Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Best Way to Spread Holiday Cheer

With the holiday season upon us, LDPR staffers took the time to reflect and share their favorite holiday memories, yearly traditions, and any holiday disasters! With a love for travel, it’s no wonder our staffers have spent the holidays around the globe. From family feasts to excitement abroad, LDPR knows how to celebrate the season!


Laura Davidson and her family chop down the perfect pine
The Davidson-Bill holiday tradition is to go to the Maple Grove Tree Farm in Easton, CT and chop down our own Christmas tree!  Tobey and Jake get to use the saw, Andy shows his machismo by carrying the tree to the car, and I just look forward to apple cider donuts and hot chocolate.  It’s a great family outing”


Michaelann Millrood celebrates a “Joyeux Noël” in Annecy
“For four years each winter I spent the holidays in Annecy, France with my boyfriend's family. The traditional Savoyard Christmas dinner, snowboarding in the French Alps, and shopping the holiday markets along the canals (Annecy is the "Venice of France"), will always be my fondest memories of France.”


Tricia Lanigan recounts snowy slopeside holidays
“I’ve spent almost every holiday skiing with my extended family in Sunday River, Maine or Park City, Utah. While the skiing out West is always beautiful, the travel can be a bit of a nightmare. One year we made the mistake of flying into Salt Lake City on Christmas Day with twelve people, twelve ski bags, boots, and the token rental car disaster (my sister forgetting her wallet on the plane did not help either). But on the mountain the next day all is forgotten – there’s nothing a sunny, brisk ski day and steaming hot cups of cocoa can’t fix!”


Dana Curatolo digs into the "Feast of the Seven Fishes"
“My family and I spend Christmas Eve every year cozied up around my parent's dining room table, just a few feet away from our Christmas tree. We've participated in the "Feast of the Seven Fishes" for as long as I can remember and it's certainly become my favorite holiday tradition. We make homemade pasta with stewed tomatoes, sherry and calamari (squid), baked filet of fish (typically tilapia or flounder), lobster tails, mussels and clams with white wine and butter, and fried butterflied shrimp. Before we dive into all that seafood, and we ALWAYS, always crack open a bottle of Asti Spumanti sparkling wine before dinner. “

(Wouldn’t you love to spend Christmas Eve at the Curatolo’s house?)



Sara Geen Hill celebrates the holiday Scottish style
“Since meeting my husband Dan - a Scotsman - we've begun the tradition of heading to the UK each holiday season to visit his family. During our first trip three years ago, we headed to Edinburgh for my first authentic fish & chips experience, and the Hogmanay street party - what a fun celebration! Then over to London for sightseeing. This year's visit will surely be more low-key when we bring our baby boy for his first visit.”


Chandra Dillon on safari!
“My family trip to South Africa is my favorite holiday travel story--three weeks of visiting family, traveling the country and of course, going on safari.”


Kelly Brewer gets festive with family and football!
“Christmas Eve is all about the Seven Fishes with my fiance and his family (I'm with you, Dana!) In between courses of pasta and every other seafood imaginable, we will have the Giants/Jets football game on. We are divided between support for the two teams, but I'll be rooting for Big Blue! Christmas Day we spend with my family and despite being adults, my parents love to make my sisters and me feel like kids again. Cookies are still put out for Santa - that's right, I said it!"
  
Meredith Phares’ holiday (disaster) in the English countryside
“The Phares family has taken some interesting vacations over the years, but the holiday trip that really takes the cake was definitely when we flew to the south of England for a "genealogical adventure" to trace the roots of my grandmother's family. Somehow, the region experienced its first hurricane in seven years during our travels and we had to cover ourselves from golf-ball-sized hail as we explored the English countryside. I'm grateful to this day that my brother was a college lacrosse player, as we got stuck in a historic stone church with only candlelight - until he powered the heavy doors open after 30 minutes of panic. Happy holidays, indeed!”

Stephanie Preston trims the tree with care
“My favorite holiday tradition is hanging ornaments on the tree with my mom. My favorite is a beautiful, hand-painted ball that I brought back from Germany. That or the little robin perched on a clothespin that I made in kindergarten (how the Elmer's glue has held up for 20 years is beyond me)! “

Seasons Greetings to all and best wishes for wherever your travel takes you in the New Year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Just back from...Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island!


LDPR's Laura Davidson, Sara Geen Hill, Meredith Phares and Chandra Dillon are just back from an exciting new client - the Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. Meredith shares the team's experience during the trip.


Just 2.5 hours after departing New York City, we arrived at the stunning Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a festive winter wonderland setting including a dazzling Swarovsky decorated Christmas tree in the living room, and a buffet of candy jars filled with holiday goodies. When I entered my ocean view guest room, I was greeted with two freshly-baked pumpkin muffins alongside an apple and a pot of caramel (how fabulous is that, for a welcome amenity?). After a quick sample and a bit of unpacking, I met the group for lunch in the resort's Club Room, where they serve a classic American bistro menu amidst wood-paneled walls, red leather chairs and a roaring fireplace.



Throughout the afternoon, we met with various members of the Ocean House staff, from Food Forager Jan Faust Dane to Spa Director Renee Gwaltney, whose OH! Spa just received the coveted Five Star ranking from Forbes Travel Guide. For dinner, the LDPR team gathered in Seasons restaurant to experience the restaurant's highly-acclaimed farm-to-table cuisine. The menu in Seasons changes daily and is based on the chef's inspiration from what's local and fresh each day at the nearby farms and farmers' markets. That evening, we feasted on a medley of butternut squash soup, seasonal greens, scallops and steak and tried samples of the resort's signature "Ocean House" and "Snow Day" cocktails. 

After a restful sleep in my inviting feather top bed enveloped in sumptuous Frette linens, it was time to depart for New York City. Til next time, Watch Hill!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

MOBILE FEEDS LAST-MINUTE appETITE FOR DEALS!

Smartphones aren't just for Facebook status or Foursquare check-in.  Great deals rest in the palm of your hand!  A recent USA Today article by Roger Yu takes a closer look at how mobile technology feeds last-minute travelers appetite for savings. Click here to view.


Speaking of mobile, this article poses another question about empowered impuse travelers. Are they more likely to be on the lookout for QR (quick response) codes?  In early 2011, BudgetTravel.com answered FAQs about QR and highlighted mobile-barcodes.com, which offers a Quick Find Reader tool.  Definitely a page worth bookmarking.




Ever wonder what QR is all about? Click here and you'll find out!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

LDPR Named the PR Agency for the Ocean House, Watch Hill, Rhode Island


 LDPR announces the newest, exciting addition to our client roster: Ocean House, a luxury Victorian-era seaside resort in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. An ideal locale for romantic escapes, close-to-home family vacations, destination weddings and mid-week business retreats, the Ocean House offers 49 guest rooms and 23 private residences. The resort re-opened in 2010 after a $140 million rebuild and restoration, and currently boasts such amenities as OH! Spa, which recently joined Forbes Travel Guide's prestigious Five-Star spa list, and an outstanding culinary program that is immersed in the farm-to-table lifestyle. At the center of the F&B team, dedicated Food Forager Jan Faust Dane travels to regional farms and farmer's markets year-round to ensure that guests are experiencing the highest quality, freshest ingredients possible.  

Additionally, LDPR will represent the Ocean House's nearby sister property, The Weekapaug Inn, when it opens in fall 2012. For more information about the Ocean House visit www.oceanhouseri.com or call LDPR at 212-696-0660.
 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Just Back From...New Zealand!




The green beauty of New Zealand 

LDPR's executive vice president Leslie Cohen just returned from an amazing trip to the youngest country on earth -- New Zealand -- and shares some highlights.

I was fortunate to represent LDPR at the 56th annual convention of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) held in Wellington, New Zealand in November 2011.  Realizing what a tremendous opportunity it would be, I added time before and after the business meetings to tour with my husband Rich. 

Me and the famous Kiwi bird (full disclosure: it's not real since they are nocturnal animals)
We started the journey on the  food & wine trail of the Hawke's Bay region, located on the east coast of the North Island.  From the moment we landed we were greeted with Kia Ora which means welcome in the native Maori culture. Hawke's Bay is known for its culinary innovation and cultural diversity. We were in awe of the natural beauty which was only matched by the friendliness of the locals. I want to give a special "shout out" to our New Zealand tourism guide, Vicky Roebuck, who was an outstanding ambassador.  We visited Napier, which has a unique Art Deco heritage, and spent an amazing overnight at the Farm at Cape Kidnappers, a luxury lodge set within a real working farm.  Rich and I agreed it was one of the most special places we have ever stayed at.

Then it was on to Wellington, the site of the SATW convention, where I reunited with many friends and colleagues. I think it was one of the largest attended conferences, with more than 400 participants including writers, editors, bloggers, photographers, PR people like me, and spouses. It was a wonderful five days of professional development, networking, sightseeing and attending the media marketplace session for one-on-one meetings with the press.  I have to commend the SATW leadership for organizing such a professional and memorable program!  Since Rich is a big fan of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, I signed us up for a half-day tour of "Middle Earth" lead by an actor who was in all three films. He showed some of the locations and provided behind-the-scenes stories. Many people were talking about the "Hobbit," which is currently filming in the country. It seems that director Peter Jackson is quite the local celebrity and has done a lot to develop the film-making industry in New Zealand.

Some call Wellington, "Wellywood" for its movie-making magic
Then we flew to Tauranga to the Coromandel/Bay of Plenty coastline region, also on the North Island This part of the trip was more active (thank goodness since we had been eating nonstop!).  Here we enjoyed an evening kayak trip to view glow worms, hiked in the bush with Kiwi Dundee, relaxed in the salt water pools by Mount Maunganui and paddled a sea kayak to Cathedral Cove.  

Rich and me at Cathedral Cove
Rich and I thoroughly enjoyed our New Zealand trip and highly recomend friends add it to their own "bucket list."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Residence Inn Giveaway - A Traveling Family’s Residence for All Seasons



With the holidays upon us, now is a great time for families on the road to stay with Residence Inn by Marriott. With suite style accommodations, full kitchens, and free hot breakfast, moms can rest easy knowing their family will be taken care of while traveling. To celebrate the start of holiday travel, TravelMamas.com's Colleen Lanin announced a $300 Residence Inn by Marriott gift card giveaway good at any of over 600 Residence Inn locations. To enter, visitors had to answer which Residence Inn family-friendly convenience they like best and share which Residence Inn location they’d most like to visit.

Nearly 2,000 moms entered the contest which ran November 6 - November 20, agreeing some of the brand's best family-friendly amenities include the 24-hour in-lobby market, outdoor grills, and on–site laundry facilities. Favorite locations included Residence Inn Calgary, Orlando, New York City, Atlanta, Anaheim, and Phoenix.

And the winner is …. Residence Inn loving mom Kerry! Kerry highlighted the great free breakfast and laundry facilities as reasons she chooses to stay at Residence Inn hotels.


Check out the full giveaway coverage on TravelMamas.com as well as Colleen's great review of Residence Inn San Diego Gaslamp 


To become a fan of Residence Inn by Marriott on Facebook, click here and to book your next family-friendly stay, visit Residence Inn by Marriott  

Friday, November 11, 2011

Montréal Declared Best Global Destination in Logo’s NewNowNext Travel Awards!


The fans have voted and the results are in – Montréal is the “Best Global Destination” for LGBT travelers! Bursting with exciting festivals and events and a venerable hotspot for travelers in all spheres of life, it’s no wonder why the city edged out Tokyo, Marrakesh, Corsica, London and Shanghai for this honor in Logo’s 2011 NewNowNextTravel Awards. No stranger to the awards, Montréal received back-to-back nominations for Best Global Destination and last year Tourisme Montreal President and CEO The Honourable Charles Lapointe, P.C. was honored with the “Gay+ Award for Achievement in Making this World Gayer.”

Montreal is the perfect mix of old-world charm and romance and forward-thinking modernism, full of trendy shops, chic bistros, and happening clubs. It proudly declare its tolerance for diversity with one the biggest Villages in the world, and can’t-miss events include the colorful Pride Celebrations, Divers/Cite Festival, image+nation LGBT film festival, Black & Blue Festival and Bal des Boys New Year’s Eve bonanza. In summer 2011, Montreal celebrated diversity with its second-annual innovative and exciting global search for “Queer of the Year” (get your entry ready for next year!).

LGBT Package Offer
Tourism Montreal offers great packages all year, including the LGBT Package with hotel rates starting as low as $129 CAD per night.

For more information on planning your trip and the latest Montreal LGBT news…
Visit Tourism Montreal’s website: www.tourisme-montreal.org 
Visit Tourism Montreal’s Gay Life blog: www.tourisme-montreal.org/blog/gay-life/
Follow Tourism Montreal on Twitter: www.twitter.com/VisitMontreal 
Become a fan of Montreal on Facebook: www.facebook.com/montreal

Where in the World Does LDPR Want to Go Next?


Obviously, travel is our passion at LDPR so we love The Today Show segment Where in the World is Matt Lauer (though we should probably be better about following the clues and choosing the right destinations. I won't go into some of the places we guessed this year #cluefail). Now that the 10th Anniversary of the show has wrapped up in Barbados, what were some of the agency's favorite destinations? 

The winner here seems to be Day 4 - Jungfraujoch in the Swiss Alps:
 - Ashley MontBlanc Day has long wanted to travel to the Alps and the town of Mont Blanc (obviously!) and now she'll be adding the Sphinx Observatory to the itinerary.
 - Kelly Brewer loves amazing train travel (NJ Transit and NYC subway - here's NOT looking at you) so taking the train to Europe's highest railway station would be the ultimate experience. 

Namibia was a close second, however. We love heading out West for fresh powder days, but are open to a different type of skiing it seems:
 - Tricia Lanigan is ready to hit the dunes just like Matt, who we all thought looked very professional on skis. Helmet cam that please, Tricia! 
 - Chandra Dillon has family roots in South Africa, but hasn't been to the Skeleton Coast so it's now on her wish list. 

And you can't go wrong with Madrid:
 - Stephanie Preston loves the idea of late dinners and dancing. We recommend she tag along with Meredith Phares who is fluent in Spanish. Though language barriers often lead to some of the funniest travel experiences, it's always nice to travel with someone who can communicate well with the locals! 

We'll let you know if any of the LDPR staff makes it to one of these destinations in a future "Just Back From..." post. In the meantime, we're already excited for next year's Where in the World is Matt Lauer. And Matt, let us know if you need suggestions! 


LDPR Recognizes Ashley MontBlanc Day




This month, we are very proud and excited to shine the spotlight on one of LDPR’s superstar staffers, Ashley MontBlanc Day, who has been promoted to Account Director. Ashley is a results-driven, dynamic publicist who joined the LDPR family in 2006, and has been wow’ing us ever since. Her unique work style with clients, media and LDPR staffers is admirable. Ashley's earnest approachability, social savvy, humor and smart story telling is a powerful combination. Since joining the team, Ashley’s travels have taken her across the globe, from Scotland to Spain, Africa to Australia, Montana to the Bahamas. Therefore, we thought we’d check in with this globetrotter to get some travel tips and her viewpoints on agency life…

One of your most memorable travel experiences?
Traveling to Zambia with Sanctuary Retreats and Abercrombie & Kent. It was my first trip to Africa and was the most dramatically unique location I had been to – From the landscapes to the wildlife and the locals, it was an incredible adventure.
 
Any travel tips to share?
Be adventurous…Whether it is renting a car and driving on the "wrong" side of the road to see more of a country or trying a new activity, food, drink – Take it in. Traveling is your chance to walk in someone else's shoes. Learn, relax and be inspired! 
Your "must-pack" travel item?
Sneakers and my iPod. Going for a run in a new location is a great way to see the area. (Also a good way to counterbalance all of the food and drink that I inevitably indulge in while traveling)

Favorite thing about working at LDPR?
My LDPR family – Both the staff and our clients. It is incredible to be able to work with a crew that inspires, supports and keeps me laughing!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Art, Design and Fashion Converge in Bal Harbour, Florida



Art and design have forged an alliance in the fashion capital of Bal Harbour. Visual synergy created by top brands, South Florida based artists, local galleries and museums happened last season at Bal Harbour Art Nights and is back this season - bigger and better!  
During the 2011-2012 season, Bal Harbour Village, Bal Harbour Shops, The St. Regis and Art Nexus will host four collector worthy evenings, which will start on Thursday, November 3 at 6pm at the Bal Harbour Shops. Bal Harbour’s intention is to please the eyes and inspire the mind by creating a platform that celebrates the relationship between fashion and art.  The Art Night events also embrace the high level art components present in South Florida through museum presentations, Miami-based artist installations, and innovative chats. Future Art Nights are scheduled for January 11, February 8 and March 29.

A few highlights of this first event:
-Bal Harbour Chat Series, Neiman Marcus (2nd floor): "Miami: A Cultural Chronicle" with Tony Goldman, developer and visionary. Tony Goldman is known for transforming declining historical districts into thriving, global destinations.  He is the driving force behind the evolution of SoHo in New York City and South Beach and Wynwood in Miami (Interview by Nina Johnson-Milewski, Owner and Director, Gallery Diet)
-100% Capri will feature the work of Miami-based artist Michael Genovese, benefiting MAM (Miami Art Museum). 
-Ellie Tahari will feature a Renato Freitas photography exhibition, benefiting Care Resource.
-Books & Books will celebrate artist Sheila Elias and her dynamic collection with the book Somewhere-Anywhere. The book highlights her collection of paintings, collages, sculptures, photographs and installations over the past three decades.

And much more with exhibitions throughout the iconic Bal Harbour Shops.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Just Back From....Antarctica (well, sort of!)


 Social media mavens at work. Tiffany Dowd (@LuxeTiffany), Kelly Brewer (@KellyMBrewer), KC Geen (@kcgeen) and Stephanie Preston (@StephPreston) in a Le Boreal stateroom "pre-tweet"

 LDPR’s Abercrombie & Kent team departed New York City and were transported to Antarctica by way of Boston – all in one day! Carla Tracy, Kelly Brewer and Stephanie Preston experienced Antarctica when the ship A&K charters to the destination, Le Boreal, was docked in Boston Harbor. The team was joined by travel agents and local Boston media for a tour of the ship, delicious lunch and an enlightening speech from Dr. James McClintock on the implications of climate change in Antarctica. Dr. McClintock is an award-winning scientist, author and endowed professor of microbiology and marine sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is also one of the many expert guides and speakers that A&K works with on the Antarctica cruises.

Antarctica is a trip of a lifetime, but it’s certainly a rugged destination. However, after touring the sleek, modern interior of Le Boreal, it’s clear to see that luxury is possible even in the most remote places. We could imagine spending the majority of our time in The Panoramic Lounge with amazing views of glaciers and the large Theater was a surprise – a great space for entertainment, lectures and movies. The ship’s staterooms were all roomy and the best part is, when traveling with A&K, all guests have a private balcony! Le Boreal carries more than 264 passengers, but A&K limits this to 199 for all Antarctica trips. The luxury of extra space!


For more information on A&K Antarctica and Le Boreal, please visit www.abercrombiekent.com 

LDPR

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For over 20 years LDPR has guided some of the world’s most prestigious travel brands through an evolving media landscape with creativity, professionalism and enthusiasm. We are a highly driven and innovative travel and lifestyle public relations agency based in New York City with a global roster of clients from destinations and tour companies to exclusive private islands, hotels and resorts. Our unique culture is defined by our collaborative and strategic approach to working with clients, media and our staff, leading to a strong partnership with measurable results.