All posts in Hot Topics

Great International Golf Getaways

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In part 1 of our Golf Getaway series, we offered a snapshot of some U.S. golfing resorts that may not be on your radar, but are worthy of a tee or two.  Because golf is one of the easiest sports to take with you on vacation, in part 2 of our series we profile phenomenal international courses that attract millions of golfers from around the world in the hopes of winning a championship, improving their personal handicap, or just learning the rules of the game – surrounded by stunning landscapes.

St. Andrews, scotland golf

St. Andrews, Scotland

A trip to St. Andrews, Scotland should be on every golfer’s bucket list. St. Andrews is considered the birthplace of golf, in part because the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, founded in 1754, exercises legislative authority over the game worldwide (except in the U.S. and Mexico). St. Andrews boasts challenging, but beautiful courses along with historic castles, botanical gardens, local festivals and relaxing spas.

If you’re looking for something a bit more temperate, there are a host of international golf getaway destinations.  Here are some that may be new to you:

Lucaula Island

Laucala Island, Fiji

Laucala Island, Fiji

Home of the exclusive Laucala Resort, this private island also features a championship 18-hole golf course with volcanic mountains as its backdrop and a sheer cliff drop into the Pacific Ocean. Non-golfers will enjoy an array of watersports, rainforest walking tours, relaxing beaches, farm visits, game fishing and horseback riding.

Royal Isabella, Puerto Rico

Royal Isabella, Puerto Rico

 

 

Royal Isabela, Puerto Rico

This course was designed on site, not on paper, so the land would dictate the final layout with minimal impact on the surrounding area. Native grasses, natural sand dunes and deep canyons are integral to the layout and pose challenges at every hole. Family members will enjoy the private club lifestyle on this 1800 acre resort with beach, nature trail and farm to table restaurant.

casa de campo, Costa Rica

Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic

Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic

Golf fans will clamor to play Teeth of the Dog, which is ranked the #1 course in the Caribbean. The stunning, waterfront scenery will surely distract from your game. Dye Fore is the second championship golf course on this property, with 7 cliff-side holes and breathtaking 360 degree views. Your kids will enjoy one of the 3 kids clubs that have age-appropriate activities scheduled. There are also tennis courts, polo fields, beaches, spa and a shooting facility.

Algarve, Portugal

Algarve, Portugal

Algarve, Portugal

Algarve is Portugal’s southernmost region, known for its sunny Mediterranean climate and its beach and golf resorts. Algarve is home to 80 golf courses, stunning scenery and for your non-golfers, there are plenty of historic sites along with walking trails, surfing, parasailing, hang gliding, clubs, restaurants and local festivals and events.

We’d love to hear where you played your favorite round of golf! Leave a comment below.

Great Golf Getaways in the U.S.

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

When you think of taking a golf getaway, avid golfers will usually think of the traditional go-to golf states: Hilton Head, SC; California, Arizona or Florida. While those locations boast a multitude of luxury resorts and championship golf courses, there are approximately 19,000 golf courses throughout the whole country which also offer pristine scenery and luxury accommodations, so there’s no need to limit your golf rounds to just a select few states.

Here is a sample of resorts from across the country that offer golf for all levels as well as non-golf activities for the spouses and children who have different interests. There is something for everyone and these resorts also offer summer packages.

sea island golf club

Sea Island, GA

Choose a room from The Cloister, The Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club or a Sea Island Cottage. The golfer in your family can play at three championship golf courses while the rest of the family keeps busy with private beaches, tennis, squash, Yacht Club, shooting school, horseback riding or spa treatments.

The Inn at Bar Harbor

The Inn at Bar Harbor

Bay Harbor, MI

OK, so Michigan isn’t the first place you think of when you think ‘golf’ but The Inn at Bay Harbor is a classic Victorian resort which offers hotel rooms or suites as well as 2-3 bedroom cottages. Choose to play at the Bay Harbor Golf Club or the Crooked Tree Golf Club while your family enjoys the spa, beaches lakeside resort towns, microbreweries, adventure sports or Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark. Michigan also has sunlight from 6am – 10pm which gives you plenty of time for multiple rounds of golf!

kiawah golf resort

Kiawah golf resort

 

Kiawah Island, SC

Just a few miles from Charleston, SC, Kiawah Island Golf Resort offers luxurious hotel rooms, villas or private homes to suit families of any size. Golfers choose from 5 breathtaking courses while families choose from shopping in Charleston, lounging on the private beach, spa treatments, tennis lessons, nature walks or on-site dining.

woodstock inn and golf resort

Woodstock Inn and Resort

Woodstock, VT

Playing golf overlooking the mountains is just as stunning as playing holes that overlook the water. The course at the Woodstock Inn & Resort was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and is listed as one of the Top 100 golf resorts by Golf Magazine. Family members will enjoy spa treatments, mountain bike trails, cruiser bikes suitable for riding through town, gardening classes at Kelly Way Gardens, Kitchen Garden Collaborative classes with local chefs and falconry, which is new a new outdoor experience this year.

Finding a golf course to play while on vacation is not difficult at all. Be creative with choosing your location and always be prepared with your clubs! In the second part of this series, we’ll explore Best International Golf Getaways.

Italy: One Country — A World of Cultures

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In the final installment of our cultural travel series, we’ve saved the best for last with an appraisal of Italy’s significant art and cultural attractions.  Kit Burns, owner of Doorways, Ltd. and Italy travel expert, talks about the wonders we’ve all dreamed of seeing, as well as those you may have never heard of.  Having visited Italy more than 100 times, Kit’s vast experience and perspective is comprehensive and hard to match.

Watch our video interview with Kit.

What is it about Italy that makes it one of the most culturally significant travel destinations in the world?

For starters, it has 50 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which makes it the most culturally rich country in the world. UNESCO stands for the United Nations Educations, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Click here to view the Heritage Site list for Italy followed by the date that the site was named to the UNESCO list. Basically no matter what area of Italy you travel to, you will inevitably be close to fabulous cultural treasures.

Your business has taken you to Italy more than 100 times. What are some of the most treasured regions and attractions from your standpoint and why?

Every area of Italy is full of wonders, its own cuisine, its own dialect and its own natural beauty. Just when I think I have seen it all, I make another discovery. Everyone has heard of Venice, Florence, Rome, Amalfi Coast (and Capri), Lake Como and Tuscany. But there are many other wonders to discover like Umbria, the Veneto, Lake Maggiore, Umbria, Puglia or Sicily.

Where do you recommend first-timers to Italy visit for authentic cultural richness?

First timers with two weeks would probably want to see Rome and north and south of Rome because there is so much in each area. A classic first trip to Italy could be to fly into Venice to spend three nights; rent a car and travel to Tuscany for a week in a villa to explore Florence, Pisa, Siena, Lucca, Cortona and the beautiful wine country, and then drive down to Rome, drop off your car and spend the balance of your trip there. Second timers might elect to fly into Rome and travel south to the Amalfi Coast for a week and then finish off with a week in Rome.

Are there any events, festivals, etc., happening this year that travelers may want to plan a trip around?

Expo15, the World’s Fair, is taking place outside of Milan this year.  The befitting theme is, “Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life.” The fair started on May 1 and runs through October 31, 2015.

For more information about Kit Burns and vacation villa rentals in Italy, Spain and France, click here.

Study calls airlines out on restricting airfare and scheduling transparency

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

The Travel Technology Association (TTA) recently released a study, which continues to fuel a flame of discord between some key airlines and online travel resource sites, including ExpertFlyer, Hipmunk, Travelzoo, among many others.

After numerous mergers, only four major airline carriers currently control 80% of the domestic air travel market.  The study concludes that by prohibiting display of price and scheduling information on certain travel websites, airlines are making it harder for consumers to find the right flight at the best price, resulting in long-term consequences:

  • 223 million American leisure and unmanaged business travelers would pay an additional $6.7 billion in airfare annually – equivalent to $30 more per ticket or an 11 percent increase, which is about $120 for a family of four making a trip.
  • 41 million travelers would choose not to fly because of the higher ticket prices, denying revenue to airlines.
  • The air travel market would suffer an annual $600 million loss.

To read the full study, click here and view the clickable infographic below.

airfare and schedule transparency infographic

Benefits of Preserving Consumers’ Ability to Compare Airline Fares – See more at: http://www.tnooz.com/article/delta-feuds-with-online-travel-sites-after-removing-fare-and-schedule-data/#sthash.Owwl9xFz.dpuf

India: The (Real) Top 5 “Must See” Destinations

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Over the past ten years, India’s status as a place to do business has grown immensely.  According to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), India is the 10th largest business travel market in the world.  With more Westerners traveling for business and gaining appreciation for the vast and unique cultural attractions, history and landscape, more leisure travelers are keen on exploring India, but it’s a big country – 1.2 million sq. miles covered by more than 1.2 billion people!

Louise Nicholson, a trained art historian, India travel expert/guide and author of more than 25 books, including National Geographic Guides to India, says, “You can’t see all the major sites of India in one trip, unless you have a few years to spare. My mantra is ‘less is more’, meaning the fewer places and areas you travel to, the more you will undoubtedly get out of your journey.”

TripAdvisor’s 2015 Travelers’ Choice destination picks for India include the following geographies in their top five: 1. Jaipur 2. New Delhi 3. Mumbai 4. Jaisalmer 5. Bardez

We asked Louise to give us her version of the top 5 special choice destinations in India. Not surprisingly, her picks are quite unique. In fact, only Mumbai made her top five when compared to TripAdvisor’s choices.

“This is almost impossible to do, so much choice, as if you want the top five destinations in all of Europe!  But here are five choices for five very different tastes; India is all about finding the right place for YOU, which is what I have been doing for 35 years.”

  1. World Trade Centre, Mumbai

    World Trade Centre, Mumbai

    Mumbai – a great entry city for a first visit to India.  Many people just transit through, but it merits stopping and exploring. Mumbai is a bustling buzzing port-city made great by the British in the 19th century, and now the financial, fashion, film and entertainment capital of India.  Downtown (around the Taj Mahal hotel) is easy and safe to walk, and you can find bars, restaurants of all cuisines, the Prince of Wales museum, cool contemporary design and art galleries in beautiful old warehouses, and fantastic fashion.  Other areas have their own neighbourhoods for eating and shopping; I really like Bandra.

  2. Udaipur, Jodhpur, Nagaur – the best trio of cities in fairytale Rajasthan, and you just drive between them – so, no airport hanging about.  These are some of the best Rajasthan cities at the moment, thriving, not too big, walkable, great hotels.  Ideal for honeymooners and people wanting the full combo of dazzling colours, romantic forts, shopping direct from craftsmen, and outrageous playtime palaces, many of which you can stay in and partake of their amazing spoiling spas.  At Nagaur you stay in the palaces the queens lived in!
  3. Sacred temple water tank of Koviloor, Tamil Nadu

    Sacred temple water tank of Koviloor, Tamil Nadu (Photo: kulasekaran Seshadri)

    Tamil Nadu – this is the state in South India where you see historic India, but living full pelt today, especially in the huge temple cities with their temple bazaars, festivals, their own in-temple elephants.  You can start from Chennai and then do a tour through the villages and fields to visit Mahaballipuram, Thanjavur, Thiruchirappalli and Madurai.  Good historic hotels along the way.  Find delicious food, music, weavers, ladies in glistening saris.  And watch all those rituals and festivals.  You even have a drop of French sophistication at the former French colony of Pondicherry!

  4. Ajanta and Ellora – two world class mind-blowing sites inland from Mumbai; you just take a 40 minute flight to Aurangabad, which is your base for visiting each site.  Still in rural India, it is as if you are discovering each one.  Dating from 2nd century BC up to the 8th century AD, or so, you see the birth of monumental sculpture and painting that spread eastwards across the Buddhist world, and Hindu and Jain sculptures that set the tone for the great medieval achievements.  As if that were not enough, one of India’s most important Shiva pilgrimage temples is at Ellora (almost no foreigners know about it), and the high quality shimmering Paithan silk weaves on sale in Aurangabad.
  5. Crow's Lake is one of the hundreds of lakes in Northern Sikkim.

    Crow’s Lake is one of the hundreds of lakes in Northern Sikkim. (Photo: Carsten.nebel)

    Sikkim – up in the lush and pristine Lower Himalaya hills located between Bhutan and Nepal, Sikkim was an independent kingdom until recently.  Few tourists visit, yet it is tranquil, varied and very beautiful.  Just the place for relaxing in the spring and fall.  You start from Darjeeling, crossing into Sikkim to explore a very distinct culture.  You can visit a tea plantation, go inside ancient monasteries to hear monks chanting, spot orchids hanging from trees and great big rhododendrons blossoming in their natural habitat.  You can take walks through villages and farms to spot hill birds, see how people live close to the earth, and take hikes of varying challenge into the mountains.  There is even a superb new hotel built in Sikkim style with excellent food and rooftop terraces where you can gaze – all day long if you wish – at a row of family snow-capped Himalayans peaks.  I am taking a tour there next April – come with me!

For more about Louise and her special trips to India, visit: www.louisenicholsonindia.com.