Sheila Gallant-Halloran

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

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!

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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

Proud to be a Virtuoso Travel Advisor

Vision 2000 Travel Group is a proud member of Virtuoso.

Virtuoso ” is a network of the world’s finest travel agencies with knowledgeable advisors who draw upon first-hand experience to craft the perfect vacation for their clients. Virtuoso affiliated travel advisors 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 theVirtuoso difference.

Virtuoso is the leading travel network made up of more than 6,000 travel advisors associated with over 300 agencies in 22 countries within North and South America, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand.  Because I am affiliated with Vision 2000 Travel Group, and a proud member of Virituoso, my clients have access to my Global Connections: With personal contacts at more than 1,000 airlines, cruise lines, hotels, resorts, and premier destinations worldwide, I can put these relationships to work for you.  My clients also access Unparalleled Expertise: Virtuoso affiliated travel advisors are among the most well-traveled people on the planet. We draw upon our own first-hand experiences when customizing vacations for clients. In addition, I offer Customized Travel Experiences: From weekend getaways to trips of a lifetime, my clients learn to count on my expertise to achieve their greatest Return on Life™.  And let’s not forget your peace-of-mind and Confidence: Virtuoso clients can rest easy knowing their personal preferences are reflected in every aspect of their itinerary, because I deliver the best value for their time and money.

Given my affiliation with the Vision 2000 Travel Group, and my proud membership in Virtuoso, I offer my clients insider connections and industry expertise – along with the guidance and know-how they require to make educated travel choices.

Virtuoso is the most prestigious and established travel network in the world. So when you travel, you can do so with confidence – secure in the knowledge that you’ll get more, simply by booking through me.

September 22, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Partners, Lush Life Value - Why Use a Travel Advisor | Leave a comment

Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort Set to Open in 2014

 Terrific  news for those of us who love Mickey Mouse – especially those of us whom are Four Seasons Preferred Partners (ahem, like me!)  Book your Four Seasons hotel stays with me, and I can negotiate some terrific Four Seasons Preferred Partner amenities on your behalf!

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Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts finalizes USD 360 million development deal in Orlando, Florida with Silverstein Properties and Dune Real Estate Partners.

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has entered into a joint venture with Silverstein Properties and Dune Real Estate Partners to develop a 444-room luxury resort at the Walt Disney World Resort. Construction is set to begin on what will be the largestFour Seasons resort in the world this December, with a target opening date in 2014.

In addition to 444 rooms, the development will also include up to 40 Four SeasonsResidence Club units and up to 90 Four Seasons Private Residences. Within the Resort will be several dining venues including a rooftop restaurant with views of the nightly fireworks from the Magic Kingdom; a 14,000 square-foot spa with 18 treatment rooms; a fitness centre; three pools and a “lazy river”; sports facilities including tennis courts, basketball court and climbing wall; two recreational centres for children, teens and families; and approximately 37,750 square-feet of meeting and event space plus a business centre.

The development will encompass the existing Tom Fazio-designed Osprey Ridge 18-hole championship golf course, which will be renovated and subsequently managed by Four Seasons. Four SeasonsResort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort is an enclave located within the Golden Oak residential community, created and master-planned by Disney.

Click here to read the entire Press Release.

September 20, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Disney, Lush Life Hotels | Leave a comment

Examining the Broken Glass of 9/11- Thank you Gander, Newfoundland

Sometimes, loss is so all-encompassing, so gut-wrenching, so tangible, it seems you might take it out, turn it round in your hand, and examine it – just like it’s a piece of broken glass. It hurts to touch. You bleed. But you keep touching. And even though time and touch may eventually round its edges a little, it’s still glass. It can still cut – whether you hold it in your hand, or bury it in your heart.

I first wrote those words shortly after my dad had been killed. I learned that there are some hurts from which you don’t recover. Time doesn’t heal the wound. Instead, time lets you get used to the pain, to co-exist with it, so you can find a way to get up every morning.

And while the world found a way to get up every morning for the past ten years, we relived the horrors that were 9/11 yesterday. We all gathered around the TV set. We took out the buried hurt, put it in our hands, and examined it. The broken glass still hurt to touch. We bled. But we kept touching. Even though a decade of touch has rounded the edges a little, it’s still glass. It still cut.

Some think it’s ghoulish to invite the pain. To watch it all, again. I don’t. Anniversaries force us to reflect. They mark the chapters of our life. My husband and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in October – we will celebrate. My family marked the 5th anniversary since my dad’s tragic accident in September – we mourned. And with the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I snuggled with my children in bed at 8:46 am yesterday morning to watch  “102 Minutes that Changed America.”  http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/102-minutes-changed-america/

My five year old loves watching CSI. She’s old beyond her years. She’d heard about 9/11, and wanted to watch the “movie” with us about things that’d happened long before she was born. I couldn’t shelter her older sister years before, when she’d asked me why God would take her Poppy (she’d been about the same age as my youngest is now). So, I knew I couldn’t shelter the little one when she asked why men would purposefully fly a plane into a building to kill themselves and countless innocents. All of the religious, political, and metaphysical stuff  just falls away to nothingness in the eyes of a child.

So – you focus on the good.

Thank you, Gander, Newfoundland, for reminding me, again, of all that is good.

Ten years after 9/11, the world’s attention was on my home province yesterday. On September 11, 2001; US Airspace was closed moments after the enormity of the attack on New York City was realized. Thirty-eight jetliners landed in Gander, Newfoundland; doubling the community’s size in a matter of hours.

See http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/09/11/canada-remembers-september-11-gander-newfoundland_n_957214.html , and read the Jim DeFede book  http://www.harpercollins.ca/books/Day-World-Came-Town-Jim-Defede/?isbn=9780060559717 

Gander has long served as an international airport. See http://www.ganderairport.com/history.htm There was no doubt that Gander airport, CYQX, had the runways for the large jets, and it could handle the aircraft. But, I’m not sure much forethought was given to the 6,600 passengers and crew suddenly in need of food, shelter, and comfort. Not that there was time for forethought…. but there certainly wasn’t a preponderance of 2,000 room hotels nearby. The people of Gander opened their hearts. They welcomed strangers into their homes. And, as Huffpost notes, “Prescriptions were filled without charge, and schools and church halls became shelters.” See http://www.ganderairport.com/911.htm

As Jim DeFede wrote, the world had indeed come to town. “For the better part of a week, nearly every man, woman, and child in Gander and the surrounding smaller towns stopped what they were doing so they could help. They placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked for nothing in return. They affirmed the basic goodness of man at a time when it was easy to doubt such humanity still existed.”

Yesterday, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson, travelled to Gander for a memorial service. His speech is covered here. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/09/11/canada-sept11.html The Ambassador quoted Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: “Be not afraid of greatness.” And he spoke about how greatness had been thrust upon the people of Gander. He talked about how “the plane people” had landed on a solid rock of humanity, and how, “without waiting to be asked,” the people of Gander gave light to darkness. He paid tribute to the fact that the people of Gander had no way of knowing whether those diverted planes had terrorists onboard, but: “You did not flinch. You took the planes. You took the risk. You welcomed all. The same was true across the rest of Canada… You affirmed – with grace, and with compassion, and with good humour – our faith in the goodness of people. You were the best of us.”

I am proud to be a Newfoundlander. I am proud that people of my home province showed no fear when greatness was thrust upon them. And the message I hope my daughters will take away from our watching of the documentary, the media coverage, and the memorial services yesterday is that: Yes, the broken glass may have its edges rounded a little, and, yes, it still hurts to touch. You may still bleed. But let what happened in Gander be the salve. Focus on the good. Focus on the spirit of resilience. Focus on the future.

September 12, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Destinations | 10 Comments

Update to New Air Canada Checked Baggage Policy

Air Canada recently announced an update to their checked baggage policy. Be sure you’re aware of changes.

ac Doc1

Any questions, please let me know.

September 11, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Planes, Trains, & Automobiles | 4 Comments

Icebergs, Music, & Whales in Twillingate, Newfoundland

My family just returned from a visit “home” – to the west coast of Newfoundland. Besides being enveloped by the love of family and friends, we love to explore the beauty that is Newfoundland. This year, we turned our sights towards Twillingate.

Twillingate is about a 4-5 hour drive (depending on moose, and other vehicle traffic) from Corner Brook. Driving east towards Gander in central Newfoundland, you take route 340 to Lewisporte/Twillingate  on the “Road to the Isles.”  It’s a pretty drive, past many small fishing villages.  Twillingate is a gorgeous little community whose name is drawn from the French Toulinguet (so named by French fisherman who thought the area resembled their own area.) http://www.twillingate.com/media/uploads/Twillingate_MAP.pdf

My family stayed at the Harbour Lights Inn in Twillingate. A pretty little 9 room B&B that is a converted house from the 1820’s, and owned by the Young family. The innkeepers, Wanda and her husband, warmly welcomed us upon arrival, and made us reservations for the evening’s performance of the “All Around the Circle” dinner theatre. It was an evening of terrific food, good music, and laughter. But it was a little weird to be sitting at a table singing “Fogo, Twillingate, Moreton’s Harbour” of the famous Newfoundland folk song, “I’se de Bye,” when you can physically see the “all around the circle” from the song.

But the highlight of the trip was a Twillingate Adventure Tour with Captain Perry Young, and his tour guide sis Kim. We cruised past the pretty town, the lighthouse, and the various coves and islands.

And we had fun playing “peek-a-boo” with a Minke whale.

We thoroughly enjoyed our day on the bay.

Did I mention the icebergs?

September 8, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Destinations | Leave a comment