Virtuoso Travel Week On Tour - Los Angeles
We are back home after a few days in Los Angeles at Virtuoso's Travel Week on Tour, during which nearly 150 professional Travel Advisors met with 80+ travel suppliers, in a "speed-dating" format - followed up by a day of professional development (with a good measure of fun in the mix.)
One of the questions I frequently am asked is "Are there any good deals out there?" So fresh from meeting with so many suppliers, many of whom are currently offering promotions, here you are!
(Photo above: You may not know that I'm not the only family member in the travel industry; my son, Ben, is a First Officer with Republic Air!)
I'm writing this as the sun sets on St. Patrick's Day. Having lived in Chicago most of my life, St. Patrick's day in Southern California is comparatively low-key. But if you've harbored a hankering to visit Ireland, this is a great time to plan - one of my partners has a great air-included promotion for trips to Ireland - but this trip must be booked by March 19th. My wish for you is well stated in this Irish Blessing: May your troubles be less, and your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness come through your door! How Can A Travel Advisor Help You?
Earlier this week I was speaking with a colleague who mentioned that they and their spouse would really, really like to travel - but just could not find the time to plan. "That's why you hire someone like me!" I said - and it's true! Lack of time to plan, or getting "drinking from the firehose" overwhelm by the plethora of options available online which may lead to inability to make a decision - these are great reasons to work with a professional travel advisor when planning your travel. But there are other reasons as well...
A TRAVEL STORY
I have clients currently in Barcelona. When they contacted me several months back to help plan their trip, after the initial consultation conversation, I reached out to my network of trusted suppliers and put together a proposal including flights and hotels. When I sent it for first review, their first assumption was that the price quoted was per passenger - but it was actually for two. (They were very happy!)
Fast forward to earlier this week, as they left for Spain. I was monitoring their flight, and they texted just as I learned their flight was delayed. At first it seemed they might make their connection, but once airborne it was clear that the delay would prevent this. Before they landed I had contacted the travel supplier and identified possible alternate routing, and had learned that the airline had prospectively re-routed them for the same flight, next day. I had alerted their travel insurance carrier regarding the delay, and had information for booking a hotel for the night (and was standing by to make that booking.) Once they were in the terminal and had settled on their revised travel itinerary, I contacted the company scheduled to pick them up in Barcelona, and rescheduled their ride for the next day, and then contacted their hotel directly to ensure that their room would not be cancelled and, in fact, would be available when they did arrive the next morning.
My lovely clients took the weather-related delays in stride, and enjoyed their "bonus day" in New York before heading out to Barcelona - to get in the spirit of Spain they attended a Miro exhibit (and caught a glimpse of the New York St. Patrick's Day Parade.) When I remarked on their turning lemons into lemonade, they responded "Lemons + Vodka = Limoncello!"
Today they posted a lovely video depicting a live band and dancers, in a weekly event held in front of the cathedral just after Sunday Mass, to celebrate the Catalan Culture and independence movement. They are looking forward to a wonderful working holiday.
Things happen - for all manner of reasons - and when they do, isn't it nice to have someone behind the scenes to help you work things out?
Later this week I'm headed to LA for my first conference at Virtuoso, the consortia that my agency partnered with in January - conferences such as this provide a great vehicle for me to learn about what's new in the travel industry and to network with colleagues and suppliers - with the end result that I'm better positioned to provide great service to my clients. I've linked below my agent profile with Virtuoso - whether for personal or group travel, please let me know how I can help you create your next travel experience!
What are you looking forward to as spring approaches? I know that many of you play golf, and also that many of you are interested in river cruising. Wikipedia says: “Golf, unlike most ball games, cannot and does not utilize a standardized playing area, and coping with the varied terrains encountered on different courses is a key part of the game.” Golfer friends of mine delight in playing courses new to them while traveling. But did you know that there are river cruise companies which offer rounds of golf as excursions during their European itineraries? How special would it be to combine a river cruise with hitting the links in totally new destinations? This article introduces a couple of options to do just that! FORE!
PS - if you have golfer friends who might be interested in combining a river cruise with a unique golf experiences, please share this article with them! Thanks!
Challenging Golf Courses. On the River. In Europe?Yes Please! With the May 2019 introduction of the AmaMagna on the Danube River, a comprehensive Golf Concierge program will be available to cruise guests. This program includes transfer from the ship to the country clubs, transfer of your golf clubs from course to course, cleaning the clubs, greens fees and golf carts, and some meals at the course. The itinerary includes games at up to five courses (depending upon whether the guest chooses a land package before or after the river cruise.) Courses included are:
If that's just too much golf, Uniworld offers a single round of golf during many of its Paris and Normandy itineraries, at the Golf de Etretat Marine Course in Normandy: https://golfetretat.com/
Of course when not on the course, you'll be staying in a beautiful floating hotel room as you travel between towns and villages, and be treated to excellent dining experiences and local beers and wines. If you are part of a regular foursome, or active at your golf club, think how much fun it would be to share an experience like this with your golfing partners?
Golfing is one of many special experiences now being offered by river cruise companies - they've historically offered cruises focused on beer, wine and even cognac - as well as more culinary focused themes. There are river cruises geared toward family travel (including a Disney partnership,) Jewish Heritage Cruises, and during December, cruises stopping at many of Europe's charming Christmas Markets. There's really something for everyone - I've truly enjoyed my two river cruise experiences and am really looking forward to the next two I've already got on the books (and really hoping to experience the Christmas Markets myself, too!)
I would love to help you choose a river cruise - please call or email when you're ready to plan.
See you on the river,
Something Free in Waikiki? Absolutely!
Aloha - today is a day that has been anticipated by many for a long, long time: Southwest Airlines is now selling flights from the 8 California cities to Hawaii; the new destination has rolled out with remarkable sale fares - and other airlines are matching the special rates. So if you've dreamed of visiting Hawaii (and chances are, you have!) why not contact me now to plan your visit to this American Paradise? As a certified Hawaii Destination Specialist, I would be delighted to help you plan! Mahalo, JoanWith so many free things to do in Waikiki, there is really no reason to fork out a lot of cash on activities. From torch lighting and hula shows to hands-on classes in Hawaiian arts and crafts, this visitor “Mecca” has a lot of offerings to keep you busy – and entertain and educate at the same time!
Here are some of my favorite “free” or inexpensive things to do in Waikiki...
1. Aloha Friday at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki - Each Friday afternoon, the Hyatt presents a Polynesian show with hula dancers, a Samoan fire-knife dancer and hands-on demonstrations of lei making and Polynesian art tattooing. Other afternoons during the week bring cultural classes like ukulele playing and storytelling...and you don’t have to be staying at the resort...although it is a lovely choice!
2. Kuhio Beach Torch lighting and Hula Show – Four nights each week at sunset, the blowing of the conch shell summons folks to the Kuhio Beach hula mound near Waikiki’s famous statue of Duke Kahanamoku. There, you witness a traditional torch lighting ceremony followed by an hour of free, feel-good hula by talented local dancers and entertainers.
3. Royal Hawaiian Band Concerts – Founded by King Kamehameha III in 1836, this one-of-a-kind ensemble serenades crowds with songs of the islands – past and present. Look for them each Sunday afternoon in the bandstand inside the 500-acre Kapiolani Park. The park itself is a fabulous free attraction, popular with picnickers and joggers.
4. Royal Hawaiian Center Classes & Entertainment – Take ukulele or hula lessons, learn how to make traditional Hawaiian quilts, weave a lei using fresh tropical flowers or try your hand at the art of lomi lomi massage, all at this multi-level shopping center. It also presents live music and hula shows most evenings...open to the public! See www.royalhawaiiancenter.com for schedules.
5. Sunset on the Beach – Waikiki Beach turns into a huge outdoor theater presenting free, family-friendly movies on a 30-foot screen about once a month. Late afternoon, live entertainment kicks things off, with vendors and food trucks selling affordable and “ono” (yummy) eats. Be sure to check the online schedule at www.waikikiimprovement.com
6. Wildlife and Fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Village – There’s no charge to watch the Hilton’s wildlife experts feed the penguins and turtles that live on its grounds. On Friday evenings, the resort presents visitors and locals alike with an Oceanside fireworks show, which is best viewed from the beach....a colorful and exciting way to have fun for free in Waikiki!
7. People-Watching – This is my own favorite pastime in Waikiki so I thought I would add it. Hawaii is a melting pot of cultures and you will see just about everything you could imagine – and more that you couldn’t even dream up! Visitors from Asia will be on the beach early in the morning practicing Tai chi and exercise...Street artists line Kalakaua Avenue in the evenings, providing some incredibly original “selfie” opportunities (don’t forget to tip!) and older couples in their matching Aloha-wear walk hand-in-hand next to surfers and goth-looking youngsters...Take it all in!
Keep in mind that you don't need a passport to visit Hawaii...and rental cars are typically quite reasonable - another favorite activity is to drive the perimeter of the island, stopping as the spirit moves you - perhaps near Pipeline on the North Shore to watch daring surfers ride the huge waves - or sampling freshly prepared Garlic Shrimp and Shave Ice at the Shrimp Trucks near Haleiwa - or standing over the beautiful Waimea Bay - or driving Tantalus and Round Top Drive for breathtaking views, or visiting the Byodo Inn, a replica of a Japanese Buddhist Temple in the Manoa Valley... Don’t let the fear of “I heard Hawaii is super expensive!” keep you from planning that vacation! I am well informed on these, and many more, free and budget-friendly options to keep you going from sunrise to sunset! Just do it!