I received a note from a reader yesterday about a travel company that has a lavish website and sells a luxury product that is geared to customizing trips for individual travelers.
The problem, according to this reader — who wants to be identified only by his initials, G.M. — is that when he asked for service, they didn’t want to take his money — and a fair amount of it, at that.
It seems they wanted more.
Here’s the backstory: G.M., a longtime, now retired operating room nurse, is planning his first big vacation in decades, a two-week trip to Paris. Due to the generosity of a wealthy patient, he’ll be staying in a suite at one of Paris’ most luxurious hotels, and, with the help of donated frequent flyer miles, winging… Continue reading
You may have read or heard the story: on Sunday February 15, during a freezing upstate New York weekend, the director of the Ithaca-Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau put up a message on the bureau’s website (VisitIthaca.com) reading, “That’s it. We surrender. Winter, you win. Key West, anyone?”
That’s right — director Bruce Stoff was suggesting (and jesting) that, while temperatures were hitting ten below and the incessant snows were whipping around in minus 30-degree wind chill, people should forget about visiting Ithaca and head straight to the warmth of the Florida Keys. “Please come back when things thaw out. Really, it’s for the birds here now…P.S. Send us a postcard.”
Stoff even linked to the Florida Keys Tourism Council site.
As someone living in upstate New York suffering through similar weather conditions, and also a frequent visitor… Continue reading
I want to thank the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) for naming me for the second straight year as the Gold Award winner for Best Magazine Travel Series in their annual travel writing competition.
For both 2013 and 2014, three of my theme cruise columns written for Porthole Cruise Magazine took home the Gold.
This year’s series consisted of “Blue Sea, Red Sea,” about political cruises; “Bird is The Word,” about birding cruises; and “Now You Sea It,” about ghost-hunting cruises.
While the Porthole column came to an end earlier this year (with a piece on cat cruises), I had six years of fun writing about 37 different theme cruises covering all kinds of topics — some serious, some wacky, all entertaining.
At some point I’ll be putting out a collection of the columns in eBook form, and will let you know when it’s out.
According to… Continue reading
Some of the most interesting things you pick up at a huge travel-trade gathering like this past weekend’s New York Times Travel Show are what I would call tidbits — not big enough for an entire blog post, but nonetheless fun stuff.
Here are a few of my favorites from the show:
* You have to love a company — in this case Lion World Travel — whose eastern USA director of sales’ business card is, quote, “made by hand using the sanitized fibre from the dung of elephants, rhino and other wild herbivores of Africa.”
I didn’t get to meet the director of sales — Kathi Scott of Toronto — but her “100 % natural, 100% African, 110% recycled” paper business card intrigued me enough that I googled Lion World Travel and… Continue reading
“The Savvy Path to Breathtaking Travel, Without the Hassle”
“Less Planning, More Experiencing”
“A Journey of a Thousand Smiles Begins With a Single Click”
These are some of the taglines that express the essence of the new travel website, StrideTravel.com, where I worked for more than a year as Content Director. (My job is now in the capable hands of Content Coordinator Samantha Scott, who, together with co-founders Gavin Delany and Jared Alster, comprise a formidable team.)
In practical terms, Stride aspires to be — and in many ways already is — the best place on the Web to survey the wealth of multi-day, pre-planned trips that are now available from hundreds of travel suppliers around the world.
“Pre-planned trips” may encompass guided group or private tours as well as independent journeys… Continue reading
Until this morning, when I read about it in eTurboNews, I hadn’t heard about York, England’s “world famous” (as the Visit York website puts it) smellable travel guide to that alluring city, adding a key sensory sensation to what is normally a sight-only medium.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a smellable picture must add a few hundred more.
The guide, called Smell York — which is straightforward enough, though I might have chosen something less edgy like “York Aromas” — invites you to scratch and sniff 12 different scents to cajole you into literally sniffing out various York attractions and shops.
Some are clearly pleasant — drawing you towards the city’s chocolatiers, tea shops, and floral gardens — and others perhaps less seductive. For instance, one scratch and sniff yields the “haunting aromas of… Continue reading
Multi-generational travel is hot.
So hot that it’s up 30 percent over the past year. And boomer-led family groups are spending an average of $1,000 more per year than other travelers, according to findings at a recent family travel summit.
The second TMS Family Travel Summit, organized by TMS Family Travel and Family Travel Consulting, brought together 38 travel journalists, editors, publishers and marketers to hear the latest research, discuss travelers’ needs, and determine marketing strategies for family groups led by retiring boomers.
The multi-generational travel phenomenon presents both challenges and opportunities for those in the travel industry.
But what, exactly, constitutes multi-generational travel?
One speaker defined it as a travel party comprised of at least one traveler over age 60 with at… Continue reading
Until I read about it in The New York Times, I had no idea that Tuvalu — a small South Pacific island nation previously best known as one of the most likely to sink below water as the oceans rise (“Toodle-oo, Tuvalu,” goes the sardonic refrain) — has been making millions of dollars by selling its Internet URL suffix .tv to companies that stream videos and the like.
Every country and a number of dependencies has been assigned a country code, usually based on its name, and Tuvalu lucked into the .tv designation years ago.
I salute their entrepreneurial spirit, even as their low-lying atolls threaten to become the next Atlantis.
It turns out Tuvalu isn’t the only country doing this sort of business.
According to The Times, Colombia has… Continue reading
First, the recipe:
Two boneless chicken breasts, cut thin
1 tsp. unsweetened or semisweet cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
a dash of cayenne pepper or chili flakes
lemon juice (enough to make mix “goopy”)
some cilantro or basil, chopped
melted butter (you choose the amount)
optional: cumin or garlic powder
whiskey for flambeing
Mix above ingredients together (except whiskey if flambeing).
Wash chicken and coat thoroughly with mix.
Let sit for awhile while you figure out what to serve with it, or have a cocktail (optional, but if flambeing, don’t use up all your whiskey).
Cook chicken — grill it, fry it, bake it, saute it, stir-fry it, flambe it, whatever you like, but do make sure to apply sufficient heat that it isn’t raw and you get sick from it. I don’t want that… Continue reading
Most everyone remembers the great Washington Irving tales “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle,” both dating from nearly 200 years ago.
In “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Ichabod Crane, the stork-legged superstitious schoolteacher, was frightened into fleeing the area by a rival who posed as the Headless Horseman. (Johnny Depp starred in a movie about it.)
In “Rip Van Winkle,” Rip — a resident of a small village in the Catskills while New York was still an English colony — unwittingly had a drink with the ghosts of Henry Hudson’s crew and slept for 20 years, right through the Revolutionary War.
As some of you know, I’m a resident of the Catskills myself, so I’ve put together a little Washington Irving themed literary legends tour of the area.
You can start your Irving legends tour at the… Continue reading