Iconic Alpine Experience

Intercontinental Davos, Switzerland

Intercontinental Davos, Switzerland

The future of travel has arrived in the Swiss Alps, and it is the InterContinental Hotel Davos. This glimmering steel orb, set high above Lake Davos, looks a bit like a golden spaceship, and the inventive gastronomy served at three distinctive restaurants is definitely out of this world. Parquet flooring and plush accents adorn the 216 individually appointed rooms and suites, and you’ll absorb the alpine splendor from your private balcony. Continue reading

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2015 Powder Click Photo Camp in Valle Nevado, Chile

Valle Nevado

SKI Magazine & Skiing Magazine will host the 2015 Powder Click photo camp at Valle Nevado this year from August 21 – 28, offering an in-depth photography workshop for amateur photographers to hone their action, lifestyle, and outdoor photography skills while skiing the powdery slopes of the Andes. Participants will be encouraged to nurture their creative side while at the same time expanding their technical knowledge and even learning how to get their images published. Continue reading

There’s still time for an epic snow adventure in Whistler Blackcomb free night special offer

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With over 1,800 acres of skiable terrain (North America’s largest) Whistler-Blackcomb is monumental in size but the pedestrian village is charming and boasts fine dining and lively après-ski. You’ll find meticulously groomed slopes for every level to powder filled bowls for the experts, and best of all the season runs through May so you can still fit in a fabulous snow vacation.

Stay at The Fairmont Chateau Whistler (ski-in/ski-out) or The Four Seasons Resort Whistler and enjoy exclusive Virtuoso amenities and upgrades. Contact me now for special offers including lift tickets and free nights. A favorable exchange rate gives you even more value for your dollar. Continue reading

Such A Deal!

FS Santa Fe

This week I scored my clients an incredible deal at the fabulous Rancho Encantado Four Seasons resort in Santa Fe, NM. Set in 57 unspoiled acres of the Sangre de Cristo foothills, the resort is just 10 minutes from Santa Fe’s galleries, shops and distinctive architecture. Complimentary transportation to the Plaza is provided by the resort’s Mercedes Benz. Continue reading

French Jewels of Hospitality

Cheval Blanc Courchevel

Cheval Blanc Courchevel

Ooh la la! Join me at Departure Lounge for a French wine and truffles reception showcasing the hospitality jewels of Paris, St. Barths, the French Alps & the Maldives. Learn about Hotel Esprit Saint Germain on Paris’ Left Bank and meet owner Laurence Tafanel. Then discover the exquisite Cheval Blanc properties represented tonight by Evelyn Weber, manager of Cheval Blanc St. Barth Isle de France. She will present her property in St. Barths, as well as the Cheval Blanc properties in the French Alps and the Maldives. Continue reading

150 Years of Winter Tourism in Switzerland

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Pop quiz: who was the innovative St. Moritz hotelier who attracted the first winter guests to the Alps in 1864 with a simple bet that turned out to be the birth of winter tourism? Tweet your answer to @skivirtuoso

Snow sports are amazingly addictive, they can take you across the world, and you’ll meet many new friends and have some of the most memorable days of your life. Following is my hand-picked selection of top Swiss resorts and destinations, and favorite experiences.

Recommendation from my favorite ski instructor: take lessons at every level as it is always possible to improve and there is always another harder slope to tackle.

All hotels below (except The Chedi in Andermatt) are members of the Virtuoso luxury travel network and my clients will receive guaranteed rates, complimentary upgrades, exclusive perks and amenities, and free breakfast daily. From A to Z:

Andermatt
• served as the stunning backdrop to James Bond in Goldfinger
The famous Glacier-Express railway that connects Zermatt and St. Moritz boards and disembarks in Andermatt. The cable car takes you to the Gemsstock with incredible panoramic views from the summit over the heart of Switzerland and about 600 Alpine peaks. The wide open slopes are ideal for experienced skiers, snowboarders and fans of deep snow.

The Chedi: Alpine chic meets Asian sleek in this sublime hotel chalet. Its
extensive facilities include fine restaurants and cosy lounges, a ski-in living room with sports boutique and ski butler, comprehensive spa and wellness center with a tranquil retreat of hydrothermal baths and a duo of swimming pools. Although this hotel is not in the Virtuoso network, I included it because of its unique ambiance. Currently, I can offer promotional rates for a 3-night minimum stay including spa access & treatments, daily breakfast and one dinner, and other perks.

Davos
• free “inside” guest program
Davos is a place of superlatives: the largest resort for mountain holidays and at 1560 m the highest town in the Alps. Guests of the ski hotels can benefit from local insiders providing free and exclusive skiing adventures on a daily basis from 20 December 2014 to 6 April 2015. At night, too, there’s plenty of entertainment, with bars, discos and a casino.

InterContinental Davos offers spacious rooms with a modern, warm alpine feel underlined by high tech amenities. The trendsetting dining and lounge experiences and state-of-the-art spa and gym complement the hotel’s Green Engage sustainability effort.

Gstaad
• Glacier 3000
The chalet village of Gstaad attracts countless celebrities who appreciate the quiet and discreet atmosphere. The resort appeals to active travelers offering one of the largest and most diverse winter sports regions in Switzerland with guaranteed snow.

Gstaad Palace, set on a hill overlooking the village, is an elegant hotel with a relaxing ambiance and awesome views of the surrounding Alps. Guests also enjoy the tastefully decorated rooms, restaurants, spa, and world-famous night club. I recently participated in an interactive webinar to get all the latest updates before the hotel opens on December 19.

Alpina Gstaad, the first luxury hotel to be built in Gstaad in 100 years, boasts stunning rooms, private apartments within the hotel, and 2 chalets. All restaurants share a single floor of the hotel with floor-to-ceiling glass doors flowing onto an outdoor terrace. Japanese restaurant Megu is the first European location of the celebrated concept, with its flagship in New York.

Interlaken
• Jungfrau
The Jungfrau Region offers no less than 43 mountain railways and ski-lifts offering perfect skiing over some 125 miles of slopes. Non-skiers also get their money’s worth: more than 60 miles of winter footpaths enable you to explore the mountains on foot.

Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel combines modern comfort with old world charm. The most recent renovation of the rooms and the spa was in 2010. The spa is a veritable fountain of youth and health, offering virtually unlimited sporting possibilities matched by few other hotels.

St Moritz
• White Turf Horse Race
St. Moritz is the cradle of winter tourism and it is the only Alpine destination with own regional airport, located at an altitude of 5.905 ft. There are more than 200 miles of pistes with a state-of-the-art infrastructure in the surrounding area. Benefit from the countless opportunities in the region with a visitor’s card that is a travel pass for mountain transport facilities and buses, a parking disc and a credit card all in one while also entitling its holder to a great many discounts. Every winter, frozen Lake St. Moritz is the site of the White Turf Horse Race, which attracts the world’s finest thoroughbreds.

Badrutt’s Palace Hotel is where it all began 150 years ago! The answer to the pop quiz is Johannes Badrutt. At Badrutt’s Palace Hotel graceful ambience is matched with breathtaking, pristine alpine scenery that surrounds this fairy-tale hideaway. Fashion and food are just as celebrated as outdoor activities, making for a well-rounded experience.

The Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains is ideally located in St. Moritz Bad, with direct access to the cable car station for Corviglia. All rooms and suites are elegantly and timelessly appointed and reflect unpretentious luxury and stylish class. The hotel also boasts award-winning restaurants, a spa and many more facilities. My friend, Alessandro Benedetti, is the Director of Sales & Marketing at the hotel.

Verbier
• Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition Portfolio
I learned to ski in Verbier as a junior in high school. Verbier and the entire 4 Vallées ski area (not to be confused with Les 3 Vallées in France) is a paradise for all winter sports enthusiasts, from beginner to expert.

The Lodge is a stunning nine bedroom chalet (including a specially designed bunkroom for up to 6 children) accommodating a total of 18 guests. Although we also stayed in bunk beds during our “ski class”, it was nothing like you will experience at Sir Branson’s Lodge… with its private party room, indoor pool & jacuzzi, steam room, and mini ice-rink. Gastronomes will appreciate the private chef , wine cellar and house Champagne.

Zermatt
•    Matterhorn
The idyllic mountain village at the foot of the iconic Matterhorn has developed into one of the world’s most famous ski resorts with more than 188 miles of marked trails and a resort lift capacity of nearly 92,000 people per hour.

Grand Hotel Zermatterhof has been welcoming guests from all over the world since 1879. You will enjoy the newly renovated rooms, fine restaurants, popular bars, and a lavish spa with indoor pool.

Mont Cervin Palace stands out with its attractive façade and roof with numerous turrets and the hotel’s red horse-drawn carriage is an ever popular photo opp. Well-appointed rooms, Dine Around concept, and exquisite spa facilities & wellness center make for a fine stay.

Viviane Tondeur, CTC, DS is the Departure Lounge winter sports expert with a passion for anything snow, a wealth of knowledge, and some very cool tools to lead you to the right slopes. Viviane has completed the Switzerland Tourism program through the Virtuoso Travel Academy and has received the designation of “Switzerland Specialist

What is your most memorable snow adventure? Contact me here and let’s plan another one!

 

Perfect ski in ski out suite for the holidays

Park Hyatt Beaver Creek

Luxury at it’s best: the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa has one (1) suite available from December 21 to 30! It’s a spectacular 2-bedroom suite with fireplace, dining table for 8, kitchenette, 3 full baths, slope views, and SKI IN SKI OUT.

Beaver Creek is a world-class destination boasting legendary service, 1850 acres of skiable terrain, gourmet on-mountain dining, and warm hospitality.

Oh, what fun it is! Enjoy a scenic open air sleigh ride to one of three elegantly rustic cabins serving amazing cuisine and fine wines: Beano’s, Allie’s and Zach’s.

The family-friendly Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa is at the heart of the village with the ice-skating rink at its front door. It’s a Virtuoso “Best of the Best” resort and when you book your vacation through me, you’ll enjoy exclusive benefits and perks at Virtuoso contract rates!

Where are you spending the holidays? Call me now if you haven’t made plans yet!

 

 

 

Winter Getaways and Gear

Winter Getaways and Gear
Come join me for Departure Lounge‘s last travel event of 2014, Winter Getaways & Gear. We’ll showcase the top snow destinations worldwide with exclusive promotional offers and door prizes.

At 3 p.m. our neighbor, St. Bernard Sports will feature a fashion show of the latest snow gear for your trip.

Also enjoy Departure Lounge’s wine flights and cheese plates at happy hour prices all afternoon.

This event is a come-and-go gathering, so stop in whenever you can between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Street parking and the parking facility at the former post office across the corner are the best options.

I’ll be available to help with any upcoming trips and St. Bernard Sports staff will be on hand to assist you with any gear or wardrobe additions you may need. I still have last minute (limited) availability for the holidays and other peak travel times at some of the top resorts.

What: Winter Getaways & Gear
Where: Departure Lounge, 311 W 5th Street (at Guadalupe), Austin TX 78701
When: Saturday, December 13th, 2014 from 2pm to 4pm (come and go)

RSVP: call me at 818-268-6552 or email vtondeur@departurelounge.com

As a Virtuoso travel advisor affiliated with Departure Lounge, I can offer my clients exclusive benefits and perks at close to 100 “Best of the Best” hotels and resorts in the top snow destinations:

– complimentary upgrades, daily breakfast, and special amenities at four- and five-star hotels and resorts

– exceptional savings or upgrades on business- and first-class international air fares

– destination-based experts to serve as your guides and local concierge service for insider experiences

What is your favorite snow destination? Call me now to discuss and book your travel plans!

Trips of a Lifetime

Taking a break in Fez, Morocco with my friend Chuck

Taking a break in Fez, Morocco with my friend Chuck

FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS

You’ve been imagining an African safari for ages, and your espresso this morning reminded you of that Mediterranean cruise you’ve always wanted to take. Well, now’s the time to follow those dreams straight to your Virtuoso travel advisor for a customized trip of a lifetime. With my insider connections and the $12.5 billion buying power of the Virtuso luxury travel network, I can make anything happen – so go ahead, dream big.

This issue of the Virtuoso Travel Catalog features trips of a lifetime like:

– Sipping Champagne while cruising the Chilean fjords;

– Getting a massage after windsurfing in Moorea;

– Feel right at home in Paris in your residence-style hotel;

– Let Irish lore come alive during your stay in a 700-year-old castle;

– Float over the Masai Mara in a hot-air balloon;

– Soak all your cares away in the Chihpen hot springs in Taiwan;

– Ski or ride the fabulous pistes of the Alps;

– Meet locals in rural Laos;

– Walk among polar bears in the Canadian Arctic;

– Wander the aromatic spice markets in Marrakesh.

Where would you like to go? Call me now to discuss and book your travel plans!

As a Virtuoso travel advisor affiliated with Departure Lounge in Austin, I can deliver enhanced experiences with Virtuoso benefits and exclusive perks:

– complimentary room upgrades, daily breakfast and special amenities at more than 1,000 four- and five-star hotels and resorts worldwide

– complimentary shore excursions with gourmet meals, exclusive cocktail receptions and dedicated hosts – including yours truly – on 400+ luxury cruise sailings per year

– special savings or upgrades on business- and first-class international air fares with the top airline carriers

– destination-based experts to serve as your guides and local concierge service for insider experiences

– a professional travel expert who is always there to correct any issues that may arise during your travel

World’s Best Ski Towns

Matterhorn in Zermatt

Matterhorn in Zermatt

National Geographic’s selection of the 25 best ski towns in the world. Do you agree? Where do you like to ski?

Just what makes a classic ski town? It starts, naturally, with skiing and snowboarding so good they attract people like youth-bestowing fountains. Then add an inviting mountain burg steeped in ski heritage, amenities, and culture. These are the 25 best. For insider tips, we asked local luminaries where to stay, play, and party, whether you’re on a budget or indulging.
—Aaron Teasdale

World’s Best Ski Towns – National Geographic.

My personal favorites (not in order):

1. Chamonix, France

2. Zermatt, Switzerland

3. Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy

4. Park City, Utah

5. Taos, New Mexico

and because I ski year round:

6. Valle Nevado, Chile

7. Bariloche, Argentina

On the wish list for 2014-2015 season (come to our ski event on December 13 for special promotions and door prizes): Whistler, British Columbia; Sun Valley, Idaho; Squaw Valley, California

Join me? Hit Follow and be the first to receive dates and rates.

Viviane’s weekly picks October 12

Paris in Autumn

– With it first renovation in 30 years, the Eiffel Tower’s highlight (literally!) is the glass floor pavilion which offers visitors incredible views of the landscape and people below from 187 feet up in the air. Insider tip: if you lie down on the glass floor, you can take a selfie that looks as if you’re in the air! Continue reading

Top snow getaways and gear

ski

Snow season is just around the chair lift! Did you know winter tourism started 150 years ago in St. Moritz, Switzerland? Join ski and snow travel expert Viviane Tondeur and St Bernard Sports at Departure Lounge to launch the slope season in style on Saturday, September 27 from 2 pm to 5 pm.

Departure Lounge’s screens will showcase the best snow resorts in North America and Europe and St Bernard Sports will demo the newest gear and latest fashions. Score great deals, learn about Virtuoso insider access, exclusive benefits and amenities, and enjoy happy hour pricing on Departure Lounge’s wine flights during the event.

Score amazing deals in the countdown to winter promotion or win the Grand Prize, a 2-night Vail ski vacay!

When: Saturday, September 27 from 2 pm to 5 pm

Where: Departure Lounge, 311 W. 5th Street (at Guadalupe), Austin, TX 78701

Questions? Call Viviane Tondeur at 818-268-6552

Don’t worry about missing the Longhorns @ Kansas, we’re broadcasting the game live!

Viviane’s Top Weekly Picks Sep 7

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Ski Chile
Powder anyone? The southern ski season definitely isn’t over yet!  Portillo, Chile received almost 2 feet of new snow and more on the way this week. The season has been extended until 28th September.

Fall in love with Beverly Hills
I did! Sunny days and glamorous nights make for an unforgettable fall getaway to Beverly Hills. Savor the season with a special stay at Montage Beverly Hills, where three nights of accommodations and amenities grants you a complimentary fourth night of in-city indulgence.

Masters Golf
Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA: April 6 – 13, 2015
A ritual of spring takes place every April in Georgia, as the world’s best golfers take on Augusta National at the Masters. I can arrange custom packages from $1,095 per person (practice round), and $4,925 per person (tournament rounds).

AmaWaterways President’s Cruise
Don’t miss this very special opportunity to cruise the Rhine and Moselle with AmaWaterways President Rudi Schreiner. He will be hosting an exclusive 7-night voyage on the luxurious AmaLyra from Luxembourg to Amsterdam on November 7th. Book now to receive $1,500 off the regular price of a double occupancy stateroom (or single supplement waived for solo travelers).

Legends of the Caribbean
Join us on Saturday, September 20th from 2 pm to 5 pm at Departure Lounge for “Legends of the Caribbean” to discover our top recommendation for each of our favorite island destinations. These amazing resorts have provided door prizes and special offers for attendees. Enjoy a virtual, visual getaway to each resort, as well as happy hour pricing on Departure Lounge’s wine flights. Find out which famous resort was the venue for a private performance by Diana Ross for Departure Lounge Founder Keith Waldon.

Destinations: Portillo, Beverly Hills, Augusta, Luxembourg, Germany, Netherlands, Caribbean

Departures: January 1 – December 31

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

Viviane’s Top Weekly Picks August 24

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Let it snow!

150 years ago winter tourism started in St. Moritz, Switzerland and we’re celebrating in style. Save the date for Wednesday, September 24 and join us to kick off the 2014-15 snow season. Representatives from resorts in the US and Europe will be on hand to answer your questions and hand out information. Our partner in snow, St Bernard Sports, will demo the latest gear and fashions.

The Future of Cruising is almost here!

On November 2nd, Quantum of the Seas℠ sets sail on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to Cape Liberty, NJ. Among cruise lines firsts are the skydiving simulator and North Star℠ observation pod 300 feet above sea level. Guests will find innovative features throughout in staterooms, dining and entertainment.

Picasso Museum in Paris reopens

The Picasso Museum in the beautiful Hôtel Salé – a grand 17th century mansion – will reopen on Picasso’s birthday, October 25th! Many of the 5,000 Picasso works housed here will be on exhibit in the museum, which has been closed for about three years.

Celebrate the holidays “riverboat” style

Six Old Fashioned Holidays voyages on the American Queen are available including New Orleans round trip or between New Orleans and Memphis, Tenn. These itineraries offer guests authentic holiday experiences including the old Louisiana tradition of bonfires on the levees, special Christmas shows in the Grand Saloon, door-decorating contests and woodcarver Jim Moore creating a Victorian Santa from a block of basswood. Seasonal culinary delights and decadent desserts include a Creole Réveillon Christmas Dinner.

Super Bowl returns to Arizona

There is nothing quite like the anticipation of a new season of football. Glendale, Arizona will host Super Bowl XLIX on February 1, 2015. As other fans gather around their televisions, you could be in the stands to experience football’s biggest game in person.

Free Night and Virtuoso Exclusive Amenities Worldwide

Enjoy a third or fourth night free at Raffles and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts around the globe, breakfast daily, dining credits,  and more.

Destinations: St. Moritz, Southampton, Paris, New Orleans, Glendale

Departures: January 1 – December 31

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

Viviane’s Top Weekly Picks August 10

Nonstop to the Greens

Thanks to all who attended our “nonstop” event at the Departure Lounge. We highlighted several great golf destinations and resorts and, if enough interest, we will arrange an exclusive trip for our clients. Today all eyes are on the PGA Championship at Valhalla. The final round will decide the final three spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Several players are still in the mix, and nothing will be decided until the final holes play out …

Score serious discounts in Valle Nevado

If you plan on heading down to Chile to catch some summer pow but still haven’t bought your ticket, here’s your chance to score 40% off on all hotels in Valle Nevado from August 22nd until September 5th. And, LAN Airlines is offering 20% off on hotels in September.

Departure Lounge Ski Event

Save the date for Wednesday, September 24 and join us to kick off the 2014-15 ski season. Representatives from resorts in the US and Europe will be on hand to answer your questions and hand out information. Our partner in snow, St Bernard Sports, will demo all the latest gear and fashions.

Whale Watching in Cabo

Departure Lounge founders Keith Waldon and Bryan Glatt are heading to Cabo in January to escape cedar pollen/fever and do some whale watching. They’re inviting a small group of Departure Lounge clients to join them. Who is interested?

Dallas Cowboys vs Jacksonville Jaguars @ Wembley

Be part of the action on November 9 when the Cowboys play their first-ever regular season game overseas at Wembley Stadium in London. We have you covered with exclusive premium, business and 1st class rates on the daily nonstop British Airways flight, and special upgrades, perks and complimentary meals at Shangri-La, Departure Lounge’s preferred hotel partner at The Shard. The views of London and London Bridge from this modern luxury hotel are extraordinary.

California Calling?

Read my update on Santa Barbara and Ojai in the current newsletter.

Art on the French Riviera

The French Riviera boasts several museums — dedicated to Picasso, Renoir, Matisse, Chagall, and Modern Art — and, in particular, the unique Maeght Foundation in beautiful Saint-Paul-de-Vence. To mark its 50th anniversary, there is a special exhibition to honor the vision of the collector and founder, Aimé Maeght. About 100 works will be on display through November 11, including those of Calder, Chagall, Giacometti, Adami, Kandinsky, Miro, and many more. The museum also hosts live music performances “les nuits concerts” on selected dates.

The medieval village makes a delightful day trip, or even an overnight stay, with its winding lanes and views of the mountains, Provence, and Mediterranean.

Destinations: Chile, England, Mexico, France, California

Departures: January 1 – December 31

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