Travel Expert and Radio Talk Show Host Stephanie Abrams - Travelers411 Travel Radio Shownotes
"Travelers411" Radio Show - November 13, 2010 - Show Archive

Escape to a Former Jail at The Liberty Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts; Ride Fences, Drive Cattle, and Have a Gourmet Meal and Hot Tub Soak at Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana; Stephanie Recommends the Film "Made in Degenham."

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Hour 1

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Rachel Moniz, General Manager, The Liberty Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
www.libertyhotel.com
www.mtmluxurylodging.com

Click here to listen to Rachel Moniz from The Liberty Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts, USA interviewed by Stephanie Abrams without commercials.
Listen to this segment, commercial-free featuring: Rachel Moniz from The Liberty Hotel.

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show escape with Rachel Moniz, General Manager of The Liberty Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. The Liberty Hotel is part of MTM Luxury Lodging, which also has five properties in Washington State and one hotel in Napa Valley. Although this is their first meeting, Stephanie is confident that Rachel and The Liberty will be spectacular. "There are very few women who are general managers; the field is male-dominated," Stephanie explains. "So when I meet a woman who's a general manager, I know she's something special."

The Liberty Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
The Liberty Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Rachel originally planned to become a teacher. "I was staying in a hotel while looking for a teaching job and became friends with the people at the front desk," she explains. "The front desk manager eventually offered me a job, I was promoted within a few months, and I never looked back." Stephanie points out that many parents discourage their children from careers in tourism or hospitality because they fear their kids will be behind the front desk forever, while in fact many hotel and tourism companies offer opportunities to rise within a company, right up to the top.

The Liberty Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
The Liberty Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

The Liberty Hotel is unique in that it was once a jail. After a $124 million renovation, it is now a jail that visitors can leave on their own terms. "The jail was completely renovated, but we kept a lot of the 'jailness,'" Rachel explains. "The old drunk tank is now the bar, Alibi, and up on the wall are celebrity mugshots and their alibis. It's really fun, really tongue-in-cheek. The restaurant is called CLINK. and still has pieces of the historic jail cells." Although there are 18 guest rooms in the original building, there are an additional 280 rooms in a brand-new tower addition.

The Liberty Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
The Liberty Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Between the two sections, there are 298 guest rooms, including ten suites. The Presidential Suite overlooks Ebersol Field and is dedicated to Teddy Ebersol, a Red Sox fan who died tragically in a plane crash. The Liberty partnered with the Red Sox to decorate the suite, which is filled with team memorabilia. Rachel also suggests sampling the hotel's lounges and dining opportunities.

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

Besides CLINK. and Alibi, guests can dine at chef Lydia Shire's Scampo (Italian for 'escape'), which has Italian food with a twist, or relax at the Liberty Bar. Rachel encourages guests to come to the nightly Liberty Affairs, which are complimentary for guests and Bostonians. On Margate Mondays, chef Joseph Margate does a cooking demonstration with a wine pairing. Tuesday nights are Gallery Nights, where local art galleries set up exhibitions in the hotel. Wednesdays and Thursdays feature jazz and fashion shows, respectively. "All affairs are free; we want our guests to feel special and part of something that's bigger than your typical box," says Rachel.

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

The complimentary offerings don't end there; guests can also make use of the fastest WiFi in the city (according to Rachel) without having to pay extra. "We have all the bells and whistles," Rachel says. "We just don't think we should nickel and dime guests." Stephanie points out that WiFi is an asset to both business and leisure travelers. "When you factor it into the price of the hotel, it gives you an even better value," she says.

Related Photo Galleries:
Chef Bobby Moore Hotel 1000 Sagecliffe Woodmark Hotel

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2255

For more information visit www.libertyhotel.com and www.mtmluxurylodging.com


Travel Tips:

Parking at city hotels can range from $20 to $60 per night, with extra charges for valet service. Stephanie suggests looking for hotels with free parking or simply seeing the city without a car. "If you don't have to pay parking fees on top of the hotel rate, that's going to bring the cost down by $35 a night, on average," she says. "If you're landing in a big city, another thing to do is just pick up the car on your last day in that city."

On street parking at Boston's Hotel Commonwealth.
On street parking at Boston's Hotel Commonwealth.

Stephanie appreciates certain amenities at a hotel: a doorman, to help carry baggage from a taxi into the hotel; hair dryers, which are usually in the bathroom or the closet; irons and ironing boards; and a full-length mirror that can be tilted at different angles.

Train travel in Germany. Travel Expert Stepanie Abrams (L).
Train travel in Germany. Travel Expert Stepanie Abrams (L).

When traveling in Europe, Stephanie suggests going by train. Travelers crossing the continent will benefit from a Eurail pass, while those visiting only one country can buy a pass from that country's rail system. The most important thing, according to Stephanie, is to buy train tickets before leaving the U.S., which is often much cheaper than buying tickets on-site. She also recommends taking trains with names, which are often better kept, more upscale, and travel faster.

Downtown Dublin, Ireland.
Downtown Dublin, Ireland.

On a recent trip from Dublin to London via ferry, train, and taxi, Stephanie lost her camera. She left her information on the BritRail and Lost Property Office websites and contacted the London police. Happily, the Lost Property Office emailed to say that the camera had been found; unfortunately, Stephanie has three months to visit the office in London, identify the camera, and bring it home.

Cliveden House in Taplow, Berkshire, England, UK.
Cliveden House in Taplow, Berkshire, England, UK.

Stephanie's solution was to contact her hotel in London. "You can talk to the general manager of the hotel and arrange for someone there to identify your found item and pay the administrative fee to the Lost Property Office. The hotel can then either keep the item in its safe or ship it to you," Stephanie explains. "You can always let the hotel charge your credit card for all of this, and you may also want to reimburse them for their time and effort."

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams meets a family in Mykonos, Greece.
Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams meets a family in Mykonos, Greece.

Update:  As of press time, the camera equipment was successfully recovered, in-tact!  A tribute to the honesty of a British taxi driver and the lost-and-claims system in the UK.

While traveling, sometimes the shortest encounters are the most memorable. Stephanie recalls meeting one fellow in the taxi queue at London's Euston Station. "There were about fifteen people ahead of us, and the man next to me said, 'My wife couldn't handle this; she's drunk all the time,'" she says. "He added that he was just trying to cheer me up, because I looked very tired. He offered to have me over in Wales for whiskey. He said he doesn't get many visitors, but likes living quietly in the mountains. When people knock, he asks where they're from, and if they're English, he slams the door! The encounter was under three minutes in the taxi line, but it's something I'll remember for years."


Guests Include:

Rachel Moniz, General Manager, The Liberty Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
www.libertyhotel.com
www.mtmluxurylodging.com

Hour 2

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

Bill McConnell, General Manager, Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.
www.triplecreekranch.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show explore the open range with Bill McConnell, General Manager of Triple Creek Ranch in Darby, Montana. Triple Creek Ranch is a member of Relais & Chateaux. The property is a combination of fine Western art and rugged scenery; log cabin exteriors and luxurious interiors.

Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.
Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.

"When you arrive, you drive past fields with horses and a small herd of bison," Bill says. "We have some pregnant mares that will foal next spring, and the bison will have calves. You'll come up the lane, into the lodge, and be greeted by art from some very famous Western genre artists, including Larry Pirnie, and a collection from Frederick Remington and Charles Russell, two of the grand masters of Western art." The ranch frequently hosts artists' weekends. Each one of its 23 guest cabins is decorated with original art, too.

Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.
Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.

"The 23 log cabins are decorated in their own styles," Bill continues. "In Nez Perce, for example, there's a Native American theme that comes from that tribe. Castle Rock, named after a local mountain, is our honeymoon suite, and has a lot of fine art. All of our luxury cabins have private hot tubs, but Castle Rock has an indoor hot tub. Each accommodation has a fully-stocked wet bar and fridge. We can also provide anything guests might need – if you come in late at night, we can provide snacks, although 'snack' is an understatement, just like calling the accommodations 'cabins.'"

Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.
Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.

The average guest stay at the Triple Creek Ranch is 4 or 5 days. Forty percent of visitors are repeat guests. "When someone visits the first time, they realize that there's so much to do and see that it takes time and time again," Bill explains. "We had a lady check out today from her twenty-first visit!" Travelers may have a certain impression of Montana, but the ranch is located in the state's 'banana belt,' according to Bill.

Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.
Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.

"We're on the banks of the west fork of the Bitterroot River, in the Bitterroot Valley, in the Bitterroot Mountains," he says. "We're right in the midst of the mountains, so we're sheltered from most of the weather that affects eastern Montana. Here, there's plenty of sunshine and relatively mild winters." The nearest city is Missoula, with 60,000 people. The ranch is 70 miles south of Missoula on Highway 93; visitors just have to remember to make a right turn about 10 miles after passing through Darby.

Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.
Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.

Bill and his wife, Leslie, have lived in Montana for two years. Before moving West, they operated their own business in western Pennsylvania. Why move to Montana? "The owners of Triple Creek Ranch are Craig and Barbara Barrett – my sister and brother-in-law," Bill explains. "When our second child graduated from high school, we were about to go home to an empty house. But the previous managers – who were at the ranch for 26 years – wanted to retire, so Craig and Barbara invited us out to apply our business skills to the property."

Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.
Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.

The ranch aims for rustic elegance. "We want the accommodations to be overwhelmingly comfortable and polished, with every detail looked after," Bill says. "At the same time, guests should be overwhelmed by the scenery, horseback riding, skiing, fly fishing, the adventure of going out onto CB Ranch (our sister ranch, which has 26,000 acres) and looking for herds of elk, golden and bald eagles, and wolves. We want to immerse everybody in what Montana has to offer as a vast wilderness and top it all off with luxury accommodations, gourmet food, and a soak in a hot tub that's pre-heated to 104 degrees."

Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.
Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.

Surprisingly, the topography of Montana is not too different from that of western Pennsylvania. The difference, according to Bill, is that the Bitterroot Mountains get up to 11,000 feet in altitude instead of 3,000. Instead of white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, and moose roam the area. Visitors to Triple Creek are encouraged to explore the land and help out on the ranch by moving cattle or riding fences. Not only is the area quintessentially Western in appearance, it also has historical significance. "Lewis and Clark walked right through this valley, and it has a lot of gold rush and Native American history," Bill points out.

Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.
Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.

On top of the natural wonders is an extensive wine cellar to go with the gourmet cuisine. "I defy anyone in New York to get fresher trout or bison," Bill says. "Beyond that, our goal is to have the finest seafood and fresh vegetables. Shipping those things in is a substantial expense, but not one that we spare." The Triple Creek menu ranges from exotic seafood to red meat to vegetarian options; the chef can even accommodate gluten-free diets and other restrictions.

Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.
Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.

Most travelers arrive in Missoula, which is home to the University of Montana and a classic college town. On their way to Darby and the ranch, visitors pass almost the whole length of the Bitterroot Valley, which features awe-inspiring scenery and wildlife refuges. "We're right at the base of Trapper Peak, the highest mountain in the Bitterroots," Bill adds. "Our guests often hike up to the summit, at 10,157 feet; there's a beautiful Alpine setting up there." He reassures Stephanie that guests can drive up to 7,000 feet and hike the last 3,000, past three secluded mountain lakes.

Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.
Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.

Even if visitors are not seasoned hikers, Bill encourages everyone to try out new things at Triple Creek Ranch. "We get people out here who maybe have only ridden a few times," he says, "but our head wrangler talks to them, starts them off with patting the horses, and before they know it, they're on a cattle drive or riding up over the ridges. Last winter, we broke the ice and forded a stream on horseback, then rode into town and went for pizza and beer. Once we went out the morning after a lightning storm and found a tree on fire, so we all worked to put it out, came back and had a drink, and talked about it the rest of the evening."

Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.
Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.

Travel Tips: Stephanie highly recommends the film "Made in Degenham," which opens in Los Angeles and New York in November 2010 and across the country by December 17, 2010. The film is based on a true story about women who worked in the Ford manufacturing plant in Degenham, England. Although the women sewed all the leather upholstery for the cars made at the factory, they were considered unskilled workers and paid half as much as men with similar jobs.

Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.
Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.

"Through a great effort, they were able to get the salaries brought up," Stephanie recounts. "It's a film about one woman's courage, conviction, and persistence. It's really a remarkable story for what it has to say about women in the labor force and how it changed the way that Ford treated women, not just in England, but worldwide." Though Stephanie recommends the film for everyone, she cautions that there is some salty language that would not be appropriate at your grandmother's dinner table.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1331

For more information visit www.triplecreekranch.com


Guests Include:

Bill McConnell, General Manager, Relais & Chateaux Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana, USA.
www.triplecreekranch.com

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