Category Archives: Travel

Letter from Dubai to Nantucket

Greetings from Dubai!
Finding the Cool in the Dessert Heat

Colin Stanfield

I moved here to Dubai in September with my wife Christina and our two-year old son Porter. ene asked me to write a short piece about my impressions of this fabulous city in the Gulf and I told him I’d get on it as soon as possible so as not to lose my fresh eyes and the sense that I’d landed on the moon. Truth is, it’s been an unexceptional transition. We’ve been living in a spacious and well-appointed hotel apartment close to Christina’s work (it’s her job as a Brand Strategist that has taken us here) but the floors aren’t marble and the faucets aren’t gold leaf.

I’ve been driving a lot, but beyond the necessity to make U-turns constantly to get anywhere, I’ve found it a pretty easy city to navigate. Fact is, my whole experience thus far has been extremely orderly.

When I went to the Traffic Department to procure a drivers license, I was in and out in hardly any time at all. For someone who’s had to endure the Herald Square DMV a few times, this was a great relief. The attendant – like most of the people I’ve been interacting with – was extremely friendly, polite and what was most noticeable for me as a New Yorker, not very stressed out. She was very amused that my wife was my residency sponsor and as such had supplied me with the requisite “permission” letter. Gender roles are very entrenched here.

We’ve enrolled Porter in an international nursery school where he’s supposedly learning French. We’ve seen no evidence of this, however. Christina takes him to school in the morning and I pick him up in the afternoon. The school is directly across from the famous Burj Al Arab Hotel, which is meant to look like a giant sail. I’m still quite excited to see it towering above the other surrounding buildings as I approach the school and get in a car queue with the other parents – almost all in white Range Rovers – picking up their kids. We take Sheikh Zayed Road past the Mall of the Emirates and Ski Dubai (the world’s largest indoor ski slope) on the way home.

I am very happy to have been introduced to a friend of a friend who has a nice sized sailboat here that I’ve been out on most weekends. Its gets reasonably windy in the afternoons and we’ve had some great days sailing out of the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club. The crew is a small group of “likely lads” who are keen to be more competitive with their club racing efforts this year. I’m happy to be lending a hand and contributing the occasional salty bit of wisdom.

What’s been truly remarkable though, is the architecture. I’ve been a fan of modern architecture since witnessing the year-on-year building of the hitherto “no man’s land” in Potsdammer Place in Berlin. I started attending the Berlin Film Festival in 1999 and was amazed and excited by the fantastic buildings going up, the cranes everywhere and the notion that an entire neighborhood could be built from scratch. Well, here in Dubai it seems like an entire city has been built from scratch. Some of the buildings are utterly breathtaking (like the new tallest building in the world the Burj Dubai) and some are a little derivative (like the dual Chrysler Buildings, which loom over our hotel pool). But in general, the sheer number of truly unique and striking buildings – that in any other city would define the skyline – is staggering.

Christina and I arranged a babysitter through the hotel recently and dined at a fantastic seafood restaurant at the foot of the Burj Dubai. The building, which up until that point I had only seen from afar, stretched impossibly into the night sky directly in front of us and truly challenged your ability to believe what you were seeing. The Dubai Fountain – again the world’s largest – encircles the building and a spellbinding choreography of exotic music and thunderous water pyrotechnics was taking place in every direction as far as you could see. I reached across the table and squeezed Christina’s hand with excitement and said, “Now THIS is really cool!”


Colin Stanfield is the Executive Director of the Nantucket Film Festival and will be returning to New York in January to resume day-to-day preparations for next year’s event. The sixteenth Annual Nantucket Film Festival will run one day longer and one week later next year, taking place June 22–26, 2011. He’s posting photos from his time in Dubai on Facebook.




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Nantucket: Where Are You Now?

Earlier in the week, we sent out a query: “Where are you now?” Nantucketers have always been known for traveling far and wide, and February is the time when most of us get off the island. We wanted to know where you were, and the following maps answer that question.

Some of the more interesting comments in the responses:

  • No need to ask, they’re all in the Keys.
  • would rather be on Nantucket
  • Keene, NH & New Bedford, MA. Exciting, huh?
  • On the beach in Stuart, Fl Not missing the snow
  • Enjoying the M. A. T. emails from the Nob Hill area of Portland, Or
  • in Provence! sorry to be missing that Wed. storm
  • In the middle of no where, Abadania an hour or so south-west of Brasilia
  • A small town inside an extinct volcano two hours west of Panama City, Panama on the Pacific coast
  • In OH waiting to get dumped on again. 2 feet on Friday and 2 more to come tomorrow – what was I thinking?
  • Charlottesville, VA – believe what you read and hear about Friday’s storm!
  • Hoi An, Vietnam! cool experiment Gene!
  • New Orleans, La. There is a lot of excitement here due to the Saints’ victory, the new mayor, and the Mardi Gras season.
  • We’re in Vero Beach, FL – along with a lot of other Nantucketers!
  • Freezing in Sarasota, FL!!!!
  • Heading to Reykjavik, Iceland tomorrow. Not much snow here.
  • Can’t WAIT to see the map w/ all the Nantucketers that travel the globe! I’ll never forget meeting an elderly couple who turned out to be fellow islanders at baggage claim in Orly, Paris back in the 90’s. And do you remember Cary’s summer slide show with the story of the woman in Greece carrying an ACKbasket./purse and the narrator asked her if she was from Nantucket……and her reply was “My dear I”M FROM S’CONSET!” Ha

Where Are You Now 2

Nantucket Hotel and Restaurant News

TRAVEL NEWS

Travel and Leisure’s 2009 World’s Best Awards include the White Elephant as the #15 resort in the U.S. and Canada, and the #1 resort in New England.

A Conde Nast Traveler 22nd Annual Readers’s Choice Award went to Nantucket as the third best island in North America, behind Kiawah and Vancouver Island. The ratings are based on restaurants, beaches, activities, lodging, atmosphere, ambiance, scenery, and friendliness.

The Wauwinet was named one of the best small hotels in the U.S., listed number 7 out of 35 and ranked 91.0 out of 100, based on the categories of Food/Dining, Location, Overall Design, and Room Service.


RESTAURANT NEWS

Earlier this year, TOPPER’S restaurant at The Wauwinet, under the expertise of Cellar Master Craig Hanna, was one of 72 recipients of the Wine Spectator’s annual Grand Award, this the 14th consecutive year, and the only restaurant on Nantucket to receive it. The award is given to restaurants that show an uncompromising and passionate devotion to the quality of their wine program. Each winning restaurant offers at least 1,500 selections that include top producers and mature vintages. Excellence and harmony with the restaurant’s menu and superior service are also recognized.


“When mussels are in season, Sfoglia gets the biggest and fattest, and Steven and I must have the voluptuous wild mussels with slivers of spicy salami in a heady broth, fragrant with tomato and fennel…But it’s love of pasta that keeps bringing me back to Sfoglia. The spaghetti with San Marzano tomatoes and strawberry…the tang of the fruit and balsamic vinegar was a revelation.” That’s a quote from Gael Greene of Insatiable-Critic.com who recently wrote about Sfoglia, New York at 135 E. 92nd St. Excerpts from the full article.


At The Chamber of Commerce Annual Chowder Contest on Saturday, October 17, the winner was Arno’s, Even Keel Cafe took second, and The Dancing Pickle third.

Nantucket Tourism and the Economy

Steamship Authority passenger traffic between Hyannis and Nantucket for 2009 through July 31 was down 0.4% from last year (Fast ferry was up 0.9%; regular ferry down 1.2%). Auto traffic was down 4.1%, trucks were down 16.8%. (Thanks for Flint Ranney for these figures.)

Enplanements (number of ticketed passengers departing Nantucket Memorial Airport reported by tenant airlines) through July, 2009 are down 24.8% from the same period in 2008. That’s about 37,000 fewer enplanements this year.

Total operations (either a takeoff or a landing) for the period January – July, 2009, are 13.7% below the same period in 2008 – 11,305 fewer operations.

Some trends I’ve been picking up over the past few weeks. This is not a scientific poll, but anecdotal.

Visitors to the island this year are making their plans on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before the weekend they plan to visit, instead of weeks in advance. Our guest houses are not full during the week, even in some weeks of high summer. Visitors are looking for the deal, and looking to bargain.

There seems to be as many weekend private jets here as there have been for the past few years, if not more. There have been more pilots looking for rooms at the last minute than in years past.

The number of visitors to the island in June and July were down about 20% to 30%. August for at least the first few weeks seemed as busy as usual – restaurants may have done as much business as they did last August, but that hasn’t made up for a slow June and July.

Weddings were down this spring, and will be again this fall. However, weddings for 2010 are looking strong again.

Nantucket Economy

On August 1, the state sales tax and meals tax will increase from 5% to 6.25%.


Following are the traffic statistics for the Steamship Authority between Hyannis and Nantucket for 2009 through June 30 compared to the first six months of 2008. Thank you Flint Ranney for providing these numbers.

Passengers:

Fast Ferry, 51,869, down 0.3% (returned to route April 16)

Regular ferry, 109,469, down 3.9%

Total passengers, 161,338, down 2.8%

Autos:

Regular, 7,132 down 9.3%

Excursion, 12,206, down 1.6%

Total autos, 24,788, down 5.7%

Trucks: 19,456, down 16.9%

Martha’s Vineyard comparisons:

Passengers, 827,790 down 3.5%

Autos, 158,138, down 1.6%

Trucks, 47,867, down 5.1%

Total overall SSA traffic is down 8.8% to date in 2009.

Nantucket Airport Terminal Opening

The Nantucket Memorial Airport Terminal Opening Ceremony took place on Friday, May 29, 2009, with tours of the new facility, music, food and soft beverages, and a ribbon cutting ceremony. Some of the people we saw there: State Representative Tim Madden, Al Peterson, Andy Ravins, Amy MacPhetres, Tatiana Tsepkova, Mike Gear, Mary Fee, Phillip & Claire Raneri, June and Joan Albaugh, Sheila O’Brien Egan, Patty Roggeveen, Foley Vaughn, Erica Wilson, Vladamir Kagan, Bo & Hannah Overlock, Ali Trifero, Donald Holdgate, Martha Butler, Yolanda Maxwell, Craig Taylor, Libby, Grace & Alex Gibson, Devin Durand, Lyman Perry, John Stover, Maureen Supka, Kim Corkran, Mary Malavase, Dan Wolf, The Nantucket High School Honors Choir with Barbara Elder, Reverend Euene McDowell, Gene Coscia, Claudy Exama, Debbie & Peter Karnes, David Sharpe, Whitey Willauer, Bob Moulder, Lynn Walsh, Jensen & Jamie Cook, Rick Atherton, Michael Kopko, David Gray, and Mr. and Mrs Kevin Dugan. More photos online.

Nantucket Airport Terminal 2

Nantucket Airport Terminal 3

Airport Terminal Opening 4