3.28.2017

Sagamore Pendry | new hotel with local character

view in front of the Sagamore Pendry, Fells Point, Baltimore

Fells Point is a colorful neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland with original cobblestone streets, antique buildings with brick facades, lots of local places to eat and drink ... and now a brand new hotel. The Sagamore Pendry has taken over the Recreation Pier, built in 1914, a building originally created to store cargo at the Port of Baltimore. It was later repurposed as a community center and was also used as a studio for a TV show, Homicide: Life on the Street. The site, purchased by the CEO of Under Armour, has been developed into a boutique hotel with 128 rooms and suites, a restaurant, a whiskey bar, infinity pool overlooking the harbour, and event space.

Pendry is the new "lifestyle" brand of Montage Hotels, one of the preeminent luxury hotel brands in North America, the Sagamore being the second hotel in the new brand. (The first Pendry is located in San Diego). I spent two nights at the Sagamore last week and really enjoyed my stay. My Deluxe Harbor Suite was spacious and comfortable — a large living room with work desk, Master Bedroom, full marble bathroom with dual vanities, large soaking tub, step-in shower, and WC. The living room had a powder room, and the step-out balcony overlooked the harbor. While the Superior and Deluxe guestrooms are just 375 square feet, the nearly square dimensions of the room provide a very residential and comfortable feel. Bathrooms in guestrooms provide a single vanity, step-in shower, and WC.

Planning a trip to Baltimore this summer? You can easily walk from the Sagamore Pendry to the National Aquarium — just a bit more than a mile... or you might also choose the Four Seasons Baltimore, just a half mile from the aquarium.

copyright (c) 2017 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

3.18.2017

the best travel blazer?

the Bluffworks Blazer (used without permission, but I'm sure they won't mind)

Could this be the best travel blazer ever made? Perhaps, and I'll be giving it a try on a trip I'm taking next week to Palm Beach (to visit my dad) and Baltimore (for an Ourisman Travel meeting).

I had the opportunity to purchase this travel coat during its Kickstarter start-up phase, so I did enjoy a bit of a discount. What attracted me to this jacket? The claim that you could literally throw it in the washing machine and then the dryer. Typically, suites or blazers have to go to the dry cleaners to get pressed after spending time folded up in a suitcase. I'll get to test the claim after my trip.

I really like the feel of the material. It has a soft feel and a dressy look, so I'll enjoy wearing it. And for travelers, the jacket has ten pockets ... some of them with security zippers making it easy to safeguard a passport, iPhone, iPad, or credit card against pickpockets.

For a quick follow-up and report on how it came out of the washer and dryer (as well as planned site reports from two Baltimore hotels, the Four Seasons Baltimore and the Sagamore Pendry), follow this blog!

copyright (c) 2017 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

3.17.2017

planning a trip to wine country?

sunrise at Carneros Resort (c) 2016 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Picture yourself here. This is the sunrise, seen from the swimming pool at Carneros Resort. The pool is heated ... and the hot tub at the far end of the pool was especially heavenly. I sat in the warm water with the jets massaging my back, looking out over the vineyards in the valley beyond.

Thinking of a weekend getaway to Wine Country? Carneros Resort is the closest Virtuoso wine country resort to San Francisco, and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay last November. Our cottage was large, comfortable, and private, and the food was great — including our Thanksgiving dinner at Boon Fly Cafe.

Each Wine Country resort is different, so feel free to contact us for help in planning your vacation. We provide amenities at each of the following top luxury resorts in Napa and Sonoma County.
Carneros Resort
Auberge du Soleil
Meadowood
Calistoga Ranch
Farmhouse Inn
Bardessono Hotel
Solage Calistoga
copyright (c) 2017 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

3.14.2017

Pololu Valley Lookout | Big Island attraction

view from Pololu Valley Lookout trail (c) 2017 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

So you've enjoyed the beach, but you'd like to get out and explore. What's there to see on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island? Here's how we spent one day of our recent trip to Hawaii. After leaving the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, we turned north on the main road, then left at the intersection onto Route 270. We first stopped at...

Pololu Valley (c) 2017 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved
Lapakahi State Historical Park — an archeological site with the ruins of an ancient fishing village by the ocean. Free admission but frankly not that interesting unless you're really into stone foundations of what used to be buildings. Nevertheless, it's a pleasant interpretive walk by the ocean and on the way to...

Pololu Valley Lookout — a quite worthwhile place to visit. There's free parking in the small lot at the end of the road (which fills up quickly), and you can park on the road. What's here? A short but steep hike down the hill to a black sand beach. The views are truly spectacular (see both pictures above). Be sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes.

Statue of Kamehameha I — a quick stop on the way back. The statue is in the small town of Kapaau, where you can also grab an [overpriced but good] burger or salad for lunch (or ice cream).

Waimea — we took a detour on the way back to our resort, passing through the town of Waimea (population about 9,000). You'll find shopping opportunities here, but you probably won't want to go out of your way to visit Waimea.

copyright (c) 2017 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

3.08.2017

will Americans need visas to visit Europe?



Have you seen this headline? Is it anything to worry about?
EU Parliament Urges Visas for US Citizens Visiting Europe
The backstory. There is an ongoing dispute between the European Union (EU) and the United States over the requirement that citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland, Romania, and Cypress obtain visas before visiting the United States. US citizens have the right to visit any EU country without obtaining visas, and the EU is understandably concerned over the lack of reciprocity.

So the EU Parliament made a symbolic gesture to make its point. A simple "show of hands" was taken on a motion to urge the EU develop a new regulation requiring Americans to obtain visas before visiting any EU nation.

The facts of the matter. No such regulation has been formally proposed. Once approved, it would have to be approved by the European Union countries, a process that could take years. And it is not in the interests of countries like Italy, France, or Spain to take such a step, as Europe receives much economic benefit from American tourism.

My guess is that there's nothing to worry about. Of course, I would also have guessed that Britain would have voted "no" on Brexit and that the US would have elected Hillary Clinton ... but the smart money says that this is only a negotiating ploy.

Bottom line: this is a great time to visit Europe as the exchange rate is highly favorable. 100€ = $105.45. I remember when it was 140 dollars to the euro.

copyright (c) 2017 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

3.07.2017

The Great Wall | skip the crowds

Great Wall of China - Jinshanling Section (c) 2011 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

One of my greatest travel thrills ever was going to the Great Wall of China. One of the seven wonders of the world, actually walking on the Great Wall was an experience that words cannot adequately express. Being there and seeing it with my own eyes was the best part of my 2011 trip to China.

But it makes a big difference what part of the Great Wall you visit. Most tourists see the Badaling section. Because it's just an hour from Beijing and accessible by bus, it attracts crowds. LOTS of crowds. It's a zoo. Compare my photograph of the more remote section (above) with the photo below of the section closest to Beijing. (This is where most tour companies take their guests).

Badging Section of the Great Wall, public domain photo from commons.wikimedia.org

Which experience do you want? It's a bucket list item, and you'll probably make just one visit to the Great Wall in your lifetime. Make it count!

copyright (c) 2017 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

3.04.2017

postcard from Hawaii

seen in the gift shop at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

Not much to add to this sentiment... I'm now back in cloudy and chilly Northern California, wearing three layers of long sleeves and a beanie to keep me warm. I miss Hawaii and its sun, sand, and surf. This cool California winter day reminds me of how heavenly the past week has been.

Can't wait to go back to Hawaii! How about you?

copyright (c) 2017 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.