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TRAVEL BLOG

Charles Travels to Paris the 2016 Virtuoso Chairman’s Event

Our CEO, Charles de L’Arbre, recently traveled to Paris for the 2016 Virtuoso Chairman’s Event, for what he considers to be “the most remarkable week of travel in my 42 year career in the travel industry.” From a river cruise on the Seine, to lunch and a visit to the Louis Vuitton Foundation, to dinner at Four Seasons Hotel Georges V, to a tour of the Palace of Versailles, to a perfect stay at Le Bristol, our Virtuoso partners have the best recommendations.

Upon exiting the plane, Charles and his wife, Barbara, were met by a representative of “Decouvertes” (“Discoveries” for you non French-speakers), which is one of the premier French destination management companies. They were greeted on the jetway outside of the door of the plane, and 6 minutes later, they were through a special line at Passport Control, at baggage claim, and 10 minutes later were in the back of a Mercedes being whisked in to the center of Paris. Soon enough, they were stepping in to the lobby of Le Bristol Hotel on the Faubourg St. Honore in the First Arrondissement of Paris, 2 blocks from the Presidential Palace.

The attendees of the Virtuoso Chairmen’s Event stayed either at Le Bristol, Plaza Athénée or the Four Seasons Hotel. Other hotels participated, hosting events throughout the week, including The Park Hyatt, The Peninsula, The Intercontinental Grand Hotel, and The Ritz.

Le Bristol, Paris, is the top hotel choice for your Paris stay by our CEO, Charles de L'Arbre

Le Bristol, Paris, is the top hotel choice for your Paris stay by our CEO, Charles de L’Arbre

There is nothing like coming back to a hotel which truly feels like home. For Charles and Barbara, that is the Bristol. “Laure and Louise at the front desk; Olivier who greets us every morning at breakfast at the Epicurean Restaurant; my friend Matthias Obresser in sales and a host of other friends who all greeted us by name as we walked in to the hotel. After a full day of work, a drive to LAX on a Friday evening, and a 12 hour flight, the delight of walking in to an environment which was familiar, warm, and the epitome of French refinement and luxury was one of indescribable joy,” shared Charles. Le Bristol is a Virtuoso property and offers Santa Barbara Travel Bureau highly preferential rates, time of booking upgrades, breakfast (85 euro per person value), as well as a special amenity.

The Opera House of Paris, Palais Garnier

The Opera House of Paris, Palais Garnier

The Virtuoso Event included a show at the Paris Opera House, where several ballets by Balanchine were performed. After the event Barbara and Charles walked over to The Ritz for a late dinner at the Hemingway Bar, which Charles tells us “is fabulous and has to be the best bar in Paris.” Before that, they had been at the Picasso Museum and met the grandson of Picasso.

The bar is aptly named in Hemingway's honor, where he is said to have spent the 1920s.

The bar is aptly named in Hemingway’s honor, where he is said to have spent the 1920s.

Louis Vuitton Fondation designed by Frank Gehry. Photo  from http://www.fondationlouisvuitton.fr/

Louis Vuitton Fondation designed by Frank Gehry. Photo from http://www.fondationlouisvuitton.fr/

A new “must” when in Paris is a visit to the new Frank Gehry building located in Greater Paris, at the edge of the  Jardin d’Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne, where Paris meets Neuilly-sur-Seine. The building is incredible– a feat of modern architecture composed of 12 “sails” composed of 3,600 panels of curved glass, cut to the nearest millimeter. The futuristic building is a reflection of the unique, creative and innovative project of the Louis Vuitton Fondation.  The Cheval Blanc Hotel Group hosted a lovely lunch for the Virtuoso Event.

Charles at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris

Charles at the Fondation Louis Vuitton designed by architect Frank Gehry in Paris

“To reflect our constantly changing world, we wanted to create a building that would evolve according to the time and the light in order to give the impression of something ephemeral and continually changing.” -Frank Gehry 

The new Frank Gehry building in Paris. Photo by Charles de L'Arbre

The new Frank Gehry building in Paris. Photo by Charles de L’Arbre

One must visit the Palace of Versailles at least once in their lifetime! The Garden of Versailles is where fruits and vegetables were raised specifically to feed the king and his family. A tour from the head gardener was very informative, and the most interesting part of the garden was was how the fruit trees were espaliered.

Espaliered fruit trees in the Garden of Versailles. Photo by Charles de L'Arbre

Espaliered fruit trees in the Garden of Versailles. Photo by Charles de L’Arbre

The final day of the trip included a reception at City Hall, hosted by the Mayor of Paris and the Minister of Tourism. Dinner was hosted on a Batau Mouch or the “fly boat” which cruised up the Seine. After dinner, the group received a “salute” of flashing lights from the Eiffel Tower as they passed. With Virtuoso, they know who to call.

Charles aboard the

Charles aboard the Batau Mouch as they passed the Eiffel Tower

Santa Barbara Travel is a member of the by-invitation-only, luxury travel network, Virtuoso – an organization of the top travel agencies, travel providers and destinations worldwide.  Our membership in Virtuoso brings a host of unique travel opportunities and exclusive values to our clients as well as access to the world’s best travel companies, hotels, and cruise lines.  For travelers who depend on experts to reduce complexity and ensure smart choices, your Santa Barbara Travel Advisor will design customized travel experiences using the resources and relationships available exclusively through network membership.

A frequent traveler to Paris, Charles would be happy to share his experiences. Please call or email to talk about your trip to Paris.

Charles de L'Arbre posing at the Picasso Museum in Paris in front of the L'Arbre

Charles de L’Arbre posing at the Picasso Museum in Paris in front of the L’Arbre

Charles de L’Arbre

President, Montecito

Santa Barbara Travel Bureau
1485 East Valley Road #9
Montecito, CA 93108

Email: charlesd@sbtravel.com
Phone: 800.266.5452  
Direct Dial:
805.869.1128
Cell: 805.698.8751

Advisor Trip: Kathy Reimer Visits India’s Golden Triangle

Image provided by ICS Group

Image provided by ICS Group

This Fall, Santa Barbara Travel Advisor, Kathy Reimer, traveled to India for a ten day tour of India’s Golden Triangle –Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur– ending in Udaipur as a supplement. The itinerary through the Rajasthan area was smooth, with rich cultural experiences and beautiful accommodations in each city. Below, read highlights from Kathy’s trip, see photos, and travel tips for your India adventure.

Having arrived in Delhi in the early morning, a hotel reservation booked the night before arrival was a welcomed plan for the weary traveler who will want to relax after the long journey. There will likely be an opportunity for a short tour and some shopping, but the first day is well spent acclimating and resting by the pool.

Jaypee Siddharth Hotel, New Delhi

Jaypee Siddharth Hotel, New Delhi

Of course, you will be flying in to Delhi, but you’ll want to venture into New Delhi, the capital of India. From the President’s House to Qutub Minar built in 1193, to the modern Hindu Lakshminarayan Temple, the history and culture of the city is magnificent.

TRAVEL TIP: Travel outside the monsoon season, which tends to be July to September. Depending on where in India you are traveling, the timing can fluctuate.

We also visited Old Delhi, a walled city, and the capital of the Mughals. Visit the cremation sites of Mahatma Gandhi, and enjoy a Rikshaw ride at Chandni Chowk, one of the oldest and busiest markets of Old Delhi.

Riding Rickshaws. Photo by Greaves Tours, LLC

Riding Rikshaws. Photo by Greaves Tours, LLC

If your focus is the Golden Triangle, Agra will be a wonderful treat, and is home to the famous Taj Mahal. The trip from Delhi to Agra was a relatively comfortable four hour bus ride, and offers beautiful views along the way.

TRAVEL TIP: Take the sunrise tour of the Taj Mahal for beautiful morning light, cooler weather, and fewer people.

We stayed at the Trident Hotel in Agra which had lovely grounds and service, and is very close to the Taj Mahal. Of course, in the true nature of a travel advisor, I had to see The Oberoi Amarvilas, which is only 600 meters from the Taj Mahal. Staying at the Oberoi Amarvilas is highly recommended, as every suite offers wonderful views of the Taj Mahal.

Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra

Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, has views of the Taj Mahal from every room

The journey from Agra to Jaipur is about a 5 to 6 hour bus ride, but was broken up by cultural visits to the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri, abandoned for over 400 years due to water deficiencies. In contrast to the drought-deserted city, Abhaneri is also along the journey to Jaipur, and is known for having “Baoris” which are stairwell-type designs invented to harvest rainwater.

TRAVEL TIP: Hiring a tour company is very helpful when traveling to multiple location in India. Your advisor can help find the best company and itinerary to match your travel style.

Photo by Kathy Reimer: The Women of India

Photo by Kathy Reimer: The Women of India

Jaipur has earned the epithet Pink City, as it was once painted pink to honor the arrival of King Edward VII in 1876, and many avenues have remained pink.  On your drive from Jaipur to Udaipur, stop in Pushkar to shop the colorful bazaars and see the beautifully dressed camels.

Oberoi Udaivilas in Udaipur

Oberoi Udaivilas in Udaipur

Once you arrive in Udaipur enjoy the beautiful lake views and palaces lining Lake Pichola. I couldn’t recommend a visit to Oberoi Udaivilas more highly, if not a stay. Be sure to experience their wonderful restaurant for dinner and ask the chef to send an assortment of traditional Indian dishes, which will amaze you. The hotel was designed to look and feel like the royal palaces of India, a beautifully accomplished feat.

TRAVEL TIP: Reserve your hotel for the night before you arrive if your international flight arrives very early morning. Otherwise, the wait to check in time will seem like the longest part of your journey.

 

Kathy Reimer

Kathy Reimer

Travel Advisor, Ventura

Santa Barbara Travel Bureau
3140 Telegraph Road
Ventura, CA 93003

Email: kreimer@sbtravel.com
Phone: 805.869.1151

Star Alliance Appreciation Dinner

It was a festive evening of appreciation for Santa Barbara Travel hosted by Star Alliance Partners: United, ANA and Lufthansa airlines at the intimate Stella Mare’s Bistro.

Michael Burny, United Airlines; Charles, Santa Barbara Travel; Mickey Miyamae, All Nippon Airways; Martina Hupach & Jens Wacker of Lufthansa Airlines

Michael Burny, United Airlines; Charles, Santa Barbara Travel; Mickey Miyamae, All Nippon Airways; Martina Hupach & Jens Wacker of Lufthansa Airlines

David, Santa Barbara Travel; Michael of UA; Mickey of ANA; Martina & Jens of Lufthansa

David, Santa Barbara Travel; Michael of UA; Mickey of ANA; Martina & Jens of Lufthansa

Peter; Jess; Tracy; Tessa; Angela

Peter; Jess; Tracy; Tessa; Angela

Erin & David

Erin & David

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Charles and Martina – Lufthansa

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Two Davids of Santa Barbara Travel

 

 

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Peter and Jessica

 

 

Sheila, Ruthie, Tina, Lisa

Sheila, Ruthie, Tina, Lisa

 

Jens - Lufthansa; Erin - Santa Barbara Travel; Mickey - All Nippon Airways

Jens – Lufthansa; Erin – Santa Barbara Travel; Mickey – All Nippon Airways