Sheila Gallant-Halloran

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

Wills & Kate tie the knot

I rose at 4 am this morning with my two young daughters to watch the festivities. Chocolate eclairs in hand, and perrier water, we toasted new beginnings. It’s fun to watch the pomp and pageantry. And the Globe & Mail quickly got the best snaps in a slide show for all to see. London looked as beautiful as the bride, and bursting with pride at the display.

 http://ow.ly/4JGEf

Course, this T-Mobile Royal Wedding mock entrance is worth a second look – so funny with the lookalikes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kav0FEhtLug&feature=player_embedded

Did you watch the wedding?  In honor of the big wedding, tell me your royal wedding guest name. Start with either Lord or Lady. Your first name is one of your grandparents’ names. Your surname is the name of your first pet, double-barreled with the name of the street you grew up on. Post yours here.

Signed,

Lady Monica Snoopy-Dale

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April 29, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Destinations, Lush Life Weddings & Honeymoons | Leave a comment

Are you a Disney Commando or Turtle?

Are you a Disney Commando or a Disney Turtle when you tour the parks?

The term “Disney Commando” doesn’t have anything to do with underwear (or going without). A Disney Commando gets up early, hits the parks running at rope drop, gets fast passes for key rides asap, and maximizes their vacation time by jumping between parks, and seeing as much as they can possibly squeeze into one day. They also will complete the majority of the key rides before the day’s heat kicks in during summer months, and can focus on indoor rides later. When they do return to their hotel room, it’s after midnight, and they collapse into bed. 

A Disney Turtle sleeps in, enjoys a leisurely breakfast, relaxes around the hotel pool, and calmly makes their way to a park, has an idea or two about what ride they’d like to ride, but if they’re distracted by shopping, or parades, or wine sampling, or other fun sights and unexpected pleasures (like a barbershop haircut or a barbershop quartet) , they take the time to savour it all. If fastpasses are gone, or lines are long, or the day’s heat kicks in, they easily change their plans. They go through their day unhurried and ignoring their watch, and usually make their way back to their hotel for an early supper, and maybe head back to the parks for the fireworks.

Having been to Disney 18 times with my family, and planning return trip #19, we’ve tried almost every style of experiencing a  Disney vacation. We’ve done both the Disney Commando, and the Turtle.

Honestly, both have their pleasures. Our kids find a new rhythm on vacation, and the adrenalin rush of being at Disney kicks in – normal sleep times go out the window. We find we can keep up the Disney Commando pace for a couple of days quite easily, without risking a park meltdown with overtired kids and grumpy adults. But we also find that the Disney Turtle pace offers us more chance to breathe, relax and enjoy our hotel, and see new sights. (And after 18 trips to Disney, there are still things we haven’t seen.) A combo of the two styles works best for us.

Which are you?  A Disney Commando or a Disney Turtle?

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Disney | Leave a comment

Proud to be a Virtuoso Travel Advisor – Extraordinary Experiences

I’m proud to be a Virtuoso travel advisor with Vision 2000 Travel Group. Being a Virtuoso travel advisor means I’m part of the “best of the best”  – and can offer my clients the “best of the best.”

Vision 2000 is a leading member of Virtuoso, a network of the world’s finest travel agencies with knowledgeable advisors who draw upon first-hand experience to craft the perfect vacation for you. As a Virtuoso affiliated travel advisor, I have global connections with the best hotels, cruise lines, airlines and tour companies. For you, this means access to exclusive travel offers that you can’t get on your own, along with your best value for the money. That’s the Virtuoso difference.

What does being a Virtuoso travel advisor mean to me – and what I can offer my clients?

Exclusivity. Purpose. Discovery. Integrity. Creating Memories. Service Excellence. Greater Success. Professional Excellence. Unique experiences. Personal fulfillment. Creating new customers. Endless opportunity. Meaning and purpose. That’s my extraordinary vision.

Virtuoso – specialists in the art of travel. Call me to arrange your next extraordinary experience!

April 27, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Partners, Lush Life Value - Why Use a Travel Advisor | Leave a comment

Cruising with Crystal – Dining at it’s Best

Crystal Cruises are a luxury cruise line. If you’re a foodie, or a wanna be foodie, you really should consider a Crystal Cruise. And, because I am a Virtuoso travel advisor, booking any Crystal Cruise with me entitles you to Virtuoso amenities on every Crystal Cruise.

And if you’re looking to go in 2011, ask me for details on how you can enjoy:

  • 2-For-1 Fares Enjoy 50% savings in all categories on every 2011 sailing.
  • Free Air Fly free in Business or Economy Class on 2011 voyages. 
  • Up to $2,000 per couple in “As You Wish” Spending Credits Receive up to $1,000 per person to spend any way you wish. 

Ask me for details on their 2011 cruises (and/or other specials on 2012 cruises).  Watch this video to see what the Crystal difference is all about.

April 26, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Cruising | Leave a comment

Michelle VanDenBosch – Artificial flowers ease Destination Weddings

Today is guest blog Monday, and I have my friend, and local florist extraordinaire, sharing her thoughts (and photos of some creations) about how artificial flowers can ease your destination wedding planning.

Michelle’s contact details are at the end.

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

Having a destination wedding does not have to mean leaving the flowers up to the local florist.

Chose artificial flowers and bring them with you!

Synthetic blossoms have come along way in their evolution and look amazingly real. From beautiful callas that look real to the eyes and the touch to a more garden style of a handful of peonies, you could easily travel with your bouquet and not have to worry about coordinating that once you have landed for your destination wedding. Having your designer arrange them creatively will create a keepsake you will enjoy for a long time.

www.whitesatin.ca provided the wedding dresses and

www.cameronphotos.ca is the photographer

Michelle VanDenBosch

P:  613-304-9046    

E:design@michellevandenbosch.com

W: www.michellevandenbosch.com

T: @mvpetals

April 25, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Guest Bloggers, Lush Life Weddings & Honeymoons | Leave a comment

Save on your roaming charges with Wireless Traveler

Have you been dinged on roaming charges when you’re travelling?  I know I have (and I, unfortunately, have the 4 figure phone bills to prove it). Vision 2000 and Virtuoso have now partnered up with Wireless Traveler. You can save up to 85% off your calls when you travel abroad. 

As you know, staying in contact when you travel is essential, and calling home from abroad can be costly.
Like thousands of  Canadian travelers, you can enjoy the savings from a Wireless Traveler phone or SIM card. Wireless Traveler offers unbeatable prices and call rates, and it is the perfect way to stay in touch while traveling overseas. 

As a valued Vision 2000 customer, I can offer you Wireless Traveler for special discounts. 

  • Save up to 85% on calls while abroad
  • Service coverage in 200 countries
  • U.S. & U.K. Telephone Number
  • Call home for as little as $0.65 per minute
  • No Contracts or Monthly Fees
  • Free incoming calls in over 60 countries including  Italy, UK, Greece, France, Spain, Germany, Zambia, Kenya, South Africa, Israel,Tanzania, Jordan, Turkey, Australia, Japan, Vietnam, Costa Rica & USA
  • Receive text messages Free worldwide

If you’re travelling soon, ask me for details. Call me at 613-837-0699.

For more info, see https://www.wirelesstraveler.com/index.aspx

April 21, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Travel TIps & Advice | Leave a comment

Guest blogger, Ryan Anderson, on his vacay in Anguilla

Today, I’m extremely fortunate to have my client, Ryan Anderson, write a wonderful guest blog about his vacation in Anguilla. His girlfriend, Cara Rowland, has been blogging on her own too – and the links to a few of Cara’s terrific posts are below as well. 

Grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and let their words and photos take you away to this island paradise.  Ryan’s contact details are at the end (he runs a full service creative agency with web development, marketing and advertising, and web/print design called Northern Army, to which Cara, and other capable team members, add their talents).

Course, if you want to try out this strip of paradise called Anguilla all on your own, please give me a call! I can have your feet in this sand lickety split! 🙂

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A A few years ago, as I walked down the street, hunched over with a scarf wrapped securely around my head and tears streaming down my face from the ice cold wind, I made a decision. That decision was that from that point on, I was making a conscious decision to spend as little time in Ottawa as possible during the winter months.

The first part of that plan was to find a travel agent and book a trip. When I found Sheila through a Twitter recommendation, I gave her a straightforward request:

We’re looking for a place that’s hot, isn’t crowded, has great food, great beaches and isn’t the kind of place where the resort isn’t completely removed from the local culture.

The response: “Have you thought about Anguilla?”

In all honesty, I had not thought about Anguilla, primarily because I had never heard of it. To be honest, I had been thinking Hawaii for no particular reason, but this place, that a quick Google search convinced me was not, in fact, made up, hit all of our points and then some.

I didn’t know what to expect when we got there, but within a day, it was obvious that we wouldn’t be disappointed.

We wanted restaurants. Anguilla has more restaurants per capita than any other place I’ve ever seen. And though we tried a very wide variety of places, we never found a bad meal on the island. This surprised me more than anything – I’m a bit of a food snob.

We wanted local culture. One of my favourite parts of the island was the people. Everyone we met said the same thing – what makes Anguilla unique is that you’ll never meet anyone here who isn’t willing to help you if you’re lost or need directions. You can feel safe there – and to me, that’s an important characteristic of a vacation place.

We wanted great weather. The ten days we were there, the weather was sunny and beautiful. It rained a few times, but never for longer than 20 minutes or so.

We wanted great beaches. Words cannot describe how beautiful the beaches in Anguilla really are. Imagine white sand and blue water that blend into one another, set against a backdrop of mountains. Now multiply that by 33, and you’ve got Anguilla.

We wanted to relax. Now, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m a misanthrope, but hanging around gaggles of slackjawed tourists isn’t really my thing. Anguilla isn’t a ghost town by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s also not crowded. The entire time I was there, I never felt crowded, but we met a lot of great people.  It was the perfect balance.

I’ve been to a number of places, but there have only been a handful that made me feel homesick when I left. Granted, it’s not for everyone – those who love shopping or dance clubs might find it a little boring, but for us, it was perfect. The only downside – it made returning to winter in Ottawa even more painful.

I suppose we’ll have to stay longer next year.

http://polkadotapron.posterous.com/my-new-happy-place-0

 http://polkadotapron.posterous.com/cuisinart-resorts-hydroponic-farm

http://polkadotapron.posterous.com/cooking-class-at-cuisinart-resort-in-anguilla

NA

Ryan Anderson

Founder / Chief Strategy Officer

Northern Army Inc.

o: 613.369.8370 x102

c: 613.266.9041

ryan@northernarmy.com

www.northernarmy.com

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Destinations, Lush Life Guest Bloggers | Leave a comment

Professional Associations-Cruising for Continuing Education Requirements

I’ve been helping a couple of professional associations consider how best they deliver their continuing education programming.  Cruising offers an interesting alternative.

Cruising offers a terrific venue for learning, and updating your skills, while still giving you the option to vacation with your family.  Continuing educational requirements could be structured so that you learn during the “at sea” days of your cruise, and families might amuse themselves with various onboard activities. Then, “at port” days are for vacation time.

Generally, cruise ships provide meeting space for groups for free (although advance booking is required to secure space). Cocktail parties, and receptions, etc., can be arranged for pricing that is certainly comparable to land resort costs. And there can be a significant benefit so that the costs of coffee breaks, continental breakfasts, networking luncheons, etc offer significant savings to associations over a comparable land resort. 

In addition, professional associations can structure programming so that it delivers on needed technical, and professional development aspects.

Thinking about continuing education requirements for your association?  Think about cruising!  Give me a call.

April 15, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Cruising | Leave a comment

Only a spider trusts the web, but if you book online, book “my site” instead

I’m a personal travel advisor. I am a knowledgeable and resourceful consultant who can look at your family’s needs and wants, and come up with solutions to ensure you have the vacation of your dreams. I’m a memory maker, and I love it.

I specialize in made-to-measure travel – or, travel that “fits” you right! 🙂 (Pun on the “fit” – for those in the travel industry. FIT=foreign, or free, independent tour… or full individual tariff… It means something that isn’t a cookie-cutter, off the shelf product.)

But, I have clients who sometimes want the cheapie getaway package that a tour operator has put together. Sometimes you feel like a Big Mac. Of course, I still look out for those clients. I am their advocate, and the person they call when they run into issues.  I help them navigate the multitude of info out there – such as help them understand why that 4* hotel in the Mayan is still available at cheapie prices on March break, and whether it would really meet their family’s needs. 

Many people say that price is the overriding factor on getting away on a cheapie vacay, but few come back and say “I got what I paid for” – more often, folks will say what they didn’t get.

So – please, don’t book a holiday online based on what you read at an online rating agency. Consider all the info there, for sure – but please, don’t put ALL your faith in what you see there. (Do you know whether the rating was given by the hotel itself, or maybe it’s competitor? Do you know anyone who’s ever submitted ratings? Do you know that the majority of people who post are faceless, and overly negative posters?) Wouldn’t you rather have independent and objective reviews done by travel industry folks? (And ones not being paid to give positive reviews?)

Call me. Let’s talk about what is most important to your family, and what memories you want to take away from your vacation.  And if you really want to comparison shop, and find it hard to resist the “do it yourself” mentality that is so prevalent with holiday making these days, use my site – www.vision2000.ca/sheilagh .  My site has the same inventory as “sell of vacations”, etc, the same pricing. So, have at it – comparison shop. You can use my site to narrow the range of options you want to consider, and then we can talk about what you’re seeing.  Let me check the industry reviews of the hotels you are considering, and what my personal experience (and/or the experience of my colleagues) is with that hotel.

And, if you’re really stuck, it’s 3 am in the morning, and you feel overwhelming pressure that you really have to book that getaway NOW, go ahead. You can book on my site, with confidence. 

Any booking made through my site www.vision2000.ca/sheilagh is affiliated with me – so if you have issues while on vacation, I am the travel advisor of record. I can call the supplier, the airline, the cruiseline, or the hotel; and get you the assistance you need. 

Of course, my involvement in bookings made on my site isn’t restricted to problems you might have at destination. I still act as your advocate  before you leave. I still touch the file. Think of me as an extra set of eyes. I have various quality controls (e.g., making sure the credit card number matches the billing address), and I go through titles and legal names (e.g., making sure my client “Bill” has booked according to his passport name “William”, so he’s not turned away from boarding the plane). I can still call the supplier, and make requests for you (e.g., connecting rooms, bedding arrangements). I review the itinerary with clients, and advise them about travel documentation. I ensure their vacation insurance is in order. I still send e-advisories about the country they are visiting, and get them to check their passport details to ensure all is up-to-date.

Only a spider trusts the web. But if you really must book online, please book on “my site” instead. You still have your personal travel advisor acting as your advocate. I’m only a call away.

April 14, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Value - Why Use a Travel Advisor | Leave a comment

Vegas, baby

It seems when folks are looking for a quick getaway, they look to Vegas. No small feat to get from Ottawa to Vegas. There are few direct flights (although Westjet has two a week now til the end of April – Thursdays and Sundays), and, as expected, the air costs from Ottawa to Nevada can be a little daunting. Driving to Montreal, Toronto, or even Syracuse can sometimes offer savings on air, while sacrificing your precious time.  But the Vegas holiday is one that should be planned and savoured – not just booked without any thought.

My clients are often amazed to learn that many Vegas resorts charge daily resort fees.  This can be an increase of $15-30 dollars per day on your hotel bill, and the amount is collected at destination.  I often recommend that my clients consider the Caesar/ Harrah’s entertainment hotels. Harrah’s Entertainment has eliminated daily resort fees at all of its Las Vegas properties: Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, PH Towers Westgate, Caesars Palace, Harrah’s Las Vegas, Paris Las Vegas, Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino, Flamingo Las Vegas, Bally’s Las Vegas and Imperial Palace. So, you can save the extra $100 or so add on in fees – which will get you a nice meal, or maybe a show. 

Course, the Wynn, Bellagio, Venetian, and Mandalay Bay all offer their own terrific architecture, entertainment, wild landscaping, and charms. A stay at either of those properties is certainly worth the additional resort fees.

After fees, don’t forget there are no all inclusive packages in Vegas. But then again, why would you want there to be?  There are plenty of dining options. Vegas is the mother of all buffets.  I can sign you up for the Buffet of Buffets – $44-49 per person for 24 hours of buffets at all Caesar Properties.  Or you can dine around Vegas, at some of it’s fantastic top notch restaurants, such as at Wynn http://www.wynnlasvegas.com/dining

Shows are key too. I can sign you up for an All Stage Pass  which gives you 48 Hours – 18 Shows $99 (most shows are $50-$80 each), and you book the shows you wish to see yourself at Planet Hollywood.  Included are shows like Smokey Robinson presents Human Nature .  But the primo shows, like http://www.celinedionlasvegas.net/, are not included in this (however, if you buy the pass you get discounts on the big shows). 

I work with destination specialists and can plan your itinerary to perfection. We can get you to the Grand Canyon to tour, or maybe see the Hoover Dam. http://www.touchthesouthwest.com/Where_We_Go.html

Vegas, baby – much to see and do… and we haven’t even touched on the gambling. If you can only go for a few short days, make the most of your vacation, and give me a call to help you plan it right.

April 12, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Destinations, Lush Life Planes, Trains, & Automobiles | 2 Comments