Monday, September 28, 2009

Leisure Travel Still a Priority, Survey Says

People are still taking vacations despite the poor state of the economy, according to a recent survey released by Travel Leaders.
The travel agent network’s nationwide survey found that nearly 84 percent of travelers have already taken at least one leisure trip this year, while 88 percent said they have one planned before the end of the year.
“In this country, vacations are considered a right and the results of this survey help bolster that notion,” Roger Block, president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group, said in a release. “Given the economy, we are tremendously encouraged by these findings.”
Other survey findings included that 88.6 percent of participants are already planning leisure trips for next year.
Travel Leaders, formerly Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associates, TraveLeaders and Tzell Travel Group, conducted the survey of 625 consumers in August.

Source: Orlando Business Journal

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Goodbye Phoenix! Hope to visit again soon.

Monday was our last day in Phoenix, but before we departed, we headed back to the Westin for yoga and spa treatment #5 at Agave. The yoga class was the perfect start to the day and reminded me how much I need to get back to it. After yoga, I indulged in the spa’s very own Berry Smoothie, and then received a relaxing rainwater stick massage, which was phenomenal.

After the massage, I got a quick lesson on how to ride a Segway...super fun!
The Westin staff was nice enough to send me to the airport with a Pacific Rim lunch (to go). After saying goodbye to my new friends and Phoenix, I loaded up the car and headed to the airport. With a final look at picturesque Phoenix, I reminisced about this whirlwind trip and the new adventures that still await The Getaway Girl® in Arizona.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More Girls Getaway Fun and Adventures in Phoenix-Scottsdale

Sunday morning was an early one with a 6:30 a.m. hike in the Phoenix Mountain Park to the top of Pietewa Peak (this was much needed after the dessert last night). Our fearless hike leader Scott pointed out the flora and fauna we hiked through, such as saguaro, prickly pear, barrel and jumping cholla cactuses (which is also called teddy-bear cholla, Scott explained, as he stuck it in his arm and asked if we wanted to try to do the same. After my luck walking away from the alligator wrestling, I opted out of the cactus taming). We also saw many trees native to Arizona, such as palo verde (green stick), creosote and mesquite.

After our invigorating hike (and near death car accident…thanks Scott), we headed over to the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa ( for “Bubbles & Brunch” in the resort’s Nellie Cashman’s Monday Club Café. Named for “The Angel of the Mining Camp” and Arizona’s oldest woman, Nellie Cashman’s Monday Club Café offers casual dining with an emphasis on locally-grown produce and indigenous recipes along with Chef Jason Christie’s Southwestern-Mediterranean flair. Patty and I were the first to find the cocktail cart, and were completely impressed that the Westin was one of the first golf courses in the world to offer Segways versus golf carts.

We traveled to the Fairmont Scottsdale Resort ( for spa treatments, accommodations and a wonderful dinner at LV Bistro. The Fairmont is absolutely magnificent with its McDowell Mountains backdrop, Southwest setting, Spanish-colonial style architecture, 44,000 square foot Willow Stream Spa, five heated swimming pools, Bourbon Steak (by Chef Michael Mina), Stone Rose Lounge (presented by nightlife entrepreneurs Rande Gerber and Scott Gerber) and their newest dining options, LV Bistro. I was thrilled to arrive at Willow Stream Spa for my 90-minute Jet Lag Massage. What a wonderful treatment! I did not want to leave the spa.

After my treatment I met my good friend Tatiana (who lives in Phoenix) for drinks poolside to people watch during the Stone Rose Lounge’s Sunday Pool Party. Tatiana joined us for my Girls Getaway to Montana, and we have stayed in touch ever since July. After catching up, I headed back to my room to freshen up for dinner at LV Bistro, which provides only the freshest local organic produce, all-natural meats, sustainable seafood and organic cocktails.

Upon arriving at LV Bistro, I had a difficult time deciding between two of their infused vodkas: the Tomato & Basil or the Cucumber & Pomegranate. I finally decided to try the Tomato & Basil, which was phenomenal. We all liked it so much that most everyone ordered that for their second drink. Here’s to trying new things!!! The food was delicious. Upon Valerie’s recommendation, I ordered the All Natural Braised Beef Short Ribs. Although I was hesitant to try them (mainly due to the mess I knew I’d make), the meat just fell off the bone and was every bit as good as she promised. Dessert was sweet and entertaining as the chef created mini desserts in shot-sized glasses, which contained favorites such as chocolate mousse, carrot cake and chocolate peanut butter.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Phoenix Farmers Market, Museums, Hotels and Restaurants

The next morning, we checked out the Phoenix Farmers Market where I found homemade pasta and herb chocolates that were fantastic. We then drove to the Heard Museum (, which is undoubtedly one of the best places to experience the art and culture of Native Americans of the Southwest. With the museum’s 10 exhibit galleries and exquisite art, it is easy to see why nearly 250,000 people visit the Heard each year. My favorite is the Indian Boarding School exhibit. I had no idea Indian children were removed from their families and shipped to boarding schools in an effort to eradicate the Indian culture from society. The experiences shared in this exhibit, as well as the impact it had on the tribes and culture, were deeply moving. I highly recommend a stop at the Heard when you are in Phoenix. The next stop was the Phoenix Art Museum (, which truly does have “something for everyone.” It boasts more than 17,000 artworks in American, Asian, contemporary, European, Latin American and Western art, as well as fashion design and the Thorne Miniature Rooms of historic interiors. They also have a great gift shop where I found my new favorite quote, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”

Following a delightful lunch at the Museum, we were on our way to the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch ( After a tour of this Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired property, we were on our way to Spa Avania for more spa treatments (I opted for a mani/pedi) and then tapas and cocktails. The resort has all the amenities you could want for a fun in the sun getaway, including sand beach, three-story waterslide and a 2 ½ acre water playground.

Dinner that night was hosted by the Arizona Biltmore Resort’s brand new restaurant, Frank & Albert’s. It’s based on the Biltmore’s architect, Albert Chase McArthur and his history with Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as the organic architecture inspiration for the Arizona Biltmore. The chef’s concept for the restaurant is Arizona comfort food and familiar classics accented by local flavors, and he uses a lot of local farms & purveyors. I loved the Coca Cola® Pork Chop & Organic Apples…what a unique combination. But my favorite was absolutely the dessert I chose called “As the Cookie Crumbles,” which is a huge, fresh, baked-to-order chocolate chunk cookie, served warm with vanilla bean ice cream, hot fudge and whipped cream. Need I say more?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Girls Getaway to Phoenix

I arrived in Phoenix around noon and headed straight from the airport to Biltmore Fashion Park to meet up with the rest of my group. We congregated at True Food Kitchen (, which offers globally inspired, seasonal menu that appeals to anyone seeking a more balanced lifestyle. The cucumber lemonade, gazpacho and tuna sashimi salad were all delicious!

We then headed to the Arizona Biltmore Resort (our home for the next two nights). Opened in 1929 and known for its Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, the 39-acre resort is known as the “Jewel of the Desert.” After some R&R at the Biltmore (, we drove to the Scottsdale’s newest luxury resort, the InterContinental Montelucia Resort (, which is nestled on 30 acres in the foothills of Camelback Mountain. This resort is incredible and reminds me so much of southern Spain. The 31,000-square-foot Joya Spa ( is a destination in and of itself. While here, we were each treated to two 25-minute “sample” treatments. My scalp massage and facial were wonderful, and I felt fully recovered from the plane ride earlier that day.

After our treatments, we headed to the InterContinental’s restaurant Prado ( where we started the evening with a Tequila Tasting. Despite a strong aversion to tequila (for reasons I won’t mention), I tried the three options offered and felt just fine drinking water the remainder of the evening. I enjoyed my steak, but heard several people rave about the lamb sausage. I’ll have to try that next time.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Join me at Wendy's PR Crash Course

Wendy’s PR Crash Course
November 11-12, 2009
Orlando Marriott Downtown

Has your business hit a slowdown and you’re looking for ways to generate new customers, new revenue, new ideas? Are you a new business owner who’s just launching your venture? Are you an author looking to sell more books or a speaker wanting to secure more engagements? Then you’ll want to join me on Nov. 11-12 for a unique “Getaway” in Orlando.

That’s when I’ll be attending Wendy’s PR Crash Course, a hands-on interactive program designed to give you and your business the boost you need for your best year ever! The event was created and will be hosted by Wendy Kurtz, the woman who helped me launch The Getaway Girl® brand and has helped me grow my business since its inception. Wendy and her team of experts will spend two full days sharing their strategies, tips, techniques and resources to help you grow your business. You’ll even get to tour a local television station to see firsthand how news is produced.

Whether you own your business or work for someone else, come learn from the masters how you can leverage your personal style and your company’s strengths to stand out from your competition in today’s marketplace. As a special “thank you” for subscribing to the Girls Getaway Guide blog, I’ve made arrangements with Wendy for you to receive $50 off the normal registration fee. And for even more great savings, register by October 21 to receive an additional $50 early bird discount! That’s a full $100 off this two day event!

Register online:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

September Girls Getaway Photo Submission

This month’s girls’ getaway photo was submitted by Amber Chancey of Sarasota, FL. Amber writes: “It was for our 20 year Sebring Middle School reunion. We stayed at the Grand Bohemian and LOVED it. Our accommodations were amazing, spent our time shopping, having wine by the cabana pool, dancing the night away and catching up!”

Pictured from left to right: Dawn Siegle Shectman, Kerry Creadon Gardner, Elizabeth Phillips, Martha Krause Morgan, Amber Chancey and Jennifer Wilke Banta. To submit your girl getaway photos, email us at

Friday, September 18, 2009

U.S. Travel Association Develops Swine Flu Toolkit

The swine flu situation continues to evolve as more schools open around the country and the possibility for spread of the disease heightens. While information gathered over the past four months suggests that the swine flu, also known as H1N1, is no more severe than the annual seasonal flu, it's critical that the travel community do all we can to ensure that the spread of the disease is limited.

At the same time, it is vital that we take this opportunity to communicate to policymakers, health officials, opinion leaders and the media about the critical role travel plays in our economy, to ensure appropriate responses as new information about swine flu becomes available.

To assist you with your own plans, U.S. Travel has created a toolkit of useful information that can be accessed by clicking on the links below, or by visiting

Source: U.S. Travel Association

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Girls Getaway to...Gatorland??

I have always wanted to wrestle an alligator. Well…not really, but I did think it sounded pretty cool, as long as I did not lose any body parts. The folks at Orlando’s Gatorland ( were nice enough to invite me out to their place to see if I have what it takes to tame these creatures. Wendy and I were greeted by Gatorland staff members Mark McHugh, CEO; and head Gator Wrestlers Tim Williams and Mike Hileman. We were first introduced to Trezo Je, which is Cajun Creole for Treasure Eye. He is one of four brothers (all leucistic) that live in White Gator Swamp at Gatorland. These are ordinary alligators with an extraordinary appearance, and there are only 13 in the world. Their white skin is caused by leucism (loo-sism), a rare genetic trait related to albinism. Leucistic gators, which are rarer than albinos, get their coloration from a recessive or “masked” gene. The 300 lb. Trezo Je greeted me with a hiss and a smile while Mike explained to me that I look like a big hot dog to him. Okay, great! Time to move on.

We were then introduced to the 13-foot Chester, who ate a few large dogs in Tampa and was re-located to Gatorland. Chester greeted us with a horrible hissing noise, then turned his back to us and opted to “sleep in” this morning. Oh darn, no fun with Chester today. Now that we had a few introductions, it was time to get in the gator wrestling arena. While Wendy watched from the sidelines with a video camera, Mike and Tim were “kind” enough to teach me a few key safety features of my new 200 lb wrestling opponent. I had no idea “gator riding” would be involved, so be sure to watch the video ( to share my shock! After mastering gator wrestling (and riding), we moved on to the Breeding Pond where we fed 30 hungry gators while some were just a few inches away! During the feeding, I chatted with Gatorland’s CEO Mark McHugh about this amazing attraction and its fabulous creatures. The place really does have something for everyone, and I strongly encourage you to visit next time you are in Orlando. For details, visit

We ended the Gatorland experience by playing with the youngsters. These small alligators are hatched nearby and raised at Gatorland with other gators their size and age. We even got Wendy to hold one. Stay tuned as we schedule more trips to Gatorland.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

American Travelers More Familiar with ‘Green Travel,’ but Unwilling to Pay More to Support It

U.S. travelers are more familiar with sustainable travel terminology than they were two years ago but remain unwilling to pay more for eco-friendly travel options, according to the July travelhorizons™, the quarterly consumer survey co-authored by the U.S. Travel Association and Ypartnership. The percentage of American travelers who consider themselves “environmentally conscious” has not changed since 2007 (78 percent); however, there has been a remarkable increase in the percentage who report familiarity with the term “carbon footprint” (from 12 percent in July 2007 to 54 percent in July 2009).

Awareness of the term “green travel” also improved from 9 percent in July 2007 to 22 percent in July 2009. Despite these increases, only 9 percent of consumers say they are willing to pay more to use travel service suppliers that offer eco-friendly options for travelers, and only three percent have purchased a carbon offset when booking travel. “

Although consumers are reluctant to pay more to support green travel service suppliers, they are definitely paying attention to those who are green, even in this down economy,” said Peter Yesawich, chairman and CEO of Ypartnership. “Travel service suppliers should therefore continue to adopt green practices that have a minimum impact on consumers’ wallets.”

Source: Hospitality 1st

Friday, September 4, 2009

For Airlines, No Recovery Beyond the Labor Day Horizon

Airline shares have rallied ahead of Labor Day, an anticipated turning point for the troubled industry when many carriers will begin slashing seat capacity to match the drop in passenger demand. Investors are hoping capacity cuts will allow airlines to jack up ticket prices and reverse declining revenue. But the plan could falter because business travelers, the industry's traditional bread and butter, have yet to return even as the recession winds down. "We've seen some improvement in recent trends for load factors and pricing, but I think the bulk of that is being driven by the leisure traveler," said Matt Jacob, an analyst with Majestic Research. "But the business traveler, those who buy close to booking and pay a premium price, that section of the business has continued to be weak.

Source: Christopher Hinton, MarketWatch