Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Escape the Madness!

As if we need to give you a reason to escape the madness that is 2009 or to ring in the long-awaited arrival of 2010, here's a really good one: Elite Travel International has teamed up with our friends at SeaDream Yacht Club to offer an incredible fare of just $1,799 per person on a pair of 5-night, all-inclusive Caribbean sailings. Applicable dates for this special fare are Dec. 13-18, 2009 and Jan. 3-8, 2010.

Based on double occupancy, this "Escape the Madness" fare includes deluxe accommodations, all gourmet meals, all liquor, beach-side yoga/Tai Chi, watersports, onboard entertainment PLUS a $200/cabin spa credit (a perk of being a Virtuoso client!).

The first sailing departs from St. Thomas on Dec. 13, sails to and overnights in St. Barts (enjoy a full day and a half in our fave port!) before continuing on to St. Martin, Jost Van Dyke in the BVIs and onto San Juan for disembarkation on Dec 18th. Choose this mid-December sail and you'll get home in plenty of time for the holidays!

Or, kick off the New Year in style and sail with us Jan 3-8, 2010 round-trip from San Juan with stops in St. John, St. Barts, St. Martin & Jost Van Dyke.

Consider the value of a SeaDream cruise: One night in a luxury hotel on St. Barts can easily run $1,500...Escape the Madness and enjoy 5 nights of being pampered at sea, wining and dining while island hopping on a gorgeous 56-cabin yacht (max pax count is 112).

These fares are offered for a limited time, on a first-come, first-served basis. Fares do not include port taxes/fees or airfare. Pre-and post-cruise hotels & flights can be easily arranged through Elite Travel International. For more information, call 310.979.9036 or email or

Sunday, August 23, 2009

All the VIRTUOSO TravelMart News That's Fit 2 Print

Want to know what's happening in the luxury travel world? Just read on, as the following is a round-up of what's hot & what's new, as revealed at the recent Virtuoso TravelMart in Las Vegas. Out of the five I have attended, this year's TravelMart (showcased on Fox Business News!) was hands down the best. A sense of optimism prevailed as nearly 3000 people involved in luxury travel gathered together to share ideas on how to best achieve our common goal.

Here are just some of the cool things I learned last week from hundreds of Virtuoso travel suppliers:

DAY 1:

All Rocco Forte hotels offer family packages that include a free room for kids when one purchased for parents...Hotel de Rome in Berlin offers teenage programs including DJ lessons & underground bunker tours...The Charles Munich has availability during Octoberfest...the Mandarin Prague offers a free 3rd night from Nov-March...A&K is waiving many single supplements...In 2010 Backroads lowers prices and offers new biking trips to Spain, Bordeaux, Portugal, Arizona & Oregon...Exeter offers sailings from Moscow 2 St Pete on the new Volga Dream, 80 pax, 1st luxury ship, great rates...Gran Hotel Bahia in Tenerife has new 1-2 BR villas, a new Moet & Tapas lounge...Kempinski Hotel in Brugges only 1 hr by train from London or Paris, great spot to visit traditional Xmas markets...Park Hyatt Paris has 3 new prez suites, each 2,500 sq ft with in-room spa/gym. Eva & Tony Parker were 1st guests...Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat is fresh from 70 million Euro refurb (nearly 1 million Euros/per room!)...Villa La Massa outside Florence has new 2 BR/2BA prez suite, nearly 2000 sq feet with huge outdoor terrace...Oceania's newest ship, the Marina, debuts Jan 2010...Horizon & Co offers luxe Master's golf package, $5,750/person includes 3 nts at the Ritz-Carlton, final day at Master's, police escorts & 2 rounds of golf...Hotel Adlon in Berlin is where Brad Pitt stayed for Inglorious Bastards, it's also Obama's Berlin hotel of choice...

DAY 2...

American's new 757-800s will have 110 AC power ports. Plus, AA launches service from LA to Vail this winter...The Portugese investment group that last year purchased Lisbon's Lapa Palace is building 2 new luxury hotels downtown...The newish Grande Real Villa, 45 min from Lisbon, sits seaside and is the former home of an Italian king...Amsterdam's Hotel Pulitzer completed major renovation last fall, still authentically Dutch but more contemporary in style...Virtuoso cruise pax docking in Mykonos should ask me about spending the day at Starwood's Santa Marina Resort. 150E/person gets you transfers to/from the port, a Greek seaside lunch and all day use of the beach...Entry-level rooms on Seabourn's new 450-pax Odyssey are 300+ sq feet with 65 sq ft balcony, spa measures 11,000 sq feet with private spa 2008, the refurbished (reopened in 2004) King George Palace in Athens upgraded 95 percent of all Virtuoso guests...Tahiti Legends can facilitate legal weddings in Tahiti as of 2010...Baroness Rothschild & Michael Phelps traveled through China with Imperial Tours...Inter-Continental Hong Kong guarantees Virtuoso clients enjoy double upgrades through end of Dec...One & Only Capetown is home to Gordon Ramsay's Maze & the city's only Nobu...Stay 3 nights each at Singita & Ellerman House and the 4th is free in each spot through July 2010...Twelve Apostles just redid its lobby & all rooms, offers free helicopter flight 2 waterfront for those staying 4 or more nights...Taj Mahal Palace & Tower will reopen 70% of its rooms this Dec, the remainder by March. Butler service to be offered in entire Palace...Jumeirah Beach Hotel has 19 new Arabian-style villas, 1-3 bedrooms right on the beach...Diane Von Fustenberg designing her first hotel rooms at Claridges in London...Wilderness Safaris donates a % of every room night booked back into local communities...the Island Shangri-La in Hong Kong will debut its 56th floor Club level in Nov...AmanResorts opens its 34-suite Amagiri in Paige, AZ Oct 15...Four Seasons Chiang Mai debuts 12 new, 1,000 sq ft pool villas this fall, offers 3rd night free.

DAY 3...

St. Regis Shanghai has female-only floors with dedicated female butlers...St. Regis Mexico City just opened, St Regis Princeville debuts Oct 1...All 18 villas at Fregate Island now have private pools...Royal Palms in Scottsdale offers 60 new rooms & a new Spa Villa that sleeps 8...Triple Creek Ranch in Montana to include lift tix/ski rental in rates this winter...All rooms being redone by year's end at Rosewood's Mansion on Turtle Creek...Utah's Sundance Resort undergoing total room renovation and introducing night skiing this winter...Four Seasons Seattle offers comp transfers to cruise port & 3rd night free...Plaza Athenee in NYC debuts newly redone suites this Nov and new spa/fitness center in Jan....New Danny Meyer restaurant to open at Gramercy Park Hotel this fall, a $295 Thanksgiving rate is on offer Nov 19-30...Trump Chicago offers 53 "Spa" rooms w/yoga mat, weights, healthy menu & $50 spa credit...Hotel Hershey just completed $76 million expansion...the redone Pierre, a Taj Hotel in NYC offers totally new rooms with spa-like marble baths...the Four Seasons DC underwent a $40 million renovation last year, including the addition of Bourbon Steak restaurant...Virtuoso clients enjoy 10% off best available rates at Wynn & Encore Hotels, plus breakfast, a $100 dining credit, early check in/late check out...a renovation will start this fall at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota...

Day 4...

Roger Nadal & Venus Williams are fans of the Fairmont Acapulco Princess, home to one of 15 Willow Stream spas worldwide...44 unique hotels & 28 authentic restaurants throughout Mexico comprise Tesoros (treasures) de Mexico...Through Dec 24 the Presidente InterContinental Cancun will offer Virtuoso clients a double upgrade...Maroma Resort & Spa will allow kids to stay with families in its 4BR Villa Karolina; the Orient-Express Mayan Riviera resort recently added Freddy's Tequila & Ceviche Bar to its F&B outlets...Casa Sierra Nevada in San Miguel de Allende offers its gorgeous Presidential Suite for about $450/night and recently added multiple new suites to its inventory...Mauna Lani closes Sept 1-Oct 31 for room/public space renovations, has holiday space available (including one of its famed bungalows) and no min stay is required this year...When Royal Caribbean debuts 2700-cabin Oasis of the Seas this fall, it will have 37 different stateroom categories, including 2-story loft suites, 7-day Caribbean sailings start in Dec...Halekulani Resort will confirm upgrades for Virtuoso clients at time of booking, all rooms now feature HDTV & Mp3 players...David Copperfield's Musha Cay has been undergone a major facelift and now features a Balinese instead of Bahamian decor...Ritz-Carlton Jamaica offers an all-inclusive package priced from $409/night...Ritz-Carlton San Juan offers Virtuoso cruise clients day passes to its beach/pool...Bill & Hilary just vacationed at Cambridge Beaches in Bermuda...the Pan Pacific Vancouver will unveil a new room product in time for the Winter Olympics and will play host to the Today Show throughout the Games...Park Hyatt Beaver Creek has redone all suites, has a new restaurant & bar and offers 70% connecting rooms...Aspen's Little Nell will close in Sept for an $18 million renovation, reopening Dec 1 after donating all old furnishings to Habitat for Humanity. Free ski passes to anyone staying 3 nights this winter...Free skiing also offered this winter to guests of Amangani in Jackson Hole, WY...Fairmont Ghiradelli offers a $100 resort gift card per day for Virtuoso clients plus comp passes to the kids' club...Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles will open downtown on Feb 15, 2010...Miraval Spa offers Virtuoso clients a $150 spa credit per night booked.

For more information or to book your next luxury travel experience, contact the EliteTravelGal at or 310.979.9036.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

New Year, New Rules

In the past, if you hadn't yet booked your Xmas/New Year's vacation, chances are you'd be out of luck. Most of the top resorts typically sold out months if not a year in advance, and 10-14 day minimum stays were the norm. The good news is that there's still plenty of space at some of our favorite properties, and the long-enforced holiday restrictions have relaxed quite a bit.

One of the BEST options we've seen is "Christmas in Kapalua", a 5th night free promotion (yes, even during Xmas week!) offered by the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. Our Virtuoso rates start at $715/nt and include such exclusive amenities as full breakfast for two, priority late check out/upgrade if available and a $100 Spa OR F&B credit!

If Hawaii's not on your Xmas wish list, consider "Christmas in Africa", an amazing five-night package offered (for arrivals Dec 22 or 23) at Richard Branson's Ulusaba in the Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve (pictured). Included in the $6,200 package is five nights' accommodations, all meals and drinks, twice-daily safari game drives plus safari walks, two spa treatments per room, upgrade if available and all taxes.

Or, if you prefer to travel after the holiday rush, Curtain Bluff in Antigua has an appealing offer in its "Power of '10" package. Available Jan 1 through March 31, the 2010 offer gives guests the chance to purchase a sunset sail on the hotel's private yacht, a cooking class, a second spa treatment, personal fitness training session or tennis lesson for only $10! All-inclusive rates from $995/night include all meals/drinks, watersports & 20 activities. Kudos to Curtain Bluff for taking the creative route with this New Year special!

For more information on any of the above specials or for additional holiday travel ideas, contact us at 310.979.9036 or via email:

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Return to Virtuoso

A funny thing happened last week. I woke up on Monday and felt the need for change. Now, I've had this feeling before--it's why I've lived & worked in DC, twice in NYC, in Florida and am now calling LA home for the 2nd time. When I get this "need for change" feeling, I know it's time to move up and move on...and so I did. I called up my friend who runs a terrific, high-end, largely entertainment-focused travel agency in the Valley and told her I wanted to have lunch. So we did. And two days later, I made the decision to affiliate with her agency (Third Millennium Travel), marking my return to the Virtuoso network after an 8-month hiatus.

Here are just a few reasons why I decided it was time for a change:

Virtuoso is comprised of the top 1 percent of US travel agencies

Clients of Virtuoso-affiliated agencies are given top priority at top hotels worldwide--this translates to priority upgrades, special amenities/perks and VIP treatment
On luxury cruises worldwide, clients are offered a choice of complimentary shore excursions, on board credit or pre-paid gratuities

Virtuoso is rolling out an amazing new website for its members, putting contact details for luxury suppliers worldwide at my fingertips (we all know, it's who you know right?). The same site, Composer, will also enable us to search super-fast for the best itinerary/product offerings for our clients.

Most importantly, as a luxury boutique travel firm that prides itself on personal service and attention to detail, we love the idea of being affiliated with not only a host agency but a network of luxury agencies that does the same.

As a Virtuoso agency, we can now offer our clients guaranteed upgrades, at time of booking, at dozens of luxury hotels (including: The Peninsula Beijing, Raffles Hotel, Hotel Le Bristol in Paris, Fairmont Whistler, Four Seasons Dublin, Gleneagles Hotel, Montage Hotels in Beverly Hills & Laguna Beach, The Breakers & The St. Regis NY).

The annual Virtuoso TravelMart is just 2 weeks away. Now that our affiliation is official, we'll be there, meeting with hundreds of luxury travel suppliers learning what's hot & what's new around the globe. We'll also be further building our strong relationships with the industry executives with whom we partner to ensure our clients always enjoy the best travel experience...wherever they are in the world.

For more information on Virtuoso and how our affiliation can benefit you on future travels, contact or call 310.979.9036.