Travel Design Tips & Inspiration

Just Back from Jackson, WY

Family, Friend Of A Friend Consulting, Travel Tips

Jan
29
2016

Jackson, Wyoming

January 2016

Happy New Year, and if January is any indication, well, then, so far, so great. Just this past weekend, I was fortunate enough to head out to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for an insider peek into the wintry lifestyle of the gorgeous Teton Valley. Having only ever visited the area during the summer months – something I HIGHLY suggest doing – I was eager to check out the terrain now under a thick blanket of snow.  As you can see from my sunrise shot below, I was hardly disappointed.

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Staying at a mountaintop (or butte-top, to be more accurate) home near the Spring Creek Ranch and the Aman, I was blessed with some truly stunning views. If you can believe it, this sunrise shot above is captured without filters (mostly because I’m terrible at them, anyhow).

The entire weekend, I was treated to an excellent and thorough tour from local expert and Real Estate / Property-Management firm founder, Morgan Bruemmer of the Clear Creek Group. His affable and kind demeanor meant myself and fellow journalist wanted for nothing and were exposed to the very best Jackson has to offer. Of course, the slopes were on my top list, and so ski them I did, with none other than a former K2-rep skier whose bravery and strength was unparalleled – just ask the bears.

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In addition to skiing, we also snowshoed in the National Teton Park on a bluebird afternoon and visited the nearby Elk Refuge via horse-drawn sleigh. It was chilly, but also enthralling to view these massive horned and hairy beasts up close and personal. As you can see below, I tried to flatter my hosts by donning something equally as furry, though the guide’s chaps quickly let me know I had a ways to go. Of course not everything we did was outdoors. We also managed to nourish ourselves rather sumptuously. My favorite meal was found at local bakery, Persephone, where the pastries were sinful and the decor was perfectly vintage-infused and charming. I could have easily nestled in with my laptop and spent the better part of the day. I’m already planning my return. Next time, with my family in tow.

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Posted in: Family, Friend Of A Friend Consulting, Travel Tips

Published by Meg, Friday, January 29, 2016 No Comments

Why Hire a Trip Planner Anyway?

Friend Of A Friend Consulting

Oct
28
2014

travel-agent-600As the founder of Friend of a Friend Consulting, a luxury trip design firm in Connecticut, I find I get this question (Why hire a Travel Agent/Trip Planner?) a lot. Though, to be honest, not as often as I’d like. If you know me at all, I love to defend a position, especially one I believe in so vehemently.

It’s fair to say, the question is usually put to me after the person has had one or two drinks, allowing them to feel comfortable enough to ask me why, when the internet allows individuals to research and book hotels themselves, do they really need to work with me? A fair point, indeed. And look, I understand. I’m a consumer of travel products, too, and love nothing more than spending hour upon relentless hour researching my way to a destination’s center core. Of course, that’s why I made it my career. But having now been a Trip Designer for the past few years, in addition to an established travel writer and digital content creator for two very popular Online Travel Agencies (Tablet Hotels and Hotel Insider) I am confident that there is no amount of research or savvy internet skills that can match the outcome of utilizing the expertise and perhaps even more compelling, the industry contracts, of a certified travel professional.

Allow me to explain, in just 4 short bullet points, a few advantages to using a Trip Designer or Luxury Hotel Consultant  that you may not have ever considered or known. And if you’re still unsure and need more explanation, by all means: Email me. I will happily chat further.

1.  I can research more efficiently than you, mostly because I am deeply familiar with the sources (having worked for or with most of them.) However, that doesn’t mean I don’t want you to enjoy the pursuit. I know how fun it is to read up on a destination and pour over hotel reviews, and so, in addition to the tailored dossier of hotel suggestions, I also provide my clients with a full reading list of both on and off-line sources.

2. I can almost alway match any rate that you find online, making it moot to hunt for a cheaper deal, and beyond that, I can get you perks on luxury properties that aren’t available to most booking providers. Ever noticed how many of the online travel agencies (Tablet Hotels, SecretEscapes, Jetsetter) will show you the rates from Expedia or Booking.com as a way of convincing you there is no cheaper option? Well, that’s because there really isn’t. It’s incredibly bad business for hotels to offer cheaper rates to certain providers as ultimately all hotels go into the General Distribution System. AND even more creepy, some of these sites (hotelsl.com, expedia) are offering hotel pricing specific to you and your browsing history – yikes !

3. I can liaise with the hotel on your behalf and truth-be-told, they are more inclined to listen to me than you. Nothing personal, just that a travel professional is a business supplier, and you, unless you are a frequent high-flying guest are 1 in 1m. See what The NY TImes reported on the subject in 2012.

4. And more importantly, if the proverbial sh*t ever hits the fan, you definitely want me to help clear it up rather than you. After all, you’re on vacation.

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Posted in: Friend Of A Friend Consulting

Published by Meg, Tuesday, October 28, 2014 No Comments

Just Back From: Rovijn, Crotia

Europe, Food + Wine, Friend Of A Friend Consulting

Sep
24
2014

Rovijn, Istrian Peninsula, Croatia

September 9-14th, 2014,

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In mid-September I spent five days on the Istrian peninsula in Croatia. This is not the Croatia that everyone hums about, well at least the American hum. That’s further south, on the Dalmatian Coast (Hvar, Split, Dubrovnik.) Instead, this is the Istrian Croatia, which shares a border with Italy and Slovenia and is far less party / beach-centric than its southern sister. Here the focus is on the slow-lifestyle of tourism with a heavy emphasis on the (quite impressive) epicurean attributes of the surrounding area. It’s the truffle capital of Europe. Who knew?

Thought it feels off the beaten-path for us Americans, I daresay those crafty Germans and other northern Europeans are well attuned to the area, along with neighboring Italians who come mainly during Ferragosto – the August holidays.  The area is nothing but picturesque and the tiny fishing village of Rovijn is the crown jewel. So charming is it, that the area’s top luxury hotel owners, Croatia’s largest Tobacco company, Maistra, believe it to be prime to complete with France’s Cote d’Azur. An ambitious goal, needless to say. However, the two areas do share many similar natural wonders, while the recently revamped, five-star Monte Mulini, where I was stayed is a strong step in the right direction.

Other remarkable elements of the area are the jade-colored Adriatic waters, delicious to swim in and even better to sail around on. Rovijn is, truly,  a rather striking and comfortable little hamlet, whose Venetian roots make it feel wonderfully Italian. It’s waterfront bars and restaurants are ideal for a sun-setting aperitif or romantic dinner while the marble promontory that connects the hotels to the town center is well groomed and makes for easy access either on foot or on bicycle, as many visitors were. (NB. The area is hugely popular with cyclists) I also adored the neighboring parkland, which featured two walking and biking trails, as well as a sheer-face rock-climbing area and various swimming holes.

Here are my top 3 suggestions:

3 Things to Do in Rovijn / Croatian Istria

1. Truffle Hunt – the area is perhaps the best in Europe (so they say, and judging from the bounty, so it would seem.  This lovely man and his ladies below will treat you to a hunt followed by a truffle-filled meal at the restaurant.

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Our truffle hunter and his trusty pooches. They use dogs instead of swine because they’re less likely to eat the truffles. And you wonder where the phrase. “selfish pig” comes from.

2. Olive Oil Taste at Chiavalon – the passionate owner will take you through an informative history on his family-owned, design award-winning olive oil vineyard, followed by an instructive tasting where helpful tips for distinguishing the good from the mediocre were abundant, such as “it should make you cough after swallowing.”

3. Tour the food market stalls – and by tour, I mean sample. Everything. From fresh fruit like stunning peaches to truffle pesto. And then, Climb the St. Eustasis Tower in Rovijn for both the exercise and the tower’s 360-degree views. Don’t mind the rickety stairway – it’s part of the charm.

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Fresh Orata at the market in Rovijn

 

 

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Posted in: Europe, Food + Wine, Friend Of A Friend Consulting

Published by Meg, Wednesday, September 24, 2014 No Comments

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About Meg

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Meg is the founder of luxury travel consulting company, Friend of a Friend Consulting. Her three books, Italian Hideaways, Caribbean Hideaways and England's Hideaways are published by Rizzoli. Passionate about travel, hotels and wine, she continues to write freelance travel pieces and is currently pursuing a Masters in Wine through the WSET.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and do not reflect separate business relationships with the subject. Whenever posts are supported financially, they are designated as such.