Celebration To Promote Mexico In Familiar Neighborhood Setting

De Pueblo a Pueblo is an eight-week celebration that begins later this month in Philadelphia. The first-ever festival will honor Philadelphia’s local Mexican community by promoting greater understanding of traditional arts, language and history of Mexico.

The citywide festival hopes to connect a growing Mexican population and their customs with a broader Philadelphia audience. In addition to providing a variety of opportunities to learn more about Mexican culture, of special significance is where the event will be happening – Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.

Showcasing the work of mosaicist Isaiah Zagar, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is a folk art environment made entirely of found objects and contributions from the community.

In 1968, Zagar and his wife came to Philadelphia after spending three years with the Peace Corps in Peru. Creating folk art all around his new city, he took an entire row house on South Street and covered it with mosaics, over 3000 square feet of them, that include pieces of mirror and original poetry.Hands-on activities, performances, traditional foods, crafts and folk art, along with discussions about immigration, are set to provide opportunities to learn about Mexico and should fit right in at the Magic Gardens.

The event will kick off on April 27 with the opening reception for “Echeleganas: Do Your Best,” a photographic exhibition featuring the people of La Sierra del Norte, a small village in Puebla, Mexico.

Flickr photo via Guerry

10 hotels celebrating centennial birthdays in 2012

The year 2012 marks a very special year for many hotels, as some of the world’s most prestigious properties turn 100 and join the Century Club. Everyone loves birthdays, and lucky for travelers these properties are celebrating by offering guests discounts, prizes, packages, and parties.

Fairmont Copley Plaza
Boston, Massachusetts

The Fairmont Copley Plaza opened its doors on August 19, 1912, at an extravagant cost of $5.5 million. In attendance at the hotel’s reception were over 1000 guests, one of which included Boston‘s mayor at the time, John F. “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, who was President Kennedy’s grandfather. To celebrate its 100-year birthday, the hotel is featuring an array of events and promotions, including a “100 Days of Celebration” beginning May 10. During this time, complimentary period costume tours, 20th century music, and cake will be available. Moreover, a Celebration of a Century package will be available through December 31, offering accommodation in a newly renovated room, a private hotel history tour, and a history booklet.

Package rates begin at $100 per person, per night. Call 1-800-257-7544 or E-mail reservations@fairmont.com to book. Bar Lazy J Ranch
Parshall, Colorado

While not your traditional hotel, Bar Lazy J Ranch is a relaxing ranch that works hard to ensure the satisfaction of their guests. Even before officially opening, the ranch was going out of its way for strangers, even allowing travelers to stay the night free of charge. It wasn’t until 1912 that a debutante was hired as a secretary and the ranch required a letter of recommendation from people hoping to stay. Back then, the atmosphere of Bar Lazy J Ranch was very formal, with coffee served before breakfast in demitasse cups on the lawn, high tea, polo, and croquet matches. Today, the property is all-inclusive, allowing guests to partake in as many activity offerings as they would like without worrying about overspending. To celebrate its 100th birthday this summer, the ranch will be hosting an array of centennial activities such as “1912 nights” each Wednesday, high tea, vintage photos and old-west costumes, and music inspired by compositions from the last century.

Rates start at $1825 per week, per adult, with discounts on certain dates. Call 800-396-6279 or E-mail info@barlazyj.com to book.

The Beverly Hills Hotel
Los Angeles, California

The Beverly Hills Hotel was built before there was a city called Beverly Hills, in an attempt to bring crowds of people to the area. It worked, and in 1914 Beverly Hills was incorporated into a city. Not only that, but some of society’s most affluent celebrities created history in the hotel. For example, Frank Sinatra and the rest of the rat pack loved to drink in the hotel’s Polo Lounge, and the hotel pool was the backdrop scene for Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall in “Designing Women.” To celebrate their centennial birth, the Beverly Hills Hotel is offering an array of programing and packages. Their 100-Year Birthday Package, which runs until the end of the year, features rooms and suites for $100 per night, a birthday cake amenity, a complimentary cocktail, a 100-year candle, and daily breakfast for two. There will also be a “1912 Lottery” in a chosen dining outlet each week, where a diner will be randomly selected to receive their meal at 1912 pricing.

For a full list of packages and promotions or to book a stay, click here.

Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort and Spa
Tucson, Arizona

The Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort and Spa was originally a dude ranch in 1912 and today is an 80-acre resort sitting at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains in the Sonoran Desert. While certain historic touches are still retained, the hotel underwent a $14 million renovation in 2009 to help update the look and feel. In honor of their 100th birthday, the Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort and Spa is compiling a book titled “History of Westward Look: 100 Years in the Making” that will include photos and souvenirs from past guests. This is also part of the “Call for Treasures” contest offering prizes of free hotel stays and complimentary dining packages.

Rates start at $189 per night based on double occupancy. Call 800-722-2500 or click here to book.

Kalispell Grand Hotel
Kalispell, Montana

The Kalispell Grand Hotel opened its doors in 1912 as an upscale hotel for the wealthier traveler, charging a whopping $2 per night. During its opening, the property also offered grand amenities like wake up calls, door locks, and running water, making it a popular choice. Today, their definition of grand amenities has luckily shifted with the times, as spacious rooms, plush bedding, and relaxing massages are offered on the premises. Guests can enjoy the hotel’s 100th birthday by taking advantage of a $20.12 discount on all rooms until May 31, 2012.

Room rates vary by date. Call 800-858-7422 or click here to book.

Camino Real El Paso
El Paso, Texas

Listed on the Historic Hotels of America website, the Camino El Paso is a national historic landmark. Originally known as the Paso Del Norte Hotel, one of the most impressive features of the property then was the 25-foot diameter, Tiffany-style, stained-glass Dome, which can still be experienced via the Dome Bar. Other instances of history still being present are the vaulted ceilings and walls of cherry stone and gold scallion. When it opened on Thanksgiving Day in 1912 the property was thought to be the “Showcase of the West,” and still retains this prestigious reputation today. To help guests add a bit more luxury to their stay, the property is featuring a Fall Back in Time deal, which includes breakfast each morning for two people for two nights.

Package rates vary depending on travel dates. Call 800-678-8946 or 915-534-3000 to book.

Fairmont Château Laurier
Ottawa, Ontario

The Fairmont Château Laurier, Ottawa’s famous castle, officially opened its doors on June 1, 2012. While the property cost $2 million to open, rooms were only $2 per night. Like their sister property in Boston, mentioned above, the hotel will feature complimentary period costume tours, 20th century music, and cake on June 2 and 3. Moreover, in memory of the Titanic, the hotel will be recreating the last supper served on the ship followed by monthly menus featuring the best cuisine from different eras. Additionally, because the property was originally set to open on April 26, this will be the date the Fairmont Château Laurier launches their special Centennial Tea menu. If you’re looking for a deal, you can opt for the Century of Memories package, which includes accommodations, a heritage gift card set, $100 CAD dining credit, and a special 100th anniversary welcome amenity.

Package rates begin at about $340 per night based on double occupancy. Call 800-441-1414 or click here to book.

Astoria Hotel
St. Petersburg, Russia

The oldest hotel in Russia, the Astoria Hotel has survived the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, WWI, WWII, Perestroika, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the formation of the new Russian economy. On December 23, 1912, the property opened its doors as a modern hotel fit for the society’s most notable figures. Rasputin had a love affair here with the wife of a government official, while Lenin spent the night and gave a speech on the first floor, and Russian Grand Dukes threw lavish parties in the Winter Garden. What’s more, because 2012 marks the Astoria Hotel’s 100th birthday, the year will be filled with commemorative events, including a series of jazz dinner concerts to help take guests back in time. At the end of the year, there will also be an elegant jubilee party with famous attendees from all over the world coming in to celebrate.

Room rates start at $335 per night. Click here to book.

Hotel Maria Cristina, San Sebastián, A Luxury Collection Hotel
San Sebastián, Spain

The Hotel Maria Cristina opened its doors on July 9, 2012, as one of the city’s main cultural and social hubs for members of high society. During WWI, it was the hangout of politicians and artists before shifting to a more fashionable clientele, with guests like Coco Chanel and Patou Jena. When the city began to decline, the hotel refused to fold and, after WWII, underwent a massive renovation. In honor of its centennial anniversary, the property is being fixed up again and will reopen this July with a huge celebration and new Belle Epoque style with modern amenities. They will also be offering an array of packages, which you can see by clicking here.

The Stafford London by Kempinski
London, United Kingdom

Originally built as private homes for society’s nobility – including Lord and Lady Lyttelton – the property changed owners a few times before becoming an official Stafford London property. Just like during WWII when the building served as a club for American and Canadian officers seeking refuge in the wine cellars, The Stafford London is a welcoming and friendly place. Because the property is turning 100 this year, they are offering a VIP £100,000 Anniversary Package until the end of 2012. The luxurious offer includes:

  • 3 nights in a duplex Guv’nor’s suite or penthouse
  • £10,000 dining credit
  • “Effortless airport experience” including private waiting lounge, escort through customs/immigration, transfers to and from hotel
  • Chauffeur driven Bentley, Rolls Royce, or Jaguar at guest’s beck and call
  • 24/7 private butler service
  • Three or five-course wine and meal pairings in the hotel’s 380-year-old wine cellar
  • Bespoke fashions courtesy of famed tailor Henry Poole and hatters Lock & Co
  • Piece of custom jewelry by London’s top designer, Patrick Wyatt
  • Private photo shoot with celebrity photographer, Alistair Morrison
  • Traditional afternoon tea at either the Royal Academy, Highgrove House, or Kensington Palace
  • Private Champagne or Wine Capsule experience on the London Eye
  • Half day spa retreat
  • Speedboat tour of the Thames River
  • Complimentary Mahiki Armada Treasure Chest concoction

Packages start at £100,000. Click here to book.

Golden Gate Bridge celebrates 75 years throughout 2012

Anyone with plans to visit San Francisco in the next year should take advantage of a program of “75 Tributes” that the Bay Area is planning to honor the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. Bay Area museums, cultural centers, universities, arts organizations, and more are coming together to create a roster of exhibits, lectures, performances, concerts and film screenings that honor the iconic span–most of which are absolutely free. A full schedule of events is available at goldengatebridge75.org.
The main event, however, is a birthday bash set for May 26-27th. Unlike the 50th anniversary celebration, officials won’t close the bridge to traffic (last time they tried this, an unnerving 300,000 people crowded onto the bridge at one time causing it to loose its natural curve). This year, the free celebration will be held on the waterfront and will feature music and other entertainment, exhibits with memorabilia and historic artifacts, guided walks, and a “spectacular surprise finale,” according to the San Francisco tourism department.
The area around iconic span will also undergo some dramatic changes intended to create an atmosphere that is more like a national park. As it stands, visitors to the bridge are greeted by little more than a gift shop and snack bar. That gift shop, known as the Round House, will be converted into a welcome center where visitors will be able to organize a guided tour or get their picture taken in front of a green screen of the bridge (which will probably be popular on foggy days). The snack bar will be renovated into a cafe featuring a menu of locally-grown foods. Outside, the bridge plaza will get new wayfaring signs and two scenic overlooks will be built. Construction on a new 3,500-square-foot pavilion that will is also underway. Perhaps most amazingly, no bridge tolls or tax dollars are being used for the renovations–all of the improvements are coming from private donations.

(Image above: Cars crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on its opening day in 1937)

Photo of the Day – Korean festival lanterns

I love taking photographs at festivals. The riotous colors, local costumes and friendly demeanor of locals usually means you’ll have a chance to capture some truly great shots. Take today’s photo for instance, captured by Flickr user Trent Strohm at a Buddha’s Birthday celebration in Seoul, Korea. The rainbow colors of the lanterns create a visually arresting pattern, punctuated by the curvy black outline of a tree, rising from below.

Taken any great travel shots of your own recently? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of them as our Photo of the Day.

Celebrate Italy’s 150th birthday in Torino

150 years ago, Italy became a country. Well, sort of. Venice and Rome didn’t join for another 9 years, so many Italians will be waiting until 2020 for the big celebration of the Risorgimento, as the unification is called in Italian. Nevertheless, as Italy’s first capital city in 1861, Torino (aka Turin, home of the famed Shroud) is celebrating all year, including the reopening today of the Risorgimento Museum, with free admission for the rest of March. This weekend also marks the reopening of the Automobile Museum, with a huge expansion and total concept overhaul, fitting for a country that gave birth to the Ferrari, the Lamborghini, the Alfa Romeo, and Torino’s own Fiat.

Beginning this summer, the history and evolution of Italian fashion will be celebrated just outside Turin at La Venaria Reale. La Venaria Reale will also host a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition starting in October 2011. Not to leave out food, visitors can attend “royal dinners” all spring through fall, sample traditional regional dishes, and learn about their history as part of the unification. Buon compleanno, Italia!

Learn more about Italy’s birthday events at eng.italia150.it and