August 2020 Cancun Trip Preview!

Even at this unimaginable time in the world, I feel blessed to work in the travel industry. As the song goes, “there’s no people like show people,” and there’s also no people like travel people. They’re resilient, resourceful, and helpful! Like everyone, I have changed many plans—not only travel plans, but also life plans, to some extent. At the end of February, I was on one of the last cruises to sail and return home without any problems. For a while, I thought everyone was overreacting and that COVID would pass without causing the Untied States any major issues. After a few weeks, I realized the severity of it and the fact that the world would not be the same, so I spent a lot of time reflecting on my career and what I should do going forward. 

The short answer is that I will still be teaching voice and still working as a travel advisor. In each industry, I want to serve as a “boutique” provider so that I have time and energy to serve my clients and provide a lot of value for their investment. In travel, the process doesn’t end with booking a trip. That’s actually the middle of the process. It begins with a conversation to learn about the client and their wishes for the trip, and it actually continues through the client’s return home, when we discuss how things went. It’s quite a process, and to do any of it well requires time and care. Likewise, in teaching voice, there is more than what happens in lessons. I follow up each lesson with notes, and recently, I was happy to be able to schedule an “emergency lesson” with a student who needed to prepare an audition video.

Now that we are nearing the end of summer, although the world is forever changed and still in the midst of a pandemic, we are figuring out how to function in new ways. That is also true for travel, and as a travel advisor, I feel that if I hope to sell or promote any product (hotel, cruise, etc.), I must feel comfortable with it myself. For example, I would never promote or suggest certain cruise lines because they have less-than-stellar reputations, even in the best of times.

My first travel adventure since March was a 2-night stay at The Henderson Beach Resort in Destin, FL, and I wrote a thorough post about it here. I also recently returned from a 2-night stay at Perry Lane Hotel in Savannah, GA and wrote about it as well. In the meantime, in addition to reading positive articles, I saw a few of my travel colleagues traveling to Mexico and reporting similar positive findings. Not only did they feel safe through the travel process, but they also enjoyed very sparsely populated resorts!

Social Distancing at Le Blanc in Cancun

With these reviews in mind, as well as my duty to personally assess the situation (let’s be honest, I’ll also enjoy myself!), I have made arrangements to visit three carefully selected all-inclusive resorts in the Cancun area. Just to state the obvious, at each resort, all meals, beverages, and activities will be included, and they will have beautiful pools and beach access. I will stay 2 nights at TRS Coral Hotel in Costa Mujeres, Le Blanc Spa Resort, and Palmaïa—The House of AïA. Each resort has a very different character and aesthetic and would be intended for different clients, so I will experience them for myself in order to hopefully add them to my list of preferred resorts. 

TRS Coral Hotel is the adults only hotel at Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa. I was drawn to the hotel for a number of reasons. First of all, Costa Mujeres is just north of Cancun and a bit more secluded than the Hotel Zone of Cancun. TRS Coral Hotel is also only two years old, and Palladium is providing insurance with all of their reservations for any incident directly related to COVID-19 that may occur during a stay there. That’s unique, as I haven’t heard it mentioned with any other hotels or resorts. Another interesting feature at Grand Palladium is the Rafa Nadal Tennis Center, which is located on the resort. They offer a number of tennis camps for children and adults throughout the year! The overall feel for the hotel appears to be luxurious but also with natural elements integrated in the rooms and property.

Le Blanc Spa Resort is a place where I have sent clients, and they had a wonderful experience. They truly loved everything, and a friend who I learned had previously stayed there also gave Le Blanc stellar reviews. Unlike TRS Coral Hotel, Le Blanc is situated directly in the Hotel Zone of Cancun, along with many other resorts, which will be a new experience for me. It is also all-inclusive and adults only. Every resort advertises that they are a luxury resort, but I actually believe it with Le Blanc. They are part of Palace Resorts, which operates 10 resorts in Mexico and Jamaica. The overall aesthetic appears to be very contemporary, polished, and opulent. 

Finally, I will stay for two nights at Palmaïa—The House of AïA. First of all, the name is so intriguing! The House of AïA is the company, and Palmaïa is their first resort, which is located in Playa del Carmen—far away from the Hotel Zone. Their marketing materials state “AïA is a voice deep inside us that represents our connection to nature and a more authentic way of life.” They opened in December of 2020, so they’ve had an interesting start! Everything they do is different. Instead of all-inclusive, they have “The Gifting Lifestyle.” They have an in-house Shaman who leads the Architects of Life program, which includes an array of programs for personal growth, such as yoga, meditation, and sound healing, to name a few. All restaurants offer plant-based cuisine with non-vegan options as add-ons (no extra charge). Also, this is a family resort, and they provide fully trained Waldorf Educators as child guides. To top it all off, they plan to be energy carbon neutral by 2021!

Traveling with intention is something I try to do and will encourage my clients to do going forward. My intent for this trip is to learn, experience, and relax. It will be a varied 5-night, 6 day journey spanning from more “typical” all-inclusive to something new and innovative. I will begin the trip with pool, beach, and conventional food & drink and will be excited to end it with vegan food and rituals to travel home with a clearer mind and body. As someone who makes the most of all travel experiences, I’m sure I will love them all and learn from each experience. I will reflect on what I’ve learned as I travel home and consider what I would like to incorporate into my life going forward.

I am excited to explore each resort for clients with more specific taste, since most people will only stay at one resort on a trip! Overarching the entire trip will be my observation of health & safety protocols at each hotel, as they are carried out by the hotel staff and guests. When the time is right, I will be excited to help you plan a trip to the resort that is the best match for your preferences, whether it is one of these three or one of the many other resorts in Mexico or the Caribbean. By no means do I believe traveling is right for everyone right now. However, just planning a trip can change your outlook on life, so when you’re ready to plan or just dream, I’m here to help!

Please further explore www.pilkingtontravels.com or www.jonathanpilkington.net, and feel free to contact me!

P.S. I have to let you know about AmaWaterways’ current promotion, which includes free airfare on many of their 2021 river cruises. They also have a cancel for any reason plan in place. Also, Le Blanc (and all Palace Resorts) has a a 2-for-1 promotion. Buy one night, get another room free!

5 Reasons To Study Singing

I’ll be honest from the beginning. I’m writing this blog post because I have some openings in my voice studio that I would like to fill with a few people who are willing to commit to studying voice. To put it simply, if you want to be a better singer and are willing to put in some work, then maybe you should consider lessons. Some people are good at a lot of things when it comes to singing, but most people have some things to work on, which takes time. These things often involve releasing some tension (in places you didn’t know you had tension) or strengthening something (muscles you didn’t know you had), and this work takes time and patience.

Please visit www.jonathanpilkington.net to read more about me and to contact me about lessons.

  1. You feel stuck in life–More than one student has recently told me that as a result of studying voice with me, they are seeing the world in a different way, or they’re figuring things out in life that they’ve been working on. I don’t claim to have any magic where that is concerned, but I do believe that singing can have positive side-effects that are similar to meditation. Singing requires a certain amount of vulnerability, which, as a result, might allow you to deal with some other parts of your life.
  2. You think you can’t sing–So many people seem to think that voice lessons are for people who sing well. Think about that for a minute!! What would be the point? Voice lessons are for people who want to sing better. One of my #1 goals in life is to help people realize that they can sing. Being able to sing doesn’t mean that you have a career in singing. To me, it simply means that your voice functions well enough that you can sing for your own enjoyment, or you feel comfortable singing “Happy Birthday” to your friend.
  3. You can sing, but you want to be better–Many people know that they can “carry a tune” but know that their voice can sound better. I hear things like, “I want to sing higher notes,” “I want to be able to hold notes longer,” or “There’s one part of my voice that gives me problems.” These are all common problems that can be fixed with some patient, expert guidance!
  4. You used to sing well, but something happened–Just like any part of the body, things change with age. A lot of people could naturally sing in a certain way early in life, and then as they got older, it got more difficult. Also, some times “life happens,” and people stop singing for a while. When they try to start singing again, the voice doesn’t work like it used to work. Any number of things can happen to make singing more difficult, or to effect the way the voice sounds, and these things can be improved with voice lessons.
  5. It’s good for you–These days, “mindfulness” and “self care” are big business, and there are very good reasons for that. This is related to “you feel stuck in life,” but I think even if you don’t feel stuck, there are health and wellness benefits that come from singing. Focusing on your breath is good for you. It is relaxing, it can improve your lung capacity, and it can carry over into other areas of your life (mental alertness, exercise, etc). Voice lessons involve body awareness, and that focus often helps to improve posture/alignment, which can make feel and look better! Singing can release endorphins, which help relieve pain and make you a happier person. Emotional connection to a song can help you to release emotions. Also, there are many social benefits to singing. The list goes on and on!

Restructuring the Empire: Why I Think NOW Is The Time To CHANGE

The time of COVID-19/Coronavirus/Rona/Pandemic has been such a catalyst for change in the world. I admit that at the beginning of it, I believed that it was a political ploy or that people were overreacting. I remembered SARS and the fact that it never became a big issue for the United States. Within a few weeks, I realized the severity of the pandemic, so I began to shelter-in-place like the rest of the world. This is change #1 for me. I went from being a skeptic to being an advocate for mask wearing. It’s ok admit you were wrong and change your ways!

Pre-pandemic, I was teaching over 30 voice lessons each week, while also aggressively pursuing a second career as a travel advisor. My mindset was that if I worked really hard for a while, things would eventually balance out. I might be temporarily crazed, but things would settle down eventually. I assumed that around August of 2020, I would say no to some of my teaching work, in order to teach certain students and devote time to the travel business.

That time came significantly early for me, in the form of a global pandemic. The extra time at home, as well as the major disruption to “normal” life, helped me to realize some things. I don’t mind teaching online. In fact, I mostly enjoy it. I don’t have to drive, it allows for greater flexibility with scheduling, and it actually works very well. However, what I quickly realized is who I want to teach. Some students show up to lessons ready to do the work and learn (a complete pleasure), while some show up and go through the motions (a drain). While I try to encourage them to just make the most of it, I believe in self-motivation and do not try to force people to like something. When the school year ended, that meant that I went from teaching over 30 lessons a week to teaching around 12 lessons a week. The students who were left were mostly students who were closer to my “ideal clients.”

This was change #2. It is best summed up in something I wrote to my students earlier today: “Moving forward, I intend to maintain a relatively small studio of students who value the work of developing a very solid technical foundation that will allow them to use the singing voice as a powerful and versatile instrument for communication. This will allow me give more thought, energy, and attention to each student, both during lessons and between lessons.”

About the travel business, I had worked hard to get the word out that I am a travel advisor, and it was beginning to pay off. I designed some beautiful, exciting itineraries for people to Hawaii, Italy, and places between. The way the travel industry works is that you typically get paid after the travel happens, which meant that I would have a nice income in the summer months from my clients’ trips. Well, all of that had to be canceled or rescheduled. It is common knowledge that the pandemic has been devastating for the travel industry. I have felt so horrible for everyone from cruise line crew members trying to get home to my contacts in Italy who were ready to welcome my clients.

This is change #3. Knowing that my work as a travel advisor would continue, I just accepted the temporary pause and figured out what I could do. That is why I started a podcast, which is called “Just Beautiful Experiences: Travel, Food, Music.” It had been on my mind for a while, but I hadn’t quite figured out my unique spin on a podcast that would bring all of my worlds together. In the midst of a pandemic, I figured out that if I did something to give other people a platform to tell their stories and tell about their businesses, that could help them, it would strengthen our relationships, and it would give us all greater exposure. Episode 6 was just released today, and they can all be heard on Apple Podcasts, or pretty much anywhere podcasts are available, as well as on my website (or the bottom of this post).

Other changes are brewing in my travel world (change #4), which I believe will involve focusing my specialties. I don’t know all of the details yet, but this will include music-based experiences, as well as European adventures and cruises. Along the lines of my podcast, I want to facilitate and curate experiences that help people to feel more alive and then discuss how to incorporate some elements from their experiences into every day life. I will focus less on hustling to book as many clients as possible, especially if it involves travel that might as well be booked online.

Other changes will come as well, and there are some things I’m not sharing yet because they’re not ready to be shared. They’re exciting, though! Let’s call that change #5. 🙂

For some reason, Madonna comes to mind, and I’m sure that sounds strange at first. I remember that on the news or MTV, they would always talk about how she was reinventing herself. I’m sure that many people, including me, thought she was silly for doing that and doing it only for fame. Maybe she was just adjusting until she found the right fit, or restructuring her empire to stay relevant. Change can be scary, and sometimes the scariest part is wondering what other people will think. If you keep changing directions, you must be wishy washy or not really committed to what you’re doing.

I’ll end this with two ideas that helped recently. First: “multi-passionate.” I’m passionate about singing and teaching voice, and I’m passionate about the life-changing possibilities of travel experiences. I’ve feared that people would think I’m not as legitimate in either profession since I’m dividing my time between the two. Pushing through the last part of 2019 and 2020 until the pandemic hit was a crazy time, and the pandemic has helped me to better figure out how the pieces fit together as a multi-passionate entrepreneur. I have to thank Elise Besler for this, as well as introducing me to the work of Mike Michalowicz, which led me to the second idea.

Second idea: “the world’s best.” I watched this YouTube video, in which Mike Michalowicz speaks about finding authenticity, and we have to be “the world’s best” for our world–not someone else’s world. Rather than listening to what the world and everyone else says, “if you truly listen to the rule of your soul, that’s where your best is…if you serve into our authentic self, you’ll be serving the right world, and others will be attracted to it.”

To sum it all up, while the world is seeing a major upheaval and restructuring on a much grander and scarier scale, I believe that changes are necessary. Sometimes ugly and scary things, like rioting and plagues, have to happen in order for us to wake up and live our lives more fully, beautifully, and authentically. Hopefully some of these ideas will give someone the courage to make changes, whether they are small, internal changes or big life and career changes. Restructure the empire to be the world’s best!

Alex Ferri, founder of Palmaïa–The House of Aïa resort in Cancun Just Beautiful Experiences: Travel, Food, Music

On August 21-26, I visited four resorts in Cancun. They were all wonderful in their own way, and I really fell in love with Palmaïa—The House of Aïa, which is truly a luxury all-inclusive resort, but they have a focus on connecting with nature, ourselves, each other, etc. In this episode, I had the privilege to speak with Alex Ferri, the founder of Palmaïa about the concept of the resort and how it all came together. I am inspired by people who are passionate about what they do, and I hope you will enjoy our conversation. Please subscribe to the podcast, and be in touch when you are ready to visit Palmaïa. It pays to use a travel advisor!My WebsiteBlog About PalmaïaVideo About PalmaïaTravel InstagramPodcast InstagramYouTube Channel
  1. Alex Ferri, founder of Palmaïa–The House of Aïa resort in Cancun
  2. Nalini Mehta: Ayurveda, Doshas, Rasa, and Yoga Pops!
  3. Suprakash Nashipuri, Cellar Master and Sommelier on Norwegian Cruise Line
  4. John Ratledge on Music, Travel, and So Much More
  5. Cynthia Vaughn: Entrepreneurial Voice Teacher Adapting to 2020

New Year’s Day on AmaMagna

Everything had a bit of a delayed start on New Year’s Day, but I was up, as usual. I had my early breakfast, did a bit at the gym, walked around the ship, watched us go through a few locks, and had lunch. We arrived in Melk at around 2:00, where the big tour of the day was Melk Abbey. That involved a short bus ride up the hill to the Abbey, a tour of the Abbey, and a walk back down the hill and through the town, on our own. Here are some highlights of the day:

As a friendly reminder, I am a travel advisor/agent and can organize these same experiences for you!

Entering a lock on the Danube
Approaching the bridge. Will we make it??
Just made it under the bridge!
Panoramic view from Melk Abbey
Photos are not allowed in the Abbey 🤫
😍

Linz, Salzburg, & NYE on AmaMagna

This marks the time in a trip when I don’t really have time to write, but I will share more pictures and give a few highlights. On Dec 31, we arrived in Linz, Austria early in the morning. We could either go to Salzburg, Cesky Krumlov, or stay in Linz. I opted for the full-day Salzburg tour because I made plans to meet with John Thomasson, my college voice teacher, who is now teaching at the Mozarteum!

The tour left at 9am and made a stop in Mondsee a town in the Lake District where the church is from the Sound of Music wedding scene. It was a beautiful town with an equally beautiful church. That stop was about an hour into the bus ride and about 30 min from Salzburg.

Once we reached Salzburg, we had an 1 hour walking tour of the highlights. At the end of the tour, I met Dr Thomasson, and we saw some other sights, had some lunch, and caught up. It was a great visit!

I met the group again, and we boarded the bus to go back to the ship for the New Year’s Eve celebration. This was a great opportunity for a nap. We got back in time to get refreshed for dinner, which was a special menu for the occasion. Fireworks had been going on all evening, by the way. After dinner, the party started in the lounge. Then, at about 11:45, many of us went outside to see the fireworks. They were the coming from every direction, on both sides of the Danube, and we were told that they were just people in town shooting off their own fireworks. The city didn’t actually have fireworks! It was the most amazing show I’ve ever seen, and it seemed to never stop!

After midnight, there was a beautiful spread of party food in Al Fresco!

HAPPY NEW YEAR from AmaMagna!

AmaMagna Day 2: Vilshofen-Passau

As much as I hate to admit it, I left home feeling slightly under the weather. I was dealing with lots of congestion and a slight fever, so I decided I should go straight into town to the Apotheke and ask for something to help my symptoms. They were very helpful and gave me some medicine, along with some tea. I took three doses of the medicine, and although I think it made me drowsy, it really dried up the congestion!

We were to be back on board at 11:00 to leave for Passau, so after one last look at Vilshofen, I made my way back to the ship. I walked around the top deck a bit and watched the people untethering us from the dock. What was AMAzing is that this ship turned around right in the middle of the river.We just spun around and headed in the other direction!

Before lunch, there was a talk from Christian, the cruise manager, who told us about upcoming excursions. That went on until 12:30, when lunch was served. Lunch in the main dining room was a Bavarian lunch, and it really was a feast. There were many types of sausages, pork, salads, potato salad, cheese, desserts, etc! Everything really was excellent. After that feast, I had a bit of a nap to prepare for the Castle Hill Hike that I had signed up for.

The hike began at 3:00 and was a 3 mile walk all together. It was a pretty slow moving hike, which was fine except that I was freezing!! The hike was to a cathedral at the top of the mountain. It is a place that draws pilgrims who walk up a specific staircase (on their knees, I think??) to receive some sort of blessing. I need to check my facts! Here are some beautiful photos from the hike:

After the hike, I took some time to thaw, and then it was time fo “sip & sail” before dinner. I was signed up for dinner at The Chef’s Table, which I was excited about. I was seated at a big table full of fun people, who all work in travel. That worked out really well for a long dinner.

AmaMagna Day 1

As one would expect from a German train, it arrived right on time in Vilshoven—11:24 am. I walked through the lovely town down to the river and walked right on the ship after telling my name to the man at the door.

My first view of the ship!

I was escorted to the reception desk, which was friendly & efficient. They told me that my cabin was not ready, but if I went to the Lounge or Al Fresco Restaurant, they would find me when it was ready. Honestly, I was a bit skeptical that they would come find me any time soon.

I went up to Al Fresco and the lounge, and I had a bit light lunch. It was basically a vegetarian experience because the only meat available was on sandwiches. (With cucumbers). As soon as I was standing up from my table, s very kind gentleman approached me and told me that my room was ready. He took me there and showed me around to be sure I understood everything. He was there to answer any questions, and he gave me some advice about when and where to make dinner reservations.

My light lunch in Al Fresco

I enjoyed the room for a bit, then went to make my dinner reservations for The Chef’s Table, Al Fresco, and Jimmy’s Wine Bar. I explored the ship, which is absolutely beautiful, and I eventually went back out into town since I didn’t have any commitments until the welcome cocktail and safety briefing at 5:30.

Being Sunday, nearly everything was closed, except for a few restaurants. Vilshofen is a completely charming town, and it is fun to see the Christmas decorations still up since they will stay until Epiphany.

At some point, I took a much needed nap and attended the welcome and safety thing at 5:30. Everyone was greeted with a glass of sparkling wine and a toast with the captain and the hotel manager. then, there was a gathering in the lounge. While it was nice to be sailing with only 150 or so people, the major introvert in me mostly sat and observed the others, trying to figure out what my fellow passengers are like.

We had a bit of a chat from several important people, including the captain, cruise manager, and the hotel director. It was good and informative, but I felt that it went on a bit long! However, when it was over, it was time to go to the tent for the Vilshofen Oktoberfest, where they had local beer, pretzels, and music. I found a table with a couple who looked nice, and they were lovely, along with their other friends who joined a bit later. It was a really nice time with Bavarian music and dancing, and it seemed to loosen up the crowd a bit.

Hotel Manager speaking in the lounge

Dinner was to be served at 7:45, and I was going to the main restaurant. I sat at a large table with a couple who were just sitting down. It turns out they are also from the Atlanta area! Soon after, a couple from London joined us. It was a somewhat interesting dinner, but I’ll focus on the food and service. We had a very good server who seemed to be handling three tables. He told us that things might be a bit slow since it’s the first night. I didn’t quite understand that since it wasn’t the first night of sailing ever. It was fine, though. After we placed our orders, the courses flowed well, and the entree was the only thing that seemed delayed. This was a multi-course meal with soup, salad, sorbet, entree, and dessert. It was an excellent meal!

Sea Bass
Beautiful dessert (forgot what it was!)

After dinner, which means around 10pm, I went to the lounge to see what was happening. I had a cup of peppermint tea and relaxed there a bit. Then I went downstairs to see what was happening in Jimmy’s since there’s supposed to be something at 10pm. I saw one table of people but nothing really happening. It was time for bed anyway, so that is what I did!

AmaMagna Journey Days 1/2

After sleeping for almost 11 hours (unheard of), I woke up at almost 8am took a quick shower, quickly threw my things in my suitcase, and enjoyed the most beautiful breakfast in the Sofitel Munich Bayerpost. Now I am on the train and have time to write a bit about my journey here and my day in Munich!

Sunrise from Sofitel Munich Bayerpost

My direct flight from Atlanta to Munich was at around 6pm on December 27. For some reason, I got to the airport around 2:30. I usually enjoy hanging out in the airport lounge, but this was excessive. Oh well, I was through security in about 30 seconds and in the lounge a minute later! It was packed! I found the quietest spot I could find and just relaxed until about 5:00. I walked to my gate, and the flight boarded on time and left basically on time.

The flight was so pleasant that there’s not really much to talk about it, except for Delta’s new “elevated” main cabin service on international flights. Things were a bit delayed because the air was a bit bumpy as we started, but once they started serving us, it was lovely. It began with a hot towel and a menu. The menu had choices for appetizer and entree. The appetizers were caprese salad or a salad with shrimp, and entrees were chicken Marsala, grilled chicken salad, or ravioli. Before they came through with food, they gave everyone a bellini (peach purée with champagne)! It wasn’t the most amazing drink, but it makes you feel a bit like they care, rather than treating you like cattle (although cattle should be treated well too)!

Dinner was pretty tasty! Dessert was Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream, and you can’t go wrong there! I watched a bit of the movie “Coco” before going to sleep, and after sleeping pretty well, thanks to my new “turtl,” I finished the move just in time to land. Once we landed, we were taken by bus to the terminal and immigration. That was all very easy, and I got on the Lufthansa Express Bus, which was a 45 min ride directly from the airport to the Munich Hauptbanhof for 11 Euros. The best deal!

The Sofitel Munich Bayerpost is right next to the train station, so although it was 10am, I went to see if I could check in. I couldn’t, but I was allowed to check my bags and use the spa for the sauna, steam room, pool, and showers. This was the best thing possible! I stayed there until almost noon, and then I walked to a classic Bavarian beer hall that I had heard Rick Steve’s mention. As I approached, there was a group of men outside smoking and wearing Lederhosen. I was afraid they might be a group of silly Americans, but since I sat near them, I saw that they were just a bunch of German guys hanging out. I should have taken a picture of the menu, but I had some sort of boiled beef with mixed vegetables. I thought the menu said sauerkraut, but it turned out to be freshly grated horseradish! It was all just what I wanted, except that I actually wanted sauerkraut.

I walked back to the hotel and found that my room was still not ready, so I decided to keep walking (to stay awake) and went to Old Town. Ah, this was what I wanted to see, because the hotel & train station area was more grungy & modern. I would compare this to the area around Penn Station vs Greenwich Village. There was a small Christmas market still going. I tried getting a Glühwein, but they only took cash. (Side note: I couldn’t find my debit card, and I still don’t know where it is. Therefore, I don’t have access to an ATM!)

I continued walking, just seeing what I could see, and I ended up at the Viktualenmarkt, which was wonderful. While it’s always there, I felt like I was getting some of the feel of a big Christmas Market. I wanted to get back to the hotel to check in at 3, so I figured out the public transportation and took the subway to the Hauptbanhof. My room was ready!

I got to the room, which was great. It was on the 7th floor (out of 8), which meant it was above part of the building and allowed for a great view. I was waiting for my bags since they insisted on delivering them to my room. After a while, there was a knock on the door, and it was not my bags, Instead, it was 2 people delivering champagne, a fruit bowl, and a bar of chocolate. How nice!

Finally, my bags came, so I was able to charge my phone and put on clean clothes before going out to find dinner. I walked back to the OLD TOWN to see what I had missed, such as the opera house, Hofbrauhaus, and to experience the Viktualenmarkt with some money. I saw a soup place there, and that was exactly what I wanted for dinner—Goulasch! It was delicious and really helped to warm me. I walked around a bit more and finally. Had my gluhwein, which was delicious. It’s basically just mulled wine.

Glühwein
Munich Opera House

I went inside one big hotel because I saw a rooftop bar from outside. Once I got in, I decided I didn’t want to go, although I’m sure the view would have been great. As I left, though, I noticed a shrine to Michael Jackson. WHY?? I started walking in the direction of my hotel and took the train back to the station since it was cold, and I was tired!

MJ Shrine

I went to bed just before 10pm, and just as I had turned off the light, there was a knock on the door that said it was housekeeping. They must offer a turndown service? 10pm seemed late for that, though! I “yelled” at them from bed and told them that I was in bed. I slept well until about midnight, and after reading for a bit, I slept until 8am! I suppose I needed it!

Early Booking & Sustainability

Wow, 1 week until Christmas! If you’re still shopping (I am), travel is an excellent alternative to typical gift giving! Below, find information on sustainability, early booking promotions, and the 100th Salzburg Festival!

Click the image for VIrtuoso tips for holiday travel.

Sustainable Travel: Sustainable travel is important to many people, including me, so I want to let you know about Intrepid Group. They offer “sustainable, experience-rich travel” to more than 1,000 itineraries that explore over 120 countries. They are doing better and “carbon neutral” and are becoming “climate positive” in 2020!

100th Salzburg FestivalTravelex International is hosting a tour to the Salzburg Festival, you can take a Danube River Cruise with AmaWaterways, or I can design a completely custom itinerary for you!

You may wonder why I don’t advertise a lot of deals. That’s one of the differences in a travel advisor vs a travel agent. My goal is to build relationships and provide custom itineraries that fit your budget. That might involve finding a great deal in the process, but more importantly, I want to provide great value and personal service.

As I just told someone, I am also only promoting products that I really believe will provide an exceptional experience. These companies often have early booking promotions, so I’m giving a few examples here:

Anantara Mai Phuket Villas (Thailand): Book Early and Save 25%
AmaWaterways5% Cruise Savings on Balconies and Suites
PLUS up to $1,500 savings per stateroom on select departures
when you book your cruise by April 30, 2020.
Celebrity Flora Galapagos Cruise: 50% off 2nd guest + Round-trip Airfare Included! By the way, Celebrity Flora is a new ship that holds 100 passengers and is custom designed for the Galapagos.

✥ ✥ ✥ ✥ ✥ ✥ ✥
Jonathan Pilkington
Professional Travel Advisor
Pilkington Travels, LLC
✆ 404.507.6880
☞ www.pilkingtontravels.com
✉︎ jonathan@pilkingtontravels.com

Celebration Travel & Staycations!

Celebration Travel is any travel that you do to celebrate a special occasion: Honeymoons, Anniversaries, Birthdays, Holidays, or just LIFE! Staycations are usually quick getaways to somewhere nearby, even in your own city. I would love to help you plan any of these trips, whether it’s an all-inclusive resort, a cruise, an African safari, or anything on between!

Whether you are celebrating your honeymoon or something else in life, or having a staycation, it’s a great idea to have a trusted travel advisor. On a whim, I checked a 3 night stay at The Plaza Hotel in NYC, and I was AMAZED

Book on your own:
Room: Plaza King–$475/night
Internet: $24.95 per night, per person
Breakfast: $52.50 per night, per person
Spa: $100 treatment
TOTAL: $2384.21

Book with me:
Room: Plaza King–$475/night (3rd night FREE)
Internet: FREE (Virtuoso Amenity)
Breakfast: FREE (Virtuoso Amenity)
Spa: $100 credit (Virtuoso Amenity)
TOTAL: $1124.53

TOTAL SAVINGS: $1259.68!!! 🤯 (mind blown!)

This is no joke, and it’s certainly not a gimmick! This is just what you get when you use a Virtuoso Advisor, not to mention the personal attention, which is priceless!

Feel free to contact me at any time. I would love to talk travel with you!
✥ ✥ ✥ ✥ ✥ ✥ ✥
Jonathan Pilkington
Professional Travel Advisor
Pilkington Travels, LLC
✆ 404.507.6880
☞ www.pilkingtontravels.com
✉︎ jonathan@pilkingtontravels.com