We’re on a roll! MMT on FoxNews.com

Travel writers are really paying attention to mystery trips this month, and that’s just fine with us!

FoxNews.com has a great article discussing the mystery trip trend!

Here’s one of our favorite quotes:

Surprises, when done well, can be thrilling, even when it comes to something as personal and complex as travel. And . . . the building anticipation of mystery travel oftentimes gives adults the feeling of being kids on Christmas Eve. Not to mention, it nixes the stress of actually planning a vacation. 

MMT in View from the Wing!

We were already excited about being featured in The Washington Post, but our week got even better when we found out that one of our favorite travel bloggers, Gary Leff, wrote about us on his blog View from the Wing!

You should definitely check out the whole post, though we really loved Gary’s thoughts on Magical Mystery Tours and the particular conditions he’d want if he did a mystery trip!

Anyway, I share this because I love innovative travel businesses, people finding ways to add value to the adventure lives of others in what’s otherwise a very difficult industry to be in.

And because — as obsessive a planner as I am — I could probably use taking a ‘mystery trip’ and turning my trip over to someone else entirely. Except that I’d probably insist domestic flights on American, and that anything international have confirmable upgrade space using my 100,000 mile flyer international upgrade certificates.

For all of you pondering whether a mystery trip is for you, what conditions would you require?  What makes you nervous and what possibilities really excite you?

And if you’re not already reading View from the Wing, we can’t recommend it enough for the amazing tips on acquiring and making the most of miles and points.

Magical Mystery Tours in The Washington Post!

Magical Mystery Tours is thrilled to be featured in an article in this weekend’s Washington Post travel section!

We had the pleasure of planning a trip for Becky Krystal, one of The Washington Post’s travel writers.  In the article she details her anticipation and efforts to guess her destination.

You should definitely read the whole article, but here’s a fun quote and the amazing picture they put with the article:

In a concept that’s part “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?,” part Match.com and part “The Amazing Race,” your destination is a total secret until you arrive at the airport. It seemed like the kind of thing that, when done poorly, could go very, very wrong or, when done well, could be very, very awesome. I’m a glass-is-half-full kind of person, so even though it went against most of my instincts, I took the plunge.

Washington Post Pic

Want to be our Brand Ambassador?

We need to get the word out about Magical Mystery Tours!  Do you find yourself constantly discussing travel?  Are you eager to help connect people with the vacations of their dreams?  Then this might be the role for you!

Brand Ambassador is responsible for establishing customer relationships,  increasing sales volumes, and working effectively with other team members to build the Magical Mystery Tours brand.

Essential Skills and Responsibilities:

  • A love of travel and eagerness to discuss travel.
  • Focus on connecting customers with Magical Mystery Tours.
  • A delightful person with good social skills, and comfort in a sales position.
  • A person who can proactively and independently generate customer leads and follow-up with potential clients.
  • Someone eager to learn about Magical Mystery Tours, and can accurately represent Magical Mystery Tours’ products and be a good representative of the brand.

Note, this is a part-time contract position.  Pay will be based on performance.

To be considered for this role, please email denise@magical-mystery-tours.com with your resume and an email explaining why you’re interested and why you’d be great for this role.  Also please tell us about your favorite trip and the destination you’d move love to visit.

**Minimal travel planning will be involved in this role.  While Magical Mystery Tours is eager to grow and hire additional travel coordinators, we do not currently have openings in this area.

A Weekend in Memphis

Graceland, barbecue, Beale Street, and the blues… That covers Memphis, right?

I was looking for a quick weekend trip to somewhere I hadn’t been before, and Memphis won out as the best option. (And it may have helped that it’s right on the border of both Arkansas and Mississippi, two of the five states I had left to visit, too.)

So, for those of you who have yet to visit Memphis, what should you check out (and what can you skip)?

We got in late on Friday night, and after debating whether to just go to bed or to check out Beale Street, we made the right choice and made a quick trip to Beale Street. Maybe it’s not fair to compare, though it reminded me of Bourbon Street in New Orleans, just a smaller and calmer version. Everyone was strolling down the street with beers and other large, sugar-filled drinks, and music everywhere. We enjoyed the ribs, gumbo, and friendly service at Blues City Cafe.

Beale Street (and wouldn't you love to know what prompted the "No Reptiles" rule?)

Beale Street (and wouldn’t you love to know what prompted the “No Reptiles” rule?)

The following morning we checked out Alcenia’s. Definitely would not have found this place had it not been recommended in the NYTimes “36 Hours in Memphis” column, and almost kept driving, thinking it was closed when we first found it. The first clue that you’re in for a unique experience is the “Ghetto Aid,” extra sweet Kool-Aid on the menu. From there, for $10 each, we had a combination of fried chicken, sausage, waffles, biscuits, eggs, grits, rice, and fried green tomatoes. Maybe it’s because we live in DC, where brunch is far from a $10 affair, and aren’t used to good southern food, but we were  blown away by all of it. I can’t imagine finding other sausage or fried green tomatoes that can live up to the standards set by Alcenia’s.

Alcenia's.  Yum!

Alcenia’s. Yum!

Fortunately, we had the self-control to only eat about half of our breakfasts from Alcenia’s so we could check out Graceland rather than having to nap off breakfast. As for Graceland…wow, just wow. If you despise tourist traps, tacky 60′s and 70′s decor, mobs of tourists taking pictures of practically each blade of grass, you’ll want to avoid Graceland at all cost. Though if you’re willing to embrace the crazy that was Elvis, you’ll want to take that drive down Elvis Presley Blvd. Warning: tickets start at $30 and go up to $70, so this isn’t a decision to take lightly (see here for a coupon if you want to feel a little better about your decision-and do print it before you get there!)

Some first impressions of Graceland.

Some first impressions of Graceland.

I didn’t know much about Elvis, so to me seeing Graceland was basically getting a first-hand view of the the lifestyles of the very rich and very famous during the 60′s and 70′s. The 15-seat couch, “jungle room”, mirrored ceilings, and fabric covered walls of the house were all fantastic. You also get to tour his private planes, and check out his whole fleet of cars, including the pink Cadillac.

Does it make you want to redecorate?

Does it make you want to redecorate?

We’d seen enough of Beale Street the night before, so we decided to check out a few different restaurants and bars on Saturday night. We started at The Cove, which had a fantastic pirate ship bar and similarly great cocktail list, though it got a little smokey for our taste after a little while.

From there we checked out Mollie Fontaine Lounge, a gorgeous Victorian mansion-turned-bar. There was a DJ on the ground floor, comfy couches and chairs on the second floor, and a quiet patio with lanterns hung from the trees. You can tour various mansions in the area, though it was great to have an opportunity to settle in, check out the gorgeous decor, and have a drink.

Mollie Fontaine's (these pictures don't do justice to how pretty is really is)

Mollie Fontaine’s (these pictures don’t do justice to how pretty is really is)

My final goal for Memphis was to see the world-famous Peabody Ducks. As soon as I heard that one of the nicest hotels in Memphis literally rolls out a red carpet twice a day to let ducks march through the lobby and swim in their marble fountain, I knew I had to see it. I’ll even admit that it took two tries to get this right (we tried to sneak in right before 5 when the ducks marched out on Saturday, but it was too crowded to see anything).

After being so close to the ducks, but not actually seeing anything on Saturday, we got to the Peabody shortly after 10 on Sunday morning to stake out a good spot for the 11 a.m. march. The “Duckmaster” was already holding court, taking pictures with guests, and making announcements about the history of the hotel and the tradition of the ducks. We couldn’t have been more lucky than to get seats at the bar for coffee (with duck stirrers, of course), which gave us the perfect view.

As promised, shortly before 11, as the crowd grew, the hotel rolled out the red carpet, the elevator door opened, and 4 ducks sprinted through the lobby, up the fountain steps, and into the Fountain. Definitely the most fun and random thing I’ve seen a hotel do!

Peabody ducks...quack, quack.

Never expected ducks to run down a red carpet so quickly that it would be hard to get a good picture!

In some ways, Memphis was what I expected-all the major expectations were met, though the city had so much character. Everyone was so friendly, and (other than Graceland), it wasn’t as touristy as I was expecting.  I wish we had had a little more time to do even more barbecue sampling, to check out more neighborhoods,  go to the zoo, and check out more of the other random attractions we kept happening upon (bet you didn’t know that Memphis has 6th largest pyramid in the world!)

**PS. You’ll most likely want to skip the Mississippi River Museum and Mud Island. Basically, just imagine the worst field trip you ever went on and assume it’s something like that…

From the “Be Surprised” Article in O, The Oprah Magazine

We were thrilled to see Magical Mystery Tours featured as one of the recommendations for ways to be surprised this summer.  Here’s what O, The Oprah Magazine had to say about Magical Mystery Tours:

“Hit up Magical Mystery Tours for a surprise vacation: After inquiring about your budgets, dates, and preference, an agent will craft a custom trip, giving you the itinerary within a week of your departure.  Sure, you can scope the schedule in advance, but the company recommends waiting until you’re at the airport or train station.  Bon voyage!  (magical-mystery-tours.com) – KATIE ARNOLD-RATLIFF”

Nadia and Marius, Colombia, November 2012

Nadia and Marius wanted a fun and exotic trip that they could take before “settling down” and starting a family. We decided to send them to a multi-city trip to Bogota and Cartagena in Colombia! We picked this location based on their sense of adventure, love of the unconventional, and hope of going somewhere you probably wouldn’t bring kids. The trip was full of opportunities to explore the outdoors through the country’s beaches, volcano, and rainforest while there are also excellent museums and a UNESCO World Heritage Site for a bit of culture and learning. We arranged for a day trip to colonial village Villa de Leyva and suggested a coffee tasting in Bogota, while their time in the cruise port of Cartagena was spent visiting the Inquisition Palace and enjoying a mud bath heated by an ancient volcano. They were very pleased with our arrangements for them and Nadia commented, “I found the suggested itinerary that you created to be extremely useful. In fact, we carried it with us everywhere we went. I loved all the restaurant suggestions you made for us. I think they represented excellent value.”

Mandy and Steve, Ireland, May 2013

Mandy approached us hoping to arrange for a special trip to celebrate the graduation of her boyfriend, Steve. She wasn’t ready to do a full-fledged mystery trip, so we did a “controlled surprise,” giving her three locations to choose from. In the end, she chose an adventure to Ireland. As we continued to work together to plan the trip, the experience became so special that Mandy and Steve decided to get married on their trip! The lovely couple rented a car and did the southern loop of Ireland, stopping in Dublin, Kilkenny, Cork, and Galway. We helped the adventurous couple make arrangements to get married on a private yacht, go kayaking in Galway Bay, spend a night in a castle, and ride mountain bikes along the Derroura trail. They raved, “It was truly an experience that we will never forget!”

Where will you spend Labor Day weekend?

We at Magical Mystery Tours believe a long weekend should never be wasted. With just three months to go, have you considered where you will spend your Labor Day weekend?

We know summer can get crazy and your travel options can be a bit overwhelming. Whether it’s a weekend at The Cape, an outdoor adventure out west, or a quick flight across the pond to Europe, let us take the planning off your plate!

Cinque Terre, Italy

Yosemite National Park

Cape Cod

Book a tour!