Travel Inspiration By A Pro Trip Designer

Carleton’s Grand Party

Personal or Promotion



The Grand Hotel

Mackinac Island, Michigan

View upon our arrival to The Grand

View upon our arrival to The Grand

Recently I was invited to attend the Family and Friends weekend of none other than, Mr. Color himself, the famed interior designer, Carleton Varney. The lovely weekend took place at one of Varney’s vibrant bastions of glamour, the famed Grand Hotel on Michigan’s charming Mackinac Island. My husband, son and I took the requisite two flights from New York and then a short, 20-minute ferry over to the quaint island where transportation is restricted to on foot, bicycle or get this; a horse-drawn carriage.

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The facade of the hotel

The facade of the hotel

The Grand’s horse-drawn carriages are particularly attractive, driven by red jacketed, top hat-donning men, ensuring a stately entrance to the massive, 19th-century hotel.  This was my first visit to Mackinac Island, a popular summer retreat for mid-westerners, and had only heard snippets of its history and topography, though its lore as being car-free was rather profound.  Upon arrival we shuffled into our carriage and were delighted by the sights outside our small windows.

The view from the top of the hill above The Grand

The view from the top of the hill down to The Grand

The crystal clear lake resembled Caribbean-esque colors and the grass was  particularly vibrant shade of green, and oh so manicured. The main street of the island is chock-a-block with Fudge Shops (seriously, lots of Fudge) and despite the island’s devout traditionalism with regards to transportation, Main Street does boast a Starbucks. The most appealing store for us was the small outfitter store which carried popular name brand sportswear like Patagonia, Arc’teryx and North Face. Of course, this is most likely due to Norther Michigan’s considerable chill and the draw of warm fleece products.

Main Street

Main Street

Our favorite leisure activity was biking the relatively, flat 7-mile route around the island. We rented two bikes and a comfortable baby stroller for the back and for less than $50, enjoyed a 2-hour bike ride (with a few stops in between to snack and skip rocks) with some of the most spectacular scenery.  The evergreen trees alongside the smooth, clear lake were a spectacular sight, especially with the slight bite to the air. We were blessed with sunshine and an amenable toddler, allowing us to take in the surroundings with total relaxation and appreciation.

The vivid greens and blues of Mackinac Island

The vivid greens and blues of Mackinac Island

Our other favorite, okay my favorite, activity over the weekend was actually the reason I was invited to come along – a book signing. Friday evening, Carleton gathered a few of his author friends (Barbara Eden, Edwina Sandys) alongside him and we signed and sold books in the name of the local library. It was a fabulous event, complete with cocktails and nibbles, plus a raffle where some of Carleton’s enviable linens and fabrics were the prizes.

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My lovely post

My lovely post

Alongside the estimable Carleton Varney

Alongside the estimable Carleton Varney

As you can imagine, Mr. Color, Carleton’s wonderful book, sold out very quickly. I was lucky to sell plenty as well, no doubt, due to my prime seating next to the guest of honor himself. The event was a tremendous success and much credit is due to the superb organization by Mimi Cunningham, a member of the family whom owns and operates the historic Grand Hotel. Below is a picture of my turn at reading out the winning ticket for the raffle.

Reading out Xavier's winning ticket

Reading out Xavier's winning ticket

Beyond the public events and obvious beauty of the property, the weekend was a wonderful success in that I met wonderful, generous people. Carleton had gathered a truly astounding group in his honor and it was a privilege to not only be among them, but to have the pleasure of spending time with each of them.

Thank you Carleton, Susan and Brinsley for including me and my family on such an unforgettable adventure and to Mr. & Mrs. Musser at the Grand Hotel, for being such gracious hosts! We hope to return soon.

Posted in: Personal or Promotion

Published by Meg, Monday, October 3, 2011 No Comments

Nantucket Hideaways – My new App on Nantucket

Nantucket, Travel Tips


August 2011

Nantucket, Mass


This past month I have been up on Nantucket working on my first, formal publishing attempt in the digital sphere (this blog being rather, ehem, informal). I have been asked to write a  mobile application, what’s known as an App on Nantucket. In keeping with my brand and penchant for discovering things off-the-beaten-path, I have decided to name it:


a cover idea

a cover idea

Given that it is an app, designed for the iphone/ipad and thus must be rather service-oriented, the app will include information on everything from what to do and where to eat to my usual inclusion of where to Viagra 100mg stay and what not to miss. The app promises to deliver the best of the island’s many gems and secrets.

One of Nantucket Hideaways many Top Views

One of Nantucket Hideaways many Top Views

Right now I am busy filing entries at night and taking photos and meeting some of the island’s saltiest characters by day. I’m also introducing my 1-year old son to one of my favorite spots. As you can imagine, its a bit of a juggling act. But, all in all, a plum assignment, if there ever was one. Here are some of my favorite shots that will be included in the app.

Brant Point

Brant Point

Posted in: Nantucket, Travel Tips

Published by Meg, Tuesday, August 16, 2011 No Comments

Christmas Plug for Italian Hideaways

Italy, Travel Tips


What better says giving and Holiday Spirit than a little self-promotion? It’s that time of year again when you think of your loved ones in a most desperate manner as your rack your brain over the perfect gift that screams, “I swear I didn’t just think of this last week”. Well, friends and readers, search no more because nothing says quality thought and personal attention like a highly edited book on Italy featuring 30 exceptional properties and 200 enticing photographs.


515DooVdWHL._SL500_AA240_Click on photo for purchase options at Amazon or better yet, request it from your local bookstore so they’ll make an order and maybe even consider ordering more than 1!

And if you don’t believe me, see what the press said when it debuted:

“…an invaluable guide and the perfect companion for anyone with a discerning eye for the classical beauty of Europe.” ~Bal Harbour

“…embraces the subtle, sensual charm of Italy…these small pleasures that make Nolan’s hideaways so utterly Italian.” ~Interiors Magazine

Book your tickets because Italian Hideaways will inspire you to pack your bags…From the modern to the traditional, urban to remote, each of these locations will appeal to a different type of traveler, but every page is filled with its best-kept secrets.” ~Quest

“Don’t read this book unless you are ready to hop on a plane. This portrait of Italy is simply irresistible.” ~Southern Accents

“Along with evocative photography and detailed descriptions of each tucked-away gem, Nolan provides insight into the personalities of the owners and the history of the buildings–and, of course, which specific room to reserve.” ~Town & Country

And did you know that they translated it into German? Muss es sein? Es muss sein!: “Must it be? It must be!” —Beethoven

click on pic for link to order

In an effort to ramp up your enthusiasm and encourage you to buy a present that you can also boast has some connection to your intrepid online research skills (aka random blog reading) or your personal connection to me, I’m going to post some extra shots and early material for a behind-the-scenes (like extras on a DVD menu) peak into the book.

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Posted in: Italy, Travel Tips

Published by Meg, Friday, December 18, 2009 No Comments

about meg

About Meg


Meg is the founder of luxury travel consulting company, Friend of a Friend Consulting. Her three books, Italian Hideaways, Caribbean Hideaways and England's Hideaways are published by Rizzoli. Passionate about travel, hotels and wine, she continues to write freelance travel pieces and is currently pursuing a Masters in Wine through the WSET.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and do not reflect separate business relationships with the subject. Whenever posts are supported financially, they are designated as such.