Posts tagged with "Geoffrey Weill"

Cuba Travel

On June 4, 2019, the Trump Administration announced further restrictions on travel to Cuba, immediately halting cruise ship arrivals and some other forms of travel. Edward Piegza, founder of Classic Journeys, explains the latest rules.

Why should I care about the new Cuba Travel Restrictions?

On Tuesday, June 4, 2019, the Trump administration announced new rules about people-to-people and cruise travel to Cuba. These will affect most Americans traveling to Cuba. If you have plans for such a trip – or have been thinking about making them – you may naturally be confused. Here’s a summary of the changes to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations and the Export Administration Regulations announced by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) (the section at the Department of the Treasury that regulates the trade and travel embargo to Cuba and which issues licenses for travel to Cuba) and the Commerce Department, respectively.

Can I travel legally to Cuba with Classic Journeys on its People-to-People programs? 

Yes, indeed. Your travel to Cuba on Classic Journeys’ People-to-People programs is 100% legal because our programs fall under OFAC’s ‘grandfather’ clause. OFAC considers the grandfather clause to apply when a People-to-People organization like Classic Journeys had completed a travel-related transaction prior to June 5, 2019, in connection with a particular departure date, even if, prior to June 5, 2019, you as a traveler had not yet reserved your trip. In other words, because we had already reserved our hotel accommodations for our People-to-People trips in Cuba prior to June 5, 2019, your travel to Cuba on our People-to-People programs is grandfathered in as completely legal.

How do the new regulations affect People-to-People travel?

OFAC has allowed U.S. organizations whose people-to-people programs in Cuba fall under a ‘grandfather’ clause, such as those operated by Classic Journeys, to proceed with those programs through the end of 2019. 

So, what is a qualifying “travel-related transaction” that allows Classic Journeys’ People-to-People programs to Cuba to be legal under the grandfather clause? 

The qualifying “travel-related transaction” that needs to have been completed prior to June 5 could be, for example: having made a reservation for an accommodation (whether or not paid for) or booking and paying for transportation. These are just two examples and are not meant to be exhaustive. In the case of Classic Journeys, our close relationships with local people in Cuba mean that we already had our hotel reservations confirmed prior to June 5.

What People-to-People programs and dates are legal with Classic Journeys under the new regulations? 

All three of our People-to-People programs (Long Weekend in Havana, Cuba for Families: Havana and the Viñales Valley, and Havana Cienfuegos & Trinidad) and all of their departure dates for 2019 are 100% legal.

Can you still fly to Cuba legally on commercial air flights?

Commercial air flights are not affected by the changes. Note that your airline will ask you at the time of ticketing to select from a listing of the type of license under which you are traveling to Cuba legally. Your first choice option for the license will be a “people-to-people” exchange with the “grandfather clause” aka referencing the fact that your People-to-People organization- Classic Journeys – has made its arrangements prior to June 5, 2019. If that option is not available, you can select “educational activities” (so long as there is no mention of a degree requirement). If the airline you are considering does not have one of these options right now, they are likely playing catch up with the new regulations; so you can check back with them in a few days or try one of the many other airlines with commercial flights from the U.S. to Cuba.

How do the new regulations affect cruise travel to Cuba?

The changes have immediately ended travel to Cuba by U.S.-flagged cruise ships or foreign-flagged cruise ships departing from U.S. ports. The Commerce Department has not included a “grandfather” clause to allow cruises that have already been scheduled, and for which passengers have already made arrangements. If you have a paid a deposit or final payment for cruise travel to Cuba, you should contact your cruise company for a refund.

What about private aircraft and boats; can they travel legally to Cuba? 

No. The authorization for private vessels and private aircraft (such as private fishing boats and private sailboats, and corporate or private jets) is revoked.

How will the changes under President Trump affect the people of Cuba?

We’ve made so many wonderful friends in Cuba and seen the lives of the Cuban people change for the better during recent years. So, of course, we’re concerned about what it will mean to their prosperity and general welfare with the enaction of these new travel regulations. The Cubans have been through so much in the last 60 years. They’ve always managed to bear their hardships with grace and warm solidarity in their families and communities.

One known feature of the new regulations is that they will cap remittances – the money that can be sent to Cubans from friends and family members in the U.S. – at $1,000 per person every three months. In a country where the median monthly salary is just $32, you can only imagine how a reduction in remittance income will impact everyday life. In addition, travel had become a major source of income for Cubans, as well, so any reduction in that resource will echo throughout the country in a way for the people who can least afford it and whom we and our government want to help.

We choose guarded optimism.

We are approaching Cuba as we always have – with care, enthusiasm, and with pride in the fact that legal travel for Americans to Cuba has changed the lives of our American guests and the everyday local Cubans they’ve met, in overwhelmingly positive ways. You can still travel to Cuba legally with Classic Journeys. We like to think of this way of travel as an informal version of ‘Voice of America” with boots on the ground… yours in fact, as you communicate a positive story of the American people to local Cuban people. We urge you to hold fast to your plans. And if you’ve been hesitating to plan a Cuba trip, you know now that you can, and we encourage you to do so.

ABOUT CLASSIC JOURNEYS

Since its founding in 1995 with one style of travel in a total of three countries, Classic Journeys has expanded to offer five styles of travel (culture + walking, culinary, family, multi-sport, and river cruising) and 100 itineraries in 50 countries across six continents. With its focus on providing every guest a handcrafted trip of a lifetime, Classic Journeys has won awards from a variety of publications including Afar, Saveur, National Geographic and Travel + Leisure – the latter having named it a “World’s Best Tour Operator” every year since 2007. 

ROBERTO WIRTH × HOTEL DE LA VILLE

ROBERTO WIRTH, OWNER AND GM OF THE HOTEL HASSLER ROMA, SALUTES THE REBIRTH OF THE HOTEL DE LA VILLE

“The reopening of the Hotel De La Ville is a testament to the fact that the summit of the Spanish Steps is the location of choice for luxury travelers to Rome,” says Roberto Wirth, whose family has owned and run the neighboring Hotel Hassler Roma for 90 years.

Once the headquarters of General Eisenhower’s administration at the end of World War II, the Hotel Hassler Roma has long been the Roman address of choice for royalty and celebrities. “Over the decades, we have succeeded in maintaining a level of excellence, discretion, innovation, elegance, superior service and Michelin-star cuisine. Some of the most famous people on earth stay with us – and we ensure that neither the public nor the press ever know they’re here.”

The Hotel De La Ville, which abuts the Hotel Hassler Roma, was acquired some years ago by Britain’s Sir Rocco Forte and reopened on May 23. “The rebirth of the Hotel De La Ville makes a triumvirate of luxury hotels atop the Spanish Steps and near the Borghese Gardens, for it was two years ago, that a reborn Eden Hotel (once owned by my family, and where I was born!) was also unveiled after its acquisition by the Sultan of Brunei’s Dorchester Collection.”

Asked whether he saw the rebirth of the Hotel De La Ville as competition for the Hotel Hassler Roma, Wirth responded, “there are thousands of visitors every year to Rome in search of the finest accommodations, and while we are competitors, we are also friends – and there is more than enough business in the Eternal City for all of us.”

Wirth stressed that while there are many neighborhoods of Rome in which travelers seek to stay, “our location atop the Spanish Steps, convenient to the Rome’s best shopping and most significant sites, yet somewhat removed from the bustle of the Piazza di Spagna, is absolutely ideal for travelers to the capital.”

For more information about Hotel Hassler Roma, visit: www.hotelhasslerroma.com.

ABOUT HOTEL HASSLER ROMA:

Set atop the Spanish Steps and featuring a panoramic view of the entire city, Hotel Hassler Roma is owned by President and General Manager Roberto E. Wirth, fifth generation of a famous Swiss hotelier dynasty. For more than a century, Hotel Hassler Roma has continued its legacy as Rome’s five-star lodging of choice for the world’s elite and discerning travelers. Each of the 87 rooms, 21 of which are suites, is individually designed with an elegant combination of classic and contemporary touches. Highlights include the Michelin-starred panoramic restaurant, Imàgo, the Salone Eva and Palm Court restaurant and the Hassler Bar, as well as the neighboring, Hassler-owned II Palazzetto, a hotel, wine bar and special event space.

French Renaissance Anniversary

WEILL TO REPRESENT LOIRE VALLEY TOURISM BOARD FOR THE 500TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE

Geoffrey Weill Associates has been appointed US public relations representative of the Loire Valley Tourism Board, on behalf of Atout France, the France Tourism Development Agency, to promote the 500th Anniversary of the French Renaissance this year.

The year 1519 symbolically marked the start of the Renaissance, on the occasion of the death of Leonardo da Vinci at Amboise, the start of the construction of the Château of Chambord and the birth of Catherine de’ Medici in Florence. To mark the anniversary, the Loire Valley region, considered the birthplace of the French Renaissance, will celebrate the artistic, cultural, scientific and intellectual developments of this period with a number of celebrations held throughout 2019.

“We are thrilled to be working with the Loire Valley Tourism Board and Atout France to promote the celebration of such a fascinating period of history in France to travelers,” says Geoffrey Weill. “France is one of our favorite destinations in the world, and we are honored to have been invited to be a part of such a significant anniversary.”

Highlights in the Loire Valley region will include a large traveling digital show mixing contemporary artistic and musical creations, an international architecture competition, numerous exhibitions held in and around the châteaux of the Loire Valley and a variety of guided tours, banquets and international symposia.

To learn more about Geoffrey Weill Associates’ complete list of clients, visit their website.

Grand Dame Hotel Opening

WORLD’S MOST NORTHERLY “GRAND DAME”  HOTEL SET TO RELAUNCH APRIL 1

WEILL TO HANDLE PR FOR NORWAY’S BRITANNIA HOTEL TRONDHEIM

First opened in 1870 to welcome aristocratic Britons in search of the world’s best salmon fishing, Trondheim’s Britannia Hotel will reopen on April 1 after a multi-year $160 million renovation. The fjord city of Trondheim, located just 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle, is Norway’s third-largest city, home to 200,000.

Britannia Hotel is a striking domed white building that has been the world’s most northerly luxurious “palace” hotel for 150 years. It has welcomed distinguished guests from presidents to Nobel Prize winners, to Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, to Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

The rebirth of the Britannia is the brainchild of Norwegian financier, Odd Reitan, who was born in Trondheim in 1951 and who, at age 14, developed the dream of owning the hotel. He features prominently in the Forbes and Bloomberg lists of global billionaires.

“We are thrilled to have been asked to represent this extraordinary hotel,” says Geoffrey Weill, “adding it to our inventory of some of the world’s most spectacular privately owned ‘grand hotels.'”

A member of Leading Hotels of the World, the Britannia will offer 246 rooms and 11 suites, six restaurants and bars – including its original Palm Court, a spa, gym and indoor swimming pool. The hotel will offer guests the latest technology, sound-proofing, TV’s concealed within mirrors, as well as amenities and lighting that are easily understood and operated.

The Britannia will be a celebration of cutting-edge Norwegian and Scandinavian design and artworks. Beds are by the celebrated Swedish handmade bedmaker, Hästens. Bathrooms are a feast of Carrara marble.

At the heart of the Britannia will be the glass-domed Palm Court, first unveiled in 1918 and long Trondheim’s meeting place for socialites, artists, musicians and intellectuals. The reborn Palm Court will host breakfast, lunch, brunch, afternoon tea and dinner – offering creative Scandinavian fare.

The Britannia’s culinary arts are overseen by Christopher Davidsen, born in the Norwegian city of Stavanger in 1983 and Silver medal winner of the cherished Bocuse d’Or in 2017. Davidsen’s prime focus will be the elegant Speilsalen, his first signature restaurant. The Brasserie Britannia will be classic French, inspired by Paris and Lyon and by New York’s Balthazar. The Jonathan Grill is a casual restaurant specializing in Japanese, Korean and Norwegian specialties. The marble and crystal Britannia Bar is expected to become overnight Trondheim’s chicest cocktail bar and lounge.

The Vinbaren wine bar – with its 8,000-bottle cellar – will provide a lounge, tasting room and bar offering tapas, charcuterie and cheeses.

The Britannia Spa & Fitness features a large indoor pool, several saunas, five treatment rooms and personal trainers. The hotel will also offer state-of-the-art conference and ballroom facilities.

To learn more about Geoffrey Weill Associates’ complete list of clients, visit: www.geoffreyweill.com.