6.11.2018

are fast track tickets worth it?

no lines at dawn (c) 2018 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Questions like this come up frequently on travel forums: "Are Fast Track tickets worth the extra cost?" This is what a recent visitor to fodors.com was wondering about. He's heard about the L-O-N-G ticket and security lines at Europe's most popular attractions. Is it worth paying extra to avoid the long lines, he wonders?

Here's how I calculate the cost/benefit ratio.

(1) Think about a typical trip to Europe. Add up the cost of your airfare and hotels, trains and transfers. You're spending thousands of dollars on your bucket list trip. For the sake of argument, let's assume the trip costs $5,000.

(2) Let's make another set of assumptions: you have six full days on the ground and spend 8 hours a day sightseeing. This means your trip costs about $104 for every sightseeing hour.

(3) If you've seen the lines at Europe's popular tourist destinations, you know can easily waste hours of your precious time doing and seeing nothing. Each wasted hour costs you $104.

Now, let's consider the value proposition of the Paris Pass. It includes unlimited travel, zones 1-3, on the Paris Metro, RER, and buses. It includes a Museum Pass, covering entrance fees at many of the most popular museums and attractions in Paris. (Benefit: you don't have to stand in queue to buy tickets). You also get Fast Track entry at the Louvre, Musée d'Orsay, and Centre Pompidou.

If you plan to maximize your museum visiting over the days of your Museum Pass, it won't cost you a euro more — but even if you enjoy a very leisurely vacation, it's totally worth paying to skip the ticket lines.

copyright (c) 2018 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

6.08.2018

Kona Beach Village | being reborn?


bungalow at Kona Beach Village (c) 2018 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Is Kona Beach Village beginning renovations? Looked that way to me during my recent stay at Four Seasons Hualalai, its neighbor immediately down the beach. KBV's ocean front bungalows are all in a state of disrepair, having been wiped out by the 2011 tsunami that hit Hawaii's Big Island.

We walked over to KBV during our stay at Hualalai, staying outside the posted fence, mind you. We went through parts of the resort on facing the beach. Buildings were dilapidated, but I can see why Kona Beach Village was such a loved beach resort. Not fancy ... but simple accommodations with lots of privacy, right on the beach, with unblocked ocean views.

The resort was recently purchased by a group of investors including Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs. She and Steve enjoyed KBV, and perhaps that love will be instrumental in bringing it back to life for others who shared their love. I'm truly looking forward to that day! KBV is not intended to be competition for FS Hualalai — it will appeal to an entirely different set of vacationers — but its return will be welcomed by its many fans!

copyright (c) 2018 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

5.28.2018

would you stay in this room?

Conrad Maldives underwater bedroom

Lots of guests would say "yes" to a stay in The Muraka at Conrad Maldives Rangali. This unique suite is a bi-level residence with living space both above and below the ocean. Pictured above is an underwater bedroom, its ceiling is 5 meters beneath the water's surface. Guests can lie in bed and watch the tropical fish swimming above and all around them.

But lots of guests would say "no" (including me). While I like new adventures in limited doses, I can just imagine the claustrophobia I would feel at the thought of trying to sleep in a room that's entirely underwater.

Would a stay in this underwater suite excite you? It's set to open in November, 2018.

copyright (c) 2018 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

5.26.2018

Saturday's postcard from Oahu

USS Missouri (c) 2018 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

So I finally visited Pearl Harbor, and it's a must-visit attraction for any visitor to Honolulu. Our guide picked us up from the Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina at 9 a.m., taking care of all the logistics — driving, parking, and procuring admission tickets. A retired Navy veteran, he was a most informative guide. In addition to offering a fascinating historical take on the historical relationship between Japan and Hawaii, he made sure we were on time getting in line for our 10:15 a.m. admission to the film. The documentary was followed by a boat ride out into the harbor to visit the memorial to the USS Arizona (sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor) and the USS Missouri (on whose decks were signed the documents officially ending the war with Japan). Our tour concluded with a most interesting drive through the Navy and Air Force bases at Pearl Harbor.

copyright  (c)  2018 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit our website.

5.25.2018

Friday's postcard from Four Seasons Ko Olina

ocean view behind FS Ko Olina (c) 2018 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

There's a real ocean beach at Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina. I'm not speaking of the "main" beach on the lagoon that Four Seasons shares with Disney's Aulani. Instead you'll find a small and empty ocean beach just behind the Adult Resort Pool. We found exactly one other guest on the beach enjoying the seclusion and gorgeous ocean views. And if you walk just a bit further around the bend, you'll come across the panorama pictured above.

For a relaxing beach holiday on Oahu, I recommend you avoid Disney's Aulani; it's very crowded, filled with kids, with tiny rooms they call "villas." We have been impressed by the spaciousness and luxury of guest rooms at Four Seasons Ko Olina.

copyright  (c)  2018 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit our website.

5.24.2018

Thursday's postcard from Four Seasons Hawaii

complimentary suntan lotion at FS Lanai (c) 2018 by David Ourisman

Four Seasons Hawaii resorts are quite guest friendly. Unlike some resorts that charge resort fees, you'll never feel nickeled-and-dimed to death at Four Seasons. I've posted this picture of a small but significant amenity at every Four Seasons in Hawaii — complimentary organic sunscreen!

Anyone who's traveled to the tropics and forgotten to pack sunscreen has learned about island price gouging. Because you can't pack enough sunscreen in your hand luggage due to TSA regulations on transporting liquids, this perk is quite valuable ... and just the beginning of the great values you can expect at the Four Seasons in Maui, Hualalai, Lanai, and Oahu (and many other destinations worldwide): complimentary sunscreen, complimentary Kids for All Seasons, and Preferred Partner amenities that offer hundreds of dollars of additional value throughout your stay.

copyright  (c)  2018 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit our website.

5.23.2018

Wednesday's postcard from Lanai

view of Manele Bay (c) 2018 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

We are in the most beautiful oceanfront suite at Four Seasons Lanai. Sitting on our second floor balcony, we enjoyed this incredible view of Manele Bay at 7 a.m. Just sharing the postcard.

Day five of our eight day trip to Hawaii...

copyright  (c)  2018 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit our website.