The Liberty Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts

Wednesday April 9, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 0 Comments

The luxurious Liberty Hotel in Boston is the former Charles Street Jail.

The luxurious Liberty Hotel in Boston is the former Charles Street Jail.

This name of this gorgeous hotel that opened in 2007 at the foot of Boston’s posh Beacon Hill neighborhood, is ironic. You see, the Liberty Hotel is the former Charles Street jail. Among the guests that checked into the jail  (against their wills)  were some well-known inmates including James Michael Curley, Malcolm X, Sacco and Vanzetti, suffragists imprisoned for protesting when President Woodrow Wilson visited Boston in 1919, and World War II prisoners of war from the German submarines.

If you’re wondering how a former jail could end up a luxury hotel, the answer is: good bones. The jail was designed by prison reformer Rev. Louis Dwight according to a 1790s humanitarian scheme. Granite walls form of a cross with four wings that from a central octagonal rotunda, 90-ft above a spacious atrium. Thirty huge, arched were added to provide natural light and ventilation.

Much of the jail’s beautiful structure was incorporated into the Liberty Hotel. Today, beneath the atrium are five dining and drinking establishments, CLINK, Alibi, Scampo, the Liberty Bar, and Catwalk. Above, cell blocks have been replaced with 300  luxurious guestrooms. A landscaped courtyard is the former exercise yard and what was once the “drunk tank” is now a bar called Alibi. Irony or no?

The Liberty Hotel made Conde Nast’ Traveler’s 2014 Gold List of the World’s Best Hotels.

The light-filled atrium of Boston's Liberty Hotel.

The light-filled atrium of Boston’s Liberty Hotel.

The Liberty Hotel
Tel. 617.224.4000
215 Charles Street, Boston MA 02114

Photos and post contributed by Lisa Dion of Friscomama.

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.

 
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Movie Review: Next Year Jerusalem

Friday March 28, 2014 at 6:06 AM | 10 Comments

masada, next year jerusalemEvery year, many people travel to Jerusalem in search of their religious roots, or perhaps to have a better connection with Israel as a country. Typically, the average age of these tourists is not 91 years old. Yet this is not a typical trip to Jerusalem and these travelers are not your typical tourists.

The movie “Next Year Jerusalem” takes us on a soul-searching journey with eight nursing home residents from the Jewish Home for the Elderly located in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Boomer Travel

Baby boomer travelers make up a large percentage of active and luxury travelers looking to see as much of the world before they depart to greener pastures.

The senior citizen traveler is an age group I am familiar with. As a baby boomer myself, I traveled with my elderly mother to Bilbao, Spain in 2007 to visit the Gugghenheim Museum. This particular museum was on my mom’s bucket list and she wanted to see it and explore its treasures inside and out before she kicked the bucket, shall we say.

Senior Travel

While I love that President and CEO Andrew Banoff of the Jewish Home for the Elderly is willing to oversee and ultimately accompany the senior citizens on their trip to Jerusalem, I can’t imagine the logistics involved in transporting eight senior travelers and their care givers, via airplane, bus and wheelchair, from Fairfield, Connecticut to Israel. From floating in the Dead Sea to to visiting the Massada in Israel this movie gives us a chance to experience travel from a senior tourist’s perspective. What a trip!

Travel and memory

With the promise of one last travel adventure, these eight senior citizens of the Jewish Home for the Elderly want to pack in as many experiences and travel memories as possible. Says one of the travelers, “better take it all in. Who knows when we’re coming back again.”

“I’m going to journal everyday,” remarks one of the senior travelers. “Because I don’t want to forget!”

“I am very lonely,” says Regine Arouette, 87. “I love the idea of the trip.”

“Every photograph means something” says Bill Wein, 97. “It’s something you remember for the rest of your life.”

nextyearjerusalem, movie review

Next Year Jerusalem

After the 10 day pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the tourists return to Connecticut and their daily lives in a senior citizen facility. The 72 minute documentary, Next Year Jerusalem, directed and produced by David Gaynes, is not really a travel movie as much as it is a metaphor for the journey, triumphs and struggles of life in our twilight years.

Have you traveled with a senior citizen? Do you have tips for traveling with seniors? Share your experiences below.

Where to See: Next Year Jerusalem

Movie review by Nancy D. Brown. First Run Features supplied me with the Next Year Jerusalem DVD for review purposes, as well as photos. All opinions are my own.

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