Stephanie Abrams' Travel Blog
Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams Blog – Nationally Synidcated Radio Show Host
NYC’s Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Monaco’s Hôtel de Paris & Columbus, & Ireland’s Unique Lodgings Featured in “Stephanie’s Romantic Hideaways” on Travel TV WITH Stephanie Abrams
March 9th, 2019

Three episodes of  Travel TV WITH Stephanie Abrams scheduled to  broadcast on BizTV to over 30 million televisions households in the US, to those with ROKU and globally to those who watch the shows streaming on Sundays in the 5pm Eastern Time slot or available at BizTV.com BVOD (video on demand) and for those who’d like a Sneak Peek at commercial-free episodes which can be reached at our YouTube Travel TV channel, you’re going to find a sneak peek of Episode 20: “Stephanie’s Romantic Hideaways!” This episode will broadcast on BizTV on March 24th. We take viewers to:

New York’s City’s marvelous Hôtel Plaza Athénée where you step into your chateau in the countryside in the midst of bustling Manhattan and then off to have something sweet with your sweetie at Serendipity3, two places that would heighten the romance of any romantic interlude. Then off to Ireland to visit Keenan’s Boutique Hotel in Co. Roscommon, Delphi Lodge in Connemara, The Ardilaun where you’ll feel like your away fro the bustling city of Galway nestled in an enchanted garden, a suite tucked into the tower of Kilronan Castle in Roscommon, a self-catering cottage in Northern Ireland, Corner Cottage, The Red Door in Inishowen, County Donegal that abuts Lough Swilly in the region where the hymn,  Amazing Grace was written after a scary storm at sea where the local resident of Buncrana finally sailed safely in to dock on Lough Swilly. . . definitely inspriational!  Imagine, you can dine or stay at The Red Door and imagine the hymn being written before your eyes! There’s so much moreincludling stops at Manor House Country Hotel in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, and Mulranny Park Hotel in Co., Mayo before we go off together to Monte Carlo and experience exploring Monaco together!

As a ramp up to St. Patrick’s Day, we will be broadcasting encore presentations of Episode 2: “Captivating Kerry” on March 10th and, on March 17th,  Episode 5:”Celebrating Saint Patrick in Northern Ireland”

Enjoy . . and send me a note with your feedback!

Episode 20:” Stephanie’s Romantic Hideaways.” broadcasts on March 24th . . .check out Sneak Peek now at our YouTube Travel TV channel:

Episode 5: “Celebrating Saint Patrickin Northern Ireland” broadcasts in an Encore Presentation on Sunday, March 17, 2019

Epsiode 2: Captivating Kerry archived here or watch live live on March 10th at BizTV Network online, on ROKU on the BizTV Channel or on one of the TV stations listed below. Live  broadcasts air when it’s 5pm Eastern Time in whatever time zone your are in globally!

ENJOY! AND HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

Biz TV Broadcast Affiliates – Full Time
Call Letters DMA State
TV 51.5 Alexandria MN 10,000
WANN – 32.1 Atlanta GA
WTBS 26.1 Atlanta GA
WTBS 9.1 Atlanta GA 2,582,640
WBPI TV 49.2 Augusta GA 265,000
WBXA – TV 24.1 Birmingham AL 740,000
WFXZ – TV 24.1 Boston MA 3,060,000
WBXC – TV 46.2 Champaign IL 386,000
WTZP – 50 Charleston-Huntington WV 170,000
N – TV 32.6 Columbus OH 930,000
SWCOTV 31.1 Cortez CO 4,000
KAZD 55.6 Dallas TX 2,571,310
WBXF – TV 28.1 Des Moines IA 431,300
SLTV – TV 28 Eugene OR 60,000
WBCF – TV 10.3 Florence AL 88,900
KGMC – TV 43 Fresno CA 674,000
K27FI – TV 16.5 Frost MN 5,000
K16CG – TV 16.5 Godahl MN 5,000
TV 41.1 Granite Falls MN 2,864
KITM – TV 2 Honalulu HI 650,000
K23FO – TV 16.5 Jackson MN 7,000
WBXJ – TV 43.1 Jacksonville FL 670,000
KFLA – TV 8.4 LA CA 7,000,000
KHMP – TV 18.2 Las Vegas NV
KPVT – TV 2.1 Las Vegas NV 800,000
KPVT – TV 2.2 Las Vegas NV
WYAT – 40 Martinsville VA 75,000
WPMF – TV 17 Miami FL 1,500,000
WBXM – TV 41.1 Montgomery AL 245,000
W24EC – 24.2 Nags Head NC 40,000
Channel Master National US 50,000
KQTI 8.2 Salt Lk City UT 125,000
WSWF TV 10 Orlando FL 2,350,000
WUBX – TV 31.2 Raliegh/Durham NC 1,143,420
KRMF – TV 7.3 Reno NV 271,000
KCNL-LD 3.1 Reno NV 271,000
KZTC – TV 7 San Deigo CA 1,077,600
WOBV – TV 5 Starkville MS 25,000
WSPF – TV 35.4 Tampa FL 1,788,000
KBAX -TV 27.4 Twin Falls ID 70,000
Total Full Time Audience 30,144,034
Total Full Time Audience 30,144,034

Radio Guest Mary Reynolds, Winner of Gold Medal at Chelsea Flower Show, Feature Film Now at Netflix!
March 3rd, 2019

Castle Leslie, Home of the Leslie Family, Glaslough, County Monaghan, Ireland

Squint and you’ll see Broadcast Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams in the doorway!

If you haven’t heard the interview I did with Mary Reynolds from County Wicklow, Ireland after I saw the feature film about her, “Dare to Be Wild,” on a flight from Boston to Dublin, you can click here to visit the Show Notes where, if you click on Hour 1 either in mp3 or Windows Media format, you can hear the interview and click here to reach the  Directory we have created for you to reach more info about Mary’s achievements.  The film is such an inspiration that encapsulates the passion and focused spirit that I find is embedded in the DNA of Irish people . . . who live in Ireland. I hasten to add that end bit because that spirit, while it lives on, to some degree, in some of Irish descents, I think planned, recurring visits to Ireland are essential for Irish descendants to keep that spirit alive and burning with a roaring flame within their beings, or the culture surrounding them wherever they live suppresses more and more of the natural characteristics of the Irish personality, mentality and culture.  When you are in Ireland, the same incidents that will evoke rage and anger and snarky responses here in America, will evoke laughter and compassion and a caring response.  One day in Ireland presents the visitor with so many memorable interactions with local folks presenting object lessons in friendliness, care, compassion, curiosity, passion for everything they touch and do, from the minuscule to the monumental, from crafts to arts, and all wrapped up with a sense of humor, a sense of self, a sense of what is important in life based on a deep knowledge and understanding of the history of the Irish that only exists because of musicians and lyricists who wrote the history of Ireland and the Irish in their music as the ONLY way to pass the stories along to future generations given that a written history was forbidden by the British, Bless their Hearts (as my Southern Family would add). So while a visit to Ireland is an important prescription for a healthy life, a visit for an Irish descendant living anywhere else in the world is as important as breathing itself! Note: Since I was a leprechaun in a previous lifetime, I fit into a special category of those who need to return to restoreth the soul and spirit).

I tried for the last couple of years, since I saw the film, Dare to Be Wild, to buy a DVD of  the film, tracing my way to living, breathing  Mary Reynolds, about whom this feature film was produced.  With the help of my very dear friend Mark Leslie, whose family owns Castle Leslie in County Monaghan where Paul McCartney, referred to as “Paul McCarthy,” by Uncle Jack, Sir John Leslie,  married Heather Mills and where my husband and I hosted the wedding guests and the wedding events of a family member where the friends and family of the groom and the friends of the bride were our guests for a three-day stay at the castle, I was able to reach Mary’s email and mobile phone! Mark knows everything and everybody and is my go-to resource for more than you can imagine!  Happily, the wedding we made possible at Castle Leslie  seems to have worked as, unlike Paul and Heather, they are still married. They truly belong together.

Broadcast travel expert Stephanie Abrams with Uncle Jack, Sir John Leslie, at Castle Leslie celebrating Sammy Leslie’s 40th birthday and Uncle Jack’s 90th!

Q. What do you give someone, whose family trust just invested 20 million euro improving the castle and grounds, for her 40th birthday?

A.  A horse I made from parts bought at Target, created into Castle Leslie’s Equestrian Centre’s Princess  imported to Ireland & assembled there!

Today, I received a note from Sammy (Samantha) Leslie, alerting me to a facebook posting by Mary Reynolds who was clearly Born to be associated with all things Wild. . . but not in the sense you are jumping to conclude. Mary was clearly born to be immersed among all things wild and is a poster child for Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way (although she lives across Ireland in County Wicklow almost as far east as one can get in Ireland).  But I  think Mary identifies in her heart and soul and spirit with the “wild things”. . . the flowers and grasses and naturally occurring plants that the birds and bees and wind and The Lord have planted in a mystical process  where, even in County Clare where The Burren, a huge area abutting the Atlantic Ocean, completely covered by slabs of stone deposited by the Ice Age’s meltdown, where  it is said, “You won’t find a thief or a tree to hang him from,” you will find, in the crevasses between the stone slabs, tiny wild flowers growing whose seeds have been deposited by birds flying over and the wind blowing in from France. It’s such a miracle to see, in this no-man’s-land with the care of the sun and Irish rain being the only gardener to nurture these plants, that there is beauty in this barren area so close to the Cliffs of Moher, that reflects that Irish spirit of, “You can’t keep us down!” And the Americans I know could so use a massive dose of Ireland!

Stephanie Abrams explores The Burren in County Clare Ireland with a horticulturist providing insights into every tiny flower growing between the slabs of stone seen in the background. Everyone in the group was provided with a shillelagh more to catch the spirit than to support walking through the uneven terrain!

So Sammy Leslie, the sister of the incredibly talented and creative Mark Leslie who is a consultant on my TV show, Travel TV WITH Stephanie Abrams, which is syndicated by BizTV to over 30 million television households and is available on the BixTV channel on ROKU  as well (Sundays when it’s 5pmET), sent me a note asking if I had seen Mary Reynold’s plea for the plants, and animals, of the planet. This missive so brings to mind and heart the scene in the Spielberg film, “ET,” where ET is pleading for the help he needs in order to survive.  Plants and flowers are connected to Mary Reynolds’ being in the same way, I believe. I  think that if conditions resulted in the demise of bees, whose populations are already in trouble, and butterflies, which we in western Massachusetts rarely see, and other animals that aid in growth and sustainability of wild flowers, I think that, like the Beast in Beauty and the Beast who wilts as the rose in the glass jar wilts, Mary will uniquely feel that pain as others might not.

Mark Leslie leads a private tour for Stephanie to visit The Yeats Exhibit at the National Library in Dublin. . .  a not to be missed exhibit that is FREE because it is funded by Ireland’s Office of Public Works. When you leave this exhibit, you’ll feel as though you’ve just left an afternoon having tea with William Butler Yeats, your good friend. Special thanks to Mark Leslie and his company, Martello Media, based in Co. Dubliln, for their genius in bringing history, culture, literature, and visitor’s experiences at exhibitions and museums to life in a very special way!

I thought you might want to read what Mary had to say and so I invite you to click here to reach my facebook page where I have posted Mary Reynold’s remarks. And, please, treat yourself to viewing “Dare to Be Wild” by whatever means you can, Netflix or otherwise, to view the film. You’ll thank me for it. Everybody needs a swift kick in the pants to unsettle his/her complacency and get up and do the impossible. . . which is what my friends in Ireland do everyday and they do it with a determination, a passion for perfection, a sense of pride and a focus on  accomplishment wrapped up in a sense of humor.  Ya gotta luv ‘em!

Slan agus beannacht to one and all. . . (go Google it!). . . and an early start to celebrating Saint Patrick on his day which, happily is on Sunday so tune in for “Celebrating Saint Patrick in Northern Ireland” on the BizTV Network nationally, on ROKU, and simulcast online at BizTV.com!

Travel TV WITH Stephanie Abrams broadcasts on TV, on ROKU, and online Sundays at 5pmET globally. Checkout BizTV.com

.Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams broadcasts coast-to-coast in the US on BizTalkRadio Network & streams live on Sundays from 6-9pmET coast-to-coast.

Herself the Elf,


Travel TV WITH Stephanie Abrams Debuts Season 2 with Episode 19: “Florida’s Fab Five” Featuring Biltmore, Pelican Grand, Betsy, Perry & Diplomat Hotels Plus Retrospective Celebration of Season 1
February 10th, 2019

If you want to celebrate a benchmarking occasion, there’s a resort in Florida to fit every lifestyle and budget while offering memorable experiences in grand style, according to travel expert, Stephanie Abrams, rated by Travel Agent Magazine as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women In Travel.  “That’s the reason I chose South Florida as the location for programming for Season 2’s launch of Travel TV WITH Stephanie Abrams which broadcasts today, coast-to-coast and in Hawaii, to over thirty million TV households and available on ROKU on BizTV Network channel in the 5pmET time slot. “ Four of the resorts we featured in Season 2’s Episode 19: ‘Florida’s Fab Five,’ are within an hour of one another and the fifth is a gorgeous three hour drive south of Miami in Key West.  Each of the hotels is splendid and spectacular in its own unique way from the historic and over-the-top Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, to the British Colonial style beachfront Pelican Grand Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale  to South Beach’s oceanfront The Betsy to the laid-back nautically inspired Perry Hotel in Key West that was quickly recognized at its debut as one of the 12 New Best Designed Hotels of 2017 by Architectural Digest and saving the casual elegance of Hollywood’s beachfront The Diplomat for our last stop as the icing on our celebration cake,” Abrams explains. “It’s like a walk through a pastry shop of delectable hotels each beckoning you to come over and take a bite of their yumminess!”

Hotels featured in Season 2’s debut are among Abrams’ favorites in Florida. “Viewers will learn why as we tour properties  with their owners and general managers to learn what makes each special, “ Abrams notes. “The general managers or owners have been guests on my nationally syndicated radio shows, ‘Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams’ and ‘Travelers411’ heard coast-to-coast and on available on  TuneIn Radio and iHeartRadio. With our radio and TV broadcasts we reach travelers in key markets such as Boston, New York City, Connecticut, New Jersey, Long island, Westchester and Rockland Counties, Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, Honolulu and Maui and the list goes on and on, I’m thrilled to say!”

Episode 19 presents the show’s birthday celebration with a retrospective of Season 1 features including Malta, Greece, Ireland, Canada, Costa Rica, and US destinations. “Viewers cruised, traveled by Amtrak and Ireland Rail Tours First Class, enjoyed cooking demos aboard Celestyal Cruise Lines and went ‘Castle Hopping’ in Ireland.  Our viewers experienced  monkeys and manatees to Malta! Season 2 invites viewers to come along for the ride!” Abrams concludes. Season 2 begins today, Sunday, February 10th in the 5pmEastern Time Zone time slot globally. Shows can be seen streaming live at BizTV.com and are available at BizTV’s Video On Demand as well (BVOD).

Television stations and household reach in the US for Travel TV WITH Stephanie Abrams on the BizTV Network are listed below:

Call Letters Designated Market Area State Households
TV 51.5 Alexandria MN 10,000
WANN – 32.1 Atlanta GA
WTBS  26.1 Atlanta GA
WTBS  9.1 Atlanta GA 2,582,640
WBPI TV 49.2 Augusta GA 265,000
WBXA – TV 24.1 Birmingham AL 740,000
WFXZ – TV 24.1 Boston MA 3,060,000
WBXC – TV 46.2 Champaign IL 386,000
WTZP – 50 Charleston-Huntington WV 170,000
WCSN – TV 32.6 Columbus OH 930,000
SWCOTV 31.1 Cortez CO 4,000
KAZD 55.6 Dallas TX 2,571,310
WBXF – TV 28.1 Des Moines IA 431,300
SLTV – TV 28 Eugene OR 60,000
WBCF – TV 10.3 Florence AL 88,900
KGMC – TV 43 Fresno CA 674,000
K27FI – TV 16.5 Frost MN 5,000
K16CG – TV 16.5 Godahl MN 5,000
TV 41.1 Granite Falls MN 2,864
KITM – TV 2 Honolulu HI 650,000
K23FO – TV 16.5 Jackson MN 7,000
WBXJ – TV 43.1 Jacksonville FL 670,000
KFLA – TV 8.4 LA CA 7,000,000
KHMP – TV 18.2 Las Vegas NV
KPVT – TV 2.1 Las Vegas NV 800,000
KPVT – TV 2.2 Las Vegas NV
WYAT – 40 Martinsville VA 75,000
WPMF – TV 17 Miami FL 1,500,000
WBXM – TV 41.1 Montgomery AL 245,000
W24EC – 24.2 Nags Head NC 40,000
Channel Master National US 50,000
KQTI 8.2 Salt Lake City UT 125,000
WSWF TV 10 Orlando FL 2,350,000
WUBX – TV 31.2 Raleigh/Durham NC 1,143,420
KRMF – TV 7.3 Reno NV 271,000
KCNL-LD  3.1 Reno NV 271,000
KZTC – TV 7 San Diego CA 1,077,600
WOBV – TV 5 Starkville MS 25,000
WSPF – TV 35.4 Tampa FL 1,788,000
KBAX -TV 27.4 Twin Falls ID 70,000
Total Full Time Household Reach 30,144,034
Plus Households who have ROKU on their TVs and all who watch online at BizTV.com on their computers, iPads and mobile phones!

]TRAVEL TV WITH STEPHANIE ABRAMS BROADCASTS LIVE ON SUNDAYS FROM 5-6PM ET.

Video on Demand is available at BizTV.com.

Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams radio show is syndicated by BizTalkRadio Network and streams live from 6-9pm ET at their website  as well as heard on radio coast-to-coast.

Join us every weekend for 7 hours of shows on radio and TV exclusively about travel!


NPR’s Northeast Public Radio Presents Travel Agent with Questionable Answers
November 29th, 2018

Yesterday, I listened to a radio show host on Northeast Public Radio that I truly enjoy. His name is Ray Graf. He is often the best part of a guest’s appearance keeping the show topics pertinent, lively, entertaining, insightful and informative. He fields emailed questions and often takes callers to the live show. But when the subject turns to travel, I often want to jump through the radio and make the guest’s appearance more of panel discussion so I can get my two-cents into the mix. Yesterday was one of those occasions.

It started out with Ray introducing a travel agent from the region who was there to answer audience questions and discuss the overview and fine points, as best as one can within the restrictions of time that a radio show naturally imposes, of well-crafted answers.  I pounced on the phone to call in to respond to a less-than-complete answer to Ray’s lead-off question which was, in essence, “Where can you go at this time of year when it’s cold and snow is on the ground and you don’t want to spend a fortune to get away?”  The guest’s answer was, “Florida.”

That’s not a wrong answer. In fact, it’s a good answer as there are many destinations within Florida that provide a wide range of lodgings in every budget level. But Florida is not the only answer so I wanted to round out the scope, for the listeners, of what else might be appealing and, for that purpose, called the station’s call-in line.

I passed the screener’s muster and was put on-hold seemingly forever. During that time, during which I became convinced they are never putting me on the air, I was able to hear the show in progress and, with each question asked by email or phone call, I had more to share and was making notes like simultaneous translator at the United Nations!  The guest’s answers were, in general, not wrong. They were, however, woefully incomplete, providing just enough information to be dangerous.

By the time I was put on the air, which came as a great surprise to me as I was certain by that point that that wouldn’t happen, my list of items that needed to be addressed had reached a point where the first question about where to go in the winter that isn’t a fortune and has “pizzazz,” and won’t break the bank, was no longer the first and most important item to share with Ray’s audience.  And while I got to give what I believed to be important insights, they clearly couldn’t devote a disproportionate amount of time to my input as, at the end of the day, it’s still a radio show with time restrictions, so I never got to what had started out as the reason I called.

I’m hoping that the next time travel is the focus on that station that they’ll think of me as I’d love to be a panel member to round out and beef-up the information offered but I’d like to share with you some of the items that came up that I believe are important to travelers for which more specific/focused/in-depth information needs to be provided. So, here are the answers to the questions asked yesterday on a show you probably didn’t hear but have importance to all travelers anyway!

Q.1. Where to go in winter when you want warmer weather than you’ll find in the northeast of the US and don’t want to break the bank:

A.1. Think Mediterranean! The southern coastline of Europe is lowest of low season now through sometime in April with the exception of Christmas/New Year’s and Easter Holidays periods. You can find low coast air transportation roundtrip and the cheapest way to get to destinations like Portugal’s Algarve, Madeira, Spain’s Costa del Sol, the Canary Islands,  The Balearic Islands, France’s Riviera, southern regions of Italy, Malta, and Morocco is  to fly to Dublin  . . .Aer Lingus has fares to Dublin under $500 at this time of year roundtrip inclusive of taxes, fees and a checked bag and meals, such as they are, and Norwegian Airlines has fares about half of that (a subject that specifically came up later so see below). Once in Dublin, check out Ryan Air’s fares. Just be sure to note the weight for checked luggage on Ryan Air as compared to your transatlantic carrier and pack for the smaller amount of allowable checked (and carry-on) baggage. Ryan Air often has fares of 9 Euros with tax about 14 Euros so starting at about $30 each way you can get from Dublin to an amazing number of destinations in Europe. And, in addition to weather in the 60- 75 degrees Fahrenheit range you can enjoy beach destinations (and heated and indoor pools) as well as historic and spiritual sights, great food, no crowds and great rates wherever you go! Check with a travel agent for packages that are very competitive air/land packages or fly/drive packages for the adventurous! You’ll be shocked by how much less expensive it is to go to Europe in the winter than to Florida or the Caribbean and live at a much higher standard in Europe than your budget will buy closer to home.

Important note: Check with Aer Lingus about their Free Stopover in Each Direction and if they are still offering that, take advantage of it. With most airlines that connect in their hub/flagship location, if you want to break the trip in either direction and spend some time in that connecting city, there is a handsome charge for that privilege. Aer Lingus  has been offering, for some time now, a free stopover in either or both directions. So if you were going to Malta or Paris, or Madrid or Italy or wherever you’re interested in going, you could fly to Dublin with Aer Lingus, spend some time and get over jetlag in Dublin, fly on to your final destination and, on your return, overnight for however long your ticket allows and then fly home from Dublin without incurring charges for stopover privileges. You will also find that flying “Beyond” the carrier’s home country generally provides a significant savings over flying non-stop to the country on its proprietary carrier. That is so that the connecting carrier can get you to fly BEYOND their homebased routes with them. So flying with Air France to Rome or Israel with Iberia may well be cheaper than flying non-stop with Alitalia or El Al. But flying to Ireland is often the cheapest way in to connect with a low coast carrier to go the rest of the way and the saving can be thousands of dollars!

Planning a walking trip? Try the trails of St. Patrick and Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland!

And the Republic of Ireland offers so many  walking and hiking opportunities along scenic routes with every level of dexterity accounted for!

Q.2. I want to take a walking/hiking trip. Should I go alone? How do I find a group to travel with?

A.2. The right answer is to go to www.ASTA.org, the American Society of Travel Agents and fill in the form for “find a travel agent” where you choose by verified specialists in destinations and niche market interests in travel. I just did that and there are 8 pages of agents to connect with who specialize in “Great Outdoors!”  Just going online to find some agent or quasi-tour operator like throwing a dart at a board is not the best solution. In this sometimes chaotic world, I wouldn’t recommend taking off on a walking tour alone, although the guest-travel-agent was supportive of that idea. Even a twisted ankle on a hike when you’re alone in a bad cell zone can present some daunting and unnecessary problems. There is safety in number and working with an agent/agency experienced in hiking, walking and bicycling tours is a great start to being put on trails that offer more than scenic beauty along the route. Most have vans that trail along nearby in case of unexpected need and they carry your baggage while you walk with just your back pack and thermos, catching up with you at the end of the walk at the next place you will stay at along the route.  The time it would take an inexperienced visitor to a new destination to figure out where to walk, where to stay, where to eat, especially for a walking/hiking trip is daunting and leaves too much to chance! You want this to be a dream trip, not a nightmare! The same info goes for choosing a company to sort out your horseback riding trip on trails and/or beaches!

Q.3. I  want to go to Iceland in  . Is that a good time to go?

A.3.  The guest travel agent says, “No. It’s cold there in May.” Let me trouble you with the facts. Firstly, if you want to go anywhere. . . anywhere. . . in the world and you want good weather, the best month of the year planet-wide is MAY! The weather is gorgeous everywhere in May and the best you will get for whatever the destination for the year in terms of mild and not extremes of weather conditions. You can expect very little rain in Iceland in May in the range of 1.65 inches for the month and tends to be light rainfalls with no snow unless you are up at the higher elevations in the mountains, which is no different from what you’d find in any destination with tall mountains where you see snowcaps year ‘round. The average temperature in Iceland from May to September is 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit with highs around 70 degrees in summer. I would not designate this as “too cold” to visit in May.  I live in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. Our average temperatures in May are between lows of around 43 degrees and highs around 66 and expected rainfall of 4.21 inches. I think this listener didn’t get the best guidance with the answer of No-Go-May! Gee, I hope he reads this blog!

If you’d like to know more about Iceland, do a SEARCH on this site for ‘Iceland’ and click to hear archived interviews, read stories and see photos.

Tale time to pose for a photo with a giant-sized reproduction of a ‘Perfect Guinness,’ something that’s next to impossible to get in the US!

You can take a quickie Master Class in Pouring the Perfect Guinness and do all of the above at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.

If you’re a guest at The Morgan or other fine hotels in Dublin, ask the concierge for a Fast Pass which will allow you to bypass the huge line

that can take hours to pass through to get to the  admissions ticket counter inside. You still have to buy the ticket but  you go to the front  of that long line outside!

When the weather is less  than pleasant, you really don’t want to be waiting 2 or 3 hours in the cold, damp, wind or rainy conditions. Or  go with me! We always have sunshine in Ireland. . .we bring it with us!

Q.4. I want to go to Ireland for 6 nights. Can I see Dublin, Galway and the southern area visiting Killarney?

A.4. You may know that I am just finishing my first travel guide, “1001 Reasons to Visit Ireland” and while I’d love to see the visitor have more than 8 nights, the answer the caller should have gotten is that it can be done and done well if you follow a bit of advice. Like the travel agent, I’d prefer the traveler to have more time and invest more time in each place visited but if you only have 6 nights and you have a burning desire to see more, here is some good and workable advice:

1. Fly to Dublin. Take a taxi to your Dublin hotel. Invest 2 nights in Dublin because the first day you’ll be getting over jetlag.  On your third day, buy into (make reservations in advance),  Railtours Ireland First Class which leaves early in the morning and takes you westward to Limerick where you’re met by a motor coach that takes you to the Cliffs of Moher and more and ends up in Galway. Most people have dinner in Galway and return to Dublin on the train. Instead, let them know you plan to depart in Galway. You may not get a discount for not returning with the train but this way you get a solid day of sightseeing and a marvelous train experience and this puts you in Galway on the third night. Overnight at your pre-arranged hotel with plans to pick up a car in Galway on the 4th day.  Drive from Galway to Killarney for night no. 4, then onward any number of good spots to stop between County Kerry and County Dublin for night no. 5, perhaps Kinsale or Athlone or Glasson (try the Glasson Country House and Golf Club  for good food, great accommodations and a round of golf await you or Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone where an indoor pool and Leisure Centre right on the lake will provide some rest, relaxation and a great fitness center, and on to Co. Dublin for night no. 6. I’d recommend, since you’ve already had  2 nights in Dublin, that you overnight in a spot convenient to getting to the airport on the 7th day. Try The Beacon, just off the M50, in Sandyford. Parking is free which is a big asset given that you’ll pay somewhere between $50 -$70 for a night of parking in Dublin Town and driving in Dublin is not fun! Also consider Clontarf Castle, an historic Norman Castle with every modern amenity that is 10 minutes from downtown Dublin City Centre and a quick hop to the airport. Great place, great location, marvelous wrap-up to a trip to Ireland!

2. It’s a 2 hour drive from Dublin to Galway and there are lots of places along the route. So, if, on your first day in Dublin, you visit the Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College, have lunch at The Bank, 20-22 College Green just next to Trinity’s campus and then walk about a block to the left when you exit The Bank, make another left onto Fleet Street and half-a-block in stay at the newly refurbished Morgan Hotel, you’ll be in Temple Bar and in a great spot for going wherever you want to go in Dublin on Day 2.  Somewhere around 4pm, jump into your rental car and drive the 2 hours to Galway and overnight there your second night and then pick up the itinerary above. You can spend one or 2 nights in Galway and carry on from there. Do you best to come up with another 3 to 4 days  or more as you will not want to leave Ireland or start planning our next trip while you are there!

Stop at Junction 23 on the  M7 Motorway in  Moneygall, Co. Offaly, Ireland on your way to or from Dublin and Galway, Ireland. Moneygall is where Obama’s Irish ancestor was from! This link will take you to an archived interview about the Moneygall-Obama connection!

3. Later, another caller called to ask about Norwegian Airlines flying to Norway from airports on the east coast including New York’s Stewart Airport.  The travel agent warned not to be seduced by the very cheap fares because there are hidden add on costs for baggage and for food. Please note the following: You can fly  non-stop from Stewart to Dublin (and you can fly to Cork International Airport from Providence, RI) roundtrip for ridiculously low rates . . .often under $200 or under $300 roundtrip including all taxes and fees. They have 4 levels of fares: Low fare if no-frills. You might be paying $179 to $249 ROUNDTRIP but if you want to be serve meals on board you need to add $45 to that roundtrip fare for your dinner and breakfast. The alternative: By what you want to eat at the airport and carry it on-board. Remember that it’s about a 5 hour flight so you don’t really need a meal if you eat the airport before boarding and bring a snack along! If  you buy the next level of fare, Low Fare+, that includes one checked piece of luggage per person and food service on-board and that fare is, generally, $30 more roundtrip so it’s a still a bargain and you don’t have those extra fees. So the fare that is $249-no-frills turns out to about $279 all-in ROUNDTRIP! You can’t get very far in the US on that fare. . .you’ll be lucky to fly someplace one-way for that fare and you’re not crossing the Atlantic to do it! But the travel agent left the impression that it’s cheap fare and then you pay for everything which is not the case. There is another fare called Flex which includes even more and is still a bargain and on DreamLiner flights there is a Premium Class which is still like flying First Class in terms of seat size, legroom and amenities but is, essentially, coach fares on any other airline and you’ll fly roundtrip for a fraction of what other carriers charge. The glib info on this carrier did a disservice to the caller. A subsequent caller testified that she took a Norwegian Air flight and that it was more than satisfactory. The plane was clean and the service was good and she’d do it again!

Q.5. A gentleman called about losing the value of his airline ticket cancelled flight due to medical conditions that he’d like to recoup now 22 months later. Ray asked the travel agent representative if there was an advocate he could go to negotiate with the airline and she said, “No.”

A.5  I wouldn’t give up that quickly.  While Adria Gross may not want to undertake this case, she just might or she might be able to recommend someone who would so I’d contact her first. Adria generally advocates for people who have insurance and the insurance company is finding reasons not to pay off! Visit her website at AdriaGross.com.

Q.6. Do I need a visa to go to Cuba and what about going to Cuba through Canada?

A.6. Yes, you will need a visa and you will need to adhere to very specific requirements related to the reason for our trip. Joy rides are still not allowed as we have not reached that level of ‘familiarity’ with the Cuban government.  The part left out by the travel agent guest on radio was that: As an American citizen, you are subject to all US regulations no matter how you arrive in Cuba. So if you fly in from Canada, Mexico, Jamaica or London, England or you cruise in from somewhere, it won’t make a difference to the US government as you need to obey US regulations. And there are stiff penalties for hotshots who get caught trying to beat the system so I wouldn’t go there!  Going through a tour operator who knows what they are doing is a good start. Anytime you need assistance with passport and/or visa services, try Travisa. The company has been around for decades and they can literally get you whatever you need within 48 hours if it’s a rush job. You’ll pay a bit extra for rush service but when you need what  you need when you need it you’ll find they are super reliable no matter what the situation

Q.7. Ray Graf asked, “How do you know where in the world is safe to travel.”

A.7. I was disturbed by the travel agent’s answer because safety issues are different from where is the best beach. If you make a mistake and choose a black volcanic ash beach instead of your preference of a pink beach like the crushed shell beaches of Bermuda, it won’t kill you. But choosing a destination that could be dangerous is quite another question and deserves an answer more serious than the glib response instructing travelers not to be afraid and just go. So I got to address this one on the air and I suggested that if you have concerns about safety factors in a destination, your best resource are http://www.travel.state.gov. This website is part of the US State Department’s information for travelers online and includes a spot to click for Travel Advisories. The US government issues up-to-the-minute information on hotspots globally and flags these alerts indicating whether you caution or special attention is advised or if this is a destination that should only be traveled to if there is no other choice in your life often designating “no non-essential travel” as the polite way of telling you not to go to whatever place it is. Given that the world is a big and exciting amusement park for travelers with so many wonderful choices, I go by the rule that I don’t go anywhere where I might not come back in the same  or  better condition from when I left home. Why put yourself in the potential of harm’s way? That doesn’t mean, “Don’t Travel.” That means, “Travel Richly. . . Travel Well. . .Travel Safely.” Hard as it is to imagine, the travel agent on the air with Ray Graf launched into defensive mode and tried to equate the scenario of a doctor wanting to prescribe a medication and providing you with a list of all of the awful things that could happen to you if you take this medication trying to apply the faux-logic that you’ll take the meds and nothing bad will happen to YOU. . .maybe. That’s really not the same story especially when there is the downside risk that you if you don’t take the meds you could also get sicker or die! But you have choices in your life and people you love that depend on you that you don’t want to abruptly up and leave! Often, the US government advisories are posted for a few days or a few weeks and then conditions change. This was the case when a truck driven by a terrorist mowed down people on the promenade along the Mediterranean in France, when riots took place in Paris, when general strikes took place in Athens, and so on. It doesn’t mean “Never go to these places.” It means you might want to consider if you  want your business trip or holiday inconvenienced by whatever is going on at that destination or if you want to risk getting a load of buckshot sent in your direction on purpose or by accident. The right response of the guest travel agent would have been, “Yes, that’s an excellent place to go to get travel advisory information,” instead of trying to prove that her approach of “just go and you’ll be taking no more risk than taking a pill that has proven negative side effects,” is the advice to be followed. Sorry, no agreement there!

Also note: travel.state.gov is your go-to place for info on travel to Cuba and any other questionable destination and you will find State Department protocol for interacting with people in foreign destinations. This is important for leisure trips but is even more important for business trips as you don’t want  to offend people at a meeting doing something you find so natural and normal that is so offensive and insulting to  them that you’ll never get a deal with them and you’ll never know why they weren’t interested in you, your company, product and/or service. For instance, there are so many cultural differences in Asia:

  1. If you are in Asia and you are talking with people there, never point when gesturing or making a point. If your finger tip points directly at a person, they will find that very insulting.
  2. When going to Asia on business, bring a wrapped gift and try to bring one representative of the US  or the regions of  the US you come from. If you are from Vermont, you might want to bring a tin container that looks like a log cabin and is filled with Vermont maple syrup. Bring something manufactured in your region or a coffee table book with lots of great photos. You start your meeting off with the “presentation of gifts” and they will have a gift for you so you don’t want to look foolish not knowing this is expected.
  3. Learn to sit with both feet planted on the floor. It won’t make a difference if your feet are under a table, but if your legs are in plain view while sitting on a sofa or chair, if you cross your legs, there’s a good chance that the toe of your shoe will be pointing at someone directly. Ah, me! Very insulting in Asian culture! You can lose a deal and never know why!
  4. In the US, we seem to be focused on efficiency. If you’re at a boardroom table and need to get your business card to someone at the other end, you just might put it on the slippery high-gloss finish or glass-topped table and give it a shove like a hockey puck to shoot it to the other end of the table. OUT OF THE QUESTION in Asia. Even handing your business card using only one hand to give it to someone is a no-no! If you do that you are seen as inconsiderate and careless and insulting. To properly hand someone in Asia your business card, or someone from Asia visiting you in your office, grasp your card in the upper corners with the thumb and index finger of each hand and gently extend the card forward with both hands. As an added courtesy, you might want to bend a bit forward as you hold it out. The Asian person will present his/her card in the same manner. When you have given your card, you can then grasp their card in the same respectful fashion.  Not a big deal to do but a very big deal if you offhandedly chuck your card at them with one hand or toss it downstream to someone. You’ll be seen as boorish and rude! Protocol for every destination and culture can be found at the US State Department’s website. Your investment of time is worth the effort and you’ll also find info on monetary currency, electric current and other rules, laws and customs that you should be aware of to enhance your travels.

NOW HOW IS THIS FOR IRONY:

Fascinatingly, at the very end of the show, Ray Graf asked the agent where she is off to next. I had to laugh when she responded, “Portugal and Morocco!” Guess why? At this time of year it’s warm and offers low  season rates on airfare, hotels and everything else  travelers would want in an environment where San Diego weather abounds in unique and historic destinations with so much adventure for so little expense!  Why didn’t she say that when asked where to at a bargain to get away from winter weather?!

Clearly, when I finish writing “1001 Reasons to Visit Ireland,” I need to contemplate writing,” A Serious Traveler’s Guide to the World!”  There is so much one needs to know and relying on anonymous tips for total strangers posted in reviews online is not the best methodology for getting the information you really need!

Travel Richly,

Your Personal Travel Expert

Herself the Elf,

Stephanie


Broadcast Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams Heads for South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida to Produce TV & Radio Features & Present Her Novel RUMORS at The Betsy Hotel
November 2nd, 2018

Hotelier and recognized philanthropist, Jonathan Plutzik, is hosting a reception at The Betsy Hotel on November 8th at 5pm at his luxury oceanfront property on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach’s South Beach , to feature travel industry expert and broadcaster Stephanie Abrams and her novel, “RUMORS,” as part of the hotel’s Artist in Residence at The Betsy Writer’s Room Residency Program. Interested parties are welcome.

Abram s interviewed Plutzik last year to learn how The Betsy Hotel had weathered Hurricane Irma. “That interview, is archived at sAbrams.com and travelers411.com. Happily, The Betsy was unscathed! We discussed The Betsy’s support of the arts, artists and authors. I told Jonathan about my novel, RUMORS, and he invited me to participate in their Author in Residence program.  I’m looking forward to meeting hotel guests and local folks at this  admission-free!” Abrams  states.  “While there, I will produce features for my travel radio and television shows! It’s a uniquely wonderful hotel in a priceless location in vibrant South Beach. I’m producing features charming hotels globally and The Betsy will have a key spot! It’s a great place!”

Asked about ‘RUMORS,’ Abrams says, “Reviewers describe RUMORS as: ‘fast paced, full of twists and turns, a real page turner filled with conspiracies, lies, lust, love, an undercurrent of underworld intrigue and a who-dunnit’  noting that they can’t put it down! I’ll answer questions about RUMORS and travel, too!”

Abrams radio shows are heard coast-to-coast including on eight radio stations in Florida and four TV stations in Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville plus forty million TV households in the US. Key markets such Boston, Los Angeles, Dallas Houston, and as far away as Hawaii broadcast her TV shows which is available to users of ROKU  and online access.  Coast-to-coast radio stations plus availability to 100,000,000 subscribers to iHeartRadio on the BizTalkRadio Network, iTunes, apps and online availability create strong outreach to Abrams audience of travelers.  Stations can be found at sabrams.com/blog.


You Can Vote for Your Favorite States & Senators by Where You Invest Your Tourism & Business Travel Dollars!
October 6th, 2018
Because of how close today’s senatorial vote was, there’s a good chance that half the country is annoyed with statements and votes cast by about half of the senators. You’ve been told you can “get even” when Election Day comes around but that’s only one way you can vote. There’s another way to vote that even non-citizens, alien resident green card holders, visitors and those who have no legal documentation to be or stay in the US and that is by voting with your dollars and your credit availability on your credit cards . . . and this go for all those in the US, not just one side or the other. This link
will take you to the list of how each senator voted and the state that that senator represents. Every state in this geographically beautiful country has a tourism sector that pumps hotel taxes and revue generated into the economy by people who have come to visit. If you want to make an immediate, pre-election/post-election impact on any state by casting your vote with your dollars, have a look at those who voted the way you would have wanted them to and, based on that, either plan to go there, have your reunion there, have your next meeting/convention/conference there, have your destination wedding there. . . or plan never to invest a penny of your travel dollars in that state. Some of the most vocal folks in this process come from states that rely on tourism as a generator of revenue to boost their economy from hotels, restaurants, cruise experiences, mountain retreats, attractions and great fresh foods, and, if they are near the ocean, seafood. You’ll either want to go there and buy as many products that come from that state to show your support or, in essence, cross that state off your “must visit” list as your economic vote with your wallet! It’s amazing what punching a place in its income stream will do to get their attention. It’s always nice to go places where you feel like people are on the same page with you so consider that in your travel plans and in what you buy that comes from those places. Support those places that are in line with your philosophies and interests. I started voting with my dollars as it relates to goods from China years ago. And, if you’re going to buy American, buy products from states whose senators support your philosophies, whatever they are. Sometimes, economic indicators get a whole lot more attention than votes at the ballot box and nobody can ‘meddle” in the casting of your dollar votes.
Pass it on. . . .and here’s the list of which senators voted yea and nay and the state that each represents. . . https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/06/us/politics/kavanaugh-live-vote-senate-confirmation.html
Plan you leisure, group, and business travel accordingly. Every destination has competitors that, essentially, offer the same thing. America is overrun with great coastal beaches, fabulous inns and hotels, wonderful restaurants, unique attractions and marvelous events. If you want to shift your yearly trip to a certain destination somewhere else, you can find other places that offer the same thing, go have a new experience, and let that state you’ve been loyal to know by your absence of spending money in that state that you’re not entirely pleased with the way they voted today. This certainly comes under my concept of “Intentional Travel.” Add one more value to your travel experiences by knowing you are supporting tourism in a place where you are traveling among friends.

Did You Enjoy Film “Waking Ned Devine?” Did You Know It’s Not Filmed in Ireland?
October 3rd, 2018

If you go to BizTV.com and visit the archived Vide0-on-Demand (BVOD) for Travel TV WITH Stephanie Abrams, you’ll find, at this point, the first 13 episodes of my one-hour weekly travel show which debuted this year. While there are episodes about the wonderful islands that make up the country of Malta, episodes about travel by Amtrak, program content focused on Amazing Attractions in Massachusetts and New York as well as Dutchess County, New York and two episodes on Greece and cruising the Greek Islands and part of Turkey, you will find six (6) shows about Ireland. Were it not for the debut of Travel TV WITH Stephanie Abrams this past February, my “almost completed” first travel guide, “1001 Reasons to Visit Ireland” would be published and in the marketplace. Hopefully, that will happen sooner rather than later! But note that my designation as a travel expert is not a frivolous designation which is why, in watching the marvelous comedy, “Waking Ned Devine,” this  past weekend, after not having seen it since it first came to theaters years and years and years ago, it occurred to me that the scenery depicting  the village where the story takes place, which is supposed to be in County Galway, Ireland, looks like no place in Ireland I’ve every seen! And the more I watched the film, the more I was convinced that I was not looking  at anyplace in Ireland.

So, as I normally do anyway, I carefully read thru the credits at the end of the film to see where in Ireland they might indicate where this film was shot. . . and, lo and behold, I  was right! Waking Ned Devine was not filmed in Ireland at all! It was filmed on the Isle of Man! The irony is that  we have, twice in the last month, interviewed people about travel to the Isle of Man! Check out the show notes on the home page here at sAbrams.com to hear the archived audio and click on Podcasts at Travelers411.com to down load those interviews with the General Manager of the Regency Hotel on the Isle  of Man and traveler Chris Fitzgerald, a Stephanie Abrams Travel Fairy Godmother traveler, who returned from the Isle of Man a couple of weeks ago talking about his experience.

Such fun  to spot the inconsistencies in the fantasies brought to us on the big screen! And be sure to keep up your travel education watching my new TV show  and catching VOD at BizTV.com!


Plan Now for Spine-Tingling Holiday Spirits Uplift with the Boston Pops!
September 13th, 2018

Seth MacFarlane Joins New Year’s Eve at The Pops at Boston Symphony Hall!

An outing with the Boston Pops is always an uplifting experience any time of year but there’s nothing that will lift your spirits of the holiday season more or faster than an encounter with Holiday Pops! Attending a Pops concert at Boston Symphony Hall is like no other concert experience! The concert hall is designed with comfortable theater seats but they are fabricated in groups of rows anchored to wooden sections that are removable! So when the Boston Pops are performing, the orchestra level seating is completely removed from its tracks and a different floor is “popped in for the Pops!” And, instead of theater-style seating, cocktail tables and chairs are put in place so that you can order from their cabaret-style menu and enjoy lite-fare and drinks while being gleefully entertained by the Boston Pops. The additional “pops” sounds will be coming from bottles of champagne being uncorked during the concert. . . and that’s an expected feature anytime the Pops are performing at Boston Symphony Hall. But then there’s the added treasure of Holiday Pops!

Ah, yes, Holiday Pops! Where to begin. . .

While you may think about Holiday Pops being focused on Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations, Boston Pops of recent years has embraced Halloween programming and this year there are performances of the musical score of Psycho by the Pops while you view the entire film, “Psycho!” That will get you into the spooky Halloween spirit with this classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller designed to make your spine tingle! Catch one of the two performances. . .or go to both. . . October 29 and October 31 at 8pm.

How marvelous that Boston Pops programming includes special Children’s Matinee performances at 11:00 AM December 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, & 24for families with very young children (so everyone in attendance can feel comfortable being there with their toddlers and older children)! Going to any of these performances is sheer magic for the whole family but what a wonderful way to begin Christmas Eve with the December 24th 11am performance of the Pops and a visit to see Boston decorated for Christmas in its Holiday Best!

And Holiday Pops is taking its show on the road to a concert venue that may be easy for you to reach:

Dec 02

2018

Sunday, 2:00 PM

State Theatre Brunswick New Jersey

Dec 02

2018

Sunday, 8:00 PM

Tilles Center for the Performing Arts Greenvale NY

More Details >

Dec 03

2018

Monday, 7:30 PM

Proctor’s Theater Schenectady NY

More Details >

This link will take you to the complete listing of matinee and evening Boston Holiday Pops performances at Boston Symphony Hall with details on how to purchase tickets. May I urge you to plan now so that you are not disappointed as Holiday Pops is notorious for selling out early and you really don’t want to miss this truly awe-inspiring program designed to set your heart-to-singin’ in harmony with the season designed to thrill every member of the family!

The Pops has added, on December 29, two performances of the film, “Home Alone,” in concert with the score performed by the Boston Pops! Performances are schedule from 3pm and 7:30pm at Boston Symphony Hall. Don’t miss this! It’s incredible to experience watching a feature film where the musical score has been removed and you are hearing, live, the score perfectly synchronized with the film performed by the marvelous Boston Pops Orchestra! It’s incredible! This holiday favorite film is enhanced on the big screen with members of the Wellesley High School chorus adding to the Pops accompaniment!

And to say goodbye to 2018 and welcome the New Year, 2019, be at Boston Symphony Hall to Ring in the New Year with the Boston Pops on December 31 at 10:15pm. Party the night away with the Boston Pops and very special guest, Seth MacFarlane! There will be a cash bar and several dining options will be available. Doors open at 8:30pm.For details, click here!

Plan to enhance your Halloween, Christmas, Post-Christmas and New Year’s Eve experiences by including the Boston Pops Orchestra to uplift and brighten you festivities. Gather friends and family and have a ball! And check out BSO.org for year-round musical experiences to bring harmony into your life!


Plaza Athenee, NYC, Debuts Reimagined Accommodations But Excellent Food Service Prevails! Checkout These Recipes!
September 6th, 2018

So much new and wonderful is going on at the already fabulous Plaza Athenee Hotel in New York City. This luxurious property in a prime location for shopping, sightseeing, basing oneself for after-the-business-day decompression in relaxed elegance offers an oasis of pampering in the center of this city of hustle and bustle.  Now, with the debut of newly reimagined rooms and suites and other locations within the Old World elegance and charm that is New York City’s Plaza Athenee, if you’ve never stayed there, or if it’s been some time since your last visit, now is the time to book your space, especially in this fourth-quarter of the year which is always the busiest time of year in NYC!

I’m hoping to get the grand tour and share with you all that the Plaza Athenee has to offer in its updated form. . . frankly, for me, they didn’t need to do a thing as this hotel has always offered accommodations, public spaces and service that is as near perfection as possible to offer in an imperfect world. And I’m looking forward to dining at the Plaza Athenee as the food there is exceptional. The combination of great location, wonderful interior, a staff focused on exceeding the expectations of staff, and great food with suites that look like the elegant setting for a film about people who know how to live well, the Plaza Athenee should be the first place you think of for holding a benchmarking reception like a wedding, honeymoon, corporate reception, product launch, or celebrating your life and achievements!

I was born in Baltimore, Maryland, where people grow up dining on crabs from the Chesapeake Bay. When you meet someone who has spent their life in Baltimore, there’s a good chance that person is a connoisseur on seafood, in general, and crabs in particular. For that reason, I rarely order crab cakes anywhere but  in Maryland as other locations generally serve mashed potatoes with bread stuffing infiltrated by a flake of crab meat or two. For that reason, when I saw crab cakes offered on the menu  at Plaza Athenee in NYC I hesitated to order them. But our waiter assured us we would not be disappointed and this menu item is a wonderful yardstick to measure focus on quality of product and preparation. I will long  remember those wonderful crab cakes that I didn’t need to drive to Maryland to get!

Alfred Thomas, Executive Sous Chef at the Plaza Athenee, was kind enough to share their recipe with me so that I can share it with you. It’s certainly easier and more elegant and charming to be served this glorious dish in the hotel’s intimate environment, but have a go at the recipe so you’ll have a taste of the finished product as well as experience the generosity of the hotel’s willingness to share what others might regard as best-kept secrets!

Enjoy!

New York City’s Plaza Athenee Crab Cake Recipe. . . Authentically Delicious!

1 pound-jumbo Lump blue crab meat, picked over the shells

1/3 cup Mayonnaise

½ cup panko bread crumbs

1 large egg, beaten

2tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

3 dashes Tabasco

¼ small dice sweet bell pepper

½ teaspoon paprika

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoon vegetable oil/unsalted butter

-In a large mixing bowl, combine half of the crab meat, panko, eggs mustard, Worcestershire, tabasco and paprika. Season with salt and pepper and stir until thoroughly combined.

-Gently fold in the remaining half of crab meat and sweet red pepper, try not to break apart the lumps of meat as you stir, gently coat in bread crumbs and shape into 2oz patties and arrange on parchment-lined sheet pan.

-In a medium cast iron nonstick skillet, heat oil/or butter over medium-high heat. Add 2oz patties and cook and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown and finish in oven

Would love to hear your results. Go to travelers411.com to “Ask Stephanie” and let me know how your meal turned out and post some photos! Now if you think that was good, go to Plaza Athenee to rejoice in the moment to get the desired results without the work and clean-up! If you’re planning an event at the hotel, be sure to add their crab cakes to your hors d’oeurves, canapes, and main dish options! And do what I’ve done: find your cozy corner in the restaurant of the Plaza Athenee and treat yourself to the best!


Traveler’s Question at TripAdvisor:”Why should I waste my time talking with the Duty Manager?”
August 20th, 2018

I wound up reading a TripAdvisor review about a hotel in the Channel Islands on the island of Guernsey when I decided I should interview some hotelier(s) there after I just saw the new Netflix release,  “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,” which I thoroughly enjoyed!  While looking for hotels of interest to me and my audiences on air and online, I ran across a result from TripAdvisor in which a recent hotel guest there complained about a less-than-perfect experience. The question posed by the hotel guest in Guernsey became tangled up in my consideration of creating a feature about the destination as an outgrowth of my decision to focus on Mitchell Kaplan, the book fair attraction he has spearheaded and his role in bringing this film to life!

I decided I needed to read about the experience of that guest in Guernsey and consider whether or not to include that hotel in my next show that includes an interview with Mitchell Kaplan when we talk about his new film that takes place on Guernsey and expand that into a feature on Guernsey since his book stores and book fair, both attractions for travelers to Miami, act as the bridge to exploration of Guernsey as a tourism destination.

This period film, with wonderful scenery of Guernsey and costumes of the 1940’s is set during the Nazi occupation of this British island. I saw Mitchell Kaplan’s newest film on Netflix and decided two things:

1) I need to expand my radio interview with him  to talk about the film, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,” and the location on one of the Channel Islands on which it was filmed and. . .

2) I need to set the imaginations of my radio audiences loose as we talk with one or more hoteliers from the island about why travelers should opt to visit the Channel Islands, particularly Guernsey, in this case and get some sense of hotels that would be of interest to check into!

So I went to Google to find hotels in Guernsey that would interest me as the first  step in ferreting out hotels that would also be of interest to my audiences. And when I did that search, in addition to finding four (4) hoteliers and their hotels that I’d love to talk with and talk about, I also came across a link to reviews of hotels at TripAdvisor.

There was a hotel I had just looked at that was very appealing and I had jotted down the general manager’s name and telephone contacts for him and the hotel when I noticed a one-star review from a recent guest at the hotel. If you are a fan of my radio, and now TV, travel shows, you probably are aware that I don’t put a lot of stock into random reviews from anonymous people who may have never traveled before in their lives and, as  a result, get bent out of shape by things that could easily be remedied while at the hotel or resort rather than carrying on with internet postings once they are home, especially since most of the items I read that upset people are simple, to the point of being petty, and could easily be rectified.

I have since learned that there is a segment of travelers who make a business of complaining about insignificant items in hopes of using these little items as leverage to, essentially, blackmail management of the hotel into offering them either a partial, discounted or full refund on their visit or providing them with a voucher of significant value to be used on their next visit to the property. Shameful as that is, note that that is factual information. Note that, if you really like a place and hope to visit many times in your lifetime, that approach is certain to put them out of business if enough characters who travel impose on the good intentions of the hotelier and the hotel may not be there to honor the voucher in less than a year let alone be there for your next bench-marking occasion due to such impositions.

The person who left the review criticized something having to do with drainage in the bathroom and presentation of breakfast that they found unappealing and explained that they noted these lack-luster items to the housekeeping and dining room staffers. After a few days  of their week long visit, nothing was changed nor attended to and the guest complained at the front desk.  The front desk clerk asked if the guest had reported these items to the Duty Manager, who would be the person in charge when the General Manager, who is one step from being the Heavenly Father as it relates to any hotel. The guest’s TripAdvisor question was, in essence, why should he waste his time seeking out the Duty Manager when he told these things to the staff people in each category of complaint and wondered why the various hotel departments don’t communicate with one-another.

Oh, dear! Clearly, this person, whom I think lives in the UK so he is forgiven, doesn’t listen to my radio shows or he would have known better from the outset. (Note: He can now listen to Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams on iHeart Radio if he becomes one of the 90 million subscribers to iHeart Radio(!) or he can listen to our podcasts at travelers411.com or archived audio at sAbrams.com!)

So for all of you who may have missed the many times I’ve explained where to lodge your unhappiness at any hotel or resort in the world, the magic words are not Open Sesame! The magic words are, “I’d like to speak with your General Manager!” Do not ask to speak with the Manager. If you are at the front desk, they will bring you that shift’s front desk manager. Do not ask for the Manager in the hotel’s bar or restaurant as they will bring you the restaurant manager or bar manager. You want the General Manager of the whole place! That is the person with the keys to the vault! That is the person who knows where all  the bodies are buried! That is the person who knows how to get done what you want accomplished and who has the authority to accomplish your goals if so motivated. Anybody else you tell your story to such as the maid cleaning your accommodations or the waiter in the dining room, first has to remember what you complained about and then has to tell his/her supervisor who then has to tell the manager of that sector of the hotel who then has to either deal with it or go to the Duty Manager who then has to go to the General Manager and, in the normal course of things, the ball that you handed them is going to get dropped somewhere along the route in any hotel or resort in the whole world. . .except for a very, very few such as at a Ritz-Carlton, if they haven’t dramatically changed since Marriott took over the brand, or in a few, very few, hotels in the world where the training is so amazing as to instill in every. . .every. . . employee that they have the responsibility and authority to correctt whatever a guest sees as incorrect and stay on top of it until it is fixed! Everywhere else, the reason you ask to speak with the GM is that you want to see the problem fixed now and that’s the only way you are going to see it get done while you are still in the hotel.

Had this guest spoken  with the Duty Manager (or the GM) about an annoying drain that wasn’t draining, the drain would have been fixed while the guest was at breakfast or out sightseeing or shopping or playing a round of tennis or golf.  Instead, this guest whispered his problem down the drain and then complained because it wasn’t fixed. The Duty Manager, for the moment, or the GM when available could have, and probably would have, offered them, if the hotel was not sold-out, the opportunity to move to another room or suite or accommodation with a better view, offered help packing up and  moving to the (upgraded) facility, and maybe even bought them lunch or a drink to relax while the staff accomplished that.

If you want to get a problem corrected, you need to take it to a person who has the skill and tools to get the job done swiftly and to your satisfaction. Don’t mumble to the maid and then complain that three days later the problem isn’t fixed and that’s the hotel’s fault. This so reminds me of the travel agent who wanted to get the group travel business of a local school soccer team. The agent went out of her way to pitch the coach on all the reasons that her agency had all the skill, knowledge and tools to do  a great job efficiently, attend to every detail of the road trips the team would be taking, and save the team money in the process. It was a shock to the agent when another travel agency got the account which happened because it wasn’t the coach who made the decision about what agency the team would choose. It was the team’s manager who made that decision so the agent was pitching the wrong person throughout the process! When you try selling the husband on the destination for the next vacation, you lose that sale too as it’s going to be the wife that makes that decision! And these parallels come to mind in thinking about leaving your complaints and requests with a staff member, seeing that they are not being accommodated and then telling the same staffer to remedy the same complaint. If you ask for more pillows or more soap or a shoe  horn and you don’t get it, it’s time to move your request to a higher level and in a hotel remember who holds the keys to the vault.

In general, the easy items like extra pillows and more bars of soap or a sink that isn’t draining don’t require the GM to get involved UNLESS you are getting snappy, snarky responses from the staff which warrant that tale to be retold and a higher level of skill entering the picture. If you reserved a suite and got a room or bought seafront and got parking lot views, those are important enough issues to go  straight to the top so you aren’t wasting your time climbing the hierarchy to resolve your problem. And to give finality to the TripAdvisor patron’s question about why should  he waste his time seeking out the Duty Manager or GM, the answer is that you’ll get what you need done pronto and won’t be wasting your  time asking people who have to pass the request along and hope it doesn’t get lost along the route and, in the long run it will be the most efficient way to get what you need accomplished and not waste time getting aggravated by telling and retelling the story and  still not getting what you want! So that’s why you need to ask to speak with the truly top person unless your plan is just to complain at the hotel, complain online and hope you’ll get compensated with a refund or future discount or voucher to “make up” with you!


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