Posts Tagged Virtuoso
Tired of typical summer vacations? The April/May issue of Virtuoso Insights has plenty of ideas to create a memorable trip that the kids will brag about! Discover river cruising, the Mediterranean and enough kid-worthy cruise programs to satisfy even the most finicky children.
Our guide to keeping your kids happy at sea.
While most larger cruise lines offer children’s facilities, some go out of their way to entertain and educate their younger passengers – keeping them, and their parents, happy all voyage long. Take a look at the favorite on-board youth and teen programs at sea.
Remarkable river cruises from the Amazon to the Yangtze.
Multi-generational travelers are rushing to take leisurely river cruise vacations, and for good reason. Smaller, more intimate ships provide a close-up view of amazing landscapes, wildlife and cultures – all while bringing you and your family closer to each other.
The Med, Your Way
Experience the Mediterranean like a local on your next cruise.
Prefer independent travel but love the perks and unpack-only-once convenience of a cruise? Here are 12 ways to have it both ways on your next voyage, and how to ditch the crowds, avoid the clichés, and experience the Med (and the world in general) more like a local.
PLUS – Spotlight on San Diego!
What to do, when to go and why it’s important.
Set along the southernmost point of the U.S. West Coast, San Diego is the second-largest city in California and eighth-largest in the country.
Do You Know Virtuoso?
Most of the exclusives noted in Virtuoso Insights can only be booked through a Virtuoso travel advisor. If you don’t already work with a Virtuoso travel advisor, click here to learn more.
Virtuoso’s annual Symposium in Madrid showcased a stylish city with cultural flair.
Nearly 400 executives from top travel agencies and providers gathered in Madrid last week at Virtuoso’s 31st Symposium for a mix of thought-provoking meetings, engaging events in gorgeous venues, and a healthy dose of Spanish culture. Spain is the only country to host this event twice (Symposium was held in Barcelona in 2004).
The meeting kicked off with a welcome reception at the InterContinental Madrid, complete with dance performances, music, and huge pans of paella. During the next three days of business sessions at the hotel, attendees learned about the destination’s highlights from tourism board dignitaries; conducted networking sessions; and heard from futurist Nancy Giordano on trends shaping consumer behavior and the rise of “collaborative commerce,” which enables clients, advisors, and suppliers to share information for even better travel experiences.
Of course, it’s not all work. Food is central to any travel experience, and attendees dined in venues from the dramatically refurbished City Hall (at which the deputy mayor spoke to the group) to the Circulo de Belles Artes theater; the Casino de Madrid; the historic Westin Palace and Hotel Ritz; and the Quinta del Duque de Arco, a stunning palace just outside the city.
The group also had the opportunity to learn the flamenco, see the city with a photographer, tour the city’s esteemed museums, and more.
Special thanks to Made for Spain and Valesa Cultural Services, Virtuoso’s on-sites in Spain who tended to all the details, as well as the event’s many sponsors. Olé!
NBC is warning travelers that what they get when they book online may not be what they expected. An investigation that aired last month on the TODAY Show found that some hotels, resorts and restaurants mislead travelers with online photos, descriptions and reviews. Properties around the world are writing fake customer reviews and posting misleading photos on travel websites with the goal of enticing customers to spend thousands on “dream” vacations.
The NBC story featured travelers who booked their own trips online and were shocked to see what they purchased when they arrived at their destination. To watch the story, please click here.
While NBC doesn’t specifically call out the expertise of travel advisors, their story does make a solid case for booking your travel through a professional advisor. The message is clear: to avoid a travel disaster, leave the details to the experts. Virtuoso Advisors have the connections to ensure you get exactly what you anticipate from your dream vacation.
If you don’t already have a Virtuoso travel advisor working for you, find one here.
The year of 2011 may mark the end of the “staycation” as travelers once again embrace the opportunity to explore the world. Advisors from luxury travel network Virtuoso® say their clientele increased travel purchases by 36 percent from 2009 to 2010, with luxury international leisure trips being the dominant choice. More than 90 percent of Virtuoso’s elite travel agency membership lent their insight to the 2011 Virtuoso Luxe Report, which tracks trends in travel destinations, comparisons to travel in 2010, and above all, forecasts the travel decisions and motivating factors of some of the most upscale travelers in the United States and Canada.
This year’s report shows international travel is slated to be the most popular type of trip in 2011, with 57 percent of respondents reporting clients reserving international trips of eight days or longer. To where will these international travelers be venturing? Italy, France and South Africa nabbed the three most popular international destinations for travelers in 2011, followed by Australia and Mexico. Vietnam took the front-running spot as the most popular emerging destination – a position previously occupied by India, which instead became the second most popular emerging destination; followed by China, the Galapagos Islands and Morocco.
For families traveling in 2011, Europe is also in position to be the most popular destination to tote family and loved ones, continuing to support data that international travel is on the rise. Italy and England were ranked the two most popular family travel destinations for this year. Also included were sunny trips to Hawaii and Costa Rica, followed by a northern trip to Alaska.
Interestingly, the survey reported that family and multi-generational travel is the biggest emerging travel trend for 2011. Additionally, the survey found that more and more travelers are including infants and toddlers in their trip planning. Of those booking travel, the top three motives influencing travel choices included: seeking authentic experiences in new destinations; rest and relaxation; and spending time or reconnecting with loved ones – further supporting the increase of family travel.
The Luxe Report also affirms the value that high-end travelers place on working with a professional travel advisor. When booking vacations, the Virtuoso survey found that the largest influences on consumers’ travel decisions are their travel consultant’s advice, word of mouth and travel publications. In this era of on-line marginalization, experience, knowledge and personalized service still emerge as the very things travelers value.
“The Luxe Report findings offer great insight into the mindset of the upscale traveler and predict the trends in luxury-focused, leisure travel for 2011,” said Virtuoso CEO, Matthew D. Upchurch. “A strong return to international travel indicates a certain level of economic recovery, as does the increase in families traveling together. There is no better way to strengthen personal relationships and family ties than by creating memorable experiences together. A family vacation affords the perfect opportunity to discover a new destination and create bonds that will carry through generations.”
Advisors from Virtuoso member travel agencies were invited to take the survey in December 2010 and January 2011. Results were tabulated from more than 250 responses from the United States and Canada.
To read more about the key findings from the 2011 Virtuoso Luxe Report, click here: http://www.virtuoso.com/thecompany/luxereport2011
Click here to learn more about Virtuoso.
At Virtuoso, we’ve learned that after a few blustery winter months, everyone has one thought — “Get me out of my long-johns and into my swim fins!” This new catalog is filled with perfectly timed escapes for winter breaks, spring breaks and summer vacations like stunning hotels with pampering spas and jaw-dropping water slides, luxury cruises with activities galore, adventurous tours and more. And who could resist the exclusive packages, perks, shipboard credits and Expert Tips from Virtuoso travel advisors on every page of this catalog?
Escapes for Winter and Spring Breaks! – Say good-bye to the galoshes, and bon voyage to the overcoats. With these sun-soaked, blue-sky escapes, all you need is sunglasses! You’ll beat winter blahs by lounging on Hawaiian beaches, golfing in paradise, or luxuriously sailing the Mediterranean. Or, make spring break uniquely educational by observing green sea turtles or exploring coral reefs.
Playtime Trips for Summer Vacation – School’s out for the summer! Plan a gathering for your clan with a vacation that captures precious memories for everyone. What could be better than to sail under kaleidoscopic Northern Lights in Alaska or Scandinavia, or beneath the jungle canopy of the Amazon, tour a castle, go on safari or learn to hula?
More Travel – Smart, Timely Ideas – Take a look at what the well-dressed travel calendar is wearing this New Year…starting with two eye-catching offers that are a perfect fit for families. Something for every vacation style, like a special South African adventure, or an ideal tropical beach rendezvous.
These adventures, and the perks that come with them, are exclusive to the clients of a Virtuoso member travel advisor. If you don’t already work with a Virtuoso travel advisor, click here to find one now!
Europe is a land rich with travel experiences that are sure to please. Whether you are looking for rich culture, fabulous cuisine, storied history or stunning scenery, they’ll find it all in Europe. And when you book a vacation through a Virtuoso travel advisor, you’ll also find an array of exclusive perks — a Rolls-Royce airport transfer in Rome, a spa treatment in Ireland, shipboard credits to use as you please. All you need to do is peruse these pages to find your favorite European vacation, along with Expert Tips about each destination.
Land Ho! – Cross the Continent in style and enjoy amazing exclusives such as an after-hours visit to the Vatican Museums and a private concert in Croatia’s Postojna Caves.
Odysseys at Sea – Take a tall-ship adventure around the Greek Isles or a leisurely cruise along the legendary Danube, or venture from Barcelona to the Baltic in ultra-luxury.
Famous Battlefields – From Napoleon’s demise at Waterloo to the Allies’ “Operation Overlord” along Normandy’s beaches, Europe’s most famous battle sites make for riveting attractions.
Fairtale Europe – Remember listening to fairytales as a kid? Love reading them now to your own children or grandchildren? Most classic fables have European roots, and we’ve tracked down the origins of a few favorites.
If you don’t have a Virtuoso travel advisor, click here to find one.
If a warm, tropical getaway is what you are looking for as the weather turns chilly at home, The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, about 50 minutes from Puerto Vallarta, may be just the answer.
On a recent stay with my husband and two teenage daughters, we spent 3 glorious days soaking up the sun, enjoying luxe treatments at the Remède Spa, and sipping margaritas (non-alcoholic for the girls, the good kind for us). From the moment we approached the circle drive and open air lobby, we knew we were in for a treat.
We were greeted with The St. Regis’ signature champagne toast, where the host performs a Sabrage, uncorking the Vueve Clicquot with a saber…wow! I could write countless glowing adjectives, but the picture to the right, speaks for itself.
Sequestered on 22 lush acres with spectacular Pacific Ocean views, The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort embraces guests with all the luxuries of a private, intimate hideaway where art and nature beautifully entwine. In addition to the white sand beach, and sparkling pools — there are three to choose from — you can also hit the links on two Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses or enjoy a match at the tennis center nestled in a palm grove. From the children’s club to amenities like internet access throughout the property, they have really thought of everything. Nearby, the Marietas Islands beckon with natural beauty and outdoor adventures. The 120 exquisitely appointed guestrooms and suites with captivating ocean or garden views offer a touch of rustic Provence combined with Mexican art and handcrafted furnishings. St. Regis Butler Service provides for any request, day or night.
Save on Your Suite in Punta Mita, Mexico
Virtuoso travelers receive a special discounted rate for stays of three or more nights in a suite at The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort. Bonus amenities include a room upgrade upon arrival, if available; breakfast for two daily; and a $100 Remède Spa services credit. Virtuoso Junior Suite Ocean View Room rates FROM $350 per room, per night. Available January 1 – April 30, 2011.
Click here to find a Virtuoso travel specialist.
Written by Terrie Hansen, Vice President – Marketing for Virtuoso, Ltd.
The Hansens are pictured on the left at the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort.
Celebrating its sixth year honoring select members through its Chairman’s Recognition Event, Virtuoso® luxury travel network welcomed 120 travel agency owners/managers and guests from nine countries to the annual gathering last week in Kenya. Hosted by Micato Safaris, with supporting sponsorship from Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, &Beyond, the Kenya Tourist Board, Crystal Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, these top revenue-producing agencies were provided with an up-close-and-personal experience in one of the world’s preeminent safari destinations, while being immersed in the local culture and educating themselves how travel can help benefit inhabitants of this diverse country.
“Chairman’s Recognition Event has become a very valuable time for Virtuoso Member owners and our senior team to come together,” says Matthew D. Upchurch, CTC, CEO of Virtuoso. “It enables us to build stronger bonds amongst ourselves, to understand the trends and challenges we face together, and to experience incredible destinations around the world.”
With a schedule of events befitting of the world’s top travel agencies, the group traveled to Kenya from October 22-29, 2010. During their time, they enjoyed a special itinerary that included morning, afternoon and night game drives, bush walks, lectures with Maasai Elders and hot-air balloon rides in the Maasai Mara; as well as helicopter trips, horseback riding and other activities at Mount Kenya Safari Club.
On the first full day of the event, United States Ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, hosted participants at his personal residence in Nairobi for a special lunch honoring The Pinto family, Virtuoso and Micato Safaris’ non-profit work within Kenya. In his remarks to attendees, Ambassador Ranneberger commented: “When visitors come to Kenya, their experience is in the hands of tour agents like many of you here today. They rely on you to craft a unique experience for them, experiences that will create memories that will last a lifetime. In turn, you rely on companies like Micato to consistently deliver the quality tourism experiences that your clients deserve. Yours is an important partnership.”
On the final day of the trip, participants personally experienced how travelers can truly make a difference when visiting East Africa. The group visited the numerous projects of Micato’s non-profit program, AmericaShare, located in the Mukuru slum on the outskirts of Nairobi. These projects, centered on community outreach, economic empowerment and education, are committed to improving the lives of the poor and vulnerable women and children living there – many of them victims of the AIDS pandemic. Many Virtuoso travel advisors met with the African children they are putting through boarding school through AmericaShare’s School Sponsorship Programme and everyone learned about Micato’s innovative new One for One Commitment, which sends an impoverished child to the local government school for every safari sold. In total, 68 individuals associated with Virtuoso – Members, Preferred Suppliers and Virtuoso staff – sponsor 78 children through AmericaShare.
The invited agencies from across the globe collectively represent 57% of Virtuoso’s $5.1 billion annual network sales. With more than 6,000 travel specialists associated with over 300 agencies in 22 countries within the organization in total, this elite group represents the very best travel advocates in the industry. Virtuoso selects its Chairman’s Recognition participants based on top production in the following categories:
- Highest Virtuoso preferred supplier sales per agency
- Highest Virtuoso preferred supplier sales per agent
- Highest Virtuoso preferred supplier sales growth per agency
Photos provided by Micato Safaris.
For more information, please visit www.virtuoso.com.
Whether it’s a big adventure in Kenya and Tanzania, succumbing to the allure of Egypt, or setting sail on a captivating cruise to Southeast Asia, this issue is packed with inspiration for journeys that teach, enrich, cultivate and better the lives of those who take them. And, because travel also creates jobs, boosts economies, and improves local infrastructures, readers are rewarded with a look at the positive impact their travels have on the communities around the globe.
- Nile Style – From Cairo to the Red Sea, a modern-day wanderer finds Egypt’s allure more alive than ever. By Lisa Kinoshita
The Long Way to Angkor – Cruise to a deeper understanding of Vietnam and Cambodia during a week on the mighty Mekong. By Aaron Gulley
Enchanting East Africa -Big game and big adventure beckon in Kenya and Tanzania. By Michael Poliza
Travel with Meaning – Companies that define travel philanthropy. By Costas Christ
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE – Tag It
The November issue of VIRTUOSO LIFE goes high-tech for readers with smartphones. Look for this tag through the printed version to view dynamic content via Web-enabled smartphones. To experience it on your smart phone, download Microsoft’s free Tag Reader on your phone at www.gettag.mobi, launch the application, then scan the tag.
- View a video that illustrates the Virtuoso difference (page 16)
Enjoy the African Children’s Choir performing at a Micato Safaris event (page 26)
See a video of spaceship Enterprise’s first free flight (page 40)
Check out a map of Venice highlights (page 68).
It’s fun and it’s easy – just look for the tag on the page and enjoy!
To learn more about Virtuoso, click here.
Virtuoso®, the world’s leading luxury travel network, is pleased to welcome the Armani Hotel Dubai into Virtuoso Preview, a program showcasing the most anticipated hotels and resorts that have just opened their doors or will be opening within the year. As the first hotel in the Middle East to participate in this prestigious program, the Armani Hotel Dubai joins an elite group of world-class properties that have turned to Virtuoso to increase visibility and add a competitive edge to their sales and marketing initiatives.
“For the launch of Armani’s first hotel, we knew relationships with Virtuoso and its members were key to driving success during our first year,” said Oliver Key, general manager, Armani Hotel Dubai. “Virtuoso’s worldwide network shares our commitment to delivering an unparalleled customer experience, and this well-matched relationship brings a great benefit to our hotel. Virtuoso is the only company with the reputation and ability to bring the Armani Hotel Dubai to the attention of those who will truly appreciate it for what it is; a splendor of the Armani lifestyle.”
“We are pleased to have Armani Hotel Dubai as part of the Preview program,” said Albert Herrera, vice president of hotels, destinations and tours at Virtuoso. “Virtuoso takes pride in its affiliations with the most respected brands and companies. Giorgio Armani has taken great strides to make his first hotel a dazzling place to experience. With a strategy that is unique and aligns with our own, the hotel will collaborate with our members to create customized experiences rather than offering prefabricated packages, providing our clients with memorable experiences and not just another hotel stay.”
On April 27, 2010, the Armani Hotel Dubai opened its doors to acclaim for the hotel’s design, luxurious amenities and unique location inside the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Every detail of the hotel was personally chosen by Giorgio Armani to reflect his passion for stylish comfort and elegance. Sophisticated colors, clean lines and unique textures blend together seamlessly with the tower’s stunning architecture and natural light to create an atmosphere of calm serenity where guests can feel at ease. In addition to the beautiful décor, the hotel also offers guests an elegant spa and eight food and beverage options.
Click here to learn more about Virtuoso.