8.28.2015

#VirtuosoWeek top ten | 6 nights, 6 dinners



This is number six of my "top ten list" from Virtuoso Week.

Palazzo Seneca, nestled the Umbrian countryside is a boutique palazzo with just 23 rooms, conveniently located two-and-one-half hours from either Rome or Florence. A Relais & Chateaux property, food is a real priority. Palazzo Seneca is offering an exclusive 6 night offer for foodies — six nights starting at 2300€ (383€ per night). Here's what the package includes.
  • Daily buffet breakfast in Vespasia Restaurant overlooking the Valley
  • Six (6) dinners to two at restaurants to include Granaro del Monte, Enoteca Granaro del Monte, and Vespasia
  • Guided Tour of Assisi, including transfer with private driver
  • wine cellar and olive oil visit in Montefalco, light lunch included
  • Truffle Hunting with picnic lunch
  • Cheese making experience
This is a lot of value for 383€ per night. Other perks include complimentary access to the Bianconi Sporting Center, the Spa of Palazzo Seneca, and free WiFi and parking.

copyright (c) 2015 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.

8.26.2015

#VirtuosoWeek top ten | ski early in Beaver Creek

Park Hyatt Beaver Creek | true ski-in ski-out winter resort

This is number five of my "top ten list" from Virtuoso Week.

During his appointment with me, the general manager of Park Hyatt Beaver Creek told me about a package called the Golden Ticket. There's no cost for this exclusive activity which offers early access to the mountain before the general public is admitted.

It's your chance to ski with the GM, early! You get to take the lift up at 7:45 a.m. (well before the usual 8:30 opening) and spend an hour skiing on fresh powder or corduroy (i.e., the newly groomed trails). I suspect the GM rather enjoys this aspect of his job!

My clients also enjoy value added Virtuoso amenities when staying at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek —upgrade if available, daily full breakfast for two, $100 F&B credit, and early check-in late check-out if available.

copyright (c) 2015 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.

8.24.2015

#VirtuosoWeek top ten | how to see the Taj Mahal



This is the fourth of my "top ten list" from Virtuoso Week. Oberoi Amarvilas is the best luxury hotel in Agra; nothing else even comes close. Here are four reasons to stay at Amarvilas when you journey to India to see the Taj Mahal.

1. The resort's golf buggies whisk you from the door of the hotel right to the entrance of the Taj Mahal (and not just to the barricade 100 meters away).

2. You can purchase your Taj Mahal tickets right from Oberoi's concierge — saving you the ordeal of standing in a long and crowded queue. No other hotel in Agra provides this service.

3. Direct views of the Taj Mahal delight guests from every room and suite in the hotel.

4. Receive exclusive amenities for your stay when booking through a Virtuoso travel consultant. A room upgrade if available on checkin, complimentary full breakfast for two daily, a one-time complimentary lunch for two, and early check-in, late check-out subject to availability... these are the valuable perks our clients enjoy.

copyright (c) 2015 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.

8.18.2015

#VirtuosoWeek top ten | new Bali resorts

Mandara Pool Villa

This is the third of my "top ten list" from Virtuoso Week. There are three new resorts in Bali offering Virtuoso amenities. Here are all twelve.

Manadapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, though not yet admitted into Virtuoso, offers equivalent amenities through the Ritz Carlton STARS program.
  • VIP status
  • Daily breakfast for two
  • pre-registration
  • $100 Resort Credit
  • 4 p.m. late check-out
The rooms look gorgeous, and I predict Mandapa will become the go-resort in the Ubud area.


Alila Villas Uluwatu is located in south Bali, high on a cliff overlooking the ocean. All of the resort's one, two, and three bedroom Pool Villas feature an ocean View and a private pool. There is a Stay 3 Pay 2 promotion through 19DEC, 2015, and you can triple the promotion for 3 free nights with a 9 night stay. applicable Virtuoso guests receive:
  • Complimentary continental breakfast for two daily for duration of the stay
  • $100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

W Retreat & Spa Bali is located in the busy Seminyak beach area. There's a special 4th night free promotion valid for travel now through 31OCT, 2016.Virtuoso guests receive
  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Buffet breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • $100 USD Equivalent Spa Services credit, to be utilized during stay (not combinable, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early check-in/late check-out subject to availability

copyright (c) 2015 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.

8.11.2015

#Virtuoso Week top ten | FS Oahu at Ko Olina



This is the second of my "top ten list" of takeaways from this year's #Virtuoso Week where I'm on the lookout for great travel ideas. Although not "yet" a part of Virtuoso, FS Oahu will have FSPP amenities from Day One!

Just one week until reservations open The opening of reservations has been postponed at FS Oahu at Ko Olina. I had lunch with my Four Seasons Hawaii rep on Sunday. She told me that the website is going live August 18, but that date has been pushed back. The opening date is expected to be in April, 2016, but we'll know for sure hopefully soon.

Occupying the former JW Marriott, Four Seasons has undertaken a complete renovation of the resort. Existing guest rooms are large — 640 square feet — and of the total 358 rooms, 52 will be suites. There will be five restaurants on property including a seafood restaurant.

Located on a protected lagoon with clear water and calm waves, Four Seasons looks across the lagoon to Disney's Aulani. This will be the first Four Seasons resort on Oahu and the fifth in Hawaii. The other four are FS Hualalai (Big Island), FS Maui, FS Manele Bay (Lana'i), and FS Lodge at Koele (Lana'i).

More news will be forthcoming, including the Four Seasons Preferred Partner amenities that guests will receive at FS Oahu when booking through your FSPP travel consultant. Although I'm not permitted to publish these amenities, please email me for my guide to the FSPP amenities at every Four Seasons hotel and resort worldwide.

copyright  (c)  2015 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.

8.09.2015

#VirtuosoWeek top ten | breakfast canal cruise

one of Amsterdam's traditional Notaris boats

This is the first of my "top ten list" of takeaways from this years #VirtuosoWeek. I'm listening for some great travel ideas.

Had breakfast this morning with two representatives of De L'Europe, one of our Virtuoso hotel partners in Amsterdam. We were discussing, among other things, what to do in Amsterdam. The top three attractions in Amsterdam, I surmised, were the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Rijksmuseum.

Thomas suggested a favorite activity that I had never thought of... an early morning, private breakfast cruise on one of Amsterdam's Notaris boats. Begin your canal cruise early. Just before dawn, the canals are uncrowded, the water is still, and the soft pre-dawn light is perfect to photograph the beautiful reflections of Amsterdam.

Notaris boats (same root word as in "notary public") refer to a time when Amsterdam's lawyers wore tall hats. The high cabin ceilings permitted attorneys to keep their hats upon their heads while in the boat ... and also to doff their hats when a lady entered the cabin.

De L'Europe is the only Amsterdam hotel in the historical district with direct access to the canals. We can arrange your breakfast cruise, and you can board your Notaris boat from the hotel's dock on the canal. And don't forget to book through your Virtuoso travel consultant to receive the Virtuoso amenities for your stay:
  • Guaranteed upgrade at time of booking (up to Junior Suites)
  • Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • One 3-course lunch or dinner in Hoofdstad Brasserie for up to two in-room guests (exclusive of beverages and gratuities)
  • Early check-in/late check-out subject to availability
  • Junior Suites & Above receive One Way Airport Transfer

copyright  (c)  2015 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.

8.06.2015

Chinese Treasures | small group tour of China



This looks like a fabulous itinerary. You'll picnic atop the Great Wall, get up close with Xi'an's Terracotta Warriors and view Chengu's giant pandas, meditate with a Taoist daoshi, and travel the ancient tea road in remote Yunnan. And when you book, I'll get you complimentary tea for two at the Aman Summer Palace in Beijing.

Beijing - days 1-4. Explore the imposing Forbidden City, where emperors ruled for 500 years • Weave your way through Beijing's ancient, interwoven hutong alleys • Explore your creative side by trying various traditional activities such as Chinese yo-yo • Hike up Jingshan and take in a commanding view over the Forbidden City • Wander the popular neighborhoods around Houhai. • Enjoy a picnic on the majestic Great Wall, built to protect China's heartland from invaders • Optional: visit Beijing's trendy 798 Art District • Test your skills at the delicate art of water calligraphy at the Temple of Heaven • Swing by the Olympic Park • Spend a relaxing afternoon at the Summer Palace, where tranquil waters, green foliage and imperial buildings converge

Xi'an - days 5-6. Learn the calming art of taichi in a private lesson on Xi'an's ancient city wall • Visit the grand Taoist Temple of the Eight Immortals • View the proudly unflinching Terracotta Warriors from a special VIP deck • Learn about Xi'an's 1,300 year old Muslim community by visiting the Great Mosque • Walk on a glass walkway above countless terracotta figurines and burial objects in the Hanyang Tombs

Chengdu - days 6-8. Wander through the bustling "broad and narrow" alleys, a refurbished historical area • Marvel at the rapid skill of "face-changing" at a Sichuan Opera show • View China's iconic, cuddly panda at Bifengxia Giant Panda Base • Explore the hidden, verdant village of Shangli

Dali - days 8-10. Learn the process of making China's most famous drink in a tea plantation at the foot of the soaring Cang Mountain • Travel back in time by walking around Dali's picturesque old town, a mixture of pagodas, red lanterns and mountains • Join a traditional "Three Course Tea" ceremony with members of the Bai minority. • Immerse yourself in the traditional Bai architecture of Xizhou, characterized by ornate gateways and honeycomb patterns • Learn the secrets of making rushan, a local cheese • Hike up Taoist Weibao ("Magnificent Treasure") Mountain, where you will learn to meditate with a Taoist master • Retrace the steps of traders past along the Ancient Tea and Horse Road to a Chinese Muslim village

Lijiang - days 11-12. Continue along the Ancient Tea and Horse Road to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lijiang, taking a break in the historical market town of Shaxi • Explore the small paths and canals that weave through Lijiang's Old Town

Shanghai (optional extension) - days 13-14. Experience a snapshot of local life by walking around Fuxing Park, a meeting spot for fitness dancers and tai chi enthusiasts • Travel back to Shanghai's stylish 1930s as you stroll or take a vintage sidecar ride through the tree-lined avenues of the French Concession • Visit the chic area of Xintiandi • Either explore modern art studios in the trendy, bohemian area of Tianzifang or visit the Shanghai Museum, a veritable treasure trove of Chinese artifacts

The tour includes stays at the best luxury hotels such as the new Rosewood Beijing. Call me for more information on this group tour or to customize your own private trip to China.

copyright (c) 2015 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.