A Tale of Two Families

Real Life Story: “V” is for Value 
This is the first in a series of Real Life Story articles related to our We Speak Travel-Ease campaign.

* The following story is based on real events, but the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Two families, four teenagers, two vehicles (thank heavens), and a whirlwind of college visits in South Carolina and Georgia in the middle of July.  Such was the daunting task facing the Wiseman’s and Loman’s last summer, as their high school-aged children whittled away at their list of potential colleges. While this would be a necessary and potentially informative road trip, it was not exactly either family’s idea of a relaxing summer vacation.


The next day, Mrs. Wiseman chatted with her travel advisor at Avant Travel about where to stay on this trip packed with college visits and quite a bit of driving in between. The travel advisor, who detected a strange mixture of anticipation and dread in Mrs. Wiseman’s voice, made a suggestion: “What if you broke up the trip with a couple days of ‘R and R’ at the Ritz-Carlton, Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Georgia?  It’s not too far from Athens and I’ve heard really great things about that property.”


“That’s an absolutely brilliant suggestion,” Mrs. Wiseman replied.


The Ritz-Carlton, Reynolds is a luxury Forbes Four-Star resort in the heart of nature, situated on the picturesque shores of Lake Oconee.  With its legendary service and a bevy of water activities to keep four energetic teenagers entertained, it would serve as a perfect oasis sandwiched between the dryness and monotony of college info sessions, campus tours, and dorm room visits.


The Wiseman’s, who happened to be regular clients of Avant already, enjoyed the special perks and amenities that came their way when staying at Virtuoso-designated properties, a select group of elite hotels to which the Ritz-Carlton, Reynolds certainly belonged. After running the proposed itinerary by the Loman’s and receiving approval, Mrs. Wiseman re-contacted her travel advisor at Avant to confirm the reservation and she urged Mrs. Loman to do the same.  The Loman’s, on the other hand, leaned a bit more toward the do-it-yourself crowd, and didn’t see much sense in using a travel agency for such an uncomplicated reservation.


“I’ll just contact the Ritz myself and book our own room,” Mrs. Loman said with a measure of self-satisfaction. “It will be much simpler and probably less expensive too.”


Fast forward 4 weeks – the trip is in full throttle.  Three college visits down and two to go, but not before a well-earned 2-day respite at the Ritz-Carlton, Reynolds.


Upon check-in, The Wiseman’s and their two teenagers were upgraded to larger rooms with fabulous views of Lake Oconee. The Loman’s had a very nice Garden view, but they agreed that pre-dinner drinks would be more enjoyable on the Wiseman’s balcony overlooking the lake.


“This room is really nice,” Mrs. Loman commented as she curiously looked around the spacious room and meandered out on the balcony to take in the sunset backdrop framing the serene lake. “How much more did it cost?”


“Actually, nothing,” Mrs. Wiseman replied. “It’s because we booked the reservation through Avant and they have those special perks, like free room upgrades, when you stay at Virtuoso hotels.  Oh, and by the way, the fruit and cheese and wine you’re drinking were on the house too! They were a Virtuoso welcome gift that room service brought to us just a little while ago.”


The next morning, both sets of parents and their four hungry teenagers savored a delicious buffet breakfast at Georgia’s Bistro on property.  Mr. Loman couldn’t help but notice that the Wiseman’s bill for their 4 buffet breakfasts (at $28 a head) had a notation on the bottom that read: “included in room rate.”  As he wrote down his room number and signed his own check, he asked Mr. Wiseman how he had received 4 breakfast buffet meals for free. Mr. Wiseman explained that one of the perks received when booking at a Virtuoso property through Avant was two complimentary breakfasts per room, per day.


Back in the room, and still in amazement at the over $100 value Mr. Wiseman had scored at breakfast, Mr. Loman asked his wife, “Why didn’t we book our rooms through Avant?” To which Mrs. Loman did not have a particularly defensible reply.


Later that afternoon, while the gentlemen enjoyed a golf outing, the ladies slapped on the sunscreen and marched the kids down to the lake to rent jet skis that the teens had been eyeing from the moment they arrived.  After signing off on all the waivers and rental agreements, the two moms were presented with their bills.  Perplexed, Mrs. Loman asked why her own bill was $200 more than Mrs. Wiseman’s bill since they had both rented the same jet-ski package.


“Oh, I can explain that,” Mrs. Wiseman interjected. “By booking through Avant we received a $100 resort credit per room and I just applied those credits to our jet-ski rental.  It’s just another reason why I always use Avant when we travel.”


The next day it was time to leave, but both families felt completely rejuvenated and agreed that their stay at the Ritz was time well spent. On the way to the car while the ladies were conspiring a plan to return for a longer stay at this fabulous resort, Mr. Loman quipped privately to Mr. Wiseman: “Since, by my calculations, your billfold is about $500 heavier than mine this morning, would you mind telling your wife to tell my wife the name and number of your travel advisor at Avant?”


Sharon Betts

Co-Owner, Travel Advisor

Sharon Betts