4-legged Friends Getaway

Much as we’d love to unless it’s a quick road trip, it’s difficult to take your four-legged friend on vacation with you. But there are lots of places you can go and make new furry friends, help them find forever homes and maybe even bring them home with you. Here are a few of our favorite programs.

Kauai

The Kauai Humane Society allows visitors to “check out” dogs for day trips to dog-friendly beaches and hiking trails. You get a companion for the day, the dog gets a nice time out of the shelter and wears a vest labeled “adopt me” so local passers-by know he or she is in need of a permanent home. Even if they don’t get adopted that day, the dogs still get a chance to socialize, making them more prepared for a family. If you really make a strong connection, you can your new friend home. The society helps with the process and adopts an average of four dogs a month to visitors.

Turks and Caicos

Located in the popular Grace Bay area of Providenciales, Potcake Place strives to reduce the number of homeless dogs on the island. As there is no animal shelter in Turks and Caicos, volunteers keep the dogs in their own homes but allow visitors to take pups on beach trips. If there’s a good match, Potcake Place helps with the process of adoption and transporting the dogs to their new homes. The volunteers work with veterinarians to make sure the dogs have their vaccinations, and if necessary even accompany them on the trip to meet their families.

Costa Rica

Territorio de Zaguates, “Land of the Strays,” is a shelter in the mountains near Heredia, about an hour outside San Jose. The shelter organizes walks of about 2 miles with its canine residents where visitors can get to know the dogs and help them get used to people and possibly even meet their new owners. The walks typically take place two weekends a month, though they are temporarily suspended and no schedule has been released for 2018, so make sure to check with Territorio de Zaguates before showing up.

Blackberry Farm

This Virtuoso-preferred resort in Walland, Tenn., is home to several types of farm animals and breeds Lagotto Romagnolo dogs who specialize in truffle hunting. One weekend every February (this year it’s Feb. 2-4), guests are invited to bring their own Lagottos or enjoy time with the farm’s as they do what they love best, hunt for truffles. The celebration culminates in a feast showcasing the flavorful fungi in a variety of tasty dishes.

Inn by the Sea

A Virtuoso-preferred resort in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, Inn by the Sea has invited guests to bring their pets for a long time. Now, it’s connecting dogs and families who didn’t arrive together but end up going home together. The inn fosters dogs from the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland and has helped dozens of dogs find their forever families. When you check in, you’ll be greeted by a pup manning the front desk, and if the fit is right, you might just end up with a great souvenir.

By Damien Martin

Wave Season and what it means for you

By now you’ve probably noticed that it’s cold outside. And now that the holidays are over, all this winter weather has long since lost its charm. Either you need to get away to somewhere warm immediately, or you’re already looking forward to spring break or summer vacation. Fortunately, cruise lines are eager to get you on board and offer some amazing specials during “wave season,” the first quarter of the year. Whether you prefer river cruising, small ocean ships or larger ocean liners with tons of onboard activities, book in time and there are great savings to be had. Then you can close your eyes and dream of warm sand and blue skies as you trudge through the snow.

Rivers

With AmaWaterways, book by March 31 and receive an additional $100 per person savings on select cruises that are already marked down anywhere from $250 to $1,000 per person. Book select airfare-included European sailings with Avalon Waterways by Feb. 20 and save up to $3,000 per couple. Reserve a Crystal cruise (river or ocean) by March 31 and you’ll have your choice of $400 per person off cruise fare, $500 per person air credit or $600 per person to spend onboard. For river itineraries with Tauck, pay deposit by Feb. 28 on a departure between March 1 and Aug. 31 to take advantage of $890 per person economy class airfare, $1,490 per person in premium economy or $3,490 per person in business class. The offer also applies to all European land tours and Treasures of the British-Irish Isles and St. Petersburg and the Baltic Sea ocean cruises. Uniworld is offering up to 30 percent on select 2018 sailings, and up to 20 percent off several of its U by Uniworld cruises aimed at 21-45-year-olds for bookings made by the end of March. Viking has two-for-one pricing with air included on select Waterways of the Tsars and Grand European Tour departures this year and next if you book by Jan. 31.

Small ships

Azamara Club Cruises is reducing cruise fare by 50 percent for the second passenger in a cabin on certain sailings for Club Oceanview or higher categories if reserved by Feb. 28. Celebrating its 125th anniversary, Hurtigruten is offering savings of up to $1,250 per person for bookings made by Feb. 28 (March 31 for select Norway sailings). Cruise Alaska’s Inside Passage on Regent’s Seven Seas Mariner and you could get a three-category upgrade if you reserve by March 1. Seabourn’s Alaska incentive will double your shipboard credit to $600 per suite on some Virtuoso Voyages booked by March 13. Deposit by March 15 with Silversea and get up to $1,000 per suite onboard credit plus an upgrade on select sailings all over the world. Save $450 per couple on select seven-night or $600 per couple for 14-night Alaska journeys with UnCruise Adventures reserving by Feb. 28 and receive $100 shipboard credit as well. With Zegrahm Expeditions, new guests booking by Jan. 31 will save 5 percent and past guests will save 10 percent on select 2019 departures with supplemental solo traveler fees waived.

Large ships

Book an ocean view or higher stateroom with Celebrity by Feb. 28 and have your choice of a drink package, wireless internet, prepaid gratuities or $150 onboard credit for the first two guests and 50 percent reduced cruise for the third and fourth passengers in a cabin. Receive up to $500 per cabin to spend onboard and 10 percent on shore excursions when booking a verandah or higher with Holland America on select Land + Sea Journeys by Feb. 28 (shore excursions must be booked by March 15). Plus, suites also receive prepaid gratuities. Princess’ anniversary sale runs through Feb. 14, and in that time you can take advantage of up to $600 per cabin credit and free specialty dining, with deposits as low as $100 per person. Royal Caribbean is offering savings of up to 30 percent and $100 per person credit with opportunities for upgrades and prepaid gratuities through Jan. 31. Past guests of Cunard can reduce their deposits by 50 percent, while all guests can enjoy upgrades, complimentary gratuities and free drinks (in Grill Suites) when booking by Feb. 28.

To maximize your savings and benefits, contact Stefany, Co-Founder/Dream Travel Designer of DMC Travel Tailor at (917) 653-9346 or email her at info@dmctraveltailor.com.

Benefits of booking with a DMC Travel Tailor Advisor

No doubt working with a travel advisor saves precious time both during the planning process and during your journey. But that’s hardly the extent of the value a DMC Travel Tailor advisor adds to your trip. In many cases, booking with us actually saves money in addition to providing you with amenities you can’t get on your own or through an online travel agency.

If you’ve worked with us before, you know about our affiliation with the Virtuoso network, which makes us preferred partners with the best hotels, tour operators and cruise lines in the world and provides exclusive benefits to our clients such as room upgrades, resort credits, and breakfast included when you stay at a Virtuoso hotel.

More than that, however, we cultivate strong relationships with our partners so that when we send our clients out into the world, we are placing you in the care of trusted friends. When our clients arrive, they are greeted as VIP guests and doted on by our partners. And if our clients do not receive exceptional service, we’ll hear the reason why and take steps to correct any issues while you’re in travel. Good luck getting that from an online travel agency.

The difference goes beyond Virtuoso, as we are members of just about every elite hotel amenity program there is. With Belmond’s Bellini Club, you’ll receive extra benefits on Belmond luxury trains and in their hotels. Membership in the Dorchester Collection’s Diamond Club gives our clients gives our clients guaranteed upgrades at such hotels and the Plaza Athénée in Paris, Hotel Eden in Rome and The Beverly Hills Hotel. As preferred partners of Fairmont and Four Seasons, our clients receive VIP treatment at some of the most exclusive hotels and resorts in the world.

Staying with such fine hotel chains as Mandarin Oriental, Jumeirah, Rosewood, Ritz-Carlton, Rocco Forte and Starwood, you’ll enjoy complimentary breakfast, credits for use in spas or restaurants along with upgraded rooms and personalized welcomes from management. The same goes for collections such as Small Luxury Hotels and the Relais & Chateaux network of properties famed for their culinary quality and unique charm.

You simply cannot reproduce the quality of experience that working with a DMC Travel Tailor advisor by booking on your own or through an online travel agency. Every step of the way, from planning to traveling to memorializing the trip of a lifetime, you are in good hands with real live people who are dedicated to making sure your experience is one you’ll want to relive over and over. With our help, you’ll be so thrilled with your vacation, you’ll already be thinking about your next one by the time you get home.

Why More People are Opting for Tailored Travel

Why More People are Opting for Tailored Travel

When it comes to tourism and travel, consumers are increasingly seeking out new and unique experiences. Additionally, most of them are looking for a custom private trip that is tailored to the experiences they would like to have. Why are more people looking into tailored trips?

Free To Enjoy

Travelling can be exciting, but it can also be stressful if not properly planned. A good number of people who have visited exotic locations before may opt for a tailored trip to eliminate the risk of going through one of their past stressful experiences. They need to be sure that the entire trip is handled by professionals who are experienced and skilled. Those going for adventure trips around the world will want to have the assurance that nothing will go wrong.

Get the Holiday You Want

There are many reasons why people travel. Some people travel primarily to experience exotic cultures to enjoy the food and drinks or find out about other people’s way of life. Others may travel for specific reasons like visiting historical life or see rare species of wildlife.

When the trip is tailored to include all of the experiences you enjoy you get value for money for every minute you are visiting these chosen locations. Furthermore, you get to be in the driving seat and determine location, accommodation, and cuisine according to your preferences.

Tailored travel presents a wide range of options for clients looking for unique experiences. When seeking new experiences one of the things tourists are looking for is authenticity. They want to experience the culture in its most natural form. For example, those who enjoy food may want to go to farms, make food with the locals, or try out a short cooking course in a popular culinary location. Tailored travel has a lot to offer people who wish to do things outside of the norm.

Virtuoso Wellness Getaways

Perhaps it’s a New Year’s resolution of yours to concentrate on healthier living. Maybe you’ve recently experienced a life-changing event. Or maybe you just need a relaxing weekend getaway. Whatever it is that draws you in, wellness travel has a way of transforming outlooks on life. The goal, as with any journey, is to come back different from when you left.

And while you might think that going to a destination spa means lying around all day with cucumber slices over your eyes, the level of activity is really up to the traveler. With more than 30 resorts included in its wellness community, the Virtuoso network surely has one that fits your needs. You don’t need to ever set foot in a spa to have a transformative experience if that’s not your thing. There are plenty of ways to unwind and reset your perspective, and you can be as active as you want.

There are yoga and fitness classes, Zumba, nutrition classes and self-improvement lectures. Certain programs emphasize weight loss, while others focus on crafting, the outdoors or have various themed weeks.

On the menu is more than just wheatgrass shots and kale smoothies. Some resorts are strictly vegetarian, while others serve meat. Some serve alcohol, while others don’t. Lots of them offer cooking classes so you can learn techniques and ingredients to keep on a healthy track after you return home. Most programs are all-inclusive, offering a great value, and with fresh ingredients grown at or near the resort, you won’t find yourself going hungry.

While there are differences between wellness resorts, what they all have in common are gorgeous natural settings and a tremendous healing energy that pervades the grounds. Wellness escapes are great for friend groups, couples, and solo travelers. Whoever you’re traveling with, you’re bound to find a deeper connection with loved ones, whether they are with you or waiting for you back home.

Among the unique experiences wellness community members offer is equine therapy at Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa in Tucson. The classes, especially “It’s Not About the Horse,” help guests gain a perspective on how they approach life and better understand their own strengths and challenges. Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa in Miami has programs centered around heart health and diabetes. Canyon Ranch’s Tucson resort offers a golf clinic to work on your game in calmer times, and an emphasis on dealing with health crises in tenser times. Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico, southeast of San Diego, has hikes for all skill levels, including a nature walk that begins near the U.S. border and continues all the way to the resort through a 3,000-acre preserve.

Those are just a few examples of the restorative experiences to be had at Virtuoso-preferred wellness resorts. And if your idea of relaxation is a massage and a facial, well they’re great at that, too. Contact Stefany Di Manno Ceccato at DMC Travel Tailor (Dream Travel Designer/Co-Founder) at info@dmctraveltailor.com to find the resort that’s right for you.

By Damien Martin

Top Trips for Foodies

It’s Thanksgiving week, time to stuff your face with abandon and enjoy all your favorite foods. While 2017 has been a tough year for travel in a lot of ways, especially hurricane season, there is plenty to be thankful for, such as the lifting of the laptop ban on certain flights. One of the best things about travel is sampling foods from all over the globe and experiencing different flavors, smells and atmosphere throughout the culinary world.

Sometimes you find amazing dishes in unexpected places, like on Celebrated Experiences’ Dublin food walking tour, featuring traditional and contemporary fare from a range of bakeries, food halls and cheesemongers. Wherever you go, there’s always a new taste to be discovered, and below is a rundown of some of the best Virtuoso-preferred companies for going around the world in 180 plates.

EXO Travels

Asia is a tapestry rich with unique spices, vegetables and styles of cooking. EXO can please your palate in a variety of ways, whether you’re looking for an immersive 12-day culinary tour of Vietnam or smaller samplers. Learn how to make the national dish, pho, during a half-day tour in Hoi An, where the day starts with ingredient selection at Cua Dai Market. Once you’ve made your picks, you take a paddle boat to a restaurant, where you make your own noodles and while they dry learn how to make the traditional beef broth, a mix of beef bones, ginger, different herbs and spices that needs to marinate to become the secret of the pho. The final touch is to boil the rice noodles and cook the beef.

If you prefer to leave the cooking to the experts, stroll through Hanoi’s Thanh Ha and Dong Xuan markets with a food blogger to sample delicacies and rarities while learning about the role food has played throughout Vietnam’s history, including the incorporation of dishes introduced by foreign occupiers such as the French. It can be tough to escape the crowds in Ho Chi Minh City, with its population of more than 8 million, but with EXO’s Saigon’s Secret Food Tour, you can breeze through on motorcycle and cram as much food from banh khot to bun bo hue as possible in 4.5 hours.

Beyond Times Square

A crossroads of cultures, New York is a melting pot of the best from all ethnic groups who have settled there. On Beyond Times Square’s Eating Your Way Through Manhattan tour, you visit Hell’s Kitchen, Little Italy, Greenwich Village and the Lower East Side noshing on Norwegian smoked salmon, Sicilian cannoli and everything in between. For a taste of another borough, the Brooklyn Epicurious tour spotlights pizza and Middle Eastern delights. It also showcases a chocolatier in the DUMBO neighborhood, but if you want all sweets, go for the 3-hour History of Chocolate program. For more sophisticated fare, try the private culinary experience, in which you expand your skills preparing a 3-course meal using fresh, local produce and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Urban Adventures

Having just joined Virtuoso in May, Urban Adventures has food and beverage tours in dozens of cities. Among the most intriguing are in countries with great culinary history. In Spain, soak up Basque culture in San Sebastian with the Grab Your Pintxo tour, see why Valencia is much more than the birthplace of paella with the Tastes and Treats tour or blend the old with the new on a Madrid Tapas Adventure.

The cuisine varies a great deal across the regions of India, too. Sink your teeth into Rajasthani favorites and try your hand at a few with the Jaipur home-cooked experience. Munch on shawarma and kulfi-falooda in the markets of Delhi or taste more spices than you can imagine with a home-cooked meal. Barter with vegetable vendors in Varanasi before enjoying lunch with a local family or explore South Indian delicacies on the Mumbai Masala tour.

Got a taste for Thai? You’ll love the Courageous Kitchen cookery class in Bangkok, featuring the sights and smells of bustling markets and teaching Thai cooking techniques for your favorite classics. Enjoy authentic khao soi and khao man gai with the Taste of Chiang Mai tour, or go deeper and challenge your taste buds with the Chiang Mai Off-Grid Food Adventure.

VizEat

Another tour operator that joined Virtuoso in the spring, VizEat pairs travelers with hand-picked local hosts for authentic, intimate food experiences. One of the best ways to familiarize yourself with a culture is through its food, and when you’re in a family’s house eating a traditional dinner, you can really immerse yourself in a destination.

Whether it’s tajine in Marrakech using grandma’s recipe or diving into New Nordic cuisine with a former chef in Copenhagen, you’re sure to feel like a local sharing a meal with friends. Take a pasta master class in Bologna and discover why the city is known as la grassa e dotta (“the fat and learned one,” famous for its cuisine and universities). Go on the cutting edge of French cooking with a creative fusion and specialty dinner in Lyon. You’ll be welcomed with open arms and emerge with a full belly and a full heart.