Roger Kershaw Custom Travel Design Inc.
The Confidante Your Source for What's New in Luxury Travel
Spring 2016

Happy Spring to everyone! (That's always a reminder to start planning your Spring Break Vacation now . . . for 2017!).

Another record year for me, thanks to all of you, for your trust and reliance in and on me for your travels. Nothing makes me happier than to see you enjoying a holiday somewhere, that is actually worth all the effort you have to put into it to get there. Travel is not for the faint-hearted, we say. But I'm here and determined to make it as easy, and enjoyable, as possible.

Last fall I attended my favourite travel meeting, ILTM in Cannes, renewing contacts and meeting new suppliers in the luxury travel world, and am eager to share some of these with you. We went from there to Venice, always a wonderful experience, to make sure all was in place for our annual Reunion Group sailing from there on the beautifully refurbished Azamara Journey in September. It was, it is, and we are so looking forward to that!

In May I'm off to what continues to be one of my most popular destinations, South Africa, for a conference of luxury suppliers. I already have the best of the best in tour operators on the ground there and this will only add some icing to an already exciting cake. Not to mention (okay, to mention!) that our 2018 Reunion Group is going to be to South Africa, so this will lay some groundwork there.

The rest of Team Kershaw continues to travel: Jim and I just returned from a SeaDream cruise to visit several hotels in the Caribbean - nothing's changed: SeaDream is still a dream on any sea. Ian is off to India in April with his YTP (Young Travel Professionals) group, his first trip to Asia. Rupert (Chairdog of the Board) eagerly awaits the delivery of his Sleepypod Air carrier and will soon be testing in-cabin pet policies on a few short trips with us.

Where would YOU like to be about now? Just give me a call and "consider it done!"

Roger Kershaw, ASA
Roger Kershaw Custom Travel Inc.

in this issue
  • Featured Destinations
  • The value of a Travel Agent
  • Air Canada Business Class Check-in lounge setting at YYZ
  • Branson's Virgin Galactic is Back into Space
  • Free WiFi coming soon to a sky near you!
  • Crystal Cruises to Restore S.S. United States
  • Entertainment improves airport experience
  • How to pack for a year with one carry on
  • Five Great Virtuoso Hotel Renovations completed in 2015
  • The future is vertical. Perhaps.

  • The value of a Travel Agent

    I know I'm "preaching to the choir" here with this newsletter aimed at my clients. But please take a minute to click on the link below to refresh yourself on why you use a professional travel agent, what makes us worth the fee that you would expect to pay any professional for their service ... and remember, friends don't let friends book on the Internet. Send them to me.

    Air Canada Business Class Check-in lounge setting at YYZ

    Air Canada is enhancing the experience of Premium travellers with the creation of a new Business Class Check-in area at Toronto Pearson. The dedicated concourse is now available to customers travelling in Business Class or customers holding select Premium status.

    For all flights within Canada and international travel (and on flights to the US if you are only travelling with carry-on), you can enjoy expedited Business Class Check-in located in Aisle 1 if you're

    - Travelling in Business Class, Premium Economy or Premium Rouge cabins

    - An Altitude Super Elite 100K, Elite 75K or Elite 50K member

    - A Star Alliance Gold member

    Within this new Business Class Check-in area, dedicated check-in counters and a concierge office will remain available exclusively for Altitude Super Elite 100K members.

    Other Customers who are eligible for Priority Check-in (including our Altitude Elite 35K and Prestige 25K members, as well as select credit card holders) may use new dedicated Priority Check-in counters located in aisle 3 for domestic flights and aisle 5 for international flights.

    Branson's Virgin Galactic is Back into Space

    Richard Branson unveiled Virgin Galactic's much anticipated second SpaceShipTwo at a ceremony in Mojave, CA, last month, attended by his family, Virgin Galactic's Founder Future Astronauts, stakeholders and partners. Professor Stephen Hawking named the new vehicle Virgin Spaceship (VSS) Unity via a recorded speech and said, "I would be very proud to fly on this spaceship." The ceremony also included a video congratulations from Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai emphasizing the importance of space to science and technical education.

    Free WiFi coming soon to a sky near you!

    Qantas has announced free WiFi on its domestic flights over Australian territory, which considering theirs is the 6th largest country in the world with over 7 million sq km to cover is no small feat. Their satellite will deliver speeds and capacity to Qantas sufficient for passengers to stream movies, and watch TV shows, news and live sports. Negotiations are underway with international regulators to expand the free service throughout their routes. Fellow Oneworld carriers cannot be far behind and soon the rest of the industry. Certainly a good trend!

    So far there are eight airlines offering free WiFi on some of their routes: Emirates, JetBlue, Norwegian, Turkish Airlines, Air China, Philippine Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines and Nok Air. Air Canada, like most of the other majors, offers service on a portion of their fleet but only for a fee. As it was with hotels, WiFi, originally a profit scheme, is becoming an essential service requirement now in the air as well.

    Crystal Cruises to Restore S.S. United States

    Crystal Cruises will spend almost $800 million to restore the historic S.S. United States, retaining some of her original features, including the Promenade and Navajo Lounge. "The prospect of revitalizing the S.S. United States and re-establishing her as 'America's Flagship' once again is a thrilling one. It will be a very challenging undertaking, but we are determined to apply the dedication and innovation that has always been the ship's hallmark," Crystal CEO Edie Rodriguez said in a statement.

    In her heyday in 1952 the ship was the fastest ocean liner to cross the Atlantic, setting the record at 3 days, 10 hours, and 40 minutes.

    When up and running the ship will carry 800 passengers in 400 luxury suites. Rodriguez estimated the ship could be seaworthy in 2018.

    Entertainment improves airport experience

    The airport experience can be the most stressful element of the journey and while a raft of technologies have emerged as viable solutions to help ease the terminal experience for passengers, airports are also embracing 'softer' passenger-focused initiatives in an attempt to help travellers relax, keep them entertained and provide an element of escapism from the busy terminal environment.

    Free-access yoga rooms are popping up in Frankfurt, O'Hare, Helsinki, Sydney and others. New "silent chairs" are appearing, to help to block out ambient noise, providing a more private space where travellers can escape their surroundings and even synch their smartphone with the in-built speakers, so they can listen to their own music while waiting. Last month, Portland PDX announced plans to open a mini cinema, which will screen works by local filmmakers. Meanwhile, in the UK, Manchester Airport is testing an online system to provide passengers targeted content, travel guides and destination reviews on their smartphones and tablets while waiting in the departure hall. Hyderabad has installed an entertainment Wi-Fi hotspot so travellers can purchase and download movies to watch in the terminal and in-flight.

    Moreover, unlike premium lounges and the perks that come with them, these solutions can benefit travellers of all types, regardless of travel class - something that the vast majority of travellers will undoubtedly appreciate.

    How to pack for a year with one carry on

    Nothing has been so freeing on our recent travels as our determination to fly with only carry-on luggage, anywhere, anytime, and for any length of trip. Check-in is smoother, arrival is much quicker, customs is a breeze, and we've never lost a bag! Flying business or first class means you can get away with a lot more, of course, but here's one Conde Nast reporter's experience in coach, for a year, with one bag. May it provide inspiration to us all!

    Five Great Virtuoso Hotel Renovations completed in 2015

    Arizona Biltmore, Phoenix

    Known as the "Jewel of the Desert" since its 1929 debut, this storied landmark sparkles anew after a thorough revamp. The 740 guest rooms' soothing neutrals and warm wood accents emulate architect Frank Lloyd Wright's knack for deftly bringing the outdoors in, while the redesigned spa, pool cabanas, and common areas chicly reference the seductive style of its early years.

    Hotel d'Angleterre, Copenhagen

    A 2-year, $70-million facelift, with expert restorers from the National Museum of Denmark, has given this grande dame new life. 90 guest rooms, each unique, seamlessly marry old and new, while artwork spanning Winterhalter to Warhol, abundant floral arrangements, and the lushly refurbished, Michelin-starred restaurant, Marchal, and buzzing Balthazar champagne bar provide crowning touches.

    The Jefferson, Washington, D.C.

    This Beaux Arts landmark has re-emerged as the capital's premier address thanks to a top-to-bottom overhaul. Period antiques and documents signed by Thomas Jefferson grace its 95 rooms, and a gorgeously restored 1923 skylight, hidden for decades, streams sunlight through the lobby. Complimentary international calls, 24-hour butler service, and custom bow ties on request make guests feel fittingly presidential.

    Raffles Hotel, Singapore

    One of the world's last great 19th-century hotels, this Singaporean stunner blends luxury, history, and colonial design to intoxicating effect. Fourteen-foot ceilings and elegant period furnishings exude the romance of the Far East while legendary 24-hour butler service leaves guests wanting for nothing. The iconic property continues to improve with age--adding new suites and keeping a multitude of dining options as enticing as ever.

    Singita Boulders Lodge, Sabi Sand Reserve, South Africa

    Perched on the banks of the Sand River adjacent to Kruger National Park, this iconic lodge's 2014 redesign takes cues from nature to underscore its continuous connection with the surrounding landscape. The twelve suites' artfully pared-down interiors feature fossilized tree stumps and other found objects, and common areas moved closer to the river allow guests to fully revel in the incomparable setting.

    The future is vertical. Perhaps.

    Vertical seat design (3D) offers a way to make more passengers happy than horizontal layout alone can accomplish. It's unfamiliar. It's odd-looking. That makes it a little bit scary, to some. But, after 100 years of flight, perhaps it's time for a radical change in direction. A patent filed by Airbus this year, which considered using vertical space in the cabin to make more room for passengers, was not universally well received. Despite this, independent inventor, Olivier Grégoire, stands by his own, somewhat similar, vertical seating proposal.

    Here's a peek (above) into what may be in our future?

    Featured Destinations

    Maldives and Sri Lanka

    After years of sending my clients to enjoy the sybaritic splendor of the Maldives, I finally moved from vicarious onlooker to actual participant, visiting Four Seasons Kuda Huraa and One&Only's resorts and staying at Per Aquum Huvafen Fushi and Gili Lankanfushi - each a uniquely different approach that appeals each to a different client. Talk to me - I have yours already picked out!

    The Maldives, once the destination of choice for honeymooners only, has expanded well beyond that to include kids' programs, underwater dining and spa treatments, water sports, marine explorations. It's more accessible (consider Dubai as a stopover, for example) than it used to be, and frankly, incredibly indescribably beautiful.

    We followed that week of mostly rest and food, with a week in Sri Lanka in the hands of our Virtuoso on-site there, Sri Lanka in Style. We were assigned one driver for the whole week, visiting every major corner of this beautiful country less than 1/10th the size of Ontario. The first thing that was reinforced by this visit: this is not India. The second thing: the country is finally at peace, and there's never been a better time to visit.

    In contrast in just about every way with other Indian Ocean islands, Sri Lanka is inexpensive, infinitely varied from stunning beaches to mountainous tea farms, and filled with fascinating history as ancient as the Buddha and as recent as civil war and tsunamis. A week was not really enough! We're both eager to return.

    Let me know if I can add this destination to your plans. Our driver is standing by (and so is our helicopter pilot!)


    Rivalled perhaps only by Champagne and Napa, there is no area in the world more closely associated with its fabulous vineyards than Bordeaux. Located in the southwest of France, not far from the Bay of Biscay, Bordeaux offers more vineyards--more than 100,000--than you could possibly try, but there's glory even in just scratching the surface. The city of Bordeaux, found along the Garonne River, has been the region's wine capital for decades, with its illustrious past on display as a revitalized village, of ornate18th-century buildings, a pedestrian-friendly city center, and a thriving waterfront area with chic boutiques and cafés. There's also world-class art, theater and dining.

    We've just announced Bordeaux as our 2017 Reunion Group (October 26 - November 2) with Amawaterways, discovering stately chateaux, abundant vineyards and stunning scenery as we sail along the Garonne and its surrounding estuaries, in the luxury river cruiser, AmaDolce, calling upon port cities like Cadillac, Bourg and Libourne. We will enjoy tastings of some of the region's most distinguished wines and visit notable sights for seven wonderful days and nights. Optionally, many of our guests will enjoy a couple nights in Paris with us before the cruise, and afterward, a two-night stop midway between Bordeaux and Paris in the charming city of Tours in the Loire Valley, for some extra touring and chateaux and probably a bit more wine before we return to Paris!

    Originally begun as our opportunity to travel with our guests from our days of running a bed and breakfast in Toronto, our almost-annual Reunion Groups have grown to include our family and friends and clients who've become friends. You would be more than welcome, and there's a CAD1000 discount per person right now for early bookings, just to tempt you aboard!

    Details here.

    Rupert's Report

    No one, man or dog, loves travel more than I do. And I'm happy to bark out the latest news to make that easier for our moms and dads.

    Let's start with trains. Amtrak has just announced that little fellows like me (20 lbs and under including my carrier) are welcome in the coach on selected Northeastern Corridor routes. Canada's VIA rail still insists we travel in the baggage car (my service animal colleagues excepted of course); if there's no checked baggage service on your route, I have to stay home.

    Cruising? So far only Cunard's Queen Mary 2 allows me on board at all, and I have to stay in a kennel area with all the other pets. The good news is they are doubling the capacity (maximum 22 after their scheduled retrofit) and installing a lamppost and a fire hydrant so my cousins from both sides of the pond will feel at home. These 22 spots sell out quickly so if your folks are planning on taking you to Europe, start pulling at their leash soon.

    Flights? Air Canada is still pretty sticky about letting me fly. I can't ride in international business class, for example, because there is no "under seat in front of me" to put my carrier. They have a very detailed information page here. If you check here you'll see all the airline requirements. And for a fee, these folks can send you a pet passport for any country you are taking your friend with you.

    Your name - get it right!

    You may have gotten used to people misspelling your name, a Philip here - a Phillip there, but airlines are not. Make sure your ticket exactly matches your full complete name as shown on your passport. Since we don't have paper tickets any longer, you need to carefully verify your TripCase itinerary. Mistakes happen. You may have even changed your passport and have added or dropped a middle name. Your ticket (e-ticket on TripCase) must match your current documents. One little letter could leave you stranded. If you do find a mismatch, approach the airline agent immediately to get it rectified. Don't expect you can just slip by. And then, by all means, let me know!

    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 Next List India 2.0, the next Patagonia, an American safari - destinations you need to know for the year ahead.

    Uncharted Territory Sealskin, icebergs, and kayaks: In Greenland, getting off the map is the point.

    Hot Properties: Seven New Hotels with Style to Spare Hoteliers are reimagining iconic buildings and resorts for the better. Make checking into one of these on-trend hotels a 2016 must.

    Delta of Seduction Botswana's Okavango Delta provides a lush encounter with some of Africa's most famous wildlife. Just ask a photographer who arrived three decades ago and never looked back.

    City to Go New reasons to visit the old mining town of Park City, Utah.

    Read the complete current edition of VIRTUOSO LIFE now! In fact, check out the new Virtuoso Virtual Magazine Rack on my Website to browse all the great Virtuoso magazines! © 2016 Virtuoso, LTD.

    "Not all those who wander are lost."

    --J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

    Referrals welcome!

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

    Thank you for your support.

    "I don't bring my work phone on vacation. If it's an emergency, call my shell."

    Cruise & Travel Links

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    Azamara Club Cruises


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    Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic


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