Salzburg is best known as the setting for The Sound of Music, but the Austrian city has plenty to offer luxury travelers besides fond recollections of the beloved movie. In a recent visit hosted by Virtuoso partners the Austrian Tourist Office, Tourismus Salzburg and Panorama Tours & Travel, I saw firsthand that Salzburg is perfect for travelers seeking a trip tailored to their interests.
Activities For Every Interest
- Love music? Visit the house Mozart was born in, the home where he composed later in life, and his namesake square and statue. For a live experience, a Virtuoso travel advisor can arrange for a private opera concert in the centuries-old home of a professor at the local fine arts university, Mozarteum.
- Love beer? Enjoy the famous Augustiner Braustubl, a 1,000-seat beer hall serving up suds since 1621. Or go for a more modern experience at the lively Die Weisse brew pub.
- Love adrenaline? Check out Hangar-7, the collection of race cars, helicopters and airplanes owned by Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz.
- Love food? Experience the Via Culinaria in the state of Salzburg – an initiative that invites visitors to follow seven gourmet paths to taste local products, sometimes directly from the people who create them.
Salzburg is home to three Virtuoso properties, so book your trip with a Virtuoso travel advisor and receive complimentary amenities at them. All three offer a taste of authentic Salzburg combined with modern luxuries.
Europe’s oldest hotel has been operating since at least 1596. The oldest part of the property was built in 1407; the “new” section dates from 1497. It’s nestled along the historic Getreidegasse shopping street in Salzburg’s old city. No two of the 70 rooms are alike, and all feature genuine Salzburg-style décor in the style of a rustic hunting lodge and eyee-catching schemes of pink, red, blue or yellow. All rooms feature handcarved antiques from local materials, such as the wardrobe in the Presidential Suite dating back to 1654.
A hotel since 1866, the Sacher adopted the name of its well-known Vienna sibling in 2000. It’s completing a seven-year renovation to give its 113 rooms and suites a light, updated feel. Each room is different and features historic art and antiques arranged by owner Elisabeth Gürtler. Its restaurants range from Café Sacher, a typical Austrian coffee house serving the namesake Sacher Torte, to Zirbelzimmer, featuring Austrian and international cuisine in a space with the original hunting-lodge-inspired décor from 150 years ago.
Schloss Fuschl, A Luxury Collection Resort & Spa
The property dates from 1455 when its oldest building, a castle, was erected as a hunting lodge. It’s hosted everyone from archbishops to empresses to movie stars, and appeared in an opening shot of The Sound of Music. Just 30 minutes from Salzburg on the shores of Lake Fuschl, the location is perfect for outdoor pursuits, from the golf course next door, to touring the lake by electric boat, to walking the 12-kilometer path around the water. The hotel features 110 rooms, seven Tower Suites with antique furnishings, and six lakeside cottages (each is two stories with a private sauna, whirlpool, terrace and fireplace).
If you’re inspired by Salzburg (or Vienna) and want a customized vacation created just for you, it’s easy to find a Virtuoso travel advisor who specializes in Austria. Visit www.virtuoso.com and search using the Meet Your Advisor function.
Grand. Historic. Must-see. Those are just a few words to describe the everlasting appeal of Vienna.
I recently experienced the city Virtuoso style thanks to partners the Austrian Tourist Office, Vienna Tourist Board and Mondial Destination Management. Virtuoso-style travel includes top hotels and exclusive private experiences.
In Vienna, those experiences included watching the exercise of the Spanish Riding School Lipizzaner stallions from the royal box seats, and touring the art treasures of the Habsburgs at the Kunsthistorisches Museum before it opened to the public that day. And the hotels that were part of this special trip are included in Virtuoso’s portfolio of the world’s finest properties.
Opened in 1892, the hotel is famed for its antiques and art. Its location next to the Vienna State Opera has made it a favorite of opera-goers, who in summer request suites with a view of the outdoor screen showing performances. Some rooms are named after Opera general managers, with regulars asking for rooms by name. The memorable Prince of Wales Suite features a gym with TV and sauna, and a jetted tub for relaxing post-workout.
You’ll feel like a royal Habsburg at the official state hotel of Austria, opened in 1873. Descend the Royal Stairs like nobility en route to a ball, and enjoy the renowned Imperial Torte with its chocolate and marzipan flavors. The hotel is renovating its ground floor bar, café and restaurant, but one thing that won’t change is the spacious Royal Suites, formerly the private quarters of the palace’s original royal owner.
The hotel, opened in 1876, is home to the world-famous chocolate and apricot torte. It features one of the largest private art collections in Austria, with more than 1,000 pieces. The 149 rooms and 63 suites have been updated to blend old and new. A highlight is the marble bathrooms, with details such as a TV embedded in the mirror, heated towel racks and great lighting. Its location is steps from the Opera House, Imperial Palace and main shopping street.
Opened in 2012, the hotel was formerly four palaces, now united and renovated into a contemporary property. Historic details such as staircases and molding have been preserved, including in the Presidential Suite with its ceiling frescoes, chandeliers and fireplace. Guests enjoy distinctive offerings including a chocolate sommelier, one of the city’s largest indoor pools (complete with underwater music), and a rooftop bar with postcard-perfect views.
The hotel’s 182 cutting-edge rooms, including 26 suites, are outfitted in a single tone, so virtually everything from chairs to bathroom fixtures is ultramodern white, black or grey. Don’t miss the top-floor restaurant, Le LOFT, where floor-to-ceiling windows offer a 320-degree view, including landmarks such as St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Prater amusement park with its giant Ferris wheel.
Looking for a Virtuoso-style Vienna experience? Find a travel advisor who specializes in Austria at www.virtuoso.com. And check back soon for more on Austria with a focus on Salzburg in style.
St. Peter’s Basilica, the Dome of the Rock, Lourdes Shrine – these are just a few of the sacred places around the world for people of faith. With the help of Virtuoso travel advisors, travelers drawn to these kinds of destinations are finding a blend of luxury amenities, historical significance and personal meaning.
Studies suggest that faith-based tourism is growing, with an estimated 16 million religious travelers annually. “As more and more travel opportunities are offered by churches and faith organizations, demand for them is increasing,” says Jane Luzietti, a Virtuoso travel advisor in Denver, Colorado. “There is definitely a growing awareness of faith-based travel as a vacation option.”
“A big trend is religious travelers wanting to blend the spiritual and secular aspects of the destinations they visit,” says Jennifer Halboth, director of marketing at Virtuoso partner Globus in Littleton, Colorado. “We are seeing advisors developing land-based faith itineraries around our Avalon Waterways river cruising departures,” she says, noting that a recent client developed a pilgrimage on a Rhine cruise, visiting cathedrals, abbeys and shrines along the river.
Lilo Matinas, a Virtuoso travel advisor in Richboro, Pennsylvania, serves many church groups. Some transform pilgrimages into luxury vacations: “For one recent client we added fine dining, spas and higher-end hotels, and he loved it. He’s been to Israel so many times, he wanted something different.”
Matinas describes the unique client experiences she can create: “We might arrange a dinner with Bedouins in the desert or a visit to the Arab section of Bethlehem for a typical Middle Eastern dinner.”
Luzietti also customizes spiritual experiences for clients’ preferences. “We can provide in-depth experiences at sacred sites; talks by expert speakers; meaningful venues for religious services; and time and space for prayer and reflection,” she says, adding that she provides world-class experiences with “a bit of luxury in unexpected ways on all our trips.”
Are you looking for a faith-inspired vacation? A Virtuoso travel advisor is waiting to create a special experience that’s exactly what you’re looking for. Click here to find the advisor that’s right for your needs.
This Thanksgiving, we at Virtuoso are grateful for the opportunities that travel brings to us. It expands our knowledge of the world and enables us to grow as people.
For millennia, people have been singing travel’s praises as an educating force that has helped create a more united world. Take a look at these ten quotes that extol the benefits of voyaging, and during this holiday season take a minute to reflect on how the gift of travel has improved your life.
“I’m not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you.” — Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw
“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.” — English philosopher, statesman, scientist and author Francis Bacon
“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” — American writer Frank Herbert
“The truth is that exploration and enlargement make the world smaller.” ― English writer G.K. Chesterton
“Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves.” — Ancient Greek playwright Euripides
“As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own.” — American anthropologist Margaret Mead
“Travel teaches toleration.” — British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” — American author Mark Twain
“Travel’s greatest purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.” ― English writer William Hazlitt
“To travel, to experience and learn: that is to live.” — Nepalese mountaineer Tenzing Norgay
Which of these quotes speaks to you?
Today’s travelers are increasingly savvy about their environmental impact on destinations. In fact, according to the Center for Responsible Travel, ecotourism is expected to rise to 25% of the world’s travel market.
“Consumers are demanding higher environmental standards in all parts of their lives, including travel,” says Emily Deemer, marketing and sustainability manager at Virtuoso tour operator Natural Habitat Adventures in Boulder, Colorado. “Ecotourism makes business sense because it helps to preserve a travel company’s greatest assets: the environment, the culture, and the livelihood of host communities.”
Natural Habitat became a 100% carbon-neutral company in 2006. It uses alternative fuel vehicles, reusable water bottles (saving 20,000 plastic bottles annually), and local sourcing. “Ten years ago, most travelers didn’t know what the word ecotourism meant; now clients ask what our policy is on plastic water bottles or whether our food is locally sourced and organic,” comments Deemer.
Another ecotourism star, Virtuoso property Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa in Wolgan Valley, Australia, has maintained carbon-neutral status since opening in 2009. Building awareness among guests is a key part of the Emirates Wolgan Valley experience. “Our guests are constantly exposed to the conservation work we do, during wildlife safari tours, nature walks, mountain biking and horse trail rides,” explains general manager Joost Heymeijer.
Ange Wallace, a Virtuoso travel advisor in Amelia Island, Florida, notes that more cruise lines are designing itineraries to match the tastes of green travelers: “Expedition-style cruising is very much at the forefront with the addition of Silver Expedition ships, National Geographic Explorer and Orion, Un-Cruise, Compagnie du Ponant and others adding more beds to the luxury expedition market.”
Jean Pickard, a Virtuoso travel advisor in Atlanta, Georgia, launched her business catering to adventure travelers, and has observed more luxury brands integrating ecotourism practices. She finds great joy in sharing eco-friendly destinations. “I’m working on a trip to Malaysia for a couple in their early eighties,” she says, with jungle hikes and a visit to a tea plantation on the itinerary. “The client appreciates that I’ve taken the next step to learn what a company is doing in terms of ecotourism.”
Interested in a vacation that’s great for both you and the environment? Contact your Virtuoso travel advisor for help – or find an advisor at www.virtuoso.com.
Excitement and momentum are building for Virgin Galactic’s first commercial space flight. Just announced: that first flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo will be broadcast live on NBC News and a host of other NBCUniversal platforms, including CNBC, MSNBC, NBCNews.com, Syfy and The Weather Channel.
Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson and his adult children, Holly and Sam, will be on that flight. “Virgin Galactic is thrilled that NBCUniversal will join us on our exciting first journey to space,” said Sir Richard. “In this first chapter of commercial space travel, we will help make space accessible and inspire countless more people to join us in the pursuit of space exploration and science innovation.”
To watch the announcement on the Today show, click here.
The live broadcast isn’t the only TV venture in Virgin Galactic’s future. The company will soon be the focus of a reality show from the creator of popular programs such as Survivor and The Voice.
NBC, Virgin Galactic, and Mark Burnett’s One Three Media will create an unscripted series entitled “Space Race.” “Space Race” is an elimination competition series where everyday people compete for the ultimate prize – a trip for the winner into space on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo for a life-changing experience – all captured on camera.
Further evidence of Virgin Galactic’s star power? Celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio, Ashton Kutcher and Stephen Hawking are among those who have already signed up for Virgin Galactic space flights.
Virgin Galactic is on track to be the world’s first commercial spaceline. So far about 640 people have put down nearly $80 million in deposits for a trip that costs $250,000. That’s about 10% more than the total number of people who have ever gone to space.
Only Accredited Space Agents can book Virgin Galactic space travel. Virtuoso travel advisors have the exclusive rights to sell Virgin Galactic in North, Central and South America. To find an advisor who can make your space travel dreams a reality, click here.
Tourists love to shop. Studies by the U.S. Travel Association and the Department of Commerce show that shopping and dining are the top two activities of travelers. In fact, travelers spend one-third of their total travel funds on retail purchases.
On the Rise
According to Ian Stazicker, tourism director – global marketing at Virtuoso partner Value Retail, tourists account for 40 percent of global luxury spending. Value Retail operates nine Chic Outlet Shopping open-air designer villages outside European hubs such as Paris and Madrid, as well as one in China.
Retail tourism is growing so fast, says Stazicker, that “between 2008 and 2012 we have seen an increase in visitors of more than 43 percent to 30 million.”
Distinct trends in shopping tourism are emerging:
- Shoppers are favoring smaller items like jewelry and purses because of airline luggage restrictions, notes Shelley Greenan, a Virtuoso travel advisor in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
- Business travelers are taking time to shop, sometimes booking shopping tours on their trips, says Stazicker.
- For designer duds, New York, Miami and Beverly Hills are tops, says Katie Cherico, a Virtuoso travel advisor in New York City.
Cherico creates luxury shopping experiences tailored to her clients’ interests. “For clients who are interested in antiques, we have a personal guide and shopper with over 15 years of experience in the Paris antique market who will lead them through the markets and help negotiate fair pricing,” she describes. “We have personal shoppers in Florence to help clients navigate the leather markets and explore private designer boutiques that they otherwise would not have access to.”
Cherico continues: “Whether that is coral from Croatia or gold from Greece, clients are looking for statement pieces with a history and a story of their own.” She adds that exotic locales such as India, Istanbul, Morocco, and Thailand are favored for unique purchases.
Debbie Collins, a Virtuoso travel specialist in Edgecliff, Australia, makes sure the shopping tours she arranges include a healthy dose of pampering: “In Shanghai, the first day is always the Scientific and Technology museum markets for bags, shoes, pashminas, etcetera. We use a particular hotel because of its convenience to shops. After a long day, they offer complimentary foot massages in the spa, a must for the hard shopper!”
A Virtuoso travel advisor can design the retail vacation of your dreams. Don’t have an advisor? Visit www.virtuoso.com to be matched with one.
What travel niche is growing at a rate of 65 percent a year? If you guessed active travel, you’re right. A study by the Adventure Travel Trade Association and The George Washington University also found that last year consumers spent upwards of $345 billion on active itineraries.
Virtuoso travel advisors and suppliers excel at customizing specialty travel experiences to the exact tastes of their travelers. “For art lovers, we can arrange visits to private galleries and artists’ showrooms along with one-on-one meetings with some of Africa’s foremost art authorities and artists,” explains Anna Pinto, executive director of Micato Safaris in New York, New York.
“A guest with epicurean interests might spend time in Kerala, India fishing for fresh Pearlspot from a private riverboat, then learn from a private chef how to cook the fish with traditional Kerala spices,” Pinto elaborates. “A traveler who enjoys running marathons might spend time at the elite marathon training camps of Kenya with some of the world’s best competitive runners.”
Another luxury trend in the active travel segment is seeking out territory far off the beaten path. “One couple started with a Micato safari, then added gorilla trekking in Rwanda,” recounts Virtuoso travel advisor Honey Mistry. “They are now planning a trip to Antarctica for 2015.”
Mistry says that small safari-style land-based trips into the Arctic are particularly hot, as well as small-ship river cruises to destinations such as Southeast Asia.
“If you haven’t been to the destination, you can be confident you have a partner who knows it in depth,” says Michelle Bemis, a Virtuoso travel consultant in McLean, Virginia. If you get a request, you have a partner who can help you.”
Looking to go on an active or specialty trip? Visit www.virtuoso.com to find an advisor who will be happy to help plan your dream adventure.
Judging from posts I see on Facebook and Instagram, there’s a collective obsession with food. We take pictures of our drinks, meals, and dining venues, check in with each other for restaurant recommendations, and delight in sharing new discoveries.
This is especially true when traveling. Food (and drink) can be so emblematic of a place, it’s a sure-fire way to immerse yourself in a destination. It’s the basis for entire itineraries, the reason to visit certain regions, and certainly the subject of much planning. And it’s the basis of this, Virtuoso Life’s annual food and wine issue. In these pages you’ll learn where the local tastemakers eat across the U.S., what makes India’s Darjeeling tea so special, what’s new in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and more.
When I travel, even if it’s for business, figuring out where to eat tops my to-do list. The Virtuoso Life editorial team (pictured left) take our food seriously. Our offices are in Seattle and Fort Worth, and we never have a bad meal when we meet. (Fort Worth equals Mexican food or steak; Seattle equals all kinds of locally sourced, fresh, and trendy finds.)
Because we’re into food and travel frequently, I thought I’d share our list of dining do’s and don’ts. What are yours?
• Order the regional beer – even if you’re not a beer drinker, it’ll make you feel like a local. I’ve sampled brews from Bavaria to Belize, and remember those bottles as fondly as the priciest wines on the menu. – E.S.
• If you find a shop you like in a new city, ask the staff for a few bar and restaurant recommendations. Chances are, if you like their shop, you’ll like their taste in dining too. – M.C.
• If there’s hot sauce on the table, try it; it’ll give you insight into the local heat index. If there’s not, ask – you’ll often be rewarded with a head-clearing house-made concoction. (And if you’re really serious, as my father is, travel with mini bottles of Tabasco.) – E.S.
• When in doubt, order the New Zealand sauvignon blanc. – K.S.
• Be adventurous. When dining at a Japanese restaurant, order omakase – it’s a chef’s choice tasting menu. I’ve tried the most creative dishes this way. – M.F.
• Thursday night is the best night out – you get the restaurant’s top staff without the weekend crush. On Mondays, the A-team’s off, so you take your chance with rookies. – J.P.
• Mexican food heals all. – K.S.
• The amount of coffee you can drink on a European vacation is approximately triple what you can drink at home. Scientific fact. – M.C.
• The “Don’t order fish on Mondays” adage doesn’t hold as much water now (especially if you’re on the coast). To be sure, ask when the seafood order came in. – J.P.
• Buy local candy as a gift for people back home. Corner stores are a gold mine for whatever the local version of Bottle Caps and Kit Kats may be. – M.C.
• Take a matchbook, even if you don’t smoke. You’ll remember that great meal the next time you light candles at home. – J.P.
When a 47-year-old woman was thrown from her horse in Costa Rica, breaking her leg, her husband found himself scrambling to cobble together a $12,000 up-front payment before the local hospital would even see his injured wife.
“Within 30 minutes, we had all the credit card charges reversed, and the wife had seen a doctor to receive pain medication,” shares Brad Gray with insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance. “Within an hour she was in surgery to repair her leg.”
Though travel insurance protects both vacationers and their trip investments, the US Travel Protection and Insurance Services estimates that only 25-30 percent of travelers purchase it. Comprehensive travel insurance, which includes pre-departure (cancellation) and post-departure (trip interruption and/or delay), is the most popular choice because of its wide variety of benefits.
Among many advantages, travel insurance can:
- Speed up medical claims, as it can serve as your primary health policy
- Protect you if a travel supplier goes bankrupt
- Cover baggage losses
Despite the benefits, some travelers are reluctant to buy insurance. “Some people think they’re covered by their medical insurance or Medicare when they go overseas, and they’re not,” explains Judy Lorenzani, a Virtuoso travel advisor in Boca Raton, Florida. “Some people think American Express provides them with an air ambulance when they travel. Yes, they’ll arrange it for you, and that’s a great help, but they don’t pay for it. With insurance, you’re covered.”
“If they have aging parents, they might not be taking care of them, but if a parent were to die, they’re not going to go on that trip,” she illustrates. “I have parents getting away who have small children. If a child were to become ill, they’re not going to go on the trip.”
Garcia-Slater helps clients plan their “trip of a lifetime”, and encourages them to protect their investment with insurance. She wants them to return with memories instead of regrets, as one client of Lorenzani’s did.
“The lady fell in Cozumel, Mexico and broke her collarbone,” Lorenzani recounts. “An air ambulance back was arranged for her because she was single and alone. Because she did not have insurance, it cost her $20,000.”
The next time you book a trip, be sure to ask your Virtuoso travel advisor about buying insurance from one of the network’s two providers: Travelex Insurance Services and Allianz Global Assistance.