Culinary Tours Are Heating Up in Peru

Foodie travelers are constantly looking for new destinations to explore. I recently planned a tour to Perú for cuisine enthusiasts after they learned I had become a Perú Travel Agent Specialist.

Not only did the specialist program explore this wondrous country of archaeological heritage, nature and landscapes, and festivals and traditions, it highlighted the incomparable cuisine ~ perfect for our culinary travelers.
Continue reading Culinary Tours Are Heating Up in Peru

Is Golf Your Game?

Sandals Specialist

Our clients were making plans for a vacation over New Year’s Eve. Some place with white sand, palm trees and lots of adult beverages with little umbrellas garnishing them. Oh, and by the way ~ they are golfers. Avid golfers. Happily, our golf theme vacations are above par. Continue reading Is Golf Your Game?

River Cruise Experts Earn Prestigious Top Rank As Avalon Waterways® Specialists

Avalon Waterways Specialist

Travel agents have many opportunities for specialist training in their travel niche from visitor’s bureaus, in-house vendor training, seminars and familiarization trips. With our agency’s focus on small-ship and river cruising, my husband, Terry, and I who are owners of The Cruise Center, Inc. in Kalamazoo, Michigan, were eager to be in the first graduating class of the Avalon Waterways® Specialist Program.
Continue reading River Cruise Experts Earn Prestigious Top Rank As Avalon Waterways® Specialists

Blogs Worth Reading. . .

Here are some blogs I discovered while researching other things. I think you’ll find them worthwhile, too.

Cruise Bug’s blogs Cruise Bug Vacations and Cruise Bug Chatter

France’s Provence Coast Travel Guide Provence Coast Travel

Honeymoon travel My Vacation Lady

Fergys Hawaiian Travel Fergy’s Travel

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  • Couples Tower Isle Review

    Couples Tower Isle in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, is an historic all-inclusive resort catering exclusively to couples looking for a romantic getaway. The resort underwent a thirty million dollar preservation and improvement project last year. So, it’s lookin’ good. The décor and style are modern and luxurious, but not without the Hollywood flair that made the Tower Isle location a celebrated 1950’s retreat.

    One of the first things our clients ask about a resort is, “How’s the food?” Well, let’s sneak into the kitchen at Couples Tower Isle to learn a little bit about the resort’s Caribbean cuisine from Chef Stefan Spath.

    Couples Resorts

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

  • Click Here To Email Us

  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

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  • Sandals® Candlelight Dinner

    What could be more romantic than a private candlelight dinner served under the stars by a white-gloved waiter?

    Sandals® has been called the most romantic resort chain in the Caribbean. Our clients celebrating a birthday, anniversary, engagement or just being in love are thrilled with the candlelight dinner. It is a private, romantic dinner served in a location outside of the main restaurants. Each hotel will have their own available locations like their gazebo, on the beach, on the pier, or wherever private. All couples will have a personal waiter with white glove service, four course dinner, sparkling wine, custom-made menu, long stem rose and more.

    You will have the option to personalize your four-course dinner from the chef’s menu. All hotel menus will rely on the seasonality of food items.

    Why not kick it up a notch and enhance your dining experience by adding a musician to your dinner plans?


    Sandals Specialist

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    Jamaica For Foodies

    Mr. Ron Mesquita, Senior Business Development Manager-Midwest USA for the Jamaica Tourist Board stopped in to our travel agency on Thursday. He brought with him a variety of brochures that highlight the endless possibilities for indulging in your favorite leisure pursuit. From golf to birding, bicycling to horseback riding, swimming with dolphins, ziplining, bobsleding, river rafting, oh, the list is nonstop.

    But two attractions leaped out at me for our foodie clients.

    The first is the Appleton Estate Rum Tour. Here your can take a step back in time and learn how rum is distilled at the 18th century Appleton Estate. Visitors watch resident donkey “Pax” demonstrate how juice was extracted from sugarcane, then tour the Distillery & Aging House where the different methods of distillation are demonstrated. You will be able to juice your own cane, (here’s the good part) sample white rum and boil “wet sugar”.

    If you have more time, follow the island’s newest attraction Jamaica’s Jerk Trail.

    “Jamaica gave the world Jerk cuisine and since then it has become a culinary phenomenon which has found its way onto menus in restaurants worldwide. Visitors from around the globe have been drawn to Jamaica to sample this delicious style and flavor of cooking which was believe to have originated with the Maroons, former slaves.”

    “Now with the launch of the Jerk Trail, visitors can follow the trail and eat their way through Jamaica sampling this cuisine and the secret recipes the cooks hold near and dear. The history of Jerk cuisine along with its evolution, from roadside stand staple to menu at top restaurants, makes this a very interesting story and one which we invite you to explore!”

    Take a look at Visit Jamaica for a map.

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    6 Emerging Vacation Trends for 2011

    The results are in. Surveys and market reports conducted at the end of 2010 reveals some interesting trends for vacationers this year.

    1. Travelocity®’s annual “Traveler Confidence Report” finds that an overwhelming majority of travelers (89 percent) will spend as much or more on travel in 2011 as they did in 2010 particularly by upgrading to a higher rated resort or cruise line.

    2. Even though travelers are planning to spend more, they’re also planning to spend more carefully by watching their budget. Many intend to book a vacation package (flight and hotel) as a way to save money.

    3. Travel agencies across the country are reporting an increase in bookings to Europe, especially river cruising, the Mediterranean and the Baltic. Prices are more affordable than in recent years because of the stronger dollar against the Euro and other currencies.

    4. Special interest travel—culinary tours, golf vacations, photography opportunities, music and art themed tours, diving vacations—are increasingly sought by travelers.

    5. Small ship and river cruises are exploding in popularity. Destination oriented and seasoned travelers enjoy the immersion into the location. As one client said, “The larger the ship the smaller the experience.”

    6. “Staycations” and “nearcations” have run their course. Vacation plans include flights, in spite of the hassles of flying.

    So what does this mean for you? Cruise lines and tour operators are anxious to rebuild their businesses after the economic meltdown of the last few years. Take advantage of 2-for1 and early booking discounts, packages with reduced airfare specials, extra amenities and upgrades, and special interest theme cruises and tours.

    And, do it now. Because there is one more trend: 7. Travelers are booking earlier—6 to 9 months before departure and not waiting until the last minute as in recent years. That means the vacation you want, when you want it, may be sold out.

    Scooter Tessari, MCC
    Vacation Specialist

    Help! I Can’t Find The Shore Excursion I Want!

    When long-time clients, Molly and Roger, were researching shore excursions for their Mediterranean and Black Sea cruise, the cruise line’s offerings missed the mark in some of the ports. Friends from home recommended that while in Istanbul they visit the Basilica Cistern underneath the city. The cistern had been rediscovered recently and restored. Originally it was one of the major water sources for the city. A Must-See. But, not included on any of the ship’s tours.

    I suggested that they take a look at ShoreTrips®, and independent tour operator offering excursions in the Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii, New England, South America, Bermuda, the Mexican Pacific Coastline, the Baltic, the Atlantic European Coast, the Mediterranean, the Middle East. It’s an alternative to the cruise line’s programs with personal service and typically much smaller groups all at very competitive prices. Each vendor is personally selected for ShoreTrips® for their expertise and passion for the experience. In fact in his latest book, Arthur Frommer writes that ShoreTrips® is the ONLY shore excursion provider that he recommends.

    Molly writes, “We were quite pleased with the ShoreTrips® private excursion in Istanbul. It was very nice to have a guide for just the four of us, so that we could ask questions, go at our own pace, and even add an extra site. We passed large groups from our ship and others throughout the day, and we were glad to be separate.”

    Recommending alternatives to the cruise line’s tours is just one way we add value to our client’s vacation. Whether it is for individuals, special interest (golf, wine, diving, etc.) groups, church groups, or multi-generational family groups personalized tours enrich your vacation memories.


    The New Orleans School of Cooking

    At The New Orleans School of Cooking, classes are taught by well known local chefs
    skilled in the arts and traditions of Cajun and Creole cuisine. Join Mark Murphy of Travel Pulse® ( as he cooks up a meal with Chef Kevin Belton.

    Join the Conversation!

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