8.02.2015

Virtuoso Week 2015



Six days from now, I'll be basking in sunny Las Vegas for my tenth Virtuoso Travel Week, or #VirtuosoWeek (which is the direction the branding is taking). Actually, not exactly basking in the sun. Saturday afternoon will be my "free" time — so will probably hang out in the fabulous pool at Bellagio — because the work will soon begin.

I'll be doing a site inspection of The Palazzo, part of the Venetian complex. Never seen their room product, but I'm guaranteed by their guaranteed upgrade to a Prestige Suite (Club) from Luxury, Bella, Fortuna, and Siena suites.

Every breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week is already filled with get-togethers with vendors like Four Seasons Hawaii, Hotel De L'Europe (Amsterdam), Fairmont Hotel Group, Classic Vacations, Dorchester Collection, Pelican Hill Resort, Montage Hotels, Amanresorts, Swain Tours, Ritz-Carlton, and Kurtz-Ahlers Associates.

Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., is filled with hundreds of 4-minute "speed dates" with sales representatives from various Virtuoso hotels, cruise lines, tourism boards, and destination management companies. I'm planning to re-design the speed-dating process (which, all too often, is just a 4 minute slide show on an iPad). I've created a set of Question Cards, and will invite sales reps to choose one of my questions* and speak to it. (Negative points to anyone who mentions the number of square feet in their spa).

Top Ten List. Last year, I created a Top Ten List of the most intriguing hotels, destinations, and values I learned about during the week. I will do the same thing this year!


* my questions for vendors:
1. Why should my clients visit your destination?
2. Describe a really special experience that a guest had at your property.
3. How do you differentiate your property from the other Virtuoso choices in your destination?


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.

7.31.2015

Ritz Paris | accepting reservations

view of Place Vendome from the Ritz Paris

One of the most famous hotels in the world, the legendary Ritz Paris has been closed for thorough renovations. The historical facade of the building has been preserved — and a completely new hotel has been constructed within that shell, recreating as closely as possible the style and appearance of the original hotel.

Why such a thorough renovation? Two main reasons. First, the century-old original hotel had century-old plumbing and electrical systems. These will be completely updated. Second, the original hotel was comprised of four separate buildings, and the even simple act of delivering your breakfast for in-room dining could involve going up and down elevators. I personally experienced this confusion trying to get from my room in the Cambon Street wing to the spa. I believe the journey involved at least two elevators.

Why did it take so long to get this done? Because getting permits takes a long while in Paris, especially when dealing with historical buildings.

Everything is designed to be the same, but better. The original furnishings has been meticulously preserved, but I'm told that guest rooms will be larger.

Even the Virtuoso amenities are new and improved.
  • Guaranteed upgrade at the time of booking
  • Flexible check-in/check-out times
  • Daily full breakfast for two (used to be continental)
  • Complimentary one-way private airport transfer with VIP meet-and-greet on arrival
Reservations are open as of March 12, 2016. Will you be my first client to stay at the new Ritz Paris?

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.

7.25.2015

Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe | summer family vacation



When I woke up this morning and looked out the window (shortly after 6 a.m.), I could not believe the beautiful light of the mountain dawn. So I quickly dressed and went outside to capture what I could of the "golden hour." I was a bit late, but the light in this picture is just magical. Be sure to click the picture to see a full-size image.

Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe is located mid-mountain at Northstar, a family-friendly ski resort just a bit more than three hours from the Bay Area (unless you wait until everyone else is driving up to Tahoe for the weekend, in which case three hours can easily turn into five ... so leave at 10 a.m., if you possibly can).

Great summer weather — sunny skies, clear blue skies, shirtsleeve temperatures (sounds strange to say, but San Francisco and East Bay residents will know what I'm talking about). Clean mountain air, great hiking, and mountain biking opportunities galore. Also great food! Last night I had the seared Hawaiian Sea Bass at the signature restaurant Manzanita, and it was phenomenal.

Consider Ritz Carlton for summer vacations with kids. There are lots of young families with kids playing in the heated pool, and this is a very kid friendly resort. One little girl was thrilled that the family's guest room had her personal "tent" set up for her arrival.

Your Ritz-Carlton STARS travel consultant can provide additional value for your stay — daily complimentary buffet breakfasts for two adults ... all for the same price you'd pay if you book it yourself on the web.

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.

7.24.2015

decisions, decisions

would you choose these?
or these?

One of my favorite things, when staying at any Ritz-Carlton, are the chocolate chip cookies in the Club Lounge. Exceptional cookies, they are the ultimate temptation for me. 

Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe is making my decision more difficult... as their Club provides not only regular chocolate chip cookies but also double chocolate chip cookies. (Not to mention some round chocolate confections called "Haystacks" that are absolutely irresistible). A delicious dilemma, being the chocoholic that I am.

And then there is the opportunity to make S'Mores outside in the evening by the firepit. Decisions, decisions. So much chocolate, so little time. Obviously enjoying my visit. More news to come! Stay tuned.



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.

7.20.2015

this week's Real Deal in Paris | under $340 nightly

Hotel De Sers, 'round the corner from the George V

Classic Vacations has a weekly promotion called "This Week's Real Deal," and this week's deal is something amazing.

Hotel De Sers, Paris — Deluxe Room for 3 nights at $1016 (includes all taxes and fees), less than $339 per night. The deal includes:

  • accommodations for two adults
  • daily continental breakfast for two
  • one complimentary ticket per person for a Seine river cruise
  • two Hotel De Sers Cocktails once per stay

With only 20 packages available, email or phone me (+1 510.647.8444) ASAP if you want this deal. Offer ends this Sunday.

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.

7.16.2015

exclusive access to Europe's attractions

"Chateau Versailles Galerie des Glaces" by Photo: Myrabella / Wikimedia Commons.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles looks just like the picture above (if you could visit without the crowds). Having time alone in the chateau would hint at the elegant lifestyle of Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette. Space and sunlight, gleaming mirrors and soaring ceilings, and tall windows looking out over manicured gardens all speak to the unparalleled luxury enjoyed by the 18th century French aristocracy.

But this isn't how most tourists experience Versailles. For a sense of the more typical visitor experience, click here. How different when you're in a hallway crammed shoulder-to-shoulder with tourists casually dressed in shorts, t-shirts, and sneakers with cameras around their necks. Not the travel experience that many luxury clients desire.

What's the alternative to the thundering herds? If you're looking for an experience you'll always cherish (granting you bragging rights for the rest of your life), we can arrange exclusive access to many Europe's most popular tourist attractions such as Versailles, the Sistine Chapel, the Louvre, and Buckingham Palace. Our Virtuoso tour companies and on-sites can provide the treasured memories you're looking for. Just drop us an email if you'd like to explore the possibilities.

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.

7.08.2015

The Merrion | Dublin's finest hotel




The Merrion is Dublin's finest hotel, located in the heart of the very walkable downtown area of Dublin and close to Trinity College (the Book of Kells), the National Gallery of Ireland, as well as tempting shopping opportunities. The Main House is comprised of a row of gracious Georgian townhouses that have been converted into guestrooms and suites, and there is a modern Garden Wing built around a spacious garden courtyard behind the Main House. I really recommend rooms in the Main House for their traditional interiors and sense of history.

Although I had seen the Merrion's art collection in its public spaces during prior visits, I had no idea of the significance of the collection. The hotel has done something quite special, creating an audio guide to help guests more fully appreciate the works of art that grace the walls. Watch the video (above) to get a sense both of the hotel and its collection of art.

For even great value, book through your Virtuoso travel consultant to enjoy complimentary Full Breakfast for two daily and upgrade if available upon arrival. Guests booking a room in the Main House will additionally enjoy a complimentary lunch or dinner for two while Garden Wing guests receive cocktails and appetizers for two in the Cellar Bar.

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.