Eye on Travel — Hotel Du Pont in Wilmington, Delaware — June 19, 2021
This week’s broadcast of Eye on Travel comes from the historic Hotel Du Pont in Wilmington, Delaware. Peter has a global update on all the breaking travel news — and there’s a lot of it. Air Canada being fined $25 million by the U.S. Department of Transportation for failing to give refunds to passengers — and that’s just the beginning. Charlie Leocha, President of Travelers United, speaks about the continuing problems customers have been experiencing in trying to get a refund or use the provided vouchers for cancelled flights amid the pandemic. Mike Purzycki, Mayor of Wilmington, speaks to the impact of COVID-19 on Wilmington and what has changed in town since Amtrak Joe has become President. We’ll talk with Stephanie Lampkin, Director of Jane and Littleton Mitchell Center for African American Heritage, talks about the Center’s project, “Journey to Freedom,” and the often hidden history of the civil rights movement in Delaware. And a close look at Winterthur, and one of the more amazing collections of Americana anywhere. And then Jake Kheel, Author of Waking the Sleeping Giant: Unlocking the Hidden Power of Business to Save the Planet, speaks about the natural relationship between ecosystems and the travel industry and why the private sector’s role in conservation could — and should — be a huge gamechanger. There’s all this and more on this week’s Eye on Travel.
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Mike Purzycki, Mayor of Wilmington, speaks to the impact of COVID-19 on Wilmington and how it has accelerated change and has forced everyone to reevaluate their lives and upended social norms. He also talks about his recent call with his former dormmate, current U.S. President Joseph Biden Jr. He notes that President Biden’s win has added credibility to Wilmington. The mayor then discusses the unique role that trains play in the city compared to the rest of the country. He further suggests some of his must-dos and favorite restaurants including strolling by the Riverfront. And he concludes by talking about how the influx of “crazy kids” have begun to transform and change the city.
Stephanie M. Lampkin, PhD, Director of Jane and Littleton Mitchell Center for African American Heritage, talks about the Center’s project, “Journey to Freedom,” which tells the state’s African American history, beginning in 1639 to the present day. Within the project, visitors can learn about the nine-month-long occupation of Wilmington by the National Guard, which was prompted by the passionate reaction of the people of Wilmington following the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. You can also learn more about the city’s connection to Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad as well as some facts that may surprise you. Lampkin hopes people walk away with being able to see themselves in the history of the city and also challenges people to always consider who writes history and how history is being presented and shared.
Charlie Leocha, President of Travelers United, speaks about the problems customers have been experiencing in trying to get a refund or use the provided vouchers for cancelled flights amid the pandemic due to the lack of enforceable consequences that airlines face. He is currently working with the Department of Transportation to have these flight credits extended indefinitely and make them transferable to another person. He notes that many of these changes can be done by the leaders at the Department of Transportation. He also reminds travelers to stay vigilant as scams are on the rise and to work with people they know that have good reputations and experience in the travel industry.
Ed Fuller, President of Laguna Strategic Advisors and Former President of Marriott International Lodging, joins the show to talk about the number one thing travelers care about — safety. He talks about the increased cleaning and safety standards of hotels after the pandemic. He also discusses the struggle of maintaining a full hotel staff of qualified individuals and warns people to be wary of a short-staffed hotel, especially in the kitchen and restaurants. And the days of trusting a brochure are over! Call the hotel before you stay there and talk to a manager in order to ensure that you will feel safe when you arrive.
Chris Strand, Executive Director at the Winterthur Museum Garden & Library, shares some unique facts and hidden gems about the Winterthur and shows us that it is much more than just a simple museum. It is the former home of antique collector Henry Francis du Pont and his expansive collection of upwards of 90,000 unique Americana goods ranging from textiles, ceramics, furniture, and more. Located on 1.5 square miles of property, you will also find 77 acres of gardens to explore and even some cows. He also talks about how the estate not only has its own volunteer firefighter company, but it also produces its own water — approximately one million gallons a day.
John Looney, Fire Chief at the Wilmington Fire Department, discusses the changes he has seen in Wilmington over the course of his 28 years at the department. He has seen the development of the now thriving waterfront, high rise offices being built, and an increase in new apartments as more people begin to call the city home. Looney further explains Wilmington’s strict firecodes and how businesses must keep their standards at the most current code before sharing some of the best places to get breakfast, lunch and dinner in this town of 70,000.
Jake Kheel, Author of Waking the Sleeping Giant: Unlocking the Hidden Power of Business to Save the Planet, speaks about the natural relationship between ecosystems and the travel industry and why the private sector’s role in conservation could be a huge gamechanger. Kheel gives a lesson into the evolutionary design of coral reefs and how they’re being grown in land-based labs and nurseries now as it’s more efficient. Then, Kheel has some information on fishing’s negative effects on our oceans and conservation in general.
Tyler Akin, Chef-Partner of Le Cavalier at the Green Room in the Hotel Du Pont, dives into the process of spearheading the first major renovation and menu change of Le Cavalier since its opening in 1913. He discusses the decision to do away with the white linen tablecloths and servers in suits in order to create a more relaxed French brasserie dining experience and help take the restaurant into the 21st century. He also reveals some of the dishes he thought would do better than they did and the dishes he says he’ll never be able to take off the menu because people love them too much.
By Amanda Morris for PeterGreenberg.com