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.


Virtuoso Life — the adventure issue


There are many different kinds of luxury, and adventure travel is one of them. We in the 21st century have the capacity to discover the wilds of nature, all in perfect comfort. While you will experience some trade-offs — even the most well equipped tent will never duplicate the elegance perfected by world-class hotels like the George V or Ritz Paris — you can enjoy privileged encounters of a different kind. While there are too many possibilities to list here, but you might start by thinking about...

  • an all-inclusive excursion cruise to Antartica or to Iceland & Greenland
  • a tented camp in Tofino (BC), Chiang Rai (Thailand), or Rajasthan (India)
  • a luxurious safari resort in Africa, a base for discovering the Big Five

It costs nothing to indulge the dream. Click here to browse the May/June issue of Virtuoso Life. Dubbed "the adventure issue," you'll read about possibilities like those mentioned in the bullet points above. Finally, contact your Virtuoso travel advisor to orchestrate your travel dreams and bring them to life.

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.


JetBlue Mint across the Pond


Exciting news, thanks to my friend Ben at One Mile at a Time... JetBlue has announced its Mint service from JFK to London. One daily flight starts 12AUG to Heathrow, and a second daily flight starts 30AUG to Gatwick. 

Here's the outbound schedule to London:

  • dep JFK at 9:48 p.m., arr. LHR at 10:10 a.m.
  • dep JFK at 7:48 p.m., arr. LGW at 7:55 a.m.

Here's the return flight back to New York:

  • dep. LHR at 6:10 pm., arr. JFK 9:35 p.m.
  • dep. LGW at 12:10 p.m., arr JFK 3:43 p.m.

Round-trip in JetBlue's lie-flat Mint class seat starts at $1,979, per the airline's website. Combined with a comfortable lie-flat seat and JetBlue's great catering, this is quite a value.

When you're ready to plan luxury travel to London, we can accessorize your flights with stays in five star luxury hotels ... with Virtuoso amenities including daily complimentary breakfast for two + a $100 hotel credit towards F&B or spa, all at the same price you'll find on hotel websites.

London has some of the world's best hotels. Have you been thinking about a trip to England in this fall?

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.


vaccination — your ticket to ride


Eiffel Tower at Dawn (c) 2021 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

E.U. Set to Let Vaccinated U.S. Tourists Visit This Summer          .

It's been way too long. I was last in Europe in the autumn of 2019 when we took a Baltic cruise on Windstar, a luxury small ship cruise line that can get into smaller ports that cannot accommodate the large ships. We loved the cruise and enjoyed out-of-the-way destinations as well as highlights like Gdansk, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, and Stockholm. We finished up our tour by flying to Paris (my favorite city in the world) for a few days before flying home.

A lot has happened since 2019. Covid-19 struck with a vengeance in March 2020, forcing me to cancel a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii to see the brand new Mauna Lani as well as inspect the new room product at Four Seasons Hualalai. I held out hope that things would settle down by April, letting us visit Amsterdam during tulip season, then board our Tauck River Cruise from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland ... but little did any of us know 13 months ago. Covid sadly necessitated the cancellation of that trip.

But Europe promises to be back this summer for vaccinated U.S. tourists. Anticipating its reopening, I was able to rebook my Tauck River Cruise three months ago and was able to score a pair of business class "Saver" award tickets on United. I received my second Pfizer vaccine on Feb. 19th, and Claire got hers on April 5th, so we're all set to go.

Getting vaccinated is your ticket to ride. I can't offer medical advice because I'm not a M.D., but if you're feeling a strong desire to travel the world again, vaccines offer the path forward to satisfy your wanderlust. If you're curious about the remarkable scientific advances that enabled the development of RNA-based vaccines, I highly recommend Walter Isaacson's recent book, The Code Breaker. A well-told story and a good read, the book provides an accessible introduction to the technology that led to the creation of the highly effective Pfizer and Modern vaccines.

Click here to sign up for the Ourisman Travel Newsletter.

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.


furniture shopping in Charlotte, North Carolina


Hickory Furniture Mart

We are spending the weekend at The Ballantyne Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina. A member of the Luxury Collection, guests can receive STARS amenities by booking through a travel advisor affiliated with a STARS agency. This gets you daily breakfast for two and a $100 resort credit, all for the same "regular" rate you can book online. We have been upgraded into a lovely Executive Suite on the top floor with a prime view of the 18 hole golf course, soon to be transformed into a vast public park with a lake and recreational offerings for guests and local residents as well.

North Carolina is renown for its furniture industry, and we stopped at Hickory Furniture Mart on our drive to Charlotte. Four floors of furniture showrooms under one roof, they promise "North Carolina pricing with incredible discounts of 65-80% off most standard retail pricing" ... and in fact we got great pricing. We shopped at Amish Oak and Cherry (the store pictured at the bottom left of the photo above) and were impressed with the quality and pricing of their furniture. We bought some pieces that were priced at about 50% of retail with an additional 15% discount. Most everything they sell is hand crafted for you, constructed with your choice of wood (cherry, maple, oak, walnut, etc.), finished with the stain and varnish of your choice, and customized with the drawer pulls you choose.

Click here to sign up for the Ourisman Travel Newsletter.

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.