Here at Travel Associates, our trusted Travel Advisers average 15 years experience in the travel industry each, which is to say, they have personally seen and experienced so many incredible travel journeys. Using this incredible experience, they’re able to piece together unforgettable itineraries, journey along on state-of-the-art maiden voyages and launches, and offer you tips on the best possible way to experience the country you’re visiting. Although we can’t travel the world right at the moment, our Travel Advisers are here for you once borders reopen and discovery resumes. However, don’t just take our word for it, take theirs also!
Having lounge access when you fly does make a world of difference to your overall flying experience especially on those long haul flights. When you are a Gold tier member on Emirates Skywards membership, like myself, or flying business class you have access to all their business lounges around the world allowing you also to bring in one guest. Emirates business class lounges allow you to sip Moet & Chandon champagne and taste your way around the globe from the great array of gourmet food always available no matter what time of day it is.
In the Dubai business class lounge they have a health hub where you can treat yourself to a yummy healthy snack. I personally also love the fruit infused VOSS water available which adds that touch of difference! The lounge also has dedicated quiet zones which is great if you would like some peace and quiet, as well as direct gate boarding from the lounges. Another added bonus when you are a gold member or flying business class and you feel like treating yourself you can pay US$100 per person to upgrade to the first class lounge. This is an experience in itself and one must do at least once! In the Dubai first class lounges they offer their own duty free boutique where you can splash out on that something special and while you're doing this, you can even get one of the knowledgeable wine sommeliers to pick you a wine of your liking from the first class lounge's very own wine cellar.
In October 2019, our dreams were answered and we could finally fly directly into one of my favourite cities in the world! With this amazing service, not only does it provide a great way to get to New York but it opens up the East Coast and amazing cruise options in the Caribbean. A mere 15 hours and 40 mins enroute, you will be able to get a good sleep and I would highly recommend exploring the Air New Zealand SkyCouch, Premium Economy or Business Class options to get there ready to hit the ground running. Would recommend trying to sleep early into the flight as you arrive early evening, so might help with not being up at 3am in the morning. If you don't feel like upgrading both ways, maybe consider doing it one way - it is more economical than you think and you will definitely not question the cost when onboard.
New York is a destination where you will never feel like you have had enough time. I spent 5 days there and felt like I was dragged kicking and screaming from the city. There was still more time I needed at the MET and I could easily have seen more than the 2 shows I saw on Broadway. If you can, I would allow 7 - 10 days to see this city in a meaningful way. Now, it is true that accommodation in New York is a little pricier than its counterparts around the country but it is worth considering your location and spending a little more to be where you need to be. I usually recommend Times Square or Midtown for a first timer, as it is an easy location to find when using the subway and you are in the centre, so equidistant to most of the sites you will want to visit. If you want a different perspective or are on a return trip, consider Soho, the village or even pop across to Brooklyn.
Some tips and tricks - TKTS Booth in Times Square - if you are completely open to seeing any show on Broadway, find the red stairs/bleachers in Times Square and go to the ticket office underneath. Here they sell off tickets for that night at heavily reduced prices. I got to see Vanessa Hudgens in her premiere performance of Gigi and Idina Menzel in If/Then. I even got to meet Vanessa Hudgens after the performance and got a cheesy photo with her!
I highly recommend Top of the Rock for getting your top of the city photos, Empire State Building is steeped in history but your view from Top of the rock includes Central Park and the Empire State Building, which is much more iconic and makes for a better shot.
St Patrick's Day in NYC - Wow, not something you can forget. City goes crazy but it's really fun to see a whole city let loose. Don't be surprised by snow around then too!
Definitely do a carriage ride through central park. It has been rumoured that they may not be around forever... nothing better than a fur blanket on your legs as you head out through the wintery wonderland. Stop by the boat house for a cup of soup to warm up.
Shopping - The city has a lot to offer in way of retail therapy but if you want to keep costs down, consider heading out to Woodbury Commons Outlets. One of the best outlets I have been to in the US. Either drive, catch a bus from the main station or book a day trip out. One tip - try not to come back between 4 - 6pm as you have never seen traffic like this!
If you have time, try and include a movie/tv sites tour. It sounds cheesy but it brings this city to life through the many shows and films that were shot here. They had tvs on the bus which showed the scenes as you drove past in real life. Really great way to see the city with a twist.
Recently I had a pair of clients, who are teachers, who were wanting to use their six weeks of break to the fullest! It was to be their first time in London and Europe, which was a big moment for them, and one that I’ve found is big with so many clients. Seeing a country that you’ve heard of so many times, and that you’ve always dreamed of visiting is overwhelming and always extremely exciting.
With needing to take full advantage of the six weeks of holiday, I had to plan everything out from start to finish, and be assured that they would have time to see everything that they wanted to, along with getting the best views. In total, they visited about 15 cities from eight countries, from London to Cardiff, to Paris and Singapore!
Using my own experience of the UK and Europe, I was able to advise them of the best way to experience it all. For starters, having the all essential London Pass and Oyster Card on hand afforded them the freedom to move around as they wish. It gave them uninhibited access to travel around and slip in a few extra opportunities which I mentioned to them. Plus, they could get access to the most exciting and engaging activities across the country!
I was lucky enough to be invited to experience a Ski trip to ClubMed Tomamu, Japan which was an amazing experience. The resort itself is set up to maximise your time. The resort is fully inclusive, which also means ski and snowboard rental, lessons and guided ski/boarding on the mountain as well as your lift passes. Fantastic value. The small touches were also incredible. Such as on our first night we arrived late at night. After getting our room keys and heading to our room, we were greeted with a Bento Box just in case we were hungry.
The resort is one large building meaning you can get from your room to the restaurants and back through to the Ski Boot Room without heading out into the cold air. The day is split into morning and afternoon sessions, however you are able to use the lifts all day if you are wanting to head off on your own to explore the different trails. There are different groups you can join, depending on your skill level - starting from beginners right up to experienced skiers and snowboarders.
When you are not on the mountain, there are other amazing things to experience.
You can catch the shuttle or ski over to the Ice Village where you can have a drink at an Ice Bar and check out the local sights. Across the driveway from the resort is also Japan's largest indoor wave pool. There are also hot tubs and a traditional outdoor Onsen to experience. You can take in an exercise class or lounge in the library, sipping a coffee or cocktail while reading your book.
The facilities for families are also fantastic. There is a great Mini ClubMed for those that want to learn Skiing or Snowboarding while their parents are on the mountain. There is an indoor kids club for younger children, as well as Movie Night for teenagers. At the end of the day, the food is definitely a highlight - there is an amazing range of food from western options through to traditional Japanese dishes.
ClubMed Ski Resorts are an amazing, all inclusive, stress-free way to have a ski holiday. From family friendly to high luxury options, there is something for everyone!