4000 talented travel consultants, suppliers and press converge in Las Vegas one week each year to connect, learn and enhance their clients’ travel experience. The energy and passion for this travel connection is immense. Classes are offered by the top travel experts in the business- highlighted by Helen Nodland, and the always delightful Ann Scully. An active network called VAST offers an all day exposition to better learn about the latest and greatest offerings in the active travel industry.
We meet hotel General Managers, heads of hotel marketing, destination management companies, tour operators, safari operators, airline representatives, destination wedding suppliers, and sales directors from all over the world – 396 meetings over a four day period. We meet before the general meetings, at specialized luncheons, cocktail parties and dinners, in addition to the 396 presentations. By the time the week is over, I can say I am thoroughly ensconced in travel information. I came home energized, inspired, armed with the best information and fabulous new connections to enable me to make my clients dreams come true.
I was just so pleased to finally see the spectacular Orient Express Hotel Monasterio. I had heard so much about it, and my clients all raved about the wonderful service.I know now why the service is so incredible: the GM Gustavo de Leon. He is everywhere and adores his job! I have never seen such happy employees and that comes from the top.
We had the privilege of experiencing an Opera Dinner at Monasterio the first night after a cocktail party in the gorgeous Chapel at Monasterio( the chapel in no longer consecrated). What an incredible setting! I have never seen anything quite as glamorous. All that gold!
We were entertained by the number one Soprano in Peru, and her husband. The duets were unforgettable. What an amazing memory. Monasterio offers that dinner each Friday night. I recommend it to anyone. I will be sure to put it into every itinerary I plan for Cusco. Rooms are bright and comfortable- decorated with serious paintings and antiques. Not monastic in anyway. Such a thrill to be there.
We had the pleasure of experiencing Palacio Nazarenas during our stay in Cusco and it was unforgettable.
Beautifully and lovingly managed by Floris Boyen. I have not experienced that caliber of attention to detail and service in a long time. Each member of the staff was warm welcoming, and full of smiles. I felt the warmth from the heart, it was not from instruction or training- although terrific training was evident. Floris’s passion for making us feel comfortable was palpable. The staff was happy and it showed.
The hotel’s historic decoration was impeccable. Every corner was filled with history. The rooms were large and light. The bathrooms were huge and BRIGHT! Happy colors of flowers everywhere. Palacio Nazarenas is the only hotel in Cusco that boasts a swimming pool- heated no less.
Emerging from 7 years of loving restoration, Orient Express has again brought to life another historic 300 year old palace/ convent. I think it is what Orient Express does best. They bring out the most important reflection of culture in beautiful structures around the world and turn them into fabulous settings for guests to enjoy in delightful luxury. Hotels such as Palacio Nazarenas’ sister Hotel Monasterio in Cusco, Peru.
Hotel Caruso, Vila San Michele, Hotel Splendido and Splendido Mare , and Hotel Cipriani in Italy. Grand Hotel Timeo, and Villa San Andrea in Sicily, La Residencia in Spain to name a few. Their attention is just as focused on their iconic trains: the Royal Scotsman in Scotland, the Venice- Simplon Orient Express in Eastern Europe, the Eastern & Orient Express in Singapore, and the Hiram Bingham in Peru. And then there are their cruise ships: starting with Road to Mandalay- I could go on and on.
We arrived at Machu Picchu at 1230P and for the next 4 and 1/2 hours, explored the ruins. What a photo op!
After our divine day at the site we visited Orient Express’s Sanctuary Lodge- located at the entrance of MP. When the crowds are gone you have the site to yourself.
We were treated to High Tea at Sanctuary Lodge -yum- before our amazing return trip back to Cusco on the Hiram Bingham. Met with trays of pink champagne, we thought the lunch trip was fun until we had the unforgettable experience of more singing, dancing dinner and drinks on our return. A very happy tired group tucked into bed that night at the gorgeous Palacio Nazarenas in Cusco- brand new sister hotel to the iconic Monasterio Hotel.
More about the hotels next!!
The ultimate thrill is to explore the incredibly spiritual citadel, Machu Picchu.
Our group did it the fun way, we took the -luxury with a capital L -Hiram Bingham. Named for the explorer Hiram Bingham, who discovered MP in 1911.
It is an Orient Express train- done to death. I think they must have two employees for every guest. I was blown away with the welcome and care the staff took to make us happy.
We started with champagne, and the local specialty – Pisco Sour. In the early morning, no less!
We placed our order for lunch and enmass headed for the bar car. Orient Express Hiram Bingham absolutely has glamour and service down to a T. There was a musical group playing in the observatory car at the back of the train – next to the bar car, and we danced and sang the morning away. Lunch was a gourmet formal affair, four divine courses, and before we knew it we had arrived at our destination, Machu Picchu. It really is not just about getting to a destination, I have learned the journey is just as important. And what a journey. There are other options to get to Machu Picchu, Peru Train, and a four day trek, hiking the Inca Trail. But adding the Hiram Bingham is an unforgettable, delightful experience.
I have the distinct privilege of being a guest of Orient Express for a visit to Peru: Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. Machu Picchu has always been on my wish list, and traveling with a company the caliber of Orient Express- one of the premier hotel, cruise and train companies in the world, is a no brainer. I am thrilled and honored to be in the group.
Delta has a direct nonstop from Atlanta to Lima so I booked it! One caveat: if you plan to connect with another flight in Lima, give yourself 3 hours. The line to clear customs averages 1 and 1/2 hours. Fast track service is not available. Another important know before you go: Cusco is 11,023 feet above sea level. Getting accustomed to less oxygen takes about 3 days. I strongly that you get altitude medication – it affects everyone.
The flight from Lima to Cusco is gorgeous – be sure to sit on the left hand side of the plane.
Majestic ice covered peaks are just below. Heading for Cusco, yay!