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The Confidante Your Source for What's New in Luxury Travel
Winter 2013

Greetings!

A lot happening in travel recently, with AAirline mergers and Dreamliners grounding! I was just in Seattle last weekend in fact, watching the first of the renewed series of 787 test flights. I've also just returned from a cruise on my favourite "It's Yachting, not Cruising" line, SeaDream, exploring parts of the Caribbean I'd not been to before, including the thoroughly enjoyable island of Vieques, Puerto Rico - on a moped!

Next month I'm honoured to be one of only two Canadian travel professionals invited to be hosted to ILTM Japan, a version of the luxury travel meeting I typically attend in Cannes each fall. It's in Kyoto, a city I have yet to explore, and am very much looking forward to reporting to you upon my return.

And then it's on to Paris in July, for our annual group cruise, this time with 50 friends, family and clients (the line is often blurred!) for a week on AmaWaterways into Normandy.

I'm living a charmed life, and I am so happy you are sharing it with me.

Kind regards,

Roger Kershaw, ASA
President
Roger Kershaw Custom Travel Inc.

in this issue
  • Feature Destination
  • 10-year Canadian Passports coming!
  • TSA PreCheck Extended to Canadians Enrolled in NEXUS
  • World's Safest Airlines
  • Beijing debuts new 72-hour, visa-free policy
  • Jingle bells, shotgun shells
  • New Canadian Government Website for Travellers
  • Happy Seine-tenary: Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris Turns 100
  • Air Canada revamps Top Tier program

  • 10-year Canadian Passports coming!

    Hidden in an announcement that 5-year passports will shortly be going up in cost from $87 to $120, is a report that 10-year passports will be available from July 2013, at a cost of $160.

    Other increases include the introduction of a fee ($45) for replacement of a lost passport. The government reports that over 50,000 passports were replaced (free) last year.


    TSA PreCheck Extended to Canadians Enrolled in NEXUS

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is partnering with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for TSA Pre, an initiative that allows eligible passengers to qualify for expedited screening at participating U.S. airports. Canadian citizens who are traveling domestically in the United States who are members of NEXUS are now qualified to participate in TSA Pre.

    If TSA determines a passenger is eligible for expedited screening through TSA Pre, information is imbedded in the barcode of the passenger's boarding pass and passengers may be referred to the TSA Pre lane where they will undergo expedited screening, which could include being able to leave their shoes, light outerwear and belt on, allowing them to keep their laptops in their cases and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bags in their carry-ons.

    The TSA has also relaxed airport security screening procedures for passengers under 13 or over 74, allowing them to go through security without taking off their shoes.


    World's Safest Airlines

    JACDEC publishes an annual report synthesizing years since last accident, and hull losses for all the major airlines, and has reported for 2012 that Finnair, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, TAP, All Nippon, and Qantas are all vying for top of the list as safest, with no serious incidents in the last 30 years.

    Air Canada comes in at 25th, but that should change next year, as their last incident was in 1983 (and then their slate will be wiped clean by JADEC).

    The good news is that flying continues to get safer all around, with fewer fatalities and hull losses in 2012 than in 2011, a continuing trend - in fact the fewest accidents and second lowest fatality count on commercial airlines since 1945!


    Beijing debuts new 72-hour, visa-free policy

    Effective this year, Beijing has begun employing a 72-hour visa-free stay for travelers from many countries (including Canada, USA and Great Britain) with outbound air tickets. The policy of a visa-free short term stay is not new to China. Shanghai has a 48-hour visa-free policy for travelers from selected countries who are flying on to other destinations.

    This is designed to increase tourism especially among business travellers who find Beijing a convenient transit hub.

    With my own team of Virtuoso on-sites standing by, let me add an educational and exhilarating stop in the Middle Kingdom on your next Asian adventure without the hassle!


    Jingle bells, shotgun shells

    The TSA blog, a regular rundown of the embattled agency's progress fighting sky terror, has reported an amazing arsenal of weapons found on travelers during the recent holidays.


Weapons confiscated in one week include a spear gun fully equipped with spear at Houston and eleven stun guns found in carry-on bags around the nation.




    Perhaps the oddest find was a box of shotgun shells found at Newark International Airport. The box reads: "Jingle Bells Shotgun Shells." Apparently they were decommissioned weapons remade into Christmas lights.

    Memo to travelers: weapon-styled Christmas ornaments are still a no-fly item.


    New Canadian Government Website for Travellers

    The federal government has launched a new web site for Canadian travellers, billing it as Canada's official "one-stop shop" for international travel information. Travel.gc.ca is a single thematic web site that integrates regularly updated content and resources from 12 government partners to help Canadians travelling and living abroad find the information they need to make informed decisions about international travel, with the latest travel advice, crisis updates, emergency contact information and registration abroad while travelling.

    This is, by the way, the only website I refer to for travel documentation for my clients. It's official!

    Travel.gc.ca's new mobile application, Travel Smart, allows Canadians anywhere in the world to access Canadian government information and services on international travel from their smart phones as well. Visit the link below and set up the app on your phone today.


    Happy Seine-tenary: Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris Turns 100

    Like any good parent, I would like to pretend that I have no favourites in my industry, but indeed, I have one extra special family member, and they are turning 100 this year. When the Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris opened its doors on Avenue Montaigne on April 20, 1913, it epitomized the iconic Champs-Elysées and the surrounding area, creating a haven for the fashion set, international diplomats and bon viveurs from around the world. Since then, its address has become one of the most iconic symbols of Parisian glamour.

    Exclusive partnerships, thematic offerings, cocktails, cuisine and more will be available throughout the year. Examples include Bavarian nights (honouring its founder Emile Armbruster), Exclusive Shows at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées (just steps away, and also turning 100 this year), and the new Baccarat Crystal Cocktail, created by bar manager Thierry Hernandez and served in a Baccarat Harcourt crystal glass, featuring the hotel's signature red color in a mix of blackberries, wild strawberries and cranberries over a foundation of Cognac, spiked with a dash of passion fruit and topped with champagne.


    Air Canada revamps Top Tier program

    Air Canada has announced two new tiers to theier 2013 program for a total of five, as well as some new benefits that will make your travel experience even more rewarding, and a new name - Air Canada Altitude. The five tiers will also have new names and will be known as: Altitude Prestige 25K, Altitude Elite 35K, Altitude Elite 50K, Altitude Elite 75K, and Altitude Super Elite 100K.

    In the upcoming months, they will officially launch Air Canada Altitude with a new program look and feel, newly designed cards and packages, and a completely revamped website, as well as a new range of exclusive partner privileges.


    Feature Destination

    India

    Recently I was treated to the most exciting, life-changing, eye-opening, travel experience of my life: India.

    Long on my list of "gotta go" destinations, it wasn't until a colleague from Oberoi Hotels & Resorts invited us to experience India in the incredibly caring and capable hands of our Virtuoso on-site, Amber Tours, that I actually made the trip, and now I simply can't stop thinking, and talking, about it.

    We arrived in Mumbai, were welcomed by Amber's staff and personally escorted to the Oberoi there for a delicious dinner and overnight, then took a quick side trip to Goa, staying at the luxurious Park Hyatt Resort where everyone from GM to housekeeper seemed to know, and enjoy using, my name. Back to Mumbai, and back into Amber's care, we continued to Udaipur, the City of Lakes and the Udaivilas, to the Pink City of Jaipur and Rajvilas, to Ranthambore National Park and Vanyavilas, Agra and Amarvilas overlooking Taj Majal, and the capital city of Delhi and the Oberoi Gurgaon.

    We rode elephants and tuktuks, dined with descendants of the rajas, interrupted tigers mating, were blessed at private temples, pampered ourselves with spa services, bumped into Oprah, and everywhere we were met with teeming masses of ... smiles. The broadest, most welcoming, most endearing smiles you will ever find, anywhere.

    India. Let me share it with you this year. You'll never see at the world the same again.


    Read Virtuoso Life online

    The award winning magazine published by Virtuoso for its agents and their most travelled clients is available online for everyone. You can always find a link to the latest issue from my website. In the meantime, here are some highlights from the current issue

    25 Must-See Destinations For 2013: Virtuoso advisors name this year's most buzz-worthy places on the planet.

    Go With the Floe: Polar bears, horned whales, and sea ice for miles: bundle up for adventure in the high Canadian arctic.

    Swept Away: On board a vintage sailing yacht, a voyage through Greece and Turkey turns back time - and turns heads.

    Past Present: Myanmar opens the door to Old Asia.

    Insider Itinerary: An English masterpiece, stroll in the footsteps of PBS' hit series Downton Abbey with this private walking tour of England's Cotswolds.


    The Virtuoso Advantage

    Yes, you can book most any hotel in the world by yourself. But did you realize that there are at present 944 of the finest hotels in the world in the Virutoso program, and each and every one of them offers exclusive offers when booked for you by a Virtuoso-affiliated agent (i.e., me!).

    Upgrades at time of booking, or upon arrival, are standard fare, as are breakfasts (this alone is sometimes worth nearly cost of the room in some properties!) and often spa credits and transfers - each property carefully selects their own special Virtuoso Amenities. Examples of a unique added value amenity include Sheen Falls in Ireland - "Excursion in the hotel's 1936 Roadmaster Buick convertible with introduction to the Kenmare area" and Castello Banfi Il Borgo in Tuscany - "Wine Tasting for two paired with a tasting plate of Flavors of the Castle set in their own vineyards plus EUR 40.00 Wine Shop credit".

    Did you also realize that Virtuoso Rates are GUARANTEED to be equal or lower than rack rates?

    Not all properties in a hotel group are Virtuoso, but through a Preferred Partner program with many of them, I can arrange similar benefits. For example, only 50 of the 89 Four Seasons Hotels are Virtuoso members, but my Preferred status with the brand can offer many of the same amenities in the balance. I also have Preferred status with Rosewood, Ritz-Carlton, Fairmont, Rocco Forte and Orient-Express properties.


    Referrals welcome!

    The highest compliment my clients can give is the referral of their friends, family and business associates.

    Thank you for your support.


    "One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things."

    - Henry Miller

    Cruise & Travel Links

    Crystal Cruises

    Silversea

    The Yachts of Seabourn

    Regent Seven Seas Cruises

    SeaDream Yacht Club

    Celebrity Cruises

    Azamara Club Cruises

    Backroads

    Hosted Villas

    Orient-Express Hotels Trains and Cruises

    Orion Expeditions Cruises



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    Newsletter Editor/Webmaster: Jim Lingerfelt - - Web site: http://www.rogerkershaw.com