Travel Expert and Radio Talk Show Host Stephanie Abrams - "Travel with Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show Shownotes for January 31, 2010
Travel with Stephanie Abrams! - January 31, 2010 - Shownotes & Audio Archive

"Travel With Stephanie Abrams” Broadcasts Live from Ponce, Puerto Rico; Tourism in the Municipality of Ponce; The Ramada Ponce Hotel; The Family Owned and Operated Hotel Melia Ponce; Cheap Airfare to Puerto Rico from CheapOAir.com; Norwegian Cruise Line; Butterfly Farm at the Havensight Cruise Port, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas.

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Hour 1

Topics Include:

The "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!” Radio Show is broadcasting live from the wood paneled lobby reception area at the Hotel Melia Ponce in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Travel Expert and Radio Show Host Stephanie Abrams says the property has the kind of ambience you would expect to find in a stately European hotel. She says her initial impression of Ponce, Puerto Rico was that she had stepped across the ocean to Spain. This is Stephanie's first visit to the city and she says many travelers do not make it out of the greater San Juan area when they visit Puerto Rico. Stephanie says she was stunned by the gorgeous architecture of the city and notes also that the city streets were immaculately clean.

Firemen Descendants Homes
Firemen Descendants Homes, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Link to this segment

Amir Seneriz, Director of Tourism for the Municipality of Ponce, joins the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams” Radio Show. Amir Seneriz was born in a small town in the center of Puerto Rico. He said he always wanted to live in Ponce and knew that he would move to Ponce to pursue his university education.

Amir Seneriz
Amir Seneriz, Director of Tourism, Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

The Hotel Melia Ponce is located across form the Plaza Las Delicias and the historic Firehouse Museum or Parque de Bombas. The Parque de Bombas was constructed in 1882 as the main exhibit for the Exhibition Trade Fair which Seneriz says displayed products important in commerce and trade at the time. It became the main dispatch station for Ponce's firefighting operations in 1885. The building is made of mostly wood and is painted with red and black stripes. Seneriz states that these are the colors of Ponce. Travel Expert and Radio Show Host Stephanie Abrams noticed antique fire engines outside of the building which Seneriz says are from the 1920's.

Primera Iglesia Metodista
Primera Iglesia Metodista, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Stephanie comments on how clean the city streets are in Ponce. She arrived in the city at night but said that she was astonished at how the lamp lit streets looked "shiny”. Amir Seneriz states that this is made possible by municipality employees who work both night and day.

Parque de Bombas
Museum at Parque de Bombas, 1883 Firehouse, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Municipality of Ponce's main attractions are concentrated in the downtown area of the city. The Museum of Puerto Rican Music has French-style architecture and was originally the residence of the Serralles-Nevarez family. The museum gives a chronological overview of music in Puerto Rico. It traces Puerto Rican musical origins and has Taino, Spanish and African musical instruments on display. The Municipality Band holds free weekly musical concerts on Sundays in the city's main square.

Primera Iglesia Metodista
Primera Iglesia Metodista, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

While passing through the historic downtown at night Stephanie said she saw the Armstrong-Poventud Residence, a historic house designed by architect Maneul Victor Domenech that was built in 1899. As a cultural museum Amir Seneriz says the home has an exhibit that show how the Armstrong family lived in the early nineteen hundreds. The patriarch of the home, Carlos Walter Armstrong, was a businessman and banker who also served on the Danish consul in Ponce.

Parque de Bombas
Antique Fire Engine at Parque de Bombas, 1883 Firehouse, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Stephanie also passed La Perla Theater when she drove into the city. La Perla is a historic theater that remains in use today. Amir Seneriz says productions are put on in both English and Spanish.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1175

For more information visit http://www.visitponce.com


Travel Expert and Radio Show Host Stephanie Abrams arrived in the city of Ponce at night. She says that as she drove into the city at night there were lights on both sides of the highway meridian that spelled out "Ponce”. She says the display lets you know at once that you have entered some place special.

Parque de Bombas
Parque de Bombas, 1883 Firehouse, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Link to this segment

Jessica Portalatin, Assistant General Manager of the Ramada Ponce in Ponce, Puerto Rico, joins the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!” Radio Show. The property has seventy guestrooms, six of which are located in a historic building that dates back to 1882. The hotel's Lola restaurant is also located in the historic building. Adjacent to this is the new part of the property which opened July 1, 2009. The modern building is painted purple and blue. The historic building is characterized by its Spanish-style architecture and an abundant use of woods.

Touring Trolley, Ponce, Puerto Rico
Touring Trolley, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Jessica Portalatin says the Ramada Ponce appeals to both corporate and leisure visitors. She says that one of the challenges travelers face in the city is that there is so much to do. Attractions include the Parque de Bombas, La Perla Theater, Guadalupe Cathedral, Ponce Art Museum, La Guancha Boardwalk, Tibes Ceremonial Park, Hacienda Buena Vista and the Serralles Castle and Vigia Cross (both situated on top of Vigia Hill overlooking the city). Jessica Portalatin says that almost everything is within walking distance of the hotel.

Jessica Portalatin
Jessica Portalatin, Assistant General Manager, Ramada Ponce Hotel, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1174

For more information visit http://www.ramadaponce.com


Link to this segment

Maria Melia Albors, the Matriarch of the Hotel Melia Ponce, joins the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!” Radio Show. Maria Melia Albors' grandfather originally started the hotel. He was from Majorca, Spain and moved to Puerto Rico to take an accounting job. When he arrived he discovered that the owners of the business were in jail. He decided to settle in Ponce and opened a small grocery store and later a restaurant before starting the hotel. Maria Melia Albors states that her grandfather imported many goods from Europe which established his reputation as a popular grocer in the city.

Maria Melia Albors
Maria Melia Albors, Owner and Matriarch, Hotel Melia Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Maria Melia Albors says that Ponce is called "the pearl of the south”. She says it is aunique city because it has a more laid back atmosphere. Albors states, "We still take siesta”. She says that the people in Ponce are also incredibly warm.

El Museo Castillo Serralles
Antique Rum Still, El Museo Castillo Serralles, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1172

For more information visit http://www.hotelmeliapr.com


Fun Facts:

The Parque de Bombas operated as fire station until 1990.

The University of Puerto Rico at Ponce's school motto is "¡Rojo y Negro Siempre!" ("Red and Black, Forever!").

Ramada means "a shaded resting place” in Spanish.



Guests Include:

Amir Seneriz, Director of Tourism, Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico.
www.visitponce.com

Jessica Portalatin, Assistant General Manager, Ramada Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico.
www.ramadaponce.com

Maria Melia Albors, Matriarch of the Hotel Melia Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico.
www.hotelmeliapr.com

Hour 2

Topics Include:

The "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!” Radio Show is broadcasting live from the Hotel Melia Ponce in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Ponce is located an hour and a half south of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Travel Expert and Radio Show Host Stephanie Abrams says the city and municipality is "packed with museums, gorgeous architecture, history and culture”. Stephanie says if you want to have an authentic experience that reflects historic Puerto Rico "this is the place”. Stephanie says it is also reminiscent of "Old World Spain”.

Nicolas Albors
Nicolas Albors, General Manager, Hotel Melia Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Radio Show Host Stephanie Abrams says that staying in a family owned and operated hotel enhances the experience of the guest as the atmosphere is different from "even the finest of corporately managed hotels”. She comments, "You make a bonded connection with the people who own the property”. Stephanie says she feels she has been adopted by the family who own and manage the Hotel Melia Ponce in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

St. Thomas Synagogue
St. Thomas Synagogue, Charlotte Amalie, US St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Oldest Continuous in North America.

Link to this segment

Nicolas Albors, the General Manager of the Hotel Melia Ponce, joins the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!” Radio Show. Stephanie says the property is reminiscent of hotels in Spain. Nicolas Albors' wife's grandfather was a Spanish immigrant as was Albors' own grandfather. His family emigrated from Valencia, Spain where Stephanie says there is a Lladro factory. Lladro manufactures porcelain figures. Stephanie states, "What you save on the Lladro will pay for your trip to Spain”.

El Museo Castillo Serralles
El Museo Castillo Serralles, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Nicolas Albors grandfather was a soldier during the Spanish-American war. After the conflict ended he decided to settle in Ponce and went into the shoe business. Albors was one of eight brothers and decided to split from the family business.

La Guancha Park
Pelicans on the Railings at the Boardwalk, La Guancha Park, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Nicolas Albors states that "Ponce has a unique character different from San Juan”. He says the area played an important role in the history of music as the Caribbean musical genre "danza” originated (within Puerto Rico) in Ponce. The city, he states, is important both politically and socially. He says those who emigrated from Spain wanted to move away from Spanish culture and have something of their own. Albors says that is how the city evolved and is one of the remarkable aspects of it. He says the city was considered once to be the second capital of Puerto Rico. Stephanie says the Ponce has its own personality and Albors says that despite the influx of cultures it is a distinctly Puerto Rican city. He says there is sense of Puerto Rican pride associated with the development of the city.

700 Year Old Tree, Ponce, Puerto Rico
700 Year Old Tree, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Nicolas Albors says that the design for the Hotel Melia Ponce was inspired by a small hotel in Barcelona, Spain. Stephanie says that the tile on the second floor is similar to what you would see in an Old World Spanish hotel. She says the feeling of Europe is evident also in the layout of the property as one level up from the lobby there is an open air area. She says the architecture is a "unique mix of cultures with the Spanish influence reinvented”.

El Museo Castillo Serralles
Gardens at El Museo Castillo Serralles, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Nicolas Albors recommends travelers spend at least three nights in the city. He says guests should first visit the Museum of History of Ponce. The Hotel Melia Ponce is in the heart of the Historic District of Ponce and the museum is within walking distance of the property. Albors says another must-see attraction is the Serralles Castle Museum, a mansion located on top of Vigia Hill overlooking the city. Serralles Castle was built in the 1930's by Juan Eugenio Serralles who founded the local rum producer Destileria Serralles. It's most popular brand is Ron Don Q. Today the mansion serves as a museum with information on the rum industry in Puerto Rico.

El Museo Castillo Serralles
Chair at El Museo Castillo Serralles, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Nicolas Albors says Ponce had the first port on the island that belonged to Puerto Rico. He states that there was a lot of contraband shipped there and as such many people were not paying taxes to the Spanish government. Others were attracted to Ponce because of the degree of freedom from the Spanish. Albors says they had the opportunity to participate in the development of the city.

El Museo Castillo Serralles
El Museo Castillo Serralles, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1171

For more information visit http://www.hotelmeliapr.com


Link to this segment

Raul Albors, Executive Manager of the Hotel Melia Ponce, joins the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!” Radio Show. In Spain there is a line of Melia brand hotels the Raul Albors says are not affiliated with the Puerto Rican property. Albors' grandfather, Bartolo Melia, immigrated to Ponce from Majorca, Spain in 1890. Albors says that his grandfather started a small grocery store in the town square in 1893. Melia decided to build a house next to the market in 1895 which he later turned into a hotel.

Raul Albors
Raul Albors, Executive Manager, Hotel Melia Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Raul Albors says Hotel Melia Ponce is a historic landmark in the downtown of the city. He states that the hotels caters to both leisure and business travelers and updates to all the latest trends. It has Wi-Fi Internet, a business center and other standard technological amenities. Free breakfast is served daily from 7:00 AM to 10:30 AM alongside a panoramic view of the city.

Gilberto De La Cruz
Gilberto De La Cruz, Stepson of the Last Fire Commisioner Senor Pena, Firemen Descendants Homes, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Raul Albors says the property is "colonial and charming”. He says that he and his family work to make guests feel at home. Raul Albors is the fourth generation of his family to operate the hotel and plans to pass the tradition on to his own children.

Lion Statue
Lion Statue with the Face of Rafael Cordero Santiago Former Mayor, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1173

For more information visit http://www.hotelmeliapr.com


Link to this segment

Bill Miller, Senior VP of Strategic Partnerships for Travelong, Inc., returns to "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!” to talk about the services provided by CheapOAir.com. Miller states that CheapOAir addresses all travel needs especially with regards to providing affordable airfare. Miller states that CheapOAir.com has several databases which allow representatives to search millions of airfares and provide the traveler with the cheapest rates. CheapOAir.com has twenty four hour customer service.

Scotland
Scotland, United Kingdom.

Bill Miller lists rates available at CheapOAir.com for travel to Puerto Rico. The airfare is for Saturday March 20, 2010 with a return date of March 25, 2010. Miller says it is for a roundtrip flight to and from San Juan, Puerto Rico and does not include additional taxes: Boston $220 USD, New York City $ 194 USD, Philadelphia $ 275 USD, Pittsburg $276 USD, Chicago $247 USD, Baltimore/D.C. $222 USD, Charlotte $279 USD, Atlanta $250 USD, Tampa $247 USD and from South Florida it is $180 USD.

Hong Kong
Boats in Harbor, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic.

Bill Miller lists roundtrip airfare available directly to Ponce (taxes not included): New York $206 USD Chicago $259 USD, Atlanta $247 USD and South Florida $270 USD.

Bill Miller says there are also great rates at CheapOAir.com for international airfare. He lists roundtrip flights not including taxes: Seattle to Shanghai $553 USD, San Francisco to Beijing $765 USD and New York to London $620 USD.

Beijing, China
Dancers, Beijing, China.

Bill Miller advises customers to book at least thirty five days in advance to receive the best rates.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1176

For more information visit http://www.cheapoair.com


Fun Facts:

The Puerto Rican national anthem was originally performed in the musical genre style of "danza” but was later altered.

Destileria Serralles makes the Captain Morgan Rum brand at its factory in Puerto Rico though the brand is owned by the company Diageo.



Guests Include:

Nicolas Albors, Owner and General Manager, Hotel Melia Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico.
www.hotelmeliapr.com

Raul Albors, Executive Manager, Hotel Melia Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico.
www.hotelmeliapr.com

Bill Miller, Senior VP of Strategic Partnerships, Travelong, Inc.
www.cheapoair.com

Hour 3

Topics Include:

Travel Expert and Radio Show Host Stephanie Abrams is broadcasting live from Ponce, Puerto Rico at the end of her travel in the Caribbean. She has just finished producing shows in San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, West Indies and St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. While staying in the various warm weather destinations she saw many vacation travelers including cruise goers. Stephanie says among the many ships she saw were the "beautiful ships of the Norwegian Cruise Line”.

Pitons
Pitons, St. Lucia, West Indies.

Link to this segment

Norwegian Cruise Line is one of the sponsors of the New York Times Travel Show of which Radio Show Host Stephanie Abrams is also a proud sponsor. Stephanie will be at booth #1000 for the 2010 show held February 26, 27 and 28, 2010 in Manhattan's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Stephanie refers to the event as "the world's fair of travel”.

Norwegian Epic
Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Cruise Line.

Stephanie states that one of the advantages of cruising is discovering places you want to return to. She says cruising has become an invaluable part of the travel industry. Kevin Sheehan, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line joins the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!” Radio Show to discuss some new developments with NCL.

Norwegian Epic
Ice Bar on the Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Cruise Line.

Stephanie notes that the Norwegian Cruise Line introduced a kind of "free style cruising” that she says was a departure from daily regimentation aboard a cruise ship. Kevin Sheehan says NCL offer "freedom and flexibility” which means that meal times and activities aren't strictly designated. Sheehan says that the launch of the Norwegian Epic will also have the "extended concept of entertainment”. Shows include nightly performances by the Blue Man Group, a Cirque Dreams and Dinner show, Howl at the Moon (battling pianos interactive with the audience) Legends (performances by look-a-likes of rock legends such as Tina Turner and Elvis Presley) and improv from Second City. Stephanie says the quality of entertainment makes a big difference in a cruising experience.

Norwegian Epic
Blue Man Group Performance on the Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Cruise Line.

Norwegian Cruise Line recently entered into an arrangement with Nickelodeon. Kids will be able to enjoy entertainment just for them as well as character breakfasts and photo opportunities. For its first year, starting July 07, 2010, the Norwegian Epic will have weekly itineraries alternating between the eastern and western Caribbean. For its 2011 summer season it will be sailing in the Mediterranean starting in Barcelona.

Norwegian Epic
Cirque Dreams Illumination on the Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Cruise Line.

The Norwegian Epic accommodates forty two hundred passengers. Rooms range from high-end suites with separate access to a pool to single passenger cabins. Norwegian Cruise Line is the first in the industry to have accommodations for single passengers who formerly had to pay the rate for double occupancy. There are one hundred and twenty eight rooms for singles, each with its own living room area. Norwegian Epic is also the first cruise ship to have an ice bar on board. It is one of only twelve ice bars in the world.

Norwegian Epic
Norwegian Epic Courtyard, Norwegian Cruise Line.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1177

For more information visit http://www.ncl.com


Link to this segment

While in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands Travel Expert and Radio Show Host Stephanie Abrams visited the Butterfly Farm located in the Havensight Cruise Port, the original port of St. Thomas. It is situated across form the St. Thomas skyride and is at the foot of the major shopping center in the city of Charlotte Amalie. Stephanie was reminded of the butterfly farm she had visited in the Grand Cayman. She found out that the owners of the farm in Grand Cayman were the same people and that they operate butterfly farms in St. Martin and Aruba as well.

Caterpillar
Caterpillar, Jalousie Plantation, St. Lucia, West Indies.

Sharon Tait, General Manager of the Butterfly Farm, joins the "Travel with Stephanie Abrams!” Radio Show. Tait comments that though butterflies lead a very short life they are very active during it as they are pollinating and mating constantly during the few weeks they live. Butterflies are born as caterpillars that hatch from eggs. They live a couple of weeks as a caterpillar before forming a chrysalis to undergo metamorphosis. Sharon Tait says that the most amazing things about metamorphosis is that the caterpillar "dissolves and it is from that liquid DNA stew that a butterfly is formed”.

Butterfly Farm
Butterfly Farm, Havensight Mall, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.

Admission to the Butterfly Farm is $15 USD. Guests are given access to the farm for their entire stay in St. Thomas. Half hour tours take place throughout the day at the farm and there is also a gift shop on the grounds. Sharon Tait says that the time to visit is between 8:30 AM and 10:30 AM as the butterflies are most active in the morning.

Butterfly Farm
Butterfly Farm, Havensight Mall, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1178

For more information visit http://www.thebutterflyfarm.com


Link to this segment

Travel Expert and Radio Show Host Stephanie Abrams visited the second oldest synagogue in North America while in St. Thomas. The building she states has magnificent architecture. Mina Orenstein, Judaica Shop Manager of the Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas, joins the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!' Radio Show. Orenstein says that the uniqueness of the synagogue has more to do with the community than the building itself.

Mina Orenstein
Mina Orenstein, Judaica Shop Manager, Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.

The St. Thomas Synagogue was built in 1833 and was designed to survive hurricanes and earthquakes. There are four columns in the middle of the building that Orenstein says represents the four women of Judaism and the strength of the culture. She says the columns also serve to make the building earthquake proof. She says that they are a symbol of Jewish womanhood but also a symbol of strength for the community.  The pews were all built out of locally grown mahogany by shipwrights in St. Thomas. Orenstein says there is no hardware in them anywhere and that they are all pegged and joined.

St. Thomas Synagogue
St. Thomas Synagogue, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Oldest Continuous in North America.

On New Years in 1831 there was a massive fire that burned the lower part of the town including the original synagogue. However, the sanctuary lamp (eternal flame) and all torahs were saved. French artist Camille Pissarro was born in raised in St. Thomas and his parents contributed to the building fund of the structure that stands today. The family was one of the earliest and most significant contributors to the building.

St. Thomas Synagogue
Mahogany Pews, St. Thomas Synagogue, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Oldest Continuous in North America.

Mina Orenstein says that the Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas is a very inclusive community. The city has had three Jewish governors and a long history of an established Jewish community. The congregation also has close relations with other churches on the island including the St. Thomas Reformed Church. When their church was destroyed by Hurricane Marylin in 1995 the church's congregation used the St. Thomas Synagogue every Sunday for church services.

St. Thomas Synagogue
St. Thomas Synagogue, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Oldest Continuous in North America.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1179

For more information visit http://www.stthomassynagogue.com



Guests Include:

Kevin Sheehan, CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line.
www.ncl.com

Sharon Tait, General Manager, Butterfly Farm, Havensight Cruise Port, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
www.thebutterflyfarm.com

Mina Orenstein, Judaica Shop Manager, Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
www.stthomassynagogue.com

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