Spa Days

Did you ever notice the luxury hotels and resort have Spa facilities? All the wonderful experiences to help one escape for a while and feel good afterwards too! One does not need to be at a luxury hotel for a spa experience. Most hotels have bath tubs, even my Favorite Little Hotel in Paris, just behind the Louvre has a soaking tub. The manager, Sophie said most people prefer a room with a tub. Take your own bath salts and enjoy.

But do you use it?

There are many ways to have a spa or quiet day on holiday without spending lots of money. One afternoon in Paris I sat on the Pont Neuf (New Bridge, now the oldest in Paris) with a book and watched the world go by. Paris is a most international city. Like many cities changing these days there are issues, Paris has it all. Even the bit crazies sitting and talking to himself next to me.

In Amsterdam (Most tourist guides say that Amsterdam developed around a dam built in the river Amstel around 1270 AD, and that this dam which was located at present-day Dam Square – gave the city its name. But historians say that decades earlier the small settlement in the Amstel delta was already known as ‘Amestelledamme,’ or ‘Amstelredam’ (later, ‘Aemsterdam’ and later still ‘Amsterdam’). The trading post was home to farmers, fishermen, traders and craftsmen who, around 1220, settled along a dike built to protect the low lands against the flood waters of the Zuiderzee (South Sea). Now you know…

Back to Spa. In Amsterdam my hotel was luxury with a Spa. I chose instead to spend my last afternoon in the Café overlooking the Canal for quiet reflection. And met very interesting people.

Just because you are in a grand city with so much to see and experience; you can never see it all; you might as well enjoy some meaningful me time. You do not need to be on a beach to enjoy quiet time. Treat yourself. I did.

Call now to plan your holiday.. peace, Harriet

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Fall Plans

If you have not made holiday plans for this fall and winter, now is the time. I know many of you do not plan very far in advance, but if you want your choice of accommodations and fares, advance planning is advised. Currently there are good fares for the fall. Since most of you all live in New England, I priced from Boston. Similar fares originate in other cities. For example to Florida $290. Barbados $516. London $640. and Rome is still a bit high at $1296. All are nonstop fares.

Daily I receive emails from hotels and resorts marketing free extra nights and cruises with discounts. Call and take advantage!

A reminder: my colleagues and I have extensive knowledge of the world. We know the little nuances that make a holiday special. Come fall, this will be my sixth trip to Paris. If you are planning your first trip to a place like Paris, the assistance I can bring is immeasurable. Yes, some places you can plan yourself, but the special places let me assist. Together we can arrange a most memorable holiday.

St. Lucia, Barbados or Grand Cayman, do you know the difference? Where to stay? Where are the best beaches, snorkeling or scuba diving? Or how to rent a boat for a day cruise? One island is not the same as the next. Each has its own personality and culture. Some have long walking beaches while others are coves. Some even have golf! Remember, warm places are very popular in winter holidays. I have already made hotel reservations for December.

Where ever your travels will take you, now is the time to plan. Most arrangements you do not need to pay for all in advance. Final payments are usually 60 – 30 days prior to departure. If you are looking for ideas, check out my webpage www.alwaysharriet.com Call soon and let us begin.
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Happy Fourth of July and Summer Schedule

Summer is a time for all of us to slow down a bit. Relax and enjoy the warm weather. Do some outdoor activities and watch the sunset. July will be very relaxed for me. During the month, I will be working remotely much of the time. Some days I will not have Wi-Fi or telephone access available all day. Usually in the late morning, I will be able to check in and do some work for you. Please do leave messages, telephone or email, and I will return them. For immediate assistance, do call or email Janice 617-588-4239 janicea@vistatravelinc.com. Or you can always call the main number and someone will be pleased to assist 617-621-0100. By the way the 4th and the 5th I will be closed. The after-hours is always available for you. 888-567-9406.

In August, I will be home with all the usual hours. Unless, of course you invite me to your summer cabin! I know some of you think I am old enough to retire, but I do not have that word in my vocabulary. I enjoy what I do with you all. I learn and you get to have a grand time. So if summer is quiet and you do get to relax, remember the fall and winter are only a few months away. And we can plan a wonderful holiday while you enjoy the summer.

Thank you for all your business.

 

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Why Virtuoso?

The Value Of Travel Advisors

Knowledge, Collaboration, Connections, and More

Prospective travelers are usually confused about two aspects of working with a Virtuoso advisor:

What exactly is Virtuoso?

Do people still use travel advisors?

Virtuoso is a global luxury travel network; consisting of advisors, hotels, resorts, cruise lines, and tour companies. Ultimately, the goal is to make your travel experience uniquely yours. Special amenities are often available only to Virtuoso: upgrades, discounts and gifts.

Travel advisors do more than luxury travel. I know the best little three and four star hotels in Paris, in Rome or Florence. Sometimes the small hideaways are the best!

The Internet did make it easier to book your own travel, but it also created a ton of information overload. Travel advisors shifted from more transactional (air, hotel and car, though it is amazing how many corporate and leisure travelers have me arrange their travels) to transformative: working with you to plan the best experience possible for you and your family. They help you cut through the clutter. This is what I do best! Creative personal itineraries!

And remember: Virtuoso advisors have first-hand knowledge of properties, tour companies, cruise lines, and more. Often, the person they’re working with to plan your trip is someone they’ve known for years. That relationship pays a benefit back to you as a traveler.

If you’d be interested in working with an advisor, call or email me straight away!

Here are some comments from my travelers.

“This place is very classy!! Thanks for the recommendation! Views, facilities, food & staff outstanding!” – Joanne & Bill

“We loved the hotel! It was extremely conveniently located and a beautiful oasis of calm only a short walk from Times Square. It is by far the best hotel we have even stayed in in New York! Thank you so much for recommending it!” – Stephen and Patricia.

“We arrived at La Badia hotel in time to check in and drive up to Orvieto. Another experience in driving and parking and a local glass of wine in front of the Duomo. Dinner at the hotel was one of the best meals of the trip. The hotel was classic medieval. Very cool.” – Gail and Scott

“Thank you so much! Your notes on Paris are wonderful!” – David

“Looks AMAZING Harriet, thanks for booking this for us!” – Helene
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Comfortable Flying

It is often said ‘have a safe flight’ but I say ‘have a comfortable flight’, as the latter is less likely than the prior comment. I do everything I can to make my clients’ (or my) flights comfortable. Here are a few options.

  1. Fly first/business class. You would be surprised how little more it costs. Or if you have miles, upgrade. It is the best use of your miles/points. How many times have you walked past those fliers and wish you were one of them. So be one!
  2. Fly economy plus/delta comfort/extra legroom whatever the carrier calls it. Do it. I went to Seattle last weekend on a nonstop Delta Comfort. A few inches more between the seats, early boarding, and free beverages!! Coming back to Boston, the middle seat was empty, which is almost like first class.
  3. Get an aisle seat even if you need to pay for it. To be able to lean into the aisle (when the carts are not coming) is just that bit more space.
  4. Do not carry on so much stuff! They say one carry-on and a personal item, but I see a lot more come on board. With less on the floor under the seat in front of you, your feet will have more space to wiggle around; good for circulation.
  5. Flying comfortably has a lot to do with what you wear. You do not have to be sloppy to be comfortable. Fabrics that stretch or breathe are best. Put the air flow on and always have an extra jacket, sweater or shawl. The plane feels more comfortable when cooler.
  6. Lastly, fill your water bottle inside security, take hand and face creams and whatever item helps: neck pillow, noise canceling ear phones, your own music .. and etc.. For me the noise canceling headsets are the best! My seatmate coming home had an earpiece canceling set, very small.
  7. So have a comfortable flight. Book early so you will have your choices.
Where are you going on your next holiday? How may I assist? Thank you, Harriet

 

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Updates

TSA requirements. You may be well aware of security changes due to arrive at the airports. But it never hurts to remind you. And for you to double check your driver’s license. Here is the website for all the details. Considered to be forewarned! https://www.dhs.gov/real-id

 

My webpage is updated. http://www.alwaysharriet.com Check out the ‘may I suggest’ section for new pictures. Then do peruse the site for ideas for your next holiday. Please, if you too have pictures from your holiday, send them along for everyone to enjoy.

My schedule. My travel season arrives next week, in and out until September. Yes I will be in the office most of the time and my computer with me. Just do not want you all to be stuck with no service. So please do plan ahead. I almost could not reserve the luxury hotel a client wanted because of late timing. Yes, I did pull it off but never fun to have to say ‘sorry, you are too late’.

Cruise ships. You may be reading about more ‘big’ ships. Yes, that is true, there are new big ships being built. RCCL will soon have the largest. There are also new small ships, especially river boats. There are more river boat companies than the ones advertised on PBS. Some are very small and unique. And of course there are the sail boats!

Hotel Brands. Hotels change brand names and sometimes their service. If you know a hotel and it changed names, check it out, for it may or may not have changed. For example, Fairmont a wonderful chain, is now a part of AccorHotels. The brand may have changed but not the service.

There is so much happening in the travel industry. It is hard to keep up. I get 80 or more emails a day with new information. And there are many products and services that do not work with the travel agency world. It clearly can be most confusing. Anything I can do to assist.. Please do ask. Thank you
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Fall or Winter Plans NOW!

Fall and winter may seem far away with the spring still here. If you want the best fares and rooms, now is the time to plan and reserve. Often you do not need to make final payment for a long while. But you have what is best for you. Where would you like to go?

Last week, as it was public school vacation and religious holiday week, I had time on my hands to learn. I found a tour operator that specializes in culinary tours. You still get to see the major sights with lots of food and beverage on the schedule. Not just a food class for a couple hours, which are fun in most any place, but days of shopping, cooking and eating with the best of chefs.

In Peru, visit the colorful markets before enjoying the local dishes. Visit a family home assisting the hostess in preparing the evening meal. Do similar in Cuba or South Africa. Go to an exciting new destination with a very local twist. So many of our holiday touring is around adventure or museums. A cultural and culinary experience offers a very different perspective.

Another thought for your planning is Cuba, not far and very interesting. Rule for visiting are constantly changing. A good tour operator will make it all happen. Want to visit a local baseball club, learn about sugar cane or tobacco, or go scuba diving? I know a tour operator to make it all happen.

There are the more traditional winter escapes, skiing or bathing. All need to be reserved now, especially for the holiday seasons: December and February. Air is already getting very busy. Last month I did a family to Fort Myers and fare was already well above normal.

No matter how much I say NOW, I still get requests in November for holiday times and they wonder why they cannot afford to travel. Make the decision now, it is not so hard to do. Take out insurance if it makes you feel better. Plus it is a wonderful feeling knowing you have plans for the fall or winter. How may I assist?

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Managing Your Numbers

Many of you have airline, hotel, car, and TSA membership numbers. Make sure I have them all; so I can put them on your reservations. Often you may get discounts or upgrades accordingly. For sure you will get better service, especially if you have an account with many accumulated points.

How can you manage them? Primarily keep all your information in one place. Know your numbers and the accumulated amount or points. Know what the amount is worth in dollar redemption or upgrades. Your credit card may have collected points. Know, how and where you may use them.

What do the numbers mean? You may assume 20,000 points is a lot, as it is with dollars! In most cases it is not, but do not assume. American Airlines upgrades from coach to first on a domestic flight with 15,000 points and $75. That is a great value, if you enjoy the first class comfort. All carriers have their own programs, know them.

Car accounts may give an express check-in, very nice to have! Hotels may give free nights or upgrades upon check-in. The membership numbers indicate your frequent usage. All services reward loyal customers, me too.

Do membership numbers expire?  Most provider accounts do not expire though some may become inactive. TSA needs to be renewed very 5 years. Go on line https://ttp.cbp.dhs.gov  It may not be the easiest process but the only way. Do note there are several programs, choose one that meets your travel usage. The two most common are The Known Traveler, valid for domestic travel, and Global Entry, valid for domestic and international travel. Please remember these are USA programs and not recognized by other countries.

 

Meanwhile, Check your Passport too!

Call today to give me your numbers and plan your next trip. Where do you want to go?
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Go In-Depth

So many travel a day or two here or there. Traveling much too quickly to take in all the uniqueness and character of a place. Mostly they take a picture. May I suggest you plan your next holiday in one city or region. I rate cities by the number of nights one can spend and still have more to see and experience. All the big cities New York City, London, Paris, Rome, Bangkok, Sydney and more are all 10 day cities. Now, spending 10 days is just too long, I get that. But four or five will just make you want to return for more. There are also regions that can devour many days. For example the Amalfi coast, most any region in Italy, Bordeaux or Provence in France and islands like Crete, Sicily, or Easter Island.

By staying in one city or region, you can learn the food and history. Not just the kings and queens but the invasions, religions, and art and literature. You can have the time to take a cooking class or make a mask in Venice. Enjoy a night at the opera or symphony. There are so many cities with magnificent venues. Then there are the street markets for food and antiques. Paris has so many markets. How about bringing home something you can use every day and remember your holiday!

OK, here is an example of what you can do.. Dordogne Valley .. a southern region of France. The caves of the Dordogne Valley are home to some to the earliest and most extraordinary displays of human creativity. Wild animals and human figures – some up to 30,000 years old – are vividly displayed here in ochre (an earthy pigment containing ferric oxide, typically with clay, varying from light yellow to brown or red) and charcoal on stone walls. You do not need to sleep in a cave, for there are extraordinary castles for you with Michelin star chefs. You can go on your own or take a tour with archaeologist to guide you.

So chose a place you really want to experience and let me help you put it together. Then a piece of your heart will always be there. Why do you think there are so many songs about Paris?
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Visit USA

Here is a list of 15 small cities that are great destinations for food, architecture and culture. I am highlighting those I have not visited so maybe you have not either. They can be enjoyed in a long weekend, have airports or very nearby, and of course they have wonderful hotels.

Santa Fe, NM, sits in the Sangre de Cristo foothills. It’s renowned for its Pueblo-style architecture and as a creative arts hotbed. Founded as a Spanish colony in 1610, it has at its heart the traditional Plaza. The surrounding historic district’s crooked streets wind past adobe landmarks including the Palace of the Governors, now home to the New Mexico History Museum as well as the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

Savannah, GA, is separated from South Carolina by the Savannah River. It’s known for manicured parks, horse-drawn carriages and antebellum architecture. Its historic district is filled with cobblestoned squares and parks such as Forsyth Park shaded by oak trees covered with Spanish moss. At the center of this picturesque district is the landmark, Gothic-Revival Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist.

Asheville, NC, is a city in western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s known for a vibrant arts and music scene and historic architecture, including the dome-topped Basilica of Saint Lawrence. The vast 19th-century Biltmore estate displays artwork by masters like Renoir. The Downtown Art District is filled with galleries and museums, and in the nearby River Arts District, former factory buildings house artists’ studios.

Palm Springs, CA, is in the Sonoran Desert of southern California and known for its hot springs, stylish hotels, golf courses and spas. It’s also noted for its many fine examples of midcentury-modern architecture. Its core shopping district along Palm Canyon Drive features vintage boutiques, interior design shops and restaurants. The surrounding Coachella Valley offers hiking, biking and horseback riding trails.

Other small cities include Alexandria VA, Greenville SC, and Santa Barbara CA

OK, so I cannot exclude those I have visited: Charleston SC (a favorite), Sarasota FL, Sedona AZ, Monterey CA, Key West FL, Portland ME, Napa CA, and Newport RI.

How many of these wonderful cities have you visited? Where would you like to take a long weekend to visit or revisit? Call me soon to assist in your planning.

 

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