February 08, 2012

Who Loves You Baby? Your Travel Professional Does!

Courtesy of DestinationsTravelMagazine.com


You’ve decided it’s time to get away.

You’ve worked hard all year, you’ve saved your vacation days, and now it’s time to plan that well-earned holiday or vacation. You want to take a trip and travel.

But where?

Do you want it to be pampering luxury travel? Do you want to rough it in a pristine wilderness?

What about a foreign country that you’ve never seen? Is it safe? Are there areas you should avoid?

What it you make the wrong decisions? What if your precious time away is ruined because you made some bad choices? How can you avoid making them?  Talk to friends? What if they’re wrong? Do some research online - where all they care about is “heads and beds”?


Who can you trust for some honest, well-informed advice?

What if your ‘best friend’ was an experienced, knowledgeable individual who had all the latest and hottest travel news at their disposal and knew you well enough to help you make the right decisions?

What if your best friend was a travel professional?

Why use a travel professional?

   1. They know more than you do - Many travel professionals have spent years to obtain special certifications. They attend seminars and special training via the industry. They have access to training most of us just don’t.

      2. They have ‘insider’ connections. They know who to call to get done what they need to get done... when and where they need it. Make no mistake about it, travel professionals have a certain loyalty and respect for other travel professionals. Travel professionals are the ‘bread and butter’ of the industry. They have clout.

   3. Contrary to what you hear and read from online discount sites, travel professionals have an ‘edge’ for getting some of the best pricing available. Deals come across their desks regularly. Last minute cancellations, special incentives, special promotions... they ‘get it.’ And they pass these opportunities on to their valued clients.

   4. When you are traveling, and suddenly face a change of plans, a crisis, or have questions and need answers... fast, who can you call if you book yourself? Safely entrust your travel plans to your travel professional, and you are in ‘good hands.’ You will have a contact, a safety net, a ‘go-to’ person in case of any emergency. Worth its weight in gold.


   5. Looking for added value, upgrades, VIP treatment? No one has a better handle on that than a qualified travel professional. Think you know the ropes? You’re no match for what they can do, including room upgrades, hard-to-get reservations, better seating at an event, access to premier openings, and they can put you in touch with their personal friends and travel professional acquaintances like chefs, tour guides, and others.

   6. They can also save you time and money. They KNOW when a special promotion is coming up, they KNOW what days of the week are the cheapest to fly, they KNOW how to get you premium travel arrangements and discounted rates. You may be able to make your own travel arrangements, but cheaper does not equate better, and your travel experiences may suffer the consequences.

Here are the advantages of using a travel professional via Maya Northen, Chimera Travel, LLC  -

Destination knowledge and experience: how do you know that the hotel or even the destination you chose is really the best option? Did you know, for instance, that Venice floods in the certain months and water can be knee high or higher? Online travel companies don't tell you that. In fact, they encourage you to go by lowering prices during those months. Same for many Caribbean islands during hurricane season – prices are lower, encouraging clients to travel there. They don't mention that your vacation may come with a tropical storm or worse. These are all things a professional travel planner will relay to their clients and, in doing so; help them plan a vacation that truly offers what they're looking for.  

Industry experience: entry and exit requirements and airline regulations, to name a few, change often. Some countries, for instance, charge an entrance fee of up to several hundred dollars per person. Is this information you want to be surprised with when you arrive at your destination after a long overseas flight? These are details an online booking agent may well not alert you about, but a travel planner will.

Saving time and frustration: There is so much travel information online that it can be overwhelming searching through it all. Furthermore, it's difficult to know what you can trust and what you can't. Travel planners can help you narrow down these details – from the section of the city to stay in, to weather to fly or train between destinations, to the best museums to visit while there, and so much more. People seem to have increasingly little free time these days – think of what you could be doing with that instead of sorting through pages and pages of online travel material.

Emergency help: What if something goes wrong during your travels? If you call an online company, chances are you're getting a call center representative – not a true travel planner, let alone one that has experience in your destination. How can they help with your particular situation in the quickest and most effective manner? Do you want to sit on hold waiting for the next available representative during an emergency? A travel planner has the knowledge needed to help you in this situation, is much more accessible than a large internet company with a call center full of non-travel-expert reps. 

Just what could go wrong without one?

From  Barb Stetzer of Misty Travel, here are some things to keep in mind -

Are you aware of what you really are booking when you call the 800 numbers?  Did you take the time to read the fine print and what it involves?

 Airlines change their schedules and what are your options? Does the 800 number call you to alert you?  Did you speak to the same agent who made your original reservations?

Is your room guaranteed at the hotel?  What if the hotel is sold out upon your arrival and your room is not available there and you are moved to another hotel?

 My clients are the travelers who make their reservations with me and trust me to safeguard their dreams.

 What were your travel nightmare experiences?  Who held your hand throughout the ordeal?  Who did you call first?

 My deposit for a reservation is credited to your account once you book with me.  My knowledge has come with years of certification, constantly updating my credentials, attending seminars and webinars to continue my certifications, and from my personal experiences. I am a professional and proud to be a travel advisor.  This is not a part-time position for me.  I am available 24 - 7 for my clients.  

I have connections with various resorts and cruise lines. 

I know where to reach a solution to your problems should they arise.

 I take time to know your individual desires and preferences. I Listen to you! With me, you are not pressured into purchasing the last room at the resort or cabin on the ship unless this is truly the case.

There are many common misconceptions about travel professionals.

Although it is hard to believe in this online ‘enlightened’ age we live in, misconceptions within the travel industry are keeping travelers from the very expertise and travel assistance they should be relying on.

Misconception 1: “Travel planners are not professionals – they just do it for the free travel.” This couldn't be more false. First, very few of us actually even get free travel these days. So we can eliminate that part of the misconception right there. Secondly, the training and education for travel planners is entirely too numerous to list here – from full four-year programs at colleges to industry certification programs to continuing education at industry conferences.  People are choosing travel planning as a career, and we're very serious about it.

Misconception 2: “Travel planners just up the online price without telling me to make extra money. They aren't looking for the best price for me.”  The truth is, we're very transparent in our pricing. We work with a wide variety of supplier partners that can help us get lower rates and we discuss any fees we have up front with the client.  We can't work for free (who can?), but we don't arbitrarily boost up the price and not tell our clients.  After all, an unhappy client will not book with us again or refer us – why would we try to “cheat” them out of money? Plus we know clients often look at prices online. It would be silly, not to mention wrong, to add hidden costs and pretend it was the best price. 

Misconception 3: They get incentives to only book with certain suppliers, so they aren't really looking at the best options for me. Once again, why would we book a client on a vacation that wasn't best for them? Our clients are our business – we want to make sure their experience is the best possible.  Sometimes we do have trusted partners, but this is simply because they're exactly what their name implies – the partners that we trust the most who we feel do the best job for our clients. And if for some reason they aren't the best option for you, we are happy to find one that is. 

Misconception 4: Perhaps the biggest misconception is “I don't need a travel planner because I can do the exact same thing online.” I don't deny that it may be possible to get a flight and hotel to your desired destination online, and possibly at the price you want.  However, simply getting the same trip online does not in any way mean they're getting “the exact same thing” that you'd get when using a travel planner. The online lacks several major benefits that an experienced professional can provide.

So what should you look for in a travel professional?

Whether their title is travel planner, travel professional, travel consultant, cruise consultant – look for an industry ‘professional,’ someone for whom travel is their career or profession. Avoid someone who is in it as a hobby.

Look for someone who is accredited or who has travel industry certifications or other qualifications.

Barb Stetzer, for example, has earned several industry certifications including:

Certified Travel Consultant designation-

The highest accreditation in the travel industry, conferred by The Travel Institute upon travel professionals who complete an advanced two-level certification program, demonstrate extensive industry knowledge and experience, and exemplify the highest standard of professionalism. This certification requires fulfillment of annual continuing education credits.

Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) Master Cruise Counsellor (MCC) designation-

This required completion of a comprehensive program of cruise sales, classroom training, and product instruction, delivered through a combination of ship inspections and personal cruise experience. CLIA certified cruise counselors are widely recognized as the foremost cruise vacation experts among American travel professionals.

Barb also continues her education and certifications through the Travel Institute and Cruise Lines International Association.  Specializing in Luxury cruises and resorts, Caribbean, destination weddings.

 Barb has also has certification conferred by many tourist boards such as Bermuda, Mexico, Aruba, Peru, and Hawaii.

Maya Northen has an MS in International Marketing from St. Joseph's University.


She also serve as the Vice President of Membership for the Philadelphia Area Chapter of Meeting Professionals International (PAMPI) and is the President of the Delaware Valley Chapter of American Society of Travel Agents (DV ASTA).

Maya has also taken specialist courses through The Travel Institute for luxury travel specialist, destination weddings & honeymoon specialist, adventure travel specialist.

Other qualities to look for according to Maya Northen -

Honest and up-front: I think this is truly the most important - I disclose my fee structure up front, I'll tell someone if I have or haven't been somewhere, I will tell them if I think the trip is a bad idea even if it could be a big booking for me (ie going to Jamaica in the hurricane season). People need to feel that they can trust their travel planner 100%. Not only are they more likely to book, but they're more likely to refer you as well.

2. Experience and knowledge - this doesn't (always) mean letters after their name and it doesn't mean being in the industry 20 years. It means they should be knowledgeable about the destinations they're selling and know where to get any information that they personally don't know - ie DMCs, local tour operators, hotel contacts and other suppliers.

3. Flexibility: A travel planner should always plan with the client's needs, interests and preferences in mind. This means that if, for instance, the client rejects the planner's favorite big hotel in the city because they want a smaller boutique option, the planner should be open to this. Those that are inflexible are the reason people often think that we get "kickbacks" for working with certain suppliers and don't truly have their best interests in mind.

4. Reliable and communicative: Clients (unless they're overly communicative) shouldn't have to keep contacting the planner to see where the plans are. The planner should be keeping the client informed. Granted, some clients want to know every move we make and email several times a day, but in general, we should be doing what we say we're going to do, when we say we're going to do it and communicating these steps to the client. Even if you have to email a client and say "I'm still waiting to hear back from that hotel on the final quote, but I just wanted to let you know so you where I was in the process".  It's ok to have nothing too exciting to share - it's better than them thinking you forgot about them.

5. Personable and approachable: Travel planners, like so many others, are in the customer service business. The clients need to feel comfortable with us. You may have been to every country in the world five times over, but if a client doesn't feel they can talk about their plans with you and ask questions, they probably won't book with you.

What NOT to expect from a Travel Professional -

However, it is important to also mention, that relationship should be based on mutual respect. The travel professional’s time is valuable and is NOT to be abused by wasting their time researching information for your travel that you know you plan to try and book online afterwards. Because of this kind of abuse, many agents will request a deposit or fee up front  – and who can blame them – which they will apply to your travel upon booking.

Trust your travel to the experts.

So why do you need a travel professional?

Well, maybe you are one of the few who really wants to take on the chores or researching airfare, accommodations, tours, etc. online. Maybe you have the time to spare, you love chasing around the internet scrounging for deals, or you just love taking chances with that next precious trip... or maybe you have inexhaustible funds and don’t care what you pay.

But if you are like the rest of us, that’s not the case.

So why risk it?

Working with a travel professional will:

Place the burden of researching, chasing, price-hunting, reserving in the hands of a pro.

Probably not cost you more, and may save you money.

May actually help you travel in more luxury and style than you thought possible.

Provide you with that go-to person you can rely on for information, who will guard you against travel nightmares.

You’ll have a ’travel angel’ to call in the event of a crisis.

And by freeing you up to focus on nothing but enjoying your trip, you just might have the time of your life!

Posted by Jo Wilson on February 8, 2012 at 06:07 PM in Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 12, 2011

Images: Mississippi River Flooding

Looking N from old river structure

Barges being pushed up the Mississippi River south of Natchez. Old river beds visible with rising water.

    Gates open

Old River Structure, gates open allowing water to escape and taking pressure off the levees in lower Louisiana.
Churning Water near LT

Rising waters churning near the LeTourneau manufacturing plant south of Vicksburg.

South Vix 30 min

South of Vicksburg, MS approximately 30 minutes. Levee is on the Louisiana side of the river.

Posted by Jo Wilson on May 12, 2011 at 03:55 PM in Current Affairs, Inside DOT, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 10, 2011

Cooking with Fresh Produce from Our Own "Potager Garden"


This picture was taken standing in front of a wine barrel...in the Abbey of  Valmagne, one of the most prestigious and well preserved Cistercian abbeys dating back to 1139.  Valmagne Abbey is in Southern France in the Languedoc region of France...close to Montpellier.

Auberge de Seattle Inn & Specialty French Cooking School

On my recent trip to France I could not help but notice how much the French are into food.  It is not just a continual quest for that excellent restaurant; it's more than that, it's a continual all consuming pre-occupation with food.  Plain and simple they "honor" food, and have a far different approach from what we do here in America.

Wine is the cheapest drink you can buy, cheaper than bottled water, juice, milk or pop.  Everyone seems to have their own vegetable garden, what they call a "potager" garden, even if it is tiny, they are growing food or if they have no land, they will substitute with lots of pots of different sizes on their balconies.

This year I am also trying my hand at growing a "potager" garden.  My dream is to grow our own vegetables for the cooking classes. I'm excited and looking forward to you using and eating freshly picked vegetables in your cooking class! http://www.discoverourtown.com/WA/Woodinville/Lodging/-lauberge-edge-of-seattle-bed-and-breakfast-inn/148686.html




Posted by Jo Wilson on May 10, 2011 at 09:30 AM in Activities & Events, Travel | 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

February 11, 2011

Partnering for the Future—Legendary and Vision Airlines Partner to Offer Incredible Deals on Destin Travel and Fun

Peter Bos hosted the grand announcement of Vision Airlines' expansion beginning flights out of Okaloosa County.  Peter Bos, CEO of Legendary Inc. said the announcement by Vision Airlines to expand its flights out of Okaloosa County is a win-win situation for not only Destin, but also the Entire County and region.

“I have been trying to market this area for 33 years now, and this has the potential to be the biggest thing that has happened to our area,” said Bos. “This can turn us into a year-round destination.”  “Think about those people who live in Shreveport and have a nine hour drive… they will come here more often; they may even be more interested in real estate since the travel is easier.”

Vision Airlines, the Suwannee, Georgia based company began as a charter carrier, founded in 1994, recently announced that on March 25 it would begin commercial service to 23 destinations, many of them in the South and along the Gulf Coast, with destinations originating from Northwest Florida Regional Airport. Prices for the new destinations will normally start at $79 one way. The airline chose to focus on that region because it is underserved by major airlines, which often offer regional jets, long layovers and high fares, said Bryan Glazer, Vision’s spokesman.

“This is our hub. We’re putting our roots in the ground here and growing here,” said Clay Meek, Marketing and Business Development Director for Vision Airlines. As of December 17, 2010, Vision Airlines began flights between Northwest Florida Regional Airport and Niagara Falls, NY. Starting March 25, Vision Airlines will offer flights to and from Northwest Florida Regional Airport to 12 new destinations including Atlanta; Huntsville, Ala.; Savannah, Ga.; and Louisville. A week later on April 1, service will start to and from Chattanooga, Tenn.; Shreveport, La.; Asheville, N.C.; Columbia, S.C.; and Orlando.

Meek said only about 3 percent of Northwest Florida’s current tourists get here by flying. Vision Airlines has targeted cities whose residents are already driving here for vacations. About 29,000 people from Asheville, N.C., drive to Northwest Florida each year, he said. In Louisville, it’s nearly 90,000.

Originally started in 1994, the airline operated flights for their tour business, out of Las Vegas. The expansion from a sight-seeing company, into commercial airlines opened up opportunity for travelers seeking lower fares, yet preferring a non-stop flight. The company partners with resorts to offer super package deals for your stay.

On the part of customers, there seems to be no shortage of interest: Vision started ticket sales this month with a $49 introductory fare for travel to cities in Florida that proved so popular that customers inundated its call centers and a surge in traffic crashed its computer servers, the airline stated.

Posted by Jo Wilson on February 11, 2011 at 10:42 AM in Transportation, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 05, 2011

The Lively Ghosts Who Haunt St. Augustine

Shrine-la-leche It is not surprising that St. Augustine, The Oldest City in America would be haunted by ghosts from its colorful past, beginning with The Spanish Colonial period.  Ghostly apparitions appear throughout St. Augustine and it is not just the cemeteries where sightings occur, although the cemeteries have their share.  During numerous St Augustine ghost tours the Chapel of Our Lady of Le Leche Church is said to have had a nun, in habit, who kneels in prayer at the chapel. She appears as alive as anyone; however, if you speak to her or approach her, she disappears into thin air.

The Military Hospital Museum is another place that one may encounter a ghostly apparition or two.  This building is a replica of the old hospital in which many of the soldiers who were stricken with yellow fever were treated and where many were given last rites.  In the Old City, ghostly sounds and shadows can be seen at the Old Pharmacy, a building that was built on the grounds where the hospital once stood that housed the wounded and dying.

Perhaps the most sensational ghostly pair are the lovers who were forever bound to their untimely death and haunting by the revenge of a jealous husband.  The harsh Spanish Commandant discovered that his young wife and the dashing captain had become lovers and lured them deep into the Fort’s depths where he had prepared a permanent punishment for the pair—shackles imbedded in the wall.  First the captain was shackled and then his unfaithful wife.  No one could hear their pleas for mercy or their screams as the commandant walled up the opening to leave the pair in this place of darkness for all eternity.  No one can plot revenge better than a Spanish military officer.  For approximately two hundred years, individuals have reported hearing crying and mournful sounds from deep within the fort. The scent of Orange Blossoms, the fragrance the unfaithful Delores was known to wear is often caught, seeming to float in the air, with no explanation of the source.  These unnatural occurrences were unexplainable until the 21st day of July in the year of 1833, when cannon cracked a floor. The depths of the fort were exposed to reveal the room in which the lovers had been placed and the skeletons were found, holding each other.  It was said that a rush of air came from the room, as well as the scent of Orange Blossoms. It is believed that Dolores and her lover still roam the fort, enjoying their love now in the spiritual world forever.

St. Augustine forts were the stages for many sad endings.  In the 1870s, brave Indians from the Great Plains, Kiowa, Cheyenne, Commanche, and Arapaho were imprisoned in Ft. Marion for three years in very dismal conditions.  Later, the Apache were imprisoned.  This time, instead of the braves, the Apache women and children were sent to Ft. Marion.  Over the years, the ghosts of Indians have been seen both in the Fort and the ghost of one brave who escaped is seen jumping to his death.  He jumps over and over.

The dungeons of Ft. Marion held over 200 court-martialed deserters from the American Army during the The Spanish American War.  Many of these men were put before a firing squad or hung or worse during their imprisonment.

The ghost of a woman in white wanders around in various places in and outside the fort, and then vanishes. Spanish soldiers also appear real—so real that visitors have talked to them.  Sometimes sounds of commands and war can be heard coming from the wall of the Castillo de San Marcos.

Judge John B. Stickney is the most celebrated resident ghost of The Huguenot Cemetery, although the spirits of children can be seen moving about and even sitting on the tombstones.  Elizabeth, a teenager who died of yellow fever, is said to love to dance at night along with other spirit pranksters.

The St. Augustine Lighthouse is another haunted place in this ancient city.  Are always shrouded in mystery and legend and The St. Augustine Lighthouse is no exception.  There is no question that the spirits of individuals who have died at sea follow the path of the light to shore and the lighthouse.   A man is seen from time to time shrouded in a grey mist walking about the grounds.  Children have been seen and it is documented that a work cart carrying supplies to the lighthouse during its construction, broke and five children, one a young black serving girl, all fell into the water and drowned.  Young female spirits seem to linger here.

The Lady with the Lantern is the ghostly apparition that inhabits the Casablanca Inn.  This apparition is said to be the widow who owned the Inn during the prohibition era.  She made much money from the bootleggers with her boarding house, sometimes boarding Federal agents as well.  It was said that she would stand watch on the balcony and swing a lantern back and forth to warn smugglers when the agents were in town so that the smugglers could pass by safely.  One night she waved off her lover’s boat; helping him to escape capture by the agents but he was sadly caught up and swept into the coming waves of a hurricane and lost at sea.  The widow still mourns for her lover and can be seen swinging a lantern back and forth to warn him of danger.

Posted by Jo Wilson on January 5, 2011 at 02:54 PM in Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 16, 2010

Top 5 Golf Trips by Private Charter

As any seasoned golf player could tell you, the only way to test your true ability as a golfer is to constantly challenge yourself.  And what better way to test your strengthens and weaknesses on the green than by traveling to some of the finest and most challenging golf courses in the country?  Luxury golf resort getaways are the best way to challenge your skills on award-winning golf courses while simultaneously enjoying the best that four-star hotels and spas have to offer. 


During your next search for your perfect golf vacation destination, keep in mind that not every luxury golf resort is the same. Some golf resorts offer challenging wind-swept courses while others feature elevated greens surrounded by mountainous terrain.  Also keep in mind that no matter which luxury golf resort you choose, the safest and most convenient way to travel to your destination is by private jet charter. 


Private jet charters to luxury golf destinations afford you the ability to travel directly to and from your golf resort destination without the inconvenience of traveling through large, metropolitan airports.  In the past, Stratos Jet Charters has provided air charter service to and from luxury golf resorts for a number of our golf player clients.  We have access to several aircraft that have a large cargo capacity that can safely transport you and your golf clubs to your resort destination on the safest and most luxurious aircraft in the industry.  To make your search even easier, we have provided you with a list of the top five golf resort destinations our clients have frequently named as their favorite.  We have also provided a brief description of each resort and recommended convenient airports and relevant aircraft for your next charter flight to any one of these destinations.  Enjoy!


#5 The Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa; Carefree, Arizona


Situated in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, amongst various cacti and stunning rock formations, lies The Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa. Figuring out what makes this luxury golf resort such a favorite amongst our clients was not much of a challenge, although the same can’t be said about their golf courses.  The Boulders Resort, located in the small town of Carefree, Arizona, offers seasoned and professional golf players a thrilling and challenging game with spectacular views in a warm, desert climate almost every day of the year.  But it’s not just the pleasant weather or two award-winning golf courses that make this resort so popular—it’s also the spa.  The Golden Door Spa, a 33,000-square-foot facility, offers a number of massages, therapeutic baths, and refreshing treatments, all with a unique desert flair.


Jet Charter Flights to The Boulders Resort are accessible through the Phoenix Deer Valley airport (KDVT) and Scottsdale Airport (KSDL)


Recommended Private Aircraft: King Air 350


#4 Pinehurst Resort; Pinehurst, North Carolina


When it comes to combining prestige and luxury with some of the finest golf courses in America, no golf resort does it better than the Pinehurst Resort.  Located in Pinehurst, North Carolina, the Pinehurst Resort was built in 1895 by soda fountain tycoon, James Tufts, and is now a historical landmark as well as a luxury golf resort.  Not only does this charming southern resort offer eight world-renowned golf courses, including the famous Championship Pinehurst No. 2, it also features three luxury hotels, a spa and an impressive array of sports and leisure facilities.  After a long day on the green, golfers can sip a cold class of iced-tea (called sweet tea in the South) at the 107-year-old Carolina Hotel or they can treat themselves to a relaxing “golfer’s massage” at the spa which specifically targets all the muscles used during golf. 


Air charter flights to the Pinehurst Resort are served by the Moore County Airport Information (KSOP)


Recommended Private Aircraft: Cessna Caravan


#3 Bandon Dunes Golf Resort; Bandon, Oregon  

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Breathtaking views, wind-swept terrain, four challenging courses—it’s no wonder Bandon Dunes is third place on our clients’ list when it comes to luxury golf resort destinations.  Perched on top of a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Bandon Dunes combines spectacular views of the rugged Oregon coastline with all natural links-style courses for a truly natural golf experience.  The four walking-only courses—Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails and the new Old McDonald—are all susceptible to wind changes, offering a unique and challenging experience every time the course is played.  As for accommodations, the Bandon Dunes resort offers simple and comfortable lodging, from single rooms in The Lodge and Inn to large four-bedroom Grove Cottages.


Charter flights to the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort are serviced by the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport (KOTH)


Recommended Private Aircraft: Challenger 604


#2 The Greenbier; White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia


If your idea of the perfect golf resort destination involves rolling terrain, well-bunkered greens and panoramic views of the Allegheny Mountains, then look no further than The Greenbrier resort.  This luxury resort, nestled in the quiet countryside of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, is home to three award-winning, 18-hole golf courses—The Meadows, The Old White and The Greenbrier—and is Stratos Jets clients’ second favorite luxury golf destination.  While the Greenbrier resort is well-known for its expertly-defined golf courses and magnificent scenery, the main attraction lies in the resort’s unique history.  Built in 1858, The Greenbrier plays an important role in both golf and American history, having hosted the likes of Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Nick Faldo and Tom Watson.  In addition, the resort was home to a secret underground bunker during the Cold War era that was designed to protect the nation’s Congress in the event of a crisis. The bunker, hotel and White Sulphur Springs (located inside the hotel) are open to visitors year-round.


One-way and round-trip air charter flights to The Greenbrier are served by Greenbrier Valley Airport (KLWB)


Recommended Private Aircraft: Phenom 100


#1 The American Club; Sheboygan, Wisconsin


Really, is there any other course in America that can really truly rival the American Club’s spectacular wild beauty and signature links-style courses? Our clients’ answer? No.  It doesn’t come as a surprise to us that the host of this year’s PGA Championship, The American Club in Sheboygan Wisconsin, is also our clients’ favorite golf resort destination.  It’s really more of a surprise that the resort doesn’t have its own jetport.  Set against the picturesque shores of Lake Michigan, this world-famous resort is home to four Pete Dye-designed courses—two each at Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run—and an award-winning Kohler Waters luxury spa and resort.  All of the walking-only courses at the American Club were designed to mimic the ancient seaside links of the United Kingdom and Ireland to provide a truly natural and unique golf experience that will never be forgotten. 


Private jet rentals to Whistling Straits are accessible through the Sheboygan County Memorial Airport (KSBM)


Recommended Private Aircraft: Pilatus PC-12

Posted by Jo Wilson on September 16, 2010 at 08:12 PM in Activities & Events, Recreation, Sports, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 10, 2010

Going Mobile To Travel The Blue Ridge Parkway

There is something thrilling about road trips.

Taking to the open road to explore the wonders of scenic sights and hidden gems just seems like a great adventure. And it can be. Especially if the road trip is a spectacular drive filled with "memory-makers".

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Having an excellent road map as your guide to help pinpoint the sights and direct you to them, makes the trip even more enjoyable.

In celebration of the "Road Trip”, Destinations Travel Magazine, an online travel & leisure publication, has launched a new feature article which will regularly highlight some of the best scenic routes in America... and the World. To provide travelers with the latest travel tools possible, Destinations has partnered with Sunday Drive, a new road trip-oriented and GPS-enabled free web app for the iPhone. Together, and by using the latest in location-based software, Destinations Travel Magazine and Sunday Drive will ignite your wanderlust with routes that feature the best in stunning photography and loads of insider information on the most alluring hidden gems that sprinkle the highways and byways of the world.

The premier launch of this feature begins with one of the most beautiful drives in the Eastern US ... the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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Beginning at Skyline Drive, the Blue Ridge stretches from the northern gateway of Virginia's Shenandoah National Park down to the eastern edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. It offers spectacular views, wonderful hiking trails - including a portion of the Appalachian Trail - waterfalls, birding trails, wildlife viewing and more.

Along the route, there are also a variety of cultural attractions, museums, wineries, as well as great dining, accommodations and plenty of other points of interest. The sheer grandeur of the views make this a "memory-maker" !

Because the Blue Ridge Parkway is well over 500 miles, we have divided it into three parts: Skyline Drive, Blue Ridge - Virginia, and Blue Ridge - North Carolina. Each leg includes the best points of interest, restaurants and accommodations along the route.

You can enjoy the Road Trip article in Destinations Travel Magazine, 24/7 from anywhere, anytime. Take it with you! It's online!

And you can download the Road Trip app to your mobile device. It's free! It's convenient... and very mobile.

Read the Blue Ridge Parkway article and down load the app, here- http://destinationstravelmagazine.com/September2010/

Special Thanks to Darlene Perrone of Destinations Travel Magazine for sharing this article with us here at DiscoverOurTown. Enjoy the ride!

Photography by Steve Levine/Steady 70

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Posted by Jo Wilson on September 10, 2010 at 11:26 AM in Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 23, 2010

Visiting Atlanta? Check Out The Canopy Walk

Canopy-interactive-160x160[1]   Visitors to the Atlanta Botanical Garden can now tour one of the city's last remaining urban forests from 40 feet in the air now that the long-awaited Canopy Walk has opened, lending a bird's-eye view to the beauty of a woodland below. The May 1st Grand Opening of the Canopy Walk, Edible Garden and Cascades Garden marked the completion an expansion project which nearly doubled the size of the Garden.

Extending 600 feet from a bluff in the Garden into the branches of oaks, hickories and poplars, the walk is considered the only tree canopy-level walkway of its kind in the United States. By linking the 15-acre existing Garden to the adjacent Storza Woods, the Canopy Walk has enriched the visitor's experience, providing 30 acres of gardens to explore. Strolling the 12-foot-wide concrete pathway, visitors will feel like they are floating through the leafy clouds of storied hardwoods, thanks to the bridge's four large masts which seemingly disappear amongst the treetops.

This is one of those special activities that is beautiful, educational AND fun, for grown-ups and kids alike! Check out their website for information on other programs like birdwatching, critter tours, scavenger hunts, visiting at night and special classes. www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org  

Posted by Jo Wilson on June 23, 2010 at 01:34 PM in Activities & Events, Attractions, Organizations, Science, Travel | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 16, 2010

Highway 1 with Kids

10 fabulous pit stops between Los Angeles and San Francisco

Natural Bridges

Monterey: Even adults enjoy the gigantic Dennis the Menace Playground, 546 Dutra St. Imagine a wonderland of sunny climbing structures and slides, bridges, towers and an old train car, all with views of Monterey Bay. If this playground doesn't get the child in you all giddy, wander over to East Village Coffee Lounge, 498 Washington St., (831) 373-5601, for nicely brewed organic lattes (or a microbrew, if you aren't driving), paninis and pumpkin bread.

Read the entire story here: http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-topten-20100613,0,2191188.story

Posted by Jo Wilson on June 16, 2010 at 12:07 PM in Attractions, Recreation, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack