Enterprising Austin and its Travel Agency/Bar Hybrid

Departure LoungeDrinking fine wine is an important part of many of our travels (especially if you’re a Napa and Sonoma junkie like I am), but how about sipping your favorite varietal as a way to make the actual planning of the trip easier to swallow? And no, I’m not talking about pouring yourself some cheap Pinot Grigio while you sit on kayak.com. Leave it to enterprising Austin to open the first ever travel agency / bar hybrid — and I just happened to be in town for its grand opening. The bar was fun enough (and the treats tasty enough) to hang out at even if your Next Big Trip isn’t around the corner, and I love the idea of attracting like-minded travel folk to one locale, regardless of actual trip-planning needs. But while you’re there, why not flip through some guidebooks to see what luxury travel might entice you?

Allow me to introduce you to Departure Lounge.

Continue Reading »»

Home-grown in Vegas: Scarlett Hospitality

Jessica Black Julius Scarlett luxury travel companies Scarlett Hospitality

Jessica Black and Julius Scarlett attended the Luxury Travel Conference in Vegas in 2011.

Anyone who has met me knows two things: I am a dedicated, life-long travel junkie — and I am a borderline-annoying pro-Vegas cheerleader. So imagine my excitement when I discovered a born-in-Sin-City (wait for it) travel agency! And it is one of the fastest-growing luxury travel companies in the US. The founders of Scarlett Hospitality met while attending the University of Nevada Las Vegas during their upper division courses in hotel  management. Before they graduated in 2007 and 2008, this go-getter group got their feet wet working at luxury hotels on the Strip such as Caesars Palace, Mandalay Bay, and WynnVegas is nothing if not over-the-top — I couldn’t think of a better education for planning luxury vacations all over the world. And this group has the passion: Founder/CEO Julius Scarlett and Director of Business Development Jessica Black actually ended up leaving their UNLV graduation early to whisk off to Europe for two weeks. These are my kind of people! Their start-up evolved into a full-service travel agency, which books and tailors trips from hotel to dining to entertainment, as well as a hospitality consulting firm that performs customer Quality Analyses for clients such as Mandarin Oriental.

I hope you enjoy getting to know Scarlett Hospitality as much as I did!


First glimpse into the first ever Nobu Hotel

Best hotels in Las Vegas Nobu

Everything in the first ever Nobu Hotel is a nod to his Japanese heritage.

I still remember the first time I ate at Nobu. I was still at my very first job out of school, and sitting in that famous Tribeca restaurant, I thought I had made it. Chef Nobu’s food is so amazing that I guess it was only a matter of time that the brand expanded, but when I heard that it was taking over a tower at Caesars Palace, I thought it was genius. There was no way it wouldn’t quickly become one of the best hotels in Las Vegas. Earlier this year, I had the honor of sitting down with co-owner Robert De Niro for a story in Vegas magazine. Since then, I’ve been counting down the days until I got to see this project for myself. He talked about this exciting launch of the very first Nobu Hotel, which was his idea and now building locales as far away as Riyadh.

But for now, I have stayed in the only one in the world!

Continue Reading »»