Mountain Mayhem: I’ll take Manhattan

Craig Lawson, editor-in-chief of Bon Appetit magazine Dawn Davis and chef / author JJ Johnson at a conference at the Aspen Institute in New York.
Aspen Institute Director of Special Events and Donor Relations Desirée Beebe; executive director of the Society of Fellows, Warwick Sabin; and the Eastern Regional Director of the Society of Fellows, Megan Bentzin.
World-renowned restaurateur Danny Meyer speaking at an Aspen Institute event in New York City in October.
A Society of Fellows discussion and reception in New York in October titled Resetting the Table: What’s Next for the Restaurant Industry.
Meaghan from The Tree of Aspen settling into his glamping location at Collective Retreats Governor’s Island.
Camp for the first time with the Statue of Liberty in front and in the center of New York Harbor.
Luxury campsite at Collective Retreats nestled near the hills of historic Governors Island with stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. Photo by Steve Goff.
There is nothing quite like running in Central Park in the fall. Aspen local Meag de L’Arbre on a walking tour of New York City.
Aspen / Manhattan connections abound – May Selby meets extraordinary event planner Michelle Rago at Soho House in the Meatpacking District.
Visit the Cote Wine Cellar, a Michelin-starred Korean steakhouse in New York City.

After what seemed like a very long hiatus – about two years – it was invigorating to come back to New York recently for a few days, doing as much as possible from finish to start. First, an Aspen Institute Society of Fellows reception at a private restaurant in Central Park South, which was generously hosted by Kim and Rob Coretz. Entitled “Resetting the Table: What’s Next for the Restaurant Industry,” the conversation with Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group and JJ Johnson, award-winning chef, founder, TV personality and author, was guided by editor-in-chief Dawn Davis. in chief of Bon Appétit magazine. Topics covered covered how the food and restaurant industry is responding to recent challenges, rising inclusion and equity issues, changing business models in the aftermath of the pandemic, new emerged imperatives for sustainability and supply chains, and the culture of dining.

Then a friend and I spent an evening at Collective Retreats Governor’s Island for a glamping getaway. Departing from downtown Manhattan by water taxi, we crossed New York Harbor for an 8-minute ride to the open-air sanctuary that felt like a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city, surrounded by ‘a vast green space with a view of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. Our friend Peter Mack is the founder and CEO of Collective Retreats, which he launched six years ago.

“As an Aspenite. I was inspired by these mountains and this community, ”he said. “Each of our retreats is located in an iconic destination and offers luxury outdoor accommodations, exceptional dining experiences and tailor-made hospitality. Combining old world Alpine inspired service with Aspen style is our passion. We operate year round in Hill Country, Austin Texas and New York and Vail reopens in the spring. We’re also working on a site in Aspen – which we’re very excited about because we have so many amazing guests from here – as well as other mountain sites, Sonoma, Vermont, and more.



To complete my visit, I met friends from Aspen at various locations – running around Central Park, meeting at Soho House in the Meatpacking District, and dining at Cote Korean Steakhouse. There is no place like Manhattan – and I can’t wait to go back soon.

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