Lets get this party restarted

The advice is well-intentioned. It’s coming at you from everywhere.

Experts — people who seem to know what they’re doing — advise you to call your clients and say, “When you are ready to travel, we’re here.”

I say: Let’s put that one to bed!

Yes, yes, we aren’t anywhere near our new normal. I get it.

There’s still uncertainty out there, countless things out of our control and predictions that are really just shots in the dark. I say, however, that we have more control than we realize. There is one opportunity, and if we nail it, we will see the incredible comeback that we all desire and have earned.

The single most important opportunity before us, the one that will impact our collective businesses, is to change the narrative, both within and outside the industry.

 Who’s responsible for changing the narrative?

We certainly can’t rely on the mainstream media to be on our side. Seriously, petri dishes?

The government has an entire country to serve, not just us.

Our valued supplier partners are doing everything in their power to keep the machine moving. Whether or not you agree with how they are handling it, each is doing what’s needed to be here for the long haul.

Our travel industry media is working overtime curating articles to keep us up to date and inspired.

The incredible travel industry associations are killing it, fighting for us and driving messaging on our behalf. Huge thanks to them!

That said, all of the above, combined, don’t have the pull and power to change the narrative with consumers. They can’t explain that travel isn’t just transportation. When it’s thoughtfully planned, it can make seven days more than just a week’s vacation; it can add meaning to one’s life story. We can plan trips that collectively do more for world peace, understanding and harmony than a typical donation to a well-meaning nonprofit.

We — you — as travel advisors make the impact at ground zero. With every communication, direct or indirect, we are responsible for the narrative.
This is our tipping point, right now, and we must change the narrative.

You know how we always talk about how it doesn’t serve our clients or ourselves when we propose travel based on our own budgets and spending habits? That’s why we preach, “Don’t sell out of your own pocketbook.”

There’s a parallel to that going on right now, and we need to stop marketing based on our own fears and concerns.

I see well-meaning and loving travel advisors and agency owners tiptoeing around talk of actual travel planning. As if everyone around them will instantly combust if they dare utter the words, “Are you ready to plan or rebook your vacation?”

Marketing is an essential key in any business, and staying authentic with your messaging, understanding the relevancy of your timing and leading someone to action is the secret sauce to marketing. Leading someone to take action is what’s needed.

Our message, in whatever words fits you and your business, should simply be: “We’re here. Who’s ready to travel?”

So many of the travel advisors I’ve spoken with the past few weeks seem to be standing off to the side, waiting for the OK to jump back into selling and marketing travel.

It reminds me of those unnerving seventh grade dances our parents forced us to attend. The big circle of scared boys and girls standing against the wall, talking with one another, knowing that it’s a dance, yet no one is dancing. Anxiously waiting, hoping to catch someone’s eye and give the nod that says, “I’m interested, let’s go.” Waiting for that first brave couple to get on the dance floor.

Well, my friends, standing on the side waiting for someone else to change the narrative isn’t going to get this dance party started!

Who’s going to jump out on the dance floor with me? Let’s boogie. Let’s get our industry moving fiercely forward, starting today.

Jenn Lee is vice president of sales and marketing at Travel Planners International.

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This bike path makes cyclists 'ride through water'

Pictured: The stunning bike path that cuts across a huge pond, with the water at eye level – so cyclists feel like they’re riding THROUGH it

  • The trail – called  ‘Cycling Through Water’ – is 200 metres (656ft) long and three metres (10ft) wide 
  • Since it opened around 1 million people have used it and it was in Time’s ‘The World’s 100 Greatest Places’
  • It’s located in Belgium, in the same province as another amazing bike path – one that spirals through a forest 

If there were Oscars for the most incredible bike paths – this one would surely be in the running for a gong.

Behold the unique ‘Cycling Through Water’ experience, a 200-metre-long (656ft) section of bike path that cuts through a vast pond, with the water on either side at eye level.

The trail, which is three metres (10ft) wide, scythes through one of the 1,000 ponds in the beautiful De Wijers wetland area in the 550-hectare Bokrijk nature park near Genk, in Belgium’s Limburg province.

The unique ‘Cycling Through Water’ experience is a 200-metre-long (656ft) section of bike path that cuts through a vast pond 

Since it opened in 2016 around one million people have used it and it was included in Time’s list of ‘The World’s 100 Greatest Places’ in 2018 

The trail, which is three metres (10ft) wide, scythes through one of the 1,000 ponds in the beautiful De Wijers wetland area in the 550-hectare Bokrijk nature park near Genk, in Belgium’s Limburg province

The park already had an open-air museum with a unique collection of authentic buildings, from various Flemish regions and eras, an arboretum and outdoor playground – but it’s safe to say that the cycle path has stolen the limelight.

Since it opened in 2016 around one million people have used it and it was included in Time’s list of ‘The World’s 100 Greatest Places’ in 2018.

Not surprisingly, it’s been a hit with Twitter users, with cyclists tagging pictures of the path using the hashtag #fdhw.

Following the closure of coal mines, Limburg has pioneered cycling tourism to bolster the economy.

Cycling Through Water has been a hit with Twitter users, with cyclists tagging pictures of the path using the hashtag #fdhw

Following the closure of coal mines, Limburg has pioneered cycling tourism to bolster the economy 

Over the past 25 years the province has created 2,000 kilometres (1,242 miles) of paved and largely car-free cycling trails, with a second unique bike path opening in June 2019 in Bosland adventure forest – the thrilling 360-degree Cycling Through The Trees experience.

Here cyclists pedal in a double circle along a 700-metre (2,300ft) path that reaches a height of 10 metres (32ft).

‘You grow along with the trees and see, feel and smell the forest,’ said Visit Limburg.

The region of Limburg boasts 2,000 kilometres of paved, safe and largely car-free cycling trails, which it has built up over 25 years

Visit Limburg also opened Cycling Through The Trees last year in Bosland adventure forest

Cyclists pedal in a double circle along a 700-metre (2,300ft) path that reaches a height of 10 metres (32ft)

Visit Limburg is planning to open Cycling Through The Heathland later this year, which will feature a 300-metre cycle path in the Hoge Kempen National Park 

Both concepts – Cycling Through The Trees and Cycling Through Water – were thought up by Visit Limburg, after being inspired during a study trip to Norway by its ‘Scenic Routes’, carefully designed road trip routes that take visitors closer to nature.

Igor Philtjens, President of Visit Limburg, said: ‘This gave me the idea of building a cycling trail through water, through the treetops, underground… All in strategic and iconic locations in Limburg, with plenty of potential to increase the interaction between cyclists and the landscape. And that’s how we are continuing to build our cycle node network of the future.’

Not resting on its laurels, Visit Limburg is also planning to open – lockdown permitting – a third project towards the second half of 2020.

Cycling Through The Heathland will feature a 300-metre (985ft) cycling bridge, which will connect the Hoge Kempen National Park on both sides.

Cycling Through Water was designed by Bart Lens of Lens°Ass Architecten and BuroLandschap – headed up by landscape architect Pieter Daenen – redesigned the existing pond landscape around the cycling trail.  

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This Airline Has Rescued Thousands of Americans Stuck Overseas During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Around the world, travel bans and quarantines have made it difficult for Americans to get home. And while many airlines have grounded planes and canceled flights, they do continue to help in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. In recent days, a number of carriers have helped ferry medical workers to places where they’re most needed.

a group of people holding wine glasses: The U.S. Department of State has tapped the upstart carrier — that shares a name with a famous Jet Age airline — to help ferry Americans home.

But one airline in particular stands out for its efforts to bring people from overseas back home. Eastern Airlines has already carried home 8,167 Americans from 13 countries, according to the company. Not bad for an outfit with just eight planes and fewer than 200 employees.

a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway: Courtesy of Eastern Airlines

If the name sounds familiar, it should: Eastern Air Lines, with a slightly different spelling, was one of the titans of the Jet Age, a competitor of carriers like Braniff, Pan Am, and TWA. The original Eastern went bust in 1991, but the brand was reborn earlier this year: The first flight of the new Eastern — from Guayaquil, Ecuador, to New York City — took off on Jan. 12. Now, less than three months later, the airline is coming to the rescue of Americans across Latin America.

“We got our first call from the embassy in the country of Guayana, needing to get American citizens home,” CEO Steve Harfst said in an interview with Fox News. “And after we operated that flight, from Georgetown, Guayana, we reached out to the repatriation task force. They put an email blast out to all the embassies and posts in Central and South America, and then our phones started ringing.”

Since early March, Eastern has coordinated with the U.S. Department of State to ferry people home from Asuncion, Paraguay; Buenos Aires; Georgetown, Guayana; Guayaquil; Paramaribo, Suriname; and a number of other countries in the Caribbean and Central America. More flights are scheduled for the coming days, an Eastern representative told Travel + Leisure.

a group of people sitting around a bag of luggage: Courtesy of Eastern Airlines

“We’ll do everything we can to bring them home,” Harfst said.

Passengers and crew on the flights are observing social distancing measures and using masks and other personal protection equipment, including Eastern-branded hand sanitizer, photos from the flights provided by the airline show. Upon arrival in the U.S., passengers aboard the repatriation flights experience “the same screening protocols put in place by customs and CDC that any passenger arriving in the U.S. faces on any airline,” a spokesperson for Eastern said by email.

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    2021 cruise bookings are on the rise despite coronavirus chaos
    The cruise line industry has taken a major beating due to covid-19, still analysts say the number of bookings for 2021 cruises have increased since this time last year.

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    Coronavirus-hit cruise ships able to dock in Florida
    Two Holland America cruise ships with coronavirus patients aboard were finally allowed to dock at a port near Fort Lauderdale, resolving a days-long impasse that drew the attention of President Donald Trump. Jillian Kitchener has more.

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    Reuters – US Video Online

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    A 60-second virtual vacation in the Bahamas
    Find out why this stunning archipelago is a diver's paradise.

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Luxury travel news this week: Coronavirus update – A Luxury Travel Blog

Here’s a round-up of luxury travel stories that have caught the eye this week. To make sure you receive these new weekly alerts in your web browser, please click on the red bell icon in the bottom right hand corner of the page and click ‘subscribe’ (works on desktop only – for other ways to subscribe, please click here). This will also alert you to any other posts on the blog. Should you wish, you can unsubscribe at any time, by clicking on the icon again and selecting ‘unsubscribe’.

Why the travel industry will be stronger and better after coronavirus

The travel industry has been decimated by the coronavirus — with estimates of over $24 billion lost as 825,000 jobs have been wiped out and more than 8.2 million visitors stay away from the United States alone. But with the storm clouds come a silver lining. Without the steady stream of cruise ships (some of the worst polluters in the world), the canals of Venice have become clear for the first time in centuries; pollution around the world has dropped dramatically and cities that had been trampled by overtourism are recovering… [read more]

Yes, we will travel again — here’s how and when to plan your next trip

These are not normal times. These are not normal times for the people of Wuhan, Milan, Seoul, New York, or any other region hit hard by COVID-19. And these times are not normal for those seeing the pandemic on the horizon, feeling the anxiety of battling the invisible enemy that’s rattling our world physically, emotionally, economically, and culturally. With the world under lockdown, and with increasingly stringent restrictions coming into place across North America, Europe, the United Kingdom, Asia, and beyond, many are asking how they can still plan travel — and have something hopeful to look forward to — in a time of ongoing and ever-accelerating shutdown… [read more]

Billionaires are chartering superyachts for months at a time to ride out the coronavirus pandemic

Billionaires are hoping to avoid the coronavirus pandemic by self-isolating on superyachts, The Telegraph’s Alan Tovey reports. Tovey spoke with Jonathan Beckett, the CEO of yacht broker Burgess. Beckett told The Telegraph that wealthy people are looking for ways to “weather the storm” and that a yacht “in a nice climate isn’t a bad place to self-isolate.” Large yachts have enough storage room to hold supplies that can last for months, Tovey notes, meaning the vessel can spend a longer amount of time at sea without docking. Of course, renting superyachts for months at a time is pricey, with some charging £100,000 ($118,944) a week plus crew costs and the largest of yachts costing over £500,000 (almost $600,000) a week… [read more]

Private-jet operators fly high, before requesting bailout

First, private-jet operators touted a surge in demand, sending them scrambling to keep up with the “biggest month” in their corporate histories. Then, within the same month, they were forced to turn customers away as governments around the world closed their borders, hotels shuttered, and citizens entered a surreal new reality: quarantine by mandate. Now, these symbols of high-flying wealth are joining America’s commercial airlines in asking for a $54 billion U.S. government bailout. Without hotel partnerships and open airstrips, they too are facing bankruptcy… [read more]

Coronavirus rocks the luxury hotel industry

The ever-expanding fallout surrounding the coronavirus pandemic has shocked the hotel industry, forcing dozens of the world’s most famous hotels to cease operations. While some closures are open-ended, others have been accompanied by a fixed reopening date, though uncertainty grows with each day as the outbreak spreads across the globe… [read more]

We really enjoy hearing from our readers and would love to hear your views on any of these stories! Please click on the comments below and share your thoughts. Thank you.

Have a story you’d like to share? Please contact us for details.

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Head to this action-packed new Spanish resort be fizzing with vitality

On your marks, get set… glow! Head to this action-packed new Spanish resort and the whole family will be fizzing with vitality

  • Mar Menor Beachclub is the latest super-luxe addition to the Neilson empire
  • Every second can be crammed with sports from volleyball to mountain biking
  • Buffet-style breakfast and lunch and four evening meals a week are included  

We’ve always dragged our children across Europe on holiday, staying in a rented house and stopping off at a supermarket en route.

In the months before departure, my husband Guy would painstakingly plan the Eurostar journey, the overnight stopovers, and even the toll payments. For my part, I would simply look forward to the freedom of waking up with the day stretching ahead, ours to do with as we like.

But now, after much deliberation, we are taking our two children — Herbie, 15, and Iris, eight — on a new adventure: an all-inclusive Neilson activity holiday. Perhaps it’s the mention of the ‘8am 5km run’, but I have never dreaded a holiday more.

Non-stop fun: Mar Menor Beachclub in Spain, where every second can be crammed with sports from volleyball to kayaking

Mar Menor Beachclub in Los Urrutias, southern Spain — a 40-minute transfer from Murcia airport — is the latest super-luxe addition to the Neilson empire.

Alongside rival Mark Warner, Neilson has been providing all-inclusive active holidays for more than 40 years. Both companies seem to have weathered the package-holiday dip that caught Thomas Cook by surprise last year, but the central premise is the same — all holidaymakers are expected to do is turn up.

That doesn’t mean you just lie around all week. Far from it. Every second can be crammed with sports — from volleyball and mountain biking to boxercise classes and catamaran joy-rides. This is not a holiday for fat-cat lazing.

When we mention it to friends who have already been, they speak about it with the zeal of the newly converted. ‘Sign up for as much as possible, as quickly as possible,’ they would say conspiratorially.

All the kids’ clubs, and almost all of the fitness activities, are included in the price, as is the daily buffet-style breakfast and lunch, and four evening meals a week. (And, no, you don’t have to share tables — although by the end of the week the teens invariably do.)

Spa treatments and any drinks from the rooftop and beach bars are added to your bill, which, even when you know this, will still give you a nasty shock at check-out.

Our first glimpse of the resort is of the gleaming white facade, behind which a horseshoe of identical-looking rooms curves round three pools with loungers and cabanas.

Mar Menor, in the Iberian Peninsula, is a saltwater lagoon with a unique, protected ecosystem. It isn’t the most scenic of places — it looks straight across to the high-rises of La Manga — but Neilson knows its stuff, and it is the perfect place for water sports.

First, we are given an activity planner from which to select free daily group lessons in tennis (fortunately streamed so that barely-hit-the-ball players like myself don’t have to be humiliated by Wimbledon wannabes like my husband), yoga, windsurfing and Zumba. We add a few paid-for extras: kite surfing, a scuba diving trip and a massage.

We had pre-booked the children into kids’ clubs, but even before Iris’s ‘Sharksters’ session begins, she works herself into a frenzy, crying after a dip in the pool as she hasn’t made any friends in the first five minutes. Her near hysteria culminates in a gash on her foot. It is at that moment, blood gushing between her toes, that the real Neilson magic happens.

Within seconds, first aider Summer — by name and nature — turns up. Like a knight in smiling armour, she hoses down Iris’s foot and dresses it. By the second day, Iris is happily hobbling off to her club, assiduously ignoring us when we wave to her in the pool.

Mar Menor Beachclub, pictured, is a 40-minute transfer from Murcia airport. It is the latest super-luxe addition to the Neilson empire

As the week unfolds, it becomes even clearer as to why Neilson has an evangelical following. The staff are extraordinary. Many of them, I learn, went on holiday with the firm when they were children. They go on a ‘zero-to-hero’ training course, and it shows. The trickier the guest, the nicer they become. And there can be no trickier guests than the 30-odd recalcitrant teenagers who are trying their best to mingle.

I take myself to the ‘teen talk’ at the beach bar. There is only one other mum there — Liz, a sailing whiz with two teenage girls, both Neilson devotees. ‘It’s difficult to persuade them to do any other holiday now,’ Liz admits.

Instead of the pep talk I’d expected, we get an illuminating insight into what to expect from our not-so-little darlings in the coming week. ‘They will drink. Usually on the beach — so if you can’t find them at 1am, that’s where they’ll be. The best thing you can do is give them a curfew.’

As it turns out, they are relatively well-behaved, gathering during the day at the poolside area, complete with bean bags. By night, they have the time of their lives in the exercise area, their mobiles moving around in the dark like flirtatious glow worms.

On the plane home, my son is pinging emojis to a hastily set-up WhatsApp group, while only seats away from his new friends.

‘Best holiday ever,’ says Herbie. My husband and Iris agree. We have all been well and truly converted.


Celia and her family travelled with Neilson holidays to Mar Menor Beachclub, from £499pp based on two adults staying for seven nights, including return flights from London Stansted and transfers ( The cost for a family of four (two adults and two children aged two to 14) sharing an interconnecting room is from £1,535. 



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