36 Hrs In Minneapolis: On The Culture Beat

36 Hrs In Minneapolis: On The Culture Beat

 

This was my first trip to Minneapolis in over ten years. Not at all as I recall it. Way cooler in some ways, way sleepier in others.

 

I planned a short one-day trip specifically to check out Brad Kahlhamer’s show at the Minnesota Institute of American Art- it’s MAJOR!  More on that below.

In prepping for my visit, I researched the city’s art scene and ended up extending my trip into a full-on 3-day cultural immersion. Extremely worthwhile!

That said, I have to preface this review of my 36 hrs in Minneapolis with a caveat. I am an action junkie. And I love high-energy, hip, emerging scenes, which is why I am going to start with my hotel.

The Hewing, in the North Loop/Warehouse District, is fantastic. I’m a total sucker for this type of hotel. Their lobby is amazing. It’s a vibrant spot where locals gather as much as hotel guests do. Unless you’re a Four Seasons’ fancy-pants kind of person, stay at the Hewing!

  • It’s the epicenter of cool (in my opinion). Thank you, Neely Tamminga, for insisting I stay here.
  • What I loved most about the Hewing was its vibe, along with its decor, and the location. This is where my tribe hangs out.
  • It was formerly a farm equipment showroom, so its proportions are ginormous.
  • It’s comfy but rough-hewn, rugged but chic. The custom wallpapers are fantastic, and I especially loved having my coffee in the morning ensconced in one of their window seats (spectacular when a major thunderstorm rolls through town).
  • It reminded me a lot of Chicago’s Soho House.
  • The staff is exceptional. Thorough, caring, and they have opinions about what you should order (and I love that)!
  • There’s a rooftop lounge with glorious sunset views.
  • They also have bikes available for hotel guests.

Having the Hewing as my home base (vs. the Aloft where I initially planned to stay), dialed up the quality of my visit immeasurably. And, by the way, I walked past the Aloft on my way to the Walker Art Center, and all I could think was, “Wow, so glad I’m not staying here – or in that part of town.”

So tip #1: choose your hotel wisely.

Tip #2: if you stay at the Hewing, make sure you book directly online and prepay – it’ll save you almost $100 a night.

While almost every aspect of my hotel experience was outstanding, there were a few peculiarities:

  • For example, their highly-touted restaurant, Tullibee, had created a special Restaurant Week menu which offered a limited selection of two starters, two mains, and two desserts.
  • However, at dinner, they relayed a few specials to us. One was a cheese plate. I said great, I’ll have the special cheese plate as my main. This is where it goes off the rails.
  • The specials are only available as add-ons. Therefore you have to order two entrees. If I wanted the cheese plate, I would have to order it on top of one of the mains on the menu.
  • To me, that’s bizarre. They did, however, suggest they could simply not serve me the menu entrée, but I would still have to pay for both dishes. Then it just turns into a weird kind of rip off – and I honestly don’t feel that was their intent.
  • The second peculiar thing about the hotel is how dog-friendly it is.
  • It appears to have become a top destination for professional dog walkers to hang out with their pack of hounds.
  • While I was there, two dog walkers took over a few couches for their pooches. I know all my dog lover friends will think this is great, but I don’t want to sit on a couch that has just had five dogs slobbering all over it. But lest that dissuade you, they also have a stellar team of clean-up people who mop and vacuum after dogs have visited.

Those are, however, the only two misses. I would stay at the Hewing again in a heartbeat. And I did stay there again on Sunday night after my flight to NYC got interminably delayed. That’s also when I found out how much better it is to book and prepay at the Hewing. Scroll down for pics.

 

Also, read on below for more on the Minneapolis Culture Beat as well as other observations from my 3-day stay.

Read More >

Share this post on:

Utah and Bonneville Salt Flats Are Back On The Agenda

Utah and Bonneville Salt Flats Are Back On The Agenda

 

From the Bureau of Land Management: “If you go out onto the salt flats on your own, let someone know where you are and when you plan to return. Getting stuck out alone on the flats is dangerous and has resulted in past fatalities.

 

YIKES. So after getting bogged down in the desert sands last month in 100-degree heat and needing an $800 tow, I got nervous about heading to the Bonneville Salt Flats and planned to bag that part of my Great American Cultural Immersion.

This past Sunday, however, over a fabulous Cinco de Mayo Feast at Ludlow House, my good friends Erika and John Machamer asked if they could join me on this leg of the trip starting in Boise. The stars aligned as the Mexican cocktails flowed, and thanks to the Machamers, Utah is back in play – and I could not be happier!

Funny how things work out like that. I’m beyond thrilled because this also means that I will be celebrating my birthday (in Boise), with my fellow Leo, John Machamer. And what a celebration it will be. Our whole posse of State Fair aficionados will be together again for the opening of the Western Idaho State Fair. Afterward, Erika, John and I will be road tripping to Utah, while the rest of the crew flies back home to LA and NY.

I still find it incomprehensible that I was completely unaware that something like the Bonneville Salt Flats even existed. Of course, now I’m playing catch-up and maniacally researching everything I can find about the place. But there’s not much available on how you’re meant to access or explore the area or how you determine where it is safe to drive/walk. All those unknowns would usually not deter me, but after last month’s incident in the desert, I would be lying if I didn’t admit to being extremely nervous about driving out there totally on my own. So, Erika and John, I owe you big time for turning my dream into a reality!

 

Read on below for our tentative itinerary, and if anyone has traveled to these parts before, your tips and recommendations would be much appreciated.

Read More >

Share this post on:

Art Tourism: It’s The New “It” Thing In Travel

Art Tourism: It’s The New “It” Thing In Travel

 

International arts tourism has grown at a higher rate than overall travel over the last five years. I can personally attest to that!

 

What I’ve also discovered during my travels is that the creative arts not only drive tourism, they revitalize many small and large cities around the world.

Top genres of art destinations:

  • Private institutions e.g. Alice Walton’s Crystal Bridges
  • Remote art hubs e.g. Marfa in Texas (one of my all time favorites)
  • Site specific installations e.g. Spiral Jetty in Utah
  • Street art meccas e.g. Snösätra Graffiti Wall of Fame outside of Stockholm
  • And, of course, major museums e.g. Louvre in Paris or the MET in NYC

This past week I traveled to Palm Springs to check out Desert X with its vast array of art installed (or should I say hidden?) over miles and miles of desert.

What I learned from Desert X is that vastness doesn’t equate to quality. That said, the trip was not a disappointment. And that was largely due to my friend, Andy Cohen. He had amazing tips based on having spent the last couple of months living in Palm Springs.

Andy insisted I check out Slab City. It’s a very off-the-grid arts scene and also encompasses Bombay Beach and the Salton Sea. Mind officially blown!!

Another key lesson: an SUV does not make you invincible. The desert sand always has the upper hand. You WILL need a tow truck if you do some stupid off-roading in the quest for art.

 

From Palm Springs I flew to Bentonville, Arkansas for a tour of Crystal Bridges.

What I discovered in traveling to Crystal Bridges is that art tourism comes in many different guises.

  • What came as a huge surprise to me was how non-group oriented I am when it comes to exploring something as familiar (to me) as contemporary art. This is doubly-true when the destination is also local and familiar.
  • I clearly seek out group travel when adventuring off to remote and unfamiliar places (e.g. Mongolia) but I was shocked at how poorly I adjusted to group art viewing.
  • My own agenda overrode the group thing for everything from where I wanted to eat to the pace at which I wanted to explore art.

 

Scroll down for my photo-pictorial from Palm Springs and Bentonville (including reviews of restaurants, hotels etc.).

Read More >

Share this post on:

Super Excited To Be Checking Out Desert X And Crystal Bridges

Super Excited To Be Checking Out Desert X And Crystal Bridges

 

I’ll be in Palm Springs and Bentonville Arkansas this week. Writing schedule will be sketchy!!

But please follow me on Instagram as I check out the Desert X art installations. I’m going to attempt to see them all but am especially excited to see the work of these 4 artists:

  • Ruby Sterling (recently vandalized grrrrr, what is wrong with people?!)
  • Nancy Baker Cahill – her two AR pieces can only be seen through a smartphone screen after you download the 4th Wall app. 
  • Kathleen Ryan – her “Ghost Palm” piece looks amazing
  • Superflex

I’m also excited to be staying at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club.

From there, I’m heading to Arkansas to join a stellar group of art collectors all convening in Bentonville for a private tour of the Crystal Bridges Museum organized by Christie’s. We’re  staying at the 21C Museum Hotel.

 

Back to my regular writing schedule starting on Monday April 15th (I hope it won’t be too taxing😜).

Read More >

Share this post on:

New Nat Geo Trip Of My Dreams: Global Innovation 2020

New Nat Geo Trip Of My Dreams: Global Innovation 2020

 

This is EXACTLY the itinerary I discussed with Nat Geo two years ago when they asked me what kind of trip would get me to book another private jet excursion.

 

Keeping my fingers crossed this comes to fruition and delivers what I hope it will. When we initially talked about planning this kind of future-oriented trip (versus an exploration of the past), I learned they had scheduled something similar previously and it was a dud – not enough people interested. This trip, however, is already 50% booked so I’m optimistic.

I’ve paid my deposit, so looks like I will be very busy traveling in 2020 with two Nat Geo Trips on the books.

  • The first is to Central/South America departing in February.
  • The second will be The Future of Everything: Exploring Global Innovation departing in May 2020.
  • The Innovation trip is a brand new offering organized in partnership with the Wall Street Journal. Excited to see what kind of access and insights their category specific experts will provide. I’m hoping we will meet with – and learn from – leading tech innovators, educators and startup founders.

I must also add that I stumbled across this new trip by accident. Dozens of Nat Geo catalogues show up in my mailbox and I look at only a handful. This one arrived with Machu Picchu on the cover (which I’ve been to numerous times) so I was going to toss it but for some mysterious reason, I leafed through it and lo and behold, a NEW type of expedition had been added.

I immediately contacted my amazing travel advisor, Pablo Cruz, to dig into this further and get me booked.

 

Read on below for the itinerary highlights I am especially excited to check out.

Read More >

Share this post on:

Sister City, On The Bowery, Now In Soft-Open Mode. Going To Be A Hit!

Sister City, On The Bowery, Now In Soft-Open Mode. Going To Be A Hit!

 

Sister City Hotel, the new offshoot brand from The Ace, is finally open for bookings, although the restaurant, bar and most of the public spaces are still in the final stages of construction.

Rob Vogel, the hotel manager, took me on a tour of the rooms on Wednesday and I am going back for a full-on tour in May when all will be complete.

In the meantime, it has the earmarks of all of my favorite go-to spots. And, of course, I would expect no less from the Ace.

From what I observed, it is attracting young European and Asian travelers. They look like they might be in a variety of creative fields and from what I overheard, many are here for extended stays.

I’m considering booking a room there for myself just to get the full-on experience.

Design was done in-house by the Atelier Ace Team. Kudos, very impressive.

I will encourage all my friends and clients to check it out. The rooms are on the small side but ultra stylish with very efficient use of space. Reminds me of some of the Scandinavian hotels I stayed at last summer.

Floret, the all-day restaurant on the ground floor is still under construction (pic above, lower right). It will be run by chef Joe Ogrodnek and feature a Mediterranean-inspired menu and wine list by Josh Hanover. They will also be running the rooftop bar.

My only misgiving is that the lobby is small and not intended as a gathering/hang out spot. Will see how that goes. You all know how much I love lobby life!

 

Scroll down for pics.

Read More >

Share this post on:

Is Tallinn, Estonia Shaping Up To Be The New Reykjavik?

Is Tallinn, Estonia Shaping Up To Be The New Reykjavik?

 

Estonia is suddenly THE destination for the ultra-hip. And looks like Tallinn is the new Reykjavik.

 

It’s one of those nascent trends that almost got away from me. Fortunately my “Rule of 3” kicked in after Estonia popped up on three random, but consequential occasions.

This past weekend, the third hint was dropped and Estonia and Tallinn are now fully on my radar!

 

Read on below (def worth scrolling thru).

Read More >

Share this post on:

What Hotel Lobby Vibe Do You Look For When You Travel?

What Hotel Lobby Vibe Do You Look For When You Travel?

Left top Ace Hotel Lobby PDX, Left bottom Hobo Hotel Lobby Stockholm, Right: Four Seasons Paris

  

Nothing reflects the culture and the vibe of a hotel more than the lobby. It’s what I spend endless hours researching before I travel, especially if I plan to stay for more than one night.

 

Architectural Digest just ran a story on the 20 best hotel lobbies in the world and with the exception of one hotel, it left me with the impression that the magazine’s readers (besides being monied), are way more conservative and reserved than I would find interesting or fun.

  • The one hotel that makes their list and is also a favorite of mine is Eric Goode’s Bowery Hotel. Super cool. I love it when friends/clients stay there but it’s pretty spendy and the lobby is not welcoming to non-guests.
  • Overall, AD’s top choices include all the big 5-star names e.g. Ritz Carlton, Mandarin Oriental, Four Season’s etc.
  • Those hotel lobbies look like well-designed Fifth Avenue apartments. Impressive but no cool quotient. It’s not where I aspire to hang out and I know I won’t run into anyone remotely linked to my tribe.
  • That said, I have stayed in many of these hotels while traveling – especially with National Geographic. While I certainly appreciate that kind of luxury and pampering, it’s not my scene and I doubt I would stay there if traveling on my own.

 

Scroll down for examples of AD’s top lobbies versus ones I believe have a more contemporary look and vibe as well as just being being hipper and more communal.

Read More >

Share this post on: