Holiday Club Deals
Receive the latest and greatest deals and some great
Holiday Club Deals
Receive the latest and greatest deals and some great
An Interview With Isabella Beane
How many years have you been selling travel?
What are your hobbies?
Golf, hiking, reading and travel
What type of resort activities do you favor? ie water sports, lounging by the pool, etc?
golf, sun and sand
What are your favorite destinations?
South Africa, South Pacific, Europe and South America and Great Britain, Cambodia and Vietnam, anywhere a river boat sails. Tanzania.
What languages do you speak?
Australia, Bora Bora, Cook Islands, Fiji Islands, French Polynesia, Moorea, New Zealand, Samoa, Tahiti, Tuvalu
Egypt, Safari, South Africa, Zimbabwe
Cambodia, India, Thailand, Vietnam
Alberta, Atlantic Canada, British Columbia, Central, Eastern, Northwest Territories , Ski, Western, Yukon
Alaska Cruise, Avalon Waterways, Carnival Cruise, Celebrity Cruise, Crystal Cruises , Eastern Caribbean, Europe Cruise, European River Cruising, European Waterways, Exotic Cruise, Florida, Hawaii, Holland America, Mediterranean, Mexican Riviera, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Oceania, Panama Canal Cruise, Princess Cruises, RCCL, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, River Cruising, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Silversea Cruise Line, South America Cruise, Southern Caribbean, Star Clipper Cruises, Western Caribbean
Hungary, Italy, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Scandinavia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece
US Virgin Islands
Weddings & Honeymoons
In January I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to travel to Whitehorse and Dawson City. I was quite unprepared for just how cold it would be so that was a shock to my system trying to get around in minus 26 in Whitehorse and minus 42 in Dawson City. However I did survive and can attest to the warmth of the hospitality everywhere we went. We were provided with excellent winter gear, boots, suits, gloves etc which were absolute life savers. We visited the Whitehorse Wild Animal Preserve, not reserve, that was the very best part for me having recently returned from an amazing African safari to go there and see our Canadian wildlife and experience a different type of safari was just incredible. All the animals in the preserve have been taken in for rehabilitation, when possible the animals are released back into the wild however it is not always possible to do that. If visiting Whitehorse this is a must see. We were able to spend some time in the Hot Springs late at night which was quite wonderful. Dawson City was just a welcoming. A late night viewing of the Northern Lights was a challenge trying to photograph because the camera lens kept freezing over but it was yet another unforgettable experience. The flights on Air North from Vancouver to Whitehorse and on to Dawson City were absolutely wonderful, warm welcoming crew and excellent meal service topped off with warm chocolate chip cookies was an unexpected treat. I would like to return to the Yukon, late summer is apparently a great time, and certainly warmer. I can truly recommend it as a destination.
In July I escorted a small group, 16 in total, on a G-Adventures National Geographic tour to Iceland. We flew non stop with Icelandair from Vancouver to Rekjavik, On arrival we transferred to our first hotel, the Hotel Klettur. We flew in one day prior to the start of the tour to give ourselves time to get over the flight and have a day to explore the city which turned out to be a good thing because when the tour started we met with the tour guide on the first day in the evening and the next day left early for our first stop along the way. We were all glad we had that one day to explore the city and get a good feel for the area. On that first day we walked the waterfront along to the wonderful concert hall which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. It is a unique building with fairly small glass panels adorning the outside of the building, when there is a concert playing inside the glass panels light up with all different colours in time to the music. We stopped for lunch at one of the many cafes along the route and sampled what was to be the first of many delicious meals. I had the fish and chips and have to admit it was the best I have ever tasted, the chips were more like little round roasted potatoes, crisp and tasty. Dinner that night was in a local restaurant, again excellent cuisine however all meals, everywhere, were extremely expensive as we were to find out. Day two we had the whole day prior to meeting our wonderful G-Adventures guide so most of us elected to purchase a hop on hop off bus pass, it started out very wet so we enjoyed the circular trip on the bus, staying dry. By the time we had travelled the entire route it had dried up and we all elected to get off at the various locations that interested us. I chose to visit the Whale exhibit with some of the group, it was very interesting. Continuing on the route we made our way back to the hotel and got ready to meet our guide for our information session, after which we went for yet another excellent meal in a local restaurant. The next day was the real start of the trip and we set off to Skaftafell following the South Shore past the famous Eyjafjallajokull volcano, the absolutely stunning waterfall of Seljalandsfoss Waterfall and many other sights along the way. We spent two nights there visiting the Crystal Beach and saw the icebergs scattered along the coastline. A hike up to another waterfall surrounded by the basaltic lava columns. Vast expanses of Lava fields and waterfalls were abundant throughout the trip. We stayed at the Hof Adventure Hotel, which in fact was more like a hostel but, although very basic, it was very clean and comfortable and again, great food in the restaurant there. From Skaftafell we continued on to the quaint little community of Vik where the group had the opportunity to strap on the crampons and set off on a hike up on to the Glacier. For those who chose not to take the four and half hour trek on to the glacier there was the option to take a five to six kilometer hike to the foot of another glacier, the terrain was flatter and easier to navigate. Here the flowers and vegetation was abundant and colourful and a lovely surprise. The next day we set off following the Golden Circle to Selfoss catching more waterfalls, each one more spectacular than the last one. Lunch at an Eco-Village that G-Adventures supports before heading onwards to our hotel. From Selfoss we headed to Snaefellsnes taking a walk through the Thingvellir National Park at the end of our Golden Circle tour and stopped at the meeting point of the American and Eurasian tectonic plates followed by a visit to a local farm where we had lunch and a tour of the farm. Two nights in a very nice hotel there, probably the nicest accommodations we had on the trip before heading back towards Reykjavik stopping at another geothermal area where hot springs and waterfalls were abundant. Then back to Rekyjavik for our final evening. Iceland is coping with an overwhelming amount of tourism right now and it needs time to catch up a bit. Some accommodations are very basic, some new hotels are quite lovely but without exception all the beds, linens and rooms are spotlessly clean and comfortable. Food and drinks and particularly souvenirs are very expensive so be prepared for that. Despite all of that it was truly a most spectacular trip, a fascinating country with views that were as varied as they were magnificent, each waterfall, each mountain and each view better than the last. The people are friendly and welcoming and we were told that there is little or no crime at all, a very safe place to visit. We were advised by the tour company to take Euros which was a huge mistake, Iceland does not take the Euro anywhere, although the tour guide and the transfer drivers were happy to accept them as tips. Restaurants and shops definitely do not accept them so it is the Icelandic Krona, credit or debit cards only. So go prepared for every type of weather, even in the summer, and have comfortable shoes or hiking boots and you will have a wonderful time.
I have just returned from a wonderful safari adventure in Tanzania. Our small group of 14 travellers flew into Kilimanjaro airport and were transferred to the Lake Duluti Serena Hotel for two nights prior to the start of our adventure. From there we travelled to Tarangire National Park overnighting for two nights at the Tarangire Simba Camp. The adventure did not take long to begin. I have been on several safaris in Africa in the past and I have seen the Big Five before but I have never seen animals in the huge numbers that we saw on this trip. From the very first day we encountered huge herds of zebra, wildebeest, elephant, Cape Buffulo amongst many other wonderful animals. From Tarangire we travelled to Lake Manyara, overnighting at the Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge. We visited a local primary school and were greeted by the wonderful smiles of the children who sang and danced for us and managed to get us up to sing and dance along with them. From there we travelled to the Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge which sits at the very top of the crater. The views were magnificent and sunrise and sunsets just beautiful. The next morning we had breakfast down in the crater, not just a boxed breakfast but a white linen, champagne breakfast with omelets and full breakfast cooked for us right in the open, served by chefs with full chef regalia. It was very special. By day four we had seen four of the Big Five as well as huge herds of all the animals, an unbelievable number of Lions, beautiful cubs, rolling around and playing together like small children. After two nights at the crater we continued on to the Serengeti National Park which is a huge unfenced open area where animals roam free in abundance, huge herds of beautiful creatures. We finally found the Rhino to complete our Big Five. Several sighting of Leopard, which is often hard to find, and cheetah, warthog, hyena and several varieties of antelope. A early morning balloon ride over the Serengeti with the sun coming up was an unforgettable experience. Sadly, we leave the Serengeti, but the adventure is not over yet. We flew to Zanzibar for three nights to rest and relax at the beautiful Serena hotel which sits on the edge of the Indian Ocean. A city tour of Stonetown visiting the Spice Market and the Fish market and tour of the old town to give us the flavour of the island. Altogether a most exciting and exhilarating trip which will stay with me for a long time.
I have just returned from a wonderful trip to Europe starting with a week in London. I stayed at my favourite location on the Strand in London at the Strand Palace Hotel which is very central to Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and two blocks from the Waterloo bridge which takes you over to the South Bank where the London Eye is located. A wonderful stroll along the Thames will take you to London Bridge where you can cross over to Tower Bridge. Close by in the area around the Strand are many theatres and it is very close to the main theatre district, everything is in walking distance or if you prefer the tube you have Covent Garden or Charing Cross stations just minutes away. The City was the most vibrant I have seen it, the weather was hot and dry and all the outside patios busy with people enjoying the summer. I had excellent meals, good wine and topped the trip off with two shows which were both excellent. London is definitely open for business. I flew to Amsterdam and spent a great three nights there enjoying the sights before boarding our beautiful Avalon Impression to sail from Amsterdam to Budapest sailing the Rhine, the Maine Canal and the Danube stopping at wonderful towns and villages along the way. Without exception the included tours every morning were excellent with very friendly, knowledgeable guides who made each experience very special. Favourite spots for me were Regensburg and the village of Durnstein, but other highlights were Vienna where we enjoyed a morning tour and an evening concert which was exceptional. Bratislava was, perhaps, the most surprising. A wonderful old city with wonderful buildings and a great guide who made the history of the city come alive. Budapest, always a favourite, did not disappoint. We spent one night on the ship there and then moved to the Intercontinental hotel, probably the best location for a hotel situated right on the river. If you are lucky and get a river view the night time lights of the old city of Buda on the other side of the river is sight not to be missed. We enjoyed a city tour on the first morning from the ship and an evening light tour at 9pm which was a real treat. The crew on the Avalon Impression were wonderful, doing everything possible to make the trip unforgettable, great food, great selection of wines from all the regions we sailed through. The entertainment in the evening was local in the various areas we passed and was extremely good. During the two weeks we passed through a total of 68 locks along the way with interesting documentary from a lock expert one day as we sailed along. All in all it was a wonderful trip, great weather and lasting memories.
I have just returned from escorting a group to Cambodia and Vietnam. The trip was arranged with Avalon river cruises, our group filled the entire ship, the beautiful Avalon Siem Reap which sailed from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City which is still called Saigon by the locals. The cruise tour included 3 days in Siem Reap at the beginning, our group added one additional day there so that we could have a day to relax before the touring started. Siem Reap was not quite as I expected, for some reason I thought it would be very modern and 21st century when in fact it is quite the opposite which was quite a lovely surprise. There are some very beautiful hotels there, most of the large chains are a little on the edge of town however Avalon chose to use the Park Hyatt Siem Reap which is located right in the centre of the city. A very unassuming building from the outside but walk through the door and you enter a beautiful Cambodian experience, from the beautiful, warm and friendly staff who are there to open every door for you to the wonderful décor and warm hospitality. Exploring Siem Reap was a wonderful adventure, we started out walking the city but the traffic and uneven pavements made the tuk tuks very appealing. One dollar US per person will take you anywhere in the city by smiling and friendly drivers happy to point out anything of interest. All in all Siem Reap was a wonderful start to an amazing trip. From there our ever smiling guide, Peter, took us to the major temples, Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Banteay Srei and the Bayon Temple, all unique in their own way and well worth the visit. On the fourth day we boarded our ship, as a group of 35 we occupied all 18 cabins and had the ship to ourselves, such a wonderful crew met us on arrival and quickly learned all of our names and greeted us by name every time our paths crossed. Our Cruise Director, Phiem, a wonderful Vietnamese fellow, was warm, funny, knowledgeable and very efficient taking care of every possible need and arranging birthday cards and cakes for our three birthday guests. Our Cambodian land tour guide, Peter, was also great giving us in depth information on the history of Cambodia. We saw all the major sights all made so much more interesting because of the way in which Peter presented his obvious love of his country. In every stop in Cambodia we were greeted by beautiful children, friendly adults all with beautiful smiles. I was very surprised at how many people had good English speaking skills and how warm everyone was. We rode on every possible form of transportation from the tuk tuks, oxen carts, rickshaws/cyclos, my favourite was the oxen cart. Once we entered Vietnam on the river we lost our lovely smiling Peter and we welcomed Khanh to our group to guide us the rest of the trip to Ho Chi Minh City. The second night in the Vietnamese part of the river we were treated to a show put on by the crew and enjoyed Classical dance by our lovely table waitress, a humourous musical "event" from one of the cabin crew, very entertaining. To top of the evening entertainment Phiem, our talented cruise director teamed up with Khanh for a musical performance, Phiem has an amazing voice and Khanh accompanied him on guitar. The following evening two of my guests also entertained us with a few songs accompanied by Khanh. We danced every night, on the last night the entire crew, with the exception of those steering the ship, joined in the dancing and it was so much fun watching our Vietnamese Captain doing the Macarena with everyone else. Such great memories. On arrival in Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon, we found ourselves in another completely different environment from Siem Reap. Saigon is a much more modern city of 11 million people and 6 million motorcycles so crossing the road was a real adventure not to be taken lightly. A common sight would be an entire family all riding on the same little 125cc bike with all their goods strapped on as well. Traffic lights and stop signs seemed to have little effect on any drivers. There are many more cars in Saigon compared to Siem Reap, it is a much more cosmopolitan city with a rich history, much of which centres around the Vietnam war. Not to be missed was the Saigon Culinary centre for a cooking class, I have to admit this was one aspect of the trip I was not particularly looking forward to, cooking classes are not my thing. However, this was quite a different experience and turned out to be a real highlight of the trip and, bonus, I can now make a pretty good spring roll, not to mention my marinade for the chicken dish. Everyone came away with huge smiles and certification certificates proving we could all cook Vietnamese style, so much fun. The Intercontinental in Saigon was the most beautiful hotel, two beautiful swimming pools, beautiful rooms and gracious staff, a lovely and warm experience. Cocktails at the Rex Hotel, famous for the watering hole for the American Generals in the war at the end of the day. Sitting at dusk on the roof of the hotel sipping our drinks and watching the skyline was an unforgettable memory. Following our cocktails we dined at the Lotus Garden Restaurant for a wonderful meal with a mouthwatering menu. Following our two nights in Saigon we boarded our flight to Hanoi for our Ha Long Bay extension, on arrival we boarded a bus and drove straight up to Ha Long Bay arriving at the Novatel around 6pm. We had been advised that our included dinner was buffet style, not my favourite, however what a surprise upon arriving into the dining room to find a spectacular array of foods, Asian and Western. On one side of the room we selected the meats we wanted and the chef cooked it for us right there, following around the room we could select Asian varieties and then we arrived at the seafood bar with every type of seafood one could imagine, we selected our choices and the chefs cooked them right in front of us. What a treat. The hotel was lovely too, great rooms overlooking Ha Long Bay. The next morning we boarded our boat early and set off for a lovely trip out into Ha Long Bay to see all the wonderful limestone structures that rise out of the water. The morning was a little grey and overcast which might have been a disappointment but for me it added to the mystical magic of the area. I have several photos that will blow up nicely for a framed photo memory. Sadly our time was over in Ha Long Bay and back on the bus to go back to the Intercontinental in Hanoi, another gorgeous hotel with fabulous rooms with the most amazing views, such a treat. Our guide in Hanoi was also very friendly and knowledgeable. We toured the Cu Chi tunnels and were able to go down into the tunnels and make our way through a short stretch of tunnel to see what it would have been like for the folks who used the tunnels during the war. That tour combined with our earlier tour of the Killing Fields gave us a peak into the violent history of the area, very poignant and very interesting. There were so many varied and interesting tours into the villages, schools, too many to mention, they have to be experienced. Everyone on the trip felt the same, one of the best experiences to date and that is what travel should be, not just a vacation but a true and meaningful experience. This was that and more.
I have just returned from a very relaxing and enjoyable week in St Lucia, one of the most green and lush islands in the Caribbean. It was the end of what is considered the rainy season there so I did expect to have some rain and I was not disappointed. For the most part it rained at night which worked out well, rain as I have never seen before. I was in a bungalow so the sound of the rain hitting the roof was loud so that combined with the thousands of singing frogs left me convinced that I would not get too much sleep. I could not have been more wrong as the sounds of the island sent me off into the best sleep I have had in months. St. Lucia is very hilly and several of the resorts are perched high on a hill so when looking for the resort for you it is important to make sure, if a beach location is important to you, that you select the right one for you. Good choices would be any of the three Sandals resorts, all have great beach locations, and St. James Club, Morgan Bay. The Landings St. Lucia has a lovely location as does the Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort. The capital city of Castries has lots of markets and very old world Caribbean, a not overly affluent feel to it. Rodney Bay is more up market with newer shopping and restaurants, it has been developed to cater to the cruise ships that come into the harbour there. I took a couple of excursions, one out to Pigeon Point where I hiked up to the Fort at the top of the hill. I also took a sunset cruise on a Pirate Ship which was a lot of fun with drinks and food aplenty and a very entertaining crew, a great way to watch the sun go down. It would be easy to fill each day with a variety of excursions, everything from Volcanoes, waterfalls or a day out whale or dolphin watching but I decided to spend some time relaxing around the pool and enjoying my resort.
Although I have been into France many times, this trip was a little different. I decided to take the Burgundy and Provence River Cruise with Avalon, which included two nights in Paris and a night in Monte Carlo at the end of the cruise. I did extend three additional nights in Paris and two more at the wonderful Fairmont, Monte Carlo. The itinerary was extremely interesting and I found the little French towns along the way very different from those on the Budapest - Prague Avalon cruise I had taken in 2012. River cruising really does take you into the very heart of the destination. Avalon's itinerary and service were wonderful and I can highly recommend both the destination and the cruise line.
I keep giving 5/5 because the trips I have taken have been just that 5 out of 5. The last trip to Europe in September 2014 I spent 5 days walking the Lake District and the promenade in Morecambe England followed by 5 wonderful days in London visiting some of my favourite haunts such as London's South Bank where the street entertainers, artists and local people creating wonderful people watching moments, or when I have finished walking and need to rest my feet off to Covent Garden and sit in the little courtyard, sipping coffee and listening to the musicians who perform there every day. It could be Classical, Jazz, Opera or string quartet, it doesn't matter it is a perfect way to end the afternoon before an evening of theatre or music in this vibrant city. Did I forget to mention the shopping or the best fudge in the world in Harrod's Food floor?
Another of my favourite places. My first trip to South Africa was in 2005 with a group from my Rotary club. We spent 9 wonderful days in the homes of fellow Rotarians at the beginning of the trip and ended with two weeks of Safari adventure and a spectacular trip down the Garden Route to Cape Town for the last few wonderful days. I repeated the trip in 2009 and 2013 touching a few different places each time and experiencing both National game parks and Private game parks for wonderful Safari experiences. Not to be missed in Cape Town is a dinner at the Africa Café where you will sample every kind of African food and be serenaded by the kitchen and wait staff who will sing and dance for you. Altogether a magical evening.
In 2012 I took a small group from Vancouver to Budapest where we spent three nights before boarding our Avalon ship to sail to Nuremberg, from there we bussed to Prague for an additional three nights. Not quite enough time really but certainly enough to see this beautiful city and get a flavour of the country. I booked a private excursion for my group to Cesky Krumlov for the day during our stay and we all felt that next time we would stay a night there so that we could explore this wonderful World Heritage Site in more detail,
My last trip to New Zealand was in 2010, this was probably around my 18th trip to that spectacular country since 1982. I have seen New Zealand from the top of the country in the Bay of Islands to the most southerly point, Stewart Island. Stunning country and wonderful people. I love to plan itineraries for my clients to out of the way places that the major tours never seem to go to.
I have been to Australia a couple of times, the first trip was a land trip that involved a stay in Sydney and travel to Melborne, the Gold Coast and up to Cairns. The second trip was a cruise from Auckland to Sydney, a great way to get a taste for the country. Australian stops included Sydney, Melbourne as well as a stop in Tasmania.
Receive the latest and greatest deals and some great
Receive the latest and greatest deals and some great