Travel 2020: Will Amtrak’s Acela be the New Airplane?



Granted, it was a Saturday. But looking around the Penn Station Amtrak Acela Business Lounge at 9:30am, there was just one other passenger, and a very gracious front desk host, who offered us coffee with a smile. This was, for now, the new reality (we’ve decided to suspend the use of the badly over-flogged term “the new normal”): quiet airports, half-empty train stations. But in the Northeast, the citizenry had nobly done the work of banding together and decisively beating back the spread of coronavirus…and so we’d earned the right to a short visit to one of our sister cities—so we were determined to make it to DC, to see how the re-opening measures were coming along there.

Of course, now that the EU has closed off Americans’ entrance to the Continent until further notice, all travel plans will have to be carefully reconsidered—as domestic jaunts will be pretty much subbing for all those cancelled trips to Italy, France, Croatia… And with the COVID numbers as they are, popular US destinations like Texas and Arizona seem to pretty much be off the table for now.

This actually doesn’t present much problem for us, as we have always been enthusiastic advocates of the Northeast Corridor cities—specifically D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Providence and Boston. And we’re frankly looking forward to a summer-into-fall of watching these culture-forward destinations spring back to life—with all apologies to our friends in London and Paris, who we likely won’t be seeing any time soon.

What this also means, naturally, is that we will be spending a lot of time on Amtrak, which has responded to coronavirus safety concerns decisively and thoroughly. And their efficiency will be urgently necessary to our recovery in so many ways—economically, psychologically…

We were obviously excited for our first trip out of NYC since the lockdown, and, as before, were ready to take all necessary precautions. As we boarded the 10:03 out of Penn, things felt reasonably normal…just with fewer fellow passengers; indeed, our car was clearly less than half capacity. Then after pulling away from 30th Street Station in Philly, an announcement came that they would be coming through the train for an interim cleaning—and sure enough, staff members came by to resolutely wipe down the train interiors. It was a comforting feeling.



Also, though, there’s something a little more serene about riding the rails now, almost meditative. The WiFi, not always reliable on trains and busses, was working at lightning speed; but we chose to close the laptop, and engage with the existential pleasure of just watching the world go by out the train window. We had never before noticed certain things, like a collection of adorable little identical houses somewhere near Wilmington (a city which seemed noticeably quieter.)

We watched as huge warehouses suddenly appeared and then immediately disappeared, followed by long stretches of calming green. And witnessing the scene of boats whizzing around on the Delaware River, we were reminded that it’s one of the truly safe pleasures right now; but being on the train also made us feel remarkably safe.

The architecture lovers in us always thrilled to the site of the 1835 A. Hoen & Company Lithographers building just outside Baltimore. We were getting close to DC, and we were feeling pretty okay with the idea that the Acela train would be our new airplane for the coming months—we loved trains, and we loved traveling in them.

As we sauntered into the main hall at Union Station, our final destination, we couldn’t help but notice it was also quieter than we’d probably ever seen it. But as we looked up at the spectacular plaster ceiling, covered as it is in 120,000 sheets of gold leaf, we knew we were where we needed to be.

(Until August 31, Amtrak is offering incredible advance purchase fares—examples: $29 one-way NYC to DC, $49 one-way DC to Boston—making it the perfect way to do a summer weekend getaway. Look for special offers on their Roomette private sleeping cabins, as well.)



Five Questions With Amtrak’s Kimberly Woods

What were the key measures Amtrak had to put in place to make sure riding the trains would be safe for all?

Amtrak is leading the way by setting a new standard of travel with enhanced safety and cleaning measures. In an effort to simplify and safeguard the travel experience, several cleaning, contact-free and convenience measures have been implemented into every part of the customer journey—from time of booking to the moment of arrival. We have enhanced cleaning frequency and retrofitted protective plastic barriers where necessary. Commonly used surfaces in stations such as door handles, counter tops, seating areas and Quik-Trak kiosks are cleaned with EPA-registered disinfectants.
Signage has been displayed at our busiest stations to indicate safe distances in high traffic areas. In addition, protective plastic barriers have been installed at customer counters at our busiest stations. All customers and employees must wear a face covering or mask while on trains or thruway buses. Face masks can be removed when customers are in their private rooms.

How has the return to train travel been going? Do you sense a strong desire to get back to travel?

As states have started relaxing their restrictions and we restored some services, we are seeing an increase in ridership.

Will train travel replace lot of air travel?

Amtrak is an attractive option for travel. In addition to aggressive steps to enhance cleaning protocols at stations and on trains, we have implemented new measures to deliver a new standard of travel. Also, offered on many routes, a private room is the perfect option for customers seeking privacy and space on a short trip and added comfort and amenities when traveling overnight.

Will those traveling for fun find train travel a safer alternative to airports and planes?

We have the unique advantage of a full-time medical director and public health and safety team who have been on the front lines throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. Together, we have studied, analyzed and made improvements to the Amtrak travel experience, from beginning to end, for the safety and health of our people and travelers.

What are some of the new highlights and offerings we will see from Amtrak over the rest of 2020?

Amtrak is investing in new high-speed trainsets to dramatically improve service on the Northeast Corridor from Washington, DC to Boston. Debuting in 2021, Amtrak’s entirely new fleet of Acela trains will feature customer-generated improvements leading to a faster, smoother ride, with more modern amenities and serving as a greener way to travel. Some of the upgrades include: nearly 25% more seats; personal outlets, USB ports and adjustable reading lights at every seat; exceeded accessibility requirements for people with disabilities; spacious restrooms with a 60-inch diameter turning radius; contactless storage option for luggage; and comfortable seating with winged headrests to serve as a barrier between customers.



Summer ‘Buyout’ Destination: The Catskills’ Eastwind Hotel & Bar



Obviously seeking creative ways to decisively bounce back from this bottom-line-devastating pandemic, hotels have gotten impressively creative—for instance, those clever “buy now, stay later” programs. And fast emerging is a new “buyout” trend, wherein one assembles one’s most beloved friends and family to take over an entire hotel for a weekend or more. Kind of like a wedding party, except no one has to deal with the responsibility of actually getting married.

Kilkea Castle in Ireland, for instance, can be had for just $8000 a night. Head over to the Continent, and France’s Hotel Château du Grand Lucé is going for precisely double that—and well worth it, we must add. But since Europa remains off limits to Americans now (see what happens when you don’t wear your masks?), we’re obviously inclined to propose something distinctly more geographically attainable.



Now certainly The Catskills, the sprawling Upstate New York region just about two hours from NYC, is going on about 15 years of steady hype—yet has somehow remained pretty much unspoiled by the usual urbanista plunderers. Perhaps because it is yet still a bit sylvan for pampered cosmopolitan types? But we spent a weekend last year at the casual chic Eastwind Hotel & Bar (located in Windham and new to the scene in 2018), to where you can get decisively away from all those maddening NYC stresses—as well as the heightened social distancing issues—and yet not really want for any of the perks of being in a big city.

And yes, the hotel is now offering two-night buyouts for just $9000 in total. This includes 16 rooms and suites spread over two buildings, plus three Lushna Cabins, should you choose to invite your, um, glamping friends. It’s all done up very stylishly in an aesthetic we could only admiringly describe as Scandi-rustic, far more appealing than all the faux-farm hipsterati stuff that has so blighted Brooklyn these last several years.



And you could really only be bored at the Eastwind if you wanted to be. Windham Path, Diamond Notch Falls, and Mine Kill Falls are just a few of the ridiculously scenic hiking trails; there is mountain biking, horseback riding, yoga on the lawn, and even an authentic wood-barrel, Finnish style sauna; and, for the foodsters in your group, opportunities for local foraging. There are also two Writer’s Studios amongst the rooms, should you choose to ignore your companions, and instead spend the time finishing your Great American Novel.

“We have definitely seen an increase in bookings over the last few weeks,” says Co-Founder Bjorn Boyer. “People are wanting to get outdoors and enjoy nature, and there are an array of options for our guests such as hiking, biking and fishing. Eastwind provides a quiet place to unwind, reconnect with friends and family, or work remotely. From a contactless check-in to breakfast delivered to your room, we are continuing to do everything we can to ensure the health and safety of our guests and staff.”



We we visited, we were admittedly most content just playing games in the lounge, or chatting up the bartender over martinis and manhattans. But the Eastwind serves up five-star level breakfasts and dinners in that same lounge area, which can also be enjoyed by the fire pit or elsewhere out on the lawn (though keep an eye out for picnic stealing Yogi Bear types).

Boyer concludes, “Guests who buyout Eastwind can enjoy all of the property’s no contact amenities: cocktails can be delivered to outdoor decks, or even to guests’ rooms…or anywhere they are on the property. Staff can also provide group buyouts with outdoor BBQ dinners prepared over an Argentinian wood fired grill, and served under the stars.”

And considering how much time since March we’ve spent staring up at the ceiling, those stars actually sounding really good right now.


Capital Re-Opening: The View From the Palomar Hotel DC




If there’s a city whose pandemic experience has been particularly piqued, it is surely Washington, DC. With the District recently fighting once again for Statehood, it is also “home” to an administration proven to be particularly incapable of dealing with the crisis—and politics, certainly, are injected into nearly every facet of life here. But it was the Northeast Corridor cities, after being the initial epicenter, that proved most effective at getting the coronavirus effectively under control…and so can cautiously get to the business of each phase of the re-opening plan.

At last able to travel, we were intrigued by the possibility of taking in the view of the mitigated Independence Day celebrations from the capital itself—hopping aboard a thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and luxurious Amtrak train (more on that in another story), arriving on the 4th in a Union Station that was as quiet as we’d ever seen it. But checking in to the stylish Kimpton Hotel Palomar DC, there was a sense that its buzzy Dupont Circle neighborhood was indeed springing back to life.



The Palomar itself is one of the more impressive embodiments of the boutique hotel tenets, in a city that has generally fostered a culture of efficient business chain brands and high-end luxury hotels. Our Spa Suite had a massive jetted tub, which, considering the heat outside, we could have spent all day in—especially with the royalty-worthy marble bathroom that surrounded it.

The rooms are brazenly but urbanely stylish for the buttoned-up city, with wildly patterned carpets, primary color schemes, and contemporary Deco-style furnishings. The red brick edifices just outside our windows were a charming visual counter to the usual straining for a glimpse of a distant monument.

Outdoor tables normally thrum with summertime energy along the streets spreading out from Dupont Circle; but taking a stroll, it was encouraging just to witness a social scene at all. As of June 24, more than 150 restaurants and shops had undertaken Phase II reopening measures, and there was a palpable sense of relief and hope hanging in the air. But we were actually excited to return to the hotel for the beloved Kimpton “Wine Hour,” until we realized that it was likely one of the many casualties of the pandemic. Still, upon our re-arrival, someone at reception asked if they could pour us a glass—which turned out to be a crisp chardonnay that was a perfect antidote to a very hot day. We were just unable to mingle with other guests while enjoying it.



On the way back to the Palomar, we had started up a conversation with a Lyft driver from Nepal, who shared his story of how this administration’s policies had sadly kept his wife from joining him in America; though we were able to joke a little about how we might all consider Canada as a future option. But on the 4th of July, it was a stark statement on America and immigration. “There would be no Silicon Valley without immigrants,” he insisted. He was absolutely correct, of course.

Later, we headed down to the Palomar’s own Urbana restaurant and lounge, which, since a $600k makeover in 2014, has been one of the area’s most consistently buzzing epicurean destinations—but it was, for now, relegated to carefully orchestrated social distancing policies, as well as its outdoor tables along elegant P Street. We made great new friends in staff members Kelly and Lauren, the latter of whom mixed nothing short of a perfect dirty martini—to be paired with a plate of warm roasted olives. God, how we missed such things.

Later, we undertook the obligatory act of walking down 14th Street towards the Washington Monument for the annual grand fireworks display. We wondered what our first president would have thought of America’s current socio-political climate, considering the vast reassessment of the so-called icons of our history. We’re actually not much for patriotic pageantry, preferring decisive action to symbolism. But then, it’s never too hard to enjoy colorful explosions in the sky.



Perhaps appropriately, What’s Eating America? was currently on MSNBC when we returned to the hotel. We didn’t wait for an answer, instead choosing to make good use of that aforementioned jetted-tub.

The following day, we were saddened to walk by a still shuttered Phillips Collection museum—where we have spent many a morning thrilling to Braque, Cézanne, Degas, El Greco, Klee, Matisse, Picasso and Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s exalted impressionist masterpiece Luncheon of the Boating Party.

Later we sidewalk table hopped along P Street to some of the Palomar’s hipper neighbors: Sorellina, Chiko, and chic little bar-slash-coffee-shop Emissary. At the latter, we chatted up a pair of particularly stylish Russian girls, before a jealous little dachshund puppy intervened with his own brand of irresistible flirting (he obviously knew how important immigrants were to America). As we took in the whole scene, we thought that the vibe and visual overview reminded us a bit of Notting Hill—and so popped on an appropriately Britpop soundtrack to groove the rest of the afternoon away to.

Back at Urbana, we treated ourselves to one of the best “artisan” pizzas we could recall in quite some time: their specialty Maiale pie—which literally translates to “pig.”

Needless to say, we “pigged out” like there might just be no tomorrow.


National Tequila Day: Three Singularly Sultry Cocktail Recipes from El Tequileño



Like champagne, tequila has a denomination of origin, meaning that it must be produced in one of five Mexican states:  Guanajuanto, Tamaulipas, Michoacan, Nayarit, and Jalisco, the main tequila producing region, where you can also find the town of the same name. It’s located about 320 miles from Mexico City. And aren’t we all interested in origin these days?

This is at least the most basic of information you’ll need to properly celebrate National Tequila Day, this year landing on Friday, July 24. It’s also necessary to select a sip that exhibits your knowledge and good taste…one of which is most definitely small maker El Tequileño (pronounced “El Tek-Eh-lane-yo”). It has only been available in the States since 2019 (a venture now under the direction of Florida’s Paradise Spirits), though its history reaches back to 1959, when the US and Mexico had, shall we say, significantly better relations.



And from their smooth Blanco, on to their luxurious Platinum, and further on to their coveted Reposado Rare, the taste and textural spectrum is decidedly impressive…and inclusive.

This August, flying in the face of a pandemic-plagued travel biz, the brand will also open a chic little bolthole, directly adjacent to the distillery, and pithily names the Casa Salles Hotel Boutique. It will feature just 25 rooms, a pool, a spa and restaurant—and is just the sort of place to sub for the stays in charming little palazzos in Florence that we won’t be having.

But for now, with National Tequila Day fast approaching, we asked the good people of El Tequileño to grace us with three of their most interesting cocktail recipes, so that we might celebrate in style—because, of course, we would never do anything less.



El Tequileño Blanco | Cocktail: La Batanga

2oz El Tequileño Blanco
1oz freshly squeezed lime juice
Top with Mexican Cola
Method: Coat the rim of a highball glass with coarse sea salt, fill the glass with cubed ice, add El Tequileño Blanco and freshly squeezed lime juice, top with Mexican Cola. Stir with knife.
About: Created by the late Don Javier Delgado, founder of world famous Cantina La Capilla in the magical town of tequila, La Batanga has been the signature drink of his establishment since the early 60s and has always been made with El Tequileño Blanco. It is always stirred with the same knife that is used to cut the limes, as Don Javier would say it added flavor.


El Tequileño Reposado | Cocktail: Mango Margarita

1.5oz El Tequileño Reposado
2oz Mango Puree
1oz Mango Liqueur
1.5oz fresh lime juice
Method: Add all ingredients to a shaker over fresh cubed ice. Shake until ice cold. Strain into martini glass. Garnish with a piece of dehydrated mango
About: Located within the El Tequileño distillery grounds are 14 mature mango trees around 150 years old. These mango trees have a natural influence during the open fermentation process and positively impact the resulting flavor profile of El Tequileño tequila. During the months of June & July the mangos are ripe to pick and we like to create fresh mango margaritas


El Tequileño Platinum | Cocktail: El Dragon Rosado

2oz El Tequileño Platinum
1oz Lime Juice
1oz Agave Nectar
1 whole dragon fruit flesh
Method: Add all ingredients to a blender, add one cup of ice and blend until smooth. Serve in a rocks glassed with a salt rim, garnish with dragon fruit slice and mint sprig
About: Throughout the region of Jalisco, you can find an abundance of a specific Cactus species that produces a fruit that locals call ‘Pitaya roja’ aka ‘Dragon Fruit’. Around the town of tequila there are many of these cactus plants which produce fruit which is harvested during the summer months!


Be Here Now: Postcards From the Arlo SoHo Hotel

Images by Kristen Spielkamp




With the drastic shift away from physical letter writing (and even dialing the phone), to communicating by text and email, it’s really kind of charming how, when you arrive in a new town or city virtually anywhere in the world, there are plenty of postcards to purchase and send off to your loved ones—as a way to viscerally reach across the miles that separate you. Often, we put more thought into what we write on those postcards.

At NYC’s Arlo SoHo hotel, however, they’ve been put to a different use. Indeed, after checking in, one walks just a few feet to the elevators, and opposite is an entire wall of spontaneously guest-generated messages. We’ve been watching the hotel come back to life these last few weeks, as it has been valiantly returning to semi-normal from those worst moments of the pandemic in New York back in April and May. We immediately noticed a single postcard that boldly read ‘Be Here Now’—a reference to the legendarily controversial 1997 Oasis album.



But it also sent a definitive message to everyone who viewed the wall: “Wherever you are, just be there.” Which happens to be a much more poignant statement than it normally might be, in these times when so many people readily abandoned Gotham out of understandable fear. And the Arlo, we can say without hesitation, has been a place “to be” at this moment—one where you could feel a bit of that old hum of NYC, while so much else (museums, shops, wellness centers) remain closed.

It’s a completely democratic concept—the “flashcards” are there for anyone to take and pithily or extravagantly express themselves, then paste it up beside all the others. And it’s the hotel’s clever way of making everyone feel a little more connected, during a time of rather dispiriting disconnect.

Naturally, we decided to capture some of it here, also getting a couple of Arlo SoHo staff members to pen their own messages. And even if you’re not staying at the hotel, we urge you to popping by for dinner in the garden at the newly re-opened and truly excellent Harold’s restaurant on site—pausing to leave your own brilliant thoughts up on the wall before departing. It’ll feel better than a thousand Instagram posts, we promise.


Opening: Circulo Mexicano is Mexico City’s Most Stylish New Hotel



What now seems ages ago, a new breed of hotel began popping up everywhere from Paris to Tulum, redefining a new trend in travel, to the thrill of style-disposed global nomads. Cozy, design forward, and oozing with laidback coolness, the new breed of boutique hotels raised the bar, literally, on nightlife and the way we stay.

Grupo Habita was Latin Americas’s answer to Ian Schrager’s Morgans Hotel Group. Habita, the first boutique design hotel in Mexico City, opened in 2000, ushering in a new concept that reflected the people and neighborhoods surrounding them. Then on to Escondido Oaxaca, Condesa DF back in the capital (one of the chicest hotels anywhere, period), and so many more, the properties and the experiences they offered helped to evolve the experience of visiting some of Mexico’s most coveted destinations.

2020 marks the group’s 20th anniversary, and this week Habita unveiled its newest member of the collection, Circulo Mexicano (also a member of the prestigious Design Hotels group). Located in a 19th century residential property along the Republica de Guatemala, and reimagined by architect Ambrosi Etchegaray, the intimate, 25 room hotel is a calm, peaceful oasis in downtown Mexico City.



Outfitted with light woods and natural shades of Mexican textiles, the serene rooms are complemented with freestyle bathtubs, rain showers, and skylit patios and balconies. With sweeping views of the Metropolitan Cathedral, the National Palace, and Temple Mayor, the hotel feels like an almost surreal juxtaposition of the contemporary and historical.

The rooftop terrace, a signature of Grupo Habita properties, hosts a swimming pool, a bar, and ONA Le Toit, a French restaurant that is an ode to “bistronomie,” but using Mexican ingredients. A marketplace of boutiques and galleries will soon occupy the ground floor.

Circulo Mexicano deftly intersects modern day Mexican food, fashion, and design in the center of the city’s history. And if one thing holds true as we integrate back into our suddenly interrupted lives, our love of a great boutique hotel lives on.


Loupe Artist Petrus Bergstrand’s Cultural Guide to Stockholm




As unrelenting travelers, a game we’ve found ourselves playing under quarantine is one the one where we plan out trips that may or may not actually happen, recognizing that anticipation can at least provide a part of the thrill that we’ve been asked to put away for now. Naturally, scanning the slate of postponed exhibitions is a crucial element of said planning, as we honestly can’t wait to get back to our established schedule of fervent gallery and museum hopping.

Surely, the much buzzed about app Loupe has played a crucial role in helping art lovers survive this three-month cultural disconnection, with its multiple and expertly curated channels of “on demand” streaming art. In fact, during the lockdown, they notably launched a new motion art feature.

Yet still, as we can’t expect international travel to be returning to normal levels any time very soon, we asked Loupe artist Petrus Bergstrand to take us on an artistic trip through his comely hometown of Stockholm, admittedly our fave Scandinavian capital. The successful Swedish painter is known for his canvases that explore the possibilities of abstraction and surrealism, while unburdened by the narrowness of specific narratives. His work has been exhibited in New York, LA, Miami, Dubai and, obviously, Stockholm. It can also be viewed, of course, on Loupe.

“Petrus’ abstract pieces are multifaceted,” enthuses Loupe curator Nicole Kutz. “Their layers, organic forms and colors are not only striking in person, but they translate beautifully to Loupe’s streaming experience. His work truly fills a space both onscreen and in the flesh.”

The latter, of course, we’ll just have to wait for.


Petrus Bergstrand, The soft reality


Petrus Bergstrand’s Cultural Guide to Stockholm



Thielska (pictured top) is an art museum at Blockhusudden on southern Djurgården. The gallery contains the financier and art collector Ernest Thiel’s collection of works of mainly Swedish painting from the 1900s. Thiel sold the building, the art collection and all the equipment to the Swedish state in 1924. This is a gem for the visitor who wants to travel back in time. Djurgården is also a large royal green park open to the public 24 hours a day. Beautiful for a nice long walk in any season.


This is where the top notch Swedish galleries decided to accumulate. The area is an allé, as they call it in French, with a walking space and well curated gardens in the middle of a wide avenue going in opposite directions. You can find galleries like Forsblom, Anna Bohman, and so on—I like to go here for openings.


Galerie Forsblom



Similar to the area around Karlavägen, in Hälsingegatan you will find many interesting galleries showing a less bourgeoisie kind of artm and a wider variety of art forms. Here you can visit my favorite small galleries Flach and Fagerstedt. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations about the route around the gallery area. They are very co-operative here and love to do simultaneous openings that end up becoming a block party (especially during summer).

Ulfsunda slott

Ulfsunda slott is the historic Queen Kristina’s hunting castle, built in the 15th Century, located right opposite my studio. This is now a conference area, gallery, spa, hotel, café, and a great place for a business meeting. In the gallery and dining area they show some great upcoming artists. You can stroll the garden, shoot pool and hang out; but it’s not really for the social party person, though. More of a tête-à-tête vibe here. I go here occasionally for an opening or a meeting.



Skånegatan / Katarina bangata

When I want to visit the southern part of Stockholm, I take a 50 minute stroll from my studio in Bromma to Skånegatan. The area has a wide range of restaurants, record shops, thrift stores and cultural hotspots. Not far from there you can find my favorite Indian eatery Shanti, located on Katarina bangata. I go here for lunch at least once a week—delicious.


This is my meditation garden, and I go here for my daily power walk, to clear my mind and to reload energy. The pond is located a stone’s throw from my studio, and it can solve any problem for you with its magic in summer. Lillsjön is great for inspiration, relaxation and bird watching.




Sosta is a little cafe found in the middle of Sveavägen. On this nice, broad avenue, planned by Jean de la Vallées, you can find a lot of bars, cafes and shops—but Sosta is a must. A small but lovely Italian place where the staff is like family from the first conversation, and the audience is a broad blend of people with one thing in common: the love good coffee.


The artist bar, or KB as it is most commonly called, opened in 1934, and is now somewhat of an hotspot in Stockholm’s pub life, for the artist wannabes as well the original artists. The unique murals have been painted by Sweden’s foremost talents and are matched with exhibitions by contemporary colleagues. A unique atmosphere and exciting history. Many stories have passed here. Come see for yourself.




This is a Swedish undercover classic. Dark and gloomy, it has three floors of billiards with two bars. They usually play great music while the game is on.


This restaurant has been around since 1893, and many world-known personalities have come here. In the small bar you can enjoy DJs and live acts throughout the week. They also show contemporary art and some mostly younger, upcoming acts. At Riche you can blend in as a 23 year old or a 66 year old. A great place for a full night of fun and madness, or just a pit stop for a peek at the art, architecture, crowd and menu.




The Jean-Georges ‘Haute Dog’ Stand is Re-Opening at The Mark Hotel




When you’ve been in lockdown for three months, it’s funny how it really does become about the little things. After all, we’ve never seen so many people get so excited about simply getting a haircut—but such are these times.

A much bigger deal is the slow re-opening of hotels in New York, which not only welcome guests from around the globe, but also provide a central focus of NYC social life—especially for those of us who love chatting up a new foreign friend over a particularly well-made martini. The Mark is one of those hotels, still independent of all corporate interference, and an irreplaceable part of the cultural fabric of the Upper East Side. We’ve surely been known to while away no small number of evenings at its eponymous bar—and it’s The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges is one of Gotham’s most coveted dining experiences.



But getting back those little things, we were inordinately excited to discover that the exalted chef’s beloved Haute Dog stand will be returning, making for that ideal afternoon (sort of) meal after a morning of of taking in the art at The Whitney or The Met (The Mark is actually a most-favored bolthole for celebs attending the annual Gala). And they’re amazingly affordable, at just $6 each.

“It’s a New York City street food staple,” says JGV, “and it’s practical. I also liked that I could dress it up a bit to differentiate from the rest of the street ‘dogs. It’s the perfect bite for Mark guests and neighbors to grab before heading to [a museum] or Central Park.”

The restaurant is already open for room service, pickup and delivery—but an opening date for Haute Dog is still imminent.




Aspen Has Re-Opened for Summer: A Report From the W Aspen & Sky Residences



Though the near future of travel remains a maddening riddle, it’s safe to say we’ve got a good six months to begin to tell exactly how the ski season will be shaping in a world still haunted by the coronavirus crisis. Colorado was not hit terribly hard (though nearly 1500 deaths have been reported), so expect an urgency for the major resort towns to get back some measure of normalcy—Aspen especially, which officially resumed business on May 29,

Last August, of course, we reported on the notable opening of the new W Aspen & Sky Residences, which quickly became one of the region’s hottest destinations, with its Wet Deck, Living Room, and 39° nightlife hotspots. As its first summer season approaches, the hotel has undertaken its post-pandemic re-opening, with restaurants and bars, of course, operating at 50% capacity.

To better understand how this was accomplished, we caught up with General Manager Greg Durrer for the lowdown.



What are the safety measures you’ve put into place for re-opening?

W Aspen & the Sky Residences at W Aspen have closely coordinated with the Pitkin County Board of Health, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association and Marriott International to develop a comprehensive COVID-19 cleanliness and safety plan for all of our overnight guests, residence owners, local customers and employees. We have extensively modified and elevated our cleaning processes and procedures prior to our guests’ arrival, during their visit and post departure. Upon arrival, we have installed protective plexiglass barriers at high contact spaces, including our registration desks. In accordance with Pitkin County Board of Health Guidelines, all guests wear masks when traveling through hotel common areas.

And employee / guest interaction?

Employees wear masks and, in some cases, gloves, as positions require. Currently, our pools, hot tubs and fitness center remain closed in accordance with published guidelines*. Overall, there is a heightened focus on employee training, cleaning, and following all social distancing protocols and providing our guests with peace of mind so they can truly enjoy their visit to our beautiful mountain destination.

What is different about the sort of bookings you’re getting for this summer?

As business returns, we have noticed that our drive leisure markets are returning first. We are also seeing a wide diversity in travelers from individuals and couples to extended families reconnecting as quarantines are lifted around the country and globe.



How do you feel the social experience at the hotel will play out in the coming months? Including bars and restaurants.

Guests are looking to escape and enjoy all that Aspen has to offer in the way of outdoor activities, fresh mountain air, a vibrant culinary scene and world class galleries and shopping. There is a high desire from travelers to see that restaurants are following all published safety guidelines and protocols and outdoor dining is in high demand. We have made significant adjustments to our dining spaces to ensure that we are able to accommodate every guest in a clean, comfortable and safe environment. W Aspen is very fortunate to have an 8,000 sq. ft. roof top WET Deck that offers stunning 360-degree views of the Aspen skyline and the surrounding Rocky Mountains. Our WET Deck is unparalleled in Aspen and offers a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Our acclaimed Executive Chef, Jackie Siao, prepares globally inspired and locally sourced cuisine. This fare, combined with our views, creates an unmatched mountain lux experience.

What do you think the Aspen experience will be like this summer? What will be different?

The Aspen experience this summer will be focused on the outdoor adventure and access to the magnificent spaces that surround Aspen. Breathtaking views, the abundance of outdoor activities and an opportunity to reconnect and recharge with loved ones, extended family and friends. Hiking Maroon Bells, Hunter Creek Trail, Sunnyside Trail or Ute Trail offer our guests the chance to clear their minds, while taking in natural landscape that has made Aspen one of the most desirable summer destinations in the world. People travel from all over the globe to take on some of the most challenging mountain bike terrain and these trails are all just steps away from the resort that sits in town directly at the base of Aspen Mountain. W Aspen & the Sky Residence at W Aspen is perfectly positioned to host guests looking to enjoy the clean, fresh mountain air and wide-open spaces that the Rocky Mountains offer to all of our guests this upcoming summer.


(*Update: Beginning on June 8th, the Pitkin County Board of Health has allowed pools to reopen with limited capacity and social distancing guidelines. We are glad to be able to make one of our most distinguishing features available again to our resort guests. Enjoying a crafted cocktail or glass of rosé while soaking in the sunshine on our rooftop WET Deck, poolside with 360-degree views & fresh mountain air, this is one of the defining moments of an Aspen Alpine experience.)