Posts Tagged Paris
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.
See the stylish group of people pictured with me below? It’s the team that creates Virtuoso Life magazine. Others play a role in getting the issue to you, from our colleagues in the production department who order the paper and supervise the printing, to the circulation pros who ensure each copy goes to the right person. The sales and marketing folks make sure advertisements from top travel suppliers catch your attention, and others behind the scenes in accounting, administration, and the like keep things humming.
But it’s the people below who are responsible for the creative content – we develop the ideas; write, edit, and design the articles; and work with some of the world’s best photographers, illustrators, and writers to bring these pages – and the Virtuoso community – to life. We turn to Virtuoso advisors and travel companies for inside advice on destinations and experiences that you need to know about, how you should get there, and what you should do when you arrive. We also ask your fellow Virtuoso travelers where they’ve been, where they’re going, and why they use a Virtuoso advisor (read this issue’s interview on page 44).
In fact, the Virtuoso community is the common thread connecting all the stories you’ll find in Virtuoso Life. This food-and-wine-themed issue, one of our most popular of the year (and a particular favorite of the foodies on staff), is full of in-the-know tips, trips, and insights. Learn where concierges at Virtuoso hotels in seven U.S. cities send clients to dine (page58); take a tequila tour of Mexico with an advisor–planned itinerary (page 32); and taste your way through Paris’ top chocolate houses with Virtuoso’s tour connection there (page 68).
There’s much more, and I hope you enjoy reading the magazine as much as my colleagues and I enjoy creating it. Virtuoso is the ultimate global community, and we’re proud to be a part of it with you.
Learn more about Virtuoso here.
Virtuoso Life Magazine reveals the results of the annual Travel Dreams Survey
In 2010, travel aspirations have gone global, according to the results from the fourth annual Travel Dreams Sweepstakes Survey, presented by Virtuoso. Nearly 11,000 readers of VIRTUOSO LIFE, the network’s award-winning magazine, weighed in on the survey to reveal the exotic lands, life-changing experiences and thrilling adventures that upscale travelers are currently seeking.
When asked what they consider the trip of a lifetime, readers were clear that setting sail for a world cruise would be a paramount experience. Calling on all seven continents and visiting the new wonders of the world followed close behind as trips of a lifetime, indicating the desire of travelers to visit the globe. The Galápagos Islands also had a strong presence in this year’s results: This island destination was named the most alluring island escape; the second best outdoor adventure; and the third best destination for families.
“This year’s survey results reflect a shift in consumers’ motivation to travel,” said Elaine Srnka, editorial director for VIRTUOSO LIFE. “Travelers want to see the world. They are no longer content with staying in one place. Whether it’s visiting the far corners of the earth on a world cruise, hiking through remote Machu Picchu or tasting local cuisines through cooking schools, travelers want unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”
The top 10 dream destinations also reflected readers’ longing to visit far-off lands, with Australia, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa and Greece nabbing the first five spots. Paris held onto its reign as the most romantic city to spend time with a loved one, as well as the best gourmet city. Rome remains the city with the most beautiful architecture, and Tuscany continues to be the wine region travelers want to toast the most. Again this year, readers felt going on a safari to Africa would merit the best outdoor adventure.
The Travel Dreams results largely supported Virtuoso’s 2010 Luxe Report, insight gleaned from the network’s elite travel advisors, which revealed that travelers in 2010 are booking longer vacations to more distant destinations. Of the travel professionals that participated in the Luxe Report survey, 71 percent reported that clients are seeking international travel for 10 days or more.
This year, readers had extra enticement to share their opinions: an opportunity to win their own dream trip! Three lucky winners got to choose one of these trips: a ten-day exploration of the Galápagos Islands aboard Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Endeavour; a 12-day cruise aboard the Seabourn Pride from Bangkok to Shanghai; or a trip to South Africa on Virgin Atlantic Airways to spend five nights at the One&Only Cape Town.
VIRTUOSO LIFE’s Travel Dreams survey was designed to gather consumer travel trends and offer inspiration for future journeys. The 12-question survey explored readers’ opinions about everything from their dream destinations and the best cities for dining to the best destinations for romance and families. Top-line results can be found below, and the results are featured in the July/August issue of VIRTUOSO LIFE.
The survey results were tallied from responses from almost 11,000 VIRTUOSO LIFE readers who participated in the Travel Dreams Sweepstakes. Virtuoso promoted the sweepstakes via email and within the magazine.
To view a digital edition of the VIRTUOSO LIFE July/August “Readers’ Choice Travel Dreams” issue, click here.
Virtuoso’s creative director of marketing, Melisa Lunt, shares how her family found big hospitality at a small Parisian boutique hotel in the aftermath of the Icelandic volcano eruption:
They say the measure of a person (or in this case, a company) is best judged in times of challenge, not in times of convenience. That could not have been more true than during our recent stay at Virtuoso property Esprit Saint Germain in Paris.
My husband, John, 3-year-old daughter, Olivia, and I decided to treat ourselves to two nights in Paris at the highly recommended Esprit Saint Germain following a week-long vacation in Germany.
The tone for our entire stay was set when we dragged our travel-weary selves into the hotel April 14. We received a warm greeting, had our luggage whisked away and were able to go to our room right away, even though it was only 11 am. The luggage made it there before we did! Not one detail was missed in our chic lodgings, including a special bed already made for Olivia – which she wasted no time in bouncing on.
Then on April 15, the adventure really began!
We learned from the front desk that there would be “slight delays” at the airport due to a volcano eruption in Iceland. Anticipating that this would only be a one-day setback, the hotel’s general manager, Francesca La Mastra, immediately made arrangements for us in a new room. I have no idea what amount of juggling was necessary to assure that we – along with everyone else who suddenly found themselves stranded – had a place to stay. But Francesca handled the situation with grace and calm, traits we would soon learn were the norm at Esprit Saint Germain.
By Friday, April 16, it became clear that Mother Nature was in charge. Airport closures blanketed Europe. The best hope we had was a flight the following Wednesday and the news weighed heavily on us. I immediately went to see Francesca, who listened to me like an old friend I had known for years. In her take-charge manner, Francesca insisted that as long as we were stuck in Paris, we would not be turned away. She acted as if the hotel had an endless number of rooms to accommodate its guests for an indefinite period of time, behaving as a true Virtuoso in this time of stress!
By Saturday, we had settled into a routine of exploring the city between phone calls and online searches of ways to get home. And we got to know our fellow hotel guests. We assumed that we would run into at least a few travelers that had booked their stay through a Virtuoso member – we were, after all, at a Virtuoso preferred property. But we had no idea that 100 percent of the guests we met would be Virtuoso! We all became fast friends – finding ourselves together each morning at breakfast checking in on each other’s travel status – and I felt so much pride being a part of such a strong network.
Little details go a long way under normal circumstances, and become so much more important in times of stress. Esprit Saint Germain did not disappoint. Each afternoon we found tasty little treats in our room; perhaps grapes and oranges or fresh berries. Just the thing for tired travelers (and tiny tots!).
On Wednesday, April 21, we finally made it out of Europe and back home safely. Six days later than planned, but with memories that will last a lifetime. A million “merci’s” to Laurence, Francesca, Djenane, Vanessa, Audrey and everyone at Esprit Saint Germain – for their kindness and hospitality!
Find out more about Virtuoso here.