Posts Tagged family travel
The benefits of working with Virtuoso travel advisors are immeasurable and often intangible, from the huge time savings (just researching air schedules makes my head swim, much less attempting to coordinate a family vacation) to their impressive global connections and know-how. And by know-how, I don’t just mean expertise in where and when to go, how to get there, where to stay, what to do, and how to do it – though that is a pretty impressive wealth of knowledge. I mean know-how in you: your preferences and peeves, your hobbies and interests, your calendar and budget, among others. One of the more tangible benefits of working with a travel advisor is Virtuoso’s hotel program. With nearly 1,000 properties in more than 100 countries around the globe, there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes, whether you prefer sprawling resorts or intimate family-run inns, established classic hotels or trendy new properties. (For a peek at the latter, turn to page 80 of Virtuoso Life for a roundup of the year’s hottest hotel openings.)
Virtuoso hotels vary in size, style, and location, but they all offer five-star service, personalized attention – and perks you wouldn’t receive if you’d booked the hotel on your own. Every single property in our portfolio includes in its Virtuoso rates breakfast for two, as well as upgrades, early check-in, and late checkout, when available. But Virtuoso travelers also receive extra benefits, from bottles of wine to spa treatments, dining credits, and creative offerings such as horseback rides, rounds of golf, cooking classes, snorkeling excursions, and more. These amenities add value to your vacation – plus, they’re a fun reminder of the VIP treatment you receive when you work with a Virtuoso advisor.
My daughter and I enjoyed many such perks when I took her to Paris for the first time (read about our trip on page 144). Our favorite: At the Trianon Palace Versailles, a Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, the Virtuoso amenity (in addition to a $30 dining credit) is entrance for two to Versailles Palace, which is walking distance from the hotel.
Here’s to the perks of traveling like a VIP.
Costa Rica was one of those places for my family, and tales of zip-lining, white-water rafting, and colorful wildlife made us want to see if for ourselves. We did just that a few months ago (read about the trip on page 96), and the destination did not disappoint, from the scenery – it was so green! – to the outdoor adventures and the people we met. Though I tend not to repeat too many destinations - so many places to see, so little time, and I want to check off as many as possible – Costa Rica’s one of those rare places I want to return to again and again.
So what kind of traveler are you, and what’s on your wish list? Find out when you take our Travel Dreams Survey at www.virtuoso.com. The survey is fun, fast, and enlightening: choose your travel personality, then tell us what tops your travel dreams, whether it’s for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a trip of lifetime. When you finish, the survey will create your personal travel wish. You can download and print it for future reference to what destinations and experiences most entice you. Better yet: Share that list with your travel advisor, who can help you map out a plan to make those wishes a reality.
My own survey results? I’m a “Trendsetter” travel personality: “It’s all about what’s new and what’s next. You’re a collector of experiences – the more passport stamps, the better.” (Sound familiar?) The dream destinations that top my list:
Those last two? My goal is to call on all seven continents; only five down.
Try it yourself – you’ll also be entered for a chance to win a ten-day cruise for two from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Stockholm, Sweden, with Crystal Cruises; five other luck winners will receive $1,000 cash prizes. Here’s wishing you good luck. (Only U.S. residents are eligible to win prizes, however, consumers living outside the U.S. are invited to take the survey at www.virtuoso.com/traveldreams)
P.S. Do it soon – the survey ends March 31.
Virtuoso recently revealed the top destinations for 2013 as determined by the network’s annual Virtuoso Luxe Report. Based on input received from a survey of the world’s best travel advisors, the report provides insight on where, when and how travelers will go next – whether on land or afloat – be it couples, families and adventure-seekers, alike.
With the debut of Myanmar, Bhutan and Chile to the “most popular emerging destinations” list, findings indicate that Virtuoso’s clients are eager to venture into new territory, no matter how far-flung or remote. In these instances, the opportunity to explore lesser developed destinations to gain a richer experience outweighs the desire for more traditional “luxury.” Meanwhile, Cuba and Vietnam maintained their respective places among the top five emerging locations in the world, garnering attention from travelers in the know.
As baby boomers continue to drive travel sales, and the desire to spend time with loved ones prominently factoring into decisions, it is no surprise that the top and recurring trend for the upcoming year is multigenerational family travel. Ocean cruising is predicted to have renewed strength in 2013, with the Baltic Region making a new appearance on the list aside perennial favorites like Alaska, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. River cruising continues its strong growth trajectory, especially on the European waterways, and the addition of new routes throughout Asia will only bolster its popularity in the coming year.
Italy continues its reign as the top destination for international travel in 2013, followed by South Africa, France and Australia. This year Latin America emerges with Argentina making a first-time appearance on the list.
The biggest change from 2012 to 2013 is within the U.S. travel market. Napa Valley/Sonoma claim the top spot as the most sought after U.S. destination, bumping both Maui and New York from their touted positions. While Las Vegas remains on the list, the city now shares an unlikely fourth place juxtaposed with the state of Alaska.
For families traveling in 2013, Italy will remain the chart-topper, with adventurous Costa Rica moving up in popularity to join England. New to the list this year is Mexico, breaking through to capture fourth place in the ranks of family travel. France, the Galapagos Islands and Turks & Caicos all tie for fifth place.
The most popular destinations for romantic travel continue to be Italy, French Polynesia, France, and Bali. This year Fiji joins the list of exotic locations, reconfirming that romance knows no boundaries.
As in past reports, the motivation behind high-end travel continues to be: seeking authentic experiences in new destinations; rest and relaxation; personal enrichment; seeking adventure; and spending time or reconnecting with loved ones – again, supporting the emerging destinations as well as emphasizing multigenerational travel as one of the biggest trends for 2013.
“This year’s Luxe Report has unveiled fascinating first-timers to the list. Myanmar, Bhutan and Chile are destinations growing in appeal to the savvy traveler and our 2013 report reflects this passion for exploring something new,” says Virtuoso Chairman and CEO, Matthew D. Upchurch , CTC. “The multi-faceted Virtuoso traveler wants to reconnect with loved ones, explore new destinations, and seek out opportunities for personal growth. These are all areas where collaborating with a Virtuoso travel advisor is essential, as their goal is to help travelers realize these dreams.”
The 2013 Luxe Report also predicts there will be a rise in longer trips (eight days and longer) to international destinations and suggests that when necessary, travelers are willing to book lower room categories in order to stay in nicer hotels. Travel advisors still continue to be the lead influencer in determining their clients’ travel decisions, followed closely by input from friends and family, which shows that crowd-sourcing will continue to factor into the travel planning process. Meanwhile, Business Class is still the preferred way to fly, with Economy Plus gaining popularity as more airlines introduce and expand this on-board product.
Find out more about the top destinations featured in the Luxe Report here.
For more information, go to www.virtuoso.com.
What’s the perfect age for a Disney cruise you may ask? My son and daughter would say six and eight years old, but my husband and I would counter that 48 and 49 are pretty good ages too!
We sailed on the new Disney Fantasy for its three-night Preview sailing, March 26 – 29, for Travel Industry professionals and media. We enjoyed a day at Disney’s Private Island, Castaway Cay, a day at sea and back to Pt. Canaveral.
The ship has 14 decks; capacity for 4,000 guests, over 1450 cast/crew Members, and awesome kids program and facility and is absolutely beautiful from top to bottom.
The Fantasy, sister ship to the Dream was built with families in mind and it shows at every turn. When we arrived on board, they announced our family’s arrival to everyone in the atrium lobby “Please Welcome the Zanatta Family” – there were many of the Disney Characters in the atrium area for photos and autographs. This is a true highlight to have such great access to the characters and was my daughter’s favorite part of the cruise. The “big five” as the very personable cruise staff called them, are Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto and we saw them all!
There are three main dining rooms all with very different themes and menus and guests rotate to have the opportunity to experience each one; the Animator’s Palate, the Enchanted Garden and Royal Court. Our favorite was the Animators Palate. When you arrive to your table there is a placemat and a colored marker with instructions on how you need to draw within the lines to create your character (kind of a stick figure type layout). My son made sure his had the word “Seattle” across his character’s chest so he could easily spot it later in the evening. Our server collected our drawings early in the meal and at the end of the evening, our simple drawings were given life on the giant screens around the dining room dancing with your favorite Disney Characters to well known music and scenes from your favorite Disney movies.
The entertainment on board was true Disney filled with the songs and characters we all love. A particular favorite was the Pirate party evening on the upper deck with Captain Jack Sparrow and fellow pirates. Captain Jack was perched at the top of the highest deck and was “shot” down and landed inches before the deck stating in his Captain Jack drawl “did everyone see that that because I won’t be doing it again.”
The highlight for my son was the AquaDuck a 765-foot water slide ride through a clear acrylic tube that goes out over the ocean, around the ship and spans down 4 decks.
We enjoyed every minute of our sailing and are looking forward to sailing again.
This and other family travel excursions are best planned with the help of a Virtuoso member travel advisor. Click here to learn more about working with an advisor of your own.
Ever since Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman traveled to the ends of the earth in the movie The Bucket List, the term bucket list has become synonymous with must-do life experiences. At a recent Virtuoso Regional Meeting, we posed the question to a few travel agency owners and suppliers – “What’s on your 2012 bucket list?
Click on the video below to see what these Virtuosos have to say about their bucket list destinations:
What’s on your travel bucket list? Tell us in the Comments section below.
To find out more about Virtuoso, click here.
We’ve tallied up the playful giggles and totaled up the gleeful grins and we have a winner! Virtuoso’s most recent travel catalog contains an unbeatable collection of family fun vacations.
Frolic your way to exotic ports aboard a fabulous ship that’s a playground at sea. Cavort with wildlife on a far-flung, family-focused expedition. Romp and relax together in the warm waves of a beachside resort. And for all-out adventure, you’ll find nine exclusive adventure tour packages.
Each page is loaded with reasons to smile, including Advisor Tips, VIP perks and value-loaded trips. So let the fun begin…
The March, Family Fun Travel Catalog, features an amazing and unsurpassed collection of cruise itineraries, vacation packages and exclusive values. To enjoy the digital version in its entirety, click here.
All of these and other family friendly activities come with added peace of mind when you book through your Virtuoso Travel Advisor. If you aren’t currently using a Travel Advisor, click here to find out more about what Virtuoso member travel advisors can do for you.
Virtuoso provides the perfect antidote to the winter doldrums by hosting its first-ever European Virtual Travel Show on Wednesday, February 1, from 1pm-9pm EST. Attendees have a rare opportunity to mingle online with 47 of the world’s best European travel companies and Virtuoso’s travel advisors – all one needs to plan the perfect European getaway. Highlighted destinations include scenic countries such as Austria and Norway, as well as vibrant cities like Barcelona and Madrid, all of which serve as sought-after locales for families, honeymooners, singles, baby boomers and business travelers alike. Exclusive travel incentives revealed during the show will include promotions for private guides, hotel upgrades, gift cards, prepaid shipboard gratuities and special savings. Additionally, Virtual Travel Show guests are eligible to win gift cards and vouchers valued up to $500 for select cruise sailings and from participating travel providers.
Virtuoso’s European Virtual Travel Show allows attendees to access invaluable travel information from the convenience of their own homes or anywhere they have Internet connectivity. Would-be travelers have the opportunity to visit online exhibits and engage in question-and-answer sessions with upscale cruise lines, hotels, tour operators, on-site ground operators, airlines, specialty travel providers and the tourism boards representing these prime locations.
“Whether new to the Virtuoso network or an established client, consumers will find value in the information exchange with some of Europe’s most renowned travel companies, as well as access to some of the best travel advisors in the industry,” says Kristi Jones, President and COO of Virtuoso. “What separates this experience from a typical web search is that it’s interactive rather than one-sided. Everything has been vetted by Virtuoso; there’s no clutter of unwanted material or concern that a product has been misrepresented. Participants will come away from it better informed and inspired to see the world.”
The specifics for Virtuoso’s European Virtual Travel Show:
- The show will take place on Wednesday, February 1, 2012, from 1:00 p.m. – 9:00p.m. EST / 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. PST.
- Attendees are asked to register in advance at www.virtuoso.com. Virtuoso is currently waiving the registration fee. Attendees will be eligible for cash cards, prizes, travel vouchers and exclusive offers.
- Exclusive offers and promotions for European travel are available via Virtuoso’s online Europe Destination Guide at www.virtuoso.com.
- Technical requirements include a computer with internet access. High-speed Internet (Cable, DSL, Network) and computers running Windows PC with Internet Explorer 6.0 minimum or Firefox x 3.6, or a Mac with Firefox 3.6 or Safari 4.x or higher, will provide the best quality. The basic functionality is similar to visiting any website and playing a video with sound. No need for a phone, as sound will play through the computer.
Although the live interaction portion of the show takes place on February 1 only, consumers can access all special promotions and information on any of the participating travel providers throughout the month of February. For more information, visit www.virtuoso.com.
It’s that time of year! Snow is falling and families are headed to the slopes for skiing, snowboarding, and all sorts of winter activities. If you are looking for a great place to do all of that, plus enjoy good restaurants, a few spa treatments, and some adult time at the casino tables, then the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe delivers.
We just returned from a 4-day weekend, multi-family (that would be three) excursion and had a ball. Nestled in the Sierra Mountain Range, the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe has stunning views of the lake and boasts 422 newly renovated guest rooms, including private lakeside cottages.
Diamond Peak Ski Resort is a 5-minute ride, and by now the majority of the lifts and runs are open. Our group had both boarders and skiers, and the mountain provided the right mix of difficulty for everyone, even a few jumps for our 9- and 11-year-old daredevils.
Additionally, Diamond Peak has state-of-the-art snow making equipment, so we enjoyed freshly groomed conditions every day.
Back at the resort, the kiddos hit the outdoor heated pool, while the adults sipped cocktails in the near-by hot tub. Afterwards, loaded with a pocketful of tokens, the kids ran the arcade room, while we tested our skills at black jack and roulette. Add to that a beautiful spa and a lively pub for après ski cocktails, and you have the perfect family resort!
This and other family-friendly travels are better when designed by a Virtuoso travel advisor. Click here to learn more about what a travel advisor can do for you.
What do Jordan, Laos, Ireland and the Republic of Congo have in common? They are just a few of Virtuoso’s picks for must-see spots in 2012.
Virtuoso Public Relations Director Misty Ewing promoted the destinations in a Jan. 3 interview on Fox News.
“Where should we be dreaming about?” Ewing asked viewers of the segment in promoting “unexpected and unusual destinations.” She promoted the following:
- Jordan for its stability and convenience, as it’s easy to travel around.
- Republic of Congo for its gorilla trekking, where visitors can get as close as 20 feet from 11 different species of primates
- European river cruising, because visitors can pay up front in their local currency to avoid fluctuations, and everything is included
- Ireland as a way to experience the UK during the Olympics year in London
- Thailand and Laos for their gorgeous sights and warm, welcoming people
Watch the complete interview:
To see more coverage of Virtuoso’s picks for must-visit destinations and suppliers who can provide luxury experiences in those locations, click here.
So many places to go, so little time. But that’s the beauty of a new year – it’s a fresh calendar, and the months stretch out ahead with possibilities. There are family vacations to plan, upcoming milestones to celebrate, and new destinations to check off you must-visit list.
That list will get a little longer with this issue of Virtuoso Life. Maybe you’ll want to spend a week in London before – or during – the Olympics (page 96). Or set sail with your extended family on a Baltic cruise (page 104). Perhaps you’ll head outdoors for an adventure in Alaska (page 114), skiing in Whistler (page 124), or biking through France (page 130).
The world awaits, so we asked Virtuoso’s top travel advisors to tell us what’s hot for 2012 – the destination and trips they’re recommending clients book now, and why. (Find out on page 84).
And though we asked advisors for their opinions, we also want yours: Where do you want to go next? Tell us by taking our Travel Dreams Survey. It’s fast, fun, and will surely inspire you with a world of destination and experiences, from island escapes and romantic getaways to outdoor adventures and trips of a lifetime.
In fact, the grand prize is a trip of a lifetime itself; a 12-day, all-inclusive Mediterranean cruise for two on Crystal Cruises’ Serenity from Venice to Athens, in a penthouse suite (but of course). The grand prize also includes the perks of Voyager Club, an exclusive program available only through Virtuoso. Five other lucky entrants will each win $1,000 cash. The survey begins January 5 and ends March 31, so please go to www.virtuoso.com and take our survey for a chance to win*.
Whatever’s on the horizon for your year ahead, may it include more than a few new passport stamps. Happy Travels – and good luck with the survey.
* If outside of the U.S., sweepstakes does not apply. Non-U.S. residents are invited to take the survey at www.virtuoso.com/traveldreams.