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When Life Gave Him Furlough…Brandon Berkson Made Lemonade with His Hotel List

Brandon Berkson features Casa Angelina in hotel guide

Casa Angelina

Check out Brandon Berkson’s story behind travel’s hottest new hotel guide, “Hotels Above Par”—a virtual hit list of travel faves.

When life gave me furlough… I made lemonade” says founder of the travel world’s hottest new hotel guide Hotels Above Par, Brandon Berkson. At 25 years old, the hotel pundit with travel experience beyond-his-years, found himself facing what millions of people faced, unemployment. His perfect real job at a PR firm in New York City vanished, as did the upwardly mobile rise of his career, all halted by a worldwide pandemic.

A concept came to his mind in early April, where this millennial hotel pundit could utilize his Travel PR skills, by creating a trendy Insta-hotel guide.

Brandon Berkson Insta Guide best hotels list

“As devastated as I was about being put on furlough, I wanted to support hotels during a time when they need our love most” says Berkson. “I also wanted to stay connected with hotels and travel—my greatest passions in life—as well as inspire future getaways during this unprecedented time.”

Berkson intuitively realized national and world travel was not on the books for many Americans, even though they continued dreaming of their next trip, keeping their mind off the pandemic. In addition to a tasteful eye for hospitality design, his love for hotels is genuine.

His passion to stay connected with the travel industry, inspiring others to keep hotels top-of-mind during this time, is truly honest. A concept came to his mind in early April, where this millennial hotel pundit could utilize his Travel PR skills, by creating a trendy Insta-hotel guide that, not only inspires travel for so many, but also highlights spectacular hotels around the world during these volatile times.

“Hotels Above Par—an Insta-guide showcasing and inspiring hotel enthusiasts around the world—came to me in April, aligning my multitude of exciting thoughts, while having them fall into place perfectly. I knew I needed the page to capture the imagination of hotel lovers, as well as provide visually magnificent content, with eye-catching photos for people who are dreaming of their next trip,” he says.

San Francisco Proper Hotel featured in Brandon Berkson's hotel guide

San Francisco Proper Hotel

“Additionally, I needed a page populated with information and incidentals about captivating hotels worldwide, which would appeal to people who want to hear the story and spotlighting of these stunning locations. This what I set out to accomplish,” says Brandon Berkson.

What has become the travel industry’s fastest growing and hottest new hotel-guide, Hotels Above Par, was launched.

The hotel guide for hip, discerning travelers has seen incredible success since its inception in mid-April. Hotels Above Par has garnered more than 35,000 followers on Instagram, which led Berkson to create “Checking In with Hotels Above Par,” an Instagram Live series where he chats all things hotels, with different industry experts who share his fervent admiration for travel.

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Pairing aesthetically pleasing images with concise-yet-compelling spotlights and stories on diversely fascinating hotels around the world.

Brandon Berkson hotel guide for Nimmo Bay Resort

Nimmo Bay Resort

To date, he has conducted one-to-one discussions with high-profile influencers; journalists who contribute to major publications including Forbes, DuJour, Popsugar, USA Today, and Travel + Leisure; as well as legendary Arizona hotel, The Hermosa Inn and ICONIC LIFE.

Pairing aesthetically pleasing images with concise-yet-compelling spotlights and stories on diversely fascinating hotels around the world, Berkson’s esteem for hotels is profound with each post. As a creative young visionary, Berkson recently debuted “Hotel Hit List,” featuring different illustrious figures within the industry, sharing stories of their favorite hotels through a section of lively superlatives.

So far, he has published two: one with renowned travel influencer, Christine Tran (@TourdeLust) as well as our own Publisher, Renee Dee (check out the guide to see the post, where she dishes on her favorite hotels). Berkson, who speaks four languages, also has a weekly Hotels Above Par segment, all in Spanish, on leading Mexican radio network, Radio Formula.

Brandon Berkson hotel guide for Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay

Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay

What’s next? My plan is to further celebrate my dedication to the hotel industry, continuing to grow Hotels Above Par and expanding our community of hotel enthusiasts. The Insta-hotel guide has brought great joy and inspiration to so many of our followers, providing me with a great sense of personal fulfillment and gratitude,” he says.

“We will always continue to talk about hotels, offering interviews with an impressive list of new journalists, hoteliers, and other revered travel figures. During these uncertain times in the industry, we will become a recognized and valued destination guide for discerning travelers, who share my love for the entire hotel world,” says Brandon Berkson.

“I’m beyond excited to further expand Hotels Above Par, welcoming more travelers, who just like me, are itching to explore the world, and the remarkable hotels that come with it.”

We asked founder of Hotels Above Par where he recommends whisking away to next year when travel conditions permit. With a mix of destinations and hotels that take into account travelers’ different levels of comfortability, Brandon Berkson lets us know where we should head to in 2021 with his hot hotel guide and hit list.

Brandon Berkson hotel guide San Miguel de Allende

Casa Hoyos

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SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE | MEXICO
“From its sweeping variety of art galleries, courtyard restaurants, and street markets — all housed under colorful Spanish colonial-style edifices—San Miguel de Allende in the Mexican State of Guanajuato is where you need to go in 2021. Trust me, it’s a fantastic replacement to Cancun — also, it’s perfect for vacationers who want to get out of the country but aren’t comfortable traveling overseas, making my hotel guide.

“The charming town—a must for those looking to delve into Mexico’s lively culture — hosts a treasure trove of boutique hotels. One of my favorites is Casa Hoyos—it’s a 16-room hotel with impeccable Mexican design. Its interior combines elements that would remind one of the area’s old colonial mansions—think yellow-tiled walls and an open central patio—paired with an indoor façade that is made of a single piece of concrete. They have a fantastic rooftop bar called BEKEB, which has superb views of the city—it’s led by internationally renowned Mixologist, Fabiola Padilla.”

Brandon Berkseon hotel guide for San Francisco Proper Hotel

San Francisco Proper Hotel

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SAN FRANCISCO | UNITED STATES
“I’m from California; if I were ever to move back to my home state from New York, it would be to San Francisco. The city’s colorful Victorian houses, sloped avenues, personality-filled coffee shops and impeccable bay views make it one of my favorite cities on my hotel hit list in the U.S. It’s also the perfect destination for vacationers who feel more comfortable traveling domestically.

“If you go, you have to stay at the San Francisco Proper Hotel. It’s one of the coolest hotels on the West Coast, with its Kelly Wearstler-designed interior, which boasts eye-catching artwork, and eclectic furniture that pays homage to different eras of style—modernism, cubism, and Victorian are just a couple. Make sure to check out rooftop bar, Charmaine’s—it’s the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail with a view.”

Brandon Berkson hotel guide at Nimmo Bay Resort

Nimmo Bay Resort

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BRITISH COLUMBIA | CANADA
Travelers in 2021 who are looking for two things—one, to stay in North America; second, to vacation in complete privacy and seclusion—need to check out Nimmo Bay Resort, a luxe no-more-than-18-guest hotel on Canadian province, British Columbia’s breathtaking Pacific coastline.

The hotel can only be accessed by seaplane from Vancouver—nature lovers will revel at guided hikes in the Great Bear Rainforest—bears and deer are a common sight—kayaking through the sea with passing-through Orcas and Gray Whales—and wellness offerings like guided meditations, eucalyptus scrubs, as well as water therapies that include soaking in a cedar hot tub at the base of a cascading waterfall. “2020 was stressful—we all deserve some wellness in our lives during 2021!” says Brandon.

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Brandon Berkson hotel guide for The Jaffa in Tel Aviv

The Jaffa, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Tel Aviv

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TEL AVIV | ISRAEL
“If you haven’t gone to Tel Aviv, you need to put it on your hotel guide hit list. It’s a beach city that mixes the Middle East with Miami and Barcelona (there’s no other place like it on earth)—I’m in love with Nev Tzedek, which is this area with a ton of cute fashion boutiques, right near the Mediterranean.

“When here, I recommend The Jaffa, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Tel Aviv—a brilliantly designed, 120-room that is housed in a revitalized 18th-Century Neo-Renaissance-style building, which used to serve as the area’s French hospital. One thing not-to-miss is the hotel’s on-site high-ceiling-church-turned-cocktail-bar, The Chapel Jaffa. Travelers can be assured that, if traveling to Israel, the country has many health and cleanliness standards in place.”

Brandon Berkson features Casa Angelina in hotel guide

Casa Angelina

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PRAIANO | ITALY
“Praiano—a small fishing village on the Amalfi Coast in Italy—is the perfect, tranquil alternative to neighboring tourist-filled town, Positano. They have a boutique hotel there called Casa Angelina. Truly, it’s one of my favorite places in the world—most people who know me, know it’s dangerous to bring up Italy as I won’t stop talking about my trip to Casa Angelina! It’s this white-washed, modern hotel that has dreamy views of the Tyrrhenian Sea— it’s different than most other hotels in the area which normally take on a more traditional Italian décor, so it makes me hotel guide hit list.

“The hotel is exceedingly romantic; your partner will forever remember a trip here—whether the relationship is long-lasting or not, haha! If you’re looking for privacy and seclusion—something that is trendy for travelers in 2021—I recommend their Eudesea Suites, which are old fisherman cabins that have been completely repurposed as modish guestrooms (they are down the hill from the hotel’s main building and right next to La Gavitella Beach—one of the only accessible spots for swimming on the rocky coastline). Casa Angelina has a rooftop restaurant called Un Piano Nel Cielo which is to die for—here, the food, ambiance, and view of the sea are the ultimate trifecta,” says Brandon Berkson.

Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay featured in Brandon Berkson's hotel guide

Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay

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THE BALEARIC ISLANDS | SPAIN
“The Balearic Islands—a Spanish archipelago in the Mediterranean—are for every type of traveler. Out of all the islands—Formentera, Mallorca, and Ibiza—Ibiza is the one I’ve been to the most. When here, I recommend staying at Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay—it’s a luxe respite from the island’s clubs and bars. This hotel, when it reopens for the season in April 2021, is perfect for travelers on my hotel guide hit list who feel comfortable going overseas, while maintaining strict, responsible socially distancing measures.

“They have launched their “Penthouse Ambassadors” program, which appoints a personal assistant to guests staying in the hotel’s Presidential, Royal, and Penthouse Suites. Minimizing interactions with other people in the area or at the hotel, they will do everything, from in-room requests to reservations for any of the hotel’s facilities to grocery shopping. Restaurant-wise, make sure to check out its namesake fine-dining establishment, Nobu, as well as Chambao—the perfect spot for enjoying paella with a view of Talamanca Bay,” he says.

Brandon Berksen hotel instaguide La Reserve Paris

La Réserve Paris

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PARIS | FRANCE
“Paris will always have a place in my heart—I used to live here and still speak fluent French! When I go back and visit, I always love to stay at La Réserve Paris, which is in the 8th arrondissement—lots of amazing shopping here. When I’m in the city, my favorite place to eat is over in St-Germain-de-Prés, at this place called Hueguette, Bistro De La Mer—it has the most amazing oysters you’ve ever had in your life, along with a fabulous terrace for people-watching,” says Berkson.

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