Virtuoso Symposium is an annual business meeting that brings together the most influential decision makers of the travel industry, including travel agency advisors and suppliers. Covington Travel’s President and CEO, Josée Covington, and Italy Specialist, Dale Fuller attended the 2012 Symposium held on a chartered sailing of the beautiful Regent Seven Seas Mariner including Rome, Sorrento, Capri and Monte Carlo. Symposium gives high level travel professionals an opportunity to make personal contacts and build relationships with travel suppliers so we can provide our clients with unique and exclusive travel experiences. This year was no exception, as Josée and Dale gathered a host of travel tips that will help make your travel more efficient, elegant and engaging.
- Expect airport terminal turmoil– Most travelers agree that the airport experience is not the highlight of a trip, but a necessary evil to get there. If you fly via JFK in New York and need to change terminals, allow at least three hours connecting time. It seems like a lot, but you will need every bit of it to maneuver the shuttle, constant construction and hoards of travelers. In Rome Fiumicino Airport, be prepared for a sprawling, bustling beehive of activity with confusing signage. It takes about an hour from landing to get through passport control and luggage claim, but if you are taking the Leonardo Express train into Rome, allow at least three hours to comfortably find your train and make the connection. Traffic in Rome is abominable, so don’t drive! We recommend arranging a private car for the hour ride into the city or from the city to the port. Zurich is an efficient, but huge international airport where it is imperative to be mindful of your connecting times and get where you need to be.
- Treat yourself to luxury accommodations – When Virtuoso member hotels are reserved through Covington Travel, guests receive complimentary amenities such as upgrades, wine and flowers in the room, breakfast or meal credits or special gifts. The Virtuoso network includes 10 luxury hotels in Rome that are the epitome of sophistication and service. Josée and Dale chose the Hassler Hotel at the top of the Spanish Steps which has been owned by the same family for over 150 years and boasts a wonderful 1-star Michelin rooftop restaurant. We recommend spending at least three days in Rome and using private tours to see the Vatican and the many other sights to get private viewings and avoid long lines of do-it-yourself tourists.
- Sorrento is the perfect sightseeing base for the Amalfi Coast– The Excelsior Hotel, overlooking the Bay of Naples, has an old world charm and a large, private garden park with citrus groves. From there, hire a car for a drive along the dramatic Amalfi Coast to colorful Positano and medieval Ravello.
If you stay in Ravello, the elegant Palazzo Sasso is the hotel of choice, housed in a 12th century villa on 1,000 foot cliffs overlooking the sea. From Sorrento, you can also take ferry service to the oh-so-fashionable island of Capri to see and be seen. If staying overnight, the chic Capri Palace high up in Ana Capri is owned by an artist and collector. It sports eclectic decor, incredible views and a fabulous 1-star Michelin restaurant. Naples and the ruins of Pompeii are also within an easy day excursion from Sorrento with a car and driver. You can go by train or day bus tour, but it will make for a long day.
- Monte Carlo is the perfect sightseeing base for the French Riviera – Monte Carlo is the Gem of Cote d ‘Azure. It’s extremely wealthy, as evidenced by the magnificent million dollar yachts in port. The residents are elegant but not condescending, with everyone from hotel staff and shop owners to cab drivers being very friendly and accommodating. The Metropole Hotel is no exception. Located in the heart of the action, their innovative and personalized services are a source of wonder to guests. From glittering Monte Carlo, the charming towns of the Riviera are an easy drive by cab or rental car. Eze is perched on a 1,500 foot cliff overlooking the Mediterranean, affording spectacular views of the Riviera. To negotiating the narrow cobblestone walks and many, many stairs is fairly strenuous; you may feel like part mountain, but a lunch at Château Eza’s 1-star Michelin restaurant or Château de la Chèvre d’Or’s 2-star Michelin restaurant makes it well worth the effort. The colorful houses, flowers and bikinis of Nice are also a short drive from Monte Carlo. We recommend visiting the trendy Old Town (Vieux Nice) for shopping and nightlife, or the Promenade des Anglais to stroll and people-watch along the pebbly beach.
In any career, continued education is the key to staying abreast of industry trends. The Virtuoso Symposium brings serious luxury travel professionals together to learn from each other, in order to provide the very best experiences to our clients. We hope you can use these tips we have shared and if you would like to learn more about living the art of travel, we are only an email away!
Wishing you elegant and fascinating travels,
Josée & Dale