Exploring the Streets of Old San Juan

Our first full day in Puerto Rico, we trekked into Old San Juan from our hotel in the neighborhood of Carolina. Carolina is home to many hotels, a beautiful beach and easy access to the airport. The Ritz Carlton, the Intercontinental and El San Juan Resort all have beach front properties in Carolina. We stayed at the Embassy Suites Resort and Casino, which was just a quick walk to the beach.

To get to Old San Juan, we took public transportation, which required us to travel via city bus. For only 75 cents, we were able to get from Carolina to Old San Juan on one bus. The buses are clean, air-conditioned and move quickly through the city. TRAVEL NOTE: The buses in Puerto Rico only take exact change so you cannot pay with dollars; coins only. The journey from Carolina to Old San Juan took about 45 minutes, and led us through diverse neighborhoods like Condado (home to many of the luxury stores like Gucci and Tiffany’s.) We were able to get quite a flavor of the extended city through the bus route.

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Upon arriving at Old San Juan, we immediately hopped on to the free shuttle, which took us into the heart of the town. This shuttle leaves from the bus terminal. With 20 stops throughout the colonial section of Old San Juan, visitors are able to easily get around the cobblestone streets and hills on this trolley. We jumped off after a few minutes to start exploring. Although the streets within the colonial section of Old San Juan can be quite steep, it’s certainly worth getting your feet to the ground to start walking. You can appreciate the culture, stores and restaurants of the area much better by walking.

After a quick stop at the Coach store to make a purchase (hey- the purse was 80% off!) , we took a tour of The Cathedral, which houses Ponce De Leon’s remains. Directly across the street from The Cathedral, sits the El Convento Hotel, which was once a convent. In July 1651, the convent was inaugurated as the Monastery of Our Lady Carmen of San José — and was situated across the street from San Juan Cathedral, the Western Hemisphere’s oldest cathedral. This historic property represents the best of colonial architecture. It’s beautiful mustard color walls, contrast beautifully with the blue cobble stone streets found in this neighborhood.

While wondering through the streets of Old San Juan, it’s easy to see the blend of historic influence from the Spanish, the lively colors of the Caribbean and the Latin influence of culture. A must-see in Old San Juan are the forts: Castillo San Felipe del Morro is a 16th century fortress that was named after King Phillip II of Spain and Fort San Cristóbal, known as the “Gibraltar of the Caribbean,” is located on the eastern side of Old San Juan.

Old San Juan offers the best in shopping, restaurants and historic landmarks. It’s a must-see if you visit Puerto Rico! The only negative is that the streets can get crowded when the cruise ships arrive so be prepared to share the experience with the cruisers.

Have you been to Puerto Rico? What did you love?

Making Memories in Puerto Rico!

As I typed this blog post,  I was flying over the Turks & Caicos in the Caribbean Sea, having just returned from a glorious week in Puerto Rico. The memories from my time on the island outweigh the fact that the person in the seat in front of me had reclined, so my laptop was shaped like a taco. Good thing I have small limbs and could continue typing; otherwise he might have felt turbulence from my foot.

My parents and I were looking for a new destination to travel to during Spring Break. Although Mexico is at our doorstep, we have explored a lot of that beautiful country so decided to head east. Getting to San Juan, Puerto Rico from San Diego is a long day of travel, so it’s important that you plan 2 full days of travel time for your vacation window. Most flights from the west coast connect in Houston, Dallas, Atlanta or Miami before heading to San Juan. Due to our personal schedules, we had to unfortunately take a red eye from Houston; leaving at midnight and arriving in San Juan at 5:00 a.m. Tired from a long day of travel, the 3-hour time difference and pretending to sleep in an airplane seat, we arrived at San Juan Airport, weary but excited to see what the day would bring once the sun came up. Thankfully we were able to secure an early check-in at our hotel, which allowed us to take a well deserved morning nap!

For those uncertain as to how Puerto Rico is affiliated with the US, let me offer a little history and cultural perspective. The short story is that Puerto Rico was under the flag of Spain for over 400 years; until the Spanish-American war, in which time the US took control. Lucky for us! Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the USA, which allows citizens of the islands full rights as American citizens. They travel under US passports, use the US dollar as currency, and can move between US states without limitation. They are technically US citizens of Puerto Rican heritage; but for Puerto Ricans, they are proud to be Puerto Rican! The overall sense we had when talking to the locals is that they welcome the connection to the US and the access and freedoms it provides, but they are very loyal to their Puerto Rican heritage. It’s not uncommon to hear those visiting from the States to make an “us” versus “them” statement; assuming that being in Puerto Rico was really traveling to a foreign land.  This is just ignorance from not understanding the history of the island. We made a point of talking to many locals who were quick to tell us how much they appreciate having the rights of the US but how much they love PR. The hope is that they will one day become an official US state, but for now, they welcome the commonwealth title. US citizens do not need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico. We can come and go to the island just as easy as Puerto Ricans can travel to the states.

I can’t wait to share with you some of the exciting adventures we had during our visit. In future blog posts, I’ll talk about Old San Juan, the rain forest and kayaking in Bio Bay. It’s been such a wonderful trip that I am excited to share with you a million reasons why you should pack your bags and head straight to Puerto Rico.

If you’ve been to PR, share with me your favorite experience by popping down to the comments section below!

 

Bliss. Paradise. Heaven. Fiji.

FijiBliss. Paradise. Heaven. There are a million ways to describe the feeling, and in Fiji, there are just as many ways to experience it. Float along the tranquil waters in search of vibrant marine life. Breathe in the fresh tropical aroma of coconut and pineapple during a spa treatment. Or soak up the views of the islands while practicing your golf swing.

Enjoy this special Virtuoso offer for Henley Co. clients, thanks to our affiliation with Admiral Travel.

5 Nights | Available for stays November 1 – December 8, 2015
Book by March 31, 2015

InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa – Natadola Beach, Viti Levu, Fiji
Experience real Fijian ambiance on palm-fringed white sand beach or swim and snorkel in rolling surf. The Resort offers breathtaking 360-degree views of Natadola Bay and exotic gardens and features a sugar cane train that runs through the property. A variety of cultural and recreational venues are within easy reach.             

Experience Includes:

  • Roundtrip air from Los Angeles to Nadi on Fiji Airways
  • Roundtrip airport transfers
  • Meet & Greet with shell lei
  • FREE night
  • Daily Breakfast

VIRTUOSO EXCLUSIVES:

  • One-category room upgrade at time of booking, if available
  • Two 60-minute Beachside Cabana massages
  • Early check-in of 8 AM & late checkout of 2 PM (early check-in and late checkout are only valid for guests arriving on the Fiji Airways flight from Los Angeles)

VIRTUOSO RATES

FROM $1,818 per person, per package

Ready to book? Don’t delay! Email us at hello@thehenleycompany.com!

Airline Secrets: 10 Tips and Tricks Airlines Don’t Want You To Know

This article on Thrillist certainly garnered my attention today!  For any of us that have been frustrated by the airlines, thanks to missed flights, delays or baggage loss, this article will certainly give us some tools to put in our toolbox for our next airline run-in.

Airline Secrets: 10 Tips and Tricks Airlines Don’t Want You To Know.

 

Airline tickets

What’s the biggest frustration you have with the airlines today? Do you have a tip? Drop it in the comments box below!

Fifty Shades of Fun!

When something as big as Fifty Shades of Grey is hitting the big screen, we would never miss an opportunity to create an unique experience around the opening of the film! On February 13th, The Henley Co. produced a Fifty Shades of Grey launch party in San Diego.

The evening was fifty ways of fabulous! Guests arrived to a red carpet and photo backdrop thanks to Party Spark. They then were escorted to the private theater to watch Fifty Shades of Grey. I think we can all agree…we smell a sequel! A few lucky winners walked away from the event with official Fifty Shades merchandise, a boudoir session by True Blue Photography, intuitive energy healing certificates by Jeannie Ballard and the grand prize, which was a 2-night stay at The Heathman Hotel, the hotel made famous by the movie.

To continue the evening, all guests were invited to an after party at Side Bar San Diego. Bon Affair was on hand to help guests cool down by enjoying wine spritzers.

A special thanks to all of our partners for helping to make the evening a great success!

Later’s Baby!

 

It’s Not Snowing in Tahiti…

As most of the country is under heaps of snow, taking a peek at the tropics might provide some motivation that one day summer will come.

Being in the travel business, we are currently scanning the globe for exciting destinations to visit. Today, we are featuring French Polynesia and the current offerings of Paul Gauguin cruise line. As a Virtuoso agent, The Henley Company is able to offer our clients added benefits on every booking.

 

m/s Paul Gauguin

7 Nights • Departures available until December 31, 2015

Itinerary:
Papeete, Tahiti • Huahine, Society Islands • Taha’a (Motu Mahana), Society Islands • Bora Bora, Society Islands two overnightsMoorea, Society Islands two overnights • Papeete, Tahiti overnight

Experience Includes:

  • Roundtrip airfare economy class from Los Angeles to Tahiti
  • Third person sailing in same stateroom sails free (airfare is additional)

VIRTUOSO EXCLUSIVE:

  • Virtuoso Voyager Club® shore event in Moorea, welcome reception and onboard Virtuoso host (February 28; May 9; June 20; September 12; October 3; December 16, 2015)
  • $100 Shipboard credit per person (March 28; August 8; September 26; December 23 & 30, 2015)

VIRTUOSO RATES

Virtuoso Oceanview fares FROM $3,995 per person

VIRTUOSO EXCLUSIVE

Virtuoso Voyager Club® hosted sailing or $100 shipboard credit (details listed above)
This all inclusive package includes:
  • Roundtrip airfare economy class from Los Angeles to Tahiti
  • Onboard complimentary wines, spirits, soft drinks
  • 24 hour room service
  • Onboard gratuities
  • Watersports marina with complimentary snorkeling equipment, wind surfing and paddle boarding
  • A day on Motu Mahana and a private beach experience in Bora Bora
  • Third person sailing in same stateroom sails free (airfare is additional)

Ready to book? Email our travel concierge at hello@thehenleycompany.com

Here’s the Dirty Little Secret…

…No one is actually working an 8-hour work day!

feet on deskIf you are reading this article, it’s more than likely between the hours of 9-5 and you are sitting at your desk (which is owned by the company), reading this on your computer (which the company provides) and taking a “break” from your “demanding” work (which the company pays you to do). From the outside, you look busy because your eyes are aimed at the screen. This should make your manager happy. The reality is that this virtual “smoke break” will not be just the standard 15-minute break from your workload. Instead, it will morph into 2.09 hours per 8-hour workday, not including your lunch break or allocated break time, according to American Online and Survey.com [1] That’s 2.09 hours PER employee. Now multiply that by the number of employees you see in your immediate eyesight and you realize that there is a whole lot of nothing being done each day. The research by American Online and Survey.com has shined a bright light on the fact that employees are wasting twice as much time as their employers think they are wasting. And to really add salt to the employer’s wounds, Salary.com ran the numbers and found over $750 Billion (yes, with a B!) is spent on salaries (translation= compensation for actual work) for work that was never performed. Who’s pulling a fast one on whom?

Now before the employees start muzzling me for exposing the dirty little secret, it’s important to take a look at why they are spending so much time sitting at their desks without actually producing any relevant work for their employers. Given the current economic climate, it’s easy to justify the feeling of burnout most employees are experiencing and the overwhelming inability to manage work / life balance.

53% of employees would opt for a personal assistant rather than a personal trainer. [2]

Only 14% of Americans take two weeks or more at a time for vacation. The average American spends more time in the bathroom than on vacation. [3]

88% of employees say they have a hard time juggling work and life. [4]

70% of working fathers and working mothers report they don’t have enough time for their children. [5]

64% of Americans report that time pressures on working families are getting worse, not better. [6]

Work is inevitable but does it mean we have to give up our personal life for the sake of a paycheck? Not at all. It just means that employers should recognize that work / life balance is a huge motivator for employees. So if you can’t beat ‘em, why not join ‘em? A corporate concierge program can bring sanity to an otherwise scattered workplace filled with unsuspecting managers overseeing unproductive workers.

Texas Instruments is a perfect example of a company that understands happy, stress-free employees make for profitable champions for the business. According to the Texas Instruments website, in 2010, their concierge program served more than 2,900 U.S. employees and fulfilled more than 8,000 requests. They also expanded on-site services, providing 1,276 employees an opportunity to save a trip away from the work site during business hours. [7]

Implementing a corporate concierge program equates to:

  • The ability to retain and recruit quality talent
  • A far more productive and engaged workforce
  • A reduction in absenteeism
  • A lower level of stress within the workplace

Corporate concierge programs can be operated either virtually, with employees having access to the concierge through email or a dedicated website, or on-site, where employees can interact with the concierge in a face-to-face engagement. The concierge is retained to provide a solution to the employee’s work/life balance problem.

Frequent requests include:

  • travel coordination
  • errand running,
  • household management
  • personal shopping
  • personal assistance and
  • event planning

Imagine stopping by the concierge desk in the morning on your way into work with a request for designing and planning tonight’s dinner party; only to leave the office 8 hours later armed with the necessary groceries, a customized cd for background music, a paired wine selection and personalized favors for each guest. A corporate concierge becomes the one-stop solution for the time strapped employees. Without a concierge, the employee must manage this to-do list from their own desk and their lunch hour is spent running the errands.

As the workforce begins to shift from retiring Baby Boomers to Generation X & Y prodigies, employers need to evolve. What worked “back in the day” in terms of designing a workplace is completely foreign to today’s up and comers. Gen X & Y demand instant gratification because they have grown up in a world of access.

Although this might seem extravagant to those over the age of 45, the “children are the future.” (cue Whitney Houston).  I think this is what Darwin would call “survival of the fittest.” The strongest employee benefits package will become King of the Jungle. If you don’t make their life easier, I’m sure your competitor would be glad to invite them over. Now is the time to be a trailblazer and create a workplace that can be a place for a Gen X / Y’er to park themselves for a while because their work/life balance needs are met, versus just being a hop, skip and a jump on their resume.