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Happy Thanksgiving! My favorite day of the year is almost here. This year is extra special as we’re leaving tonight to take our 9-month old on her first trip to Europe. We’ll be enjoying London and The Cotswolds this week! Why is Thanksgiving so great? It’s the one day of the year where we can really focus on gratitude and what matters most to us. This Thanksgiving I’m thrilled to continue my annual tradition of (over)sharing!

Without any further delay I give you the things I am most thankful for in 2017!

  • I’m thankful for Isla (pronounced Eye-la). She was so absolutely worth the wait! Our miracle arrived on February 22nd, and she is the greatest gift that Laura, David and I could have ever hoped for.
  • Speaking of Isla, I’m thankful for the magical isle of Islay (also pronounced Eye-la, and that is not a coincidence) located off the west coast of Scotland with just 3,200 people and an impressive EIGHT distilleries.
  • I’m thankful for our family vacation to  Caneel Bay in August. I am so grateful for the family memories created before Hurricane Irma devastated St. John.
  • I’m thankful for my many travel industry friends that have donated to rebuilding efforts in The Caribbean, Texas and Florida.
  • I’m thankful for our Celebrated Impact program that is supported so strongly by our Travel Advisor clients! We are having our best year ever and will be donating over $34,000 to charity this year. We donate $1 for every room night booked with us. Next month I will share the details. THANK YOU!
  • I’m thankful for David. Isla has been blessed with the best big brother in history.
  • I’m thankful for the resilience of the International Traveler. We feared mass cancellations after the attacks in London earlier this year. Fortunately, there were only a few cancellations. So much of that resilience is because travelers had strong travel advisors that explained the reality of risk and the importance of “carrying on”.
  • Speaking of keeping calm and carrying on, I am thankful for the courageous spirit of the British people. Hours after the attacks in London, most things were back to normal.
  • I’m thankful for duty free shopping and coming up with creative ways to bring back as many bottles of Whisky and Gin as I can from my Inspection Tours. My record? Nine bottles, but I know I can do better!
  • I’m thankful for my Mom, Leni, who founded Celebrated Experiences with my Dad. She was one of the hardest workers ever put on our planet. Even though her memory continues to fade, she still has her spark, sense of humor and more love for Preston Epstein than anything on the planet.
  • I’m thankful for patience. We have waited for almost two years for Adare Manor to return to Ireland’s incredible hotel landscape! It has now reopened and is truly one of the world’s greatest luxury hotels. I am excited to return in December!
  • I’m thankful for every day I get to spend with Truman. My little buddy is getting older (and heavier), yet I never take for granted the incredible love he gives us (and the patience he shows to his new sister!)
  • I’m thankful that despite serious fire damage in some areas, Napa Valley and surrounding California wine country is up and running! Laura and I went away for a couple’s weekend and had the best time! We especially loved our visits to Chase, Hall (Rutherford), Far Niente and Round Pond. This year was the 30th anniversary of my first trip to Napa Valley. Yes, my Dad took me when I was just 12. We’ve been drinking buddies ever since.
  • I’m thankful that after just three years, Celebrated Italy now has a collection of 100 properties! Our newest member is the sensational Hotel Brunelleschi in Florence! We will have big announcements in January, including an Italian icon joining our Collection. We are also super excited to announce our new Sicily properties!
  • I’m thankful for cast iron skillets, especially when there are two New York Strips sizzling in them, finished with a lather of butter and thyme. (Best accompanied by a big Italian Brunello or Barolo, of course!)
  • I’m thankful for our incredible guided experiences in London from tours of street art in Shoreditch to our vintage Mini Cooper tours. Thanks for booking our handpicked guides and private experiences at The Tower of London, Churchill War Rooms, Hampton Court Palace and more.
  • I’m thankful for non-High Season travel and those of you that take the time to explain to your clients the benefits of traveling to the Amalfi Coast in April , The Scottish Highlands in Spring, Ireland in October, London in August and The Cotswolds in Autumn.
  • I’m thankful for Dad. At 81 years old he is still designing beautiful, personalized itineraries and is definitely not shy about sharing his opinions ;-).
  • I’m thankful for Celebrated Perks. Clients love our special amenities and we are grateful to our hotel partners for being coming up with creative and generous amenities, such as complimentary tickets to the Churchill War Rooms from Corinthia Hotel London, to our Smoked Salmon Experience at Sheen Falls, and airport transfers at Centurion Palace in Venice.
  • I’m thankful for sides, especially sweet potatoes with marshmallows on Thanksgiving.
  • And last, but certainly not least, I AM SO INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL for my Celebrated Experiences team. I am so very fortunate to get to work with this talented, creative, smart, fun crew everyday. I love them like family and am honored to serve by by their side.

Thanks so much for reading and being a part of our Celebrated Family. Wishing you and your families a very Happy Thanksgiving!

– Jonathan Epstein