Dear Fellow Traveler: This month we feature updated frequent flyer program information, fun facts, a unique team-building trip to New Orleans and the beautiful island of St. Martin.

Two very different cultures, two completely unique experiences, one harmoniously beautiful island in the Caribbean. The French and Dutch have lived side by side on St. Maarten/St. Martin for hundreds of years - with no border patrols or customs between them. The French side has a more genteel ambience, more fashionable shopping, and a Continental flair. The Dutch tends to be less expensive, has casino hotels, and more nightlife. Water sports abound all over - diving, snorkeling, sailing, and windsurfing are all top draws. And it's easy to while away the day relaxing on one of the 37 beaches, strolling the boardwalk of Dutch-side Philipsburg, and exploring the very French town of Marigot. Although luck is an important commodity at St. Maarten's 13 casinos, chance plays no part in finding a good meal at the island's excellent eateries. There's a reason why it's known as The Gourmet Capital of the Caribbean!


St. Maarten/St. Martin accommodations range from modern megaresorts such as the Radisson and the Westin St. Maarten to condos and small inns. On the Dutch side many hotels cater to groups, and although that's also true to some extent on the French side, you can find a larger collection of intimate accommodations there. Off-season rates (April through the beginning of December) can be as little as half the high-season rates.

Featuring one of the few private beaches on the island, the spectacular and exclusive La Samanna Resort is a perfect choice for those looking for a first class St. Martin experience. Located on the French side, the resort provides a rare blend of elegance and laid-back Caribbean vibe, with every guest room boasting an ocean view, a wonderful French restaurant located right on the beach, and a wealth of activity options.



Although most people come to St. Maarten/St. Martin for sun and fun, they leave praising the cuisine. On an island that covers only 37 square miles (96 square km), there are more than 400 restaurants from which to choose. You can sample the best dishes from France, Thailand, Italy, Vietnam, India, Japan, and, of course, the Caribbean.

Many of the best restaurants are in Grand Case (on the French side), but you should not limit your culinary adventures to that village. Great dining thrives throughout the island, from the bistros of Marigot to the hopping restaurants of Cupecoy to the low-key eateries of Simpson Bay. Whether you enjoy dining on fine china in one of the upscale restaurants or off a paper plate at the island's many lolos (roadside barbecue stands), St. Maarten/St. Martin's culinary options are sure to appeal to every palate.


It's true that the island sparkles with a myriad of outdoor activities - with surfing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, jet-skiing, kite surfing, water skiing, kayaking, biking, hiking, sky-diving, sailing and deep-sea fishing ideal to keep the adventure traveler happy - and magical beaches to satisfy those in need of some R&R. The weather, water and air temperature (averaging between 77°F and 84°F) and dependable trade winds provide ideal conditions year round.

It's hard to think about St. Martin without mentioning its great (tax-free!) shopping, with the French side featuring a wide range of luxury and fashion boutiques.

After dark trendy beach bars, clubs and dance venues prepare to welcome their clients for a night to remember. The Dutch side also features fifteen casinos for you to try your luck until the wee hours of the morning. There is something for everyone in this haven of pleasure.

Ready for a trip to St. Maarten / St. Martin?
Contact us today at 877-288-6719 or jeffholland@monalto.com for a quote or more information

A Worthy Cause Brings the Team Together

Our client was looking for a program that combined their annual finance meeting with a very special team building activity. The unique theme was 'giving back' - a real opportunity for some all-important team bonding, while making a positive contribution to the community.

New Orleans had recently suffered catastrophe, with Hurricane Katrina completely destroying large parts of the city, leaving thousands homeless. This provided the 'team' with a massively meaningful task, and an opportunity to help rebuild this once great southern city.

With perfectly located accommodations on the famous Bourbon Street, nightly cocktails, dinner and a live band at a typical New Orleans style restaurant, coupled with a full day of productive meetings and a team building activity, the group created a lasting legacy, and a shared experience which they will never forget.

Read more


Where we've been recently...

Our clients visit some fantastic destinations each month! Here are some of the places we have hosted clients recently:

The Buccaneer
St. Croix, USVI

New Hotel Roblin
Paris, France

Seelbach Hilton
Louisville, KY

Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach, CA

Wynn Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV

Grand Velas Riviera Maya
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Rafter Six Ranch
Alberta, Canada

Did You Know?

1. Istanbul, Turkey, is the only city in the world located on two continents – Europe and Asia.

2. Airbus developers are focusing on the future, including some out of this world designs such as a see through plane where passengers can have an almost 360 degree view of what's around them as they fly.

3. Italians receive an average of 42 paid vacation days from their employers each year. Americans receive less than two weeks worth, coming in last place on the list at 13 paid vacation days per year.

4. The world's busiest commercial airport is Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, with 970,000 airplane movements a year. It's followed by Chicago O'Hare, London Heathrow, Tokyo and Los Angeles.

5. All airlines have an agreement to let each others' traveling pilots occupy empty seats. If no seats are available, the travelling pilot can also occupy an extra seat in the cockpit that is usually empty.



Frequent Flyer Program Updates

How Will You Be Affected?
If you're like us you have a love hate relationship with your frequent flyer program. You love gaining status with your favorite airline, getting special treatment and enjoying all the perks (after all, who doesn't like seeing their name at the top of the upgrade list as you're about to board!). You love being able to accumulate mileage through a myriad of sources: credit cards, hotels, rental cars, restaurants, financial services, charities... the list goes on! But, on the other side of the curtain, there are numerous program rules and regulations that just frustrate you enough to wonder whether the sky just might be bluer with a different airline. At the top of the list of these annoyances is when your airline decides (at any given moment) to change the rules to its frequent flyer program. They move the goalposts and, inevitably, you're the loser. Or are you?

Here's an overview of the latest airline loyalty program updates so you can decide if your airline loves you, or if it might be time to start looking for a new partner.

American Airlines
Good news for AAdvantage members: American and Marriott Hotels are back in partnership again. Therefore you can earn miles for hotel stays (the number of miles depends on where you stay. For example, a Ritz-Carlton stay will earn you two AAdvantage miles for every dollar spent but a stay at a Courtyard by Marriott will only be worth one mile per dollar). Also, AA is now codesharing with St. Croix based Seaborne Airlines so AAdvantage visitors to the Caribbean can pick up extra miles and also book their entire trip through AA. See aa.com/seaborne.

United Airlines
Frequent United travelers may not be too happy. Beginning next year, United’s MileagePlus loyalty program will introduce a minimum annual passenger spending requirement in addition to the usual qualifying miles requirements. To achieve Premier Silver status passengers will have to spend at least $2,500 (on basic fares and surcharges like Economy Plus seating), in addition to flying 25,000 qualifying miles or 30 segments. Premier Gold Status will require a minimum of 50,000 miles (or 60 segments) plus $5,000. Premier Platinum status will be 75,000 miles (or 90 segments) and $7,500. Premier 1K will be 100,000 miles (or 120 segments) and $10,000. If, however, you own a MileagePlus Chase credit card issued in the United States and spend at least $25,000, the minimum spending requirement for Premier Silver, Gold and Platinum status will be waived (not for 1K status though). In addition to the spending requirement, United has also increased certain fees for MileagePlus award tickets. See united.com.

Delta Airlines
Delta's Medallion members face good news and bad news. As you may already be aware Delta recently acquired a 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic. For SkyMiles Platinum and Diamond member, and BusinessElite passengers, this means access to all Virgin Clubhouse lounges, as well as priority check-in, boarding, baggage handling and additional baggage allowance on all Virgin Atlantic flights. Skymiles members can earn bonus miles on all Virgin Atlantic flights too. See delta.com. Now for the bad news: beginning Sept. 1, Delta has begun using a new partner airline mileage earning chart that eliminates some elite mileage bonuses for Medallion members. Some partner airlines retain full bonues, some are reduced and some removed altogether. See delta.com. Delta was also the inspiration for United's minimum annual passenger spending requirement. About a month before United released its program updates, Delta announced the introduction of MQDs (Medallion Qualification Dollars), a minimum spend level required to qualify for status in the 2015 program. Full details are at delta.com. It is designed to benefit the real hardcore travelers and make the SkyMiles program exclusive once again, but surely will also alienate the lower level Medallion members.

Jet Blue Airways
Good news at Jet Blue! The airline announced last month that TrueBlue loyalty program members need never worry about their points expiring because from now on, they’re good for life. As the company explained on its Facebook page: “Now, the points you earn are yours to hang on to as long as you want, with no expiration date. Period.” Until they change their minds again, that is...

Let's talk possibilities. Contact us today!
Phone 770-998-3123 | Fax 770-998-5515 | Email jeffholland@monalto.com | Online monalto.com
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