November 23, 2009

Princess Dreams Come True at Disney

Recently a client took advantage of the dine free promotion at Walt Disney World, saving hundreds of dollars on her family’s vacation. And she was in for an even greater surprise when she arrived, having been upgraded to a large suite in honor of her birthday.

Not just any suite, but the 3000 sq ft Vice Presidential Suite with six plasma TV’s, five balconies, and four bathrooms! The suite is in the Tower Club, which means they also enjoyed access to a private lounge that served complimentary snacks, beverages, and cocktails throughout the day, and offered spectacular views of the Magic Kingdom.

Now I can’t guarantee an upgrade like this for everyone, but I promise to always ask my contacts at the resorts to take extra special care of my clients. And all guests have the chance to be treated like royalty when visiting Walt Disney World.

Many little girls dream of being a princess, so no better way to have that fantasy come to life than at the Magic Kingdom. The magical day starts with the full treatment at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique: hair, makeup, nails, costume. Then the beautiful princess and her courtiers (i.e. parents) enjoy a wonderful meal right in Cinderella’s Castle, hobnobbing with Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Jasmine, and of course, the castle’s namesake.
For more royal entertainment, little princes and princesses can enjoy the buffet at Norway’s Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at Epcot, or the Perfectly Princess Tea Party at the Grand Floridian where they will receive a tiara or crown. And young ladies wanting to meet Prince Charming should plan to head back to the resort for Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner.
The free dining offer has expired, but guests can still save big on a Disney World vacation with the Free Nights promotion which is still available. Guests who pay for 4 nights can get up to 3 more nights free, including a 7 day park ticket for the price of a 3 day ticket. The offer is valid for travel most dates through 3/27/2010, if booked by December 20. For more information contact Suzette Mack, Family Travel Specialist, at suzette@family-treks.com.

November 10, 2009

Six Ways Families Can Save Money on Travel Insurance

1. Don’t automatically buy the insurance offered by the travel supplier – Some suppliers do offer insurance which provides excellent coverage at a good value, but more often than not their policies cost more and provides less coverage. Read the terms and conditions carefully.

2. Buy a policy that offers free coverage for children – Insurance sold by airlines, cruise lines and tour companies is usually offered at a fixed price per person, which makes it more expensive for larger families.

3. Buy early – And buy as soon as the first component of a trip has been booked, even if it’s a refundable deposit. Procrastinating or waiting until all trip details are finalized can limit coverage, and buying early may also provide free upgrades.

4. Add a rental car upgrade rather than purchasing CDW from the rental company – This is especially true when renting in countries like Mexico where CDW is mandatory. For example, Hertz charges $40 per day for insurance, but upgrading a travel insurance policy to include one week of rental coverage is less than $50.

5. Shop around – Most travel insurance policies are comparably priced, but they do increase rates by age. So a policy from one company may cost more for a 50 yr old traveler than another, based on how they set up the age brackets. Also, a basic policy might cost the same between two companies, but upgrade options could be priced differently.
6. Buy from a professional – Travel agents can sell insurance to anyone, even travelers who have booked a trip on their own. They receive ongoing training, so they have the latest information on traveler’s concerns such as swine flu and can explain what is and isn’t covered. They know what questions to ask to ensure a traveler is purchasing the right policy for their needs, and also get them the best value.

If you would like more information about travel insurance, contact Suzette Mack, Family Travel Specialist at suzette@family-treks.com.

November 3, 2009

A Kid Friendly Retreat in Las Vegas

I don’t generally recommend Las Vegas as a family vacation destination, but sometimes a trip there is necessary due to family or work obligations. Parents can avoid the casinos, clubs, and any other “scenery” they find too risqué for their children, yet still enjoy luxurious amenities and exemplary service by staying at the Four Seasons Hotel.
Located near the airport, in the Mandalay Bay complex, the Four Seasons offers a non-smoking, non-gaming retreat. In fact, when sitting poolside, or enjoying a meal on the terrace, it almost feels like being in Hawaii. Yet steps away are the casinos and pools of Mandalay Bay, as well as a complimentary car service ready to whisk guests in comfort to other destinations on The Strip.

I recently had the pleasure of staying at the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, and though I was not with my children, the family-friendliness of the hotel was evident. In fact, I ran into several parents with young children during my stay. The rooms are spacious, and the one bedroom suites are particularly nice for families as they have a sofa bed in the living room. There’s even ample space for a rollaway (which was one of the plushest I have ever seen), so each child can have their own bed.

The main Four Seasons pool is modest in size compared to other Las Vegas hotel pools, but it is quiet and well-staffed with pool attendants who promptly bring towels and a pitcher of ice water with lemon wedges. There’s even a sunglass butler to clean guests’ glasses and tighten up loose screws. A small wading pool located on the far side of the bar gives parents with young children their own retreat. And for children of all ages (even grown-ups), the Mandalay Bay wave pool and lazy river are just steps away through a private gate which only Four Seasons guests may use. The Four Seasons Hotel actually occupies the 35th through 39th floors of the Mandalay Bay tower. However check-in is completely separate, and guests take an express elevator to their rooms. It is possible to never see a slot machine or gaming table while at the Four Seasons, but for those who want to gamble, the Mandalay Bay casino is just steps away through a key carded door exclusively for use of Four Seasons guests.

My agency is a Four Seasons Preferred Partner, so my guests receive daily breakfast for two (a $76 value, which covers the wonderful buffet), a $100 spa credit per room, and a complimentary upgrade, based on availability. And suites are very affordable right now, as a Buy 1 Night Get One Free promo runs through the end of the year.

For more information about special rates and amenities at Four Seasons Resorts & Hotels worldwide, contact Suzette Mack, Family Travel Specialist at suzette@family-treks.com