Category Archives: Travel

Sprinter Metris Luxury Van

The Metris has turned quite a few heads since it hit the ground a few months ago.  Now that our first upgraded conversion van is here, even more heads are going to turn!

blackm3

With a gorgeous black on black color scheme, and FOUR personal DVD/Video systems, everyone will be entertained on your next driving adventure.

Click HERE for a short, one minute video to get an even better look at the Metris.  Better yet, stop by and see it for yourself!

Summer Travel Top Destinations

Who doesn’t love to travel?  And even though we all hate to leave Wichita, the truth of the matter is that we just have to every now and then, or how else would we appreciate all the great things we have in Wichita?

So if you MUST get out of town, here are a few places you might consider according to Lonely Planet:

Our Top Picks For North America

  • 6 New Orleans, USA

    Cajun and creole cookin’, beguiling bawdy culture, jazz and ahh – Mardi Gras

  • 7 Niagara Falls, Canada

    An undiminished world wonder despite the human circus and architectural spoil

  • 8 Teotihuacán, Mexico

    Explore a pair of mysterious and majestic pyramids, remnants of a mighty civilisation

  • 9 Las Vegas, USA

    Legendary city of 24/7 hedonism, two-fisted debauchery and bacchanalian revelry

  • 10 Pratt, Kansas

    Check out the two water towers, one each for hot and cold water!

Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/north-america#ixzz2UKuNr3HL

Travel Review – Carlsbad, CA

While visiting San Diego and Carlsbad, California for my Nephew’s wedding on the beach, I decided to stay a few days extra and experience a different side of California.

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As my previous visits to California have been to Los Angeles / Hollywood, I was pleasantly surprised to find the “laid back” California lifestyle that is portrayed so often in film and television.  From the Farmers Market (more on this later) to the various beaches, we were so enchanted, we wanted to stay there and send for the the rest of the family.  The shear volume of walkers, joggers, and bike riders on an early Saturday morning was astounding.  Nearly every cafe and coffee shop had people sitting and standing and taking in the fresh air and views.

The wedding site was on the South Ponto Beach, 20130413_160631an area with powdery sand and tall cliffs.  My daughters loved climbing the sandy trails to explore the areas carved out by the wind.  The plants and animal life were abundant, and varied.20130412_153253 20130412_155845

The ocean was fairly calm the time we spent there, at both high and low tides, with waves barely breaking the 4 foot high mark.  The water was too cool to venture very far out without a wet suit.  The surfers did not seem to mind and we often saw surf lessons being administered by some of the local surf shops.

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And now for my favorite part – the food.  The availability of fresh produce virtually every day helped us to make good use of the full kitchen we had at our condo at the Grand Pacific Palisades Resort and Spa20130413_073304We ate all but the wedding reception meal in our room, using fruits and vegetables from the local Farmer’s Market.

One morning, I made a variety of the skillet eggs recipe20130414_090722we blogged about several months ago with fresh asparagus, spinach, mushrooms, potatoes, sausage and eggs.

Another day for lunch, we blackened some fresh tilapia 20130414_145019on wheat toast with spinach and smoked provolone.

The highlight of one of our dinners was the carrots I had purchased earlier that day from the Farmer’s Market in the Carlsbad Village Shopping Center.  My daughter asked if I had put butter on the carrots, and I had the joy of explaining that when carrots are pulled from the ground when they are at their peak of ripeness, they naturally have a buttery flavor and that I had not even seasoned them.

The favorite part for me was the sweet fresh strawberries we picked up from the Carlsbad Strawberry company.  While we could have picked our own berries, we opted for the already picked.  After we devoured all three quarts in an afternoon, we ended up driving back to pick up another sleeve of 3 quarts for the evening and the next day.  Nothing in the world compares to a massive strawberry, picked in the early morning, bursting with sweetness.  I can only imagine hitting the Powerball as being sweeter than that.

Now about our condo…..amazing.  20130414_075622Two showers, one bedroom, and a fold out king were more than ample for my two daughters and me.  Flat screen TV, two sinks, and a lanai made for plenty of entertainment options for me while my daughters were getting ready for the day.

The resort had two pool areas, one exclusively for adults, and another geared towards the kids.  The hot tub was a welcome relief after long days of shopping and playing on the beach.  In fact, it was also good after a 3 mile run to the beach and back.  And after breakfast.  And after lunch.  We liked the hot tub, can you tell?

All in all, from the Outlet Mall to the Forum (think “Bradley Fair” with palm trees), we had a great time at the shopping venues.  In fact, the order taker at the Starbucks at the Outlet Mall knew our order by heart by the third day.  Great service.  I wish he lived in Wichita so I could hire him for a secret project at the new Mercedes-Benz building.  Or an Airport Shuttle Driver.

I am looking forward to going back to Carlsbad soon and taking the rest of the family.  definitely worth the time and money to go back.

20130415_190207 20130414_185619 20130412_160440 20130412_160420 20130412_155915 20130412_145212

Travel Tips – Endless Vacation Rentals

Endless Vacation Rentals®https://i1.wp.com/www.endlessvacationrentals.com/img/photoviewer/1004_16.jpg

One of the best pieces of advice I have received while operating our award-winning airport shuttle service is the great tips on travel I receive from our guests.  Where to go, what to see, and when to go all pale in comparison to a little gem of a website called Endless vacation Rentals.

This site accumulates the excess time-share and condos from all over the world and rents to you and I at amazing prices.  One example – I took my family of 8 to Branson for 4 days.  Usually about $150 per night for the two rooms we need to fit everyone.  We rented a 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo with a FULL kitchen for $90 a night!  The best part was the time and money saved by making breakfast in our room or the excitement on the kids faces when they smelled the freshly baked cookies I had prepared for them.

Click this link for a ride to their website to stroll around and see what they have to offer…

Hot Travel Spots – Jamaica

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g147309-Jamaica-Vacations.html

Jamaica is a melting pot of African, Asian, European and Middle Eastern cultures. You’ll experience this diversity in its strong crafts tradition, performing arts and distinctive dining options, like ackee and saltfish with roast breadfruit. Take your vacation to new heights at famed cliff jumping spot, Negril Cliffs. Jamaica offers long beaches, protected coves, rugged mountains, waterfalls, caves and sunshine and chances to play in the surf, ride horses and swim with dolphins. Jump in!

Hot Travel Spots – 2010 Expert’s Picks

Click HERE for a great slide show of where to go this year on vacation.

Travel Review – Las Vegas, NV

One of the most popular features of our Scholfield Luxury Expereince is our Complimentary Airport Shuttle Service.  In fact, we have already served nearly 500 guests with this service.  Although we do not keep exact stats, it seems a majority of these trips are to Las Vegas.  Since I have been to Vegas many times, I thought I would give a few bits of advice to you from my experiences and those of our guests.

Where to Stay?

I have stayed fancy (Paris, MGM, Bellagio) and I have stayed cheap (Excalibur, Imperial Palace, Sahara) and can honesty tell you that the experience is not dimenished by staying cheap and saving money.  In fact, I like staying on the side of the strip that the monorail is on (MGM, Imperial Palace, Bally’s) because it makes it easier to get around.

What to Do?

Besides the Bellagio Fountains, the Forum Shoppes, and the Wynn Hotel, be sure you check out ALL the hotels.  Each one is different, and has a look and feel all it’s own.  Also check out the Planet Hollywood Mall.  A great place to find inexpensive gifts for the kids at home and the office.  Planet Hollywood is also where Ashton Kutcher filmed a movie.  The club in Planet Hollywood can be star filled on most weekends.  There is a columnist named Norm that gives all the celeb sightings.

In all, Vegas can be a quick, cheap getaway from Wichita.  It’s funny how nearly everyone comments that they are glad to be home when they get back to Wichita.  Me included…

Dan Watkins-CCC Manager

Travel Review – Branson, MO

I had the pleasure of visiting Branson, Mo for the first time in twelve years at the beginning of November.  To say I was blown away would be an understatement!  Branson has grown up in a good way and has something for everyone.

We stayed at the Holiday Hills Resort, where we got a one week stay in a two bedroom condo for only $380!  With five of my children, we filled the space nicely and had plenty of room for our things.  The resort is located 3 miles east of the amazing Branson Landing (more later on that!) and is set around an 18-hole golf course.

We did the Titanic Museum Tour.  The coolest thing about the tour is you are assigned a passenger when you start your tour.  You learn all about the person and then when the tour is over, you learn whether or not you survived the tragedy or not.  My wife and daughter survived.

We also were there for the Annual Christmas Parade and saw several stars of the Branson Strip.  Andy Williams and the Osmond Brothers were the highlight of the slowest moving parade I have ever seen.

We raced go karts on one of several tracks in Branson.  My 4-year-old Williams giggled the whole time and was pleased to have “won”.  We then went into the arcade and beat the stuffing out of a few moles and alligators.

We ate at several restaurants and were pleased to find out that the next big thing in Branson is a Restaurant row with famous national chains like PF Chang and Cheesecake Factory coming soon.  Of course, you can find just about every imaginable buffet in Branson if that is your favorite kind of meal.

We spent our first evening at the Branson Landing.  It is an outdoor mall with a Belk’s Department Store on one end and a Bass Pro Shop on the other.  The water show was a scaled down Bellagio show with the addition of fire and explosions thrown in.  We ate at the San Francisco Oven, which was like a McAlister’s, except with good food and a quiet atmosphere.

We only went to two of the four outlet malls (I had three teenage daughters with us) and one was packed, the other not.  It was sad to see the red roof outlet mall so rundown.  That was the biggest and best twelve years ago.

All in all, we had a great time and would go again.  Check around and shop for deals and you can spend an affordable weekend that is a short drive from Wichita.

Hot Travel Locations!

0122_hoteldeals_170x170When it comes to 2009’s hottest travel destinations, think cheap–but not chintzy.

To keep visitors coming, top-shelf destinations no longer have top-shelf price tags. This year, four- and five-star hotels are offering unprecedented deals at in-demand spots like Cape Town,Belfast and Vancouver.

In Depth: Hotel Deals In 10 Travel Hot Spots

According to booking site Hotels.com’s quarterly Hotel Price Index, the cost of hotel accommodations decreased by 3% globally in the last three months of 2008. And average daily rates for Jan. 1, 2009, were down significantly in several major U.S. cities, according to another booking site, Travelocity.com. In San Francisco, rates were down 15% from Jan. 1, 2008; in Las Vegas, the rate decrease was 18%.

“For the first time in my career, [high-net-worth travelers] are focused more on the deal than the experience,” says Jack Ezon, president of leisure travel for New York-based agency Ovation Vacations. In other words, travelers are looking for the best prices first and considering the destination second.

Just last week, Ezon sold one week in hotspot Riviera Maya, Mexico for $7,000. The suite booked usually runs $3,000 per night, which means this guest received a nearly 67% discount on his or her holiday.

Sure, the tropical forests, view of the Caribbean Sea and seven restaurants at Riviera Maya are nice, but the best part about staying in a Mandarin Oriental hotel is the highly lauded service and amenities, which include private yoga and Pilates sessions as well as culinary classes that teach local food traditions.

Fall Travel Destinations!

autumn_leavesThe Autumn Season is one of the best times to enjoy a leisurely drive in your luxury automobile.  With the leaves starting to turn, some of the following sites are truly breathtaking.  The following advice was passed along by our lead receptionist, Jenny Tarwater.  Thanks, Jenny!

———-

10.  Washington County—For hard-core foliage fans looking to escape the crowds of New England each fall Washington County, Main is paradise for a leaf-peeper seeking solitude.  Lobster is a way of life, lighthouses dot the coastline, and the sunrise each morning is the first one seen in the United States.  Washington County is also the world’s largest producer of blueberries. You’ll find them infusing everything from pies to pancakes to ice cream.  The fall colors range from burnt orange to blazing red to golden yellow on the region’s birch, maple, oak, aspen, and ash trees, and are most vibrant from early to mid-October.

9.  Pennsylvania—Move over Madison County. Pennsylvania rules when it comes to covered bridges.  The state boasts more than any place in the world. If you’re an admirer, you’re in luck.  Covered bridges figure heavily on several different driving itineraries worth doing through the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia countryside.  Pine, hemlock and maple trees dominate, and the colors (think gold and flaming red) reach their peak in early October.   When you tire of being on the road, head to Buckingham Valley Vineyards and Winery for tours and free tastings, or to New Hope, which is brimming with B&Bs, restaurants, and charming stores.

8.  Dominica—Set between Martinique and Guadeloupe, the lush island of Dominica aka “The Nature Island of the Caribbean” is easily our top Caribbean eco pick. The island’s ecotourism efforts kicked off in 1997, when it participated in Green Globe (the first country in the Caribbean to do so), and its recent title of “Whale Watching Capital of the Caribbean” only adds heft to its vaunted eco status. Indeed, the island is often visited by 40-ton whales, who like to socialize, mate, and play off its shores – and visitors are promised a 90% chance of spotting one up close. Major draws such as this, combined with some of the Caribbean’s best diving, and some of its most pristine rainforests – where superb hiking trails lead to a eerie boiling lake, gorgeous waterfalls, and more – are what make the island such an ecotourism haven. It’s especially easy being green here since, at the end of the day, you can ease your tired muscles in the island’s natural hot springs and stay in secluded rainforest lodges, suffused by the sounds of the jungle.

7.  Litchfield Hills—Located in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains, the Litchfield Hills are a charming New England destination full of country inns, antique shops, and, most importantly come fall, an abundance of trees blazing with color.  There are numerous biking and hiking trails in this part of Connecticut, plus opportunities to view the colorful mosaic from the air, via a hot-air-balloon ride, or from the water, via canoe on the Housatonic River.  Whatever your pleasure, visitors can expect to see maple, oak, aspen, beech, and birch trees, among others at their peak in mid-October.autumn_leaves_scene

6.  Mont-Tremblant, Canada—One of the most popular skiing destinations in eastern Canada and boasting some of the highest peaks of the Laurentian Mountain chain.  Mont Tremblant, Quebec is a winter wonderland of adventure. Besides downhill skiing, there are 150km of cross-country trails (used annually for the Canadian Ski Marathon).  Combine this with the string of cozy chalets and relaxing spas within close proximity to the mountain, and you can transform your weekend getaway into pure pampering bliss.  How: Fly to Montreal’s Trudeau Airport and drive 2.5 hours to Mont Tremblant. Direct flights are available from Boston (Air Canada, United; about 1.5 hours) or New York (Air Canada, American, United; about 1.5 hours). You can also opt to fly directly into the Mont Tremblant International Airport, just 30 minutes north of Mont Tremblant resort via Voyager Airlines from Newark (about 1.5 hours).

5.  Great Smoky Mountains—The Great Smoky Mountains are a breathtaking sight, especially in fall when the mountain foliage turns to radiant shades of crimson, orange, and purple.  Nestled between North Carolina and Tennessee, the most-visited National Park in the United States is home to 100 species of trees with an awesome display of turning leaves.  Peak fall colors are predicted for mid-October through early November; the most memorable foliage coming courtesy of sugar maples, scarlet oaks, sweetgums, red maples, and hickories.

4.  Eastern Townships—This section of Quebec stretches as far east as Maine, perhaps explaining why some consider the region to resemble neighboring New England, but with the French influence you’d expect.  The area has been a summer getaway of the rich for ages, but those “in the know” know that autumn is a spectacular time to visit local towns like Knowlton and North Hatley.  It is probably no surprise that the maple leaf is the star of the show here, and visitors can enjoy a fiery display on horseback or on foot, particularly from mid- to late-September when the foliage season reaches its peak.

3.  Columbia River Gorge—An autumn day along Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge gives nature lovers endless opportunities to experience the full spectrum of the season’s offerings.  Whether driving along the Columbia River on the state’s I-84, hiking a variety of trails, or white-water rafting or kayaking the gorge is a geological wonder.  The gorge weaves its way through the Cascade Mountains, forming the border between northern Oregon and southern Washington, and is loaded with lush fir forests and twisted pines, big-leaf maple, cottonwood, Oregon ash, and vine maple trees that show their colors from mid-September to mid-October.  The area is also known for its dazzling waterfalls, the remarkable 620-foot Multnomah Falls chief among them.

2.  The Catskills—When the fabled Catskills Region, just 100 miles north of New York City, bursts to life with color every autumn.  Its thickly wooded hillsides are covered by a patchwork of fiery red, glimmering golds, and vibrant orange leaves.  Dubbed America’s First Wilderness, this bountiful and beautiful region harbors a variety of trees — maple, oak, birch, and beech among them that come into their prime during the last two weeks of September or early to mid-October.

1.  Aspen—While it’s the place to see and be seen every winter, autumn brings a sense of serenity to Aspen — and the golden foliage of the town’s namesake tree along with it.  While Colorado’s aspens don’t offer the vibrant fall color spectacle of say, the Northeast, the yellows, golds, and bold oranges that cover the mountainsides here, against a backdrop of intermittent evergreens, are still reason enough for a visit.  Mid- to late-September is the ideal time to catch the show, but with the color change lasting just about a week, timing is everything.

– Dan Watkins – Client Care Managerautumn_leaves_420x315

10.  Washington County

http://i.imwx.com/web/activities/travel/top10/fall_washington_county.jpg

For hard-core foliage fans looking to escape the crowds of New England each fall Washington County, Main is paradise for a leaf-peeper seeking solitude.

Lobster is a way of life, lighthouses dot the coastline, and the sunrise each morning is the first one seen in the United States.

Washington County is also the world’s largest producer of blueberries. You’ll find them infusing everything from pies to pancakes to ice cream.

The fall colors range from burnt orange to blazing red to golden yellow on the region’s birch, maple, oak, aspen, and ash trees, and are most vibrant from early to mid-October.

9.  Pennsylvania

http://i.imwx.com/web/activities/travel/top10/fall_pennsylvania.jpg

Move over Madison County. Pennsylvania rules when it comes to covered bridges.

The state boasts more than any place in the world. If you’re an admirer, you’re in luck.

Covered bridges figure heavily on several different driving itineraries worth doing through the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia countryside.

Pine, hemlock and maple trees dominate, and the colors (think gold and flaming red) reach their peak in early October.   When you tire of being on the road, head to Buckingham Valley Vineyards and Winery for tours and free tastings, or to New Hope, which is brimming with B&Bs, restaurants, and charming stores.

8.  Dominica

http://i.imwx.com/web/activities/travel/top10/eco_dominica.jpg

Set between Martinique and Guadeloupe, the lush island of Dominica aka “The Nature Island of the Caribbean” is easily our top Caribbean eco pick. The island’s ecotourism efforts kicked off in 1997, when it participated in Green Globe (the first country in the Caribbean to do so), and its recent title of “Whale Watching Capital of the Caribbean” only adds heft to its vaunted eco status. Indeed, the island is often visited by 40-ton whales, who like to socialize, mate, and play off its shores – and visitors are promised a 90% chance of spotting one up close. Major draws such as this, combined with some of the Caribbean’s best diving, and some of its most pristine rainforests – where superb hiking trails lead to a eerie boiling lake, gorgeous waterfalls, and more – are what make the island such an ecotourism haven. It’s especially easy being green here since, at the end of the day, you can ease your tired muscles in the island’s natural hot springs and stay in secluded rainforest lodges, suffused by the sounds of the jungle.

7.  Litchfield Hills

http://i.imwx.com/web/activities/travel/top10/fall_litchfield_hills.jpg

Located in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains, the Litchfield Hills are a charming New England destination full of country inns, antique shops, and, most importantly come fall, an abundance of trees blazing with color.

There are numerous biking and hiking trails in this part of Connecticut, plus opportunities to view the colorful mosaic from the air, via a hot-air-balloon ride, or from the water, via canoe on the Housatonic River.

Whatever your pleasure, visitors can expect to see maple, oak, aspen, beech, and birch trees, among others at their peak in mid-October.

6.  Mont-Tremblant, Canada

http://i.imwx.com/web/activities/travel/top10/fall_lost_maples.jpg

One of the most popular skiing destinations in eastern Canada and boasting some of the highest peaks of the Laurentian Mountain chain.

Mont Tremblant, Quebec is a winter wonderland of adventure. Besides downhill skiing, there are 150km of cross-country trails (used annually for the Canadian Ski Marathon).

Combine this with the string of cozy chalets and relaxing spas within close proximity to the mountain, and you can transform your weekend getaway into pure pampering bliss.

How: Fly to Montreal’s Trudeau Airport and drive 2.5 hours to Mont Tremblant. Direct flights are available from Boston (Air Canada, United; about 1.5 hours) or New York (Air Canada, American, United; about 1.5 hours). You can also opt to fly directly into the Mont Tremblant International Airport, just 30 minutes north of       Mont Tremblant resort via Voyager Airlines from Newark (about 1.5 hours).

5.  Great Smoky Mountains

http://i.imwx.com/web/activities/travel/top10/fall_smoky_mnts.jpg

The Great Smoky Mountains are a breathtaking sight, especially in fall when the mountain foliage turns to radiant shades of crimson, orange, and purple.

Nestled between North Carolina and Tennessee, the most-visited National Park in the United States is home to 100 species of trees with an awesome display of turning leaves.

Peak fall colors are predicted for mid-October through early November; the most memorable foliage coming courtesy of sugar maples, scarlet oaks, sweetgums, red maples, and hickories.

4.  Eastern Townships

http://i.imwx.com/web/activities/travel/top10/fall_eastern_townships.jpg

This section of Quebec stretches as far east as Maine, perhaps explaining why some consider the region to resemble neighboring New England, but with the French influence you’d expect.

The area has been a summer getaway of the rich for ages, but those “in the know” know that autumn is a spectacular time to visit local towns like Knowlton and North Hatley.

It is probably no surprise that the maple leaf is the star of the show here, and visitors can enjoy a fiery display on horseback or on foot, particularly from mid- to late-September when the foliage season reaches its peak.

3.  Columbia River Gorge

http://i.imwx.com/web/activities/travel/top10/fall_columbia_gorge.jpg

An autumn day along Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge gives nature lovers endless opportunities to experience the full spectrum of the season’s offerings.

Whether driving along the Columbia River on the state’s I-84, hiking a variety of trails, or white-water rafting or kayaking the gorge is a geological wonder.

The gorge weaves its way through the Cascade Mountains, forming the border between northern Oregon and southern Washington, and is loaded with lush fir forests and twisted pines, big-leaf maple, cottonwood, Oregon ash, and vine maple trees that show their colors from mid-September to mid-October.

The area is also known for its dazzling waterfalls, the remarkable 620-foot Multnomah Falls chief among them.

2.  The Catskills

http://i.imwx.com/web/activities/travel/top10/fall_catskills.jpg

When the fabled Catskills Region, just 100 miles north of New York City, bursts to life with color every autumn.

Its thickly wooded hillsides are covered by a patchwork of fiery red, glimmering golds, and vibrant orange leaves.

Dubbed America’s First Wilderness, this bountiful and beautiful region harbors a variety of trees — maple, oak, birch, and beech among them that come into their prime during the last two weeks of September or early to mid-October.

1. Aspen

http://i.imwx.com/web/activities/travel/top10/fall_aspen.jpg

While it’s the place to see and be seen every winter, autumn brings a sense of serenity to Aspen — and the golden foliage of the town’s namesake tree along with it.

While Colorado’s aspens don’t offer the vibrant fall color spectacle of say, the Northeast, the yellows, golds, and bold oranges that cover the mountainsides here, against a backdrop of intermittent evergreens, are still reason enough for a visit.

Mid- to late-September is the ideal time to catch the show, but with the color change lasting just about a week, timing is everything.