Laura Freeman

Laura Freeman

Happy Wellness Wednesday, everyone! Today, we're featuring an incredible package from the luxurious Miraval Resort & Spa in Arizona. For those of you not familiar with Miraval, it is an award winning destination resort & spa nestled in the Santa Catalina Mountians. Through innovative and creative treatments and programs, Miraval's mission is to create and build balance within their client's lives. Hurry! This package must be booked by July 18, 2017! Contact us to book! 

Wellness Wednesday Miraval

Happy Wellness Wednesday, Folks! To celebrate our Wellness Travel Certification, we're giving our clients a fabulous new wellness travel offer every Wednesday! This week, check-out this amazing package from Waldhaus Flims Grand Hotel & Spa in Switzerland! 

 Waldhaus Flims

Thursday, 03 November 2016 00:00

France: The Perfect 30th Birthday Getaway

When I was 12 years old, my grandmother took me to Paris. I had never left the country before and from the moment that we arrived at Charles de Gaulle, I was smitten. I walked the Champs Elysee like I owned it, ate pigeon during a dinner cruise on the Seine, and even went to the Moulin Rouge. Clearly, my grandma wasn't the normal bake-you-cookies type.

My Grandma and I during a di

That trip not only cemented my love of travel, but my love of France. France is my favorite country in the world and I continuously find myself wanting to return to. As I get older, my interests change, which makes each trip fundamentally different; like I'm visiting a completely new city and a dear old friend at the same time.

My Grandma and I during a di

This year I turned 30 and I wanted nothing more than to spend my big birthday in the city that changed my life for the better. I never win prizes, so when I went to a travel agent event at the French Consulate in New York for the Palace Hotels, I never in a million years expected to be the grand prize winner of two business class tickets on Air France, two nights in a suite at the Mandarin Oriental, and 4 nights at the Byblos St Tropez. With tears of joy streaming down my face, I called my mom  and asked her to spend two weeks with me in France.

After months of anticipation, we were finally at JFK waiting for our flight. The lovely folks at Air France flew us over on business class, so we waited in the lounge for our flight. Waiting in the lounge is night and day compared to waiting in the terminal! It's much quieter and you don't have to fight over a seat- plus the Wi-Fi is significantly stronger. If you have a long layover, I highly recommend trying to buy a day pass, which some airlines allow. I find that I often spend the same amount of money at a bar in the regular terminal waiting for my flight that I would on a pass. At least in the lounge I can take a shower.

Air France Lounge

Our flight departed at 11pm. Air France allows business and first class passengers to eat their meal in the lounge before the flight to maximize sleeping time. The menu was created by David Boulud and was a far cry from the typical notorious air plane mush. After enjoying our fill of lobster, beef tenderloin and several glasses of champagne, we boarded Air France's Boeing 777 with the new business class.

Air France Flat bedAir France Flat bed office

This plane offers business class passengers their own private compartment that combines an office, restaurant table, and an adjustable flat bed. Even though we checked our luggage, we appreciated all of the storage space so we could spread out. A delightful French flight attendant greeted us with a glass of champagne and helped us understand how to use our seat.

The 180 flat bed was perfect for sleeping and I loved all the adjustments that you could make. Unlike the gauze square "pillows" in coach, we were given a down comforter and soft plush pillow. There were a bunch of movies and TV shows to watch, but I knew that I needed to be well rested. I chose a glass of wine from their delicious French wine list to pair with ONE TV show. No sooner was my wine finished then my eyes shut. The next thing I remember was a gentle tap on my arm and a soothing French voice whispering, "we are landing;" the complete opposite of being shaken awake in coach!

Air France business classAir France entertainment

We arrived at Charles de Gaulle at noon the following day and our driver met us promptly at arrivals to take us to our hotel. Usually, I take a 7 or 8pm flight to Paris, arriving at 8am or 9am. However, I really enjoyed taking the later flight; by the time that we arrived at our hotel our room was ready and we could check in. The late arrival also was better for my jet lag as we only had half a day to trudge through before going to sleep at a time in Paris.

We had a great experience flying Air France. While the airline is plagued by a reputation of delays and strikes, once aboard, the French hospitality prevails.

Continue to follow my travels through France over the next couple of weeks! I'm so excited to share with you all.

Concerned about Zika but still want to travel Somewhere warm this winter? We totally understand that you're wary of Zika. We also totally understand that you still need to take a vacation this winter. Never fear! We've compiled the ultimate list of Zika-free destinations along with handpicked resorts to make your holiday postcard perfect!

Uruguay Bahia Vik

Uruguay- Bahia Vik Jose Ignacio

Uruguay is a seriously under-rated destination considering all that it has to offer. Besides numerous beautiful beaches, Uruguay has a vibrant colonial city and growing wine region!

Bahia Vik Jose Ignacio is located on the southeastern coast of Uruguay right on the Atlantic ocean. At just 37 suites, Bahia Vik provides guests with personal attention. Rooms combine indoor and outdoor living that truly compliment the surrounding environment. Don't worry- even though the resort itself is small, you definitely won't be bored! There is a lot to do, including yoga on the beach, bird walks, a game room. Love nightlife? There's a restaurant that hosts a late night party complete with a DJ and steel drums to keep you dancing all night! There are two sister hotels nearby that guests have access to, including Estancia Vik, a countryside ranch resort where you can horseback ride down the coast and through the planes. The hotel owners even have their own wine label, so break out a bottle and enjoy the sunset bonfire on the beach.

Book with us and receive: Complimentary Buffet breakfast for two, one three-step dinner per person, Wi-Fi and, upgrade/early check-in/late check-out upon availability.
Additional promotions may be available.


Le Tahaa Relais Chateaux

French Polynesia- Le Taha'a Island Resort

French Polynesia's Instagram-tastic over-water bungalows gives the island the reputation for being a honeymoon haven. Don't let this stereotype knock it off your list! There's more to the island than romance. Visitors can enjoy nature hikes (ending with a jump in a waterfall), local markets, gardens blooming with unfamiliar flora and fauna, and a lively world under the sea. All this makes French Polynesia a paradise for families, couples, and singles alike.

Set on Taha'a Island, where vanilla is cultivated, Le Taha'a's 57 over-water and beach bungalows are built using traditional methods and materials while still maintaining a truly luxurious atmosphere. As a Relais & Chateaux property, you can count on exquisite dining options at the resort's 3 restaurants.

Book with us and get: daily breakfast for two at Vanille restaurant, chef's sweet treats of the day in room upon arrival, 75 euro spa credit and upgrade/early check-in/late check-out upon availability.
Additional promotions may be available.

Queensland Qualia

Queensland, Australia- Qualia

Home to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the Natural Wonders of the World, Hamilton Island's crystal-clear water and pristine beaches are perfect for active go-getters as well as those who want to sit back and listen to the ocean crush against the shore. The island is safe to explore- which is fortunate as there's so much to see and do! You can even cuddle with a koala!

Set on a lush 30 acres, Qualia has 60 individual rooms each designed to fit perfectly within their surroundings. When you're not enjoying your private plunge pool or sun deck, take advantage of Qualia's two infinity pools, spa, restaurants and fitness center. You can even take a yoga class overlooking the sea or participate in a variety of water sports. As an adults-only resort, Qualia is a couple's dream come true!

Book with us and receive: Daily breakfast at The Long Pavilion, welcome bottle of champagne, and complimentary talk and taste experience.
Additional promotions may be available.


Cape Town One  Only

Cape Town, South Africa- One & Only Cape Town

Where do I even begin talking about the myriad of things to do in Cape Town? From beaches to The Garden Route to hiking to whale watching to museums to wineries, Cape Town really has something for everyone.

Located in the heart of Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, the One & Only Cape Town offers sweeping views of Table Top Mountain, impeccable service, and luxurious accommodations. Don' t be afraid to bring the kids; the One & Only's kids club teaches kids and teens about South Africa in a fun and enriching fashion. They will have a fabulous time so you can guilelessly have the freedom to enjoy some much-needed adult time.

Book with us and get: Daily breakfast for two, one complimentary select menu lunch or dinner for two in Reuben's, and upgrade/early check-in/late check-out upon availability.
Additional promotions may be available.


Bermuda Elbow Beach

Bermuda- Elbow Beach

Just a short flight from the US, Bermuda is an easy, quick getaway. Bermuda is safe to walk around and begs to be toured. Bermuda has two main towns, Hamilton and St George, where you will find shops and restaurants lining the picturesque streets. You can even make your own perfume and have high tea at the local perfumery. Love history? Let your inner explorer thrive while exploring Bermuda's old forts and maritime exhibits. We can even organize ship-wreck diving!

Elbow Beach is one of the few ocean front properties on the island. At Elbow Beach, you will have the luxury of feeling the sand between your toes minutes after waking up. The resort has its own private pink beach, so you won't be competing for space. You can even get an ocean side massage!

Book with us and get daily breakfast and $150 spa credit!
Additional promotions may be available.


Belmond Napasai

Thailand- Belmond Napasai Koh Samui

Can't decide between a culture-based trip and a beach location? Look no further than Thailand! Discover ancient temples adorned with enormous gold Buddhas, immerse yourself in the daily markets, or take a Thai massage class. Once you've had your fill, head to the islands for some much needed R&R!

Located on Koh Samui, one of Thailand's famous islands, Belmond Napasai is a romantic island haven. All villas have sea views with private balconies perfect for watching the sunset. Traveling with a larger group? Belmond has oceanfront villas which hold up to 8 adults. Don't miss the massive infinity pool that appears to pour into the gulf.

Book with us and recieve: daily breakfast at Lai Thai, One Hour Massage for two at Napasai Spa, One Way Airport Transfer by Private Car and upgrade upon availability.

Additional promotions may be available.


Andaz Maui

Hawaii- Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort

No passport? No problem! Hawaii is an easy destination with no language barriers or foreign currency to navigate. Investigate underwater craters, drive up the Hana Highway at dawn for an unbelievable sunrise, hike through the jungle to discover cascading waterfalls, and let the day slip by on some of most picturesque beaches in the world.

The Andaz is a gorgeous, modern resort situated right on the ocean. If lounging poolside is more your thing, the Andaz has 4 infinity pools! Finish your day at one of their two restaurants- splurge and book the chef's table!

Book with us and get daily breakfast for two at Ka'ana kitchen, $100 spa credit, Wi-Fi, and upgrade/early check-in/late check-out upon availability.
Additional promotions may be available.


San Diego Hotel del Coronado

San Diego- Hotel del Coronado

Coronado Island is a resort town just off the coast of San Diego. It's a perfect destination for those who can't sit still and need the city life as well as a beach to relax on. Added bonus: San Diego has some of the best Mexican food in the US!

Hotel del Coronado is the premier resort on the island. With over 120 years of happy clients, the hotel has hosted numerous celebrities, royal parties, and presidents. The hotel offers guests plenty of activities, including beach yoga and spinning, shopping, sailing and much more!

Book a room with us and get: daily breakfast for two at Sheerwater, VIP services, commemorative book, and upgrade/early check-in/late check-out upon availability.

Book a suite with us and get: daily breakfast at Sheerwater, $100 spa credit, VIP services, and upgrade/early check-in/late check-out upon availability.
Additional promotions may be available.


The Maldives Six Senses Laamu

The Maldives- Six Senses Laamu

The Maldives are the ultimate exclusive luxury island getaway. They are what island dreams are made of; a place so beautiful that you have to keep pinching yourself to make sure it's real.

Experience true luxury and relaxation at the eco-friendly Six Senses Laamu, which is set on its own private island. Choose between a picturesque over-water bungalow- complete with a glass bottom bathtub- or a free standing bungalow nestled in the surrounding lush green. The resort even has its own organic garden, which provides fresh fruits and vegetables to the onsite restaurants.

Book with us and get daily breakfast for two, $100 food and beverage credit, Wi-Fi, and upgrade/early check-in/late check-out upon availability.
Additional promotions may be available.


Chile Vina Vik

Chile- Vina Vik

Nestled in a vineyard, Viña Vik is the ultimate relaxing getaway. There are only 22 rooms, each unique, with modern artistic decor. Floor to ceiling windows give sweeping views of the surrounding lakes and mountains. Viña Vik is a true wine themed resort; enjoy a wine bath or grape seed massage at their holistic wine spa or have a picnic in the vineyards.

Chile is a country as diverse as it is long; you can visit the driest place on earth and go skiing without leaving its boarders. There's incredible hiking and incredible wines to reward yourself with after.

Book with us and receive: complimentary Buffet breakfast with homemade cold meats, pastry and bread for two daily, $100 spa credit, Wi-Fi and upgrade/early check-in/late check-out upon availability.
Additional promotions may be available


Montage Laguna Beach

Southern California- Montage Laguna Beach

Love the outdoors but still want to enjoy a chic and stylish dinner? Laguna Beach is your place! Just outside Los Angeles, Laguna Beach provides an escape from the hustle and bustle, while not feeling remote and desolate. In a social mood? Stroll down the boardwalk, meander into a local art gallery, or join a volleyball game on the main beach. Need a break from it all? Wander down the trails and through the gardens at Heisler Park or explore the canyons in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.

Built on a cliff looking over the ocean, the Montage Laguna Beach offers a myriad of activities, including golf, shopping, tennis and water sports. After a day in the sun, rejuvenate at the resort's 20,000 sq ft spa before enjoying one of several restaurants on site.

Book with us and get: daily breakfast for two, $100 spa credit, welcome gift, and upgrade/late check-out upon availability.
Additional promotions may be available.


St Regis Mexico City

Mexico City- St Regis Mexico City

Mexico City has received a ton of press recently for its fabulous restaurants, spectacular shopping, and vast art and culture scene. It's become one of the trendiest cities to visit. With many direct flights from the US, Mexico City is an easy long weekend getaway.

Located on one of the cities main streets, The St Regis is perfect for exploring all that the city has to offer, though, with a spa that has an infinity pool overlooking the city and numerous restaurants, it might be difficult to leave the hotel! Be sure to book a table at La Table Krug, a 12 chair French restaurant serving an elaborate 11 course meal.

Book with us and receive: daily breakfast at Diana Restaurant, $100 hotel credit, and upgrade/early check-in/late check-out upon availability.

Additional promotions may be available.


Dubai Fairmont The Palm

Dubai- Fairmont The Palm

There's something positively seductive about Dubai. Maybe it's Dubai's reputation for being the playground to the wealthy. But if gold vending machines (yes, really) aren't your thing, there is plenty more to see and do! Scour through the souks in search of local treasures and spices, climb to the top of the Burj- the tallest building in the world, or try your luck at indoor skiing. Escape to the dessert for camel riding and dune bugs followed by a candle lit dinner under the stars.

Located on Palm Jumeirah, Dubai's man-made island, Fairmont The Palm's private beach boasts a fantastic view of the skyline. The hotel has several restaurants to satisfy every craving and a cigar bar. You can even take a cooking class!

Book with us and receive: daily breakfast for two, $100 restaurant credit, Wi-Fi, and upgrade/early check-in/late check-out upon availability.
Additional promotions may be available.


Fall is here and winter is right around the corner. Don't let Zika keep you stuck in the cold! Contact us today to book!


From the moment that I exited the plane, I realized that India was nothing like I anticipated. We landed in the middle of the afternoon and the airport was empty! where were the crowds that I heard so much about? (I now know more about India flight patterns) Nothing smelled like curry!!!

Delhi Airport

My guide, Jai, met me after arrivals and we began our adventure into the city. The drive to our hotel was surprisingly calm. In many ways, the layout of Delhi reminded me a lot of Mexico City. Similarly, upscale neighborhoods were guarded by tall walls with high security gates. Apparently, the traffic in Delhi is also similar to Mexico City. Lucky for me, it was Saturday so the roads were clear.

We arrived at my hotel, the gorgeous Leela Palace New Delhi, and I had my first experience with the infamous strict security of India; TSA style screening to enter a luxury hotel. Watching hardened security guards roughhousing my belongings outside a 5* palace hotel was a strange dichotomy.

One of my favorite India customs is the hotel welcome greeting. In this greeting, several beautiful women dressed in decorative saris greet you with a bow and Namaste. One of the women, holding a tray of power, approaches and places a bindi on your forehead. Another woman approaches wrapping a flower garland around your neck. You would think that a princess entered the hotel, not an ordinary girl from New York. I couldn't have asked for a better welcome to India.

Leela palace new delhi

Unlike hotels in New York, hotels in India can be over the top without feeling pretentious. My room was decadent yet comfortable. I resisted the urge to face plant on the plush bed and instead rejuvenated with a fresh watermelon juice and headed out on the town.

First stop was the Fab Shop in the Khan Market in Delhi to stock up on clothes. I imagined that by donning typical Indian garb, I would somehow not look like a tourist. It didn't occur to me that there aren't many blond, blue eyed Indians. Fab is a government-owned store that carries clothing and goods made throughout the country. The clothes are of good quality, much better than clothes sold on the street, and the prices are set. Haggling lost its fun for me after living on Canal Street in NYC for years.

Laura Sari at Khan Market 1 Laura Sari at Khan Market 2

A couple outfits later, Jai, Nidhi (the representative from my tour operator) and I had a quick lunch at the lovely Latitude Good Earth Cafe. The menu was full of healthy western dishes like quinoa and kale- but, no curry was in sight. Nidhi interchangeably spoke the waitstaff in both Hindi and English.

earth latitude khan market India Wallpaper


Half of the women around me were dressed in traditional clothing and half of them looked like they had just come from the Mall of America. The past, present and future all coexist peacefully in India.


As the sun was setting, we walked through the lush Lodi Gardens. The park was comfortably full of picnickers, kids playing, and families and friends enjoying the last few days before the heat becomes intolerable. The biggest dahlias that I've ever seen decorated the pathways, leading you towards the Lodhi Mosques. A small child ran past me, parents quickly in tow, ruined a family's photo and I laughed to myself thinking that maybe this place that I thought would be so foreign isn't so foreign afterall. This was just the beginning of my journey, though, and there were still many crowds to come... though not so much curry!

Flowers at Lodhi Garden New Delhi lodhi-garden-new-delh

To celebrate exploring places that are different from our own, our friends at GPS My City are giving away a free city walk download of your choice to the 20 best travel stories about getting lost or discovering something unexpected. To enter, post your travel story in the comments below. The winner will be chosen June 25th!

Thursday, 05 May 2016 00:00

Introduction to India

In the last year, I've been able to call myself a true jetsetter. The nature of my job has me traveling to new destinations almost monthly. I am living the dream! However, the more that I traveled to new places, the less foreign they felt. Destinations that would have once felt unfamiliar now felt quite comfortable. Despite having some absolutely phenomenal experiences, I've found my travels were lacking that punch in the stomach of glee that travel used to give me.

laura in a sari india

I feel somewhat guilty even confessing this as I truly am grateful for my incredible life, but when travel becomes your job, it changes. My clients are always in the forefront of my mind as I travel, and I nit-pick, judge and notice details that the average tourist may not. I miss the months of planning, the weeks of packing, shopping for special clothes, and the giddiness that keeps one up the night before the trip begins. I am chasing that first high.

Laura in udaipur

To many, India is considered the holy grail of the "fish out of water" countries - countries that we in the western world classify as a "shock destination." Countries where life is not only chaotic, but so fundamentally different from our own that we feel like a fish out of water. "India changes you," claimed my colleagues. Naturally, it was at the top of my bucket list.


Laura on bus india varanasi

The trip to India was my love child. I sit on the board of the Young Travel Professionals FAM and Global Events team. Our job is to orchestrate trips for young travel agents. These trips familiarize agents with a destination so they can better sell it to the young (or young at heart!) traveler. About a year ago, during a meeting where we were discussing potential trips, I saw an opportunity to make my dream a reality.

"What about India?" I said.

"Go for it." The team was enthusiastic.

And so I began to work with my best operator, Pierce & Leslie to develop an itinerary. The process of organizing the trip and its participants was long and involved. I had to apply for a visa that asked more questions than a bank does when you buy a house. With each stage the trip I gained momentum and generated greater excitement.

laura at oberoi india

The week before my trip Murphy's law reared its ugly head, turning me into a total, stressed out wreck. I lost sleep and was visibly agitated at the office. As my stress levels increased, I suddenly remembered a slew of things that I hadn't taken care of in preparation for the trip. I even texted my husband from the AirTran, freaking out about the lease that we were supposed to have signed days before. Were they going to start showing our apartment while I was away? Did I remember to turn on my out of office notification? A panic attack was surely on the horizon.

The 15 hour flight to Delhi gave me an opportunity to relax and by the time my guide and driver met me at the airport, I was wide-eyed and eager for adventure.

India sucker-punched me in a way the few other places have. I was equally mesmerized living in the moment as romanticizing the aftermath. In a land of such contrasts, the incredible coexistence of rich, poor, and cow was inspiring. Hospitality was unparalleled; the hotel cleaners even put a bookmark in my book! Between the incredible service in hotels and specially-created surprises from Pierce & Leslie, I felt like a princess.

laura in jaipur

I found the Indians that I interacted with had an innate gift of relating to our group and were able to participate in our conversations fluidly while still retaining their unique and timeless culture. In fact, our conversations were so fluid that I often forgot that I was a foreigner and that I should adjust my Americanized conversation. Our guide played an integral part of our journey in a way that guides in "exotic" countries typically cannot. He understood our idiosyncrasies and could really read the crowd. He knew when we were losing interest in a particular site and when we needed more time. My newfound relationships with our Indian colleagues brought comfort amongst the chaos.

Laura in agraBy the end of the trip, I was told that I had a calm presence. I could hear my friends laughing thousands of miles away as "calm" is the last adjective that anyone would ever use to describe me. As a type A travel advisor, I have a hard time relinquishing control over logistics.

laura at Taj Mahel
Our amazing operator played a paramount role in creating my calm mood. It took me several days to notice and reflect upon how seamless the complicated logistics were. Transportation appeared out of nowhere - from boats, to rickshaws, everything was just waiting for our arrival. I was able to let go of control and trust that all the i's were dotted and t's were crossed and was truly able to relax and enjoy myself. For a type A person knowing that everything is under control is a true luxury.

laura elephants india
I look forward to sharing my experiences with you city by city. It was important for me to post this prologue so that you can understand the circumstances that resulted in the planning of this trip and comprehend the impact that this incredible country had on my heart.

Monday, 21 December 2015 00:00

Emilia Romagna Day 2: The Casentino Forest

If you missed your first day in Emilia Romagna, you can read all about it here.

The morning came a bit too soon, but I was lucky to be greeted by sun and warmth. Typically the weather is not so nice in November and there is a lot of rain. Like a good travel agent, I spent some of the morning touring the hotels in town. Bagno di Romana is very popular as a tourist destination for Italians, so there are several great choices.

Driving through Bagno di romagna
We packed up our things and drove to the nearby National Park of The Casentino Forest. Most photos of Italy portray the country as rolling hills dotted with vineyards so it was strange to see forest. One thing still rings true; even in the forest, the country is still full of hills. Instead of vineyards though, picture full grown trees. This area is a cycler's dream!

Cyclist in Bagno
The forest is huge and took almost an hour to get to our first destination: Antica Farmacia. Antica Farmacia is famous for their incredible beauty products which have been made by monks since the 12th century. Driving through the windy roads the monastery looked like a smoky fortress.

 monastery antica farmacia
I was thrilled because I had visited the Santa Maria Novella store in Florence during my past trip in August. Naturally, I was excited to visit the actual monastery where the goods were produced. The Florence store is known for its beautiful baroque moldings and the shop at the monastery is just as lovely. The product line at the monastery even extends to chocolate and ceramics. I was excited to find items cost about ¼ the price of the Florence store! 


Inside the shop is a museum showcasing the tools the monks used as well as old books filled with recipes and drawings.

antica farmacia 2 antica farmacia

Walking through the monastery, you will find an unassuming stone church. The ornate inside of the church hardly matches the austere outside. 

Inside monastery church
In the afternoon, we headed to the monastery of San Francisco. Even though I am not Catholic, I felt a magical feeling when walking around the buildings.

San Francisco san francisco monastery

The sky made the monastery extra mystical; walking to an overlook you felt suddenly over the clouds- like the monastery was close to Heaven.

Cross at San Francisco Cliffs at San Francisco

The cliffs surrounding the monastery looks they were once used as places of prayer. Hundreds of tiny crosses are carved into the wall as if they were put there by a divine force of nature. Religious or not, you could not help but feel like you were somewhere special.

crosses at San Francisco Inlets of San Francisco


Wednesday, 16 December 2015 00:00

Emilia Romagna day 1: Bagno di Romagna

The best part about being a travel agent is having to pre-test experiences for my clients. As Italy is my #1 destination, I spent five glorious days in the Italian countryside- mostly in Emilia Romagna. Emilia Romagna is widely regarded – by Italians- as the gastronomy capital of Italy. As food in Italy is amazing everywhere, it's hard to imagine how fabulous it is in this particular region. You'll just have to plan a trip (or take my word for it!)

Italian Countryside
I flew into Bologna and was picked up by my colleague, Riccardo. The hour and a half drive to Bagno di Romagna was breathtaking and even though I was SO jetlagged, I trudged through to not miss out on the gorgeous landscape.

Bagno di Romagna

Riccardo is a great guide; throughout the drive he was telling me tidbits about Italian life that only a local would know, like that fresh spaghetti is really only eaten in Naples. I felt like Anthony Bourdain in No Reservations!

Hotel Tosco Romagnolo

We arrived in Bagno di Romagna in mid afternoon just in time to grab a quick lunch at my hotel, Tosco Romagnolo. Despite having visited Italy before, I still had many misconceptions of the country and its people. Unlike Spain, Italians have relatively strict hours for meals. Arrive for lunch after 2 and you might be SOL.

bagno di romagna street Bagno di Romagna clothes

After lunch, I had some free time. I probably should have slept. Instead, my giddiness overcame me and I took a walk through the little town. My hotel stood on end of the main street. The cobblestone streets were lined with typical small town European buildings- some dating back to medieval time. In the main square was a stone church.

Bagno di romana church Bagno di romagna midieval

Hotels in Bagno di Romagna specialize in spa holidays due to the presence of thermal waters from Mount Comero in the nearby Casentinese National Park. My room even had a Jacuzzi! After the long flight, the spa was a welcomed activity. I enjoyed a massage at the hotel in one of the treatment rooms. The room was huge and unlike anything I've ever seen before. It was set up for a couple with two massage tables, a shower, private steam room and a large tub where you could take a joint Jacuzzi. It was the size of ¾ of my New York apartment. The strangest part of the room was the giant movie screen posted on the wall. When the massage began, the lights dimmed and a star-like pattern illuminated from the ceiling. The screen began to glimmer with relaxing images timed to typical pan-flute music.

Bagno di Romagna Spa

I felt revitalized after my massage, just in time for dinner. Italy is littered with Michelin restaurants. For months, Riccardo had been telling me about how the Michelin restaurants in the countryside differed from the fancy hotel $300 plus theatricals in the cities. They are less expensive, more casual. We met in the lobby to dine at Pret a Porter, one of the hotel's restaurants. The restaurant was very traditional Italian in its décor- very Godfather-eque. I would never guess this was a Michelin restaurant, though it may be more obvious during high season when the city is livelier. That's kind of what I loved most about it; so unassuming, so local-fancy. I felt like I was in the real Italy.

Pret a Porte calamari Pret a Porte Noodle Dish

The food was incredible; modern twists on classic dishes. My favorites were a creamy calamari dish and a brothy noodle dish which is typical to the area. By the main dish, I was stuffed. Riccardo explained that chefs get offended when you don't finish your plate because they think you don't like your food. Not wanting to upset anyone, I did my best. By the end, I was thankful my bed was only an elevator ride away.

Thursday, 10 December 2015 00:00

Why You Should Travel in Times of Terrorism

The first time that I ever visited New York City was in the months following the 9/11 attacks. New York saw a huge drop in tourism, so the tourism bureau created a package called "Paint the Town Red, White and Blue." The package included train tickets from Boston, hotel and theater tickets. For Christmas 2001, my mom gave this to me as my gift. I will never forget the moment that I climbed the steps from Penn Station and saw the lights of Times Square in the distance. In that moment something forever changed inside of me and I knew that New York City was my home. I was 15 years old. Mom and I fell in love with the city and started making almost quarterly trips (though we skipped the pricy train for the $10 Chinatown bus.)

Though I can't say for sure how New York tourism changed post 9/11 other than stricter rules for entering museums and having to take your shoes off going through airport security, I can say that I never felt scared. I never walked down the street thinking that I could get blown up. The magic of the city was too overwhelming for any other thoughts. With all the mass shootings of late, it feels like you're just as likely to get caught up in trouble in a small town. Destruction can happen anywhere.

Like the New York attacks, the attacks on Paris felt like they came out of nowhere. I think that Americans empathize with the Paris attacks more so than attacks in Lebanon or the problems in Syria because we associate those places with violence and they feel somewhere very far away. We have the "it won't happen to me" attitude, but in Africa and the Middle East this mindset doesn't apply. Paris is more familiar to us; their people are perceived more like us.

This is why I love Brad Rickman's article posted November 25 on Why You Should Go to Paris (And Beirut, And Belgium, And...) Now More than Ever. We are becoming more and more of a global community and I think that the idea of thinking about being a global citizen is important for the future of the world. It is important to see these places, those people- to connect with them and build empathy and understanding. To not let THEM win. Because the moment we let several people's actions dictate where we go and what we do, they win.

New York

04 Dec 2015

As one of the world's top luxury travel events, ILTM remains one of the industry's most coveted invitations.

New York, NY (December 4, 2015) — A delegation of 21 from New York-based Tzell Travel Grouprecently attended the invitation-only International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) convention. The event, exclusively reserved for the world's premier luxury travel agents, took place November 30 through December 3, at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes, France. The contingent of Tzell luxury travel agents and senior executives met with their peers within the travel industry's premier echelon and shared knowledge about what 2016 has in store for the luxury travel market.

"ILTM is renowned for bringing together the world's travel elite. We're proud that Tzell's stature as one of the industry's foremost luxury travel agencies only continues to grow as ILTM and other respected, elite organizations seek out our outstanding agents to participate," said Barry Liben, President and CEO of Tzell Travel Group. "Our clients ultimately benefit from our participation since our attendees are able to forge deeper relationships with some of the leading hoteliers and other luxury suppliers. As our agents further expand their already extensive knowledge of exclusive experiences, they're able to provide even greater expertise along with extraordinary value to our distinguished clientele."

Tzell Travel Group was represented by 19 luxury travel agents and two senior executives who received exclusive invitations to attend ILTM:

• Deborah Barth – Brownell Travel, a Branch of Tzell
• Gina Gabbard – Vice President, Leisure Sales, Tzell Travel Group
• Christina Gambini – Vice President, Hotels Program, Tzell Travel Group
• Leigh Gernert – Tzell Travel Group
• Katherine Gould – Brownell Travel, a Branch of Tzell
• Martin Gould – Tzell Travel Group
• Laura Hanaford – Tzell Travel Group
• Alysia Hopper – Brownell Travel, a Branch of Tzell
• Keith Hyatt – Tzell Travel Group
• Jeffrey Kane – Jeffrey's World of Travel, a Branch of Tzell
• Paula Killon – Tzell Travel Group
• Robin Leggett – Travel Collaborative, a Branch of Tzell
• Patti Lehman – The Travel Agent, a Branch of Tzell
• Jessica Ourisman – Brownell Travel, a Branch of Tzell
• Ron Phillips – Brownell Travel, a Branch of Tzell
• Bob Romano – Your Travel Center, a Branch of Tzell
• Bowden Sarrett – Brownell Travel, a Branch of Tzell
• Marla Schaefer – Leaders in Travel, a Branch of Tzell
• Walter Leroy Twiste – Tzell Park Ave, a Branch of Tzell
• David Waldes – Tzell Travel Group
• Rose Wylie – Travel 100, a Branch of Tzell

Tzell prides itself in providing its clients with in-depth knowledge, experience and individualized client service with some of the most talented travel agents in the industry. Tzell's first-class white-glove service and support is why Tzell – part of the larger Travel Leaders Group – is among the nation's biggest and most successful travel management companies.

Agents interested in joining Tzell and providing the highest quality, most personalized and proactive customer service available should visit

About Tzell Travel Group:
With annual sales of $2 billion, Tzell Travel Group – as part of Travel Leaders Group – is currently ranked first among the nation's largest corporate travel management companies, according to Business Travel News. Tzell maintains its headquarters in New York City and has offices in 20 states.

In everything it does, Tzell Travel Group places the highest priority on both its clients and its agents. For the individual traveler, Tzell addresses value, convenience, comfort and safety, with its customized quality traveler services. For the corporation, Tzell offers a broad product line of cost containment, meeting services and comprehensive travel management programs.

Tzell focuses on the needs of its agents by providing the best work environment possible and the strongest leadership and support team. These elements combined with excellent air/hotel leisure programs create the "safe haven" which is a hallmark of the Tzell brand.

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