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Mountain Mayhem: I’ll Take Manhattan

May Selby
Mountain Mayhem
Craig Lawson, Bon Appetit magazine’s editor-in-chief Dawn Davis and chef/author JJ Johnson at an Aspen Institute talk in New York.
The Aspen Institute’s director of special events and donor relations, Desirée Beebe; executive director of the Society of Fellows, Warwick Sabin; and East regional director of the Society of Fellows, Megan Bentzin.
World-renowned restaurateur Danny Meyer speaking at an Aspen Institute event in New York in October.
A Society of Fellows discussion and reception in New York in October entitled Resetting the Table: What's Next for the Restaurant Industry.
Meaghan de L’Arbre of Aspen settling in to her glamping situation at Collective Retreats Governor’s Island.
First time camping with the Statue of Liberty front and center across the New York Harbor.
Luxury camping at Collective Retreats nestled near the hills of historic Governors Island in full view of Manhattan’s skyline. Steve Goff photo.
There’s nothing quite like running through Central Park in the fall. Aspen local Meag de L’Arbre on a foot tour in New York.
Aspen / Manhattan connections abound - May Selby runs into event planner extraordinaire Michelle Rago at Soho House in the Meatpacking District.
Touring the wine cellar at Cote, a Michelin-starred Korean steakhouse in New York.

After what seemed like a very long hiatus – about two years time – it was invigorating to return to New York recently for a few days, packing in as much as possible from arrival to departure. First up was an Aspen Institute Society of Fellows reception at a private restaurant on 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 Dawn Davis, Editor-in-Chief of Bon Appétit magazine. Topics covered spanned how the food and restaurant industry is responding to recent challenges, the rise of inclusion and equity issues, how business models have evolved as a result of the pandemic, what new imperatives have surfaced for sustainability and supply chains, and the culture of dining.

Next, 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 were whisked across the New York Harbor for an 8-minute ride to the outdoor sanctuary that felt like a world away from the buzz of the city, surrounded by sprawling green space with views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan Skyline. Our friend Peter Mack is the founder and CEO of Collective Retreats, which he started six years ago.

“As an Aspenite. I took inspiration from these mountains and this community,” he said. “Each of our retreats is located in an iconic destination and features luxury outdoor accommodations, exceptional culinary experiences, and bespoke hospitality. The combination of old world Alps inspired service with Aspen style is our passion. We operate year round in Hill Country, Austin Texas and the New York City and Vail locations open back up in the spring. We’re also working on an Aspen location – which we’re very excited about because we have so many amazing guests from here – plus other mountain locations, Sonoma, Vermont, and more.”



Rounding out my visit, I ran into Aspen friends at various locations – running in Central Park, meeting at Soho House in the Meatpacking District and dining at Cote Korean Steakhouse. There’s no place quite like Manhattan – and I can’t wait to go back soon.


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