Stephanie Abrams' Travel Blog
Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams Blog – Nationally Synidcated Radio Show Host
Reading John Grisham’s The Guardians in English . . .British English. . .Can Be a Challenge!
May 23rd, 2020

You’ll love this!

My husband’s ebook reader died along the way so I ordered some books for him that I knew he would like (a bunch of Lee Child/Jack Reacher books). Somewhere in those Amazon orders for food and whatnot and a book for him, I ordered the newest John Grisham book, The Guardians. I haven’t had a second to read it yet but I finally got around to reading the flyleaf on the cover, came to this sentence that reminded me that I’m in Ireland and bought the book from Here’s the sentence  in the description of the story: “Just the fact that Russo had botched Quincy’s divorce case, that Quincy was black in a largely all-white town and that a blood-spattered torch was found in the boot of Quincy’s car. A torch he swore was planted. A torch that was conveniently destroyed in a fire just before his trial.”

OK. So I finish the paragraph and my first thought in my groggy state, as I only get to contemplate reading for pleasure at the very end of a generally over-programmed day, my first fuzzy thought  was that you’d have to be crazy to have a torch in a vehicle that, if not battery operated, runs on gasoline. And somewhere in that thought process at about 2am Irish time,  a light bulb in my brain goes off as I realize that John Grisham’s books are translated into 40, or 42 depending on where you do your research, languages, one of which is a translation from American English to British English and buying a book from results in the British translation from what we call English! So the flyleaf overview of the story was trying to communicate to me that in the TRUNK (boot)  of the car there was a blood stained FLASHLIGHT (torch). I’m sure I’ll find more words that we use differently woven into pages and these two are tamed. But some word usages are just hilarious. So if you’re traveling in the UK or Ireland and you’re doing crossword puzzles and need an eraser, if you can say it without cracking up, go to the front desk of your hotel or into a shop that sells office or school supplies and say,” I need a rubber.” Stop smirking!

CBS Reporter Who Publicized Matt Damon’s Dalkey Location is “Dirt” According to Locals
May 23rd, 2020

Stunning Dalkey hidden gem..... - Houses for Rent in Dublin ...

This modest 5500 square foot house called Ischia can be yours to rent effective June 1, 2020 for a modest $7000 per  week based on a 3 month minimum rental! Nestled beside Sorrento Road, a main artery for traffic between Killiney, Dalkey and Dublin City Centre owned by Eddie Irvine, former Formula 1 racing driver. The online promotion for rental of this house includes sharing names of some of the famous neighbors. Clearly, the locals are accustomed to being in the  presence of “A-listers” which created my initial belief that the CBS reporter who blew Matt Damon’s cover living since March in the above displayed house in Dalkey, Co. Dublin, Ireland had never been to Dalkey and knew nothing about this celebrity-overrun region of Co. Dublin, and its neighboring town, Killiney, known as the Beverly Hills of Dublin. Furthermore, this CBS reporter gave the impression that Matt Damon’s radio appearance was set up in advance to include a follow up surprise for a local nurse. The reality is that Matt Damon surprised the radio talk show hosts of a show he was listening to and called in out of the blue much to their joy, excitement and utter surprise. Maybe the moral of the CBS reporters inaccuracies is: Don’t believe everything you read! It’s rare when a story is written about me that doesn’t have an error in it. And most of the time, we don’t know enough about a story to be aware that there are both secondary as well as fundamental errors in the story. But this story about Dalkey residents being wowed because there has been a celebrity in their midst is off the beam as Dalkey and its neighbor, Killiney, are magnets for stars in every field right down to the star who owns the house that Matt Damon has been living in. . . and is moving out of as I write this. Clearly, he, too, picked a great house in a great place to live while marooned in Ireland and boasted of his fairy tale experience. I know that really possible to experience during this global catastrophe as we, too, are experiencing life from an enchanted farmhouse called Corner Cottage in Cairncastle, Northern Ireland. That part of the story about Matt Damon I can believe is accurate.

Residents of Ireland have a unique attitude related to celebrity types that I’ve recently talked about on radio and discussed in an upcoming Vlog, episode of Travel TV WITH Stephanie Abrams and even written about  in a recent blog . In short, where ‘the celebrated’ are randomly present, the Irish tend to stay their distance unless invited into the inner circle, smile and go on their  own merry way, respect the privacy of those who generally find themselves stalked by paparazzo  which makes Ireland a very comfortable place for celebrities of all sectors to choose be visit Ireland of which an enormous number have Irish historic roots. Read the credits at the end of any film and you’ll find that the number of obviously Irish names rolling by on the screen is disproportionately high. And maybe the quiet, non-interfering approach by the Irish to being in the presence of the celebrated has roots in their attitudes to royalty and The Monarchy which has drizzled over into the pool of The Celebrated. While hospitality is generously applied to all visitors in Ireland, invasion of privacy is not included in the warm outreach of locals who will circle the wagons to protect a  visitor whose privacy is being invaded. So when I spoke with a high profile local entrepreneur of the region of Dalkey and Killiney where Matt Damon has been a recent resident about a CBS reporter  with a traditional Irish name who blew the cover on Matt Damon’s whereabouts in Ireland and I said, “You know, her name is. . ., ” before I could finish the sentence, my source said, “Her name is Dirt!  She’s dirt in Dalkey & Killiney. She was run out of town. Nobody wants her here. And she’s never welcome to return and she’ll be run out of own if she tries to come back.” It’s clear that my source doesn’t need an assertiveness training course to let us know what she thinks and what the local scuttlebutt is about.

According to my source, ‘Ms. Dirt’ broke the cardinal rule of respecting the privacy of celebrities, in this case that of Matt Damon, whom the locals were going out of their way to look after without alerting the universe of his presence. That is so Irish! And more surprising to me is that Ms. Dirt, whose real name is known to me and easy to find in her CBS report that blew up in her face but I prefer not to use, actually went to Dalkey to gather up her notes for her story. What disturbed me most was not that she leaked that Matt Damon was living in Dalkey but that she described Dalkey as a sleepy seaside village that is agog over Matt Damon’s visit because  the  locals, according to Ms. Dirt,  are unaccustomed to A-list celebrity visitors and are dazzled and a-flurry over his presence. And now, knowing she didn’t do this story sitting in New Jersey but actually went to Dalkey, it’s horrifying to learn that she could be in Dalkey and not know a thing about the place or the A-list celebrities who not only frequent that chic and trendy village but actually live in the region and, if  they are fit, could actually walk from their homes or from their suites at Fitzpatrick Castle just up the hill, to shop, dine, have a coffee or a pint or a glass of wine in one of the bistos in town which they all do with some regularity. To describe the people of Dalkey as being star-struck and agog by Matt Damon’s presence, not because of his unique talents and the pleasure he has brought those who have enjoyed his many successful films, but because they are, what we would call in the US, ‘country bumpkins’ with no level of sophistication being in the presence of film greats.

How could Ms. Dirt not have known that the neighbors include Bono from U2 and Enya and that Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson and just maybe Ralph Fiennes, just might float through Dalkey and Killiney at any moment especially given she didn’t write her story from 3000 miles away but actually visited the village. And does Ms. Dirt not know that there are others on this planet that know enough about Dalkey to know who the A-list residents and oft-visitors  who are celebrities and stars who pop into Dalkey are whose names every person who doesn’t live under a rock knows? How could she not have stumbled on that factoid?

What’s a house without chocolate chip cookies?  Ah,  the aroma in the kitchen at Corner Cottage, Cairncastle, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland

The good news is that, while this CBS reporter’s name is now Dirt in Dalkey, she’s gone a long way to remind travelers and visitors to Ireland that Dalkey is a Must Visit location which you can reach on a train called the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transport) from  which takes about 20 to 30 minutes so if you’re in Dublin you don’t have to drive or worry about parking as parking in Dalkey is a serious challenge) and while there be sure to take a taxi or, if you’re a person who enjoys an uphill walk, trek up the road to Fitzpatrick Castle for something lovely to eat while overlooking the throng in their lobby lounge, lobby bar or one of their restaurants where you just might see celebrity-types sitting about and enjoying the place. But wait until sometime in June to stop in  at Fitzpatrick Castle  as their reopening plans include June for food and drink and sometime in July for the hotel portion of the castle to reopen which is  all based on government instructions that are about to be made public.

When it comes to talking about travel destinations, you really have to be careful whose stories and opinions you believe. It’s the kind  of sloppy remarks made by CBS’s reporter, better known now as Ms. Dirt, that motivated me to write my first travel guide, “1001 Reasons to Visit Ireland,” which I hope to finish before we !re able to fly home from our wonderful house, Corner Cottage, in seclusion in Cairncastle, Ballygally, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. And once we’re out of here, you can arrange to stay here as well as it’s an approved ’self-catering’ cottage with historic roots in a fabulous location. I’m going to have withdrawal pains when it comes time to leave Corner Cottage!

CBS News Report on Dalkey, Co. Dublin, Ireland as” Not Used to A-Listers is a Leaf Short of a Shamrock,” States Broadcast Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams
May 20th, 2020

There are many dangers in the world today. But one of those dangers, misinformation, is not new. I am too often disgusted when people in media talk about the travel industry, suppliers in the industry, and destinations as those who are publishing and broadcasting stories often don’t have a clue about the people, companies, and places they are talking about. Such is the case of a story about actor Matt Damon who is, like we are at the moment, marooned on the Emerald Isle. The story of Matt Damon calling into a local radio talk show last week is a source of curiosity, interest, and criticism as Matt and I share a similar experience of being amazingly lucky to be safe, well looked after, and overjoyed at being in a fairytale destination during this gruesome period of world history where there is so much pain at every turn for so many. We are very lucky to be in such a gorgeous and comfortable spot while we do our best to continue to be productive while being sidelined at the same time. So the story published by the Columbia Broadcasting System, CBS, at their website, reported by what appears to be a person who is either Irish, or more than likely, of Irish descent given her name is Caitlin O’Kane, gives me the very strong and regrettable impression that either Caitlin has never been to Dalkey, Co. Dublin, Ireland and knows little to nothing about the place or editors, as they far too often do, amended the piece and made it inaccurate in the process. In any case, someone should have checked before they made the assumption that Dalkey is a quaint place sheltered from superstars and celebrity types where the locals are now dazzled by the appearance of Matt Damon, not because Matt is a dazzling personality, but because this little village is just unaccustomed to having stars of his magnitude in their community.

Walking through a “loop hole” at Dalkey Castle which allowed archers to enter through one way and exit through another as an escape hatch giving us the word “loop hole” for getting out of bad situations including agreements.

And therein we find the problem resulting from (1) making assumptions about places without doing a bit of research and (2) talking about places you know nothing about as if you can make it up as you go along and no one will notice. Anyone who has been to Dalkey and abutting Killiney quickly learns that this area, in terms of star power is equivalent to Beverly Hills and Bel Air in California.

The CBS news article’s fundamental description of Dalkey is not just incorrect; it is Major League incorrect which is why I suspect that, just maybe, the author has never been to Dalkey or spoken with anyone who lives there or in neighboring Killiney. Here are the telltale signs as they appear in the CBS story printed in bold font below:

Many celebrities have been posting quarantine content from their mansions in Los Angeles, but one famous actor is nowhere near the Hollywood scene. Matt Damon and his family are self-isolating in the small seaside town of Dalkey in Ireland.

Since Dalkey is not used to hosting A-list celebrities, the actor has become the talk of the town.

Let me give you the facts:

  1. Dalkey, a tiny village in a posh suburban area about 20 minutes drive to  Dublin City Centre, lies at the bottom of a big hill abutting the town of from Killiney, better known locally as the Beverly Hills of County Dublin.
  2. Knowing the term “Beverly Hills of Dublin,” wouldn’t that alone give you an inkling that A-list celebrities just might live and frequent the region? If you said, yes, then, BINGO, you’re right!
  3. While the term “A-list celebrities” might be open to discussion as to whom should be on it, were I to tell you that among current residents in that tight little region and past residents and oft-visitors are such people as Bono, Enya, Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson . . . do they meet the standard for A-list celebrities? If you said, “Yes,” BINGO again! Hanging out in the little village shops, cafes, walking along the streets any day of the week, there’s a good chance you’ll spot some celebrity-type meandering about. This is not an area unfamiliar with super-stars! Quite the contrary!
  4. While Americans and Italians go gaga over celebrities, chase them thru streets, interrupt their dinners and private moments for autographs and photos, and hound them so that there is no sense of privacy in their lives, the Irish have a laissez-faire ‘how about that’ attitude that takes the presence of ‘celebrity’ in stride, much like their unflappable reaction to British royalty, with a, “Yeah, so what else is new?” attitude. For the celebrity, this is a breath of fresh air to actually be allowed to just “be” in public with only a smile, a nod, or no recognition at all from those in the vicinity. And A-listers are quite happy to shop and dine in Dalkey, and have a drink or tea time at Fitzpatrick Castle at the top of the hill from Dalkey village in Killiney where twice I’ve managed to miss seeing Liam Neeson in their lobby lounge and once missed Pierce Brosnan by seconds. I managed to miss Pierce Brosnan, as well, when we were both in residence at the Plaza Athenee Hotel in New York City but I did get to meet Melissa Rivers there and have breakfast 2 tables away from Robert DiNero and didn’t even notice he was there! What a pity!
  5. Matt Damon is ensconced in a very luxurious modern villa in Dalkey and, like our smaller, historic, spaciously comfortable and charming 1700s farmhouse in County Antrim, is the perfect hideaway from the massive troubles of the world during this pandemic. I have to concur with Matt Damon, that being in “Lough Down,” anywhere on this enchanted island that is Ireland, as long as you can stay healthy to enjoy it, is a truly magical experience and we are so lucky to be anything but ‘stuck’ here! And I’d be lying if I told you it’s a hardship to be here.  Matt Damon was criticized for his happiness quotient while being in Ireland but it’s hard to pretend it’s an awful experience in order to appear to be having the gruesome experience so many others are having.  Whether we deserve to be this happy is a philosophic debate for another time but, as Breeta Geary, a SKAL member whose father founded SKAL Mayo and whose family owned Pontoon Bridge Hotel in County Mayo for many years, once said to me, describing something good happening in the midst of something not so good, “You know, Stephanie, sometimes the wind is blowing in the right direction.” You can’t argue with Irish logic!  So, while we recognize the pain and suffering going on globally and truly empathize and sympathize with those who are ill and those who have loved ones suffering, we also recognize how blessed we are to be safe, sound, looked after by neighbors and brand new friends in Ireland,  and so happy that if our path to go home  had to be blocked, we are so lucky that the obstacles in our path kept us in Ireland, especially at Corner Cottage in County Antrim and I know Matt Damon feels that way about being “stuck” in  his luxury villa in Dalkey surrounded by the beauty of nature and the abundance of caring people and wholesome Irish food products. It  really is a fairy tale experience.
  6. If you’re lucky enough to be in Donegal, one of these days, you just might see a local property owner and his wife, Matthew Broderick, who inherited his grandfather’s Donegal home,  and Sarah Jessica Parker roaming about some of my favorite shops in Donegal Town being ignored by the locals who know they are there and who go out of their way to ignore them. A-lister, British royalty, Joe Shmo from Kokomo, it’s all the same to the Irish. Ah, how refreshing! And chances are, you’ll get a lot more attention if you’re Joe Shmo from Kokomo than if you’re an A-lister as folks are as warm and friendly and curious about visitors as they could possibly be but recognize that celebritiy-types would, generally, prefer to be left alone.
  7. And, lastly, it occurred to me that, more than likely, a visit to Wikipedia would have given some insights to the journalist into Dalkey and Killiney which create a stream of local A-listers “swanning about,” an expression that says it all, no? But even Wikipedia got it wrong when whomever posted their story lists Enya’s incredible castle home as being in Dalkey when, in fact, it’s in Killiney, just down the road from Fitzpatrick Castle but so close to Dalkey that an error like that is an easy one to make. Nonetheless, the stars out in the daylight hours in Dalkey and Killiney rival the Milky Way at night. This is not an area unfamiliar with celebrity visitors. If you’re going to report on it, get it right, please. And, better than that, plan to visit the region. You, too, will catch the spirit of a fairy tale experience. And Ireland is the place to have it!

Slan agus beanacht,

And sending you sunshine, mist and rainbows from the Emerald Isle,

Your personal travel expert,

Herself the Elf,

Stephanie Abrams

Media Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams in Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland Presents Vlog #6: Quaran TV CoronaVoyage Featuring Radio Kerry’s Deidre Walsh & Martello’s Mark Leslie
May 19th, 2020

Stephanie Abrams in the garden at Corner Cottage in Cairncastle, Ballygally, Co. Antrim Northern Ireland in

Vlog #6 of Stepanie’s CoronaVoyage

You’ll find me in the lovely garden beside the babbling river that abuts  the property of Corner Cottage, our home while we are marooned like Robinson Crusoe and his pal, Friday, where I am often found adorned with my red and white striped vinyl apron and rubber gloves attacking the newly delivered groceries dropped off by the publican, Martha Davis, who owns the Meeting House Pub just across the road. She was sent by the angels to make sure that we are well looked after, along with the other angels in the neighborhood who check in on us regularly by phone, text and email. Bless them, one  and all!

In Vlog #6, we’ll take a drive along the Antrim Coast Road and head a bit north and a bit south down to Carrickfergus where you will see the most incredible castle. . . not the styrofoam and glue kind of theme  park castle but a bona fide historic castle built in the year 1177, over 800 years ago. While we’re virtually driving about, traveling by video, we’re listening on our Budget Car Rental SUV’s radio  to Radio Kerry, a station we could never pick up in Northern Ireland. . .but that’s what editors are for. And we’re listening to presenter, what we’d call show host, Deidre Walsh interview me about a week after we settled into Corner Cottage for the duration of this mess the world is in!

As we finish our chat with Deidre at Radio Kerry, we’re off to County Dublin where you see the continuation of that view of teh Irish Sea in Co. Antrim at Sandycove in Co. Dublin as great friend, Mark Leslie, CEO of Martello, a company that creates fabulous visitors centers that we’ve visited in Ireland, Malta, the US and at the World Expo in Japan! If  Mark is opening a new exhibit, we’re there to see it and congratulate him! Mark shares the video he and his son, Luke Leslie, created that take us across the street from his house to the Irish Sea for some swimming and stalking lobster fishermen!

Click on the  photo above to see the video and please click to subscribe while you’re there. You can use a little getaway. . .  so let’s get going now! For a bit longer, this is the safest way to travel so stick with me and I’ll take you to wonderful places to meet wonderful people!

Slan agus beannacht,

Herself the Elf,

Your personal travel expert,

Stephanie Abrams

Three Cheers to Palace & LeBlanc Resorts for Comprehensive Safety & Sanitation Protocol All Should Study
May 17th, 2020

I received this press release from Palace Resorts & LeBlanc Resorts regarding the newly devised sanitation protocol that is being implemented in all of their locations. It is in-depth, well thought out, and heavily detailed. It is the kind of program for staff and guests that inspires confidence for  the wary and weary traveler.

Read through this if  you have a business that needs to project a safe environment to workers and customers or  if you are in need of a break and want to be sure that you can trust the place you are going to.

Well done,  Palace & Le Blanc. Very well done.

Palace Resorts and Le Blanc Spa Resorts Announce Purely Palace, an Enhancement Program, Ensuring the Safety and Health of All Guests
The brands’ newest cleanliness protocols include 140 preventive actions to ensure guests will be safe and have peace of mind throughout their stay at all Palace Resorts and Le Blanc Spa Resorts properties.

MIAMI, FLA. ( May 11, 2020)– Palace Resorts and Le Blanc Spa Resorts, leaders in five-star, all-inclusive and adults-only luxury resort accommodations, announces Purely Palace, advanced safety and cleanliness initiative for all resorts. This new program includes enhanced preventive actions across all points of contact. For more than 35 years, Palace Resorts has been committed to providing the best and safest experience for all guests by constantly implementing and strengthening health and safety protocols. In light of Covid-19 and to reassure future visitors, this new program will go above and beyond the stringent quality controls already in place, ensuring the health and safety of all guests and team members.

These new and enhanced measures will be implemented immediately across all Palace Resorts and Le Blanc Spa Resorts properties:


  • Team members will have their temperature checked upon entering the premises.
  • Uniforms will be completely sanitized.
  • Footwear will be properly disinfected.
  • Team members will be equipped with face masks, which will be replaced every four hours.
The disinfecting tunnel team members will enter upon arriving


  • Guests will be encouraged to check-in online through our resort app. Doing so reduces direct contact at the reception area by up to 90 percent.
  • Floor markers have been installed to respect social distancing guidelines.
  • Acrylic protective barriers have been installed at all guest check-in areas to protect both the guest and team member.
  • Each guest will be asked to sign a declaration of health, confirming they are free of any COVID-19 related symptoms, have not had tested positive or come into contact with anyone that has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 30 days.
  • Incoming guests’ luggage will be immediately disinfected upon arrival.
Floor markers will assist respecting social distancing when checking-in


  • Housekeeping teams will follow strict quality and sanitation controls, including mandatory use of gloves, face shields, and facemasks while cleaning and disinfecting guestrooms.
  • All mattresses will be professionally steamed to help eliminate any harmful viruses and bacteria.
  • Upon guest departure, each room will undergo a complete disinfection process using an electrostatic nebulizer system.
  • Sanitation tablets will be installed in air conditioning units to eliminate potential viruses and bacteria.
  • A health certification will be placed in each room, guaranteeing that everything has been completely disinfected to the highest and strictest standards.
  • Guests will also receive a personal hygiene kit in their rooms, which will include antibacterial gel, facemasks (for optional use, one per person) and disinfecting wipes.


  • All public areas will be sanitized daily with an electrostatic mist system.
  • Indoor and outdoor soft furnishings will be disinfected and spaced according to social distancing requirements.
  • Entertainment venues will be disinfected throughout the day and will undergo a deep sanitation process at the end of each performance.
  • At shows, families will be seated with enough space between families to respect social distancing guidelines, and our indoor entertainment spaces will have a maximum capacity.
  • Nightclubs, bars, and other public facilities, such as The Playroom Kids Club, Wired lounge, and the Fitness Center will have a maximum guest capacity.
  • Social distancing will be enforced when waiting in line for outdoor activities such as the Water Park and the FlowRider® Double Wave Simulator, and more.
  • The number of people in elevators will be limited, and antibacterial gel dispensers will be placed at each elevator door
  • Spa and beauty salons will offer sanitized check-in areas, common areas will be limited to maximum capacity, and all hot tubs and hydrotherapy areas will be kept at controlled temperatures to limit the spread of germs.
  • All swim-up pool bars will be closed.
Precautionary signs will be carefully placed throughout the resorts


  • All buffets will be removed from all restaurants.
  • Floor markers will be put in place to enforce social distancing.
  • While physical menus will be disinfected after each use, guests will be highly encouraged to view our menus through the resort app.
  • All kitchens will continue to follow the highest government sanitation standards.
  • Each team member is required to wash their hands every 30 minutes.


  • All golf carts, lobby-to-lobby buses, and general internal transportation will be disinfected every 30 minutes.
  • As for transfers, all vehicles will have a maximum capacity according to their size, so guests are spaced as safely as they can from each other.

Dynamic prevention methods have long been a key practice in ensuring the health of all guests and team members. All resorts are equipped with medical stations staffed daily with a registered nurse and 24/7 on-call medical personnel. The brand has always followed the direction of medical professionals and continuously monitors the advice and instructions provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Ministries of Health in each country Palace Resorts calls home. Along with a dedicated quality control team, Palace Resorts and Le Blanc Spa Resorts guarantee the strictest adherence in sanitary standards and pledge seamless implementation of programs to prevent the spread of all illnesses.

As we welcome guests back to our resorts, we are committed to providing the safest environment aligning with the new program. Our aim is to help defeat COVID-19, and we will continue to monitor and evolve our solutions to ensure our guests remain safe and have peace of mind while enjoying their stay.

More images found here

About Palace Resorts:

With ten oceanfront resorts overlooking sparkling turquoise waters, Palace Resorts sets the highest standards for five-star all-inclusive vacations in Mexico and Jamaica. Offering luxurious and spacious accommodations accentuated by signature in-room double whirlpool tubs, nightly entertainment, the Caribbean, Mexico’s most extravagant spas, and a premier Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, Palace Resorts sets the stage for a truly exceptional experience for travelers. The unparalleled level of service and comfort found at each property makes Palace Resorts a leading provider of world-class resort vacations. For more information, visit

About Le Blanc Spa Resort:

Le Blanc Spa Resort is an award-winning, adults-only, ultra-luxury hotel brand that has completely redefined the standard for luxury all-inclusive resorts. With locations in Cancun and Los Cabos, Mexico, Le Blanc Spa Resort offers a plethora of luxurious amenities including sophisticated and stylish accommodations. Part of the Palace Resorts family of brands, Le Blanc Spa Resort offers butler service, unique gourmet culinary offerings, a state-of-the-art spa and wellness facilities, world-class entertainment and unique experiences sure to impress even the most discerning luxury traveler. For more information, visit

Blantyre, the First Relais & Chateaux Lodging in No.America, Blames Airbnb for Its Problems. Really?
May 17th, 2020

While we are traveling, I often check in with the  online edition of the Berkshire Eagle, the regional  newspaper for Berkshire County. I came across a story in which the new owners of Blantyre presented an argument that their economic challenges could be fixed with adding more hotel rooms and their problems are somehow the result of Airbnb, to which I can only ask, “Really?” Now  that Tanglewood has announced its shutdown of the summer season 2020, I suspect that the Airbnb accusations will shift but the story first appeared in early March. If you’re reading this, you know too well that I couldn’t not  let that “news” story about Airbnb creating  financial challenges for this amazing castle-like hotel in Lenox, Massachusetts as it’s just absurd. And I’m very pleased that the editors of the Eagle chose to run my Letter to the Editor which I share with you here. .  .

Letter: Blantyre can’t blame Airbnb for its problems

Posted Wednesday, March 11, 2020 5:30 pm

To the editor:

Greetings from County Cork, Ireland where we are keeping up with local news online at!

As a bona fide travel industry expert whose nationally syndicated travel radio shows reach over 11 million travelers weekly and are heard in Berkshire County on WBRK AM & FM and WSBS AM & FM on Sunday mornings, I am astounded to learn that the owners of Blantyre think that their occupancy woes can be attributed to competition from Airbnb! My opinion carries weight as I am listed as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Travel so, unlike the average reviewer who has no insider knowledge that one would read about at TripAdvisor, my credentials in the travel and tourism industry are credible and I’m here to tell you that there is only one other lodging establishment in the region that could be a competitor to Blantyre and that’s Wheatleigh.

The Airbnb customer is NOT a Blantyre guest. If they are having trouble filling their rooms, the new owners need to look to their lack of marketing savvy as filling hotel rooms is not the same skill set as being a real estate developer and relying only on membership in Relais & Chateaux. While impressive as Blantyre was as the very first Relais & Chateaux hotel in North America, when owned by Ann Fitzpatrick Brown, that membership alone will not keep occupancy high. There would be no economic suffering, given the rate structure at Blantyre, if occupancy levels on a yearly basis approached somewhere in the 90 percent range but Fitzpatrick Brown made a practice of trying not to exceed 50 percent occupancy to assure maximum Gilded Age experiences for each guest.

Before more rooms are built, some serious focus on how to fill them, not by poaching Airbnb guests who couldn’t buy the orange juice served at breakfast let alone pay for a night at Blantyre, but by laser targeted marketing to the unique market that would lust after nights at Blantyre if they knew about the place! Adding more rooms without a serious marketing strategy beyond relying on Relais & Chateaux listings in print and online will only result in more unoccupied, non-revenue producing infrastructure. A good start would include presenting how Blantyre will fill the rooms it has and future space before adding more accommodations that are unfilled and involving some people who actually know the travel industry and how to market the gem that is Blantyre.

Stephanie Abrams,

Book Your 2021 Non-Refundable Cruise 50% Off Now. . . Really?
May 17th, 2020

Put you thinking caps on people!  I’m more than a little disturbed by new promotions on the scene designed to stimulate travelers to book travel now.  I understand that airlines, tour operators, hotels, and cruise lines want and need to get future business on the books now which will help in the process of proving to banks and governments and other investors that there will be rebirth of the travel industry after Covid-19 is a bad memory. But, w¬¬¬¬¬¬hile some promotional packages are designed with consideration for the tenuous nature of the world, the travel industry and the concerns-to-fears of potential travelers which offer cancellation and rebooking of hotel reservations with no penalties and reassurances of safe conditions while interfacing with their travel offerings, the new entries on the scene are offers from companies with prestigious names in travel and tourism presenting hugely discounted cruises on luxury cruises for 2021 with ‘Book Now at 50% off Non-Refundable for 2021 sailings.’ Really? Are you ready to pay 50% of the regular cost for non-refundable reservations for 2021 that, given the nature of the product even at a discount will be in the range of $7000.00 or more for a couple? If so, I’m really interested in what crystal ball you are using that will guarantee that (1) you’ll be in great health and great financial shape to go; (2) the company you are booking with will be operating in 2021; and (3) you’re fine with the new credit card rules that don’t cover your lost payment if the time between full payment and the date of cancellation are more than a couple of months? How did that rule slip through the Consumer Protection folks? How is it possible that you pay in full for something in the future that you never get and the credit card company doesn’t stand behind your right to get that money back when the seller closes up? So if you are going to make an investment in future travel that is paid in full at time of purchase that is clearly noted to be non-refundable, you better not buy travel insurance protection from the seller of the travel opportunity as you will be paying extra for the insurance and if they disappear in the night you’ll lose the trip AND the insurance coverage AND the added cost of that coverage that you paid. And if you’re smart enough to buy travel insurance, don’t buy from a third-party internet broker for travel insurance. Go directly to a respected travel insurer and get your travel insurance from the company itself. But let’s say you bought a trip last November for June 2020 and you don’t want to go but the company providing the travel is operating. And let’s say that you bought that extra option to cover cancellation for any reason or cancellation for unforeseen events, and you think that telling the operator of your travel experience and your travel insurer that you’re not going because of Covid-19, which would seem like an unforeseen event falling also under the cancel for any reason like getting sick and maybe dying, that you would be covered. Ah, well, be sure to go to the website of your insurer and read the new language that is being inserted to inform those who purchased insurance for travel before this mess started that since the WHO proclaimed Covid-19 a pandemic, that makes the illness a FORESEEN event and probably is not covered in your policy AND you saying that you want to cancel your trip under the ‘unforeseen event’ option is no longer a possibility.  I am a great believer in insurance. I believe in being well covered with life insurance, health insurance, home owners’ insurance, apartment dwellers insurance, car insurance, motorcycle insurance . . .if you actually have a motorcycle, insurance for your jewelry, cameras, artwork and other valuable but it is so very important that  you choose insurance companies that actually pay off when you have an occurrence that you were sure you had coverage for. I’ve heard too many stories about companies where you are covered while you are paying the premium but, look at that (!), you aren’t covered when you go to collect. Covid-19, it appears is the newest entry in the field of what was unforeseen when you bought the insurance but you just may find that its new status is now in the ‘foreseen’ category so check with the insurer and understand what you are buying so that you (1) get the coverage you want and need for your travels and (2) there are no unforeseen surprises if you find you have to collect! Have a look at the explanations at this website as a place to start your due diligence before you invest in your next trip.  I suspect that travelers may find tighter restrictions on refunds and trip interruption and trip cancellation penalties from insurers who are injecting new language into existing and future policies. Be informed, especially if you are thinking about getting a 50%-off big ticket travel purchase that is non-refundable because, if you have to cancel and your insurer is doing a tap dance around the worthiness of your reason for cancelling, you may be out 100% of what you gave the travel company.  Be safe. Be vigilant. Be well. Your personal travel expert, Stephanie Abrams

What Fairy Tale Experience Do Matt Damon & Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams Have in Common?
May 17th, 2020

Dalkey Castle, Dalkey, County Dublin, Ireland

What Fairy Tale Experience Do Matt Damon & Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams Have in Common?

Now, that’s a superb question!

And the answer is that we are, like kindergartners at parallel play, marooned together, but separately, on this island that is Ireland.

Matt is in County Dublin in Dalkey which is an historic village at the bottom of the hill from Killiney, the Beverly Hills of County Dublin, where darling boutique shops and galleries, Dalkey Castle provides a sensational visitors’ experience, and celebrities like  Bono from u2 and Enya have palatial homes in the shadow of Fitzpatrick Castle, a hotel that dominates the hilltop, declaring on a local radio station he surprised with a call-in that he is having a ‘fairy tale experience’ while ensconced in his temporary residence while unable to go home to the US since his March return flight was cancelled.

I am having a similar experience snugged  away in a darling 1700s farmhouse  in County Antrim, Northern Ireland,  that bubbles over with every modern amenity inside and a darling walled courtyard with ivy covered brick and stone walls and a lovely garden with flowering trees and spring flowers in bloom abuting a babbling river  and boasting views of the Irish Sea from the southeast corner of the property.

There was some vocal criticism of Matt Damon’s description of having a ‘fairy tale experience,’ but, frankly, he  was spot on because this is our experience as well! Perhaps we are both too lucky for words to find ourselves safe and sound and surrounded by the warmth of neighbors we’ve never met who reach out to assist  like friends-over-decades. It is tragic that sickness and death and economic catastrophe are present in abundance all over the world, but if you’re going to sit out this dance macabre, we are so lucky to be doing just that on the island that is Ireland and it’s really difficult to look at this personal experience as sad or tragic or, as a GoodReads author just commented to me, as “terrifying.” That’s clearly not the right descriptive!  Marvelous, uplifting, magical, and, yes, fairy tale experience in the middle of the horror the world in imploding from.  And as long as we can stay healthy throughout this escapade, it’s all more than just good for us in this lovely corner of the globe.

An archer tour guide at Dalkey Castle

If you’re going to be “stuck” somewhere, I have long believed that Ireland was just the place to do that! But I don’t feel stuck. I  feel uplifted, inspired, comfortable, cared about, happy and thankful to be so blessed to be quite at home at Corner Cottage, in Cairncastle, Ballygally, County  Antrim, Northern Ireland where just being is more than enough.

And while I am certain that Matt Damon is keenly sensitive, as I am, to the  plight of so many afflicted and affected by this scourge, we cannot undervalue or under-appreciate, the quality and benefits of the unique experience of being safe and sound on this particular island where overcoming hardships with perseverance, courage, solidarity, optimism, faith and humor is, historically, a cultural given and expectation. No one should find fault or harshly judge anyone who is finding joy in living, no matter the era or the circumstance. Finding joy in terribly difficult times is, in fact, a very Irish thing to do.

So to Matt Damon, whose reaction to being marooned in County Dublin mirrors our own here in County Antrim, May the Craic Be with You!

And from Herself the Elf, let me, again, share one of my favorite Irish Blessings:

May God grant you always a sunbeam to warm you,

A moonbeam to charm you,

A sheltering angel so nothing can harm you.

Laughter to cheer you,

Faithful friends near you,

And whenever you pray

Heaven to hear you.

Take care of you. . .

Your personal travel expert,

Stephanie Abrams

It’s Time for Every American Whose Family Came from Somewhere Else to Adopt a Native American Tradition:”Hau” or “Oo-SI-yo!”
May 6th, 2020

Except for Native Americans, every American traces his or her family back to another place, probably across an ocean. Every American today is the result of parents who took the ultimate trip to get to what are now the shores of the USA. Incredibly, like Bob Dylan’s song, the times they are a changin’ and even simple customs need a 21st twist. One of those customs, a simple handshake greeting has got to go and perhaps we should look at our Native American brethren yet again for guidance and recommendation on ways to protect nature and ourselves.

I have long detested, in what now seems eons ago, being approached while dining in a restaurant by someone who wants to drop by to say hello and briefly chat and sticks their arm across my dinner plate signaling they’d like to shake hands with me. That’s always bothered me as, here I am, fork in hand, expected to put my washed-before-dinner hand into someone’s mitt and then return to handling the roll I was eating transporting with me whatever might be living, uninvited, on the visitor’s hand.  I developed a technique  to combat that intrusion long ago in the form of quickly making sure I was eating European style with a knife in my right hand a fork in my left or a fork in my right hand and a piece  of bread in my left. When the person thrust their  hand at me, I would smile broadly, lift my occupied hands and shrug my shoulders or say something like, “Sorry, my hands are a bit occupied at the moment.”

That will work at a cocktail party with the help of a glass in one hand and an hors d’oeuvre in the other but   doesn’t work when you’re in an office or conference room. So, like Native American lessons related to keeping our rivers and air clean and protecting the land, I suggest we take a lesson on how to greet people.  Cowboy films and TV anglicized and popularized Native American greeting. The Lakota/Dakota and Sioux tribes use the word ‘hau’ which became pronounced as ‘how’ on radio dramas and TV screens. The Creeks, whose tribal name was given to them by English speaking arrivals because they lived near rivers, use a word pronounced “Oo-SI-yo. Have a look at this quickie video on pronunciation: watch?v=8KlE_WgBiYM

If  we have a chance to be in the same room together, and our greeting one another needs more punctuation that mere words can provide, the  fact is that  I really don’t even want to do a fist bump and I’m not about to put my hand on your arm or shoulder as that, in these days of harassment issues, may well be seen as inappropriate. So, I’m going to practice raising my flat right palm  and either saying,”Hau,” or “Oo-SI-yo” as the only non-immigrants in America would say as their  ‘hello’ greeting. No  touchy-feely stuff.

And if Americans and others catch the spirit of this seemingly good fashion trend, and someone say, “Hau,” to me first, like Bob Hope in one of his comedic films might have replied to that greeting, I’ll reply, “And hau!”

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay away from each  other so we can wipe this illness out and get back to freedom to travel, freedom to roam the planet, freedom for folks, like ourselves, who are marooned like Robinson Caruso and his man, Friday, freedom to do something as simple as go home.

With hugs and kisses from your person travel expert ‘marooned’ in gorgeous Northern Ireland,

Herself the Elf,

Stephanie Abrams

Something Uplifting from Aimee Banks is In Order During CoronaVoyage
May 3rd, 2020

Singer Josh Groban with Aimee Banks (right), Mum Alyson Banks  and, left of Josh, twin sister Anna Banks and Aunt Kathy

Aimee Banks is one of my very special Rose Petals in my Rose Petal Box of unique memories and experiences and people who have brought great joy into my life. I met her at a Christmas party in Galway, Ireland organized by SKAL Galway at the Meyrick, now the Hardiman, Hotel, when, between the main course and dessert, the President of SKAL Galway called upon 13 year old Aimee to sing for those SKALleagues and their guests who were assembled.

After hearing Aimee sing and blow the ceiling off of the ballroom, I approached her mother and invited Aimee and her mom to come to the US so that I could introduce her to some influential people in the  music world.  Aimee is now about to graduate from high school and will be studying for her Bachelors ‘Degree in Music at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin.

Aimee is on my mind because I will be interviewing her by telephone tomorrow for  my radio shows and in planning for that interview it occurred to me that you just might enjoy an uplifting moment listening to her sing. I hope you avail yourself of sharing some petals in my Rose Petal Box of special moments and special memories.

Have a listen. . .

With best wishes from Herself the Elf,

Your personal travel expert,

Stephanie Abrams

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