New York Travel Guide

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New York is an important state on the US East Coast, home of New York City, which is one of the top economic centers of the world. Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Broadway, and the New York Yankees are some of the most important American icons in finance, advertising, entertainment, and sports. In the brief travel guide we provide live reviews from 6 different spots in New York, with two from The City  and others from the countryside and offer in depth review of some key vacation rental properties in New York. These reviews will give you an idea of what the specific areas of New York are like. From Manhattan to the West Hamptons and up to Saratoga Springs,  you’ll get the flavor of state of New York.


Fit in the City

By Deborah S. Nelson Author/Publisher VRTG


As an author, when I think of New York City, the first thing that comes to mind is the writer-character, Kerry Bradshaw in the TV series “Sex in the City.” Images of her in $500 designer heels strutting down the streets of NYC had me wondering. Does she have some kind of shoe secret? Or, maybe she knows of a 100-year old shoe shop she keeps on retainer, hidden in some dark alleyway off 5th Avenue. I wondered, do the stiletto heels jar her spinal cord on those hard, concrete surfaces? Or, was she just born with super-feet?

Silly me!  I wanted to know her shoe secrets. I also wanted to know, “How  does one get fit in the City?” So armed (or footed) with my new Danscos and Tommy Hilfiger boots, my feet dragged me off in search of comfort and ways to stay fit in this concrete jungle.

Shades of White

My apartment at The Mercedes House #966, located in midtown Manhattan overviewing the Hudson River, was the ultimate in clean, sleek and functional design. Taking its namesake from the automobile, Mercedes Benz, the apartment is detailed with high-quality metallic trim, quiet elegance, a high level of function, and crafted excellence. The walls, counters, and white glass cupboard doors bring together stunning shades of white with silver trimmings. The soft white leather, fold-out couch promises a smooth ride when sitting or sleeping. The only contrast to the elegant shades of white and silver is the super-light oak flooring and doors which bring a lovely tone of golden warmth to the entire home.

From white as a stunning decorator color, a new color scheme emerges. With one entire wall of windows, the scene shifts from white to transparent. At once, I was struck by the impact of a great glass home, suspended in the clouds, high above a neighborhood sports arena in the foreground with the Hudson River in the background!

The View

The cloudy winter skies, punctuated with weather-worn New York City high-rise buildings, provide a stark contrast to the clean white elements inside the Mercedes House. Shades of white with silver trim become a visual symphony next to austere monotones of grays and browns framed by the living room’s picture window. The clean color scene offers peace and serenity from the chaos, clamor, and clutter of the concrete jungle below.  (see the rest of the article)

Wonderful Central Park South Location!

By Lead Travel Writer Renee Fontaine

Manhattan Skyline
The Essex House opened its warm and inviting arms to me at the height of the Christmas festivities. A brightly lit Christmas tree and strands of garland accented the already elegant lobby adorned with marble floors, crystal chandeliers and rich colored woodwork. The Essex House is a prestigious landmark of Central Park South. Construction of this luxurious residence-hotel began in 1929 following the stock market crash and the arrival of the Great Depression. Despite the economic hardships, the Essex House was completed and opened its doors in 1931.

Heart of the City

The Essex House is ideal for the travelers who want to be in the heart of the city to experience everything Manhattan has to offer. Just across the street is Central Park. This vast natural haven is a striking contrast to the flurry of the rest of the city. The landscape is like something out of a fairy tale: rocky outcrops, creeks, ponds, lakes, mature trees, open fields, gardens, zoo, and even a castle.

Belvedere’s Castle was built in 1869 as a Victorian folly on Vista Rock, the park’s second-highest natural elevation. This centerpiece was built of Manhattan “schist”, quarried in the park and accented with gray granite. Belvedere means “beautiful view” in Italian – a well -suited name as the view from the Castle is impressive. From the Castle’s turret there are dramatic views of not only Central Park, but also the New York skyline.Central Park Horse Carriage Ride

One morning after a heavy snow, I bundled myself in winter attire and crossed the street to explore the winter wonderland. The park was full of people young and old.  Children with sleds laughed with joy as they slid through the powdery snow. Men and women with cameras in hand captured the beauty of the landscape. The elderly walked gingerly along the slippery paths with smiles on their faces.

Crossing the various paths and trudging through areas of deep snow, I made my way to Belvedere’s Castle. The view from a distance was striking – the white dusted gray stone shone in the brilliant day light. The view from the castle was equally impressive – crystallized tree branches framing the banks of the glass-like lake below. (see the rest of the article)


Saratoga Springs, NY

Somewhere in Time

By Lead Travel Writer Renee Fontaine

12-gardens-2“Come back to me,” were the words brought to mind upon entry into this historic property. These famous words, spoken by Elise McKenna, played by Jane Seymore in the 1980 film Somewhere in Time, set the stage for a journey back in time. In the film, Richard Collier, played by Christopher Reeves, accepts Elise’s invitation and travels back to 1912 where they fall in love.

Entering this grand historic 1901 mansion conjured up feelings of romantic interludes and visions of scenes from an earlier era. So, I accepted the invitation “come back with me” letting myself be transported to “somewhere in time.”

The Mansion

I arrived on a cold January evening. A thin layer of new snow dusted the steps leading up to the spacious front porch.  My eyes were drawn to the large cozy chairs with side tables perfectly placed throughout the porch.  I imagined times past where men and women had sat on warm summer evening lingering over a game of chess while taking pleasure in silhouettes of flowers in the landscaped gardens.

Pulling open the large wooden door, I entered the grand foyer.  My mind and spirit were drawn back to the turn of the 20th Century by the architectural perfection of this Victorian Style mansion.  Fine wood details throughout make for a graceful and historic appeal.  Ceiling beams, crown molding, a grand staircase, and the fireplace mantel, unite in artistic symmetry forming an elegant frame for this work of art.  Within the frame is a rich montage of red, green, blue and gold colors.  Antique lamps, accessories and furniture amalgamate creating a feeling that I had merged and become a part of this fine masterpiece.  I was drawn by the warm glow of the fireplace on the far wall.  Two perfectly placed chairs face the flames forming an inviting alcove on the cold winter night. (see the rest of the article)

Greenwich, NY

The Rich and Famous

By Lead Travel Writer Renee Fontaine

“It is better to live rich than to die rich” – Samuel Johnson

Front-yardLiving rich – what a fantastic concept! Everyone dreams of such a privilege. In Greenwich “living rich” is the way of life. In 2005, Money magazine named Greenwich number one of the 100 Best Places to Live and ranked it in the “Biggest Earner” category. In fact, according to Forbes’ 2011 list of the world’s billionaires, eight live in Greenwich. MoreoverGreenwich is home to many other high profile people such as actor/director Mel GibsonTV personality Kathie Lee GiffordNBA player Rolando Blackman, and US Senator Richard Blumenthal. Having become a trendy vacation destination, Greenwich’s reputation continues to grow. 

Intrigued about what sets this historic city apart from other wealthy communities, I set out on my journey for an answer.

Picturesque Setting

Arriving at the Greenwich Station, a taxi was waiting to escort us to our vacation home. Driving through this well-known town, we immediately observed that Greenwich’s reputation as one of the wealthiest communities was justified. Every street is lined with large lavish homes and estates – architectural wonders with finely manicured gardens.

This charming New England style home came into view shortly after passing the Greenwich County Club. Set on over an acre of land, large mature trees, flowering bushes, and a babbling brook create a magical fairytale feeling. (see the rest of the story)

Westhampton Beach, NY

Enchanting Private Vineyard in European Style Setting

By Renee Fontaine, Lead Travel WriterFront-yard

As I entered through the tall wrought iron gates, I felt transported into a world of the past — to a time of medieval Europe where one would expect to encounter horse drawn carriages and knights. The driveway weaves its way through dense foliage of coniferous and deciduous trees resembling a path through the Black Forest of Germany. Just ahead, the home comes into view — a country style two-story with gabled roof and front porch, which is elegantly framed with forest green arborvitaes and budding hedges. To the right, rows of grape vines caught my eye. Green leaves sprouting from the dry winter shafts lends promise to warm weather and spring flowers. To the left I saw an expansive forest-like yard with towering pine trees.

Rustic Elegance

Stepping onto the front porch, my interest was piqued by a wrought iron bistro style table. I imagined mornings sipping an espresso while reading the latest edition of Food and Wine or Decanter. A neatly stacked pile of firewood waited ready, for stoking up the home’s fireplace.

Stepping inside, I felt the warmth and history of this 1890s stable, now a luxury home. The original rustic pine floors, perfectly updated and polished, create a striking and welcoming entrance foyer. A bench, croquet set, side table and basket of sea shells extend an inviting and functional appeal. The entrance foyer leads to three charming bedrooms, each decorated in hues of blue, cream and tan. Plush plaid, printed chairs and ivory bureaus blend for a warm and cozy feeling.  At the center of the master bedroom is an elegant sleigh style bed – a perfect complement to the antique style décor!

Ascending the stairs, I admired the art work along the walls. A painting of a zebra caught my attention — the intricate details and rich colors blend perfectly with the mood of the home.  Arriving at the second floor, I marveled at the perfection of the interior design. The vaulted ceiling, original stable door, exposed cross beams, pine floors, brick fireplace and paneled windows provide a superlative backdrop. Two plush sofas, a camel-colored leather chair, long wooden table, wrought-iron wine rack, wooden cabinetry and western style antiques complete the setting with perfect symmetry. I relaxed on one of the plush sofas and basked in the warmth of the flames emanating from the fireplace.

The Love of Wine

The morning after I arrived, I sipped my morning espresso on the front porch while I admired the elegant gardens, and enjoyed the scent of pine drifting through the air. (see the rest of the article)

 New Rochelle, NY

A Yachtsman’s Haven on Seaview Avenue

By Lead Travel Writer, Renee Fontaine

Early 20th Century elegance meets 21st Century luxury in this historic waterfront New Rochelle home. Built by one of Wall Street’s tycoons in the early 1900s, this home has served as a haven from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan for more than a century. Just a thirty minute drive from New York City, New Rochelle, has become the preferred place to live for beach lovers and yachtsman alike.

Elegance with a View

Perfectly positioned to face directly toward a small bay to the east, this graceful home is set against the backdrop of an epoch neighborhood. Tall mature trees and flowering bushes line the slate stone pathway that led me to the front entry. The rock and stucco exterior framed by sage green shutters and door unite with traditional elegance. Entering the home, I was captivated by the three sets of artfully designed lead glass doors. The French doors to the left led to a gracious modern living room with white leather sofas. An intricately carved white marble fireplace with a red marble base on the side wall is reminiscent of the Greek statues found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Just beyond, tall columns lead to the sunroom with large picture windows exuding soft natural light and breathtaking views of the bay. White Rose and Hydrangeceae flower arrangements make for the perfect complement to this contemporary décor.

Rich History of Yachting and Beach Clubs 

First established in 1688 by Huguenots (French Protestants) fleeing persecution in France, New Rochelle remained a modest village until a large influx of immigrants into the New York area during the 19th Century. Thereafter, this seaside city became a haven for the many Manhattanites seeking a quiet escape.

Each day, the serene shoreline of the Long Island Sound captivated my attention. Five small islands separate the bay from the Long Island Sound making an ideal natural habitat for a variety of birds and water fowl. Five Islands Park, located on the largest of the five islands, Oakwood Island, and has a large grassy area, sunbather’s beach, picnic areas, pavilion, large children’s play area with equipment, and outdoor amphitheater.  A pedestrian bridge links Big and Little Harrison Island to the main Oakwood Island. (see the rest of the article)