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 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.”

2019 Tribeca Film Festival movie review: ‘Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project’

May 1, 2019

by Carla Hay

Marion Stokes in "Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project"
Marion Stokes in “Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project” (Photo by Eileen Emond)

“Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project”

Directed by Matt Wolf

World premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 25, 2019.

Long before the Internet put the news at our fingertips 24 hours a day, eccentric hoarder Marion Stokes (who died in 2012 at the age of 83) obsessively recorded newscasts on TV. In the process, she amassed a mind-blowing collection of videos that museums don’t even have. She had an estimated 70,000 VHS and Betamax tapes—and that doesn’t count the videos that she had in other formats, such as digital. How did one woman get this obsession and manage to keep at it for decades until she died? The fascinating documentary “Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project” explains it all and more.

Stokes started out as a radical, Communist political activist. She and her first husband, Merrill Metelits, met through the Socialist Party, and they had a son together named Michael. She became so afraid that the United States would become like Nazi Germany, that she and her family moved to Cuba, where they lived for a time before they moved back to her native Philadelphia. The couple broke up when Michael was 4 years old, and they eventually divorced. Father and son are each interviewed for the documentary, and they look back on their lives with Stokes with mixed emotions: They loved her, but they also thought she was very difficult. Michael Metelits describes his mother as very controlling and overly critical of him, and there were long periods of time when they were estranged.

TV was an early obsession for Stokes, who counted the original “Star Trek” series as one of her all-time favorites because she thought the outer-space society depicted in the show was “televised socialism,” according to Michael Metelits. She also had a fondness for sitcoms and news documentaries. She was also a voracious consumer of books, magazines and newspapers—collecting so many that her numerous homes were packed to the ceilings with her hoarded collections. (She had an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 books at nine different homes, according to the documentary.) As is the case with many hoarders, Stokes had an obsessive-compulsive disorder where she felt compelled to repeat the same routines over and over.

In the late 1960s, Stokes was able to parlay her interests in television and political activism into a job hosting “Input,” a public-affairs talk show on the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia. Her radical views made her the target of FBI surveillance, according to the documentary, but it didn’t stop her from openly expressing her opinions on hot-button topics such as the Vietnam War, racism and wealth distribution. The archival footage of “Input” is where the documentary shows Stokes talking the most, because later in her life, she became a recluse and did not give interviews.

It was through “Input” that she met her second husband, John Stokes, a millionaire who worked with her on the show and who made his fortune from capitalism. Even though Marion was a die-hard Communist, and even though John was married with five children at the time they got romantically involved, they ended up being “soul mates,” according to her son and members of John Stokes’ family who are interviewed in the documentary. John eventually divorced his wife to marry Marion, and family members in the documentary talk about the awkward transition they went through to become a blended, interracial family.

Although John Stokes’ money funded a lot of Marion’s obsessions, she became rich in her own right by becoming an early investor in Apple. She collected computers—Apple was naturally her favorite brand, and she was a huge fan of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Marion was so obsessive over Apple products that she not only bought every Apple product that ever came on the market, but she also bought several of the same items in all the Apple product lines. When Jobs died in 2011, Marion had her driver deviate from their usual routine and drive by her childhood home. Why?

The documentary mentions that Marion was adopted as a child because her biological mother did not want to raise her with her siblings. Apple co-founder Jobs was also adopted, which might explain why Marion felt such a strong connection to him. Being rejected by her mother led to lifelong emotional scars, and probably explains the psychological issues that caused Marion’s hoarding later in her life.

People close to Marion estimate that her interest in recording the news began sometime between 1975 to 1977—which is around the time that the Betamax recorder became a home-video product. Her interest became a full-blown obsession during the Iran hostage crisis of 1979. By the time CNN (the first 24-hour news channel) launched in 1980, Marion was operating her own type of news organization out of her home—albeit an organization that recorded rather than reported the news. Her news recordings weren’t limited to national networks, since she also recorded the news from local stations. Many of the newscasts that she recorded weren’t archived by the stations.

One of the best parts of “Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project” is a scene with a four-way split screen that shows simultaneous newscasts of the morning of September 11, 2001. The screens show how CNN was the first to report the news of a plane crashing into one of New York City’s Twin Towers, and how morning shows on ABC, CBS and Fox were slower to react. The scene visually recreates what Marion probably watched on her multiple TV screens on that tragic day.

Of course, all of this obsessive recording took a toll on Marion’s personal life. According to people interviewed in the documentary, she and husband John (who died in 2007) isolated themselves from their families for about 20 years. Her employees—including secretary Frank Heilman, drivers and aides, some of whom are interviewed in the film—became her surrogate family. The employees remember that any time that she spent outside the home had to be meticulously planned so that if a tape ran out during recording, someone would be there to immediately put in a new tape.

Fortunately, Marion reconciled with her son Michael about two months before she died. Her death came on the same day as the tragic Sandy Hook school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012. Michael inherited Marion’s entire collection. Although he couldn’t find anywhere that would take all of her magazines, books and newspapers, he was able to get the Internet Archive (a San Francisco-based non-profit digital library) to take her phenomenal collection of videos, which are being digitally transferred and archived. (This isn’t a spoiler, since what happed to Marion’s collection has been in the news, and Michael has given several interviews about it.)

“Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project,” which is skillfully directed by Matt Wolf, is an example of the type of documentary that can be a true hidden gem. Because the film is not about a big celebrity or a controversial subject, it will probably be overlooked by a lot of people. But if you’re a news junkie or someone who has an interest in the media, “Recorder” is highly recommended viewing because it’s about someone who had an impact on the media without most people even knowing it.

 UPDATE: Kino Lorber and Zeitgeist Films will release “Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project” in New York City on November 15, 2019. The movie’s release dates will vary in other cities.

2018 Made in America: Nicki Minaj, Post Malone are headliners

June 4, 2018

Nicki Minaj at the Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on May 1, 2017. (Photo courtesy of H&M)

The following is a press release from Live Nation:

MADE IN AMERICA, the JAY-Z curated two-day music festival and staple of Labor Day Weekend, returns to Philadelphia for a seventh year.

Saturday, September 1, 2018
Sunday, September 2, 2018

Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, PA and for those unable to attend, global music and entertainment platform, TIDAL, will livestream the festival on

A primary goal of MADE IN AMERICA is to have a positive impact on the communities involved. Since the inaugural two-day concert in 2012, the event has generated $31.9 million in economic impact for the city.  This year, the festival, produced by Roc Nation, will continue to benefit the ACLU of Pennsylvania as well as United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.

Abercrombie & Fitch, Citi, and Puma’s commitments to the arts, as well as the community, make each a perfect fit with MADE IN AMERICA. The festival not only honors artists and music lovers, but it also benefits organizations that are vital to accomplishing much needed positive work.

Headliners Nicki Minaj and Post Malone are joined by Meek Mill, Diplo, Zedd, Miguel, Janelle Monáe, Alessia Cara, Fat Joe, 6lack, Belly, Ty Dolla $ign, Rich The Kid, Sabrina ClaudioJessie Reyez, Louis The Child, Tchami, Lil B, Gunna, Snakehips, Juice WRLD, BlocBoy JB, SOB x RBE, Sheck Wes, SAINt JHN, Jay Park, Saweetie, A$AP Twelvyy, Cashemere Cat, Jai Wolf, TOKiMONSTA, Preme, White Reaper, Clairo, Show Me The Body, Code Orange, Turnstile, Saba, Anna Lunoe, Driver Era, Bloodpop, Injury Reserve, Hobo Johnson & The LoveMakers, Davido, Shoreline Mafia, Elohim, Lost Kings, Forth Wanderers, Kweku Collins, Odie, Maxo KreamArmani WhiteAmara La NegraBuzzy LeeMir Fontane, Trouble, JPEGMAFIA, Tyla Yaweh, City Morgue, Louis Futon, Lophiile, Wicca Phase Spring Eternal, Orion Sun and Zahsosaa.


Ticket Purchase:
Continuing its commitment to bringing fans closer to their favorite artists, TIDAL members will have access to a special presale beginning on Monday, June 4th at 2:00pm ET.  Members can find details for purchasing tickets via their TIDAL account. Those who sign up for TIDAL to access presale will receive a six-month trial.

This year, TIDAL members attending the festival will have access to a wide array of exclusive benefits including: fast track entrance, TIDAL lounge access with air conditioning, seating and complimentary phone charging, artist meet and greets, ticket upgrades, limited-edition merchandise and premium views of the main stage on the TIDAL VIP riser.

Citi is the official presale credit card of MADE IN AMERICA. As such, Citi cardmembers will have access to purchase presale tickets beginning Tuesday, June 5 at 10am ET until Thursday, June 7 at 10pm ET through Citi’s Private Pass® program. For complete presale details visit

Tickets are available to the general public beginning Friday, June 8 at 10:00 am ET at

Make the weekend unforgettable with VIP passes that include access to VIP viewing areas, an air conditioned VIP Lounge, VIP restrooms, exclusive merchandise & more.  Details here:

For the latest on the “MADE IN AMERICA” Festival, United Way Of Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, ACLU Of Pennsylvania and new partners please be sure to visit: or download the MADE IN AMERICA app.

Courtyard Philadelphia South at the Navy Yard unveils $8 million room expansion

June 6, 2017

Courtyard Philadelphia South at the Navy Yard
(Rendering courtesy of Courtyard Philadelphia South at the Navy Yard)

The following is a press release from Courtyard Philadelphia South at the Navy Yard:

As the popularity of The Navy Yard booms, the demand for hospitality continues to rise as well.

In response to this exponential growth, Courtyard Philadelphia South at The Navy Yard spent $8 million to expand its property. The hotel now boasts an additional 40 more rooms designed for today’s traveler.

General Manager Derek Beckman said he is enthusiastic to share these fresh spaces with visitors staying in The City of Brotherly Love.

“Since over 150 major companies and organizations are situated in The Navy Yard, it comes to no surprise that there is a need for more hotel rooms,” Beckman said. “With this expansion, we’ll be able to handle and accommodate more visitors than we ever have before. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, our guests can expect the right blend of attentive services and modern comfort that help them move toward a successful travel experience.”

When visitors enter their quarters, they will notice sleek décor and a relaxing ambiance emphasized by a muted color palette. Corporate professionals can efficiently finish assignments with expansive work desks and ergonomic chairs, while complimentary Wi-Fi and flat-panel TVs are available to help guests stay well-connected and entertained. Weary travelers can find some much-needed rest on pillow top mattresses with crisp linens, custom comforters and fluffy pillows. Guests can upgrade to the hotel’s home-inspired suites with private bedrooms and living rooms when more space is desired.

Not only is the Philadelphia Courtyard a popular choice among business travelers, but sports lovers will appreciate the hotel’s unbeatable location near the homes of Philadelphia’s favorite teams. Guests can easily walk to catch a professional baseball game at Citizens Bank Park, join the roaring crowd of football fans at Lincoln Financial Field and witness every slam dunk or slap shot at Wells Fargo Center. For golf enthusiasts, Franklin D. Roosevelt Golf Club is just a mile away.

Of course, no Philadelphia trip is complete without visiting the historic Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Travelers can hop abroad a downtown train via the AT&T Station, which is less than a mile from the hotel.

2017 Budweiser Made in America Festival: Jay Z, J. Cole, the Chainsmokers among the performers

May 1, 2017

Budweiser Made In America Festival Philadelphia

The sixth annual Budweiser Made in America Festival, curated by Jay-Z, has announced its lineup of performers. The event will take place at Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia on September 2 and September 3, 2017. will also have a livestream of the event.

Jay Z, J. Cole and The Chainsmokers are headlining the festival. Other performers will include Kaskade, Marshmello, Migos, Solange, Run the Jewels, Little Dragon, 21 Savage, Sampha, Cash Cash, R3hab, Pusha T, Vic Mensa, DMX, DJ Mustard, Marian Hill, Tiwa Savage, Getter, KYLE, Wizkid, Stormzy, Lizzo, Dirty South, Broods, Kelela, Francis and The Lights, Ugly God, Yung Lean, PnB Rock, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, Rob $Tone, Rapsody, Netsky, Green Velvet, Beach Slang, Salva, Burns, Jorja Smith, Vanic, THEY., Kap Slap, Devault, Nick Grant, Mt. Joy, Mannequin Pussy, Kodie Shane, Flor, Earthgang, Medasin, Tommy Genesis, Smino, Mozart La Para, Carter Winter, Maleek Berry, Karen Rodriguez, J.I.D, Busty & The Bass, Ari Lennox, Downtown Boys and Queen of Jeans.

This year’s concert will benefit both the ACLU of Pennsylvania and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.  A primary goal of this music festival is to have a positive impact on the communities involved.

Ticket Purchase Information
Tidal  members have access to an exclusive presale ahead of the general public beginning May 1, at 2 p.m. Eastern Time at

Citi is the official credit card of the Budweiser Made In America Festival. Citi cardmembers get access to presale tickets beginning on May 2 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time through May 4 at 10 p.m. Eastern Time.

The general public can purchase tickets at Ticketmaster, beginning May 5, at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. 

Legoland Discovery Center Philadelphia opens for business

April 6, 2017

Miniland at the Legoland Discovery Center at the Plymouth Meeting Mall in Philadelphia
Miniland at the Legoland Discovery Center at the Plymouth Meeting Mall in Philadelphia. (Photo courtesy of PREIT)

Legoland Discovery Center Philadelphia, an indoor family-friendly LEGO play experience, has opened at Plymouth Meeting Mall in Philadelphia. According to a press release from PREIT (the parent company of the shopping mall), Plymouth Meeting Mall’s Legoland Discovery Center is the only Legoland Discovery Center location in Pennsylvania. It is also just the fourth location on the East Coast, the ninth across the country, and the 17th in the world. The 33,000 square foot attraction offers the ultimate indoor Lego playground, featuring a first-of-its-kind Lego-themed ride; a 4D cinema; Miniland, a miniature replica of landmarks in Philadelphia; and more. It complements the mall’s existing innovative roster of tenants that includes Whole Foods Market and Dave & Buster’s.

PREIT CEO Joseph F. Coradino commented in a statement: “The mall environment a decade ago was vastly different from that of today, and tenants like Legoland Discovery Center further demonstrate how the mall industry continues to innovate and evolve. Our strategy is laser focused on diversifying our tenant base and enhancing the experience at our properties, introducing a variety of offerings that are new to our customers. By creating differentiated shopping environments for visitors that mirror their changing behaviors, PREIT is executing on its long-term strategy to add value to its shopping centers.”

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