Shownotes for "Travel with Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show (TWSA!) with Travel Expert and Radio Talk Show Host Stephanie Abrams - July 03, 2011
"Travel with Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show - July 03, 2011
New York City, Times Square. Find Out What's Insurable with Travel Insurance from InsureMyTrip; Sleep and Shower On a Cloud at the Cooper Square Hotel, New York City, New York; Accept Nothing But the Original Frrrozen Hot Chocolate from Serendipity3, New York City, New York; Teen Mountain Climber Jordan Romero Summits the 50 Highest Points in the U.S.

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Hour 1

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Jim Grace, President and CEO, InsureMyTrip.com.
www.insuremytrip.com

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Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show discuss travel insurance for natural disasters with Jim Grace, President and CEO of InsureMyTrip. This week, Stephanie is celebrating the beginning of her 10th year on the air. "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" started as a one-hour program in July 2002. In 2003, the show expanded to 2 hours, and in 2008, it grew to 3 hours weekly.

Jim Grace, President and CEO of InsureMyTrip.com at the NOAA Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, USA.
Jim Grace, President and CEO of InsureMyTrip.com at the NOAA Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, USA.

From fires and tornadoes to floods, the country has faced intense weather recently. "I'm thinking of maps I've seen showing recent destruction by tornadoes, where what was once a town is now a big pile of debris," says Stephanie. "I'm thinking of images of floods washing up to the rooftops of homes. Those are all pretty terrifying images. And you have to imagine that some of these homeowners had planned summer trips, whether a vacation, cruise, or just nonrefundable tickets to see Aunt Myrtle. That's an investment in travel that's not going to be refunded, and they can't go because their home is gone."

Miami Beach Florida.
Miami Beach Florida.

This is why, she continues, not buying travel insurance is penny-wise and pound-foolish behavior. "Even with insurance, you still might have to fly home because of weather or family issues," she says. "But at least you're not adding insult to injury by having to pay for an extra or new ticket or a hotel room." Stephanie herself just broke her arm and, while this is not a natural disaster, it was certainly an unforeseen circumstance that would have made her rethink any upcoming travel plans.

St. Augustine Florida sightseeing tours train.
St. Augustine Florida sightseeing tours train.

Jim agrees that broken bones fall into the category of unforeseen circumstances. "Did you expect to hit that step the way you did?" he asks. "That's the idea of travel insurance, and most insurance in general. What cancels your trip must be unforeseen – you can't know ahead of time that it's going to prevent your trip. You don't know that you'll trip or about hurricanes or strikes, for example. If you know that something will happen, that's not insurable."

Executive Chef De Juan Roy	at the Casa Monica Hotel in St. Augustine Florida.
Executive Chef De Juan Roy at the Casa Monica Hotel in St. Augustine Florida.

One question travelers often have is the difference between primary and secondary insurance coverage. "If you have a travel insurance policy that provides primary coverage, it will pay first," explains Jim. "If the policy is for secondary coverage, you're required to collect from any other source before they'll respond. For example, with baggage coverage, you'll need to collect from the airline first if you can recover anything from the airline. Or with medical coverage, you'll need to collect from your primary coverage first before collecting from your secondary coverage."

The Betsy Hotel in South Beach Miami.
The Betsy Hotel in South Beach Miami.

The difference can be critical when shopping for travel insurance policies, especially when it comes to medical coverage. Primary coverage policies can be a bit more expensive, whereas secondary coverage policies require more effort to collect benefits. Stephanie points out that travel insurance with medical coverage is vital for travelers relying on Medicare, which does not cover international travel. In that case, either primary or secondary coverage is acceptable, according to Jim, because travelers have nowhere else to collect from.

Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Port St.Lucie Florida.
Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Port St.Lucie Florida.

Another option to consider is coverage for medical evacuation. "Even if you have major medical coverage, medical evacuation is unique, because you can't buy that anywhere else," says Jim. "There are not a lot of policies that will pluck you off a cruise ship and take you to the nearest hospital. Or if you're on top of Macchu Picchu and you trip down the stairs, there are not a whole lot of places to go."

The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida.
The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida.

Most travelers have faced missed connections at one point or another, and most travel insurance policies cover this, according to Jim. "If your flight is delayed because of weather and you miss the cruise ship departure, you now have a new expense," he explains. "The idea behind travel insurance is that they'll pay for you to catch up with that cruise by getting to the next itinerary stop." Stephanie thinks this has serious value because she once spent $500 per person to catch up with a ship, thanks to the high cost of last-minute plane tickets.

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams (L) and Jim Grace, President and CEO of InsureMyTrip (R) at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida.
Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams (L) and Jim Grace, President and CEO of InsureMyTrip (R) at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida.

Finally, travel insurance can provide 24-hour travel assistance. "One of the nice things when you're in a foreign country is that if you do get in trouble, there's a phone number to call with every policy you buy through InsureMyTrip," Jim says. "We can help with everything from dealing with lost passports to finding medical care. Some policies even provide a concierge service. The number you're given depends on where you're going; it will either be collect or an 800 number. You'll get someone in our center who speaks English, or we can pull in a translator if needed."

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Travel Tips:

When traveling abroad, Stephanie suggests taking a list of emergency phone numbers for every destination. "When you have an emergency somewhere in the world, are you going to have time to figure that out?" she says. "It's not always 911; some countries have a lot more digits."

In flight service.
In flight service.

Stephanie has long struggled with getting enough legroom on airplanes. She thought the problem had been solved by the extra legroom seats on JetBlue, which offer more space to passengers for a fee. What bothers her, however, is that the seats are not restricted. "If you're going to have seats that come at a premium, you should restrict them," she says. "If there are empty seats in first or business class, you can't just walk up and take them. If you're at a baseball game and there are empty box seats, nobody tells you to go ahead and take those.

British Airways upper class seating.
British Airways upper class seating.

"I find it troublesome when you're paying for extra legroom seats and people just looking for more room try to take those seats," she continues. "It really bothers me that after the door closes, people just get up and move, because I paid to be in those seats. Maybe I would feel differently if I were willing to risk getting on the plane without having booked those seats. But I can't afford not to pay for them; otherwise, we wouldn't fit in the seats. I can't afford to get on the plane and see that others have glommed on to the space."

British Airways seating.
British Airways seating.

Under pressure from corporate accounting departments, some carriers have replaced first class with business class. The service is still the same, according to Stephanie, but the name change has made it easier for business travelers to enjoy it. She strongly advocates for business-class travel for business passengers. "People often think that government executives flying to meetings on the other side of the world should fly coach to save money," she says. "You try doing that, then walking into a meeting and doing great work. That's just not going to happen when you come off the plane like a prune."


Guests Include:

Jim Grace, President and CEO, InsureMyTrip.com.
www.insuremytrip.com

Hour 2

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

Klaus Ortlieb, Managing Partner, Gotham Hotel on 46th Street and Cooper Square Hotel, New York City.
www.thegothamhotelny.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show talk with Klaus Ortlieb, Managing Partner at the Gotham Hotel on 46th Street and Cooper Square Hotel in New York City, New York. Stephanie just stayed at the Cooper Square Hotel for the first time and was really impressed by the amenities both indoors and out – namely, the view.

Exterior of the Gotham Hotel on 46th Street in New York City.
Exterior of the Gotham Hotel on 46th Street in New York City.

"When you climb into bed, you're on this marshmallow-y, pillow-top mattress with lovely linens," she says. "You look straight ahead at the floor-to-ceiling windows and feel like you're on a cloud. The view of the city is just remarkable." Stephanie also had the serendipitous experience of arriving at the hotel at the very moment the song "Via Con Me" by Paolo Conte was playing. "I had been looking for that song for over 2 years," she continues. "It's one of those fantastical, mesmerizing songs you can't get away from. The first thing I did was go into the hotel office and ask the fellow if he could find out what it was, and he told me in one second."

Lounge area at the Gotham Hotel on 46th Street in New York City.
Lounge area at the Gotham Hotel on 46th Street in New York City.

Stephanie had not been to the Cooper Square area of New York City for years, but was pleasantly surprised by her visit. "There's everything a traveler could want nearby: restaurants, shops, and movies," she says. "I ended up calling people to come to me because I didn't want to leave the hotel." Klaus explains that the area has become very trendy over the past 5 years. "I really don't think you have to leave the hotel," he says. "But so many places are within such a short distance – the West Village, Soho – that you have easy access to the entire city."

Lounge area at the Gotham Hotel on 46th Street in New York City.
Lounge area at the Gotham Hotel on 46th Street in New York City.

Although the Gotham Hotel on 46th is quite tall, each floor has only 3 rooms (or 2 rooms, on the top floor). This means that each room has its own private terrace, complete with white marble floor, in addition to a view of the city from floor-to-ceiling windows. This made Stephanie curious about the Cooper Square Hotel. In fact, guest bedrooms are not the only places with floor-to-ceiling glass; there's even a city view from the shower.

Bar area at the Gotham Hotel on 46th Street in New York City.
Bar area at the Gotham Hotel on 46th Street in New York City.

"When you take a shower, there's a liberating feeling that you're showering on a cloud overlooking the city," she says. "On the other hand, it did occur to me that someone might be out there looking back in." Klaus admits this is possible – the windows are just glass and are not mirrored on the outside – but unlikely. "Most of the surrounding buildings are only 4 or 5 stories high," he explains. "And as soon as the shower steams up, nobody can see you anymore." The Cooper Square Hotel is much taller than 5 stories; Stephanie stayed on the 21st floor.

Entertainment and workstation area in room.
Entertainment and workstation area in room.

In spite of her momentary concern about the view back into the shower, Stephanie appreciated being able to enjoy the view. "The bathroom is just beautiful," she says. "You're not looking out at a brick wall or office building. You have a view and you can enjoy it – you don't need to keep the curtains closed the whole time. There's something wonderful about it. You know in classic black-and-white films when they show someone tap dancing on top of the world? That's what you feel like."

Bedroom area.
Bedroom area.

Klaus acknowledges that this is just the kind of experience his team was aiming for. "When we started developing Cooper Square, the Cooper Union architecture school was building an architecturally significant building next door," he explains. "We felt we needed to match that. And it gave me the luxury to design in a fashion that I'd always found nice, where you can have various areas to experience various moments. You can be in the garden and have a cup of coffee while reading your newspaper, or you can sit in the library in the winter and watch the snow with a glass of wine."

Times Square, New York City, nearby the Gotham Hotel.
Times Square, New York City, nearby the Gotham Hotel.

The idea, Klaus adds, was to create a home away from home where guests had choices about where they wanted to be, rather than being stuck in their rooms all the time. Part of the challenge in creating this was, in fact, not destroying an existing home. "There was a 4-story building with 2 old ladies living next door," he recalls. "One is a poet and one is a writer. We actually built our hotel around that building next door because these women are older, and I wasn't mean enough to kick them out when they had been living there for 40 years. It's been great; they've become the Eloises of the Cooper Square Hotel."

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Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
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For more information visit www.thegothamhotelny.com


Link to this segment

Stephen Bruce, Founder and Owner, Serendipity3, New York City, New York, USA.
www.serendipity3.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show talk about the original frozen hot chocolate with Stephen Bruce, Founder of Serendipity3 in New York City, New York. "You cannot say you have been to New York unless you've been to this restaurant," warns Stephanie. "If you have a benchmark occasion to celebrate, this is the place to do it."

Serendipity3, New York City, New York, USA
Serendipity3, New York City, New York, USA

Stephen recently had an unpleasant surprise when Dunkin' Donuts began running ads for a frozen hot chocolate that sounded suspiciously similar to the drink he had served at Serendipity3 since the 1950s. In a press release explaining the situation, he invited frozen hot chocolate imitators to "go choke on a Munchkin." "They finally realized that copycatting was not going to get them anywhere," he says. "The quality of their frozen hot chocolate is totally different from that of the original.

Serendipity3, New York City, New York, USA
Serendipity3, New York City, New York, USA

"The taste of our drink can't be improved upon," he continues. "Serendipity3 has the original drink from 1954. You can't improve on real whipped cream and real ingredients; we use a blend of different kinds of cocoa, and the public knows that. I used to buy 10 or 12 different blocks of chocolate, shave them off, and melt them down until I had the perfect taste. Now we have a reputable company manufacture it for us, but they still replicate the blend that everyone has got used to over the last 50 years."

Serendipity3, New York City, New York, USA
Serendipity3, New York City, New York, USA

Stephanie first visited Serendipity3 with a group of friends in high school. "I just sat there looking at the Tiffany chandeliers, the Texaco flying horse, and the other artifacts and decor," she recalls. "The place is darling, with the mosaic floor and marble-topped tables on wooden bases. You're sitting at a table where Marilyn Monroe used to like to sit. And then here comes a waiter with a tray and you see luscious hot fudge sundaes, frozen hot chocolates, mounds of whipped cream and chocolate shavings. It feels like nirvana for a chocoholic."

Serendipity3, New York City, New York, USA
Serendipity3, New York City, New York, USA

What happened to the imitation frozen hot chocolate? "They ceased and desisted over the last weekend, and they're going to stop over the next 2 months across the country," explains Stephen. "I'm very happy about that. Somebody compared it to the David and Goliath story; small wins once again because we were in the right." Customers who can't make it to the restaurant or are looking for a quick fix don't need to turn to Dunkin' Donuts anyway. Serendipity3's chocolate blend is available at some department stores and grocery stores.

Serendipity3, New York City, New York, USA
Serendipity3, New York City, New York, USA

Customers who are making the trip to the restaurant should plan to leave room for dessert. "If you're having a decent meal and eating a lot, just order one frozen hot chocolate to share," Stephanie suggests. "The only way I can handle a meal and a frozen hot chocolate is to order the foot-long hotdog. If I eat more, I can't have the frozen hot chocolate. And they have the best hot fudge in the universe. But they also have things besides chocolate, from frozen drinks to lemonades."

Related Photo Galleries:
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Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9201

For more information visit www.serendipity3.com


Guests Include:

Klaus Ortlieb, Managing Partner, Gotham Hotel on 46th Street and Cooper Square Hotel, New York City.
www.thegothamhotelny.com

Stephen Bruce, Founder and Owner, Serendipity3, New York City, New York, USA.
www.serendipity3.com

Hour 3

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

Jordan Romero, Teen Mountain Climber.
www.jordanromero.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show follow the footsteps of Jordan Romero, a teen mountain climber who has been to the summits of the world's tallest mountains and is now conquering the highest point in each of the 50 states. "We've had people who are royalty in their own right, CEOs, executives, and other real VIPs," says Stephanie. "But this guest is a young man with vision and discipline who's going to knock your socks off."

Jordan Romero, Teen Mountain Climber
Jordan Romero, Teen Mountain Climber

Jordan will turn 15 in July 2011. He became interested in mountain climbing at 9 years old, when he saw a mural in his elementary school. "I went to 4th grade in the high desert," Jordan recalls. "The mural was of the Seven Summits – the highest point on every continent. When my dad picked me up from school, I asked him if he knew what the Seven Summits were."

Jordan Romero, Teen Mountain Climber
Jordan Romero, Teen Mountain Climber

"My dad was sort of an adventurer, a big-time athlete, but not so much into climbing," Jordan continues. "He did have some experience way back when, though, with some guy he knew in the mountains. It wasn't easy; we're not a rich family at all and we've done a lot of fundraising in the community of Big Bear Lake, where we live now." Still, Jordan was able to start climbing the Seven Summits. He did Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa at age 10, followed by Mount Kosciuszko in Australia.

Jordan Romero, Teen Mountain Climber
Jordan Romero, Teen Mountain Climber

From there, he went to Europe to climb the 18,000-foot Mount Elbrus. Jordan reached the top the day before his 11th birthday, making him the youngest person to stand atop that mountain. Next up was Aconcagua in Argentina, South America. At 22,800 feet, it's the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere – and Jordan climbed it when he was just 11 years old. The same year, he climbed Mount McKinley (Denali) in Alaska, which at 20,300 feet is the highest peak in North America. At 13, Jordan climbed Mount Everest and checked Asia off his Seven Summits list.

Jordan Romero, Teen Mountain Climber
Jordan Romero, Teen Mountain Climber

The final mountain for Jordan in the Seven Summits is the 16,000-foot Vinson Massif in Antarctica, which he plans to tackle in December 2011, during the Southern Hemisphere's summer. Despite being a world-record holder, Jordan says the best part of mountain climbing is sharing the experience with his family. "It's not always about the records, it's about having the experience," he explains. "It's about talking with my family and being able to enjoy standing on top of the world together."

Jordan Romero, Teen Mountain Climber
Jordan Romero, Teen Mountain Climber

Team Jordan includes Paul Romero, his father, and Karen Lundgren, his stepmom. Stephanie points out that he's lucky to have such dedicated parents; the average mom or dad would not jump up to climb a mountain on every continent. "We've dealt with every kind of weather you can imagine: sunny and warm, cold, high winds, and on top of Everest it was -40 degrees Fahrenheit," says Jordan. "But my dad is a critical care flight paramedic; he works 3 days a week on LifeFlight."

Jordan Romero, Teen Mountain Climber
Jordan Romero, Teen Mountain Climber

The team's current plan is to climb the 50 tallest mountains in the U.S., one in every state. Jordan just visited Massachusetts to climb Mount Greylock and took the Thunderbolt trail to the top. "It just goes up the ski runs," he says. "I could have sworn we were in Costa Rica because of how green the forest was. I was sweating like crazy because it was so humid! It was a good day though. We took the trail to the top, then met people on the way down and shared stories. When you get to the top, climb the tower, and look out the windows, the view is pretty awesome."

After Massachusetts, Jordan plans to climb the 1800-foot Mount Frissel, the highest point in Connecticut. "Greylock was probably the most challenging so far," he says. "Compared to Rhode Island and Delaware, it was definitely a hike. Florida is going to be tough, though! And we're leaving Mauna Kea on the big island of Hawaii for last. We don't have a specific date in mind for that yet."

Before going to Africa to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Jordan had done more training climbs than traveling. "We did a couple training climbs in Nevada and California, but didn't go around too much," he says. "We hadn't been to Europe six times as a family. When we first landed in Kenya, we got out of the airport and were immediately flooded with locals trying to sell us handmade trinkets."

"Traveling all over and seeing some of the poorest parts of the world have shown me not to take anything for granted, though," Jordan continues. "I learned that at a young age because there are plenty of people out there who don't have the newest shoes or whatever. It's just been a great learning experience; the world is my classroom now, and I just have to keep things in perspective."

Listeners may be surprised to learn that in Jordan's experience, Everest is not the hardest mountain in the world. "It's definitely up there, but Mount McKinley can be colder and more technical, as well as very, very steep," he explains. "To prepare for these climbs, we live in Big Bear Lake, a little ski town with lots of mountains around it. It's 2 hours northeast of Los Angeles at an elevation of 7,000 feet. So I spend all my time training there. I was born in the city right below Big Bear, so I grew up in that area and have been skiing since I was 18 months old. I love the cold and snow; I'm a person who just can't stand the heat."

What's been the most memorable moment in his journeys so far? "Standing on top of the world with my family, on top of Mount Everest," says Jordan. "We always travel with cameras and even got a couple new ones for Everest, but they froze at the summit, so we had to borrow the photos from our guide." While most people won't be climbing Mount Everest anytime soon, Jordan invites the public to hike with him in each of the 50 states, starting with Mount Frissel in Connecticut.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9202

For more information visit www.jordanromero.com


Travel Tips:

Medical tourism is becoming more popular for those without health insurance. In many destinations, procedures cost 20% of what they would cost in the U.S., and many doctors are actually U.S.-trained. Stephanie's husband had to have a wisdom tooth removed in Cancun, and it only cost $200. "The place was clean and the people were skilled," she recalls. "But if it's not an emergency and you're thinking about doing this, really investigate. In many cases, you're having major surgery far from home." One option is Johns Hopkins annexes, which carry the U.S.-based brand and are "wonderful places," from what Stephanie has heard.


Guests Include:

Jordan Romero, Teen Mountain Climber.
www.jordanromero.com

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