Guest blogger, Cindy Harrison, on Being a Virtuoso Traveler

Last year, I moved my luxury travel business to Canada’s largest independent travel agency, Vision 2000 Travel Group. My clients and I immediately benefited from Vision 2000 being a leading member of Virtuoso, the most prestigious and established travel network in the world. Being partners with the “best of the best” and Virtuoso enables me to offer my clients insider connections, and the power of my making one-to-one connections at Virtuoso’s Travel Mart means I can VIP my clients.

Today, I am truly honoured to have my VIP client, Cindy Harrison, write a guest blog.  Please read of Cindy’s experiences with Virtuoso.


As a new Virtuoso traveler, I was pleased to recently receive my first copy of “Virtuoso Life,” and even more pleased to flip through the pages of the November/ December 2011 issue and find myself referenced on page 24.

In the article about Virtuoso travel advisors heading to Vegas for the luxury travel industry’s equivalent to “fashion week,” it was noted:

For one week in August, they come from all over the globe, and the numbers are     impressive: More than 1,600 Virtuoso travel advisors meet with an equal number of executives from top cruise lines, hotels, tour outfitters, airlines, and other travel companies who strut their stuff – that is, enthuse about what’s new and unique about their offerings and why travelers should experience it themselves.

In all likelihood, your travel advisor goes with you in mind, shopping for specific destinations, hotels, and experiences tailored to your preferences. One example from this year’s event: A Virtuoso advisor met with the general manager of the Four Seasons San Francisco 24 hours before her client was scheduled to check into the hotel. The GM arranged for the guest to receive a special welcome amenity and VIP treatment.

I was ‘the guest’. Our travel advisor, Sheila Gallant-Halloran, was the Virtuoso advisor who had arranged all.

My family of four was on the receiving end of Sheila’s VIPing us, and we loved it! At the Four Seasons San Francisco, we were met with personalized cupcakes, sodas and fruit for the kids. (please see attached photo).

We enjoyed room upgrades, complimentary breakfasts, and more.   Not only did we have that VIP service in San Francisco, but we were also VIPed at the other hotels we’d stayed at during this trip– the Fairmont Sonoma, the Carmel Valley Ranch, and the Ritz Carlton Battery Park in New York City.  Sheila had worked her connections at all hotels to get us specialized attention. (And the hotel in Carmel wasn’t even Virtuoso yet – just working towards it. But Sheila won us Virtuoso-like amenities with them as well.)

I am always on Expedia, but have found that Sheila has matched or bettered their posted rates. Plus, we enjoy the value added amenities that come only when you work with a Virtuoso travel advisor, and, of course, the individual attention from our travel advisor. When you book with Expedia, you are a reservation number. When you book with Sheila, you are her VIP client and the VIP client of all of Virtuoso’s properties.

I am a new Virtuoso traveler, but I am confident in the quality of the partner properties, and love the VIP amenities. Sheila has already booked our wedding anniversary getaway at the new Virtuoso preview hotel, St. Regis Bal Harbour. I look forward to being inspired by the next “Virtuoso Life” magazine, and then collaborating with Sheila in planning my family’s next vacation.