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March 30, 2011

Stratos Jet Charters, Inc. Acquires Air Charter Access

Orlando, Fla., March 23, 2011: Furthering its strategy to meet the growing demand

for private jet charter, Stratos Jet Charters, Inc., a worldwide air charter agency, announced

today that it has acquired Air Charter Access, one of the finest and most reputable air

charter brokerages in the industry.

According to Joel Thomas, President and founder of Stratos Jets, the air charter industry

has recently seen the return of business and personal travelers seeking alternatives to the

long lines, invasive security screenings, and route cancellations of commercial travel.

Thomas believes that “the increased demand and heightened interest for private jet charter

serves as a positive indicator of economic recovery.”

Thomas says that Stratos Jets has already received an influx of charter flight requests,

and expects to see a significant increase in jet charter activity and traffic over the next

quarter. Stratos Jets recently acquired Air Charter Access, a leading air charter brokerage

firm, to meet the increasing demand for jet charter, while still providing the same high level

of service that private jet travelers have come to expect from Stratos Jets.

Stratos Jets’ acquisition of Air Charter Access will benefit Stratos clients by enabling

the air charter agency to provide the highest level of personalized service and attention to

detail in the industry. As a result of the acquisition, Stratos Jets will have the necessary

resources to respond to the growing demand of charter clients with flights at or below

market value. By acquiring Air Charter Access, Stratos Jets agents will be able to improve

their work flow and consistently provide the highest level of service, while managing the

increase in traffic and demand for jet charter.

According to Thomas, “Stratos Jets has developed a close relationship with Air Charter

Access because of their similar philosophy for building and maintaing close personal

relationships with their clients.” The business model of Air Charter Access closely

resembles that of Stratos Jets, with an emphasis on client development and retention.

Thomas went on to say that “Air Charter Access flight coordinators are equally committed

to best practices and excellence, and bring a wealth of air charter knowledge and expertise

to the table.”

As the demand for jet charter continues to rise, Stratos Jets agents will work diligently

with Air Charter Access flight coordinators to tailor their services to meet the exact needs

of their clients. Thomas reminds travelers that Stratos Jets and Air Charter Access will be

available 24/7 to arrange jet charter flights to any destination in the world.

Posted by Elayne on March 30, 2011 at 12:16 PM in Transportation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 16, 2011

First Time To New York City—Where Do I Eat? A First-timer’s Query to New York’s Dining Experience

When visiting New York City, dining is as important as where you visit. However, New York City’s restaurant scene is ever changing. There are tens of thousands of places to eat in the city, and every week a new group opens while another shuts down. Unlike the rest of the United States, most restaurants tend to be small and locally owned. You’ll find a few chains here and there (especially when it comes to fast food), but for the most part NYC restaurants tend to be small and unique.

So for the visitor this means negotiating a minefield of unknown quantities. Of course there are many “famous” restaurants throughout the city, but they tend to be grouped in the high price ranges. This is a great city for a dining splurge, but it’s also a great place to try something unusual alongside locals in the lower price ranges.

The great thing about New York restaurants is that the competition is so fierce for your food dollar, that places that offer substandard food or that charge too much don’t remain in business long. If a restaurant has been open for more than a year, they are most likely doing something right. The old and universal advice that you should go to crowded places and avoid empty ones is especially true in New York City.

So where do we eat? The Times Square area obviously has tons of places and foot traffic from tourists, so if an eatery has a great location, it can offer poor servings since they don’t rely on repeat business. There are many goofy chain restaurants right on Broadway, such as Bubba Gump Shrimp, if you just want to grab a bite to eat and want dependability. Places with a never-ending supply of tourists have little incentive to offer great food at good prices, so they usually don’t. Bar Americain would be my recommendation. Bar Americain combines good food and drink with a relaxed atmosphere. Bobby’s Flay’s Tex-Mex brasserie, American style is a truly American urban experience. Bobby melds his Tex-Mex roots with his broad knowledge. Chef Flay combines the brashness of an Iron Chef; which he is, of course, to his range of his American style dishes inspired by regional foods.

Restaurant Row on 46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues is filled with places specialize in pre and post theater dinners. Many of these restaurants offer excellent dishes, but they tend to be pricey. Virgil’s on 44th Street has the best brisket I have ever eaten. Scarottos on 47th has the best handmade meatballs, all within the theatre district.

The neighborhoods are where most locals go to eat and are where ethnic food is really happening. You might be surprised by how inexpensive dining can be in many of the popular places outside the Times Square area. The competition here will not allow restaurants to overcharge and stay around for long. So be certain and pick your favorite ethnic specialty and chow down like the locals.

The Upper West Side is residential area jammed with all kinds of restaurants in all price ranges to suit even the most budget-minded diner. Broadway is the central artery, but Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues have the most interesting restaurants. Just south of the Times Square is another residential district with restaurants serving up almost everything you could want. My favorite for favorite ethnic food is the Arepa Lady for Venezuelan fare.

A trip to the Meat Packing District of the West Village is home to super trendy restaurants, many with al fresco seating during summer. The West Village area has Hudson Street and Carmine Street, both lined with small places and on nearly every corner as well.

The East Village area has become a hot dining spot for locals. Lower rents allow chefs to experiment with unusual and exotic things get away with it. St Marks Street (8th Street) from 2nd Avenue to Avenue A is lined with interesting places that are very reasonably priced. 6th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues is Indian Restaurant Row, with literally one place after another down the whole block. An old joke says they all share the same kitchen, but we know that isn’t so.

Dining in The City wouldn’t be complete without a slice of pizza, which you can get within a three minute stroll from anywhere in Manhattan. Many neighborhoods have a pizza place on every corner.

Hot dogs are another must eat when in New York. The carts of Midtown sell hot dogs for around two bucks and they are well worth the price, especially for the convenience and depending on how hungry you may be.

There are Chinese restaurants in every neighborhood in Manhattan. The quality is excellent and the prices are moderate. Obviously Chinatown is loaded with restaurants – many of which depend mostly on local Chinese diners. Quality is spotty and sanitation can be lacking. Dining in Chinatown is an adventure, but not necessarily the best place to go for a great Chinese meal. . It can be an adventure, but it’s not necessarily the best place in town to go for a great Chinese meal.

Little Italy has shrunk to three blocks of Mulberry Street that are lined with nearly identical Italian restaurants. Quality tends to be good and prices can be reasonable since competition among the places is so fierce.

For the most romantic place, Balthazar is highly recommended, reservations required in advance. Balthazar reminds one of Paris. This French style restaurant is one of the most popular in The City because of the ambiance, its interiors are some of the best in the city and the food is, as well.

Posted by Jo Wilson on March 16, 2011 at 10:48 AM in Dining, Food and Drink, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 10, 2011

The Dining Pleasures of Orlando—Why Visit Disney When You Can Dine Like Royalty

Most people go to Orlando to vacation and take in the tourist theme parks.  I go to eat.  I find that Orlando has some of the best reasons to dine out in America.  Give me any excuse to go to Orlando and I am there!  I know it may sound strange that I do not share an attraction tourist parks.  I would rather spend my time dining, and dining, and dining. 

Orlando has a smorgasbord of restaurants to choose from ranging from all you can eat for $10.00 to selections from menus and décor that is fit for a king.  Because of the theme parks, Orlando has many restaurants to choose from including a bevy of chain restaurants that are moderately priced and serve good fare.  I enjoy eating at those on any given day, but I prefer to try something that I cannot get at home.  Let me take you on a tour of three restaurants that are a “must experience” for someone who wants to sample the best Orlando has to offer.

My first stop would definitely be HUE; but then I am just a bistro kind of girl, for the most part. HUE is downtown Orlando’s critically acclaimed, award-winning urban bistro.  HUE has taken the prestigious Golden Spoon Award by Florida Trend Magazine for five consecutive years as well as a slew of other awards.  HUE was also name as one of the Best New Restaurants in the world by Conde Nast Travel Magazine, the only restaurant in Orlando to achieve this acclaim.   HUE’s menu is American cuisine with a big city flair.  One of the things I like best is that the menu changes daily, featuring an array of unique flavors and combinations that never fail to make me want to try more.  HUE’s interiors have a warm feel with clean uptown architecture and walls lined with interesting as well as decorative original art.  Dining there makes me feel “in touch” with what is happening on the food frontier.

My next stop would be Emeril’s Tchop Chop.  While most people know Emeril for his Southern style cooking and his Louisiana dishes, Tchop is a step in a new direction—East, far East.  Thanks to Chef Greg Richie’s twist on Pan-Asian cuisine, Tchop excels at producing dishes that exceed your expectations and tantalize your taste for the exotic. or as Emeril is known to say, “Take it up a notch”.  Chef Richie does just that.  Whether it is brunch or exotic cocktails, this stop will satisfy your taste buds for something different without emptying your pocket.  The menu has the expected selection of delicious hand-rolled sushi as well as the unexpected--Asian salads and noodle bowls for your selection.  If somehow you can’t find just what your heart desires, you can build your own bowl or bento box.  Personally, I like to try something different each time I go, and I am never disappointed; but I keep returning to my old favorite standbys such as the miso soup and Asian noodles.  Sometimes simplicity is best.  Kids aren’t shortchanged at Tchops either.  There are kid’s combos for even the most hard-to-please of your little ones.  Located in the Loew’s Royal Pacific Resort at Universal, the setting is richly exotic.   The food is fun and oh so satisfying.

Victoria and Albert’s is a dining experience like no other.  Before you arrive for your meal, you will receive a call from the staff, usually the day before your reservations, to discuss any food allergies you may have or preferences.  Your menu will be personalized with your name on it and if it is a special occasion, the special event you are celebrating.  How much more royally can you be treated?

The menu at Victoria and Albert’s changes every day with choices from each category to choose.  Everyone starts with the amuse bouche and then proceeds to six courses.  You might think that you could never finish six courses, but you will and you will relish each and every one of them. Victoria & Albert’s is one of Florida’s most celebrated restaurants for a very good reason. It holds the highest honor from the Mobile Guide and it is the only restaurant in Orlando to earn five diamonds from AAA ten years in a row -- that’s enough diamonds for a new tiara for the queen.

Aside from being named for royalty, this restaurant knows how to please the discerning diner.  When you make your reservations, you will need to decide which of the three rooms you would like to be seated.  My favorite is the Queen Victoria Room, a small, intimate space where many choose to celebrate their special evening because of the ambiance and the romance. The Queen Victoria Room experience features fabulous service including several tableside preparations, many of them performed by maitre d’hotel Israel Perez, who also is the restaurant’s lead sommelier.

 The first choice of seating is the main dining room for the majority of diners. This is where most people dine for their first visit.  You will dine in the grandest fashion possible under the dome.

Food groupies usually opt for the popular and highly booked chef’s table. This seating is table is in an alcove off the main kitchen and provides a front row vantage point into the executive chef, Scott Hunnel’s kitchen. The kitchen staff reflects the quiet calm that comes with a seasoned crew of professional chefs as they go about the preparation and presentation of each dish.  Die hard food cultists enjoy the experience of observing a master chef at work and having each course explained by Hunnel, no less.

Men are required to wear jackets, and women must wear cocktail dresses or pantsuits. The crystal-and-linen dining room typically seats no more than 100 patrons. The hushed atmosphere features live harp music. The menu, which changes daily, offers programmed, seven-course dinners that can last as long as three hours. Prices start at $125 a person.  Children younger than ten years of age are not welcome—which is really quite fine when you consider the ambiance and the experience.  Be certain to dress appropriately.    Being elegantly attired is part of the total experience.  Would you go to your prom in jeans?

Posted by Jo Wilson on March 10, 2011 at 12:31 PM in Dining, Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 04, 2011

The Air Charter Association of North America Selects Joel Thomas as President

Orlando, Fla., March 3, 2011
: The Air Charter Association of North America (ACANA), announced today that Joel Thomas, President and founder of Stratos Jet Charters, Inc., was appointed President of ACANA.

ACANA, an invite-only, non-profit organization, is comprised of the finest and most well-respected air charter service providers in North America.  According to Thomas, the mission of ACANA is “to enhance and foster the air charter industry by promoting best practices and professionalism, representing members’ collective regulatory interests, and educating consumers about the benefits of private aviation.”

Thomas went on to say that the 19 members of ACANA adhere to the highest standards of integrity and ethics in order to provide a benchmark for excellence and professionalism in the air charter industry.  ACANA members are considered among the most sought-after and prestigious organizations in the jet charter marketplace and have repeatedly earned the respect of their clients as well as their peers.    

Stratos Jet Charters, a leading worldwide air charter agency, was invited to join ACANA in early 2010 after continually demonstrating a commitment to best practices, safety, ethics and excellence in the private aviation industry.  As a representative of ACANA, Stratos Jets is responsible for promoting best practices, ethics and integrity in order to improve and enhance the industry as a whole. 

According to Thomas, Stratos Jets’ membership with ACANA has provided the company with “the invaluable opportunity to share knowledge and insight with some of the finest air charter service providers in North America.  Stratos Jets has grown and prospered as a direct result of our affiliation with ACANA.”

As the new President of ACANA, Thomas brings his air charter knowledge, vast industry experience and visionary ideas for the future to the elite organization.  In his new role, Thomas will be responsible for bringing on new ACANA members, specifically air carriers, and contributing to the organization’s growth and expansion efforts.  Thomas will also work closely with the board of directors to further ACANA’s mission of promoting best practices and professionalism to industry professionals to protect the best interest of air charter brokers, air carriers and consumers. 

Thomas founded Stratos Jets Charters in 2007 to provide the best on-demand charter flight service to long-term, repeat clients.  Thomas says he founded Stratos Jets on the basis of “providing a valuable on-demand charter service that can meet the specific needs of every client.”  Today, Stratos Jet Charters arranges private jet charter flights on more than 5,000 aircraft for hundreds of private jet travelers worldwide.


Posted by Elayne on March 4, 2011 at 11:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack