Thursday, June 23, 2016

Tiffany in Ireland

I'm a longtime travel and lifestyle journalist who very recently joined Sanders Travel Centre as an advisor. One of the many reasons I wanted to become an advisor is because of an amazing anniversary/birthday trip to Ireland that co-owner Jenny Westermann organized for my husband and me in May. I've traveled extensively and know trip planning can be extremely stressful. Using an advisor truly allowed us to leave our cares behind, and as we followed Jenny's seamless itinerary, I decided a career change was in order!

Our trip started in Dublin at the beautiful, bustling Westbury Hotel in the heart of the city. We were met by a charming Pat Liddy Tours walking guide, who showed us Dublin's important sights, including Trinity College, Powerscourt Townhouse, Fishamble Street, Temple Bar, and the Oscar Wilde home and monument. After a good overview of the city's Medieval, Viking and literary heritage, we enjoyed a dinner of fresh raw oysters, Irish stew and Guinness at a popular pub, where the locals could not have been more friendly, funny or welcoming. The day was a perfect intro to Ireland.

Oscar Wilde monument || Westbury Hotel || Huguenot Cemetery - Dublin

Country Cork
The next morning after a delicious breakfast in The Westbury's gallery, it was off to Cork in a rental car that was delivered to our doorstep. Along the way, we stopped at Rock of Cashel, one of the most breathtaking archaeological sites in Ireland. Surrounded by rolling green hills dotted with sheep, this is quintessential Ireland. Arriving at our hotel, Hayfield Manor, we were warmly greeted with Irish whisky and shown to a large suite decorated in a tasteful, traditional style. Cork is a food town and we spent two days here, enjoying delicious meals and making friends in the local pubs and restaurants and relaxing over complimentary Champagne afternoon tea at Hayfield. Another highlight of Cork was a visit to nearby Cobh, a lovely port town that was the last port of call for the Titanic.

Rock of Cashel || Hayfield Manor || Cobh

County Kerry
Our next stop was Sheen Falls Lodge in County Kerry. Our route took us along the Wild Atlantic Way, where we stopped at dramatic coastal overlooks and had a wonderful seafood lunch in the darling harbor town of Kinsale. Sheen Falls Lodge, though luxurious with stylishly redone rooms, also offers every activity you'd want in a true Irish country estate, from horseback riding to salmon fishing to falconry. Just out the back door is a waterfall and it was relaxing to open the windows and listen to the sounds of the Sheen River rushing by. Nearby Kenmare is an idyllic town with good shopping, food and traditional Irish music. Sheen Falls offers quick access to the famous Ring of Kerry and Killarney, where we visited Ross Castle and took a horse-drawn carriage or "jaunting car" through Killarney National Park

Jaunting car tour of Killarney National Park || Sheen Falls Lodge room || Waterfall

County Clare
The final stop on our tour was the incredible Gregan's Castle Hotel in Ballyvaughan. On our way, we stopped at historic Adare Village, the famous and stunning Cliffs of Moher and tiny Doolin, known for it's traditional Irish music scene. Gregan's Castle brings to mind an old family estate that's been revamped by a stylish young heir. Everywhere you look, there are books, antiques and interesting art pieces. It's homey and comfortable, yet thoroughly hip. Here we were given a complimentary walking tour of the Burren with a local archeologist. The informative, fun journey through this otherworldly area was one of the highlights of our trip. Gregan's was suggested to us because of it's acclaimed restaurant, which did not disappoint. Dinner on our last night in Ireland was one of the most delicious and special meals we've had anywhere.

Cliffs of Moher || Gregan's Castle Hotel || The Burren

If you are interested in a trip to Ireland -- or anywhere -- that is custom-tailored to your interests like the one we enjoyed, email me at or call your Sanders Travel advisor.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Changes to your American Airlines AAdvantage Program

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The AAdvantage Program just got even better - as a way of saying thank you to frequent flyers and first-class customers, American Airlines will be granting you more exclusive benefits every time you fly. Not only will you now earn more miles based on how much you spend with American Airlines, but they will also be introducing a new elite status in 2017.

Beginning August 1, 2016, you can earn more miles based on your ticket price and your elite status on American Airlines flights. The more you spend, the more miles you receive. The number of miles you will receive for every U.S. dollar you spend is detailed below based on elite status:

AAdvantage member                    5 miles per U.S. dollar
Gold member                                7 miles per U.S. dollar (40% bonus)
Platinum member                         8 miles per U.S. dollar (60% bonus)
Executive Platinum member       11 miles per U.S. dollar (120% bonus)

Please note that the minimum mileage guarantee will no longer be in effect, but the 500-mile EQM minimum will still be awarded on eligible flights. 

Beginning January 1, 2017, American Airlines will introduce a new elite status, Platinum Pro. With this status, you will receive benefits like complimentary upgrades on flights, 2 free checked bags, and oneworld Sapphire status. Additionally, you will earn 9 miles per U.S. dollar spent on American Airlines flights (80% bonus). You may upgrade to this status once you meet the minimum EQD threshold and the EQM or EQS threshold. Qualification requirements for each elite status is detailed below:

Gold                                               25k EQMs or 30 EQSs, plus $3k EQDs
Platinum                                       50k EQMs or 60 EQSs, plus $6k EQDs
Platinum Pro                                75k EQMs or 90 EQSs, plus $9k EQDs
Executive Platinum                     100k EQMs or 120 EQSs, plus $12k EQDs

The AAdvantage Program is a great way to earn maximum travel value. Book your next trip with Sanders Travel and let us help you earn more miles on all of your travel expenses or ask your travel advisor for help redeeming these points. For more details regarding these changes, click here.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Kathy B's sailing with Royal Caribbean

Last month, Kathy Brueggemeyer was given the opportunity to sail on Royal Caribbean's beautiful Liberty of the Seas. While on board, she was able to witness first hand and partake in the unlimited fun and entertainment that they provide. By experiencing all of the incredible features of Royal Caribbean Kathy and our advisors can better assist you, our clients, when giving recommendations of where to sail and what to do on board. Here is Kathy's account of her adventures with Royal Caribbean!

Ship Appearance and Appeal
The public spaces on board are all beautiful, each decorated with bright, fun colors, true to the ideals of Royal Caribbean. While it is a modern style, it is still welcoming and appropriate for all ages. Anywhere on board, there are lots of spaces to gather as a group, couple, or even relax by yourself. There's plenty of space in the staterooms as well, even with all the "stuff" us women tend to collect throughout the week. The balcony was a very comfortable size, never feeling too cramped, which led us to spend a great deal of time out there enjoying the breathtaking views of the sea. 

Kathy & her friend about to board the Liberty of the Seas

Onboard Activities and Entertainment
The entertainment on this ship was endless. I never found myself looking for something to do as there was so much on board to explore and partake in. I truly believe there is something for everyone. From lively clubs, pubs, mellow wine bars, to art auctions, Casino Royale, and the Promenade. Whether you're looking for a peaceful space or something more active, there are copious options for both. 

While on board, I saw three excellent productions: Saturday Night Fever, the Ice Show, and Nick Lewin - Comedian and Magician. It was amazing to see such a talented group of performers onboard putting on such fun, engaging shows. While I wasn't personally traveling with any children, I did notice some of the Dreamworks characters on board and it was easy to see how well the children interacted with them. The pool deck has so much to offer from the splash pool, to the main pool, and the adult pool they cater to all ages. If you want to get a chair in the sun at the adult pool, be sure to head down early, for they get taken pretty quickly, but don't worry, the seats in the shade are just as nice. 

The onboard activities are endless. Like everything else, there's something for everyone including golf, basketball, the climbing wall, the new Typhoon Cyclone and the popular Flowrider, which was fun even as a spectator. The spa offered a great variety of treatments and the fitness center had state of the art equipment and beautiful views all around. They also offer some excellent seminars, like one I attended in which I learned about the benefits of acupuncture and the importance of detoxing our bodies. While I personally try to limit my on board shopping, there was undoubtedly plenty of shopping opportunities for those that choose to do otherwise. The Promenade was home to many shops with all different kinds of goods. 


There are three specialty restaurants on board: Sabor, Giovanni's and Chop's Grille. I absolutely loved Sabor, there was a fun, contagious vibe, delicious food (especially the guacamole and desserts), and even better margaritas. Be sure to try it out toward the beginning of the week because you will be wanting to go again before your week is over. Giovanni's had a great atmosphere, friendly staff, and excellent food and wine selections as well. Chop's Grille was a more formal atmosphere but had lovely surrounding and excellent service. And I can't forget to mention their shrimp cocktail, by far the best I've ever had. 

Kathy's dinner at Giovanni's

The dining staff were both friendly and efficient with delivering your food and catering to your dining needs. Even the two ladies who greeted you outside of the main dining room and outside of Windjammer were always doting contagious smiles as you walked in. The Cruise Director and staff were both very energetic and fun. The Cruise Director alone was extremely entertaining, constantly keeping us smiling and laughing whenever he would make an appearance.

With all that Royal Caribbean has to offer, there's no doubt that they are the best cruise line for families. There is a perfect balance of entertainment for kids as well as activities and nightlife for adults. You're bound to create unforgettable memories! If you are looking to set sail with Royal Caribbean, email me at or contact your Sanders Travel Advisor at 817-731-3335.