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DESTINATIONS | INSPIRATION | INTEL | PLAN YOUR TRIP

The vaccines are welcome news, but we're not in the clear yet. Until it's safe to travel, consider this newsletter inspiration for trips to come.

"You are where you sleep," I heard Chip Conley say in his keynote address at the Virtuoso conference a few years ago, where he also introduced the concept of "menterns" to describe "people as curious as they are wise." I'd long admired Chip for his trailblazing work as the hotelier who created Joie de Vivre, one of the world's first boutique hotel companies (since purchased by Hyatt), as an advisor to Airbnb, and as the founder of Modern Elder Academy, the midlife wisdom school dedicated to transforming aging through programs and workshops online and at their Baja California Sur campus. Travel and transformation are two key themes we think about a lot at Fathom, and we're honored to have Chip's reflections on both.
- Pavia, Fathom founder


BUT FIRST, THE HOTEL SPOTLIGHT


Where the Living Is Easy in Carmel-By-the-Sea

Tradewinds Carmel
Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Laid-Back, Cal-Asian Fusion, $$ (from $209)

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a pretty special place — on the one hand ritzy and fancy; on the other, mellow and easy-going. If the privileged and pretty cast of Big Little Lies decided they were were tired of being back-stabbing show-offs, they would drive a half hour up the impossibly scenic California coast and settle into a quieter, hippier life in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Everyone seems happy around here: the wealthy in their gorgeous ocean-front homes on Scenic Road, the shopkeepers in their independent boutiques, the dogs who are welcome everywhere in this famously pet-friendly hamlet. For visitors, it's a great base whether your idea of a good afternoon is one spent drinking a terrific bottle of California wine, exploring the nature sites north and south of town, or biking through tree-lined streets. Since 1959, Tradewinds Carmel has been welcoming travelers to its cozy and garden-filled inn and courtyard. Japanese, Chinese, and Balinese influences abound throughout: in the Buddha statue, the waterfall, the Balinese kimono robes custom-made for the hotel, and the in-room furnishings. The hotel may be light on services (no restaurant, no gym, no business center) but it scores points for its price, ease, and location near town — all charming, one-square-mile of it.

The Vibe: NoCal cool meets pan-Asian style.

Standout Detail: The courtyard: the bamboo, the Buddha statue, the firepit.

This Place Is Perfect For: People who want an easy-going home base for exploring this part of California.

READ MORE

THIS WEEK'S FEATURED TRAVELER


Chip (on right) with Made Jiwa, his guide in Bali for 13 trips over 30 years.

Chip Conley

Hospitality Pioneer and Modern Elder
 

What do you do?
I guess I’m a “serial disruptor,” having been one of the first boutique hoteliers in the U.S. (founder and CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality), the in-house mentor for the past decade to the young founders of Airbnb (and Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy), and the founder of a company that is disrupting higher education and the retirement communities markets (CEO of the Modern Elder Academy). MEA is a combination of hospitality, wellness, and education, and I love that I have my hand in each of these sectors.
 

What's the biggest work challenge you’re facing right now?
Our MEA operation is based on a remote beachfront in Baja California Sur, Mexico, so when we closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic, we were awfully lonely. We had to do a series of pandemic pivots, including creating an MEA Online program, developing our Sabbatical Sessions dedicated to longer stays on our campus in the pandemic era, building a subscription program for our 1,500 alums from 28 countries, and buying a 2,600-acre ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to create our first U.S. MEA Regenerative Community.
 

Any post-pandemic changes you'd like to see?
I hated when the pandemic forced us to go online with our MEA programs, but our eight-week course has created “digital intimacy” amongst those who sign up for the program, and a much larger percentage of them than I would have expected have chosen to make the pilgrimage to our Baja campus once they’ve graduated.
 

Is there a travel trend you’re excited about?
I’ve been fascinated by the digital nomad trend since joining Airbnb nearly a decade ago, and it’s been interesting to see the trend go mainstream as so many people are looking for a “home away from home” and, instead, a “home instead of home.” Even though this trend was becoming large pre-pandemic, the hotel industry still doesn’t have a solution for this traveler. And I say that while still wearing my hotelier hat, as I still am a partner in nine boutique hotels. I think it has great long-term potential for the lodging industry.
 

Please share some recent discoveries.
When it comes to books, my revelation of the past year was Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson, which is a fascinating socio-political read about U.S. race relations. I’ve become a friend of Christian mystic Richard Rohr recently so I’ve been reading all of his books on spirituality. I resonate with Krista Tippett’s “On Being” podcast and sure hope I get a chance to be on it someday. Have fallen in love with the Ted Lasso series, as the lead character is a bit of a “modern elder” in midlife. I read just about any geeky article from Adam Grant, Arthur Brooks, or Brené Brown.
 

Where do you want to travel next?
So many places as I have a lot of pent-up demand! There are a few countries that I’ve not been to that are high on my list: Iceland, Croatia, Myanmar. And then there’s all kinds of spots in Mexico that aren’t far from my primary home in Baja: Merida, Bacalar, Puerto Escondido, San Cristóbal de las Casas, and Valle de Bravo.
 

Do you have a travel happy place?
Have been to Bali thirteen times, which is a remarkable number for an American given that it’s not next door. I’m sure I lived there in a past life, and I have Balinese friends who feel like family. Love the fact that art and spirituality are so interwoven and that it’s a culture dedicated to “collective effervescence” in their festivals.
 

Finally, what are your favorite Fathom stories?
I’ve long been a fan of Fathom’s editorial point of view, which champions the road less traveled. Loved a recent piece on Where and How to Unlearn America's Myths (and Learn Cool Stuff!) as well a review on Austin, Texas, which is where I spend a lot of my time. 
 

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