The Notary Hotel opens in downtown Philadelphia

July 17, 2019

The Notary Hotel
The Notary Hotel in Philadelphia (Photo courtesy of Braemar Hotels & Resorts)

The following is a press release from Braemar Hotels & Resorts:

Braemar Hotels & Resorts Inc. (NYSE: BHR) (“Braemar” or the “Company”) today announced the opening of The Notary Hotel in the heart of Downtown Philadelphia. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the former Courtyard by Marriott Philadelphia Downtown underwent a rebranding and renovation in excess of $20 million to create The Notary Hotel. Located at 21 North Juniper Street, the property now features 499 guest rooms and over 10,000 square feet of conference space throughout 12 event rooms. It joins Marriott International’s Autograph Collection® Hotels, a diverse portfolio of approximately 180 independent hotels around the world that reflect unique vision, design and environments.

“After approximately two years of design and construction on The Notary Hotel, we are delighted to finally announce its formal grand opening as a member of the Autograph Collection by Marriott,” said Richard J. Stockton, Braemar’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “As of today, the hotel is available for booking as an Autograph property on Marriott’s central reservation system and elsewhere and will be referred to as The Notary Hotel in all future public communications.”

For more information, or to make reservations, please visit The Notary Hotel website at https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/phlak-the-notary-hotel-autograph-collection or contact 215-496-3200 to speak with one of the hotel’s team members.

Braemar Hotels & Resorts is a real estate investment trust (REIT) focused on investing in luxury hotels and resorts.

Ashford has created an Ashford App for the hospitality REIT investor community. The Ashford App is available for free download at Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store by searching “Ashford.”

Princess Cruises’ Sky Princess and Enchanted Princess announces escape-room experience Phantom Bridge

July 16, 2019

Phantom Bridge
Phantom Bridge (Rendering courtesy of Princess Cruises)

The following is a press release from Princess Cruises:

Cruise guests ready to travel through time and space need to look no further than Princess Cruises newest ships – Sky Princess and Enchanted Princess – to experience Phantom Bridge, a world’s first game combining digital and physical elements for the ultimate immersive escape room.

“Phantom Bridge, our newest Discovery at SEA interactive attraction, will offer our guests the exclusive opportunity to live a real-world, gamified experience with more than 700 different outcomes for the ultimate adventure,” said Denise Saviss, Princess Cruises vice president of entertainment experience. “Partnering with Farbound to deliver this unprecedented technology and world’s first interactive Mediascape Room further solidifies our commitment to share innovative and distinctive offerings to our guests.”

On the Phantom Bridge, Princess Cruises guests will face immersive environments and show moments as they race to solve puzzles and travel to endangered time periods. The entire ship will transform and respond to guest actions, enveloping them in the story. Developed exclusively for Princess Cruises by Farbound, the leader in gamified real-life experiences, the debut of Phantom Bridge will feature the first Mediascape Room, the proprietary gaming and show-control system that runs the entire game play.

“As Princess Cruises is committed to delivering a completely different and memorable experience for its guests, we are so honored to be working with them as Farbound’s partner. This new class of entertainment offerings will strengthen and hold Princess Cruises position as the leader in the travel industry.” said Tim Rheault & Steve Trowbridge, Co-Founders of Farbound.

Phantom Bridge offers a range of activities including:

Uncover the clues to solve the mystery – projection mapping, touch screen surfaces and hidden physical elements bring the environment to life as players race to uncover new clues and solve puzzles that will transport them to the next endangered time period.

Blends the physical with the digital with immersive effects – players captain the ship and turn the physical wheel to navigate the vessel and watch as the simulation view changes. Lighting, sound and digital features disguised as physical ones are combined to create an immersive, realistic experience, every step of the way. But, players beware as they’ll never know when a new item could mysteriously appear and be the key to the next puzzle.

Families can play together! – Phantom Bridge tailors the experience to players of all ages, heights and physical abilities so parents, kids and grandparents can all play together. Plus, with so many levels, time periods and puzzles more than 700 different outcomes are possible, which means players can come back and engage in Phantom Bridge time and time again since it’s never the same adventure.

Phantom Bridge will also debut onboard the cruise line’s next ship, Enchanted Princess, summer 2020. Guests can try Phantom Bridge in the new Experience Center located on deck 18. The event lasts 23 minutes and can accommodate up to six people.

For families looking for immersive, enriching and fun experiences while traveling, Princess Cruises has partnered with Discovery Inc. to create Discovery at SEA onboard programming that brings to life destinations and fan-favorite Discovery and Animal Planet shows. Guests can choose from exclusive, family friendly shore excursions and onboard activities like Stargazing at Sea. Younger cruisers, 17 and under, will also enjoy the recently renovated Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Centers.

More details about the robust onboard features and itineraries of Sky Princess and Enchanted Princess can be found at www.princess.com.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel advisor, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS (1-800-774-6237), or by visiting the company’s website at princess.com.

Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas unveils massive new features

July 11, 2019

(Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

The following is a press release from Royal Caribbean International:

Travelers can soon take in Europe’s historic destinations from a bold, new perspective on board the amplified Allure of the Seas. Royal Caribbean International has revealed the signature feats and innovative experiences coming to the renowned Oasis Class ship as part of a 58-day, $165 million transformation. Guests will be able to conquer a continent’s worth of adventures and come back for more with Allure’s upcoming lineup of new features, including the Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea; The Perfect Storm trio of waterslides, completely redesigned Adventure Ocean kids and teens spaces, the first Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, and Quantum Class original Music Hall. Reimagined as the ultimate summer vacation in Europe, Allure will open its season of 7-night Western Mediterranean cruises from homeport Barcelona, Spain on May 10, 2020.

Bold Family Favorites

Adventure Ocean (Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

Whether the moment calls for thrills or relaxation, vacationers sailing on the amplified Allure of the Seas can test their courage or sit back at the Pool and Sports Zone neighborhood that will now tout the perfect family day out. Feature highlights include:

  • The 10-story Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea
  • The Perfect Storm trio of waterslides, Typhoon, Cyclone and Supercell
  • Splashaway Bay kids aquapark, featuring twin drench buckets, three waterslides, fountains, pools, water cannons and a Splash Pad for tots
  • Reimagined pool deck, complete with The Lime & Coconut signature bar across two locations, a wider variety of seating and shade with cabana-like “casitas,” daybeds, hammocks and swing seats; new whirlpools on the top deck, and a reinvigorated, adults-only Solarium
Adventure Ocean’s Workshop (Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

The thrill will go from the outside-in on board the amped-up Allure. Expanding on the ways that families can spend time together and on their own are the additions of completely reimagined, dedicated spaces for babies, kids and teens, and popular Royal Caribbean activities.

  • All-new Adventure Ocean, where younger kids can choose their own immersive adventures across an entirely new layout. The major makeover will bring to life interactive, personalized and unexpected activities and features in areas redesigned from top to bottom, including whimsical rooms with climbable creations at Play Place, hands-on art, science and tech fun at Workshop; friendly competition in physical, interactive games at Arena; the Hangout, to chill and make new friends over gaming consoles or sit back for some quality “me” time, AO Babies for babies and tots, and experiential activities at the multipurpose AO Junior space specially designed for 3- to 5-year-olds
    Dedicated teens spaces (Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

    Dedicated teens spaces (Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)
  • Maxed-out teen spaces, debuting a 360-degree transformation, with a secret speakeasy-like entrance leading into an exclusive lounge with gaming consoles, music, movies, places to hang out and a new outdoor deck
  • Glow-in-the-dark laser tag in Clash for the Crystal City and Royal Escape Room – Apollo 18: Lunar Landing, an out-of-this-world expedition that challenges guests to solve puzzle after puzzle before time runs out

A World of Flavors

Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar (Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)
Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar (Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)
Portside BBQ (Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

Allure will deliver an array of culinary possibilities with more restaurants, casual spots and bars joining the already-diverse offering of specialty and complimentary options.

  • Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, a new take on a guest-favorite, will offer the beloved family-style, rustic dining experience with an enhanced menu of Italian staples, complete with hand-tossed pizza from the new in-house pizza oven, an expansive charcuterie station and a wide selection of wines and limoncellos
  • Portside BBQ will serve up a menu inspired by popular barbecue styles across the United States, including brisket, pulled pork, chicken, burnt ends, mac and cheese, homestyle cornbread and more
  • Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade for gameday watch parties on big-screen TVs, tournaments, bar bites with a twist and ice-cold brews
  • El Loco Fresh, featuring casual Mexican “street fare”
  • Sugar Beach, the sweetest spot on board with more than 220 types of candy and ice cream
  • Bionic Bar by Makr Shakr, manned by two robot bartenders shaking up classic cocktails and custom orders
Portside BBQ (Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

Amped-Up Hotspots

Music Hall (Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

After a day of exploring iconic destinations and channeling their inner adventurer, guests can go out for a “night on the town” and find new venues added to the nightlife offered on board.

  • Music Hall, a Quantum Class favorite, will take live music to the next level with revolving setlists and cover bands, ample lounge seating on two levels and room to rock out on the dance floor
  • Spotlight Karaoke, the dedicated karaoke bar with both main stage and private room experiences will feature thousands of songs to choose from, music trivia and themed nights
Spotlight Karaoke  (Rendering courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

Beginning May 2020, Allure of the Seas’ 7-night Western Mediterranean cruises sailing roundtrip from Barcelona will visit must-see cities such as Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Provence (Marseille), France; Florence/Pisa (La Spezia), Rome (Civitavecchia) and Naples/Capri, Italy.

Allure joins the original gamechanger, Oasis of the Seas, as the second Oasis Class ship to be reimagined in the $1 billion Royal Amplified fleet modernization program. These two revolutionary ships will steal the spotlight next year in Europe and the New York area, respectively, as the boldest summer vacations on both sides of the Atlantic.

In November 2020, Allure will make its way coast to coast to Miami for the winter season. Sailing from Royal Caribbean’s state-of-the-art Terminal A, the reimagined ship will offer 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises. Many of the ship’s Caribbean itineraries will include visits to the cruise line’s new private island destination in The Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay.

About Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean International has been delivering innovation at sea for more than 50 years. Each successive class of ships is an architectural marvel featuring the latest technology and guest experiences for today’s adventurous traveler. The cruise line continues to revolutionize vacations with itineraries to more than 270 destinations in 72 countries on six continents, including Royal Caribbean’s highly anticipated private island in The Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay, the first in the Perfect Day Island Collection. Royal Caribbean has also been voted “Best Cruise Line Overall” for 16 consecutive years in the Travel Weekly Readers’ Choice Awards.

Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos opening Hard Rock Hotel London, its first London hotel

July 11, 2019

Hard Rock Hotel London (Photo courtesy of Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos)
Hard Rock Hotel London (Photo courtesy of Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos)

The following is a press release from Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos:

Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos celebrate a historic moment by announcing the opening of Hard Rock Hotel London. The property is Hard Rock’s first hotel in the United Kingdom and continues the brand’s legacy in its original birthplace.

“Blending the DNA of the Hard Rock brand with London’s musical culture creates a memorable experience for all guests to enjoy,” said Ian Fletcher, general manager of Hard Rock Hotel London. “We’re excited to showcase the property’s unique offerings and signature brand amenities to visitors and locals alike — they won’t be able to find anywhere else like it in the UK.”

As part of a partnership with London’s largest hotel owner-operator, glh, the hotel boasts 900 stylish rooms and suites, along with a Rock Royalty Lounge, GMT Bar, a Hard Rock Cafe, a cocktail bar and a Rock Shop®. Located on the corner of Oxford Street at Marble Arch, it continues to expand Hard Rock’s blend of music, entertainment and iconic merchandise in the iconic capital city.

“The first Hard Rock Cafe was founded in London in 1971 and here we are, building on where it all began 48 years ago,” said Dale Hipsh, senior vice president of Hard Rock Hotels. “Every Hard Rock Hotel property is one-of-a-kind, but this one represents something special for the brand. This hotel is the culmination of three concepts – the cafes, hotels and Rock Shops® – coming together as one in an open-lobby, community-driven environment with Hard Rock’s memorabilia as the design thread binding them together. It’s truly incredible.”

Legendary memorabilia is sprinkled throughout the property, telling the story of London’s rich musical history. One special item is a letter written in 1958 by the late Buddy Holly, while he stayed at the hotel that is now Hard Rock Hotel London. The property also features another amazing piece of musical history – the Kirkwood piano Queen’s legendary singer, Freddie Mercury, practiced on as a teenager.

In addition to the GMT bar, set to be the perfect community gathering spot, its lively Hard Rock Cafe features a brand-new design and menu where guests can enjoy fresh, high-quality items including exciting cocktail creations and classic American-inspired cooking. It includes 370 seats for guests to enjoy daily live music performances that celebrate both local London performers and international talent. Guests can also check out the Rock Shop® for iconic Hard Rock merchandise, along with exclusive pieces from partner designers and collaborators and specialized merchandise that features local artists.

The hotel entices guests with an array of signature brand offerings and amenities, including The Sound of Your Stay® music program, where the mood can be set with a complimentary Crosley turntable. Alternatively, guests can rock out in their room with a Fender guitar, reserved at the front desk complete with headphones for no noise complaints. There is also the revolutionary Rock Om in-room yoga program, allowing for guests to relax, refresh and find their Zen. For those looking to amp-up their stay, Rock Royalty® rooms and suites offer the ultimate A-List experience, including a personal concierge and access to a lavish private lounge.

For more information or to book a stay at the new Hard Rock Hotel London, visit hrhlondon.com.

About Hard Rock International

With venues in 74 countries, including 186 Hard Rock Cafes, 241 Rock Shops®, 29 hotels and 12 casinos, Hard Rock International (HRI) is one of the most globally recognized companies. Beginning with an Eric Clapton guitar, Hard Rock owns the world’s most valuable collection of music memorabilia, which is displayed at its locations around the globe. Hard Rock is also known for its collectible fashion and music-related merchandise available in global Rock Shops and online at https://shop.hardrock.com. HRI owns the global trademark for all Hard Rock brands including Hard Rock Live performance venues. The company owns, operates and franchises Cafes in iconic cities including London, New York, San Francisco, Sydney and Dubai. HRI also owns, licenses and/or manages hotel/casino properties worldwide. Destinations include the company’s two most successful Hotel and Casino properties in Tampa and Hollywood, FL., both owned and operated by HRI parent entity The Seminole Tribe of Florida. Another exciting Hotel & Casino location includes Atlantic City. Hard Rock Hotels are located in vibrant city and resort destinations such as Bali, Cancun, Daytona Beach, Desaru Coast, Ibiza, London, Los Cabos, Orlando and Shenzhen. Upcoming new Hard Rock Cafe locations include Kathmandu, Nepal, Kyoto, Japan, Asuncion, Paraguay, Puerto Madero, Argentina and Chandigarh, India. New Hard Rock Hotel, Casino or Hotel & Casino projects include Amsterdam, Berlin, Budapest, Dublin, Madrid, Maldives, New York City, Ottawa, Sacramento, Dalian and Haikou in China. In 2018, Hard Rock International was recognized as a Forbes Magazine Top Employer for Women and Land Operator of the Year at the Global Gaming Awards. In 2019, Hard Rock International was honored as one of Forbes Magazine’s America’s Best Large Employers and Forbes Magazine’s Top Employer for Women. For more information on Hard Rock International visit www.hardrock.com.

About glh Hotels

glh is London’s largest hotel owner-operator, creating memorable moments for guests whilst delivering unforgettable hospitality. With over 5,000 rooms and 130 meeting and event spaces across 17 outstanding locations, glh is at the heart of London hospitality. Including Amba, every, Guoman, Thistle and Thistle Express, glh’s portfolio of hotel brands provides guests with the perfect slice of local city life, whatever their purpose of their stay.

Aloft Madrid Gran Via opens in Spain

July 11, 2019

Aloft Madrid Gran Vía
Aloft Madrid Gran Vía (Rendering courtesy of Marriott International)

The following is a press release from Marriott International:

Aloft Hotels, Marriott International’s hotel brand for music fans and tech-savvy travellers, brings a new beat to Spain this month with the opening of Aloft Madrid Gran Vía. Located in the vibrant heart of the capital, the new hotel is a stone’s throw from hotspots including the iconic Plaza de España, the hip neighborhood of Malasaña and Chueca overflowing with restaurants and bars, and the shopping district of Gran Via. Designed by world-class architecture firm the Rockwell Group, the property’s tech-forward, future-proofed design is aimed at the next generation of travelers, juxtaposed against the rich history of Gran Vía.

Madrid is a city of contrasts, where modern boulevards open onto ancient Egyptian temples and bustling flea markets border grand palaces and architectural icons dating back to the ninth century. Legendary nightlife and iconic national dishes come as standard from the cosmopolitan city of welcoming madrileños, but the Spanish capital is also home to a few surprises, including secret gardens, incredible art galleries, stunning parks and lakes, as well as the oldest restaurant in the world. With its enviable central location, Aloft Madrid Gran Vía provides the perfect jumping-off point for the next-gen traveller to discover Spain’s historic capital through a modern lens, starting with spectacular panoramic views of some of the city’s most iconic buildings from its rooftop Splash pool and signature cocktails at the W XYZ® bar.

Aloft Madrid Gran Vía
Aloft Madrid Gran Vía (Rendering courtesy of Marriott International)

“Madrid has long topped destination wish-lists for travelers in Europe, thanks to its spirited culture. Aloft Hotels is set to put its own unique spin on the capital’s social scene with live music programming, the hottest emerging artists, and great signature cocktails”, said John Licence, Vice President Premium and Select Brands, Europe at Marriott International.

Staying true to its roots as an innovative incubator brand, Aloft Hotels, in partnership with the Rockwell Group, developed a cohesive design strategy for Aloft Madrid Gran Via that draws on the sense of humor and the vivid color story the brand is known for. In a nod to the brand’s focus on tech and bold use of color, the property’s free-flowing design embraces theglitch” design trend to aestheticize digital or analog errors, materializing in design details from distorted city art throughout the public spaces and guestrooms. The always-on, buzzing communal areas reflect the eclectic spirit of the city and respond to the needs of the modern traveller, allowing guests to seamlessly transition between work and play.

“Rockwell Group’s design concept celebrates Madrid’s vibrancy and energy,” said Elisa Rodriguez, Studio Leader, Rockwell Group Madrid. “We were inspired by the idea of seeing the city and its people through a kaleidoscope, rendering the resulting images as pixelated, blended, and multifaceted, to create dynamic moments throughout the hotel.”

Each of its 139 spacious guestrooms feature Aloft’s ultra-comfortable beds in the brand’s signature artful, clutter-free and innovative loft layout, 49-inch televisions with Plug & Play connectivity, fast and free Wi-Fi. Additional amenities include the Re:chargeSM fitness center and Splash pool; Tactic, an interactive private creative meeting space with natural light equipped with modern audio-visual hardware; and Re:fuelSM by Aloft, a convenient 24-hour cafe for a quick bite on the go. Marriott brands were the first in the industry to introduce Mobile Key, the industry’s first keyless entry system.  Marriott Bonvoy members can use the Marriott Bonvoy app on their smartphone or Apple Watch as their room key wherever available.

The brand’s signature Re:mix® Lounge and W XYZ® bar provide vibrant hubs for locals and travelers alike to socialize and enjoy live music performances as part of the Live At Aloft Hotels music series. The hotel programming will range from cultural, design and tech events, offering a new perspective in this vibrant city.

There are currently 161 Aloft Hotels in 25 countries and territories around the world. In Europe specifically, Aloft Hotels is present in key city-break destinations such as Dublin, London and Liverpool with expected openings in The Hague, Munich and more.

For more information on Aloft Madrid Gran Via please visit www.alofthotels.com.

About Aloft Hotels
With over 160 hotels now open in 25 countries and territories around the world, Aloft Hotels, part of Marriott International, Inc., delivers a fresh approach to the traditional staid hotel landscape. For the ‘always on’ next generation of traveler, the Aloft brand offers a tech-forward, vibrant experience and a modern style that is different by design. For more information, please visit www.alofthotels.com and follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Aloft is proud to participate in Marriott Bonvoy, the new name of Marriott’s travel program replacing Marriott Rewards®, The Ritz- Carlton Rewards®, and Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG). The program offers members an extraordinary portfolio of global brands, experiences on Marriott Bonvoy Moments and unparalleled benefits including earning points toward free hotel stays and nights toward Elite status recognition. To enroll for free or for more information about the program, visit MarriottBonvoy.marriott.com.

Marriott International, Inc.
Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of more than 7,000 properties in 30 leading hotel brands spanning 131 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company now offers one travel program, Marriott Bonvoy™, replacing Marriott Rewards®, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®, and Starwood Preferred Guest®(SPG). For more information, please visit our website at www.marriott.com, and for the latest company news, visit www.marriottnewscenter.com. In addition, connect with us on Facebook and @MarriottIntl on Twitter and Instagram.

Dominican Republic tourist deaths: Find out why so many visitors are dying

June 25, 2019

by Kevin Lucas

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana n Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (Photo courtesy of Hard Rock International)

The number of tourists suddenly dying in the Dominican Republic has hit alarming numbers. As of this writing, 11 U.S. tourists have died in the Dominican Republic from June 2018 to June 2019. Almost all of the deaths were reported as sudden. The people who died of ailments were those who had failure of internal organs, such as their heart or lungs. A few of the deaths were violent murders, while some passed away from car accidents. What all these tourists have in common is that they stayed at resorts in the Dominican Republic. The State Department has not released official information on U.S. citizens who died of natural causes in the Dominican Republic.

According to Business Insider, there has been a massive increase in complaints of tourists saying that they felt that they had been unintentionally poisoned while in the Bahamas. The website IWasPoisoned.com has received 1,600 complaints so far in 2019, compared to 10 in 2018. More than 700 complaints were traced back to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana.

Several of the people who suspected that they had been poisoned after consuming alcohol from their room’s minibars or by eating food served buffet style at these resorts.

A Hard Rock Hotel and Casino spokesperson told Business Insider: “The Ministry of Public Health in the Dominican Republic has released further information on the American tourists who passed away in 2019, including autopsy findings that reveal these deaths were unrelated and from natural causes and pre-existing conditions. We are deeply saddened by these unfortunate incidents, and extend our sincerest sympathy to the families of those affected. We will continue to respect the privacy of our guests and their families.”

According to CNN, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana has now removed alcoholic beverages from its minibars and started dispensing hand sanitizer for guests and face masks for staff members.

National Geographic announces food-and-travel show ‘Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted’

June 20, 2019

The following is a press release from National Geographic:

Gordon Ramsay is taking food as far as it can go in National Geographic’s new series Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted, premiering Sunday, July 21, at 10/9c. The multi-Michelin-star chef and Ironman athlete embarks on a new exhilarating adventure around the globe.

From Peru, Laos and Morocco to Hawaii, Alaska and New Zealand, Ramsay will be roaring through valleys, diving into oceans, hiking through forests and scaling mountains in his relentless pursuit of culinary inspiration. Food and adventure programming is familiar ground for Ramsay, whose 2010 U.K. series for Channel 4, “Gordon’s Great Escapes,” saw the venerable chef explore the food culture of India and Southeast Asia.

Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted follows Ramsay as he meets with indigenous people around the globe to learn about the cultures, dishes and flavors unique to each location. Every ingredient he harvests and dish he tastes will inspire a new recipe from scratch, created to represent the heart of that culture. Each episode concludes with Ramsay challenging himself with a local food legend by his side – putting his newfound skills to the test as they cook a feast together for the natives. For Ramsay, food is the gateway to culture, and every adventure is a portal into the soul of the people and place.

“It’s been an amazing journey traveling off the beaten path with National Geographic and connecting with locals to learn and share incredible stories of unique traditions, delicacies and the extreme lengths it takes to harvest native ingredients,” said Ramsay. “I’ve learned way more filming this series than I have in the last 10 years.”

Among the adventures – culinary and otherwise – that Ramsay will take in the premiere season include:

· Trekking through a dense jungle in Laos to sample weaver ant eggs and diving through dangerous waters on the hunt for snails and giant water bugs

· Hunting for eels with his bare hands using traditional Maori techniques with a local fisherman by his side in New Zealand

· Working with local foragers to harvest Maui’s deadliest catch with homemade tools and spearfishing with legendary free diver Kimi Werner in Hawaii

· Climbing a sheer rock face during a snowstorm with a local forager to harvest native herbs in Alaska

· Rappelling down a raging waterfall to meet with local mushroom hunters in Morocco

· Hanging off a cliff in pursuit of cactus worms – a delicacy in Peru

The series will also air globally in 172 countries and 43 languages. Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted is produced by Studio Ramsay. Additional episodes of the series have already been ordered ahead of the summer premiere, with production set to resume this fall.

The summer episodes include:

Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted – Peru’s Sacred Valley

Sunday, July 21, at 10/9c

Chef Gordon Ramsay travels by motorbike through Peru’s Sacred Valley of the Incas to discover traditional high-altitude cuisine. Immersing himself in local culture, he scales cliffs; fishes in high-altitude lakes; and samples local delicacies like fried worms, rare multicolored potatoes and guinea pig before putting his newfound skills to the test with legendary local chef Virgilio Martinez.

Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted – New Zealand’s Rugged South

Sunday, July 28, at 10/9c

Chef Gordon Ramsay journeys to the remote corners of southern New Zealand to unlock the secrets of traditional Maori cuisine. From the locals, he learns how to catch eels with his bare hands, free dives for prized Paua shellfish and forages for unique Kiwi ingredients before putting his new skills to the test at a Maori feast with up-and-coming chef Monique Fiso.

Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted – The Mountains of Morocco

Sunday, Aug. 4, at 10/9c

Chef Gordon Ramsay travels to Morocco, North Africa, where he embarks on an adventure deep in the Middle Atlas Mountains to understand ancient Berber cuisine. Learning from the locals, he rappels over a waterfall to meet mushroom hunters, milks a camel and experiences the life of the Berber people. He puts his new skills to the test, cooking a feast with chef Najat Kaanache to celebrate Berber New Year.

Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted – Hawaii’s Hana Coast

Sunday, Aug. 11, at 10/9c

Chef Gordon Ramsay travels to Maui, Hawaii, to explore the exotic ingredients of Hawaiian cuisine. In torrential rain, he travels along the treacherous Hana Highway. From the locals, he learns how to hunt deer with a bow, produce Hawaiian taro and spearfish with legendary free diver Kimi Werner. Gordon tests his knowledge at a feast with top Hawaiian chef Sheldon Simeon.

Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted – The Mighty Mekong of Laos

Sunday, Aug. 18, at 10/9c

Chef Gordon Ramsay travels to Laos, where he takes on a rapid stretch of white water, kayaking down the Mekong in search of culinary inspiration. Learning from the locals, he treks through dense jungle to sample eggs of the aggressive weaver ant, dives for freshwater snails and hunts for giant water bugs. Using his newly acquired skills, he cooks a banquet for monks at the local temple.

Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted – Alaska’s Panhandle

Sunday, Aug. 25 at 10/9c

Chef Gordon Ramsay journeys to the rugged Alaskan Panhandle to learn survival skills and discover Alaskan cuisine. On his adventure, he learns how to cook seal with a native Tlingit elder, climbs a sheer rock face in a snowstorm and goes grouse hunting before putting his newfound knowledge to the test at a feast with legendary local chef Lionel Uddipa.

Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted is produced by Studio Ramsay for National Geographic. For Studio Ramsay, executive producers are Gordon Ramsay, Elvia Van Es Olivia, Helen Cooke, Lisa Edwards and Jon Kroll. For National Geographic, executive producer is Betsy Forhan, vice president of production is Kevin Tao Mohs, and president of original programming and production is Geoff Daniels.

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About National Geographic Partners LLC

National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between the National Geographic Society and Disney, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivaled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 131 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching millions of people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit natgeotv.com or nationalgeographic.com, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

About Gordon Ramsay/Studio Ramsay

Renowned for highly successful and award-winning original programming, Emmy-nominated, multi-Michelin-star chef Gordon Ramsay produces TV shows on both sides of the Atlantic that are seen by audiences worldwide, including his Fox shows “The F Word With Gordon Ramsay,” “Gordon’s Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back,” “MasterChef,” “MasterChef Junior,” “Hell’s Kitchen” and “MasterChef Celebrity Showdown,” as well as Bravo’s “Best New Restaurant” and Food Network’s competition series “Food Court Wars.” In the U.K., he’s produced “Gordon Ramsay Behind Bars” and “Gordon’s Great Escape” for Channel 4; food biography and nostalgia series “My Kitchen” for UKTV’s Good Food Channel; two instructional cookery series, “Ultimate Home Cooking” and “Ultimate Cookery Course,” for Channel 4; and the first two seasons of “Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch,” all under his One Potato Two Potato banner. The next-generation multimedia production company Studio Ramsay was founded in 2016 by Ramsay and has a joint venture with All3Media to develop and produce both unscripted and scripted television shows, creating new formats and innovative programming that includes a scripted arm and development of new talent on a global front. Studio Ramsay’s first production was the live series “The F Word With Gordon Ramsay,” which premiered in the U.S. on Fox, and its second Fox series, “Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back,” ranks as television’s No. 1 cooking show this season among A18-49 and total viewers. National Geographic Channel recently announced the pick-up of a second season of Studio Ramsay’s Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted ahead of the shows’ summer premiere. Production is set to resume this fall. Across the pond, Studio Ramsay produces the wildly successful, and BAFTA-nominated, “Gordon, Gino and Fred’s Road Trip” for ITV and the Channel 4 Series “Born Famous,” which is slated for release this summer. Studio Ramsay also currently has shows in production for the BBC and other top U.K. broadcasters. Its digital arm has launched its own successful interview series called “Scrambled” and produced content for National Geographic and its various properties. Its first daytime cooking series, “Culinary Genius,” premiered on ITV in the U.K. and was syndicated on Fox stations in the U.S. Ramsay’s documentary series, “Gordon on Cocaine,” premiered on ITV to critical acclaim. “Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch,” starring Tilly Ramsay for U.K. children’s channel CBBC, is also produced by Studio Ramsay. For more information, please visit www.gordonramsay.com or follow Gordon Ramsay on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

W Hotels debuts reimagined W Atlanta – Midtown, W Atlanta – Buckhead and W Atlanta – Downtown

June 10, 2019

W Atlanta
W Atlanta – Midtown Living Room (Photo courtesy of Marriott International)

The following is a press release from Marriott International:

Georgia is on our mind. W Hotels Worldwide is excited to reveal major upgrades to each of the city’s three W hotels (W Atlanta – Midtown, W AtlantaBuckhead and W Atlanta – Downtown). Through the vision of talented design partners and the W brand’s own globally renowned design team, a collective of 750+ guestrooms, multiple bars and restaurants and more than 50,000 square feet of innovative meeting space will soon be revealed. These exciting changes in Atlanta are the first of several renovations expected to be completed at W Hotels across North America, as hotel owners are poised to invest $200+ million on renovations showcasing the next generation of W design.

Atlanta is exploding with culture, creativity and more visitors than ever before,” said Anthony Ingham, Global Brand Leader, W Hotels Worldwide. “From Superbowl LIII to the Peach Drop, Atlanta has solidified its place as a must-go destination for both domestic and international travelers. From its music and culture to its cuisine and architecture, it’s a city that is so diverse and unique we are able to have three distinct hotels within its parameters. We are excited to showcase our bold design with stunning new rooms, restaurants and upgrades to the hot spots our guests love.”

W Atlanta – Midtown As the first W hotel to open in Atlanta in 2009, the 466-room renovation at W Atlanta – Midtown is the first major revamp of the hotel in a decade. As one of the largest W locations in the world, this project marks one of the brand’s biggest single-hotel renovation projects in its 20-year history. The renovation – which just made its debut earlier this month –  sits alongside new culinary, retail and entertainment concepts coming to Colony Square, which is connected to the hotel.

Inspired by one of Atlanta’s best-known nicknames – the city in the woods – W Atlanta – Midtown  now sports a floral motif with a mod twist across its public spaces that includes the Living Room (W’s energetic & social take on the lobby/bar), Welcome Desk (Check-In) and patio. The open flow of the renovated spaces expands the hotel’s indoor and outdoor seating, ready to welcome locals and travelers to this bustling neighborhood.

Each of the hotel’s reimagined guestrooms (including 33 specialty suites) features playful décor, unique murals by Imaggo Production that are a nod to Atlanta as an epicenter of music and entertainment.

W AtlantaBuckhead
In partnership with Atlanta’s own C+TC Studio (who is designing the guest rooms and iconic rooftop bar, Whiskey Blue), interior designer STUDIO 11 (the visionaries behind the new Living Room), and the brand’s own design team, W AtlantaBuckhead is showing off its edgy, luxe look as of February 2019.

Celebrating the city’s passions for fashion, design, art and culture, the new design incorporates splashy artwork from local artists throughout the hotel including guestroom art by Lela Brunet, WET Deck (pool deck) mural by Greg Mike, Living Room and Whiskey Blue murals by Chris Veal.

The full-scale renovation of W AtlantaBuckhead adds a Welcome area, open layout and café-style seating (complete with DJ booth by night) to the Living Room. Here the eye-catching custom mural installation by artist Chris Veal is designed to be an Insta-worthy hit and photos taken in front of it are linked to the hotel’s Instagram account and displayed on the adjacent Polaroid-style screen to make guests and visitors a part of the art in real time.

Enhanced with vibrant colors, headboards, armoires, damask wallcoverings, 55-inch TVs, in-room Nespresso machines, expanded MIX Bars (W’s take on the minibar) and inspiring artwork, the hotel’s 286 guestrooms redefine comfort and playful luxury in the city. All specialty suites (four WOW Suites and one E-WOW Suite) also get special treatment with new artwork and lounge areas, chaises and cocktail cubbies.

The first phase of this renovation project saw the iconic rooftop bar Whiskey Blue reimagined in November 2018. Now the hotel is bringing a new spin to its signature restaurant, Cook Hall, which will re-open fall 2019. In addition, all 11,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting space and FIT (gym) feature new furnishings, lighting, artwork and faster connections.

Local Motives Debuts at W Atlanta – Downtown
In a brilliant mash up of art, history and culture, Local Motives, the new restaurant at W Atlanta – Downtown, combines Atlanta’s BeltLine Project, a newfound symbol of revitalization in the city, with beloved street art and flavors as bold as the new look. To capture Atlanta’s creative spirit, local artist and Georgia native Eric Randall collaborated with Puccini Group’s designers to ground the project in an unmistakable sense of place. Randall was tasked with designing and painting large-scale graphics, including the 69’3″ x 9’6″ mural which spans six walls. The restaurant includes a buzzing bar, dining area, café with ample workspace and private dining room with an entrance inspired by Marta train doors. Each area is crafted with stone and concrete, reflecting the neighborhood’s storied industrialization, juxtaposed with pink pastels and vibrant blue hues.

Local Motives lives up to its name with Atlanta staples like Geechie Boy Red Grits and Cheddar (breakfast bowl) as well as luxe-modern indulgences like Beet Tartare, Charred Octopus and curated local selections of meats from Pine Street Market and ingredients from Pure Bliss Organics. Coffee blends are brewed at Docent Coffee, which roasts each batch right on Edgewood Avenue. Handcrafted concoctions at the bar give guests the option to detox or retox with fresh-pressed juices alongside decadent, spiked milkshakes.

These three projects are part of a collective $200 million+ in renovations across the W brand portfolio that is taking place across North America. Other projects include W Washington DC, W Boston, W San Francisco, W Miami and W Montreal.

For more information visit: W Atlanta – Midtown; W Atlanta – Downtown; W AtlantaBuckhead;

About W Hotels Worldwide
Born from the bold attitude and 24/7 culture of New York City, W Hotels, part of Marriott International, Inc., has disrupted and redefined the hospitality scene for nearly two decades. Trailblazing its way around the globe, with over 50 hotels, W is defying expectations and breaking the norms of traditional luxury wherever the iconic W sign lands. With a mission to fuel guests’ lust for life, W ignites an obsessive desire to soak it in, live it up and hit repeat. The brand’s provocative design, iconic Whatever/Whenever service and buzzing Living Rooms create an experience that is often copied but never matched. Innovative, inspiring and infectious, the brand’s super-charged energy celebrates guests’ endless appetite to discover what’s new/next in each destination, to see more, feel more, go longer, stay later. For more information on W Hotels, visit whotels.com/theangle or follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. W Hotels Worldwide is proud to participate in Marriott Bonvoy, the new name of Marriott’s travel program replacing Marriott Rewards®, The Ritz- Carlton Rewards®, and Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG). The program offers members an extraordinary portfolio of global brands, experiences on Marriott Bonvoy Moments and unparalleled benefits including earning points toward free hotel stays and nights toward Elite status recognition. To enroll for free or for more information about the program, visit MarriottBonvoy.marriott.com.

2019 Tribeca Film Festival movie review: ‘Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin’

May 5, 2019

by Carla Hay

Werner Herzog in “Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin”

“Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin”

Directed by Werner Herzog

World premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 28, 2019.

German filmmaker Werner Herzog has directed an eclectic array of documentaries, which feature his deliberate and thoughtful style of narration and on-camera interview techniques. “Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin” is probably one of Herzog’s most personal documentaries of his career because British writer/adventurer Bruce Chatwin, who died of AIDS in 1989 at the age of 48, was one of Herzog’s good friends.

Before Chatwin died, he gave Herzog a rucksack that Chatwin had carried in his travels around the world. In the documentary, Herzog brings the rucksack and retraces a lot of Chatwin’s journeys to pay tribute to and get a better understanding of his late friend. The documentary includes voiceovers from Herzog and old recordings of Chatwin. Unlike most movies, which are divided into three acts, “Nomad” has eight chapters, all of which are titled in the film.

“Chapter One: The Skin of the Brontosaurus” has Herzog going to Patagonia, Chile, which was the subject of Chatwin’s 1977 travel book “In Patagonia.” He interviews Karin Eberhard, the great-granddaughter of 19th-century explorer Hermann Eberhard, who is credited with discovering the remains of a giant sloth. In this chapter of the documentary, Herzog goes to the Patagonia city of Punta Arenas, where he visits the Lord Lonsdale Shipwreck, as well as the grave for Charles Milward, the British consul who was a cousin of Chatwin’s grandmother Isobel. Milward reportedly gave a piece of giant sloth fur (which was sometimes mistaken for brontosaurus hide) to Isobel as a wedding gift. It was Chatwin’s dream to get a piece of a brontosaurus. In this chapter, Herzog also interviews Chatwin biographer Nicholas Shakespeare.

“Chapter Two: Landscapes of the Soul” has Herzog traveling to Avebury, Wiltshire, in England, where there is a stone many people believe has mythical force and powers. Silbury Hill was Chatwin’s “pivot, his mythical place of origin,” according to Herzog, who includes footage of tourists wearing masks over their eyes for protection from these mysterious forces. There’s also footage of how the magnetic forces work with metal prongs. Herzog also travels to Llanthony Priory in Wales, the location of where Bruce courted his wife Elizabeth, who is interviewed in this chapter.

“Bruce Chatwin was searching for strangeness,” Herzog comments in the film. He also notes that Chatwin liked Herzog’s 1969 “Signs of Life” movie with the windmills scene that Chatwin called “dangerous landscape,” according to Herzog. The filmmaker also travels to Coober Pedy, Australia, where Chatwin and Herzog first met. “We were both fascinated by Aboriginal mythology,” Herzog remembers.

“Chapter Three: Songs and Songlines” explores indigenous sounds in Australia, particularly at the Strehlow Research Centre. People interviewed in this chapter include musician Glenn Morrison and Alyawerre experts Michael Liddle Pula, Marcus Wheeler and Shawn Angeles Penange. “Our songlines are our way of contributing to the health of this planet,” says one of the Alyawerre commentators.

“Chapter Four: The Nomadic Alternative” is named for an unpublished Chatwin manuscript. Herzog travels to Tierra del Feugo in Argentina, where photos of nomads fascinated Chatwin. There’s some great footage of hand imprints on overhanging rocks that were left more than 10,000 years ago, as well as some photos of nomads, such as those showing nomads with painted bodies and a naked man lying down.

“Chapter Five: Journey to the End of the World” finds Herzog in the remote La Isla Navariono in Chile.

“Chapter Six: Chatwin’s Rucksack” has Herzog back in Patagonia, where he carries the cherished rucksack and says that in his 1991 movie “Scream of Stone,” there’s a scene with someone with a rucksack, and that scene was a tribute to Chatwin.

“Chapter Seven: Cobra Verde” is a brief behind-the-scenes commentary on Herzog’s 1987 film “Cobra Verde,” which was based on “Bruce Chatwin’s 1980 novel “The Viceroy of Ouidah.”

“Chapter Eight: The Chapter Is Closed” circles back to Chatwin’s widow Elizabeth, who candidly talks about their open marriage. She says that she didn’t care that her husband Bruce was bisexual, and that he often invited his lovers into their home. Herzog also reads from the notebook containing the last line that Chatwin ever wrote.

“Nomad” is certainly going to appeal to fans of Herzog and Chatwin, as well as people who have a general interest in world travels. This is a quintessential arthouse film, so anyone who isn’t inclined to watch an artsy documentary will find a lot of this movie too slow-moving and dull for their tastes. The cinematography (by Louis Caulfield and Mike Paterson) has many stunning moments, which is to be expected in a Herzog film.

Herzog’s dry wit is present in the movie, but the wistfulness and sadness that he feels over his dear friend’s death can also be felt in the documentary. Above all, Herzog respectfully pays tribute to Chatwin in “Nomad,” and offers unique glimpses into Chatwin’s personality and intellectual curiosity in this celebration of Chatwin’s adventurous and full life.

Netflix’s ‘The Final Table’ offers free snacks for Thanksgiving holiday airport travelers in New York City and Chicago

November 21, 2018

“The Final Table” airport activation November 21 to 25, 2018 (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

The following is a press release from Netflix:

Netflix is easing holiday travel woes with free snacks as a way to interact with the new global culinary competition “The Final Table.” Beginning November 21 through November 25, 2018, travelers through Terminal 3 at O’Hare Airport in Chicago and Terminal 4 at JFK airport in New York City, will be able to participate in Netflix’s interactive meal experience that will give free snacks that represent the global meals from the nine countries introduced in “The Final Table.”

Snacks will be from Mexico, Spain, UK, Brazil, India, United States, Italy, France and Japan.  Travelers will be able to interact with a customized screen where they can select the country they wish to “travel to” on their journey.  They can learn more information about the episode that highlights that country, the food, and the chefs. They will be shown a short clip from the relevant episode of The Final Table and will then be given a box that will be dispensed below the screen.  The box will include a gourmet treat that highlights ingredients from the dish of their chosen country.

SNACKS:

  • Mexico
    • Featured dish from the show: Tacos
    • Giveaway taste: Mexican Spice Crispy Elote – Mexican Crema, Cilantro, Avocado Oil, Jalapeno, Onions
  • Spain
    • Featured dish from the show: Paella
    • Giveaway taste:: Paella– Basmati Rice, Peas, salt, vegetable oil, Shrimp Crackers, Saffron, Turmeric, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder
  • England
    • Featured dish from the show: English Breakfast
    • Giveaway taste: Full English Breakfast Pork Scratchings– Pork skin, vegetable oil, Fennel Powder, Black Pepper, Salt, Tomato Powder, Natural Spices
  • Brazil
    • Featured dish from the show: Feijoada
    • Giveaway taste: Spiced Black Bean Brazil Nuts– Roasted salted brazil nuts, onion powder, garlic powder, black bean powder, dried lemon peel, citric acid, onion ash powder
  • India
    • Featured dish from the show: Murgh Makhni
    • Giveaway taste: Madrasi Snack Mix – Chickpea flour, corn oil, peanuts, bananas, chili powder, salt, coconut slices, curry leaves
  • The United States
    • Featured dish from the show: Thanksgiving Dinner
    • Giveaway taste: Thanksgiving Leftovers “Bread Pudding”– Bread crumbs, sugar, salt, celery, onion, corn starch, dehydrated chicken, garlic, turmeric, chicken broth, pecans, butter, onions, cranberries
  • Italy
    • Featured dish from the show: Pasta with Ragu
    • Giveaway bite: Sundried Tomato “Fusilli” – Enriched Flour, Parmesan cheese, Sundried Tomato Powder, Basil Powder
  • France
    • Featured dish from the show: Hare a la Royale
    • Giveaway taste:Pommes Aux Truffes – Potatoes, vegetable oil, Salt, Truffle oil
  • Japan
    • Featured dish from the show: Kaiseki
    • Giveaway taste: Nori Crusted Peanuts– Peanuts, Wheat Flour, Rice Flour, Sugar, Salt, Seaweed, Soy Sauce and Potato Starch