Travel Expert and Radio Talk Show Host Stephanie Abrams - Travelers411 Travel Radio Shownotes
"Travelers411" Radio Show - October 30, 2010 - Show Archive

Choose Your Own Experience at The Chanler, Newport, Rhode Island; Watch Revolutionary, Gilded Age, and Naval History Unfold in Newport, Rhode Island; Renting Your Own Private Mansion for Weddings or Business, The Chanler, Newport, Rhode Island; See a Different Side of Boston With Entertainment Cruises, Boston, Massachusetts; The Caribbean With a French Touch at Hotel Le Toiny, St. Barths, French West Indies; Visiting Philadelphia and the Holiday Inn Historic District With Patrick Ryan, Talk1300 AM Reporter, Albany, New York.

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Hour 1

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Stephen Merriman, Director of Marketing, The Chanler at Cliff Walk, Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
www.thechanler.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show visit Newport during the low season and talk with Stephen Merriman, Director of Marketing for The Chanler at Cliff Walk hotel in Newport, Rhode Island. Although it's a little chilly for swimming, Stephanie thinks there's something romantic about visiting beach destinations in the winter. "There are no crowds, and when you go inside, there's a warm fire and a hot drink waiting for you," she says.

English tudor suite at The Chanler, Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
English tudor suite at The Chanler, Newport, Rhode Island, USA.

Stephen recalls his first visit to The Chanler at Cliff Walk. "Pulling up to the gate and seeing the mansion overlooking the water is really breathtaking," he says. "When I first saw the property, I thought I could feel right at home. After six months, I do; you're surrounded by history and elegance here." Stephanie adds that the hotel reminds her of some of Miami's newest hotels, which afford guests panoramic beach views.

The Spiced Pear restaurant at The Chanler, Newport, Rhode Island, US
The Spiced Pear restaurant at The Chanler, Newport, Rhode Island, USA.

The Chanler was built in 1873 as a summer home for John Winthrop Chanler. "Mr. Chanler was very smart and married Margaret Astor Ward, which gave him very deep pockets," Stephen explains. "This was his summer getaway – the first mansion built on Cliff Walk, about 20 years before The Breakers. It was a summer home for about 70 years, then went through several incarnations from 1913 to the late 1940s, when it became a hotel. The current owners purchased The Chanler in 2000 and completely refurbished the place to turn it into the 20-room hotel it is today."

The Williambsburg guest room at The Chanler, Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
The Williamsburg guest room at The Chanler, Newport, Rhode Island, USA.

Each of the 20 rooms is decorated in a different style, whether an historic period or theme. "The Gothic room makes you feel like a princess in a medieval castle," Stephen explains. "The wallpaper looks like the stone walls. The English Tudor room makes you feel like you're in Henry VIII's court, and the Renaissance room is really a tribute to the Italian Renaissance." His favorite is the Williamsburg, done in blue and white on a colonial theme. There are several different room categories: manor, staterooms (a bit larger), and signature (up to 600 square feet).

Front entrance to The Chanler, Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
Front entrance to The Chanler, Newport, Rhode Island, USA.

The Chanler also offers six villas; three in a floral style and three fashioned after Block Island, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard. "The villas overlook the ocean directly, so it's a breathtaking experience," says Stephen. "They also have double French doors that open to the water and a private courtyard overlooking Cliff Walk." To add to the private villa feel, there is very little signage around the hotel. "We wanted to make it feel like you're coming to a friend's estate, not to a hotel," he continues.

Related Photo Galleries:
Newport, Rhode Island, Tomgirl Tours Newport RI Photo Album

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2271

For more information visit www.thechanler.com


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Len Panaggio, Chairman, Newport and Bristol County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
www.gonewport.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show continue their visit to Newport with Len Panaggio, Chairman of the Newport and Bristol County Convention and Visitors Bureau in Newport, Rhode Island. Len was born and raised in Newport and still appreciates the natural beauty of the area. "Just last night I walked down to Sachuet Point National Wildlife Refuge in Middletown and watched the sun set and the moon rise," Len says.

Historic home in Newport Rhode Island, USA.
Historic home in Newport Rhode Island, USA.

The history of Newport goes back to the colonial era. "The city has the largest collection of pre-Revolutionary homes in America," Len says. "After the war, larger areas with more access to the hinterlands grew and tore down their historic houses. This didn't happen in Newport." Since the Revolution, the Gilded Age, U.S. Navy, harbor, and music have all figured prominently in the city's history.

Historic home in Newport Rhode Island, USA.
Dining room at the Hotel Viking in Newport Rhode Island.

"I grew up seeing the influence of the Navy; I would see the shore patrol cars on the corners on the weekends," Len says. "The Gilded Age is probably what Newport is known for as far as architecture. If you go down Cliff Walk, you're going to pass some of the grand estates built at the turn of the last century – really, some of the most spectacular houses ever built. Sailing has always been a mainstay here, thanks to the natural protection of Newport Harbor, and the jazz festival, now in its 50th year, put Newport on the music map."

Historic home in Newport Rhode Island, USA.
Historic home in Newport Rhode Island, USA.

Visitors can also enjoy golf, walking, wildlife-watching at Sachuet Point, and bicycling. "It's a great town to bike in, plus it's basically flat terrain, so it's easy to get around," Len explains. He recommends a visit to the White Horse Tavern, which was built in around 1676 and served as a gathering place, especially for local politicians. Today, the tavern is one of the oldest remaining buildings in Newport and continues to operate as a restaurant. "It's a very small building inside, so you start to appreciate that people back then were actually smaller than they are now," he adds.

Historic home in Newport Rhode Island, USA.
Historic home in Newport Rhode Island, USA.

Since Newport was the capital of Rhode Island until 1900, the city still claims the Colony House, the third oldest government building in the U.S. "As the state grew in population, Providence became the commercial center, so it made sense to put the state capital there," Len explains. "But the Colony House is a beautiful, beautiful building." Other local architectural gems include the synagogue, which opened in the 1760s thanks to a large merchant population, many of whom were Sephardic Jews, and the Redwood Library, the oldest operating library in America.

Historic home in Newport Rhode Island, USA.
Historic home in Newport Rhode Island, USA.

Many of Newport's historic homes were restored by the Newport Restoration Foundation. The foundation was organized by tobacco heiress Doris Duke, who summered at her home, Rough Point, at the end of Cliff Walk in Newport. "At the time of her father's death, [Duke] was a teenager and the wealthiest woman in America," Len continues. "Quite a few of the homes she restored are National Historic Landmarks, and since her death, the foundation continues to help the city." Newport was also the birthplace of Gilbert Stuart, who painted the portrait of George Washington that now graces the dollar bill.

Historic home in Newport Rhode Island, USA.
Historic home in Newport Rhode Island, USA.

Related Photo Galleries:
Newport RI Photo Album Castle Hill Inn, Rhode Island Hotel Viking, Newport, Rhode Island Castle Hill Inn, Newport, Rhode Island NYLO Hotel, Warwick, Rhode Island

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2275

For more information visit www.gonewport.com


Link to this segment

Christine Sullivan, General Manger, The Chanler at Cliff Walk, Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
www.thechanler.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show talk with Christine Sullivan, General Manager of The Chanler in Newport, Rhode Island. Christine has been at the hotel for four years and advises listeners to either pick a date and plan well in advance or be flexible, given that The Chanler has only twenty rooms and books fast. Stephanie thinks that the hotel's small size makes it perfect for events, whether family reunions or corporate meetings.

Front drive of The Chanler hotel in Newport Rhode Island, USA.
Front drive of The Chanler hotel in Newport Rhode Island, USA.

"We're one of the only properties in Newport where you can take over the whole thing," says Christine. "It's especially nice for weddings; the family takes over the whole mansion and it's as if we're closing the gates and turning away the public. We only have one bride at a time, so it's nice for the staff, too; as an hotelier, it's an opportunity to deliver personalized service. The doors to the guest rooms open and people start going back and forth in their robes, so it's really great for both guests and staff."

Christine Sullivan, General Manger, The Chanler, Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
Christine Sullivan, General Manger, The Chanler, Newport, Rhode Island, USA.

Business visitors can either take advantage of a small boardroom off the lobby or book The Chanler during the winter. "We have a very unique program starting in late November 2010," Christine explains. "For the winter season, we'll operate as normal on Friday and Saturday. From Sunday to Thursday, we'll be open exclusively for corporate clients. It's a very economical way to experience the beautiful view and magnificent facility in the off-season. And you don't have to take all 20 rooms; you can take as few as five. So if a board of directors wants a little escape, they can have the entire facility, even if it's just for a couple of people."

Related Photo Galleries:
The Chanler Hotel Newport RI Photo Album

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2274

For more information visit www.thechanler.com


Guests Include:

Stephen Merriman, Director of Marketing, The Chanler, Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
www.thechanler.com

Len Panaggio, Chairman, Newport and Bristol County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
www.gonewport.com

Christine Sullivan, General Manger, The Chanler at Cliff Walk, Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
www.thechanler.com

Hour 2

Topics Include:

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Bob Lawler, General Manager, Entertainment Crusies, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
www.entertainmentcruises.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show explore Boston Harbor with Bob Lawler, General Manager of Entertainment Cruises in Boston, Massachusetts. "So many people just spend their visit to Boston on land, but cruising is a way to explore the water around the city in an exciting and memorable way," says Stephanie. Entertainment Cruises has two vessels: the Odyssey and the Spirit of Boston.

Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Bob got his start as a deckhand when he was 18 years old. "It looked like a fun job and I wanted to be on the water, not mowing lawns," he recalls. "I worked my way up to captain and got my first full-time driving job in Chicago, on Lake Michigan. Then I drove the Spirit of Puget Sound in Seattle for just over a year and spent eight more years in Chicago. I transferred back to Boston in 2004." He assures listeners that "once you're in the business, you can call it driving the boat, the ship, whatever!"

Boston Harbor skyline banked in fog during the Volvo Ocean Race in 2009.
Boston Harbor skyline banked in fog during the Volvo Ocean Race in 2009.

He also reassures parents that starting as a deckhand does not mean you'll be a deckhand forever. "I have people working for me who started out as waiters and are now the head of food and beverage," he says. "You get your foot in the door at 18, find a great company, make sure you're willing to work hard, and you'll be rewarded. Working in the tourism and hospitality industry gives you the chance to go where the jobs are and take care of customers."

Boston Harbour.
Boston Harbour.

Bob recommends Entertainment Cruises not just to tourists, but to business travelers. "A boat is a fantastic venue for a sales presentation because you have a captive audience," he says. "Two or three hours isn't a huge time commitment, but it's a great way to get personal. There's no better venue in the city of Boston that has this kind of ever-changing atmosphere; the view is always changing and you can really see the city from the water. It's something you can't match anywhere, plus you can get to the nuts and bolts of what you're trying to accomplish."

Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

The Odyssey is licensed for 800 passengers and can seat 600 for dinner, while the Spirit of Boston is licensed for 600 and can seat 550. "They're huge boats, and they separate just like a hotel ballroom, so we can do private functions for as few as 50 people or as many as 600," Bob explains. The Odyssey is the more elegant, upscale ship, offering plated service, menus, and a live band. The Spirit of Boston has a more festive feel, with buffet service and deejays on board. Bob adds that "for corporate or social events, you can custom tailor either boat to what you want."

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2276

For more information visit www.entertainmentcruises.com


Link to this segment

Dagmar Lombard, General Manager, Hotel Le Toiny, St. Barths, French West Indies.
www.letoiny.com
www.relaischateaux.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show learn more about a Caribbean cruise destination with Dagmar Lombard, General Manager of Hotel Le Toiny in St. Barths, French West Indies. Although St. Barths is one of Stephanie's favorite destinations, offering what she describes as "sophistication at the most relaxed level," many travelers only spend a few hours on the island when their cruise ship docks.

Hotel Le Toiny, St. Barths, French West Indies.
Hotel Le Toiny, St. Barths, French West Indies.

Dagmar operates the hotel along with her husband, Guy. The couple took over three years ago after they were recruited from Kasbah Tamadot, Richard Branson's retreat in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. "Being in Morocco was an adventure, a great pleasure," says Dagmar. "When I talk about it, I have a very warm feeling. Richard is a character, but he's a great man and I had a great time working with him and his whole team." Prior to living in Morocco, Dagmar worked at the Plaza Athenee in Paris.

Hotel Le Toiny, St. Barths, French West Indies.
Hotel Le Toiny, St. Barths, French West Indies.

Hotel Le Toiny was recently acquired by a group of U.S.-based investors who hired Dagmar and Guy to renovate the hotel and bring a fresh spirit to the property. "We visited before saying yes, because we had never been to St. Barths," says Dagmar. "We had a very positive experience. The people were very friendly, and the island is small – it's only 9 square miles – but it has that French feeling and everything is very accessible and secure. I was also impressed by the food; there are so many great restaurants."

Hotel Le Toiny, St. Barths, French West Indies.
Hotel Le Toiny, St. Barths, French West Indies.

The hotel is on the southeast tip of the island, near Point Toiny. It's unclear where the 'Toiny' name came from, but the hotel was originally opened in 1992 by a French-Korean team. "They had the great idea to build a property for the North American traveler who likes peace and quiet, total privacy, and good service," Dagmar explains. "We're not quite feet-in-the-sand, but we have great ocean views. Our corner of the island is one of the still-untouched coastlines and we have 38 acres of greenery that's very tropical."

Hotel Le Toiny, St. Barths, French West Indies.
Hotel Le Toiny, St. Barths, French West Indies.

"We have 15 villa suites, all individually built," Dagmar continues. "We're quite small, un petit bijou [a little gem], but the accommodations themselves are about 1,200 square feet." All villas have private pools. From Hotel Le Toiny, guests can walk to Toiny Beach, which has a natural coastline. The main town on St. Barths is 20 minutes by taxi, but many guests rent cars in order to explore the island and sample the different restaurants. Thanks to its French heritage, the island has plenty of French-influenced cuisine, in addition to sushi and Italian food.

Hotel Le Toiny, St. Barths, French West Indies.
Hotel Le Toiny, St. Barths, French West Indies.

Dagmar urges guests to come for at least three days; the average stay at Le Toiny is six nights. Visitors can fly from the east coast of the U.S. to St. Maarten and take a prop plane from there, or travelers can connect through San Juan. "When I flew in the first time, I was totally scared, but the pilots are very well-trained and the landing strip here is small but safe," Dagmar says. "Of course, there's always the ferry, but that takes 45 minutes, while the flight is only 15 minutes."

Related Photo Galleries:
Castle Hill Inn, Rhode Island Castle Hill Inn, Rhode Island

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2278

For more information visit www.letoiny.com and www.relaischateaux.com


Link to this segment

Patrick Ryan, Contributor, Talk1300AM, Albany, New York, USA.
www.talk1300.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show check in with Patrick Ryan, Reporter for Talk1300AM in Albany, New York. Patrick recently stayed at the Holiday Inn Historic District in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and reports back to Stephanie on his trip.

Holiday Inn Historic District in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Holiday Inn Historic District in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

"I can't wait to go back to Philadelphia," Patrick says. "The Holiday Inn Historic District has just terrific people and is centrally located, so it was walking distance to so many great things. It was a couple blocks to the Constitution Center, Liberty Bell, and Betsy Ross's house. If you have little ones, you've got to start at the Franklin Institute. It's very hands-on and you could spend an entire day there."

Holiday Inn Historic District in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Holiday Inn Historic District in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

When it comes time to eat, Patrick can't recommend the Reading Terminal on Marketplace Street enough. "It's a delicious place to go for lunch because there are so many different kinds of food and shops," he says. "I had to have a Philly cheesesteak – although I had lettuce on mine – and there were some terrific sweets." He also spoke with Dahlia Palmer at the Holiday Inn, who directed him to a shopping area on South Street near the seaport museum.

Holiday Inn Historic District in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Holiday Inn Historic District in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Patrick's only regret is not listening more carefully to the concierge. "I got a little parking ticket because the signs are only clear if you live in Philadelphia," he says. "If the concierge says to take a taxi, you should listen. Otherwise, it's a fabulous city with terrific food, and being in the historic district means you're just blocks away from everything wonderful, historic, and educational that Philly has to offer. It's not too far from Albany, New York, and Boston, plus there was parking right at the hotel."

Related Photo Galleries:
AACA in Hershey PA

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2279

For more information visit www.talk1300.com


Fun Facts:

Jimmy Buffett wrote the song "Cheeseburger in Paradise" about Le Select, a 60-year-old burger place on St. Barths.


Guests Include:

Bob Lawler, General Manager, Entertainment Crusies, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
www.entertainmentcruises.com

Dagmar Lombard, General Manager, Hotel Le Toiny, St. Barths, French West Indies.
www.letoiny.com
www.relaischateaux.com

Patrick Ryan, Contributor, Talk1300AM, Albany, New York, USA.
www.talk1300.com

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