Souvenir Sunday: read an illustrated history of travel

Journey – an Illustrated History of Travel, published by DK in association with the Smithsonian Institution, arrived in the mail a few weeks back and our household has been leafing through it since then.

It’s a big coffee table-style book – 440 pages, in full color and pretty heavy – and is separated into 7 chapters, or “ages,” each tackling advances, experiences and the means by which humans have made their way around the world.

Chapters 1 through 3 tackle the Ancient World (including travel in ancient Egypt and the travels of Odysseus and Alexander the Great), travel that powered trade and conquests, including the travels of Marco Polo, and The Age of Discovery, when explorers set out to find “new” parts of the world.

Chapters 4 through 7 dig deep into the ‘The Age of Empires’, ‘The Age of Steam,’ ‘The Golden Age of Travel,’ and “The Age of Flight,’ with lots more achival images, historic maps, artifact images, bits of journals, and works of art.

I was delighted to find a spread on the Wunderkammern – or curiosity cabinets – that collectors began putting together in the 16th century to show off souvenirs such as shells, preserved animals, scientific and mechanical obects, and other odd tidbits they’d picked up on far off journeys or purchased from others who had gone on adventures.

The three voyages of Captian Cook are detailed, as are the inventions and inventors that brought the world flight.

There are sections on the rise of the manufactured souvenir, World’s Fairs, Grand Hotels, luggage labels, national parks, efforts to create maps that accurately reflect the world and parts of it, camping, Route 66, travel to every corner of the world, the Jet Age, space travel – and much, much more.

Towards the end of this big book there’s a section of biographies stretching from Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen, to Amelia Earhart, Thor Heyerdahl, Ernest Shackleton, and Amerigo Vespucci.

This one is a keeper and a good gift for anyone interested in travel or history.

All images from Journey – an Illustrated History of Travel.


Love the layover: Boston’s new Yotel

I’m a big fan of the Yotel chain, having stayed in their affordable, cruise cabin-inspired hotel rooms at London’s Heathrow Airport, at the Paris CDG Airport and in New York City.

Room are on the “cozy” side (“Premium” cabins at CDG start at 97 square feet) but have everything you need : free Wi-Fi, a flat screen TV, a cool retractable bed that turns into a sofa at the touch of a button, private shower and bathroom, work space, lots of power sources and cool lighting.

My most recent Yotel stay was at the brand new Yotel Boston.

Located in the super trendy Boston Seaport neighborhood, the Yotel Boston is on one of the first few stops of the (free!) Silver Line bus that goes into the city from the airport and is right next door to the station.

Rooms look much like other Yotel rooms, but have a few fresh twists. Layouts start at 152 square feet and include an updated bathroom layout with monsoon shower head and some creative storage and roll-out work surfaces.

The public spaces are charming as well.

Guests can have a drink or a meal at the lobby bar or duck into one of the work spaces for a quick meeting. There’s a well-equipped fitness room and an already very popular rooftop bar.

The Yotel chain started out as an in-airport amenity, and now offers short-stay cabins at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick Airports, in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. In addition to the Boston Yotel, there is an in-city Yotel in New York and branches set to open in San Francisco and Singapore.

(My Yotel stay was booked at a media rate.)





Can messy hotel rooms save the earth?

Courtesy Provenance Hotels

Eco-friendly hotels incorporate green initiatives ranging from low flow showerheads to heating and air conditioning units that only run when there’s someone in the room.

But while 65 percent of global travelers surveyed by for its 2017 Sustainable Travel Report expressed interest in staying in a “green” accommodation at least once, in the big picture, “The only green that really matters to traveler is money,” said Douglas Quinby, Vice-President, Research at Phocuswright, ” And how great a deal they can get,” said Quinby.

Acknowledging that, some hotels offer guests a cash incentive or some other perk to encourage them to forgo housekeeping services and help conserve water and other resources.

At properties operated by Provenance Hotels in Seattle and Tacoma, WA, Portland, OR, New Orleans, or Nashville the ‘Green for Green’ program, encourages guests staying more than one night to opt out of housekeeping services in exchange for a $5 per day credit for either the honor bar or hotel food and beverage outlets.

About 25 percent of eligible guests take advantage of that offer, said Provenance Hotels spokeswoman Kate Buska, which not only helps the hotels cut down on water usage, but also on the use of cleaning products.

“And reducing consumption of cleaning products, even if they are green, makes our environmental footprint smaller,” said Buska.

High Peaks Resort, in Lake Placid, New York, also offers guest a $5 per night food & beverage credit to opt out of housekeeping, but also offers the option of having that $5 donated directly to an organization that works to keep Lake Placid’s Mirror Lake clean and pristine.

In San Francisco, Hotel Abri’s ‘Green for Green’ program rewards guests with a $5 Starbucks gift card for passing on a room cleaning, while At Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia and Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia, guests who opt-in to the ‘Choose to Conserve’ program receive a $10 hotel or food and beverage credit each night they skip housekeeping service.

And both the Shade Hotel Manhattan Beach and the Shade Hotel Redondo Beach in California have arranged to have a non-profit organization, Plant with Purpose, plant a tree in honor of each guest that forgoes housekeeping during their stay.

Big brand hotels do this too.

So far in 2017, nearly 1000 guests of the 1,020-room DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld have passed on a day of housekeeping in exchange for a $5 on-property food and beverage credit or 500 Hilton Honors points, representing a saving of 13,000 gallons of water for the earth and more than $12,000 of savings for the hotel.

Guests of Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels in the Americas who opt-in to the “A Greener Stay’ program and forgo housekeeping receive 500 IHG Rewards Club points following their stay.

And Marriott currently has 1,500 hotels in the US and Canada participating in one of three different programs that allow guests to decline housekeeping in exchange for 250-500 hotel program points or, in Canada, to have a tree planted on their behalf.

According to Marriott, since the three programs launched there have been more than 11 million participating room nights and more than 80,000 trees planted.

While it seems like a win-win situation for hotels to offer guests a perk in exchange for skipping housekeeping services, “It’s often a better deal for the hotels,” said Patricia Griffin of the Green Hotels Association.

“Hotels not only save water, energy and cleaning supplies, but also a great deal of labor,” she said, which is especially helpful in areas where hotels find it hard to keep their housekeeping department fully staffed.

(My story about hotels offering perks for guests who pass on housekeeping also appears on NBC News Travel in a slightly different version.)


Hotel tidbits


Just sharing some tidbits about hotels I’ve stayed at recently – and hope to return to.

In New York City, I was a guest at Marriott’s Courtyard New York Manhattan/Central Park – which turned out to be in the theater district and around the corner from the Ed Sullivan Theater, where The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is filmed.

The location could not have been better and my cozy room, with a work desk, complimentary WiFi, city view, coffee maker and crisp white linens was an ideal for base for a one night stay.

I didn’t have time to check out the fitness center, but did spend some time at Nosh!, the living room-style 4th-floor restaurant and bar open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the sort of place where you can get a coffee and just hang out to work or read.  After my stay, I learned that this is the go-to hotel for good friends when they go to New York City to see plays or concerts.

In Portland, Oregon I’ve been a guest recently at some of the darling and diverse Provenance Hotels,  including the Sentinel,  where my room looked just like this, including the terrace and fire pit.

Among the great amenities – a giant fitness room and, on my floor, this ‘secret’ lounge with a snack bar, TV, sofas and cool (fake) wall of books.


In Paris with one extra night to spend in the city, I was a guest at the 37-room charming Grand Pigalle Hotel, in the 9th arrondissement, in the hip South Pigalle, or SoPi, neighborhood.

The first floor has a cozy wine bar and Italian restaurant  where breakfast is also served. Rooms – all different and designed by noted French interior designer Dorothée Meilichzon – have metallic wallpaper, brass lamps and handles, and tiled bathrooms with deep tubs. Some have terraces too.

My only regret from my stay: I was too busy making sure not to stumble on the circular stairs to snap a photo of the martini glass-themed carpeting.