Travel Weekly and TravelAge West choose top travel professionals to participate in Global Travel Marketplace West 2015 event

HESPERIA, CA - Travel Weekly and TravelAge West are proud to announce that David Holman was selected from among hundreds of applicants to attend the second annual Global Travel Marketplace West (GTM West), which took place at the Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa in Tucson, Arizona, May 1-3, 2015. GTM West is a three-day appointment-only event for top-producing travel agents in North America and leading cruise, hotel, tour and destination suppliers seeking to conduct business face-to-face.

Out of the nearly 700 applications received, 77 North American travel agents were selected to participate. Eighty suppliers engaged with travel agents though a variety of one-on-one pre-scheduled meetings, exclusive boardrooms and networking events.

GTM West agents are uniquely connected to new and existing products, destinations and services, providing them unparalleled support in the marketplace and distinct pricing advantages—both of which help them to best serve their valuable clients.

The agents who attended this event are the cream of the crop. The expertise and experience they offer their clients is second to none, and is undoubtedly enhanced as a result of attending the event,” said Alicia Evanko-Lewis, Senior Vice President of Events, Travel Group, Northstar Travel Media. “GTM West provided the platform for these key travel industry professionals to network with and be part of a collaborative and like-minded community of agents and global suppliers who all have the same goal: To build and grow their business.”

At Travel Weekly and TravelAge West, we support the travel agent community 100% and we understand the value that a travel agent provides,” said Bob Sullivan, President, Travel Group, Northstar Travel Media. “To show our commitment we provide a variety of different programs and events throughout the year like GTM West which allow agents to enhance their careers and businesses.”


Travel Weekly, the national newspaper of the travel industry, is the most influential provider of news, research, opinion and analysis to the North American travel trade marketplace. In addition to a weekly print publication, TravelWeekly.com, updated several times daily, is the most-visited industry website. Travel Weekly is a division of Secaucus, New Jersey-based Northstar Travel Media, the largest travel business-to-business travel publisher in the world.


For 45 years, TravelAge West has been the trusted voice of the travel industry in the Western U.S. With award winning writing and design, the publication brings the best of travel to life for 45,000 audience members. The magazine's first-hand, on-site reports and fresh destination coverage is a valued resource for travel agents, providing them with the specialized information they need to better serve their unique clientele. www.travelagewest.com



GTM West 2015 - Tucson, Az - 5/1 to 5/3

Just under a week to go.  I'll be heading to Tucson for the Global Travel Marketplace West.  A rather unique trade event.  Suppliers outnumber agents, who are screened quite selectively.  Only 75 of us from the Western U.S. and Canada.  Truly, it's an honor and an achievement, just to be invited.

And about 80 travel suppliers representing tour operators, cruise lines, hotel chains, all-inclusive resorts, insurance companies, shore excursion suppliers, etc. 

Put on by NorthStar Media (the publisher of Travel Weekly and Travel Agent West, among other magazines), it's a little different than the usual trade show in that it's small, tightly run and very much "agent-centered".  And the best part is it's held at the Westin La Paloma, a fabulous hotel in the Catalina Foothills on the north side of Tucson.  There is a golf course, hiking trails, tennis complex, Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, several restaurants and a bunch of pools.  I really enjoyed my time there last year, and am looking forward to going back.
I'll be grabbing a train at about 11pm next Wednesday for the 8.5 hour journey.  Then a glorious DAY OFF! Thursday (I haven't had one of those since 2014).  Friday the fun begins promptly at 8am and goes til 10pm or later.  And that will be the sleeping in day.  Not that they don't schedule in breaks and a leisurely lunch, but, yeah...14 hour day on Saturday and 11 more on Sunday.  During that time will be a dozen small room meetings with suppliers (8 or 10 agents/one supplier for a 1/2 hour or so), and about 60 short one-on-one appointments.  This is what we do, to make sure we know what we need to know, to give you the best, most up-to-date and personalized advice on your travel.  And by "we" I mean, travel agents who care ;-).

 Then back on the train for the ride home.

I'll be posting daily here, and probably a lot on FB (www.facebook.com/DaveHolmanTravel). 

And if you need any help booking your next vacation (or even a weekend at La Paloma to check out the best of Tucson, give us a call at 760.265.3687, or email daveholman@verizon.net, or find me on FB or Twitter!


Carnival Imagination, Dec 18-20, 2014 Birthday Quickie: ENSENADA

So, up and at 'em at 7am.  Stumbling around to find enough clothes to go upstairs for coffee and a quick vape.  As I step out of the room I am ONCE AGAIN assaulted by the smell of burning hemp.  I don't know if the neighbors are still at it from last nite, or doing the wake and bake thing, but it's really starting to piss me off.  I look at the  list of items that are not allowed to be used in the room, cigarettes, cigars, pipes, e-cigarettes, etc.  Nowhere does it say you can't smoke dope.  I assumed this was an oversight, but apparently it's policy.  Honest to God, every hallway on the ship smells like a Dead Show.  And, you know...it's not that I care if anyone wants to get blazed on their vacation, but it's puzzling that my odorless vaping is grounds for a $250 fee, if I were to get caught using it in the room, but this is overlooked.  And you can't tell me the crew doesn't know what that smell is.

But, yeah...I get some nicotine and caffeine in me and then head back downstairs to get dressed for breakfast.  Had a quick eggs Benedict in the MDR and made my way to the gangplank.

I have been going to Ensenada since the 70's, and nothing much ever changes there.  Except they moved Papas and Beer.  I liked the upstairs location better.  I walked around the main drag, did a little shopping, found an ATM to replenish the cash, and decided to go to the aforementioned for lunch.  Kyle and Natalia were there, so I joined them and watched the hijinks whilst munching some carne asada fries.  Maybe it was just early, or maybe they are toning things down, or maybe the new outdoor location is considered unsuitable, but I was dismayed to find out women can now get bumper stickers without taking their shirts off.  Boring...

After lunch I headed back to the ship for a little nap.  That plan was interrupted by a trivia game, at which I sucked.  So then I had to wait for the next one, to prove I didn't turn stupid.  Won that one.  Now I could nap in good conscience.  So I did.

And nearly missed my dinner date.  A few of us from the piano bar had made plans to dine at 7, and I got there at 6:58.  So, no worries.  Dinner was definitely better than the previous night, but still not all that.  I started with a caprese salad, and again, the portion was comical.  3 slices of nearly-cherry tomato, and 3 equally diminutive slices of mozzarella.  Followed by a chicken tortilla soup that was FINALLY a flavorful and hearty thimbleful.  It was the best tasting thing I had the whole time.  So I ordered another.  Then a beef tenderloin that was tender, but not terribly tasty.  Even the sauce was just blah.  And I was refused a baked potato!  Mashed is all I could get.  They were okay, but again, just sort of blah.  A little gravy would have been good.  For dessert I ordered a chocolate panna cotta.  What I got was really a chocolate mousse.  While I admit a good panna cotta is a challenge to make, they didn't even try.  This was straight cream with some chocolate pushed from a nitrous charger.

So, after dinner I decided to head back to the piano bar.  Mat wasn't in yet, and they were cleaning the room.  So I stood at the rail of the atrium with some of the others and listened to the kid playing in the atrium bar.  He was fantastic.  In 20 minutes he covered John Legend, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars and The Eagles...yeah. 

Finally got in to the piano bar and Mat had to wait while atrium dude did 3 encores.  He actually joined in one song, playing a duet with the guitar guy.  Some new faces and some repeats from the crowd last nite, we all put in our requests and sang along and had a good time.  Except Silvia's esposo.  For some reason (probably alcohol-fueled machismo) he thought his job was to mean mug everyone who looked at or spoke to Silvia.  Including me.  And, you know...I was sitting next to her, and it would have been rude NOT to talk to her.  So I talked to her.  And didn't think too much about it when they left. 

He came back an hour later, even drunker, walked right up to me and in slurred Spanglish asked why I was bothering his heina.  I had no idea what he was talking about, and said so.  He again accused me of inappropriate contact with Silvia.  I again told him I was completely unclear on just what he was referring to.  This is all taking place 3 feet to the left of the piano, and with a half dozen onlookers, all of whom have been sitting there all night, all of whom are mystified at what it is I have done. 

So, Mat decides right then to stop what he's playing and break in to "Santeria" by Sublime.  Which, as soon as I recognized it, caused me to bust out laughing, and decide to nominate him for a Nobel Peace Prize.  The little pendejo didn't much like being laughed at, but when the others caught the lyric and joined in the laughter, little dude just had to slink away.  And for the rest of the night, I had to answer to Sancho.  Like I said...one of the weirder cruises I have ever been on.  So, I finished the night in the piano bar, headed up to the buffet for a late night snack, hoping not to run in to Silvia's man, and decided to pack it in about 2am.

Thus effectively ending the birthday quickie cruise, as I rolled out Saturday at 8am, packed my bags and went HOME!


Carnival Imagination, Dec 18-20, 2014 Birthday Quickie: BOARDING DAY

Looking at something for a client, when I saw this 2 day cruise from Long Beach to Ensenada and back in two nights.  The price was outrageously low, and it was coming up on my birthday, so I decided, last minute, to jump on.

As it turns out, this might be the weirdest two days I ever spent on a cruise ship, and the signs were there, early.

I actually booked it the day before, which was a small mistake.  There is last minute, and then there is LAST MINUTE.  One of the things that happens when you book LAST MINUTE, is that TSA gets antsy.  Despite the fact that every terrorist plot to blow something up, from the Embassies in Africa, to the USS Cole, to both attacks on the World Trade Center, were later found to have been months and sometimes years in planning.  So, when you book something last minute, they assume you are a terrorist.  I've had this happen on planes too.  So, yeah...when I got there I had no key ready, and had to wait for it to be made up and THEN I was personally escorted through security for the special grope and tickle treatment.  I'm not saying he was thorough, but they should probably put a sign over that area that says "The Champagne Room".  I have paid strippers good money for less intimate contact.  I should have tipped him, I suppose.

Anyway, got thru that part, boarded the ship and found my room.  Although there were nothing but insides left when I booked, the ship was nowhere near full, and I did at least get a cabin exactly mid ship.  Like 2 doors down from the mid elevator lobby.  So that was convenient.  It took less than 10 minutes to unpack and then I headed up to the buffet for a bit of lunch, and then found a table by the pool to see who was on the ship with me.  As I said, the signs were there.  I expected, on a ridiculously cheap cruise like this to have, shall we say..."low end" cruisers onboard, and a lot of young, overdrinking first timers.  I was not, however, prepared for the diversity of ghettos/barrios/hoods/magkakapitbahay/sangkeat/khu pho represented.  It was somewhere between the Mos Eisley Cantina and a dirtbag United Nations.  But with more tattoos and piercings.

Anyway, I whiled away the afternoon until the Muster Drill.  And after that, since I had finally successfully got myself confirmed for Your Time Dining, I decided to check out the dining room.  Now, many of you know that while Carnival is not my favorite cruise line, they're not me least favorite either.  Mostly for two reasons:  There main dining rooms have always had excellent food, for a mainstream cruise line, and the piano bar.  Fortunately, the piano bar did not disappoint.  The dining, however, has gone way downhill.  Both taste and presentation have slid, and portions have gotten ridiculous.  That Cheeto commercial with the tiger and the kids in the chi chi restaurant, where the waiter set the plate with a 1/4 inch pink cube and the guy says "This is a steak?"?  Yeah, that.  I started with a "seared tuna" appetizer.  It was 3 strips (with no sear) of tuna, about and inch long, 3/8 inch wide and 3/16" thick, on maybe 8 glass noodles and a flavorless sauce.  Followed that with a thimble of soup whose only redeeming value was having been freshly nuked so it was too hot to eat for 15 minutes.  It was so insipid I honest-to-God can't remember what flavor is was supposed to be now.  Finally for the entrĂ©e I had a miso marinated salmon filet, which came with the only distinctively flavored bit of food in the whole meal - a round of rice that was bizarrely over-vinegared.  I think it was supposed to approximate sushi rice.  But apparently they ran out of rice wine vinegar and thought any old vinegar would do.  Seriously.  Oh, and on this topic, not that it's exclusive to Carnival - but when the hell did we quit preparing fish, and just throw the whole damn thing in a pan?  Honestly, salmon skin is disgusting, unless it's fried CRISP.  And that brown part that runs down the middle of a whole fillet?  That's the fishes Lateral Line.  It's not meat.  It's nervous system tissue.  It's not edible.  Like tuna, a properly prepared salmon starts with a whole fillet (side), which is then skinned, and halved again, lengthwise, removing the lateral line tissue.  So, anyway, by the time I skinned and trimmed, I had 4 bites of salmon.  Oh, and a baked potato that was cold before the sour cream showed up.  And I topped it all off with the strangest "cherry pie" I've ever had.  It tasted like cherry filling, more or less, but had a weird, jelly like texture that was off-putting.  But, hey, I did sit at a big table with 6 others, and the conversation was good.

After dinner I ran to the buffet to finish dinner, and then to the casino, where I turned $50 in to $200 in about 4 minutes.  Then back in to $100 over the next 1/2 hour.  Oh, well...I wasn't really looking to gamble, I was just waiting for the piano bar to get started.  And THAT was the high point of the evening, and the cruise.  Even better than winning money on the casino.

Most Carnival ships have good piano guys, and there are a few REALLY good ones.  I was lucky enough to find one of the really good ones.  A new kid on his first contract.  Matias Sanchez from Argentina.  He was a great piano player, a passable singer (he said he had a cold, so maybe he's better sometimes), and most importantly, an ENTERTAINER.  He really knew how to work the crowd, telling jokes, getting people to sing along, making all the girls (and some of the guys) fall for his Latin good looks and charming accent.  Most importantly, while he had a play list, he managed to fake his way through a lot of other songs with aplomb, when requested. 

While at the piano bar I met Lindsey and Leah, two nice young ladies from Long Beach.  We talked, we laughed, Leah hit on Mat, and Lindsey sort of hit on me (no big deal, I am just setting up a story here).  About 11pm, Leah, after giving her number to Mat, decided she had had a long day, and too much to drink, and headed back to the cabin.  Lindsey and I stayed, talking, and a lovely couple from Alhambra took the seats next to Lindsey.  Kyle and Natalia.  Nice kids, sort of newlyweds.  So the 4 of us chatted and sang and listened and requested and what not, til 1am when Mat called it a night and left us there with no music.  We decided we weren't ready to call it a night, so we went in search of something to do.  The only thing still open was the dance club.  So we went in.  As we were grabbing barstools, Lindsey went over and started talking to some guy she had met earlier, at dinner or something.  Then those two headed to the dance floor, and Kyle and Natalia were all over me, asking what was going on, and why wasn't I out there, and who was that guy, etc...apparently, they had decided Lindsey and I were a couple. It took me 10 minutes to convince them I had known her for about 4 hours, wasn't "with" her, wasn't really concerned with who she danced with, and wasn't feeling particularly upset.  At which time, Natalia decided her mission in life was to get us together.  So she went and talked to her, and then came back and talked to me, and then told me what I needed to do to get her.  Then she let me know I was a bitch for not doing it, while Kyle was accusing me of slowplaying it.  When she was unsuccessful in forcing me to the dance floor, she forced Lindsey to come back and sit with us.  Etc.  Etc.  Fortunately, Natalia was seriously hot, and perceptibly drunk, or it would have been quite annoying.  I finally convinced them I wasn't really interested, and was there in the club because I had only heard "Blurred Lines" 5 times all day, and was hoping for an even 1/2 dozen before I went to bed.  They finally closed the club on us, and Lindsey went right to her elevator and I went right, to mine, while Natalia threw up her hands and rolled her eyes. 

Thus ended the first day.

I'll be back later with the Ensenada part of the story...GOOD NIGHT!