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  • COURTESY PHOTO
    Anna Healy walks her Suffolk Punch draft horse, Duchess, through a winter wonderland in Woodland Park in Monona, Wis. Healy and her horse are part of an extensive project to remove undesirable tree species from the 17-acre park and restore the area to its primarily native oak habitat. The horses are used to drag cut timbers from the forest in a way that minimizes the impact to the ground of the thinned-out areas.
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Hotel gift shops upgrade wares

Hotel bars, restaurants and spas have all been popular subjects for style makeovers. Now the lobby gift shop is getting some attention as hotels seek to stock fewer logo coffee mugs and more few-of-a-kind products.

Seaside Luxe, a resort-focused retailer based in Los Angeles, recently opened a 1,300-square-foot shop at the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach in Florida, featuring a trendy mix of designer clothing and sports gear like surfboards. It plans to open four more shops at Hawaii’s Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay in the spring.

The Gritti Palace in Venice just opened House of Waris RARE, selling art and craft pieces like stuffed owls made with Fortuny fabric, ceramic tea bowls and leather backgammon boards, all selected by designer Waris Ahluwalia.

Rosewood Hotels & Resorts recently hired a retail director to manage five of its resort-based shops, which now carry locally made jewelry, dolls and wood sculptures in the Caribbean and Mexico.

"Hotels on the higher end are seeing the lobby as social space where you want people to linger and have more of a Restoration Hardware experience than the old gift shop," said Jan Freitag, senior vice president of the hospitality consultancy STR Global.

In some cases, the shop becomes a destination. The 20-room Los Poblanos on 25 acres in Albuquerque, N.M., sells a mix of food, books and kitchenware, much of it New Mexico-themed, in a light-flooded barn, now popular with locals as well as tourists. "What people like about it is it’s the most nonhotel hotel shop you can experience," said Matt Rembe, owner and general manager of the inn.

Learn to ski or snowboard for free

Ski NH and its 33 member resorts are offering a week of free learn-to-ski and snowboard packages as part of a national outreach program.

Jan. 11-17, the mountains are offering a limited number of packages that include a free lesson, rentals and lift ticket. Participants should visit www.SkiNH.com to register and download a Learn to Ski or Ride Free coupon. Then, they’ll contact a participating ski area to reserve a specific day.

It’s part of national Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month, a program featuring special offers to make it easier and more affordable for people to learn to ski, snowboard, cross-country ski or snowshoe.

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