Sheila Gallant-Halloran

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

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.

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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

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

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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

Mickey’s Still Buying – Fee Dining Plan Extended at WDW

Mickey’s extended the free dining promotion at Walt Disney World. There’s never been a better time to go visit the head Mouse in Orlando – and have him buy you the food for your stay!

Now through December 17, 2011, if you buy a non-discounted Magic Your Way package for 4 nights and 5 days (or more) at select Disney Value Resorts, you’ll get a FREE quick-service dining plan (which you can keep as is, or upgrade to another plan).  Or, you can buy a non-discountinged Magic Your Way package for 4 nights and 5 days at select Disney Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villa Resorts and get a FREE Disney Dining Plus plan.

Booking Window:

Aug.3-Dec.17, 2011

 

Travel Window:

Oct 2-8, 2011,

Oct23-Nov.5, 2011,

Nov.13-19, 2011,

Nov.27-Dec.3, 2011,

Dec.11-17,2011,

Jan.8-14, 2012,

Jan.22-Feb.4, 2012,

Feb.12-18, 2012,

March 4-10, 2012,

March 25-31, 2012,

Aug.19-Sept.29, 2012

 

The regular plus dining is a savings of ~$47 USD/ night for anyone over 10 years of age (or ~$12 USD/ night for anyone aged 3-9 years).  On a family of 4, this is a savings of ~$1000 on a one week’s stay.

Give me a call to get your vacation sorted. Sheila 613-837-0699

August 14, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Disney | Leave a comment