Earlier this week I got a peek at the Benjamin Bar & Lounge at the new Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C., where a 1-oz. spoon of wine costs read my article at foxnews.com to find out. It’s $15 to $140. But read my article anyway:
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The Trump International Hotel, Washington, DC has its soft opening next Monday. Details have been sparse, but today Fox News published my roundup on some of the more interesting features and amenities:
Condé Nast Traveler just published my latest article:
While the article didn’t take me far from home, it did take me back in time:
- The editor was my college roommate.
- The outlet was Wells Fargo Advisors’s Lifescapes publication. Wells Fargo bought First Union, my first post-college employer (“Thank you for calling First Union’s Retail Investment Group. This is Zach Everson speaking. How may I help you?” x 65 times a day).
- The subject is DC, which is what I covered for my first travel writing gig (with Gridskipper).
Also, as of this post, my article is the most popular on the Lifescapes website.
Photo: Courtesy Wells Fargo Advisors
On Jan. 31, I was laid off after the Aol-owned MapQuest decided to refocus resources away from publishing original travel articles.
Were you surprised?
For several reasons, no:
- I work in media.
- I work in travel media. (Getting laid off from a travel media job made me feel like Goodfella‘s Henry Hill when he first got pinched—it wasn’t a good thing, but it kind of added to my bona fides.)
- A couple weeks earlier, Aol-owned Tech Crunch reported in a widely circulated article that its parent company was restructuring and layoffs and site closures were likely. To the best of my knowledge, no one at Aol refuted these rumors. Additionally, for months media coverage of Aol has focused on the company’s transition from content creation to selling online ads.
Do you regret putting aside freelancing to work full-time at MapQuest?
Not at all. My experience at MapQuest was fantastic and I learned a ton. For the first time since I started travel writing in 2005, I worked in-house with other travel writers and editors. Day in, day out I got to talk travel, writing, editing, social media, media strategy, journalism ethics, and the like with colleagues whose backgrounds differed from mine.
Also, I got to do some challenging work at MapQuest. And I picked up a bunch of new skills, most notably with video.
MapQuest was a fun place to work and there’s a lot of enthusiasm around the site and apps—which are much better than their reputation. It’s ridiculous that in tech, being around for a couple of decades is a bad thing. MapQuest’s apps are very competitive with other mobile-navigation options.
I’m thankful MapQuest ventured into publishing original editorial content and gave me the opportunity to be part of that effort.
That sounds like a lot of corporate speak.
You’re probably right. But it’s heartfelt.
What are you doing for work now?
As great an opportunity as MapQuest was, I am very excited to be freelancing again (I freelanced from 2004 to 2013).
Yes, I know you freelanced. I’m you.
Quiet, you’re ruining the structure. Since leaving MapQuest, I’ve already had three articles published on Condé Nast Traveler’s website and had some good conversations with editors for other publications.
I got into travel writing because I like (wait for it) travel and writing. Over the past five years at Louisville.com, Eater Louisville and MapQuest, I devoted a lot of attention to web traffic, editorial and social media strategies, managing freelancers and interns, template design, and a bunch of other areas. While I enjoy that stuff, I’m excited to devote all of my energy now to creating fun and engaging content.
If you’re an editor looking for articles that’ll be amusing and insightful, I can be reached at email@example.com.
That was shameless. You’re not looking for full-time employment?
If I found the right opportunity, I’d jump. But I’m not just looking for a full-time gig for the sake of employment.
Are you moving back to Louisville?
While I miss parts of Louisville dearly, my family is staying put in the DC area. We’re a lot closer to our families, my wife has a fantastic job that she loves, and we have roots here (we’d lived in the DC area for 10 years before heading out to Louisville).
Any missed opportunities you regret at MapQuest?
Yes—a thousand percent! I wanted to interview Shingy, Aol’s digital prophet, when the Internet was at peak Shingymania. I’d been assigning Q&As with notable people who travel a lot for work (celebrity chefs, actors, authors). Aol’s CEO Tim Armstrong told Details that “David Shing is an explorer of the future. He lives in multiple worlds and interacts with multiple worlds, and he really goes out into the future and sends us road maps back. I look at him as mapping the future landscape, the same way that the early explorers did.” So Shingy sounded like the perfect subject for a travel Q&A with MapQuest. Also, Shingy attends a lot of conferences, so I figured he’d have some practical advice for travelers too.
Sadly Shingy was off limits at the time. I’d still love to interview him though, maybe over carrot sticks at Applebee’s.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with me.
The pleasure is all mine.
At Washington, DC’s Mayflower Hotel—where Eliot Spitzer hired a hooker, Marion Barry allegedly snorted cocaine, and Zach Everson vacationed with his family—I swung by room 871 where the former New York governor committed career suicide.
I’m not sure why I brought the ice bucket though.
Just over a week into 2010, I became a dad. During the year I realized though that any concerns I had about parenthood—and my new editor-in-chief gig at Louisville.com, which I also started in January—impacting my travel were unfounded.
Here are my travel highlights for 2010 (and while my daughter didn’t go on all of these trips with me, she did make it to 14 states and Washington, DC in her first year):
- In February I visited the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach and wrote about its teen club for Air Canada’s in-flight magazine, enRoute, and one of my rare visits to a spa for UpTake.
- A road trip to Milwaukee and Chicago in March marked my daughter’s first trip out of Kentucky; I talked about the experience on a podcast for UpTake and mentioned our Chicago hotel room’s wonderful view in enRoute.
- As much as I enjoy traveling, it’s nice when a big event comes to me. In May it was the Kentucky Derby, which I wrote about for BlackBook and oversaw Louisville.com’s best week of traffic ever (November’s Breeders’ Cup did well too).
- While family was the focus of my June visits to San Diego (brother’s wedding) and Kamiah, ID (to see my grandmother), I wrote about San Diego restaurant Jsix’s chef’s kitchen experience for BlackBook.
- In June I made it back to New York City for TBEX, a travel bloggers conference, and finally got to meet in person a lot of folks I’d only known on the tubes. They
were terribly disappointingexceeded high expectations.
- Coming from a small family (no aunts or uncles), my wife’s family’s annual reunion just outside of Morgantown, WV is a can’t miss—I’m serious.
- In Columbus, Ohio for my brother-in-law’s wedding, I stayed in a hotel where James Thurber use to live.
- In August I flew to the The Big Island of Hawaii on assignment for enRoute to take a fine art photography class with Photo Safari Hawaii.
- Later that month Las Vegas was the destination for another enRoute assignment, this time to take a poker lesson from two-time World Series of Poker champ Mark Seif.
- I wrote about looking out over Gerald Ford’s grave site from my hotel room in Grand Rapids, Mich. for UpTake and visiting the art fair with the world’s largest prize (if not the best art) for Gridskipper.
- On Columbus Day weekend we trekked to Watoga State Park in West Virginia for another of my wife’s family reunions (it’s a big clan).
- At Thanksgiving I returned to my hometown of Reading, Mass. for the first time in 17 months, the longest I’d ever gone without a visit; I reviewed the accommodations at my parents’ house for UpTake (executive summary: meh).
- For the second year in a row, I visited China with the Ritz-Carlton (this time it was Beijing); I won’t complain if trips to China with that hotelier become an annual tradition. Culinary highlights already have been posted on Gridskipper.
- It was fantastic to get back to Washington, DC and see our friends. I wrote our stay at the Ritz-Carlton, Washington DC about for UpTake.
- For the third time in four years, both my wife’s family and mine gathered in the neutral playing location of Deep Creek Lake Maryland for Christmas.
A recent post on Peter Greenberg’s website, Holiday Celebrations and Winter Wonderlands Around the World, included my write-up of Christmas festivities at the Willard in Washington, DC.
Greenberg, of course, is the travel editor for CBS News, appearing on its Early Show, as well as an editor and contributor for several other travel publications.
I just started a gig as the Louisville Budget Travel Examiner for Examiner.com. My first article was posted yesterday:
It was a fun piece to write, and I enjoy the flexibility I have in writing about budget travel—I can pretty much write about any location I want.
And my upcoming trip, driving from Louisville to Las Vegas and then flying to DC for the inauguration, should provide ample fodder for this new job.
I’m starting a few other writing gigs in the upcoming weeks too, but I’ll post more about them once I have something published.