Posted by: wingstravel | October 11, 2013

Vegas Baby! Part 1

by Ryan Christoff, Travel Consultant

 

So I was very fortunate to take a little jaunt to Sin City last month for the 4th Annual Young Leaders Conference and the Luxury Travel Exchange.  What an experience!  Here’s my tale.

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Sunday, September 8- Part 1

My day starts off early..up and at ‘em at 4:30am!  I breeze on down to good ole PHL and zip through security.  I checked into my flight the day before online, which I highly suggest everyone does for domestic flights!  I was somehow able to only get away with a carry on bag, which never happens (notorious over packer).  I have a little over an hour to kill before my 7:55am flight, so I head to Chickie’s and Pete’s in the aiport.  No, I did not get a drink there, which is another first, ha!  Instead I went for a nice cup of coffee and a ham, egg and cheese sandwich.  Thought I was getting a morning breakfast sandwich thing, but turns out they sell it in a huge roll and the cheese was very runny.  Bleh!  I get down about half of it, refill my coffee, and off I go!

I choose the aisle seat…my new preference for sure.  I learned from my 12 hour flight experience to New Zealand a couple years ago…I feel cramped and have to jump over everyone to get to the restroom.  So aisle seats from now on!  The flight is fairly smooth and takes about 5 hours.  Best news is, we get into Vegas a half hour early!  Score!

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So I arrive in Las Vegas, Nevada!  The airport is cool, with the Vegas sign welcoming you above the escalators.  Arriving on US Airways, I had to take the tram to the main terminal.  Upon exiting the tram, a slight walk to the exit I go, where snake line dividers guide you to the taxis.  Fortunately there was hardly any line, so I waited about a minute.  I get my taxi, and off to my first stop…Treasure Island!  The ride takes me up I-15 where I get a good view of the hotels and the surrounding area.  The ride lasts about 10-15 minutes, and the fare was about $25 plus tip.  My cabbie lets me know about where to find the best stuff..certain shows, good nightlife spots, and of course the jiggly room places, haha.  Being that it’s Vegas, I think it’s madatory for them to release this information.

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I get to TI, but unfortunately I can’t check into the hotel..I have to wait a couple hours.  But wait, what time is it back on the east coast???  It’s 1pm (10am local), and it’s football time!!  Opening weekend to boot!  So I search around Treasure Island and find a sports book area, but not that appealing.  So I venture next door to The Mirage, and bingo!  Huge bar area with several big screen tv’s, and humongous plastic cups for my favorite beverage…and nice cold brewski!  Goose Island IPA to be exact.  So I get my beverage, find my place to stand, and take it all in!  Of course, I couldn’t be in Vegas and not place a bet…so I lay a 3 team parlay down.  I lost, but my luck would change later!

The Mirage

Check in time comes around and I get to my room.  A nice layout with a king bed and double vanity sick in the bathroom.  the view wasn’t the best…facing the large mall across the street.  But the mountains in the background were nice to see.  The room was a typical room, but adequate for what I needed. 

I get ready for my next adventure…walking down the strip to meet up with my roomie from the New Zealand fam, Ryan Mielke, at a sports bar called Blondie’s at Planet Hollywood to watch the Packers/Niners game.  The walk wasn’t too bad..about a mile total, but took about 20 minutes.  The weather was pleasant and not the overbearing heat I thought I was in for.  It actually had rained a bit earlier, but now the sun was shining for my walk!  I make it to PH, and like all hotels in Vegas, have to wonder aimlessly for a few minutes, before I finally reach my destination..Blondies.  

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Blondies was a typical sports bar, with lots of tv’s, waitresses dressed as cheerleaders, lots of beer choices and good bar food.  I walk around a bit trying to find a seat and have no luck.  Furthermore…Ryan had come in the day before and had been out till the wee hours of the morning.  So needless to say, he couldn’t make it.  Anyways….I find a spot at the corner of one of the bars and stand there like a goof.  I order a Dogfish Head 60 Minute, an order of wings and a water (pronounced wooder).  The bartender doesn’t notice my Eagles jersey I have on, but notices my Philly accent, and proceeds to tell me she’s from south Jersey and is an Eagles fan as well.  Instant friend!  I take a look around the bar, and I notice lots of sports memorbilila hanging up.  One of the bars had an Eagles, Flyers and Phillies sign all hanging in the same area!  I love this place! 

So I stay till the end of the game, and start my walk back to TI.  During my walk, I get a text from Nicole from vacation.com, our vacation consortia.  Kate Murphy, president of Wings Travel, had told her to call me up to meet up with me during the conference.  So I quick get dressed back at the hotel, and we decide to meet up for a drink at the Venetian before we meet up with the rest of the Young Leader’s. 

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After our drink, we met up with Ryan (yay, he’s alive!), and a few others and we cab it down to the Cosmopoliatn, right across the street from where I just was.  This was the Kick Off party for the Young Leader’s Conference.  We had an open bar from 7-9, in the Chandalier Bar, which was awesome!  3 story bar all encased in hanging crystals.  Very cool concept.  The bar had Lagunita’s Maximus, which is a great DIPA.  Snacks were plentiful and very good too.  I was able to meet up with lots of new people, and some people I had already known, like Lucas from G Adventures.  G Adventures is an awesome company btw specializing in adventure tours!  (like my plug there?)  The event was a good way to break the ice and mingle with everyone. 

By the time 10:30 came around, I was spent!  So I walked, for the third time that day, back to the hotel.  People were gathering to see the fountains at the Bellagio, but I was exhausted and just kept walking.  I get back to the hotel, unwind and decide to call it a night.  Time for some rest for the all day conference tomorrow morning!  Day 1…success.

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Posted by: wingstravel | June 20, 2013

Waddling through SeaWorld

By Dawn Myer

SeaWorld Orlando graciously opened their arms, fins and wings and hosted a once-in-a-lifetime catered event for attendees of the Vacation.com conference. Upon walking through the gates, we were greeted by their very courteous staff. Tantalizing smells acted as guides as our noses navigated the meandering paths to the numerous culinary creations. Aromas of succulent meats from the carving station, crisp, fresh salads vibrantly dressed, piquant shrimp tacos and savory mac-n-cheese (to name a few) were there to invite your palate at every turn. The delectable scents permeated the park. At one point I swore I heard a penguin’s stomach growl! Oh yes, the penguins, they were the reason we were there!

Seaworld

On May 24th SeaWorld opened their largest attraction to date; Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. This massive expansion captures the enormity of glaciers with a life-like portrayal, including the erosion due to wind and water. The splendor of the gleaming ice is eye catching. Hues of blues and purples interlaced, as if they as well, have been frozen in time. We looked carefully and closely during our expedition, to find as many hidden carvings as we could.
Passageways in the glaciers led us to Puck, a baby Gentoo penguin. We experienced Pucks journey through life in a one-of-a-kind animated trackless transport system. First we chose to take either a mild or wild journey. The mild version is smooth and flowing, while the wild version imitates the actions of the animation. The cars have a unique wireless navigation system which allows the car to move freely around the ride. A different experience is achieved each time because of the randomly chosen ride paths. The cabin of the car emulates the penguin and moves with the animation to give a simulated experience.
The animation is a realistic rendition, not too human-like, although Puck is very relatable to children. The music glided us through the different facets of the weather and terrain. The use of woodwind instruments represented the winds, brass instruments represented the blizzards and strings and horns represented the majestic beauty.
As we waddled and swam with Puck from infanthood to adulthood, we gained insight into the life of the penguin. At the end of the journey we were immersed in the Empire of the Penguin. A closer-then-ever exhibit, this portion of the attraction is kept at a blistering 32*F. A sweater is highly recommended, or if you’re like me a snow suit would suffice. The exhibit is home to 250 penguins which are one of 4 species Adelie, Gentoo, King and Rockhopper. We watched as they navigated the rocky and icy terrain. We were that close that when we saw a penguin leap out of the water only to lose its footing on land, it was instinct to try to reach out and help it up. Obviously you can’t touch them and we were able to see how it regained its footing and waddled safely ashore. Also, there are several underwater viewing areas where you can observe them swim. Their speed and agility is truly fascinating. One fact we all waddled away knowing is that penguins rely on family, strength and community to survive, sounds very human-like.

Unless you flourish in cold temperatures, you will be like me, searching for warmth. Once outside and thawed I took notice of a Quonset hut named the Expedition Cafe. Inside you are transformed into International Scientists and if you are famished you can choose culinary fare from an American, Asian or Italian station. If you are a Busy Scientist there are to-go options.
If you’re not hungry and just want to quench your thirst because you’ve just realized you’ve been surrounded by a colossal amount of frozen salt water, waddle to South Pole Beverages where they feature the South Pole Chill. It’s a vanilla infused custom flavor exclusive to SeaWorld. Also featured is the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine which has 100 drink choices and mix your owns. SeaWorld supports the “Cup that Cares” program which helps the planet “reuse, refill and reduce your carbon footprint”. Create a Cup that Cares is a Mr. Potato head concept that allows you to choose from over 40 accessories so you can personally accessorize your cup. SeaWorld donates $1 from the proceeds to SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund.

We next waddled our way to Glacial Collections. A must stop shop for the new penguin lover in you!
There were a few who wanted to become one with the penguin; really get to know them and their movements. These select few opted to take penguin dance lessons. Talk about movers and shakers! It was a wing flappin, side waddlin good time! There is one member of the Wings Travel family that waddled so stupendously they gave him honorary penguin wings! Don’t believe me? There is a video to prove it!

After exploring all Antarctica had to offer, we were enticed back to the surreal event SeaWorld created for us. In addition to the extraordinary catering, the park was open to our riding rides heart’s desire. Never again, most likely, will we be able to explore no wait times in line and ride limitless amounts of times.

However, unfortunately, all great things must come to an end. In SeaWorld’s eyes, not before a finale show at Shamu Stadium! As we all waddled on our way toward the stadium, we were lured one more time by a luscious dessert spread complete with a bouquet of assorted cookie lollipops. Who could possibly pass up a cookie lollipop? The waddle along the boardwalk that leads to Shamu Stadium gave just the right amount of time to consume the cookie lollipop before heading straight to the splash zone. I was astonished that not everyone was trying to cram into this space. Walking away from a Shamu show dry? Inconceivable!
The Shamu show was one “killer” of a killer whale show! The show puts into perspective the dedication and devotion SeaWorld employees and residents have for one another. The evening was topped off with awe-inspiring fireworks and 5 killer whales waving goodbye.

Words cannot do justice for the evening SeaWorld created for us. The attention to detail, attentiveness, warmness and kindness from the staff was insurmountable. For the first time ever, I’m having difficulty putting my experience into words. Quite frankly, SeaWorld has left me speechless.

Posted by: wingstravel | May 29, 2013

Follow the Fish on Norwegian Breakaway

By Kate Murphy

I was lucky enough to sail on a 2 night inaugural cruise on the Norwegian Breakaway.

Hint-if you are trying to figure Forward from Aft when leaving your cabin follow the fish on the hall carpet as they are swimming forward.

Artwork on the hull is very colorful and distinctive designed by Peter Max.

NCL Breakaway

New York City is the homeport of the Norwegian Breakaway which is the Best of the Big Apple at Sea. That analogy comes to mind because the ship is exciting, has an energy about it and there are so many fun things to do. Most of the action centers around 678 Ocean Place which is the hub of the ship, the casino, restaurants, and shops all flow from these three decks. The Waterfront on Deck 8 is amazing since most of the restaurants and bars have an outdoor seating area. You literally can dine with the Ocean in your sight line.

The Cabin TV is interactive so you can make dinner and show reservations and it gives you availability in real time which is a big plus. An electronic system allows you to either request “Make Up Room” or put on a “Do Not Disturb”.

Hint-there is only dispenser shampoo and soap in the shower. So ladies pack your own shampoo and conditioner. If you prefer bar soap I have been told you may ask your cabin attendant to get it for you. There is a foot bar in the shower for ladies to shave their legs.

Dress up or dress down that’s what Freestyle Dining is all about. There are 27 Dining Options (some have a surcharge), including Ocean Blue by Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian or chose to dine French, Italian, Steak House, etc. The Breakaway also features an onboard bakery created by Buddy Valastro star of the TV series “Cake Boss”.

You can see a Broadway show at sea, Rock of Ages (beware R rated). You can also eat dinner and enjoy a show at Cirque Dreams and Dinner Jungle Fantasy or watch Burn the Floor, a dance show during dinner in the Manhattan Dining Room. Don’t forget fabulous jazz in Fat Cats Jazz and Blues Club.

It has an amazing Aqua Park with multi-story waterslides, a sports complex with the largest ropes course at sea, and mini-golf. And last but not least they have a Plank. Yes you can “walk the plank” (harnessed, of course) if you are brave enough. Give Wings Travel a call and we will fill you in on everything else about Norwegian Breakaway. We promise we won’t tell anyone if you skip walking the Plank–I did!

Posted by: wingstravel | April 16, 2013

Travel Insurance, A Travel Agent’s View

So many travelers may think, “why do I need travel insurance? I’m definitely going on this trip no matter what, so I won’t take it.” Well travelers, travel insurance is much much more than just “I’m going on this trip and I won’t need it”. There’s always the what if scernario. I constantly tell my clients this, and use the ask them the following questions… What if…you get sick with the flu? What if…there’s a storm in the area or near your destination, causing your flight to be delayed or cancelled? What if…a family member suddenly passes away? What if…you are injured in an international destination and incur hosptial costs to see a doctor and get x-rays, or worse? All of these are real things that could happen to anyone, at any given moment. We don’t like to think of these things. We want to think of our vacation as a getaway where we can relax and have fun. But, we always need to think of the what if, and that’s where travel insurance is a great comfort to have!

Let me give some personal experiences with clients of mine and the agencies, where travel insurance could have played, or did play a big factor. I had clients who were enjoying a great time on vacation in February in sunny Cancun. Back here in the Northeast US, a big snow storm was brewing. Turns out my clients flight was cancelled because their home airport was shutdown due to the snow. Well, my clients unexpectedly had to change their flight and get a hotel for the night. The hotel cost was not part of their package and had to be paid out of pocket. Now, since they took travel insurance with Travel Insured, their hotel was covered with the Trip Delay. Had they not taken this insurance, their out of pocket expenses would not have been covered.

Another example….a client of mine was enjoying a nice time in Punta Cana. It had recently rained and the walkways were a bit slippery. She ended up falling and severly sprained her ankle. She did not have the insurance, because she was one who thought, “I’m going on the trip no matter what, so I don’t need the insurance”. She ended up going to the ER and incurred those medical expenses. She was not reimbursed for those as she didn’t have the insurance.

Travel insurance is a very important aspect of everyone’s vacation. It’s a great comfort to have, just knowing if something does happen, you’re covered. The question I ask, is why wouldn’t you get travel insurance? A Vacation is an investment in yourself, an investment to unwind and relax and ejoy the world. Protect your investment with travel insurance. You’ll be thankful you did when the unexpected happens!

Ryan Christoff
Travel Consultant
Wings Travel Group
Blue Bell, PA

Posted by: wingstravel | March 26, 2013

Cancun Ambassador in Cancun

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So the Cancun Ambassador finally was able to visit his destination of Cancun! My girlfriend, Lauren, and I had a lovely stay at the Moon Palace Resort, just minutes from the Cancun International Airport. Overall, the trip was great! The resort was laid out very well, and grounds were well kept. The service was great! Everywhere we went, we were greeted with a smile. Even the landscapers who were taking care of the grounds would say ‘hola!’ as we passed by.   The resort is huge, spanning about a mile from end to end, consisting of 3 sections, the Sunrise, the Nizuc and the Grand.  If you are in the middle section, the Nizuc, like we were, you are right in the middle of everything.  It’s about a 10 minute walk to either section.  So really it’s not bad at all.  And for those that wish not to walk, they have a bus going to each section about every 10 minutes or so from each lobby.  But the walk right alongside the beach is great, so I highly suggest that! 

The resort caters really to anyone.  Families, couples, even singles.  There is enough activity for any age group, that no one should be bored here.  The resort houses about 2400 rooms, but with the resort being so big, you wouldn’t notice the amount of people there.  It’s very spread out, and they have lots of restaurants and bars to choose from, so there’s really no issue of overcrowding. 

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The food at the Moon Palace, in my opinion, was very good!  The first night we utilized the 24 hour room service, where we had a nice array of food to choose from.  The 2nd night we went to one of the 3 Italian restaurants on sit, La Gondola.  The next two nights were at the Steakhouse.  The first night wasn’t enough, that we had to go back for a second time there!  I’ve never had so many choices of steak before, I was in heaven!  T-bone, porterhouse, filet, pork, ribs, wings….for those that know me well, know I fully enjoyed myself here! 

The resort featured many bars as well, including about 6 swim up bars, a nightclub lounge, a sports bar, lobby bars and what they called the Swing Bar, which has swings instead of bar stools.  Very cool idea!  They also had a beach swing bar on the beach, but were for the Concierge and VIP guests. 

Entertainment was good throughout the day.  The staff got everyone involved, from salsa dancing lessons, to scuba lessons, to a mixology lesson.  At night, they have something at each section of the hotel.  Karoake, a Michael Jackson show, and even a beach party!  Plus, there is a huge stage at the Sunrise side where they will hold concerts. 

One day we were able to venture off the resort and travel to Isla Mujeres for a catamaran tour.  The launch point was only about a half hour from the resort, so very reasonable.  The tour was awesome, except for a little sea sickness and sun burn…ooops!  But the island was very cool, and seemed like a very laid back, care free place.  I would stay on the island for a week, or rest of my life, in a heart beat!

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The only down side to the resort I would say, is the water and seaweed.  The water is the not typical turquoise blue, except for a few spots.  And the beach is constantly covered in seaweed right near the water’s edge, but the resort does have clean up crews daily trying to get ride of it.  The sand is very soft and white, which is very nice, but the water wasn’t the best. 

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The rooms at the resort were very nice, with each room housing a double jacuzzi, balcony or terrace, large stand alone shower, in room wine, and liquor dispenser!  Our location of our room was awesome!  It looked right out over the pool and the ocean.  Just ask for Alcatraz or Bambu buildings in the Nizuc section, and you’ll be set! 

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So overall, the trip was a blast!  This was my 10th time to Cancun, and I must say it was certainly one of the better trips I’ve had there!  The resort was fantastic and the people made it that much better!  We made some great friends and great memories, and I will certainly suggest this resort to anyone.  I want to thank Travel Impressions and Cancun Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (aka Cancun Travel)!  They hooked me up with a great resort!  So until next time, your Cancun Ambassador signing off!

Ryan Christoff, Travel Impressions and Cancun Ambassador

Posted by: wingstravel | February 13, 2013

Share the Love at the Top 10 Most Romantic Destinations in Europe!

Whether you are in a new relationship, or keeping the fires burning in an established one, Europe has the destinations guaranteed to spark romance:

 Paris, France – The “City of Light” becomes the “City of Love” when you kiss someone at the Eiffel Tower.

Santorini, Greece – Sit shoulders brushing on a white stone wall gazing at one of the most famous sunsets in the world.

Savonlinna, Finland – Light a fire in your quiet lakeside cabin and enjoy views of soft white snow and birch trees. 

Venice, Italy – Climb on board a gondola and sink back into the arms of your lover as you glide past Renaissance architecture.

Bruges, Belgium – Hold hands admiring medieval buildings as you stroll the dreamlike, peaceful canals.

Reikjavik, Iceland – Get steamy at the Blue Lagoon geothermal springs.

Paxos, Greece – Hold onto to your sweetheart as you zoom past terraced olive groves and crystal clear seas on a motorbike.

Rome, Italy – Make a wish that your relationship will last forever as you toss a coin into the Trevi fountain together.

Keukenhof Gardens, Netherlands – Admire the symbols of romance as you stroll the beautiful flower gardens.

Connemara, Ireland – Rent a horse and hold tight to your partner as you canter across the beach.

Posted by: wingstravel | November 29, 2012

Cancun…Safe, and full of life!

 

Cancun…Safe, and full of life!

 Well, only two days left of my Ambassadorship for the month of November, so I thought I would leave some final thoughts.  I will certainly be making more posts throughout the year, and definitely during my next trip to Cancun (to be determined). 

 So what do you think of when you hear the words Cancun, Mexico?  Do you think party central?  Do you think of crazy college kids acting foolishly and causing a ruckus?  Do you think of the drug cartels when you hear the word Mexico?  Well let me enlighten you…Cancun and it’s hotel zone are very safe!  In my many trips to the destination, I have always felt safe and secure and have never encountered a bad situation.  People tend to take the news’ stories of Mexico as being unsafe, but let’s stop and think for a second….these areas are nowhere near Cancun.  It’s the border areas and the remote mountainous areas that are of concern.  Mexico is a large country, and Cancun is far removed from these areas.  Think of the US…if you hear something bad happen in Chicago, are you then not going to go to Ft Lauderdale?  It just doesn’t make sense!  Common sense is what should be used, as with anywhere you go.  If you think something is shady, then it probably is, so don’t do it!  Just use you head, and you’ll be just fine! 

 As for those partiers….while Cancun is still a great destination for nightlife, it’s much more than parting and silly college kids getting snockered.  Cancun is about having fun, relaxing, adventure and beautfiul beaches!  It’s about great dining and awesome sunrises.  It’s about culture and history, and rediscovering yourself.  Cancun has so much to offer, and not just for one type of traveler.  There are high end luxury properties for the discerning traveler.  There’s budget properties for those who want a beach getaway, but can’t afford, or don’t want the glitz and glamour.  Want a little adventure?  Try a zip-lining and ATV tour!  Looking for a little romance?  How bout a sunset dinner cruise?  Want to get out and try the nightlife?  I suggest a bar leaping tour taking you to multiple venues for one price!  The options are endless in Cancun.  Don’t be afraid or cautious.  It’s your vacation, make it how you want it!  And there’s no better place to do that, than in Cancun!

 Ryan Christoff, Travel Consultant

Wings Travel Group

TI and Cancun Ambassador

Posted by: wingstravel | October 12, 2012

Ambassador of Cancun

Ryan Christoff, Travel Consultant

So for those that know me, I’m pretty awesome and let people know that 😉  Just kidding!  I’m actually pretty humble and modest and rarely brag about myself.  But I thought the following was pretty cool….I was selected by one of our top Preferred Suppliers, Travel Impressions, to be an Ambassador of the Destination of Cancun!  Over 800 applications were submitted for 8 different Ambassador positions, and 96 (12 each from different regions of the US) were selected.  Of those 8, only 2 were destination Ambassadors, the remaining 6 were hotel chain Ambassadors.  I am one of 24 who will proudly represent their respective destinations for the next year!  Part of my duties will be to post a couple blogs and Facebook posts about Cancun, which for those that know me, will be great as I’ve been to the destination numerous times and enjoy traveling there each and every time, so I have lots to say about it!

As mentioned, Travel Impressions is one of our top Preferred Suppliers.  They provide excellent all inclusive, FIT and group packages.  Cancun is a big seller for them, and the agents here at Wings Travel take full advantage of their excellent customer service, package rates and great representatives!  Many of you have probably booked a vacation with me to Cancun using Travel Impressions, and can vouch for me first hand that TI does a great job!  They are available round the clock and are able to fix any problems that may arise. 

Cancun has always had a special meaning to me as it was the first international destination I visited.  The destination has so much to offer for everyone, including couples, families and singles!  From upscale full service resorts, to fun filled party places, Cancun has something for everyone! 

For those that have taken a vacation through me, they know they will receive 100% service and receive the best package that suits their every need!  I am honored to have been chosen as an Ambassador of Cancun, and look forward to reintroducing the destination to everyone! 

As your Cancun Ambassador for the next year, I have a dedicated month which is November 2012.  One of my perks for the month is I am able to offer you a $100 per booking Travel Impressions Future Travel Credit! This credit is valid if you first book through me to Cancun proper, and then you can look forward to using your future travel credit, before December 2013, on your next trip to one of the 8 Ambassador partners which include Cancun, Aruba, AMResorts, All Inclusive Hard Rock Hotels, Atlantis, Excellence Resorts, Palace Resorts and Le Blanc Spa Resort, and Sandals and Beaches Resorts.  So what are you waiting for!?  Let’s get planning and let me give you that $100 Future Travel Credit!

Adios for now!

Ryan

Posted by: wingstravel | July 24, 2012

Discover the stories of Capri

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The Villa San Michele

Capri has recently become a paradise for megalomaniac architects: One multi-million dollar villa after another has made inventive use of the island’s deliriously steep landscape. The most beautiful villa on the island is actually one of the oldest, the Villa San Michele – a virtual Temple to Art build by a Swedish doctor, Axel Munthe, in the early 1900s. One famous visitor, the novelist Henry James, called it “a creation of the most fantastic beauty, poetry and inutility that I have ever seen clustered together.” Today, operated as a Swedish cultural center and including a serene bird sanctuary, this lovely, eccentric property can be visited on private tours. Dr. Munthe had survived throughout bloody European wars and dreadful plagues in Naples before he moved to Capri in 1887. He was instantly bewitched by the island and decided to build his dream home on a cliff-side in the village of Anacapri (Upper Capri). At the time, this settlement could only be visited by climbing a rugged track that had been carved by ancient Phoenician sailors. The building materials, along with the artworks he had acquired over the years, had to be lugged up on mule-back. By 1910, the mansion had taken shape in the form seen it today, a magnificent structure perched on the edge of a cliff. The lush, secluded garden is decorated with an astonishing collection of stone Sphinxes, bronze nymphs and gargoyles, and its balconies offer the most incredible views on an island already famous for them. From its high parapets, one can spend hours watching vessels carve long white wakes in the ocean, like delicate paint strokes on cobalt blue. In 1929, Munthe wrote a superb memoir about his experiences on Capri, The Story of San Michele (a prototype of modern classics like A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun). To Munthe’s astonishment, it became an instant bestseller. The book has since been translated into 45 languages and has inspired millions of people to visit Capri’s seductive shores, which remain a yardstick for natural beauty the world over. When you book a vacation with Globus, you’re not just seeing the world, you’re getting a behind-the-scenes look at the world’s most interesting places. Discover the stories of Capri with Globus and Wings Travel today.

Posted by: wingstravel | June 13, 2012

Experience New Mexico

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The Bohemians of Taos

By: Globus

Thanks to its otherworldly landscape, Historically, New Mexico has long attracted artists. Perhaps the most famous is the painter Georgia O’Keefe, who worked for decades in Ghost Ranch outside Santa Fe (a town that today boasts 300 galleries). But a number of more eccentric shrines lie scattered around the town of Taos, which in the early 1900s attracted a flood of visual artists, writers, playwrights, philosophers and socialists. The town’s bohemian social life was led by the free-spirited New York heiress and patron Mabel Dodge Luhan, who moved here in 1917 and fell in love with the colorful desert scenery and the rich Native American culture of the Pueblo. Mabel’s guest list was international: In 1922, she invited the notorious English writer D. H. Lawrence, author of the banned erotic work Lady Chatterly’s Lover, to live in Taos with his formidable wife Frieda. Lawrence was stunned by New Mexico, and called his visit “the greatest experience of the outside world that I have ever had.”

Today, memories of the illustrious writer can be found all over the area. In Taos’ main plaza, the historic Hotel La Fonda displays Lawrence’s “Forbidden Art” – a dozen paintings, supposedly pornographic, which were once banned by the Vice Squad in London, causing a huge scandal. (Few people would be shocked today by the images, which are kept in a special studio). Mabel Dodge Luhan’s grand adobe mansion, which was once the scene of riotous partying, is now a quiet bed-and-breakfast. Owned for an interval in the 1970s by the actor Dennis Hopper, the house still retains an aura of creativity, and you can still see the paintings Lawrence did in the windows of the upstairs bathroom. Finally, in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, lies the humble log cabin where Lawrence and his wife lived for several months after they left Mabel’s house. Lawrence’s ashes actually lie there, beneath a crude statue of a phoenix. Before his death in Italy in 1930, he asked for his remains to be sent back to this once-remote corner of New Mexico – the landscape he loved best.

The story of D. H. Lawrence is just one of many waiting to be discovered in the majestic Southwest. Experience another or write your own with escorted vacations from Globus and Wings Travel!

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