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

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Barging and River Cruising

If you have questions about barging or river cruising, or if you are thinking about it for your next vacation, come to the Departure Lounge Barging & River Cruising event on March 11th. Continue reading

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.

Viviane’s Top Weekly Picks August 3

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Could be the cooler than normal temps are tricking my legs to think about the upcoming ski season …? Well, yes, it so happens quite a few updates and announcements came across my desk so here goes:

The Chedi Andermatt

The Chedi Andermatt, part of the multi-billion-dollar resort development, opened in December 2013 and set new standards in the Swiss hotel industry. The chalet-style property is a modern interpretation of alpine architecture by designer Jean-Michel Gathy. The result is a mountaineer’s version of hedonism with luxuriously appointed rooms and suites, 3 restaurants overseen by Michelin-starred Executive Chef Mansour Memarian, spa, and dedicated ski butlers.

Rocky Mountain High

Recently renovated Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Beaver Creak, CO is a ski-in/ski-out Rocky Mountain Lodge with brand new additions including ski concierge, restaurant, bar, and retail shops. The ski valet service has moved to a heated outdoor area with hot cocoa, coffee, hot cider, and of course legendary Ritz-Carlton service.

Southern Hemisphere

If you need to get your summer ski fix now, 2014 is turning out to be an epic snow year in Chile, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

Considering Repositioning?

Seasonal cruises when ships relocate from one part of the world to another, can offer as much as 70% off regular rates. You’ll enjoy more days at sea to indulge in spa treatments and participate in workshops, lectures, cooking classes and food pairings. Sailings in October & November on Crystal, Celebrity, Windstar and Oceania Cruises, and Holland America Line.

Vibrant London Awaits

Departure Lounge clients are taking advantage of our premium, business, and first class fares on the daily British Airways non-stop flight from Austin to London. Make easy connections to other European destinations, or enjoy a few days in the vibrant capital.

Las Ventanas al Paraíso, Cabo San Lucas

Hollywood’s newest “it” couple, Academy Award winning actors Charlize Theron & Sean Penn, and Departure Lounge founders Keith Waldon & Bryan Glatt recently luxuriated in a stay at the legendary resort which unveiled its 12 new villas, each with a private infinity pool and swim-up bar. Best of all? you can get there in a little over 2 hrs non-stop from Austin and you’ll enjoy Virtuoso exclusive benefits and amenities.

Exclusive Cognac Tasting Tours

From December to February, Courvoisier offers an 8-hour “Cognac & Truffles” tour with a local trufficulteur and a truffle inspired lunch at the elegant Château Courvoisier. The rest of the year, you can enjoy the 7-hour “From Grape to Glass” tour including everything but the truffles. Rémy Martin offers a 10-hour Louis XIII Experience, featuring the “king of cognacs.”

Destinations: Switzerland, Colorado, Chile, Argentina, England, Mexico, France, ocean cruises

Departures: January 1 – December 31

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

 

Perfect Summer Ski Fixes

Valle-Nevado

Enjoy skiing and snow sports all year long! Get your summer ski fix in two of my favorite resorts in Chile: Valle Nevado and Portillo. The season runs June through October, the skiing is world class, and there are rarely any lift lines … your seatmates could very well be members of the US Ski or Olympic Team.

Destinations:

Valle Nevado: largest skiable domain in South America, English-speaking ski school instructors, heliskiing (yes!), excellent accommodations, shopping, dining, and nightlife. Transfer time from Santiago to Valle Nevado is just over an hour.

Portillo: about 2 hours from Santiago is the famous Hotel Portillo known for its personalized service and warm ambiance. Your stay includes 4 meals per day, lift tickets, and access to all facilities (gym, pool, sauna and more). There are no other accommodations and no neighboring towns making for a private club ambiance in a majestic setting.

Departures: June through October

For information and reservations call Viviane, the snow sports expert at 818-268-6552.

For the very adventurous I recommend an extreme experience of skiing and snowboarding on active volcanoes reaching live craters in Chile & Argentina. Trips range from 8 to 14 days and are escorted by specialized local guides. The level is expert to intermediate and you must be able to participate in up to 6 hours of physical activity per day. Departures from 2nd week of July to 3rd week of September.

About Viviane Tondeur, MBA, CTC, DS: travel advisor affiliated with Departure Lounge, a member of the Virtuoso network. I focus on snow sports, river cruising, and delicious culinary experiences. As an expert FIT and group planner – I specialize in personalizing clients’ travel experiences, and regularly lead tours to favorite destinations.

About Departure Lounge in Austin, TX: sleek, elegant, one-of-a-kind coffee and wine bar with a cool travel discovery zone. Departure Lounge clients enjoy Virtuoso insider access plus complimentary upgrades and amenities. Departure Lounge travel advisors are part counselor, part global concierge and part magician. We follow a specific process in collaborating with you and have some very cool tools to lead you on the right path.

About Virtuoso: travel industry’s leading luxury network with 1,300 of the world’s premier travel providers, as well as exclusive services, experiences, and products.

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The Patagonia Ski Experience

Stunning views of Nahuel Huapi National Park

Stunning views of Nahuel Huapi National Park

Skiing in Argentina is a thrill, especially when combined with a few days in the capital Buenos Aires.

San Carlos de Bariloche, or Bariloche for short, is the gateway to Cerro Catedral, Argentina’s most famous snow resort with a good mix of runs for all ability levels (ski & snowboard). Bariloche, famous for its artisan chocolates and vibrant nightlife, has lots of restaurants, bars, boutiques, and … adorable St. Bernards – the town mascot.

Buenos Aires summarizes true Argentina essence. It is a patchwork of distinct, fascinating communities, from the frenetic downtown and working-class tanguero neighborhoods to wealthy districts such as Recoleta.

The 7-night Patagonia Ski Experience includes:

  • Four nights’ accommodation at Llao Llao Luxury Resort, Bariloche
  • Three days’ lift ticket at Cerro Catedral and all transfers
  • Circuito Chico, a traditional circle tour on the southern shore of Lake Nahuel Huapi
  • Three nights’ accommodation at Alvear Palace in Buenos Aires, La Recoleta
  • Private city tour of Buenos Aires and all transfers
  • Dinner and Tango at Esquina Carlos Gardel with transfers

VIRTUOSO RATES FROM: $2,500 per person, double occupancy

VIRTUOSO EXCLUSIVE AMENITY: $100 spa service credit to be utilized during the stay at Llao Llao

Destinations: Buenos Aires, Bariloche, Cerro Cathedral, Nahuel Huapi National Park

Departures: August 2 to September 30, 2014

About Viviane Tondeur, MBA, CTC, DS: travel advisor affiliated with Departure Lounge, a member of the Virtuoso network. I focus on snow sports, river cruising, and delicious culinary experiences. As an expert FIT and group planner – I specialize in personalizing clients’ travel experiences, and regularly lead tours to favorite destinations.

About Departure Lounge in Austin, TX: sleek, elegant, one-of-a-kind coffee and wine bar with a cool travel discovery zone. Departure Lounge clients enjoy Virtuoso insider access plus complimentary upgrades and amenities. Departure Lounge travel advisors are part counselor, part global concierge and part magician. We follow a specific process in collaborating with you and have some very cool tools to lead you on the right path.

About Virtuoso: travel industry’s leading luxury network with 1,300 of the world’s premier travel providers, as well as exclusive services, experiences, and products.

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Viviane’s Top Weekly Picks July 27

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Viva Valle

If 7,000 acres of skiable domain sound good to you, I can get you to the slopes right now. Valle Nevado in Chile is experiencing epic snow conditions and it’s not too late to plan your ski trip for August or September.

Best of Basque

Exquisite food & wine journeys are available in conjunction with the 1-time-only nonstop flight on Iberia from New York to the Basque Country happening 04-12 October. It’s the best of Basque, now at incredible value. Continue reading

Valle Nevado Chile announces early 2014 opening

 

Valle Nevado Pow

Valle Nevado Pow

The wait is over! Due to heavy early snowfall Valle Nevado ski resort in Chile opened two weeks before the scheduled date for the 2014 season. While El Niño weather patterns have forecasted favorable weather conditions for the central Andes this year, the amount of snow received in the past few weeks has already exceeded expectations, and promises an even better season than previously announced. Valle Nevado currently has nearly three feet of snow, with more flurries predicted in this week’s forecast. Valle Nevado’s hotels will remain closed until June 27, however most trails, select restaurants and other services will open for day skiers and those lodging in condominiums.

Also, as part of Valle Nevado’s USD $150 million Master Development Project that seeks to turn Valle Nevado into the first full service mountain village in the region, the resort announces the inauguration of a new restaurant, La Leñera, serving hearty mountain fare in a cozy lodge setting, as well as two new apartment buildings, El Plomo and Tupungato.

Contact me here to get you to the slopes in no time! It promises to be an epic ski year in the Andes and I have the right tools and connections to get you there in style.

Destination: Valle Nevado, Chile

Departure: daily