It has been 33 years since Sandals Chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart converted a failing hotel near Montego Bay Airport into the very first Sandals all-inclusive resort. Since that time, Butch has been raising the bar for Caribbean hotels with each new property he has opened, and the recently opened Sandals LaSource in Grenada is his crowning achievement so far. Never mind that he was able to work flawlessly with government officials to negotiate a favorable environment to renovate and expand this resort, nor the fact that the work was completed in an astounding 10-month period. And while you can’t ignore the fact that Grenada’s leading hotelier, Sir Royston Hopkins of Spice Island Resort was the biggest island advocate, what is truly amazing is the resort itself. Sandals has been raising the bar with each of their new resorts, yet it is hard to imagine what could possibly be done in future resorts to improve upon this one.
The islands of the Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, stretch approximately 1,200 miles off the northeastern coast of Australia in the state of Queensland.
There are accommodations galore here, from family-friendly to private and posh. A trip to these islands will most likely be a once-in-a-lifetime excursion to a tropical getaway unlike any other. And, while it may be mind-boggling trying to sift through all various islands and deciding which would be the best for your client, don’t despair. We’ve broken it down for you here with a sampling of some of the best options out there.
Some of the most memorable experiences I have had in China involved food and drink. In X’ian I was wowed by the variety of dumplings at De Fa Chang Restaurant (www.dfc.com.cn). We sampled about 25 different kinds of dumplings (there are over 100 to choose from) in a variety of shapes - think avian species; fillings - potato, chicken, walnut; dough flavors - pumpkin, spinach, chocolate; and cooking methods - steamed, pan-fried, baked. What a treat after visiting the tourist sites! In Beijing I fondly remember our over-the-top royal banquet meal with Chinese American friends, who had relatives in the city. And, I’ll never forget those “finishing tea notes” of Great Leap Brewery’s (www.greatleapbrew ing.com) Yunnan Amber beer - infused for five days in Yunnan’s Dianhong black tea, which I drank in the congenial lobby bar at Beijing’s Orchid Hotel (www.theorchidbeijing.com).
Southern Africa is home to some of the best safaris, natural wonders and luxury lodges anywhere on the African continent. Here we break down Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, all easily accessible from Johannesburg, and should be on your radar as an alternative for an African holiday. Last year, the 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organization general assembly was co-hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe in their resort towns of Livingstone and Victoria Falls, the first time Southern Africa has hosted the UNWTO, solidifying their dedication to tourism.
Blending the hip and the historic, Israel constantly reinvents itself. In Jerusalem, new luxury hotels-including the country’s first Waldorf Astoria-are joining family-friendly attractions like The First Station, a stylish restaurant-and-entertainment complex in a restored Ottoman-era rail station. Along the coast, in and around high-energy Tel Aviv, discover another vintage train station, with hip restaurants and shops, plus the new Ritz-Carlton Herzliya, and trendy boutique hotels nestled in the White City’s 1930s Bauhaus buildings and ancient stone manors.
Because of its enormity and the diversity of its terrain, infrastructure and culture, travel to India can be an immensely rewarding experience for travelers, and a daunting one for travel planners. Despite its massive appeal, most travelers are not likely to book India on their own, which gives travel agents an incredible opportunity to assist them.
Mimi Campbell, a travel agent with Santa Barbara Travel Bureau has been to India only once, but that was enough for her to come away with a true appreciation for its vibrancy and the warmth of its people. “No matter what,” she says, “your clients are going to have an adventure and see and experience the real culture.” Campbell believes that India is a place for any traveler “who wants to see something out of his comfort zone and out of this world,” noting that her clients come back blown away, with stories of people who fed and cared for them, of spiritual awakenings and desires manifested as if by serendipity. Expect that not everything will go as planned, but know that this unpredictability and the good fortune that often follows is what “will ultimately be the things that travelers remember most.”
As the pace of new builds slows, there has been a steady growth in refurbishments and enhancements. Among the notable refurbs in 2013 was Disney Magic’s comprehensive makeover, which included replacing the Mickey Pool with a new water fun zone and water slide and total revamping of deck-top areas, restaurants and children’s clubs.
Regarded as “The Paris of South America,“ Buenos Aires is experiencing a tourism boom, attracting more business and leisure travelers to Latin America’s hottest destination. Famous for its rich European flavor, it also offers stunning architecture, superb cuisine, legendary nightlife, and fashionable shopping. Not to mention world-class soccer and the famed game of polo. Argentina’s vibrant, cosmopolitan capital is also an important cruise destination. The cheap peso means luxury for less with everyone taking note. Additionally, Buenos Aires is gay friendly. The tango hub of the world is ideal for clients seeking glamorous, lively, gastronomic destinations. It is fast becoming the ‘chic’ city to visit in 2014.
Happy 2014! As you can see, there have been some big changes to JAX FAX. For 2014, each issue will come to you in the form of two magazines-
Destinations by JAX FAX and Getting There by JAX FAX. Each will be published on a bi-monthly basis, delivered to you 6 times a year. Our intention is to provide our valued travel agent readers with even more comprehensive information needed to effectively sell travel to your clients. We have made some changes, but are still JAX FAX - enhanced.
During the first decade of the 21st century, travel industry pundits were touting the coming of age of the baby boomer generation. This generation, we were told, had the desire, time and income to travel and most importantly, was predisposed to using travel agents. Today’s baby boomers are between the ages of 50 and 68 and probably represent a large share of the average travel agency’s clientele, and a disproportionate share of agency revenues.