Traveling This Holiday Season

As we approach another Friday and the end to another work week, it is nice to reflect on how things went. What was a highlight of this week? It was a very busy week here in the Travel by Design office! I attended our GTN Travel Network Conference – virtually, of course! Our conference would have been held in beautiful Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Alas, as with many events this year, we met virtually. Our colleagues across the US and travel partners from around the world were in attendance. A great week to be sure!
I had the opportunity to meet with over 30 of our preferred partners and suppliers, including resort properties and representatives, airlines, luxury ocean cruise lines such as Seabourn Cruise LineRegent Seven Seas Cruise Line as well as Celebrity and the much anticipated Virgin Voyages. On the rivers always great to hear from AmaWaterways as well as American Steamboat Company, who sails the U.S. rivers; Lindblad Expeditions as well as the newest line to enter the Expedition Cruise market, Atlas Ocean Cruise Line were on hand to discuss this fascinating emerging segment in the cruise industry. Representatives from Costa Rica, and Hawaii advised of the recent opening of these destinations. Hotel representative such as Belmond and Red Carnation and much more were also on hand. In addition, Bob Duglin, VP of Membership from ASTA, the travel industry trade association, provided the latest updates on our advocacy and the status of global tourism. We heard from the president of Virtuoso, Matthew Upchurch – always a positive and inspiring message. All in there was great insight and optimistic discussions on the state of our industry.
We all agree that travel is about understanding and connecting. This is that time of year in which we look forward to being with family and friends to celebrate the season. Holiday travel will certainly look different this year. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the ongoing pandemic threatens to disrupt many of our longstanding holiday traditions. Interstate travel restrictions can present complex logistical hurdles while safety concerns have many of us thinking twice about spending time with our more vulnerable loved ones. Perhaps it may be the first time in many months that you may decide to take a much-needed getaway.
So where can we travel now? Mexico, Costa Rica, Western Ranches, and the Caribbean are just a few of the now open destinations with updated protocols.

2020 Holiday Travel


Costa Rica

Costa Rica translates to “Rich Coast” because of its incredibly diverse wildlife and culture. Dedicated to preserving its environment and national parks, Costa Rica is the perfect destination for nature lovers. When it comes to natural wonders, there is very little that Costa Rica doesn’t offer visitors.
Travelers can experience spectacular volcanic activity in Arenal Volcano National Park, explore the unique cloud forests on the world famous Monteverde Sky Walk, dive the colorful coral reef of Cahuita National Park, or go white river rafting down the canyons of the Rio Toro river.
The country has the highest density of biodiversity on the planet and its wildlife is a big draw for visitors. Thousands of people flock to Tortuguero National Park every year to watch green sea turtles hatch and set out for the ocean.
Clear your mind, rediscover nature, and feed your curiosity in Costa Rica.


Climb to the top of an ancient pyramid, swim with whale sharks in the Pacific Ocean, or explore centuries-old colonial towns. From Frida mania and stylish city streets to culinary traditions and cultural treasures, Mexico’s largesse goes beyond palm-lined beaches and tony resorts.
Visit Los Cabos, a city with two very different towns – Cabo, with its nightclubs and buzzy beaches and San Jose del Cabo, with its galleries and quiet courtyards. It is also home to some of the most beautiful luxury resorts in Mexico. If you’re craving charm, fervent urbanity, and history, take a trip to Mexico City. Travel to Cancún, one of the Caribbean’s most lauded and visited destinations, to find snow-hued sandy beaches, a rowdy urban entertainment district, and experiences for any occasion.
A diverse, big-hearted country that treats visitors like family, Mexico will welcome you with open arms.

Western Ranches

In lieu of traditional family get-togethers, many travelers are looking for alternative ways to spend the holiday. One of our travel partners, American Excursionist has some options. Here is an exciting list of ideas for couples and families small and large to take advantage of the Thanksgiving break in a safe and memorable way.
Offering the utmost in privacy and socially distanced outdoor adventure, a diverse collection of all-inclusive cowboy ranches and private ranch homes amongst the jaw-dropping wilds of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. From an adventurous horse ranch vacation or an exhilarating weekend getaway to a private ranch, the West will continue to amazing you with its beauty.
In Montana, experience the untamed Wild West adventure at 320 Guest Ranch’s 110-year-old homestead, where history and down-home hospitality create a memorable stay. Situated in the heart of Wyoming’s famed Platte River Valley, The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch is an all-inclusive luxury ranch resort designed exclusively for the discerning traveler.

The Caribbean

The unique geography of the Caribbean has allowed many islands to keep their case counts in check as they have reopened to tourism. This Thanksgiving, the luxurious resort and villa partners in Turks and Caicos, St. Barths, St. Lucia and Jamaica entice guests with world-class beaches and quarantine-free stays.
From Anguilla and St. Martin to the Riviera Maya, retreat to the soothing rhythms of the tropics and discover the simple pleasures of paradise with Belmond Caribbean. Belmond’s collection includes one-of-a-kind hotels, villa, and excursions throughout the Caribbean and the rest of the world.
For more inspiration, enjoy our issue of Virtuoso Life Magazine.
Happy reading! Happy dreaming!
What are your plans for the holiday season? Not sure? Let’s connect to your interests and options. I will personally create a memorable experience to be cherished a lifetime!
Have a wonderful week!

September Song


You may remember the September Song lyrics…”Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December. But the days grow short when you reach September. And the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame.”

Welcome to September! It feels just like yesterday we were gearing up for summer. However, Labor Day is here to close off the summer season and we turn towards autumn.

Labor Day, like all previous holidays this past spring and summer will be different. It is a holiday, dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
This year holds a special place and may just be unlike any other we may have experienced. Parades may have been cancelled and large gatherings ruled out, however, honor we must the essential workers who have been in the front lines since the beginning of this major disruption. Our deepest appreciation to all. During this time of staying close to home, let’s support our communities by shopping and dining locally.
September also is back to school and we honor those teachers, school staff, bus drivers, and all else who are responsible for providing our children with the tools required for them to be the best they can be for the next generation to come.
Other dates to remember in September:
  • September 3rd: National Skyscraper Day. Honor the construction workers and engineers who built the world’s modern architectural wonders.
  • September 4th: Eat an Extra Dessert Day. Yes, you have the green light to indulge this holiday weekend.
  • September 6th: National Fight Procrastination Day. One of these years we’re going to get around to celebrating.
  • September 8th: National Grandparents Day!
  • September 11: 911 Remembrance
  • September 18-20 : Rosh Hashanah
  • September 22: First day of autumn.
Have a happy and safe Labor Day Weekend, whatever your plans. Thinking of a fall getaway?

Fall Destination

The Southeast – Charleston & Savannah

A jambalaya of music, culture, history, and nature, the southeast is a seven-course feast, engaging your heart, mind, and soul. Walk beaches once frequented by pirates. Experience a vibrant culture shaped by French, African-Americans, Mexicans, the Spanish, Indigenous cultures and Scots-Irish. Explore nature at its finest—brilliant rivers and waterfalls, dark skies above the Smoky Mountains, moss-shrouded forests.
Autumn’s palette is on spectacular display in the Southeast. Colors first pop in the Great Smoky Mountains in September, and then head eastward to Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia until November when they reach the ocean. Charleston and Savannah are two of my favorite cities in America’s southeast known for their southern hospitality and rich history.
At the Belmond Charleston Place experience Southern hospitality with the perfect blend of 18th century style and 21stcentury comfort. Located at the very heart of downtown Charleston, in the historic district, and within walking distance of all the main attractions, this luxurious hotel makes every guest feel a part of this great Southern city.
The Dewberry Charleston is another luxury hotel that pays homage to old Charleston. Inside and out, The Dewberry is a manifestation of “Southern Reimagined”. Thanks to the architects and designers who juxtapose the past and present, The Dewberry redefines what is possible when historic preservation is paramount.
Check into the Perry Lane Hotel and from here explore the stunning architecture and beautiful landscaping that Savannah is famous for. Or perhaps engage in exploring the history of the American Civil War and the events that transpired here.

What’s For Dinner?

Shrimp & Grits

If Charleston had an official dish, it would be shrimp and grits. This classic Lowcountry dish tells the history of the region in every bite, combining traditional Native American and Gullah cuisines with modern Southern flavors.
· 1 cup yellow grits
· 4 cups water
· 1/2 tsp kosher salt
· 3 tbsp butter (salted or unsalted)
· 1/3 cup heavy cream
· 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or asiago)
· 4 ounces high-quality bacon sliced or chopped into small pieces (about 5-6 strips)
· 1 lb 16/20 size wild shrimp peeled and deveined
· 4 scallions sliced
· 1 tbsp minced garlic
· 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
· 2 dashes Tabasco sauce optional
Happy Hour – it is 5:00 pm somewhere!
Mint Julep
Cousins of the Cuban Mojito, the Mint Julep is a bourbon-based cocktail rather than a rum-based one. This cocktail is highly associated with the American South and the cuisine of the Southern U.S., and the crowned drink of the Kentucky Derby.
–       2 oz Bourbon whiskey
–       1 tsp powdered sugar
–       2 sprigs fresh mint plus more for garnish
–       Ice to the rim
How to Make: Rub the leaves of the mint around the edge of the highball glass and the drop the leaves into the glass. Add the bourbon and sugar to the glass with the mint, stir until the sugar dissolves. Fill the glass with crushed ice and garnish with fresh mint sprigs.
Travel Update: Airlines Eliminate Change Fees
Three major U.S. airlines, United, American, and Delta, have announced this past Monday that they will be eliminating their flight change fees for travel in the 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.
For more information about American Airlines’ new policy, read on here.
To learn more about which Delta Airlines’ tickets will be covered, visit their website here.
For a detailed report on United Airlines’ policy changes and additions, continue reading here.
For more inspiration, here is our September/October issue of Virtuoso Life Magazine Happy reading! Happy Dreaming!
Thank you as always for your support. The safety and welfare of our clients and friends is paramount when creating your personalized experiences.
We continue to monitor the global situation and to keep you as up to date as possible. We encourage everyone to continue to practice physical distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, and staying informed.
We welcome your thoughts on our site and would love to hear your favorite stories and travel experiences. We are here for you and look forward to planning your next dream journey.
We make it personal. We specialize in you!

Focus Forward

Greetings from the Southernmost city in the U.S. As mentioned last week, I had decided it was time to take a break. We thankfully have avoided a hurricane this past week and rather than head north following storm Isaias, we decided to head south to the Florida Keys, in particularly Key West. It has been years since I have had the opportunity to visit.
I do hope all who have been in the path of this storm as it headed north are safe. I have seen the damage done along the Northeast Coast and understand several colleagues had lost power, and as a result, internet. It has been quite a week. We all also saw video of the horrific explosion/tragedy in Beirut. We send our thoughts to those so greatly affected by this devastation. We are so very fortunate.
Florida’s southernmost point, lying roughly 90 miles north of Cuba, is Key West. Known as the ‘Conch Republic’, there is a distinct Caribbean flavor. Accessible from the mainland via the Overseas Highway, the drive alone is beautiful and the ideal way to cruise into the tropical oasis. The streets of its old quarter are lined with palms and pastel-painted, wooden colonial ‘gingerbread’ houses. It was a favored holiday destination of Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and Harry Truman.
Known for its protected coral reefs, there are plenty of opportunities for diving, snorkeling, and fishing. There are activities for every budget. Luxurious motor yachts and seaplane adventure. Sailing adventures. You can rent bikes, scooters or perhaps take the Old Town Trolley or Conch Train to get acquainted with all Key West has to offer. The city also hosts innumerable pageants, parades and festivals, has an active theatre culture, and several heritage museums. One cannot miss the spectacular sunsets at this most southern city!
There are many places to stay from bed and breakfast options, boutique hotels or resorts. We decided to stay at a new boutique hotel The Marker, located at the Harbor. The hotel has a great location, a few blocks from famous Duval Street. Easy to walk anywhere.
Another option, which has been named the prettiest hotels by the New York Times, the Gardens is a boutique hotel that combines stately elegance with sumptuous decor and lush tropical gardens in the heart of Old Town Key West. The hotel is comprised of five buildings, all of which are historic. There’s a reason why this hotel is called the Gardens – the brick pathways surrounding the hotel wind through rare orchids, black bamboo, and many palm varieties, with original artwork at every turn. There’s even a small lagoon, live tortoises, and koi.
In addition, located right on the water with a view of the Gulf of Mexico, the Hyatt Centric could be another starting point for your Key West adventures. The hotel’s dock offers private charter boats exploring the island’s hidden gems only accessible by boat. .
There is also the historical Casa Marina Resort. Located on the ocean front, was built by Henry Flagler in 1920’s.
There are numerous restaurants and shops owned by locals. You won’t find a Walmart anywhere! One of the things I loved about Key West is its small-town feel. I was extremely impressed by the COVID-19 protocols throughout the city. Masks are a must. Social distancing is a must.
Explore more of what Key West has to offer by browsing its main attractions, here.
Armchair Travel
Off The Beaten Path – A New Frontier – Space!
Another thing that happened this week! The SpaceX astronauts are back! We celebrated the launch and how exciting it was to see their return. The world was riveted (I know I was) this weekend watching NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley splash down, aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. Deployed parachutes billowed graceful on descent, as the world’s first orbital commercial spaceflight, with astronauts aboard, came to an end in the Gulf of Mexico.
Talk about off the beaten path journeys! A new era of space travel officially arrived, and for the most out-of-this-world adventure of your life, Travel by Design has access to Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic company, which offers sub-orbital space tourism for the first time in history! Did you know that there are approximately 600 seats already sold?
Need to see it to believe it? Check out these dazzling videos of successful Virgin Galactic space flights. Of course, this kind of travel comes with a price tag out of reach for most people, but if you have the means, this experience is priceless. Last week Virgin Galactic revealed SpaceShipTwo Unity’s cabin, and you can see what’s in store for your space flight on this incredible virtual tour of the cabin. The sky’s no longer the limit on the style of travel we can offer!
Next week we continue our virtual travels back on earth!

What’s For Dessert?
Authentic Key Lime Pie

Dating back to the late 1800’s in Key West, Key Lime Pie is a hallmark of island life and stands the test time. While you might not be in Florida, by the first bite the tropics will be right in your backyard.

Lime Filling Ingredients:

  • 4 tsps. grated key lime zest
    4 egg yolks
    14 oz sweetened condensed milk
    ½ cup fresh key lime juice

Graham Cracker Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 cups graham crack crumbs
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (melted)
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Whipped cream (for topping)

For the full recipe and directions on how to make the pie, read on here.




Happy Hour – it is 5:00 pm somewhere!

Key West Cooler

Now that it’s August, we’ve hit peak summer heat in the Southern U.S. Keep things chilled with this cocktail that can be made easily with these staple ingredients.
  • 2 fl oz Vodka
  • 1 fl oz Coconut rum liqueur
  • 1 ½ fl oz Cranberry juice
  • 1 ½ fl oz Orange juice (freshly squeezed)
  • Lime wedge
How to make: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled Collins glass.

Virtuoso Travel – Virtual Conference

While having the opportunity to relax and refresh by being in a different environment, I am preparing for an intense virtual Virtuoso Travel Week. Each August this travel conference is held in in Las Vegas. As with most major events, our conference is going virtual – with over 3,100 global participants.
This is an opportunity where I am able to meet our preferred tour companies, suppliers, hotels, transportation companies from around the globe. The best of the best in the industry. This intense 4-day conference provides the opportunity to reconnect on a one-on-one basis with the companies I work with on your behalf to create your personal experiences. Many of these companies I have worked with for a many years. Travel is about relationships and continuing to develop these relationships allow us to provide you with the best services available. I will have to practice my tips on managing Zoom Fatigue for sure!
Have a wonderful week!

Guide to Packing Carry-on Items

No matter where in the world I travel to, I always have a go-to carry-on packing list. Whether I am taking a 2-hour domestic flight or a 12-hour transatlantic flight, packing all the essentials is necessary to keep traveling a breeze and put myself at ease.

With the travel rules and regulations constantly changing due to COVID-19, I have had to add a few more items to my packing list. Here is a guide on what I pack in my carry-on to help you on your next travel.



Face masks are the most important item to pack for your travel journey during the pandemic. While not all airports are mandating passengers to fly with a face mask, your final destination may require you to wear them as soon as you disembark. From cloth masks to plastic face shields, wearing a mask will be one of the most effective ways to keep yourself protected.

I recommend bringing a few extra masks. When you get to your destination, put the mask you wore in the airport into a Ziploc bag in order to wash it later, and put on a fresh one to ensure you aren’t exposing anyone around to possible germs


Powering Down On The Plane (With images) | Healthy travel snacks ...  HydroFlask Wide Mouth 40oz - BIKEFACTORY Hawaii     

Many airports across the country have been taking extra precautions in protecting their flyers. They have been reducing the number of stores and restaurants that are open throughout the terminals, leaving one main concession and newspaper kiosk open per terminal. Even more important is that the water fountains are roped off, resulting in longer lines at the concessions which limits the availability of food and beverages.

To avoid having to wait in a line just to get a nosh and a drink, plan in advance. Packing non-perishable food in a separate bag will let you bypass the line and improve your airport experience. Additionally, though the water fountains are closed, the water bottle refill station is still open. Bringing your own refillable water bottle will let you stay hydrated and contact-free.


25 Count Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer 1 Oz Travel Size Wrap ...Purell Products - Purell - Instant Hand Sanitizer w/Aloe, 12-oz ...

Along with face masks, hand sanitizer with at least 62% alcohol is essential for my carry-on kit. Due to how necessary hand sanitizer has become, TSA has changed their restrictions on the container size of liquid hand sanitizer. TSA is allowing one container up to 12 ounces per passenger in carry-on bags. Keep the container in reach though. With the new size change from 3.4 ounces, the containers larger than the standard allowance will need to be screen separately. This will add some time to checkpoint screenings, so plan in advance.

Still also keep in mind that all other liquids, gels, and aerosols brought to the security checkpoint continue to be the standard limit of 3.4 ounces or 100 mL carried in one quart-sized bag.

DISINFECTANT WIPESLysol Disinfecting Wipes On the Go Travel Size Lemon and Lavender ...

While airlines have been upping their sanitation methods, just to take extra precaution, I highly recommend bringing wipes to clean your seat on the plane. TSA recently announced that pre-moistened wipes are allowed in carry-on bags without size restriction or packing requirements. No need to pack a travel sized container! If you’re like me, pack tube of Clorox Disinfecting wipes to clean all surfaces you might touch in the aircraft.                            


Tidi headrest covers

An item often overlooked, a head rest cover is quite important to make your sanitation travel kit complete. While you can sanitizer the seat with disinfecting wipe, there are many head rest that aren’t made of leather, making them harder to clean. In order to be less susceptible to germs from past flyers, pack either a pillow case or a small towel to cover the seat’s head rest. Just like the face mask recommendation, bring a Ziplock baggie to put the used head rest cover into once you disembark the plane.


(Above) A cheat sheet on the TSA’s packing regulations.

  1. Do a test run to see if everything fits in your toiletry bag. If your belongings don’t fit, consider using multi-use products such as a shampoo/conditioner combo, using conditioner as shaving cream, or baby shampoo for your hair and body. If you’ll be traveling for a longer time, you can buy toiletries at your destination. Can’t find the specific product or brand at your final destination? Consider packing the toiletry in a checked luggage to make more room in your carry-on. 
  2. Make sure that you keep the quart size Ziploc bag (storing your carryon toiletries) accessible when you get to the airport. Once you get through security, place them back into your toiletry bag. 
  3. Bottles tend to leak or explode on flights due to changes in air pressure. As the plane goes up, the pressure causes the bottle to compress. To ensure this doesn’t happen: remove the cap from the bottle, place a small square plastic wrap over the opening, and replace the cap. The plastic wrap acts as a seal to prevent leaks. When using your own reusable bottles for liquids, don’t fill them all the way to the top. Instead, only fill them 2/3 or 75% full. 
  4. If you plan correctly, the weight of your carry-on shouldn’t be a problem. Don’t bring a whole bar of soap, shampoo, or conditioner if you’re only going for a week-long trip. Plan accordingly and bring only what you need; if you have extra, save the rest for your next trip! 

Summer Solstice

Summer is coming. Depending upon where you live, it is here (Florida!) It is certainly different this year than in the past to say the least. However, the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and it is beautiful outside. We all want to be out there.
Lately, it seems like every day brings word of a new reopening: European nations are easing border restrictions for neighboring countries, several Caribbean islands are set to welcome U.S. travelers back this month, and hotels around the world are carefully getting back into the swing of things.

Virtual Weddings

Many couples get married during the month of June. If you are one or know of one of the hundreds of couples who’ve had to make the difficult and emotional decision to cancel or postpone your wedding due to COVID-19, you are not alone. I too was cornered by this unforeseeable situation to decide.
Luckily, we live in a day and age where we can all still be together virtually and share the experience from our respected living spaces. That is why virtual weddings can be a good option to neither postpone nor cancel that special day. That is exactly what we did.
Rather than postponing, we decided to hold a virtual ceremony via Zoom! Seeing the faces of your family and friends, even when you are not physically with each other, reaffirms their support to the commitment you are making with your lifelong partner. We can always schedule the party later!
We are headed this weekend for a “mini-moon” (honeymoon postponed until 2021) at the Beautiful Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables which has just reopened. Will keep you posted!

Dining al-Fresco

Summer is a time when you want to be outdoors enjoying the weather and of course dining. Around the world, restaurants have been permitted to reopen, however, many only if they can provide outdoor seating. Of course, many restaurants don’t have access to outdoor spaces, which is why we’re seeing a rise in cities turning public spaces over to restaurants and bars, as well as closing streets to allow restaurants to serve patrons outdoors. However, this isn’t a one size fits all type of solution.
What are some rules and regulations to expect?
The new normal might look like this:
  • No walk-in diners
  • Getting your temperature taken and questioned about your health
  • Masks may be required
  • Social distancing – tables will be spread 6 feet apart
  • No late nights
  • Stricter bathrooms – one in one out policies as well as more sanitation and touch-less devices (ex. sinks & hand dryers)
Some states are allowing in-restaurant dining at limited capacity now, others are on track to in the coming weeks. Restaurant owners are going to great lengths to ensure diners safety, instilling new safety protocols for their staff and patrons. Many restaurants have staff changing gloves and washing hands every 30 minutes. Some are putting QR codes on the tables for guests to access the menu on their phones. Others are doing both! Reinventing themselves to serve you. Bon Appetit!

Getting Ready for Disney

In any other year, for many families, summertime is synonymous with Disney. With new health and safety regulations being put into place, your Disney traditions may still be a possibility.
Orlando’s Walt Disney World is readying up to reopen some of its resort hotels on June 22. Guests, ages 2 and older, will be required to wear masks in all public areas at any Disney Resort Hotel. The only exceptions will be while they are swimming or dining.
To ensure social distancing regulations are being followed, the resorts are recommending guests use online check-in and will automatically be checked out of their rooms. As for the parks, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will be reopening July 11, while Epcot and Hollywood Studios reopen on July 15.
Disney will be managing the attendance demand through a new theme park reservation system that will require all guests to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance. Disney will also be reducing capacity on attractions, dining in restaurants, retail stores, as well as on methods of transportation. Fireworks shows, parades, and character meet-and-greets will all be temporarily suspended.
Currently, all California-based Disneyland attractions will remain closed.

What to Expect from Hotels

Hotel companies won’t be cutting any corners when it comes to hygiene, safety, and cleanliness. In the past two weeks, almost every major luxury hotel brand has announced new procedures and protocols for adhering to government-mandated social-distancing guidelines and keeping guest rooms and common spaces clean.

Waldorf Astoria and Conrad Hotels & Resorts have employed the use of electrostatic sprayers with disinfectant mists and other high-tech cleaning solutions.

As for Hilton, they have teamed up with Lysol and the Mayo Clinic on a program that features a ten-point deep-cleaning procedure for guest rooms. Once each individual room is cleaned, housekeepers will place seals on doors signifying the room has been disinfected.

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts announced a partnership with Johns Hopkins Medicine International to launch a new global health and safety program. Every Four Seasons property will have an on-site hygiene officer, public spaces will be cleaned hourly, restaurants will have digital menus, and employees will undergo new training.

Around the world, every property will have spaced-out tables at restaurants and staff training to ensure the cleanliness protocols are taken seriously.

In case you have not seen, enjoy our May/June edition of Virtuoso Life
What are your plans this summer season? Curious about a specific destination? Let us know. Are you packing your bags? Gearing up for a road trip? Or still just dreaming for now?
We encourage everyone to continue to practice physical distancing, wearing masks, washing hands and stay informed. We will get through this together.
We welcome your thoughts on our site and would love to share some of your favorite stories and travel experiences. We are here for you and look forward to the time when we can discover again our wonderful world.
We make it personal. We specialize in you!

Where Do We Go From Here?

In the words of Maya Angelou:
“Perhaps Travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all people cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends”

A Moment of Reflection

With the current pandemic and now another crisis gripping our nation, reaching across the globe, I do feel it is important to reflect and look at ways to heal and support each other.
Systemic racism has played a role in the development of history for hundreds of years and affects virtually all aspects of our shared human experience. One thing I am certain that it is never too late to educate oneself on matters that are simply not discussed and that raising an inner awareness is the first step to becoming more culturally mindful.
Travel is an excellent example of hands-on exposure to the many diverse peoples and societies of the world. Exploring language, food, customs, and dress are all avenues through which one can experience the many corners of the world in a way that is accepting and respectful to the integrity of the locals. Cultural immersion and open-mindedness are key to becoming a true global citizen, one that uses the privilege of travel to broaden their perspective and lift up societies that rely on tourism as primary commerce.
Let us reflect and move forward to a brighter inclusive future. Let us open our hearts and minds to all things possible and how through these experience become better global citizens.

Also, this week… Outta this World!

How many of you have thought about becoming an astronaut when you grow up? This week, history once again has been made as the first privately owned company Space-X, launched to space successfully. How exciting was it to watch this launch and docking at the International Space Station?!! The event marks the beginning of a new era not only for the space industry but for the travel industry as well.
Space-X intends to make space travel available for commercial flights starting as soon as next year. Passenger trips to space is an active reality that private companies and individuals can expect to see soon.

Father’s Day Prep

June is of course the time for dads and father figures. It is your time to be celebrated. Moms & kids, what about gifting an experience? Dream about the Wild West? How about an experience at one of North America’s Ranches? Getting away from it all. Here are a few that come to mind.

New Mexico

The Ted Turner Reserves are finally open! With snowcapped alpine tundra, 19 fishable lakes, and over 550,000 stunning acres of picturesque lands, Vermejo is the jewel of northern New Mexico.
Vermejo provides the widest range of housing options of the Ted Turner Reserves properties. Whether riding horseback through open fields or fly fishing for Rio Grande cutthroat trout, visiting Vermejo will be your next paradise.

Montana & Wyoming

Lone Mountain Ranch
Nestled in Yellowstone Country, Montana, the Lone Mountain Ranch‘s summer season is about to get underway on June 7th.
Enjoy horseback riding, fly fishing, and whitewater rafting while you make the ranch your home away from home. Take a walk-through time and experience what life is like as a cowboy on a dude ranch.
Resort at Paws Up
At the crossroads of incomparable luxury and unspoiled wilderness lies The Resort at Paws Up. This Montana Luxury Resort is situated in some of the most breathtaking country in the world.
Choose how you experience nature in cozy safari-styled tents, eco-friendly tree houses, or family-style homes. While during the day you adventure in ATVs, horseback riding, and clay shooting on this 37,000 acre working cattle ranch.


Just across the mountain from Telluride, Dunton Hot Springs is a romantic 1800’s ghost town set in an extraordinary alpine valley. This exclusive resort offers hand- hewn log cabins exquisitely furnished, a life-worn saloon serving food of startling quality, lung torturing trails followed by pampering massages, and sensuous hot springs beneath shimmering snowbanks.

Need to Know

Passport updates.
The U.S. Department of State said this week that its passport services will restart in phases, with regions getting different restart dates depending on local conditions. Read More.
Latest facts on COVID-19:
We welcome your thoughts on our site and would love to share some of your favorite stories and travel experiences. We are here for you and look forward to the time when we can discover again our wonderful world.
We make it personal. We specialize in you!

Virtual lifestyle…food and wine…did I say wine?

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom! This is our world today – a virtual reality. Zoom workouts,
Zoom book clubs, Zoom Master Classes; where you can learn anything from perfecting your poker game to learning how to take portraits like Annie Leibovitz, perfecting your cooking skills with Wolfgang Puck.

Zoom happy hours, Zoom meetings, Zoom bridal showers, and weddings!

It is a virtual lifestyle nowadays. But I must say sometimes it seems surreal, these “get-togethers” are a way for us to stay connected.

One of my favorite virtual get-togethers lately has been virtual wine tastings! Three just this week…from Portugal to South Africa and Italy.

I for one, am ready for a real-life wine experience, aren’t you? As we are beginning to hit the road, by car, van, or RV, here are some wineries in the US you may be interested in visiting. Beginning with of course Napa Valley, there may some areas that will surprise you. Salut!


Wine Tastings


Today wine is produced in all 50 US states with vines planted in more than 30 states. You may not have to go far from home to spend some quality time with your favorite beverage, wine country spans from coast to coast.

Napa Valley

More than 400 wineries reside in Napa Valley, one of the world’s premier wine regions, and famously recognized for its Cabernet Sauvignon. Because so many people flock to Napa Valley to indulge in their wines, the wineries have created tasting experiences that will cater to personality types – Professionals, Foodies, and even the Eco-Friendly.
Whether it is for a week or a day, wine tours and personalized wine tastings are a perfect way to experience Napa Valley and all that it has to offer.

Finger Lakes (NY)

Nature meets wine in the heart of New York’s scenic Finger Lakes wine country region. Finger Lakes comprise the largest wine-producing region and accounts for 85% of New York’s production.

The surrounding area has varying grape-growing conditions and is recognized as separate viticulture areas. Here, with a climate akin to Germany’s, Reisling and Cabernet Franc do well.

Most Finger Lakes wineries don’t require a tasting appointment. And for a nominal fee, you can taste an array of wines and purchase those that you like best to enjoy at home. After your wine tastings, not far from wine country is the Corning Museum of Glass, the world’s largest collection of glass art.

Texas Hill Country

Throughout the Texas Hill Country, there are over 50 independent local wineries. While in the same region, each winery has its own personality, terroir, and style of winemaking.

One thing about Texas that is for certain is their warm southern hospitality. Whichever winery you decide to visit, it is guaranteed you will be taken care of.

For example, Becker Vineyards welcomes its guests to explore its hand-crafted array of wines at private tasting rooms. For over 25 years of viticulture and winemaking, Becker Vineyards practices a hands-on people-centered philosophy so the focus will always be on you and the wine.

DIY Wine Tasting

Having a DIY wine tasting has honestly been one of the highlights over the past few months because it is just so much fun.

Either hosting one at home with your family or on Zoom with friends, DIY wine tastings are quite simple, and you don’t have to break the bank.

The key is in the variety of wines you chose. Depending on how big the wine tasting is going to be, you want to have a mix of wines that will contrast while complimenting each other.

Generally, tastings have two reds, two whites, and a fun varietal of sparkling or dessert wine. Total Wine or your local wine store is a great place to find what you are looking for. Or you may know that special sommelier who can offer their expertise.

Some tips on food pairing:

  • White wine with good acidity pairs well with salty flavors
  • Red wines pair best with bold-flavored meats
  • The wine should be more acidic than the food
  • Sugar with tannins is not a great combination
  • Bitter wines (e.g. red wines) are best balanced with fat
  • White, sparkling, and Rosé wines create contrasting pairings

Don’t forget to the four S’s to guarantee a successful wine tasting: See, Swirl, Sniff, and Sip.


Additional Options

Wine is now produced in nearly every state in America as well as in many parts of Canada. There are plenty of good wine regions in other less famous parts of the country.

Domaine Drouhin in the Willamette Valley in Oregon and the Breaux Vineyards in Northern Virginia are just two of the many independently owned vineyards scattered around the U.S.

Perfecting Your Charcuterie Board

Piled high with cured meats, cheeses, crackers, fruit, nuts, and more, charcuterie boards are essential to any wine tasting.

Make it for two or for ten, a charcuterie board can be any size and have anything you want.

Curate your board to your taste and to complement the wines. These guidelines may help.

1. The Board – No need to buy any special board, any flat surface will work. Fun options are a wooden cutting board, slate board, or serving tray.

2. The Substance – Dried fruits, fresh fruit, breads, cheeses, meats, and olives. The bread or cracker is just as important as the cheese and meats themselves. Never have anything be the same color, each element should stand out.

3. Fill Up Space – Making the board look full is the key, less is more. Maximize all visible space to make the board seem more decadent, you’re indulging, aren’t you?!

4. Smart Pairings – Have a variety of flavors: sweet, savory, crunchy, earthy, buttery. Fresh cheeses for white wine and aged cheeses for reds

Personal Favorite: bouchon de chèvre (aged goat cheese) and candied pecans



Need to Know

TSA Rule Changes

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to alter travel significantly at home and abroad, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been making changes to its security procedures. TSA has announced several changes to limit physical contact and maintain physical distancing guidelines.
As travelers go through the security checkpoints, they are required to wear facial protection and are encouraged to have electronic boarding passes to minimize contact. Travelers will now have to separate food into a separate bag, so it won’t trigger the alarm, and agents don’t have to search through it. Hand sanitizers and wipes are allowed in carry-on bags without size restrictions.
Travelers can now use a state driver’s license that expired after March 1, 2020, if they haven’t been able to renew it at their local license agency. For more information about TSA rule changes, visit their website for all the updates.
Latest facts on COVID-19:
I hope you enjoy our updates and welcome your thoughts. We are here for you and look forward to the time when we can discover again our wonderful world.

Summertime – Chart Your Course

With Monday being Memorial Day, and the unofficial start of the summer season, I’m sure you may be ready to take those first tentative steps of returning to a routine that feels more familiar. What are you planning? Do you have any plans yet?
While there’s no denying the appeal of getting away from it all on a cruise, there’s also the matter of the cruise ship itself.
The current concerns over coronavirus have many rethinking their cruise plans. But since the idea of escape and the water are so appealing to so many, it may be time to look at a smaller vessel. Make that a much smaller vessel, like a private yacht!

Now if you happen to own a private yacht, you’re already in business. If you don’t, then consider taking a weeklong cruise on your very own private yacht charter to destinations across the globe.
Whether it’s a self-skippered monohull; a sail catamaran with a skipper at the helm; a high-performance power catamaran or a crewed yacht with a captain and chef, your time on the water will truly be unforgettable.
Travel with just six or eight other guests who may well be your actual best friends or family, since you’re hiring the entire boat. The same ratio holds true for the crew, typically a captain and a chef.
Benefits of a Crewed Charter:
  • Unscheduled/loosely scheduled nature of your itinerary
  • Personalized meal menu catering to your dietary needs
  • Ability to go where larger ships and their tenders cannot. Find that secluded anchorage
  • Privacy and intimate settings
  • Entertainment – days spent snorkeling, swimming, relaxing on deck
Welcome aboard!!

What’s For Dinner?
Perfecting Your Grilling

From May to September, it’s grilling season.

Poolside with a refreshing drink in hand and an open flame cooking the season’s most vibrant produce and proteins – here are a few tips to make your grilling game even better.

1.     Take the chill off. Let your proteins come to room temperature before you grill as cool food will likely burn faster before the inside is done.

2.     Brush and oil the grates. When preheating it is vital to brush off any charred residue and oil to avoid sticking.
3.     Don’t press or peek or flip! I know it’s tempting, but pressing down on burgers is a no because you will lose all the precious juices. Try not to flip more than once because you’ll lose caramelization.

Happy Hour – it is 5:00 pm somewhere!
Drink of the Week: “Make it Your Way” Bellini

Bellini’s are a perfect summer cocktail for any occasion. The classic Bellini recipe calls for peach juice but can be supplemented for any fruit juice.
From apricot, plum, mango, or strawberry, a Bellini can be anything your heart desires, as long as it is topped with champagne or Prosecco.
These 15 Bellini recipes will get you feeling like summer in no time.

Need to Know

With news about the world slowly starting to come out of hibernation, it can be hard to keep track of who and where are set to reopen when.
Slowly but surely, we will be able to travel again. As different states across the U.S. have just reopened this past week, many other countries and destinations are set to reopen sporadically throughout the remainder of this month and during the summer.
You can now follow all the openings across the globe and see specific timelines for international and U.S. travel in one place – Reopening Travel: A Global Timeline.
Always remember to keep in the know about the latest facts on COVID-19:
Amid the uncertainty, this is our constant: we’re going to keep talking about travel because this too shall pass. The fact is that the travel and tourism industry supports one in ten jobs worldwide, generating 10.4 percent of the global GDP. And the power of travel to support local communities and to unite and forge connections across borders and cultures continues to inspire us even in unsettling times.
Virtuoso Life Magazine
To continue reading more about travel for you and your loved ones, enjoy a complimentary special edition of our on-line version of May/June Virtuoso Life Magazine . You will find their top 50 reasons why we all should keep exploring. Read Virtuoso’s Magazine here.
While Memorial Day Weekend is the “official” beginning of summer, it is a somber day of remembrance to honor the ultimate sacrifice that so many of our brothers and sisters in arms have made for this exceptional nation. It is a day to remember that this country was founded and kept secure by the blood of patriots – men and women who have heeded the call to stand the ramparts and defend all that we hold dear: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Let’s not forget our brothers and sisters in arms that gave all for our nation.
Never forget: all gave some…some gave all. Thank you for your ultimate sacrifice.

Villa vs Resort – Your Own Paradise

We still believe that travel makes life richer, no matter where you are. We’re going to keep talking about travel because it gives us hope – and we want to give you hope too.
So how will you travel…..your way….private villas, private boats, private planes perhaps?
Imagine enjoying a Hawaiian beach day with several of your closest friends or family
and then returning to your temporary “home” at the end of the day to shower, rest and share a “Pau Hana” (Happy Hour) Mai Tai on the lanai while your own chef prepares an amazing dinner with fish that was caught that very day.
Or, imagine spending the day touring some wineries in the Tuscany or Chianti region of Italy with several of your buddies and getting “home” in time to take an afternoon swim and a nap before preparing a pasta dinner fit for a King… If those scenarios sound tempting to you, you are not alone! Villa vacations are quickly becoming a preferred way of travel all over the world for small groups of friends and extended families. Usually equipped with amenities, you can also include a dedicated staff to cater to your specific needs. And…while luxurious, Villas are often more economical for traveling families and groups of friends!
As you may be thinking of staying close to home, here are a few villas that may be of interest.

Villas in the US


Fall into the sunny West Coast lifestyle on your private beach or desert hideaway in the mountains or romantic wine tour of your choosing.

With villa locations in Lake Tahoe, Napa Valley, and Palm Springs. Here is a sample.



Surrounded by top-notch ski resorts and national forests and parks, Colorado is a nature-lovers paradise.

Imagine coming home from exhilarating day on the slopes to a roaring fireplace and Jacuzzi under the stars. Colorado’s luxury villas meet breathtaking scenery with heavenly indulgence the whole family will enjoy.

Cozy Colorado Villas:



The Sunshine State is home to the world’s most popular theme parks, finest golf courses, and tons of outdoor attractions.

At the United States’ #1 villa destination, experience all the fun Florida has to offer in their luxury villas. Florida’s villas also come with loads of in-villa amenities like private home theaters, themed children’s bedrooms, game rooms, private spas, and of course, a pool.

Refreshing Florida Villas:

WHY rent a villa over a hotel or resort?

  • Personalized attention and service from an experienced Villa Concierge
  • Allows you to create a unique, customized vacation experience based on your own dreams and needs
  • Superb Value – spend less, receive more! Villas are often a much better value
    per person than multiple hotels or resort suites.
  • More space, privacy and quiet – no strangers in the next room, by the pool or in that hot tub!
  • Great for all occasions – from large gatherings to intimate getaways
  • Because YOU DESERVE IT!

Does this sound like your kind of vacation? I know….me too! Gather your friends and/or family and start exploring! Travel is much more fun when you travel with those you love and a Villa just might be the perfect solution for your next journey!


Keep Dreaming

Private Jets

Now how exactly are you going to get to your villas? Well, private jet charters are here at your service. While you might not want to purchase a jet of your own, chartering a private jet for certain flights and trips, especially with a group of friends or family, is increasingly more possible than ever before. Flying via private jet offers several advantages over commercial flights, including a few that you might not have considered.

Unlike commercial flight, chartering a private jet allows you to set you to fly at your own schedule, at a time that suits you best. There are also hundreds of dedicated private jet terminals around the country to choose from to avoid the lengthy check-in process and security line at public airports.

Traveling on private jets you will be reassured by the industry’s highest safety standards catering to all your air travel needs.


Need to Know

In recent travel news, the U.S. passport services have announced citizens should expect “several months” of delays for renewing their passports.

The U.S. State Department is only focusing on those who need a passport for a life-or-death emergency for immediate international travel. For those who have already applied for a new passport or plan to, expect delays for potentially months.

Though processing might be delayed, many passport agencies, apart from Connecticut and New York, remain open and are accepting applications.


Virtuoso Life Magazine

To continue reading more about travel for you and your loved ones, enjoy a complimentary special edition of our on-line version of May/June Virtuoso Life Magazine . You will find their top 50 reasons why we all should keep exploring. Read Virtuoso’s Magazine here.

Always remember to keep in the know about the latest facts on COVID-19:

The World Health Organization: Coronavirus live updates

Amid the uncertainty, this is our constant: we’re going to keep talking about travel because this too shall pass. The fact is that the travel and tourism industry supports one in ten jobs worldwide, generating 10.4 percent of the global GDP. And the power of travel to support local communities and to unite and forge connections across borders and cultures continues to inspire us even in unsettling times.

We look forward to your thoughts on our updates or if there is anything you are particularly interested in, let us know. We are here for you and look forward to the time when we can discover again our wonderful world.

On the Road Again

Just can’t wait to get back on the road again!…..Just like in Willie Nelson’s song, I am ready to hit the road! How about you?


I remember as a child our yearly road trips. In our ’54 Ford convertible…what an experience. From Jersey to Florida; up to Canada, across Route 66 to the West Coast and of course Pacific Coast Highway. Great memories indeed.


Once we have the green light, why not hop in your car, SUV or perhaps RV and explore! Venture a Highway…..This week I thought I would share some armchair travel doing just that!

Road Trips Across America

Experience the All-American dream of road tripping cross-country from the comfort of your home! Enjoy the spectacular views of Scenic Byway 12 in Utah or California’s Pacific Coast Highway.

Coast of California

It’s no secret that California’s famous Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) which began in the 1930’s, remains a marvel of human effort that hugs over 600 miles of California’s rugged and beautiful coastlines. It is one of the most astoundingly scenic roads in the world.

UNESCO World Heritage

Among the 63 national parks in the United States, 13 are also World Heritage sites. A few—Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite—have the spectacular landscapes, unique biodiversity, and cultural significance to make them clear contenders for the double crown, while others are less obvious choices such as Everglades National Park.

What does it take to be a World Heritage site? According to UNESCO, there are 10 criteria for natural and cultural sites – a site must meet at least one of the criteria. Qualifications range from “a masterpiece of human creative genius” and “exceptional natural beauty”. Read on to discover the baker’s dozen of these elite parks and a few of the reasons they gained their UNESCO distinction on the National Parks Service website.

“Guard it well, for it is far more precious than money…once destroyed, nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price.” – ANSEL ADAMS

National Parks for Kids

All American Road

Utah’s Highway 12 is one of the most scenic highways in America. No kidding.
Receiving the designation of ‘All American Road’. The highway has two National Parks; Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef, at each end and many other scenic points in between.

From Pacific Coast Highway to the Southernmost Point in Key West and all roads in between, there are amazing sights to see. Not sure where to begin? Here is a guide that may be of assistance on which route(s) to include on your very next road trip. Road Trips USA does a great job of detailing the highlights of 11 different cross country routes that go any direction.

The best part of a driving journey is you can combine as many of these roads as you’d like if you think ahead and map it out.

The Overseas Highway, the southernmost leg of U.S. Highway 1 and sometimes called, “The Highway That Goes to Sea,” is a modern wonder. The road, that follows a trail originally blazed in 1912 by Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railroad, stretches from Miami to Key West

What’s for Dinner?
Recipe of the Week – Ultimate BBQ

With May in full swing, it is starting to be perfect outdoor weather and that means…BBQ! This recipe teaches you how to make show stopping BBQ Baby Back Ribs.

However, if you don’t eat meat, these BBQ sides will equally satisfy your taste buds:

Happy Hour – it is 5:00 pm somewhere!
Drink of the Week: Strawberry Summer Sangria

While working hard in the heat, any BBQ tender has to have something to drink. Strawberry Summer Sangria is here to the rescue!

Loaded with fresh strawberries, peaches, and citrus, this cocktail is easy, light, and refreshing.

Need to Know

In recent travel news, domestic flights are averaging 17 passengers per plane. LAX and many other airports are trying to adhere to the social distancing regulations and are having face coverings mandatory for all passengers and crew. These requirements are said to go into effect on May 11. Other forms are transportation like Amtrak are also following LAX’s lead and have announced face covering will be mandatory for all customers.

Summer Camp??

As summer steadily approaching, many parents are left to wonder if their children will still be able to attend summer camp in the coming months. But with the coronavirus pandemic still looming over us, many summer camps are trying to adapt to the current health regulations and switch to online alternatives. Read more about how summer camps are reinventing themselves here.
Always remember to keep in the know about the latest facts on COVID-19:
I hope you enjoy our updates and welcome your thoughts. We are here for you and look forward to the time when we can discover again our wonderful world.
We make it personal.
We specialize in you!

Join Our Email List

Learn about upcoming destinations, travel tips by staying connected with us

This website uses cookies to ensure the best user experience. By closing this banner, scrolling this page, clicking a link or browsing otherwise, you agree to the use of cookies.