Monday, January 30, 2017

Local travel firm Largay takes flight

Local travel firm Largay takes flight

If you are among the believers that the internet killed the local travel agency you’re about to be proven wrong.
Well, at least that’s the case for Largay Travel Inc. in Waterbury, started in 1969 by Roland Largay at a time before the infancy of the web and ability to instantly purchase airline tickets and book hotel rooms from your iPhone.
Paul Largay, Roland Largay’s nephew, joined the business in 1982, also a time when the business model was different. “What is really unique and kind of neat about it is I grew in the Waterbury area and I have always been a very large part of the Waterbury community and this business has really blossomed because of the community,” said Paul Largay, chief executive officer. “Like every industry there are some challenging times we have gone through in 48 years, but the business has never been stronger.”
Largay said the business started with just two people and a dream. Now nearly a half-century later they employ 100 and have a network and cadre of clients all over the world. On Friday the Waterbury Regional Chamber will honor Largay Travel as its 2017 Small Business of the Year at the 20th annual Harold Webster Smith Awards breakfast.
The company is a branch of the Tzell Travel Group and Virtuoso network of trusted travel specialists. The company’s expertise is in soft-adventure leisure programs, including hiking, biking, ballooning, family travel, worldwide deluxe cruising and African safaris, the chamber stated.
Lynn Ward, president and chief executive officer of the Waterbury Regional Chamber, said the chamber’s Small Business Council chose Largay Travel to receive the recognition for their ingenuity in their business.
“They are very active in the community and they are a business that was started many years ago that has continued within the Largay family and they have had very successful growth over the years with the changes in industry,” she said. “I think a lot of people are misinformed of the travel industry, about the benefits of working with an agent who is educated and experienced in the business of travel.”
Largay said being selected as Small Business of the Year is “absolutely humbling and incredibly exciting.”
“I knew Harold Smith from a very young age and I always admired his professional and civic engagement in the community,” Largay said
Largay said their business model changed greatly since he started in the business. Back then their value was a monopoly on travel information, airline tickets and peoples access to it.
“If you wanted to go away, or even buy an airline ticket, you had to go to Largay Travel, or a ticket office,” he said. Those functions have been replaced with the likes of and other online ticket companies, but the core of the business hasn’t changed.
“People say ‘didn’t the internet put you out of business?,” he said. “Because of the internet, people have access to empirical information about destinations, but they don’t have the ability or filter to take general information and distill it down to recommendations that are relevant to them. That is where we have harnessed this opportunity.”
Largay acts as a “mother ship” to agents in all 50 states. They provide resources, connections, relationships and back office functions, like accounting in Waterbury that allows the agents to focus on tailoring a trip for the client.
“We are focused on creating a community,” he said. “Before the internet if you wanted to expand your market you had to either acquire another agency or put up another brick-and-mortar facility because at that time you had a 20 mile radius around your base of information. Now the thing that was supposed to put us out of business is the source of new business. 90 percent of our clients, we have never met.”
That includes clients in Africa, Australia and the Middle East. “What has happened is the internet has now provided ostensibly a conduit through which these people seek us out. They don’t care what ZIP code you are in so long as they can access you through the internet or a phone call,” he said.
Largay said his uncle was focused on establishing and maintaining relationships rather than looking at people as transactions, and that has paid off.
“When people recognize you don’t just look at them as a transaction … but as individuals first and clients second they beat a path to your door,” he said. “We focused on creating a community.”

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

An epic journey to celebrate life together

An epic journey to celebrate life together
by Silvanna Frappier

 Our unique adventure with Windstar cruises through Athens, the Greek islands of Monemvasia and Gythion, the Italian treasures of Lipari, Sicily, Amalfi, and Rome. Here we tell all of it’s history and culture, through pictures and paragraphs. So here I invite you to travel together with me on this amazing itinerary with the luxury small cruise Windstar through Enchanting of Greece and the Amalfi Coast! The land of Goddess Athena, the Spartans and Gladiators. If you haven’t been yet, it should be on your bucket list!

What better way to remember each of your years together than to take a trip together? Travel can be a rewarding experience. A vacation is a much deserved treat, and weathering any unexpected challenges together will provide you anecdotes and memories for your lifetime as a couple.
Anniversary should fill you with happy memories of the time you have spent together and joyful thoughts of years still to come.
Visiting places, people and experience the best the world has to offer, was exactly what my husband Marc and I choose to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.
It also lead us into the decision of how we want to write the next chapter of our story together while staying closer to our love.

 Our first stop was beautiful Athens, a vibrant city full of life and history. The trip to Greece was particularly special because, the memories came flooding back from the childhood (when I was in school)..specially the history classes and all the names of famous Greek people like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, and off course not to forget ‘Troy’, the famous ‘Trojan War’, Achilles, Paris and all the other characters the jumped right from the history book.

 During our stay in Athen we choose the fabulous Hotel Grande Bretagne. I know that boutique hotels are all the rage and I have been known to stay at many of them, but there is something so special about stepping into a historic European hotel. Walking inside the Hotel Grande Bretagne is like walking back into the Athens of yesteryear in all the right ways. Opened in 1874, it lies in Syntagma Square – the true historical heart of Athens. How can you not love a hotel room that greets you with a bottle of Ouzo, olives and sesame breadsticks! It is practically inviting you to party! They had upgraded us from a standard double to a deluxe, which I found out meant there were french doors leading out to a balcony overlooking the square and the Pathernon. The view my friends, THE VIEW! Also I can’t forget that all that VIP treatment came with a private check area that waited for us with a glass of the most cool champagne; Heaven!
From here we move to our next stop: Meet Monemvasia, a hidden ‘Fortress Town’ nest on an island in Greece.

We’ve seen a few hidden towns throughout our travels, but never one quite as beautiful as the town of Monemvasia. Monemvasia’s name means “single entrance” in Greek. The “hidden” spot boasts a massive Byzantine fortress (hence the nickname “fortress town”).
The island was initially settled on the top of the plateau, which is now referred to as the “Upper Town”. Gradually the settlement spread down the hill, and thanks to its uniquely well-defended position, developed into a powerful town.  By the 18th century, Monemvasia went into decline until it was re-discovered by tourists in the 1970’s.

Next stop: Mystras a driving distance from Gythion, One of my favorite places in Greece, in the southern Peloponessos. Mystras, the ‘wonder of the Morea’, was built as an amphitheater around the fortress erected in 1249 by the prince of Achaia, William of Villehardouin. Reconquered by the Byzantines, then occupied by the Turks and the Venetians, the city was abandoned in 1832, leaving only the breathtaking medieval ruins, standing in a beautiful landscape.

After having so much in Mystars is time to move on to one of my favorites of all times, Taormina, Sicily!

Taormina is Sicily’s most sophisticated summer destination. From boutique hotels to chic stays, the town is extremely touristy, yet preserving its charm. We loved the medieval churches and the small streets where you can have Insolia wine at Arts Cafes, shop for antiques and handcrafted souvenirs. The vast choice of restaurants is overwhelming. You cannot miss the Teatro Greco, as close to perfect for an ampipheatre, it is Roman in origin going back to the 1st Century AD. The colonnaded backdrop will give you a view which will leave your speechless. At lunchtime we head into Mt Etna for a visit at the Gambino winery. Nestled in Linguaglossa on the slopes of Mt. Etna, this is one of the most beautiful wineries we have ever visited.

Lipari was also very interesting place and so worth the visit. Hiking Volcano was definitely the highlight of the stop here. Lipari is the largest and main island of the group. Salina is known as the green island while Panarea is the party island and Stromboli is famous for it’s active volcano. As the name suggests, Vulcano was once an active volcano. All are different but all have the same black beaches and rocky coastlines.

We are getting to the end of your voyage and arriving in Rome.  During our stay in Rome we choose nothing less then the Regina Hotel Baglioni. Espectacular! The Regina Hotel Baglioni, which takes its name from the previous royal resident, was once home to Queen Margaret of Savoy and is now part of the family owned Baglioni Hotel Group. The luxury Italian hotel is perfectly located in the heart of the city on Via Veneto, one of Rome’s most famous streets made notorious by the iconic film La Dolce Vita, the Regina Hotel Baglioni is the ideal place to stay during your Italy vacation in Rome. The Hotel encapsulates the essence of ‘La Dolce Vita’… beautifully as it is designed with a fusion of traditional Italian style with an Art Deco twist, evoking an air of Italian elegance and class.

I absolutely love Rome, there is so much to see and do and without having to walk or travel too far. I love the surprises that are hidden around corners and the sheer beauty and awesomeness of the buildings and architecture. It is a great city to visit, anytime of the year, especially for a milestone celebration, after all Rome is the perfect plave to sa “Te Amo”
Ciao a Tutti!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Emotions Enhance Memory

Emotions Enhance Memory
by Damien Martin

Close your eyes and think of your most vivid memory. Got it? Good. What did you feel in that moment? Joy? Heartache? Odds are, you can recall almost exactly how you felt because you were experiencing powerful emotions.

It’s no secret that people remember emotional events well, but a study by New York University recently published in Nature Neuroscience has found that these events have a “hangover” effect. This means that right after an intense experience, we remember little things better too.

That explains why I could tell you all about the friendly bartender who let us take our bottle of wine outside to celebrate along the Seine the night I proposed to my wife in Paris. It’s also why I remember the smell by the river causing us to cut the evening short. The point is, I remember everything about that trip, not just the big moment.

That’s what makes entrusting your memories to the Virtuoso travel advisors at Largay such a wise investment. Paris is Paris. The view
from atop the Eiffel Tower will be breathtaking no matter how you get up there. But what else will you remember? Will you remember waiting in a seemingly endless line, or will you remember breezing right past that line and going straight to the top? Will you remember wondering what buildings you’re looking at, or will you remember your guide telling you in detail the history of each? Will you remember wandering around afterward looking for a decent cafĂ©, or will you remember the delicious meal at a restaurant your advisor recommended? After all, they’re your memories for the rest of your life. Create them wisely.