Friday, May 30, 2014

Diane Visits Belgium & Italy with Belmond

Last month one of our owners, Diane Parks, and her husband, Michael, traveled to Belgium and Italy on a trip hosted by Belmond.

She and her husband started in Brussels at the lavish Hotel Amigo, a Rocco Forte hotel. Diane raved about the location of the hotel. It’s in walking distance of everything. Being an avid runner, she had fun on the hilly streets and complimented on the cleanliness of the city.

Next, Belmond took her on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, an iconic luxury train that “takes you back in time” as you travel from Brussels to Venice. She and her husband experienced the delicious formal dinner in the dining car where they were served a five course meal paired with wines. Guests spend just one night on board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, so for those of you leery about there not being a shower onboard rest assured there really isn’t a need. That gives you more room in your luxurious cabin.

When she arrived in Venice, Diane stayed for three nights at Belmond Hotel Cipriani. The resort is on a separate island from the center of Venice so it escapes the noise of the city. It is still easy to get around Venice though because the hotel has its own water taxi that is constantly going back and forth for its guests. Diane said the service was impeccable and the resort has the only outdoor pool in Venice. Belmond Hotel Cipriani has a new Michelin star chef, and Diane assured us it was only a matter of time before the hotel had a Michelin star itself as every meal there was fabulous.

Diane and her husband then traveled to Florence and stayed at the Belmond Villa San Michele. The hotel sits on top of a valley that has a stunning view of the city. The pool is even higher than the hotel and is a beautiful place to relax. It is a thirty minute drive into town, but it goes fast and is worth it to be away from the hustle and bustle of town.  A couple of tips she picked up in Florence: When visiting the Duomo, women cannot wear shorts (but can wear a skirt) and need to cover their shoulders. She also said to buy Accademia tickets ahead of time so you can quickly pop in to see Michelangelo’s David.

To cap off the trip, Diane and Michael stayed at Belmond Hotel Caruso in Ravello. The views were stunning and the infinity pool had a view from the cliff that could take your breath away. Diane loved that there was a complimentary two hour boat ride down the Amalfi Coast with a private guide onboard who told you about the history and culture of Amalfi, while serving you drinks and food. The hotel is a great place to stay before you leave for the airport. It’s only an hour away and Diane recommends that over staying in Naples.

If you are interested in creating a dream trip through Europe like this please contact your travel advisor at Sanders Travel Centre and we will customize an exceptional Belmond experience for you!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Cheyenne sailing & scuba with Norwegian Cruise Line

The Norwegian Jewel will be repositioned to Houston later this year where it will sail the Western Caribbean. Cheyenne Teters, one of our new advisors & scuba expert, recently took a cruise on the Norwegian Jewel out of New Orleans to get a preview of what this ship &it's  itineraries will be like when it moves to Texas. She visited some amazing Caribbean islands where she got to dive the incredible reefs all the while enjoying the delicious food aboard the ship. 

Cheyenne began her trip with a stay at the beautiful Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, a Virtuoso property. The friendly staff and exceptional service made the stay just perfect. Arriving a day early she was able to tour the French quarter, indulge in some delicious beignets and eat dinner at Emeril Lagasse’s famous NOLA restaurant. We highly recommend arriving to your embarkation port a night or two early. This avoids any chance of a flight delay causing you to miss your ships departure. 

The next morning Cheyenne boarded the Norwegian Jewel and sailed off into the Caribbean. Their first stop was Cozumel where she went diving with Rance of Deep Exposure. The reef was about an hour away by boat but was worth the ride as the water was a perfect blue and the underwater life was bountiful. 

Cheyenne’s second stop was Belize which she said was by far her favorite place because of the beautiful beaches and remarkable scuba diving. She dived with Eli and Jamani of Seasports Belize and said it was one of her favorite dives mostly because the majority of people on her trip were also from the Dallas Fort Worth area. 

In Roatan, Honduras Cheyenne took a cab 20 minutes west to a very safe and beautiful part of the island. She went scuba diving again, but had a different experience than the other days: unfortunately on this scuba trip she came into contact with jelly fish cutting her excursion short but afterwards she got to enjoy an appetizing lunch of local cuisine.  

 The last stop of the Norwegian cruise was to Costa Maya. There Cheyenne joined the crowds at a nearby beach. She does not recommend this as there were hordes of vendors soliciting on the beach. If you take a cruise to Costa Maya Cheyenne recommends you do an excursion like ATV rides or spend the day relaxing at the spa. 

When Cheyenne was onboard the Jewel she enjoyed relaxing by the pool or eating at the delicious Teppanki Grill (a great dinner spot). She loved Norwegian’s nightly entertainment and parties including the Norwegian Jewels very own take on Cirque du Soleil called Cirque du Bijou. Throughout her stay onboard the Jewel the “Washy-washy” men were singing their clean songs and handing out anti-bacterial gel to keep the guests a clean and healthy  during their trip. On the day you disembark Cheyenne recommended doing the Past Present and Future tour if you have time before your flight. This tour shows you the highlights of New Orleans and then drops you off at the airport. 
Sailing on the Norwegian Jewel is an amazing way to see the different islands in the Carrabin and is an experience that is unforgettable. You too can live these unique experiences when you create a customized vacation through Sanders Travel Centre. Our partnership with Norwegian enables us to create the cruise of a lifetime for you and your spouse, family or friends! For more information or to book your trip on the Norwegian Jewel please contact your Sanders Travel Centre travel advisor.