Travel Expert and Radio Talk Show Host Stephanie Abrams - Travelers411 Travel Radio Shownotes
"Travelers411" Radio Show - November 27, 2010 - Show Archive

Staying with Starwood in Vienna at Le Meridien, Hotel Imperial, and Hotel Bristol, Vienna, Austria; From Schnitzel to Bento Boxes and Lively Location and Soundproof Rooms at Le Meridien Munich in Munich, Germany; Plan a Romantic Getaway at Relais & Chateaux Canoe Bay, Chetek, Wisconsin; Airfares to Budapest, Vienna, and Prague from CheapOAir.com.

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Hour 1

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Axel Kammer, Sales Executive, Le Meridien, The Imperial Hotel, The Bristol Hotel, Vienna, Austria.
www.starwoodhotels.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show welcome Axel Krammer, Sales Executive for Le Meridien, The Imperial Hotel, and The Bristol Hotel in Vienna, Austria. All three hotels are members of the Starwood Luxury Collection. "If you want to be in a very spunky, upbeat, contemporary environment, check out Le Meridien in Vienna," says Stephanie. "The hotel is celebrating its seventh anniversary this year, so I'm surrounded by silver balloons. And there was a giant-sized Viennese chocolate cake, too."

Downtown Vienna, Austria.
Downtown Vienna, Austria.

Axel is originally from northern Germany. Before moving to Vienna, he worked in Hanover and Berlin. "I really like being here in this city, which is absolutely fabulous," he says. "When I lived in Berlin, I thought Vienna was a city with lots of traditions and classical ways. But during my first stay at Le Meridien Vienna, I was wowed; I didn't expect something so modern and new. It was the same thing with Vienna – it's not just classical ways. There are lots of festivals, street fairs, and other modern, young stuff going on."

Reception at the Imperial Hotel in Vienna, Austria.
Reception at the Imperial Hotel in Vienna, Austria.

Le Meridien Vienna is located in the city center, across from the state opera and Hofburg Palace and close to the shopping and historic districts and public transit. "You're close to the amazing architecture of the opera and St. Stephen's Cathedral," says Stephanie. "Then you walk into Le Meridien and, as hotels go, it's very perky, with painted furniture and white marble floors."

Reception at the Bristol Hotel in Vienna, Austria.
Reception at the Bristol Hotel in Vienna, Austria.

The hotel offers complimentary refreshments from in-room mini bars, free wireless Internet, and use of an in-house fitness center to guests. "The refreshment center, as we call it, is refilled every day with juices, soft drinks, water, and beer," says Axel. "We tell guests that it's very easy to use. There's also wireless LAN in all the rooms, public areas, meeting rooms, and even in the pool area." The fitness center offers treadmills, stationary bicycles and weights and is staffed each day by a personal trainer, whose services are also complimentary to guests.

Staff at Le Meridien Vienna with Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams.
Staff at Le Meridien Vienna with Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams.

As for dining, Axel suggests the hotel's Restaurant Shambala. "The whole team is very young and creative, and in the summer we have a terrace with special menus," he explains. "There's a very big bar area where we can create a clubby atmosphere. It's a great place for guests." Stephanie agrees, adding that the hotel's bright colors and sleek lines give the property an energy of its own. "You walk in and there's no question that it inspires and relaxes you in the same moment," she says. "No wonder it attracts an energetic clientele, too."

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams at Le Meridien in Vienna, Austria.
Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams at Le Meridien in Vienna, Austria.

During the week, Le Meridien Vienna hosts mostly business travelers. On weekends, the hotel is full of private travelers and families. The average guest stay is two or three nights. The hotel has 294 rooms in total, although Stephanie points out that it doesn't feel that big. Hotel Imperial and Hotel Bristol, the other two Starwood properties in Vienna, also have around 300 rooms each, but are completely different in terms of decor.

Axel Kammer, Sales Executive, Le Meridien, The Imperial Hotel, The Bristol Hotel, Vienna, Austria.
Axel Kammer, Sales Executive, Le Meridien, The Imperial Hotel, The Bristol Hotel, Vienna, Austria.

"I visited Hotel Imperial and it's just over-the-top historic glamour," says Stephanie. "You leave the lobby, go up a staircase with marble walls and statuary, and it's like being in a European opera house." Hotel Bristol, by contrast, is more in the style of a gentleman's club. "It still has sculptures, but there are very big leather chairs, too," Axel says. "It's not quite as stately as the Imperial – just as big, but not so over-the-top."

Related Photo Galleries:
Le Meridien Budapest Hungary Le Meridien Munich GermanyLe Meridien Vienna Austria

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2353

For more information visit www.starwoodhotels.com


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Lars Pursche, Director of Sales, Le Meridien Munich, Munich, Germany.
www.lemeridien.com

Lars Pursche, Director of Sales, Le Meridien Munich, Munich, Germany (R) with Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams (L).
Lars Pursche, Director of Sales, Le Meridien Munich, Munich, Germany (R) with Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams (L).

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show discover dining options at Le Meridien Munich in Munich, Germany, with Lars Pursche, the hotel's Director of Sales. Hotel guests can choose from several dining options. The main restaurant is Le Potager, which offers international cuisine and monthly specials that range from steaks to schnitzel.

Aerial view of Munich Germany.
Aerial view of Munich Germany.

Le Bar, the hotel's trendy spot, offers light meals in bento boxes. "You can choose between different boxes and different-sized portions," explains Lars. "There are even different styles – Bavarian, American. You might get a small cheeseburger and fries, for example, and it comes in a bento box. It's nice because if you're sitting at the bar or a smaller table, you can set your box down and eat." During the World Cup, the bar offered a special South African-themed bento box with meat and beer from the region inside.

Deluxe suite at Le Meridien Munich, Munich, Germany.
Deluxe suite at Le Meridien Munich, Munich, Germany.

Guests can also take advantage of nine meeting rooms that hold a total of 200 people. "If you wanted to have a working lunch in the meeting room, we can make it happen," Lars promises. "If the guest asks for it, you can't say no. When I go somewhere and someone does something for me, I have a better experience. I love it when people look after me." Stephanie observes that this can-do attitude is what distinguishes the Le Meridien brand and keeps her coming back to their properties.

Deluxe suite at Le Meridien Munich, Munich, Germany.
Deluxe suite at Le Meridien Munich, Munich, Germany.

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show talk with Lars Pursche, Director of Sales for Le Meridien Munich in Munich, Germany. "Munich is a place that's so rich culturally with things to see and do and wonderful places to stay," says Stephanie. "Le Meridien is just across the street from the train station and within walking distance of some fabulous department stores where you can really do some damage."

Deluxe suite at Le Meridien Munich, Munich, Germany.
Deluxe suite at Le Meridien Munich, Munich, Germany.

Stephanie also appreciated the warm welcome of Le Meridien Munich. "I felt like I was in a wedding receiving line at breakfast – there were so many people saying good morning," she adds. "I felt like I had gone to a special event, even though all I did was go to breakfast." She also got to chat with some staff members who were putting up a Black Forest display in the lobby, and even helped paint a few branches.

BMW Museum.
BMW Museum in Munich, Germany.

Lars has been at Le Meridien Munich for a year; prior to that, he worked in Dusseldorf and Santa Clara, California. "In the hotel business, you always have to travel to learn more," he says. "When I was younger, I decided to go somewhere else and learn about different cultures and people. This really helped me to see the world and enjoy life." Having traveled, Lars knows what it's like to be in an unfamiliar place. "You want to feel at home and safe, especially if you're traveling abroad," he continues. "You feel more comfortable if you see things that are similar to what's in your home country."

Deluxe suite at Le Meridien Munich, Munich, Germany.
Deluxe suite at Le Meridien Munich, Munich, Germany.

Le Meridien Munich has 381 rooms, but Stephanie emphasizes that the hotel doesn't feel that big. "We wanted guests to feel at home, not like they're in an airport lobby," Lars explains. The property is located across the street from Munich's main train station and is within walking distance of the shopping district and other major sights. Visitors can also take a bus to nearby attractions like Garmisch-Partenkirchen or Neuschwanstein from a stop in front of the hotel.

Pool and spa at Le Meridien Munich, Munich, Germany.
Pool and spa at Le Meridien Munich, Munich, Germany.

Each room has soundproof windows and, according to Lars, very comfortable beds. "The most important thing is that you sleep well at night and are ready the next day to explore the city again," he says. Stephanie was also impressed by the car service. The hotel has its own private garage and valet service, so when guests need the car, it's brought up; when they don't need it, the valets can whisk it away.

Related Photo Galleries:
Le Meridien Budapest Hungary Le Meridien Munich GermanyLe Meridien Vienna Austria

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2354

For more information visit www.lemeridien.com


Guests Include:

Axel Kammer, Sales Executive, Le Meridien, The Imperial Hotel, The Bristol Hotel, Vienna, Austria.
www.starwoodhotels.com

Lars Pursche, Director of Sales, Le Meridien Munich, Munich, Germany.
www.lemeridien.com

Hour 2

Topics Include:

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Lars Pursche, Director of Sales, Le Meridien Munich, Munich, Germany.
www.lemeridien.com

Click here for this segment's shownotes.


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Sven Segler, Sous-Chef, Le Meridien Munich, Munich, Germany.
www.lemeridien.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show sample the cuisine with Sven Segler, Sous-Chef at Le Meridien Munich in Munich, Germany. "Dining can be a challenge in a big city because you have so many options," Stephanie says. "I always find there's at least one night when I return to the hotel too tired to go out for dinner. At some hotels, this means you end up tired and hungry. Here, you can go to the restaurant or order room service."

Sven Segler, Sous-Chef, Le Meridien Munich, Munich, Germany.
Sven Segler, Sous-Chef, Le Meridien Munich, Munich, Germany.

Sven started his career in smaller hotels in Germany before working for Sheraton in Salzburg, Austria. He has been at Le Meridien Munich for two years now. The hotel's menu is unique because of its mix of French, Bavarian, and Asian food. Although the restaurant, Le Potager, has a French focus, it offers monthly specials ranging from steaks to pumpkin to schnitzel. "It's really nice for business visitors who may be coming back each month and don't want to have the same thing," says Sven.

Le Meridien Restaurant.
Le Meridien Restaurant.

Related Photo Galleries:
Le Meridien Budapest Hungary Le Meridien Munich GermanyLe Meridien Vienna Austria

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2357

For more information visit www.lemeridien.com


Link to this segment

Lisa Dobrowolski, Co-Owner, Canoe Bay, Chetek, Wisconsin, USA.
www.canoebay.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show stay closer to home with Lisa Dobrowolski, Co-Owner of Canoe Bay in Chetek, Wisconsin. Canoe Bay is a member of Relais & Chateaux. The resort is in the northwest corner of Wisconsin, closer to Minneapolis than to Door County or Milwaukee. Lisa suggests that visitors fly into Minneapolis and drive to Chetek from there.

Entrance to Canoe Bay, Chetek, Wisconsin, USA.
Entrance to Canoe Bay, Chetek, Wisconsin, USA.

Lisa describes Canoe Bay as "a small place on a big property." The resort has almost 300 acres of woods, three private lakes, and just 23 guest accommodations. Since the property caters exclusively to couples and adults, it only welcomes 46 guests at a time. Without children or families, it's easier for Canoe Bay to maintain a quiet, peaceful atmosphere. "It's a place where people who have driven from Chicago or Milwaukee get out and just listen to the quiet," says Lisa. "It's different from the places where you have nonstop alarms, phones, cars, and all that. It's an immediate change of pace."

Rear of Canoe Bay, Chetek, Wisconsin, USA.
Rear of Canoe Bay, Chetek, Wisconsin, USA.

Many guests arrive expecting to take advantage of all the activities Canoe Bay has to offer: snowshoeing, boating on the lake, biking, massages, a fitness center, and much more. The most popular activity, however, is relaxing. "When people get here, they decide to just take it easy instead," Lisa says. "We're a different kind of getaway. Lots of guests come because they're celebrating something – an anniversary, an advanced degree, the marriage of a child. It's a wonderful place to come by yourself, even." She particularly recommends a visit to the resort's library, which is frequently updated with a variety of reading material for guests to enjoy.

Lounge at Canoe Bay, Chetek, Wisconsin, USA.
Lounge at Canoe Bay, Chetek, Wisconsin, USA.

Canoe Bay was originally built as a camp in the 1960s. After being used in the 1960s and 1970s, it sat unused for ten years. Lisa and her husband bought the property in 1992, restored it, and opened it as Canoe Bay the very next year. "We took every camp building and remodeled it to fit our vision of a couples' resort," Lisa explains. "Since then, we've built just as many new buildings." The renovations were inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie style. "We try to make buildings grow from the ground, so they seem of a piece with the natural surroundings," she continues.

Suite at Canoe Bay, Chetek, Wisconsin, USA.
Suite at Canoe Bay, Chetek, Wisconsin, USA.

Canoe Bay became a member of Relais & Chateaux in 1998. "We were so honored to be invited to join and hope that we represent it well," says Lisa. "It's such an inspiring group – we learn every time we visit other member properties – and this hospitality style just works for us." After 18 years, the resort has seen plenty of repeat visitors as well as first-time guests. "We've had people come for all 18 seasons," she adds, "and there are always new guests, too. It's great to see it spread by word of mouth, to see how people get their arms around it."

Conference room at Canoe Bay, Chetek, Wisconsin, USA.
Conference room at Canoe Bay, Chetek, Wisconsin, USA.

One of Canoe Bay's advantages is that it's a short drive from major cities like Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Chicago, but far from the stresses of everyday life. Most guests take their meals on the property; breakfast is brought to the rooms every morning. "If you're hungry at lunchtime, we can bring you lunch, and in the evening people come to our restaurant for dinner, where we do a multi-course meal featuring fresh produce," Lisa says. "Of course, you can dine in your room if you like, but the dining room has tables for two looking out onto the lake. It's a wonderful experience to be in the room with the wonderful candlelight, good smells form the kitchen, and quiet conversation."

Library at Canoe Bay, Chetek, Wisconsin, USA.
Library at Canoe Bay, Chetek, Wisconsin, USA.

"Our lives are so frenetic that it's important to schedule some time to be away," Lisa continues. "This won't be the place where you see the latest show or go to the biggest party. But it's a place to gather yourself, renew a relationship, and appreciate the inspiration of nature. We're open year-round; the most popular seasons are summer and fall. But winter is beautiful and more focused on weekends of snowshoeing, extra long soaks in the whirlpool, and massages in front of the fireplace."

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2358

For more information visit www.canoebay.com


Link to this segment

Bill Miller, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, CheapOAir.com.
www.cheapoair.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show fly away with Bill Miller, Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for CheapOAir.com. Stephanie just returned from Eastern Europe and is eager to go back. She advises travelers to go during the low season if they can; just because it's winter doesn't mean the weather will be unpleasantly cold. "I arrived in Budapest on November 4 and had sunny, bright, warm weather," she says. "We had a couple drizzly days and one rainy day out of seventeen."

Le Meridien Hotel, in Vienna, Austria.
Le Meridien Hotel, in Vienna, Austria.

Bill has fares to Budapest, Prague, and Vienna for a trip departing Saturday, January 8, 2011, and returning Saturday, January 15. All fares quoted are round-trip, taxes and fees not included. From New York City to Vienna, the fare is $405; Washington, D.C. to Prague, $368; Atlanta to Vienna, $441; Miami to Vienna, $586; Chicago to Prague, $475; Boston to Budapest, $462; Seattle to Vienna, $567; San Francisco to Prague, $571; and Southern California to Vienna, $511. Bill notes that Washington, D.C. had the best fares in all three markets: to Budapest, it's $469; to Vienna, it's $391; and to Prague, it's just $368.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2359

For more information visit www.cheapoair.com


Guests Include:

Lars Pursche, Director of Sales, Le Meridien Munich, Munich, Germany.
www.lemeridien.com

Sven Segler, Sous-Chef, Le Meridien Munich, Munich, Germany.
www.lemeridien.com

Lisa Dobrowolski, Co-Owner, Canoe Bay, Chetek, Wisconsin, USA.
www.canoebay.com

Bill Miller, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, CheapOAir.com.
www.cheapoair.com

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