St Maarten: Small in Size but Huge in Charm

Debbi Haney of Fox World Travel recently had the opportunity to explore the delightful charm of St Maarten.  Hear what she has to say about this captivating trip!

st maarten

I accompanied a group of 20 for a week in St Maarten…..Ahhh St Maarten, small in size (just 37 square miles) but huge in charm!

We received a champagne-welcome-greeting upon arrival and although we were booked as a group, our rooms were assigned scattered throughout the resort.  This actually turned out to be a good thing because I had booked the entry-level rooms, yet just 3 couples (including myself) ended up in the entry-level rooms and everybody else got an upgrade.

Sonesta Maho Room

Pool/Ocean View Room

Rooms were large and décor was typical Caribbean with soft pastels.  Equipped with all of the amenities you would expect of a 4-Star resort including the in-room safe, stocked mini bar, iron/ironing board, hair dryer and bathroom amenities replenished when needed.  Balconies were furnished with a table and chairs with various views of the resort, pool areas, and beach.  Despite the fact that this was an older hotel, the resort over-all was in good condition and grounds and public areas were well-kept.  The hotel is located adjacent to the Maho Village which is comprised of many shops, bars, and the island’s largest casino.

Sonesta Maho

Sonesta Maho Beach Resort

One of the few all-inclusive resorts in St Maarten, this resort is the largest and offered four dining options, including one buffet and three a’ la carte restaurants.   Not a lot of variety here and it was the same day after day.  Much of the same could be said for dinner, but the added wood-fire pizzeria in the evening was wonderful!  The Ascot Pub and Sports Bar featured the normal burger and fries and other sandwiches befitting of a Sports Bar.  Evenings here, offered up live music a couple of nights throughout the week and seem to draw both locals and hotel guests.  The Palms Grill provided soups, salads, burgers, fish ‘n chips and ice cream.  Food here during daytime hours was quite good.  Karaoke was the entertainment until 11:00 p.m. for two nights but this bar/restaurant closed about 6:00 p.m. for the rest of the days during the week.  The Point Restaurant was the “Fine Dining” venue.  The same menu was presented on a daily basis with four main entrée choices including soup/salad, breads, and dessert.

 The Point Resteraunt Sonesta MahoThe Point Restaurant

Pizzaria

Pizzeria

The lobby bar featured Karaoke twice a week.  Another night a desert bar and champagne bar were set up in the lobby with Gold and Silver Mimes, as the entertainment.  A beach party and barbecue were scheduled for one of the nights but the only open bar during that time was in the lobby and it appeared that this activity was featured more for families with children, which included games and toasting marshmallows.

The Sonesta Maho Beach is located about 20 minutes from Phillipsburg (the Capitol) where it’s sister hotel, Sonesta Great Bay is located.  The hotels share exchange privileges but transportation is on your own.  The Sonesta Great Bay is a much smaller resort but appeared to be much more modern.  Just one pool (no swim-up bar) but the span of beach located directly in front of the hotel was an excellent swimming and sunning area.  We took advantage of the main buffet for lunch one day and the food offered here was great.  Just a 10-minute walk from Phillipsburg, The Sonesta Great Bay is convenient to a variety of shopping and restaurants.

We quickly learned that public transportation is abundant and inexpensive.  You can travel via public bus the entire Dutch Side of the island for $2.00.  Public bus stops are all over and the wait is about 5-10 minutes.  The buses are 8-passenger vans and if there are few occupants the bus driver will also serve as a tour guide.  The bus drivers have signs posted on their dash boards for the stops that it will make but if you have the time, it doesn’t really matter which bus you take because eventually it will go to your area.  They all take the same routes.  There is a roundabout which is the switch to get over to the French side of the island and it will cost another $2.00.  The bus system on the French side works the same way as the Dutch side.  Eventually you can get to Orient Beach and eventually you will be able to get back.  Because the island is only 37 square miles you are never really too far from anything the island has to offer.  There is not as much shopping on the French side but shops tend to be more upscale than on the Dutch side.  There is an abundance of fine dining, and many more of the upscale resorts are also located on the French side.

st maarten

St. Maarten Bay

We ventured off of our resort for 3 of the days to explore St Maarten and quickly discovered the beauty and charm that attracts so many visitors.  The people are so friendly offering assistance and suggestions at every opportunity offered to them.  There is a sense of security in feeling safe to independently sight see and the island is so beautiful.  Full day excursions are available to Anguilla & St Barth’s as well as any other activity you can imagine. This is one destination that I would re-think the all-inclusive program.  Food and drink prices are not much different than at home,  and because there is such an abundance of options for dining on the island,  coupled with the ease of transportation, why restrict yourselves to just your resort.  All things considered, St Maarten is a great vacation destination, offering more than other Caribbean destinations, if you are willing to spend a bit more money.

 

For more information visit Fox World Travel.

Some photos courtesy of http://www.sonesta.com

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Adventures in Abu Dhabi

Sande from our Business Travel Division recently had the opportunity to travel to Abu Dhabi with Fox World Travel where she had some adventures that she will never forget!

Day 1 - Our trip started from Chicago O’Hare where we boarded the nonstop Etihad flight to Abu Dhabi.  Aboard our inbound flight to AD the flight was not very full and there were many open seats.  The flight over was 13 ½ hours and like many international flights, dinner was served soon after take-off and then dimmed lights so you could try to sleep for the remainder of the flight. Each seat is equipped with its own entertainment system so you could watch never ending movies, TV shows or play games during the flight.

Landing in Abu Dhabi we cleared customs/immigration in no time. What a beautiful airport!  While at the airport I changed some money to the Emirati Dirham. $100USD  = 349AED  We did not have a transfer to the airport pre-arranged and just took a taxi. They are plentiful and not at all overwhelming like in some cities. In each taxi they have a small screen that lists the price, mileage, and drivers name among other things which we found very convenient.

We stayed at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr. Upon check in we upgraded to the Gold Level which was on the 7th floor, and offered breakfast daily, lunch snacks, evening canapés and happy hour. So it did turn out to be well worth the money.   Our room faced the Sheik Zayed Mosque with floor to ceiling windows. What an incredible view.

Fairmont Bab Al Bahr

Day 2 - Our first full day we had a scheduled city tour booked with Transpire Holidays.  First stop on the tour was the Sheik Zayed Mosque. What a breathtaking structure! It was a sunny day, 99% of the days are sunny and the whiteness of it nearly blinds you when you are walking around the outdoor parts of the building. Visitors to the building are required to wear proper attire for entrance. Women must have their heads covered along with long sleeves and long skirts or pants. If you are not dressed correctly they do have garments that you can wear. Men are requested to wear long pants and long sleeve shirts but they do allow them to wear short sleeved shirts into the building. Before entering you also must take off your shoes.

Located in the mosque is the world’s largest rug/carpet made by an Iranian carpet company it weighs between 35-48 tons. The chandeliers look like small space ships made up of beautiful colors which are actually Swarovski crystals. Brilliant white marble floors and walls with brightly colored inlaid tiles creating flowering vines climb upward. The mosque can hold up to 40,000 people for worship.

Next on our stop was the Emirates Palace, a 7 star resort that looks more like a palace than a hotel. Walking into the hotel the fragrance of incense fills the air.  Stores boast labels such as Rolex and Louis Vuitton and they even have an ATM that dispenses gold ingots if you feel the need to buy something.

Continuing on, we stopped at Heritage Village located at the end of the Abu Dhabi Corniche. This is an open museum showing the past way of life before big oil changed the countries landscape. They have many exhibits and handcraft presentations that you can look and get up close to. Some of their exhibits include their Bedouin tents in the desert and old fire arms that were used.

After the village we followed the Corniche down along the water. The Corniche is a big walkway along the water with parks, beaches, water fountains, restaurants and cafes, a nice place to spend a few hours or all day. Our last few stops of the day were at the markets. We went thru the fish, fruits and vegetables markets. Afterwards our guide took us back to our hotel where we went and relaxed a bit by the pool before dinner.

Day 3 - After our breakfast we relaxed by the pool for a short time. We then went exploring a nearby indoor Souk (shopping area) that was just a short walk from our hotel. The Souk had several shops and small cafés nothing much for souvenirs though.  In the afternoon we were picked up at our hotel in a 4×4 Land Rover for our Desert Safari. We were joined by a family of 4 from Dublin that were also staying at the Fairmont. The drive out to the starting area took about 30 minutes or so and we stopped at a gas station where we met up with some other 4×4’s. When stopped it is interesting as they all pop their hoods in order for the engine’s to cool off. Not really sure how they can cool off when it is 105 degrees out. It is a beautiful feeling with the breeze blowing and the dry, warm air surrounding you. So totally different than what we are used to back home.

Driving off road the drivers all stop to let air out of their tires before driving out in the dunes. There are dunes for as far as you can see with some car tracks going up the sides of them. I must say I was not at all ready for what followed the extreme driving up and down the dunes was amazing and incredibly scary. Sand flew over the Land Rover while sliding sideways down the dune. We stopped to watch other Land Rovers doing the same path that we just traveled which was really amazing to see. After about the second time of stopping to watch I realized that I should have taken a Dramamine before starting this adventure. After racing thru the dunes we stopped at a camel farm before stopping for dinner at a campsite in the desert. The campsite was a big area surrounded by small tents. In the middle area there were short tables with cushions spread out for seating. During dinner they had a belly dancer for entertainment. Dinner was a barbeque buffet with salads, grilled meats, hummus and flat bread. We returned back to the hotel at about 10pm.

Day 4 - The following day we had a lounging day. After breakfast we went to the pool to swim and hang out for a while and later went exploring. We walked down to the Shangri La Hotel that was next door and also the Traders which is part of the Shangri La. This afternoon we were picked up at the hotel for our transfer to the marina area where we boarded a dinner Dhow cruise that sailed along the coast. Since this was there slow season there wasn’t very many onboard the cruise. The boat was two floors so the main floor is where you had your dinner and the upper floor is where you sat out to enjoy the view. The city lights were spectacular. After the cruise our driver was waiting for us to take us back to the hotel.

Day 5 - This morning we enjoyed an early breakfast and took a taxi to the airport. Taxi costs are quite reasonable; our trip to the airport was about $15USD. We had checked in for our return flight at the hotel and printed our boarding pass to speed up the process so that there would be shopping time at the airport. No such luck. Check in for our return took longer than anticipated because you clear US customs and Immigration at the Abu Dhabi airport. It was very nice to arrive back into Chicago and not have to go thru any formalities and just collect your bag and be on your way. The return flight was uneventful and we were both able to get some sleep.

Always glad to be home safe and sound after another adventure.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mediterranean Magic

Jody from our Vacations Division recently went on a 7-day Mediterranean Aegean Cruise with Princess Cruise Line. Hear all about Jody’s experience:

Day1- Frankfurt, Germany- We arrived at the Frankfurt airport and discovered that we had an 8 hour layover so we decided to take the train to Frankfurt. This was a super easy, inexpensive option to spend some time outside of the airport. All you have to do is exit the airport, purchase your train tickets at the kiosk right at the station for 8 Euro round trip and 20 minutes later you are in Frankfurt city center where you can shop, dine or grab a fun German beer….we did all 3!! On the return trip back to the airport and entering customs is a breeze. I would highly recommend this to anyone with a long layover in Frankfurt.

We arrived in Venice at 11:30pm and chose the Best Western Titian Inn which is an airport hotel. They offer complimentary airport shuttle which was very convenient at midnight. The hotel is simple and clean which is all we were looking for and includes a wonderful daily breakfast. We decided to stay here for our 3 nights as it was most convenient for our itinerary for the week.

Day 2- Venice, Murano and Burano- We purchased round trip bus tickets from the front desk for 9 Euro round trip per person. The bus stop is about 3 blocks away and very convenient. It takes about 20 minutes to get to the island with about 7 stops along the way and you stay on the same bus the entire time… very simply and efficient!

Many people ask me where my favorite place to travel is and after walking over my first bridge in Venice….this is my favorite place. Every corner you turn is a new adventure whether it leads you to the smells of a bakery, the clanging of wine or the beauty of the floral boxes hanging out of someone’s window. I couldn’t keep the smile off of my face and will never be able to explain the peace in my heart.

Italy - Venice 5

 

Since we were here for 2 full days we decided to take a 4 hour tour and visit the islands of Murano and Burano for 32 Euro per person. I would highly recommend this as an option. In Murano you will see a glass blowing demonstration and it’s amazing how they can create a sculpture of a glass horse in just five minutes. Murano was nice in the sense to say that you saw it but Burano was a place that I would go back and spend the night. Burano is known for their lace and the town square is quaint, friendly and colorful. Each house or building is painted in a different color and it just makes you smile to be there. It’s a simple water taxi away for my next visit to this area.

Day 3-Venice- We got lost in the streets of Venice and had a blast doing it! We found some of the best food, drinks, and shopping off the beaten path. It’s easy to get lost but just as easy to find your way out as the signs either direct you to the Rialto Bridge (center of the city), San Marco Square (waterfront) or the bus/train station which leads you out of the city. We opted to purchase a gondola ride from one of the gondoliers outside of the busy area of San Marco square. The price was the same at 80 Euro per person but the ride was longer and quieter as you weren’t fighting for space in the canals with the other gondoliers. In the San Marco square area you will find lines waiting for the gondola ride due to the cruise ships in port. Share with your clients to enrich their experience and to reserve this ride. We grabbed a couple of glasses of wine and enjoyed the peaceful canals of Venice.

Italy - Gondala 2

Day 4- Regal Princess Cruise- This was the maiden voyage of the Regal Princess and home to us for the next 8 days. The ship is new, clean with ample staffing and service. More about the ship to come.

Day 5- at Sea- Some of the things that sets this ship apart from some of the others that I’ve experienced is the fitness facilities. They offer a ton of classes (surcharge for most) such as Zumba, Pilates, PX90, Yoga, Kettle bell class, and state of the art equipment. The classes were always full convincing me that people will pay the extra for fitness. On deck 18 they have the outside jogging track that includes equipment on the deck for ab work. The ship also has an outdoor theatre which they play movies or videos all day long starting at noon. This was a big hit as this area was always filled with passengers. If you wanted to find peace and quiet, they did offer an adult only pool area that you could get away from the busy pools and noise.

Day 6- Corfu, Greece-Set up on the hillside the size of Alabama. While there are many tour options of churches and palaces we opted to venture on our own and stroll through the city to get to know the locals. We visited with one very friendly local who shared with us Kum Kouat Liquor. This is a citrus fruit that only grows in Corfu and has the consistency and size of a prune without the pit. While we didn’t really enjoy the fruit, we did enjoy the flavor of the liquor. We also sampled Ouzo which is clear licorice flavored liquor. The ship offered bus transfers to town for 1.5 Euro one way per person. The streets are filled with vendors and shops with much of the local wares of rugs, linens and pottery. Once outside the city center you will find the amazing views from this cliff top village.

Old Fortress-Corfu

Day 7- at Sea- my observation with the Regal Princess and many other cruise lines are the surcharges for dining, fitness, spa, etc. You have 13 different dining options with 6 of those having surcharges of $20-$25 per person some of which are a Seafood/Sushi Bar, Crab Shack and Gelato restaurants. They were most often empty from what I observed. They do offer an all-inclusive drink package which we did take advantage of. The cost is $49 per person/per day and includes the 15% gratuity. Anything that you can sip is included, even the specialty coffees. You also get 40% off of your bottle of wine with dinner if you opt for this instead of a glass of wine.

rp_exterior_lgrp_atrium_lgregal princessrp_crowngrill_wheelhouse_lg

Day 8- Istanbul, Turkey- Holy People (both figuratively and literally!). Over 13 million people in Istanbul and I think they were all out shopping at the Bazaar this day. We did not do any guided tour; however we did take the bus transfer to the famous Grand Bazaar which is a maze of 4,000 shops, cafes and restaurants. This is market type shopping in which you can negotiate pricing for souvenirs, carpet, clothing, jewelry, etc. We ended up taking a hop on/hop off bus for 3 hours which I would recommend as this will give you the most freedom and flexibility while still learning about the sites as you will have headsets that you can listen to pre-recorded facts about the history and highlights. The cost is 16 Euro per person for 1.5 hours and 18 Euro for 3 hours. You can also choose a 24 hour or 48 hour ticket which is nice; especially if you are Istanbul for more than the 24 hours. We stopped at the famous Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia.

Day 9- Istanbul, Turkey- The ship is docked on one side of the Straits of Bosphorus and the previous day we went to the “touristy” side and today we decided to visit the “local” side and absolutely loved it. We hiked up the hillside (about 1 mile) and as you crest to the top it leads you to this incredible square with a huge park, restaurants, shopping, a mosque and less people. We had a wonderful lunch of beef, chicken and pork Kebabs along with the local beer called Efes Pilsener and just sat at the outside café for people viewing. By visiting both sides of the straits, I feel that I got a great overview of the area and could accommodate the interests of any traveler.

Day 10- Mykonos, Greece- Well, I started this trip with my new favorite spot being Venice and ended my trip with another new favorite spot of Mykonos. It is literally a picture out of Mamma Mia with the white stone buildings and colorful shutters and doors. The colors arranged from pink to green to blue to purple and you couldn’t feel anything but happy. The streets are narrow and winding and house all sorts of shops and restaurants with every turn being as colorful as the last. Mykonos has a very cosmopolitan and chic feel to it. A nice walk up the hill you can visit an old church and see views of the various windmills in the area. The coastline has over 20 accessible beaches, some of which are clothing optional! You can easily rent a 4-wheeler or a car if you wanted to explore the island on your own for the day. Otherwise the boardwalk overlooking Tourlos Bay is very active and picturesque with a great stop for an ice cream treat!

mykonos-greece-big

To learn more about Fox World Travels Mediterranean Cruises click here.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shades of Kilimanjaro

Recently Glen from our Business Travel Division was able to check one thing off of his bucket list as a retirement gift to himself; an African Safari.

I went on a 7 day Safari from United Travel Group with Fox World Travel. The tour offered stays at three different lodges, throughout Kenya. We flew Delta and departed Outagamie County Regional Airport on Sunday May 4th at 10:30am and arrived in Nairobi on Monday May 5th at 8:30pm. The flight was long, however, I would soon find out it was more than worth it.

The Destination Management Company that was used in Kenya was Pollman’s Tours & Safaris. They took us to the Safari Park Hotel which would be our overnight hotel in Nairobi. This was not a hotel but a 64 acre resort about 30 minutes from the airport. It had a full health club, swimming pool, tennis courts, three bars and a restaurant. Unfortunately it was 10:00pm and we would be leaving at 7:00am the next morning to begin our adventure. Our room had an outdoor deck, a sitting parlor, a bedroom and two bathrooms. Extremely nice!! The next morning we enjoyed a buffet breakfast and all meals were included in the tour price.

Safari Park Hotel Birds Eye Safari Park Hotel

Soon after, we met the other people joining us on the Safari. There would be a total of eight of us. After a brief overview of what we will experience throughout the week we were introduced to our tour guide, Daniel, who would be with us the entire time. We had two vehicles, four people in each vehicle. The Masai Mara, our first destination is approximately 280 Kilometers (174 miles) west of Nairobi and is a 5-6 hour drive. The main highways are packed with traffic so travel was slow, the side roads….well we simply wouldn’t consider them roads.

We arrived at the lodge around 1:30pm and were given a quick briefing on the lodge and then we were escorted to our rooms. This lodge, to conserve on energy, turns off the electricity and hot water during parts of the day and evening. The lodge serves lunch from 12:30 – 2:30 which we thought would be a buffet, but to our surprise we had a four course menu provided where we could choose to have soup, salad and choice of three different entrees and desert. We had buffets at breakfast, each lunch and dinner would be ordered off of a menu. The food and presentation was fabulous at each lodge.

We left for the Masai Mara reserve for our first game drive which was incredible; we saw many zebras, giraffes, wildebeest, gazelles, elephants. Not just one here and one there but herds of them. Daniel, our guide, did an excellent job of getting close and in positions with good camera angles. We were back to the lodge by 7:00pm and dinner was from 7:30pm – 9:30pm and it was as delicious as lunch!

african safari 1The next day we had a game drive in the morning and in the afternoon. Towards the end of the morning drive we were taken to a Masai village. These tribesman wear bright red and blue garments draped around their bodies. We were met by the chiefs’ son and he explained their traditions and showed us around the village. Their homes are made of sticks, straw and cow dung. They did a traditional dance for us and then we were sort of separated into groups and taken into their “homes” which was no larger than my office. Here is where they tried to sell us their wares.

We had some free time before our afternoon game drive so we lounged by the pool and enjoyed the weather and our new found friends. Our afternoon game drive was very successful, we saw lions, both male and female, and we had a cheetah pass right in front of our vehicle! He also saw herds of elephants and Ostrich. You cannot imagine how close we were to these animals. It was incredible.

kenyasafari

On day 5 it was time to head towards Lake Nakuru National Park where we stayed for one night at the Lake Nakuru Lodge. This area is famous for Flamingos….by the thousands! The drive from Masai Mara to Lake Nakuru was particularly rutted, what we were on could not possibly be considered “roads”. Once we arrived it was off to lunch immediately and then a game drive at 4:00pm.

On day 6 the first order of business was a boat ride on Lake Naivasha. This was really a swamp and we saw tons of different cranes, African fish eagles, and hippos… huge hippos! After a 90 minute boat ride we continued on to Amboselli National Park at the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The route from Lake Nakuru to Amboselli was thru Nairobi. We stopped in Nairobi for lunch at a posh hotel in their restaurant and once again a four course meal for lunch. Had you been blindfolded, you would have thought you might be in New York.

On day 7 we woke up and as luck would have it Mt. Kilimanjaro was shrouded in clouds. After breakfast we headed out on our game drive. Amboselli is the land of the elephant and did we see elephants. We were very lucky to see a herd of 25 elephants playing in deep ponds, spraying themselves and each other with water. Our guide told us to take a picture, he said, “you don’t often see this”. We also saw hyena, jackal and more wildebeest and zebra. We ended the game drive with a bush lunch. There is an area with a large tent and we had lunch in the park. We were expecting a picnic type lunch; no way, once again a four course meal served on china sitting at tables.

On our final day we got up and headed for breakfast and we had a pleasant surprise. The clouds had moved on and there was Mt. Kilimanjaro in its glory! It was very impressive and quite a site to see.

After breakfast Daniel took us back to Nairobi and brought us to the Pollman’s office where we were met by the person who gave us our initial briefing at the Safari Park Hotel. We said our good-byes to Daniel and now Leah would serve as our guide for our final day in Kenya, as our flight home did not depart until 10:30pm. We began by eating at an outdoor café for lunch, went to the Karen Blixen Museum and finally, the Giraffe Center where the Rothschild Giraffe are being bred and then reintroduced into the wild.

Our last event in Kenya was dinner at the famous Carnivore restaurant. This is a fixed menu restaurant and the draw is they have chefs walking around the restaurant with different meats on huge skewers. They stop at your table and carve some meat on your plate. Beyond the traditional chicken and beef they also have an assortment of exotic meats. On our evening it was ostrich meat balls and alligator. This is a fun place and a good way to end the week long adventure.

I cannot put into words how awesome this trip was. Truly a trip of a lifetime and it exceeded everyone’s expectations. Our tour guide was fantastic; he was very knowledgeable and worked very hard to find animals and get us in good spots for photos. The only caution I would mention is the driving; the roads in many places are simply not roads and if you are highly susceptible to motion sickness you would have a problem.

The lodging was very nice; each property had a swimming pool and bars. The one thing to be aware of is to conserve energy many turn off electricity and hot water during certain times of the day. A flashlight is a must for those midnight trips to the restroom.

Learn more about our African Destination Travel here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Paris, Provence and Monte Carlo Tour with Rose Gray

Rose Gray in Paris, France

Rose Gray, host of the Fox World Travel Show on 620 WTMJ in Milwaukee traveled with a group of WTMJ listeners on the Paris, Provence and Monte Carlo Tour with Insight Vacations.

DAY 1: WTMJ Listener Trip to Paris, Provence, and Monte Carlo – arrived Charles de Gaulle on time. Met Philip, our Insight Vacations tour director and made our way to our hotel. We walked around Bercy, the neighborhood adjacent to the hotel until rooms were ready. Many of the shops and restaurants are housed in old wine warehouses. Had dinner in one of them; Chez Bruno. Delicious.

Day 2 UPDATES: WTMJ Paris, Provence, and Monte Carlo trip – Paris City tour including a Seine River cruise. Then some of us took the funicular railway to Montmarte Village & Artist Square. Had lunch at la Cremaillere. It was divine.

More Day 2 UPDATES: Had dinner at the oldest restaurant in Paris – A La Petite Chaise. Apertif: Kir ah vin blanc (black currant liquor & white wine), French Onion Soup, Steak with peppercorn sauce and for dessert dark chocolate cake with custard cream sauce. Fantastic! Then a little night tour our Paris.

Day 3 Updates: WTMJ Paris, Provence and Monte Carlo – free day in Paris. About half of the group took the optional excursion to Giverny, Monet’s home for 43 years. The gardens were in full bloom – poppies, delphiniums, lupine, peonies, irises, and roses. And of course the water garden with its bamboo, willow, rustic bridges and water lilies, one of Monet’s favorite subjects.

DAY 4  Updates: We have arrived in Nimes. Hemingway, Ava Gardner, and Frank Sinatra stayed at this hotel. Very traditional European hotel (which is code for charming with a tiny bathroom)

Day 5 Updates: – WTMJ Paris, Provence, and Monte Carlo – fabulous day! TGV (fast train) from Paris to Chateauneuf-du-Pape. We made a stop for a little wine tasting. Next stop was the Pont du Gard, the three- tiered aqua duct built in Roman times.

Philip, our tour director and Chris, our coach driver surprised us with what Insight Vacations calls a “flourish”; some lovely wine, olives, sausage and other treats. It made our experience so special! Then it was on to Nimes and our hotel, The Hotel Impertor, a charming hotel with a rich history which includes famous guests like Ernest Hemingway, Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra and Pablo Picasso.

Day 6 Updates: WTMJ Paris, Provence, and Monte Carlo trip.  Left at 8:30am this morning to beat the heat and travel to Arles, the ancient capital of Gaul. We had an orientation tour and followed in the footsteps of Van Gogh. Then it was on to Avignon, which became the papal residence when the Popes were driven out of Rome. Here the rapidly flowing river passes under the few remaining arches of the 12th century Pont Saint-Benezet, the Pont (bridge) d’Avignon of the famous song ( I will sing it to you if you like). We spent about two hours walking through the medieval battlements and the town centre dominated by the Papal Palace. We even had time for a little snack and beverage at one of the many sidewalk cafés.

Day 7 Updates: What a great day in Southern France! Perfect weather for our excursions. On our way to Les Baux we stopped at Moulin des Barres, an awarding-winning, family owned olive mill. We went to the groves to learn about the agriculture and growing of olives. Then we visited the mill to learn about the pressing and processing of the olives. Our group is becoming so spoiled. In addition to the tasting of the olive oil, figs and other treats provide by the family (www.masdesbarres.com), Philip had a little libation for us; Henri Bardouin Pastis, a popular drink in this area. It tasted a bit like Ouzo. Thankfully he diluted it with water as it as quite strong. Then it was on to Les Baux, a picturesque village set atop a rocky outcrop in the Alpilles Mountains. We explored the winding streets, did some shopping, had a bit of lunch and then headed back to Nimes. Tonight we are going to Aigues Mortes for a Gypsy dinner with live

Afternoon of Day 7 Updates: Finally had a chance to walk around the hotel neighborhood in Nimes. Visited the Carre d’Art and walked through the Jardin de la Fontaine.

Evening of Day 7 Updates:  Made our way across the flat plains to Aigues Mortes ( yes, those are flamingos who summer in the south of France and migrate to Africa for the winter), a walled city that rises from the marshes and lagoons of Petite Carmargue. We had dinner at the oldest restaurant in town featuring Carmargue cuisine. Exposed beams, rustic paintings and a touch of El Toro set the tone for the live music – frenetic guitars and passionate vocals inspired by Gypsy Kings. We celebrated Jim and Joan’s 49th wedding anniversary in a very special way!

Day 8 Updates: Fun in Eze with Diane and Carol – two new friends on the WTMJ Paris, Provence and Monte Carlo trip. Stopped in Eze on the way to Monaco. We had an opportunity to visit a perfumery but Diane opted for something a little more adventuresome; a drive in a Ferrari!! We combined a belated birthday celebration for Carol and a toast to Diane’s adventure and shared some bubbly.

More Day 8 Updates: Had time to visit the Grand Casino after dinner last night. Our hotel is right next door. Got to sleep in and enjoy the fabulous hotel this morning. Walked through the old town of Monte Carlo and went into the Royal Palace, and the Cathedral which houses the tombs of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace. Then went to Villa Ephrusi Rothchild one of the finest buildings on the French Riviera. We explored the nine gardens and marveled at the musical fountains and spectacular views of the Riviera.

AND… More Day 8 Updates: Thank you to Philip from Insight Vacations, all of my friends on the WTMJ Paris, Provence and Monte Carlo trip and Chez Cotton for the surprise birthday party. I will never forget this special birthday. PS – thanks to Colleen Alsberg, Fox World Travel Tour Manager who helped arrange this while traveling with a group in Alaska.

Day 9 Updates: Our last day. We spent the morning in Nice. Busy day at the open market. Spices, marzipan, lavender sachets, flowers, fruits, vegetable, and so much more. Then a photo stop which (SURPRISE) turned out to be another birthday celebration with wine, macaroons, and nougets. Thank you Philip, Chris, and my fellow travelers for making this the best birthday ever. Celebration dinner tonight (no, not for my birthday but for our farewell) and then we leave tomorrow from the Nice Airport. What an amazing and memorable this trip has been.

 

 

This really was a spectacular vacation.  I highly recommend researching our upcoming 2015 Select Group Vacations and join us as we explore new adventures!  I invite you to join me in 2015… I’ll be traveling to Israel, on a Burgundy and Provence River Cruise and one more destination to be announced soon!  Or join any one of these group trips we have available with other hosts and tour managers!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2015 Select Group Vacations and Special Offers

Select Group Vacations

Special Offers on our Select Group Vacations!

For a limited time, we are offering up to $500 off per person on our collection of Escorted Europe River Cruise Packages! Choose from 12 convenient departures and take advantage of the huge discounts below! In addition, many of our land tours offer past passenger discounts.

Space is limited! Learn more about each itinerary online or contact your travel specialist for more information by calling 888-369-8785 for details.

Collection of Europe River Cruises
SPOTLIGHT CRUISE: Austrian Highlights and German Delights
October 8 – 17, 2015
Avalon Expression
Vienna to Munich

Book and deposit prior to June 24, 2014 and get a $500 discount per person!!

Plus, Avalon Waterways or Globus past passenger discount available.

On this marvelous vacation, visit Austria’s capital, Vienna, and be delighted by its charming small towns — like Melk, Dürnstein, and Grein — before heading into Germany’s Bavaria. So much awaits you on this wonderful 5-night cruise on the Danube River through Austria’s highlights and Bavaria combined with three nights in Munich. It’s a vacation of a lifetime that appeals to beer, wine and history lovers, with bonus tastings onboard, visits to historic breweries and fascinating lectures!

View Details

Additional Avalon Waterways Discounts

Book and deposit prior to June 24, 2014 and get $250 off per person!
Plus, Avalon Waterways or Globus past passenger discount available.

Canals, Vineyards and Paris
July 29 – August 8, 2015
Avalon Artistry II
Paris to Amsterdam
View Details

Legendary Danube
September 14 – 25, 2015
Avalon Panorama
Prague to Budapest
View Details

Burgundy and Provence with Rose Gray
October 10 – 21, 2015
Avalon Scenery
Paris to Cote d’Azur
View Details

Uniworld 2014 River Cruise Discount

Book and deposit prior to May 31, 2014 and get $150.00 off per perso!

Limited Space Still Available!

Rhine Discovery and Prague
October 23 – November 2, 2014
Uniworld’s River Ambassador
Prague to Basel
View Details

Uniworld 2015 River Cruise Discounts

EARLY BOOKING DISCOUNT: Book and deposit prior to June 30, 2014 and get $150.00 off per person!

PAY IN FULL DISCOUNT: Pay in full prior to June 30, 2014 and g$300.00 to $400 off per person, based on cabin category booked*

Plus, Uniworld, Insight Vacations, Brendan or Trafalgar past passenger discount available.

*Uniworld’s Pay in Full Discount does not exempt participants from increases in air taxes and fuel surcharges at anytime. Early Booking Discount and Pay in Full are not combinable

Paris and Normandy
April 18 – 26, 2015
Uniworld’s River Baroness
Round trip Paris
View Details

Enchanting Danube
April 25 – May 3, 2015
Uniworld’s River Beatrice
Budapest to Passau
View Details

Danube Discovery and Prague
June 4 – 14, 2015
Uniworld’s River Ambassador
Prague to Vienna
View Details

Castles Along the Rhine
June 13 – 21, 2015
Uniworld’s S.S. Antoinette
Basel to Amsterdam
View Details

Portugal, Spain and the Douro River Valley
August 5 – 16, 2015
Uniworld’s Queen Isabel
Lisbon to Porto
View Details

Rhine Discovery and Prague
September 19 – 29, 2015
Uniworld’s River Ambassador
Basel to Prague
View Details

Amsterdam and Castles Along the Rhine with Colleen Alsberg
October 22 – November 1, 2015
Uniworld’s S.S. Antoinette
Amsterdam to Basel
View Details

Magical European Holiday Markets
November 30 – December 8, 2015
Uniworld’s River Princess
Vienna to Nuremberg
View Details

2015 Collection of Escorted Land Tours

Best of Hawaii
March 1-11, 2015
View This Trip

Delights of London and Paris
April 17 – 26, 2015
View This Trip

Discover Israel with Rose Gray
May 5 – 14, 2015
Pay in full by January 12, 2015 and receive $250 off per person
View This Trip

European Treasures with Colleen Alsberg
May 20 – 31, 2015
Pay in full by January 12, 2015 and receive $325 off per person
View This Trip

Milan and Italian Treasures
May 21 – 30, 2015
Pay in full by January 12, 2015 and receive $215 off per person
View This Trip

Highlights of Great Britain
June 15 – 29, 2015
Pay in full by January 12, 2015 and receive $350 off per person
View This Trip

Northern Spain
July 10 – 21, 2015
Pay in full by January 12, 2015 and receive $275 off per person
View This Trip

Northern Italy and Cinque Terre
July 23 – August 1, 2015
Pay in full by January 12, 2015 and receive $225 off per person
View This Trip

Ireland Adventure
September 11 – 19, 2015
View This Trip

Enchanting Bavaria, Switzerland and Austria
September 11 – 23, 2015
Pay in full by January 12, 2015 and receive $375 off per person
View This Trip

Best of Italy with an Extra Night in Rome
September 29 – October 10, 2015
Pay in full by January 12, 2015 and receive $340 off per person
View This Trip

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fox World Travel Joins Signature Travel Network

Announcing Our New Partnership with Signature Travel Network

Fox World Travel is pleased to announce that effective May 19, 2014; we have joined Signature Travel Network, a member-owned travel cooperative of over 425 leading U.S. retail travel agencies and $5 billion in travel buying power.  As a new member, we will now have the opportunity to provide a wide range of captivating travel opportunities that only Signature members can offer.

Through Signature’s global network of the world’s most prestigious suppliers, tourist boards, lifestyle partners, and other travel industry leaders, we now have the backing of Signature’s $5 billion in buying power to acquire the best deals and exclusive benefits. Exclusive privileges include free airfare, 2-for-1 cruising, extensive shipboard credits, private car and driver programs, upgrades and much more.

We will also have the opportunity to offer you access to Signature’s leading Hotels and Resorts program, featuring a collection of over 800 world-class hotels, resorts, lodges, spas and unique travel experiences in countries all over the globe. Our travel specialists have the power to offer you exclusive privileges as free breakfast in all hotel partners, free nights and upgrades. Signature has also fostered a network of Destination Specialists in over 130 countries worldwide that provide our travel specialists with insider knowledge and destination expertise to create unique, tailor-made travel experiences for you.

As a result of Fox World Travel’s new partnership with Signature Travel Network, our programs with American Express Travel Services (Mariner Club Sailings, Membership Rewards and Pay with Points) are being discontinued. This will not affect reservations that have already been made prior to May 19, 2014. If you have any questions, please contact your travel specialist directly or email [email protected].

With over 50 years’ experience in the travel industry and over 60 vacation travel agents to serve you, we look forward to continue to offer extraordinary vacation planning services at our 11 retail locations in Wisconsin. You can also take advantage of valuable travel research tools on our web site, www.GoFox.com and search for destination travel specialists online 24-7.

Travelers will also want to consider our exclusive collection of Select Group Vacations. We have a collection of over 25 customized group departures, including European river cruises, escorted land tours and cruises.  These unique departures offer unprecedented values and truly distinctive vacation experiences, escorted by Fox World Travel Tour Managers and/or local Tour Guides in the destination.
Thank you for your continued support!

David Juedes
President, Fox World Travel

Print

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment