Roger Kershaw Custom Travel Design Inc.
The Confidante Your Source for What's New in Luxury Travel
Winter 2015

What a change a puppy makes in your life! Since getting Rupert, our Cavalier King Charles, last May, my personal travel has slowed somewhat, focusing on the luxury travel conferences I thrive on: last year in Chicago, London, Cannes and of course Virtuoso in Las Vegas, and we also enjoyed another of our annual Reunion Group cruises for the Christmas Markets on the Danube with AmaWaterways.

I'm off shortly to Dubai and Abu Dhabi my first visit there in a decade, just to check out the latest hotels and attractions so I can make sure your trip there is everything you want (and you will be going there, "you just don't know it" yet). Meanwhile we are busy adding staterooms to our 2016 Reunion Cruise (see below) as more and more of my clients are joining this family of cruisers.

Where would you like to go?

Consider it done!

Roger Kershaw, ASA
Roger Kershaw Custom Travel Inc.

Team Kershaw

in this issue
  • Travelling with Pets
  • Plaza Athenee Paris open again after major refurb
  • Why you need to fly First Class
  • Luggage-Forward
  • "Duty of Care" - my responsibility to my clients
  • Calculating the value of Loyalty Programs
  • Tourism Poised to Explode in Dubai and Abu Dhabi
  • Bogota hotels to reopen in Four Seasons portfolio
  • More security: Charge your Chargeables!
  • The world's best long-haul Premium Economy Class
  • Come cruise with me!

  • Plaza Athenee Paris open again after major refurb

    The red awnings and scarlet geraniums have returned to the newly buffed Art Nouveau balconies of the Hotel Plaza Athenee, whose facade still graces the chic Avenue Montaigne after a EUR 200-million expansion and renovation. The newly refurbished Hotel remains the epitome of Parisian luxury with spectacular views of the Eiffel Tower.

    The 15-month closure enabled the smooth integration of recently aquired adjacent properties into the existing hotel, allowing the creation of six new guest rooms, eight suites, a ballroom and two event spaces. The Bar au Plaza Athenee has been also lavishly redesigned and with mixologist Thierry Hernandez at the helm you can expect exceptional cocktails.

    Other than that, nothing's changed at the Plaza Athenee: it's still one of my very favourite hotels on the planet!

    Why you need to fly First Class

    Here's one motivational speaker's assessment of why First Class is the Only Class for him. It boils down to Who You Meet, Faster Status, Faster Perks, Better Productivity, and that most valuable asset of all: Time, as you can show up later with fast-pass security and clear your luggage off the carousel faster (or have more allowance for carry-on and skip that carousel entirely). He also points out that the frequent flyer mile is the fastest depreciating currency in the world - and encourages you to spend them quickly rather than accumulate.

    Sure, first class costs more, but once you calculate the added value, and often the amazing negotiated fares that I can get, the price tag looks a lot more attractive.


    Flying has become more and more stressful, as it actually takes longer to get from home to your hotel today than it did 20 years ago. What if you could reduce that significantly? Luggage Forward will pick up your luggage from your home a couple of days before you depart. Skip the airline counter and simply present your boarding pass to the security agent, then walk off the plane into a waiting taxi or limo, check into your hotel and find your luggage already in your room. Many of us have learned to wear the same shoes for a week to travel within the carry-on limits, but what about golf clubs, or a wardrobe for a change in climates? That's where Luggage Forward comes to the rescue.

    Try them once and you'll never carry bags again!

    "Duty of Care" - my responsibility to my clients

    With the growth in peer-to-peer marketing programs such as Airbnb, VRBO, Uber, etc., it is incumbent upon me to offer some counsel here. I'm not opposed to these services; however, I cannot endorse them, simply because I don't have personal assurance they are properly vetted. I usually suggest Virtuoso properties, not only because they are the best, and often offer the best value when you consider the exclusive amenities, but because I am 100% sure they have been properly vetted and if there is a problem for any reason, I have the contacts and means to address it. When I suggest other properties or services, it is because I have either personally investigated them or trust the mechanism in place to do so.

    An owner listing their home for rent does not aim the camera at the freeway outside their door or the aircraft landing pattern in the sky above. You don't know the neighbourhood or the neighbours, or the driving (or criminal) record of the unlicensed driver, and you often find too late (nods to New York and San Francisco lately) that what you're renting or riding is illegal.

    So please, if you use these services, beware. We have a lifetime of travel together. Let's be safe.

    Calculating the value of Loyalty Programs

    An selection of blog posts recently have set about comparing the value of airline and hotel loyalty points, an interesting review especially as Air Canada, once the industry's leader in point value, has recently devalued their program. Things to consider are the ability to make stopovers and use other carriers, and of course availability, an area that Air Canada (at 1.3c/mile) still excels in. The best major program is the one who started it: American (at 1.8c/mile). See more details here.

    Meanwhile, hotels have their own programs. While collection is easy, redemption is complicated and values even more disparate than airlines. Starwood and Hyatt lead the pack. See one assessment here:

    Tourism Poised to Explode in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

    Etihad Airways has just placed orders for 86 Boeing 777/787s, while Emirates ordered $99 billion worth of equipment-including 150 Boeing 777s and 50 Airbus A380s-the largest single aircraft purchase in civil aviation history. Last year, Dubai International Airport passed London's Heathrow as the world's busiest gateway for international travelers.

    Why all the interest? How about the world's tallest buildings, the famous gold souk, luxurious man-made islands that have doubled the shoreline, the biggest mall, splashiest fountain, gorgeous beaches, ski slopes and sand dunes and gold-plated cars for a start? They even have Lamborghini police cars!

    Can't wait!

    Bogota hotels to reopen in Four Seasons portfolio

    Four Seasons has reached an agreement to run the 58-room Hotel Casa Medina Bogota as the Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina Bogota, while the 64-room Hotel Charleston Bogota will be rebranded as the Four Seasons Hotel Bogota.

    The Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina Bogota will feature renovated French and Spanish architectural touches, while the Four Seasons Hotel Bogota's food-and-beverage operations will have a Japanese open-grill concept. Both hotels closed late last year.

    More security: Charge your Chargeables!

    A new security crackdown announced recently by the U.S. Homeland Security and echoed around the world means that all passengers must ensure all electronic devices, including cell phones, being carried in their hand luggage are sufficiently charged to be turned on.

    Any devices that can't be turned on might be confiscated. Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft. The traveler may also undergo additional screening.

    The world's best long-haul Premium Economy Class

    Ever since Virgin Atlantic first introduced the revolutionary concept of the Premium Economy cabin in 1992, less price-sensitive air travelers have been able to enjoy a better flying experience than frugal Economy passengers without having to dish out the big dollars for Business or First class travel. Which are the airlines that do it best, according to one extensive study? Virgin Atlantic, Japan Airlines, SAS and Air France. Where is Air Canada? Thirteenth place out of 15 total.

    Come cruise with me!

    Venice to Rome in 2016

    Our next almost-annual "Reunion" cruise embarks from Venice on September 16, 2016, aboard the luxurious Azamara Journey, visiting Dubrovnik, Kotor, Corfu, Crotone, Taormina, and Sorrento before arriving in Rome a week later. The voyage includes one of Azamara's AzAmazing Evenings in Montenegro, a Virtuoso Voyager Club excursion in Kotor, will be the 12th of our Reunion cruises with friends and clients-who-become-friends, and is the only group that Jim, Ian and I personally host. (Rupert will stay home and take care of business.)

    Join us now and receive a USD1000 on board shopping credit per stateroom!

    Travelling with Pets

    "Can we bring the dog?" has become a common question in our house lately. And there is no easy answer.

    Pet Passport. There is a lot of talk about these, but unfortunately outside of the EU, they don't really exist. Pet owners should create their own pet passport file, a collection of all identifying and required documents for entering a given country - and the requirements are different for every country. If you imported your puppy when you adopted him, be sure to carry your original duty/tax receipt to avoid questions upon return home, too!

    Quarantine. Planning in advance of traveling with a pet is key in avoiding problems when entering any country. It will depend on where you travel from, where you are going, and stops en route. It is possible to travel without quarantine, if you have the proper documents and advance notice. More info here

    Vaccinations. Your pet passport file should include records of dates and types of vaccinations. Most countries require rabies vaccinations at least 30 days but not more than 1 year old. Some do not recognize the 3-year vaccination so a booster may be required for travel. Some countries, especially in South and Central America require all documents to be translated.

    Hotels. More and more hotels are catering to pets, inviting owners to bring the whole family. On a recent stay at Four Seasons Whistler, our Rupert was provided with a plush bed, gourmet treats and bottled water. However, we couldn't leave him unattended in the room, although dog sitting services were available by prearrangement.

    The Kimpton chain accepts pets and even encourages their staff to bring theirs from home. Pets may be left unattended in your room if you leave your cell phone number and are willing to return quickly.

    Airlines. Most airlines have pet friendly policies, to a degree. JetBlue even has a JetPaws program and shop. Air Canada allows your pet in the cabin, if the carrier plus pet weight combined does not exceed 22kg. However, because of cabin configurations, pets cannot travel in the cabin in International Business Class or Premium Economy (or bulkhead or exit rows). There are other conditions, including size and number of other pets aboard, etc., and pre-registration is required. More info here

    Otherwise, pets can travel in the presurized cargo compartment, with limits on age, certain aircraft, no travel in the summer (due to ground temperatures), etc. More info here

    Cruise lines and ferries. Only one cruise ship, Queen Mary 2, currently allows pets to travel with owners. Most ferries, especially those accepting vehicles, allow pets. Some - like BC Ferries - restrict pets to the car deck. Others may allow pets on the passenger decks.

    Trains. Via Rail Canada and Amtrack do not allow pets in passenger compartments, requiring them to travel instead as checked baggage in heated, but not air-conditioned, cars. Most European rail carriers will accept small pets in passenger compartments, with varying crate, muzzle and leash restrictions.

    Automobiles. The family vehicle remains the most pet-friendly mode of transportation. Feed your pet several hours before travel, stop every two or three hours for a stretch, and get used to drive-through dining.

    Rental Cars. Mostl rental car companies allow pets in their cars. Some charge extra, or will charge cleaning fees if required, including shedding.

    Service Animals. Of course all the above goes out the window with Service Animals. It is illegal almost anywhere to deny these companions direct access to their owner, and it is also illegal to question the owner on the nature of "service" provided. There is little legal clarity as to what qualifies a pet as a Service Animal.

    Let me know if you want to include your pet in your next family vacation and I'll put Rupert on it right away for you!

    Chikungunya still a concern in the Caribbean, elsewhere

    Although deaths are rare but reported (over 30 so far), travellers are still warned to be cautious when visiting an area where Chikungunya, a disease transmitted by mosquito bites, is occurring. There is no vaccine or medicine to treat the disease, only prevention.

    Read the facts here.

    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

    The transformative power of travel is remarkable. It can expand your mind, break down borders, change your perspective, change your life. This issue is packed with places to go and things to do, whether you're heading slopeside to Saint-Moritz; to Puglia, Italy's road-less-traveled coastal region; or to one of the ten destinations our advisors recommend for 2015. Here's to safe, speedy, enjoyable journeys in the new year.

    Flip through the latest issue of Virtuoso Life

    Where Now Virtuoso travel advisors pick their top destinations for 2015.

    Puglia's Moment In Italy's boot heel, a coastal escape that's long on allure and short on crowds.

    Odds-On Favorite Sunshine and the Swiss Alps combine for an unbeatable ski vacation.

    Global Gourmet Koreatown knocks out L.A.'s taste buds.

    Great Outdoors For Turkey's true underground scene, head to Cappadocia. Read the complete current edition of VIRTUOSO LIFE now! 2015 Virtuoso, LTD.

    Read More >

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