About Us Infographic

Thomas Travel has been in business for 62 years making it  the oldest, continually operational travel agency in Salt Lake City.  That being said, our company has played  witness to several incredible hallmarks in travel history as have we, the  current operators of our company, had the opportunity to travel to some really  remarkable places.  Below is an  infographic detailing some of the more interesting facts about us.

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Conde Nast Traveler’s World Savers Awards 2012

 

Conde Nast Traveler has released their list of world saving  travel companies.  With six categories  that include: education, health, poverty, preservation, wildlife, and doing it  all these were some of our favorites that made the list:

Preservation

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

This set of 40 suite villas that are situated in Australia’s Blue Mountains  sitting between two national parks.  From  their construction to their operation, the entire resort has take significant  steps to reduce their environmental footprint.  Materials for the construction of the  renovated, 180 year old farmhouse were brought from local sites, furniture made  from local artisans, and food that is locally produced.  As if that wasn’t enough, they’ve also planted  175,000 trees as part of a program to reintroduce native vegetation that was  decimated by livestock grazing.  One of  the highlights of the resort is enjoying the locality of everything.

Wildlife

Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa

Built in Northern Thailand an a short longtail boat ride up  the Mekong River, this hotel sits amongst orchards,  ponds, and vegetable gardens.  Designed  in traditional Thai-style, the rooms feature Thai silk and traditional art.  Their efforts to save the planet: they work to  rescue animals in their on-site Elephant Camp where they have since rescued 30  elephants and their mahouts from Thai cities.  In addition to their assistance with Elephants  they’re working with Cambridge   University on research  into elephant intelligence.

Doing It All

Soneva Resorts

With branches on three different island, in Thailand and the Maldives, these resorts are reached  by traveling on a private plane that visitors board once they arrive in Bankok  or Male international airport.  They’re  sustainable initiatives include using local water which eliminates carbon  emissions from transport, half of the revenue goes to help fund global water  projects with more than $600,000 having been raised so far helping people in 52  countries.  The resorts follow their  founder, Sonu Shivadasani’s, SLOW LIFE philosophy: Sustainable, Local, Organic,  Wellness, Learning, Inspiring, Fun, and Experiences.  With their bungalows having been made by  locals, who used sustainable materials, and locally grown organic food–it’s  easy to see why this resort has been selected winner for the Doing It All  category.

Wildlife

Four Seasons Maldives:  Kuda Huraa and Landaa Giraavaru Resorts

Located on two atolls in the Maldives,  this resort received the award for their programs of conservation seminars to  teach local children, as well as having planted more than 2,000 frames of coral  to help restore reefs, and an apprentice program to train local young adults  from the Maldivian   Islands.

For guests on of the greatest attractions is the water which  features diving and surfing.

Health

Guludo Beach Lodge

Featuring Robinson Crusoe-style beach bungalows, this lodge  is situated on the northern coast of Mozambique.  Guests of this luxury resort won’t realize  that they’re helping to tackle local poverty as the Guludo Beach Lodge is  providing access to clean water, food, and mosquito nets to combat malaria to the  local populace.

Education

Micato Safaris

These luxury tented camps and lodges are located in Africa  and India.  Guests can travel on their safaris and return  to all the luxury they would find at a regular resort.  In addition to the exotic and comforts, the  hotel educates a Kenyan Child for travel years for every safari booked.  As well as donating a gallon water for every  gallon used by its guests.  Celebrating  the twenty-fifth anniversary of the charitable branch, the Micato-AmericaShare,  Micato is donating one book to a Nairobi library, one “Huru Kit”  (which is a collection of sanitary supplies to help keep girls from missing  school), and a tree to the Nairobi GreenLine Project for every safari traveler.

For travelers wanting to really see what Micato is doing  they can visit the Harambee Community Centre that offers children the chance to  study in library and learn how to avoid HIV.

Poverty

Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality

Eight eco-luxe properties in Costa   Rica and Nicaragua  that features natural settings of beaches and rain forests.  Everything about this place is local from  everything purchase to the people employed. Like the other properties Conde  Nast chose, this resort is ultra luxurious and dedicated to sustainability.  Thanks to their local policies, the local  economy is benefiting from the hotel and its guests.

To see the complete list click here.

Things Abroad

As travel professionals we’ve been to alot of amazing places. But, as far as we’ve been, there’s still so much we want to see and so many wonderful places we want to revisit. Here’s a list of our favorites and that which draws us to keep traveling.

Logan Marshall, Internet Marketing Manager

Hotel Sacher’s Cafe to try Sacher Torte

Sacher Cafe

Photo by Jason Ruck

The Hotel Sacher is a fixture in Vienna for their cafe’s infamous creation: the Sacher Torte. Consisting of two layers of dense, chocolate cake with a layer of apricot jam in the center the top and the sides are coated with dark chocolate icing and topped with whipped cream. For those traveling to Vienna its an absolute must to stop there.

Sacher Torte

Photo by Simfan34

The Domus Aurea in Rome

Few tourists to Rome realize that when they’re treading through and around the Colosseum they’re also stepping through the ancient site of Rome’s Emperor Nero’s Golden House. After the famous fire of 64 AD, which Nero is believed to have started, he cleared vast sections of aristocratic homes on the Palatine Hill and constructed his massive Domus Aurea. Featuring vineyards, artificial lakes, pastors, groves, and an estimated 300 room villa ancient accounts suggest that the interior had a facade of semi-precious stones, ivory, and extensive Roman frescoes.

After his suicide in 68 AD Nero’s successors stripped the Domus Aurea of its vast treasures and embarked on vast public works projects to remove it from Rome. Their efforts eventually created the Colosseum named, ironically, for the colossal statue of , which historic sources suggest was easily a hundred feet high, was eventually repurposed as a statue of the sun god.

Domus Aurea

Photo by Howard Hudson

Centuries later a Roman fell through the roof of the remaining cellars towards the end of the 14th century, the Golden House was rediscovered. Along with it was remains of Roman frescoes that survived the fall of Rome. Many of the remains of the frescoes went on to inspire great Renaissance artists and notable art works.

Today, the Domus Aurea’s surviving cellars are currently being excavated. After centuries of exposure the interior of the surviving structure has suffered heavily and has even collapsed in places. Tours are offered at times but haven’t in recent times.

The Garnier Opera House in Paris

Garnier Opera House

The Garnier Opera House is one of the most famous in the world. Its long history and mystique is known to have inspired Gaston Leroux to write The Phantom of the Opera which incorporated elements said to exist in the opera house such as a subterranean lake. Though the opera house is no longer the site of actual operas it is a remarkable stop to see exceptional neo-classical architecture.

Monica Marshall, Vice President

Portugal is a destination that is often overlooked in favor of its neighbors. Despite having been to Portugal 4 times I would love to go again. And the next time I do I want to take Collette Vacations brand new tour: “Discover Portugal’s Treasures” featuring historic Pousadas, Port, Guimaraes, Sintra and Lisbon. After reading through the detailed itinerary, I knew at once that this trip needs to go near the top of my Travel List.

“Pousadas” are historic lodgings such as 15th century fortresses and part of the fascinating history of the Knights Templar. Portugal is such a wonderful country and the people are so very friendly and welcoming. I have always been intrigued with history and the natural appeal of a tour where everything is taken care of for you is my idea of a great vacation.

Pasteis de Belem

Photo by SergioPT

One of the best desserts on the planet comes from a bakery in Lisbon located near Jeronimo’s Monastery. These wonderful gems are called Pasteis de Belem. They are a small baked puff-pastry tart with a custard filling of crème brulee-like consistency and are simply divine. People stand in long lines to buy this pastry and it is well worth the wait! To visit this bakery alone would be reason enough to visit Lisbon, however, Lisbon is a most charming city to explore.

Cruising Green

Cruising is by no means sustainable, but the cruise industry is making strides in becoming more environmentally friendly.

Cruising Green

© castelberry – Fotolia.com

Holland America Cruiselines:

Holland America, which tops the Friends of the Earth’s Cruise Report Card for environmental friendliness, has instituted several creative approaches to their cruises.

•Fuel Conservation ◦Applying reflective paint to the hull to reduce oceanic drag requiring less fuel to propel ships.
◦Energy efficient appliances.

•Water Conservation ◦Producing potable water from sea water and gathering condensation from air conditioning and used for cleaning purposes.
◦Aerated faucets and shower heads as well as toilets that use 75% less water.

•Miscellaneous ◦Replacing hydraulic fluid and lubricating oil with a biodegradeable alternative from Vicker’s Oil.
◦Replacing toxic chemicals with non-toxic.
◦Recycling solid wastes and and providing unused toiletries to non-profit organizations around the US.
◦Switching to electronic documents decreasing paper waste.

•To read more about the sustainable initiatives, click here.
•Many of the initiatives implemented by Holland America are reflected in their parent company, Carnival Corporation which owns 49.2% of the worldwide cruise industry, as of 2011.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises:

Who says you can’t have your luxury, all-inclusive vacation and feel environmentally guiltless about it? Celebrity Cruises

Replacing higher wattage halogen and incandescent light bulbs with longer lasting fluorescent and LED lights throughout the Celebrity Fleet.


Celebrity Solstice is the first cruise ship to be equipped with solar technology. Totally 216 solar panels.


High efficiency appliances installed in the fleet.


Windows with films applied that prevent solar heat reducing the amount of air conditioning need to oll the ship.


Hull coating that increase sailing efficency reducing fuel consumption.


New hull design and engines that reduce energy consumption.


Reducing heating and cooling needs and using waste heat from engines to heat water and other systems.


Conservation intiatives throughout the fleet that are observed by ship’s staffs


Aerated showerheads and faucets.


Advanced water purification systems.


To learn more about the initiatives being applied throughout the Celebrity Fleet, click here.

Norwegian Cruise Lines

Norwegian Cruiselines:

Along with Carnival Cruiselines, Norwegian accounts for one of the largest portions of the cruise industry.

•NCL is certified to the international ISO 14001 standard for Environmental Management Systems. Which recognizes that they use a core set of standards for effective environmental management system that reduces environmental impact and operating efficiency.
•On Each ship is a dedicated Environmental Officer overseeing the ship’s environmental operation.
•Used oil, plastics, aluminum, steel and oil sludge is recycled. Used cooking oil is offloaded for shoreside installations as bio-fuel.
•Unrecyclables are destroyed in onboard incinerators and those which cannot be destroyed through the use of an incinerator are disposed of appropriately onshore.
•Food waste that is disposed of at sea is done so according to MARPOL and USCG regulations. Which is also the only solid waste that is discharged at sea.
•All ships are equipped with advanced wastewater treatment systems that treat black and gray water to near drinking standards.
•All shipsuse emulsion-breaking oily water separators which perform a multi-step process to ensure only clean water is discharged at sea.
•Shipboard fuels that are low sulfur are used in environmentally sensitive areas of the world.
•Onboard programs include the use of fuel-water emulsion, low power lighting, autmatic air conditioning systems, power management automation and optimized voyage routing software help to reduce fuel consumtion and air emissions.
•Regular maintenance of these systems ensure that they continue to operate efficiently.
•In addition to their shipboard initiatives, Norwegian Cruiselines has also partnered with Nextera Energy Resources’s EarthEra Renewable Energy Trust of which $10 from each passenger that sails aboard a Norwegian Cruiseline ship is donated to EarthEra which is in turn put towards building new renewable energy projects in the United States.
•To learn more, click here.

All information regarding the Norwegian Cruise Line’s environmental policy provided from their Ecosmart Cruising Brochure.

Norwegian Cruise Lines

Tips for Cruising Greener: Offers advice on how to cruise greener

See How Cruises Compare Sustainably

Can Cruising Be Sustainable?

International Desserts

Desserts provide a remarkable insight into the cultures that create them. Though it’s possible to find Americanized versions here at home it just isn’t the same as the authentic version. So here are some to check out the next time you’re abroad:

Macaron

Macarons

Macarons from Pierre Marcolini

Photo by Michel Osmenda

The macaron, the penultimate French dessert, is made with two cookies filled with buttercream, jam, or ganache. Coming in a many different flavors.

Biscotti

These Italian made cookies come from a recipe that is traditionally made with Almonds, flour, sugar, eggs, and pine nuts and is twice baked with the original recipe was conceived the Italian city of Prato in Tuscany. Today, as with many desserts, modern ingredients don’t necessary conform to the traditional recipe with various nuts and dried fruits added.

Crepes

Crepes

Crepes on display in Osaka, Japan

Photo by Corpse Reviver

Crepes originated in France in northwestern region of Britanny. They are typically made with buckwheat flour and then fried to resemble a flat pancake. In France they are served with sweet toppings although it isn’t uncommon to see them made with savory toppings and served as lunch or a snack.

Pain au Chocolat

Made with the same dough as croissants Pain au Chocolat, literally meaning bread with chocolate, is essentially a croissant with chocolate in the center.

Parfait

Parfaits

Japanese styled parfaits

Photo by Pinguino

From the French word “Perfect” parfaits are another dessert that originated in France being made with fruit, parfait cream, ice cream, custard, or yogurts layered in a glass cup.

Gelato

The Italian version of ice cream that can be found in any city throughout the country is made with fresh fruit or nuts. Besides the typical flavors regional specialties are made from seasonal fruits.

6 of Our Favorite Travel Writers and Movies

Here’s our list of some of our favorite travel writers and movies. Some are natural choices and others perhaps not immediately recognizable for their contributions to the travel genre. Each has some aspect that inspires a wanderlust in us.

Authors

Gril Reading

© lichtmeister – Fotolia.com

Frances Mayes ◦Frances Mayes’s first memoir, Under the Tuscan Sun, presented Americans with the adventure of purchasing and restoring a 300 year old villa in the heart of Tuscany. But, more than that, it explores the depth of the Italian way of life as she travels across the region exploring the cultural, historical, and culinary depth of Italian living. In Bella Tuscany Frances Mayes returns to Tuscany for a six month sabbatical during which she continues restoring the house and grounds of her 300 year old villa and exploring the further reaches of Italy.

Antonia Fraser
Having been active as a historical writer since the 1960s Antonia Fraser’s works revolve around many of history’s. Her works include Marie Antoinette: The Journey, which was adapted into a film version by Sophia Coppola starring Kirsten Dunst, and the The Six Wives of Henry VIII both of which explore the strong female figures behind some of history’s most memorable figures. More than just biographies Antonia Fraser’s books include a look at the cultural and political trials of their kind of their subjects’ times providing a detailed account that renders many of Europe’s historical sites in a new light.

David McCullough
◦Famous for his works about American history David McCullough recent book, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, takes a look at the American expat writers and artists who lived abroad in Paris from the 1830s to the 1900s. Using the same clever writing he is known for in his other works McCullough shows his reader a picture of Paris that existed before the throngs of tourists when france was an exotic destination.

Movies

Under the Tuscan Sun

Adapted from Frances Mayes’s book by the same name Under the Tuscan Sun stars Diane Lane as a recently divorced writer who travels on a gay tour of Tuscany where she discovers a run down villa in the Italian countryside. Charmed by the beauty of the nearby town of Cortona and seeking to put an end to her depression she purchases the villa sight unseen and begins the long process of its restoration. Takes a much more dramatic approach than its written counterpart this movie is

Only You

This romantic comedy from the early ’90s follows the appropriately named Faith as she tries to find her true love, whose name she had received from both a Ouija board and a gypsy fortune teller as a child, after he calls in the days before her wedding. Hopping on a plane her journey takes her across Italy in the search of her destined true love.

The Last Emperor

This movie, based on the autobiography, depicts the life of China’s last Emperor: Puyi. Set during the communist regime that took control of China and ended dynastic rule the story recounts the highlights of his life that include his time as a political prisoner, his ascent as Emperor as a child, and later his decline and rehabilitation by the communist regime.

At Leisure by Trafalgar Tours

Trafalgar Tours are known for their expert tour guides, comfortable accommodations, and hassle free desinations. But, for some, jumping from location to location and museum to museum can become wearing–especially on longer trips. For the more casual traveler At Leisure by Trafalgar Tours offers many of the benefits of Trafalgar’s traditional touring style but with a greater amount of time at destinations and all of the traditional amenities.

But the extra time doesn’t extend just to city stays and free time. Dining on an At Leisure vacation includes a comfortable, full breakfast. Highlighted lunches and dinners will feature regional cuisine and may be accompanied by local beers, wines, and soft drinks. Additionally, the accommodations selected are chosen for their quality and for the location to nearby sights. Travel day departures, which it’s important to remember that these trips spend more time in each individual location, are never earlier than 9 am.

Here are some of the selected itineraries:

Sorrento

Sorrento

Paris and Provence 2012
12 Day Tour from $3625.00
Itinerary
Highlight Destinations:
Paris, Aix en Provence, Menerbes, Avignon, Nimes, Arles, Cassis, Nice, Monaco

Rome and Tuscan Highlights 2012
10 Day Tour from $2365.00
Itinerary
Highlights:
Rome, San Gimignano, Siena, Pisa, Vinci, Florence, Tuscan Countryside, Assisi

Trafalgar Offers:

Save up to $1000 per couple when booking 2012 European guided vacation with air fare included by December 1, 2011. Click here for more information.

Book and pay early and save up to 10%. Here is the breakdown of the early payment options:

Pay (min) 12 months prior to departure Save up to 10%
Pay (min) 10 months prior to departure Save up to 7.5%
Pay (min) 6 months prior to departure Save up to 5%

For Additional offers click here.