Showing posts from January, 2010

Worthwhile Present and Incredible Future at Club Med Sandpiper

Though I have been to more all- inclusives than I can count, I was a Club Med virgin.   Everyone told me that Club Med Sandpiper wasn’t the best example for my “first,” but when the opportunity to go there presented itself, I really wanted to give it a try. There are many reasons why Club Med Sandpiper isn’t a good example of the company, which began in 1950 as the first all-inclusive chain and now has 57 resorts around the world.  They didn’t originally include drinks as part of the plan and the idea was for minimal furnishings and group dining.   They have evolved over the years, altering plans to include drinks and less communal meals.   They have also continually renovated resorts.  And Club Med Sandpiper  is last on the list. For awhile, it looked like they weren’t going to keep the only remaining (there used to be a resort in Colorado) Club Med on U.S. soil,  but this complex in St. Lucie, Florida was meant to stay.  The plan changed with the idea that this property w

Distinct Spirits from North Shore Distillery

I met Sonja Kassebaum for a weekend of bar-hopping run in downtown Champaign.  This wasn’t an exhibition of partying, it was two night of discovering.  The discoverer was me and it was the spirits of North Shore Distillery that I was learning (and tasting).  You see, this isn’t a company where you just walk through a distillery and taste their products, North Shore Distillery does the traveling and brings the adventure to you. The husband and wife team of Sonja and Derek Kassebaum own and operate North Shore Distillery, an artisanal distillery located in a Chicago suburb of Illinois.   They started six years ago and have put their time into making quality products in this small distillery.  They are hands on with everything, including Sonja’s picking of the herbs for the gin.  She readily admits that “Grey Goose makes in one day what we do in six years.”  There is another who makes the spirits of North Shore possible --  Ethel, the 250 liter copper still that was hand-crafte

Visiting the beauty of Traverse City & its wine

Where can you find blue waters like the Caribbean, wineries reminiscent of Napa, chateaus that belong in France, food as varied as the Big Apple and skiing you'd expect in the mountains?  In Michigan, of all places. Traverse City , Michigan to be specific. As a New Yorker now living in the Midwest, I am constantly surprised by what the world around Lake Michigan has to offer and I was definitely not prepared for what I could find in Traverse City.  The drive through Illinois and Indiana has become a bit more familiar to me and I had even ventured into some of the Wolverine state, but I was prepared for the beauty as I headed north.  The winding rounds and hills gave way to crystal clear water as I entered Traverse City . Spring through fall, Traverse City looks like it could be any beach town, with resorts lining the miles of sand and fishing boats docked where the jet skis and boogie boards aren’t.  In the winter, it all gives way downhill and cross country skiing, snowbo

Hope for Haiti – And a Friend

update 4/11/10- Jaimee remained in Haiti to teach and help the locals after the earthquake.  She came back to the U.S. last month to visit family and friends, and to collect donations of money, clothing and other items to bring back.  She is having difficulty getting enough to get back there and still have money to buy food when she is there, especially with the airline baggage fees.  Donations of airline miles would be greatly appreciated.  Contact me for details. update 1/18/10 9:00 am-I heard from Jaimee this morning! She is not on Les Cayes, but on a remote island past there. She made it to Les Cayes on Friday and found everything closed, but there was a company giving out cell phones for free use Monday & Tuesday. She had no idea things were turning worse on Port au Prince or have gotten so bad on Les Cayes -- the only place she can get to by boat. Now, it's a matter of getting her off or getting supplies on. With the bad connection, I could not even get the name o

Cognac in Cognac

My first venture into the world of spirits travel came just a few months ago as I had the good fortune to be invited on a press trip to Cognac, France . We were quite a group -- journalists specializing in spirits (and/or travel) and representatives from the four major cognac producers. The trip began in the lounge of British Airways at JFK, where we met for the first time to embark on our weeklong journey. I would highly recommend Open Skies , as an affordable all business class alternative to Paris , with comfortable seats and excellent food. It was my first venture into Paris’ Orly airport and I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly we were out of there and on a bus to Montparnasse train station. From Montparnasse in downtown Paris, you can reach Angouleme on the high speed train in about three hours. From there it’s just a scenic 30 minute ride to Cognac, where our first night was at Chateau de L’Yeuse, a quaint and beautiful accommodation where we could have tea o

Traveling through the Wine and Spirits

After many years as a (magazine, web and book) tennis writer, I found myself without full time work in that field in 2008.  I was lucky enough that I had the experience and opportunity to continue my work as a writer, but I needed an additional niche to fill my schedule (not to mention my pocketbook).  I stumbled upon the obvious one purely by accident. Let me begin with the beginning. I have been a writer for as long as I can remember, working for magazines even while I was a “kid” in school.  One of the things I did to push my career forward was to join the staff of the C.W. Post Pioneer .   It was a wonderful experience to be on the newspaper staff then (where I worked my way to Managing Editor), but it led to an even more exciting opportunity now. In January of 2008, there was a reunion at C.W. Post of past editors of the newspaper and magazines.  I hadn’t seen anyone in years so I thought it might be fun.  It was by chance that I met former fellow Pioneer editor Frank Col