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“Brought to You By Lush Experiences”

Vol. CLXVIIII – April 13, 2021

The Lead In…

From My Inbox,

While many of us in travel and in other professions rely on what we consume from television, print and online news, outlets, I’ve developed a different source for news…my Inbox. Sure, for the past year keeping up with the news has been critical to what we do on daily basis. Yes, the art of defining what is accurate, relevant and useful in order to provide guidance to both suppliers and advisors is close to being considered now a divine virtue. Regardless of the debate about who knows what and what that means for the next week, month or quarter, I have found that my Inbox provides real-time, realistic information from those closest to my profession and to me. And of recent, my Inbox is trending toward more positive outlooks and while I remain guardedly optimistic, it’s hard to argue with what my Inbox is telling me and I hope you too.

One of the more prominent positive headlines circulating the last couple of weeks in the broad news and in my Inbox is Greece’s plan to open its borders to tourism this Summer. And, while this is still being met with deserved reserve; my Inbox has seen a steady stream of inquiries and even confirmed bookings for this destination, bringing back happy memories of good ole 2019. My Inbox is experiencing a discernable uptick not only in bookings but also advisors’ requests for direct one-on-one education to harness knowledge of a product and destination, signaling a reigniting of purpose to sell travel “like the good old days.” My Inbox is helping breath life back into my personal eco- system composed of, “teach, offer, book and welcome.” Each new message gives me the energy and an opportunity to get other colleagues excited about travel’s prospects in the months ahead.

So as we continue to refresh our News apps for travel updates and try our best to plan ahead without the benefit of a crystal ball; I have decided to closely monitor and read deep into my Inbox for the real news from those who matter most to me and my livelihood. I hope others will see the wisdom and hope in their Inboxes as well.

                                                • Angel Mejia

Travel News

  • Smarter Travel – CDC Gives OK for Vaccinated People to Travel Again…The time has finally come!
  • Luxury Travel Advisor – CDC OKs Fully Vaccinated Americans To Travel…Another version
  • CNN – Dr. Fauci weighs in on flying…it is a small risk …Watch here
  • CNN – There’s a lot of debate about vaccine passports right now. What are they, and how would they work?…Watch here
  • CNN – Biden Set to Announce He’s Moving Deadline for all US Adults to Be Eligible for Covid Vaccine to April 19. Read More
  • CNN – US hits 4 million Covid-19 vaccine doses in a day for a new record…Read Here
  • Yahoo News – U.S. on Pace to Be 1st Major Country to Vaccinate 75% of Population. Read More
  • The Hill – Delta Cancels Over 100 Flights as Pandemic Travel Soars. Read More
  • Financial Times – Ministers Announce Covid Testing Plan to Reopen Travel from England. Full Story

Best Practices

  • Travel Agent Central – New York is First State to Launch Digital Covid-19 Platform. Read More
  • Insider Travel Report – American Debuts Quarantine-Free Travel to Italy and More Pre-Flight COVID-19 Testing…The Full  Story

On a Positive Note

  • Insider Travel Report – New Survey Finds U.S. Airlines Expected to Make Full Recovery by Early 2022. Full Survey Results

Observations

  • CNN – The Great Depression Led to Many of the Hobbies We Enjoy Now. The Pandemic Created a Whole Host of New Ones. Read More
  • Wall Street Journal – 15 CEO’s Reflect on Lessons from Their Pandemic. Read More
  • New York Times – My Life in Israel’s Brave New Post-Pandemic Future. Read More
  • The New Yorker – Sweden’s Pandemic Experiment. Full Story
  • New York Daily News – Flying in the face of the law: United Airlines seems to be violating the spirit of the CARES Act. Read how here
  • NBC News – Office Buildings Are Opening. Not All Employees Want to Return. Read More

“Brought to You By Lush Experiences”

Vol. CLXVIII – April 6, 2021

The Lead In…

Throughout the week we have been following along as the CDC has slowly begn releasing highly anticipated updates for those who are fully and partially vaccinated, Including the great news that people who are full vaccinated against Covid-19 are at a very low risk when traveling. For international travel, fully vaccinated people don’t need a Covid-19 test prior to travel — unless it is required by the destination — and do not need to self-quarantine after returning to the United States. Travelers should still have a negative Covid-19 test before boarding a flight to the US, and a follow up test three to five days after their return, the CDC noted. There was no change for those who are unvaccinated.

These long awaited measures are a sign of comfort for many looking towards a return to travel, but with only 17% of Americans fully vaccinated and another 30% receiving at least one dose the CDC and Dr. Fauci have continued to stress that it is imperative to continue with life saving measures including social distancing and most importantly mask wearing. This has caused a bit of an uproar from some circles, wondering if vaccines are really the answer, or just frustrated that after battling complicated processes to receive their shots, was it worth it? Of course, these questions are a bit short sighted. It is clear to see that the CDC and our government are balancing carefully between two narratives. One, which I feel is paramount is safety. Keeping people engaged after a long year of mask wearing, restrictions, and to be fair contradicting information.  Second, trying to reassure people, and specifically those who are vaccinated, that yes this long arduous journey is nearly over and being vaccinated will provide you with immense protection.

This tight rope act was very clear this week when after releasing an encouraging study showing that people with the vaccine are unlikely to spread the disease and that even after one dose you are aptly protected that the CDC today began to walk back. Saying, that yes, the numbers are promising on both fronts, but that we cannot let our guard down. Nothing is 100% certain with so little data.

We are in a difficult situation, where we must steer the ship towards the future while not going too fast and abandoning all that got us to this point. With President Biden doubling his goal for vaccinations in his first 100 days, vaccine supplies beginning to catch up to demand and finally expanded eligibility throughout the country for adults, the divide between the haves and have nots is shrinking and there is certainty that all this good news will come with fewer caveats as we move through the coming weeks and months.

– Joe Decker

Travel News

  • Today – New ‘COVID passport’: An exclusive first look…View the Segment
  • Reuters – Pfizer, Moderna Covid-19 Vaccines Highly Effective after First Shot. Read More
  • Wall Street Journal – Pfizer-BioNtech Covid Vaccine is 100% Effective in Study of 12 to 15 Year Old’s. Read More
  • CBS News Fauci Warns Against a Potential New Covid-19 Surge. Read More
  • New York Times – Leaders Call for International Treaty to Combat Future Pandemics. Read More
  • CNBC – Mutations Could Render Current Covid Vaccines Ineffective in a Year or Less. Read More
  • CNN Health – A dangerous coronavirus variant is a wreaking havoc in parts of Europe. Experts fear US could be next. Read More
  • The Hill – Vaccine Enthusiasm Continues to Rise Among US Adults. Read More
  • Wall Street Journal – New Yorkers Age 30 and Up Can Get Covid-19. More here
  • CNN – Biden administration helping develop standards to prove vaccination…See here
  • CNN – Biden says 90% of adults will be vaccine eligible in three weeks…View here
  • Wall Street Journal – Airline Summer Travel Schedules Are Still Up in the Air.  Read More

Best Practices

  • Masia at El Palace – El Palace in Barcelona is offering guests the opportunity to feel at home and explore true local gastronomic journey in the rooftop garden. Read More
  • The Today Show – With an 87% increase in home employment, here is how to decode digital body language during video calls…Watch video here
  • Luxury Travel Advisor – The Shore Club on Long Bay Beach won against some tough competition in Luxury Travel Advisor’s 2021 Most Instagrammable Hotel competition. Congratulations to the entire team!
  • Conde Nast Traveler – The Best Facials in London: Flemings Mayfair X Pietro Simone Skincare at the Hotel’s New Private Clinic. Read More

On a Positive Note

  • The Local – Switzerland to remove US and UK from quarantine list…Read More
  • Insider Travel Report – United Adds Direct Flights Starting Memorial Day Weekend. United will resume flights between Chicago and Tokyo’s Haneda airport and increase service from Los Angeles to Sydney and Tokyo Narita. Across the Atlantic, United will resume service between Newark and Milan and Rome as well as between Chicago and Amsterdam, Munich and Tel Aviv. Read More

Observations

  • CNN Health – It is Possible to Reach Herd Immunity, then Lose It. Repeatedly. Here’s What You Can Do to Help Prevent that From Happening. Read More

“Brought to You By Lush Experiences”

Vol. XLVIII – March 30, 2021

The Lead In…by Christina Willett

This past weekend was the first to feel like Spring and there was energy and excitement swirling in the air, giving people feelings of hope and possibility after a long and pent up year. Advisors in every single territory are reporting that their phones are ringing more and more, a beautiful sound that’s undoubtedly music to ALL our ears! Advisors are continuing to focus on what they can book now, while simultaneously hitting the refresh button for border opening announcements in destinations like St. Barths, Greece and Europe at large. To keep the positivity train going, this was also a week of sweet recognition for many of our mutual friends as Conde Nast Traveler announced their top travel specialists of 2021 and social media erupted with celebration.

While some advisors are raring to go, I’ve also seen some interesting conversation from others who are battling with getting back in the game after a year like last, a year that really cut them off from the parts of the job that give them the most joy. While there’s overflowing happiness from the uptick in calls; emotionally, the return to “business as usual” is charged for some, leaving them wondering if they’ve lost their groove a bit. Some advisors are grappling with the thought of going back to work 24/7, back to middle of the night e-mails, and obsessing over their clients, after having a taste of a slower paced schedule. Many are now charging fees if they weren’t already, they’re setting boundaries and planning to be more selective with their time and where they spend their emotional currency.

Travel News

  • CNN – Fully Vaccinated People Can Visit Unvaccinated Family and Friends but One Household at a Time. Full Article
  • Insider – A Health Expert Says You Can Travel After the First Dose of Pfizer or Moderna’s Vaccine, but You Should Still Avoid Crowds. Full Article
  • CNN – Spring Breakers Spark New COVID Concerns. Full Article
  • Inside Travel Report – Travel Industry Groups Ask White House to Set Timeline to Reopen International Travel. Full Article
  • SimpleFlying – United Airlines Cuts its Transatlantic Capacity for Q3. Full Article
  • Wall Street Journal – Cruise Lines Fear Another Lost Summer. Full Article
  • CNN – Vaccine Passports May Save Europe’s Summer, but Only for the Lucky Ones. Full Article
  • NY Times – Where Europe Went Wrong in its Vaccine Rollout, and Why. Full Article
  • Travel Pulse – US Reportedly Considering Lifting Canada, Mexico Border Closures in May. Full Article
  • Yahoo – US Covid Cases are Climbing Again. The Same Thing Happened in Israel Before Vaccination Crushed the Variants. Full Article
  • CNN Health – As Some States Open Covid-19 Vaccines to All, Many Others are Still Weeks Away. Full Article

Best Practices

  • The Verge – DoorDash Will Let You Order at Home Covid-19 Testing Kits Delivered to your Door. Full Article

On a Positive Note

  • Ray Pierce – United CEO Explains Why He Thinks There Will Be More Travel Going Forward. Read More
  • Travel Pulse – Travel Advisors Lean on Facebook Groups During the Pandemic. Read More

Observations

  • The Conversation – People Gave Up On Flu Pandemic Measures a Century Ago When They Tired of Them and Paid a Price. Full Article

“Brought to You By Lush Experiences”

Vol. XLVII – March 23, 2021

The Lead In…by Angel Mejia

Greetings from the Lush corner of New York, where Spring begins to tease us, and it mirrors the mood within our travel industry for the growing anticipation of a rebirth. With a great sense of hope and optimism we are thrilled to report that four of our staff have each been shot once by Pfizer! This has renewed our team’s enthusiasm as we plan to bring ourselves (and you) back in front of our travel friends in a safe and responsible manner soon– no Zoom link or good wi-fi required.

I am pleased to confirm that we continue to see an increase in bookings that range from very short-term windows for destinations currently open to US travelers as well as, for Europeans as early as mid-Summer and as far out as 2022.

Some fresh travel trends that continue to circle are Safety, Pods (Bubbles), Value and the anticipation of a second Roaring ‘20s . During one Virtuoso agency’s annual meeting town hall, they shared that they have seen 115% growth for private retreat bookings and 187% growth for private aviation bookings.

As the sliver of light continues to grow each day and we work tirelessly to figure out how to continue to be present for you, we thank you for your support. It may continue to be bumpy for a bit longer, but we are ready and determined to carry out this journey. If someone is looking for a little bit of INSPIRATION I invite you to listen to one of my favorite motivational speakers: Brene Brown on What Gets in the Way? from Virtuoso Travelmart 2011.

Travel News

  • TODAY – Is flying safe now? Answers to your burning COVID-19 travel questions…Read More
  • TODAY – New COVID Passport: An Exclusive First Look. Watch
  • Smarter Travel – Will Europe Be Open to Americans This Summer? Read More
  • Wall Street Journal – Europe Confronts Covid Rebound as Vaccine Hopes Recede…Read More
  • New York Times – New coronavirus cases are declining in countries with high vaccination rates. Then there is Europe…Read More
  • Marketwatch – Moderna starts COVID-19 vaccine candidate testing on children, as U.S. cases and deaths tick up…Read More
  • Washington Post – E.U. Unveils Vaccine Passport Plan to Enable Summer Travel. Read More
  • Skift – Hospitality Companies Follow Pandemic Demand by Offering Villa Rentals. Read More

Observations

  • CNN – 10 lessons learned in a year of lockdown…Read More
  • Yahoo!Life – The 1 question you should never ask others about their COVID-19 vaccine…Read More
  • Indagare – Covid Travel Outlook for 2021. Read More

Best Practices

  • Wall Street Journal – How Israel Became the World Vaccine Leader… Read More
  • Insider Travel Report – Delta Offers More Quarantine Free Flights to Italy From New York-JFK to Milan and Rome. Read More

On a Positive Note…

  • KFGO News/White House – U.S. transport chief upbeat on summer travel as vaccines rolled out…Read More
  • Yahoo!News – Pfizer to deliver 200 million vaccine doses to EU in second quarter…Read More
  • Insider Travel Report – Travel Leaders Survey Finds Surprising Percentage of Travelers Are Already Vaccinated…Read More
  • Reuters – U.S. green light for AstraZeneca vaccine could come in April, independent monitors assessing data – US official…Read More
  • Yahoo!News – Half of All UK Adults to Have Received a COVID Vaccine by This Week…Read More
  • Travel Pulse – Greece Will Reopen to Vaccinated Tourists in May. Read More

“Brought to You By Lush Experiences”

Vol. XLVI – March 16, 2021

The Lead In

With all this talk about vaccines, I thought I’d take a jab at this week’s lead in…

The CDC made a big announcement on Monday, but for now travel warnings remain unchanged, the CDC is advising fully inoculated people not to travel.  However, all the agents I have spoken to recently have told me how good it feels to be somewhat busy for the first time in a while. With more than 20 million Americans having received at least one dose of the vaccine as of March 1st and the government aiming to have most adults vaccinated by summer, with a target date of May 1 for all adults (close to 300 million people) in the US to be eligible to receive one, people are walking around with a bit more confidence these days that some normalcy is coming around the corner.

Lord knows it’s time, we have been waiting for what seems like forever, but it is interesting to think about the reality of how this will play out for travelers. How can we, as an industry, plan for what lies ahead in the second half of the year.  Obviously, these predictions do not come easily as so many factors are in play. The vaccine, or this layer of comfort we have been long anticipating, has hopeful travelers beginning to think about visiting Europe this summer and fall.  The pressing question is, however, will there be a travel boom like has been predicted or will there be a slower evolution back to business.

One major factor that will influence how this plays out once international countries open and vaccines cards are in hand, is will the airlines be ready? Either they will be prepared to add flights to accommodate this increased volume or airline tickets will become awfully expensive.

If the latter is the case, it means only the super wealthy will be our travelers, at least at first until the demand is consistent enough for the airlines to make permanent changes and additions to handle the demand. Therefore, the start could be slower than originally anticipated.  Due to this, the Caribbean may see the biggest jolt in business initially as their flights have been on a relatively consistent schedule this past year.

People are most certainly ready, desire is there, but it will be a matter of the ease in which they can get out there and get back to normal. This week I planned my first in person sales calls since summer and let me tell you how nice it has been to hear the warm welcome from agents and hear their desire to have visitors again, I for one, can’t wait to get back to business…

Travel News

  1. Travel Weekly – Dropped by Virtuoso, Travel Edge joins the TripArc consortium. Read More
  2. Smarter Travel –  TSA Plans for Summer Travel Surge. Read More
  3. Luxury Travel Advisor – American Rescue Plan Provides Some Support for Hospitality Sector. Read More
  4. Business Insider –  A new lab study shows troubling signs that Covid-19 shots are far less effective against the variant first found in South Africa. Read More
  5. Reuters – Pfizer/BioNtech says Covid-19 vaccine likely to prevent asymptomatic infection. Read More
  6. Washington Examiner – Travel restrictions won’t be lifted until more people vaccinated. Read More
  7. CNN Business – The Pandemic Forced a Massive Remote-Work Experiment. Now Comes the Hard Part. Read More
  8. CNN – Airline Industry Pushes Back on CDC Guidance that Vaccinated People Still Should Avoid Travel. Read More
  9. Wall Street Journal – Johnson & Johnson’s Single-Dose Covid-19 Vaccine Approved by EU Drug Regulator. Read More
  10. New York Times – A Year Later, Restaurants and Tourism Destinations Adapt to Covid. Read More
  11. New Republic – Are we Ready for the Return of Mass Tourism? Read More
  12. Travel Agent Central – Required Quarantine for Domestic Travel to New York Ending April 1. Read More
  13. Travel Agent Central – Florida and Mexico Dominate Spring Break Destinations. Read More

Best Practices

  • With everyone in quarantine this past year, we have all found and rediscovered passions from cooking to binging the latest hit tv show. That has never been more apparent than the sensation of Netflix’s Emily in Paris created last year. To help bring the show further to life for its fans, Deluxe France has crafted an itinerary and guide to immerse yourself in the settings of the show.
  • Eden Roc Cap Cana is proud to announce that it has become Sharecare Healthy Security Verified with Forbes Travel Guise. The comprehensive facility verification helps ensure that guests and travel planners can book with confidence at properties that have appropriate health and safety procedures in place. This verification comes with an easily identifiable “seal of approval”. Guide badge based on a hotel’s compliance with expert -validated best practices that minimize the risk and impact of Covid-19 and potential future public health events.

…On a Positive Note

  • AP – Fully Vaccinated People Can Gather without Masks, CDC. Read More
  • ABC News – American, United Cancel 27,000 Furloughs After Stimulus Package Passes. Read More

“Brought to You By Lush Experiences”

Vol. XLV – March 9, 2021

Travel News

  1. PBS – President Biden announces that the U.S. will have enough vaccine for every adult by the end of May. Read More
  2. Insider Travel Report – U.S. travel finds spring travel enthusiasm down in the last two weeks. Read More
  3. Travel + Leisure – Americans learned their lesson and are going to actually use vacation days, Expedia Survey Says
  4. Luxury Travel Advisor – Expedia sells Classic Vacations to Najafi Group. Read More
  5. The Points Guy – You finally got vaccinated: Here’s what you will need for a digital health passport. Read More
  6. Inside Traveler – Five former Virtuoso execs from Phoenix180 leisure. Read More

Best Practices

  • Travel Agent Central – Barbados could begin vaccinating visitors by the end of April.
  • Flemings Mayfair London – When Covid-19 hit the UK in 2020 and the hospitality sector faced its strictest restrictions on record, Henrik Muehle, General Manager at Flemings Mayfair, was not one to sit back and wait. In fact, as the five-star hotel remained open for essential travelers only, he decided it was time to give back to the wider community in London, particularly those who were living in extremely vulnerable conditions. The hotel partnered with “Charity Begins at Home” at the beginning of the pandemic to set up a dedicated “Wednesday Charity Bike Project”, delivering hot meals each week to the homeless. Every Wednesday, the London-based charity and Flemings Mayfair come together to distribute hot meals that have been freshly cooked by the Flemings team. These meals are distributed for three hours with two bicycles to the people around London who need them the most and are not able to go to soup kitchens. With the help of the team of Flemings Mayfair has donated more than 3,000 hot meals to the charity to date. The charity bike delivery project is ongoing and will continue after the official reopening of the hotel. Henri Muehle also volunteers at the charity’s evening distribution hub every Friday – a project that allows essential items including food and clothing to be distributed to over 200 less fortunate people each week.

…On a Positive Note

  • CNN – Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine gets the nod from CDC. Read More
  • New York Times – How should you think about the Johnson and Johnson vaccine? Read More

Best Practices

  • CNNSingapore Airlines hopes to be the world’s first airline to get all of its crew members vaccinated against Covid-19. All pilots, gate agents, flight attendants and anyone whose job requires contact with the public have been offered free coronavirus vaccines by the Singaporean government. “This reflects the sector’s importance and the crucial role we play in both Singapore’s economic recovery and the fight against the pandemic.” According to the airline, 5,200 SIA employees have already signed up to get their shots with inoculations beginning in a few days.
  • Forbes – This One-Stop Digital ID App wants to Cut Through the Vaccine Passport Noise. With dozens of vaccine passport solutions now in the works around the globe, it’s conceivable that, in the coming months, a traveler might be asked to download multiple different apps to prove their Covid-19 vaccination status at various points during a single trip. While Airside Mobile is perhaps best known for its Mobile Passport app, which lets travelers entering the U.S. sail through designated fast lanes at customs and immigration, a newer app in its stable may ultimately become an even more essential download. As a result of a recent partnership with Vision-Box, a Portugal-based global industry leader in biometric seamless travel management solutions, Airside’s Digital Identity and Health Passport App now integrates Orchestra, Vision-Box’s ID management platform. For travelers, the beauty of this app is that it lets you securely manage a lot more than health-related records. You can safely add a whole host of verified identity credentials – passport, driver’s license, Covid vaccination record, testing results and more – to your mobile device using Vision-Box’s AI-based, end to end biometric source verification.

…On a Positive Note

  • Insider Travel Report – Travel Leaders Network to Hold EDGE Conference Oct. 18-21 in Orlando
  • IndagareGuide to Traveling Safely and Responsibly During Covid
  • EasyJet Bookings up 600% Following UK Lockdown Lift AnnouncementA rush for UK residents to book summer vacations commenced this week after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a gradual lift of the national COVID-19 lockdown, with bookings increasing as much as 600%. Johnson announced a plan that would allow Brits to enjoy staycations within the country from April 12 and overseas travel from May 17.In response, UK airline easy jet reported a 300% increase in flight bookings wile vacation package bookings increased more than 600% from last week. The most popular destinations were Spain, Portugal and Greece for the months of July, August, and September.

“Brought to You By Lush Experiences”

Vol. XLIII – February 23, 2021

Travel News

  1. Travel Agent Central: Leisure and Hospitality Accounts for 39% of Jobs Lost to Pandemic – Full Article
  2. Forbes: U.S. Travel Ban: EU Told to Find a Way to Open Borders to Americans or Lose Billions in 2021 – Full Article
  3. The Atlantic: Covid-19 Cases are Dropping Fast. Why? Four reasons: Social Distancing, Seasonality, and Shots. – Full Article

Best Practices

  • How the Maldives became the biggest 2020 international tourism success story. The Maldives, an Indian Ocean island practically synonymous with romance, normally sees north of 1.7 million visitors per year. In 2020, it had around 500,000. And despite the significant decrease, it marks one of the most successful tourism stories amid the pandemic. While many other destinations slammed their borders closed, the Maldives chose to fully reopen to travelers from any country, regardless of the status of the virus there, in July 2020. The country’s geography also lends itself well to coronavirus protocols. Many hotels and resorts are on their own private islands – there are more than a thousand to choose from, which makes isolating and social distancing exceptionally easy. Understandably there were some hiccups, and they are now requiring all travelers to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test upon arrival. The Maldives heavy reliance on ultra-luxury resorts also worked in its favor when it came to testing and social distancing. For example, high-end properties conduct additional in-resort Covid testing as an added layer of protection against the spread of the virus.
  • Crystal Will Require All Guests to be Vaccinated Before Sailing. Crystal has updated its health and safety protocols to now require all guests to be fully inoculated with a Covid-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to their Crystal cruise. Guests will need to provide proof of vaccination before embarkation and must have received both doses of the vaccine if recommend by the manufacturer by that timeline.
  • El Palace Hotel Barcelona is Sailing. Discover the city and its surrounding area from the comfort of a private sailboat. For your sail through the pristine Mediterranean waters along the Catalan coast, guests can choose the two-hour experience, sailing around the coast of Barcelona, or a full-day excursion, sailing to Sitges, a beautiful old town whose ancient city walls and beaches are steeped in history and which is backed by the mountainous Garraf Natural Park. El Palace Barcelona’s concierge team will organize every detail to ensure a smooth sailing experience from arrival to departure.
  • From a Travel Advisor in the US this Week after our Open Forum on Spain Collection:Thank you for a wonderful Spain and Portugal webinar. Great info to share with clients who want a truly authentic and traditional experience.” – Full Video
  • Lush Experiences is in the process of planning a Lush Travel Trivia Night with advisors as a way to connect yet not make it feel like just work for them. We are in the process of crafting this idea, and will certainly be reaching out to feature all of our members.

…On a Positive Note

  • CNN: Countries Welcoming Vaccinated Travelers – Full Article
  • Wall Street Journal: Pfizer Shot is Highly Effective After One Dose – Full Article
  • Wall Street Journal: We’ll Have Heard Immunity by April – Full Article

“Right now, travel is picking up a lot… I’ve been working most of the day… Clients are booking Europe for September … I am still holding a few bookings for the Summer in Europe. Caribbean is on top of the list and clients are afraid to wait, so we are seeing more and more inquires for the Holiday Season.”  Quote from a top Travel Advisor in the Miami-Dade area

“Brought to You By Lush Experiences”

Vol. XLII – February 17, 2021

Travel News

  1. Travel Pulse: White House denies considering new domestic air travel restrictions. – Full Article
  2. Travel Agent Central: Half of Americans are optimistic about travel in 2021. – Full Article
  3. Travel Weekly: An expanding drive market for golfers looking for socially distanced diversion has helped the sport grow domestically over the course of the pandemic, and all signs point to international destination golf trips will be a large trend moving forward. – Full Article
  4. Travel Pulse: Covid-19 Related Tourism Industry Losses in 2020 Topped $750 billion. – Full Article
  5. Luxury Travel Advisor: Delta announced it is continuing its commitment to provide more space on board, blocking middle seats and limiting capacity on all flights departing through April 30, 2021. – Full Article

Best Practices

  • The Turks & Caicos Islands Tourist Board has announced that the destination has increased its COVID-19 testing facilities in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention new order. The CDC’s updated requirements, which went into effect on January 26, mandates all air passengers arriving to the United States from a foreign country must be tested no more than three days prior to entry to the U.S. and present negative results prior to boarding their flights. All travelers to Turks and Caicos now have the option of getting tested at any of 12 different locations across three islands, many of which are located on-site at resorts for enhanced ease and accessibility. – Full Article
  • Hawaii will partner with Clear to Seamlessly Integrate Travelers’s Covid-19 Test Results. Starting February 18, travelers on select United and Delta flights from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport will test a new program, which allows them to register and carry their negative COVID-19 test results via Clear’s Health Pass app. The integrated app capability is born out of a new partnership between the state of Hawaii and biometric ID platform Clear with the aim of creating a more seamless experience for those visiting the islands through Hawaii’s ‘Safe Travels’ pre-testing program, which allows arrivals to skip the standard 10-day quarantine requirement by presenting negative COVID-19 results from a test taken within 72 hours of travel.

…On a Positive Note

Etihad Airways has become the World’s First Airline to Vaccinate All Crew Members

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the U.A.E., became the first airline in the world to vaccinate a 100% of its onboard crewmembers. The airline has vaccinated all of it’s onboard crew members through the airline’s “Protected Together” initiative, which began in 2021. Seventy-five percent of all its employees have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

The initiative encourages employees and their loved ones to get vaccinated, providing honest information and talks with doctors to help answer any questions they may have as well as mobile vaccination clinics. Under this initiative, the Etihad Airways Medical Center became and accredited vaccination clinic.

The initiative was crated after the United Arab Emirates launched its Choose to Vaccinate campaign, with a goal to vaccinate half of the country’s population by March 2021. Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “We proactively made the vaccine available to all our employees to not only help combat the effects of COVID-19 but to make travelers feel confident and reassured the next time they fly with us. We are the only airline in the world to make COVID-19 testing mandatory for every passenger and crew member before every flight and now, we’re the first airline in the world with 100% vaccinated crew on board.”

Etihad Airways has put itself on the forefront of health and safety measures since the beginning of the pandemic; in January, it was awarded Diamond status for cleanliness and sanitation in the “APEX Health Safety, powered by SimpliFlying ” audit. It also began working with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on testing out the IATA Travel Pass, a mobile app that logs COVID-19 test results and vaccination information.

“Brought to You By Lush Experiences”

Vol. XLI – February 9, 2021

Travel News

  1. CNBC: Dr. Fauci says it’s important to wear a mask even after getting the Covid Vaccine. – Read More
  2. CNBC: Airlines, labor unions push for a third round of federal aid with travel demand still depressed. – Read More
  3. CNN: Mask violators face $250 fine, up to $1,500 for repeat offenders. – Read More
  4. The Atlantic: The pandemic is heading toward a strange in-between time, with Americans planning it’s end by the fall, but what happens in-between? – Read More
  5. The Telegraph: New Israeli COVID drug which cured 30 cases of disease hailed by scientists as “huge breakthrough”. – Read More

Best Practices

With borders open throughout the Caribbean and Mexico, most with specific guidelines in place, Resorts are eager to invite those who are interested in traveling to experience their Resorts.  Providing valuable information for you and your clients is key to their very survival.  Some of our very own Members have created elegant and personal ways to showcase their protocols and ambience to top advisors by inviting them to experience this first hand with the ultimate goal of sharing this with their clients who are considering a vacation now.  For example, Le Blanc Spa Resorts sent personalized plush bath robes and hand written personal invitations to a select list of Lush Experiences Insider members, inviting them to visit their luxury version of all-adult, all-inclusive Resorts in Cancun or Los Cabos. Meanwhile, in the Caribbean, The Palms and The Shore Club on Turks & Caicos, following their inspiring Ambassador of Hope message personally welcomed select advisors who were who came with a promise to spread the message of a safe travel experience to their colleagues and clients.  Both programs were hugely successful with well over 50 luxury travel advisors taking this opportunity to experience these beautiful resorts!

…On a Positive Note

Vaccine Travel News and a Photo Essay That Taps into What We Love (and Miss) About the World

by Wendy Perrin

This weekend we’re feeling inspired by a few positive developments: Iceland, Romania, Poland, Estonia, and Cyprus are now allowing vaccinated travelers to bypass quarantine. These countries are not yet open to U.S. travelers, but it’s a sign of good things to come, as more people get vaccinated and more nations and states adapt their entry requirements accordingly. The country of Georgia is now open to vaccinated Americans (wine tasting in Tbilisi, anyone?) with no quarantine. The Seychelles – those islands off East Africa with ideal beaches – are too, although you still need to show a negative Covid test. Closer to home, some states have a testing requirement for vaccinated travelers (e.g., Alaska), whereas some don’t (e.g., New Hampshire). We’re keeping track of all these changes for you in this weekly newsletter and in our Covid-19 travel intel section.

Vol. XL – February 2, 2021

Travel News

  1. NY Times: The C.D.C. has issued an order requiring travelers in the United States to wear masks in all transportation hubs. – Read More
  2. Washington Post: Government and Tourism officials speak out against mandatory vaccinations for international travel though for very different reasons. – Read More
  3. The Points Guy: All international arrivals into the U.S. are now required proof of negative COVID-19 test, with White House actively looking at mandating negative tests for domestic travel as well. – Read More
  4. Wavy.com: The TSA announced that passengers at airports and on public transportation will be required to wear a face mask. – Read More
  5. Raw Story: President Biden will re-impose COVID-19 travel bans on most non-US citizens who have been to Britain, Brazil, Ireland and much of Europe. – Read More

Best Practices

With the United States has announcing that they will require a negative virus test from all international passengers arriving by air two weeks ago with the hope that combined with preventive practices, that testing will lead to a major reduction in the spread of the virus on planes, airports and in the destinations. The new policy requires all air passengers, regardless of vaccination status, to get a test for current infection within the three days before their flight to the United States departs, and to provide written documentation of their test results or proof of having recovered from Covid-19.

Many resorts with borders open to US travelers have already begun taking the necessary steps to plan for these new protocols and ensuring that the process is as seamless as possible for guests.  Agencies like Embark have launched programs enabling clients to get in-room testing before they return home. In the Caribbean and Mexico, many resorts have facilitated on-site complimentary rapid testing initiatives for all guests to ensure a smooth departure process. They have also prepared for when a positive case arises with varying solutions including complimentary stays at the resort paid for by themselves or through governmental travel insurance. Two such examples of these comprehensive protocols come from Le Blanc Spa Resorts in Cancun and Los Cabos, and Eden Roc Cap Cana.

…On a Positive Note

Survey Finds Americans Willing to Travel Internationally Even with Covid-19 Testing

by James Shillinglaw

Following the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s announcement requiring all U.S. citizens and international visitors to the U.S. receive a negative COVID-19 test prior to reentry, initial reports show U.S. travelers still have a willingness to travel internationally and are taking additional steps to prepare rather than canceling travel altogether.

A survey by Squaremouth.com, the travel insurance comparison website, found that a majority of trips are still being booked for international destinations, travelers are insuring and spending more on cancellation coverage for international trips, and travelers are booking farther out. Indeed, more than 70 percent of bookings made after the CDC’s announcement are still for international destinations.

“We expected to see an immediate shift to domestic travel and a drop in international bookings, due to the added complication of coordinating a COVID test abroad, but that hasn’t been the case,” says Squaremouth.com Chief Marketing Officer Megan Moncrief.

The survey also found travelers are insuring and spending more on cancellation coverage for international trips. Travelers are insuring about $1,000 more per trip. There has been a 42 percent spike in Cancel For Any Reason policy purchases. Travelers are spending 31 percent more on insurance. With a price tag that can be 40 percent higher than a standard cancellation policy, the Cancel For Any Reason benefit allows travelers to cancel their trip for a reason not otherwise covered by their policy and receive a partial refund.

Squaremouth.com says the reason for the upgrade is clear: With constant changes to travel requirements, including negative COVID tests and quarantine restrictions, travelers want the ability to opt-out of their trip, no questions asked. The survey also found U.S. travelers are insuring their international trips 24 percent sooner than previously in the pandemic. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Squaremouth.com saw a trend of last-minute bookings overtake far planned out trips, attributing this to a general uncertainty around travel, changing quarantine requirements, and a newfound remote work flexibility. Squaremouth.com now reports U.S. residents who have an increasing thirst for travel are simply preparing more.

This data in this report is based on travel insurance policies purchased through Squaremouth.com, comparing sales trends in the immediate two-week period following the CDC’s announcement of a negative COVID test requirement for reentry to the two-week period prior to the announcement. Squaremouth.com compared data from thousands of policies in identifying these trends. Squaremouth.com created the Coronavirus Pandemic Current Event Center which is updated daily with available travel insurance coverage and answers to FAQs as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.

Our Journey Through Italy: Part 3

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By Brad Beaty

Part 1 & Part 2

After more than 3 glorious weeks on the Amalfi Coast, it was time to pack up and start heading north.  Again, this blog/posting this as an informational piece for those who are curios as what it is like to travel, so let me start by telling you….don’t plan ahead if you or your clients are able to travel in Europe at this time.  It is an ever changing puzzle to t understand what countries within the EU are allowing other countries citizens to cross borders.

Originally our plans were to head north in Italy, cross into France to visit our friends at Le Majestic Barriere in Cannes, and then head to Geneva to stay at the Hotel Metropole, visit our friends from Gstaad…all by train, then fly to Copenhagen at the Hotel d’Angleterre.  However, areas of France have now become Covid hotspots, and this would have had to be done by driving into France and back to Italy, with hopes of not having to quarantine again.  Denmark has now closed its borders to several countries, and in part due to its own increasing Covid outbreak.   So, as of 2 days ago, our plan was to continue our journey north only as far as Geneva.  However, we then received news that Switzerland was closing to parts of Europe and other high risk areas, including Italy.  At first, we began to look at changing plans to then fly home from Milan, however, once we were able to speak with our Swiss colleagues, we got the full story.  The report of the closing of borders specified regions of each country, and from Italy only Liguria was included, which we had not visited.  So, my point, it is important to keep up with the daily news from each country, and be flexible!  Do not buy tickets more than 2-3 days ahead of your planned movements, and keep close watch on the “new wave” areas.

Train Travel within Italy

We decide rather than driving to take the high-speed train from Salerno to Florence.  The trains are very clean, distancing measures in place, and masks required by all who board.  Safety/Sanitizing kits are handed to all passengers once the train doors are closed, which include a mask, headrest seat cover, packets of sanitizing gel.  Train station in Florence is crowded, and distancing there was really not possible at all times, but everyone is required to wear face coverings.  Bottom line, we did not feel at all exposed or unsafe during this journey.  Our driver was standing at the designated meeting spot and we were swiftly on our way to Villa La Massa!

Again, we traveled by train from Florence to Como, changing trains in Milan.  All was very similar to our first venture, and we felt safe and distanced from the other passengers and the hygiene and safety bags were handed to all.

Our last train adventure, however, was a bit different.  Finally, after tearing ourselves away from Villa d’Este, we were whisked by chauffer from Como to Milano, thanks to the kindness of Danilo Zucchetti and Massimo Dorino.  We boarded a different type of train to head to Geneva.  It was not the high speed like Trenitalia.  Instead this was a regional train.  I would compare the difference from Amtrak Acela to Amtrak regional, perfectly fine.  Why I bring this up is that we were not given the hygiene kits.  I did not walk through the entire train, but the trains overall allow between 50% and 80% capacity.  Also, something touching on the point of inconsistency between counties, there was no food or beverage service car available during the first 1.5 hours of the trip as we were in Italy.  Once we crossed into Switzerland, the restaurant car was allowed to open, and again food was available…. same train.

Villa La Massa

Wow!!  What an impressive difference the newest additions have made to this property, which is now better termed as a Resort. The Villa d’Este Hotels group has invested millions into making this a Tuscan dream on the outskirts of Florence.  The 22 acres space has been dramatically changed by the addition of the new floating edge pool, the new renovation of another farmhouse the “Limonaia” building with its brand new 2 suites and 8 rooms, and the 3 stunning new apartments now available for minimum one week stays in lower seasons, and two weeks in high season.  The area where the original pool was has transformed into a massive outdoor bricked patio, which is great for social distancing of guests at this time.  As you may know, the “main house” or Noble Villas dates back to the 1400’s. This history has been preserved in every corner while each bedroom here offers the feeling of being a VIP guest of a royal Duco or Duchesse!   Although I cannot say I have a favorite building on the 22 acres, I loved the newest additions of the Casa Colonica and the Limonaia (where we stayed).  We dined in the Verrocchio restaurant for breakfast and for dinner, overlooking the Arno.  Two of my favorite dishes are shown here being the lumberjack fish tartare and the spaghetti with porcini mushrooms and shrimp…. amazing!  If you have not yet seen this property, or if you have, but prior to the last year, it is time to return as soon as the borders open!

Florence

We ventured into Florence city center twice during our stay, once with the complimentary shuttle of the hotel and once by taxi.  I have been in Florence during this period several times, and normally it is not teeming with Americans, and in fact there were very few tourists on the streets at all.  Locally, in the city center, hotels are running about 15% occupancy, but forecasting to drop down to 5% by then end of October.  Outside the city, the resort hotels have had a much better than expected season as Europeans from France to Germany to Scandinavia, UK have rediscovered Italy this year.  Most shops and restaurants are open.  Masks are required, but outdoors, not always worn.  Indoors, most establishments take your temperature at the door, and masks are required in restaurants until seated.  I will say that we did avoid several restaurants in Florence as they were not adhering to the mandated distancing between tables at all.  Additionally, as you will find anywhere you travel, we passed by a night club full of young people inside and on the street outside, none wearing masks.

It shocked me more that it does in America because Italy was so ravaged by the virus, and the lockdown was much stricter and long than what we in America endured.  Overall, it was a very remarkable experience to see old friends and walk the streets of one of the worlds beloved cities, mostly amongst the locals.  It was clear that the Florentines were very happy to be moving about again, but from the discussion we had, they are very much struggling having no view of tourism returning until next spring.

Villa d’Este

There are so many things to say about Villa d’Este, but the name alone speaks volumes.  If the walls of this truly historic site could speak, the stories would be endless, fascinating, and in some cases probably shocking and humorous.  What hits you every time you pull into the driveway and up to the front door of this iconic hotel, is that you have no doubt you have arrived somewhere very special and very unique.  It is the second home of those of understated wealth, celebrities, and nobility from around the world. So, not only do the walls have stories, but also do those they currently surround.  Yet, there is a normalcy about this amongst the staff that is like nowhere else.  We had the double pleasure of being greeting and hosted for lunch at La Veranda by the famous Mr. Danilo Zucchetti and our great supporter, colleague, and friend to many of you in the industry, Gregory Bradelle.  Afterward, they both showed us a few secrets of the hotel we had never seen or know, and will keep in our back pocket for your clients.  Mr. Zucchetti then arranged for us to see the spectacular shores of the lake by private boat.

This is only way to see and understand the beauty and capture the feeling of the amazing residences around the lake.  It also made me understand a new way to see the grandeur of Villa d’Este as we came closer and closer on our return.  I could go on and on, but it’s all in the history, details, and the warmness of the highly professional staff that make this icon live on.  We were unfortunately there only 24 hours, so we never had any reason to leave the property, but as we never dreamed we would make it back this year, why would we!?

Summer Season 2020 at the Gstaad Palace

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By Lara Juker, Sales Executive at Gstaad Palace

Summer Season 2020 at the Gstaad Palace

Hello from the Gstaad Palace in Switzerland! We want to share a summary of our summer season 2020 with you. But before you continue reading, you must know that everyone is missing Switzerland’s #1 fans from North America, including our small boutique owners, our chefs, our barmen and barwomen… even the cows are missing taking selfies with you! In summary – we can’t wait to have you back in our lovely country.

Now, let us go back in time and share with you highlights from summer 2020 in Gstaad:

July – The Month We Didn’t Know What to Expect

We were very excited to open our doors on July 10 (three weeks later than originally planned)! Our Sales & Revenue teams calculated three different forecasts: one best-case scenario, one okayish-scenario and – obviously – “one we hoped we would never see” scenario.

To our wonderful surprise, the month of July was better than expected! Our occupancy was slightly higher, and revenue per room even increased a bit compared to last year. Not bad considering we’re almost the biggest 5-star hotel in the region with our 90 rooms and suites!  One interesting note was that almost 63% of our guests were local Swiss residents.  In anticipation of this, we became creative! For example, the very first open air cinema in Lauenen (15min away from Gstaad), was opened and brought a Hollywood feel to the Swiss Alps – it was a great success!

August – the month where we almost forgot Corona existed

For those who aren’t familiar with Gstaad and its seasonality, August is basically “festive” period of our summer season – and it totally lived up to its reputation.  With a monthly average occupancy higher than 70% our operations were working long days, but always with the greatest smile and dedication to make every guest feel at home.  We started off strong with our National Holiday celebration on the 1st of August.  Who doesn’t like to sit outside in summer and enjoy some champagne whilst looking at fireworks?

We also saw more international travelers during this month, especially from the UK and France as some quarantines had been lifted in the meantime. Some days we almost forgot that “something” was different than the other years, yet you never left the house without your hand sanitizer and mask… safety first after all.

Towards the end of August we were very much looking forward to our very own “Gstaad Palace Challenge” – the most exclusive vintage vehicle rally in Switzerland organized every year by our own GM, Mr. Andrea Scherz. We finished the month with a bang and our operational hotel staff slowly saw some light at the end of the tunnel and was getting ready for one last week of opening.

September – short, but sweet

The weekdays of our last opening week were rather quiet and gave our operations some time to breathe. Kids were back to school and the village was getting calmer, too. However, for the last weekend of our summer season, we had an amazing event planned! If you are a fast, unique and (very!) expensive car enthusiast, you were in heaven. We co-hosted a weekend getaway event called the “Supercar Owners Circle” and had a parking lot full of dream cars right at the Hotel. The motto was “go big or go home” and we took it all the way home cheerfully closing the hotel with 100% occupany our last week!

What now?

For now we have already switched to “winter mode” and are in the middle of creating new and unique experiences and adventures for our guests. Of note, our health & safety concept will be even fancier than in summer!  Winter always brings more “bling” to the understated Gstaad!  We are fortunate to already have reservations on the books from around the globe, and we obviously can’t wait to welcome back all international travelers, especially our lovely Americans, Canadians, and Mexicans! We miss you terribly and are ready to welcome you back safely to the magical castle of Gstaad. In the meantime take care of yourselves and see you hopefully very soon.

Our Journey Through Italy Part 2

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By Brad Beaty

Part 1

The most common questions I have received about Giuseppe’s and my travels to Italy thus far have been mostly concerning what the conditions are here in Italy, and what is it like to be traveling internationally at this time.

We come into the country with ease, having completed all the necessary paperwork ahead of time.  As mentioned, prior, we were asked only for Giuseppe’s Italian passport and a copy of our marriage license along with my passport on arrival. There were not lines, and no separation of EU vs Other Citizens.  We were told by the immigration office that we had to quarantine, and we provided him with the form we were given to fill out that listed this address.  He stamped our passports…and done!

After 3 days, we received a phone call to tell us we would be required to come to the town center nearest to our villa and be tested using the nasal swab (or in Italian…. the “tampone”!  As I mentioned it did not go at all as they told us it would, but regardless we were tested, and 2 days later received the good news of tests being negative.  After this, we never heard another word from the authorities, but we continued our quarantine for the full 2 weeks.  No one ever came to check on us at any point, and to be very frank, if Giuseppe were not recognized by half of the town, we could have easily moved about freely.  Even those who do know him have not said one word about how we came here or if we did quarantine.   I do understand that if we had flown into Naples, this may have been enforced a bit stricter, but we did register with the region of Campagna.  (As a side note to this, I have to say that it has been our observations that these “border closings” are quite a joke, as when we were boarding at JFK, there were hundreds of people at a gate prior to ours boarding an Air China flight, and I can tell you they were not doctors or engineers!)  We have been in contact with several Americans who are here in Italy. There seem to be as many “loopholes”, and a complete lack of coordination within and between any and all countries.

Life on the Amalfi Coast is, dare I say, a bit too comfortable.  Currently, there are under 10 cases know from Sorrento to Salerno, and people here are very proud of this.  Given the intensity and length of the lockdown they endured, it is understandable.  Regardless, we are taking our own precautions, but what we see here is that people have turned the “mascherino” into another fashion statement, worn mostly on the arm outside.  There are regulations that face coverings must be worn inside, and this is being adhered to….with an important exception.  It seems that about half do not find it necessary to cover their noses.  (I liken this to how babies are conceived with those using birth control.)  Restaurants are required, also, to take the contact details of one person in every party/table, so that should cases be found out later, the authorities can contact trace. Temperatures of each party member are taken upon arrival as well.

In short, I feel that this particular area of the world has perhaps, reached the ‘new normal” Life is going on as usual, but with distancing at the beaches, in restaurants, and hand sanitizer at every entrance. However, I worry for this region as the summer has suddenly come to an abrupt halt this weekend with the weather turning cooler.  They will be forced back indoors, and as we have heard the news of Covid cases spiking again in parts of Spain, France, and the UK we hope and pray that does not happen here again.  I want to stress, however, that this is been caused by “over relaxing”, and not following the guidelines scientists have given us to follow!

As many of you know, this is Giuseppe’s home, where he was born and grew up, and that is the main reason we are here.  We also wanted to turn this opportunity into a time to come closer to our clients.  We have been able to meet, thus far, with the Owners of the Hotel Santa Caterina, and spend the most wonderful day at the Hotel.  Additionally, we drove to Naples and had lunch with Mario Staiano, one of the Owners of Privilege Italia, another fantastic day.  There is nothing like a real human connection.  Today we began packing up again to move north, where we will spend 2 nights to see the “reboot” of the incomparable Villa La Massa just outside of Florence, followed by a night at the iconic Villa d’Este.  At both of these gems we will be meeting with our clients who are missing you all terribly, and getting the latest news and sharing some amazing food, I am sure!  Last, but not least, we will report in from Geneva at the Hotel Metropole, where we will meet with Helene, the GM and Anthony, the new DOSM (for the first time in person).  We have booked this journey using the renewed train system here in Italy and through to Switzerland.

I will end this by saying, one of the best joys in the world is traveling.  We truly learn, live, and get our of our “daily heads”.  Not only is traveling a pleasure, it is a must for those who are fortunate enough to have done so. I puts our lives, and what is going on in our country vs. the world we are citizens of into great perspective.  I will say it again, where there is a will, there is a way, and we do not need to wait for our very disorganized country officials to tell us what we can and cannot safely do.  They do not have our best interests at heart.  We, having the experience, and now knowing how we can mitigate our risks to near zero, are smarter than they about how to travel and revive our industry. Like after 9/11, we have a new list of things to do at the airport and upon arriving, but know, it is temporary until a treatment or vaccine are found, while the effects of 9/11 on travel will remain forever.  If you are without complications or at high risk, I encourage you to take your life back and move forward.

Our Journey to Italy

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Our Journey to Italy

By Brad Beaty

I am not here to boast or to make anyone envious, but to share the wonderful experience of travel that has been taken away from us all by this tragic pandemic.  Giuseppe and I have had the great fortune, and taken some risk, in being some of the first to “eat our own cookie”.  That is, we sell travel experiences, so if we do not get believe in taking them now, how can we expect others to trust themselves and their knowledge of how to safely travel.  After having safely visited my family in Colorado, we returned home for a few days to work and repack for the next big journey!

We are here on the stunning Amalfi Coast, and I can honestly say that 2020 seems miles away.  I believe that many are curious to know what it is like to take an international trip at this time, and I am very happy to share my experiences.  First, most will ask, how could I go to Italy with the travel ban?  I am a very lucky guy being married to an Italian and American citizen.  Immediate family can travel with anyone having an EU passport to the country it was issued.   There are very specific and strict rules about this, and paperwork to be done ahead of time, but it was by no means prohibitive.  What most people will find prohibitive at this time is that anyone coming to Italy must quarantine for 14 days.  Of course, once you see the pictures, you will note that it is not half bad quarantining….in a way, it is what we really wanted and needed.

Flying here…

What struck me as very sad was that Terminal 1 (the main International Airline terminal) at JFK was eerily empty when we checked in.  Normally, at the evening rush hour it would be teeming with people boarding flights to Europe and the jets would be lined up 20 deep to reach the runway.  Not this time…. we boarded a half full Alitalia fight and took off straight away.  I do know that each airline has it’s own policies about spacing, capacity, hygiene, etc., but the two we have now flown, UA and AZ have been very good (although as I have mentioned prior, UA could stand to do better with spacing).  Both have sanitizing wipes for all passengers, one can clearly see that more time has been spent cleaning the planes.  More importantly, the air is purified more efficiently and effectively.  You feel this more on a long-haul flight.   Drawbacks…. wearing the mask for an extended period of time is a challenge, particularly if you try to sleep on an overnight flight.  We both found that next to impossible.  However, I just kept thinking of all of the doctors and nurses who worked countless hours in the same mask for weeks in a row during the peak of the pandemic.  What did I have to complain about flying to Italy to see family and vacation?  I will say, do not expect normal business class service or food….at all.  But, the priority of safety, you can expect, and even more at this brief era.

Italy…

As you know, the north of Italy was the second center of the Pandemic in the very beginning.  That was back in March.  Now, in September, it is returning to a new temporary normal.  On the Amalfi Coast,  people walk outside free of masks…. until 6pm.  Indoors, and after 6pm everywhere, they are required, and you will get warned sternly or fined if you do not fully cover your nose and mouth.  We are not there yet, as we are still quarantining.  It was our impression that the quarantine would be much stricter.  We were allowed to rent a car in Rome, drive to our rented villa on the Coast.  In reality, we could have stopped anywhere along the way, and no one has every checked on our listed address since we arrived.  We were contacted via our local person we left as a main contact, to go to get a Covid test on the 5th day.  In true Italian style, it was a bit chaotic when we arrived and the directions, we were given were completely inaccurate…. got to love it!  In the end, it took only about 30 minutes.  The strange thing was that we were requested to come by car (which we no longer had) and it would be at a drive-thru.  Never happened that way at all.  We were also told we would be able to get a physical copy of the test for our future travels in the EU…. we shall see how that one goes!  In the meantime, we are here working and relaxing in this spectacular place we are calling home to respect the quarantine and keep all safe who we can.