Thursday, April 16, 2015

Rochelle's Travel Blog- Dubai, Milan, South Africa, Cuba

I had a very busy travel year.  It took me around the world to new places and to places I have visited before. There are always new things to discover, new suppliers to meet, and new properties to visit.  

Meetings Abroad

In November, I traveled to Dubai and Abu Dhabi for the Virtuoso Chairman’s event, the travel consortium of which Gateway Travel is a member. This trip began with the luxurious experience of flying on Emirates Airlines. The service was wonderful and after a 12-hour direct flight from New York we arrived in Dubai. While there, we feasted on outstanding Middle Eastern, French, and continental cuisine, and visited superb hotels that boast every amenity imaginable. We were awed by the sights, including the incredible Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. An extra plus was having my sister join me and having the opportunity to share this adventure with her. 
In February, I attended an informative Expo in Milan where I brushed up on the latest trends in Italian travel, met many new suppliers, learned about several interesting out of the way properties in the countryside, and connected with villa owners from all over the country. Biking and hiking tours are becoming more popular in Italy, and I made some good contacts in this area. This year our dollar is so much stronger, and this will reflect favorably in the prices of hotels as well as what you are spending for food and guides. 

I feel lucky that my business meetings take me around the world where I can make new discoveries in the world of travel.

A Family Affair in South Africa

I have been to Africa several times before, traveling to various countries, but it was a dream of mine to travel there with my family. There is nothing better than seeing Africa through the eyes of your children and grandchildren. This is one vacation my family and I will always cherish! 

Two years in the making, nineteen of us from three generations  visited South Africa for 12 days over the Christmas holiday to go on safari, visit the wine country, and tour around Cape Town. I’ve planned many multi-generational vacations in my long career, but I now have even more insight into the planning and logistics for such a large group with varied ages and interests. It is possible to please a preschooler, a teenager, a college student, and a grandparent! 

For more information about this extraordinary country, see our blog post- Spotlight On: South Africa.

Visiting Cuba

As you know, I love to take groups to undiscovered destinations. In February, Gateway Travel teamed up with National Geographic for a people-to-people tour of Cuba. 

It was a fascinating and educational trip. Each day we learned interesting facts about Cuba and its history, from Havana’s efforts to preserve its architectural and cultural heritage to the role tobacco has played in Cuban history. Speakers taught us about the art, architecture, politics, and people of this place to which we were forbidden to travel for many years.  

We enjoyed seeing the old cars while walking the cobbled streets of Old Havana, interacting with the friendly Cuban people, and sampling the delicious food– from fresh  fish, to wonderful fruits and vegetables, to rice and beans.

National Geographic was outstanding; they even arranged for us to have our very own photographer to document our discoveries, as well as fabulous and lively evening performances. 

After our six-day visit, we were able to feel the essence of Cuba.

Spotlight on: South Africa

Adventure is easy to find in South Africa. The country is blessed with some of the world's most breathtaking and diverse environments. How you make your way through the landscape is up to you.

Whether on a multi-generational trip of a lifetime, a romantic honeymoon, or with a small group looking for adventure, a South African vacation is accessible and can appeal to all ages and all interests. At Gateway, we have extensive knowledge of this beautiful country. From cities, to safaris, to lodging, we know how to craft the perfect, unforgettable experience.

Travelers craving urban immersion will find South Africa’s cities humming with culture. Cape Town and Johannesburg both have a buzzing art, dining, sightseeing, and shopping scene. 

Cape Town 
The southernmost point in South Africa is filled with incredible sights, bustling markets, museums and art galleries, a lively waterfront, and an array of diverse culinary options. Visitors can easily spend four nights learning about the complex history and culture, relishing the spectacular views from the heights of Table Mountain to the bay at the Cape of Good Hope, and shopping in the city’s well-known markets and galleries. A day trip to Robben Island to see where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for more than 18 years is a sobering and educational journey. The city offers accommodations ranging from charming bed and 
breakfasts to five-star deluxe resorts.


The main industrial city of South Africa, Johannesburg is rich in history. Visitors will trace the earliest known origins of human life at the Cradle of Humankind and delve deep into the painful history of the apartheid years with stops at Nelson Mandela’s home, Soweto, and the well-interpreted Apartheid Museum, among other significant sights.  This city also boasts lovely hotels to accommodate all different types of travelers.  

Experiencing a South African safari is often the highlight of most travelers’ adventures. There is something breathtaking about viewing the “Big Five” and other animals in their natural habitats. (For novices, the Big Five are rhinos, elephants, lions, Cape buffalo, and leopards, known as the Big Five because they are the most difficult to hunt by foot.) There are safaris to fit every traveler’s wishes from those that emphasize fine wine and dining to programs for children, wildlife photography, cultural traditions, and more.  

There are many types of lodging available in the bush. From basic tented camps to luxury lodges boasting full amenities including air conditioning, pool, gym and spa. With over 20 National Parks, including well-known Kruger and Sabi Sands as well as malaria-free Madikwe and Timbavati, South Africa has many opportunities for unforgettable  wildlife viewing.

There are 600 wine estates around Cape Town and throughout the Western Cape. Wine tasting  is abundant in and around the vineyards and charming towns of Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, and Paarl. The scenery, a cross between Napa and the French Alps, is the perfect backdrop for days spent wine tasting, hiking, biking, and shopping the handicrafts and contemporary regional art scene.

A visit to the Winelands can be done as a day trip from Cape Town or one could stay at a charming boutique hotel or a unique villa on a wine estate.

Due to the nature of the trip and the limited capacity at many of the lodges, travelers need to plan further in advance than for other foreign travel. Planning at least a year 
in advance will also help ensure you can use frequent flyer miles or obtain optimal flights and pricing. Since South Africa is in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are opposites ours at home. During winter in Michigan, it’s summer in South Africa and vice versa. South African winters are excellent for spotting animals due to the sparse foliage and their summers allow for more outdoor activities. Both seasons have many advantages for a spectacular visit.

Please contact your Gateway Travel advisor to begin planning your perfect South African adventure.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Happy Travelers!

While visiting Belize, Joseph and Julie Angileri and 
Michael and Holly Angileri explored the ancient Mayan ruins of Xunantunich. 

The Fenster family stayed at the beautiful all-inclusive Paradisus La Esmeralda 
while vacationing on the Mayan Riviera.

The Berlins recent multi-generational family vacation was spectacular! 
They began in Quito, Ecuador and then cruised on La Pinta to the Gal├ípagos islands. 
They finished off their exciting adventure in Panama, sightseeing and 
enjoying a ride through the Panama Canal.

For a birthday celebration, Dennis and Linda Deutsch took a wonderful Regent 
cruise to Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

Sue and Abe Gershonowicz visited the rain forest and went zip lining while in Costa Rica. 
They spent a week getting to know Arenal and Guanacaste.

Cheryl Gibson-Moore and Wilma McKinney had an opportunity to visit the 
Embera Community in Chagres National Park while in Panama.

Lori Strager and Annie Himelhoch sailed Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas 
on a New England cruise, stopping at Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine.

Dwight and Nancy Hochstein hiked to Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan. This incredible visit was 
part of a one month trip that included two weeks in Mongolia.

Thomas MacKillop and Lisa Farris surprised their three sons with a special 
New Year’s Eve trip to Disney World and Universal in Orlando.

London and Paris proved to be the perfect vacation for the Rotter family. 
What can be better than a  selfie at the Eiffel Tower?!

Nicole DeYoung and Kyle and Stephanie Sayyae took a thrilling zip line ride 
through the rainforest while vacationing in St. Lucia.

Michelle and Scott Segal had an amazing time in Peru, traveling to Cusco, 
the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, and Lake Titicaca.

Happy Honeymooners!

Erica and Jonathan Disner donned coolie hats while visiting the rice fields 
and floating down the Mekong River on their honeymoon to Vietnam.

Held at the beautiful Secrets Wild Orchid in Jamaica, Naomi and Justin Reid’s 
romantic beachfront wedding was dream come true.

Melissa and Justin Stewart enjoyed riding elephants in Chiang Mai while on their
 fabulous honeymoon to Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia.