Travel Expert and Radio Talk Show Host Stephanie Abrams - Travelers411 Travel Radio Shownotes - October 01, 2011
"Travelers411" Radio Show - October 01, 2011
img Exploring Innovative Lightweight Luggage Options with Scott Applebee of Travelpro; Learning About the Rich History of the Hotel Baur au Lac in Zurich, Switzerland with Michel Rey; Discovering the Making of Kona Coffee with Trent Bateman in Kona, Big Island, Hawaii; Discussing Important New Legal Developments for Air Travelers with Travel Attorney Al Anolik; Discovering the Connection of Science and Culture at the Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii; and a New Option for Luxury Lodging in New Orleans at the Hotel Modern from Hotelier Klaus Ortlieb.

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Hour 1

Topics Include:

Radio Show Host and Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams declares that as travelers, "We have to evolve into smarter mice now that the airports and the airlines have created bigger mouse traps for us," referring to the need of adapting luggage to the changing weight and size regulations imposed by carriers. She feels that travelers must economize.


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Scott Applebee, Vice President of Marketing, Travelpro International, Based in Boca Raton, Florida, USA.
www.travelpro.com

Stephanie welcomes Scott Applebee, the Vice President of Marketing for Travelpro International, the company that manufactures Travelpro and Atlantic Luggage. The company recently introduced a new line of lightweight luggage and Stephanie is curious about what’s new.

Scott identifies this new line as Maxlite 2, the second generation of Maxlite luggage. He says it’s their lightest ever, made possible through recent technological innovation. The company offers a 22" carry on piece with weight reduced to under six and a half pounds. He adds, "Anybody can make light weight luggage, but it also has to be durable and at Travelpro, it has to carry a lifetime warranty against defects in material workmanship for the life of the product."

Stephanie recounts first seeing a piece of the company’s in use by a fellow traveler, a uniquely designed and efficient garment bag that she went on to use in her travels for years. Scott says that one of Travelpro’s most popular garment bags is the carry on size. He explains that one recent change in the luggage market is that due to high airline fees for checked bags, many people want to carry on a bigger bag and this has necessitated more carry on luggage models being developed. He adds that Travelpro’s Rollaboard is their most popular model.

Stephanie reaffirms that she thinks their luggage pieces are of "phenomenal quality". She mentions that one issue currently facing travlers is weight, and another is the limited space available in the overhead container on a small plane. Scott describes the Travelpro Rollaboard as being 22" long, this size referring primarily to the body frame, with wheel and extension handle dimensions accommodated into the overall framework so as to fit in overhead bins. He recommends that to be "absolutely fail safe", travelers can get a 20" Rollaboard, which is the so-called "international" carry on size and will fit in most overhead bins.

He adds that it is important to ask yourself if most of your travel is domestic or international when determining what size luggage to purchase. Scott says that even on larger planes everyone is now carrying on a bag, and this creates pressure on flight attendants and other passengers to find space to accommodate so many bags.  In the business, they refer to this as the "battle of the overhead bins", he jokes. Stephanie also jokes that if you have a twenty pound suitcase, you should be packing a lot of clothing made out of rayon because so much of your weight allowance is taken up by the luggage itself.

Discussing the available products, Scott says that most people would be checking the 25" bag (Travelpro’s most sold) and weighs under eight pounds or the 28" for longer trips. Stephanie says that the lightest piece she’s ever found is twelve, so this is a significant difference. Both agree that the cost of overweight fees and extra bag fees can make it seem not worth the bargain to purchase special items to bring home, so planning your luggage size and weight carefully can be a help for any traveler. Stephanie also points out that checked luggage is not subject to any kind of volume discount, so travlelers can end up paying more for each bag checked.

Scott mentions that Travelpro also owns a company called Austin House, a manufacturer of travel accessories, and their number one seller is a scale. This causes Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams to tell listeners to be alert to the sensitivity of scales, warning that travelers should plan and be prepared ahead of time with items that can be removed from luggage and carried in pockets, in case airport scales are not calibrated quite the same as home scales.

Related Photo Galleries:
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Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?p=13402

For more information visit www.travelpro.com


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Michel Rey, General Manager, Baur au Lac Hotel, Zurich, Switzerland, Europe.
www.bauraulac.ch

Radio Show Host and Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams welcomes Michel Rey, the General Manager of the Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich, Switzerland. He comes from a family of hoteliers, and the family Rey are cousins to the family Ritz. Michel reveals that he spent the greater part of his life in Zurich, saying he was "exported" after his birth there to Monte Carlo, where he lived until he was five years old. He then moved to Lucerne where his father had been appointed manager of the Grand Hotel National. In fact, his father was his direct predecessor at the Baur au Lac, appointed to the management there in 1954. Michel has lived more than 50 years in the hotel itself, including during the time that his father managed the establishment.

Stephanie is charmed by this history and thinks an illustrated children’s book should be written to tell the interesting story of a child growing up in a hotel and eventually taking it over. She mentions the similar situation of the Viking Hotel in Newport, Rhode Island, under the management of Marlen Scalzi - also following in her father’s footsteps.

Turning to the region, Stephanie admits that all she’s ever done in Zurich is change trains, so she asks Michel to fill her in on what a traveler’s missing when using Zurich solely as a connection. He confirms that there’s a lot to miss, beginning with Zurich’s unique position of sharing a common point with Geneva through a lake. He says that in the last ten or twelve years, Zurich has developed into "an absolutely great leisure destination", due in no small part to its location in the very heart of Europe. He adds that the international airport is well connected and convenient for getting into the city.

Michel says that Zurich is known for offering great shopping and on a much more condensed and therefore convenient scale. He contends that shopping in Paris takes days, but since Zurich is small and convenient -  you can "do your shopping in a handkerchief!",  directly translating a French saying that Stephanie jokes works interestingly in English too. Offering a financial benefit, Zurich is not on the Euro but uses the Swiss franc, with one Swiss franc equalling $1.13. Stephanie explains that inflation is under control in Zurich so there is better value for your money.

The Baur au Lac enjoys an excellent location, situated twenty yards from Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich’s main downtown street, major shopping area, and headquarters of UBS and Credit Suisse. It is also on the shore of Lake Zurich and has its own private park for guests. The hotel offers 120 units comprising forty suites and eighty guest rooms.

Since its opening in 1844, the hotel has had an "incredible richness of history",  seeing as guests a Russian Tsaritsa and King and Queen of Sweden. He adds that the proximity to the Zurich Symphony Orchestra hall means that many great composers and conductors including Wagner, Rachmaninoff, Rubinstein, Wagner, Listz, and Placido Domingo among others have been counted among the illustrious guests.

Related Photo Galleries:
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Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?p=13403

For more information visit www.bauraulac.ch


Fun Facts:

The Baur au Lac Hotel is, according to legend, the location of the invention of the Nobel Prize. Alfred Nobel stayed there for weeks holding meetings with Baroness Bertha von Suttner as she convinced him of the necessity of the prize.

Some history and facts about the Rey family and the Baur au Lac: Michel’s father Georges Rey was twenty years old in 1931 when he first worked in the hotel for its owners, the Kracht family. He says that the Baur au Lac is in a unique situation in the world of five star deluxe hotels by still remaining in the property of the family that opened it, with Andrea Kracht currently representing the sixth generation. His grandfather Kracht worked when he was twenty years old at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, where the then managing director was Michel’s great grand uncle, Victor Rey, meaning that the two families are looking back on a relationship spanning around one hundred years. He adds that this will soon come to an end as he has no children, and that there will be "a total change in culture in that regard".


Travel Tips:

Stephanie suggests that when shopping for new pieces of luggage, travelers should weigh pieces and take this into consideration before buying - you want the most lightweight luggage you can travel with that’s still well built and will allow you to pack as much as you want without going overweight or using a second suitcase.


Guests Include:

Scott Applebee, Vice President of Marketing, Travelpro International, Based in Boca Raton, Florida, USA.
www.travelpro.com

Michel Rey, General Manager, Baur au Lac Hotel, Zurich, Switzerland, Europe.
www.bauraulac.ch

Hour 2

Topics Include:

Radio Show Host and Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams broadcasting live from Hawaii points out that in order to stand out, beach destinations have to have something extra to offer to make them desirable when there are so many similar beach destinations available. Hawaii has the "delight of the cultural background" and warmth of the aloha spirit. It also has the addition of Kona coffee.


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Trent Bateman, Owner and Founder, Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation, Kona, Big Island, Hawaii, USA.
www.mountainthunder.com

Staying at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, Stephanie was introduced to Trent Bateman, the Owner and Founder of Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation, a premium, 100% Kona coffee operation. The land, twenty acres in the rainforest above the airport in Kona on the BigIsland in Hawaii, was originally acquired in the 1960s when it was sold by one of the queen’s estates due to financial difficulties. It’s the highest grown coffee and the largest organic coffee farm in the state of Hawaii.

"You gotta make a lot of mistakes," Trent replies honestly when asked about learning the expensive process of growing Kona coffee. He and his family relocated to Hawaii from Newport Beach where Trent chose to spend his retirement working the newly acquired land and learning to grow highly desirable Kona coffee. He says that other farmers and mills were very protective of their methods in growing and fermenting coffee, so all of his methodology is self taught through the limited literature available combined with trial and error.

He began winning "cupping contest" awards at events where farmers compete for professional judges. Mountain Thunder has won a gold medal every year for the last ten years. Major notice came through exposure on national TV including on the Discovery Channel’s "Dirty Jobs", and this year they won the Good Food Awards in San Francisco. They competed with all coffees from around the world and this marked the first time that Kona won a national or international award in 150 years.

Mountain Thunder gives tours of the plantation every day, opening at nine with the first tour at ten and the last at four. He says you see coffee trees with red ripe fruit where guests are welcome to pick a fruit and taste a coffee berry. He says that they have the pea berry, about 3% of the crop. They are a state licensed mill, certified extra fancy as their top grade, and also includes fancy, number one, select, and the bottom grade prime, used in Kona blends. Mountain Thunder is only branded as Extra fancy, fancy, and peaberry.
The tour also shows the ancient Mamaki tea grown on the plantation, and features a "tea class" with a tea tasting. It moves into the dry mill where the paper husk is removed from the green coffee bean. Towards the end of the tour guests are taken into the roasting kitchen to see Kona coffee being roasted, and then treated to the company’s own chocolate factory.

Related Photo Galleries:
Coming Soon!

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?p=13404

For more information visit www.mountainthunder.com


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Alexander Anolik, Travel Industry Attorney.
www.travellaw.com

Radio Show Host and Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams says that she finds it troubling that some airlines are saying they will give back the tax being collected by the government while other airlines claim that it’s too much trouble and it won’t be returned. Al says there is no provision forcing them to return the money beyond several senators threatening investigations, but the bottom line is the consumer being ripped off.

Stephanie relates this situation to a non refundable ticket not being used at all, yet taxes being kept by the airline resulting in significant loss for the customer. Al agrees and says that it wouldn’t pass in other industries, adding that some consumer rights will soon be instituted including a raise in the amount of money compensated to consumers bumped from flights. Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams likens this to people who "have made an Olympic sport" out of accumulating frequent flier miles due to their similarly restrictive guidelines. Al calls the frequent flier program as "the biggest scam going", especially when the additional amounts being invested in the carrier by the consumer is compared to the released information pertaining to the actual cost of transporting a person across certain distances.

January 24th, 2012 will see new rules taking effect regarding issues such as over bookings and guidelines for passengers on planes stopped on the tarmac for extended periods of time. Al says that the best new rule is "the forum selection rule" meaning that anywhere a carrier flies is a place where consumers can sue them in small claims court. He notes this as an important development for consumers. Stephanie agrees, adding that it gives the benefit of not necessarily having to travel if the carrier services a customer’s area, and it allows the opportunity for customers to have their grievances actually be heard by a judge.

Stephanie asks the important question of how consumers can actually make a claim for their rights as travelers, particularly when they are often discouraged from taking extensive action by "fast talking" representatives. Al says that there is a difference between making a claim and making a complaint. For claims he refers customers to a carrier’s contract of carriage, which is the agreement found online detailing the rights of a traveler with that carrier. Beyond that, he says there is the Department of Transportation who may fine the carrier, but this doesn’t necessarily benefit the customer.

The new rules going into effect force carriers to establish a customer service plan, detailing a wide variety of information relating to their services including lowest fares offered, delivering baggage on time, and prompt ticket refunds, among others. The airline must have this plan but it does not have to be part of their contract of carriage, meaning that if they don’t actually do these things they cannot be sued. He also adds that it is now allowed to make an official complaint to a carrier through a customer’s Twitter account. However, carriers can mandate that only complaints routed through the company website are legitimate, although the Twitter complaints must still be logged. Airlines are also required to have a designated employee acknowledge the complaint in 30 days and do something about it in 60 days.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?p=13405

For more information visit www.travellaw.com


Fun Facts:

Trent explains that coffee is actually a fruit which looks like a cherry and has two seeds.

During its processing, coffee is actually fermented: first the coffee berry is squeezed in a pinching machine called a pulper releasing a wet parchment into a tank, which is covered with two inches of water, beginning a natural fermentation of the sugar coating around the bean. This creates a combination of alcohol and CO2 in a passive fermentation. After a fourteen hour fermentation in an open vat, the alcohol has evaporated and the tank is bubbling.


Travel Tips:

Al strongly advises consumers not to take vouchers if bumped from an over booked flight because airlines are legally required to send a check the next day which is plain cash, whereas a voucher comes with a myriad of restrictions.

Al refers to what’s known as "flight attendant rage" and is confident that if a passenger attempts any kind of verbal combat with a flight attendant, "you will lose". This can lead to arrest upon landing, and even accusations of the slightest physical misconduct can lead to a lawsuit and very expensive bail. He suggests holding your tongue and taking action professionally after the incident.


Guests Include:

Trent Bateman, Owner and Founder, Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation, Kona, Big Island, Hawaii, USA.
www.mountainthunder.com

Alexander Anolik, Travel Industry Attorney.
www.travellaw.com

Hour 3

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

Jeff Harman, Sales & Marketing Manager, Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii, University of Hawaii, Hilo Campus, Big Island, Hawaii, USA.
www.imiloahawaii.org

During her stay in Hawaii, Radio Show Host and Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams says that she is confused by the Hawaiian skies because she can’t use constellations for orientation as she does at home. Luckily, she found her way to the Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii located on the University of Hawaii Hilo Campus on Big Island.

Her guest there is Jeff Harman, the Sales and Marketing Manager for the Imiloa Astronomy Center. He has been at the facility for several years, coming from a position in Maui at the Pacific Whale Foundation - "From the seas to the skies!" Stephanie says. Jeff describes the mission of the Imiloa Astronomy Center, opened in 2006, as sharing Hawaiian culture and science to inspire explorations. The Center is one of the first informal learning centers in the world to blend an indigenous culture with cutting edge science. It stemmed from the presence of two very distinct communities on the islands - one of scientists advocating and operating observatories on the summit of Mauna Kea, and a vigorous group of Hawaiian cultural practitioners.

The groups were at odds since Mauna Kea is a sacred site to the cultural practitioners and is viewed as a primary earth-sky connection from this cultural perspective, but from a scientific point of view it is allegedly the best point in the world from which to view the night skies. Imiloa Astronomy Center became a place for dialogue between the two groups by developing the informal science center blending Hawaiian cultural exhibits and astronomy exhibits with world’s first 3D stereoscopic planetarium able to interpret and show data developed there.

Stephanie and Jeff say that a visitor’s first impression upon arriving is the sight of three cone shaped buildings representing the three volcanoes on Hawaii island - Hualalai, Mauna Loa, and Mauna Kea. The buildings are clad in titanium shingles to reflect the sky and create the feeling of earth-sky connection. They are connected with the University of Hawaii at Hilo Science and Technology Park and almost all observatories have a base facility there, including support facilities for staff to be rotated from working in the thin air at the top of the peak and to collect and work with the data being sent down.

The gardens at Imiloa are organized to represent the five different zones on the Big Island and feature endemic, indigenous, and canoe plants. Jeff explains that "canoe plants" is the term for the situation when early navigators brought breadfruit, sweet potatoes, and bananas to the island in their canoes. Thus, a whole section of the garden contains plants that were Polynesian in origin brought by the canoes.

The planetarium at the Imiloa Astronomy Center hosts a variety of shows, including a popular weekend children’s show at 10:00 A.M. Shows change quarterly; currently the show is "Hayabusa: Back to Earth", the story of a Japanese satellite and its journey to a distant asteroid. At 1:00 is their signature show - "Maunakea: Between Earth and Sky" which gives a cultural background combined with science, and gives an idea of what it’s like on the mountain. At 2:00 is a trilogy of 3D light shows, allowing the curious a chance to get to know the observatories and gain access that wouldn’t otherwise be available. Friday nights a rock show can be seen, and Jeff says the sound in the planetarium is amazing.

Jeff says there is a strong tie between the Astronomy Center and the community, and he is proud that it has become a community resource. He says that each year they see 12 to 14,000 schoolchildren from all over the world. For potential visitors, Jeff brainstorms with Stephanie about other vacation activities in the area and mentions the proximity of several golf courses. He recommends the courses in Waimea, and even describes one located in Hawaii Volcanoes Nationa lPark - he says the atmosphere is cool and misty and an overall good experience.

Related Photo Galleries:
Coming Soon!

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?p=13406

For more information visit www.imiloahawaii.org


Link to this segment

Klaus Ortlieb, Managing Partner, Hotel Modern New Orleans, Garden District, Lee Circle, New Orleans, USA.

Radio Show Host and Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams welcomes past guest and hotelier KlausOrtlieb, active in the New York luxury hotel scene and now Managing Partner in a new property, the Hotel Modern New Orleans in the Garden District, Lee Circle, New Orleans. Freshly landed in New Orleans, Klaus joins Stephanie on a call to give the details about his soon to open hotel.

The name was inspired by the building itself , which was very modern in the 1960s and is like art itself, according to Klaus. The hotel’s complete opening is in November, including hotel restaurant Tamarind which will serve Vietnamese-French cuisine from chef Dominique Macquet, nominated as the best chef in New Orleans. Klaus says that French food is actually descendant from oriental cuisine and the two share many ingredients, mixing well to create a wonderful combination that can be experienced at Tamarind.

There will also be a courtyard to enjoy in nice weather, and a lounge with live international performances. The opening will feature acts including the rock duo Amadou and Mariam from Mali, as well as singer Martha Wainwright with others soon to follow. The plan for the lounge is to present music that is more international with some jazz mixed in, as well as burlesque shows and live acts including comedians. The lounge is called Bellocq, after New Orleans photographer E.J. Bellocq who photographed women performing burlesque in the French Quarter.

The Hotel Modern is located on Lee Circle in the Garden District, fifteen blocks and a ten minute walk from the French Quarter. It’s a lively and interesting spot, with all the parades in New Orleans assembling and starting at Lee Circle. The hotel is made of two buildings, with the one for guest accommodations featuring a light gray exterior that will be lit at night in orange. Klaus says it is fitting for the city itself, which is notoriously very colorful and the daytime gray gives it an elegance also associated with New Orleans.

The lounge building is done in red and black, and the restaurant is decorated in wood and more traditionally Vietnamese colors of green and silver. Show Host Stephanie Abrams follows his description of the colors and decor by saying she has confidence in the "wow factor" that the hotel will deliver. Klaus describes a "modern eclectic" design for this hotel, compared to his hotels in New York which have a more "homey" design.

All of the rooms are large, with none under 300 square feet. Each room will feature an old fashioned bed and headboard, a set of bookshelves, and antique furniture from upstate New York, including stands, a sliding table, and a writing desk.

Related Photo Galleries:
Coming Soon!

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?p=13407

For more information visit


Fun Facts:

Mauna Kea is the tallest point from the ocean floor in the world - taller than Mount Everest almost 14,000 feet above sea level

Jeff Harman from the Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii shares that Polynesian navigation used the stars and developed a star compass.


Travel Tips:

The Imiloa Astronomy Center is closed Mondays and open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. The planetarium has daily shows at 11:00, 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00, plus rock shows on Friday nights and children’s shows at 10:00 A.M. on weekends.

Stephanie recommends for a one week vacation, spend four nights in the Kona area and two nights in Hilo - three if you’re flying out from Hilo, but if departing from Kona save the last night to spend there and have a perfect balance of the experience on the Big Island of Hawaii.


Guests Include:

Jeff Harman, Sales & Marketing Manager, Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii, University of Hawaii, Hilo Campus, Big Island, Hawaii, USA.
www.imiloahawaii.org

Klaus Ortlieb, Managing Partner, Hotel Modern New Orleans, Garden District, Lee Circle, New Orleans, USA.

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