, is nominated in several categories, including Best Historic Resort © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Historic Hotels of America has just announced the nominees for its 2014 Awards of Excellence, recognizing and celebrating the finest historic hotels and hoteliers. The 2014 Annual Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner will take place at The Hotel Hershey® (1933) in Hershey, Pennsylvania on Thursday, October 2 at 7 pm where the final award winners will be announced.  

Award recipients were selected from nominees received from across America from historic hotels, historic preservation supporters, and leadership from Historic Hotels of America. As the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Hotels of America provides the recognition to travelers, civic leaders, and the global cultural, heritage, and historic travel market that member hotels are among the finest historic hotels across America. Historic Hotels of America Awards of Excellence recognize the pinnacle of this distinct group of nominees in a number of categories.

The 2014 award nominees are:

 

Historic Hotels of America New Member of the Year

o   Abraham Lincoln Reading Hotel (1930) Reading, Pennsylvania

o   Airlie (1892) Warrenton, Virginia

o   Benbow Inn (1926) Garberville, California

o   The Edgewater (1948) Madison, Wisconsin

o   Lake McDonald Lodge (1914) Glacier National Park, Montana

o   Many Glacier Hotel (1915) Glacier National Park, Montana

o   Southern Hotel (1907) Covington, Louisiana

 

Mohonk Mountain House (1869) New Paltz, New York. Nina Smiley is nominated for Historic Hotelier of the Year © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Mohonk Mountain House (1869) New Paltz, New York. Nina Smiley is nominated for Historic Hotelier of the Year © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Historic Hotelier of the Year

o   Brenda Anderson, The Lancaster Hotel (1926) Houston, Texas

o   Christopher Diego, Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa (1865) Whitefield, New Hampshire

o   David Tamulevich, Portland Regency Hotel & Spa (1895) Portland, Maine

o   Dean Lane, The Palmer House Hilton (1871) Chicago, Illinois

o   Douglas Brown, The Peabody Memphis (1869) Memphis, Tennessee

o   Gene-Michael Addis, Lord Baltimore Hotel (1928) Baltimore, Maryland

o   Jack Moyer, 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa (1886) Eureka Springs, Arkansas

o   Jennifer Kimball,  La Fonda (1922) Santa Fe, New Mexico

o   Jim Sims, The Mimslyn Inn (1931) Luray, Virginia

o   Joshua Townsend, Capital Hotel (1873) Little Rock, Arkansas

o   Kelly Hoen, The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort (1927) Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

o   Kenneth Hayward, Grand Hotel (1887) Mackinac Island, Michigan

o   Ken Price, The Palmer House Hilton (1871) Chicago, Illinois

o   Michel Sheer, Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza (1931) Cincinnati, Ohio

o   Nina Smiley, Mohonk Mountain House (1869) New Paltz, New York

o   Patty Henning, Jekyll Island Club Hotel (1886) Jekyll Island, Georgia

o   Philip Wood, The Jefferson, Washington, DC (1923)

o   Thomas Klein, The Fairmont Hotel San Francisco (1907) San Francisco, California

 

Best Small Historic Inn/Hotel (Under 75 Guestrooms)

o   1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa (1886) Eureka Springs, Arkansas, 72 guestrooms

o   Castle Hotel & Spa (1910) Tarrytown, New York, 31 guestrooms

o   Cavallo Point (1901) Golden Gate National Park, Sausalito, California, 68 guestrooms

o   Caribbean Motel (1957) Wildwood Crest, New Jersey, 30 guestrooms

o   The Chanler at Cliff Walk (1873) Newport, Rhode Island, 20 guestrooms

o   Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort (1929) Tucson, Arizona, 30 guestrooms

o   The Inn at Furnace Creek (1927) Death Valley National Park, California, 66 guestrooms

o   Inn at the Presidio (1776) Golden Gate National Park, San Francisco, California, 22 guestrooms

o   The Landmark Inn (1930) Marquette, Michigan, 62 guestrooms

o   Lancaster Arts Hotel (1881) Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 63 guestrooms

o   Lord Jeffery Inn (1926) Amherst, Massachusetts, 49 guestrooms

o   The Mast Farm Inn (1792) Banner Elk, North Carolina, 15 guestrooms

o   The Middlebury Inn (1827) Middlebury, Vermont, 71 guestrooms

o   The Smith House (1899) Dahlonega, Georgia, 15 guestrooms

The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort (1935) St. Simons Island, Georgia, with 195 guestrooms, is nominated for Best Historic Hotel (75-200 Guestrooms) © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort (1935) St. Simons Island, Georgia, with 195 guestrooms, is nominated for Best Historic Hotel (75-200 Guestrooms) © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Best Historic Hotel (75-200 Guestrooms)

o   Capital Hotel (1873) Little Rock, Arkansas, 94 guestrooms

o   Green Park Inn (1891) Blowing Rock, North Carolina, 88 guestrooms

o   Harbor View Hotel of Martha’s Vineyard (1891) Edgartown, Massachusetts, 114 guestrooms

o   Hotel Blackhawk, Autograph Collection  (1915) Davenport, Iowa, 130 guestrooms

o   Hotel Lombardy (1929) Washington, DC, 140 guestrooms

o   The Jefferson, Washington, DC (1923) 95 guestrooms

o   Jekyll Island Club Hotel (1886) Jekyll Island, Georgia, 157 guestrooms

o   The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort (1935) St. Simons Island, Georgia, 195 guestrooms

o   La Fonda (1922) Santa Fe, New Mexico, 179 guestrooms

o   The Lancaster Hotel (1926) Houston, Texas, 93 guestrooms

o   Mayflower Park Hotel (1927) Seattle, Washington, 160 guestrooms

o   Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa (1865) Whitefield, New Hampshire, 144 guestrooms

o   Portland Regency Hotel & Spa (1896) Portland, Maine, 95 guestrooms

o   The Talbott Hotel (1927) Chicago, Illinois, 149 guestrooms

o   The Westin Poinsett (1925) Greenville, South Carolina, 200 guestrooms

 

Best Historic Hotel (200-400 Guestrooms)

o   Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa (1852) Mobile, Alabama, 238 guestrooms

o   The Brown Hotel (1923) Louisville, Kentucky, 293 guestrooms

o   The Hotel Hershey® (1933) Hershey, Pennsylvania, 276 guestrooms

o   Loews Don CeSar Hotel (1928) St. Pete Beach, 277 guestrooms

o   Omni Bedford Springs Resort & Spa (1806) Bedford, Pennsylvania, 216 guestrooms

o   West Baden Springs Hotel (1902) West Baden Springs, Indiana, 243 guestrooms

o   The Wigwam (1918) Litchfield Park, Arizona, 331 guestrooms

 

Best Historic Hotel (Over 400 Guestrooms)

o   French Lick Springs Hotel (1901) French Lick, Indiana, 443 guestrooms

o   Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza (1931) Cincinnati, Ohio, 561 guestrooms

o   Hotel Monteleone (1886) New Orleans, Louisiana, 570 guestrooms

o   The Mayflower® Renaissance Washington, DC Hotel (1925), 657 guestrooms

o   Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa (1901) Waikiki Beach, Hawaii, 791 guestrooms

o   The Omni Grove Park Inn (1913) Asheville, North Carolina, 514 guestrooms

o   The Palmer House Hilton (1871) Chicago, Illinois, 1,641 guestrooms

o   The Peabody Memphis (1869) Memphis, Tennessee, 464 guestrooms

o   The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort (1927) Waikiki Beach, Hawaii, 562 guestrooms

o   Waldorf=Astoria (1931) New York, New York, 1,413 guestrooms

 

The Plaza (1907) New York, New York, is nominated for Best City Center Historic Hotel © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The Plaza (1907) New York, New York, is nominated for Best City Center Historic Hotel © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Best City Center Historic Hotel

o   The Fairmont Hotel San Francisco (1907) San Francisco, California

o   Georgian Terrace Hotel (1911) Atlanta, Georgia

o   The Heathman Hotel (1927) Portland, Oregon

o   Hotel Lombardy (1929) Washington, District of Columbia

o   Hotel Monteleone (1886) New Orleans, Louisiana

o   The Jefferson, Washington, DC (1923)

o   The Lenox (1900) Boston, Massachusetts

o   Lord Baltimore Hotel (1928) Baltimore, Maryland

o   Omni William Penn Hotel, Pittsburgh (1916)

o   The Palmer House Hilton (1871) Chicago, Illinois

o   The Peabody Memphis (1869) Memphis, Tennessee

o   The Plaza (1907) New York, New York

o   Portland Regency Hotel & Spa (1895) Portland, Maine

o   The Saint Paul Hotel (1910) Saint Paul, Minnesota

o   The Strater Hotel (1887) Durango, Colorado

o   The Talbott Hotel (1927) Chicago, Illinois

Jekyll Island Club Hotel (1886) Jekyll Island, Georgia is nominated as the Best Historic Resort © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Jekyll Island Club Hotel (1886) Jekyll Island, Georgia is nominated as the Best Historic Resort © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Best Historic Resort

o   The Broadmoor (1918) Colorado Springs, Colorado

o   The Buccaneer (1653) St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

o   Castle Hotel & Spa (1910) Tarrytown, New York

o   Grand Hotel (1887) Mackinac Island, Michigan

o   Hotel El Convento (1651) San Juan, Puerto Rico

o   Jekyll Island Club Hotel (1886) Jekyll Island, Georgia

o   Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa (1901) Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

o   Ojai Valley Inn & Spa (1923) Ojai, California

o   The Omni Homestead Resort (1766) Hot Springs, Virginia

o   Omni Bedford Springs Resort & Spa (1806) Bedford, Pennsylvania

o   The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort (1927) Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

 

Hotel Historian of the Year

o   Danielle Deschamps, The Mast Farm Inn (1792) Banner Elk, North Carolina

o   Ken Price, Palmer House Hilton Hotel (1871) Chicago, Illinois

o   Les Sossaman, The Wigwam (1918) Litchfield Park, Arizona

o   Steven LaCasse, Lord Jeffery Inn (1926) Amherst, Massachusetts

o   Thelma Kehaulani Kam, The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort (1927) Waikiki Beach, Hawaii and Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa (1901) Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

o   William Defibaugh, Omni Bedford Springs Resort & Spa (1806) Bedford, Pennsylvania

Oheka Castle (1919) Huntington, New York. The Melius Family is nominated for Legendary Family Historic Hoteliers of the Year © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Oheka Castle (1919) Huntington, New York. The Melius Family is nominated for Legendary Family Historic Hoteliers of the Year © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Legendary Family Historic Hoteliers of the Year

o   Barker Family, The Strater Hotel (1887) Durango, Colorado

o   Beach Family, Basin Harbor Club (1886) Vergennes, Vermont

o   Belz Family, The Peabody Memphis (1869) Memphis, Tennessee

o   Boughton Family, The Colony Hotel (1914) Kennebunkport, Maine

o   Genzlinger Family, Ledges Hotel (1890) Hawley, Pennsylvania

o   Martin Family, Paso Robles Inn (1891) Paso Robles, California

o   Melius Family, OHEKA CASTLE (1919) Huntington, New York

o   Smiley Family, Mohonk Mountain House (1869) New Paltz, New York

o   Widman Family, Wentworth Mansion (1886) Charleston, South Carolina

 

Best Historic Restaurant in Conjunction with a Historic Hotel

o   Chestnut Grille, Green Park Inn (1891) Blowing Rock, North Carolina

o   The Circular, The Hotel Hershey® (1933) Hershey, Pennsylvania

o   The Crystal Room, Omni Bedford Springs Resort & Spa (1806) Bedford, Pennsylvania

o   Diamond Belle Saloon, The Strater Hotel (1887) Durango, Colorado

o   English Grill, The Brown Hotel (1923) Louisville, Kentucky

o   Equus Restaurant, Castle Hotel & Spa (1910) Tarrytown, New York

o   French Kitchen, Lord Baltimore Hotel (1928) Baltimore, Maryland

o   Murray Circle, Cavallo Point (1901) Sausalito, California, Golden Gate National Park

o   Orchids at Palm Court, Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza (1931) Cincinnati, Ohio

o   Penrose Room, The Broadmoor (1918) Colorado Springs, Colorado

o   Simplicity, The Mast Farm Inn (1792) Banner Elk, North Carolina

Our room at The Chattanooga Choo Choo, one of the most unusual hotels anywhere. The Chattanooga Choo Choo (1909) Chattanooga, Tennessee, is nominated for Best Social Media of a Historic Hotel © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Our room at The Chattanooga Choo Choo, one of the most unusual hotels anywhere. The Chattanooga Choo Choo (1909) Chattanooga, Tennessee, is nominated for Best Social Media of a Historic Hotel © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Best Social Media of a Historic Hotel

o   The Chattanooga Choo Choo (1909) Chattanooga, Tennessee

o   Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa (1847) Point Clear, Alabama

o   Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort (1929) Tucson, Arizona

o   Hawthorne Hotel (1925) Salem, Massachusetts

o   Hotel Blackhawk (1915) Davenport, Iowa

o   Hotel El Convento (1651) San Juan, Puerto Rico

o   Hotel Monteleone (1886) New Orleans, Louisiana

o   The Jefferson, Washington, DC (1923)

o   Jekyll Island Club Hotel (1886) Jekyll Island, Georgia

o   Lord Baltimore Hotel (1928) Baltimore, Maryland

o   The Mast Farm Inn (1792) Banner Elk, North Carolina

o   The Plaza (1907) New York, New York

o   The Wigwam (1918) Litchfield Park, Arizona

The Heathman Hotel (1927) Portland, Oregon is nominated for Historic Hotels of America Sustainability Champion © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The Heathman Hotel (1927) Portland, Oregon is nominated for Historic Hotels of America Sustainability Champion © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 

Historic Hotels of America Sustainability Champion

o   Airlie (1892) Warrenton, Virginia

o   Boone Tavern Hotel of Berea College (1909) Berea, Kentucky

o   Cavallo Point (1901) Sausalito, California, Golden Gate National Park

o   The Fairmont Hotel San Francisco (1907) San Francisco, California

o   Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa (1847) Point Clear, Alabama

o   The Heathman Hotel (1927) Portland, Oregon

o   Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza (1931) Cincinnati, Ohio

o   Inn at the Presidio (1776) San Francisco, California, Golden Gate National Park

o   Jekyll Island Club Hotel (1886) Jekyll Island, Georgia

o   The Lenox (1900) Boston, Massachusetts

o   Lord Jeffery Inn (1926) Amherst, Massachusetts

o   Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa (1901) Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

o   Paso Robles Inn (1891) Paso Robles, California

o   The Strater Hotel (1887) Durango, Colorado

 

Historic Hotels of America Ambassador of the Year (Quarter Century Service)

o   Bob Louis, Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza (1931) Cincinnati, Ohio

o   Brian LaFountain, The Omni Homestead Resort (1766) Hot Springs, Virginia

o   Charles Schumacher, The Strater Hotel (1887) Durango, Colorado

o   Crystal Brandt, The Hotel Hershey®  (1933) Hershey, Pennsylvania

o   Mike Childs, Paso Robles Inn (1891) Paso Robles, California

o   Patty Henning, Jekyll Island Club Hotel (1886) Jekyll Island, Georgia

o   Stephani Bann, Lancaster Arts Hotel (1881) Lancaster, Pennsylvania

 

“Historic Hotels of America congratulates all the 2014 award nominees,” said Lawrence Horwitz, Executive Director, Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide.  “The nominees exemplify the finest historic hotels and their hoteliers from across America. The Historic Hotels of America Awards of Excellence Committee is delighted to announce the 2014 nominees and looks forward to awarding winners at the historic and beautiful Hotel Hershey® on October 2. From San Juan, Puerto Rico to Waikiki Beach, Hawaii, all the nominees represent inspiring, captivating, and distinctive hotels.”

Tickets for The Historic Hotels of America 2014 Annual Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner are available. The dinner will take place at The Hotel Hershey® on Thursday, October 2 at 7 pm. Tickets for the dinner are $160 for one seat and $1,250 per table (for 8 seats). Contact the Historic Hotels of America +1 202 772 8000 or scalhoun@historichotels.org to reserve tickets.

The 2013 Annual Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner was held at the historic Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Please click here to view award winners.

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, Historic Hotels of America now has more than 250 members. These historic hotels have all faithfully maintained their authenticity, sense of place, and architectural integrity in the United States of America, including 46 states, 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 major 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; 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 www.HistoricHotels.org, where you can also make reservations. 

 

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Human Rights Campaign Seeks to Block Sultan of Brunei’s Purchase of NY’s Iconic Plaza Hotel

The iconic Plaza Hotel, in New York City © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The iconic Plaza Hotel, in New York City © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, is renewing its call to lawmakers, advocates, and supporters of the rights of women and LGBT people in New York to speak out against the Sultan of Brunei’s multi-billion dollar offer to purchase the iconic Plaza Hotel as well as the Dream Downtown hotel in New York.

The Sultan has faced an international backlash following his decision in May to begin implementing a horrific series of new laws that could lead to the stoning of women and LGBT Bruneians.  New reports indicate that some hotel guests as well as organizations that host annual events at The Plaza Hotel would refuse to return if a deal with the Sultan goes through. According to some industry experts, his potential ownership could impact the hotel’s business prospects and global brand.

“The Sultan of Brunei could start executing women and LGBT people in Brunei as soon as next year,” said Ty Cobb, HRC’s Director of Global Engagement “The American profit stream that flows from his hotels back to his regime needs to stop.  We urge all New Yorkers to have one simple and straight-forward message for the Sultan: take your business elsewhere.”

HRC strongly condemned Brunei’s decision to introduce laws that allow for capital punishment to be used against women and LGBT people, and called on Americans to avoid his hotels.  Brunei’s decision has been widely condemned by the international community.  In April, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights condemned Brunei’s penal code reforms, saying it was “deeply concerned” and that stoning was considered to be “torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” under international law.

The Sultan currently owns two hotels in the United States—The Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel-Air, both of which are in California.  The Sultan of Brunei has offered more than $2 billion to purchase three hotels––The Plaza Hotel and the Dream Downtown hotel in New York, as well as The Grosvenor House Hotel in London––from the Sahara’s Group chairman, Subrata Roy.

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Center for Responsible Travel Takes Stand on Animal Welfare and Tourism

The dolphin Winter, made famous for the breakthrough rehabilitative work that Clearwater Aquarium did to create a prosthetic tail that saved the dolphin's life, here in 2008 getting her prosthetic tail on, also saved the aquarium and its important work © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The dolphin Winter, made famous for the breakthrough rehabilitative work that Clearwater Aquarium did to create a prosthetic tail that saved the dolphin’s life, here in 2008 getting her prosthetic tail on, also saved the aquarium and its important work © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Responsible Travel industry is turning its sights on animal welfare.

This issue will figure into the keynote address by Dr. Martha Honey, CREST Co-Director, at TBEX North America, which will be held September 11 – 13, 2014, in Cancun, Mexico.

In advance of her speech she has been asked to comment on an ongoing debate about captive dolphin tours in Cancun. Here is how CREST views the issue:

“Respecting animal welfare is an essential component of responsible travel. CREST believes that when at all possible, wildlife should live in their natural habitats.”

If wild animals are held in captivity, they should be guaranteed, at minimum, the following ‘Five Freedoms’:

Sufficient and good quality food and water

A suitable living environment

An opportunity to exhibit natural behaviors

Protection from fear and distress

Good health

(Check out Born Free UK’s Guide to the 5 Freedoms, which discusses the Five Freedoms in detail in the context of captive wild animals.)

Dolphins are socially complex and self-aware creatures, and we agree with World Animal Protection in that these animals “deserve to live a life free from captivity, where they can properly fulfill their social and behavioral needs.” A tank simply cannot provide them with the space, environment, and social freedom they need to thrive as they would in the wild.

The tour operator Intrepid Travel, a highly respected leader in responsible travel, has set a guideline that it is best to view wildlife where it belongs, but if a zoo or aquarium is ever visited, a visitor should make sure the facility adheres to the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Code of Ethics before entering.

Also, interactions with wild animals should never involve physical contact with people, feeding, or other actions that disturb or alter their natural behavior. These actions often cause extreme distress for the animal and are health risks for both parties.

On the issue of captive marine animals, President Mark Spalding says, “We have admirable facilities that rescue and when possible rehabilitate and release marine mammals, sea birds and sea turtles. Some of these allow the public to visit and volunteer. And, many have advanced our knowledge of marine wildlife through research during their recovery.

“But like hospitals for humans, this is not where we want wild animals to spend their entire lives. We prefer to see them in the wild where they thrive.”

CREST works frequently in close collaboration and partnership with The Ocean Foundation.

For more information about CREST, visit www.responsibletravel.org. Connect with CREST on Twitter and Facebook.

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