MSC’s new Loyalty Match program

MSC Cruises has announced a new Loyalty Match program as part of its Voyagers Club past guest program. If you have not yet sailed on MSC and you belong to a loyalty program with other cruise lines, tour operators, or hotel chains, MSC will welcome you to it’s MSC Voyagers Club by matching your status with another loyalty program.  You will get the benefits of MSC’s program at the level defined by your other program, before your first voyage. You can do this only one time, so choose your program with the highest benefit level.  Apply for membership at MSC Cruises Loyalty...

Starwood Boston hotel tour

On July 21 I had the pleasure of touring four Starwood Hotels in Boston, hosted by Edwin Philips, Starwood’s Boston Metro account manager. Our small band of travel professionals saw a range of hotels and room categories in these beautiful and charming hotels: Sheraton Boston, the gateway hotel to Boston’s historic Back Bay, is the largest hotel in New England with the largest pool in the city. Walking distance to Fenway Park, Newbury Street, Boston Common, the financial district, Washington Street, and the Charles River, it also has indoor connections to the shops at the Prudential Center, the Copley Place Mall, and a plethora of dining options. The Sheraton recently emerged from a $75million transformation of its 1,220 guestrooms, which include their celebrated Sweet Sleeper beds, flat-screen TVs, ergonomic work spaces, Shine bath amenities, and views of the Back Bay or the Charles River. A full-service spa, along with a variety of places to mingle in the huge lobby area, let you relax and socialize in comfort. The in-house convention space, as well, has undergone a $20 million transformation of its 50 meeting rooms and 7 ballrooms. The indoor passageway to Boston’s city-center Hynes Convention Center complex makes it the most convenient place to stay when attending conventions. The Sheraton is where you want to be if you want to be in the middle of it all. Westin Copley Place, nearby in the Back Bay, offers a more relaxed, sensory experience with mood-lifting botanicals, atmospheric lighting, and soothing music. All Westin hotels worldwide focus on health and well being, wanting you to relax, revive, and experience renewal with six...

A Taste of Piedmont, Oct 12-19, 2013

We are delighted to be partnering with WineNot Boutique and Tour de Forks to offer a 7-night guided wine tour to the finest wine region in Italy: Piedmont. Along with its superb wines, Piedmont is the birthplace of the Slow Food Movement and is famous for its white truffles, creamy cheeses, and rich chocolates. It boasts picturesque hill towns, elegant cities and stunning mountain vistas. We’ll visit opulent baroque cafes in Turin, shop at bustling produce markets, hunt for truffles in Alba, meet wine makers, and cook up some of the regional specialties.  Highlights Include • A visit to the historic Cafés in Turin: Caffe Platti, Mulassano, Baratti Milano • Wine tastings at Scagliola, Malvira, Contratto & Fontanafredda • A private visit to the University of Gastronomy and the Wine Bank of Italy • A workshop about the Langhe with tastings of premier cru Barolo and Barbaresco • A truffle hunt in Alba • A hands-on cooking class preparing Piedmontese specialties Our group of 14 excited guests is almost full, but we will create a wait list. Review the itinerary at the link below and contact me if you’d like to be part of this fabulous trip. Don’t wait to secure your spot! See the details here:...

Sweatin’ to be 2013 Garlic Chef

Who will be the next Delray Beach Garlic Chef?  That’s the question that kept a good crowd of us watching and waiting at “Garlic Chef Stadium,” a large tent at the 2013 Delray Beach Garlic Festival.  The occasion was the Garlic Chef competition, Delray’s version of a Food-Network-style contest featuring chefs from popular local restaurants competing for the coveted title of 2013 Garlic Chef. This year the festival organizers decided to open the contest to Delray chefs only, to keep it down-home.  This town has no shortage of quality restaurants.  The Downtown Delray Beach web site lists 111 of them, in just the downtown vicinity.  The contest did have a fun, down-home feel.  While the chefs and their teams were working hard in the (hot) stadium kitchen, the atmosphere was casual, jovial, and even playful.  Emcee Executive Chef Michael Giletto, an import from NJ & California (he commutes coast to coast), kept the spirit light with his ongoing reports from the kitchen and give-and-take with the audience. It was nice to watch an intense competition in a casual, friendly setting.  The fact that the chefs and judges know and like each other ensured that they wouldn’t take the rivalry too seriously.  I enjoyed being able to walk around at will, taking close-up photos of the chefs and their creations, meeting the judges, chatting with audience members, volunteers, and the official photographers.  One person I spoke with, a chef from another restaurant who came to root for one of the contestants, told me that many of the chefs and restaurants have loyal followers (a good many of whom were in the audience cheering for their favorite chef),...

Fun times at a big stinky party

This weekend the city of Delray Beach, Florida,  is throwing its 14th annual Garlic Festival, “The biggest stinkin’ party in town.”  I went yesterday to check out the festivities. A festive day it was, celebrating all things garlic.  Garlic?  Who’da thought? The festival is a fund raiser for many local non-profits that support education and arts for youth.  Hundreds of young people were on hand volunteering many hours for their organizations.  Volunteerism is huge in this town.  “Mr. Garlic” was jovial in his new costume (the old one had worn out) as he mingled with the crowds.  The grounds were jam-packed with vendor tents, food and drink booths, entertainment stage and covered lawn, amusement rides, “Garlic University” arts & crafts area for the kids, and “Garlic Chef Stadium,” where all-day cooking competitions and demonstrations were held.  New this year was a garlic kissing booth. Garlic lovers were finding a feast of garlic-laden foods along “Gourmet Alley.”  Offerings included pizza, chicken in various forms, sausage, mahi-mahi, fish tacos, nachos, paninis, bruschetta, shrimp scampi, london broil, stuffed portabellas, crab cakes, chili, funnel cakes, ice cream (a favorite), and local specialties: conch and gator fritters.   Beer, wine, and margarita stands did a booming business, as did juice and smoothie booths.  Vendor were selling out of their wares.  Musicians and bands kept the party lively all day and evening.  Kids and families were having a great time on the rides. I spent much of the day in “Garlic Chef Stadium” watching local chefs compete for the coveted title of 2013 Garlic Chef.  More about that in a separate post. Delray is always...