Sheila Gallant-Halloran

Made-to-measure travel; please, go away! :-)

Lush Life Travel: Building Memories, One Travel Dream at a Time

Hi – I’ve loved my blog home here at www.sheila0gh.wordpress.com – but I’m moving!  Please check out my revamped blog at www.lushlife.ca !

Introducing my new personal brand:  Lush Life Travel!

Don’t worry – I still run my own business as an independent contractor with the Vision 2000 Travel Group. When I orchestrate your travel dreams, you get me as your personal travel advisor – but you also get the resources and power of Canada’s largest independently owned travel company behind me.

Vision 2000 Travel Group has been selling travel to Canadians for 50 years. Obviously, you benefit from dealing with an established travel company that is TICO-regulated, a Top Ten Virtuoso Agency, and a preferred partner with Four Seasons. Vision 2000 has industry recognition and clout; and extensive experience with every facet of travel from Cruises & Vacations, to Group & Escorted Tours, to Domestic Travel.  http://www.vision2000.ca/

Under the umbrella of Stephanie Anevich’s Cruises & Vacations department, I am a proud member of Lynda Sinclair’s travel @home team. 

And – I’m still a proud member of Virtuoso.

But, while those important partnerships remain, and my contact details are unchanged (sheila.gh@vision2000.ca and www.vision2000.ca/sheilagh and 613-837-0699 )… I’m also thrilled to begin a new chapter…. my new brand! Welcome to Lush Life Travel!

I’ve decided to move to a hosted website for my blog as my old site (www.sheila0gh.wordpress.com) was running into some obstacles (e.g., couldn’t add video, analytics were limited, etc…) . And, when it became obvious that a hosted website was key, I took the opportunity to revamp my personal brand with a new logo.

I came up with “Lush Life Travel.”  I drew the name initially from a favourite jazz song (perhaps you know it? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUSCYOR3qMk and lyrics here http://www.asklyrics.com/display/ella-fitzgerald/lush-life-lyrics.htm ) – I wanted a “brand” that would invoke specialness, connection, magic, luxury, etc.  So, I sat down with my business networking partner, Carl Poirier, of Cayenne Creative, and we chatted about my ideas. Carl and his team brainstormed, and went to work – they then came back with this wonderfully inspired logo for me, and helped me migrate my old blog to this new platform and website.

What do you think of it? LushLifeTravel-inspiration

LLT_businesscard

October 11, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Other Items, Lush Life Partners, Lush LIfe Top Posts, Lush Life Travel TIps & Advice | 2 Comments

Facebook Friends Share Their Advice for Disney First-timers

Hi – this morning I posted the following on facebook:

I know it’s possible to have your dream Disney experience, even if you haven’t been there before. (I help people do that.) Tell me, though – what’s your one-piece of advice for Disney first-timers?

I thought the responses from my facebook friends and clients were terrific. Read for yourself, and enjoy!  And maybe add to the list!

Janet Kocur You can’t do it all in one trip! 

Susan Murphy Wear comfortable shoes! 

Lisa Theriault Get the meal plan and book your meals EARLY – the special ones, like Mickey’s Cafe, book up fast so your seating time could end up being after 8pm, and with little kids, that can be a challenge (we dinned at 8:30 so had to have them nap ealier in the day). 

Jennifer Robbins What Janet said!!! 

Rachel Kreft stop and go inside for a cold drink regularly – the rides aren’t going anywhere :-) 

Laurence Jacks Take the kids out of school and go when its not crowded.

Jennifer Robbins That a good one too, Laurence. That’s what we have always done!!!

Rachel Kreft Explain to the kids before you the maximum time you are willing to wait for a ride but explain that doesn’t mean they won’t get to do it just not at that moment- that way when they see the wait time you don’t get the tantrums or the pleading. Our maximum wait time limit was half an hour (we’ve always gone peak time/ hottest time) and yet we still managed to hit every ride we wanted to do but with a fraction of the hanging around.

Karen Painter Bellows Get the meal plan (food is very expensive at Disney and its well worth it) and the refillable mugs. They are a good souvenir and great when the kids are whining about being thirsty…you don’t have to say no! Also take regular pool breaks when its hot. We went to the parks early, then came back after lunch for a few hours to cool of, than went for dinner/parks/shopping. It was 40 + degrees there last week so it was nessasary!!

Let’s keep this train a’chuggin’.  What advice would you give to a Disney First-Timer?

October 5, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Guest blogger, Rebecca Page – Entrepreneurs NEED to Unplug Too

I’m fortunate today to have my client, Rebecca Page, write a guest blog about her family’s recent vacation. Rebecca runs her own successful business at Concierge Home Services, a household management company. As a busy entrepreneur, Rebecca rarely took time off from the business to give herself time to unplug. But she just took a Mediterranean cruise with her family (onboard the MSC Armonia on a 7 night cruise that sailed out of Venice, and covering Italy,Greece, and Montenegro).  The cruise seems to have re-charged her batteries, and re-engergised her for the challenges ahead as a small business owner.

Enjoy her insights – and her photos!

==========

 The thing about being an entrepreneur is that the line between business and personal life is blurred. Or it doesn’t exist at all. I’ve worked on my laptop during family holidays more times than I care to remember. I’ve spent Sundays at the office. New Year’s. I’ve never minded, because it was my choice. And because working on my business is always fun.

Recently, I made a different choice. I took a trip to celebrate a milestone birthday, which had been planned for a very long time. I left the country, and switched off from my business. My VA in Ottawa monitored my email. Auto-responders were set up. Voicemail was changed. Internet access on my iPhone was disabled. No Twitter, no Facebook, no Google.

For the first couple of days, I thought I’d lost something, and was searching through my pockets. Then, I relaxed into the feeling of being disconnected from my business, and trusted that my company would continue without me. I resolved to enjoy every moment of my travels.

Which I did. I enjoyed a gondola ride under a full moon in Venice, fresh organic gelato in Urbino, the magic of the Acropolis of Athens, wine-tasting at a vineyard in Santorini, strong surf and perfect sand in Kefalonia, and a glowing sunset from the Eiffel Tower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was the first time in 9 years that I had taken a real break.

Now that I am back, I feel that I am more productive. My pace slowed down and I’m better able to see what work really needs to be done. I’m less caught up in the little things, and see the big picture. The distance I had from my business has given me better focus on our goals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

People say they are so busy that they can’t take time off. Even when work is lots of fun, vacations are better.  And taking some time off may be the best thing you can do for your career or your business.

Rebecca Page is founder of Concierge Home Services, a household management company which helps busy homeowners and professionals relax and have more time. Based in Ottawa, it is expanding  throughout Ontario. She blogs about entrepreneurship and franchising at rebeccapage.ca. Follow her on Twitter at @RebeccaPageCHS.

October 3, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Cruising, Lush Life Guest Bloggers, Lush Life Travel TIps & Advice | Leave a comment

Guest blogger, Shane Silva, shares insights: Why Home Ownership Matters

Today, I’m very fortunate to have my good friend, and business networking partner, Shane Silva, share his insights into “Why Home Ownership Matters.”  Shane is the broker of record with Home Life Capital Realty in Ottawa. 

Read Shane’s post below. Since he reports Ontarians are largely home-owners, and home-owners report a better quality of life, me thinks home owners are travelers too! :-)  Of course, I’m here to help you experience a truly lush life by orchestrating your travel needs. But  – if you need help purchasing or selling a home-  please give my friend Shane a call!  Everything he touches, turns to “sold!” His contact details are at the end of the blog post.

=======================================================

 

WHY HOME OWNERSHIP MATTERS

TO PEOPLE…

* Home owners say they have better Quality of Life.  They report being happier, healthier and enjoy a greater feeling of control over their lives. 

* Home owners are free to redecorate, renovate and modify their homes as they wish. 

* Most home owners enjoy stable housing costs – a fixed rate mortgage payment might change a little over time while rent in Ontario has increased an average 3.5% a year. 

TO COMMUNITIES…

* Home owners are civically engaged.  Homeowners are much more likely to say they voted in the last municipal election than renters. 

* Home owners are significantly more likely to have donated to charity, participated in local festivals/events, volunteered, and written a letter to their editor. 

* The overwhelming majority (94%) of Ontarians agree that owning a home provides a stable and healthy environment for raising a family. 

TO ONTARIO…

* 72% of Ontario households are owner occupied.  Ontario is a province of homeowners.

* In 2010, Ontario MLS® home sales generated $9.3 billion in additional consumer spending. 

* Every home purchased in Ontario pumps $47,575 into the economy for furniture, home improvements and related items.

* Home sales on MLS® generate over 80,000 direct and indirect jobs annually in Ontario. 

As REALTORS®, we know all this.  But not everyone does. 

So spread the word:  Home Ownership Matters!

HomeLife Capital Realty

9-2559 Innes Rd., Ottawa,ON.

Tel: 613-627-4141

Fax: 613-837-6499

Email: shane@shanesilva.com

Web: www.homelifecapital.com

Twitter: @shanesilva

 

October 2, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Guest Bloggers | Leave a comment

How to Avoid the Disney Meltdown

The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida is called the “happiest place on earth.”  And, it usually is.  But what happens when you combine overheated, overtired, and overstimulated children with parents in the same boat? Things can turn sour … and quickly.

At the end of June, my family of  four made our way to Orlando for our 19th visit. I wasn’t surprised to see many misbehaving children at the parks. I was pleasantly surprised that my own kids kept on a pretty even keel. But, after 19 trips, we’ve kinda figured out some tricks.

One thing for parents to think about is that months of anticipation and build up about going to see Mickey will suddenly give way to visual and auditory overload.  Think of it as arriving at the North Pole, and being given the keys to Santa’s workshop. There’s so much to see and do, and so much to experience – you’re not sure where to start. If your children are also in unaccustomed heat, they may be perspiring excessively, and can quickly get dehyrdrated. Throw in some long waits in lines, more crowds than they may be used to, and perhaps one too many Mickey Mouse ice-cream bars, and suddenly, you might start witnessing behaviour that is more akin to the Exorcist than your little angel. 

So – what to do?  Every parent who has planned an outing to an unfamiliar environment with a child knows it’s always best to set some ground rules before you go. Here are some suggestions that have worked for us at Disney:

1. No doubt, you have guidelines for behaviour at home.  Being on vacation doesn’t mean that guidelines go out the window. Make sure everyone knows what is going to be acceptable before you’re waiting in line to see Peter Pan. If you’re going to loosen rules, be clear what the baselines are, and just what will fly and what won’t.  

2. If you can, stay at a monorail hotel. Being close to the parks will optimize your time. You won’t waste precious vacation hours travelling.

3. Don’t try to do everything in one day. Have a plan for what you want to accomplish on a certain day, but leave time for flexibility.  Try to schedule some down time at the pool each day.

4. Wear hats, and appropriate clothing for the weather. (Animal Kingdom, in particular, is notorious for its lack of shade. A hat will give you a break in scorching heat. And if it’s 100 degrees out, don’t wear black shirts and shorts.)

5. Wear comfy sneakers. Don’t wear sandals that won’t support you, or crocs that may gall. (Remember, you can walk 8-10 miles a day at the parks – I often do, and have measured with a pedometer.  Wear shoes that will not make you suffer.) 

6. Drink lots of water. Make sure each child drinks lots of water. (Dehydration really bites. Besides getting very cranky, you get nauseous and can develop a terrible headache. It can really put a crimp in a day at the park.)

7. If you have more than one child, have a plan for how you can keep each of them happy – at least in turns. You might alternate days where one chooses rides, or schedule some alone time with one parent for each. Siblings will bug each other on vacation as much as they might at home. Prepare for it, and have some outlets built in. 

8. If possible, have each child wear a fanny pack. That way, they each can carry their own water bottle, and carry their own autograph book and pen, along with a snack.

9. Have a plan for purchasing souvenirs and treats.  Make sure each child knows what that is. When possible, give them guidelines, and let them choose.

So - those are my suggestions.

Tell me – what works for your family?  I’d love to hear!

October 1, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Disney | Leave a comment

Driving the Road to Hana: Maui, Hawaii

My husband and I have been lucky enough to visit Hawaii a couple of times. And any time we’ve been to Maui, we have to drive the Hana Highway. 

The Road to Hana is a 68-mile stretch of Hawaii State Highways. For those of us used to highway driving in a metro area, that’s about an hour of normal driving time. Not so in Hawaii. Think of small, hilly, twisty roads with many one-lane bridges. There is said to be 620 curves on the road. It’s no wonder that getting the 52 miles from Kahului to Hana usually takes three hours.

However, as pretty as Hana is, the drive is not about the destination – it truly is the journey. You’re driving over bridges, perhaps yielding to traffic, but going through lush tropical rainforest.  You just have to pull over, and take in the natural beauty.  You can bring a picnic lunch, and sit down in front of a waterfall.  You can swim in the seven sacred pools, see rainbow eucalyptus and bamboo trees, and enjoy the beautiful flora and fauna.  And you can even play a CD that will narrate your drive.

For more information, check out this website – you can even watch the video http://www.mauiinformationguide.com/road-to-hana.php

Course, you can give me a call – and I can get your vacation to Hawaii and the garden isle of Maui sorted for you!

September 30, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Destinations | Leave a comment

Beaches Resorts for Everyone

Yesterday, I attended my re-certification for the Beaches and Sandals brand to maintain my “Certified Sandals/ Beaches Specialist.”  While the Sandals (couples) brand is terrific, my client base has a large preponderance of families, so they tend to be more in the Beaches stage of life.  And, of course, Beaches resorts are for everyone.

Beaches have more quality inclusives than any other resorts in the world. For you, that means more watersports & motorized waterskiing, unlimited scuba diving, the Caribbean’s biggest waterparks, more dining choices, up to 16 restaurants, exclusive Caribbean Adventure with Sesame Street characters, nanny programs, Xbox 360 game garages, Kids camps + Teen programs, unlimited premium brand liquors, up to 14 bars per resort, exclusive Beringer Wines on the house, Free Martha Stewart Weddings (restrictions apply), Most Unique Suites, Scatch DJ Academy, English Guild Trained Butlers, more Botanical Gardens, more awards, Caribbean’s best beaches, Martha Stewart Craft Club, and more.

There are 4 Beaches Resorts – 3 in Jamaica, and 1 in Turks and Caicos. 

The 3 Beaches in Jamaica are Beaches Boscobel in Ocho Rios, and Beaches Negril and Beaches Sandy Bay in Negril.  The 1 Beaches outside of Jamaica is in T&C.  Here are some distinguishing features on all 4 properties:

1. Beaches Boscobel is in Ocho Rios. It is Jamaica’s only all-inclusive with Golf for Kids. It has undergone major renovations. There are 223 rooms and suites on 2 acres, and it is a 2hr 15 minute airport transfer from Montego Bay airport. It is action packed fun for all ages in a lush hillside setting with terraced views, and has the largest water park in Jamaica with its Pirate Island Water Park featuring 9 new slides. Golf greens fees & transfers are included, and there is a complimentary golf clinic for kids.  There are 70 connecting rooms for families.

2. Beaches Sandy Bay is the perfect piece of paradise, and is next door to Beaches Negril. It offers terrific lead in rates, with exchange privileges at Beaches Negril. It has 128 rooms with 13 categories on 9 acres, with a 75 minute transfer from Montego Bay airport. It has the most intimate Beaches resort, and is laid back and unhurried.

3. Beaches Negril offers 7 miles of pure magic in 210 rooms with 11 categories over 20 acres. It is also a 75 minute transfer from Montego Bay airport. It is a friendly beachfront hideawy with an upscale flavor. It is situated on the widest stretch of Negril’s famed 7 mile beach. It has a pirate island water park with lazy river, and offers afternoon tea. It also offers Martha Stewart crafts.

4. Beaches Turks & Caicos is the last of the true exotics. It offers 615 rooms with 30 room categories over 65 acres.  It is a 15 minute airport transfer from PLS airport. This is the Caribbean’s hottest and most exciting family resort boasting “4 vacations in one” on a 12-mile pristine beach at Grace Bay. It has 16 restaurants (including 2 dult only) with the largest Priates Island Water Park plus surf simulator, and the most extensive dive program.

So – if you’re thinking of organizing a Beaches vacation, give me a call. We can talk about your needs and interests, and match the proper resort (and room category) to your family. But don’t wait!  I’m having a devil of a time finding space for a family of 5 this Christmas, and March break is already almost sold out too.

September 28, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Hotels, Lush Life Kids | 1 Comment

Hotel St-Barth Isle de France – a Virtuoso Hotel

 When I was in Vegas in August (attending the world’s largest luxury travel show at Virtuoso’s Travel Mart), I met the Director of Sales for North America for the Hotel St-Barth Isle de France. Christy Connolly kindly introduced me to the hotel during our 4 minute “speed dating” session, and I was so intrigued, I set up a follow up 10 minutes sales meeting with her.

Even still, 14 minutes is not enough time to learn about a terrific property. So, today, hotel manager Evelyn Weber was in Ottawa, and she kindly came by my office to share even further details on the property I’m checking out for a couple of clients’ families.

The Hotel St. Barth Isle de France is located on the beautiful Baie des Flamands beach. The hotel is a luxury boutique-style property with 39 rooms, suites, and villas.  This 5* property combines French culture and style, with West Indes charm. http://www.isle-de-france.com/us/plan.pdf 

Of course, it is a Virtuoso partner of mine, which means I can negotiate special amenities on your behalf!

The hotel has a main building set on the beach, as well as tropical garden room/ bungalows/ villas and hillside bungalows (as well as some new beach suites).

The hotel is on the Conde Nast Traveller UK – Gold List for 2010 as the “Best Hotel for ‘Ambience & Design” in the Americas & Caribbean. Conde Nast Traveller UK 2009 named it “Best Hotel in the Americans and the Caribbean” and “4th Best Hotel in the world”.  Tatler rated it in the “Top 100 hotels of the year 2009 worldwide.” Conde Nast Traveller US 2008 rated it “Best hotel in the Caribbean and Atlantic”, and Travel & Leisure 2008 rated it the “Best Hotel for Service in the Caribbean.”

There’s a Malton Brown spa on property, as well as a gymnasium, and a fresh water pool. And there are weekly fashion shows too.

Water sports are big on the property. You can rent sailing boats, catamarans, and motor boats - with or without a skipper.You can surf, scuba, kayak, or deep sea dive. (In addition to water skiing, windsurfing, snorkelling, and swimming.) Tennis is 5 minutes away, and horseback riding is also possible. There are options for archery, aerobics, and rugby.  

Let me know if you’d like to learn more about the Hotel St-Barth Isle de France. I can use the power of one-to-one from Virtuoso’s Travel Mart to “VIP” you with my new friends, Christy Connolly and Evelyn Weber.

 

September 26, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Destinations, Lush Life Hotels | 1 Comment

Want a Tour Operator Package? There’s No More Waiting in Limbo!

All-inclusive tour operator packages (air, hotel, meals, transfers) remain popular vacation options for Canadians. Some of my clients just don’t wish for bespoke arrangements, because they love the ease and simplicity of choosing a cookie-cutter option that a tour operator has packaged together.  Canadians tend to travel in big numbers to Cuba, Dominican Repulic, Mexico, and Jamaica; and our Canadian tour operators oblige with quite an offering of hotel and flight combos.

Course, if you’re looking at somewhere off the beaten track (at least in terms of Canadian tour operator offerings), and want to consider visiting Anguilla, the Cayman Islands, the Seychelles, Hawaii, or Australia (or even South Africa), I can help get you sorted. We can customize things to suit your palette, and ensure we have a vacation tailored to your needs and interests.

But if you’re looking at arranging a winter getaway, and want an all-inclusive package with a Canadian tour operator, I can help you still with that.

And, if you want a tour operator package, and you worry whether you should book now or wait, I have the scoop that will save you money. Book your vacation now with me through Air Canada Vacations, Sunquest, Transat Holidays, or Westjet Vacations.  If the price goes drops, I’ll make sure you pay that price. But hurry, this offer won’t last long.  Call me today for more details.

September 24, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Other Items | 1 Comment

Proud to be Four Seasons Preferred Partner

Besides my affiliation with Vision 2000 Travel Group, and being a proud member of Virtuoso, I am also thrilled of V2K’s additional partnership with the Four Seasons chain.

In addition to membership in Virtuoso, Vision 2000 Travel Group is a preferred partner with Four Seasons. There are only 3 preferred partners in Canada, and only 101 around the globe. Not only is Vision 2000 in rare company, we are also the largest seller of Four Seasons in Canada – which gives us terrific negotiating power for our clients.

The Four Seasons Preferred Partner programme is an exclusive, invitation-only network of high-end travel consultants from around the world.

As a preferred partner programme member, V2K has proven our dedication to providing our clients with a premium level of service, and, so, we share in the Four Seasons commitment to exceptional quality.

There are terrific benefits to V2K and me from this partnership - Four Seasons shows the value it places on the business I bring by doing everything they can to make my job easier – from streamlining the booking process, to ensuring that my clients are always treated with the utmost care and attention.

But, in addition to the Preferred Partner website, there are tremendous benefits and services that I can offer my clients. This includes a preferred partner amenity programme (where I can negotiate tremendous amenities on my clients behalf), to simplified booking process, to consistent communication, to support.

Of course, my clients benefit greatly from the Preferred Partner Amenity Programme. Thanks to my status as a Four Seasons Preferred Partner, my clients can enjoy special value-added benefits at all Four Seasons hotels and resorts worldwide. These benefits have been standardised across all properties to make the elements easy to remember — and also make it easier for me to promote the benefits to my clients.

Available on most rates and promotions, I can negotiate the following amenities on my clients’ behalf:

  • Daily full American breakfast for two people per bedroom, served through In-Room Dining or in the hotel restaurant (including buffets).
  • Extra value-added amenity, such as: Spa credit of USD100 once during stay (not applicable to products); golf credit of USD100 once during stay (not applicable to pro shop purchases); or lunch for two once during stay (up to USD85, excluding gratuity and alcohol). (Each hotel’s specific extra amenity is specified by the individual property.)
  • Upgrade of one category, based on availability at time of check-in (excluding signature suites and villas).
  • Welcome note at check-in .
  • Complimentary high-speed Internet access for all suite bookings.

And, the power of one-to-one gives me access to the top-level managers at each Four Seasons. This means that not only can I get my clients preferred partner amenities, but that I can also get them enhanced recognition and personal welcome from on-property management, access to the best guest room inventory, and have priority access to wait-list clearance.

Why aren’t you staying at a Four Seasons for your next holiday? Give me a call, and let me take advantage of the Four Seasons Preferred Partner status to “VIP” you!

September 23, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Destinations, Lush Life Hotels, Lush Life Other Items, Lush Life Partners, Lush LIfe Top Posts, Lush Life Travel TIps & Advice | Leave a comment

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.