Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nonstop flights from San Francisco to Duesseldorf starting in 2010

Air Berlin just announced they will have nonstop flights from San Francisco to Duesseldorf, Germany starting on the 12th May 2010.
Reservations can now be made for these flights.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

July trip- The Big Island

My daughter Genevieve is growing up fast and I have been able to sneak in a couple of trips here and there. We had our first real trip this past July when we went to the Big Island of Hawaii. She was 14 months old and she had just started walking so there was a lot of chasing and lugging during this vacation.  It was me, the baby, the baby stroller, the diaper bag, her toys, two suitcases, and a car seat.  Whew!  If any of you are traveling with a little one for the first time, please feel free to call me.  I think I'm pretty good at this now! 

We flew on United which took about 5 hours nonstop both ways.  The flight over there was horrific thanks to a couple of extremely rude flight attendants and the fact that it was my first trip alone with the baby .  I also booked the baby as a lap child and it was a very full flight.  The only thing that saved me was my upgrade to economy plus which I purchased for $49 each way. You have several inches more legroom which is great for people traveling with babies and any tall traveler.  After picking up the luggage fit for a U-haul truck (I always try to travel lightly but it never seems to work out), I was transferred over to the Hertz car rental location.

I rented a little Ford Focus which turned out to be a pleasant experience.  I chose an economy car which was sufficient for the two of us and was good on gas mileage.  I was really careful to write down every little scratch on the vehicle which is really important when renting.  I pre-paid a full tank of gas which turned out to be a great idea because the gas from Hertz was a lot less expensive than what I would have paid at the pump.  I did a lot of driving to Keauhou, the Kailua-Kona area, Waikoloa, Hapuna Beach, and all the way north to the Waipio Valley.  A tank of gas was easily filled with all of the attractions the Big Island has to offer.

I was able to visit three hotels during my stay and I saw many more from the outside.  Although it was a hard decision, I ended up staying at the Fairmont Orchid, a beautiful 5- star property. They are currently offering a 50 % disount for a lot of travel dates which is hard to pass up.  This hotel is located about 20 to 25 minutes north of the airport and it is surrounded by palm trees, waterfalls, fish ponds, and clear blue turquoise waters. I was upgraded to an ocean view room on the Fairmont Gold Floor, where you get special amenities such as complimentary breakfast, snacks, hors d'horves in the afternoon, sodas and juices, access to the lounge and library, free internet, complimentary valet parking, and the best customer service you have ever experienced in your life.  Their smiles and great attitudes were contageous and they were very knowledgeable about the island and what it has to offer. 

From the moment we arrived, they treated us like princesses.  They pampered us with chocolate goodies in our room, a CD filled with relaxing tunes, nightly turn-down services with a robe and slippers, and more.  They even gave me a "Johnson & Johnson" baby travel kit, which had all of the necessities I needed such as baby powder, lotion, baby wash, etc.  By my first breakfast, they all knew our names, how I liked my coffee, how I wanted my freshly-cooked omelette made, and they even packed a "to go" travel pack filled with cold drinks and even flash lights for any outdoor excursions that might last into the evening.  The complimentary breakfast was delicious including juicy fruits, freshly baked pastries, the local Kona coffee, and a view to die for.  When I needed some milk for the baby, even in the middle of the night, I would just walk out the lounge with her bottle, hand it over, and within 5 minutes, they delivered the warm milk in the bottle to my door.  They  also had a refridgerator in our room that was convenient for me so I could keep milk and snacks cold for the baby.  I also filled it up with some other things that I picked up at the local grocery store, only a couple of minutes away from the resort.

The room was tastefully decorated in Hawaiian colors and the white marble bathroom was gorgeous white marble.  The views were magnificent from every corner (especially from the lobby), the grounds were beautifully manicured with bright flowers, and the tiki torches filled the grounds at night, giving the property that special Hawaiian ambience.  In the evening, they had several restaurants to choose from including a great outdoor restaurant overlooking the ocean and gorgeous sunset.  Their local bands filled the air with Hawaiian music.  I liked this restaurant because it gave parents a chance to sit down and enjoy their dinner while all of the kids had a ball with each other on the beach and grass right upfront. I have to say though that although the restaurants looked very appealing, after a full day of traveling, I usually ordered room service and passed out in the heavenly king bed. The pillow and comforters were amazingly soft and inviting a we both slept like babies!

On our first full day there, we went to the Hilton Waikoloa Village which is a huge, impressive property that offers SO much to see and do.  I think this is probably my first choice for any family with kids (I will continue with this hotel visit in another blog). The second day we visited the Kailua- Kona area where we hung out with the locals and did some shopping. On another day, we went to Hapuna Beach and the Waipoi Valley. There are so many things to do on the Big Island.  I wanted to go to Hilo and I  wanted to see the volcano so I guess I will just HAVE to book another trip there. =)  I could have easily spent at least 7 to 10 nights there, giving me a couple of more opportunities to see everything I wanted to see and also to  just sit, relax, and watch Genevieve play at the beach. After five short days, it was time to go back home and I was so sad to go.  The island locals and the Fairmont team made me feel at home and I really enjoyed my stay.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

2nd bag fee introduced on some international flights

United Airlines was the first airline to charge for the 2nd bag on international flights.
We just received the news from Air France that effective with tickets issued November 1, 2009, Air France will introduce a revised baggage policy for customers traveling in Economy Class between the US and Europe.
Passengers will be able to check one bag, weighing up to 50 pounds (23 kilos), free of charge. If passengers would like to check a second bag, with the same maximum weight allowance, they may do so for a fee of $50 for all flights departing from the US or 50 Euros for all flights departing from Europe. Additionally, the fee for checked bags weighing between 50 and 70 pounds (23 to 32 kilos) will increase from 50 dollars or Euros to 100 dollars or Euros.
The baggage allowance rules have not changed for those passengers flying in First or Business Class.

We believe that it is just a matter of time, before other airlines will follow these trends.

For further information on the rules of baggage allowance we always recommend that you visit the airlines website or call us.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Holland America Line's Amsterdam Ship Inspection

Hello to All of My Clients, Co-workers, and Friends!
I am joining Chris in the blogging fun and I wanted to tell everyone about the ship inspection I just went on a couple of weeks ago. Yvonne and I recently had the pleasure of joining our sales representatives as well as some of our clients on Holland America's Amsterdam ship while it was in the port of Long Beach.

I was hoping to hide in someone's suitcase in order to join the ship on her 63-day World Voyage however I was unfortunately unsuccessful in my attempt. I was however spoiled for a few hours with an incredibly delicious five-course lunch including the best eclaire dessert you have ever tasted. The ship was beautiful, the staff was extremely well-trained, and the rooms were nice and quite roomy for ship cabins. The balconies especially were really big in the verandah suites and staterooms. I love the fact that Holland America ships are smaller and more cozy. There were no long lines and I felt as though the experience was a little more personal . 

The little things impressed me such as the complimentary bathrobes and slippers, beautiful fresh flowers everywhere, cloth towels in the public restrooms, etc. These are all little touches that Holland America adds which impresses me and certainly doesn't go unnoticed with any of their cruisers. I was even able to ask a couple of people onboard about their experience and they were really loving the cruise. I'm happily selling Holland America to my clients!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Changes to Lufthansa upgrades at check in

Since June there has been a new procedure in place for booking upgrade awards at the check-in counter. For your security, you now need your Miles &  More PIN to book an upgrade to a higher class of travel at the airport.
When making the booking, check-in staff will ask for two randomly selected numbers from your PIN in order to protect you from any unauthorized access to your mileage account. You will have received this PIN with your Miles & More account; your credit card PIN is not relevant here.

If you have forgotten your Miles & More PIN, you can request it online or by calling LH Miles and  More 1-800-581-6400.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Signature Travel Network Owners Meeting

I just finished a 3 day meeting at Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. As you might know, Nonstop Travel is a member of the distinguished Signature Travel Network, which allows us to offer our clients more competitive rates and extra value on almost every cruise, hotel or land arrangement. Furthermore we have access to local destination specialists all over the world, who can make your vacation experience even more unique and special.

During that meeting we get to meet with all the 'movers & shakers' in the travel industry including many CEO's and Presidents of our preferred suppliers. It is always good to know the top people, especially when it comes to our clients travel needs. Just one more reason to consult with Nonstop Travel.