Monday, January 25, 2010

Chef Beau Knows....

OK, I'm throwing in some sports athlete jargon here that, perhaps, may not be known by many...or maybe I'm mistaken. Back in the day the slogan, "Bo Knows," was referring to Bo Jackson. He was a multi-talented athlete who played both football AND baseball. Well, there must be something to that name Beau (or Bo, however, you want to spell it) because they seem to be some talented, multi-tasking individuals!

Beau MacMillan is an exceptional chef who works at Elements restaurant in Paradise Valley, Arizona's, Sanctuary Resort & Spa (yes, I've made reference to this delightful retreat before). I've had the utmost pleasure and opportunity to have ingested more than my fair amount of Chef MacMillan's organic fare - from his succulent sea bass; delicate bacon-wrapped steak; and, tender, organic turkey, served during the Thanksgiving season. On top of that, I've had several birthday parties there, and have partaken of his wonderful "Lunch and Learn" sessions that are hosted throughout the summer months.

I wanted to pay homage to this wonderful chef; especially in light of the new show he is hosting on the Food Network called, "Worst Cooks in America," which he is not. Chef MacMillan is an affable gentleman of great stature, calm demeanor, and self-deprecating humor. He doesn't take himself too seriously, which he should - considering he was not only on the show, "Iron Chef America," but WON the top honors of beating an Iron Chef...yes, the one and only, Bobby Flay.

While so many of us are thinking of dieting, and losing weight for the summer months, I reflect longingly on a piece of seared sea bass prepared so lovingly by Chef MacMillan...hmmm, I may need to take a trip back to Arizona soon! Here's to you Chef MacMillian, I raise a plate of organic, Asian prepared green beans to you!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Part 2 of Series: 101 Reasons to Use A Travel Agent

Part 2 of Series: 101 Reasons to Use a Travel Agent

Recently I was reading an article on this website: The article was speaking to the information that is found on websites regarding travel, and in particular the website Trip Advisor. Since I've attached the link to the website, I won't restate the article, but what I will say is that consumers need to be responsible in doing their due diligence when selecting their travel destinations, hotels, and the like, but not to be completely driven by information that is contained within any website. Whether it is the actual hotel website or sites like Trip Advisor, it's important as a consumer to weigh the information and make the best, sound decision possible. I know it can be a daunting task, because there is so much information, but the reverse is true, because some people will use any means they can to undermine another establishment that may otherwise be perfectly acceptable for most, but because they had a poor experience and/or were not given everything they felt they deserved, they may trash the reputation of a hotel, restaurant, etc, and cause irrepairable harm.

In keeping with the series of 101 Reasons to Use a Travel Agent (Source: American Society of Travel Agents - ASTA). I think that the above-mentioned article brings a lot of attention to the fact that you can't believe everything you read or hear; however, when you are working with a professional Travel Agent, there is an assumption that they have a more in-depth and personal experience with a lot of the recommendations that they make. It's important to ask questions and do as much research as possible, but even more importantly, there are a host of Travel Professionals who specialize in specific destinations; therefore, they can provide information that may not be read on internet sites, but can assist you in making your final decision.

  • Less Stress Planning - A trip can be stressful. There are so many options and details to worry about. Travel agents do the work, so that means less stress for you.
  • Updated Information- Travel agents are in constant communication with the travel community, so they can give you the most up to date info on airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, travel visas, and other travel services to consider etc… as you plan your trip.
  • Customer Service -Travel agents offer that “personal touch” to your travel planning experience, offering help and advice that a website cannot provide.
  • Travel Documentation - Travel agents can help you to prepare and organize any necessary documents that you may need in order to travel outside of the country. They can direct you to your local passport office, and they know where you need a visa, as well as and any other documentation that you might need along the way.
  • Travel Experts Expertise - Many travel agents are considered experts in the area you are traveling to and have probably already been to where you are going.

A vacation is a wonderful experience, and you want to make the best, informed selection possible. Happy trails!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Beginning of Something Great!

Something about a rainbow always seems to give me a sense of hope, renewal and opportunity. I know the definition of a rainbow is the refraction/reflection of the sun, etc, but I feel like it's a universal symbol. Whether I'm standing in my back yard here in the United States, or someone is looking at a rainbow in their part of world; I believe it is never seen with negative connotations, but something that transcends words and gives people a warm and fuzzy feeling.

I've heard small children who didn't even speak English; squeal with delight and point at a rainbow in the sky. While I couldn't know exactly what was being spoken; I could tell by their happiness and giant smiles that they were excited and perplexed by the phenomenal vision.

Travel to me is like a rainbow. It gives me a feeling that is inexplicable, yet comforting. Despite airport security delays, baggage cost increases, and the endless list of negatives that are bombarding our media surrounding travel these days, I still feel a grand sense of adventure and anticipation when I board a plane; fly to my predetermined destination; descend, and look upon my new surroundings. There is an awesomeness to gaze upon something you've always read about and then are standing in front of and admiring. The Mona Lisa in the Louvre is one of those experiences for me, but I felt the same way when a family of dolphins flanked the boat I was on, while on vacation in Hawaii. There is this swelling sense of excitement to be doing or seeing something that is a shared experience among many walks of life - those that were there before you, and those who will come after you.

We are currently promoting a wonderful trip to Provence & Paris, which is a "Celebration of Julia Child in 'Her' Paris & Provence." I watched the movie, "Julie & Julia" a few weeks ago, and I was intrigued by the storyline of a young woman writing a blog about a woman who inspired her to cook. Julia Child has been an icon in the food world for years. Watching the movie and seeing Meryl Streeps' exceptional embodiment of Julia Child was refreshing, funny and quite charming. I imagine that filming this movie in France was a channeling of sorts for Meryl Streep. I can't know this for certain, but to be in the places where Julia Child lived, ate, and drank, could only add to the energy and passion that was displayed in Streeps' performance.

Traveling is my rainbow, and I can't wait to experience more of that feeling this year. I hope more of you embrace travel and go out to find your own rainbow.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Part 1 of Series: 101 Reasons to Use A Travel Agent

Part 1 of Series: 101 Reasons to Use a Travel Agent

There are a lot of questions that travelers have in this day and age; especially since the TSA and airlines seem to change the rules on a daily basis! First and foremost, I think security is extremely important, so if that means they delay my flight so I don't fall or get shot out of the air, I'm all for it; unfortunately, there are many people who may agree with that in theory, but when they are traveling, they don't want to hear about delays of any sort. Over the next few weeks, I will post some of the 101 Reasons to Use a Travel Agent (Source: American Society of Travel Agents - ASTA).

I hope these reasons can shed some insight into the invaluable service travel professionals can provide. Granted, just like in any industry, there are those who are neither knowledgeable, nor professional about the job they do, but I can say from meeting countless travel professionals over the past year - some are on the ball and go above and beyond. It makes me proud to be a part of a community that values their commitment to provide others with the best leisure or business travel experience possible; despite all of the nuisances that have come into the fray over the past ten years. I want people to travel; whether it's in their own backyard (so to speak) or abroad. I want people to get out and get going! People may not enjoy everywhere they go, but at least they can say they have been, and then NEVER go back!

  • Convenient One Stop Shopping - Travel agents can handle every aspect of your trip from airline tickets to lodging, ground transportation car rental, activities, tours and more.
  • Consumer Advocate - If you should have a problem during your trip, travel agents can act on your behalf to see that proper restitution's are made.
  • Expert Guidance - Travel agents are experts in helping travelers get where they need to go and helping to open up possibilities most people never would have dreamed were possible.
  • Save Time - Avoid the headaches and let the travel agents call around and do all the time consuming work of looking for prices, activities, and flights for you planning a complex itinerary.
  • Choice - Travel agents offer you an array of options and price quotes from a variety of travel suppliers, giving you the upper hand when making your final travel decisions.