Don’t Be Cliche on Valentine’s Day!

Written by Guest Blogger: Amanda Burrill, Travel Channel host, chef, athlete and freelance writer and copyeditor.

Five near-NYC weekend ideas, and a pet care solution that will change your life.

Flowers, chocolate and a dinner reservation on Valentine’s Day? Yawn. You’re better than that! This year Cupid’s bow strikes on a Saturday; the perfect opportunity to indulge in an entire weekend of kissy-face with your significant other. Before you start making excuses, I’ve dug up five great options that still have vacancy.

1. Rustic Getaway

Just 75 miles from NYC, the Malibu Dude Ranch in the Pocono Mountains has been a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner three years running; a perfect getaway from the city grind with scenic horse-riding trails over 800 acres. There are dozens of (complimentary) activities to keep you busy and cozy options like board games, stargazing and nuzzling by the fireplace.

The main lodge features western decor and houses the dining hall, indoor heated swimming pool, game room, gift shop and saloon with entertainment each weekend. Guess rooms are on the second floor, or opt for a private cabin among the trees or boat house on the lake.

The Valentine’s Day Romantic Escape package is Friday, February 13th through Sunday, February 15th and costs $325 per person. Another perk: kids stay free! Malibu Dude Ranch has a no-pet policy (with the exception of service pets) but no worries, because below, as promised, I discuss your pet care savior., reservations: (570) 296-7281

2. Sporty Getaway

Nestled in the northern Catskills is Windham Mountain Resort, which just underwent $11million in capital improvements. Just two hours away from NYC you’ll find the resort’s 1600 vertical feet of skiing, served by twelve lifts, including two high speed detachable quads. The central base lodge offers nourishing fare between slope runs. A spa and three restaurants will keep you busy when you’ve hung up your skis for the day.

You can book a room at the Winwood Inn and ski/ride Friday – Sunday starting at $120 per night, per person. The same deal at the Winwood Condos starts at $148 per night, per person and includes lift ticket, lodging, complimentary breakfast and free shuttles to and from the mountain.

3. Romantic Getaway

Gideon Putnam Resort, just over three hours north of Manhattan, offers a secluded getaway in the foothills of the Adirondacks. The resort, situated on 2,200 acres among the pines and oaks of Saratoga Spa State Park, boasts historic charm and elegant features.

Book services at the legendary Roosevelt Baths, cross-country ski or snowshoe the trails (snowshoes are complimentary) or check out the local cuisine and micro-brews of Saratoga Springs.

Ask for the Romantic Weekend Package or Valentine’s Day Getaway Package., reservations: (866) 890-1171

4. NYC Luxury Stay-cation

Both Manhattan Gansevoort locations are synonymous with urban oasis. A place to see and be seen that caters to your every luxurious need.

The Park Avenue property is home to Ristorante Asellina, a 10,000-sq-ft traditional-meets-modern Italian trattoria. The trendy Gansevoort Park Rooftop offers six venues with unparalleled views of the Empire State Building.

The Meatpacking location offers downtown bustle but the feel of uptown luxury. A great launching pad for club hopping, this hotel is the hub of the NYC nightlife scene. Catch a beautiful Hudson River sunset from your room, grab a bite at inspired American eatery The Chester, and then hit the dance floor.

Both NYC Gansevoort locations offer the “Get Intimate” package which includes, champagne, roses, and much more.

5. NYC Budget Stay-cation

The Pod Hotel, with two budget-friendly Manhattan locations, offers minimalist comfort starting at $89 per night. The rooms are bright, modern and completely connected. Shack up, stream some movies and then explore the neighborhood, all without breaking the bank.

So what do I do with my dog?

Pets; we love them, but they can really get in the way of romance. Pet care logistics and costs are one of the primary reasons couples forego weekend getaways. I have the perfect solution for Fido.

New app DoggyBnB  allows you to utilize your social network, i.e. people you actually know, to find reliable pet care. Build a network by adding and organizing the people you would turn to naturally, your friends. Send pet care requests to your entire network in a matter of seconds and contacts can choose to “fetch” your request. No more leaving your best friend with someone you don’t know or even worse, in a kennel. This is the future of pet care!

With five varied choices and a doggie plan you now have zero excuses. Have a private, worry-free weekend with your special someone.

Keep up with Amanda’s culinary and fitness adventures at and follow her on twitter:


This chart is especially good for those of you in fashion tech but should provide valuable insight to all fashion designers on where the funding dollars are going.

Datagraphic by Jennifer Sam
Click for the article: VC at the intersection of fashion and tech. Datagraphic by Jennifer Sam


Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

BRAND-NASCENCE — Birthing new ideas through retail

Brand-nascent retailers are creating new ways to help customers find and wear what their self-brand positioning demands. An example is the current trend in “brandventure” activewear, chosen to show one’s adventure choices. There are now more websites and retail stores that feature specific outdoor adventurewear  — with tempting outdoor travel ventures. Inasmuch as adventure tours are the fastest growing travel preference in the world — designers and retailers are working in tandem to provide nascent adventure fashion brands that incorporate tech assets for self-image and outdoor performance.

Sports brands are “nascenting” as well. These brands are creating high-tech wear that can focus on a single sport or adventure. Passionate sports aficionados are choosing retail to blend their love of the sport with a business opportunity. Specialization of this sort creates a brand with a pro-sport positioning that can encourage customer segments to buy more of its customized high-end apparel and related sports gear.

Another nascent tech is “mood-minding” technology that can bring together like-minded customers for similarly desired store experiences and products. Some future labs are experimenting with the customer-driven surveys to learn more about their interests and desires. This nascent tech also uses RFID (Radio Frequency ID) chips in the apparel tags to hold relevant data on a selected sport and its sport-customized apparel. Soon we will see the blending of this data to further service the customer.

These new technologies also lead to new experiential options for retailers to offer their evolving customer segments. It will be vital for retailers to strike a balance between nascence that provide high tech experiences and apparel aligned with their customers’ preferences. All the while, choosing the appropriate sports environments and atmospherics with inspiring mood-enhanced lighting and background music.

And of course, there will be nascence that re-defines luxury fashion. Some volume brands are starting to emulate luxury brands, forming their own alliances with well- known artists and designers. They are co-branding with design creatives to develop “brand-nascence” that will promise more uniquely self-styling items and personalized experiences:

Drawing by Art Winters
Drawing by Art Winters

We might ask: Is this new retailing or old retailing? Some of us remember when store owners and buyers knew their customers wants and needs and searched the markets for just the right products. Passionately delighting their customers and bringing them back for more. There seems to be a resurgence of that passion in these single-sport stores — and we are delighted!

Arthur & Peggy Winters co-teach SXB 200 Brand Marketing Communications for Image & Meaning and SXR 050 Intro to Branding: The Art of Customer Bonding.

Advance your career. Pursue your passion.