Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tomgirl’s Picks of the Week: January 26, 2010

Where did January go?! Well, to close the month, here are our favorites of the week, resources for travel lovers everywhere (and a special one for those in our home state of Rhode Island):

Media Resources
Wherever in the world you travel, radio host Stephanie Abrams is the go-to source you must know. Stephanie's syndicated radio show is a wealth of information, and can be heard across the country. Or check out her shows, archived, on her website. Thanks, Stephanie, for all your insight!

We're pretty sure most women out there already follow Daily Candy in their local cities. This daily newsletter for in-the-know women is not only a fun read, but also a gold mine of local resources and events. But do you also subscribe to their travel edition? Everything you love about the local editions, but all with a travel twist. Love it!

People and Places to Know
Because outdoor lovers are often also animal lovers, we understand that leaving a beloved four-legged friend behind during a vacation can be stressful. So, we are delighted to offer our travelers a fantastic resource here in Rhode Island: Furry Friends Pet Care Services. Furry Friends' Alysha Fraser provides pet care and is a great resource. Having our clients' pets cared for in the expert hands of Alysha, allows our Tomgirl guests to truly "let go" and relax.

As an avid traveler, I've had the opportunity to see amazing sights and wonderful hotels and resorts. But the Essex in Burlington, Vermont is truly one of a kind. Set on 18 acres and offering vistas of the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain, this hotel is a Tomgirl dream. From fresh air and outdoor activities, to a world-class spa, to out-of-this-world culinary experiences thanks to the New England Culinary Institute's on-site presence, we adore the Essex (no wonder we chose it for our Green Mountains Escape!) and our wonderful friend, the resort's Director of Business Development, Dave Hakins... a classy and knowledgeable guy who takes amazing care of every guest at the Essex!

From Tomgirl Tours
As we continue to bundle up on these New England winter days, can't help but daydream about our St. John Sojourn tour in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Seven days in the warm sunshine; enjoying snorkeling, swimming, kayaking and mountain hikes. Ahhh... heavenly! (Where are my goggles and fins, anyway?!)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Profile of a Tomgirl: Lisa Nelson

Instead of us always doing the talking, we thought it would be fun to share the stories of other Tomgirls too! First up in this "Profile of a Tomgirl" series: Lisa Nelson (below, just about to try zip lining!), who first traveled with us last summer on our White Mountains Adventure.

1) What does being a Tomgirl mean to you?

Being a Tomgirl means that you can have the best of all worlds. If you want to experience a pampered day at a spa, it's available; if you want to shop, it's available. You can have that type of vacation. But, if you want to do something challenging -- something out of the ordinary, something exciting, something you'll remember for the rest of your life - it's available to you!

2) What type of Tomgirl activities do you like to do to stay active?

When I have time, I like to horseback ride, but it's hard to fit into a busy urban life. The thing I loved about Tomgirl Tours was that it offered me a challenge to do things I'd had always wanted to try. It offered camaraderie, fun and excitement. The first Tomgirl Tour I took lured me with the challenge of zip-lining and controlled wind tunnel sky-diving. Because I am afraid of heights, and knew I would never get in a plane to sky-dive, it sounded like a perfect way to have the thrill without the danger. It far surpassed my expectations, and allowed me a great vacation with my daredevil daughter! We would not have vacationed together if it were not for the activities offered by Tomgirl Tours.

3) What do you love most about the outdoors?

I love the beauty of all outdoor landscapes. Whether we are in the mountains, by the water, or in the desert, the experience is indescribable. Each offers something to the individual. So, whether you want excitement or peace or beauty, all are available to you outdoors.

4) How did you find out about Tomgirl Tours and what do you think about a company that caters to women like you?

I received an email at my computer station, which I think was meant for the woman who was in the position before me! I was absolutely intrigued. It was the first vacation package in my life where I had no hesitation to go by myself. The activities sounded incredible. [Tomgirl Tours Founder] Lori Carr has a knack of knowing what women like me want. I loved the fact that everything was so well planned out, but without the forced structure you may get in other vacation packages. The ladies on the trip were fabulous (pictured, right), and my daughter went with me and shared an experience we will never forget. I'm so happy to have found Tomgirl Tours and look forward to many more vacations with them!

For more, here's a little taste of Lisa's Tomgirl adventure...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tomgirl’s Picks of the Week: January 19, 2010

What a fabulous week! Our favorite people this week include some great Tomgirl Tours’ friends and not-to-be-missed resources for tomgirls everywhere!

Media Resources

We start our favorites with girlsgetaway.com. Yes, we are especially fond of Girls Getaway this week because (well, we hate to gush, but…) they featured Tomgirl Tours this week as one of the top 6 women’s travel tour companies! But, that is far from the only reason we list this as our top pick. The Tomgirl crew has long been a fan of this site, a one-stop resource and (in their words…) “gathering place for women to plan a wild and wicked world adventure, or a place to find out all about great local weekend trips with the girls”. Amen to that, girlfriends!

Most readers are probably already familiar with Women’s Health magazine, but we wanted to give this fantastic publication a shout out for those who might not be regularly reading. The mission of this well-known title by Rodale is right on par with Tomgirls’ values: “Women's Health is for the woman who wants to reach a healthy, attractive weight but doesn't equate that with having thighs the size of toothpicks. We know that exercising and eating well will make you happier and stronger (even if after-work runs can be drudgery). That looking and feeling good have very little to do with cosmetics and high heels (though they can help you feel glamorous on a Saturday night and we love that too!). And that life can be stressful since there's never enough time, but balance is achievable (with a little help)

Let's Travel Radio is a Tomgirl favorite when it comes broadcast media. Let's Travel is a live, global radio talk show in which Host Susan Raphael and Producer Michael Zufolo invite listeners to explore the world of travel and culture.

Interesting People and Places

Bretton Woods is one of our favorite places (and site of our White Mountains Adventure). If you don’t already follow our Bretton Woods friends on Twitter, check them out here for updates on what’s happening in their gorgeous corner of the world.

In the News

We did a little cheer this week to hear that a consumer survey reported that there will be a 70% increase in participation in adventure travel over the next three years!

From Tomgirl Tours

Given the poetic description of Tomgirl founder Lori Carr’s lifelong love affair with Sedona, Tomgirl Tours has our Red Rock Rendezvous tour on the brain! We have three of these tours scheduled for 2010, and can’t wait until April 24th, when the first kicks off! (we have some spots still left on that tour. Call us to join!)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Lasting Love Affair with Sedona

Sedona is unlike any place you’ve ever been. The soaring red sandstone, perfect blue skies, and outdoor, healthy vibe draw you in inspires the moment you arrive. Panoramic vistas are everywhere – stunning, magnificent, even breathtaking at every turn – each more beautiful than the next. That was my second reaction when I visited Sedona for the first time in the mid 80s. My first reaction? Reminding myself to breathe and to blink…. I was captivated the moment I set eyes on Arizona. It was love at first sight and has lasted a life time.

My Mom introduced me to Arizona when she and my sister up and moved west after living their entire lives in New England. As my Mom said, it was an innate, insistent calling that caused her to go west to Arizona, and, it must be hereditary because one of my sisters and one of my brothers went along with her. I was mad as hell when they up and left the Ocean State – the idea of swamp Yankees surviving in cowboy territory unnerved me to no end. …. until, well until, I went to visit….and oh my!

My mom, the original Tomgirl! (below, with my niece, Brandi)

From exploring the mining caves and the Mining Camp restaurant with my sister and family, to horseback riding at the Grand Canyon, to late nights at the cowboy clubs, it was a virtual haven for a tomgirl. Not to mention the spiritual bent… all those hours of meditation within and around the vortex area under a star filled night sky will make you… well… ponder.

My sister, Donna, and I

Twenty years later, I created yet another reason to head back to Sedona every year: The Red Rock Rendezvous in Sedona, one of Tomgirl Tours’ feature adventure tours. This trip (clearly!) holds special meaning for me, and I love watching our guests as they experience the spectacular and pristine red rock country in the high desert of Sedona, Ariz… exploring the spectacular Grand Canyon on a day trip hike below the rim, experiencing a rugged Pink Jeep tour through Broken Arrow and Ancient Ruins, and marveling at the view during a sunrise hot air balloon ride high above the pines and soaring red sandstone. It’s the desert adventure trip of a lifetime, and sharing it with Tomgirl travelers is one of the greatest pleasures of my lifetime!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tomgirl’s Picks of the Week: January 12, 2010

Don't miss these fabulous need-to-know people and media that celebrate women and travel; our weekly favorites:

Media Resources

When it comes to travel, GoNOMAD gets it right. GoNOMAD explores all areas of travel—every destination imaginable, along with specific insight for women travelers, family travelers and tours. They also offer a handy reference to travel tools and support, like books, travel insurance and various other resources.

Breathe Magazine, focusing on adventure, endurance and lifestyle, is a Cyberspace adrenaline rush… its stories and photos make us want to get outside even more than we already do, breathe the fresh air and challenge ourselves! (Need we say more about why we love it!)

Tomgirl Tours empowers women via energetic outdoor adventures, but we advocate empowering women in all areas of their lives, so Power Women Magazine, and it’s mission to do just that, really speaks to us. The website is a wealth of information for women, on “issues ranging from equal rights for all women to homelessness among women, and everything in between.” Brava!

Interesting People

Ann Petronio, (aka the Escape Artist), is the dynamic owner of Annie’s Escapes travel agency. She’s been a friend and wonderful supporter of Tomgirl since our launch event last year, and a colleague who co-hosted our Adventure Travel 101 Webinar. A fellow adventure lover, Ann is a fabulous resource for anyone’s travel agent needs.

We met Caulleen Worrell of Usmile at an event last summer, and love her website’s goal: “to be an online cross-culture community for women”; and mission: “to see women of all cultures and backgrounds connecting, informing, and sharing ideas with each other… to inspire, motivate, stimulate, and make women shine so that their days are brighter and easier to enjoy.” The site is also, we should add, a pleasure to read and navigate!

From Tomgirl Tours

Looking forward to getting back to New Hampshire for our White Mountains Adventure in March. Did you know that Bretton Woods, site of our zip-line adventure, is one of finest zip lines in this (or any!) corner of the world?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Tomgirl’s Picks of the Week: January 5, 2010

With so many fabulous resources, it is tough sometimes to figure out Tomgirl’s Picks of the Week. (luckily, however, there are 52 weeks in the year!). Here are our favorite people, companies and media this week… what are yours?

In the News

We are all about the outdoors, adventure, health and travel… so we’re pretty smitten with Outside magazine. A magazine packed with ideas and reviews of outdoor activities, insight on the best gear, and general health tips. A must-read for fresh-air-loving Tomgirls!

For travel industry insiders, Packaged Travel Insider is a B2B bible. No surprise, with editor Matt Poe keeping the pulse of the industry. An early believer in Tomgirl Tours, Poe and Packaged Travel Insider will long be among our favorites.

People and Places

While in Arizona, Pink Jeep tours are one of our favorite excursions… so much so that they are an integral part of Tomgirl’s Red Rock Rendezvous tours. While we already adore the concept that blends rugged dessert exploration with our own signature color (pink!), we’re now loving their new addition: the Pink Java CafĂ©, serving pink donuts!

We met Santa Fe Traveler’s Billie Frank via social networking last year. Like Tomgirl, Santa Fe Traveler has a unique and upscale niche in the travel world: a boutique personal concierge service to create the perfect Santa Fe experience for travelers. While we reside on opposite ends of the country and have never met, we have become Twitter friends (twends?) and highly recommend this expert for those traveling to Santa Fe.

From Tomgirl Tours

Our next tour up is a perennial favorite for travelers: Tomgirl’s White Mountains Adventure… this all-inclusive trip to New Hampshire is a 2-day extravaganza of adventure (zip lining and indoor sky-diving!), balanced by relaxation and fun at a gorgeous local hotel. You can see more here on this blog, from our last White Mountains Adventure, if you missed it. There are still a few openings on this tour (March 14 and 15), so call today to join us!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Reflections on the Importance of Business Partners

At the start of a New Year, I’m doing a little reflecting on 2009’s achievements, challenges, and the partnerships that supported Tomgirl through it all. I started Tomgirl Tours last year and, as a micro-business owner, needed a little help in executing the launch. It was vital to find the right talent: experienced, results-oriented, and flexible partners to help me start and grow Tomgirl Tours. I was very fortunate to find three of the most professional, committed and effective business partners, and I’d like to tell you all about these amazing people and each of their small, but powerful, micro businesses. I would recommend all of them –hands down – because they always met or exceeded my high expectations:

  • I’ll start with Jeremy Nivison from Nivison Multimedia. Jeremy was a key and critical partner in establishing Tomgirl Tours’ website—from conception to inception. We worked together across the country, from Providence R.I. to Providence Utah, to design, test, perfect and then launch tomgirltours.com. Jeremy’s attention to customer service is first rate. His turnaround times then and now are immediate; his communication always friendly, insightful and reassuring—even during those critical deadline periods. All this, and the quality of his work is outstanding. I highly recommend Jeremy for any website related services!
  • With the website designed, we needed a fast, reliable hosting company we could trust. We found the perfect company with Jesse Kielhorn, Founder and President of EchoServers.com. This 23-year-old Wentworth graduate has the business and customer-service acumen of a professional twice his age. My website uptime is 100% - how is that possible?! Not sure, but I’ll bet is has something to do with this young entrepreneur’s leadership, technical know-how, and impeccable commitment to outstanding customer service. The detailed reports I get from EchoServers.com offer very precise data that allows for savvy marketing, promotion, and advertising analysis; letting me know where my dollars have been effective. And talk about high-end customer service – read these comments from other EchoServer clients and check out the low prices. Go Jesse!
  • Last, but certainly not least, is my communications and public relations specialist (not to mention, social networking aficionado and sleuth) Carrie Soucy, Founder and President of Miamore Communications. Carrie just knows how to get a strong promotion and branding message out, and she wastes no time getting results. My blog and website visits double and triple each time she puts her savvy and figurative “pen to paper” (or should I say “keyboard strokes to Blog, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube”). Carrie doesn’t just provide ideas and solutions, but she puts together a promotional and communication strategy based on her clients’ upscale product branding, marketing and promotional needs and goals (and if you don’t have them defined yet—don’t worry—Carrie will walk you through that process too!) As her tagline says, Miamore Communications spreads the word about life’s finer things, and we, as a very happy client, could not agree more!