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Grand Hotels from Florida’s Gilded Age

Industrial tycoons and visionaries transformed Florida’s frontier into luxurious playgrounds for the rich. If you build it, they will come. That’s precisely what happened with a handful of visionaries during the Gilded Age of the late 19th century and Florida’s land boom from 1920 to 1925. Men who contributed to the building of modern America, embarked on their own missions to draw the leisurely wealthy of the frozen north to exotic sub-tropical playgrounds in Florida. During the late 19th century, while the wheels of industry turned and economic prosperity grew in northern states, Florida was still a backwater with some populated areas carved out of its mangroves and swampland. These visionaries saw Florida’s pristine beaches and balmy breezes as a golden opportunity to build tourist destinations for the rich and famous. Build it they did, and the tourists came. Today, snowbirds continue their seasonal migration to Florida’s sunny shores. Some enjoy stays at grand hotels, iconic symbols of Florida’s past. They remind us of a more genteel time when railroads and tourism began to flourish. The groundwork laid, Florida transformed

Ker & Downey: Return to Kenya’s Wild

So you’re ready to travel again but don’t know where to start? Start here, with three of Ker & Downey’s favorite private Kenyan safari homes. Do you find yourself watching tv and thinking to yourself, “They are standing too close together.” Or, “What are they doing in such a crowded space?” After months spent social distancing, we are going to have to learn how to be in genuine community again. As we start to travel again, the last thing you probably want to do is surround yourself with a group of strangers. Luckily that has never been Ker & Downey’s modus operandi. Our philosophy on travel has always been private, fully customized travel that reflects who you are from start to finish. We aren’t going to book you onto a bus tour that hits the well-worn tourist highlights with a bunch of people you’ve never met. Instead, we seek out authentic experiences you won’t find on Trip Advisor. We prefer small, boutique-style properties that specialize in attention to detail and specialized service. Private Kenyan Safari Homes That’s where these three

Ancient Wonders of California

Connect with the distant past by exploring early civilizations and ancient natural wonders in the Golden State. California has a lot to offer tourists. Many make their way to see glitzy Hollywood, scenic Pacific Coastal Highway, surfer waves in Santa Cruz, San Francisco cable cars, or picturesque Napa Valley. But California also offers tourists a chance to see some of the most ancient wonders in the Americas. The Cerutti Mastodon Discovery Researchers have made a stunning discovery that could rewrite human history. They found signs of human activity dating around 130,000 years ago at the Cerutti mastodon site in San Diego, making it the oldest archeological site in the Americas. The discovery predates previously known human activity by 100,000 years. Although no human bones were found, a mastodon skeleton, molars, tusks, bone flakes, and large stones were found, indicating the site was used as a bone quarry. Mastodon bones were smashed to extract marrow or were used as raw materials for making tools. Learn more about this exciting discovery and museum hours at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Petrified

Ker & Downey American Safari Camp

Explore the great outdoors without sacrificing luxury or comfort on an American Safari Camp adventure with Ker & Downey. This is an epic family camping experience like no other. The American Safari Camp experience pairs customized itineraries with unparalleled service to some of the country’s most scenic destinations. Choose between the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Escalante, Yellowstone, Zion, or Monument Valley for your family’s glamping adventure. Luxurious Glamping Campsites American Safari Camp features luxurious campsites with 150-square foot canvas-walled tents. Precise attention to detail ensures guests have all the creature comforts of home. Firstly, soft down comforters over pillow top queen or twin beds promise a comfortable night’s sleep. Bunk beds are a popular option for the kids too. In addition, other amenities include a bedside table with a reading light and ample racks for the storage of luggage. The most luxurious amenity is arguably the canvas-separated en suite with shower, private flushing toilet, and a handwashing station. This is definitely not the outhouse from your childhood camping trips.American Safari Camp’s award-winning chefs prepare meals to your diet specifications. Rise

Top 8 All-American Travel Experiences

From sea to shining sea, the United States of America is a giant tapestry of beauty and wonder waiting to be explored. We have assembled our Top 8 All-American Travel Experiences because this is “America the Beautiful,” Ker & Downey style. Sonoma Valley, California Taste your way through Sonoma County for a tour through a handpicked selection of private vineyards and tasting rooms. The Sonoma Valley is home to some of the earliest vineyards in country making for a luxurious All-American travel experience. Iditarod Trail, Alaska Alaska’s historic Iditarod Trail plays host to the annual Iditarod Great Sled Race — dubbed the “Last Great Race on Earth”. From the comfort of Winterlake Lodge, experience the trail by both land and air. Firstly, begin with your own privately guided dogsled ride. Next, hop aboard a private helicopter for a birds-eye view of the trail’s high mountain vistas and deep ocean fjords. The Ranch at Rock Creek, Montana Escape to the the iconic wild west at The Ranch at Rock Creek. Set in Montana’s legendary ranchland, this luxury-infused “home on the range”

Bourbon Street Blues

I imagine myself to be one of a minority of people who prefer New Orleans in the morning. Give me bright sunshine, with palm fronds glistening, the heat and humidity already both menacing and languid, the streets webbed with runnels of fresh water dripping from hanging ferns and washing away the vomit of the night before. Few places blend garbage and beauty so well as New Orleans—no place does better, except maybe Naples, Italy. The garbage makes quite a few visitors nervous, especially folks I have known from the Midwest. But garbage is an important part of the city, and really it is hardly fair to separate it from the city’s haunting European-style beauty. For there is a lovely aesthetic in the gleaming black of 40-gallon garbage bags filled to bursting with the left-overs of some of the finest restaurants in the world. Piled in mute excess, even in the Vieux Carré, bulged like old-time friars dozing into accomplishing daylight, they emblematize the genuine love of pleasure over work and efficiency the city has always been better at than the

Touring Castles from Home

Take a great getaway to fairytale castles in faraway places without ever leaving your armchair. Now that summer is here, many of us wonder when we will be able to travel abroad again. Vacationing on sunny Caribbean isles, taking that long-awaited Mediterranean cruise, being pampered in spa resorts, or immersing in European and Asian cultures – all of it seems so distant now as we continue to endure the worldwide pandemic with its travel restrictions. However, we can satisfy our wanderlust by traveling while at home, albeit virtually. How about an escape to some of the world’s most fascinating castles? There’s nothing quite like viewing architectural grandeur and exquisite artisanship that has captured our imaginations, as we have seen in movie sets like Harry Potter and Star Wars and television series like Downton Abbey and the aptly named Versailles. Or, perhaps it is some battle-scarred Medieval stone fortress that has withstood sieges and the test of time. We can easily visualize knights in shining armor on their trusty steeds crossing a drawbridge and heading off to battle while ladies in

Luxury Alaska Adventure

Alaska’s Wild Frontiers: Ker & Downey’s luxury Alaska adventure is an exclusive journey exploring Alaska’s treasures – local art, wildlife conservation areas, and plentiful nature.  North America’s “last frontier,” Alaska is a wild land of epic proportions. It is a place where grizzlies gather at the salmon-filled rivers. Moose often stop downtown traffic. Glaciers and their deep valley imprints seem to appear around every bend. In other words, outdoor adventure here is never more than a stone’s throw (or private helicopter ride) away.  Alaska Adventure: Wild Frontiers is Ker & Downey’s exclusive luxury Alaska adventure. It is an in-depth study of some of Alaska’s finest treasures, from local artists and wildlife conservation areas to luxury lodges and wilderness, untouched and unbelievable. Anchorage Ker & Downey’s luxury Alaska adventure kicks off in Anchorage at the city’s most renowned hotel, Hotel Captain Cook. The hotel offers a flawless first taste of Alaska with its historic prestige and Old–World explorer atmosphere. This pairs beautifully with its towering panoramic views of the surrounding Chugach Mountains and Cook Inlet. Start off by spending time with two of Alaska’ leading wildlife artists, Jon and Jona Van Zyle. Afterward, leave on a private flight-seeing transfer to the historic Iditarod Trail. You will pause on the

The Strahov Library: A Czech Republic Gem

Visit a national treasure, one of the most valuable and best-preserved historical libraries in the world. I’ve always enjoyed traveling and long ago became the person my companions have relied upon to put together an itinerary that will be second to none. One of the necessities is to find and work with the best experts and guides. They will magically transform any vacation into a memory for the ages. I tend to rely on Wendy Perrin, Conde Nast, Travel & Leisure, or Rick Steves in my search for those at the top of their game. Pick the Right Guide For instance, in Russia, we were accompanied by two excellent guides arranged by Exeter International, Gennady in Moscow, and Anya in St. Petersburg, who were absolutely perfect! It would not have been possible to duplicate our experience with a group tour. Moreover, if you travel with three others, the expense of hiring the best guides is no more than the cost of traveling on a high-end group tour; in fact, it’s probably less. And, now you get to go when you

Travel Books to Feed Your Wanderlust

Stuck at home? Here is our recommendation of the best travel books to feed your wanderlust until you can take your next adventure. From harrowing journeys to tales of whimsy, these selections are bursting at the seams with inspiration for a future trip. The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World  by Eric Weiner The title alone makes us want to dig into this book that has been described as part travel memoir, part humor, and part twisted self-help guide. Travel across the world with Eric Weiner as he attempts to answer where happiness lies. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway With The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway became the voice of the Lost Generation. Drawing from his life in Paris and his annual trip to Spain to watch the running of the bulls and the bullfights, this novel about life post-World War I is one of Hemingway’s greatest works. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne Take a spin around the globe in this Jules Verne story about Phileas Fogg’s bet