The Italy Road Trip

The Italy Road Trip was planned for quite some time. The dilemma was how do you see all of what Italy has to offer in 2 weeks? Well the answer is you don’t. It’s just not possible in 2 weeks. So what do you see? And where do you start? Well right here.

The Italy Road Trip – Getting There

Choose your airline (it’s Air Canada for me from Canada). In order to hit the ground running (with a 6 hour time difference), I need to fly Business Class (sometimes) or Premium Economy (this time). The extra room and increased comfort make the long flight enjoyable. I absolutely have to sleep so I bring along my new travel friend, my Palmate Travel Pillow, to get to sleep and stay asleep. I want to be ready to go and awake on Day 1!

The Italy Road Trip – Venice

Arriving in Venice, we leave the airport in a water taxi and begin the short journey into the historic canals of Venice. After checking into our hotel, we grab an espresso and head out to explore the streets of Venice. Tourists are absolutely everywhere and the streets are packed. Walking along main walking routes and over bridges, we manage to find side routes and squares where the locals are. Small neighbourhoods with cafes, restaurants, shops and Venetian homes are a lot more interesting than the main streets. On Day 2, we jump on the public water taxi (Venice transit) to get around easily and give into the main tourist areas. There’s a lot to see in Venice including Piazza San Marco, the Rialto Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs and the Doges’ Palace. But take the time to get off the main paths and explore!

Italy Road Trip - Venice

The Italy Road Trip – Prosecco

We leave Venice in a rental car and head up to the Prosecco Region (the hills between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene in the province of Treviso). It’s mid-September and we manage to hit full grape harvest. The area is alive with extra workers and tractors with grape packed trailers. There are many wineries to visit and wines to drink. We are looking for Prosecco Superiore DOCG. Most wineries will have a fee based tasting (5-10 Euro per person) and will provide a generous sample of their product (3-5 wine samples). If you choose to buy a bottle or 2, the wine fee will be reduced or waived (depending on your purchase amount). Among the best wineries to visit: San Gregorio (family owned- you’ll meet father, mother and sisters);  Col Vetoraz (with a wine vending machine on the small road leading to the winery); and Villa Sandi (great wine and restaurant).

Italy Road Trip - Prosecco Region

The Italy Road Trip – Tuscany

There are so many reasons to include Tuscany in your Italian Road Trip. The wine; the food; the scenery and the people. Among the many wines, the Classico Chianti (with the black rooster on the bottle neck) stands out. The Classico label is only available to Chiantis produced from grapes in the the Chianti Classico subregion. The area covers approximately 260 km2 (100 square miles) between the city of Florence to the north and Siena to the south. The other more well known wine in the area is the “Super Tuscan”. The American name for a deep red wine blended from Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. It’s priced to take advantage of the aura in the marketplace. Among the very best wineries to get a Super Tuscan (and other quality wines) is Villa San Andrea. The small 400 year old winery is right next door to the well known Antinori. They provide an intimate tour and wine tasting for 10 Euro. Villa San Andrea’s Super Tuscan is far cheaper than the winery next door. They also have 7 other high quality and affordable wines.

Italy Road Trip - Villa San Andrea, Tuscany

Italy Road Trip - Tuscany

Among the many towns/places to visit in Tuscany are – Siena, San Gimignano, Lucca, Montalcino and of course Florence. You really can’t go wrong wherever you go, but San Gimignano stands near the top. It’s an amazing, well preserved medieval village with several small hotels, shops, museums, and Tuscan restaurants. My favourite restaurants “Le Vecchie Mura“. It has both an inside restaurant and an outside terrace area across the lane. Authentic dishes feature pasta, steak, rabbit, deer, wild boar and of course local wine. Eating a Tuscan dinner overlooking Tuscany is pretty hard to beat.

Italy Road Trip - San Gimignano, Tuscany

Italy Road Trip - Pasta with Truffles

The Italy Road Trip – Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is all about the views. And getting to the coast just adds to the anticipation. Heading south, we drive along the highway through Naples, then onto the winding roads of  Sorrento and its long mountain tunnel. Positano is our destination and our base for 3 days on the Amalfi Coast. Positano has some incredible coastal views. It also has great hotels (Le Sirenuse, Villa Rosa); some great restaurants down on the beach (Chez Black and Le Tre Sorelle – both highly rated and right beside each other) and lots of small boutiques for shopping. From Positano, you can easily make day trips to Amalfi, Ravello, Scala and others.

Italy Road Trip - Positano

Italy Road Trip - Villa Cimbrone, Ravello

We drive to Rome Airport and overnight at a Rome Airport hotel before leaving the next day. Except for the return flight, the trip is over. The Italy Road Trip was among my top trips ever. And that’s saying a lot given the amount of travelling that I have done over the years. Each area/stop well worth the visit to immerse yourself in the history, culture, food and wine of Italy. The biggest issue is when is the next Italy Road Trip?

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How to Make the Most of Your Hotel During a Work Trip

Work trips are often packed with numerous strenuous activities that happen one after the other. Usually, when you are on a work trip, the only time you can relax and get some rest is when you are already in your hotel.

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If you are staying at one of the best beachfront hotels during a work trip, you can ensure you can stay productive and, more importantly, enjoy a break from your busy schedule by following the tips below:

1.    Check in early and check out late

To have a longer stay at your hotel, arrive early and leave late. If you are still booking a room, find out if you can check in earlier than the designated time. You will have a higher chance of having this request granted if you are a member of the hotel’s loyalty program.

By arriving early, you can get some rest before you start working. You will have time to refresh yourself and prepare for the day ahead.

If you are allowed to check out late, you will have some spare time to relax before your flight or your long trip back home.

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2.    Know what comes with your nightly stay at the hotel

Before leaving for your work trip, make sure you know all the perks that come with staying at the hotel you’ve chosen. Find out what amenities and services are included in the daily rate and which ones come at extra fees.

By doing some research in advance, you will avoid being surprised by your bill when you check out.

3.    Take advantage of all freebies and perks

 Once you know which amenities and services come for free, make sure you use them. Enjoy their free complimentary drink upon check-in. Take advantage of the free breakfast buffet and coffee every morning, too.

If you are allowed free use of the hotel workspace or co-working space, get some work done in these areas. You will enjoy faster Wi-Fi connection and additional services including printing and secretarial assistance.

Lastly, create an itinerary of all the free, fun things you can do at the hotel such as cooling off in the swimming pool, visiting the garden or working out at the gym. If your work trip is in the UAE, don’t forget to take advantage of the wonderful spa deals in Dubai.

With an itinerary, you will be sure to enjoy all the pleasurable things your hotel has to offer.

 JA Resorts

4.    Get some work done in your hotel room

If you are more productive when you’re alone, then get your laptop out and work in your room. You will definitely be able to concentrate and be more productive in your room. If you love watching TV or listening to music while working, you will be able to do so without worrying about disturbing other people.

In case you need to get a lot of work done and you can’t spare time to go out to have lunch, dinner, or a snack, take advantage of the hotel’s room services. Aside from having a delectable meal or snack, you won’t have to eat in a rush to get back to your work.

5.    Don’t be embarrassed to ask for extras

Do you want an extra pillow, blanket, or robe? Call the front office.

 Most hotels do not advertise this, but you can enjoy certain small freebies and extras. All you have to do is ask.

You can also ask for extra shampoo, conditioner, lotion, razor, toothpaste, coffee, creamer, or sugar. Most hotels will be happy to accommodate your requests. Just make sure you ask for what you need.

6.    Use your hotel loyalty or travel credit card points

Lastly, if you are a member of a hotel loyalty program, check how many points you have. See if you have enough points to get a free room upgrade. If not, check what other perks you can have access to such as late checkout or a free drink at the bar or lounge.

 In case you have a travel credit card, see if you have sufficient points you can apply to the room. You can also use it for other services such as a hotel breakfast or to get a massage at the hotel spa. You may even be able to use your points for free laundry or dry cleaning services and avoid the task of hand-washing your clothes.

When you follow these tried-and-tested tips, you can go through your work trip productively and smoothly. You will be able to find time to get some much-needed R&R, too, even if you have a hectic schedule.

  JA Resorts

AUTHOR BIO

Thomas Grundner is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for JA Resorts & Hotels. He has more than 20 years of expertise in the hospitality and leisure industry – across international markets including Germany, Egypt and Spain. Grundner oversees all sales, marketing and revenue efforts as the company continues to build on its key growth and development strategies and further cultivates its unique blend of “Heartfelt Hospitality” and “Casual Luxury.”

 

 

5 Things to do in Orlando

Orlando often crops up on people’s bucket lists. Filled with theme parks, fun and adventure it’s the perfect destination for anyone looking for a fun, stress free trip with lots of laughs. Whether you are looking for an action-packed week away with the kids, or the chance to explore on your own, Orlando has plenty to offer.

With so much going on it’s essential that you choose the right base. Somewhere like Marriott’s Grande Vista is the perfect place to relax at the end of long days, getting a good night’s sleep and preparing for your next great adventure. But, wherever you stay it’s a good idea to do a bit of research first. With so much to do it’s easy to miss things that you would love. So, here’s a look at 5 of the things that you should put on your to-do list for your trip to Orlando.

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Disney’s Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom was Walt Disney’s first theme park and remains one of the most popular theme parks in the world to this day. No matter how old you are, a little bit of Disney magic can be a great way to relive your childhood. You can’t help but smile as you look up at Cinderella’s castle or watch the evening fireworks. This theme park includes rides, roller-coaster, simulators and various Disney themed areas. A must for any Disney fan.

Universal Studios

If your movie love is a little wider than just Disney, Universal Studios is the place to be. Home to rides and attractions based around all of our movie favourites this is a fantastically fun day out. If you prefer a bigger adrenaline rush or are traveling with older children, you might want to buy a “park to park” pass so that you can also head over to the Islands of Adventure park.

SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld is always a big hit with kids and adults alike. Home to various different species of sea life and fish, SeaWorld lets you get up close and personal with your favourite creatures, while learning more about their environments and lifecycles. There are also talks, displays, shows and aquatic themed rides.

The Kennedy Space Centre

If theme parks aren’t your thing, and you’ve got no desire to spend your days on roller-coasters and rides, Orlando still has plenty to offer. Just a 45-minute drive away from Downtown Orlando on the Eastern coast of Florida is the Kennedy Space Centre. At the Kennedy Centre you can see actual rockets that have left the earth’s orbit, you can learn more about space and space crafts and you can walk on the same ground as many of NASA’s greatest astronauts.

Aquatica Park

Yes, Orlando has lots of theme parks and plenty of museums and historic sites, but it’s also known for its water parks. Aquatica park is perhaps the biggest and best of them all. Home to head to head slides, flumes, rapids and the famous Dolphin Plunge it’s a fantastic family day out.