Entries in ‘California’ Journal

Eco-Friendly Hotels that Make Travelers Happy

Wednesday April 16, 2014 at 11:11 AM | 0 Comments

Even though Earth Day reminds us to think about our environmental footprint each April, some hotels make an earth friendly commitment year round. Here are a sampling of eco-friendly hotels worthy of a shout out. One of my favorite hotels — Boone Tavern, made it on Booking.com’s eco-friendly hotel list.

Historic and eco-friendly Boone Tavern, Berea Kentucky

Historic and eco-friendly Boone Tavern, Berea Kentucky

Boone Tavern in Berea, Kentucky is proof that history can meet modern times. Built in 1909, this beauty that’s also a Historic Hotel of America, is part of Berea College and a showcase for its culinary and hotel management programs. The hotel and tavern’s renovations include: energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, energy star lighting, solar tubes and skylights, heat recovery coils, and low VOC paints and adhesives. Guest rooms and common areas feature handcrafted furniture that represent Kentucky’s craft heritage, as well as, Berea’s fame as the Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky.

Boone Tavern rooms feature hand-crafted furniture

Boone Tavern rooms feature hand-crafted furniture

Along with the environmentally friendly building that earned Boone Tavern its LEED Gold Certification, Boone Tavern’s restaurant is another reason to visit. The restaurant’s traditional American cuisine features locally grown ingredients. Signature dishes like “Chicken Flakes in a Bird’s Nest” and “Spoonbread” are the don’t miss, although I can vouch that anything on the menu is splendid. Still, the spoonbread is what you will talk about years later.

ecofriendly Bardessono-Courtyard

The eco-friendly Bardessono courtyard has a stunning view

If you go, take time to browse in Boone Tavern’s gift shop and the other shops that line Berea’s streets. There’s a reason why this is the folk art capital. The hotel’s shop includes items made by the college’s students. Hand-woven items and hand-crafted furniture are part of the bounty.

One of Nancy’s favorites also made it on the eco-friendly hotel list. Bardessono Hotel and Spa in Yountville, California is a perfect pairing for a trip to Napa Valley and wine tasting. As Nancy discovered during her stay at Bardessono, one of three LEED Platinum-certified hotels in the United States, “it is easy to be green while looking stunningly chic.”

Cavallo Point where almost every room has a stunning view

Cavallo Point where almost every room has a stunning view

Cavallo Point in Sausalito is another California hotel with LEED Certification. The reuse of historic materials and landscaping with native plants are just part of Cavallo Point’s dedication to achieving the Green Seal Environment Standard for U.S. Lodging Properties. The hotel’s energy-efficient appliances that automatically switch to sleep mode when not in use and the programmable thermostats and motion sensors that reduce heating and cooling costs are some reasons why Cavallo Point is an eco-friendly hotel. The property doesn’t use Styrofoam containers and it recycles plastic. Refillable soap dispensers and cloth napkins are other environmentally friendly practices within the hotel.

At Cavallo Point, going green comes with a view. Most of the resort’s guest rooms have views of San Francisco, the bay or the Golden Gate Bridge.

City Flats Hotel, Grand Rapids--a resuse of a landmark jewelry building

City Flats Hotel, Grand Rapids–a resuse of a landmark jewelry building

Michigan is another state with two eco-friendly hotels that deserve applause. City Flats Hotel in Holland was the first hotel in the Midwest to achieve LEED Gold status. Step inside for proof that eco-friendly, luxury and creativity go hand in hand. Each of the hotel guest rooms has its own unique flair. Each hotel room’s green decor includes: cork flooring installed with low-VOC adhesives, naturally hypoallergenic bamboo linens, curtains lined with a black-out fabric to reduce energy needed to heat and cool room, light fixtures with energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs, and countertops made from Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Certified recycled glass and concrete. Also, hotel furnishings are locally made.

The CityFlats Hotel in Grand Rapids is another Michigan hotel with LEED Gold Certification. Its eco-friendly combo includes the unique features of the City Flats Hotel in Holland and is an example of turning a city landmark into a new use. The building was once Fox Jewelers.

Along with booking at any of the hotel’s websites, check out Booking.com.

Post courtesy of Jamie Rhein of Midwest Travel Writers Association.  All photos except Bardessono courtesy of Booking.com. Bardessono photo by Nancy D. Brown.

Book Review: The Hiltons

Friday April 4, 2014 at 6:06 AM | 0 Comments

"The Hiltons", book review

Book Review: The Hiltons

Anyone who has traveled and slept in a hotel is familiar with the Hilton hotel brand. Known as “the Innkeeper to the World” Conrad Hilton opened his first hotel in Cisco, Texas with $5,000 to his name, assistance from friends and a small bank loan. The book The Hiltons: The True Story of an American Dynasty, is an interesting look into the lives of the Hilton family and the powerful empire Conrad Hilton created, one hotel at a time.

Pioneer in hotel industry

A new breed of businessman, Conrad firmly believed in the travel industry and had the vision to expand his hotel chain to Europe. A religious man, he referred to his hotels as his women; the more conquests the better. Starting in Texas, he worked his way to San Francisco, purchasing the Sir Francis Drake hotel, moving on to New York and the purchase of The Plaza, his ultimate business achievement.

European hotel expansion

In 1952, Conrad acquired the Castellana Hilton in Madrid, his first European hotel, followed by Hilton Istanbul in 1955, increasing tourism in Turkey by 60 percent. Soon Continental Hilton was opened in Mexico City and the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, California. Always the visionary, Conrad pioneered the concept of a central telephone reservation system, introduced air conditioning in every hotel room and was the first chain in the country to offer television sets in every hotel room.

Hilton press trips

With his Los Angeles-based hotel empire, Conrad Hilton was a powerful businessman with plenty of Hollywood connections. All of the A-list celebrities and movie stars wanted to be seen at the Hilton hotel opening parties. According to reporter Hedda Hopper, there was “never a dull moment at a Hilton press junket.” Chartered jets to exotic hotel locations with overflowing food and wine were the norm.

Airport hotels

As more people began to travel by air, Conrad saw the need for short hotel stays. With a strong dislike for the word “motel” Conrad adopted the word “inn” and purchased hotel chains near airports.

While author J. Randy Taraborrelli includes plenty of stories about the Hilton children throughout the book – including the entrepreneurial Paris Hilton, as well as sister Nicky’s unsuccessful foray into the hotel world with Nicky O Hotels, I chose to focus my book review on Conrad Hilton’s impact on the hotel and travel industry. The Hiltons is an engaging saga of the failures and successes of a powerful American family in the highly competitive hotel business.

Where to buy:

The Hiltons The True Story of an American Dynasty

Suggested retail: $21.99-$30. Check website for details.

Book review by Nancy D. Brown. Grand Central Publishing provided me with The Hiltons book for review purposes, as well as jacket cover photo.

 
Related Post
Book Review: American’s National Parks, Pop-Up

American Airlines Airplanes Fly California to NY

Friday March 21, 2014 at 6:06 AM | 0 Comments

American Airlines, airbus, airplane

American Airlines A321 Airbus in San Francisco

In 1953 American Airlines was one of the leaders in transcontinental airline service flying from Idlewild, New York to Los Angeles, California. Remember the days when you dressed up to board an airplane and lobster was on the menu in coach? American Airlines airplanes fly California to New York, non-stop, in an attempt to bring back the golden age of flying.

I had a chance to tour American Airlines new Airbus A321 Transcontinental aircraft, currently flying from New York’s John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport (formerly Idlewild Airport) to San Francisco International Airport (SFO). From lie-flat seats to W-Fi through the airplane, the golden age of flying is returning to California and New York.
 


 

Luxury inflight travel

With the majority of in-flight travelers opting to carry on luggage rather than check baggage, I appreciate American Airlines large overhead luggage bins on the A321 airplane. While the airline will ask passengers to check their surfboard and golf clubs at the oversize luggage counter, the luggage bins on the new Airbus A321 are certainly roomy. As a vertically-challenged passenger (a.k.a. short) I love the added step rail, as well as the grab bars. No more stepping on airline seats to reach the overhead luggage bins.
 

lie-flat seats, "American Airlines"

American Airlines fully lie-flat seats

American Airlines inflight entertainment

Travelers hoping to pass the time while they fly will appreciate the in-flight entertainment system available in each seat; from coach to business and first class. Seats offer individual power ports and USB ports, as well as a cable for streaming video. Kids will like the tv, games, audio and movies available on board the airplane. For the road warriors, American offers Gogo’s upgraded air-to-ground technology (ATG-4) Wi-Fi throughout the airplane.
 

Flying first class

As a freelance writer on a bare bones budget, I don’t have the luxury of flying one particular airline. My airline selection is based strictly on price. Rarely do I fly business or first class. But if I were to fly business or first class, I’d want to travel on American Airlines A321. The lie-flat seats are comfortable and private – first class passengers have an aisle to themselves – a pod of their own, if you will.
 

"Nancy Brown" airplane

Travel writer Nancy D. Brown in front of A321 Airbus engine

Dining first and business class has its own privileges. First class and business class customers traveling on the A321 have the ability to reserve an entree in advance of their flight.
 
“With our dining experience, you can tailor your own meal service,” explains American Airlines flight attendant Jeff Ramsden.
 

Insider Tip

Did you know that American Airlines serves ice cream sundaes to their first class flyers? For the caffeine lovers on board, the A321T has its own cappuccino and espresso machine in first class.
 
For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow @AmericanAir on Twitter.

If You Go:

American Airlines

You might also like Learn to fly flight lessons with Let’s Go Flying.

Article, video and photos by airplane geek Nancy D. Brown