Camelot in California

The Baltimore Sun

MONTECITO, Calif. -- It's neither the biggest cottage nor the only one with an ocean view. But it commands at least $1,000 more a night than other lodgings at historic San Ysidro Ranch in the Montecito hills.

That's because Jackie and John F. Kennedy slept in it during their extended 1953 honeymoon, which, biographers say, took them first to Acapulco, Mexico, and later up the California coast.

The future first couple probably paid $27 a night, the going rate then. But today you'll pay more than 100 times that - $2,990 a night - to sleep in the 1,621-square-foot Kennedy Cottage, which reopened in March after a yearlong restoration.

Gone is the plain wood deck in the rear, replaced by a 480-square-foot stone terrace sporting an outdoor shower and a six-person hot tub. A gated front entrance, with a private courtyard, is also new. Baths off the twin master suites have been redone with white tile, polished-nickel fixtures, glass-door showers and classic claw-foot tubs. White gauze graces the canopied king beds.

Don't look for original furnishings. The eclectic decor, with Asian-style chests, animal paintings and pig and rooster figurines, was gleaned from antiques stores and the world travels of the resort's owner, Beanie Babies tycoon Ty Warner.

No matter. The Kennedys slept here, starting Sept. 28, 1953, for one or more nights, according to the hotel's staff and guest register. And because the cottage is historic, the basic layout and structure, built from locally quarried Santa Barbara sandstone, are unchanged, said architect Marc Appleton.

The Kennedy Cottage redo is just one piece of a $150 million restoration that is nearly complete at the 40-unit complex, which opened in 1893 and is now managed by Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.

In an e-mail, Warner wrote that he wanted to retain what he called the ranch's "unique character." To that end, cottages have heated bathroom floors, flat-screen TVs and decks with hot tubs and showers, but the interior design, as before, is country casual.

"We wanted the furnishings to look like heirlooms," Appleton said.

The biggest guest unit, the Ty Warner Cottage, will reopen in May. The price tag: $3,990 a night.


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Visitors to Baltimore, Louisville, Ky., and Sacramento, Calif., must know how to discover hidden gems, since those cities have been ranked among the top 10 underrated cities in the United States, according to the editors of, a travel Web site. "One trend shaping our survey is the recent revitalization of many of America's abandoned industrial centers, downtowns and waterfronts that has brought new life to many of the cities on our list," said Arabella Bowen, editorial director of the site. Also on the list: Fort Launderdale, Fla., Houston, Kansas City, Mo., Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Portland and Providence, R.I.


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Eyewitness Travel: Cracow

DK, $23

Cracow, which Americans are used to seeing spelled as Krakow, is one of the oldest cities in Poland, and this DK guide - gorgeously illustrated - covers the Cracow/Krakow of yesterday and today. Featured are color insets of the city's best museums, galleries and churches, including an in-depth look at Krakow Cathedral, considered not only a sacred symbol but also important for the role it played during the occupation of Poland during World War II. The book also explores Krakow's Jewish community, whose post-Holocaust population has dwindled to a mere 600. Oskar Schindler, the businessman made famous in Steven Spielberg's film Schindler's List, once lived in Krakow. According to the book, the original Schindler factory is being turned into a museum.


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