Meet the Voyager – Jake Mooney

As a voyager, Jake loves to travel big. “I am at the stage of my life where I want to go as far possible. I would like to do as many big and long trips while I am younger and save some more slower paced trips for my later years.” In past travel, he has tried to make his experiences the one big focal point of each year. In fact, he has his travel plan mapped out over the next five years, and that gives him something to look forward to everyday. “I want to go as far as I can for as long as I can. I know the more time you spend somewhere you can really embrace the culture.”

“Life is short and world is wide!”

Jake’s favorite aspect of traveling is finding the unexpected in any place/town/city. “I get excited about really exploring another country’s culture. I love to see the how other people live throughout the world. I love to hear of their customs and how as a culture they have decide to do things in a certain way.” He traveled to Spain a few years ago and visited Madrid and Barcelona – two staples in any Spain itinerary. Even with two big cities in his plans, he also had some time built in to explore the Spanish countryside – and it was during that time that he ended up thirty minutes or so outside of Madrid in the town of Segovia. “Segovia was the Spain you might not aways see in the magazine, but it was unique and authentic as a different side of Spain and Spanish culture. After that trip is really when I caught the travel bug and pursued a job in the travel industry.”

Jake and his wife explore the Pitons and beautiful island of St.Lucia.

As this voyager prepares for travel, his first step before going anywhere is reading up on the area. He collects as much information on a destination as possible so that he can decide if the destination would mesh well with his travel style/expectations. “I try to play out the trip in my head and say what we would do on certain days, and then come up with a good baseline of ideas.” Then, he takes in the logistical stuff like flights/hotels to see what is even feasible. He believes that, although seemingly boring and tedious, it is essential to feeling prepared prior to departure.

Just as efficient as Jake is with his research, he is the same with his suitcase. He prefers to travel as light as possible, but one of his must-brings is a bathing suit, no matter the destination. Even with his love for activity and adventure, this voyager prefers balance in his itinerary. He generally sections his vacations into travel days and relax days. “I will plan adventures and excursions for so many days of the trip followed by days to just relax and really take in the culture of the country.”

Jake sees a trip over the pond in his near future. “My family has always discussed a trip to Ireland being that we are all super Irish. I would love to add Scotland and even possibly England to this trip, time permitting. We are currently in the early stages of researching and will see what members of the Mooney clan will be joining us.” In addition to his UK plans, his dream destination is Bora Bora. “I would love nothing more than to just relax on those amazing beaches and swim in the bluest water in the world – not to mention Bora Bora has some of the most unique resorts in the entire world.”

Jake treks up to Montserrat to take in the amazing view of Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea.

From one voyager to the next, Jake’s advice on travel is not to over-plan/overthink the vacation. “My advice is to leave room to find things you never knew existed. If you plan your trip from the minute you touch down until the airport ride home there is no room for anything new to surprise you.”

Are you a Voyager? Take our quiz and find your travel personality along with recommendations for destinations, hotels, and activities that fit your style

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You Book, We VIP! – Book Online with the Virtuoso Booking Tool

Are you a DIY traveler? Do you enjoy last minute getaways, weekend breaks, or other short trips? Then the Virtuoso self-booking tool is for you!

When you check in, you’re a VIP with the hotel simply because you’ve booked with Ourisman Travel. You can get the instant gratification from booking online and you’ll be an instant VIP. This tool gives you Virtuoso access in a click of a button, on your time, where you can receive instant VIP amenities and upgrades on your own. The Virtuoso Booking Tool gives you the ease and convenience of online booking – plus the value and VIP treatment we know you love.

You can secure exclusive amenities, that we’ve always delivered, at over thousands of Virtuoso properties around the world, such as:

  • Room upgrade on arrival, based on availability
  • Daily breakfast for two
  • Hotel credit for food, beverage or spa
  • Early check-in/late checkout, based on availability
  • Special Virtuoso experiences

Step #1: Choose an Advisor

  • All you have to do is sign on and identify Ourisman Travel as your Virtuoso Advisor. If you see rates, but are not able to book online, double check that you’ve selected us, Ourisman Travel, as your advisor. 

Step #2: Book Online

  • Follow the easy instructions in the booking tool. Enter your dates to view rates and availability, select the room you want, provide your contact and payment details, and voila! You’ve made your booking.
  • Please note we do not recommend this tool if you are booking multiple rooms, looking for connecting room options, or have multiple destinations/hotels in a larger/longer trip.

Step #3: Travel like a VIP!

  • Once you make a booking, we get an alert, and we will follow up with you and the hotel as a part of our usual VIP hotel booking process. Your check-in experience will be the same as it ever was and you will receive all the usual recognitions for booking with Virtuoso and Ourisman Travel.

We received a lot of positive feedback from our blog post on how to Get Extra Perks and Avoid Fees when booking with Ourisman Travel, and are very excited to share our “Pro-Tips” for the new Virtuoso.com Booking Tool! If you are a self-proclaimed “RTB Traveler” (ready-to-book) we guarantee you are going to love this tool!

How to Use the Virtuoso Booking Tool Like a Pro

  • Easy Trouble-shooting:  If you are having issues booking, first make sure you have created an account and are signed in. If you don’t have an account, the site will prompt you to “contact your advisor” and won’t allow you to make a booking.
  • You can’t make bookings in a mobile browser: The Virtuoso Booking Tool is not mobile friendly and won’t allow you to book if you are using a phone or iPad. In order to successfully book through the tool, you must book from a desktop computer/laptop.
  • Not all hotels are participating - You will see that not all hotels are participating in the program and many will direct you to contact your advisor to request a booking. In those cases you can use the web form on Virtuoso.com or submit a travel request form to us and we'll get you squared away. If you see rates, but are not able to book online, follow our trouble-shooting advice in the first point above.
  • Book any time, any day! – Quite possibly, the best benefit of this tool is that it operates 24/7. While we would love to be available to you 24/7, we do have to sleep! If you are worried about availability or a rate change, this booking tool will allow you to lock your trip in then and there – even if it’s 3 am on a Saturday night!
  • Promotions - Keep in mind that not all promotions are created equal! Some promotions will not combine with Virtuoso rates, so you may not see all of them available when searching rates. If you have your eye on a special promotion, feel free to reach out to us to look into it.
  • To view nightly rates: Use the “View Total" dropdown option to view nightly rates, taxes and total (without leaving the hotel page). This is especially helpful when you’re booking a free night promotion.
  • Currencies: Rates will likely default to your local currency (not the hotel’s). While this enhances convenience for you, keep this in mind when booking foreign hotels. Even though USD pricing may be displayed you will actually be charged in the hotel’s local currency.Last Minute Bookings – There are two things to keep in mind if you are booking a last minute (anywhere from 7 days prior to travel, to time of arrival).
    • If you book via Virtuoso.com, our last minute fee will not apply. This fee is to cover our team’s time for prioritizing last minute rate inquiries; which of course does not occur if you are booking directly through Virtuoso.com.
    • Please note: The booking tool does not allow for bookings made within 24 hours of travel.
    • While we will do our best to follow our typical VIP process of contacting the hotel directly for any booking; we cannot guarantee this process for last minute bookings through Virtuoso.com. Regardless, you will still receive Virtuoso amenities.
  • You cannot cancel or change a booking via the Virtuoso Booking Tool: please contact us directly if you need to change or cancel your booking.
  • Enter all travelers’ information: Don’t forget to add your guests to the reservation as well so we can be sure we have the full picture of your trip.

When NOT to book via Virtuoso.com

  • Some programs will trump Virtuoso – As you may know, we are fortunate enough to work with many exclusive luxury hotel programs in addition to Virtuoso. While it’s rare, there are a few programs that we will recommend over Virtuoso. In these instances, we recommend you still request your trip through us to get the best value.
    • Four Seasons Preferred Partner – Higher VIP status and better breakfast amenity (includes room service)
    • Dorchester Diamond Club – Often receives upgrade at booking
    • Mandarin Oriental Fan Club – Credit amenity received is more flexible than the Virtuoso credit
    • Shangri-La Luxury Circle – Often receives upgrade at booking
  • When your hotel booking is not simple – The booking tool is not designed for multiple rooms, special requests, trips involving multiple hotels, or any other "booking complications." Anytime you have a booking request that goes beyond the most basic hotel reservation, it is still best to contact us first!

And of course, this doesn’t change any of the services we already offer! We’re still available to book hotels and take care of your other travel needs. Whether designing a complete, personalized itinerary, or simply securing a hotel-only accommodation, we want to provide you a way to become and stay a part of the Ourisman Travel family!

Enjoy the online booking tool, and we hope to see your Virtuoso.com reservation in our inbox soon!

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The Four Seasons Bahamas: The Ocean Club

The Four Seasons Bahamas brings together everything we love about this go-to Caribbean destination with our go-to luxury hotel partner!

Four Seasons Bahamas

While visiting Nassau for hotel site inspections, it was important for me to take a peak and see what our beloved Four Seasons partners have to offer.  The Ocean Club site visit was an overall highlight of the entire trip.  This well established resort (formerly a One & Only) offers a balance between classic luxury and contemporary style; it is worth it to go a little further from the airport (about a 40 minute drive) to get a complete luxury experience.

The Four Seasons Bahamas, known formally as The Ocean Club, a Four Seasons Resort,  is spread out amongst lush gardens and feels quite spacious for housing 90 rooms, 12 suites and 5 villas. Built in the mid 20th century this resort sits on the north side of Paradise Island.  Trust me, it was Paradise with a rich history of Bahamian roots, progressive artists and the filming of multiple James Bond movies. The Four Seasons Bahamas is the perfect combination of romance& relaxation while still being very family friendly.

Our Favorite Things About the Four Seasons Bahamas:

Four Seasons Bahamas

They offer two main room styles, the newly renovated Crescent Wing with modern decor, white bathrooms and ocean view.  Then around the corner is the older Harford Wing nestled in the palms.  These dark wood rooms and mosaic tile bathrooms were a personal favorite.  With decor options to fit every preference, this resort is perfect for a multi-generational family trip. Each family member will find something to please them and there is plenty of space for multiple generations looking to break away into their own little personal sanctuaries. 

Four Seasons Bahamas

As far as the Villa options, these were the real deal!  No little bungalow huts here.  Instead they offer multiple spacious rooms, private pools, full kitchen and round the clock butler service.  These garden cottages were tucked away for ultimate privacy away from the view of guests walking around the resort, but featuring incredible ocean views for guests to take it all in.

While exploring we came across multiple pool options, a kids club, and bikes as an option of transportation around the property.  As we passed a clay tennis court the instructor of over 40 years was relaxing in the sidelines. It was these moments of stepping back in time as if I was going to run into The Rat Pack, that really made this resort come to life for me. 

The spa area of the resort was worth the visit alone, offering an unforgettable aroma in the air.  This indoor/outdoor setting offered private treatment areas no matter the service request large or small.  Open air villas of mosaic tile, private bathtubs and private garden provided a truly unique spa service experience.

Restaurant Dune is one of the only dining location on the entire island with an ocean view.  Located just steps from the beach, this is the ultimate Caribbean dining experience. 

The Ocean Club has been a hideaway favorite for some luxury travelers for decades, yet it is also only just being discovered by others. Whichever group you belong you, this gem of a resort is going to provide true Bahamian service.  Its strong historic ties, lush property and very well established staff earns a top spot on my list for an island luxury experience! 

Ourisman Travel is a top seller of Four Seasons hotels and our clients enjoy the best VIP treatment and complimentary perks. Contact us to learn more and book your next vacation!

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Virtuoso Booking Tool – Updates for an Even Easier Booking!

The Virtuoso Booking Tool gives you the ease and convenience of online booking. Through this tool, you can book your own hotel stay via Virtuoso and enjoy all of the same VIP perks as an Ourisman Travel Client. All you have to do is sign on and identify Ourisman Travel as your Virtuoso Advisor. Once you make a booking, we get an alert, and we will follow-up with the hotel as part of our usual VIP hotel booking process to make sure your stay is as enjoyable as possible!

Our advice before booking or if you are having issues booking:

  1. Make sure you are signed in or have created a log in account! If you don’t have an account, it will prompt you to “contact your advisor”.
  2. The Virtuoso Booking Tool is not mobile friendly. In order to successfully book through the tool, you must book from a desktop computer/laptop.

The Virtuoso Booking Tool also recently released updates that make the booking process easier for you! Virtuoso has implemented these new features:

  • The “per night” rate shown, is now the average nightly rate
  • “View Total” dropdown option to view nightly rates, taxes and total (without leaving the hotel page).
  • You can now change the currency on the hotel page.

You can learn more about the Virtuoso Booking Tool through our blog outlining how to use the tool. Don’t forget to bookmark our Virtuoso online booking tool for your hotel-only travels! And of course, if it prompts to “contact your advisor” please do reach out to us!

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Luxury Hotels of Indonesia

The Luxury Hotels of Indonesia are as diverse, beautiful, and breathtaking as the country itself with dramatic landscapes and a unique culture that draws travelers from all over the world. The country is heavily invested in tourism and, even at the high end of the spectrum, it can be hard to decide which of the luxury hotels of Indonesia are right for you. Through our partnerships, we have a wide range of hotels for our clients to choose from and are fortunate enough to have had team members do sight inspections at many of the hotels in Indonesia.

luxury hotels of Indonesia Map

To start, there are 16 Virtuoso hotels located throughout Indonesia, plus 17 additional luxury hotels that are affiliated with similar hotel luxury programs such as Belmond Bellini Club or Ritz-Carlton STARS. All of these luxury hotels can be discovered on six islands throughout Indonesia – Java, Bali, Komodo Island, Moyo Island, Sumba, and Bawah.

luxury hotels of Indonesia Borobudur

Let’s start with Java! Angela, our team member who most recently traveled to Bali, insists that any trip to Indonesia should start on the island of Java, which sandwiched between Sumatra and Bali. Home to the city of Jakarta in the northwestern part of the island, Java is the most populous islands in the world.

There is plenty to see and do in the city of Jakarta, but when we are thinking of Java for our clients, we are likely talking about Central Java and the famous Buddhist temple of Borobudur or its Hindu neighbor, Candi Prambanan. For our luxury travelers looking for cultural immersion mixed with pampering and R&R, Amanjiwo is the best place to stay. 

luxury hotels of Indonesia Amanjiwo

Next stop for luxury hotels in Indonesia is everyone’s favorite – Bali! There are seemingly endless options on the island of Bali and with 23 to sift through, the task of finding the perfect one can seem a little daunting, which is where we are more than happy to step in and provide some consultation to guide your decision! Within Bali, you have the option to explore Ubud, Jimbaran Bay, Nusa Dua, and more!

We recommend, beginning your time in Bali in Ubud where you have the best opportunity to develop an understanding of the Balinese culture and geography.

Luxury Hotels of Indonesia | Ubud, Bali:

Luxury Hotels of Indonesia Ubud

We can help you pick the best hotel tailored to your budget and style, in addition to pairing your accommodation with activities such as exploring local markets, shopping and more! 

Craving the sea and sun? Stay in Bali and head to one of Bali’s many beach areas:

  • Nusa Dua = best beach for swimming: This area is very peaceful and exclusive while still boasting a good variety of dining/shopping options, but some people will complain that it feels less authentic or too generic for their tastes. Here, we recommend the St. Regis (contemporary in style, but the beach is fantastic) or the Ritz-Carlton (large in size, but very family oriented).
  • Jimbaran Bay = charming and quiet: nice wide beaches with calm water and charming villages. It is less crowded, but that also means there is less going on. You can travel 45 minutes to Seminyak or 30 minutes to Nusa Dua for more dining/nightlife, so this is a good central location if you want to explore multiple beaches during your stay. Here, we like the Four Seasons, which has 147 hillside villas and a great sense of place, but some people don’t like having to walk or take a buggy down to the beach. Our favorite “hidden gem” in Bali, especially when you are looking for the best value is the Belmond Jimbaran Puri, which has more convenient beach access and is more moderately priced and sized than the Four Seasons with only 63 villas.
  • Seminyak = lots to do: this beach is less swimmable and better for surfing, but the beach is nice and wide with lots to do including good beach clubs, dining, and shopping. Our preferred hotel in Seminyak is the Oberoi. For a more moderately priced option, you may also consider the W hotel.
  • Uluwatu = clifftop views: If beach isn’t important, look to Uluwatu for dramatic views perched above the sea on steep cliffs. While there is a narrow beach, it is not swimmable. The sunset views are totally worth it, though! At Uluwatu, we recommend the Bulgari Bali for a true 5-star pampering experience. Alternatively, we also like the Alila Uluwatu Villas.
  • Manggis = a little more off the beaten track: head northeast from the airport by about an hour and you will find a quiet region with traditional farming and fishing villages with local artists practicing the traditional arts of weaving, textile printing, and salt making. The black sand beaches are remote and exotic and a perfect place to go if you are looking for total privacy. Here, we like Amankila and we recommend adding a dose of adventure with a boating and snorkeling excursion. The Alila Manggis is a good, budget-friendly alternative. 

luxury hotels of Indonesia Bali Beaches

Next stop? Take your pick of three islands – Komodo Island, Moyo Island or Sumba. Or, charter a sail boat and see multiple islands in one itinerary!

The luxury hotels of Indonesia have a far reach and you can even be pampered on islands further afield with a greater sense of adventure. These islands are the perfect destination for divers and snorkeling and each island also offers exclusive, adventurous and one of a kind activities! 

 luxury hotels of Indonesia Amanwana

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Indonesia 101: More Than Just Bali!

IndonesiaIndonesia is more than Bali! Indonesia is home to over 17,000 islands, where only 6,000 are inhabited by people. Throughout the islands you are bound to see at least one volcano, on the ground or in the air!

When should you plan to go? The best time to travel to Indonesia is June through October, the best months being June or September because the days are dry & sunny with a consistent & comfortable temperature of around 80 degrees! 

The government of Indonesia recognizes a handful of religions; the most popular being Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. They are very culturally diverse with their own customs and religions, yet extremely respectful of each others’ beliefs. Traveling to Indonesia offers such a wonderful example of how religion can differ between neighbors but be culturally accepted, which is often a rarity. This harmonious culture really is something to experience for yourself; it is so moving from a spiritual and humanitarian standpoint that most travelers come away with a better understanding of not only the many cultures and religions of Indonesia, but of themselves and their place in the world as well. 

Indonesia

We have luxury hotel partnerships on five islands in Indonesia – Java, Bali, Komodo Island, Moyo Island and Sumba. Click here to see our Virtuoso partner hotels (and even book them online – read more about how to book online with Virtuoso here). One of our favorite partners in Indoneisa is Aman. Aman has an extensive collection throughout Indonesia;  Java being home to Amanjiwo, Bali being home to Amandari, Amankila and the Aman Villas at Nusa Dua, and the remote island of Moyo is home to the luxury tented camps at Amanwana. The landscape of Indonesia is perfect for the aesthetic of the Aman brand it is clear to see why Aman has invested so heavily in Indonesia. 

There’s an island (or five!) for everyone in Indonesia… let us help plan your dream vacation at the perfect luxury hotel for you with customized day trips and tours tailored to your desires! For a quick and easy way to reach Team Ourisman, fill out a Travel Request Form

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2019 Luxury Hotel Openings: Our Top Picks

The 2019 luxury hotel openings are some of the most exciting we’ve seen in many years. This  is shaping up to be a banner year for our partners world wide! With so many new luxury hotels opening in 2019, we want to take a moment to highlight some properties that we are especially excited about.

First up is the Four Seasons with six incredible properties opening and reopening in 2019. We love the Four Seasons brand and our clients do too!

  • The Lodge at Koele, a Four Seasons Resort:
    The Four Seasons Lanai is already one of our favorite properties & Jessica’s favorite of all the Four Seasons resorts so the re-opening of its sister property is something Team Ourisman has been looking forward to. The property closed in 2015 to undergo a $75 million dollar overhaul that would shift its focus to relaxation and wellness. Look for the resort to open its doors in early 2019.
  • Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens:
    With Greece quickly becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, it makes perfect sense that the Four Seasons brand would set its sights on the Mediterranean country. The Four Seasons has been extensively updating the iconic Astir Palace, located along the Aegean shoreline, which has long been a destination in and of itself for luxury travelers.  The Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens is now accepting reservations and will have its grand opening March 29, 2019!
  • Four Seasons Hotel, One Dalton Street, Boston:
    Boston has long been a destination for American history enthusiasts and business travelers who will soon be able to stay at the Four Seasons’ new modern hotel located in Boston’s Back Bay area, walking distance to the city’s famed shopping on Newbury and Boylston streets as well as Fenway Park and the cities many concert halls and art museums. This property is perfect for those who want to explore a classic American city without sacrificing high end luxury. Look for this new hotel to open in early 2019!
  • Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center:
    Continuing their trend of opening hotels in historic & business centered American cities comes the new Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia. Located in Philadelphia’s tallest tower all 219 rooms, and the indoor infinity pool, will feature unobstructed skyline views. The hotel is slated to open mid 2019!
  • Four Seasons Resort & Residences Napa Valley:
    While Napa Valley certainly isn’t wanting for more 5-star, ultra luxe resorts, this new Four Seasons property is already showing some serious competition. Cabernet Sauvignon fans are sure to be delighted by this property as it is set on a Cabernet vineyard and has a winery onsite. Even the most seasoned wine aficionado is sure to be impressed by this new, rustically luxurious hotel that is set to open mid 2019!
  • Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Costa Palmas:
    This property is particularly exciting as it is the brand’s first marina resort. Situated on two miles of pristine private beachfront on the Baja Peninsula, this resort’s contemporary design is just one of the many reasons it is soon to become a fan favorite. All of the resorts 145 rooms will have views of the Sea of Cortez. With access to the marina, yacht cruising, snorkeling excursions and deep sea fishing are all on the table, with many other beach focused water sports to fill your sun soaked days. Look for this beautiful hotel to open its doors in mid 2019!

2019 luxury hotel

2019 Luxury Hotel openings are going to keep us particularly busy in Hawaii. In addition to the Four Seasons Lodge at Koele, we’re also excited for the reopening of  Mauna Lani Bay, An Auberge Collection Resort. When the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel first opened its doors in 1983 it brought a new wave of luxury travelers to the Big Island. Now, nearly 40 years after its original opening, the hotel is set to reopen after a massive renovation at the hands of the Auberge Resorts Collection. The complete overhaul began in October of 2018 and aimed to bring the once ultra luxe hotel back to its former glory while redefining guest experience. Additions and updates include an adults only infinity pool, redesigned family pool, new signature suites with ocean views & a 5,000 square foot fitness center. The property will definitely have the Auberge’s signature “barefoot luxury” feel as well as its non-obtrusive, high touch service. Add this incredible hotel to your bucket list as it reopens in December of 2019!

The Belmond Cadogan London already an icon of the city & will become Belmond’s first property in London. Built in 1887, Belmond has worked hard to upgrade the property while maintaining the architectural integrity of the building. Located between the ultra-high-end Kensington area and the more artistically leaning Chelsea, this property boasts one of the best locations in London. Along with the reopening of this London landmark, the Belmond brand will also take over management of Durley House, a collection of 15 private residence-style townhouse suites located on the same block as the hotel. Durley House is also undergoing a massive renovation and guests will be able to make use of all of the Cadogan London’s facilities. The Cadogan London & Durley House are set to open in early 2019 after nearly two years of renovating. Be on the lookout for a site inspection blog from David, who will be visiting the properties this January.

Of all the 2019 luxury hotel openings, we may be most excited for the opening of the Capella Bangkok in May 2019. The first urban resort to open in Bangkok, the Capella is fully embracing the high energy of the city. Located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River and taking full advantage of the river views, this hotel will be a true oasis in the city. With an outdoor pool surrounded by tropical gardens and the signature Capella Personal Assistants attending to guests’ every need, this property will quickly become a must see in Bangkok. Several of the accommodations will boast sky gardens and outdoor living spaces, which is a rarity in Bangkok. This property is also slated to become a foodie destination with cuisine overseen by Chef Mauro Colagreco and if it is anything like his restaurant Mirazur in the South of France it is sure to start raking in awards shortly after it’s debut.  While you wait for the hotel’s doors to open in early 2019, check out our blog highlighting the Capella brand and our partnership.

The opening of the Singita Kwitonda Lodge & Kataza House Rwanda is particularly exciting for our own safari addict, Jessica, but all of Team Ourisman is thrilled about this new property located on the edge of Volcanoes National Park, which is home to an estimated 320 mountain gorillas. Singita is known for seamlessly blending the adventure of a safari with the comforts of a luxury hotel and this new property will be no exception. However, the major draw is access to gorilla trekking, which is more often than not a physically demanding experience – making the luxurious accommodations at the Singita Kwitonda Lodge & Kataza House even more enticing. Be on the lookout for this new lodge to open in August 2019. Reach out to us for more information on planning a Gorilla Trek and how to build an experience around this one of a kind property!

The reopening of Raffles Singapore has the luxury travel industry waiting with baited breath. The flagship property for the Raffles brand has been closed since December of 2017 for a major historic renovation of the colonial style property built in 1887. The hotel is truly iconic in both the design and the cultural influence it has had in Singapore – the Singapore Sling originated in the hotel’s Long Bar. The renovation aims to maintain the original charm and ambiance of the hotel while making the necessary updates to meet the needs of the modern traveler. This highly anticipated reopening is set for mid 2019 and is sure to blow even the most seasoned luxury traveler away. Be sure to check out the restoration gallery as you wait for the doors to reopen!

With the opening of the Rosewood Hong Kong comes a new level of luxury in this incredible city! Located in the Victoria Harbour of the Kowloon waterfront district, this impressive skyscraper that houses the property’s 91 suites looms large over its neighbors, giving its guests spectacular views of the harbour. The suites will be among the most spacious in Hong Kong, starting at 53 square meters (about 570 square feet) which will be incredibly comfortable for travelers used to larger room sizes. All suites will feature butler service and Manor Club access. Perhaps the most interesting element though is the Ladies Only Speak-Easy where guests will have to specifically invite their male companions if they want them to come along! This new and exciting hotel is set to open March 2019.

Which 2019 luxury hotel opening are you most excited about? Did we leave anything off the list that you think should be on our radar?

If you want to be the first to experience any of these hotels, be sure to reach out to Team Ourisman to start making plans. Use our Travel Request Form to make a quick and easy inquiry!

2019 luxury hotel

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Sail Away with Virtuoso Voyages

Virtuoso Voyages is an innovative program that offers our clients complimentary benefits on some of the world’s finest cruise ships. When you book a Virtuoso Voyages cruise through Ourisman Travel, you’ll receive a cache of perks, which can include dedicated hosts, welcome cocktail receptions on the ship, onboard credits, and exclusive shore excursions and experiences.

Float past castles along a European river while sipping an espresso on your private balcony, become a wildlife expert on an expedition ship, or pamper yourself with an indulgent spa day. But that’s just the beginning… While the mega-vessels are truly marvels of modern engineering, and it can be fun to get lost in all the bells and whistles of a floating city, we like to focus on the cruises that offer an intimate environment with creative itineraries and polished, personalized service.

Welcome to the new era of luxury cruising, where everything goes! To highlight just how much cruising has evolved, Virtuoso recently published their picks for 13 unique experiences offered by our partner cruise lines and we picked our top 3 favorites:

Virtuoso Voyages _ photography classes

Picture Perfect Moments: Learn to enhance and take the best pictures of your adventures by partaking in Lightroom and photoshop classes offered in the fully equipped Photo Studio aboard Silversea Silver Cloud. Or, get some pointers from a National Geographic certified photo instructor on a Lindblad expedition cruise. Your upgraded photography skills will be the best souvenir of the trip.

Virtuoso Voyages _ cooking classes

Cooking classes: Visiting new destinations and learning about new cuisines can be so inspiring. Anyone who already loves to cook will want to head straight to the kitchen to begin experimenting with new ingredients and techniques. Now, you can do that before you even return to your own home kitchen. Silversea has a series of sailings in partnership with Relais & Chateaux Ecole des Chefs, Oceania Cruises has an onboard culinary center on the Marina or Riviera ships, and Regent Seven Seas hosts a cooking institute in their culinary arts kitchen on the Seven Seas Explorer. With these culinary experiences, you’ll be able to return home with inspiration and know-how.

Virtuoso Voyages _ Late Nights

Stay Out Late, The Ship Won’t Leave: If you’re getting a little cabin fever, you can explore the towns to experience night life, without the fear of getting left behind. Our partners at Azamara are especially skilled at incorporating late nights and even overnights in port into their cruise itineraries (Related: read more about Azamara’s newest ship, The Pursuit.)  U by Uniworld even offers nighttime orientation walking tours to point you in the right direction for the best nightlife in port! (Related: read more about our experience on U by Uniworld’s inaugural sailing.)

Why should you book your cruise with us?
As a member of Virtuoso, we grant you access to the innovative cruise program, Virtuoso Voyages, which offers complimentary benefits on some of the world’s finest cruise ships. When you book a Virtuoso Voyages cruise through Ourisman Travel, you’ll receive a cache of perks, which can include dedicated hosts, welcome cocktail receptions on the ship, onboard credits, and exclusive shore excursions and experiences – such as a private car and driver in certain ports. We can help you find a destination and date that work best for you and create a one-of-a-kind itinerary to add special experience before, during, and after your cruise.

Where will you sail next? Be sure to contact Team Ourisman to make sure you get the best value on your next cruise vacation.


More Unexpected Experiences from Virtuoso Voyages: 

Keep up with your workout routine: That’s right, you can still get your daily cardio in during your travels! These days, cruise lines offer a wide array of group fitness classes, full gyms, and 1-on-1 coaching with dedicated wellness hosts. River Cruises are a great option when you want to stick to a fitness routine; many of our river cruise partners keep a stable of bikes on board and offer itineraries that allow guests to bike from port to port!
We all live in a yellow submarine- Explore marine life from inside a submarine! Crystal Cruises offers this amenity, along with several others!

Bring your pet: Don’t want to leave Fido behind? No worries, cruise lines are providing onboard kennels, such as Cunard’s Cruises, so your furry friend can enjoy the adventure as well.

Pamper yourself: with Virtuoso benefits, you can enjoy credits to use at spas onboard the ship! Get a massage and find complete relaxation.

Cultural Ceremony Experience: Looking for a true cultural immersion? Take part in a blessing ceremony for your anniversary in Polynesia!
Education series- You may be on vacation, but keep that brain working by participating in conversation series led by various college professors!

Come Sail Away: Earn your sea legs and learn how to sail! A cruise with Star Clippers comes with knot-tying classes and navigation lessons. Luckily there’s also a crew of helpful deckhands to give you some time off for R&R, too!

Cruise along the Nile River: Travel back in time aboard Uniworld’s Egyptian excursion where you can learn to read hieroglyphics, explore tombs of ancient kings and see the pyramids.

Immerse yourself in the musical arts: Many river cruise itineraries focus on stops in Budapest and Vienna. If you’re a Mozart fan, a river cruise must be on your bucket list.

Wine-Down: Experience wines from around the world with wine pairings and Silversea offers wine centric voyages for the wine connoisseur in you.

 

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SeaDream Yacht Club: Another Way to Sail

SeaDream Yacht Club immediately sets itself apart by insisting that what they do is not cruising at all, but is, in fact, yachting.

Smaller than your average cruise-liner by a wide margin, SeaDream’s twin mega-yachts, SeaDream I & II offer a truly special way to cruise. One of the best features of these small ships, or rather… mega-yachts, is their ability to visit the smaller ports, which leads to some really unique and unexpected itineraries. Take this 8 day journey through the Southern Caribbean, for example:

SeaDream

For an exclusive educational tour with our Brownell colleagues, this itinerary embarked in Bridgetown, Barbados and sailed north to Saint Martin, making calls in some of the often overlooked ports along the way. Bequia will forever be one of our top favorites!

If you want to see the unique ports of  Southern Caribbean, check out these SeaDream itineraries:

SeaDream

From day one after boarding one of these yachts, the distinction between cruising and yachting became perfectly clear.

With 95 crew members to the 112 guests on board, each guest has highly personalized service and feels as if they are aboard their own private yacht. With only 56 staterooms each, these twin mega-yachts are perfect for seasoned cruisers who want to try something more intimate or travelers who have written cruising off in the past for being impersonal, over-crowded or stuffy (several Team Ourisman members have been guilty of making that assumption and have since been converted – check out Jessica’s blog about how she became a cruise convert!).

Aboard the SeaDream I & II guests find their every need met with highly personalized service, prompt staff and an intimate feel that is hard to beat. While the smaller size of the ships may give some travelers pause, there is no shortage of ways to spend your days at sea. Each yacht features an inclusive open bar, all ocean view staterooms & suites, a downright beautiful pool, and incredible cuisine to impress even the most elitist of foodies.

SeaDream

The yachting twist on a classic cruise lends itself to the experiences the staff can provide as well. Because there is such a limited number of passengers SeaDream is able to pull out the stops for some pretty impressive and exclusive experiences. From a private champagne beach party on Mayreau, a tiny island in the Grenadines, to a Creole cultural experience in Rodney Bay in St Lucia, each itinerary’s activities are carefully selected to highlight the culture of the islands you visit while ensuring each one will be cemented in your memory. If you are looking for an exclusive experience that will follow you home, SeaDream certainly has you covered! Truly, the only disappointment we felt during our time aboard SeaDream I was when we had to disembark!

For More on SeaDream, read what our colleagues at Brownell have to say:

Check out the Caribbean itineraries SeaDream has for 2019 & 2020 as well as their Mediterranean and Transatlantic voyages! Be sure to contact Team Ourisman to help plan your yachting experience with SeaDream!

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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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