Born and raised in Potomac, MD, Ben now resides in Washington, DC, after graduating from Arizona State University. Before becoming an Interactive Producer for TravelChannel.com, Ben was a web producer for a small start-up company that specialized in Olympic sports. Ben is also an avid sports fan, music lover and enjoys playing with his 9-year-old Labrador-mix pup, Layla. The top 5 places on Ben's travel bucket list? Prague, Nice, Florence, Santorini and Barcelona.
“Welcome to the jungle, we’ve got fun and games …”
Like the Guns N’ Roses song says, we really do! Starting tonight at 10|9c, join new Travel Channel hosts Stephan Jablonski and Rusty Johnson as they leave New York to pursue their dream of building a world-class, eco-friendly resort in the middle of the Peruvian Amazon on the all-new series Hotel Amazon.
“We’ve put together programs to make the property sustainable with a goal of being completely green. We’re creating and helping strengthen the locals’ economy and we’re always keeping in mind their cultural values,” said both Rusty and Stephan.
Everything was on the right track — well, until they actually made it to Peru, where alarming conditions, including harsh weather, dangerous jungle creatures and a severe lack of essential supplies, began to make their dream feel more like a nightmare.
During tonight’s episode, as they attempt to create an unforgettable jungle experience for hotel guests, tempers begin to flare when Stephan realizes that construction is way behind schedule because the crew is operating on “jungle time.” When faced with the realities of the Amazon and a ticking clock, these 2 friends are pushed very close to their breaking points.
Will Stephan and Rusty be able to pull themselves — and the crew — together in time? Find out tonight on the season premiere,“Jungle Time”.
Kate Bock at Blackberry Farm – Janine Berey / SI.com
Tonight, on an all-new episode of SI: The Making of Swimsuit 2015, cover model Hannah Davis and the rest of the crew head east on the final leg of their “Made in the USA” shoot. Starting off in the Great Smoky Mountains, the models take over Blackberry Farm, a luxury hotel and resort in Tennessee. After swinging from trees and posing with pigs, they head to Caneel Bay on St. John in the US Virgin Islands, where the rain settles in, making it quite difficult to get the perfect shot — especially for the models in body paint. After the clouds part and the sun makes a brief appearance, rookie model Hailey Clauson gets in the last photo shoot of this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, finally bringing the long but beautiful 7-month journey to a close.
Check out the video below for an exclusive, behind-the-scenes preview of tonight’s season finale, “Beauty and the East.”
As Jack explores the many drinks Belize has to offer, he finds that the rugged Central American paradise has attracted people from all over the world. But no matter where you come from or why you’re there, Belize always welcomes you with a cocktail. During his journey across the beaches and through the jungles, to ancient Mayan ruins and back to the city to partake in Carnival, Jack tastes some of the wildest cocktails to date, including viper rum. It’s made when a live snake is stuffed into an empty bottle, which is then filled with rum and capped for a year until the snake meets its demise, leaving patrons with an odd but tasty snake-infused spirit.
While Belize may have tempted Jack with its bizarre drinks, chocolate wines and rum-filled seaweed smoothies, there is something much more intoxicating along the coast of Central America, luring people in with their pristine white sand and crystal-clear waters — the beaches. From amazing snorkeling just an hour off the coast of Dangriga to enjoying top-notch accommodations and cuisine on Placencia Peninsula — the country’s most popular sea and sand getaway — now is your chance to explore some of Belize’s best beaches.
Caroline Wozniacki – Captiva Island – Photo Credit: Walter looss Jr / Sports Illustrated
In tandem with the release of the Sports Illustrated 2015 Swimsuit Edition, Travel Channel and Sports Illustrated teamed up to give viewers the ultimate behind-the-scenes look into what goes in to making the annual fan favorite. From the world’s sexiest swimsuit models to America’s most ideal locales, SI: The Making of Swimsuit 2015kicks off with back-to-back premieres Sunday, starting at 9|8c,and continues with 1-hour specials every night at 9|8c through Wednesday.
As in recent years, there’s a special surprise for all you sports fans out there. This year’s issue features 2 of the fiercest, most competitive female athletes in the world, MMA fighter Ronda Rousey and professional tennis star Caroline Wozniacki. Join them on Captiva Island in Florida as they strip down to their bikinis and show off their athletic frames, proving that sports stars can be just as sexy as swimsuit models.
Last night on the 2-hour season premiere of the all-new Travel Channel series Expedition Unknown, host Josh Gates embarked on an expedition to investigate what might be the most iconic unsolved case in history, the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.
Josh began his exploration in Papua New Guinea, the last takeoff point for Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan’s plane. Before heading off to Fiji, Josh connected with a remote tribe, which helped lead him through the jungle in an attempt to recover potential pieces of evidence.
Once he arrived in Fiji, the real adventure began. Tracking down the latest and most shocking piece of evidence to date, Josh turned his attention to a small piece of aluminum that washed up on the remote island of Nikumaroro in 1991. Historians believe this could be a unique piece of sheeting installed on Earhart’s plane before her ill-fated flight.
Could Josh’s find, which led to a new article in this month’s issue of Smithsonian magazine, be the key to determining what happened to Earhart?
Travel Channel’s director of marketing and partnerships, Marika Kelderman, shares her experiences from being on location for the filming of Trip Flip’s The Hobbit special in New Zealand.
What brought you to New Zealand?
I went to New Zealand to film a special 1-hour episode of Trip Flip with host Bert Kreischer. The episode is built around The Hobbit and is set to air just before the third and final Hobbit movie, The Battle of the Five Armies, premieres in the US. We surprised 2 Hobbit super-fans with a trip. New Zealand is the real-life Middle-earth of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. READ MORE
Travel Channel executive producer Sean McKnight (not pictured) traveled to Istanbul for the filming of the upcoming series Booze Traveler. With the crew and host Jack Maxwell by his side, Sean shares his insights into the City of the World’s Desire.
Open letter to the CIA:
Seriously. If you want to really shake things up at a grassroots level, teach more kids how to play baseball — or at least how to throw a decent split-finger.
Our man on the ground in Istanbul (pictured above with Jack — whose name is withheld here, just in case President Erdogan and his pals are doing a bit of light reading in their spare time) got mixed up in last year’s rioting but couldn’t quite go the distance.
After throwing many stones, a high percentage of which were high and/or outside, our guy would retire to the bar for a beer or 6, so he might live to throw another day.
Fortunately for us, things got (a little) better, and our guy stuck around to help us navigate Turkey.
What brought you to Turkey?
The crew of Booze Traveler traveled there in April 2014 to shoot our premiere episode (coming Nov. 24 at 10|9c on Travel Channel), and with some expert local knowledge, we found our way through a country that exceeded our expectations. READ MORE
Recently back from filming an episode of the upcoming series Booze Traveler in South Africa, cocktail connoisseur, adventurer and host Jack Maxwell shares some of his favorite memories from the Rainbow nation.
What brought you to South Africa?
When you think of a place like South Africa, different kinds of drinks are probably not the first thing that pops into your head. I thought that would really be worth exploring and figured it would be a great surprise, which it was, and of course, that’s what the show is all about.
By Anna Garwood, Director of Programming & Talent Relations
What brought you to Coney Island?
I’m overseeing a general casting search for Travel Channel to find unique personalities who are passionate about travel and we can potentially develop shows around. After reviewing an initial round of Skype interviews of potential candidates, I narrowed it down to a short list and brought them to Coney Island in New York City to shoot in-field casting reels. Arthur Hsu and Will McKinley from Travel Channel were there as well to help me produce and shoot the reels. READ MORE
Recently back from filming an episode of Expedition Unknown in Peru, global explorer and host Josh Gates shares his tips for traveling to a country best known for itsiconic ruins.
What brought you to Peru?
We’re here filming an upcoming episode of Expedition Unknown for Travel Channel. The series deals with historic mysteries around the world, and in this case, we’re diving into the grand culture of the Inca and the legend of one of their lost cities. It’s a thrilling story, and documenting the rugged beauty (and rugged challenges) of traveling into the jungles of Peru is going to make for an awesome episode!
What were your expectations while filming/visiting Peru?
Due to Peru’s largely “vertical geography” (a whole lot of mountains), each part of the country is wildly distinct from the next. One day you’re enjoying the warm ocean air in Lima, the next you’re shivering and trying to catch your breath in the high-altitude city of Cusco. Tomorrow, you might be kicking snow off your shoes in the Andes or sweating bullets in the verdant jungles of the Amazon. In other words, you never know what to expect here!
A great example is Lima, which, on the surface, is an easy place to dislike. After all, it’s essentially a desert — a city teetering on dusty cliffs with gridlocked traffic and a perennially gray sky. After centuries of earthquakes, Lima is also a maze of tumbledown buildings that seem to be in a constant state of disrepair. But then, you round a corner and get stopped in your tracks by a stunning colonial cathedral or a spirited local festival. A little exploration will take you into charming neighborhoods such as Miraflores. Great restaurants, live music and a pulsing nightlife are just waiting to be found. Like all of Peru, Lima is full of amazing surprises. READ MORE