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HTL HTL TRAVELTATTLER Professional Purveyors of Travel

THE

Q4 2015

TRAVEL NEWS, TIPS AND TIDBITS

LETTER FROM THE CEO HTL NEWS SPAIN MEDITERRANEAN VOYAGE TRAVEL TIPS & TRICKS TATTLER TIDBITS

H U F F M A N C H I C A G O

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Professional Purveyors of Travel

LETTER FROM THE CEO Dear Friends of Huffman Travel, I spent the last two days talking ‘travel trends’ with the incredible Travel Advisory Board of Travel + Leisure magazine. I’m feeling very grateful to be part of such a talented and forward thinking group. As I wait for my family to join me on the Riviera Maya for our October break, I am writing to you from the ocean front veranda on one of my favorite ‘hidden gems’, Belmond’s Maroma Resort & Spa. I started coming here with my family almost 20 years ago and while it has grown and improved, it still maintains a sense of authenticity that is magical.

Shawna and family on Riviera Maya, Mexico

I would like to start this issue of the Travel Tattler with a thank you to all of you, the clients and partners that allow to me do the job I love. For us at Huffman Travel, our work is all about creating the right experiences, so that you can create lasting memories. As winter starts to sneak up on you at home, we are already planning many Spring Break escapes. This year, we are getting an increasing number of requests for “more than just a beach vacation.” I am loving this trend, especially for family travel, as it combines relaxing beach stays with adventure and culture. To make these trips happen, we are partnering Caribbean islands with cultural destinations in Latin America, or combining trips to the Maldives with desert experiences in the Arabian peninsula. These types of trips require a little more time and creativity, but we at Huffman Travel are here to help you, because we know your memories will last a lifetime. Happy travels!

Sincerely,

Shawna Huffman Owen President & CEO, Huffman Travel LTD

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HTL NEWS HTL’s growing partnerships with hotels and tour companies around the world allow us to continually offer unique experiences and added value for our clients, which is a part of our mission. We are excited to announce our newest achievement as invited members of the Starwood Luxury Privileges program, which will allow HTL advisors to extend better value and service to clients that they cannot get by booking directly.

Tony Huffman was recently featured in Forbes magazine in an article featuring Luxury Travel Pro’s ‘top picks’ for new hotels. His choices to watch are the Hotel de Crillon in Paris and Lake Como’s Le Sereno. (read full article here) The second article focused on domestic travel trends. Also in the news; HTL was a feature article on Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle website (goop.com) for our expert knowledge of the newest hotels and destinations and our exceptional ability to craft romantic getaways.

A view from the Oceanview Suite’s private terrace at the luxurious Rosewood Mayakoba.

The International Luxury Travel Market Americas is an invitation-only event to the travel trade. Held in Riviera Maya this past September, this event brings hundreds of industry suppliers together and offers attendees the opportunity to learn about global travel movements and new properties and service providers. Shelane Nunnery, Luxury Travel Advisor and Editor of The Travel Tattler, attended on behalf of HTL, stayed at the Rosewood Mayakoba, and returned to Chicago with travel inspirations from around the globe.

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“Magical. I left realizing how much more there is to explore.” - André Koester

André and family enjoying a bicycle tour in Seville, Spain

SPAIN DISCOVERED Spain is a country that I had not fully appreciated until recently. I studied French, not Spanish, and Spain simply seemed to play second fiddle to the consummately popular destinations of Italy and France. I was wrong. After three trips in two years, both with and without kids, it has become one of my favorite destinations. The art, architecture, history, natural beauty, wine, food and plethora of great hotel options, along with how much less expensive it is than most European destinations, put Spain squarely at the top of my list. Madrid and Barcelona, the two most visited Spanish cities, are both “must-sees”, yet are very different

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from one another and maintain their own unique charm. Madrid is the classic “grand dame”; historic architecture, wide avenues, great restaurants and numerous museums filled with the Spanish Masters. Barcelona is warmer and on the beach; it feels a bit more Latin to me and less European. Barcelona’s art is most accessible because its most famous artist, Antoni Gaudi, was an architect, and his amazing, creative, organic work is everywhere. After visits to Barcelona and Madrid without my kids, I decided it was time to take them to Spain, and I wanted to take them even further afield. In late August my husband

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Spain, continued and I embarked for Spain with our two older sons (ages 12 and 10). We would visit Seville, Granada and Mallorca, with a stop in Barcelona.

Christian church in the 1200’s) was a thrill, as was feeding crackers to the peacocks while touring the beautiful Moorish Alcazar.

We began in Seville, a gorgeous and ch a r m i n g c i t y t h a t f e e l s q u i t e manageable because of its small size. We stayed at the Alfonso XIII, a grand, historic hotel that has been recently renovated. Offering a sense of place without feeling ‘dated’, the property has a lovely pool and is within walking distance of all major sights. The plethora of bike trails, makes Seville a perfect place for a bike tour. This activity was a huge hit with the kids, as was an impromptu segway tour that our children coerced us into.

Next up was Grenada, a two and a half hour drive from Seville. The main reason to visit Granada is to see the Alhambra, an ancient complex from the 13th centrury that inspired the Taj Majal. Its palaces, gardens and medina are breathtaking, but not necessarily for pre-teen boys. The four hour tour was, fortunately, survived with the aid of screen time and ice cream… and it was a thrill for myself and my husband to see this ancient structure.

Seville’s historical walking tours had just enough fun things for the kids to keep them interested. Climbing to the top of the main cathedral’s bell tower (a mosque minaret until converted to a

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A one hour flight took us straight to Mallorca. As we gained distance from the urban area, the landscape became more beautiful. Hills and then mountains dotted with olive trees, cliffs cascading down to the sea. Our

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Spain, continued destination was La Residencia, a most historic hotel in the artist town of Deia. It is a magical place and one of the top five hotels I have ever visited. The setting is spectacular and the service equally so. Our last days were spent lazing at the gorgeous pool, touring the area on Vespas, and visiting art studios. We even took a painting class together. The rocky beach is a 20 minute walk (5 minutes by car) and we enjoyed having lunch at the restaurant perched high above the sea while savoring the fresh seafood and rosé. Other highlights here were swimming in the sea and feeding the 5 resident donkeys at La Residencia (these donkeys carry picnics up the mountains for guests and my children delighted in taking fruit and veggie scraps to them from the hotel kitchen). Our final night was spent in Barcelona. Enroute to our hotel from the airport, our private guide gave us an overview of Gaudi’s most famous masterpiece, the cathedral Sagrada Familia. Until this moment, my 12 year old had no interest in art, yet now could not stop talking about the amazing stained glass windows. Truly one of the more stunning feats of architecture I’ve ever seen. That evening, the last night of our journey, we went to a FC Barcelona soccer game. This was the boys’ chance to witness their soccer idols, Messi, Neymar and Suarez - it was an unforgettable night for all of us! Prior to the trip, I had some concerns about how my kids would do with an intense sightseeing schedule in both Seville and Grenada, but it turned out there were enough ‘kid-friendly’ distractions to make the trip a success. The combination of guided tours, days relaxing in Mallorca, topped by a grand finale soccer game in Barcelona, turned out to be one of our best family trips. Once again, I left Spain realizing how much more is still left there for us to explore.

Luxury Travel Advisor André Koester andre@huffmantravel.com

“Until seeing Sagrada Familia, my 12 year old had no interest in art.” - André Koester

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“The Greek Isles have always been on my bucket list.” - Ann Becker

YACHTING NOT CRUISING I had always looked at the front page of the Sea Dream brochure which states, “Yachting, not Cruising” and wondered what they meant…but now I know! My husband and I had the opportunity to sail on Sea Dream II this summer and what a divine experience it was. On my bucket list have always been a Sea Dream cruise and the Greek Isles. When the opportunity arose to experience both, I couldn’t resist. We began our adventure by flying into Athens, Greece and staying a night at the King George, across from the Parliament Building. With views of the Acropolis from the b a l c o ny, i t wa s t h e p e r f e c t

beginning. For two days we explored Athens and its nightlife. We toured the Acropolis Museum, as well as experienced Greece ‘a la carte’ with our private guide, seeing life as it once was at the Pantheon over 2,000 years ago. Boarding the ship was easy; no long lines or crowds. Before I knew it, I had a glass of champagne in my hands and a perfect view of Athens. I was ready to sail the Greek Isles! One of my favorite things about sailing on a smaller ship is the ability to visit places a larger ship cannot. Each day of our cruise was a new adventure. Some days we chose to


hike to tops of islands for views of the Aegean Sea, others we took mountain bikes to explore the small towns and enjoyed the local foods of Patmos and Petra. Another alternative was to stay on board and simply relax by the pool or enjoy water sports off the ship. A highlight of our trip was our stop at the port of Kusadasi, where we met our private guide and driver. It was an amazing day of touring Ephesus with the terrace houses, visiting the tomb of St. John, and driving up the mountain to see the house of Mary. Walking the same streets of marble as the Romans did thousands of years ago was awe-inspiring. Our guide took us back in time. We wondered what the people of that time, during the time of Jesus, felt. That day was an incredible mixture of history and beauty. After our days exploring on shore, it was comforting to return to our ship. We enjoyed breathtaking sunsets with cocktails and appetizers…followed by gourmet five course dinners and a most excellent wine selection. We had the choice of dining al fresco or with a group of soon-to-be friends from around the globe Another highlight was sleeping under the stars in a Balinese bed! (

After seven days of sailing, it was difficult to say goodbye to the wonderful staff and the friends we’d made while on board. We soon overcame this disappointment through our exciting transition to Istanbul, where we would spend two nights. We stayed at the Four Seasons on the straits of the Bosphorus and we saw the city through the eyes of our private guide, Esin, who was truly amazing. Istanbul, a city with 14 million people, is pulsing with energy, rich in h i s t o r y, a r t a n d architecture, and home to some of the best cuisine on earth. It is a city opulent with cultural experiences. Istanbul is a wonderful place to shop in bazaars for linens and trinkets. For those who have the interest, there is a new Naval Museum in which the highlight is the restored Sultan’s galleries. The Turkish and Islamic Arts museums is now reopened after a couple of years of renovation, but I do not recommend visiting without a guide. The options in Istanbul were endless and, sadly, two days were simply not enough. My bucket list continues to grow, but I can now mark two ‘wishes off my list’….and am now inspired by two new destinations; Venice to Dubrovnik; by way of yachting, not cruising!

- Ann Becker Luxury Travel Advisor ann@huffmantravel.com

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Professional Purveyors of Travel

TIPS & TRICKS PACKING & PLANNING FOR…..

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Pack comfortable walking shoes for sightseeing as there are many cobblestones (especially in smaller cities) Four and Five star hotels will have converters, but there are never enough outlets. Bring a plug extender to plug into the converter so you can charge several devices at one outlet Be prepared for the locals to speak less English than they do in Italy or France. The Google Translate App and a little Spanish will go a long way Bring a hat and sunscreen if traveling in the summer; Spain can be very hot and humid

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Sunscreen and a hat are a must

Pack light; Ann Becker recommends a carry on for simplicity

For a Sea Dream cruise, leave your PJs behind; your own personalized set will be on board!

Turkey requires a visa and you can obtain one online at www.evisa.gov.tr

An excellent camera; if it’s new, make sure you know how to use it!

Download the App, XE Currency Converter, so you know what you are paying at the Grand Bazaar

Practice your bargaining skills before leaving home; you’ll need them in the Turkish bazaars!

Having tapas (Spanish for ‘little bites’) for lunch, with drinks, or for dinner is one of Spain’s greatest pleasures

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ADVISORS Each issue of Travel Tattler will help you ‘get to know’ two fabulous members of the Huffman Travel team..and what makes them so passionate about travel!

GABRIELLE WARNCKE

STEPHANIE FISHER Stephanie spent her childhood living globally, learning multiple languages and soaking up cultures and flavors of the world around her; her favorites still include Saudi Arabia, Greece and Germany. After receiving her BA from Eckerd College in Theatre, she participated in the Sundance Institute’s Playwrights  and Filmmaker Laboratories as well as the Sundance Film Festival. Changing direction, Stephanie completed the Boston University Culinary Program and treasures her time spent over the stove with Jacques Pepin and Julia Child.  She still pinches herself that she shared a cup of tea with Julia in her famous kitchen. Stephanie has been passionate about travel since childhood and enjoys sharing her knowledge and expertise with her clients. She is a strong believer in experiencing authentic cultural moments, tasting the flavors of the world & pushing beyond "cookie cutter" experiences.   Stephanie’s specialties include  family travel, conservation oriented travel, adventure travel, and “foodie" travel, always customized; always with a twist. She is a detail oriented Luxury Travel Advisor, constantly researching new destinations to explore on her own or with her family. Recent and favorite travel experiences include the Mahout Elephant Training in Chang Rai and spending time in the field with Kenya’s top Elephant and Lion Conservationists while on a Conservation Safari.

Gabrielle has a zest for adventure and the South Pacific and is a passionate traveler. She has been in the industry since 1997 and has traveled extensively. Her philosophy is that travel is not only about the destination, but about the people and experiences we encounter along the way. Traveling opens her eyes to the diverse ways of life around the world and constantly encourages her to grow as a person. She believes that the key to a fulfilling journey is exploring different cultures, world heritage sites, wildlife, and the natural beauty we often fail to appreciate on a day-to-day basis. She enjoys sharing her experience and takes pride in providing exceptional service to create unique and memory-making experiences for her clients. Gabrielle’s areas of expertise range from the South Pacific to ‘off the beaten path’ destinations like Africa, the Galapagos, Machu Picchu and Patagonia. East Africa and South America have both become new passions for her. Her most recent adventure was diving in the Komodo Islands in Indonesia. She loves to hike, bike, kayak and is a certified SCUBA diver. When asked for her most memorable travel experience, Gabrielle found it difficult to narrow it down to one. “So many magical moments over the years. It might be taking a helicopter in New Zealand the first time I went. We went through Milford Sound, landed on a beach, then on a glacier, and then finally on a mountain hillside for a gourmet lunch! It was simply breathtaking.”

True adventures in Thailand and the South Pacific. T H E

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Professional Purveyors of Travel

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EDEN ROC CAP CANA - DOMINICAN REPUBLIC This Relais & Chateaux property is tucked away in a secluded seaside estate, surrounded by lush, tropical gardens. This new boutique resort offers luxury beyond compare. Eden Roc at Cap Cana was inspired by the glamorous resorts of the French and Italian Rivieras. It is a space where serenity meets luxury, nature meets nurture, and where service exceeds all expectations. The resort’s epicenter and the inspiration behind Eden Roc, is a massive natural grotto that offers guests the opportunity to experience a heightened sense of nature. The best part? The easy flights and private, 3-5 bedroom villas make it ideal for family travel!

MONTPELIER PLANTATION - LUXURY HIDEAWAY ON NEVIS This romantic spot on Nevis is a unique hideaway consisting of only 19 rooms. The restored 60 acre sugar plantation resides on a hillside above the sea. Designed to allow guests to connect with a simpler way of life, this Relais & Chateaux property takes great pride in offering five star services to guests. Renowned for fine food and wine in combination with wellness both and active and relaxing, this special little place the perfect romantic destination. Room styles range from premium rooms to stand alone villas. One of our favorites is the 100 year old ‘Little House’ that boasts two bedrooms and two baths….. and views of the Caribbean Sea..

THE PENINSULA CHICAGO - AN HTL FAVORITE! The Peninsula Chicago’s newly renovated guest rooms and suites enhance guests’ experiences with the ultimate in design and personalization, including room control by tablet technology which is available in 11 languages. The hotel offers complimentary local, long distance and international phone calls via VoIP. Loved this feature; during our stay we were on the phone with our friends in France for over an hour thanks to this technology! In addition to complimentary Wi-Fi. the 15,000 square foot Spa & Fitness Center occupies the top two floors of the hotel and offers unparalleled views, rejuvenating body treatments and poolside relaxation. The Peninsula features three restaurants and a bar; including the Lobby, Shanghai Terrace, Pierrot Gourmet and The Bar. H U F F M A N

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The Travel Tattler q4 2015  

Huffman Travel LTD is a boutique luxury travel agency and a proud member of Virtuoso. Welcome to our quarterly newsletter - it's full of tr...

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