A different kind of Holiday Travel
Why You Should Consider a Family Vacation Now
NoMad Las Vegas
NoMad Las Vegas
Area: Las Vegas, Nevada
Vibe: Chic and sexy
Fun Fact: There are 25,000 books in the NoMad Restaurant
Don’t Miss: The JEMAA pool party
If you’re ready for something new on your next trip to Vegas, here’s a great option: NoMad Las Vegas. Located inside Park MGM—it calls the top floors home—the hotel has all the makings to truly elevate your Sin City experience: gorgeous rooms, great dining led by a world-renowned chef, a weekend pool party and, of course, a casino.
Location: A quick 10-minute drive from McCarran International Airport, the hotel is located right on the famed Strip, close to all the action. But in terms of location, this one is unique: The NoMad sits on the upper four floors of the Park MGM hotel, though it has its own private entrance, as well as its own pool, restaurant, bars and casino. Its central location means it’s easy to check out what the rest of the city has to offer, while never having to stray too far from your home base.
Vibe: Chic and sexy, the hotel has that cool, old-world Las Vegas feel—think lots of wood, antique finishes and velvet textures in jewel-toned colors—while still feeling totally modern. There are close to 300 rooms and suites, from rooms with queen- or king-sized beds to larger suites, like the 1,200-square foot NoMad Suite and the 1,600-square-foot Suite Royale, which sleeps up to four and has its own pool table and dining room. When you’re ready to bring your stay to the next level, check out the Suite Royale Premiere, a two-bedroom, 2,000-square foot suite with a pool table, its own bar, six-person dining room and views of The Strip.
Why We Love It: Along with the great vintage Vegas vibe and the energy of the city itself, there’s so much to love about this hotel—not least of which is the dining experience, which has Chef Daniel Humm and Restaurateur Will Guidara at the helm. The duo are also behind NoMad’s culinary offerings in New York and L.A., plus the World’s Best restaurant winner, Eleven Madison Park in NYC. In Las Vegas, the hotel is home to both NoMad Bar and NoMad Restaurant. The \restaurant is dark and sexy, with lots of club seating and velvet accents, all surrounded by some 25,000 (!) books. “The robust menu celebrates grand, clubby mid-century dining with a dash of theater—Grande Plateaus of Fruits de Mer, seasonal pastas, our signature black truffle-laced Roast Chicken, and Baked Alaska flambéed tableside,” they say. Also not to miss: The NoMad Casino, which offers “high limit” gaming like blackjack and roulette, as well as its own bar. The NoMad Pool is primed for relaxation on the weekdays—and for partying from Friday to Sunday. That’s when you’ll find the JEMAA pool party, complete with DJs, music, bottle service, and more. Along with these features, there are amenities like a spa and 24-hour fitness center, both of which are accessed through Park MGM, as well as lots of space for meetings and events.
Why Go F1rst: If you book your stay through First in Service, you’ll receive a slew of extra amenities, including a $100 food and beverage credit, early-check and late check-out and a room upgrade, if available.
F1S Tips: Want to relax with a spa service? You can head to the spa at the Park MGM—or have the service done right in your room. Also fun: Jazz fans should reserve Sundays for the Jazz Brunch at the NoMad Bar.How Travel is Changing and What That Means for You
How Travel is Changing—and What That Means for You (Hint: There are Lots of Good Things Happening!)
As you already know, like so many, many things in 2020, travel is different this year. But so is the travel industry itself. Case in point Virtuoso Travel Week, a gathering of Virtuoso members and partners from around the globe. F1S is a member of Virtuoso, the world’s leading, invitation-only travel network, and this year, instead of the in-person gathering of the past, the F1S team and advisors took to their couches (um, we mean home offices!) and computer screens for the first-ever Virtual Virtuoso Travel Week. And we’re here to tell you: It was a huge success.
“This platform provided me with the boost I needed at this stage of the pandemic,” says Rosalba Chiappetta, an F1S leisure advisor based in Toronto. “It fueled my enthusiasm for the comeback of our business and industry.”
And she wasn’t the only one who felt that way. F1S advisors from across the U.S. and the world found the event super productive, giving them the opportunity to strategize with partners, hear updates from within the industry, and, perhaps most importantly, inspire them as they adapt to the “new world.”
Because, after all, and as we mentioned at the start, travel does look different now. But—and here’s the key–contrary to what you might have heard, many of these changes are positive. How so? One of the most visible—and crucial: The focus on health and safety.
“The most consistent theme of all my meetings was the dedication and time hotels are committing to health and safety,” says Colin Joyce, Marketing and Partnerships Coordinator. That includes measures like increased sanitization, contactless check-in, additional in-room dining options, and leaving a room empty for a full 24 hours between one check-out and another check-in. At Canyon Ranch in Lenox, MA, for instance, they replace the air filters in every room between guest stays, says Debbie Lopez, an F1S advisor based in New York.
Plus, hotels are serious about getting staff on board with the procedures, which can help put travelers’ minds at ease. “Almost everyone I asked, whether they closed for a period or not, had given their staff at least two to three weeks of training on updated cleanliness measures,” explains Joyce.
And it’s not just hotels: Lopez notes that travelers arriving in Helsinki are given a Covid-19 test, with results coming back via an app within 6 to 7 hours. While the travelers can leave the airport, they can’t board ships or visit other places until their results are in, helping to curb the spread of the disease.
Thanks in part to these safety measures, people are getting back to traveling. But many, as can be expected, are doing so closer to home than ever before. In fact, another change many advisors noted is the increase in domestic travel.
“Everyone I spoke to seemed to be seeing an uptick in domestic travelers,” says Joyce, who noted that in some European countries, hotels are now at around 60 percent capacity, welcome news when compared to rates a few months back. “Whether the property was in the U.S., Europe, or even a tropical destination filled with foreign visitors, everyone was reporting a domestic increase. Translation: people want to travel and get away, even locally.”
(Check out some of our favorite hotels within driving distance of NYC.)
Adds Chiappetta, “This is an encouraging sign that if locals are ready to venture in their home countries, they will be prepared to explore the world once the borders open.”
Also great? While in the past, many travelers with kids stuck to summer and school breaks to head out of town—even a nearby town—remote learning has given parents more freedom and flexibility on when they travel.
“If schools will be online for extended periods, then why not travel? Online classes can be done from anywhere, as long as there’s good Wi-Fi!,” says Leah Winck, an F1S leisure advisor based in L.A.
(We’ve got you covered there: Our story full of ideas for school year family travel will be up shortly.)
For F1S clients, this travel comeback does come with one additional upside: Their travel advisor. As Chiappetta says, one of her favorite moments of the week was when the representatives from Dorchester’s Hotel Eden in Rome explained how trust is the new luxury.
Being able to trust the hotel where you’re staying, the airline you’re flying, and the services you’re utilizing is critical to feeling safe in this new travel world. And at F1S, our advisors make that even easier. We are in constant contact with our partners, are up-to-date on the fast-moving travel restrictions and changes hitting on an international, national and state level, and are quick to communicate that with our clients, at any time.
But one of the best changes we’ve seen? We saved that for last, because for us here at F1S it’s not a change at all: The movement towards further embracing diversity in the travel industry. Sheila Johnson, the CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, gave the keynote speech at the event’s closing session, and it was as insightful as it was inspiring. “A highlight was Sheila Johnson’s final thoughts on diversity, future of this business, and women making an influence,” says Linda Montemarano, an F1S leisure advisor based in Toronto.
As a female and minority-owned company, First in Service was built on a foundation of diversity. It’s something we are deeply committed to and passionate about—and something that we believe gives us a unique and collaborative view of the world.
As we embrace the changes in the travel industry this year and in the future, we know that our core principals of inclusivity— towards our F1S family, our clients, and our world—is one of the things that will continue to guide us forward.
Conrad Washington, DC
Conrad Washington, DC
Area: Downtown Washington, DC
Fun Fact: The restaurant’s chefs competed on Top Chef
Don’t Miss: The Sakura Club
There’s a new spot in DC to make your home base while visiting the city: Conrad Washington, DC. The flagship property for this high-end Hilton line of hotels, the Conrad is part of CityCenter DC, a development in the center of the nation’s capital, featuring high-end shopping and food options. The Conrad also offers its own signature restaurant and lounge with amazing city views, as well as its one-of-a-kind Sakura Club, which offers exclusive access to unique amenities.
Location: Here’s what makes the location of this hotel distinct: It’s part of CityCenter DC, a hub for high-end shopping and dining, including designer stores like Gucci and Hermès alongside must-try restaurants like Centrolina and Momofuku. And, with its central location smack in the center of Downtown DC, the Conrad is steps away from many DC landmarks: The White House, Smithsonian museums, and National Mall are all around a 15-minute walk and the National Portrait Gallery is a five minute walk. Plus, the hotel is about a 40-minute ride from Dulles International Airport, and just 10 minutes from Washington National Airport.
Vibe: Stylish and modern, The Conrad has all the trappings of a great city hotel: Incredible views from floor-to-ceiling windows, sleek, spacious rooms and an unexpected contemporary atmosphere enhanced by elevated terraces and a curated art collection. The 360 rooms feature a sleek, natural décor, while at the same time showcase the intuitive technology that is a staple of the Conrad brand, with smart lighting and streaming options for the HDTVs. Guests can opt for either a deluxe room or suite, the largest of which is the Presidential Suite. Clocking in at 2,405 square feet, it boasts its own kitchen and dining room, gas fireplace, office area and reading nook, and a custom baby grand piano made by DC native, Warren Shadd. Should you opt for one of the Park View or specialty suites, you’ll also receive access to the Sakura Club, a private club on the 10th floor that offers meals made by a private chef, whiskey tastings, a concierge service to help with restaurant reservations, and more.
Why We Love It: As the Americas flagship for the Conrad brand, the Conrad Washington, DC features a wealth of incredible assets that truly make it stand out. Not only is the central location fantastic for travelers looking to explore DC, but the offerings within the hotel are fabulous in their own right. Here, you’ll find the hotel’s signature restaurant, Estuary. Led by Top Chef and James Beard Award finalists, brothers Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, Estuary features a menu with dishes that reimagine the traditional flavors of the Chesapeake Bay. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch are served at the restaurant, and there are two distinct private dining rooms and a prominent bar and lounge, as well. Another must-try: Summit, aptly named for its spot on the rooftop of the Conrad. Along with creative cocktails, Summit offers inventive small plates (avocado fries, anyone?), all with sprawling views of the nation’s capital. If you’re hosting an event or a party, consider renting the terrace event space, also on the rooftop of the Conrad. If hosting outdoors isn’t the right vibe for your event, the Conrad also features 32,000 square feet of meeting space, including three conference rooms, two ballrooms and two executive boardrooms, all elevated above ground level and all featuring natural light through floor-to-ceiling windows.
Why Go F1RST: If you book through First in Service, you’ll receive continental breakfast for two every day of your stay, a $100 hotel credit, a welcome amenity and early-check in/late-check out as well as an upgrade, if available.
F1S Tips: Choosing a room with Sakura Club access really does have its perks: Afternoon tea? Cuisines from around the world? 24-hour access? All included—plus lots more.Seeking Wellness in Austin
Seeking Wellness in Austin
Miraval’s newest resort and spa takes relaxation and reconnection to a whole new level
The world feels frenetic, people are too connected to their phones, and friends barely have enough time to catch up over coffee, let alone to spend a few days together really reconnecting. You’ve heard it all before. Let us offer a new antidote: Miraval Austin, the newest resort and spa from the renowned wellness brand, which joins the Tucson flagship as a top destination for wellness warriors.
CELL PHONE FREE
About 30 minutes from downtown, Miraval Austin sits on 220 acres near the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, with a view of Lake Travis. “I was immediately impressed by all the beautiful lush green trees and thought it was the perfect setting for a wellness resort,” says Christina, who recently visited with friends Awilda and Debbie for a long weekend of relaxation. “When we pulled up to the arrival area, I loved the use of all the natural woods and the open, airy feeling of the arrival lounge, with the view out onto the hills.”
The three friends each checked into one of the resort’s Hill Country King Suites, which offer king-size beds (“I felt like I was sleeping on a cloud,” says Debbie), an indoor shower—that leads straight to an outdoor shower—and other special touches, like a sound bowl and meditation cushion.
And then they checked their devices at the door: While there are specific spots to power up (and you can use your phone on airplane mode to take pics), the resort is resoundingly cell phone-free. “I loved this! It wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be—maybe I was at a point in my life where I needed this more than I knew,” says Awilda.
Bonding—35 Feet in the Air
Miraval Austin offers an extensive (and many included-with-your-stay) roster of classes, with a rotating daily schedule. While there, the friends tried a number of these—from yin reiki yoga to a tarot card workshop to floating meditation.
Of the floating meditation class—think meditation meets aerial yoga—Christina says, “You are ensconced in a beautiful lavender silk scarf hanging from the ceiling and you lay down and gently rock in the scarf while you are guided through a meditation that gives you a sense of safety and warmth.”
But the highlight for the trio? Swing and a Prayer, where you’re suspended 35 feet in the air, and then swing down.
“It wasn’t just an adrenaline rush, it was a way to free yourself—to set an intention and choose something to focus on that you need to let go of—and putting the choice and power to let go literally in your hands,” says Christina. “When you are up there, it’s you who makes the decision on when to let go and soar through the air. It gave me such a sense of empowerment and reminded me how strong of a person I am”
And it also offered a bonding moment. “I’m a person who does not hesitate to jump in and get things done,” says Awilda. “But when I was holstered up 35 feet in the sky, let’s just say, I was not releasing the rope to swing down! It took coaching from my support system below, assuring me it would all be ok.”
It was the most memorable part of the weekend for Debbie: “I was really scared and walked away feeling proud, happy, emotional, fulfilled and lighter all at the same time. I highly recommend this experience to anyone visiting the property.”
Treatments and Farm-to-Table Eats
Along with classes and activities, Miraval Austin is home to the 20,000-square-foot Life in Balance Spa, which, while large, still has an intimate, relaxing feel. The friends each tried different treatments—from Christina’s Jade-Meridian massage, to Awilda’s 100-minute Pradhana Veda Ayurveda treatment (where she fell asleep, it was so relaxing!) to Debbie’s Naga massage, a Miraval exclusive. “I booked this treatment on our last evening at 9 p.m. and floated off to my room for a great night sleep right after,” she says.
But no girls weekend would be complete without some great eats and conversation. The property has three dining options, with all meals and drinks (except wine and alcohol) included. At the signature Hilltop Crossing Kitchen, the food is either local—or comes straight from the resort’s 10-acre Cypress Creek Farm & Ranch. Pro-tip: “I’m a popcorn gal and they had the tastiest herb popcorn that they served in the cafe area, which went perfectly with a glass of wine or cocktail,” says Debbie.
Recharge and reconnect
With so many classes, activities and offerings—there are also culinary classes, horseback riding, wellness counseling and so much more—the resort truly offers a chance to disconnect with the outside world, to recharge with friends, and, most importantly, to reconnect with yourself.
“I feel it’s so important to find time for yourself,” says Debbie. “Practice self-care, self-love and hit that reset button.”