Did you check out the first part of this story, which took my family and I to St. Augustine, Savannah and Richmond, as well as Boston? If not, click here. If you’ve already been there and done that, then read on….
A Giant of a Man
After traveling 1,500+ miles from South Florida up the East Coast, with a couple of slight detours along the way—think South Philly for a Philly cheesesteak—we’d finally made it to Washington, DC. First stop: adorably chic Kimpton Glover Park Hotel. Spacious rooms? Check. Fab views? Check. Delicious onsite dining at Casolare, serving Italian coastal cuisine? Check. (We love the “old school favorites” such as macaroni with Sunday gravy, giant chicken Parm and penne a la vodka.) We also loved the bikes guests can hop on to explore the neighborhood.
The top reason we adored this elegant hotel, though? The surrounding Upper Georgetown neighborhood, which is made for strolling, and the property’s proximity to the Washington National Cathedral. Regarding the latter, we walked there from the hotel to have breakfast at its Cathedral Cafe, located in the Old Baptistry building next to the imposing structure (what a beauty!). Also grand, I might add, is the hotel’s fabulous mural, covering the entire side of the building facing Wisconsin Avenue; it portrays a stylized map of Rock Creek Park and part of D.C. (this motif is incorporated throughout the property).
The evening of our arrival, we drove through downtown Washington, D.C. to explore it while the hustle and bustle was down to a minimum. It’s enchanting, this city. So grand, so striking…you really can’t get enough of it. At night, when the lights shine on its most magnificent structures, there’s something otherworldly about it.
Night became morning, and after breakfast at the Cathedral—sounds so lofty and, really, it’s an exquisite experience—we headed to our favorite D.C. sightseeing spot, the Lincoln Memorial. You stand at the feet of this giant of a man’s memorial, and it’s just breathtaking. You have to take a minute and just absorb, no matter how many times you see it face-to-face.
As we sat there taking in greatness, the summertime rain made its appearance, and we ran for cover next to the Korean War Veterans Memorial, whose most striking feature is the patches of Juniper bushes on which 19 stainless steel statues representing the service men stand. It’s as if they are crossing the rice paddies of Korea, donned with ponchos that seem to blow in the wind. It’s one of the most beautiful and inspiring memorials I’ve ever feasted my eyes on.
After a few hours exploring D.C.—yes, this was a quick in and out road trip that had us hopscotching in rapid succession from one city to another (we do not recommend your clients try this at home)—we started to head south, on our way back to South Florida…we did spend a night in one other city before getting back to the tip of Florida: Charleston, South Carolina.
Getting Lost in Southern Charm
We zipped onto I-95, yearning for the open road and to leave the city chaos behind. Charleston awaited, and when we arrived we were in for a surprise. At check-in at the very upscale and enchanting Belmond Charleston Place, I was told we had been upgraded—to what, I thought, we already had a very nice suite. Oh nothing less than the Presidential Suite (of course, I can’t guarantee that your clients will get such a sweet upgrade, but the lesson here is that a road trip is full of surprises around every corner). It was a perfect accommodation to bring the road trip full circle, especially since we had driven for more than eight hours that day from the seat of power in the United States to a city where sightseeing means taking a stroll through history. Leaving the grand lobby behind with its hand-blown Venetian chandelier set between a Georgian open arm staircase….
We explored—yes, explored, because that’s how large it is—the timelessly decorated Presidential Suite, featuring a living area that includes a dining table, sofa bed, wet bar and refrigerator; a more-than-ample bedroom; a walk-in closet larger than most NYC apartments; and an Italian marble bathroom that I could very well call home and be happy in for the rest of my life. It might be over the top, but after spending a few hours trapped in a car traveling along the East Coast of the U.S., this is exactly the type of accommodation the doctor ordered—you can breathe, and it’s a great complement to the high society vibe that permeates through Charleston. And the views over the city are worth noting, as well.
We dined that evening at the laid-back Meeting at Market, located at The Shops at Belmond Charleston Place. Think M@M fish fingers, M@M Cobb salad, patty melt, BBQ burger (this is the South, after all). Then we hit the hay…and woke up to a gorgeous day in Charleston. We grabbed the sightseeing map distributed at the hotel’s front desk and our feet took us down enchanting cobblestone streets where we discovered myriad delights. The paper guide actually offers a 2.25-mile Intro to Charleston Walk that takes you to the Charleston City Market—built in 1841 to sell produce and meats and now full of small shops selling all manner of items (think handcrafted items by local artists and the like); the Old Slave Mart Museum, where slave auctions were once held and with an exterior with impressive architectural features such as a high arch, octagonal pillars and large iron gate; an array of historic homes, including the Pink House, one of the oldest buildings in all of South Carolina; the Footlight Players Workshop, home to the state’s oldest theatrical group, founded in 1931; and Riley Waterfront Park, with its pineapple fountain. There’s a world to discover in Charleston, but at least we got a bite-sized sampling. Recommend a horse-drawn carriage ride to get the lay of the land (especially nice during warm summer months).
Next time we are in town, besides taking in more sightseeing, of course, we’ll be sure to check out the Belmond’s pool. A pool, you say? Yes, it’s located on the rooftop of the fourth floor and its retractable roof makes one feel as if they can touch the sky—add the views and the stately layout and clients will want to pull themselves away from Charleston’s history-laden streets. And, in case you miss it, adjacent to the hotel you’ll find an Art Deco theater, the Riviera, that is part of the hotel’s meetings & events spaces (worthy of an Instagram post).
And there you have it—if your clients are thinking
ahead to a summertime family vacation, here’s a
sampling of hotels and cities you can recommend.
Of course, we did it in a 1-2-3 punch, but it’s a
morsel of what your clients can expect as they
discover our own backyard.