Islands Posts

Great, Greater, Greatest!

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After 25 years of owning a brick-and-mortar travel company, Great Getaways Travel has decided to work remotely and become a “virtual” travel company, joining the 21st century finally! We are still a thriving company and are here to help you with your travels. Our phone number remains 913-338-2244 and we look forward to talking to you.

One of our favorite sayings is “Don’t let the good get in the way of the better and don’t let better get in the way of best.” We practice that philosophy in everything we do personally and professionally.

Because our objective is to create the most memorable vacations possible for you, we’ve decided to affiliate with Largay Travel, in Waterbury, Connecticut. It’s great, greater, and greatest news!

GREAT: We now have even more support and resources.

GREATER: Largay will handle all the pesky back office details freeing us to devote 100% of our time to planning your travel.

GREATEST: By affiliating with Largay Travel we are able to give you increased benefits when you travel, as we now have preferred status with several hotels, cruise lines, and tour companies.

PRICELESS: We are still very active and proud to be part of Virtuoso — you’ve experienced the benefits of that association.

So, where do you want to go in 2017? Give us a call, 913-338-2244, and start packing!


No words … heartfelt prayers

#Pray for Nice

Boundaries divide – Travel unites

When I meet someone, whether from another city or another country, I have the opportunity to be a citizen ambassador. Interacting with another human being, looking into each other’s eyes has a lasting effect and perhaps it will counter anything negative that they might have heard about me, about my country. Traveling is a privilege to share who I am and to gain more insight into others. I believe with all my heart this helps foster peace.

We pray for Nice and for the world. Spread love. Help others. Live in peace.

St. Patrick’s Day – A World of Parades

By Alison Luengo

branded dublin parade

Aitormmfoto /

St. Patrick’s Day – We’re All Irish

It is officially time to break out that green apparel, sip that Guinness, and line the streets for those monstrous parades. Not Irish? Not a problem for, well…anyone come March 17 every year. St. Patrick’s Day is the one day a year where anyone can be Irish if they like, and all that is required is a jolly attitude and maybe a green shirt declaring yourself Irish for the day. (Did you know it’s only an American tradition to pinch someone if they fail to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day?) While the holiday is celebrated around the world, many celebrations are larger outside of Dublin than in. So, sit back, relax and read on as we explore some of the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the world.

Dublin, Ireland

We will start in Dublin, which just seems fitting. The St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin was officially recognized by the government in 1995, as a way for the Irish to celebrate their heritage. Their celebration runs for four days and includes many cultural activities along with fun and games. They start with “Greening The City” (which is a fancy way to say lighting all their buildings in green). Of course they have a large parade, and walking tours highlighting different aspects of the city. There is an Irish Craft Beer & Whiskey Village, and a lunchtime talk series featuring notable Irishmen or important topics related to Irish culture. While St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday here, it is not the largest celebration in the world.

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gary718 /

New York City

Without a doubt, the largest celebration for St. Patrick’s Day is the New York City Parade. First started all the way back in 1762 by some very lonely Irish soldiers, it is now the largest and oldest parade in the world. With nearly 2 million spectators, and another 150,000 participants yearly, it’s easy to see why this is a huge tradition in New York City come March 17.
branded Montserrat St Pat

Montserrat Island

Another country with a huge celebration for St. Patrick’s Day is Montserrat, West Indies. Celebrating for a full week, this party highlights the African & Irish heritage that most share while also commemorating a failed slave uprising on the same day in 1768. Montserrat has it all for St. Patrick’s Day with a traditional parade, a freedom run, a formal ball, traditional games, and African & Irish music festivals.

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Auckland, New Zealand

Let’s not forget our friends Down Under during this massive celebration.  You can also celebrate  St. Patrick’s Day like a pro in Auckland, New Zealand. “The Greening” is when they light up their Sky Tower bright green for the holiday, and it’s accompanied by a parade and dance/music festivals.
Needless to say, you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day just about anywhere. From the West Indies to New Zealand to New York City, there are parades abound and traditions galore. What are St. Patrick’s Day traditions in your city or country? We’d love to hear in the comments below.

The Truth about Zika Virus

Zika virus Shutterstock

We answer a lot of questions.  From favorite restaurants to best surfing spots to best places to spot Africa’s Big Five, it seems as though the list is endless.  Questions that has been awfully prevalent as of late are those about the Zika virus.

What is Zika virus?

The Zika virus has been all over the news and it is a serious worry for travelers.  In case you don’t know what this rapidly spreading virus is, it is a mosquito-borne illness that can cause flu-like symptoms and, allegedly, it may cause birth defects.  [ As of the writing of this blog post, the CDC is in Brazil to ascertain if there is a link between Zika virus and birth defects.] Although we are just starting to hear about this virus in the Americas, it isn’t new by any means.

Found first in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands dating to the 1950s, the virus has never been as widespread as it is reported to be now. It wasn’t until May 2015 that the first case was reported in Brazil, where the virus has hit hardest by all accounts.  Although health officials are calling this a widespread epidemic, in reality only 1 in 5 infected will actually show mild, physical symptoms.

Zika Warning for Pregnant Women

Those who should really try hardest to avoid the virus are pregnant women or those trying to become pregnant.  If you do contract the virus and show symptoms, you’re likely to have mild flu-like symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Since the Zika virus can spread from a woman to her baby, it is recommended by the CDC that women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to anywhere the Zika virus has spread.

Zika virus test

Zika and the General Public

If you’re not pregnant, there are some very easy ways to prevent the virus and continue your travel as planned.  Make sure to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.  Stay in locations with air conditioning or screens on doors and windows.  Always use an EPA-registered insect repellant.  Treat your clothing and gear with permethrin, and make sure to sleep under a mosquito bed net.  If you do think you contracted the Zika virus, make sure to consult a doctor immediately.  You can treat symptoms easily though with some rest, fluids, and acetaminophen.

Zika Brazil Olympics

Summer Olympics in Brazil – to attend or not?

One travel event that you could be very interested in is the Summer Olympics located in Brazil- smack dab in one of the hardest hit areas by the Zika virus.   The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday that Brazil is doing a good job making Brazil safe, and Brazil’s government is doing all it can to make visitors and athletes as safe as possible.  However, that doesn’t ease the minds of everyone.  Star soccer player Hope Solo, who could possibly be playing in the games, said that as of now she wouldn’t go to the games over concerns of Zika virus.  What about you?  Would you head down to Brazil for the summer games even when the Zika virus is so prevalent?  Sound off in the comments below.

Learn more here:

We are not experts in zika virus nor do we recommend a particular insect repellent. Some repellents are better for mosquitos and others may be better for ticks. Please talk to a physician, pharmacist, or knowledgeable expert for their suggestions.


In Case You Missed This…


Did you miss the new monthly column in KC Dossier, written by Barbara King, Co-President of Great Getaways Travel? No worries, you can read it here. Enjoy!


Quick quiz: What do Armani, Baccarat and Olivia Newton John have in common and why do I, a travel advisor, care?

The answer is all three have world-class hotels. Armani, known for its high quality threads, has transferred that demand for perfection to its properties. Every detail in its two hotels, in Milan and Dubai, has been designed or curated by the famous design house. In November 2014 I visited the Armani Hotel in Dubai, located in the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, and spoke with Spencer Wadama, General Manager of Armani Hotels & Resorts. I jokingly asked if all the key staff wore Armani-designed clothing. Suppressing a condescending raised eyebrow moment, he replied, “But, of course.” Obviously, my joke missed its mark.

Australian recording artist, Olivia Newton John, known to Boomers like me for the songs “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “Physical,” entered the hotel scene 10 years ago as one of the founders of award-winning Gaia Retreat and Spa near Byron Bay, Australia. A boutique property with 19 rooms, you can design your own retreat—active, tranquil, or a combination—and enjoy both the highly praised spa and the healthy, gourmet cuisine.


Baccarat, the French manufacturer of fine crystal glassware since 1734 and recognized worldwide for its finely crafted pieces, recently opened its first branded hotel in New York, the Baccarat Hotel & Residences, across the street from the Museum of Modern Art. Talk about location—wow! Avoiding my lame attempt at humor with the GM of the Armani property, I will not ask who designed the breathtaking chandeliers or the crystal glassware used in the bar.

Speaking of crystal, cruising fans will be delighted to learn that the oh-so-popular luxury line, Crystal Cruises, will be ordering a new-build ship to add to its fleet of two, once the new owners of the line take over. By the way, family cruising options continue to abound with the new Norwegian Escape, launching in the fall, 2015 and Royal Caribbean Cruises’ just launched Quantum class ship, Anthem of the Seas.

One last tidbit for lovers of unique experiences: Did you know that 21C Museum Hotels is developing the historic Savoy Hotel and Grill into one of their exquisite art experience properties? We’ve known all along what the world is discovering—everything truly is up-to-date in Kansas City.

About This Is KC’s Travel Expert

imageBarbara King, daughter of an importer, founded Great Getaways Travel in 1992 as a concierge-style boutique travel company. Having traveled the world, King understood the need for knowledgeable, professional advisors. The first agency in the metropolitan Kansas City area to be invited to join Virtuoso—the travel industry’s leading luxury network spanning over 25 countries—in April, 1996, King has held steadfast to the mission of creating unparalleled life experiential vacations for her clients. Great Getaways Travel consistently ranks as one of the area¹s top agencies and is the only one whose entire focus is on leisure travel. In recent years Great Getaways has ranked in the Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in Kansas City, most recently at #67; King has been honored as one of the Top 100 Kansas Citians; and Great Getaways was inducted into the prestigious 25 Under 25, as a top company with under 25 employees. For more information, visit