11.13.2019

$1000 resort credit on the Big Island




Mauna Lani is reopening in January after a thorough $200 million renovation of guest rooms, public areas, and the pool and beach areas. The resort's new owner wanted create a resort that is the equal of anything else on the Big Island, and he has definitely invested massively to bring that about.

Enjoy a $1,000 credit at the reimagined Mauna Lani Resort... so read the email blast I just received. I spoke today with my rep and learned that the deal is even better than that. Guests will receive a $250 daily resort credit when booking a 4+ night stay in an Ocean View room or above. So if you stay a full week, you'll get $1,750 in resort credits good towards lunches, dinners, and tropical drinks at the bar.

Virtuoso amenities combine with this promotion, and the deal is good from January 1 to November 20, 2020. So in addition to the $250 daily credit, guests who book with their Virtuoso travel advisor will also receive:
  • Daily buffet breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom, in HaLani Restaurant.
  • $100 USD Resort Credit for Dining, Spa or Golf per stay to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • One Category Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability (upgrade is from room to room or suite to suite; upgrade does not apply to Bungalows).
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi already included in the resort fee

Guest rooms are a spacious 520 square feet, and the newly renovated marble bathrooms are a definite step up, now featuring great step-in showers. Suites are double that size, and the amazing 2BR Bungalows offer 4,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor living space with your own private pool.

copyright (c) 2019 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.

11.12.2019

a Grand Tour of Europe with Belmond

Belmond La Residencia (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

If you're traveling to Europe in 2020, Belmond's Grand Tour is probably the best combination of luxury and value that you can find. Here are three reasons why this is the promotion to go for...


(1) A selection of the world's finest hotels ...

in Italy
Belmond Hotel Cipriani (Venice)
Belmond Villa San Michele (Florence)
Belmond Hotel Splendido and Splendido Mare (Portofino)
Belmond Castello di Casole (Tuscany)
Belmond Hotel Caruso (Ravello)
Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo and Villa Sant'Andrea (Sicily)
on Mallorca
Belmond La Residencia (Mallorca)
on Madeira
Belmond Reid's Palace (Madeira)

(2) Seven nights at a flat rate

Low Season (March & April; October to January)
7 nights in a room — 4774€
7 nights in a Junior Suite — 8008€
High Season (May to September)
7 nights in a room — 6699€
7 nights in a Junior Suite — 11,704€

Extra nights are available at a pro-rated price.


(3) Full American Breakfast included daily. You'll receive the Virtuoso amenities and be blocked in the best available room on arrival.


P.S. — I've stayed at La Residencia in Mallorca, an absolutely gorgeous resort (click to read my article) ... and at the iconic Cipriani in Venice where you can wander the winding streets of Venice by day, then escape the crowds to your own private island each night.


Fine print: At least two Belmond properties must be booked, but stays can be non-consecutive within 45 days of first arrival. No deposit required; payment made at check-out. Cancellations within 14 days incur a 50% penalty, within 7 days a 100% penalty; travel insurance is highly recommended. Blackout dates ... Splendido, Caruso, La Residencia - not available July and August. Cipriani - not available June and September. Reid's Palace and Timeo - not available 28DEC-1JAN.

copyright (c) 2019 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.

11.05.2019

dance like no one's watching

dancing to the music (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

I share the following from the September/October issue of Afar, my favorite travel magazine.
Q: Why do you think Americans tend to overpack their travel itineraries? 
A: Part of it is that we think we're going to miss something. What we forget is that serendipity is what we're really missing — it's the things that aren't on our itinerary that are important.
D'accord — this is so true. I always enjoy wandering a city without any particular plan, just following where my eyes lead me, being spontaneous, taking that detour down a cute, narrow alley where I discover unexpected slices of local life.
  • an old couple sitting in a cafĂ© watching the pedestrians walk by
  • a brick wall illuminated with a beam of golden sunlight
  • the yeasty aroma of freshly baked bread as you pass a boulangerie
  • street musicians playing music on a pedestrian bridge in Paris
  • an exuberant old woman dancing to their music

Moral of the story: don't plan every hour of every day when you travel. Leave some unscheduled time just to explore. Those unplanned serendipities will often become the fondest memories of your entire trip.

copyright (c) 2019 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.

10.31.2019

where to stay in Sydney, Australia

reflections at the Park Hyatt Sydney (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

I have stayed at three different hotels during my various visits to Sydney, Australia. During the most recent visit (earlier this month), we spent three days ensconced at the beautiful Park Hyatt Sydney. We were fortunate to be upgraded to a Deluxe Opera room, really the size of a Junior Suite. Our room boasted a direct view of the iconic Sydney Opera House. Large and beautiful, it was decorated with the cool contemporary styling you'd expect of Park Hyatt. Ask for #343, located at the section of the building's curve with the best, dead-on view of the Opera House.

I'm partial to staying in or near The Rocks, the neighborhood of Sydney in which the first British settlers built their homes and businesses. As you can see in the picture to the left, Four Seasons Sydney is adjacent to The Rocks. I highly recommend booking a Premier Opera House room here, twice as large as Deluxe rooms for just a small premium in price. You'll love the panoramic views — the Sydney Harbour Bridge at your left and the Opera House on the right. If you visit during Vivid Sydney, you'll enjoy the colorful light show right from your room.

Highly recommended is the Langham Sydney, also located in the Rocks. The Langham features a more residential, less corporate feel. It is set on an historic street in the midst of dozens of original houses and shops. Its interior has recently been renovated, and guest rooms feature the largest King beds I've ever seen. While you will not have an opera house view from any of the rooms, I loved the sense of place and the pleasure of stepping out the front door into the most historic part of town.

Virtuoso and preferred partner amenities are available at each of these hotels — meaning you'll receive complimentary daily breakfasts for two, $100 credits, and room upgrades if they are available.

copyright (c) 2019 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.

10.28.2019

putting dollars back in your pocket




The logic of the internet compels shoppers to search, search, search for the absolutely lowest price they can find. The screenshot above shows the current nightly price for a 5-night stay in a lead-in room at a beachside resort at a Hilton-affiliated property. Many shoppers would probably think, "Wow... I should join Hilton Hhonors; it's free and I can save $24 a night!!!"

But booking this rate would be an expensive mistake. Sure, you'll save $24 per night ... but there's an even better value out there, Virtuoso! Even though the Virtuoso rate is equal to the regular rate of $616, here are three reasons reasons why it's the far better deal. At this particular hotel (the Waldorf Astoria in Los Cabos) ...
  • You'll receive two complimentary breakfast buffets daily.
  • You'll receive a one-time $150 Resort credit that you can use towards incidental expenses during your stay (like lunch, dinner, drinks, or spa treatments).
  • You'll be upgraded to a room with a better view if one is available at your check-in.

It's certainly a forgivable mistake. Most hotel shoppers don't know about Virtuoso, but now you do! If you're planning a stay at a luxury hotel, don't book on the hotel's website, and don't go to an OTA (an online travel agency such as expedia or hotels.com). Bookmark Virtuoso.com, and always start your hotel shopping there. You can book many Virtuoso hotels (but not all) right on the website and score those valuable amenities which put dollars back in your pocket. Some hotels don't have booking on the Virtuoso website, but just email your Virtuoso travel advisor who can quickly make the booking for you. Read this article to learn how you can make your own Virtuoso booking while we VIP your stay.

Knowing about Virtuoso can save you hundreds of dollars over the course of a typical hotel stay, money back in your pocket.

copyright (c) 2019 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.

10.22.2019

Sydney Opera House | take the tour

Sydney Opera House at dawn (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Sydney's Opera House is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dominates the skyline of Sydney's harbour. Our Deluxe Harbour room at the Park Hyatt Sydney (# 343) directly faced this landmark, and we were able to enjoy this sight whenever we were in the room.

If you're into landscape photography, you'll want to venture outside your room to get shots like the one above. I set up my tripod about a half hour before sunrise. The morning was still and clear, and the surface of the harbor was smooth and reflective.

during our Opera House tour (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

You can get tickets for a tour of the Opera House. The number of visitors in each group is limited, so book online to get the day and time you want ... and a 10% discount. Tours last about one hour and run daily between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Our very interesting guide told the story of the competition that led to the building's unique design and the challenges encountered in actually building it.

Great opera house views can also be found from guest rooms at the Four Seasons Sydney and Shangri-La Sydney, and you can enjoy significant savings (complimentary breakfasts and hotel credits) by booking through a Hyatt Prive, Four Seasons Preferred Partner, or Shangri-La Luxury Circle travel advisor.


10.13.2019

wild bush luxury in northern Australia

sunset silhouette at Bamurru Plains (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Bamurru Plains is a safari camp in the far north of Australia, east of Darwin. Separated from the ocean by 100 square miles of flood plains, airboat excursions to view wildlife are the most popular activity. Because our visit came at the end of the dry season, we did not have the chance to enjoy this particular activity as the floodplains were dry — but we did take advantage of sunrise and sunset excursions by 4x4 and boat. The best times to visit are May through August.

Birdwatching was the passion of an English couple we met at Bamurru Plains. Equipped with extremely long telephoto lenses, they were rewarded with photographic opportunities of a vast variety of local birds. It was fun hearing them excitedly calling out the names of birds they spotted and checking that species off their list. Wallabies hopped all around our camp, and we saw crocodiles in abundance when going for a nature cruise down the Mary River.

Our cabin was plain but comfortable. Screened walls brought in the sights and sounds of the surroundings. No need for alarm clocks, as the birds will reliably wake you at dawn. The camp is completely off the grid, electricity being provided by generators and hot water from the solar collector on your roof (keep your showers short!). Being off the grid, your stay at Bamurru Plains will be a vacation from emails, phone calls, and news. Food was good, with guests dining "family style" around a long table.


   













copyright (c) 2019 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.