An Amazing Trip to Switzerland with Virtuoso

November 15, 2013 |

by Chuck Koster

As Travel and Transport’s Executive Vice President of Sales, Operations & Account Management, Tim Fleming does his share of corporate travel and then some. With the large amount of globetrotting he does and with over 30 years in the travel industry, it would be easy for him to become jaded about travel. Recently however, Tim participated in the 2013 Virtuoso Chairman’s Trip and was reminded all over again how special travel can be.

photo[4]Virtuoso is the travel industry’s leading luxury network in which Travel and Transport is a charter member. This organization includes more than 330 agencies with 7,200 elite advisors in 20 countries throughout North and South America, the Caribbean, Australia, and New Zealand. Each year Virtuoso invites representatives from its top performing agencies to participate in their Chairman Trip, led by Virtuoso Chairman Matthew Upchurch. This year was a tour of Switzerland, which gave Tim and his wife Joan a chance to stay at three of the country’s finest five star hotels and have once-in-a-lifetime experiences that they will never forget. As Tim explained, “There’s Switzerland and the Alps, and then there’s Switzerland and the Alps as presented by Virtuoso. They really raised the bar.”

Their first stop was in Zurich where they stayed at The Dolder Grand, a hotel magnificently situated within the Alps, featuring signature turrets and steeples. While in Zurich, the group met with FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) President Sepp Blatter at the organization’s Zurich headquarters. President Blatter spoke of the manner in which football and travel are able to bring the world and people together.

From Zurich the group traveled to Gstaad. On the road to Gstaad, the group stopped at what appeared to be a typical highway rest stop, similar to those found in the U.S. The group soon realized that in advance of their arrival, Virtuoso had transformed this humble, utilitarian rest stop into a spa-like oasis, with gourmet food, drinks and restorative treatments. The surprise was emblematic of Virtuoso’s dedication to going the extra mile for the Chairman’s Trip participants and for travelers in general.

Switzerland-1

When the group arrived in Gstaad, they visited two magnificent mountain resorts, The Alpina Gstaad and Gstaad Palace. The hotels and surrounding Alpine countryside were just as stunning during the warmer months as they are during the popular winter season.

After Gstaad, the next stop on the itinerary was Lausanne, where they stayed at Lausanne Palace and Spa, a majestic property situated on the shores of Lake Geneva at the foot of the Alps. While in Lausanne, Tim and Joan took in the splendor of the Swiss countryside and local attractions before leaving for Geneva.

Tim and Joan’s last stay was at the stylish, modern Hotel President Wilson, A Luxury Collection Hotel in Geneva. The hotel name commemorates U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s leadership role in the creation of the League of Nations at the conclusion of World War I. The League of Nations was ultimately headquartered in Geneva until the organization was dissolved to create the United Nations in 1943. The highlight of the trip to Geneva was a 25-minute fireworks show above Lake Geneva and its famous Jet d’Eau fountain which shoots water over 450 feet in the air.

The trip was a great opportunity for Travel and Transport to increase its global profile and for Tim to make invaluable contacts with other industry leaders. While discussing the current U.S. government shutdown and other issues, a Swiss tourism official remarked to Tim, “What I love about Americans is their optimistic spirit. You are, in the best sense, like kids that never grow up”. For Tim the comment was, “a welcome reminder of the role of positive thinking has in overcoming challenges”, and the trip itself provided the realization that there is no substitute for the lessons and experiences gained by exploring the world and being exposed to outside perspectives. This can be easy to forget, even for those of us who work in travel everyday.