21c Museum Hotel Opens in Durham

The 21c Museum Hotel Group has done it again. This time opening a contemporary design hotel in downtown Durham, NC. This makes it fourth (4th) hotel with this fast growing boutique hotel group, that knows how to cater to its ever-growing audience. Using the same format that has been used with its other hotels,  they adapted a famous city structure, the Hill Building, located at 111 N. Corcoran Street in downtown Durham (919.956.6700) The Hill Building, originally built in 1937, brings together contemporary design with historic Art Deco.

There are two things that you can count on with this hotel: a beautiful hotel experience (the combination of contemporary art with the restored building), and a great dining experience at the Counting House restaurant.  So, if you are in the Research Triangle area, this is definitely the place that you will want to stay, at least for a while. Read more details in this release.

March 16, 2015 – 21c Museum Hotels announces the opening of its fourth property in downtown Durham (111 N. Corcoran Street; 919.956.6700). 21c Durham is an adaptive reuse of the Hill Building, one of the city’s most iconic structures originally built in 1937. Bringing new life to the building, the property mixes contemporary design with historic Art Deco details and offers 10,500 square feet of contemporary art exhibition space open free of charge to the public, a 125-room boutique hotel and Counting House restaurant. “Downtown Durham is energized with art, culture, education and a dining scene that has been recognized as one of the best in the South,” said Steve Wilson, CEO and Founder of 21c Museum Hotels. “21c Museum Hotels is about contemporary art, warm hospitality, local food, and community. We strive to build not just great places to eat, drink and spend the night, but cultural centers that help reinvigorate urban areas. The revitalization efforts underway in Durham have produced amazing results and we aim to enhance those efforts as we open today and to offer an additional resource for art, social engagement and civic conversations.”

Art at 21c Contemporary art is at the heart of the 21c experience. The company was founded by Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, contemporary art collectors and preservationists who believe in the power of innovative and thought-provoking art to transform communities. 21c Durham presents rotating solo and group exhibitions, site-specific installations and a full roster of cultural programming curated by Museum Director Alice Gray Stites. The property features seven permanent site-specific installations integrated into a variety of spaces around and within the building. Collectively titled Reflecting Transformation, these works reference nature, technology, economics, politics and entertainment to illuminate the evolution of the past into a future-focused present. Works include Duke Riley’s It Will Warm You Twice, a large-scale mosaic made of cigarettes and mini cigars that references the ubiquitous role that tobacco has played in the development and history of Durham, as well as the decline of its influence. Other artists featured are Andrew Erdos, Astrid Krogh, Ned Kahn, Claire Shegog, FUTURERETRIEVAL (Katie Parker and Guy Michael Davis) and Leslie Lyons and JB Wilson. The property’s inaugural exhibition Pop Stars! (on view through August) is a multi-media exploration of popular culture a decade and a half into the 21st Century featuring more than 100 works by an international group of artists. Appropriating images and practices from celebrity, commerce, science, politics, religion, sports, and technology, these artists illuminate recent shifts in how culture is being created and consumed. Featured artists include Sanford Biggers, Wang Du, Nick Cave, Ebony Patterson, Mickalene Thomas, Deitrich Wegner, Robert Wilson, Adriana Duque and José Maria Cano. Docent tours of current exhibitions and site-specific installations are offered free of charge to the public on Wednesdays and Fridays at 5:00 pm.

Meetings & Events The property’s museum space doubles as meeting and event space, and can accommodate a wide variety of events from board retreats and intimate cocktail parties to a reception-style wedding for 350. The Main Gallery, located in the old banking hall, offers a dramatic background with original wood paneling, terrazzo flooring, velvet drapery and LED globe chandeliers. The Vault, located in the historic bank vault on the lower level, offers a unique and immersive experience featuring lounge seating, a site specific art commission, and historic vault door and safety deposit boxes.

Guestrooms 21c Durham offers a variety of guestroom types featuring original terrazzo flooring and abundant natural light. Art Deco windows and steel accents are married with a simple materials palette in grey tones and copper details. The 21c Suite, a one bedroom suite occupying the entire 15th floor, features custom designed furniture, an expansive private terrace with a soaking tub, en suite bathroom with standing shower and double vanity sinks, powder room and wet bar. Rates for a standard double start at $199. Hotel Packages To celebrate the opening of its newest property, 21c is offering a selection of packages designed to help guests experience Durham like a local. Introductory packages include: · The Brewery Package allows guests a chance to experience Durham’s thriving beer culture. The package includes: o 21c Faves local brewery guide o Bar snack + local beer tasting for two at Counting House restaurant o Beer book from the 21c Museum Shop · The Durham Double Feature encourages guests to explore Durham’s arts and culture scene with a visit to the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. The package includes: o Two tickets to the Nasher o A $100 credit towards dinner at Counting House o Two ‘Do Not Feed The Art’ t-shirts from the 21c Museum Shop.

Restaurant The property is also home to Counting House, a modern restaurant and lounge helmed by Executive Chef Josh Munchel. A showcase for high-quality seasonal ingredients, Counting House presents a global perspective on regional dishes and celebrates North Carolina’s rich heritage of fresh seafood with menus that feature rotisserie and roasting techniques. The bar and lounge is a welcoming place to taste innovative house-made cocktails, sip aperitifs, sample local craft brews, and explore bourbon and wine lists. Counting House occupies a space that was originally the Ellis Stone department store. Designed by Deborah Berke Partners, the space aims to fully engage diners by bringing the constant buzz of activity in its open kitchen into full view, with a chef’s table nearby offering a front-row seat for curious and culinary-minded guests. The interior also features a graduated ceiling starting with soaring heights of 23 feet and gradually lowering toward the heart of the restaurant, enhancing the space’s intimate character. The restaurant also features site-specific contemporary art installations and rotating exhibitions.

Write a Winning 200 Word Essay, and Win a Bed & Breakfast in Maine

Yes, you read it correctly. There is a B&B that is on the market, not for money, but for anyone who wishes to write a 200 word essay, and include a $125 fee.  It is a 200 year old inn that sits on 12 acres, and is worth nearly $1million dollars.

To win this contest, you have to be willing to write a powerful essay that will standout from all the other entries. If you love to write, this could be an outstanding opportunity for you to flex your writing muscles, and demonstrate your passion for why you wish to be the owner of this  B&B.

Even if you don’t wish to participate in the contest, it is still fun to think about it. B&B’s are romantic, and they take us back in time to when we didn’t need to be  connected to equipment, but instead enjoy the company of others, while appreciating the beauty of our surroundings.

Read the details in the article posted yesterday in the Money section of Today. Get your thoughts and tablet fired up. Who knows… you could be the lucky winner. Just remember to invite me, since I passed this information along to you.


Dining Alone: The Joy of Solitude


After being on the road for many years, the concept of dining alone is not something I ever quite got accustomed to. I always felt a bit self-conscious and nervous. Why? I asked myself. I am a perfectly confident person, but there is something about entering a restaurant alone that makes me feel uneasy.

One day, while having lunch with some friends, I noticed people who entered alone. As each guest  arrived at the hostess station, the hostess blurted out  ” Table for one!”  You could hear that screech across the room. I am positive that the hostess didn’t mean to do anything improper, but, I could tell each time, that the person felt embarrassed. So, it made me think. Why do diners need to feel embarrassed about dining alone? First of all, a decent percentage of the population is single, and so dining alone should not carry the stigma that it once  did.  We have to be able to change with the times, and make dining alone something that is part of our ever changing culture.  Here are 5 tips for making it work for you.

1.  Insist upon a good table, preferably one next to a window. Use the window location to do some serious people watching. Watching others as they pass by the restaurant gives your eyes something to focus on, and usually, you will be entertained by what you see.

2. Don’t allow anyone to seat you next to the kitchen or bathrooms. Even if the restaurant is crowded, stand your ground on this one. If you sit at a poor table, it will make you feel as though you are being punished for coming alone. This will ruin an otherwise pleasant dining experience.

3. Engage the hostess in conversation as you are being seated. This is a small trick that tends to work well. Say something nice and pleasant. Even give a compliment. You will be surprised at how it improves where you are seated.

4. Order all the food and drinks at once. Sometimes servers feel that 1-top tables are going to be a waste of their time. They have to stop at the table multiple times to get the order, and to bring the food and the check. Therefore, to ensure great service, tell the wait person you need a few minutes. When they return, order everything that you may want, including drinks and dessert at once. The server will love you for that, and you will get great service.

5. Have your smart phone ready.  It is now considered totally acceptable for people to go to restaurants and not speak to one another as they are texting, searching the web or even talking on the phone. Therefore, you can simply “join the crowd” and pull out your smart phone and read the paper, look at emails, or whatever you choose to do. Try to avoid talking on the phone though. I still find that to be gently annoying.

If you follow these tips, you might realize that eating alone isn’t as bad as one might think. With practice, you may start to enjoy the solitude.

Consider a Golf Resort for Your Next Vacation: 5 Tips That Will Assist You in Planning

Photo courtesy of: Loew's Ventana Canyon Resort
Photo courtesy of: Loews Ventana Canyon Resort

Before I became a golfer, I was intrigued with golf resorts. It seemed as though the resorts had a particular panache that I liked. When my husband and I travelled, I would frequently select these resorts. What I discovered, even though I was not a golfer, was that I was never disappointed.

In recent years, golf has become more popular. Look at all the people who spend time watching golf matches on TV. As early as ten (10) years ago, that was virtually un-heard of, except by your grandparents. Now the sport is more lively, and the professional players are wearing sponsored clothing that makes them look “hip.” All of these changes has helped to re-define the hospitality  industry, and to encourage hackers like myself to get out there and to keep trying, while staying in luxurious accommodations.

Here are some tips to consider when planning a trip to a golf resort. Remember, you don’t have to be a “player” just act like one.

1.  Location, location, location. We have to admit that there are simply parts of the country and the world that are better suited to playing golf. Don’t limit yourself to Florida, Arizona, or California. You can find some of the most intriguing resorts with the best courses in the Carrbean, Portugal, Spain, and of course Ireland. (See the listing below. This is not meant to be a comprehensive listing, but a starting point for your consideration).

2.Determine the best resorts and courses for the area in which you would like to stay. This can be a bit tricky. In some cases, you can look at an outstanding resort, but when you read the fine print, it says that it has “access” to a nearby golf course. You will want to check and see the distance and whether or not the resort provides transportation.  You will want to look at course statistics, and who designed the course. Also, just like everything else in the travel industry, there are reviews regarding the course. Make sure that you check those out prior to making your final decision.

3. Examine the resort amenities and activities This is important if you are travelling with a person who is not a golfer. You want to make sure that they are able to have fun, while you are on the course. Although amenities and services are listed, I suggest that you contact the hotel directly and speak with the concierge, who can make arrangements based upon the needs of your traveling partner. You will want to check out the number and types of restaurants that are on property. Identify what kind of reviews the restaurants receive. What type of pool (s) does the property have? Enquire about any concerts or festivals that will occur at the time of your visit, and make arrangements to enhance your visit.

4. Special Packages  Often the resort will have special package rates for those who plan to play golf. You can find these special rates online. However, I have had greater success in contacting the hotel directly and letting them know that I wish to come for several days to play golf. Then begin to ask for what you want. I usually begin with a room upgrade.  Ask if there is a special package rate for golfers. Determine what is part of the rate. Secure the package if you plan to play 18 holes every day; however, if you plan to play only 9 holes, you may find it better to go for an abbreviated package that you develop with the hotel. If the latter is the case, see if you can construct a package of x amount of rounds of 9 holes of golf, practice time, plus breakfast. Don’t be afraid to ask.  You may be surprised at how well it turns out.

5. Schedule Tee-times in advance  As soon as you have made your decision regarding the specific property, contact the ProShop to arrange for your tee-time, and/or training time. If you need to change it once you arrive, that is okay. I’ve seen too many people get very upset when they arrive at a location and cannot get onto the course at their desired time.  Remember, you are not the only person on vacation. This is where a little planning will serve you well. Playing golf is always a thrill, but when you can do it at an outstanding resort, it is the icing on the cake. I have selected 10 resorts that are “over the top” in terms of their beauty, stylishness, service delivery, activities, and golf course ratings. They do not appear in any particular order. As you peruse the listing, I am confident that  you  find something that strikes your fancy.

10 of the Best Golf Resorts 

Book Next Vacation While Shopping at Costco or Sams Club?


It’s almost spring, and time to get started planning your next trip. How you elect to book your trip, may prove to be as important as your overall planning process. If you are somewhat flexible, and are willing to go with “packages”, then you may be in for a surprise. It’s called, booking with your  wholesale retail stores. You may think that this idea is a bit outrageous, but  I found that it has merits.

Major wholesale retail businesses like,  Costco and Sam’s Club have gotten into this market. Costco has been doing it for several years, and Sam’s Club just entered the market in 2014. They work the travel services as they do all other services that they bring to their customers. Partnering with hotels, rental car companies, and cruise lines, they are able to bring together significant packages. I can hear the “saving bell ringing.”

I wanted to “test” this out. So I went to each of there websites, and inserted a point of travel.  What I discovered was that Costco has good destinations from which to choose, but they are somewhat limited. There website is easy to Navigate, and if you already know where you would like to go, you can book airfare, hotel, and rental car as one package, or you can omit the airfare, and just do hotel and rental car.

Sam’s Club offers its customers  more options in terms of destinations. Also, they have a feature that I really like. They illustrate your destination and the Sam’s Club price  comparison. I liked this feature because it allowed me to instantly compare the value and the savings that I would receive. It saved a trip of having to close out and to go back and look at that information again. Either way, I think that you will be pleased with what the two retailers have to offer.

What if you are not currently a member? It may be worth it to you to obtain a pass, and look at the travel servies.  Of course, you will be asked to become a member, but if you think that you are getting a good deal, the trip and the membership fee will be worth it.

It’s almost Spring. Get those vacation plans started.