At MLT University, a three-day training intensive training course held in Minneapolis by the tour operator this past week, we attended several classes on how to sell Europe through MLT Vacations. Here are some top tips on two popular destinations:
Ireland has something for every taste: Dublin is a bustling modern city with a youthful focus and lots of nightlife, Shannon is peaceful and rural, Galway is great for music and dancing, the Cliffs of Moher is a good spot for birding fans, Ennis is a haven for boutique shopping and castles are just about everywhere.
Western Irish hotels in the MLT portfolio include the Absolute Hotel & Spa Limerick, an affordable property right in the city center; the Limerick Strand Hotel, a four-star property with free parking (good for those on a driving tour), the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis (the restaurant comes recommended) and the Randles Hotel Kilarney.
In the South, visitors should make a point of visiting the Rock of Cashel and Tipperary (historic home of the Kennedy family). Cork has many genealogy centers, and is a popular destination for those looking for information on their Irish heritage.
Hotels in the area include the urban Clarion Hotel Cork and the five-star K-Club County Kildare, a restored manor house 40 miles from Dublin. (We hear the service is top-notch...as in, butlers will seek out guests at sunset to bring them wraps so they don't get cold as they wander the grounds at night.)
Dublin, of course, has everything, especially for nightlife fans: There are more than 1,000 pubs, and brewery tours are a must. Optional day trips can be arranged to the Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle and Galway Bay, or even up to the Giant's Causeway or the Glens of Antrim.
Budget-minded guests should consider staying at the Best Western Academy Plaza Hotel, but for something extra special, go for the five-star Fitzwilliam Hotel (close to the designer shopping on Grafton Street) or The Shelbourne Dublin with its famous horseshoe bar. All of these hotels can be booked through MLT Vacations, and booking the luxury hotels can often come with a range of perks.
Italy is reportedly the country most likely to get repeat visits—and considering how different Rome is from Venice, and how different Milan is from Florence, we can understand why. (Of course, the country's good high-speed train options make day-trips between cities very easy, but you can't really get a good sense of any of these cities in just a day!)
April through June and September through October are the best times to visit, and while July and August are also popular, the weather can be very hot throughout the peninsula. July is also the usual vacation time for Italians, so many stores and businesses may be closed then.
Good to know: Tipping is not expected in restaurants or hotels, but many properties will charge a tourist tax of two to four euros per day.
In Rome, a visit to the Vatican and its 12 museums is a must even for non-Catholics (visitors must bring something to cover their shoulders before entering any cathedral—no tank-tops!), and the Piazza del Popolo is great for art fans: It has more obelisks than Egypt.
Optional tours that can be booked from Rome with MLT include the Imperial Rome – Elite Walking Tour, a twice-daily circuit of the city that lets visitors bypass the lines to sites like the Coliseum; the Vatican Museums & St. Peter's Basilica Elite Walking Tour (three times per day with access to the Sistine Chapel); and the 10-hour excursion to Naples and the Island of Capri.
Recommended Roman hotels include the three-star Domus Romana Hotel, a renovated 17th-century convent with a quiet garden; the five-star Hotel Boscolo Exedra, three blocks from the Coliseum and with a rooftop pool; and the five-star Grand Hotel de la Minerve, which dates back to the 17th century and overlooks the Pantheon.
In Florence (a great city for walking, and with some of the best museums in the world), recommended hotels include the three-star Best Western Grand Hotel Adriatico, a good-value property that includes a breakfast buffet and is centrally located; the four-star Grand Hotel Baglioni (all rooms are unique); and the three-star Best Western Hotel Rivoli, a former 14th-century convent with historic pillars in the lobby and a garden. Again, all of these hotels can be booked through MLT Vacations.
Stay tuned for more tips on selling other Europe destinations with MLT Vacations.