Our day started with a presentation from Fort Myers & Sanibel Beach. We had a nice chat with the woman from Florida and learned a bit more about the area. My in-laws love shelling at Sanibel Beach so we were pretty familiar with the area.
The next two presenters joining our table were from Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines. We have been on several NCL cruises and are actually taking our first Royal Caribbean cruise in April. Their pitches were definitely geared more towards travel agents but it was nice to hear about the current promotions for travelers.
I have been wanting to visit the Azores for a while now. I will admit that the airlines and flight details were a deterrent prior to now. Tour Azores out of Fall River MA are from Portugal, love talking about Portugal, and offer extremely reasonable trips. I am definitely interested in their Lisbon/Azores 7-day vacations that start at $799 (land only). In addition to this great information Azores Airlines is adding new planes and new schedules out of Boston that sound amazing! Azores Airlines is all about servicing their customers. Azores Airlines offers a free checked bag (23kg), free carry-on bag, free in-flight wifi, meals, and wines.
I absolutely love traveling to the Caribbean. These days I'm looking for a mix of beautiful beaches, great food, and something adventurous in nature. Renee S.C. Goodwin from Grenada completely sold me on her country! Renee was passionate, exciting, and shared fabulous ideas on what to do when visiting Grenada. I can't wait to look up more information on planning a trip for us to Grenada.
Before lunch we heard about the updated all-inclusive resorts on Aruba. The Divi and Tamarijn resorts are older properties but it sounds as though the resorts are keeping up with trends thanks to refurbishments and all-inclusive offerings for guests. MSC Cruises was next and I can honestly say that what I learned definitely has me interested. I am looking forward to them becoming more active in the U.S. and seeing how things go with their new private island off of Bimini (in 2019). Our last presenter before lunch was Latam Airlines. We heard about their new non-stop flights to Sao Paolo Brazil from Boston. We also heard a little bit about their easy connections to other parts of South America (Patagonia and Machu Picchu are both high on my list of must sees)
Back from lunch our first presenter was from New Smyrna Beach Florida. Greg and I actually love New Smyrna and visit it when we are in the Orlando area. It was very nice to hear about the new hotels coming to the city as well as hearing about the artist community. The Boston Passport Agency was up next. We were given great handouts to help others with applying, we were filled in on the new costs, and were given a basic understanding of the others ways to stay safe when traveling.
The representative from Universal Studios definitely peaked my interest. In addition to wanting to visit Harry Potter World I definitely have to visit once Voodoo Donuts opens up in Universal City Walk. I have been dying to try their donuts and I'm definitely in the Orlando area more often than I am in Portland Oregon.
Brickell Bay Beach Club and Spa was a complete let down presentation wise. With more resorts following travel trends to hear an old school presentation was sad to be honest. Marvel Vilchez (Sales & Marketing Director) spoke about how gratuities aren't added to your bill but then stated that if service is above and beyond you can give them cash tips. What non all-inclusive hotel requires you to give gratuities? She went on to explain that you receive such great service because the owner feels the staff needs to really work for tips. Marvel followed this by talking about how you receive fresh towels every day. Again, what hotel doesn't give you fresh towels every day? I went online and checked out some reviews and when I see affordable, wifi issues, no air conditioning, etc. It leads me to believe my initial thoughts were correct and this wouldn't be a resort we would visit.
It was really nice to learn about company managed, and multi-size rent-able homes from Balmoral Florida Resort. Only 25 minutes from Disney World, offering concierge services, pet friendly, breakfast, and more. It's rental properties all with the amenities of a resort. It sounded really great for families visiting the area and online reviews are terrific.
Our last presenter for the day was Metropolitan Touring. Francisco Dousdebes talked with us about luxury small cruises to the Galapagos and unique lodging in Ecuador. What I liked most was these properties are all owned by Metropolitan Touring they aren't just a facilitator. All of the properties looked stunning and I loved Francisco's passion for each property. Ecuador wasn't on my radar for travel but I am now dying to stay at Mashpi Lodge. Mashpi Lodge is a National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World. I will be checking them out in Amazing Hotels on Netflix.
I am not sure if the next two representatives (scheduled to talk) weren't there or if they just never made it to our table but we didn't hear from Puerto Rico Tourism Authority nor USA Gateway Travel.
If I could make recommendations to the Boston Globe Travel Show I would tell them to assign registered visitors a Querty symbol so that vendors could scan guests and send them information in the future. This was a huge benefit at the New York Times Travel Show. I would also recommend skipping companies offering a massage, jewelry, or skin care. These items didn't interest us at all and we would have preferred seeing travel organizations from more regions.
All in all, we had a wonderful day and were inspired by several representatives to visit their countries/resorts. In addition to this I am also inspired to get my travel agents license. Hopefully I will be able to combine my experiences, love of research/planning of trips, and help others to explore our wonderful planet.