FA Cup Final At Wembley Stadium In London

Wembley Stadium

Wembley Stadium

All eyes are on the FA cup with Liverpool traveling to Blackburn on April 8 for a replay after drawing on March 8. The winner faces Aston Villa in the FA Cup semi final on April 19. Arsenal and Reading will face off on April 18. On May 30th the FA Cup Final will take place in London at Wembley Stadium. Continue reading


Insight To India



If you’re interested in exploring options for a magical trip to India, I invite you to a showcase and wine reception at Departure Lounge on March 5th. Come and meet Shonali Datta, Managing Director of Banyan Tours, widely recognized as one of the truly specialist companies in India. Shonali is the leading expert on the best travel experiences and luxury properties. Continue reading

Norwegian Ice Climbing

 Photo: visualimpact.ch | Thomas Senf

Photo: visualimpact.ch | Thomas Senf

In the Vestfjord Valley of southern Norway, lies the tiny town of Rjukan. This historic town is a place fueled by the fusion of work and play that all comes down to gravity. And with over 150 waterfalls in the valley, Rjukan is actually one the best ice climbing areas in the world. From hydroelectric turbines to precision ice tools, follow along as we explore the unique relationship between water and gravity found in the valley and the engineering it takes to harness them.

Rjukan these days has become one of the world’s premier ice-climbing destinations, with hundreds of routes right off the road.

For the less adventurous inclined, I can arrange Hurtigruten cruises in the spectacular fjords, a ride on the Flam railway, one of the world’s steepest train rides, or a drive on the Atlantic Road, a marvel of engineering to name just a few “only in Norway” experiences.

Creating once-in-a-lifetime travel begins with the relationship between you and your professional travel advisor. The Virtuoso network gives you access to exclusive amenities, upgrades, and experiences leveraged by my personal connections to achieve the best results.

Viviane Tondeur, MBA, CTC, DS, is a Travel Advisor affiliated with Departure Lounge, a member of the Virtuoso luxury travel network.  When you rely on me to plan and reserve your trips worldwide, you access a world of insider access and special privileges.

Contact me here to start planning your unique Norway travel experience.

Take The Orient Express To The Cowboys In London

As if the Cowboys playing in London was not exciting enough, I’ve created a wonderful itinerary on the Orient Express to get you to the game. From the 1920s to the ‘30s the carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train played a significant role in the golden age of travel. Today, every carriage has been lovingly restored to its former glory, recreating one of the finest luxury experiences the world has ever known.

Enjoy 2 nights in Venice at the exquisite Belmond Hotel Cipriani before boarding the iconic Venice Simplon-Orient-Express for the overnight journey to London. After you’re settled in, lunch is served while you travel through the breathtaking alpine scenery. Have afternoon tea in your cabin and join fellow guests for cocktails in the magnificent bar car. Dinner is a four-course feast, prepared on board by skilled French chefs. After dinner, listen to the pianist in the bar and retire to your cabin which has now been transformed into a cozy bedroom.

Your steward will serve breakfast in your cabin and after a stop in Paris, you’ll savor a delicious brunch as you travel through the French countryside. Cross the channel through the Eurotunnel and in the UK, continue your adventure on the Pullman train. A traditional afternoon tea accompanied by a glass of English sparkling wine is served before arriving at London’s Victoria Station. Virtuoso has a great selection of hotels in London and offers exclusive benefits and amenities.

Mon, Nov 3: Arrive Venice

Tue, Nov 4: in Venice

Wed, Nov 5: Depart Venice Simplon-Orient-Express at 10:57 am

Thu, Nov 6: Arrive London at 5:30 pm

Fri, Nov 7 and Sat, Nov 8: in London

Sun, Nov 9: GAME DAY! Cowboys vs Jaguars at Wembley Stadium

Mon, Nov 10: Depart London

Destinations: Venice and London

Departures: November 2, 2014

The itinerary is fully customizable (except the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express). Two nights at Belmond Cipriani in Venice and the train journey including the meals starts at $3,140 per person in a double cabin. Departure Lounge has negotiated premium economy, business and first class airfares on the non-stop flight between Austin and London.

Each cabin on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express has an original washbasin cabinet with hot and cold water, and at night-time becomes a comfortable bedroom, complete with soft towels and crisp linen. Double Cabins feature one room, whilst Cabin Suites offer the ultimate luxury of two inter-connecting cabins. Toilet facilities are available in each carriage, luxuriously appointed and maintained to the highest standards by our stewards.

Contact me here to help you plan and book your trip!

Why Travel by Train?

1001 Scribbles


Budapest, Hungria

5 Reasons to Travel by Train:

1. Flexibility

Most of the short trips don’t require reservation, which means you’re never late to catch a train. Just show up and grab a ticket to the destination you desire and don’t worry about expensive last-minute fares.

2. Convenience

Most major train stations are located right downtown in the heart of the cities they serve, while when you’re travelling by plane you arrive somewhere usually very far from the city centre and you’re required to spend money on airport transportation.

3. Comfort and Relaxation

By train you’ll get someone else to do the driving, you’ll have more legroom than you would on an airplane, you’ll be able to move around and you’ll get to look at the beautiful landscapes available from the window.

4. More Baggage

Major airlines tend to make us travel light and what they charge for extra baggage…

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Viviane’s Top Weekly Picks July 20


10 Reasons Travel Agents Are Better Than the Internet

I agree! This post originally appeared on Thrillist (Juy 16) and was picked up by The Huffington Post on July 19. IMO too much emphasis on getting cheap flights but some valid points otherwise. As a Virtuoso Travel Advisor I offer you a world of insider access and special privileges including:

  • complimentary upgrades, daily breakfast and special amenities at 1,000+ five-star hotels and resorts
  • complimentary shore excursions with gourmet meals, exclusive cocktail receptions and dedicated hosts on 400+ luxury cruise sailings per year
  • special savings or upgrades on business- and first-class international air fares with 50+ top airline carriers (ask me about our special fares on the new British Airways direct non-stop flight from Austin to London)
  • destination-based experts to serve as your guides and local concierge service for insider experiences
  • someone who is always there to correct any issues that may arise during your travel (if you book it yourself, you can only call yourself)

I would really appreciate it if you’d consider allowing me to book your travel arrangements, as well as recommend me to your friends and colleagues who travel.  So many people don’t realize that travel advisors exist or why and how to use us.  I don’t charge fees for most types of trips, so utilizing my service is no more expensive than if you booked it yourself.  But there’s a very good chance I can use my contacts and the leverage of the Virtuoso international travel network to deliver an upgraded travel experience for you, and help you make the best decisions to make the most of your valuable vacation time.


Culinary enthusiasts listen up!
Travel is made so much more glorious through food – the experiences we have when we’re trying something new whether it be nibbling on bites as we amble through a chaotic outdoor food market, indulging in tantalizing dishes at a 5-star restaurant, or learning at the hands of a master in a professional kitchen, or in a local’s home. As a culinary expert, I can arrange and reserve a trip that’s just right for you. Not everyone in your party wants to spend time in the kitchen? No problem, Departure Lounge’s “travel persona survey” will help me pinpoint how to best plan a vacation that will accommodate everyone’s interests.

We’ll keep with the culinary theme and visit a country that might not come to mind first when you think of haute cuisine and fine wines. This lovely experience keeps you both on track and entirely off the beaten track at the same time as you glide your way through India aboard a luxury train. Each stop brings a new adventure whether it be Delhi, Jaipur, Agra or beyond.  Enjoy visits to traditional bazaars to shop for the ingredients before cooking alongside celebrated regional chefs, dine with Indian families at exotic settings and even witness mass cooking & meal management for thousands at a time at special events. A truly unique culinary experience!

Want to try foraging for wild food with a Michelin-starred chef followed by a demonstration of how to incorporate what you have found into your evening meal in his or her kitchen? How about bread making in a Michelin-starred kitchen paired with locally produced cheeses or an informal residential cookery course with an internationally renowned cook and best-selling food-writer?
Let me arrange your trip around these events:
Buckingham Palace Summer Opening: 26 July – 28 September
Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo: 1 – 23 August
Edinburgh International Festival: 8 – 31 August
Edinburgh International Book Festival: 9 – 25 August
Kilkenny Arts Festival, Ireland: 8 – 17 August


One&Only Hayman Island

Luxury is officially redefined at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef One&Only Hayman Island. Discover the astonishing natural beauty of this private island paradise where each day is filled with restorative peace, indulgence and adventure, and everlasting memories are made.

SPECIAL CELEBRATORY OPENING OFFER: Don’t miss out – receive 25% savings on accommodation when you BOOK BY 31 JULY 2014 FOR TRAVEL UNTIL 30 SEPTEMBER 2014.


Stella Australis

One of my favorite trips of all time: Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, Strait of Magellan, Beagle Channel, Cape Horn … a cruise to the end of the world. Australis is known as the leader in Patagonia. And it’s easy to see why. As the only outfitter to sail exclusively in this region you’ll enjoy an insider’s perspective of Patagonia’s legendary landscape. The best part? All the extras are included in your fare, with complimentary meals, excursions, an open bar — even whisky and hot chocolate during your onshore outings. Yes, I have the photo to prove it: whisky on the rocks (quite literally) with ice from the glacier! Book by September 30 for exclusive upgrades and more.


River cruise customers are generally upscale travelers, and the industry is moving quickly to provide high-end staterooms and suites to satisfy them, including accommodations with features such as heated tile floors, hot tubs, walk-in closets and butler service. Size also matters to the upscale river cruise client, so cruise lines are also designing larger rooms and suites — some offering more than 1,000 square feet.

The boom in upscale accommodations for high-end river cruise clients is perhaps most apparent on vessels sailing on the Mekong, Yangtze and Irrawaddy rivers, where the lines are adding itineraries at a fast clip. Here, where stateroom designs in the colors and textures of the East are merged with cutting edge technology, the result is extraordinary.

Century Paragon, Yangtze River/www.avalonwaterways.com
Yangzi Explorer, Yangtze River/www.vikingrivercruises.com
AmaLotus, Mekong River/www.amawaterways.com
Avalon Siem Reap (launches 2015), Mekong River/www.avalonwaterways.com

Destinations: India, England, Scotland, Hayman Island, Patagonia, China, South East Asia

Departures: January 1 – December 31

Contact me here to help you plan and book your next trip.


Luxury Train Travel Around The World

Orient Express

All aboard! In the world of train travel, nothing says intrigue and luxury like the Orient Express although the original train between Paris and Istanbul was simply a normal international railway service. Today’s Venice Simplon Orient Express is a glorious journey offering opulent accommodations and majestic scenery. In Southeast Asia, the Eastern & Oriental Express’ exotic voyage between Bangkok and Singapore features the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang in Laos and the dramatic splendor of Cambodia’s ancient city, Angkor Wat.

Join us on Saturday, June 14th at Departure Lounge in Austin to learn about the best train trips on each continent. One of my favorites is the trip from Cuzco to Machu Picchu aboard the Hiram Bingham. Relax in 1920’s Pullman-style carriages with polished wood and brass accents, learn how to make Pisco Sour cocktails in the bar, enjoy a champagne brunch in the dining car, and take in panoramic views of the Sacred Valley from the observation car before arriving at the citadel.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to discover a more civilized way to experience some of the world’s best destinations. Departure Lounge will feature happy hour wine flights all day to keep the fun on track and to whet your appetite for the culinary delights awaiting you aboard the trains.

What: Luxury Train Travel Around The World
Where: Departure Lounge, 311 West 5th (at Guadalupe), Austin, Texas 78701
When: Saturday, June 14th, 2014, 2pm – 5pm

Please contact me here to discuss your travel plans and book your reservations. While I have been a travel advisor for many years and have hundreds of personal contacts around the world, I am also a part of the Virtuoso luxury travel network, which is more than 60 years old and produces $12.5 billion in annual luxury leisure travel sales. I leverage my relationships AND the buying power of the Virtuoso network to score my clients amazing upgrades, complimentary meals, exclusive benefits and fantastic amenities.