If you don’t learn anything new about travel from the 1,000-plus booths at the New York Times Travel Show, then you aren’t trying very hard. This year, I had the honor of being a Family Travel Expert at the show, but luckily my 45-minute shift left me plenty of time to visit with the countries, cities and regions in attendance. Although there weren’t any sloths this year (see Scenes from the New York Times Travel Show 2013), there was still plenty to see.
Here are the five new things that I learned at the New York Times Travel Show in 2014:
1. Wildwoood Crest, NJ, has great sand for sculpting. I gleaned this sandy tidbit from “Sand Master” Matt Long, who spent eight hours sculpting the sandcastle (pictured above) for Atlantic City. Matt brought his own sand with him from a quarry in Tuckahoe, NJ, and he’s used this batch for about 30 sculptures. He says that the qualities that make sand good for sculpting are “very fine texture, good clay content and a lot of silt” and that Wildwood Crest, NJ, has excellent sand.
2. Central Japan Railway Company is trying to bring SCMAGLEV to the US. Would you like to travel between New York City and Washington, DC, in just one hour? Of course! The guys at the Central Japan Railway Company had me fill out a questionnaire with all sort of leading questions like that — as if I needed convincing that we would benefit from super-fast, superconductor trains! I hope they are successful in their quest to bring the electro-magnetic, 361-mph train to the US. A levitating train would just be too cool.
3. Croatia wants more American visitors. For the past few years, Europe has had a small presence at the New York Times Travel Show. This year, it seemed like the European countries had even fewer booths. The exception to this was Croatia, which had six booths! Zagreb even had its own booth. Istria had two booths and I enjoyed learning about the Italian influences on the region. It seems like Croatia wants more American visitors — Americans only make up approximately 3-5% of Istria’s tourism, but other areas of Croatia get more through cruise ships. Well, Croatia can have my family and me — we’d love to visit!
4. There is a hotel all about chocolate in St. Lucia. Hotel Chocolat’s Boucan Hotel recently had its closeup on The Bachelor, but I didn’t really watch it. Too bad, as a hotel that’s all about chocolate sounds pretty amazing to me! Located on a cocoa plantation, the Boucan Hotel is a luxurious, chocolate-filled experience in the West Indies. The company also has two cocoa-centric restaurants in England: Roast & Conch in Leeds and Roast 1745 in London. Yum!
5. Nazare, Portugal, would be the perfect beach destination if you’re visiting Lisbon. On Friday, I attended a presentation about Portugal that included a speech by the mayor of Nazare. Nazare is no secret if you’re part of the surfing set, but alas I am not so I didn’t know much about it. Famous for its massive waves, Nazare’s beach also offers tamer sections for families. It would be the perfect beach destination if you were visiting Lisbon and didn’t want to travel all the way to the Algarve as it’s less than one hour’s drive south. And the mayor is really nice, in keeping with Portuguese tradition.
Wondering what the show was like last year? Check out Scenes from the New York Times Travel Show 2013