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HTL HTL TRAVELTATTLER Professional Purveyors of Travel

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Q3 2015

TRAVEL NEWS, TIPS AND TIDBITS

CUBA BOTSWANA HUFFMAN NEWS TRAVEL TIPS & TRICKS TATTLER TIDBITS

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Professional Purveyors of Travel

LETTER FROM THE CEO Friends of Huffman Travel, We are pleased to unveil the inaugural issue of our newsletter, The Travel Tattler! Together with our team of Luxury Travel Advisors, I have had a great time putting this together. As this project unfolded, the creative process soon took a life of its own, and we asked ourselves what our mission is as advisors overall, and with this publication. The answer was clear: to enable our clients to realize their dreams through travel. This is an easy thing to say, but achieving this goal is not as simple as it seems, so how do we do it? To achieve this mission, we at Huffman Travel have always focused on three things to make us ‘Best in Class’: Shawna in Lanes and Alleys of Melbourne, Australia

• Excellence in product knowledge through our own personal travel experiences • Superior customer service as seen through our deep, personal relationships with hotels and tour partners around the world • Ongoing development of our luxury travel advisors who love what they do and thrive on making our clients’ travel dreams a reality We are all passionate about travel and it shows! Each quarter we will share with you some of our latest experiences and discoveries, favorite destinations, travel tidbits and tricks, and introduce you to our advisors. We welcome you on a new journey with Huffman Travel.

Sincerely,

Shawna Huffman Owen President & CEO, Huffman Travel LTD

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HTL NEWS Shawna Huffman Owen was elected to Travel + Leisure Magazine's prestigious Travel Advisory Board - a collection of the travel industry’s most forward thinkers. In addition, both Tony Huffman (founder of HTL and Turkey Specialist) and Shawna, Family Travel Specialist, are recognized among the elite group of Travel Professionals on the T+L Magazine's 2015 A-List Top Travel Advisors.

We are also proud to announce our preferred partner status with Peninsula Hotels,

Four

Seasons Hotels and Resorts and Relais & Chateaux. These invitation-only partnerships further deepen our relationships with these iconic brands and recognize our ability to extend the best knowledge and experiences to our clients. Ask us for more information! The HTL team recently returned from attending Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas. Over the course of a week, we met with thousands of the

HTL is proud to announce new and exclusive partnerships with the luxury travel industry’s most iconic brands.

luxury travel world’s finest suppliers and property representatives during this 'invite only’ event. This is just one of the ways that we continue to maintain and build our expertise for our clients.

Virtuoso Travel Week


“Make the trip. It will stick with you for the rest of your life.” - Shawna Huffman Owen

Shawna and her daughter in Cuba

CUBA RISING Cuba has always been an exotic mysterious country: a forbidden fruit among the well-traveled Caribbean islands. And, with restrictions lessening for American tourists, Cuba is the destination on the front cover of many travel magazines that excites adventuresome bucketlisters and cultured art critics alike. Cuba had been on my radar, but I had not really considered going until my daughter, who was studying communism in school, asked if we could visit. I was elated at the prospect of giving her a learning experience she could never get in the classroom, while at the same time scoping out a new travel T H E

destination. So, I called my good friend and Huffman Travel colleague, André Koester, who jumped on board, along with her son. Our trip had a bit of a rocky start with endless lines at the Havana Air check-in desk in Miami. But, after the short 45-minute flight we deplaned and stepped into our limo for the next five daysone of the vintage cars Cuba is famous for. After few caipirinhas and a wood-fired pizza by our hotel’s rooftop pool we were prepared to embrace the adventure ahead. Exploring Cuba was fascinating. Havana, especially, overflows with avant-garde artists, colonial T R A V E L

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Cuba, continued

architecture, Latin rhythms, and pulsating nightlife. It is a city with a growing movement of private enterprises built in the structures of decaying 1950’s grandeur. It’s kitschy, but classic, and rich with history and culture. Highlights of the trip included visiting a local primary school to donate school supplies, snorkeling in the Bay of Pigs, having dinner with a Cuban cigar specialist, riding in a bici taxi (a cart pulled by a bike), learning salsa, and watching a show at the Tropicana, a Prohibition-era jazz lounge, where we felt like we were back in Cuba’s heyday. We also had better-than-expected meals at paladares, private

restaurants in people’s homes, which served a variety of Latin, Caribbean, and international dishes. I encourage you all to get to Cuba now and see it in its most authentic form. The country is on the brink of big change, so go soon if you want to see history being made in front of you. Just keep in mind, Cuba is not for the faint of heart; you must be ready for an experience with some bumps along the road. But, it’s worth it. Make the trip; it will stick with you for the rest of your life.

- Shawna Huffman Owen President & CEO, Huffman Travel LTD shawna@huffmantravel.com

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BOTSWANA SAFARI An African safari, for many travelers, is a destination on the ‘wish list’. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see rare animals, exotic birds, and pristine ecosystems. It was on my honeymoon in 2006 that I visited Africa for the first time, and right from that first visit to South Africa, my husband and I were hooked. We have returned multiple times since. We’ve seen the Great Animal Migration in Kenya and Tanzania with my mother, have tracked gorillas in Uganda with our sons, and have accumulated countless, amazing memories of our travels on the ‘Dark Continent’. A place that’s been on my list for some time has been Botswana, and I had the pleasure of visiting in May. Bordered by South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia, Botswana is revered as the most iconic of safari destinations. This can be attributed to its vast private reserves, incredible wildlife and exclusive luxury camps.

It is argued there is no better game viewing in all of Africa. A bit about the destination: Roughly the size of Texas, over 40% of Botswana is designated for wildlife conservation. It is home to the famed Okavango Delta, one of the world’s largest inland river deltas and home to Africa’s highest concentration of game. What makes the Okavango so unusual is its seasonal flooding. This primarily arid region is filled between May and October with flood waters from the highlands of Angola, resulting in a remarkable transformation to a full wetland paradise in the desert. These months are Botswana’s dry season, and the flooding causes abundant amounts of games to migrate inward from the parched Kalahari desert. During this time, it is argued that there is no better game viewing in all of Africa. It was with great anticipation that I set out to Botswana with my friend, Kristine Karl. Going on this adventure without our husbands prompted many of our friends and family to caution us about our safety, one friend even going so far as to call us ‘brave’. As much as I don’t want to tarnish the image of the ‘adventurous spirits’ we seem to have acquired with this excursion, I must confess that we were never in harm’s way once. In fact, the camps were so comfortable that one might say we were rather spoiled.

“You know you are truly alive when you are living among the lions.” - Karen Blixen, Out of Africa

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Botswana, continued One of the important components to a successful safari is multiple camps because one will see diversity in terrain and wildlife by mixing it up. With this in mind, I had planned for us to stay at three camps, starting with the most ‘rustic elegant’ and scaling things up from there. Our first stop was Duma Tau Camp in the private Linyati Wildlife Reserve that borders the western end of Chobe National Park. This intimate (ten tents!) little camp is set right on the river and runs entirely on solar energy. No need for worry showers were always hot and water aplenty! Our favorite wildlife encounter here was seeing a great pack of the critically endangered wild dogs hunting and frolicking. A rare sight, to be sure. From Duma Tau, it was on t o Tu b u Tr e e C a m p . Located in the Okavango Delta, this is a very traditional little camp (8 tents) connected by elevated wooden walkways. Favorite features here were the wonderful main dining area serving up phenomenal dishes, an outdoor bar built right into a magnificent old marula tree and my outdoor shower! For those less inclined to be spotted by the local baboon population, there is an indoor shower as well. Tubu was a fantastic camp for viewing buffalo, hyena, vervet monkey, elephant and the elusive leopard. Our last camp was Vumbura Plains, the most luxurious of our camps on this trip. Contemporary in style, it is nestled into the Okavango Delta in what we considered to be the most stunning scenery yet. The tents, if you can call them tents, were equipped with all modern conveniences and then some. Lavish Africology bath products, indoor and outdoor showers, a sunken living area, and a private plunge pool were the ‘extra touches’ that put everything over the top.

This camp was in a fuller state of flood and, thus, we found ourselves embarking on game drives in water that came right up to the Land Rover’s hood! We enjoyed a mokoro ride at sunset - a wooden canoe that peacefully takes you through some of the smaller channels in the delta. This allowed for some very close looks at the astounding variety of birds and tiny little frogs. It was at Vumbura where we finally encountered a pride of lion. For two days in a row we were mesmerized as we watched seven cubs, several lioness and one massive male make their way through the delta. At night by the fire, their roars could be heard well across the plains….a sound that vibrates within you when you hear it, and one that you will never forget. Botswana not only exceeded my expectations as far as natural beauty and wildlife, but I was also struck by the friendliness of the people and the ease in which we traveled about within the country. It is a very ‘user friendly’ destination. Botswana has both a very stable democratic government and economy. Since their independence in 1966, the U.S. government has been a major partner in Botswana’s development and the country has focused on and invested in natural resources, infrastructure and its people. In fact, the U.S. government considers Botswana an excellent partner and model for stability in Africa. Apart from the tourism industry, diamond and mineral mining are two additional key components to their economy. I found the Okavango Delta, in particular, magical and this recent trip to Botswana served as a wonderful reminder as to why I keep returning to Africa. No visit is ever the same in terms of experience, yet is so beautiful that it will leave you longing to return.

- Shelane Nunnery Luxury Travel Advisor & Editor, TheTravel Tattler shelane@gvineme.com

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TRAVEL

TIPS & TRICKS

Professional Purveyors of Travel

PACKING & PLANNING FOR…..

CUBA • Hand sanitizer and small packets of kleenex • Sunglasses, Hat and sunscreen - its hot! • Good walking shoes • Granola bars and other snacks while the food was better than expected, snacks are few and far between • No need (ye t) to se t up an international plan for your phone or data, neither will work in Cuba. Wifi is available, yet unreliable at most hotels • Money - cash is king in Cuba. Very few places will take US credit cards (only our hotel upon check out we found) - and ATMs do not accept US debit cards

SAFARI • Most areas will require malaria prophylactics. Visit your doctor for recommendations and updates on shots • Lightweight, soft sided luggage; weight restrictions are strict! • Bring clothing that will allow you to dress in layers. Zip off pants are a great ‘two for one’ solution and always have a warm jacket or fleece • Hats and sunscreen, the sun is strong • An excellent camera; if it’s new, make sure you know how to use it! • Small flashlight (if a camp is solar powered, it can be dark at night) • Cash for tipping

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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!

MONIQUE OWEN Monique was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia and travel is in her antipodean blood. After receiving a Bachelor of Science and Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management, Monique spent ten years working for a global public accounting firm in HR.  Her work brought her to the U.S., where she’s resided permanently since 2003. 

JEFF HOOD Join Huffman Travel in welcoming Jeff Hood to Chicago! He has relocated from the Dayton office and joined the Chicago team in our office in Old Town. As a luxury travel specialist, Jeff’s primary focus is providing excellence in both corporate executive and leisure travel. With over 27 years in the industry, Jeff has established a reputation for creating unique, unforgettable itineraries for his clients. Jeff particularly specializes in Asia, South Pacific and Latin America. When asked what his favorite travel memory was, he set the stage for us with Koh Samui Island Thailand where he was at Belmond Napasi; “It was our last night, and we were hosted by the GM at the resort for a special dinner at the highest peak on the island. They surprised us with a farewell blessing,

In 2007, Monique left the corporate world to attend Le Cordon Bleu culinary school and graduated with honors. With her segue into luxury travel, Monique has now married her two passions; food and travel. A self declared ‘foodie’, Monique loves exploring local markets and restaurants when she travels, so it is no surprise that France is a favorite destination. Indeed, Monique has spent the last four summers in France with her husband Tony and their 3 children: declaring the “markets, people, food and light pure magic.”   She also remarks at how amazingly family friendly France can be, embracing children in all aspects of food, travel and culture.  Monique places food and dining as one of the most important aspects of travel, and shares this knowledge with her clients. It has also rubbed off on her children who now rank escargots as one of their summer treats!

Magical moments

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Professional Purveyors of Travel

TATTLER

TRAVEL

TIDBITS

ALL INCLUSIVE LUXURY IN PUNTA MITA Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, Mexico is offering exquisite beach front suites as an “all inclusive package” until November 15, 2015. The Arena and Coral Suites boast a capacity of up to 12 guests each. This tropical adventure destination is only 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta. Enjoy beach or ocean views in casita-style luxury or enjoy the views from one of the property’s three pools and two private beaches. With golf, yacht charters, tennis courts and programs for the kids, there is something for everyone in Punta Mita!

WE LOVE THE NEW BRANDO TAHITI! Tetiaroa is a private atoll of the Society Islands 30 miles north of Tahiti. Arrive by 8 passenger turboprop to your 190 acre oasis of white sand beaches and coconut palms. This self-sufficient hotel offers 35 villas, each with a private swimming pool opening on to a jade color lagoon. Chic, earthy and luxurious, each villa has its own living room and indoor / outdoor bath. Touted by National Geographic as one of the most Unique Lodges of the World and winner of Virtuoso’s 2015 Sustainable Tourism award, The Brando offers unsurpassed luxury, as well as Tahiti’s first fully inclusive private island oasis. Interesting fact; the air conditioning using seawater tapped at 900 meters was Marlon Brando’s idea!

RANCH AT ROCK CREEK MONTANA Another National Geographic ‘Most Unique Lodges’, this luxury ranch in the heart of Western Montana is also a Relais & Chateaux property. The focus here is luxury accommodations, food and outdoor activities on 6,600 acres of mountains, meadows and forests. This destination is just as great for families as it is for honeymooners. Prepare to restore mind, body and spirit as you indulge in spa, fine dining, horseback riding and perfectly pure Montana air.

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The Travel Tattler Q3 2015  

Luxury Travel Newsletter

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