Good Morning! We are getting a lot of questions about the Caribbean with the last two hurricanes devastating many of them. Today we received a great deal of information regarding all those that were affected. This should help in answering many of your questions about what is open and what is not. Many thanks to Mark Travel Corp for giving us this information! One of our preferred partners!
To Our Valued Travel Partners:
To those affected by either Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Maria, we want you to know that we are thinking of you and we are here to support you. As an organization that has been family owned and operated for over 43 years, we consider each of you to be a member of our extended family. And when tragedy strikes you, it strikes all of us as well. During these challenging times, we encourage you to keep the conversation going with your Business Development Manager or Specialist and rely on them for support with issues you and your clients may be facing.
For all our valued travel agents, we want to give you a brief update on the status of several Caribbean islands that were affected by the hurricanes:
Please note: Aruba, Bonaire, Bermuda, Barbados, Curacao, Grand Cayman, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis were not impacted by either Hurricane. All hotels are open for business and all off-site venues are operating normally.
The Mark Travel Corporation
Last week I was invited to a whirlwind tour of the Memphis Downtown. I was very surprised at the amount of changes and innovations that are happening in this wonderful city! I stayed at the Sheraton Downtown. This hotel was perfect location for any type of meeting or convention that may be going on. It is attached to the Memphis Convention Center and one of the benefits for our corporate clients is that when you contract with the Sheraton you can also contract with the Convention Center. The executive chef for Sheraton is also over the Convention Center and we had a chance to meet him and experience his wonderful "made from scratch" menu's a few times! Another benefit to contracting with them is you get him all to yourself for both properties!
The downtown itself is really reinventing itself. With the addition of the Bass Pro Shops in the downtown and the rich history of music and culture they are all coming together to make Memphis a new place that is full of wonderful experiences. We did get to tour the beautiful Big Cypress Lodge that is inside the Bass Pro Shop Pyramid. The rooms and conference meeting spaces are all rustically furnished and are spotless. Very clean and polished. This is a great venue for smaller meetings and groups!
I did get to enjoy the Memphis in May festivities. Reminded me of tailgating at OSU at times. I did enjoy it but I think I would have enjoyed it even more if I knew someone that was competing. That was an amazing experience where people from all over the world come in to compete in different BBQ competitions. Everything I ate was delicious! I highly recommend a stop at Central BBQ. Again a highly rewarded BBQ restaurant in Memphis. Melt in your mouth BBQ! We will be doing a group tour in 2018 to this area but for our corporate clients give us a call as Memphis could be your next great meeting location!
As the world continues to grow smaller in how much we can experience we are constantly tested in this venue of our business. We are asked on a consistent basis now, "What happens if...".
Here are few things that we thought you may want to know about how your travel will go if an act of terrorism happens in the area you are going to.
*If the US State Department issues a warning to not travel to a destination we will encourage you to rethink the travel plans. If you must go, please consider travel insurance. Note travel insurance will allow you to cancel or change your plans only if there has been an act of terror 60 days prior to your arrival. Double check this with your travel insurance provider as each policy type has different parameters. And some travel insurance companies will not cover areas that are hot beds of known terrorist activity.
*Expect delays as the security getting into and out of a destination that has just had a terror attack will be long. Those in these security positions are going to be extra diligent in checking bags, watching people, and making sure there is nothing out of place. They will be on high alert for a few weeks until things settle down. Give yourself extra time at the airports. Try your best not to be late or pushy. No one likes pushy.
*Can you change your plans? Yes, in some cases with no penalty. For those that have not made final payment for a trip such as a cruise or land tour you may be able to change with $0 penalty. When airfare is involved that is not a charter component that is different, as those are usually paid in full upon deposit.
With the recent events in Orlando, this did not happen at the airport or a major theme park but be ready for security to show itself. The theme parks will be very careful to protect their clients that are vacationing. You may have delays getting in the parks as security will be more thorough. Try to think about what you are taking into the parks, is it absolutely necessary? If not, don't take it.
More important with all of this is the basic trust lost in each other every time this happens. It will take trust to work through these events and good people to step up and start reporting things prior to them happening. While you are traveling and you see something that is odd, or if someone is acting strange, don't be afraid to tell anyone in a security role or call the police.
By Susan Milne
Rich in history, culture and scenic beauty, Eastern Europe presents a treasure chest of experiences for an enriching vacation. From Prague to Sophia, Budapest to Bucharest, Warsaw to Bratislava there are numerous sights and cultural events to savor. You’ll be in touch with something completely different and intriguing while exploring the fascinating countries of Eastern Europe.
The beautiful Czech city of Prague is top of the list for travelers to Eastern Europe. A sought after destination for European and international visitors alike, it is an unspoiled masterpiece with an extensive Old Town, picturesque bridges and a thriving cultural life.
This is a region that values its heritage, where art and music are a significant part of life so cultural experiences are many and varied from attending the ballet and opera to folkloric festivals and jazz clubs. Enjoying music and dance is a must while you are here! Tour the historic theatres and opera houses, wander the modern and traditional art galleries and enjoy live entertainment in local markets. You are never far from wonderful art, architecture, music or dance in these countries where there's a deep appreciation of culture.
Legendary historic and architectural sights range from ancient castles to opulent palaces, ornate cathedrals, colossal parliament buildings and well preserved Old Towns. Don't miss the significant modern history sights as well like Prague's Wenceslas Square, central to the 1968 protests, or the stunning modern architecture of Budapest.
There's a burgeoning culinary scene with new cooking classes springing up in major centers, breweries to visit and wine and spirits to taste. Check out our list of 10 Intriguing Cultural Experiences for more on this tempting addition to your Eastern European vacation!
Markets and Market Halls are a good place to sample local delicacies and these lively spots are not just summer venues. Events and tours are held most of the year with Budapest's Market Hall one of the most active. Christmas Markets are especially enticing with their beautiful decorations, lights and seasonal fare. They are a major draw for visitors with special tours and river cruises focusing on the splendid Christmas Markets.
There are other great places to shop as well. Shopping streets and modern shopping/office complexes abound in the cities offering a range of shops you won't find at home.
River cruising is certainly a great way to experience these countries. Check out the Cruising article for river cruise options in the region.
There's a mix of the traditional and the modern in Eastern Europe that is extremely appealing to visitors. This is one of the most enriching vacation destinations you'll ever enjoy!
This is part of our monthly e-zine newsletter! Alaska is one of my favorite places on earth and here is a another great article of all the fabulous adventures you can enjoy while you are visiting!
The Great Land: Alaska January 2016 By Susan Milne
The beauty and majesty of Alaska entices visitors for a rejuvenating vacation away from it all. Marvel at the breathtaking sights that greet you at every turn while enjoying unforgettable adventures in the last great frontier.
There's so much to see and do in Alaska, always against a backdrop of overwhelming natural beauty. Whether you take a cruise, a land tour or combine both, you are in for the scenic journey of a lifetime when you visit this amazing state.
Alaska's vast wilderness will amaze you as you discover glaciers, hike the rainforests and the tundra, go wildlife viewing and explore the fascinating culture of Alaska's native people.
Active adventures abound with everything from sea kayaking in peaceful sounds to riding the world's largest Ziprider at Icy Strait Point. You'll definitely want to get out of town and enjoy the wilderness to see the real Alaska. Authentic natural experiences will have you renewed and refreshed for your return home! For more, take a look at the 10 exhilarating Alaskan activities in this month's Top Ten list.
There's an active culinary scene as well, understandable given the incredible fresh seafood which is readily available. Don't miss an outdoor salmon bake, trying King Crab and halibut cooked with local berries while sampling those interesting craft beers that are being produced here.
Glaciers are always the highlight of any journey to Alaska. Whether you cruise close to a tide water glacier to watch it calve, visit one of the many glaciers accessible by land or take a helicopter flight to visit a glacier dog sled camp, you will create some rare and unforgettable memories unique to this incredible state.
You'll be equally impressed by Alaska's 11 major cultural groups. Learn the history, watch craftsman at work and enjoy local cuisine at many outstanding cultural centers including the totem pole parks at Ketchikan, Sitka's Indian Cultural Center, and the many cultural displays at Icy Strait Point. The jewel in the crown is the outstanding Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage, a gathering place which celebrates native language, heritage and tradition.
Alaska certainly is a unique and wondrous place that offers visitors a range of unusual and special experiences, just right for a rewarding and rejuvenating vacation.
Champions Golf Course | Kona, Hawaii
10 Outstanding Hawaiian Golf Courses December 2015 By Susan Milne
It's another great way to make the most of your Hawaii vacation: Tee off at the world's number 2 golf destination. Hawaii has some exceptional courses open year-round featuring breathtaking sea and mountain views, lava formations and surging water along rugged coastlines. Watch out for the native Nene Geese, frequent visitors to many of the greens! Not a golfer? You can still join a group and head out to enjoy the action and the spectacular settings.
TRUE: There is a new Final "Vacation" Frontier and you will definitely want to book a window seat for this flight! We have a preferred supplier that now offers a journey that is out of this world. You will venture outside of the Earth's atmosphere and back.
Sound like your kind of adventure? Ready to experience a trip that was once just available in our movies and dreams?
Fact or Fiction: Oktoberfest in Germany is in October.
That is FACT & FICTION! Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany is traditionally celebrated mostly in the month of September. This year the first keg was tapped September 19th, 2015 and is scheduled to "run dry" the first weekend in October.
According to their official website Half-Time Report;
"Despite the cool weather, 3 million guests found their way to the Oktoberfest. Most of them from Munich, also guests from America, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, Japan, Switzerland and Italy made the trip to Bavaria.
Compared to 3.3 million visitors in 2014, the number of guest went slightly down, which means that it was easier to find a seat at one of the tables in the tents."
Do you want to participate in "Septemberfest 2016"? Connect with our Independent Agent Veronika Giddens for more information.
Fact Or Fiction:Driver’s licenses from New York, Louisiana, Minnesota, American Samoa or New Hampshire will no longer be enough to get on a domestic commercial flight.
FACT! Starting in 2016, travelers from five U.S. states will not be able to use their driver’s licenses as ID to board domestic flights
The standard licenses from New York, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and American Samoa are considered “noncompliant” with the security standards.
Starting sometime next year a secondary document will be required. Acceptable” IDs include passports and passport cards, as well as permanent resident cards, U.S. military ID, and DHS trusted traveler cards such a Global Entry and NEXUS. There will be a 3 month grace period as a warning to travelers.
Children under 18 will not be required to have the ID as long as they are accompanied by an ID's adult.
Read the entire article here.
Leigh Ann Arnholt