Travel Thoughts


The conference room was almost totally silent as five travel writers and I awaited the arrival of one of the most recognizable people in America. This June, the legendary Dolly Parton agreed to promote her beloved Dollywood theme park with a group interview. It sounded like an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when I first heard about it….


Brian Jewell

Reason for optimism

Posted by Brian Jewell in Travel Thoughts on March 20, 2014


If you ask me, tourism is getting better. This summer, I celebrated 10 years of writing about the group tourism industry. My professional introduction to the business started with a five-day tour of Arkansas in 2003, followed shortly thereafter by a lengthy familiarization tour in Australia and New Zealand. I had a blast, to be…



“One of my favorite hotels sits in the middle of a desert. After seeing nothing but mountains of sand as far as the eye could see, the green oasis surrounding Evason Ma’in Hot Springs in Jordan felt like a mirage. “The hotel lies beneath dramatically cascading hot spring waterfalls, giving the hotel grounds seclusion and…


Brian Jewell

Unlikely inspiration

Posted by Brian Jewell in Travel Thoughts on January 29, 2014


I’ve toured hundreds — maybe thousands — of places during my 10-year career in travel journalism. But a short visit to Memphis this spring led to a tour experience like no other I had ever had: a visit to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I spent two days in Memphis to attend a tourism conference…



“This was all your idea,” said my mother for the second time to double check I had heard her. It was indeed my suggestion we take the time-honored mule ride down the Grand Canyon this past spring. Although my mom was never a big fan of heights, I felt convinced the miraculous scenery of the…

mule blog

Brian Jewell

A source of hope and peace

Posted by Brian Jewell in Travel Thoughts on November 20, 2013


  In my 10 years of working in the world of travel journalism, I’ve been incredibly blessed to see some of the most amazing places on earth. And I’m happy to report that many of those places are right here in the United States. One of my great joys in traveling this country from coast…


  Some works of art take people’s breath away. They stick with you long past your short visit. Our staff relate pieces of art that spoke to them while on the road. ‘The Pieta by Michelangelo leaves me without words. Housed in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in Rome, this marble sculpture does not…

Saint Isaac's Cathedral in St Petersburg, Russia

Brian Jewell

Elegance is outdated

Posted by Brian Jewell in Travel Thoughts on September 23, 2013


I rarely use this column as a soapbox, but one particular element of traditional travel has been getting under my skin lately. So I hope you’ll indulge me for a few minutes while I make my case for this idea: “Elegance” is outdated. You may not realize how prevalent the idea of elegance is in…

Bob Hoelscher

My Thumbs Up” Nominees”

Posted by Bob Hoelscher in Travel Thoughts on September 19, 2013


Bear Stew, McCleary, WA Bear Festival Last month I complained about there being so many cruise and travel industry awards being given these days that it is virtually impossible to determine who or what is really the “best.”  However, I also commented that there are certainly companies and places out there that are indeed worthy…


We asked our staff, ‘What great international experiences have you had 
that aren’t available at home?’ Here is what they had to say! ‘One thing you just don’t find in America very often is a group of monkeys hanging out in the shade near a 400-year-old mausoleum. This incredible encounter happened to me in India,…