Is This the Most Ridiculous Feature in the History of Travel Magazines?

Skift Take

Running a travel magazine isn’t easy, but when you forget that your reader comes before your high-end advertiser, you’ve lost your way.

— Jason Clampet

These lost models are looking for the “western spirit” but know that their “fancy duds are no longer just for hoedowns.”

The man in the random wooden chair left in the woods, left, is in Marc Jacobs and Prada, while the the two horse-bound models, right, are in Philip Lim and True Religion. None of the three have anything to do with this destination.

When you’re keeping it real, you need at least six buttons on the sleeve of your Burberry coat.

The thoughtful moments in the old truck are so much more thoughtful when you’re waring Max Mara and Gucci, while covering up your bad spots with makeup products by NARS. Oh, and to the right is the only copy about the destination this feature is supposed to be about.

Conde Nast Traveler‘s motto is “truth in travel,” so it must be ready for the reaction to the awful truth about its Colorado feature in October issue currently on newsstands.

From a pun-tastic headline — “Silver-Mining Playbook” — that would make a New York Post headline writer cringe, to a lead image featuring an artfully bearded man in what looks like the autumn version of Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, it’s a mish-mash of everything that’s challenging mass-market travel pubs today.

An operation like Conde Nast Traveler has to sell nearly $30 million in ads each quarter to stay on top, and it can’t do that if its stories aren’t attractive to high-end advertisers. In this case, the editorial staff took a pricey, yet rustic destination in Colorado called Dunton Hot Springs and illustrated it with photos of models wearing clothing by Dries Van Noten, Paul Smith, Prada, Omega, True Religion, and other regular advertisers in the pages of CN Traveler and other magazines in the publishing group

While Traveler writers may pay their own way, as the magazine’s mission statement says, they’re able to do so because of features like this that pander to advertisers at the expense of the magazine’s readers.

Click through the images above for snapshots of the Conde Nast Traveler spread.

For comparison to the images above, here’s what Dunton Hot Springs looked like on its live webcam on Sunday night:


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