Posts Tagged: Hotel Commonwealth
By: Alexa Treon
Sports & Entertainment Travel (SET) recently hosted our annual Kentucky Derby trip welcoming over 100 guests from 13 different college universities to Lexington, Kentucky for 4-days, 3-night immersion into the thoroughbred horse racing and Bourbon distillery industries.
Often referred to as, “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports,” this race is top of many’s bucket lists, rightfully so! Even for the horse racing novice, this spectacle is an experience unlike any other.
There are endless ways to enjoy your time at Churchill Downs from General Admission in the Infield to Grandstands or Box Seating to the newly-opened First Turn Club. Situated on the iconic first turn of the racetrack, the First Turn Club offers exclusive betting windows, food, and drinks with a front row view of the famous Kentucky Derby Walkover, where contenders and their connections parade along the track from the barn area to the Paddock prior to the big race. With next year being the 150th running, the options are continuing to grow! The best part? All reserved seating includes all-inclusive food and beverage!
The trip started on Wednesday evening with a Reception to welcome travelers at Harper Hall. Just celebrating their one year anniversary, this venue was a perfect space to host our guests with its open concept and exposed white brick walls. The evening began with a delicious buffet meal paired with entertainment by a BlueGrass Trio. We ended the night with an engaging conversation with longtime SET friend and tour manager at the Kentucky Derby Museum, Barry Northern.
Thursday morning started with a breakfast at the American Saddlebred Museum among the historic artifacts outlining the history of American Saddlebred horses
Next stop was a Tour and Tasting at Buffalo Trace Distillery. Guides took our guests along a tour of the grounds diving deep into the history of bourbon and the journey of how it came to be what it is today. The tour ended with a tasting of multiple of Buffalo Trace’s offerings finished with a Bourbon Cream Root Beer float and chocolate bourbon ball.
Lunch was held at Castle & Key Distillery. Located on historic grounds that date back to the late 1800s, this distillery was restored and reopened in 2014.
Finally, we ended our day at Old Friends Farm, one of the most well known Thoroughbred retirement farms started by Former Boston Globe movie critic, Michael Blowen. With his love for horses and passion for creating a relaxing environment for horses after the breeding sheds and race tracks, Michael is still very much present around the farm. Knowledgeable volunteers will guide you through the current residents and their stories. One of Old Friend’s most famous residents is Silver Charm, the 1997 Kentucky Derby Winner. All animal-lovers alike will enjoy Old Friends, while even having the opportunity to feed the horses a carrot or 2!
Keeneland was our first stop on Friday with a guided tour of the grounds during morning workouts. We had the chance to get up close and personal to watch training at this historic racecourse.
Friday afternoon we visited a variety of horse farms including:
SPY COAST FARM
Spy Coast Farm specializes in the breeding and development of top quality performance horses. They employ an integrated approach to all reproductive, training, competition, and sales efforts and over time have extended this approach to include rehabilitation and fitness services, CEM quarantine, and an Equine Education Center. Our 2 hour tour started at the state-of-the-art medical/rehabilitation facility, where Dr. Julie Vargas told the group about the different treatments available. Farm Tour Guide Lisa Biererman then took us across a majority of the 800 acre property, seeing the vast paddocks, breeding barn along with the newborn foals.
Lane’s End Thoroughbred Farm has a fascinating history, with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth visiting on multiple occasions and an extraordinary sales record, selling more than 365 stakes winners, including A.P. Indy, Saint Liam, Rags to Riches, Lemon Drop Kid and Flightline. This farm has a true family feel, with several family members of the Farish family involved in all aspects of its operations. A trip to Lane’s End should be on your list during your next venture to Lexington to see some of the world’s leading breeding stallions.
Lunch was provided at Fasig Tipton, North America’s largest Thoroughbred auction house!
ACCOMMODATIONS: We stayed at the Lexington Marriott City Center, situated in the heart of downtown Lexington.There are various restaurants, shops, and activities all within a 10 minute walk. The hotel has courteous staff and many amenities including a lobby bar and daily breakfast options, making it a great choice for our travelers!
RESTAURANTS: Downtown Lexington does not lack amazing cuisine. Our first night in town, we visited Corto Lima. This latin-inspired restaurant offered a welcoming atmosphere with bright lights and courteous staff. The environment, paired with their blue corn or smoked jackfruit empanadas and their signature Prickly Pear Margarita, started our trip out on a high note.
Owned by the same duo as Corto Lima, another great option in the area is Italx. We started out the evening with the Prosciutto di Parma that came dressed with burrata, tomatoes, basil, and fresh toasted focaccia. For our next course, we indulged in the lobster ravioli, which was recommended by our waitress and lived up to the hype! We finished the night with the Tiramisu al Marsala and as if the great meal wasn’t enough, this restaurant is located in the Residence Inn, connected to the Marriott, so we just had a short (covered) walk back to the hotel. This is definitely a popular option, so be sure to make a reservation ahead of time.
Check out some photos from this trip HERE!
Interested in joining us for the 150th Running in 2024? Click here for more information.
If you are interested in customizing a Kentucky Derby package for the 150th running in 2024, email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Rachel Nigh
Sports & Entertainment Travel (SET) had the opportunity to bring guests to the heart of baseball country and experience the rich history of American Baseball. The tour brought guests through the Northeast and provided exclusive access to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Our five-night tour started in Boston with a welcome event and introduction to our tour by trip host, Professor Michael Raycraft. The following morning brought a private guided tour of the oldest active ballpark in the major league, Fenway Park. Guests were able to take in the magnificent view from the top of the Green Monster, the press box, and their new addition, Fenway Farms. That evening guests experienced Fenway Park come to life with a match-up against the Minnesota Twins. You can’t go to Fenway without the classic Fenway Frank or clam chowder.
Friday morning guests departed for Cooperstown, NY, the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. On the journey through New England, travelers had lunch in the Berkshires at the Red Lion Inn. This American classic Inn has been a landmark for hospitality for over 250 years. As guests continued toward Cooperstown, NY they took in the breathtaking views of Otsego Lake. We had an exquisite dinner with oysters, crab legs, and tenderloin with presentations on Cooperstown significance to baseball from Professor Raycraft and National Baseball Hall of Fame Sales Manager, June Dolhun.
The next morning guests had the opportunity to take in all the National Baseball Hall of Fame and explore the quaint nature of the Village of Cooperstown. In the afternoon our guests enjoy swapping stories and asking questions regarding the history of baseball on the Otesaga Resort’s famed back porch and rocking chairs. This provided the opportunity for travelers to mingle amongst the group over an afternoon beverage.
The group woke up the next morning and departed for New York City. Upon arrival in The Big Apple guests were given an in-depth tour of Yankee Stadium. The group was taken through “The House That George Built” in reference to owner George Steinbrenner. After concluding the tour, the group grabbed some Yankee Stadium staple food and sat down for a gorgeous Saturday afternoon game. The group watched the Yankees take a victory over Toronto Blue Jays and conclude the game with Frank Sinatra’s classic “New York, New York.” After the conclusion of the game, the group took the Subway home from the Bronx to the Midtown Refinery Hotel. That evening we said a final farewell to each other at the Refinery Rooftop over cocktails and appetizers.
We had the pleasure of having Michael Raycraft lead our group for this tour. Dr. Raycraft is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Illinois Department of Recreation,
Sport and Tourism, and the recipient of multiple teaching awards at the College and Campus levels. Dr. Raycraft has been actively engaged with the Baseball Hall of Fame for over three decades, published two books on baseball memorabilia, and lectured extensively on the sport’s historical roots, business models, and tourism opportunities. For the last five years, he has led tours of this region and will provide our guests with a unique insider’s perspective of our high-profile baseball sights and locations.
The travelers primarily walked in the specific cities on this tour or were using motor coach transportation from city to city in the New England area.
In the Big Apple, there were plenty of transportation options from taxis to the intricate NYC subway system. All guests were given a Metro Card, offering them easy access to the entire city. If you are looking for directions, don’t fret, the app, CityMapper, is your public transportation mapping go-to.
Fanwise, you can’t do better than the official hotel of the Boston Red Sox, the ultra-praised Hotel Commonwealth. This unique property has a baseball-dedicated elevator with signatures from some of the greatest players in the major league. The location in the Kenmore neighborhood allows for a less than five-minute walk to Fenway Park.
The Otesaga iconic luxury resort provided historic elegance and charm along the shore of Otsego Lake. This hotel has been open since 1909 and has remained a staple of upstate New York. This hotel is not only breathtaking in its 700 feet of shorefront but also within walking distance of the Baseball Hall of Fame. This made it convenient for guests to leisurely stroll through town and relax at the lakeside.
Located only a few blocks from Bryant Park and Times Square, Refinery Hotel provides the NYC modern and luxurious feel. This hotel is trendsetting with stylish loft rooms and a popular rooftop bar. This location allows guests to easily take a stroll through Central Park, see a Broadway show and much more.
The Bleacher bar is a go-to spot situated beneath the bleachers of Fenway Park’s center field. A huge garage window looks directly into Fenway and has been noted as one of the best sports bars in the country.
In Cooperstown, Mel’s at 22 is in a historic spot along the downtown area. The American classic eatery offers delicious staples and great daily specials. This is an easy walk from the National Hall of Fame following shopping and touring local sites.
Refinery Rooftop Restaurant and Bar has not only great drinks but some of the best views in New York City. You can see through the glass ceiling the top of the Empire State Building and a majority of the fashion district.
When you aren’t watching baseball games, we recommend a walk/run through downtown Boston, along Lake Otsego, or through Central Park. All of these cities live up to their historical significance and more.