9.20.2014

guaranteed early check-in | Brown's Hotel, London


You've just flown overnight from the US to London. Arriving at your hotel at 8 in the morning, you're hoping for the opportunity to shave, enjoy a hot shower, put on some clean clothes, and feel like a human being! But you're told that the hotel was fully occupied the night before, and you won't be able to check-in until 3 in the afternoon. Bummer!

But here's the solution. Brown's Hotel is offering an exclusive Virtuoso benefit, Guaranteed Early Check In for any stay through April 30, 2015. Your early check-in can be guaranteed at time of booking.

Well located just off of Picadilly, Brown's is a stylish five star hotel well suited for both leisure and business travelers. In addition to your guaranteed early check-in, you'll also receive the following Virtuoso amenities:
  • Daily Buffet Breakfast
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • 75£ Hotel credit
  • Upgrade upon arrival, subject to availability

copyright (c) 2014 by David Ourisman LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell Travel. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

9.17.2014

Bhutan | Amankora journey



This is the national emblem of Bhutan - the destination of my next trip. Be watching here over the next few weeks to read about and see some of the scenery and culture of Bhutan.

After three days in Bangkok, we fly to Paro to begin our nine-day Amankora Journey.
   

The map above shows the locations of the five lodges in Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey, and Bumthang (from west to east). We will be spending one night in Thimphu and two each in the other lodges.

Be watching for much more news from our trip. We will spend our first three nights at the FS Bangkok (with site inspections of the St. Regis and The Siam) before flying to Paro. On our return to Bangkok, we will spend one night at Four Seasons Tented Camp (I'm especially looking forward to reporting back about this fabled resort). One final night at the newly renovated Peninsula Hong Kong (and sampling their Rolls Royce transfers) before heading back to San Francisco.

Lots of photos and site inspections to follow… keep watching this blog!

copyright (c) 2014 by David Ourisman LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell Travel. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

9.14.2014

which supper on EVA Air



I'm leaving for Thailand and Bhutan in a bit less than a week and getting there via Taipei on EVA Air's redeye flight from SFO. So I'm asking my readers to help me decide what to order for dinner! You can preorder on Eva Air's website if you're flying in Royal Laurel class (which I am, thanks to Ben and Mac at PointsPros.com who helped with the award tickets).

Help me choose by voting in this poll. Bear in mind that I'll try to go to sleep immediately upon take off (scheduled departure is 1:40 a.m.), asking the flight attendants to save my meal until I wake up, somewhere mid-Pacific  So help me choose something that's likely to be moist and yummy six hours into the flight.
Do any of my readers have any experience with EVA Air? If so, I'd appreciate any tips.

copyright (c) 2014 by David Ourisman LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell Travel. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

9.13.2014

Virtuoso Week | Fogo Island Inn



Here's #9 on my top ten list from Virtuoso Travel Week.

Fogo Island Inn, possibly the most remote Virtuoso property in North America. Just 29 rooms, Fogo Island opened last year and recently joined Virtuoso. So where is it? On a remote island in Newfoundland. Little known fact outside of Canada (where listeners to CBC would regularly be reminded of this): Newfoundland is 1 1/2 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone.



Here's what one recent guest posted on FlyerTalk; click here for his full review. The gist of his report. It's a place to relax, to hike, to take in the stunning scenery, eat great food, and enjoy superb service.
The locale and scenery is staggeringly beautiful.Truly amazing. And the Inn and the architecture match it. So, this is a great, great property. It does deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as the best Amans and 4S properties. I would highly recommend staying there to any luxury lover
Virtuoso guests receive a $120 Resort credit to utilize during their stay.


copyright (c) 2014 by David Ourisman LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell Travel. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

9.12.2014

Virtuoso Week | Casa Palmero, Pebble Beach



Here's #9 on my top ten list from Virtuoso Travel Week.

Visiting Carmel or Pebble Beach? There's now a Virtuoso property overlooking the sea that's the perfect luxury destination resort. Casa Palmero is a boutique hotel with just 24 rooms, last renovated two years ago. Overlooking the first and second fairways of the Pebble Beach Golf Links, it's a 2.1 mile walk to Carmel (or an 8 minute walk) to Carmel.



Ideal for golfers, or anyone wanting to enjoy the shopping in Carmel, a quaint village by the sea, consider a stay at Casa Palmero when you're driving the picturesque California coast. Guests even get to drive the 17 Mile Drive for free!

Virtuoso amenities add value to your stay. You'll enjoy
  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Continental breakfast daily, for up to two in room guests
  • $100 USD Resort or Hotel credit, to be utilized during stay (not valid for Pebble Beach Golf Links course or Spyglass Hill Golf Course, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early check-in/late check-out subject to availability

copyright (c) 2014 by David Ourisman LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell Travel. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

9.11.2014

Virtuoso Week | Monte Carlo, Monaco



Here's #8 on my top ten list from Virtuoso Travel Week.

I got this tip from the rep of Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo, but the deal is valid also for the other two Virtuoso hotels in town, Hotel Hermitage and Hotel Metropole. Get a one-year membership ($115 per person) in the Red Diamond Club (Le Club Diamont Rouge). Membership requires a confirmed reservation in one of eight luxury hotels. This entitles each member to:

Complimentary one-way helicopter transfer from the Nice International Airport to Monte Carlo ($185 value)

Complimentary admission to ten of Monaco's attractions and museums ($100 value)
  1. Prince’s Palace State Apartments
  2. Oceanographic Museum & Aquarium
  3. Exotic Garden of Monaco, Observatory Cave and Anthropology Museum
  4. New National Museum of Monaco (NMNM): Villa Sauber and Villa Paloma
  5. Exhibition of H.S.H. the Prince of Monaco’s Collection of Vintage Cars
  6. Museum of the Chapel of the Visitation
  7. Zoological Gardens
  8. Naval Museum
  9. Stamp and Coin Museum
  10. Louis II Stadium
A $285 value for $115, this is something to consider when visiting Monaco. Bear in mind that a minimum of 14 days prior to U.S. departure is required to process and mail your Red Diamond Club credentials. And check out the three Virtuoso hotels in Monaco.

copyright (c) 2014 by David Ourisman LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell Travel. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

kids in Rome? | what to do



Taking kids to Rome? It's a fabulous city with millennia of history, but keeping younger visitors occupied can be a challenge. Here are some ideas that my Brownell colleague Ron Phillips has shared, a true Italy expert

  • An underground tour of the Colosseo
  • Heading to one of the catacombs (5 to choose from)
  • Riding bikes, skating, etc in Villa Borghese Gardens
  • Seeing the Cappuchin Crypt (bone church) near Piazza Barberini
  • Biking on the Appian Way
  • Gelato, Gelato, Gelato (I prefer Gelateria dei Gracchi or Milenium - both in the Prati area... but there are SO many options...)
  • Granite at Tazza D'Oro (might be a better pick-me-up for the grandparents!)
  • A good guide CAN make the Vatican come alive for teens, but I'd keep it a short tour.
  • Head to Janiculum Hill for the noon cannon fire...
  • Ostia Antica is an easy train ride, and beats the all-day ride down and back to Pompeii - Encourage them to take a lunch and eat at the top of the amphitheater overlooking the grounds
  • Send them to a non-touristy market like Mercato Trionfale near the Vatican. They might be the only Americans at the market. Lots of unique foods. Best days to go are Tues/Friday for fish day - always fun.. and the busiest day is Saturday (open till 2 PM) I also love to visit the market in Testaccio.
  • Not sure if the grandparents can hang... but climbing the 312 steps to the top of St. Peters. Great views (ride the elevator halfway up, but you still have to climb those 312 stairs!)
  • Shopping on streets like via Giubbonari, Via Margutta, Cola di Rienzo (rather than Condotti or the Corso)
  • For the grandson, hit the "official" Ferrari shop near the Spanish Steps on Via Tomacelli. You can buy parts of an actual F1 Ferrari for as little as 10,000 EURO!
  • If you can get Scavi tickets for the underground tour of St. Peter's (through the Vatican), it's an interesting 90 minute tour.
  • Hit the Lazio and Roma futbol stores... or if they're brave.. go see a match in the Stadio Olympico (just make sure to sit on the Roma or Lazio Side... and not the visitors section!)
  • Trastevere is a great part of town for teens. Because there are many college students in the area, it has a younger vibe. Plenty of small shops and restaurants.. and a few markets. Check out Polvere di Tempo - a store that looks like it could be in a Harry Potter movie!

9.08.2014

Virtuoso Week | Reconsider South Africa



Here's #7 on my top ten list from Virtuoso Travel Week.

Reconsider South Africa is a video about the destination that has gone viral (over 800,000 views) … South Africa. Take a look, and if you're inspired to consider a stay in Cape Town, or to dream about a wildlife safari, get in touch! Jessica has been a number of times and can help you plan the trip of a lifetime.

NatGeo's Ten Things to See and Do in South Africa
  1. Kruger National Park
  2. Robben Island
  3. Wine tourism
  4. Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino, elephant)
  5. viewing sea life
  6. Table Mountain
  7. ancient Bushman paintings
  8. Zulu culture
  9. the Big Hole in Kimberly
  10. the Blue Train
copyright (c) 2014 by David Ourisman LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell Travel. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.