Michelle Fridman, minister of tourism for the Mexican state of Yucatan, which includes Merida and Chichén Itzá, talks with Alan Fine of Insider Travel Report about the U.S. State Department allowing U.S. citizens to visit Mexico, now a category one destination. Fridman talks about the return of cruising and the viability of Merida Airport over more traveled Cancun Airport to visit Chichén Itzá, Mayan and colonial villages and 19 archeological sites. For more information, visit www.yucatan.travel.
What’s the future for travel agencies in the luxury travel space? How are they adapting with new products and services to serve their clientele? Will luxury travel agencies emerge even stronger after the pandemic? This panel of leading travel agency experts, which took place last month during our Virtual Vacation Expo-New Age of Luxury, takes on these questions. Moderator James Shillinglaw, editor-in-chief of InsiderTravelReport.com, talks with Jack Ezon, founder and managing partner of Embark Beyond; Michael Johnson, president of Travel Edge; Valerie Wilson, chairman of Valerie Wilson Travel; and Albert Herrara, chief commercial officer for Global Travel Collection.
Pascal Forotti, managing director of the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C., talks with Darley Newman, PBS travel host reporting here for Insider Travel Report, about his historic hotel next to the Potomac River and Georgetown. The hotel was renovated and reopened in 2016, featuring a whiskey bar with more than 350 types of whiskey in over 2,500 bottles. With next year being the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in of 1972, guests can visit or reside in room 214, the site of the Watergate scandal. Called the Scandal Room, it has been made into a museum of the 1970s and the events that happened there. For more information, visit www.thewatergatehotel.com.
Donald Contursi, president of Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, talks with Alan Fine of Insider Travel Report about hosting commissionable VIP dining experiences, including dinner, lunch, brunch and a drinking tour, where guests visit four top venues, tasting three to four signature dishes at each one, all led by highly knowledgeable tour guides. Contursi describes a tour that visited ARIA Resort & Casino and its restaurants Catch, Bardot Brasserie and Javier's, as well as Mastro's Ocean Club at CityCenter, where guests enjoy flamed sushi, bubbling cocktails and more. For more information, visit www.lipsmackingfoodietours.com.
Adam Stewart, executive chairman of Sandals Resorts, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about his late father’s impact on the all-inclusive resort business, and what he accomplished with Sandals and Beaches resorts. Stewart also reveals how he will run his luxury resorts going forward, including his growth plans for the future and what he hopes Sandals will become. This interview was originally broadcast as part of our Virtual Vacation Events-New Age of Luxury virtual show. For more information on Sandals, visit www.sandals.com.
Matthew Upchurch, chairman and CEO of luxury travel network Virtuoso, talks with James Shillinglaw about the state of luxury travel, the definition of luxury today, how experiences matter more than ever, and how the pandemic has changed luxury travel. This interview was part of our Virtual Vacation Events-New Age of Luxury virtual show held last month. Virtuoso will hold its own in-person and virtual event based in Las Vegas next month for the first time in two years. For more information on Virtuoso, visit www.virtuoso.com.
Karen Whitt, vice president-sales and marketing at The Hartling Group, which owns and operates the Shore Club and other resorts on Turks & Caicos, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report, about one of the most interesting and challenging group bookings at the resort during the pandemic—and you have to see this to believe it. She also provides an update on the property and how it’s fared during the COVID-19 restrictions. For more information, visit www.theshoreclubtc.com.
Aldo Sarnatoro, commercial director for Neos Air, talks with James Shillinglaw about his airline, Italy’s second largest, and its new route from New York JFK to Milan Malpensa. Neos offers international flights and domestic service within Italy and just might be one of the best ways to get to Italy today. For more information, visit www.neosair.it.
Geoffrey Weill, founder and owner of Geoffrey Weill Associates Inc., a travel public relations and marketing company based in New York, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report, about his new book “All Abroad: A Memoir of Travel and Obsession,” published by the Wisconsin University Press. Weill details how travel became is obsession and how it profoundly impacted his life. Follow him on Instagram @geoffrey_2050. His book is available on Amazon by searching for “All Abroad: A Memoir of Travel and Obsession.”
Soraya Al-Olama, assistant manager, North America for Dubai Tourism, talks with James Shillinglaw about how Dubai has fared during the pandemic, what the protocols are for American visitors, what tourism numbers look like, and how the upcoming Dubai Expo, set to begin in October this year, will help boost travel for Dubai and the UAE. For more information visit www.visitdubai.com.
Bonnie Lee, president and founder of Travel Quest Network, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about the Celestyal Cruises experience onboard Celestyal Crystal. Celestyal offers a unique destination immersion in the Greek islands and beyond with comfortable accommodations, great dining and surprisingly good entertainment. Get Bonnie's take on what Celestyal delivers in this interview. For more information, visit www.celeystalcruises.com.
Monja Salvati, cruise director on Celestyal Crystal, talks about the surprisingly good entertainment program onboard the ship, which specializes in delivering the islands of Greece and other destinations in the Eastern Mediterranean. Salvati details nightly performances featuring a Cuban cast of singers and dancers that your clients will certainly enjoy after their days touring the islands. For more information, visit www.celestyalcruises.com.
Derek Stewart, sales manager-global cruise partnership for American Airlines, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about how his airline forges agreements with ocean and river cruise lines to get your guests to their cruise. In a year following the pandemic, this means figuring out just how much lift is required to such destinations as Greece and other places where cruising has restarted. For more information, visit www.americanairlines.com.
Gordon Dirker, vice president of business development for Celestyal Cruises, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report aboard Celestyal Crystal about how you can better sell the Greek Island cruise experience that his company offers. Celestyal's focus is on delivering the islands of Greece and other destinations in the Eastern Mediterranean on a ship that features comfortable accommodations, good food and surprisingly good entertainment. For more information, visit www.celestyalcruises.com.
Lindsey Epperly, founder of Epperly Travel, and Julia Pirrung, founder of Jetset World Travel, talk with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about the reasons behind their combination and what the resulting luxury host travel agency, Epperly Travel, will deliver to high-end clients in the future. Epperly’s agency purchased Pirrung’s shop in a bid to get more independent travel advisors, increase training and education for those advisors, and grow business in the post-pandemic travel world. For more information, visit www.epperlytravel.com.
Vassilios Gazikas, director-marine operations, for Celestyal Cruises, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report aboard Celestyal Crystal about his line's fleet, which includes Celestyal Crystal, Celestyal Olympia and the upcoming Celestyal Experience (March 2020). Discover what Celestyal offers to guests with its unique series of sailings to the Greek islands and beyond. For more information, visit www.celestyalcruises.com.
Chris Theophilides, chief executive officer for Celestyal Cruises, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about how his Greek and Mediterranean specialist cruise line has restarted operations with two ships, with a third on the way in 2022. Celestyal offers multiple itineraries of the Greek islands and more using classic, comfortable ships with good food and surprisingly good entertainment. For more information, visit www.celestyal.com/us.
Sofia Zacharaki, deputy minister of tourism for Greece. talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about how her country is helping to get travelers back, what protocols are required to enter Greece, how the country has encouraged the restart of cruising and much more. For more information, visit www.mintour.gov.gr/en/archiki-english.
Stewart Weiner, chief operating officer of the Morgan Resort & Spa, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about his brand new property located on St. Maarten just minutes away from the airport. This sleek, thoroughly modern resort reflects a Miami Beach-like vibe complete with large suites, a great restaurant, spa and a designer pool directly on the ocean. And yes, you can watch all those the flights jetting into the island, too! For more information, visit www.themorganresort.com.
JP Roberts, general manager; Rachael Stroop-Elias, director of sales; Heather Karst, food and beverage general manager; and GR Boone, director of nightlife, talk with Alan Fine of Insider Travel Report about their upscale hotel and how they successfully counter-program the typical Nashville honky-tonk entertainment just around the corner. Dream Hotel Nashville features innovative food and drink, a crafty mixology bar, a dive bar called Snitch, a secret, hidden DJ-driven speakeasy called Dirty Little Secrets, and a high-octane party brunch.. For more information, visit www.dreamhotels.com/nashville.
Ralph Radtke, general manager and regional vice president at the Ciragan Palace Hotel Kempinski, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about his palatial property located in Istanbul directly on the Bosphorus. A former home to Ottoman royalty, Ciragan Palace has opulent accommodations, multiple fine dining options, a world-class spa and a large outdoor pool, plus great service. For more information, visit www.kempinski.com/tr/istanbul/ciragan-palace.
Ivana Klaric, general manager of the Cornaro Hotel in Split, Croatia, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about her well-located property featuring a wide variety of accommodations, dining venues and a signature rooftop bar overlooking the city. The Cornaro is also located just a block away from one of Split's main attractions, Diocletian's Palace, home to one of Rome's most notorious emperors. For more information, visit www.cornarohotel.com.
Siniša (Simon) Matković Mikulčić of Secret Hvar, a top tour guide to the popular Croatian island, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about what your clients can experience on Hvar, including the historic town of Star Grad, another town known as the “Venice” of Hvar, the town of Hvar itself, as well as the many great local restaurants and wineries on the island. For more information on Hvar, visit www.visithvar.hr.
Denis Martin, new general manager of Maslina Resort on the beautiful island of Hvar in Croatia, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about what his brand new luxury resort, already recognized by luxury travel publications and agency groups, offers in terms of accommodations, dining, spa and more. Maslina opened last August to wide acclaim and is now ready to host guests interested in discovering the many charms of Hvar. For more information, visit www.maslinaresort.com.
Zoran Pejovic, development director of the new Maslina resort, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about his luxury Relais & Chateaux property set into a hillside on the coast of Hvar island in Croatia. With 50 designer suites, unique modern architecture and furnishings, a gourmet restaurant and a large spa, this is a truly a destination resort on one of Croatia’s most beautiful islands. For more information, visit https://maslinaresort.com.
Petar Razovic, director of Hvar Tourist Board, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report on a tour of his island in Croatia. Hvar has a great history showcased in its main towns of Hvar and Stari Grad, wonderful wineries like Tomic, rustic restaurants serving regional specialties, great beaches and incredible scenery. For more information, visit www.visithvar.hr.
Martina Bienenfeld, CEO of the Zagreb Tourist Board, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about her city’s ambience and many attractions. Zagreb is a city of parks, gardens, restaurants and cafes, street markets, imperial architecture and unique museums. Think a quieter even more livable Vienna or Budapest, reflecting Zagreb’s Austro-Hungarian empire roots. For more information, visit www.infozagreb.hr.
Max Krizmanic, general manager of the Esplanade, the top hotel in Croatia’s capital of Zagreb, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report, about his luxury property’s accommodations, gourmet dining and location in the heart of the city. The art-deco Esplanade was once a key stop on the Orient-Express train and it carries on the traditions of a grand dame hotel. For more information, visit www.esplanade.hr.
Graeme Cockburn, corporate executive chef for Windstar Cruises, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about the new cuisine onboard the newly "stretched" Star Breeze, which will be installed in two more ships, Star Legend and Star Pride. Cockburn describes what goes into cooking the Spanish food in Cuadro 44 and the great BBQ in Star Grill by Steven Raichlen. It's all part of the even more luxurious Windstar experience that includes great food and wines. For more information, visit www.windstarcruises.com.
Ivan Maslac, commercial director of Dubrovnik Airport, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report, about the surge in flights to his Croatian airport from the U.S., including new service from Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, as well as other European carriers. American Airlines also is widely expected to introduce seasonal service as well. It’s all positioning Dubrovnik and Croatia for an expected tourism boom as we emerge from the pandemic. For more information, visit www.airport-dubrovnik.hr.
Culinary guru Peter Tobler, director of hotel operations for Windstar Cruises, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about the two new restaurants on the newly "stretched" Star Breeze, which will be installed in two more ships. Tobler describes the cuisine in Cuadro 44, a Spanish dining venue, and Star Grill by Steven Raichlen, an outdoor barbecue restaurant, plus how Windstar has upgraded its main Amphora restaurant, Veranda and Candals. It's all part of the even more luxurious Windstar experience. For more information, visit www.windstarcruises.com.
Ana Hrnic, director of the Dubrovnik Tourism Board, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about how her iconic destination is emerging after the pandemic. Known as a popular cruise stop and for being one of the locations used in the hit TV series “Game of Thrones,” Dubrovnik has long been one of the top places to visit in Croatia, and recently hosted the ASTA Destination Expo. For more information, visit www.visitdubrovnik.hr.
Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about how tourism is coming back to the historic Croatian city after a year of downturn. Frankovic, who spoke at last month's ASTA Destination Expo in Dubrovnik, showcases his city's many attractions and new promotions to get tourism back but keep overtourism from returning. For more information, visit https://visitdubrovnik.hr.
Steven Simao, vice president of sales for Windstar Cruises, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report aboard the newly refurbished and stretched Star Breeze, the first of three ships that the cruise line is revamping to include 50 more suites, a larger spa, two new specialty restaurants and a larger pool. Simao offers strategies for travel advisors on how to sell Windstar's new luxury vessels. For more information, visit www.windstarcruises.com.
Slaven Zabo, director-commercial division for Croatia Airlines, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about how visitors to Croatia can best get around the country using his carrier’s convenient service linking major Croatia cities and towns, as well as top European hubs. With modern, clean and efficient airports, a comfortable fleet of small and mid-sized aircraft, Croatia Airlines can get your clients to all of the country’s hot spots. For more information, visit www.croatiaairlines.com.
Chris Prelog, president of Windstar Cruises, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report aboard the newly renovated Star Breeze, the first of three Windstar ships to be “stretched” to accommodate more guests, house more specialty restaurants and feature a bigger spa. Prelog details what the ship’s 50 new suites offer, the new Cuardo 44 Spanish restaurant and the new Star Grill by Steve Raichlan, the revamped spa, and other additions to Star Breeze as Windstar puts the focus on even more luxury for guests. For more information, visit www.windstarcruises.com.
Kristjan Stanicic, director of the Croatian National Tourist Board, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report at last month’s ASTA Destination Expo in Dubrovnik about what Croatia offers as a travel destination, including magnificent cities, islands, history, culture, food and more. Stancic also talks about the significance of the ASTA Destination Expo to Croatia as we emerge from the pandemic. For more information about Croatia, visit www.croatia.hr.
Zane Kerby, president and CEO of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about his group’s Destination Expo, which was held in Dubrovnik, Croatia last month after being postponed twice because of the pandemic. Kerby celebrates an event for 150 top travel advisors that was one of the first of its kind after the COVID-19, immersing ASTA travel advisors in all things Dubrovnik and all things Croatian. For more information, visit www.asta.org.
Scott Sibella, president of Resorts World Las Vegas, talks with Alan Fine of Insider Travel Report about his brand new casino-hotel property, which includes three Hilton brands, 40 dining venues, shopping, great entertainment, and a lively 5.5 acre pool deck. It’s the newest property on the Las Vegas Strip and it’s ready for its close-up. For more information, visit www.rwlasvegas.com.
Jeff Miller, our travel attorney expert, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about how the hotel industry has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis, including why hotel rates first fell then rose, the shortage of hotel staff, lower service levels, why some hotels have been shuttered completely, and what travel advisors and their clients should be concerned about as we emerge from pandemic. To reach Jeff Miller, email firstname.lastname@example.org.