Author Archive

Voluntourism Feels Really Good

By Amanda Klimak CTIE   Thursday, September 27th, 2012
by Amanda Klimak

Our own Paul Largay and his friend, Dr. Peter Jacoby, recently completed the Fireball Rally, to raise money for The Missing Children Fund.

The “vacation” was hard-earned. And the accommodations were, shall we say, not what our heroes are used to. But the sacrifice was well worth the effort.
(more…)




Crystal Symphony Debuts World’s First Living Wall at Sea

By Amanda Klimak CTIE   Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

LOS ANGELES, September 10, 2012 – In an industry first, ultra-luxury Crystal Cruises has unveiled the world’s first self-contained, free-standing living wall at sea, created and crafted by UK-based ANS Group Europe.  ANS Group Europe spent two days installing the living wall on the 922-guest Crystal Symphony as the ship sailed from Portland to Dover to complete its 11-night “British Isle Brilliance” voyage.

Crystal Symphony's Living Wall

Crystal Symphony's New Living Wall

Designed for an al fresco area in the ship’s Deck 11 Trident Grill, the unique living wall uses a varied and diverse selection of indoor plants to display a world map.  The living wall is 37.7 feet (11.5 meters) long and 7.9 feet (2.4 meters) high and will receive regular maintenance by Crystal Symphony’s onboard team of florists.

“In keeping with our ongoing focus on design, we wanted to create a focal point that was both highly contemporary and visually stunning,” says Alexandra Don, Crystal’s vice president, hotel design and services.  “The end result is a living wall that brings the Trident Grill to life and serves as an eye-catching backdrop to the incomparable service and choices that always characterize a Crystal holiday.”

Trident Grill Living Wall

The Living Wall at the Trident Grill on the Crystal Symphony

Joel Nash, marketing manager for ANS Group Europe added, “This bespoke project is an exciting and exhilarating scheme.  Installing living walls on a cruise ship is taking us to a completely new level and opens up all sorts of possibilities.  When you think this wall will be travelling as far north as Lapland and down to Cape Horn, it takes your breath away.”     

A living wall is a vertical garden that is pre-planted in panels and then attached to the wall or facade of a building.  Plants stay intact in their vertical positions because their root structures are anchored in two to four inches of soil kept within the panel.

 

The installation of the wall on Crystal Symphony is yet another example of Crystal’s “Crystal Clean” environmental and educational efforts both onboard and on shore.  A living wall acts as a bio filter, enhancing air quality by breaking down harmful airborne contaminants and transforming them into clean oxygen.  By absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, it reduces greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Crystal’s passion for taking care of guests in an inviting environment of extraordinary space, quality and choices has earned the company more “World’s Best” awards than any other cruise line, resort or hotel in history.  A keen focus on design has also earned the line numerous industry design honors, including first-ever awards from Hospitality Design magazine and the Association of Retail Environments (A.R.E.) in 2012.

For more information on Crystal Cruises and reservations, contact a Largay Travel Specialist at 1-800-322-9481, online at www.LargayTravel.com or email us at vacations@largaytravel.com




Discovering the World of Global Entry

By Amanda Klimak CTIE   Monday, September 10th, 2012

In the world of luxury travel, there are many things I have learned.  First, my job as a travel advisor is to give advice based on my first-hand experiences so I know what works and what doesn’t.  Next, that well-traveled individuals HATE, and I mean HATE, to stand in line.  Most hotels and cruise lines make a conscious effort to help travelers avoid lines, however, US Customs and Immigration was different.  Traditionally travelers could spend a small eternity (anywhere from 30 – 90 minutes or more) waiting on line to be welcomed home after long international flights.  This was a sad fact because as advisors, we would spend hours planning the perfect trip, carefully selecting the itinerary, choosing the hotels and arranging flights on the airline with the best on-board experience.  Only to have our precious travelers left holding their bags in an endless line when re-entering the US.  Traditionally, this was out of our control to advisors, however, now, with the new Global Entry program, we can make those lines disappear and the trip home seamless.  So, as all good travel advisors do, I took the two hour ride to JFK Airport to complete my Global Entry application, so I can test the system and make a recommendation.

The Global Entry membership allows travelers to walk past the long lines at immigrations and customs, breeze up to a kiosk, insert their passport and have their fingerprints scanned.  They then bypass the immigration agent, for they have already been pre-qualified as a Global Entry traveler.  For those of you who travel internationally and are unfamiliar with Global Entry, you need to pay attention because this information will change your traveling life forever.

The Global Entry membership program allows travelers to go through an application and screening process in order to bypass immigration and customs lines when you re-enter the US from abroad.  The application is quite simple and only takes a few minutes online and the interview, which is scheduled in advance with the Global Entry Officer, is only about 15 minutes long. Once the interview is complete, you are photographed and fingerprinted, which allows you to use the kiosk in the airport when re-entering the US.  The membership fee is $100 and lasts for 5 years AND, as if that wasn’t good enough, you are automatically qualified for TSA PreCheck clearance, which allows you to keep your shoes on and laptop in your bag at certain domestic airports when you travel domestically.  Also, anyone paying with an American Express Platinum card will receive reimbursement for the charges.

There are a few qualifications for Global Entry, however, as long as you haven’t broken any laws, smuggled snails in to the country or lied on your application, you should be all set.  For more information on Global Entry, you can CLICK HERE for a Global Entry brochure or go online to www.globalentry.gov

Later this year Largay Travel will host a Global Entry Day in our headquarters in Waterbury, Connecticut, where Global Entry Officers will be on site to perform interviews.  If you are interested in participating, please email me at Amanda@LargayTravel.com and I will let you know the details when they are available. 

So, this October when I return from hosting a Voyager Club group on the Silver Spirit, I will test the system once and for all.  And maybe I won’t skip past all the weary travelers waiting in the endless line at the airport like I imagined during my long drive to JFK.  Maybe, instead, I will just smile and walk on by knowing that all of MY travelerswill do the same.  Safe journies my friends!




Teaching Largay Travel Advisors that the World is VAST

By Amanda Klimak CTIE   Sunday, August 12th, 2012

One of my favorite areas of travel is adventure and experiential travel and every year when I attend Virtuoso Travel Week at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the VAST Globetrotting event is always a highlight. VAST, which stands for Virtuoso Active and Specialty Travel, is comprised of thirty eight companies in the Virtuoso network from all over the world and with all different specialties.

African Travel Training at VAST

Largay Travel Advisors learning about Alpine Travel

VAST Training on Nomads of the Sea

VAST Training with Cox & Kings

VAST Training with Cox & Kings


VAST Training with Micato Safaris

These companies offer clients experiences that range from skiing to heli-hiking to yoga trips and more. Although these companies are a small segment of the entire Virtuoso Portfolio, the advisors who sell them are passionate in a big way. These companies are the best-of-the-best when it comes to adventure travel and the advisors realize that knowing every detail about them is imperative to their clients satisfaction.

What makes VAST training truly special is the time and effort that each company puts into their booth so the advisors can get a true feel for what their company is all about. I mean really, how can you not fall in love with Africa when you are sitting in front of a campfire with a beautiful view of the Masi Mara with a story teller from African Travel giving you the ins and outs of safari travel. Pictured to the right is Gail Rosenberg, Ken Sause and Honey Mistry, three of Largay Travel’s best African specialists.

Maybe skiing is your thing, well Alpine Travel decided to bring the snow to Vegas to get us in the mood. They not only talked about their North America and Europe programs but gave us all a great reminder that ski vacations are not just for winter and that the South American ski season is in full swing.

Another option may be fly-fishing, nature photography and whale watching in Patagonia off a state-of-the-art expedition cruise called Nomads of the sea. This vessel not only offers guests a transport to the fly-fishing river via a helicopter that sits on the back of the ship but also offers exquisite food and wine while sailing.

Cox & Kings took a different approach and brought in a spiritual leader to walk us through meditation for a few minutes before talking travel. It set the mood for us to learn about the Khumb Mela festival that will take place next year in India. Cox & Kings trips to one of the largest human congregations on the Earth, offer travelers an experience that they will never have again in their lifetime, as it does not take place every year.

The best idea of the day had to be the Micato Safaris tent which included a seven minute back massage before moving on to our next experience. Since the Largay Travel advisors work with Micato so much to plan trips, no one felt that they had missed any training.

Our day ended and we all left revitalized, educated and ready to make our clients dreams a reality. The VAST event is only the beginning of Virtuoso Week in Vegas and is the perfect way to kick off what is sure to be an amazing adventure!




The Virtuoso Traveler Photography Contest 2012

By Amanda Klimak CTIE   Monday, June 11th, 2012
   
  WHAT ARE YOUR VIRTUOSO TRAVEL MOMENTS?
Now accepting entries for the 2012 Virtuoso Traveler Photo Contest!ENTER HERE

Round up your best photographs from your worldwide travels, and submit them today. Four lucky Virtuoso travelers will earn cash prizes and may even have their photo featured in VIRTUOSO LIFE magazine or other Virtuoso materials!

The deadline to enter is Sunday, July 1, 2012.

As some of the most well-traveled people on the planet, our clients, we invite and encourage you to submit your original travel photographs that best reflect the contest theme — Your Virtuoso Travel Moments.

JUDGING CRITERIA
Judges will be looking for images that show you, your family, and/or your friends enjoying moments captured during vacations planned by your professional travel advisor. You’ll have a chance to title each image, to indicate where and when it was taken, and to tell us a little about what made it a special Virtuoso moment for you.

FABULOUS PRIZES
Virtuoso will award cash prizes to four lucky Virtuoso Travelers — one Grand Prize ($1,000), one first prize ($500), one second prize ($300), and one third prize ($200). Additionally, entries may be featured in VIRTUOSO LIFE magazine or other Virtuoso materials.

Just imagine how great it would it be to have one of your vacation photos published in an award-winning travel magazine?! Submit your entry, and you’re one step closer to fame, fortune, and cash!

HOW TO ENTER
The contest entry form is exclusively online. To enter (and for complete image requirements, contest details, and official rules), visit the Virtuoso Traveler Photo Contest website today. Good luck!

QUESTIONS?
Please email clientphotocontest@virtuoso.com

The world’s finest travel agencies & advisors are Virtuoso.




The Perfect Weekend Getaway in Arizona

By Amanda Klimak CTIE   Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Twice a year I travel to sunny Scottsdale for my TAMS (Travel Agency Management Solutions) meeting.  Traditionally, my trip has involved a long connecting flight followed by two days of intense and enlightening meetings which leave me thoroughly drained as I rush home to return to the office with a notebook full of ideas and a body full of exhaustion.  This hurried pace often leaves little time for reflection and pondering about how I will once again take on the world of travel.  However, on my most recent trip to Scottsdale in February, I decided that a few days after my meeting with my significant only, Gary, and visit the immense beauty of Sedona, Arizona was just what the doctor ordered.

As we began our two hour journey north from Scottsdale and began to climb in elevation, you could instantly see a change in the landscape.  The saguaro cacti began to slowly disappear and mountains emerged in the distance.  Along the way Gary had suggested a stop at the Caduceus Winery in the historic, and most haunted, town of Jermone and I couldn’t have been happier that he did.  This town of only about 400 residents is perched atop the mountain and is by-far one of the coolest places I have been.  The houses are placed one on top of the other and connected by a main road, which winds up the mountain and past stores, galleries, restaurants and, oh yes, some of the most delicious wineries.  With the location similar to a village in Tuscany and the charm of the old west, Jerome was both fascinating and fun and a must see for any traveler looking to take in true Americana.

After a wonderful afternoon in Jerome we continued north on to the city of Sedona and the Enchantment Resort.  This resort is located about 15 minutes outside of the city of Sedona in a remote canyon at one of Sedona’s well know vortexes, which made it perfect for our sun rise hikes and mountain biking adventures.  With red rock canyon walls rising on three sides of the resort, this locale provides, spectacular views, unlimited outdoor activities such as; hiking, biking, tennis, health & wellness classes and an extensive kids programs.  The rooms are spacious and the Mii Amo spa provides a feel of serenity that is sure to please even the most discerning of guests.  With an 18 million dollar renovation to the lobby and restaurant close to completion, the Enchantment Resort is perfect for guests who want lots of options in an environment that is truly relaxing and laid back.

The Twisted Branches of the Juniper Trees on the Vortex

The Twisted Branches of the Juniper

The vortexes of Sedona were of particular interest to me, as I had heard that they have healing powers and provide one with a sense of energy and a renewed spirit, which I definitely felt I needed.  There are vortexes located around the world; some of which major monuments have been built on, such as the Great Pyramid in Egypt, Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia and the Bermuda Triangle.  So, with a map from the concierge and a good pair of hiking shoes, Gary and I set off to find our Mecca in the desert.    After a short hike with a beautiful view, we arrived at the first of Sedona’s four major vortexes.  As I understand it, the vortex is a spot earth where a strong amount of energy is released in almost a tornado like fashion and you definitely get that feeling, as the traditionally strait juniper trees that sit on the vortex have braches that are completely twisted like a pretzel.  

Our visit to Sedona would not have been complete without a visit to the local artist galleries and shopping venues.  Although I found uptown to be a bit too touristy for my taste, the Tlaquepague Arts & Crafts Village was right up my alley.  Tlaquepague, meaning “best of everything”, has over 40 specialty shops including art galleries featuring local artists, restaurants and wine bars.  Built in the 1970 as a Mexican style village with vine covered stucco walls, cobble stoned walkways and magnificent arched entryways, you have the distinct feeling that it has been here for centuries.  Although the dining experiences are unlimited, I highly recommend a stop at the Oak Creek Brewery for one of their freshly brewed beers and, if you are very patient soul, dinner at Elote, just up the street is a must, however, be prepared to wait up to two hours in line, since they do not take reservations.  If you have the patience of a saint, then you won’t be disappointed.

L'Auberge Resort in Sedona

L'Auberge Resort in Sedona

Our visit to Sedona concluded with a brunch and tour of the L’Auberge Resort.  Located in the heart of Sedona and within walking distance of almost everything, this resort is the perfect local directly on Oak Creek.  The placement of the resort and the sound of the babbling creek completely drowned out the busyness of the world above and give guests the feel that you have been transported to a whole different world. Cabin accommodations are strategically perched on the hill, giving them the perfect view of the Red Rooks above and although the log cabin exteriors may look rustic, they are certainly not.  With modern and bright décor, some with fireplaces and outdoor showers, these cottages are perfect for a romantic getaway.  The restaurant is located along the side of the creek and offers wonderful outdoor dining when weather permits, which almost always and one can’t forget to take the time to feed the resident ducks or sit by a campfire, as these are some of L’Auberge Resorts best kept secrets.

Our weekend getaway had to come to an end but not without an overnight at the Canyon Suites at the Phoenician in Scottsdale.  Just 15 minutes from the Sky Harbor Airport, this resort was the perfect location for our early morning flight home and was a wonderful combination of an exclusive, concierge style experience, combined with all of the choices and activities that the Phoenician has to offer.  Located on the property of the Phoenician, the Canyon Suite, with our own private entrance, lobby and pool and suite that included many wonderful complimentary amenities, this was a perfect way to end our journey.  As our personal ambassador, Julian, persuaded us to dine in one of the many restaurants at the Phoenician and temped us with rounds of golf and spa treatments, wild horses couldn’t have pried us out of our Canyon Suite.  I’m not sure if it was the palatial estate we called home or the feeling of relaxation we had gathered from Sedona but this was, in fact, the perfect ending to a perfect Arizona getaway.  Of course I still returned to my office with all the fresh ideas and plans we had made at our TAMS meeting but I was now rested, relaxed and ready to take on the world.




Largay Travel Creates High Tech Honeymoon Wishes

By Amanda Klimak CTIE   Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Are you a couple with enough toasters and dish towels who’d much rather experience a “sunset cruise” or a “luxurious honeymoon suite” as a wedding gift?  Would you prefer to have the honeymoon you have always dreamed of instead of more “stuff” for your already overcrowded home?  With the unveiling of Largay Travel’s new, innovative Honeymoon Registry, couples can have all of that and much more.  This complimentary honeymoon registry, http://largaytravel.honeymoonwishes.com/ enables couples to create their very own, personal wedding website that tells their story, share photos, and even blog about their romantic journey towards marriage.  Couples can create their own ‘ wish list’ of things they want to experience on their honeymoon; like breakfast in bed, a dinner cruise, or perhaps a couples massage – even the cost of your trip. It essentially works like a gift registry, in which guests purchase portions of the dream honeymoon as a wedding gift.  Guests can then print a personalized gift card which can be presented to the couple on their special day.

 “With more and more couples living together before getting married, we’ve found that traditional wedding gifts are no longer needed, and often times many people feel it’s impersonal to give cash. Our new honeymoon registry allows family and friends to give what truly matters to couples…..the memory of an amazing honeymoon” says Amanda Klimak, Vice President of Largay Travel.    

It  takes about fifteen minutes for couples to register their honeymoon and there are no set up fees for using the website.  Once registered, couples then have access to online & printed announcement templates, email blast suggestion and wedding website announcement cards. There are thousands of honeymoon ideas and photos on the website as well. 

 “This is an easily accessible, fun way for couples to share both their wedding day and the amazing trip that follows. For those couples unsure  of where they want to travel, or perhaps want to keep it a secret, there is the option to exclude the details” says Vivian Leonard, a recently married Largay Honeymoon Travel Specialist.  “The thing I love about the registry is that it’s fun and allows couples to share their honeymoon with their loved ones.”

For more information visit http://largaytravel.honeymoonwishes.com/

If you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to ask. You can email Largay Travel at vacations@largaytravel.com or call us at 1-800-322-9481




Equitrekking Travel Names Largay Travel Preferred Provider of Travel Services

By Amanda Klimak CTIE   Friday, December 30th, 2011

Emmy-Winning Team Expands Client Service Capacity for Exceptional
Equestrian Vacations with Virtuoso Travel Agency

Washington, D.C., January 2, 2012– Equitrekking Travel, which features exceptional equestrian vacations from the Emmy Award-winning Equitrekking PBS TV show, has announced Largay Travel, a veteran Virtuoso travel agency, as their new Preferred Provider of Travel Services.

The Equitrekking team, who started their business with a single Virtuoso agent two years ago, joined forces with Largay Travel to keep up with the demand from travelers for their riding vacations. Much of this interest is spurred by the popular Equitrekking TV series, which broadcasts nationwide on PBS stations and internationally in over 65 countries. At their interactive website, EquitrekkingTravel.com, equestrians and those seeking to horse ride while on vacation can choose from a variety of hand-picked riding holidays, many of which have been featured by equestrian travel expert and three time Daytime Emmy nominated TV host Darley Newman on Equitrekking. Photos, videos, traveler reviews, blogs, travel tips, detailed itineraries and more engage travelers with personal insight into each special vacation.

“After riding horses with local people all over the world and receiving inquiries from travelers who wanted to ride with the guides they saw featured on our TV show, we launched EquitrekkingTravel.com to feature these unique experiences that combine horse riding with other adventure, culinary and cultural travels,” said Darley. “We are excited to work with the highly regarded team of travel consultants and horsewomen at Largay Travel as we expand our offerings and welcome new travelers.”

Largay Travel, one of New England’s premier travel organizations, has been arranging exclusive travel experiences since 1969. Their dedicated team of 30 skilled advisors have been recognized for four consecutive years by Conde Nast Travel magazine as one of “America’s Top 100 Secret Travel Agents” and for the past 8 years has made the A-List of the world’s top travel agents published by Travel & Leisure magazine. With 26,000 eligible agents competing for these honors, Largay Travel continues to stand out and bring clients the best in adventure, family, cruising and African safaris.

“We are excited to carry through our goal of providing life long memories from travel to the equestrians and their non-riding partners who take Equitrekking Travel’s featured tours,” said Amanda Klimak, Vice President of Largay Travel. “Our expertise in adventure and luxury travel and our ability to customize experiences paired with Equitrekking Travel’s extensive equestrian travel expertise makes for a winning combination for travelers.”

By working with Largay Travel, clients have the option for a full service experience from start to finish. This has been of special interest to equestrian groups, who receive special discounts and travel deals when booking a trip found on EquitrekkingTravel.com. Travelers also have access to trips found nowhere else, including EquitrekkingTravel.com’s exclusive Maui, Big Island and Cappadocia, Turkey horse riding vacations, a medieval village trek in Ireland and a special tour of Wales featuring riding Welsh Cobs in the breathtaking Cambrian Mountains, a visit to the Derwen International Welsh Cob Centre and a traveler favorite… a horse ride to the pub.
Equitrekking Travel continues to rapidly grow its client base, increasing its revenue three fold in its second year of operations. In addition to being featured on television in North America, Asia, Africa and Europe and earning high praise from travelers, Equitrekking Travel has been profiled in USA Today, The Boston Globe and Martha Stewart Radio.

With an already popular TV series, Newman continues to spread the word about her personal passion for eco-friendly horseback riding exploration and supporting locally owned, sustainable small businesses, all the while working to serve a growing niche community of equestrian enthusiasts and their families.

For more information, visit www.EquitrekkingTravel.com.

About EquitrekkingTravel.com

Founded by Darley Newman, an equestrian travel expert and the three time Daytime Emmy nominated host, writer and creator of the Emmy winning Equitrekking TV show, EquitrekkingTravel.com features exceptional horseback riding vacations. Visitors may watch video clips, view photographs and get first hand accounts of riding with the local guides in each destination as they dream, plan and learn on the website, which features detailed itineraries, travel deals and upcoming departures. Visit www.EquitrekkingTravel.com for itineraries and upcoming departures.

About Largay Travel

Largay Travel was founded in 1969 by Roland F. Largay. Paul Largay, Roland’s nephew, joined the organization in 1982. Together they have traveled the world and built one of New England’s premier travel management organizations. Largay Travel, headquartered in Waterbury, Connecticut, employs a staff whose average tenure with Largay exceeds 15 years. The company is strategically divided into three separate divisions: leisure travel, group & incentive and independent agents, to ensure all the respective, unique needs of each sector are satisfied.




The Perfect Locale for Art Lovers in Shanghai

By Amanda Klimak CTIE   Monday, October 31st, 2011

 

If art is your passion, then the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai, China is just the place for you. This historical hotel offers guests the architecture of the early 1900’s, mixed with the most cutting edge and stylish designs of today. Visitors to The Swatch Art Peace Hotel may attend a variety of exhibitions on the premises. The top floor of the building hosts the Shook! restaurant and a multimedia space that can be used for concerts, press conferences, movies and various other public and private events. From the roof terrace, guests can admire a panoramic view of The Bund and the spectacular sights of Pudong across the Huangpu River.

In addition to guest rooms, this hotel offers gifted artists from around the world, including China, a chance to live and work in studios in the Hotel for a four month period. Artists are chosen by the Selection Committee, includes Nicolas G. Hayek and Georges N. Hayek, Chairman and CEO of the Swatch Group; Esther Grether, Board Member of the Swatch Group; George Clooney, actor; François-Henri Pinault, CEO of PPR; Mikhail Kusnirovich, Chairman of the Strategic Development Committee of GUM; and Sir Francis Yeoh, Chairman, YTL Group.




Taking Fun to a Whole New Level in Shanghai

By Amanda Klimak CTIE   Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

As a travel specialist I am always in search of the most fun and unique experiences I can find. In Shanghai, China I was able to find just that and it was called, Shanghai Sideways. With this tour, guests enjoy a two, four or full day tour of the city in a WWII motorcycle with sidecar. Of course the bike is driven by an experienced guide but each bike can take two passengers, one on the back and one in the sidecar. While moving about Shanghai, your “Insider Guide” stops to give you a bit of history and take you to the more off the beaten path locales.

It’s fun…..it’s exciting…and it’s one of the coolest things we did in Shanghai! Check out our video below..