Category Archives: City Travel

What’s New in Tampa

Tampa Bay, including St. Petersburg and Clearwater Beach, has a combined population of 3 million people. A diverse economy, a warm temperate climate and a lower than national average cost of living have made Tampa the third most populous city in Florida.

Where to Stay

The only Four-Diamond hotel in downtown Tampa, Le Méridien has transformed a 100-year-old US. Federal courthouse into a 130 room boutique hotel.

Le Meridien, Tampa
Le Meridien, Tampa photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Impossibly high ceilings, wide hallways with polished terrazzo floors remain intact from its previous incarnation as a courthouse.

Bizou Brasserie
Bizou Brasserie photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Open for all-day dining, on site bistro Bizou Brasserie was a former courtroom. Le Meridien is a member of the prestigious Historic Hotels of America.

Fun things to do 

Get a day pass and explore Tampa Bay from the water on the bright yellow pirate water taxis. Board downtown and ferry up the Hillsborough River to Tampa Heights.

Walk or bike the Riverwalk which runs along the Hillsborough River and Garrison Channel for 2.4 miles.

University of Tampa
University of Tampa photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Look across the Hillsborough River to the west bank – the silver minarets and ornate Victorian gingerbread adorn entrepreneur Henry Plant’s Tampa Bay Hotel, opened in 1891, now occupied by the University of Tampa.

Tampa Museum of Art
Tampa Museum of Art photo credit: John Cameron

If you’re staying at Le Méridien, a guest day pass to the nearby Tampa Museum of Art is complimentary. The museum balances its permanent antiquities collection with a  strong commitment to showing contemporary art.

Amalie Arena Tampa
Amalie Arena photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Hockey fans are passionate about watching their home team The  Lightning trounce visitors at downtown Amalie Arena.  Amalie Arena is also used for music concerts and basketball.

TPC Tampa Bay
TPC Tampa Bay photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Golf where the pros do at the Bobby Weed designed 18-hole TPC Tampa Bay course, a 25 minute drive from Tampa. An annual stop on the PGA Champions Tour for 21 consecutive years, Golf Digest gave this course a 4 ½ star rating.  The course winds through natural wetlands, ponds and lagoons and a variety of tee boxes allows golfers of all levels the opportunity to score well.  After your round, grab a bite or a drink on the patio at iCUATRO Restaurant & Bar and watch golfers play into the 18th green.

Where to Eat 

Armature Works

Armature Works Tampa, Florida
Armature Works photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Tampa’s newest and most exciting spot for casual dining is Armature Works, a renovated trolley barn in Tampa Heights. Think multi-ethnic, tapas style, with the freshest ingredients and great prices. Try the creative cocktails at Fine & Dandy, the best lobster roll ever at Surf & Turf and the Cuban soul food at Hemingway’s.

Pizza Margherita from Ava at Armature Works
Pizza Margherita photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Popular Italian restaurant Ava also serves its famous wood-fired pies in trendy Armature Works. Ava chef Joshua Hernandez wows with the classic Neopolitan pizza -the Margherita.

 

 

The Columbia

Professional and attentive service are usually a good thing but at The Columbia in historic Ybor City, I feel like a tourist cog in a well oiled money-making machine. Customers pour through the doors in busloads for dinner and a Flamenco floor show.

Oxford Exchange

Oxford Exchange, Tampa
Oxford Exchange, Tampa photo credit: John Cameron

A classic bistro with century old brickwork, diffused light from the glass roof and a contemporary menu make The Oxford Exchange a perfect, relaxed breakfast/brunch/lunch spot. After dining,  shop for curated lifestyle home furnishings,  the latest books and eye glasses.

Ulele

Ulele Tampa
Ulele Tampa photo credit: John Cameron

The owners of the Columbia, Florida’s oldest restaurant, created this popular restaurant in Tampa Heights and named  it for the Native American princess, Ulele. Ulele’s creative Native Indian inspired menu showcases fresh-caught fish from the nearby Gulf of Mexico. Start with the fantastic Barbacoa-grilled oysters, with garlic butter, grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses and wash them down with a flight of great craft brews from Ulele’s on-site brewery.

Denver’s Top Luxury Hotels

Denver’s top luxury hotels showcase three different approaches in three different neighborhoods.

Four Seasons Hotel, Denver

Flagship luxury brand The Four Seasons has a great downtown address – The Colorado Convention Center, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and the Ellie Caulkins Opera House are all within easy walking distance.

Four Seasons Hotel Denver-Lobby
Four Seasons Hotel Denver-Lobby photo credit: John Cameron

The  modern interior design subtly reflects the natural beauty of Colorado, and oversized windows offer both downtown and Rocky Mountain vistas.  At the EDGE Bar in the Four Seasons lobby, a tapas-style menu pairs well with local microbrews and over 50 wines by the glass.

Four Seasons Hotel Denver-fireplace
Four Seasons Hotel Denver-Fireplace photo credit: John Cameron

Four Seasons Hotel Denver offers 239 ultra-spacious guest rooms and suites within a modern 45-storey building. Suites feature a lounge chair and ottoman in a separate living area. Generous bathrooms include a deep soaking tub and a shower in a separate glass-enclosed stall.

The fitness center on the third floor has views of the rooftop pool terrace. Guests can choose from cardio machines equipped with televisions, free weights and a yoga studio.  The spa ushers in new treatments each season, such as an Evergreen Massage for winter. All guests can use the spa facilities – a perfect ending to a session in the rooftop pool.

The Four Seasons is only one block away from trendy Larimer Square with some of Denver’s best dining options. Check out chef Troy Guard’s contemporary cuisine at TAG.

Hong Kong Sea Bass at TAG
Hong Kong Sea Bass at TAG photo credit: Sherel Purcell

The savvy waiters have excellent wine pairing suggestions and must tries include the taco sushi, Miso Black Cod and the Hong Kong steamed seabass in a ginger soy vinaigrette.

Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver

Near the 16th Avenue Mall and the renovated historic Union Train station, pet-friendly boutique hotel brand Kimpton is renowned for its popular happy hour where guests mingle over drinks and snacks. Did I mention its free? No two Kimptons are the same, each property has its own personality.

Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver Lobby
Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver Lobby photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Walking into the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver, guests encounter a huge living room lobby complete with a grand ornate ceiling and an oversized fireplace – the perfect spot for the classy complimentary evening wine and beer tastings complete with hors d’oeuvres from the on-site Italian restaurant, Panzano. Tonight a free mini neck and shoulders massage and a singer/pianist complete the entertainment.

Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver guest room
Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver guest room photo credit: John Cameron

Interior designer Susan Caruso’s urban and western redesign of the guest rooms mixes animal hides, satiny drapes, quirky lamps, and oversized headboards in bold oranges and turquoises.

There are complimentary bicycles to use during your stay, an on-site 24-hour fitness center with cardio and resistance equipment, complimentary overnight shoeshine, complimentary morning Lavazza coffee and tea service, same-day laundry and dry cleaning service and luxury bath amenities. You can even request a goldfish companion for you (and your dog) for the duration of
your stay.

Halcyon Hotel Cherry Creek

Denver’s newest luxury hotel, the independent Halycon, is located in Cherry Creek , a mixture of urban development and tree lined residential streets, just south of downtown. Hermes and Tiffany are just some of the luxury retailers that inhabit the upscale suburb, Denver’s Rodeo Drive.

Halcyon replaces the traditional reception desk with a kitchen counter where friendly staff will fix your favorite coffee drink or pour you a glass of bubbly. Enjoy complimentary drinks including red and white wine, beer and mixed cocktails from 3 pm to 10 pm daily.

Just past the kitchen counter is an inviting living room complete with contemporary art pieces, two fireplaces, books, tv and board games set up amidst lounging chairs and sofas. From there you can proceed to the Rooftop Pool Deck where you may catch a session of sunset yoga led by yogis from neighboring Pura Vida Fitness & Spa.

Halcyon Hotel Cherry Creek Living room
Halcyon Hotel Cherry Creek Living room photo credit: John Cameron

Spread across 2 floors, the 1300 square foot Presidential Suite features an open concept living space on the main floor with a bedroom and ensuite bathroom upstairs. The outdoor terrace, designed by local Halcyon partner Restoration Hardware, offers views of the Denver skyline. Halcyon elevates the cool factor with retro-style turntables and vintage vinyl in every room.

Halcyon Hotel Cherry Creek Gear Garage
Halcyon Hotel Cherry Creek Gear Garage photo credit: John Cameron

Explore the Cherry Creek Trail bike path and surrounding city parks on complimentary Vespas, e-bikes, and Belgium cruisers.  The Gear Garage at Halcyon also offers a Hamboard which feels like surfing on wheels and made in Denver longboards. Outdoor adventure kits come in an Osprey Backpack that includes a Go Pro, binoculars, Swiss army knife, Bear Naked bars, and bottled water. Photographers will love the loaner Leica film cameras and Halcyon will even print and ship your prints home.