Posts in Luxury Hotels and Resorts
Book Virtuoso Hotels Online

We hear from clients that there are times they want to book a Virtuoso hotel on the weekend or at night when we are not available.  Other clients have said they don't want to "bother me" with a quick hotel booking.  While I am never "bothered" by a client's request for a Virtuoso hotel booking, I do agree that sometimes you just want to quickly make that booking on your phone or computer.  In order to receive the exclusive Virtuoso amenities, however, you have to make that booking through us. 

We have responded to the needs of our clients and have recently introduced the option of booking your Virtuoso hotels on your phone or computer while still ensuring your VIP treatment by the hotel staff and access to the exclusive amenities you can only get by booking through us. 

It is really easy to make your hotel booking and still receive our personal service. 

1.  Click on this link:https://www.virtuoso.com/advisor/juliejones

2.  On the home page, click on "Hotels" in the menu bar:

3.  If you know the specific destination or hotel, type the name and your travel dates in the boxes.  You will be shown a list of the Virtuoso hotels in that destination or the specific hotel you requested:

4.  If you want a more advanced search showing different destinations or simply all the Virtuoso properties, scroll to the bottom of the "Hotels" page and click on "View all Hotels".  From there, you can check the boxes on the left side of the screen to narrow your options.

Screen Shot 2017-12-10 at 12.53.11 PM.png

5.  Click on the name of the hotel you want to book:

Screen Shot 2017-12-10 at 12.57.45 PM.png

6.  Enter your dates and click "Book" for the preferred accommodations.  Don't forget to click on "View More rooms" at the bottom to see all the room categories:

7.  After clicking "Book", you will be asked to create an account:

Screen Shot 2017-12-10 at 12.58.43 PM.png

8.  Click "Continue Booking" to complete the Payment Information page.  You will see the total cost for the room and a list of the Virtuoso amenities you will receive as a Virtuoso guest of the hotel:

Screen Shot 2017-12-10 at 1.05.23 PM.png

9.  We will then receive an email with your booking information.  We will contact the hotel on your behalf to confirm your Virtuoso amenities and to request an upgraded room.  

It's the best of both worlds!!  You can make that convenient online booking when you know exactly what you need while still receiving Virtuoso amenities and our assistance as needed.

Try it out next time you have a quick hotel or resort booking.  Let me know if you have any questions about this new service at 314-780-8845 or email me.

SPRINGTIME IN IRELAND
Gleninchaquin Park

Gleninchaquin Park

What was the most pleasant surprise from my recent trip to Ireland?  The food!  It is delicious!  

During my short but sweet visit to Ireland, I was expecting to be surrounded by the beautiful countryside, castles and manors that leave one speechless…and lots of Guinness.  However, I really didn’t expect much in terms of the food in Ireland.  I have to say, every meal was just outstanding, from the seafood in the pubs to fine dining.  It also helps to be escorted by a private driver guide who knows where the locals get the best meals in town.  

I flew into Cork on a cold, rainy day and transferred directly to Sheen Falls Lodge.  My suite on the third floor was located right over the rushing waterfalls, making my 3 night stay so relaxing.    For a larger group staying at Sheen Falls Lodge, I highly recommend staying in one of the cottages on property with full kitchens, ensuite baths and private patios with beautiful views.  They are bright and airy with large living spaces for families or friends to enjoy.  The location of Sheen Falls is perfect for relaxing, enjoying the town of Kenmore and exploring the Beara Peninsula and the Ring of Kerry.  It is a great home base for visiting the Southwest region of Ireland for a few days.  The hotel has new owners, and they have given the hotel an extensive refurbishment making it a must stay during a trip to Ireland.

Our first day was filled with massages, a horseback trail ride and resting after our long travels.  The next day I was just in awe of the beauty of the Beara Peninsula.  We enjoyed lunch at a  tiny pub with the most incredible seafood.  We also hiked Gleninchaquin Park.  It was so wonderful to enjoy a hike where the only other people were locals enjoying a day off.  The woman who owns the land was so sweet welcoming us to her beautiful property.  Her husband and she had spent years taking care of the hiking trails for all to enjoy.  

While driving through Ireland is fabulous, it can also be exhausting.  I highly recommend spending a day just enjoying the grounds and activities offered at Sheen Falls Lodge. It can also be a day to stroll through Kenmare.  It is a lovely, quintessential Irish village with great shops and pubs.  Afterwards, enjoy a wine tasting with the sommelier at Sheen Falls followed by a private dinner in the wine cellar.  I have such fond memories of the friendly staff at Sheen Falls Lodge and can’t wait to return with my family!

We next visited Ballyfin, a countryside manor house located in County Loais.  Ballyfin is considered one of the very best hotels in Ireland and that reputation is well deserved.  It is a very special place to visit for a peaceful, romantic escape.  In addition, It also has so many wonderful activities on property, that a large family with both active kids and grandparents wanting to enjoy the manor house or carriage ride through the property will enjoy their time at Ballyfin.  

Each room at Ballyfin is individually decorated.  You feel as if you are staying in someone’s home.  The staff treats you as family and greets you outside upon your arrival.  A very unique and fun experience is to dress in period outfits and enjoy a formal evening with dinner as if living in a different era.  Conversely, you can reserve the lovely cabin on the grounds with the most amazing views of the surrounding landscape where your meal is served picnic style.  Ballyfin is truly a destination in itself and much loved by everyone who visits this very special manor house.

My last night in Ireland was a fun night of pub hopping with an overnight stay at The Westbury.  I love The Westbury, because it is located right in the heart of Grafton Street.  In addition, the friendly, impeccable service from its staff really makes your stay memorable.  While there is much to see and do in Dublin, the most pleasant surprise for me was my tour of Kilmainham Gaol.  This tour of Dublin’s famous prison house is very popular, and tickets must be purchased months in advance.  I learned so much about Ireland’s fascinating history during this tour.  It is really an excellent way to gain an understanding of Ireland and its most important historical figures.

Ireland is a country where one visit is never enough.  It is really a short flight from the East coast and is a great escape for a long weekend or an extensive period to explore the whole island.  I can’t wait for my return visit with my family!

Four Seasons Bora Bora
Overwater Bungalows at Four Seasons Bora Bora

Overwater Bungalows at Four Seasons Bora Bora

When I tell someone about my recent trip to Bora Bora, every single person responds with either “I LOVE Bora Bora” or “I have always wanted to visit Bora Bora”.  It seems to make the top of everyone’s list in some way.  

What surprises me is how people view it as such a faraway, exotic destination.  I’m told that Bora Bora receives the same number of tourists in one year that Hawaii receives in one week.  Many people think nothing of hopping on a plane to Hawaii.  Next trip, those same people should book a flight to Bora Bora and load one extra movie on their ipad.  The flight to Bora Bora is less than two hours longer than that flight to Hawaii.

The French Polynesia is located South of the equator about the same distance as Hawaii is North of the equator.  Tahiti is the largest island.  You fly into Papeete, Tahiti on a nonstop flight from Los Angeles.  From there, you take a quick flight to Bora Bora.

Beachfront Villa

Beachfront Villa

There are a surprising number of resorts on Bora Bora at many different price points.  I was very grateful to be a guest of Four Seasons Bora Bora.  There are 100 overwater bungalows and 7 beachfront villas with one, two or three bedrooms which are really fabulous for families.  If you stay in an overwater bungalow, you can choose between a beach view, lagoon view and a mountain view.  The mountain view is breathtaking with a view of Mount Otemanu, one of the peaks of an extinct volcano.  It is a truly breathtaking view that is, of course, more expensive.  There are also a few connecting bungalows for families or couples traveling with friends.  Some bungalows have infinity pools.  You could stay at your bungalow all day, swim in the ocean and your pool, order room service and drinks and enjoy the best view on the island. 

Yes, I did mention families.  Families are welcome!  It is a quiet atmosphere at the resort, but I consider it a great fit for many families.  The villas are wonderful for families with small kids, so they can enjoy their own private pool right at the beach.  Familieis with older kids would have fun staying in two connecting bungalows and would be thrilled with the many snorkeling and fishing adventures.  There is just one very lovely and relaxing main pool, so kids who like waterpark atmospheres would think the pool is pretty lame.  I think the tween ages would be the hardest to keep happy.

IMG_0382.JPG
Spa at Four Seasons Bora Bora

Spa at Four Seasons Bora Bora

While non-motorized sports are included in your room charge, there are a few more active adventures you must make room for in your budget.  My very favorite activity is the stingray and shark swim.  It is great fun swimming with the stingrays.  We took a ten minute boat ride to waters about chest high where our guide knows the stingrays.  His friend, Juliet, swam right up to him.  Our guide said he has known Juliet for 15 years.  She is pregnant and let our guide hold her for over 20 minutes.  After the stingrays, we visited an area with electric blue waters where you can swim with black tip reef sharks and lemon sharks.  It was an incredible experience, and I highly recommend it to any visitor to Bora Bora.  

I also had the opportunity to jet ski around the entire mainland of Bora Bora.  It was so fun!  The color of the water constantly changes and is so beautiful!  It is great fun to say I circled the island of Bora Bora on a jet ski!

There are lots of other activity choices, such as catamaran sailings, sunset cruises with private dinners, fishing, diving and other snorkeling trips.  The most fun may also be just sleeping on the beach with a fruity drink always at hand.  The service is typical Four Seasons service: impeccable. Everyone is so friendly and truly wants to make your visit to their beautiful island special.  There were hugs good-bye, and, as you drive off in your boat towards the airport, your hosts wave good-bye until they can no longer see you.  Its such a nice touch and makes you mentally start planning your return.

Contact me with any questions about Four Seasons Bora Bora and the French Polynesia in general.  I love sharing my experience on this truly special place on Earth!

Swimming with black tip reef sharks in Bora Bora.

Swimming with black tip reef sharks in Bora Bora.

The Best Island in the World
Four Seasons Bora Bora

Four Seasons Bora Bora

In two weeks I will be visiting “the best island in the world”, a title awarded to Bora Bora by U.S. News.  Bora Bora is the most famous of French Polynesia’s Leeward Islands.  It is a volcanic island, surrounded by an outer coral reef that encloses a crystal clear, turquoise lagoon.  I will be staying at the world-famous Four Seasons Bora Bora in an over-water bungalow suite.  I am counting down the days and will post about my experiences.  

The French Polynesia is incredibly popular with honeymooners and clients celebrating anniversaries.  In addition to romantic trips, Four Seasons Bora Bora is a very popular resort for destination weddings.  While Spring is considered the low season with the fewest number of tourists, the temperature averages only 3 degrees warmer than in the winter months.  There is no bad time of year for a visit to the French Polynesia.

I will be enjoying a Polynesian massage, a snorkeling safari in the lagoon and, wait for it…a wave runner tour around the entire island!!!  It should be a spectacular trip to the best island in the world!!!  Stay tuned...

La Réserve Hotel & Spa Paris
IMG_9750.jpg

La Réserve Hotel & Spa Paris embodies romance and elegance.  As a guest of this hotel, you experience authentic Parisian hospitality in the former 19th Century home of Pierre Cardin.  It truly feels like you are a guest in someone’s home.  You sit in the living room to check-in and get to know the wonderful staff.  By the end of your stay, you feel you are leaving a friend’s home.  If you can stay in a room with a view, it is a Million Dollar view.  You can overlook the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Palais, Pantheon and the Concorde obelisk.  Gabriel Avenue is set back on a very quiet, lovely street a stone’s throw from the Champs-Elysées.  At the end of a long day exploring the city, you feel like you are returning home to be pampered by the staff with a glass of wine and a fabulous meal.  A rare treat in Paris, La Réserve has an underground pool with stunning red lacquer décor.  It is a great way to escape the bustle of the city to experience a spa treatment and dip in the pool.

Once settled in our room, our wonderful butler took this picture in our room.  What a view!!

Once settled in our room, our wonderful butler took this picture in our room.  What a view!!

I had the pleasure of experiencing this fabulous hotel during my last stay in Paris.  It was December, and the holiday decorations were so pretty, and the hotel had such a warm, cozy feel to it.  We checked-in with a roaring fire in the living room.  Our butler spent so much time helping us get settled into the room.  She also set up our phone to the entertainment system, helping us feel right at home.  Our room was so beautiful, and the bed was ridiculously comfortable.  

Our stay at La Réserve was much too short.  It is the perfect hotel for a romantic stay in this beautiful city.

Email me or call 314-780-8845 with your questions about visiting Paris and finding the best accommodations for you.

Four Seasons Continues to Expand its Global Footprint

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts success is due to its unwavering dedication to the highest standards of service and hospitality, according to J. Allen Smith, President and CEO.  Building on that success, Four Seasons has been growing its portfolio around the world.  

Four Seasons Surf Club

Four Seasons Surf Club

I am most excited about its revival of the legendary Surf Club in Four Seasons style, opening in 2016.  The Surf Club opened as a private club in 1930 and was frequented by celebrities and world leaders such as Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and Winston Churchill.  Located just a few minutes south of Bal Harbour, The Surf Club boasts 965 feet of Atlantic oceanfront and will once again be a glamorous retreat for those looking for both peace and luxury.

Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina

Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina

Another new property creating tons of buzz is the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina slated to open mid-2016.  Located on oahu’s sunny western coast, it balances a classic hawaiian style with one-of-a-kind luxury.  The area is wild and rugged, yet conveniently close to Honolulu and Waikiki Beach.  Oahu is becoming newly discovered as one of the most requested Hawaiian islands to visit.

Rumor has it that Four Seasons is opening a new resort in Los Cabos.  Having bounced back to better than its former glory, Los Cabos has become the hot spot for luxurious, trendy and sophisticated beach resorts.  The addition of a Four Seasons will make it very hard choosing where to stay during your next visit.

Rumors are also very persistent about Four Seasons opening a property in Grand Cayman.  I will be very curious as to the location chosen for the resort.  The beach in front of the Ritz is terribly overcrowded.  Guests of the Ritz will not find the peaceful solitude often found in most areas of Seven Mile Beach.  I have great confidence that Four Seasons will create another oasis in Grand Cayman, consistent with the standards it has set at all its properties.

Did you know TopFlight Travels is a Four Seasons Preferred Partner?

Did you know TopFlight Travels is a Four Seasons Preferred Partner?

I’m a Preferred Partner with Four Seasons.  This wonderful honor ensures my clients receive VIP treatment during their stays at Four Seasons, and also provides valuable amenities not offered to the public.  Please contact me at 314-780-8845 or julie@topflighttravels.com for more information on your next glorious stay at a Four Seasons.

LUXURY HOTELS OPENING JUST IN TIME FOR SPRING!

Now that Spring is here, I’ve been thinking a lot about traveling to new destinations, trying new restaurants and visiting some of the hot, new hotels I keep hearing about.  New hotels always have such an air of excitement generated by the staff eager to please.  This Spring, I am hearing about new openings much more than usual.  Although I wish I could visit each and every new property,  I love getting reports from friends, clients and colleagues about their experiences.  Here are a few properties that I believe are getting the biggest buzz.

The Island House, Lyford Cay, Bahamas.  This boutique property is set to open in April, 2015.  It’s goal is to be different from all the more mainstream resorts by embodying the spirit of the island, a place of celebrated food, esteemed art and overall well-being.  It hopes to merge local culture and residents with visitors.  For example, there will be a 48-seat cinema featuring both blockbuster and independent Caribbean productions to captivate both guests and local culture enthusiasts.  The space will also host live music.

The hotel features 30 guestrooms, two poolside cottages and six 2-3 bedroom apartments.  All accommodations are beautifully decorated in a modern and understated style.  The Bamford Spa offers an extensive range of treatments.  The fitness center includes squash courts, 25 meter lap pool, and an AntiGravity Yoga program, an innovative fitness regime that combines yoga with aerial art, Pilates and dance using an aerial hammock.  My favorite offering of The Island House is a day set off to the Exuma Cays, discovering the remote, natural beauty of Highbourne Cay, a private island.  The word is getting out about the beauty of the Exuma Cays, so get there while it is still pristine.

Check out their website at www.the-island-house.com to discover more about this boutique property that wants to offer a welcoming space that captures the local spirit.

Key-West-Boutiques-Florida.jpg

The Gates Hotel Key West.  This boutique hotel with 245 rooms will open in Key West, Florida in April, 2015.  I think this hotel will be a breath of fresh air in Key West.  It’s goal is to recreate the lifestyle of Hemingway’s “old school Key West” with its Cuban-themed dining and drinking, splashy pool deck scene, residential style interiors that combine refined luxury and modern design.

The large pool will be the center of attention with lazy afternoons and festive evenings of live entertainment.  Poolside cabanas and daybeds may be rented in the day and evening for VIP service and fun.  The hotel will offer just two room categories: The View and The Standard.  Adjacent to the pool, the hotel’s Rum Row will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Rum Row will celebrate the romance of the Prohibition era’s love of rum and cigars...maybe soon, Cuban cigars will be a common siting.

A bit removed from Duval Street and Mallory Square, The Gates will offer visitors of Key West a throwback experience to the good old days on Key West.  www.gateshotelkeywest.com.

Hotel Wailea.  I can’t wait to visit Hotel Wailea!  Located in Maui in a former Japanese private members club unknown to leisure travelers, this boutique hotel is for the new generation of luxury guests seeking romance and tranquility of ultra-private suites, coupled with gracious island service.  It is set 300 feet above sea level and boasts a relaxed beach house design in its 72 one-bedroom suites.  This romantic sanctuary offers privacy, relaxation and stunning views of its lush gardens, the Maui coastline and three neighboring Hawaiian islands.  You cannot find this luxurious experience anywhere else on Maui.  Similar to The Gates, the poolside lounge named The Cabanas, offers a day to night experience where guests gather to drink, dine and relax.  The apothecary-style bar offers custom cocktails with fresh-pressed juices, organic hydrosols and tropical infusions.  The pool deck features oversized cabanas, circular daybeds and a fire pit that sits center stage for evening socializing, while hanging lights, tiki torches and lanterns evoke a romantic mood under the Hawaiian moonlight.

Hotel Wailea will bring excitement to Wailea, Hawaii’s top luxury destination!  Explore their offerings at www.hotelwailea.com.

There are so many more recent openings, including Baha Mar in Nassau, Cheval Blanc Saint-Barth Isle de France in St. Barth’s, the reinvention of famed Eden Roc in Miami Beach as Nobu Hotel and Restaurant, The Edition, also located on Miami Beach and the reopening of Malliouhana Hotel & Spa in Anguilla.  I will continue to keep you posted on these exciting new properties.  Hopefully, I will get to offer personal insight into many of these properties!

Happy Spring Everyone!