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Showing posts from 2018

New Year’s traditions around the world

New Year’s traditions around the world By Damien Martin
     As we say goodbye to 2018 and welcome in 2019, we have a lot of travel plans for the coming year. We’re celebrating 50 years of helping clients make their travel dreams come true, and along the way we’ve picked up some favorite New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world. Here’s wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2019. Use some of these tricks from other cultures to ensure a prosperous new year.

     At the clock hits midnight, Spaniards eat a grape at each chime. The 12 grapes represent good luck in each month of the coming year. After midnight, the party really begins, as Spaniards take to the streets and pass around bottles of cava. In large cities, especially the capital of Madrid, they gather in the main squares and celebrate deep into the night. As the sun rises, they drink hot chocolate and eat churros before heading to bed for most of the day. Sounds like something we can get behind.

     It b…

Christmas traditions around the world

Christmas traditions around the world By Damien Martin
      No doubt your family has cherished holiday traditions, and we hope you have a safe and happy holiday season filled with on-time connections and free of travel delays. As much as you enjoy your traditions, we thought we’d share some of our Christmas favorites from around the world.


     Every year, the city of San Fernando plays host to the Giant Lantern Festival. From humble beginnings, the festival has expanded to the point where San Fernando is recognized as the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines” and the party lasts the second half of December. The lanterns have gotten bigger too, now 15 feet in diameter. Lantern makers wrap 5,000 light bulbs around steel frames. The frames are placed on barrels that serve as rotors to turn the lanterns in a shimmering display of light.


     Thirteen boisterous brothers known as the Yule Lads come down from the mountain cave 13 days before Christmas to delight and f…

Give the gift of travel

Give the gift of travel By Damien Martin
     Perhaps someone on your Christmas list who’s impossible to shop. Or maybe they’ve been dropping hints all year about how they need to get away. It could even be a white elephant gift you’re hoping ends up back in your hands. Whoever it’s for, the gift of travel will make for a lifetime of memories. You can contact us at or 800-322-9481 to get your gift certificate. In the meantime, here are some suggestions for what to use it on.

European cruise
     Set sail for the enchanting cities of Europe and immerse yourself in history. You can get a taste of several different cultures in one fell swoop or select a cruise that concentrates on one area, such as Italy or the Greek Isles. A longer departure can bring you from one end of the Mediterranean to the other, from the charms of Lisbon in the west to the ancient cities of the Levant in the east. In the interior, river cruises can take you through Eastern and Central Eur…

Top cooking classes

Top cooking classes By Damien Martin
     We’re smack in the middle of cooking season. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and with it the first round of feasting. Maybe you’re still working your way through leftover stuffing or making soup with turkey stock. If you haven’t already started, you may soon be deep in the throes of making Christmas cookies and other goodies. With Hanukkah under way, perhaps you’ve already churned out several loaves of Challah or several batches of latkes. Whether you’re trying to keep your skills sharp on vacation or learn how it’s done in a different culture, you’ll love these cooking classes with Virtuoso partners.

     Eatwith lets you start your morning by meeting an Italian grandmother in Florence’s central market, shopping for ingredients that you’ll make into a wonderful meal that afternoon. Spend time discovering Florence with a local and stop off for a nice glass of wine or coffee before getting down to business. Learn how to make homemade pas…

Top alpine lakes

Top alpine lakes By Damien Martin
      The onset of winter makes us want to curl up by a warm fire and stare out the window at a beautiful view. Of course, at these alpine lakes, there is plenty of outdoor activity all year-round as well. If you’re inclined to just relax with a hot beverage or get out and experience nature, these lakes make for perfect getaways.

Lake Lucerne
     With a fjord landscape, mild year-round climate and the city of Lucerne on its shores, Lake Lucerne is a Swiss delight in all seasons. The almost 7,000-foot summit of Mt. Pilatus looms over the lake and plays a key role in the history and folklore of Switzerland. The 44-square-mile lake and its surroundings are a playground for the recreation-mad Swiss, with winter sports in the mountains and biking and cycling along the shore in other seasons.

Lake Tahoe
     With clear water and a ring of mountains all around, Lake Tahoe is first and foremost a feast for the eyes. It has plenty to offer your other senses, to…

Things we’re thankful for

Things we’re thankful for By Damien Martin
     This week we gather with friends and family to celebrate what we mean to each other. We’ll reunite with loved ones and take a few days to relax, eat way too much and give thanks for all the gifts we’ve been fortunate to receive this year. Forecasts call for this to be the busiest Thanksgiving travel weekend in at least a decade, if not ever. At Largay, we’re certainly thankful and hopeful for on-time flights and no weather delays. Here are a few more of the things we’re most thankful for.

New destinations
     Whether it’s places such as Egypt and Turkey that are making a comeback or emerging destinations such as Sri Lanka, Colombia and Portugal, we’re always happy to go places we haven’t been before, or rediscover places that have changed drastically. Isn’t that the purpose of travel, after all? There’s nothing quite like stepping off a plane in a completely foreign place and just immersing yourself in your destination. With our partners o…

Destinations making a comeback

Destinations making a comeback By Damien Martin
     It’s a big world out there, and while every country has something unique to offer, political situations or natural disasters can put destinations out of commission for a while. Fortunately, these wonderful places are making a comeback.

      The land of the pharaohs was not safe for several years in the wake of the political upheaval of the 2011 Arab Spring. Thankfully, major tour operators have returned, bringing travelers to such world treasures as the pyramids of Giza, the temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel and cruising the Nile. Egypt tourism surged more than 40 percent in the first half of this year, signaling that a place so full of history the Romans considered it ancient, is retaking its rightful place on the world stage.

Turkey         Fears of ISIL presence near Turkey’s southern border coupled with a bombing at the Istanbul airport and coup attempt in the summer of 2016 made Turkey a no-go. Things have settled down, a…

Top multigenerational trips

Top multigenerational trips By Damien Martin
     We covered the best trips for solo travelers a couple weeks ago, so now that you’re relaxed or have a de-stressing trip to look forward to, let’s discuss the best trips to take the whole family on. Multigenerational trips have become increasingly popular the last several years. An informal poll of Largay advisors yielded some great response on the best multigen adventures for your family.

      Italy is great for everyone because there are so many different Italies. The history of major cities such as Rome, Florence, Milan and Venice is great for grandparents and students alike. Young adults will appreciate the romance and nightlife. There are perfect spots for coming together as a family in a villa. Rentals are typically weekly, and there are amazing countryside options in Tuscany and Umbria or the lake region in the north. Along the way, a great option to stop in medieval towns for a guided tour. From Puglia to Liguria, there are …

Europe’s under-the-radar ski spots

Europe’s under-the-radar ski spots By Damien Martin
     The Alps run across the heart of Europe, dividing north from south and providing venues for some of the skiing in the world. France’s Courchevel and the Swiss resorts of St. Moritz, Zermatt, Wengen and Murren have well-deserved reputations the world over for great slopes, après-ski and fine dining. As we’re always on the hunt for the off-the-beaten-path experiences, we thought we’d share our ski destinations in Europe that run a little bit under the radar.

    Separating the boot of Italy from the rest of Europe. South of them, it’s all pasta, pizza, fashion and seaside. Up in the Dolomites, there’s a much more rugged, Germanic feel. From one valley to the next, you might find an entirely different culture and even language, but you’ll always find great runs. Cortina d’Ampezzo -- which hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics -- Alta Badia and Val Gardena are the main resort areas, but there are a dozen or so spots wher you can’t…

Best trips for solo travelers

Best trips for solo travelers By Damien Martin
     Many vacations are about spending quality time with family, reconnecting with old friends or a romantic getaway with the one you love. Sometimes, though, you need a little time to rediscover yourself in a new place. This week, we focus on the best destinations for solo travel.

Wellness resorts
     Odds are you live a stressful life, and if you’re traveling alone, you’re probably looking to relax. There are retreats all across the U.S., from the Berkshires to Arizona, even Miami. How active you are is up to you. Spend the entire time at the spa being pampered if you want. Or expand your horizons with yoga, tai chi, even horseback riding. Even if the most exhilarating thing you do is ditch your phone for the weekend, it could help you recharge.


     Every place you go is like stepping into a different country. The culture, the food, the multitude of languages, there’s no much variety. Yet no matter where you go, you’ll find friendl…

Culinary adventures on five continents

Culinary adventures on five continents By Damien Martin
     One of the great pleasures of travel is leaving your diet at home and sampling the culinary delights your destination is famous for. Paella in Valencia, new Nordic in Copenhagen, street food everywhere: What you eat is a big part of the experience. A few of our Virtuoso partners have put together some fabulous journeys that will ensure your trip is excellent to the last bite.
     At the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Sicily has absorbed a lot of different cultures into its culinary history. Influences from Greeks, Spaniards, Normans and Arabs blend to form a rich cuisine. Sailing June 26, 2019, Ponant is offering a nine-day Sicilian Food & Wine Experience highlighting the arancini of Agrigento, Palermo’s revered street food and the pasta, sardines and eggplant of the islands east. The volcanic soil around Mt. Etna produces spectacular wines to wash it all down.

Chiloe Island, Chile
      Bespoke Journeys by Sportst…