Beverly Wilshire | beautiful new room product

"old" room product at the Beverly Wilshire

about-to-be unveiled renovated room product

I have just spent two nights enjoying the hospitality of The Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel. The hotel has always occupied one of the most prestigious locations possible, at the intersection of Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard in the heart of Beverly Hills's most upscale shopping areas. We walked up and down Rodeo Drive yesterday, enjoying store windows from the world's most renowned fashion brands.

Our two nights were spent in an upgraded Beverly Suite overlooking the hotel's swimming pool, a quiet location with no street noise. Our suite is spacious and comfortable with two full bathrooms, the bedroom and living room being separated by closing doors. As the living room has a queen-sized sofa bed, this accommodation would be perfect either for a couple (as you can work without disturbing your sleeping partner) or a family (your kids will have their own bed and full bath).

This new renovated room product will be introduced (probably) in January, 2022. With this dramatically improved look, the Beverly Wilshire leaps to the front of hotels to be considered if you wish to stay in the heart of Beverly Hills. Be sure to book through a Four Seasons Preferred Partner for exclusive value added amenities (even better than Virtuoso or American Express). Sorry, I'm not allowed to list them on a public website, but email us for the full details. Preferred Partner rates are identical to what you can find on the Four Seasons website.

copyright (c) 2021 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.


traveling to the US? | easy Covid testing


I recently flew back to the US from Zurich. Before leaving for our trip, we ordered a two-test kit from e.med.com. I packed the two kits in my suitcase and downloaded the NAVICA app to our iPhones. When we were within 72 hours of our return home, we were tested from the convenience of our hotel room at Park Hyatt Zurich.

Easy and convenient, there was no need to locate an approved pharmacy that could perform the test, and the cost was significantly lower than having our hotel make the arrangements. Here's how it worked:

(1) While still in the US, we ordered a two-test kit and installed the NAVICA app on our phones. I set up our Navica accounts with usernames and passwords for Claire and me.

(2) The package made it clear: do NOT open the test kit until you're online with your certified emed guide.

(3) When we were ready to do the test, I sat in front of my MacBook. All you need is a computer, iPad, or phone with working camera and internet connection.

(4) I surfed to emed.com and logged in to begin the test.

(5) Once our certified guide came online (it was only a couple of minutes), they gave us clear step-by-step instructions. We were asked to place the unopened test kit on a flat surface in view of the video camera (to verify the integrity of the unopened kit). Then holding the QR code on the box up to the camera, the guide scanned it, then watched as we opened the box, removed the testing swab from its packaging, swirled it inside each nostril, inserted it in the test kit, put a few drops of the provided reagent onto the kit, and finally left everything in place for 15 minutes. Everything was done in view of the camera.

(6) After the 15 minute wait, another guide came online to examine the test result. It was posted to the NAVICA app in about 10 minutes, and we also received an email with the certified test results. We uploaded our negative tests to the travel ready section of our United app. They were approved, and we were all set to fly home

The entire process took less than 30 minutes per passenger. It could not have been easier! 

copyright (c) 2021 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.


is river cruising for you?

cruising in Cachem (c) 2021 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

We've just returned from a river cruise on the Rhine and Moselle rivers. This being the first European river cruise we've ever taken, Claire and I have been reflecting on the experience. Here are my takeaways.

1. Why we chose Tauck, not Viking... Everyone knows about Viking river cruises as they advertise extensively. If you watched Downton Abbey, you've seen their television commercials and marveled at the shots from the air of cruise boats rounding scenic river curves beneath picturesque castles. Viking offers a fine product, but I feel Tauck's is better. Two reasons:

a) larger cabins and fewer passengers — Riverboats are all the same size (135m long), but Tauck has larger rooms and the fewest passengers onboard of any river cruise company (130 on Tauck vs. 190 on Viking). The standard double Tauck cabin is 225 square feet while Viking's standard stateroom is just 160 sq ft. The extra living space is a definite plus.

b) truly all-inclusive — Virtually everything is included in Tauck's fare: three full meals a day (and great food, btw); all your cocktails, wine, and beer any time of day; every available shore excursion; and all gratuities. The only things you'll ever pay for are laundry services, items purchased from the gift shop, and spa treatments (and the spa receipt reminded us that the gratuity had already been taken care of). Viking, by comparison, does not include gratuities. You'll pay for cocktails ... and for wine and beer not consumed at lunch or dinner. You'll also have to pay for tours other than the one included choice in each port.

sun dappled hills in Bacharach (c) 2021 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

2. What's a Tauck river cruise like? River cruises combine the best of land tours and ocean cruises. 

a) Like an ocean cruise, the best thing is packing and unpacking just once. Once settled into our amazingly well designed cabin, we put our hanging clothes in the closet, our folded clothes in drawers, our toiletries in the bathroom, and our empty suitcases under the bed, and we were all set for the next 15 days and 14 nights. We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Compass Rose (the main dining room) and could get snacks day and night from the bar or the smaller lounge at the front of the boat. As previously mentioned, all beverages are complimentary — even cocktails. Wines for dinner were well curated, and every evening the maitre d' would discuss that evening's wine selections.

b) Like a land tour, you'll never have to worry about logistics. There were multiple options for land tours every day in port, and all options were included. Some guests had even requested a special tour to some World War 2 sites, and Tauck arranged those tours on a complimentary basis. Another Tauck bonus: you won't be crowded onto a bus filled to capacity. There were just 48 passengers on board, and though we all could have fit into a single bus, at least two busses were always provided to accommodate us.

3. What did I learn about river cruising? 

a) You don't have to go with the program or stick with the group. There may be days when you'll want to take Tauck's bus into town but, instead of joining the walking tour, pursue your independent interests. If there is a notable art or historical museum, go there and spend as much time as you'd like. If there's a famous cathedral or picturesque church, visit it on your own. Especially if you're in town on a Sunday, find out in advance the hours that you can visit as a tourist or attend mass. Bottom line: you can follow your own travel dreams, even on a river cruise.

b) Take advantage of opportunities for bike rides. Tauck provides e-bikes for its guests, so I signed up for a 20 mile ride along the Moselle River. It was a beautiful day, and we rode on a paved lane reserved just for bikes and pedestrians. Stopping along the way, our guide told us stories about the castles perched high above the river (see the photo above). Tauck also treated us to a coffee and pastry stop in the middle of the ride ... and some wine tasting at the end while we waited for the boat to catch up to us.

c) Choose a river cruise with an appropriate activity level to accommodate your needs. Consult with your travel advisor to find the right cruise for you. Are you fit? Do you enjoy strenuous activity? If so, you won't be satisfied with cruises that offer "low" activity excursions. Conversely, "mellow yellows" will be unhappy if the choices involve a lot of walking and changes of elevation.

d) Spend several pre-nights in your destination before boarding the cruise. This will give you a chance to adjust to the new time zone and experience more of the first city on your itinerary. It also eliminates the worry of missing your cruise departure if your flight is late.

Happy river cruising!

copyright (c) 2021 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.


biking along the Rhine

on a bike during our bike ride

I spent several hours yesterday afternoon with four fellow passengers from Tauck's ms Grace as we biked 27 km along the Rhine River from Boppard to Bacharach. That's about 17 miles. The late-October afternoon was quite chilly, and it got downright cold once the sun descended behind the western wall of the Rhine valley ... but it was good to get outside, stretch some muscles, and burn some of the excess calories consumed during our cruise.

A paved path dedicated just to pedestrians and cyclists went the full length of our journey, so there was no sharing the road with cars and trucks. We stopped at appropriate places to learn the stories behind the many castles perched high above this section of the mid-Rhine.

town along the mid-Rhine (c) 2021 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

As we biked faster than our ship was sailing, we made it to the cute little town of Bacharach before the ms Grace, this despite a coffee and pastry break midway ... and a wine break at the end of our ride. Alas, we gained back some of (all of?, more than?) the calories we had so virtuously burned off — or, as friend and fellow cruise passenger Tom Carroll put it, we were “maintaining caloric equilibrium.” Such is the nature of roughing it when you are a guest of Tauck River Cruises. Coffee, pastries, and wine were all paid for by Tauck.

If you find yourself on a Tauck tour, I highly recommend taking advantage of any opportunities to bike!

copyright (c) 2021 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.


FS Jackson Hole & Grand Teton National Park

early morning on Jenny Lake (c) 2021 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

It was an intriguing opportunity — we were invited to enjoy a one-week stay at any Four Seasons at which I'd not previously stayed. Out of 125 total Four Seasons hotels and resorts around the world, we selected Jackson Hole for our one-week vacation last month. Our many compelling choices not yet visited included Four Seasons on the beautiful Caribbean island of Anguilla, in vibrant Montreal (a francophile's dream), and in the historical Renaissance city of Florence. Of all the world-class choices, we chose Four Seasons Resort and Residences at Jackson Hole.

In the winter, Jackson Hole is a skier's paradise boasting the longest vertical drop in North America, 4,139 feet. Four Seasons, right at the base of the ski slopes, offers ski concierge services and true ski-in, ski-out accessibility. Their spa is wonderful, and their pool, heated year-round, attracts guests even in the snowiest days of winter.

In the summer, Jackson Hole is a gateway to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Pro Tip: get a lifetime National Parks Passport and bring it along. We spent one full day with clients who have a summer home in Jackson, and they showed off beautiful sights including Mormon Row. We spent another day with  tour guide Darcy Lagana of Yellowstone Teton Tours who spotted a lot of wildlife for us to watch.

Our hike around Jenny Lake was the highlight of the week. We got up early that morning and drove away from Four Seasons at 6 a.m., reaching the Jenny Lake Visitors Center before 7. Parking was plentiful then, but by the time we returned from our hike, we saw cars circling the parking lot looking for empty spaces. So arrive early morning, not only to find parking but — more importantly — to take advantage of cooler temperatures and the soft, beautiful light of early morning.

We hiked counter-clockwise around the lake, starting north up its eastern shore. Gazing across the lake, we were rewarded with stunning views of the peaks on the other side of the lake, illuminated by the rosy glow of the morning sun. Continuing around the top of the lake, we hiked south down Jenny Lake's western shoreline. When you finally reach the boat landing, look for signs for Hidden Falls, totally worth the extra steps. Then take the boat back to the Visitors Center for $10 each, saving you 1.5 miles of hiking.

Hidden Falls (c) 2021 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Four Seasons Jackson Hole is a beautiful resort with a totally informal vibe. You'll never need anything fancier than jeans. Our Suite was spacious and wonderful, and there are good restaurant options in-house or in the center Teton Village, less than a 5 minute away. We especially enjoyed Il Villaggio Osteria.

copyright (c) 2021 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.


which do you recommend the most?


Ourisman Travel had this exchange with a traveler named Dustin. Angela, a valued member of Team Ourisman, had posted photos on Instagram during her recent trip to St. Barths. Dustin had come across her gorgeous pictures of Cheval Blanc, Eden Roc, and other resorts on this very five star island, and that inspired him to ask a question: "Of all the St. Barths hotels you visited, which do you recommend most?"

Instagram does not provide the best medium in which to work our magic as Travel Advisors. Before we can recommend a resort, we need to know more about you. Tell us about the vacation you enjoyed most: Where did you stay? Why did you love that resort? Tell us about your aesthetic tastes: Do you enjoy contemporary interiors or do you prefer traditional Caribbean settings? Do you want to be right on the beach? Is a resort pool a must? Some guests want resorts where the pool water is heated, so is that a factor? Are you traveling with kids? Would a kids program that gives you free time while your children are off making friends be a plus? And last, but perhaps the first question to ask: what is your budget?

There's a great vacation for every traveler. Our job is to ask about your preferences and learn your budget. Armed with that information, we can make the best recommendation for you. If, as Dustin wrote, "the rates were absurd" in Anguilla and St. Barths, we are able recommend a better island for you! For the 750€ per night Dustin was spending at Villa Marie, there are likely some much more compelling values right on the beach ... and not a 10 minute drive away which I'm sure he must have grown to resent.

But Instagram is not a place where we can consult with you about your travel plans. Reach out to us at Team@OurismanTravel.com to plan a vacation at the beach or in the mountains.

copyright (c) 2021 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.


travel advisors save you time and money

The trip was un fait accompli. The client had already booked her family's tickets, round-trip flights to Rome. She emailed a description of the itinerary she wanted to plan, the hotels where they wanted to stay, and the tours they wanted to take. But the email began with a logistical detail she wanted help with.

We arrive FCO 7/7 at 10:35am. We would like to go straight to Venice (train-shortest time and first class)

Before I go any further, have you noticed the big "OOPS" in this request?

Providing a second pair of eyes to look over an itinerary is an invaluable service. The client had messed up big time by booking round trip flights to Rome. She planned to begin her family vacation by taking the train to Venice. Assume the best case scenario... their flight arrives on time and they make it through immigration and customs in an hour. They hop on an 11:40 a.m. train, change to another train in Rome, and arrive in Venice at 4:40 p.m. Best case scenario is 5 hours on a train after 8 hours on a jet, the first day of their vacation essentially wasted.

Now consider the worst case scenario. They've bought the least expensive (non-flexible) train tickets because that's our instinct when we purchase things on the internet. Their flight arrives late, or Italian immigration is not especially efficient, or their bags don't appear on the carousel, or they have trouble finding the train station ... and they miss their train to Venice. If this happens, they're screwed. The hundreds of dollars they've spent on First Class train tickets have gone down the drain.

Any good travel advisor obsesses over logistics. If you want to book your own air, that's absolutely fine with me. But do you know the difference between round-trip and open-jaw itineraries? Do you know how to search for "Multi-City" instead of "Round Trip" flights? If you don't, do yourself a favor and call your travel advisor before you buy your tickets.

And the coup de grĂ¢ce? A savvy travel advisor could likely have saved hundreds or thousands of dollars on her Delta tickets by booking bulk fares through Delta Vacations.

But everyone loves a happy ending, and this story has one. I advised her to call Delta and change their outbound flight from Rome to Venice. She was able to make the switch, for exactly the same fare ... so instead of searching in the fog of jet lag for the train station in the Rome Airport, someone from A&K will meet them at baggage claim in Venice, porter their luggage, and escort them straight to the private water taxi that will be waiting for them.

copyright (c) 2021 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.