Visit USA Fam Trip to Orlando and St Petersburg / Clearwater

Visit USA Fam Trip to Orlando and St Petersburg / Clearwater

From start to finish the Visit USA Fam Trip for 2012 turned out to be a very enjoyable, very educational trip for nine agents from all over Ireland. Virgin Atlantic sponsored 11 seats from London Gatwick to Orlando and, to everyone’s surprise and delight, they were all upgraded to premium economy for the 10-hour flight. Virgin Atlantic staff were also waiting for the group at Gatwick to welcome them into the Virgin lounge, which is kitted out with a bar, restaurant and spa, and where they all enjoyed a lovely lunch. Visit USA Fam

The group spent two days at Universal Studios and SeaWorld where VIP Tours were organised – a massive advantage to the agents. Each park was very busy and skipping the queues meant they could get on a lot more rides and learn a lot more about the parks. Both guides were amazing and had worked at the parks for a long time so their insight, knowledge and information was invaluable. Harry Potter was the highlight and the agents spent a lot of time pretending to try every ride ‘just to tell our kids about it’.

Chris Ellis and Visit Orlando kindly organised dinner for the group at Nascar Cafe on Citywalk. This was very welcome after a long day of walking around Universal Studios. The cafe has a lively atmosphere and would be very enjoyable to those who enjoy motorsports as this is the theme of the restaurant. The agents were shown around the property, which is an excellent venue for birthdays or parties of any kind. They make arrangements for casual groups but also cater for corporate functions, big or small. The group got a lot of details from Joanne, the lady looking after the property and would feel comfortable selling this to clients.

After a busy couple of days in Orlando the group relaxed on the bus on the way to St Petersburg / Clearwater. Known for its fantastic beaches and chilled out atmosphere, it was just what they needed after their hectic schedule in Orlando. Their hotel, sponsored by St Petersburg / Clearwater, was The Sand Dollar – Beach Resort Condominiums, a beautiful family-orientated resort located directly on the beach in the resort town of Indian Shores.

Visit USA Fam 2

Caladesi Island

The first morning in St Petersburg / Clearwater the group were brought to Honeymoon Island State Park and from there they got a ferry over to the beautiful Caladesi Island for a beach day. The ferry over is approximately 30 minutes and once you arrive at this island you are immediately in awe of its surroundings. Changing facilities and a lovely little restaurant on-board makes it so easy to hop on to the ferry and spend the day there. This is really a must-sell for the St Pete’s area. Families and couples of any age would happily spend a day there.


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NEIL STEEDMAN has been a trade journalist, editor and proofreader for 53 years, and ITTN's News & Features Editor for 43 years. His travel blog is at

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