Shownotes for "Travel with Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show (TWSA!) with Travel Expert and Radio Talk Show Host Stephanie Abrams - July 31, 2011
"Travel with Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show - July 31, 2011
Lake Lift Competition at the Daytime Family Dance Festival On Holiday at the g hotel in Dublin, Ireland; Protect Yourself with Travel Insurance from InsureMyTrip.com; Believe It or Not: Fascinating Oddities at Ripley's; Life Imitates Art at the Dirty Dancing Festival in Lake Lure, North Carolina; Caribbean Island Getaway at the Almond Beach Village in Barbados.

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Hour 1

Topics Include:

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Damien O'Riordan, General Manager, the g hotel, Galway City, County Galway, Ireland.
www.theg.ie

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams welcomes Damien O' Riordan, General Manager of the g Hotel, which she describes as "one of those great, surprising places that when you walk in for the first time, your jaw will drop to your knees as you walk about and absorb this twenty-first century hotel that just dazzles the eyes and the imagination." 

Located in Galway, Ireland, Stephanie says, "The g Hotel is a setting where Swarovski crystals abound and are thrown around like so many grains of sand."  They are inside the clear acrylic countertops at the front desk; in the bars in both the ladies' and gentlemen's lounges; and embedded in the end tables and coffee tables.  Damien attributes the decorative genius of the g to Phillip Treacy, the famous milliner who designed the hat Lady Beatrice wore to Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding that was later auctioned for 135,000 pounds.  He also designed Camilla Parker Bowles' hat for her marriage to Prince Charles.  That hat inspired the frame on the large mirror in the property's lobby-lounge entrance.  In addition, the designer created the prize hat for the upcoming "Best Hat Competition" that will be held at the g during the "Best Dressed Day" event at the Galway Race Course.

"A number of hotels in Galway get together and they sponsor the Monday of the races," Damien explains.  "It's called 'Galway's Best Hotels Day' and we sponsored the first race yesterday, which was the race that kicked off the Galway Races."  He says the Irish race horses are among some of the best in the world and people from around the world come to Ireland to breed horses.  Stephanie says she has visited the Irish National Stud [farm] in County Wicklow and Damien says the Queen of England paid a visit to that farm, too, about two months ago since horse racing is one of her passions. 

In addition, Damien says, "The Galway festivals attract visitors both locally and internationally, as well."  He shares a list of events hosted in Galway over this summer, which included the Galway Film Fleadh ("fleadh" means 'festival').  The movie, "The Guard," premiered at the festival and was such a tremendous success that it should come to the U.S. in the near future.  Part of the movie was actually shot in the g Hotel.  Other popular happenings include the Galway Arts Festival and the Galway Races.  August is also a busy month followed by the Clarenbridge and the Galway Oyster Festivals in September.

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams describes Mary Bennett's gift store, Treasure Chest, as a "must" stop for shopping in Galway.  "Just so you're aware, Stephanie, Mary Bennett was actually granted the Freedom of the City just about six weeks ago," Damien informs her.  "This is the key to the city for Galway."  Stephanie's good friend Pat Dooley, CEO of Dooley Car Rentals, previously told her "there was a time when a person who was given the key to the city, no matter where that person went to eat or drink, there was never a tab at the end; no bill was given.  That doesn't seem to happen anymore," says Stephanie.  "I don’t think so," responds Damien.  "I'll have to ask Mary to see if she's tried that.  But, I'm sure in some places for her that would be the case because she's a great lady and she's brought an awful lot of tourism to Galway."

Stephanie says she has been thinking about Christmas and New Year's in Ireland, which she has not done since 2002. "It's a great time to be there because the airfares are wonderful, about as low-season as you're going to get during the year," she says.  Damien adds, "It's a very special time here.  You know, you have a lot of people [who] have immigrated to the United States and Australia and everybody comes back for Christmas, as well.  So, it's a really nice, special time of year.

"We have a beautiful hotel here.  It's a one hundred one bedroom boutique property," Damien says.  "We will be celebrating our sixth birthday in November and we were very fortunate that Mr. Barrett, who is our owner, invited Phillip Treacy, who is also from the Galway area, to design the property.  Phillip had carte blanche to design the property exactly how he wanted it to be.  What they very much wanted to do was [for] it to be a gift back to the people of Galway; something that was very unique.  Phillip really tried to capture a lot of the Galway seashore.  You definitely see a lot of that in our bedrooms.  Phillip invited a lot of his friends who were also artists and designers to assist him in designing the property.  So, we've a number of beautiful lounges.  Each lounge is there to give a person a very different experience.  We've a total of four different lounges.

"We've our beautiful Grand Salon which is in very light, mother-of-pearl colors.  It has three hundred seventy-seven Tom Dixon glass spheres [that] hang from the ceiling and it is about thirty feet high.  It captures all the sunshine.  It's floor to ceiling windows and you're looking out over Galway Bay over Lough Atalia.  The next room that you go to is the Pink Room, a room that we're very famous for and, with relation to that room, the whole room is done over in Andy Warhol print on the seating and then it's one hand-woven piece that was all done in Connemara for the carpet.  Then, the next lounge that you have is the Gentlemen's Lounge, a more masculine room where we have these big, oversized, shell-shaped chairs with wooden floors.  All these lounges are connected on through a beautiful pink carpet which is our walkway, our runway, like the models would walk.

"And then, you come into our cocktail bar where we are very well-known for our Mojitos and our Cosmopolitans.  We've a beautiful restaurant, which is Matz at the g, and when Phillip was designing the restaurant, he very much wanted to capture the Alice in Wonderland theme.  You've got beautiful pastel colors and big over-sized sofas throughout the room.  You've got pictures of Phillip’s models that were taken when they were modeling his hats."

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For more information visit www.theg.ie


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Jim Grace, President & CEO, InsureMyTrip.com.
www.insuremytrip.com
www.insuremygroup.com

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Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams welcomes as her guest today Jim Grace, President and CEO of InsureMyTrip.com, which helps people protect themselves when they travel.  "We haven’t talked very much about some of the kinds of active things people do when they're traveling that they need to think about to protect themselves," she says.

Jim says although he is not very good at it, he likes to golf.  A lot of people take golf vacations and, for example, someone might travel to the Dominican Republic and a hurricane may strike, which means no golfing.  "Let’s say you have a little monsoon for the four days you're going to be there and before you go, you know it's going to happen.  Cancel for Any Reason coverage can protect you there," he says.

According to Jim, people also take adventure vacations.  For instance, there is a new sport called skyaking in which the traveler boards an airplane, straps on a kayak and a parachute and jumps out to land on the water.  "There are policies available that cover adventure sports," says Jim, particularly because "people are taking more and more risks when they travel."

Stephanie says the insurance coverage that tour operators and cruise lines offer are generally intended to protect themselves from losing any money.  Injuries that occur while water skiing, whitewater rafting or skiing are the problem of the injured traveler.  Jim adds, "There are a lot of policies that are built that way, but there are policies that do actually cover downhill skiing, water skiing, skyaking, probably . . .  there are policies that remove the exclusion of adventure sports.  If you're going to be doing some of these trips, it's a good to ask the question.  Say, 'I'm going skyaking.  Is there a policy for me?’ And, you know, our customer service people answer those kinds of crazy questions all day long and they love them because we love to hear about skyaking.  Even diving . . .   If you're going to the Caribbean, you know, there are policies that absolutely will cover that diving, recreational diving.  There are others, you know [e.g.] bungee jumping.  I mean, I've got pictures on my computer of people bungee jumping at advanced stages.  I mean, this is exciting, but it's also risky and you need to make sure you know that if you are hurt that you can one, get medical care and two, get medical evacuation.  Most likely, you don't want to get treated there."

"Were those people wearing tee shirts from the sanitarium that allowed them out for the day?" Stephanie jokes about skyakers.  Jim laughs, "Yeah!  Exactly!  It was all orange and there were some stripes, too!  Maybe that's in now; I don’t know."  But in all seriousness, both Stephanie and Jim know people want to have fun on their vacations and they should, but they should make sure they have the insurance coverage they need.

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Fun Facts:

Miles Daisher, a Twin Falls, Idaho resident, invented skyaking, which garnered international press in 2010.  Skyaking was born when the adventurer combined his two favorite sports, kayaking and skydiving, to create one extreme sport.  Daredevils who attempt to fly out of a plane with a kayak and a parachute will travel at about ninety-six miles per hour.

Stephanie notes how much her husband likes Guinness, adding the beer is at its best when drank in Ireland.  "You know, Stephanie," Damien says, "President Barack Obama was here about two months ago and he went into a pub in Moneygall and he had a pint of Guinness and he said that the Irish were keeping all the good Guinness here.  They don't send it over to America because it tastes totally different."  Stephanie has been told the lines through which the Guinness flows to be on tap in Irish establishments are flushed out weekly so no rancid residue collects.  Maybe that is another reason for the distinctive taste of the beer in Ireland!


Travel Tips:

Visit Dublin, Ireland, and enjoy good eats at Shanahan's on the Green, a wonderful American steakhouse. The owner, John Shanahan, founded Hooked On Phonics and later fulfilled his dream to own an establishment in Dublin.  Downstairs in Shanahan's is the Oval Office Pub where memorabilia of American Presidents who either are of Irish descent or have done something wonderful for Ireland is on display.


Guests Include:

Damien O'Riordan, General Manager, the g hotel, Galway City, County Galway, Ireland.
www.theg.ie

Jim Grace, President & CEO, InsureMyTrip.com.
www.insuremytrip.com
www.insuremygroup.com

Hour 2

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

Edward Meyer,Vice President of Exhibits & Archives, Ripley Entertainment Inc., Orlando, Florida, USA.
www.ripleys.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel with Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show begin the hour by inviting listeners to visit sabrams.com for archived audio if they miss any of today's show.  She recently sponsored Webber Township High School's senior class trip to Branson, Missouri.   Located in Bluford, Illinois, the school's students donated their class trip funds to the family of a classmate who sustained a brain injury in a biking accident.  She donned her "travel fairy godmother cape" and sent the students to the Show Me State where she met them near the Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum.

Stephanie now welcomes Edward Meyer, Vice President of Ripley's Exhibits and Archives for Ripley Entertainment, Inc.  He says the Branson building, which appears to be falling down in pieces, is modeled to look like a building that would have been in the in 1811-1812 New Madrid Earthquakes in Missouri, the most powerful earthquakes in U.S. history. He calls this "destruction architecture,"  saying, "Our theory is if you make the building look strange, people are going to want to walk across the street or the down the street and find out what's in there, so we purposefully built buildings that look like something's gone wrong in order to catch your attention."

Edward adds, "We've been in the museum business since 1933 and we currently have thirty-one Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museums located in ten different countries with exactly half of them being in the United States.  In addition to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museums, we've also got aquariums, we've got haunted houses, we've got miniature golf…  We are everywhere!"  The smallest of the Ripley's Museums is located in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and operates a few months out of the year.

Ripley's Museums can be found in Atlantic City, New Jersey; San Francisco, California; New York City, New York; and Williamsburg, Virginia, to name only a few locations.  In fact, the San Francisco site, which has called Fisherman's Wharf home since 1967, underwent a $5 million renovation in 2010.  "We did everything.  We knocked down walls; we added a floor to the top; new paint; new carpet; new display cases; all new exhibits; a few new staff members.  A little bit of everything; it's completely different."

In addition to its U.S. locations, Ripley's operates museums in Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, India, Malaysia, Mexico, South Korea and Thailand.  "We are selling fun," Edward points out to the audience.  His favorite oddity, the head of a two trunk elephant, is on display at the Ripley's Museum in San Antonio, Texas.  Edward says this exhibit costs almost as much as a house and weighs about one thousand pounds.  He and his team discovered it in Zimbabwe as they were tracking down an albino giraffe.

Edward's career with Ripley's began thirty-four years ago when he was hired part-time to catalog Ripley's cartoons.  Today he edits the cartoons, which he calls "the foundation of our company."  Robert Ripley was a newspaper cartoonist who purchased the oddities he drew to prove the validity of his cartoons. Eventually, he had collected enough pieces in his Long Island home to establish a museum.  When ownership changed in the 1980s, the brand expanded and Edward was selected to locate and to purchase new pieces.

"There are certain things when you travel that are brands that you recognize and know that there's going to be some entertainment and thought provoking value in visiting that place in your travels, and Ripley's falls into that category," Stephanie comments.  "They've been clever enough to place themselves in locations where travelers are most interested in visiting.  They've also come up with a list of some places that really need to be seen that have that Ripley's spirit about them." 

Edward says one of those sites is the Circus Trees in Gilroy, California.  "It's a complete forest of trees that were created by one botanist, Axel Erlandson, who experimented with box elders and came up with a forest of trees that appear as though they came from a science fiction movie.  They're shaped like hearts, squares, ladders, chairs; everything you can imagine a tree not to look like." 

In addition, Edward suggests people visit the Matchstick Marvels Tourist Center in Gladbrook, Illinois, which features a replica of the U.S. Capitol made of more than one million matchsticks.  Another must-see attraction he recommends is Magnetic Hill in Moncton, New Brunswick, a gravity hill and optical illusion that makes cars appear as if they are going uphill.  Finally, and perhaps most important, Edward suggests the audience visit the Church of One Tree in Santa Rosa, California, which was built entirely from one redwood tree.  Its significance?  Robert Ripley was not only baptized there, but his father was also one of the lumberjacks who helped to build it, believe it or not!

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For more information visit www.ripleys.com


Fun Facts:

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Washington Herald staff artist John Hix created an educational comic strip called "Strange As It Seems," which was syndicated in U.S. newspapers from 1928 to 1944.  The strip copied the style and depicted the kinds of bizarre stories that had made Ripley's a phenomenon.

Searching for something sweet in New York City?  Restaurant Serendipity3 now serves up the "Ripley's Believe It or Not! Outrageously Bizarre Banana Split" made with real chocolate-covered farm ants, crickets, insect larva and a larva lollipop!  It also features wet walnuts, raspberry sauce, caramel, hot fudge, peanut butter, five scoops of ice cream, whipped cream and oh, yeah, two bananas!

Ripley's Believe It or Not!  Enter If You Dare is an encyclopedic volume sure to delight readers with a collection of strange but true stories that will fascinate and intrigue.


Travel Tips:

Radio Show Host Stephanie Abrams recommends the purchase of an Air Ambulance Card for $199 annually for those who travel internationally, including to visit Ripley's sites across the globe.  The air ambulance is a flying hospital room that will transport you to the hospital of your choice.


Guests Include:

Edward Meyer,Vice President of Exhibits & Archives, Ripley Entertainment Inc., Orlando, Florida, USA.
www.ripleys.com

Hour 3

Topics Include:

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News and Updates from Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams invites listeners of this hour of the "Travel with Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show to visit sabrams.com for show archives, show notes, photos and links to relevant external Web sites.  She says the site has "won lots of awards" and earned the "stamp of approval from professionals in communications."  It includes newly uploaded photo galleries, including Barbados galleries as well as pictures of Florida and Ireland.  There are "tens of thousands" of photos in the galleries.  The "Member Photos" section includes photos that guests upload so listeners "can follow along as we're talking."

In addition, experts have posted "wonderful information about destinations" in the "Forums" section on the Web site.  She tells those tuning in, "If you have questions, post them in 'Ask Stephanie'  in the forums, and if I don't know the answer to that question or feel someone [else] who's intimately involved everyday with the destination, the resort [or] the attraction [is more knowledgeable], we'll find somebody who really knows their stuff to come back and give you up-to-the minute, correct answers for all your travel needs.  It's worth your trip to go and check us out."


Link to this segment

Jo Beyersdorfer, Director of the 2nd Annual Dirty Dancing Festival, Lake Lure, North Carolina, USA.
www.dirtydancing.com
www.jnbllc.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel with Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show talk with Jo Beyersdorfer, Director of the Second Annual Dirty Dancing Festival in Lake Lure, North Carolina.  The name of the festival intrigued Stephanie "because of the classic American film of the same name.  I can remember the first time I heard the words 'dirty dancing' and I just did not really understand what that meant," but then she saw the movie.  "It's one of those remarkable films [that is] great for a misty, rainy day when you don't want to go anywhere."  Stephanie adds, "I just thought we needed to know more about this".

This year's festival will be held Friday, September 16 through Sunday, September18.  "The biggest connection [between the festival and the movie] is that a lot of the movie was actually filmed in the town of Lake Lure, so it's a big part of the town's history," says Jo.  She describes Lake Lure as a town with several attractions and recreational activities, including water skiing, hiking and access to Chimney Rock Park, which is "right around the corner."  Although the movie is set in the Catskills and was filmed in different locations, several scenes were shot in Lake Lure.  "When people come there, a lot of them come to see the lake because that's where the lake lift scene was filmed and a lot of the scenes were filmed.  It still looks exactly the same [as in the movie]," Jo says, "and the steps [Baby] dances up and down are still there." 

The Righteous Brothers' Bill Medley, who sang the movie's hit theme, "(I've Had) The Time of My Life," will perform a benefit concert at The Foundation Performing Arts Center at Isothermal Community College to raise funds for the facility the Thursday before the festival commences.  Event goers can view "Dirty Dancing" on a 35 foot screen at a lakeside viewing at the original site of Johnny's cabin that Friday evening.  Saturday's activities include a Daytime Dance Festival with live music by The Clay Brown Band and The Embers and free dance lessons, and the National Watermelon Association will host several games.  In addition, there will be a lake lift competition and members of the Ashville Ballet will perform dances from the movie.

Billy Scott and The Party Profits along with three-time North Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame inductees The Clovers, well-known for "Love Potion No. 9," will give a lakeside concert Saturday night at Rumbling Bald Resort, the site of the golf course in the movie.  A brunch, silent auction and charity golf tournament close the weekend Sunday morning, making for what Jo calls "a full weekend of events."

Stephanie encourages this kind of road trip because it is economically feasible for all budgets.  "It's really fantastic because it is still the least expensive way to travel if you are multiples of people, friends, family, whatever.  The least expensive way to travel is to put everybody in the car, regardless of what the cost of gasoline is. It allows you to get into nooks and crannies of places it would be impossible to fly to from one place to another unless you had your own private plane."

Jo says Lake Lure is "definitely not in the middle of a big city, but you're a few hours from whatever major city you may have come from."  With "countless" bed and breakfasts, travelers may choose accommodations named after the movie's characters at the Lake Lure Inn where the cast stayed during filming. 

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For more information visit www.dirtydancing.com and www.jnbllc.com


Link to this segment

Monty Cumberbatch, Regional Director of Hotel Operations for Barbados and St. Lucia, Almond Resorts, Inc., Barbados, Caribbean.
www.almondresorts.com

Travel Expert and Radio Show Host Stephanie Abrams chats with Monty Cumberbatch, Regional Director of Hotel Operations for Barbados and St. Lucia for Almond Resorts.  Stephanie visited the Almond Beach Village Resort when her return to the U.S. was detained because of snow in New England in January 2011.  "I couldn't think of a better place to be stuck," she expresses.  "I have such wonderful memories of how beautiful it is in Barbados." She encourages those tuning it to visit the "Photo Gallery" on sabrams.com to view photos of the Almond Beach Village as they listen to the show. 

Having been with Almond Resorts since December 1991, Monty opened this location in Barbados and managed it for a couple of years before serving as the Regional Director for the Resorts.  He later returned to Almond Beach Village.  "It felt like coming home," he says.  "It's always a pleasure to be here.  We are very fortunate.  The people here are very friendly.  I meet guests every day of my life.  We have a very high percentage of repeat guests and if you ask them one of the reasons why they return, the first thing they always tell you is it's the people."  Stephanie says, "It's a gorgeous island and the loveliest, friendliest, warm and hospitable people you could ask for."   Monty agrees.  "The people of Barbados are nice, they're warm and they're friendly.  That is communicated; it comes across to the guests and they love it.  You can travel all over the world, and you can find the nicest buildings…but the people make the difference."

Monty credits Almond Beach Village's success to its uniqueness, particularly when it comes to food and drink.  "When we created this, we looked and surveyed the market to see how we could be different.  Barbados has a lot to offer.  When we look at the cuisine, in all of our hotels we would have a local restaurant.  In Barbados, we call it Enid's Restaurant and, basically, what we are doing is bringing the food of the island into the hotel.  The same thing we do with Tommy's Rum Shop.  Our Tommy's Rum Shop is a typical representation of the rum shops you find around the island and we do all the different combinations and recipes that you would find in the rum shop; we provide those recipes in Tommy's Rum Shop. 

"In addition, we offer a la carte dining so that in all of our restaurants, there are no buffets; you are served a meal.  You have a choice of courses and your menus are changing on a daily basis.  These are the kinds of features that we bring to the Almond product. And," he adds, "when we say you can leave your wallet at home, believe you me, you can do that because you can have premium drinks at our bar; you don't have to worry about tipping anyone.  We take care of all of that so you can truly leave your wallet behind.  Everything is included in that holiday."

Stephanie says the property offers "the perfect intersection" between family and romance.  "We have quite an extensive program here at Almond Beach Village in Barbados," Monty explains.  "We have a wedding coordinator who will meet with the wedding party and will plan from the beginning all the way through to the end.  The weddings can take place at any of our locations on site.  There's the beautiful gazebo on the beach.  There's a historic old sugar mill.  Then, you have all the grounds and beautiful flower garden settings.  All the services are provided by the coordinators and our butlers on property.  You may decide on the day after your wedding to stay in and have breakfast in bed and the butler will come to your room and serve you breakfast in your room, the menu of your choice.  This is fine service.  It's only for the wedding couple."  "So I'll have to get married again!" Stephanie laughs.

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For more information visit www.almondresorts.com


Travel Tips:

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams recommends festival goers visit the Biltmore Estate, once home of the Vanderbilts, in nearby Ashville, North Carolina.  She says tourists "can get a little taste" of the chateaus and Loire Valley in France.  The home's "stunning" architecture includes replications of Chateau de Chenonceau, Chateau de Blois, Chateau de Chambord and Chateau de Chantilly.   "If you go to Ashville first as your architecture lesson, when you get to France, you'll be a real big shot because you've got a head start," she says.  In addition, she suggests visitors travel to the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, the first of this brand's hotels to be built with a focus on sustainability that includes a vegetable garden and bee hive from which the chef sources menu ingredients.


Fun Facts:

Peter Sellers' movie, "Being There," was filmed at Biltmore Estate.

Although the Portuguese visited Barbados in 1536, they opted not to settle on the island and did not claim it for Portugal.  The English visited almost a century later in 1625 and declared it theirs in the name of James, King of England.  It became an independent state in 1966 with Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of State.


Guests Include:

Jo Beyersdorfer, Director of the 2nd Annual Dirty Dancing Festival, Lake Lure, North Carolina, USA.
www.dirtydancing.com
www.jnbllc.com

Monty Cumberbatch, Regional Director of Hotel Operations for Barbados and St. Lucia, Almond Resorts, Inc., Barbados, Caribbean.
www.almondresorts.com

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