All posts by Tim

Tim’s Desert Getaway at the Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch

hcpool

Tim’s Desert Getaway at the Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch

by Tim Larison, CLIA Certified Master Cruise Counselor (MCC)

As part of the Global Travel Marketplace West travel conference in Tucson I was fortunate to stay at a wonderful guest ranch for one night – the Hacienda del Sol.  Though my stay was brief I grew to love this amazing property.

I liked the remote location of the resort with spectacular views of the surrounding Catalina Mountains.  Yet it is close to all Tucson has to offer – the downtown nightlife, hiking trails, museums and galleries, golf, shopping, and the University of Tucson – are nearby.  “Most of our guests rent a car at the airport or drive in from Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, California, Nevada,” says Susan Kowalcek, the resort’s director of marketing. “They like to have a car with them to explore Tucson. Of course, our property is a destination unto itself and if they choose to stay several days without a car, we can help them arrange airport transportation. The airport is 30 minutes away.”

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Tim at Global Travel Marketplace West – The Sequel

Tim at Global Travel Marketplace West – The Sequel

by Tim Larison, CLIA Certified Master Cruise Counselor (MCC)

tim at GTM West

“It was the best travel agent conference I’ve ever been to,” I wrote in this blog one year ago, describing my experience at Global Travel Marketplace West.  I felt honored to be invited back to this prestigious event, having been selected as one of only 80 travel professionals to attend out of hundreds of applicants.  Would GTM West 2016 be as good as last year’s?  Yes!  In this report I’ll give you a behind the scenes look at how I stay current with my industry’s top travel providers and the exciting destinations they offer.

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Calgary – Gateway to the Canadian Rockies

This is the concluding post from Tim Larison from familytravelgurus.com on his visit to the province of Alberta, Canada in March, 2016.

winsportWhen I visited Canada 27 years ago we flew into Calgary, picked up our rental car, and immediately drove 1 1/2 hours to Banff to start our Canadian Rockies vacation.  On my 2016 trip I learned that Calgary is not a city to ignore – it has its own treasures to explore.

My favorite Calgary attraction was the WinSport Winter Sports Institute where Canadian athletes train for the Olympics.

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A Look at the Canadian Rockies Fairmont Resorts

This is another post from Tim Larison from familytravelgurus.com on his visit to the province of Alberta, Canada in March, 2016.

jasperentry27 years ago I visited the three Canadian Rockies Fairmont resorts with my wife Anne during our wonderful Canadian Rockies honeymoon.  In 2016 I had the opportunity to return with a group of travel agents from around the U.S.  I was to discover these resorts were just as magnificent as I remembered them.

jasperentry2First up: the Jasper Park Lodge.  We were greeted by a friendly doorman.  I was impressed with the level of service from all the Fairmont employees we met (our dinner hosts, wait staff, and adventure guides)

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Wildlife Viewing in Canada

This is another post from Tim Larison from familytravelgurus.com on his visit to the province of Alberta, Canada in March, 2016.

canada wildlifeOn my weeklong trip to the Canadian Rockies I was surprised at the wildlife viewing opportunities – even in the winter.

buffalo3My first opportunity to view wildlife was at Elk Island National Park near Edmonton.  Elk Island has one of the largest remaining buffalo herds in North America (or a more accurate term – a North American Bison herd).  Here the park rangers gave us an interesting overview of the bison.  I learned  that there were over 30 million bison in the 1800’s.  Through unmanaged slaughter for their hides this number was sadly reduced to 1000 over the course of about 70 years.  A reserve like Elk Island keeps these magnificent animals protected from hunters.

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Snowshoeing In The Canadian Rockies (March 2016)

This is the second of several posts from Tim Larison from familytravelgurus.com in his visit to the province of Alberta, Canada in March, 2016.

meI’d never been snowshoeing in my life!  But I got that chance in two days of touring in Alberta, Canada.  I share below what this experience was like.

wes1We were transported from downtown Jasper by our guide Wes – a retired park service employee who now runs tours in the area.  Wes was great in leading us rookies in snowshoeing on Pyramid Lake.

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Edmonton – Capital City of Alberta

This is the first of several posts from Tim Larison from familytravelgurus.com in his visit to the province of Alberta, Canada in March, 2016.

Edmonton – Capital City of Alberta

hockey2I landed in Edmonton mid-afternoon and I was immediately reminded of the city’s rich hockey history. The Oilers have struggled in recent years but the team’s fortunes are looking up.  We were later told of the new hockey arena, Rogers Place, that will open next season.  It will be “the best arena in the world” according to our guide – no expense is being spared to make this the showcase rink in the NHL.

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The Super Bowl 50 Experience


The Super Bowl 50 Experience
by Tim Larison, Family Travel Gurus Travel Consultant
 

On the first weekend in February 2016 I attended the second Super Bowl in my life – and oh what a weekend it was!  As a long time season ticket holder to the Denver Broncos I had a strong rooting interest in this game!  Here I am with my son Andrew in downtown San Francisco near Super Bowl City on Saturday night.

Thanks to the generosity of a friend who couldn’t attend I had the opportunity to purchase a pair of tickets at list price to the game.

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A Look at the New Westin at Denver International Airport

The New Westin at Denver International Airport

by Tim Larison, CLIA Certified Master Cruise Counselor (MCC)

westin diaPhoto courtesy of Starwood Hotels

The new Westin hotel at Denver’s International Airport (DIA) is a wonderful property adjacent to the airport’s main terminal.  As the Colorado director of the National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA) I was able to arrange an exclusive preview for area travel agents of this exciting new addition to the Denver hotel scene.

drawingThe first thing airport visitor’s will notice is the hotel’s unusual shape.  As pictured above in a drawing from Starwood Hotels, the hotel has a U shape in the middle.  Is it supposed to be shaped like a ship?  No, as our Starwood guide Amber explained, the shape is meant to resemble a bird in flight.  The dip in the middle was also requested by the airport so that the control tower would have an unobstructed view over the hotel.

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Karen’s Be Our Guest Breakfast Review

Be Our Guest Breakfast at Disney World

By Karen Waldman, Family Travel Gurus Travel Consultant

be our guestWe enjoyed our breakfast dining experience at Be Our Guest, the Magic Kingdom restaurant designed to represent the castle from Beauty and the Beast. They had good food and the atmosphere was wonderful. There are three dining areas. The big main room is the ballroom. We ate in the more intimate West Wing (the room with the rose). The West Wing is quiet and dark, with a fireplace glowing. The third room, with lots of artwork and a rotating Beast/Belle dancing centerpiece, opened as we were leaving.

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