Although it is the oldest continually contested sporting event in history, the Kentucky Derby is much more than a horse race.  It is a party of extravagance, tradition, and celebrity – with a heavy dose of Southern charm.  Every spring horseracing fans, and those simply looking for a fun time, descend upon Churchill Downs for “the Running for the Roses” – the most exciting two minutes in sports.  Whether you come for the mint juleps, couture fashion, celebrity sightings, or for a sizable wager, Louisville, Kentucky welcomes you with bowties, bourbon, and banjo pickin’!

Held the first weekend in May, the Derby and the Kentucky Oaks (the Grand Prix for 3 year old fillies held the Friday before) are the main stage events; however the black tie galas, champagne breakfasts, thoroughbred farm tours, and bourbon tastings held the week prior are a must to fully understand Kentucky’s heart and soul.  

Seating options at Churchill Downs range from Millionaire’s Row in the Clubhouse (big hats required) to the rowdy infield for a track level view.  

Where to stay: 21C Museum Hotel in downtown Louisville. Half contemporary art museum, half trendy boutique hotel, 21C’s bar features one of the South’s most impressive collections of Woodford Reserve and Van Winkle bourbons.

To experience this legendary event, please contact Lauren Maggard:



A city once divided by a wall, surrounded with sorrow and heartache, has seemed to lift that dark cloud that was always there even on a sunny day. I first went to Berlin in 2005, so when I ventured back earlier this spring I was completely blown away with the change of the energy and the vibe of the city. I thought to myself, “Is this really the same city I visited eight years ago?”

Despite the late spring chill in the air, Berlin was warm, inviting, and full of life. From the hundreds of museums, art displays and beautiful gardens to the underground bar scene where only the hippest of crowds know the passwords to get in—this city is the new kid on the block for European travel.

With the increasing popularity of this city, luxury properties are going up left and right as travelers are coming from far and wide to rejoice with the people of Berlin in their newfound pulse.  While in the city, you’ll have numerous options for accommodations but here are a few of my favorites:

  • Hotel de Rome (a Rocco Forte property), is right across the street from the Opera building and within walking distance to all of the museums—perfect for families and history buffs!
  • The see and be seen crowd find it easy to stay a little longer with the expansive kitchen suites at Soho House Berlin.  The year round heated rooftop pool doesn’t hurt either.
  • Das Stue is the epitome of a design hotel. Perfectly placed in between the Tiergarten and the Berlin Zoo, each room has a unique design and decor but all of them have a beautiful view. You may want to surpass the elevator and take the stairs, as you will find secret lounges along the way! This is a perfect hotel for couples.

To top this off, Air Berlin is making this journey easier for Chicagoland with their new direct flight complete with lie flat business class seats.

If you would like to get to Berlin before this secret gem gets out to the masses, contact me at I will give you the passwords you will need to get into the underground hot spots!