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Traveling in a Blue State of Mind

Produced by Condé Nast Traveler 01.11.2018

Blue is the color of travel, and important color to The Ritz-Carlton, and prominently found in Trey Ratcliff’s work.

Since humans started exploring the planet, we’ve sought out blue spaces, crossing oceans and flying into the sky in search of new discovery, fashioning history along the way. With the Earth well charted and air travel established, we continue to journey in search of the revitalizing, inspiration-inducing touch of blue. Both photographer Trey Ratcliff and The Ritz-Carlton have been influenced by this color of creativity. During their 80 Stays Around the World collaboration, Ratcliff found artistic inspiration from the blue endowed in The Ritz-Carltons’ surroundings, like the navy dusk sky engulfing Singapore’s chic skyline, azure waves splashing up on a seaside horseback ride in Aruba, and hypnotic turquoise tiles in one of Budapest’s thermal Turkish baths.


Colors are among the first concepts we learn as children, so it’s no surprise they are intertwined with our emotions and well-being. Blue’s effect is especially intense. A 2009 Science study found it increases creativity and symbolizes peace and openness, even suggesting that brainstorming sessions be held in blue spaces. In natural settings, blue’s long been recognized as restorative and making us feel happier. Improved imagination, being at peace, opening up to new experiences, feeling restored, and increased happiness are—of course—why we travel. And beyond the surrounding skyscapes, shorelines, and sunsets Ratcliff captured, it’s why blue is woven throughout The Ritz-Carlton, from the iconic oxidized Czechoslovakian crystal chandelier and blue goblets in its first hotel to the keycards throughout its now almost 100 properties worldwide.

Half Moon Bay, California

It’s little wonder many of us seek out destinations (or return to old favorites, our self-proclaimed “happy places”) that are steeped in blue—or that the color appears so vividly when we capture a memory, either with our camera or in our minds. Environments saturated in that color help us disconnect from our over-stimulated, hyper-connected lives—like the tranquil blue sunrise Ratcliff captured at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay in California and in Indonesian rice paddies at Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve.

Bali, Indonesia

The spiritual benefits of both blue and travel can be enjoyed well after originally experienced—which perhaps explains why travel memories (and wanderlust) fill our daydreams and why we share our vacation photos in prominent places. Disregard the conventional wisdom that snapping a picture takes a photographer out of the moment: The American Psychological Association discovered that “photography can heighten the enjoyment of positive experiences by increasing engagement.” And a 2017 study in “Psychological Science” found that using a camera helps people remember their experience visually, even if they never look at the picture again. (For the science behind what makes Ratcliff’s photos so striking, WIRED interviewed perceptual neuroscientist and MIT researcher Dr. Caitlin Mullin.)

Chefchaouen, Morocco

Ratcliff has long recognized that using a camera inspires all travelers to be more artistic and in the moment. For example, what could have been just a fleeting feeling of peace Ratcliff felt upon a walk through Chefchaouen, Morocco (a short drive from the upcoming location of Tamuda Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve) is instead a preserved emotion, etched in both his mind and portfolio.

The Temple Protects Kyoto

Kyoto, Japan

A evening stroll along the harbor in Istanbul and a treetop temple above Kyoto—all imbued with blue—revitalized and inspired Ratcliff during his 80 stays with The Ritz-Carlton. Now, camera in hand, head out on your own journey and experience the powerful effect color has on your world.

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