Experience Madrid with Travel Advisor Heidi Nanigian - World Travel
Experience Madrid with Travel Advisor Heidi Nanigian

Experience Madrid with Travel Advisor Heidi Nanigian

Experience Madrid with our Travel Advisor Heidi Nanigian and see some of the beauty this Spain destination has to offer.

In October of 2015, I was given an opportunity to experience Madrid with Virtuoso’s Made For Spain tour operator.  My flight from LAX had a stopover in Atlanta. I arrived the following morning into Madrid. I took a shuttle to the gorgeous Hotel Ritz. I was greeted immediately as I entered and was in awe of the gorgeous decor of the lobby. The hotel was built in 1910 and it felt like such a privilege to be able to stay here. There was a beautiful staircase to take me up to my room. There are no two rooms alike. My room was the size of a suite or a studio with vintage decor. The bathroom was very modern. There was a hallway to the bedroom and two steps to take you up to the bed.

After freshening up, I met up with the other travel agents for a guided tour to experience Madrid. We made a few stops and saw the beautiful Grand Via. October is a perfect time to travel here with clear skies. We saw where people live, parks, shops etc. We made our way to the Prado Museum. As someone who is not an art guru, I would say this was one of the highlights in Madrid for me. The grounds are absolutely beautiful with a gorgeous Church across the way. Had it not been for my wonderful guide with Made For Spain I know I would have been in and out of there in about a half hour, not really knowing what I saw. I learned about Diego Velazquez and how he often put himself in his own paintings. He also used a technique called Chiaroscuro which gave the paintings volume. Once it was pointed out to me I could see the shadows outlining his artwork. She also gave us the back story and gossip of the artists and how you could see some of it in the paintings of the artists. I highly suggest getting a private guide to get a deeper explanation of everything. I got so much more out of the experience. That evening we were given a private tour of all of the different rooms at The Ritz. It is such an iconic hotel with so much history. The bar reminded me of a scene in a 1940s movie. We were given a 4 course private Welcome dinner. It was a great way to end my first night in Spain.

On Day 2, we had a private guided city tour of Madrid. We saw the Grand Via, stopped at Plaza Mayor, Temple de Debod, The Palace, tasted churros and chocolate and learned the story of the fable Raton Perez. We ended our tour at the Intercontinental Madrid. We were given a private tour of all the rooms. We were also taken into the kitchen to meet the chef and watch him create paella. We were seated in the dining room and he brought it out to us in a huge pan. It was delicious! After lunch we went downtown to do some local shopping. That evening we were given a private tour at the Westin Palace  and enjoyed  another amazing dinner.

On Day 3 I tried the complimentary breakfast at The Ritz. You can have it made to order or choose something from the buffet. From there we walked to El Rastro or what we would call a flea market in the U.S.  It is open every Sunday morning. There are aisles and aisles of vendors selling everything such as clothing, purses, shoes, belts, artwork, ceramics, jewelry, and kitchenware. It was great to see where the locals shop and spend time on the weekends. On our way back to our hotel we decided to stop in at The Rincon Brewery and have a tasty Madrid beer. We were then picked up from our hotel and taken to the apartment of Pilar LaTorre. She was giving us a private afternoon cooking lesson. We took an elevator up to the 2nd floor. What they called an apartment is bigger than the home I grew up in southern California, except they don’t have backyards. Pilar is also a photographer, so she has her home decorated with her own photography with people not posed but in their natural state. We were of course given wine to get our cooking lesson started. I learned early on during my trip to Spain that wine is a must no matter what time of day it is and it is always flowing. As someone who doesn’t cook much at home, it was fun to see the people in my class that do cook and learn some tricks from Pilar such as an easier way to peel tomatoes by putting them in warm water. The skin literally falls right off. We made appetizers, a steak, cold soup and dessert. It was a wonderful way to immerse ourselves in the culture. If you have the time I would definitely book a cooking class. It can be booked through Made for Spain. After our lesson, we had some free time to sightsee. We walked over to Retiro Park which was close to our hotel. It is a gorgeous green park. It happened to be raining which as a Californian is something I haven’t seen much of the last few years. It rained just enough to make it seem like fall with orange and red leaves, but it wasn’t cold at all. Our final dinner in Madrid was at The Hotel Villa Magna. I would say next to the The Ritz this was my second favorite hotel out of the ones we toured and dined at. It has a classic yet very modern feel. The rooms were spacious, in a great location and the hotel has lots of extra amenities when booked through Virtuoso travel agencies. This was one of my favorite meals that I had in Madrid as well. They had one side of the building lit up in pink for breast cancer awareness month. Madrid was a great city to visit. I would say 2-3 nights is the perfect amount of time to experience Madrid, depending on the time of year you are visiting. If you are here during summer and can take in Madrid or a flamenco show or do a tapas tour you may want extra time here.

Heidi Nanigian a Travel Advisor from World Travel will experience Madrid or any destination you desire.
Get Started: http://wtbinc.com/get-started/
Call Us: 888.879.4261

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New York New York – The Big Apple Big Surprise

New York New York – The Big Apple Big Surprise

Surprising our 10 year old with a New York trip.

“One of your Christmas presents will arrive early this year. It will be delivered around the 12th and it can’t wait so you can open that one early.  Just that one though.”

My husband and I had started dropping hints to pique her interest. Our 10 year old daughter was excited and mildly irritated at the unfolding charade.  We had been plotting our New York scheme for a couple months and now that we were in the home stretch it was getting more exciting.  We had it all planned out and gently torturing her was definitely part of the plan.

new york

Everything was coming together for our big surprise.  The tickets were bought, the accommodations arranged, we had recruited a friend to drive our car back from the airport.  I had done some secret shopping for clothes, shoes and jackets as our light southern California options would be no match for the frigid climate where we were heading.  The weather report said snow flurries!

The morning of departure we climbed into the car, our luggage secured in the trunk the night before so not to raise any suspicions.  I was driving and my husband sat in the passenger side.  Ollie and our friend Angel got in the back seat.  We told her our friend needed a ride and we all chatted during the commute.  As we neared the airport my husband started fiddling with the radio and his blue tooth.  The car stereo speakers came alive with the intro to an Alicia Keys song just as I pulled into the airport and up to the curb at the appropriate terminal.

“Hey Ollie, remember we kept talking about a big surprise for Christmas?” I said looking in the back seat at my little girls face.

“Yeah…” she sputters as she looked out the window. “Are we going somewhere?” Her face brightening with the realization, “Is THAT the surprise? We are flying somewhere??” I am nodding yes to her and I can guess what her next question will be.  I reach to turn the music up just as she asks, “Where are we going?”

I lip sync the answer using my cell phone as a microphone, “Neeewwwww Yyoooooorrrrkkkk, concrete jungle where dreams are made of…”

I let my rock star pantomime fall off as her face lit up like Broadway.  She said it again to be sure, “New York? We are going to New York?!?”

The rest of the trip was a dream.  We stayed in Brooklyn at a friend’s apartment and got to experience a true New Yorkers life.  We took the subways, which she hated.  We went ice skating in Central Park, toured the Natural History museum and the Met, which she loved.  We ate a slice at Rays and went Christmas shopping at a pop up event in Bryant Park.  We got caught up in a protest march and she saw her first snow fall.  We saw the tree at Rockefeller and went to the top of the Empire State building.  It was a magical New York Big Apple Christmas and she whole-heartedly agreed that the surprise was well worth the wait.

New York

Heidi Nanigian a Travel Advisor from World Travel will get you there…
Get Started: http://wtbinc.com/get-started/
Call Us: 888.879.4261

Grand Canyon – A Fun Family Road Trip

Grand Canyon – A Fun Family Road Trip

Grand Canyon road trip adventure with our family was a blast!

If you are looking for an outstanding family trip, look no further than the Grand Canyon!  Our family contacted World Travel to assist us in planning a trip to the Grand Canyon & Las Vegas this last August. We worked with one of their agents Heidi Nanigian. She walked us through our options and worked through our requests with ease. Heidi was always accessible and very quick to respond.

In the days leading up to our trip, she checked in, to see if we were in need of any assistance, which was very reassuring. 12 hours before our trip, my husband decided it might be best to rent a car for our trip. Heidi was right there to assist us and was able to get us an amazing deal.

Our trip was so amazing! We drove the first day to the Grand Canyon in a spacious mini van. Viewing the desert landscapes we all agreed to go wireless for the trip. Our family bonded and shared stories along the way. Once we arrived to our hotel, we were able to unwind and prepare for the next days adventure.

Up at the crack of dawn, we set forth onto our day of adventuring to see the Grand Canyon and all its glory. The sights and sounds of this magical place, just took our breath away, which is not something easily come by, in a household of teenagers, let me tell ya!

After a short hike and some exploring we headed off to the Hoover Damn (shown above). What a sight! Such a modern marvel, we were completely blown away.

We rounded up our travels in Las Vegas. Our outstanding travel agent Heidi booked us a room at the fabulous Signature Resort. Our family was truly impressed with all the special attention that both Heidi and the hotel staff gave us, that we decided to stay an extra night!  We had a blast and just cannot wait to do it again!!

Heidi Nanigian a Travel Advisor from World Travel will get you there…
Get Started: http://wtbinc.com/get-started/
Call Us: 888.879.4261

Hawaiian Paradise and the Aloha Spirit

Hawaiian Paradise and the Aloha Spirit

The Hawaiian paradise of Waikiki showed World Travel clients Jennifer Robles and Valerie Gomez the true Aloha spirit.

Wow, what a trip to a Hawaiian paradise!  Everything was wonderful.  I’ll start with our car that picked us up at the house, which Heidi had booked (Shuttle to LAX) and we had a private car…awesome!  The driver was prompt, professional and very pleasant.  We began the trip in style feeling like the Kardashians!

The Aqua Palms Hotel was great.  It was in the middle of Waikiki and close to everything!  We received a wonderful surprise upgrade to the 15th floor so we had a view of the City, Diamond Head, and a little of Waikiki Beach – awesome!  The hotel staff was very friendly and informative.

Germaine’s was Luau fun and we had a blast!  I would recommend it — it was family style which made it even better.  They do their best to make you feel like Ohana (family)!  I was told by some friends that the location was not good, but I thought it was great…right on the beach.  We have some great pictures of the sunset!  The bus drivers were great too.  They made the ride so much fun and were very organized too.  My mother in law paid for my wife’s family to join us at the luau as a nice surprise!  It was so great to have our Ohana join us at the last minute and they also had a wonderful time!

My wife and I had a beautiful beach wedding at Waialae Beach and it was amazing!  It was the only day it rained and we had the most beautiful rainbow appear during our ceremony!  All of the Hawaiians were telling us that rain was good luck and a blessing.  Once we got on the sand, it stopped raining a bit, just a very light drizzle and a rainbow appeared.  The ceremony was beautiful and we had dinner at Tiki’s Bar and Grill in Waikiki.  I would recommend that place, very fun and casual atmosphere!

We ended our trip at Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa.  It was truly another paradise on earth there, so beautiful!  We want to go back to the Hawaiian paradise soon and it was worth every penny!

We used another private car with Shuttle to LAX for the trip home from the airport and again, the driver was prompt and professional.  Since it was late, we drove straight home with no traffic and thank goodness Heidi recommended the later flight.  It’s definitely the way to go!

Everything was amazing with our Hawaiian paradise adventure!  We can’t thank Heidi Nanigian enough for her friendly and professional service!  We look forward to taking our next vacation with the help from Heidi and World Travel!

hawaiian paradisehawaiian paradise

Seychelles – Cruising in First Class Style

Seychelles – Cruising in First Class Style

Scott and Renee Pfeiffer had the unique opportunity to visit Dubai and cruise the Seychelles in February of this year along with their adult children Kyle and Kelley.

We started the Seychelles cruise adventure from Dubai where we had a chance to tour some amazing sites including Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, landmark hotel Burj Al Arab and who could miss the Dubai Mall with the world’s largest fish tank.


We are all scuba certified and have been wanting to experience the warm, welcoming water of the Seychelles and Crystal Cruises new yacht Esprit was the perfect option. After two days of touring in Dubai, we boarded the yacht which carries on 60 passengers. Everyone on board experienced first class service and had a chance to socialize and get to know the captain and crew.  While on board, we all enjoyed scuba, snorkeling and wake boarding. Especially exciting was time spent exploring the islands by hiking, biking, zip lining, enjoying helicopter and even submarine rides.

If you asked what I enjoyed the most (Renee) it would be being together and spending quality time on sugar white beached, lush emerald mountains, UNESCO protective wildlife preserves and one of the most dynamic coral reefs in the Seychelles.

Thanks to our savvy Travel Advisor at World Travel, Marsha Dolbow, for all the smoothly functioning travel arrangements.

World Travel adheres to the standards of quality, service, and flexibility. As your Travel Advisor, our goal is to develop a relationship where you rely upon us to deliver service that goes beyond merely booking flights and making hotel reservations. We believe in a hands-on approach, and feel our attention to detail exemplifies who we are when it comes to personal attention to your travel needs and expectations, as well as those of your travel companions.

Big Texas Adventure in Only 5 Days

Big Texas Adventure in Only 5 Days

George and Mikki Borquez detail their 5 day Texas adventure “spurred” by the desire and love of travel.

My husband and I had 5 days to spend on a long weekend and after much deliberation, we decided to fly to Dallas, Texas and see what we could do during that short time period.  Our Texas adventure started when we picked up our rental car at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and began our drive to Arlington, Texas, about 25 miles away.  This was our first stop as it was still baseball season, and we decided to get a hotel within walking distance of the Texas Ranger’s baseball stadium (now known as Globe Life Park) in Arlington.  We’d be able to take in the game, not worry about fighting traffic or paying for parking plus we’d get to enjoy a few beers without having to drive.  It was a fun evening as we walked there and back to our hotel after the game, feeling sorry for those stuck in grid lock traffic!


The following day, we took the VIP guided tour of the magnificent AT&T stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, located across the street from Globe Life Park.  Thanks to staying in a nearby hotel, we were able to walk there as well.  You name it, we saw it from the locker rooms of the Dallas Cowboy players to those of the Dallas Cheerleaders, the private suites, the press box, the interview room, the Miller Lite Club and most exciting, the field itself.  There is nothing like standing on the 50-yard line in that immense stadium!

texas adventure

Our third day was spent at the Fort Worth Stockyards (17 miles from Arlington) where there’s a daily cattle drive through town (definitely an experience for this city girl).  We weren’t there for the annual rodeo but I’m sure it would be a lot of fun to see!  We had lunch at a cowboy saloon, toured the Cowboy Hall of Fame and listened to some great country-western music before heading to Dallas (36 miles from Fort Worth Stockyards) for the remainder of our stay.

dallas southfork

I was always a fan of the TV show “Dallas”, starring Larry Hagman, Linda Grey and Patrick Duffy, so of course touring South Fork Ranch was high on my list of things to do!  The grounds and the main house are impressive and meticulously maintained.  There is a small restaurant on the premises in addition to a gift shop.  A tram takes you from the visitor center to the main house; along the way you see horses and Texas longhorn.  They’re open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and the cost is very reasonable ($15.00 or less depending on if you’re purchasing an adult ticket, senior citizen or child’s ticket).

sixth floor jfk

A more sobering tour was that of the Texas School Book Depository building, or the JFK History Museum and Sixth Floor Museum, as it’s also known.  I was 12 years old when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and have always been fascinated with his life and legacy.  The tour is self-guided and is respectful to all that happened there.  It overlooks Dealey Plaza and the grassy knoll, as well as the bridge the motorcade passed under on the way to Parkland Hospital that fateful day in November of 1963.  The hours and prices for this museum are almost identical to that of South Fork Ranch.

We managed to get in some time to tour downtown Dallas before heading back to the airport for our journey home.  I’d definitely visit this area again, lots to do there!

World Travel Travel Advisor Heidi Nanigian would love to help you on your next Texas Adventure or any adventure your heart desires. Get started today! Click Here and ask for Heidi!

Azamara Quest Luxury Cruise Memories

Azamara Quest Luxury Cruise Memories

World Travel clients Marvin and Nancy guest blog about about their adventures during a luxury cruise aboard the Azamara Quest.

Please note, I start with our last night aboard the Azamara Quest. I had received a bottle of Taittinger’s Champagne from a ship officer which I shared with three new friends onboard. We toasted the fun we shared, new friends, and our future cruises which were booked onboard, too. Up in the Living Room they have tapas each evening which were great to nosh with our icy champs.


A fun event on an at sea day was Iron Chef, set up so beautifully. The chefs were the cruise director vs the hotel manager and their selected passenger aides. The ship’s chef and his sous chef supervised. The wine flowed into food, contestants, and judges. The laughter must have resonated throughout the ship.

I took along yarn to knit scarves and met other knitters, too. It was a great ice breaker and we shared projects and resources. We also borrowed books from The Drawing Room, the ship’s lovely library.

Willemstad, Curaçao was our southernmost port. It is colorful, people were so friendly, and crossing the pedestrian pontoon bridge from one side of town to the other is fun. We walked, toured, drank beer (3 for $7 plus free wifi!!!) and stopped for lunch.  As we left port Captain Carl spun the ship so everyone enjoyed the beautiful views.


An interesting discovery:  Azamara Quest has designated crew members who can stay ashore with guests if a need arises. On our cruise, a man needed hospitalization in the Dominican Republic. The couple was packed up, ambulance arranged, and a young lady from the crew packed up and stayed with them as interpreter and to help. That is hugely humane and well handled by the crew of the Azamara Quest.

We can’t wait for our next adventure on Azamara Quest. Planning it with our Travel Advisor Elaine Clapp will be great fun, too.


Hiking Destinations Lake 22 Trail

Hiking Destinations Lake 22 Trail

Hiking destinations filled with beauty!

In Washington State there are tons of hiking destinations to get you out into nature. It’s one of the things I love most about the Pacific Northwest. My favorite adventures are the ones where you throw the dog and a pack in the car, and hit the road to the great outdoors–destination unknown.

I’m a hiker who loves a good workout, beautiful waterfalls, and the pay off of a stunning view at the top. This hike had it all. Lake 22 in the North Cascades, just off  Mountain Loop Highway is approximately five and a half miles round trip with an elevation gain of 1350 ft. The trail is wet in some parts, but well kept and well traveled by people and dogs alike.

Click to images to enlarge and hit back button to return to blog.

hiking destinationstrail overview
It starts in a damp, thick forest full of moss, ferns, boulders, streams and huge hemlock and cedars. As you move up the side of the mountain, there are beautiful waterfalls nestled alongside the trail, and a bridge to stop and enjoy the sound of the water rushing by.After a while the trail breaks out into a rocky area with switchbacks. It’s a good workout, but still the scramble up was no match for our fearless mountain dog.  Beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and the majesty of the vast wilderness make the climb more than bearable.

The last stretch, just before the top, is very wet. It is best to wear good shoes for tromping through some mud and to bring a spare pair of dry socks. In case you’re graceful, like me, these will come in handy. The trail opens up to wooden walkways that lead around the beautiful alpine lake, Lake 22. The water, like glass, is nestled in the shadow of Mount Pilchuck. It is a perfect place to take a cool dip on a warm day, and to find a boulder upon which you can eat a well-earned lunch. It’s the kind of outdoor summer adventure that stays with you, and comforts you in the winter months when the mountains are calling, but the weather keeps you inside.

Written by World Travel guest blogger Viki.


Alaskan Cruise Adventure

Alaskan Cruise Adventure

A World Travel customer, MB,  blogs about her family’s Alaskan Cruise.

An Alaskan cruise had always been on my bucket list and in June of 2015, I finally got to experience it!  My eldest granddaughter, Katie, had just graduated from college in May of that year so as a graduation gift, this grandma took her to Alaska, which interesting enough was also a destination she’d wanted to visit.

We traveled with 7 other people, some of whom were family members so it made the trip that much more enjoyable.  Our Alaskan cruise began in Seattle, Washington and our ports of call included Juneau, Skagway, Tracy Arm, Ketchikan and Victoria, BC.  As my granddaughter had never been on a cruise before, she was especially excited!  What made our cruise even better was having a balcony room.  It’s true what my cousin Lydia said, once you’ve experienced a balcony on a cruise ship, you never want to cruise again unless you have one every time.

We sailed on Princess and had a wonderful experience on our cruise. There was so much to do on board and age didn’t matter.  We all spent one evening dancing the night away together although our ages ranged from 21 years to 67 years old.  My granddaughter had confided in me after the cruise that she didn’t think there would be much to do but was amazed when the opposite was true.  She told me she couldn’t fit everything in that she’d wanted to do!  One of her favorite shore excursions was zip lining with the younger people in our group.  In addition to dancing and attending variety shows, we gambled, attended wine tastings, visited the spa, walked around the deck for exercise, swam in the pool, bought souvenirs in the gift shop and most fun of all, attended a tailgate party for the Seattle Seahawks, who were on board our ship for the duration of the cruise! We were all impressed with the attentive service we received from the waiters, room stewards and the Princess staff in general.

Of all the ports we visited, my favorite was Tracy Arm, where we witnessed first hand the majesty of the fjords and glaciers.  Their beauty is evident in photographs but to see them in person is breathtaking.  It was also the first chance we had to actually wear our jackets because prior to that port, the weather was warm enough to wear shorts and tank tops.

Thanks to our great travel agent, Heidi Nanigian from World Travel, our trip went off without a hitch and we returned with many fond memories and lots of photos!

Checking Sicily off the bucket list

Checking Sicily off the bucket list

Checking Sicily off the bucket list.

Tom Jackson has been traveling the world since 1952 and has visited 151 countries so far! A destination on his “Bucket List” was Sicily and recently, Tom and his wife Sharon made an in-depth visit there. Below Tom gives us a brief overview of their Sicily adventure planned by the Travel Advisors at World Travel.

Sicily is the largest Island on the Mediterranean Sea. The history and culture of this region of Italy is unique and engaging.

Our adventure started with a flight from Rome to Catania, located on the east end of the Island. We secured our rental car and drove north along the coast to the Greek founded city of Toaromina. This community is located on the coast in the shadow of Mt. Etna, a volcano that is still active with smoke drifting out of its dome 24/7. During our visit, spring, there was still snow on the volcano. One has to be there to see how dominating Mt. Etna is relative to the surrounding area. Its slopes, at lower levels, are dominated by vineyards for Sicilian wine production. Our hotel was the Grand Timeo placed above the city and harbor with spectacular views. Adjacent to the Grand Timeo is the Ancient Greek Amphitheater. In the late spring, all summer and early fall, performances are presented amongst these ancient facilities.

The history of Sicily is a mixture of diverse populations attacking and seizing the Island. These attacking groups include, Greeks, Romans, French, Normans, Spanish and Africans among others. This has created a multi-civilization core amongst the people of Sicily. The people here are very nationalistic regarding this region and state of Italy. The inhabitants would normally say they are Sicilians rather than Italians.

Our next destination was the largest city in Sicily, Palermo. The drive time from Taormina to Palermo was approximately four hours. The roads and auto-straddas there are good to excellent. Some freeways are toll roads and reasonably priced. By the way, we had a GPS system in our rental car and found it indispensable especially in crowded Palermo. The sightseeing adjacent to the city is the reason to come to this capital city. The western portion of the Island, around Trapania is loaded with so much history and culture, making it a highlight.

After Palermo, we preceded to the South Coast, between Sciaccia and Agrigento. Here we found a more relaxed, less busy region. Our landing spot was the Bellmont de Bureua Resort, a contemporary property on this coast with all the extras one would expect at a five star resort. The accommodations, food, and staff were all exceptional. The highlight of our time on this coast was a two hour, three course hands on cooking experience with the terrific Chef Alfredo. He explained details in depth and coached us with his tricks of the trade. Our menu included caponatta, homemade pasta called fusilli and canolli. This all took place at La Forestria Inn accommodation in the vineyards adjacent to the village of Memfi. La Forestria is owned and operated by the Plantera Winery Company. They have five different vineyard locations on the Island producing different varietals for both red and white wine.

We said goodbye to Sicily with a short and scenic drive to the airport in Palermo for our flights home via Rome and London. This wonderful trip was planned by the experienced travel advisors at World Travel. They continue to beat expectations for us trip after trip!

Are you ready to get started on planning your next Adventure!

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