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Showing posts from 2010

The Value of a Travel Advisor Is Priceless When It Comes to Peace of Mind

The price of an airline ticket reserved through Largay Travel: $40

The warmth and tranquility of spending the holidays with your relatives, and not (3330+) angry, hostile, desperate strangers at the airport…..PRICELESS!

Twas the night after Christmas and all throughout the Northeast..not a plane was departing, we were all stuck in the house….

A typical phenomenon in our respective lives is that we never truly appreciate or value an insurance policy until ‘disaster’ presents itself.  Prior to any ”event”, we have either begrudgingly paid the monthly premiums, or conveniently delude ourselves into the mindset that “it will never happen to me”.  So why should I waste my Starbucks latte funds on something so foolish as insurance?

Beinviento a Miami in Style

It had been years since I’ve visited the Miami Beach area and after a recent stay at the Tides in South Beach, I can’t wait to go back. The area is rich in culture, full of energy and offers travelers a multi-cultural experience without leaving the US.
Our stay at the Tides Hotel and Resort on South Beach offered everything we needed; a prime location, a breathtaking design, stylish accommodations, a beautiful beach and above all a hotel staff that could rival the best.

Going to Extremes; Paul and Peter verses Sub-Arctic Polar Bears

I have always been fascinated by extremes, whether it be extreme adventures, extreme personalities or extreme travels. In my mind, in the animal kingdom, there is nothing more extreme than the polar bear and that is why I decided to take this journey.

Day 1 & 2 – Our journey to the sub-Arctic habitat of the great white bears began with a short flight to Chicago and then a slightly longer ride, 4 hours, on to Winnipeg Manitoba. Natural Habitats had arranged for a comfortable stay at the Fort Gary Hotel, which is one of the more architecturally interesting buildings in the city and is in the historic registry. The hotel itself was built by the Canadian Railway in 1911 in a Gothic chateau style. Candidly, I feel Winnipeg is not a terribly unique destination, but does provide the necessary “staging” area for the trip to Churchill to view the bears.

The following morning we departed the hotel for our two hour flight transfer to Churchill. This flight was the most seamless, pain free, e…

Fly Me to the Moon on Virgin Galactic's VSS Enterprise

History was made on October 10, 2010 when Virgin Galactic’s space ship VSS Enterprise completed her first manned solo glide and landing at Mojave Air and Spaceport in California.Virgin Galactic is now well on the way to becoming the world’s first commercial space line – and Largay Travel is playing an exclusive role in bringing the wonders of space travel to clients.  Largay Travel is the exclusive retail travel agency in Connecticut currently taking reservations for Virgin Galactic.  The Largay Travel Accredited Space Agents are part of Virtuoso’s ASA team which now comprises 75 travel advisors in 12 countries throughout the Americas and Australia. 

Amanda Klimak, VP of operations, joined 45 members from the USA, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Chile and Argentina at Virgin Galactic’s ASA Forum October 4-8 in New Mexico.  There the ASAs increased their knowledge of southern New Mexico as a tourist destination and learn more about the area’s historical connection to space exploration.

If you…

Travel + Leisure Puts Largay Travel on the A-List!

Travel + Leisure
VP/Publisher J.P. Kyrillos and Deputy Editor Laura Begley Bloom congratulated Paul Largay and 72 other Virtuoso® member travel advisors and preferred suppliers who are featured on Travel + Leisure’s 2010 A-List of Top Travel Agents at the Bellagiohotel in Las Vegas during Virtuoso’s annual Travel Mart conference on August 16th.   Selected by the editors of Travel + Leisure, Largay is one of 121 in an elite group of travel specialists who are on the ninth annual Travel + Leisure A-List.

“It is a true priveledge to be included for the seventh year in a row on this prestigious list.  I am both honored and humbled to be in the company of such amazing travel specialists.” said Largay in a recent interview.

For full details on the list, you can visit Travel and Leisure online at beginning September 15 and in print in the magazine’s October issue, available on newsstands September 24.

The Adventures of a Traveling Single Parent

Three years ago, when I moved into the world of single parenting, the idea of taking a vacation without backup seemed somewhat horrifying. How could I possibly manage two small children outside my beloved comfort zone of home sweet home? What if I lost one of them, what if they got sick while traveling or, even worse, what if they decided to throw a hissy fit in the middle of the airport terminal or on the plane? It all sounds somewhat obscure now, but at the time, these were all very, very real fears.

Travel that Truly Makes a Difference

Over the years I have taken many trips to Africa and each time I have tried to add some sort of community aspect to my trip.  Bringing supplies to school children in South Africa when visiting Ulusaba, visiting an orphanage in Kenya to finger paint while on a Micato Safari and delivering letters written by my children and their classmates to a school in Botswana were only a few of the ways I have tried to make a small difference.  Each time, my hope was to give a little back to the country and people that gave me such amazing life changing experiences and so graciously opened up their country to me.  But what happens if you are not traveling with a tour company like Micato Safari’s or Wilderness Safari’s, who offer a structured program which allow guests to help out?

The answer I found is a non-profit organization called Pack For A Purpose,   This website allows travelers to search for the destination and hotel they are visiting and get the name of a local com…

The Best Way to Experience All Kenya Has to Offer

Denise & Amanda enjoying a nice camel ride Two thousand and six was a challenging year for me.  Personal struggles had taken their toll and I began to feel like I was surrendering my usual upbeat personality.  I knew that something had to change and, like the rest of the “travel addicts” in our industry, an adventure was the perfect remedy to heal my soul.  For years I have

The Sky is the Limit for Adventure at the Skytop Lodge in the Poconos

Skytop Lodge in the Poconos has always been known for it’s traditional atmosphere and menu of outdoor activities. Hiking, biking, golf and tennis were some of the most popular activities and for the true outdoors-man, fly fishing at the Orvis fly fishing school, skeet shooting, skiing (both cross country and downhill) and a 400 foot toboggan run that takes sledders down a steep track and out onto the lake were just a few of the options. But over the past few years, Skytop has added some exciting new adventures and I, for one, was blown away by the fun.

The Perfect Holiday Weekend for the Whole Family

As a travel specialist, I am always on the hunt for something new and exciting for my clients. Often I am taken to the edges of the earth to some exotic locale to find the latest and greatest in the travel world, however, not everyone can get away for the time that is requird for these adventures, and sometimes, you just want a quick break from reality.

So, this holiday weekend, I decided to do just that……take a quick break from reality. Just a few hours from my home in Connecticut, Skytop Lodge in Pennsylvania is one of my favorite family retreats. Set on 5,500 acrea of private land in the Pocono Mountains, this majestic lodge, built in 1925, brings old world charm and adventure together. With a wonderful 18-hole golf course, Orvis fly-fishing school, extensive kids program, Adventure Center and much much more, this resort has something for everyone.

What I love about Skytop is that my stay includes all of my meals in one of the two restaruants on property and there is a menu of thi…

Magical Balloons on the Move

Last night I visited the Plainville Balloon Fest for the “balloon glow” at dusk and as always, I was truly mesmerized.  I’m not sure if it’s the size of the balloons, the spectacular colors or the sound of the blowers heating the air but either way, I am instantly transported back in time.  As a child growing up in New England, hot air balloons floating over our house were a common place occurrence.  Normally we would hear them, long before we would see them and often we would pile into our family wagon to join the chase vehicle following the balloon so we could witness the landing.

Now as a travel specialist I am often arranging balloon rides for my clients.  Floating high above the plains over the Maasi Mara in Kenya while on a Micato Safari, drifting slowly over Burgundy’s Medieval Castles and gazing onto the excitement of the Palio horse race in Sienna with Buddy Bombardare just a few of the adventures I have arranged through the years.  Each time my client return with amazing st…

Venturing to the Happiest Place in the World!

I have always dreamed of venturing to the furthest, most exotic regions of the earth and when a chance to visit Bhutan presented itself, I jumped at the opportunity.  What could be better than a country whose chief economical indicator is the GNH or the Gross National Happiness?  

As we left Delhi, we had great anticipation and a real sense of wonder for what lay ahead in Bhutan. The scene at the International terminal was much more chaotic than the domestic terminal. The airline recommendation was for coach class travelers to arrive three hours prior to departure and business class travelers to arrive two hours prior, so when we arrived and saw the scene at airport security, we quickly understood.  Had it not been for a friendly security guard taking pity on us, the flight would have left us behind and because of the limited schedule of Druk Airways (the national airline of Bhutan and ONLY carrier servicing the country) we would have been out of luck for at least (3) days.  The flig…

Rancho La Puerta, an Oasis of Rejuvenation

How does one describe Rancho La Puerta, an oasis in Tecate Mexico, a little over an hour south of San Diego, known for the finest year round climate? I’ve known about the ranch for many, many years so when I received an invitation to be their guest I immediately said, “Yes”. Last year some clients spent a wonderful week at the ranch, so this opportunity would allow me to form my own opinions and comparisons to other spas.

The Magnetic Charm of Day Two in Bhutan

The drama of the day built slowly as we finished our freshly cooked breakfast at Amankora, which is conveniently located in the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu.  The quality and variety of the menu items was very unexpected, but most appreciated and devoured. The anticipated day’s activities included a two hour climb to a sacred temple overlooking the valley and rushing river, followed by a mountain biking decent back into town to witness the weekly farmers market.  The market lasts for three days and is the place where all the villagers come to purchase their vegetables for the coming week.

Day Three in Bhutan and It's Time to Check Out the Shops

Our day started off with yet ANOTHER fabulous breakfast and early morning four hour hike to a sacred temple overlooking the village of Thimphu.  The weather was divine and was only exceeded by the views we had earned as a result of our assent.

Archery to Tradition Bhutanese Dinner on Day Six

Today has been completely monopolized by a six hour hike though some of the most beautiful and varied terrain imaginable. We trekked through river valleys, steep mountain passes and National Forrest lands that posed extremely tall majestic woodlands.  The altitude, over 10,000 ft., was at times a bit challenging, but with dogged determination, humor, and a wonderful picnic lunch we prevailed.

Some of the true highlights of the climb were witnessing up close and personal the endangered bird, the Black Neck Crane, and an archery competition between local villagers.  Archery is the national sport of Bhutan and it was very evident as we watched young and old successfully hit their ’marks’ from vast distances easily exceeding the length of a football field.

Feeding the Monks on Day Five in Bhutan

The wakeup call shattered the predawn serenity of our hotel room but we gladly arose as we were on a mission.  After friendly assistance with our local attire, we made our way to the monastery perched majestically on the hilltop to cook and serve breakfast for one hundred and twenty five monks.

Upon arrival we were graciously greeted by the head monk and led to the cookhouse whose working conditions presented some unusual challenges.  First, there was no electricity and the source of heat for the (50) gallon pots of water were open fire pits fueled by large logs harvested from a nearby forest.  After stoking the flames, we proceeded to the temple where we joined all the resident monks in morning prayers, chants, meditation and celebration.

In the Land of Thunder Dragon - Day Six Culture and History in Bhutan

After yet another picturesque, yet harrowing 3 hr + transit over the twisting and turning east and west highway we arrived at the ancient fortress in Punakha.  Upon arrival we were treated to one of the many unique and culturally ingrained charms of Bhutan, their festivals and pageantry of dances. As it was a regional holiday, all the local townspeople were in attendance at the fortress colorfully attired in their native dress. Many of the dances were either historical reenactments of events or religious beliefs. The choreography and kaleidoscope of pastel colors was remarkable and were told a microcosm of the events that transpire in the height of the annual festival season in September and October.

An Eight Hour Journey, on Day Eight of Bhutan, to a Temple Built by Queens

Today we have decided to once again physically challenge ourselves by undertaking an eight hour trek that took us through rice paddies, chili and cabbage fields, up to a hillside temple recently built in 1999, by the four queens of Bhutan (Kamsum Chorten).  Upon arriving we are all humbled by its beauty and artistic presence. The structure itself is flawlessly built and strategically positioned to capture a panoramic, commanding view of the entire valley. The interior was adorned and decorated with religious artifacts that have been hand crafted by skilled artisans to pay tribute to their Buddhist faith. This just might be the most beautiful religious shrine we’ve EVER seen.

Visiting a Temple in Bhutan

From Panche to Paro, On the Road to Bhutan's 'Tiger's Nest' - Day Eight

Upon arrival in Paro we anxiously, yet reluctantly prepare for a climb to the ‘Tiger’s Nest’ and are all excited for the opportunity to finally see and experience one of Bhutan’s most famous and revered monuments.  We are sad, however, as we know our remaining days in Bhutan are dwindling.  Upon arrival at the base we considered ourselves fortunate as the day is cloudless and the temperature is in the low 60’s.  Peering up at the sheer rock face some 3000 ft above the valley floor, the ‘nest’ appears to be magically suspended in midair.  The stark contrast between the gray, foreboding granite face of the mountain and the pristine, whitewashed exterior color of the building adds to the intrigue.  Throughout our pleasant two hour climb we were periodically teased and rewarded with spectacular glimpses of the nest as we round various corners of the trail.  The view and the personal satisfaction from the top is as expected, absolutely remarkable.

 Throughout our personal tour, we learned…

Hiking to the End of Our Epic Journey through Bhutan - Day Nine and Ten

By choice we saved the most physically demanding trek for last so after an early morning two hour transfer to the Ahh Valley, we climbed to 12,000 feet.  There we were unexpectedly greeted at the summit by strong winds and blowing snow.  We hung our blessed prayer flags and descended as quickly as possible and arrived back at the hotel nine hours after we began our climb. We were exhausted but jubilant, as we had endured steep, continuous grades, cold temperatures, and a wild bear encounters..yikes!

We subsequently attended a lecture by a reincarnate, which is a Buddhist follower who has reached enlightenment and was officially outside the wheel of life, but who unselfishly returned to earth to provide guidance and example to others.  We were so mesmerized by his words that we dined and chatted with him long into the evening.  This was a perfect ending to an auspicious beginning.

After nine glorious days we were all truly saddened to have to finally say goodbye to such a wonderful coun…

Best Bali Properties for the Amadari or "Peaceful Spirit"

I recently had the opportunity of visiting the exotic island of Bali. I disembarked in Padang Bai after a short but wonderful cruise on Regent Seven Seas Mariner from Singapore to Bali and chose to spend a few days in beautiful Bali visiting three Aman properties Amankila, Amandari and Amanusa.

Amankila is a short drive from Padang Bai where the Mariner had anchored and we tendered in. A cheerful, smiling  Budi Klong met us once we had gotten off the tender  and greeted us with the word Ibu before our names. In Indonesian Ibu means mother and everyone will greet you that way., After a short drive from Padang Bai we arrived at Amankila which means peaceful hill. It is set on a hill overlooking Lambak Strait in East Bali. Our suite, one of the 34 had a spectacular view of the sea and surrounding hillside with a private pool. Check-in is done in the suite which are like beach houses. Below the resort is it’s private sand beach and club. One can chose to walk or be driven in an open-air …

Finding a Place of Peace in Kenya

Two thousand and six was a challenging year for me.  Personal struggles had taken their toll and I began to feel like I was surrendering my usual upbeat personality.  I knew that something had to change and, like the rest of the “travel addicts” in our industry, an adventure was the perfect remedy to heal my soul.  For years I have been planning African safaris for clients and for years I had intended to visit myself but to no avail.  Brochures, pictures and stories from my mentors and African enthusiasts, Paul and Roland Largay, had me selling a destination that intrigued me, but for a multitude of reasons had thus far, eluded me.  With each successful African adventure I crafted, my knowledge grew but Uncle Roland (as he is known throughout the industry) would always remind me, “You have to go to truly understand.”  So in full Thelma and Louise style, my sister, Denise, and I began to prepare for our African adventure.

My overall goal was to experience Africa “Micato Safari style” …

Let Your Vacation Begin on the Airplane

Over the years I have trained myself to believe that my vacation truly begins the moment I touch down at a destination.  Driving to the airport, parking, waiting for my flight and sitting on the plane were nothing more than a necessary evil.  Sometimes painful and sometimes uneventful, it just wasn’t something I looked forward to.  Even when I was lucky enough to enjoy a business or first class seat, I never looked forward to my flight experience and reveled in my time onboard…. until I found the promise land in Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class.

With a new agreement and special pricing for our clients, I felt somewhat obligated to try out this service.  Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Atlantic’s founder, had always been known for creating those “over the top” experiences and I had to find out if he had once again lived up to his reputation for turning something ordinary into something extraordinary.  So I boarded my eighteen plus hour flight from New York to Johannesburg, South Africa, with…

A Smaller, Classy Cruise Experience and the Difference on the Symphony is 'Crystal Clear!'

As I arrived in Athens, the excitement was incredible.  We stayed in Athens for 1 night to view the Acropolis and the Parthenon.  It was as incredible as I thought it would be. The following day we were picked up at our hotel and brought down to the pier. Boarding was seamless and because of our great connection with Crystal I was able to board early! I don’t know how they do it but from the minute we boarded, snapped our picture for our I.D. they knew us by name.  Amazing!

The ship is simply beautiful and has just been refurbished. Cabins are comfortable and sitting on the balcony in the morning for that cup of coffee was a special time.

Mealtime was an extra treat.  Although the dining room served exquisite food, Nobu and Prego are the specialty restaurant and special is just what they are.  Reservations are needed but easy to obtain once you are on board.

I cannot say enough about the crew.  From the cabin steward to the Captain everyone was amazing.  A smile on the face and a ple…