Azamara Pursuit: Ship Inspection Report

Azamara is a boutique upscale cruise line that focuses on destination immersion. Their newest ship, the Azamara Pursuit, expands the cruise line’s global reach while maintaining an intimate, modern-casual environment.

Azamara Pursuit: Ship Inspection Report
Last year, after sailing with Silversea Cruises, I confessed that I’ve officially become a cruiser. Since then, I tested out River Cruising with U by Uniworld and discovered I liked that, too. Next, I wanted to try a slightly larger ship and sail the Mediterranean Sea so I planned a cruise on the new Azamara Pursuit. As I declared after my Silversea experience, the key to a true luxury cruising experience is choosing a small ship. The Azamara Pursuit holds a maximum of 702 passengers. I was worried this was over my threshold and I would feel lost in the crowd. I was so happy to discover this wasn’t the case. I do still think 600 passengers is my threshold, but Azamara made some very smart decisions in their ship design and cruising format so they are able to deliver what they promise.

The Azamara Experience

It is important to know that Azamara sits comfortably in the upscale market – they are not offering over-the-top luxury and they are not fully inclusive, but the price is right for what they offer. All meals are included along with select standard spirits, beers, wine, soft drinks, and bottled water; self-service laundry is also complementary. Guests staying in suites get additional perks and there are packages available for premium spirits and other upgrades. Gratuities are included in the cruise price and I think that makes a huge difference – no worries about managing cash tips during the trip and no surprises on your bill on the last day!

Azamara is a boutique cruise line with only 3 ships; it is part of the Royal Caribbean family. There are two features that really make Azamara stand out to me as an excellent cruising option:

Azamara Pursuit: Azamazing Evenings

  1. Azamazing Evenings: Each sailing 7-nights or longer will feature a special evening highlighting the local talents of a port along the itinerary. Examples include ballet in St. Petersburg, a traditional village market in the south of France, live opera in Italy, or a festival with elephants in Myanmar. On my cruise, we sailed through Valetta, Malta and our Amazing Evening was a unique performance showcasing modern interpretations of traditional Maltese folk music.
  2. Longer time in port and Overnight stays: These ships are small, so they can dock in ports that the larger ships can’t reach. Azamara takes that a step further and they will stay overnight in ports allowing guests the opportunity to enjoy local dining and nightlife, something you don’t often get a chance to do on a more traditional cruise itinerary.

The Ship: Azamara Pursuit

Azamara Pursuit: Anchored in Amalfi

Azamara Pursuit was completely refurbished and added to the Azamara fleet in August 2018. I sailed on it in October and it still had that “new car” smell. I stayed in a veranda stateroom and, while it was smaller than my cabin on Silversea, it was still very comfortable. I missed having a walk-in closet, but the room has plenty of smart storage solutions. One thing there is just no escaping with Azamara ships is that their bathrooms are excruciatingly small – the shower is not even wide enough to spread your elbows. If you need bathroom space, you must go with a suite to get it (the new Spa suites are very eye-catching!). While the stateroom could have been bigger, the public spaces drew me out and kept me comfortable and happy.

The biggest difference compared to the ship’s older sisters, the Journey and the Quest, is that it does not have a casino. Instead, it as The Den, my top favorite thing about the entire ship. The den is part bar, part hang out space, part shore excursion desk, and part travel daydream hub. During my cruise, the Den was the location for wine tasting events, pub trivia contests, and pre-dinner cocktails. If I wasn’t outdoors enjoying the weather, chances are you would find me lounging in the Den. I did not miss the casino one bit. I think one reason whey the Azamara Pursuit never felt too large, too impersonal, or too crowded was the smart ship layout; there are 6 dining venues and 3 lounge/hang-out spaces. Everyone has space to spread out.

Azamara Pursuit: The Den
For lounging, you have the options of The Den, The Living Room and Card Room, and The Drawing Room; the Den is the most casual and gets the most through-traffic; the Living Room is more like a cocktail lounge and offers afternoon wine & tapas and turns into a lounge-like night club after dark, and the Drawing room is a bit more formal and quiet.

For dining, your options include a typical buffet with a bonus of outdoor seating, a casual pool-side grill, a traditional dining room with a menu that changes daily, and 3 specialty options: one specializing in steak and seafood, one specializing in Italian dishes, and a unique Chef’s table format with prix fixe menus with rotating themes throughout the cruise. I am not a breakfast person and I certainly don’t need a sit-down meal 3-times a day, so I really appreciated the European-style Mosaic cafe where I could order a cappuccino and have a light bite for breakfast or lunch to keep everything in balance!

The entire ship has a flexible and forgiving dress code. Day wear is resort casual and the Evenings range between resort casual and smart casual; formal attire is never required.

For the size of the ship, I thought the Azamara Pursuit boasted a well-appointed and large gym and spa area. The hidden Sanctum Terrace, and outdoor lounge with a hot tub connected to the Spa is the ships hidden secret and a perfect place to relax before a spa treatment! The fitness center isn’t overly sized, but it had a nice variety of equipment from the usual treadmill, bikes, and elliptical to weightlifting gear, and space for stretching, spinning classes, or yoga.

So… would this luxury cruiser sail Azamara again?

When it comes to travel, I often put my money where my mouth is and plan personal travel based on my business travel experiences. In this case, I have already booked my next Azamara cruise! My husband and I will be sailing on the Azamara Quest from Tokyo to Anchorage in May 2019 and I’ll be sure to report back with an update!

Pro-Tip: Did you know the BEST time to book a cruise is while you’re on one? You will always find the best pricing and promotions when you book on board. I promise, my team and I will not be able to recreate these savings for you once you leave the ship. They don’t expect a strong commitment and a $500 deposit will lock in the special savings; you’ll even have a chance to change to a different sailing later on if you need to. In these cases, Ourisman Travel will still be tied to your booking and we’ll be able to support your next cruise, too!

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The Value of a Travel Advisor

Do you ever wonder about the work we do behind the scenes? Have you ever asked why you should work with a travel advisor instead of some hotel booking website? One of our clients recently asked what value we provide and he got his answer!

Recently, an Ourisman Travel client, celebrated his 40th birthday with a group of friends in Las Vegas. After a consultation phone call, we explored the best options for this clients’ celebration wish list and discussed details including specific dining and entertainment needs. We debated the merits of different hotel locations in Las Vegas, ultimately settling on the Aria Resort & Casino for its central location, excellent access to shopping, and great variety of dining options.

To be perfectly honest, we usually wrinkle our nose at requests for Las Vegas bookings and we have a firm policy that we will not accept inquiries for Vegas from first-time clients. The mega hotels in Las Vegas are so volume oriented that we cannot always be confident in the experience that is delivered to our clients. We don’t want to leave clients playing a game of hotel service roulette and we prefer to keep the gambling on the casino floor, so we are always extra cautious when taking on a Vegas booking.

Aria Resort Las Vegas - as a Virtuoso travel advisor, we offer excellent value in extra perks!

Aria Resort & Casino, Las Vegas – one of our preferred partners with Virtuoso

We do book Aria quite frequently and have always been happy with the VIP experience they offer our clients with their generous Virtuoso amenities:

  • A complimentary room category upgrade, based on availability at check-in
  • Two $30 breakfast credits per room, per day, redeemable at ARIA Buffet, ARIA Café, and In-Room Dining.
  •  One (1) $50.00 Food & Beverage credit & one (1) $50 Spa credit per room, per stay.
  • 12:00 Noon Early check-in/4:00pm late check out, subject to availability
  • Mlife Priority Check-In line
  • ARIA SKY SUITES BOOKINGS: Guests are extended complimentary round trip airport limousine transfers in a fuel alternative limousine, Pre-Arrival Concierge contact, light refreshments in Sky Suites Lounge throughout the day and $5.00 daily WiFi credit applied to Daily Resort Fee, subject to applicable tax.

We booked five deluxe rooms for our client’s birthday celebration; he took his confirmations and went on his merry way! But that is where our real job begins. We know you can book these hotels through multiple avenues, and we’re not even your only option for getting those coveted Virtuoso amenities, but Ourisman Travel prides itself in our post-booking VIP process.

Our VIP Process: Every single booking that we make is supported by a personalized pre-arrival letter to the hotel staff. The letter helps them prepare for your arrival and more. Our goal is to help our partners think creatively about how to make your stay extra special. We operate as detectives when we are working with our clients, making note of every little detail of your travel preferences. Food allergies and bedding preferences are covered in our client preference forms, but we also pay attention to mentions of things like a favorite meal, wine, movie, book, car, color, flower, etc. etc. All of this are noted in our client profiles and we weave these details into our pre-arrival letters. These letters are the one true travel product that Ourisman Travel owns and controls, and we take them very seriously. We babysit these letters and make sure we receive an acknowledgment of receipt from the hotels; we won’t let them get lost in the void of someone’s messy inbox.

When our group arrived at the Aria, the hotel had already received our pre-arrial letter and were prepared with all of the details about the reservation and the birthday celebration. On arrival, the group enjoyed the VIP MLife check-in experience, a fast-track perk that meant they didn’t have to stand in a long queue and could enjoy their rooms as quickly a possible. Each room received their full Virtuoso amenity package and our birthday guest received a special celebratory welcome gift to wish him a happy birthday.

All was going well… until it wasn’t. Our client emailed us on the last day, “This has actually been an awful experience. … Very negative feedback!”

PRO-TIP: If you are having an issue during your hotel stay, please alert us immediately. Also, keep in mind that the realities of time zone differences and business hours may prevent us from responding immediately. We’re here to help as your travel advisor from afar, but the people who can quickly correct any mishap are right there at the hotel; please also be your own advocate for a positive experience and make sure you communicate your issues and needs to the hotel staff.

Before we had a chance to understand the cause of complaint, we receive the dreaded worst feedback from our client,

“this is why people (or at least I) don’t want to work with travel agents anymore. What value did you ultimately provide that software won’t?”

Boy, did that sting!

We quickly got to the bottom of the bad experience. The client wanted to be generous to his friends and foot the bill for all rooms. We had already allocated individual names to each room to create a smooth check-in experience upon arrival, but created unexpected confusion at check-out. We could have done a better job here to understand the clients motivations and communicate the client’s intentions. A glitch in billing for one of the rooms led to an erroneous overcharge and further frustrations.

Now that we understood the problem, Team Ourisman went into action! We involved all of our Aria contacts to resolve their mistake. We take billing errors seriously and wanted to get a refund for the guest ASAP. That’s exactly what we accomplished! Within two hours of making contact, the refund was confirmed, as well as a complimentary upgrade to an Aria Strip View Suite on their next visit. That is the power of a strong partnership!

So… What value did we ultimately provide that software could not?

  1. We offered our consultation services and provided a personalized recommendation for the group, drawing on our expert hotel and destination knowledge.
  2. We leveraged our partnerships to ensure that all of guests received VIP status from the hotel
  3. We provided Virtuoso amenities with real monetary value: each room received $60 per room to put toward breakfast, $50 in food & beverage credits, and $50 in spa credits – that’s a total $160 in savings for each room.
  4. We were available as advocates to get get quick results when things didn’t go as planned at check-out. We prevented the client from wasting hours on hold trying to reach the right person to explain his problem and get his refund. Many people would have given up before they got that far.
  5. The complimentary upgrade for the next trip to Las Vegas is just icing on the cake!

Today was a hard day in my life as a travel advisor; it is never fun when you feel you must justify your own value. But, this experience served as a great reminder of all of the good work we do. We don’t just offer amenities and perks to our clients; we work every day to truly elevate your precious travel experiences. We act as advocates while planning your trip and during the trip itself. We especially love connecting when you return home, even if it means we must spend the day advocating for you further. We also hope that will lead to the next trip and the cycle will continue! On to the next Adventure!

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Get to know Capella Hotels

When Horst Schulze, former president of Ritz Carlton. retired at the age of 62, he found he wasn’t ready to retire. Though intimately familiar with running a typical luxury hotel, he was intrigued by a question: how to create a hotel to appeal to ultra-luxury clients. Out of that challenge, the concept of Capella came into being.

In an ultra-luxury hotel, the surroundings would of course be beautiful, but ultra-luxury guests want something more — specifically, a highly individualized stay. He conceived Capella hotels to be boutique properties with 50-100 guest rooms. With no formal check-in, guests would go straight to their rooms on arrival. Although these hotels would be small, they would provide the full range of spa, dining, and exercise facilities that far larger luxury properties offer.

Capella is found in diverse destinations around the world:

Capella Ubud

all photos courtesy of Capella Hotels

Capella Ubud — a new luxurious tented camp in the forested areas outside of Ubud, the artistic center of Bali. Each accommodation includes its own terrace and salt-water plunge pool. Each couple or family enjoys 1,862 square feet of private space. Some tents offer views of the rice paddies and rainforest, but most desired are those overlooking the winding Wos River. Best for active travelers, the hillside location does also mean there are some stairs are involved in getting around.  A weekly schedule of complimentary excursions is also provided. Complimentary laundry services (four pieces per guest per day), and guests enjoy the 24/7 services of a personal assistant.

Capella Dusseldorf

Capella Düsseldorf, the Breidenbach Hof, has been voted the #1 hotel in Germany three years running. The reason to stay here — the hotel’s strategic location. Stepping out the front door, you’ll find the iconic Königsallee, the 5th Avenue shopping hub of modern Düsseldorf. Stepping out the back door you’ll find entry to the cobblestoned streets of the old town.

Capella Shanghai

Capella Shanghai — set apart from the corporate feel of Pudong or the hectic pedestrian traffic on the Bund, Capella is a retreat nestled under the leafy Plane Trees of the French Concession. A row of Shikumen townhouses have been transformed into one, two and three bedroom villas. Historic exteriors have been preserved, while the interiors of these unique buildings are graced by newly designed contemporary residential space. All of this surrounds a peaceful central courtyard, a quiet and restful urban retreat in the heart of a city of 24 million.

Capella Shanghai

Capella Singapore — Singapore is a vibrant, modern city with world-class food and shopping. Visitors seeking a quiet place to renew after a day shopping or an evening enjoying the downtown nightlife find that on Sentosa Island. A 15 minute taxi ride away from downtown, Capella is set on 30 acres of landscaped grounds overlooking the sea. Two colonial bungalows from the 1880’s create the resort’s sense of place and history. The recent summit between President Trump and Leader Kim Jon-un was held at Capella.

Capella Bangkok

Capella Bangkok — Opening in 2019, this Capella is located on the Chao Phraya River. Adjacent to the elevated train station, guests can hop a quick ride into central Bangkok to shop or dine, totally avoiding the crowded rush hour traffic. Guests in one of Capella’s river villas will enjoy their own private boat on which to explore the river, while all guests have access to regular river transportation by the hotel’s boat, by far the quickest way to reach the Imperial Palace.

And, now, Capella has a new investor and a new injection of cash that will see this collection grow further. The Maldives (opening in 2020) and Sydney (opening in 2021) are on the horizon and we hear there will be more announcements soon for other Asia-Pacific developments – stay tuned!

With Capella’s renewed investments in their hotel’s they also have renewed energy in developing strong relationships. Jessica and I were delighted to have an opportunity to reconnect with our friends at Capella during the 2018 Virtuoso Travel Week and we are confident we will be able to work with Capella to deliver high levels of extra attention and VIP recognition for our clients.

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Greece: Luxury Travel Updates

Greece was a hot topic this year at Virtuoso Travel Week and we spend some time gathering the latest updates and insights from our top travel partners for Greece luxury travel. Here’s what we have our eye on:

Greece luxury travel

Canaves Oia Epitome, Santorini

By far the biggest news a Virtuoso Week is the opening of the 5th property at Canaves Oia called Epitome, pictured above. I met with Markos Chaidemeos, the managing director, and he is very excited to finally have a family-friendly option within his portfolio. This hotel is not on the cliffside like the others; instead, it is located on the northern part of Oia (still within walking distance of town) where there’s a little more space to spread out and far fewer safety concerns for the kids. Epitome features suites and villas, all with private pools. The 2-bedroom pool villas are the winners here – finally, a true Santorini luxury experience is available for families!

Greece luxury travel

photo courtesy FS Astir Palace

Four Seasons Astir Palace, Athens

We know our clients are so loyal to the Four Seasons brand and we’ve been anticipating the re-opening of the re-imagined Astire Palace for over a year already. There have been some delays and the new projected opening for the Four Seasons Astir Palace is early 2019. We’re watching this one closely! When it opens, we know this will quickly become a best-seller. The convenient location outside of Athens will make this a no-brainer for the start of any Greece luxury travel itinerary – the resort will be the perfect spot to recover from jet-lag. We’re most excited about the opportunity to add golf to a Greece itinerary and the resorts private marina will make sailing excursions a breeze. The new suites with private pools are a nice bonus, too!

Greece luxury travel

photo courtesy Katikies hotels

Katikies Resorts & Club

Our good friends over at Janine Cifelli Representation have put us on to a new member of their portfolio, Katikies Resorts & Club. This collection of hotels includes the newly opened Katikies Mykonos along with Katikies Santorini, Kirini Santorini, Chromata Santorini, Sun Rocks, and Kirini Mykonos. The largest hotel in the portfolio is 35-rooms so you can count on a true, boutique experience here. The newest addition, Katikies Mykonos, is a great option if you’re looking for exclusivity and seclusion without giving up on style or amazing seaside views! These hotels are not part of the Virtuoso network, but we work closely with JCR to be sure our clients get the best value and VIP consideration.

If you’re looking for the party in Mykonos, head to the Belvedere Hotel where you can easily stumble home after a few too many shots of Ouzo. The Belvedere also features a Nobu on site. For a family-friendly option on Mykonos, look to the Myconian Villa Collection!

Greece luxury travel

photo courtesy Domes Miramare

Corfu Joins the Luxury Market:

We’re Predicting that Corfu will be the buzz-worthy destination of 2019 and there are several new hotel developments to help push travelers’ interests. The one prominently on our radar is Angsana Corfu, projected for Q1 2019 opening. This family-friendly resort will be nestled into the hillside with 199 rooms and 50 private pool villas and will feature a private beach club, spa, kids club, multiple dining venues, and a rooftop lounge.

Also on the radar in Corfu is the adults-only Domes Miramare, a Luxury Collection Resort, which opens August 2018.

Greece luxury travel

photo courtesy George Roske, Naxian Collection

Get Off the Beaten Path:

Mykonos and Santorini are popular for a reason! They offer amazing experiences and some of the best luxury hotel options anywhere in Greece, but that also comes with a price in both rates and crowds. So, we recommend including a lesser known region of Greece in your itinerary to make sure you get the best balance. Last year, we told you about Crete. This year Naxos has been our go-to island for a little something different; it is an especially good fit for foodies. The Naxian Collection and Naxian on the Beach are our hotel picks here with high reviews from our travelers.

For families, we recommend Paros and Antiparos, which has a nice villa collection, or Halkidiki where you’ll find the new member to Virtuoso, Sani Asterias at Sani Resort. Calm, shallow ocean waters and fun, kid-friendly activities like the resort’s unique soccer camp in partnership with players from the Chelsea football club make this resort a perfect fit for families. Nearby UNESCO heritage sites, and new parks and museums in Thessaloniki will make this area a unique cultural destination, as well.

Folegandros is great for anyone looking for something charming, traditional, and authentic; stay at Anemi . For a good dose of drama, look to Milos with its French influences and dramatic coastlines; book a private yacht for a true luxury experience.

Greece luxury travel

Ourisman Travel clients enjoying a wine tasting on Santorini

PLAN EARLY!

The number of travelers visiting Greece has doubled over the past few years and there is no denying that Greece is a hot destination and we felt a few growing pains in the form of planning delays and inconsistent service during our clients’ trips this year. In 2018, we’ve supported over 20 departures to the destination and we expect this number to continue growing. Our preferred on-site for local support and trip logistics is Eclectic Greece and they are investing in stronger relationships with local transportation companies and expert guides to help us make sure you get a unique, personalized experience with the smoothest itinerary operation possible. 

For 2019, you can expect a stronger (and stricter) portfolio of services on offer and availability will continue to be a challenge. We estimate that our top hotel picks will be sold out for Summer 2019 by February. So, if a trip to Greece is on your radar, start your planning early!

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Caribbean Updates from Virtuoso Week 2018

Our favorite luxury Caribbean resorts are ready to pamper you. Are you ready for some island breezes, rum punches, and beach time at these newly refreshed resorts?

Map our Luxury Caribbean Resorts

There are 73 luxury Caribbean resorts that are members of the Virtuoso network – that’s a lot of complimentary breakfasts that we can offer you! See the full collection on our map of Caribbean luxury hotels here.

During our time at Virtuoso Week, we put extra focus on getting updates from our partners at our favorite luxury Caribbean resorts that have been getting makeovers and renovations this year. There is certainly plenty of news to be excited about! After a very tough hurricane season last fall, we are all hoping for a calm season this year. Many of our favorite luxury Caribbean resorts are poised for reopening and we can’t wait to see the Caribbean back in full swing again soon! Here’s what is on our radar:

Puerto Rico is back and better than ever!

Luxury Caribbean Resorts - Dorado Beach

Read more about our partner hotels in Puerto Rico

Other Caribbean News from Virtuoso Week 2018

1) Silversands Grenada, A Virtuoso Preview Property 

Set to open in November 2018, this new resort has been predicted to set the tone for the “next generation” of Caribbean resorts. The sleek architecture, intimate setting (only 43 suites plus private residential villas), and gorgeous white sand beaches have drawn us in. We are definitely keeping our eyes on this one! Who wants to volunteer to be one of the resorts first guests? 

2) Renovations are Complete at the Four Seasons Nevis – Read More here

3) Body Holiday St. Lucia wins the Virtuoso award for Best Wellness Program.

 See all of the winners from the Best of the Best awards here.

4) COMO Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos 

A Turks & Caicos favorite is back in action after a full renovation. To celebrate, they are offering a Stay 4, Pay 3 promotion, now through December 18, 2018. This private island resort now features crisp, bright rooms and improved luxuries such as outdoor showers. Extra sweet perks also include in-room yoga mats and bikes to leisurely ride around the private island. Accommodation options range from the entry-level, 600+ sq. feet Garden View Rooms , to beach villas with 1-3 bedroom options, to  3-5 bedroom private estates. There’s plenty of room for everyone to spread out and keep that zen feeling that COMO is so good at creating.

Luxury Caribbean Resorts - Half Moon

5) Half Moon, Jamaica

A complete re-imagining of this resort will bring new rooms, new restaurants, a new beach & swimming cove, a refreshed spa, and new villas. A revamped Great House will become the new hub of the resort and will house the lobby, new rooms, and a “grab & go” marketplace cafe. The 400-acre property will also be adding 2 new restaurants, a vegan cafe in the spa, new bars, and an adults-only swimming pool. There’s a lot to take in here! All renovations are slated to be complete by November 2018.

6) Kimpton Seafire Resort, Grand Cayman

New to the Virtuoso network for 2018, we’ve been hearing great feedback from clients and colleagues about this resort! This is a much needed dose of energy for Grand Cayman and we’re happy to have a new, stylish option on the island. The show-stopping dining menus, personable mixologists, sprawling pool, the Turkish-style Hammam in the spa, and the well outfitted room balconies with stunning sunset views all get high marks in guest reviews.

Luxury Caribbean Resorts - Baoase, Curacao7) Baoase Curacao

Small and quaint with just 23 accommodations, Baoase Luxury Resort is tucked away on the island of Curacao and the best kept secret in the Caribbean! It had almost completely missed our radar until, thankfully, our Virtuoso contact set us straight! This balinese inspired resort offers a white sandy beach with private beachfront pool suites. The restaurant on property features fine dining with an al fresco setting and the resort staff actively encourage guests to venture out to try one of the 20 other nearby restaurants for a local island vibe. When it comes to service here, luxury is visible in the attention to details. At Baoase, luxury is personal!

8) An oldie, but always a goodie is our ever-favorite Tryall Club

Let’s not forget about their two most coveted villas – Aqua Bay and Quinntessential. Each villa is equipped with the ultra luxurious swimming pools, oceanfront views, and golf carts, but each of these villas has a special feature or two you won’t find just anywhere. Aqua Bay is a 4-bedroom villa that can accommodate up to 8 guests, and is perfect for the spin-enthusiast, because the private gym at this villa has a Peloton bike! Quinntessential is a 5-bedroom villa that can accommodate up to 10 guests, and we’re just going to call this villa cool, because this villa accommodates its own irish pub and putting green! Definitely keep Tryall Club in mind for your next villa vacation!

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The Virtuoso Hotels of Puerto Rico are Back and Better Than Ever!

The Virtuoso hotels of Puerto Rico are reopening this fall with fresh room designs, new restaurants, and the same beautiful beaches!

Puerto Rico - Dorado Beach

Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Officially reopening on October 1, 2018, Dorado Beach is ready to reclaim their spot as our clients’ favorite luxury Caribbean resort. Dorado Beach was spared any major structural damage during the hurricanes this year and they have spent their down time reimagining the outdoor spaces. 300,000+ new trees and greenery have been planted to help reestablish the lush grounds. The resort has also given the rooms a touch up with a new color palette and reconfigured connecting rooms and now offer rooms with 2 King beds.

Positivo Sand Bar will now feature an Omakase & Ceviche menu and the Spa Botanico now has a new spa cuisine concept. The signature restaurant is getting a major overhaul. The resort is still collaborating with Jose Andres for the menu and the restaurant space will have expanded seating capacity both indoor and al fresco. The restaurant will be unveiled on November 1, 2018.

The 5-bedroom villa, Su Casa, will reopen mid December with new and enhanced experiences such as a new media and game room, outdoor movement studio, and state of the art technology.

Special Re-Opening Offers:

  • Introductory rates starting at 499 USD per night between October 1-31, 2018 (3-night minimum).
  • Thanksgiving availability with rates starting at 1099 USD/night
  • Holiday Splendor Incentive Package for arrivals between December 16-22, 2018 with a 3-night minimum stay includes resort credits ranging from 1000 USD up to 2250 USD, based on accommodation booked.

Take a trip down memory lane and see what Jessica had to say about Dorado Beach from her visit back in 2013 when the resort had just opened.

Meanwhile, at our other Virtuoso hotels in Puerto Rico:

  • Hotel El Convento and the Condado Vanderbilt are open and fully operational
  • St. Regis Bahia Beach has done a full room renovation with a lighter color concept and is poised for a soft opening on October 29, 2018
  • The Ritz-Carlton San Juan is taking their closure as an opportunity for a complete and dramatic make over and this hotel will not reopen until October 2019.
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Four Seasons Nevis Renovation Update

Room renovations at the Four Seasons Nevis are complete and the new lobby, pool, and restaurants are set to be completed by December 10, 2018. We’ve got our eye on this resort for Spring Break this year! 

Four Seasons Nevis

photo courtesy Four Seasons Nevis

Designed by Todd-Avery Lenahan of TAL Design Studios, the rooms are looking fresh with a touch of playfulness, a perfect accompaniment to the breezy tropical island of Nevis. We’re loving the monkey-themed upholstery! Our favorite Four Seasons rooms are currently at the Four Seasons Lanai, but it looks like Nevis will be in the running now!

There’s no need to wait to see this resort; the hotel is open and welcoming guests now and, as Forbes magazine has reminded us, Nevis can be a great summer destination!

Pack your swimsuit and get ready to head to Nevis for the famous arrival experience and un-matched service the Four Seasons has made so famous! Our clients enjoy generous Preferred Partner amenities, as well. Let us know if you’re interested and we’ll be happy to tell you more! 

** If you’re thinking about a getaway for Christmas and New Years, the resort still has 2018 festive availability with only a 5-night minimum! **

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Los Cabos: Life on a Sea of Dreams

Los Cabos is a luxury travel destination like no other, combining great weather, exotic scenery, adventure and five-star comfort; the options are endless! I just returned from a destination research trip where I spent two weeks seeking out the top luxury hotels and testing out the best luxury experiences. Here’s a round up of what I learned:  

Los Cabos

Getting There – We all know Cabo is notorious for being easy to get to via nonstop flight for west coasters. But for our east coast folks, Cabo is also quite easy to get to with a connecting flight. And while in transit on the ground, between visiting all of the luxury hotels, I never experienced a transfer longer than 30 minutes.

Stay – When you book your luxury accommodation in Cabo, odds are you are promised either an outdoor shower, private plunge pool or fire pit, encouraging indoor-outdoor living without leaving your room. There are so many great hotels to choose from and each is has something different to offer. Click through below for site-inspection reports on some of our favorite hotels:

  • Montage Los Cabos – Our new favorite! A swimmable beach, 3 sprawling pools, a kids club, golf course, cozy rooms, and a popsicle bar round out our favorite features! Read more…
  • Las Ventanas – The ultimate favorite! A unique check-in experience lets you know immediately that this isn’t just another hotel stay. The staff takes attention to detail to a whole new level and your every whim is answered with ease. This is a great spot for honeymooners!
  • Chileno Bay – A well-rounded option and great for families! The huge pool, swimmable beach, contemporary interior design, spacious rooms, and an amazing dining experience will keep you happy for days.
  • Resort at Pedregal – We love the sense of romance and drama here, along with authentic design, private plunge pools, top-notch service, and unique location walking distance into town.
  • One & Only Palmilla – This resort is the all-ages pleaser! It has an exotic feel to it, but there’s still plenty of polish and more than enough space to spread out!
  • Esperanza – Amazing Ocean Views and dramatic cliff-side dining!
  • The Cape – Like all Thompson Hotels, this one is a trend-setter. We love the rooftop bar and buzzy vibe.
  • Grand Velas Los Cabos – All-inclusive without sacrificing on style, quality of service, dining, or amenities. Choose the Grand Class for an adults-only experience and private plunge pools. Families will enjoy the Ambassador Suites and the kids and teens clubs.

Service – Luxury is personal! Everywhere on  property, the staff greets you showing their sincerest welcome from the heart. Each luxury property had their own unique and special welcome as soon as you arrive, you barely feel like you are “checking in”. What’s a lobby?

Los Cabos

Swim – Where the desert meets the sea, you can explore rare swimmable beaches at just a handful of the luxury resorts. They make the perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts and a sanctuary for marine life. Perfect for swimming, snorkeling, paddle boarding and kayaking. You may even spot a whale or jumping manta ray!

Explore – When you see a dirt road in Baja, you should take it! Rediscover the joy of wandering through charming San Jose del Cabo, or a day trip to Todos Santos (which is all the rage right now!) where Mexican culture flourishes among art galleries, shops and authentic cuisine. During my trip, I enjoyed unique garden tours with farm-to-table dining, a glass blowing demonstration, and a beautiful sunset cruise. You can also try your hand at snorkeling, zip lining, paddle boarding and many other active adventures. If you’re feeling really active, you might consider the new Lindblad Expeditions “Base Camp Baja” cruise. 

Back in town, take advantage of the options to dine cliffside at exclusive restaurants where the waves crash and the sun sets and then make the most of the nightlife at hopping beach clubs and rooftop bars with creative cocktails and live music. 

If you’re looking to get a little more creative or off the beaten track with your next trip to Los Cabos, check out our suggestions for 3 Ways to Rethink Your Cabo Vacation.

Los Cabos

Security – The question of safety has been a hot and controversial topic among travelers. Some luxury resorts have implemented undercover security and you would never even notice it. I can also say with full confidence, throughout my whole stay I always felt a sense of comfort and safety, even on the road and exploring the towns. Travel smart, but also travel with confidence. We have a network of partners who are local and on the ground that you can trust to make sure everything runs smoothly. 

Globally and Locally Conscious – Each luxury resort seemed very committed to the concept of “responsible luxury”. There are obvious efforts being made to make positive contributions to their environment, and it doesn’t go unnoticed.

There’s More! – North of Cabo, there are up and coming developments in East Cape where the Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton and Aman are building resorts scheduled to open in 2019 and 2020. You know we’ll be back to scope out the new luxury hotel options as soon as they open! Until next time… 

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3 Ways to Rethink Your Cabo Vacation

Get creative with your next Cabo vacation. This destination offers equal amounts of options for travelers seeking rest and relaxation, those looking for cultural immersion, and those thrill-seekers looking for an adrenaline rush! Here are 3 unique ways to re-think your Cabo vacation that may help spark some inspiration:

Cabo Vacation with Lindblad Expeditions

Curious young California sea lion with snorkelers underwater at Los Islotes, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Photo by Michael S. Nolan, courtesy Lindblad Expeditions

Wildness & WellnessBase Camp Baja is a 5-day itinerary focused on wellbeing with Lindblad Expeditions and Exhale Spa. Snorkeling with sea lions and kayaking coastlines will be sure to help you find your playful side, while yoga, hiking and paddle boarding will keep you balanced. Of course, the itinerary wouldn’t be complete without a sunset beach BBQ, bonfire and stargazing from the ships observation deck. This is more than a Cabo vaction, it is a “soul-break” designed to help you reset and recharge.

Don’t let the expedition-style itinerary fool you; this is still a luxury experience full of pampering. The brand new National Geographic Venture is a floating boutique hotel designed to accommodate only 100 guests. Meals on board are prepared fresh with local land sustainable ingredients. And you don’t have to worry about stuffy assigned seating arrangements; seating is organized restaurant-style.

Onboard expedition leaders, wellness specialists, naturalists, and photography instructors are on hand to help guide your experience and make sure you get a little taste of everything. You’ll be immersed in the local landscape and armed with experts to point you in the right direction so you can relax and enjoy the sights around you. Don’t forget to pack your camera!

Combine a Cabo Vacation with San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende; photo courtesy Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada

Twinning in Mexico – Have you been craving for a vacation filled with more than just soaking up some sun and surf? Now Los Cabos pairs easily with nonstop flights to it’s “Sister City” – San Miguel de Allende! You can now twin your love of sunshine and a good beach party with your cultural side in UNESCO-listed San Miguel de Allende. The town is filled with shopping, art galleries, cafes, wineries and more! When you’re done venturing, stay at your choice of two luxury Virtuoso hotels – Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada or Rosewood San Miguel de Allende. Each hotel offers an array of classes from cooking, photography, painting, and language lessons, which reflects San Miguel de Allende’s history and culture of creativity. The Ourisman Travel team can help you build a Cabo vacation itinerary that includes San Miguel de Allende and allows you to explore both regions and enjoy smooth travels in between!

A Cabo Vacation the whole family can enjoy

Brisa Del Mar at Chileno Bay; photo courtesy Journey Mexico

Villa Living – A villa vacation can help you get some quality family time without sacrificing space and Cabo is perfect for multi-generational family trips! In partnership with our friends at Journey Mexico and their hand-picked portfolio of private homes, we can help you find the best luxury villa vacation for your family, ranging from 3 to 9 bedrooms. Villa perks also include options of a personal butler, fully stocked kitchen, or golf cart. There are also even more perks if your villa resides within a luxury resort, where you also have easy access to the resort’s facilities!

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Introducing Montage Los Cabos

Montage Los Cabos

Montage Los Cabos is the perfect five-star environment for couples and families, alike. As one of the newest luxury hotels in Cabo, the coveted Santa Maria Bay Beach is your backyard! This swimmable beach is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts and a sanctuary for marine life, perfect for snorkeling.

Designed to complement the landscape and ambience of Los Cabos, the new Virtuoso property includes 122 guest rooms and suites, as well as 52 residences. All accommodations infuse a modern hacienda feel that encourages indoor/outdoor living… this includes outdoor showers!

Montage Los Cabos

The resort includes three sprawling pools where lounge chairs are endless. Montage Los Cabos features well-designed facilities including Spa Montage, Fitness and Movement Studio, Paintbox Kid’s Club (ages 5-12 years old) and an 18-hole golf course.

For foodies, the property boasts two restaurants, Marea and Mezcal. My favorite spot at the resort is the modern marketplace called Paletas, where you can indulge in endless sweets, coffees and homemade paletas (popsicles)! You may also find yourself drawn to the curated selection of locally crafted gifts, artwork and clothing.

A stay at Montage Los Cabos will bring you whatever you are seeking… from relaxation, adventure and love – this place has it!

Montage Los Cabos

Through Virtuoso, our clients receive the following complimentary amenities:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily $70USD breakfast credit per bedroom, available in the restaurant or through in-room dining (credit is non-cumulative, should be redeemed per day)
  • $100 USD Resort Credit
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-fi
  • Bookings in Beachfront suites and above will also receive a one way airport transfer for up to 4 guests

For a limited time, guests booking Montage Los Cabos with Ourisman Travel will receive a fourth night complimentary. They are also offering their Stay & Play promotion that includes a 100 USD resort credit per night for guest rooms, and 300 USD resort credit per night for stays in suites or residences.


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