Wednesday, September 26, 2007

St Lucia

St. Lucia, Day 2, 4pm.
Wake up call at 6a, dip in my private pool. Get ready, breakfast and then the race began. Tour the Sandals Regency La Toc Golf Resort & Spa, then went to Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort for tour and lunch. Next was the tour of Sandals Halcyon Beach Resort, then back to Regency for a 1-hour beach party (which I'm spending in the lobby on the laptop). Beautiful islands, wonderful resorts. Whew, am I tired. Flight back to Newark departs at 5pm. Back to work tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Caribbean junket

Sept 25, 2007 4:45am
Here I am at the Newark Airport, checked in for my flight to Antigua. This is definitely the most absurd travel agent trip ever: one night, two islands, four resorts. I doubt I’ll even have time for a swim.

After work yesterday, I drove to Newark and stayed at the fabulous Fairfield Inn & Suites. It was fine: hot shower, comfy bed, nice front desk guy, and no hideous bed spread. 3 hours of sleep, the alarm went off at 3am. Such a glamorous life! The Security line hasn’t even opened yet.

First stop is Antigua to check out the Sandals Grande Antigua, especially the new Mediterranean Village.

2:30pm, Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa.
Toured this large resort at break-neck speed, and inspected a dozen room categories (photo tour to come). The new Mediterranean Village is impressive; but the Caribbean Village is still special (gotta love the parrots!). I especially love the Med Village bathrooms: jacuzzi tubs, and shower heads as big as dinner plates. Extra time was spent deciding which rooms with private plunge pools I would prefer, in case inquiring minds want to know. Red Lane Spa has very attractive treatment rooms for couples. The lunch buffet at the Barefoot CafĂ© restored me; but it was hard to choose punch or coffee (so I had both, of course). Antigua has a lovely beach, and the water is crystal clear. We are leaving for St. Lucia at 3pm…

11pm Sandals Regency La Toc Golf Resort & Spa, St. Lucia.
We landed in St. Lucia at 7p and arrived at the resort a bit after 8p. Dinner was at 9p and now the band is playing rub-a-dub versions of 50's classics. Tomorrow's itinerary is just as frantic as today: non-stop from 7:30am until the plane takes off. Luckily, my "Honeymoon Oceanfront One Bedroom Villa Suite with Private Pool" makes a quick dip possible before passing out. Stay tuned...

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Hotel news

My first month as an independent travel consultant was a success! Clients have been supportive, and Linden Travel is wonderful. The airline response to the change is what's most startling. Suddenly, it's a lot easier to get my clients what they want.

In the hotel industry, Marriott has signed a deal with Ian Schrager to create a brand of boutique hotels. Schrager, a hipster from way back (co-founder of Studio 54 and Palladium), is said to have invented the boutique hotel concept in 1984 with Morgans in NYC. According to Travel & Leisure, he "single-handedly re-invented the hotel as a site of electrifying cultural significance" (yay him!). Since then, dozens of hotel chains have sprung up to fulfill our desire to stay in fabulous, unique hotels notably Kimpton Hotels (which actually started in 1981) and W Hotels (launched by Starwood in 1999).

Looks like Schrager will have autonomy in the design, concept, and marketing/branding aspects of hotel development and then hand off the management of the completed hotels to Marriott. Hopefully, that'll translate into sensational hotels with consistent service and up-keep. Better late than never, Marriott.