October 28, 2010

How Virtuoso Adds Value

Here’s a great example of how families can save money and get more value by booking through a Virtuoso travel advisor.

A client recently inquired about a vacation to the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows on the Big Island of Hawaii. Mauna Lani is wonderful family resort, with a wide range of accommodations from regular hotel rooms to beachfront bungalows with private pools. Camp Mauna Lani is a complimentary program for kids 5-12, where they explore tidal pools, fishponds, and petroglyphs, and make Hawaiian crafts.

The resort is also only US property in North America honored as one of the world's Top Luxury Eco Friendly Beach Destinations by Condé Nast Traveler because of its environmental stewardship.

My client inquired about a promotion he saw on the resort's website, a special winter promotion offering 20% off all rates. A Standard room would be $296 night plus taxes (no resort fees at the Mauna Lani). Because I am a Virtuoso Travel Advisor, if I booked his stay, he would pay this same rate, but would also receive these exclusive amenities:

- Automatic upgrade at time of booking, That means he would pay for a Standard room but be booked into a Garden View room, which normally cost $352 per night.

- Daily buffet breakfast for two (a $100 daily value)

- Deluxe fruit basket

- Early check-in and late check-out , subject to availability

The difference in value for a weeklong stay: over $1100!

There are hundreds of Virtuoso hotels and resorts worldwide. If you are planning a luxury vacation, why not get the most for your money and book through a Virtuoso travel advisor.

For more information, contact Suzette Mack, Family Travel Specialist, at suzette@family-treks.com.

October 4, 2010

Europe Travel Alert FYI

On October 3, the US State Department issued a travel alert for Europe. It did not mention any countries or cities specifically, and it did not advise against traveling to Europe. However, the government is reminding US travelers to be aware of their surroundings, take normal safety precautions and register their travel plans with the US Embassy.

The following quote is from a briefing yesterday by Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy:

"Well, we’re not saying don’t travel to Europe. We’re not saying don’t visit tourist -- major tourist attractions or historic sites or monuments. In the State Department website we offer some very practical situations. Make sure that you’ve registered with the American embassy. If you -- avoid public demonstrations, avoid civil disturbances. Don’t discuss your travel plans or where you’re going with others or where others may overhear them. Know what you’re doing, be aware of your circumstances around you. If you see something that looks untoward, move away from it and inform law enforcement personnel. If you see unattended packages, or such, move away from them and inform law enforcement."

Here are links to more information:

October 3 travel alert

Transcript of State Department briefing

Wall Street Journal article

State Department's travel registration website

Note that travel insurance generally does not provide coverage for trip cancellation due to a travel alert. Usually they only cover for trip cancellation in the event of a terrorist act in your destination, as deemed by the US government. For answers to specific questions regarding coverage, travelers should contact the insurance company directly at the customer service number noted on your policy. If you are interested in purchasing travel insurance, contact me for quotes and additional information.

If you have questions about a specific destination, or about the alert, visit the State Department's website for the most up to date information. You can also subscribe to the Twitter feed for the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs to get real time updates and post questions.