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

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

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

The Re-emergence of the Travel Advisor & the Power of One-to-One

I just returned from Virtuoso’s Travel Mart at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. I was one of over 3700 people from 90 countries around the globe who had gathered to learn what’s new in luxury travel. This was my first time attending Travel Mart, and I went to Vegas with many newbies on Vision 2000’s @home team with our GM, Lynda Sinclair, and our Exec VP, Stephanie Anevich. But 2011 marked the 23rd such gathering of Virtuoso advisors and suppliers, and it was the 11th straight time the luxury trade show was held at the Bellagio.

Travel Mart’s theme this year was the “Power of One-to-One.”  And I saw how that worked, up close and in person. I had my “aha” moment when I met the representative of Four Seasons San Francisco 24 hours before my client was to check into that hotel. Parul Kaushal of the FS San Francisco”vip’ed” my client, and had a special amenity waiting for her in her room.  That was the power of one-to-one. I could immediately see the value of the connections I was making in Vegas.

Obviously, the power of making those one-to-one connections will be felt by my clients, and will help them develop a strong preference for the Virtuoso brand.

At Travel Mart, I had 312 four-minute “speed dating” sessions scheduled with suppliers over the four days. (Those meetings were supplemented by a dozen or more ten-minute detailed sales meetings. I also attended various luncheons, dinners, and cocktail parties; meeting suppliers, one-to-one). And, since I had a list of whom I would meet in advance of going to Vegas, I was able to contact my important clients, and share the details with them. “Collaborative commerce” was indeed enabled – I met suppliers with my clients’ specific needs in mind. I asked questions related to my clients’ families, and their vacation needs. I often had a photo snapped with a supplier so I could send it back to the client – just to let the client know I was hard at work, planning their next dream getaway. I had a couple going to the Clift in San Francisco on their honeymoon, a mother and daughter wanting to go to the Carlyle in NYC, and another family hoping to go to the Il San Pietro di Positano in Italy. I was busy representing their interests, and had their holidays in mind, as I made connections.

Virtuoso chair, Matthew Upchurch, gave an interview about this year’s Travel Mart with Travel Press. In it, he talked about the bifurcation between the do-it-yourselfers, and those who see the value of using a travel advisor. 

http://www.youtube.com/user/sheila0gh?feature=mhee#p/f/6/_g9FgykIa8g

It’s definitely true that many consumers have a do-it-yourself mentality (the DIY’ers).  They believe they can get all the info they need to plan the perfect vacation just by spending a few hours on the internet searching. Those same people also could research how to do their own accupuncture just by spending a few hours on the internet searching, but for some reason, I bet they won’t entrust their personal well-being into their own unskilled hands. They don’t want to poke themselves with needles. Yet, they will often entrust another precious (and limited) asset into their own hands – their valuable vacation time. They will risk their family memories… and be oblivious to the pain they are inviting, but more importantly, the pleasure they are missing.

The DIY’ers do not have the resources, the experience, nor the skills to do what professional travel advisors do. They don’t have the booking engines, the tools, nor the clout to wield influence should issues ever arise. It’s hard to act as your own advocate if you’re stuck with 1000’s of other people in some airport terminal. (Talk about poking yourself with needles!)

The DIY’ers also cannot get the value-adds which my Virtuoso traveler clients can get (special amenities, such as breakfast for two daily; a complimentary room upgrade, if available at check in; early check in, and late check out; and another resort specific amenity, such as a $100 food and beverage credit).  And no matter how hard they try, and how  many hours they may spend on the internet searching, the DIY’ers simply do not have the connections that I have. They do not have the business card of the representative of the Four Seasons San Francisco in their rolladex. They have not experienced the power of one-to-one. They cannot pick up the phone to call Parul, and say, “Hey, remember we met at Travel Mart? My vip client is coming to see you tomorrow. Can you please take good care of her?” 

I was an actuary in my former life. I was a specialist in financial risk management. I ensured people were prepared for the worst possible events in their life (e.g., premature death, marriage breakdown, or debilitating personal injury).  Obviously, I still have those risk management skills, and have honed some business savvy. But I also now have the training and experience of being a Virtuoso travel advisor. And, if I can take the liberty of recycling Matthew Upchurch’s interview words, I can truly say that instead of handling people’s nightmares, now I really do orchestrate people’s dreams.

Let me be your advocate. Call me to get my help to orchestrate your dreams. I can call upon my Virtuoso connections, and the power I’ve experienced with the one-to-one, to “vip” you, and give your family the travel memories that will last a lifetime.  (And, go ahead – tell a few “DIY’ers” what they are missing. It’d be good to spare them poking themselves with needles.)

August 26, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Partners, Lush LIfe Top Posts, Lush Life Value - Why Use a Travel Advisor | 10 Comments

Virtuoso Travel Mart – What Happens in Vegas Doesn’t Stay in Vegas

I’m just back from Virtuoso’s Travel Mart at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. I’m still processing all of the information that I took in, and the +500 new business contacts I’ve made that will enable me to “vip” my clients.  But the immediate takeaway for me is: “what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas!”

Just like a fashion designer going to Milan to see what’s new in fashion, I headed to Las Vegas to the largest Luxury Travel show in the world, Virtuoso’s Travel Mart, to see what was new in travel.  Thanks in large part to my affiliation with Virtuoso®, an organization of the top travel agencies, the finest travel providers, and premier destinations in the world, I met with a world of resources to plan my clients’ future travel dreams.

As this article notes, http://www.travelpulse.com/the-virtuoso-travel-agent-difference.html,

The Virtuoso Travel Mart…is one of those industry events that makes you firmly believe in the profitable future of travel agents.

I met with 312 hoteliers, suppliers, and onsite destination specialists in 4-minute “speed dating on crack” type meetings, plus met another dozen or so for further in-depth 10 minute sessions. I attended at least 6 cocktail parties, 3 supplier lunches, 2 major supplier-sponsored dinners, and a GALA dinner. I hardly had time to breathe, let alone take in the Vegas sights. (I think I got a 10 minute break for a dip in the Bellagio pool on the last day.)

My head was spinning, as it was the first Travel Mart I’d ever attended. But, while I’m no longer a Travel Mart virgin, I can tell you that everyone in attendance leaves feeling energised and exhausted.

My “aha” moment from attending Virtuoso Travel Mart?  The power of making personal connections came through clearly. At lunch on Wednesday, I met the Corporate Sales Manager, Parul Kaushal, of the Four Seasons San Francisco at lunch. The lovely Parul then “vip’ed” my client who was checking into her hotel at noon on Thursday with a special amenity awaiting for her family in their room at check in.

So – if you want to get “vip’ed” on your travel, give me a call. Let me put my Virtuoso partners to work for you!

August 24, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Partners | Leave a comment

The Bellagio in Vegas – Home of the “Best of the Best”

 I just returned from Virtuoso’s luxury travel show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.  The Bellagio hosted the “best of the best” travel advisors, hoteliers, suppliers, and onsite destination specialists in a one week trade show that really has blown my mind. While I’m still processing all the information I absorbed, and trying to organize the +500 business cards I collected, I can say that I loved my stay at the Bellagio.

I’d been to Vegas before, and had popped into the Bellagio for a meal and to throw some $ in the slots. But staying at the Bellagio is a different experience. Besides the terrific fountain show out front, and the central location on the strip, the hotel is beautiful.

I can honestly say I’ve never walked so much at a convention, however. The hotel is huge!  It would take me ~15 minutes to leave my room in the Bellagio Tower to reach the Convention Centre. 

The room itself was gorgeous, even though I didn’t spend much time in it. (The days started very early, and ended very late.)

I hardly got outside at all during my stay (the convention was truly that busy that there were days when I didn’t venture outside the four walls at all) – but I did manage to sneak a swim or two in at the pool.

So – if you’re looking for a terrific spot to stay in Vegas, consider the Bellagio. I just stayed there for 5 nights, 6 days, and had a terrific time. Now I have to go back to take in more sights!

August 22, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Destinations, Lush Life Hotels, Lush Life Partners | Leave a comment

Virtuoso Names this year’s “Best of the Best” Hotels

I just returned from my first ever Travel Mart at the Bellagio in Vegas with Virtuoso.  I can tell you it was an absolutely fantastic experience. I have never felt so energised and exhausted at the same time.

The big news for the industry, though, as Virtuoso’s successful 2011 Travel Mart came to a close on Thursday, August 18 was the awards handed out.

See the news article here…

http://www.luxurytraveladvisor.com/luxury-hotels/virtuoso-names-this-years-best-best-hotels-6453

and the article excerpted below:

Last night the industry’s creme de la creme gathered at the Bellagio in Las Vegas for the Hotels & Resorts dinner where Virtuoso execs revealed VIRTUOSO LIFE magazine’s picks for this year’s “Best of the Best” hotels.

Editors of VIRTUOSO LIFE magazine collaborated with the organization’s top-tier travel advisors to select hotel nominees in 10 categories. A panel of over 6,000 advisors weighed in on the nominees.

And the winners are…

Best Achievement in Design
The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong

Best Culinary Experience
Le 114 Faubourg at Hôtel Le Bristol, Paris

Best Bar
American Bar at The Savoy, London

Best Family Program
Montage Deer Valley, Park City, Utah

Best Spa
Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa, Miami Beach, Florida

Most Innovative Guest Experience
Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Montana

Most Socially Responsible
Rosewood Mayakobá, Riviera Maya, Mexico

One to Watch
The St. Regis Lhasa Resort, Tibet

Hotelier of the Year
Offer Nissenbaum, The Peninsula Beverly Hills, California

Hotel of the Year
Hotel Cipriani & Palazzo Vendramin, Venice

====

If you’d like to check out any of these “Best of the Best” Hotels, give me a call. I’ve now met hoteliers/ suppliers/ onsite destination specialists from around the world, and can seek the assistance of my new +500 contacts to “vip” you for your holiday.

Don’t you deserve the “best of the best?”

August 21, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Destinations, Lush Life Partners | Leave a comment

Virtuoso Amenities for Clients Deserving the “Best of the Best”

I’m thrilled that as a result of my affiliation with Vision 2000, I’m a member of Virtuoso – a consortium of the world’s leading hotels, cruise lines, onsite destination partners, and travel agencies. It’s simply a collection of the “best of the best.”

Virtuoso produces an annual “best of the best” coffee book.  You can see a digital version of the 2011 version here http://www.virtuoso.com/thecompany/bob2011/.  Think of it as a Sears’ Wish Book for adults – all the spots you want to visit around the world, and the very best of the best hotels!

For any of my clients wanting to stay at a “best of the best” hotel, I can negotiate special amenities on their behalf. That’s the joy of working with a Virtuoso travel advisor – we’re the best, we work with the best, and we want our clients to be treated the best. (And remember – you can’t VIP yourself!)

Have a look at the sort of amenities I can negotiate on your behalf.   Don’t you deserve the best of the best?

June 17, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Hotels, Lush Life Partners, Lush Life Travel TIps & Advice, Lush Life Value - Why Use a Travel Advisor | Leave a comment

Virtuoso Amenities Improve Even Long-Weekend Hotel Stays

I’m a member of a business networking group that meets every Friday morning. Yesterday, a colleague asked whether it would be beneficial to book a long-weekend hotel stay through me, rather than just book something on the internet.  I gave him this example of a hotel booking I’d just made for some clients. 

The clients were looking only for a long weekend stay at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, and got rates for a simple four-night stay on the hotel’s internet site. But, fortunately for these clients, they checked with me before booking online. Not only was did they get my personal service, with the same internet rate, but because I am a Virtuoso travel advisor, I am also able to negotiate the following amenities on the clients’ behalf for their stay:

1.) a free upgrade at check in (subject to availability),

2.) a daily full buffet breakfast for 2 at the Cafe de la Terasse (which is a value of $26.50 per person per day, plus tax, so that is ~$250 value),

3.) a $100 food credit for their stay, and

4.) a 4 pm late check out (subject to availability).

Not only are these clients getting >$350 in guaranteed amenities, with the likely free upgrade as well as the late check out, their amenities will be more in the order of $650 on a simple four night stay.

Just because my clients called me first!

Gotta love being a Virtuoso travel advisor!

May 28, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Partners, Lush Life Travel TIps & Advice | Leave a comment

Special Virtuoso Offer – “ReClaim” electronic luggage tags

The world is getting smarter, and so are your luggage tags! Take charge of your precious cargo, and help prevent your luggage from being lost or delayed with Connxys’ new “ReClaim” electronic luggage tag.

This incredible “smart tag” is the world’s first to feature a unique online itinerary, and 24/7 live support that not only helps airline officials to route your luggage to its proper destination, but can also help reduce travel delays – even if the original airline paper barcode tag is damaged or missing.

http://trackmybaggage.com/

Give me a call if you want to find out more about this amazing new travel technology.

Virtuoso price of $39.95 USD. (Or, you can buy 3 and get one free.)

Add a SAFETY NET to your luggage. Contact me for details.

May 17, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Other Items, Lush Life Partners, Lush Life Travel TIps & Advice | Leave a comment