Monday, May 18, 2009

Mexico Madness--Great Deals at Fab Hotels

Mexico's a timely topic here at the annual Advisory Board meeting for Rosewood Hotels, parent company of 2 of my favorite Mexican hotels--Las Ventanas and Rosewood Mayakoba (in Cabo and Riviera Maya, respectively). And as promised, here is a quick run-down on some of the best offerings at luxury hotels in Mexico right NOW (keep in mind...the CDC warning's been lifted and no cases of that flu were reported in Cabo, Ixtapa or Riviera Maya):

Rosewood's Destination Mexico Promotion features rates from $395 at Rosewood Mayakoba and from $515 at Las Ventanas. Included in the rate is full breakfast for two, a $200 resort credit and if you book through Elite Travel International, upgrade priority and additional amenities. There is a three-night minimum stay, valid on stays through October 14.

Fairmont Mayakoba's "Sweet Deal" package definitely is a SWEET DEAL. Rates from $279/night through mid-November include daily breakfast buffet and a $250 f&b credit (per stay), one complimentary access pass to the Willow Stream Spa facilities (valued at $98) PLUS, purchase one 60-minute spa treatment get a 30-min one free. Purchase a round of golf at El Camaleon, play as many rounds as you want. AND, enjoy a complimentary boat tour of the water canals.

At the beautiful Capella Ixtapa, rates through Oct 15th include daily breakfast, free WiFi, afternoon snacks, water/soft drinks, a $100-$250 resort credit (depending on room style booked) and upgrade priority when booked through Elite Travel International.

Kudos to Kor Hotel Group for thinking outside of the box! The Tides Zihuatanejo will actually reimburse you for plane fare (from $500 to $1000/ticket for 2 tickets depending on room category booked) when you book a minimum five-night stay. Or, book one room get the second room free!

As you might expect, there are a lot more luxury Mexico hotel deals currently on offer. We'll update this list regularly and also post new offerings as they come in on Twitter ( NB: Book your Mexico vacation through Elite Travel International and we'll ensure you are VIP'ed at the hotel of your choice.

For more information, contact or visit

Friday, May 8, 2009

Not All Travel Agencies R Created Equal

Elite Travel International (ETI) is not your grandmother’s travel agency. In fact, the boutique luxury travel firm run by the founder of Elite Traveler Magazine, Stacy Small (aka EliteTravelGal), is probably not even your mother’s travel agency. Rather, the Brentwood, CA-based firm (with satellite offices in NYC & W. Palm Beach, FL), caters to a jet-setting, young professional crowd more likely to request their family’s next vacation via Blackberry, text message, Twitter DM or Facebook wall post than by phone or in person. In keeping with the “green” trend, traditional brochures are seldom used (ETI’s clients much prefer a website link or personal recommendation!).

Signifying the “out with the old” connotation the term “travel agent” conjures up, Elite Travel International is a full-service, one-stop travel concierge. Or, in other words, ETI is comprised of luxury travel experts who share with clients a very customized and personalized level of expertise, largely drawn from longtime sales and marketing careers coupled with worldwide travels of their own.

In addition to Small, who traveled the world on assignment for national travel magazines for 15 years before launching Elite Travel International, ETI is comprised of Donald Gorbach, a former veteran real estate broker; Kate Rice, a seasoned travel reporter; and Kara Slater, a top-performing former magazine publishing executive. All three bring to the travel business a unique perspective on what today’s luxury client is looking for in terms of customer service and professionalism. And, like Small, all three have traveled extensively worldwide.

In addition to its modern take on and approach to what today’s client wants, the firm differentiates itself from other luxury travel firms by NOT charging its clients exorbitant booking fees or high annual retainers.

“We do things for our clients as a courtesy that many other travel firms charge a lot of money for,” says Small. “This includes, but is not limited to, booking restaurant reservations and spa appointments, securing theater tickets, arranging limo transfers, pretty much whatever our clients need while traveling we do for them. We like our clients to think of us as their one-stop travel concierge.”

Elite Travel International specializes in custom luxury travel arrangements and personalized VIP service for both leisure & corporate travelers worldwide. An extensive network of high-level industry contacts, firsthand knowledge of the products represented, and the company’s prestigious affiliation with TravelStore, Inc. (the largest privately owned travel agency in California) and the Signature Travel Network translate to exclusive perks for client such as priority upgrades, breakfast-inclusive rates, early check in/late check-out, shipboard credit on luxury cruises, and the highest possible level of service at hotels and resorts around the globe.

Let’s face it: Someone who wants a flight between point A and point B can easily do it themselves. And if budget is the only concern, the Internet works just fine. But, for those who wouldn’t dare touch their own taxes or handle their own legal work, ETI is the one-stop shop for all luxury travel-related needs and plans.
For more information, email, follow us at or visit

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Luxury 4 Less: From Colorado to the Caribbean

My inbox overfloweth this week with emails from luxury travel companies offering serious summertime specials. Here are some outstanding, value-heavy deals from a few of my favorite hotels:

At Orient Express' Hotel Caruso in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast, a three-night Great Affordables package, priced from 3,165Euros includes three nights' accommodations in a seaview balcony room, full breakfast daily, two dinners, a poolside lunch, round-trip airport transfers and a half-day guided private tour of Pompei. Book now for stays through October 26.

Caneel Bay, a Rosewood Resort on St. John, USVI, rates start at just $325/night through Nov. 18 and include daily breakfast and a $100 resort credit. Book by May 15 and get an extra $100 resort credit. The offer is based on a four-night minimum stay.

A fabulous "Family Escape" package is offered at the new Capella Telluride Resort in the heart of Colorado's stunning San Juan Mountains. The four-day package includes breakfast for two per bedroom, four nights a 1-, 2- or 3-bedroom condo, 50% off all food & beverage for kids under 13, 20 percent off spa services and a $300 resort credit. Rates vary based on accommodation chosen, and the 4th night is free.

From June 20 through Nov. 20, Four Seasons Costa Rica offers rates from just $395/night with the 5th night free. Book through Elite Travel International, and the rate will also enjoy daily breakfast for two, an upgrade (if available) & a $100 golf credit.

At the Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall, the Escape to Luxury package pretty much turns the high-end beachfront hotel into an all-inclusive resort. Rates from $409/night include all meals, beverages, and accommodations. Plus, stay four nights & get the 5th free. (NB: As of this writing, space still available over Memorial Day weekend!)

Other deals worth a mention: Free round-trip air from NYC offered with select Windstar cruises to Europe this summer AND all-inclusive rates of $499/night at Galley Bay in Antigua (representing a 50 percent savings).

For more information on these & other luxury travel deals offered worldwide, contact Elite Travel International at 310.979.9036 or

Monday, May 4, 2009

Deals of the Day: Aspen, Sardinia & Manhattan

These days, it's all about finding the best value for your $$ even at the world's best hotels. Here are a few of our favorite deals at a few favorite of our hotels:

No need to wait in a taxi line or pre-reserve a car service when booking the "Bed & Benz" package at the Four Seasons NY (shown, left). Rates from $935/night include round-trip transportation in a chauffeured Mercedes Benz between the hotel & any of the city's 3 major airports, as well as meet and greet service at the airport location. NB: Book through Elite Travel International and you'll also enjoy full breakfast for 2, a room upgrade if available and a $100 spa credit.
To commemorate its 120th anniversary, Aspen's Hotel Jerome introduces a “History Buff” package inclusive of 3 nights in a Deluxe King room, a historic tour of Aspen, 2 complimentary Aspen Crud cocktails at the famed J-Bar (learn its origin and recipe), plus 1889-themed turndown amenities such as Jerome silver dollar souvenir coins, an 1889 photo album of the hotel and “Fun Facts about 1889”. Rates start at $899, based on double occupancy, May 22-Jan 2, 2010.
Through June 18, experience the best of Sardinia with Hotel Cala di Volpe's "Spring Escapade" package. Rates of 580E/night include accommodations in a classic double, daily breakfast, choice of lunch or dinner, and use of a rental car throughout your stay. There is a four-night minimum. The deal is offered again come fall, from September 13.

For more details, to book or for more value-added packages at luxury hotels, contact us via email:; or phone 310.979.9036.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Why We Need Twitter

When I first heard of Twitter, like many, I thought I had no use for it. In one week and the addition of nearly 1,200 followers, I've changed my tune. There is no doubt Twitter is becoming an essential communication tool for companies worldwide. This includes travel companies, top journalists, news stations, magazines, politicians, as well as people like you and me who now have the opportunity to communicate directly with all of the above.

This morning alone, I learned from Kimpton Hotels COO Niki Leondakis that all Kimpton Hotels are offering late check-out Sundays in May (in honor of “Better Sleep Month). I also learned through morning posts by various “tweeters” that a 6.1 earthquake hit western Guatemala; that all hotels (and restaurants with patios) are open in Cancun (despite cancellation rate of 70 percent); that Fairmont, Four Seasons & Kimpton rank at top of Health Magazine’s “Healthiest Hotels” list; and that Ritz-Carlton’s new “Peace of Mind” package gives my clients 5 nights for the price of 3.

The immediacy of being able to learn what is happening, throughout my industry and the world, is what makes Twitter such a game changer. Since you have the ability to choose which companies and individuals you want to “follow,” you cannot only keep up with what your favorite companies are offering but also read a plethora of relevant news stories all in one place. For example, during the swine flu crisis, I was able to follow what CNN,, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the CDC, the White House, Mexican tourism officials, airlines, hotels and locals living in Mexico City and observers were reporting—without having to skip around from website to website in search of accurate information.

The true beauty of Twitter is that posts are limited to 140-characters, giving you a brief read on the topic of interest. Many tweeters also post a link to a relevant article or blog containing more in-depth information related to their “tweet", and you can respond directly or publicly to this person with your thoughts. As I heard recently, Facebook is for connecting with those you know while the main idea of Twitter is for connecting with those you want to know.

For example, after seeing Leondakis’ post about Kimpton’s "Sleep In" promo, I shot off a quick response letting her know how clever I thought this was and what a fan of Kimpton I am. She responded immediately, thanking me for the note. Now I know I have a direct line to the hotel company’s COO should I ever need it! This is just one example of how easy it is, thanks to Twitter, to build new relationships with people you would otherwise never be able to “meet”.

I also took the opportunity to connect with some local residents in Mexico City, Cancun and Los Cabos during the swine flu panic, as I wanted their first hand take on what was happening rather than just relying on what we were hearing here in the States. Even if a direct dialogue does not develop (some tweeters are quite popular as you can imagine), you can still take advantage of knowing what people of interest to you are thinking, doing, planning, offering, etc. based on their updated “tweets.”

Among those I follow, for my own personal interests, are Bonnie Fuller (Huffington Post columnist and former editor of US Weekly, Cosmo and other mags), several rescue dog organizations and many yoga devotees. I also enjoy following celebs such as Mariel Hemingway, Virginia Madsen, Seth Rogen, Dane Cook, Ashton Kutcher, Joel Madden and the Kardashian sisters solely for entertainment purposes, while I find following business people like Steve Case, Seth Godin, Suzy Welch, Russell Simmons and Richard Branson to be both interesting and inspiring.

Whether or not you choose to join the Twitter generation is entirely up to you. But if you do join, feel free to follow me at and I will see you in Twitterville.