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Music on the high seas

Holland America Line cruises have always offered the promise of salty sea air, crisp rays of sunlight warming your skin, and scrumptious meals prepared by world-class chefs.

“But recently the cruise line has upped the ante” says Brenda Sbrozzi of Travel Time Inc. You can now take a break from the sun-dappled ship decks and step into a world ringing with musical performances and mind-blowing interactive entertainment experiences.

Gone are the quiet lounge entertainers and one-person piano shows. Instead, nights onboard most Holland America voyages are filled with an abundance of world-class entertainment options.

The new Lincoln Center Stage, Billboard Onboard and the BB King’s Blues Club are all part of their new “Music Walk” experience.

Coming direct from Beale Street, the eight-piece BB Kings All-Star Band delivers fast, funky, soulful and smooth entertainment, bringing the best of Memphis music to the sea.

But it doesn’t stop there. With a two-story, 270-degree wraparound LED screen the World Stage surrounds guests in a high-definition, dazzling theater where innovation meets entertainment. Sourced from around the globe, you’ll experience mind-boggling magic, dazzling Cirque-du- Soleil-style performances and visual experiences into the breathtaking world of BBC Earth Experiences.

Prefer something different? Through a variety of exclusive new partnerships, Holland America has created additional entertainment options.

Step into America’s Test Kitchen, where you’ll learn foolproof techniques from top-notch chefs and make delectable dishes alongside them at hands-on cooking workshops.

If you’d rather just watch and sample, opt instead to attend a live cooking demonstration. The programs have been designed exclusively for guests, and promise enticing feasts for both the eyes and taste buds.

Recently, an exciting new initiative onboard Holland America pairs the life-changing wonder of travel with the soulful, inspiring content found in every issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. Take part in numerous, O-inspired activities that allow you to open your mind, change your perspective and uncover your potential.

Find your centre daily with “Just Breathe” yoga sessions; acquire fashion advice from O’s creative director Adam Glassman; or share your insights and connect with other readers at O’s Reading Room Book Club.

“This is a completely different Holland America Line” says Sbrozzi and encourages travellers to contact a Travel Time advisor for more information about the NEW Holland America Line voyages.

New corporate travel trend

As the air grows crisper and the end of the year looms, business owners are already beginning to contemplate how they will shuttle their staff around during the holiday party season.

Anyone who’s tried organizing transport to or from a party knows getting large groups of people from one place to another is often a logistical nightmare.

But many business owners have grown wise to the potential headaches, and those on the cutting edge are increasingly turning to a surprising place to alleviate them.

Motorcoaches have always been a staple for corporate clients, but with luxury coach companies beginning to step up their game, more and more are companies are going back to the bus.

Corinne Underwood is the director of business development at BlueStar Coachlines.

She says these days motorcoaches are so luxurious and well-equipped that terms like “bus” hardly even apply.

BlueStar’s coaches, for example, come chalked full of options like complimentary wifi, reclining seats, fully equipped entertainment systems and onboard washrooms.

She says these luxuries, combined with the convenience of getting a whole group of people to the same place together, are catching the eye of corporate clients who have shied away from coach travel in the past.

“We are the next generation of travel,” Underwood explains. “Our comfort and executive-style fleet of coaches are changing the way people think about getting around.”

On top of the comfort and convenience motorcoaches provide, Underwood says corporate clients appreciate companies that are familiar with, and fully appreciate, their specific needs.

“Often the corporate markets wants their transportation here and now; they’re on a tight schedule, they want to move a large volume of people, and they want it done without any logistical issues,” she explains.

Many have realized that organizing and paying for a swarm of taxis to move people around usually means more headaches, conflicts and expenses.

Underwood points out that BlueStar has a fleet of coaches--ranging from an-11 seat sprinter, through to a 27-seat executive class motorcoach, a 48-seat motorcoach, and more than 20 56-seat coaches--so it can handle groups of virtually any size.

BlueStar understands the needs of the corporate market, and paired with the local knowledge and professionalism of our uniformed drivers, it makes sense to me why we’re seeing corporate clients come back to coaches,” Underwood says.

For more information on motorcoaches, or for a closer look at BlueStar Coachline’s fleet, check out the company online.


No more floor destruction

There are so many ways to ruin a floor.

Heavy machinery schlepped across a showroom will damage most surfaces; engine grease can gum up a garage floor; saline relentlessly eats away at pool walls and bottoms; the sun and rain can pick your deck to pieces.

Especially when they’re not properly protected, the floors in our homes, yards and businesses are basically at the mercy of anything they come into contact with.

Fluids like grease and water seep into porous concrete, while wood sucks them up like a sponge. This weakens the material and can lead to near-constant replacement.

Meanwhile, surfaces like vinyl can rip and tear, exposing the vulnerable sub-floor to even more destruction.

But a newly arrived company in Kelowna is doing everything it can to prevent that destruction.

Kelowna’s Shamus Arnold has just brought the nationally-recognized Okanagan Zone Garage into the city.

Through Okanagan Zone Garage, Arnold is decking out the city’s floors with a patented polyurea coating that he says can protect floors from the many horrors visited upon them.

The three-layer application sees two coats of watertight seal cover the floor, with a beautiful vinyl fleck layered in between. The end result is a visually appealing floor protected by a barrier against even the most persistent fluids, UV rays and other destruction.

“It’s one of those items that not only has a great aesthetic to it, but it serves a really strong purpose,” Arnold says.

Arnold says the waterproof protection not only makes cleaning up potentially dangerous fluids a quick and easy process, the seal can even keep bacteria from growing in the floor.

Already, Okanagan Zone Garage is getting interest from businesses as diverse as tattoo parlours, wineries, veterinary clinics and home garages.

He says they’re often woo'd by the fact that installation generally only takes a day, and that the product is guaranteed for decades.

“We can be in and out in a day, and you’re back to swimming or parking your car in your garage, or whatever,” Arnold says.

A major headache for many in the Okanagan is the destruction salt water can reap on their pools, and Arnold says his product is a perfect fix.

“Without having to rip everything out we can repair it and we can make it smooth and basically make it look like we put a granite coat on it when we’re done,” he says.

For more information, check out Okanagan Zone Garage online.


Kelowna's will experts

Even today, Tricia still thanks her lucky stars she met Katy Williams.

Her mother had passed away, and things were getting messy with her estate. Lawyers had been brought into the mix, and none of them were particularly kind or helpful.

But then Tricia turned to Katy Williams, of Wills and Estate Law Group, and everything changed.

“Once Katy got involved there was a totally different tone,” Tricia recalls. Suddenly, other lawyers were much more accommodating, and things began to smooth out.

Tricia says Williams’ compassion and intelligence helped her get through a very tough time, so when the estate was settled she returned to Williams to get her will looked after too.

Through Wills and Estates Law Group, Williams brings her impressive skills to bear helping individuals and families set up their wills simply and easily, in a relaxed and comfortable environment.

Tricia says she was so happy with how Williams handled her estate and will planning she even convinced her kids to go.

Tricia’s children are still fairly young, but Williams points out that it’s still incredibly important for young families to get their wills and estates in order.

Williams says she’s more than busy enough looking after her own young kids, “so to think about meeting with a lawyer to get paperwork done is kind of the bottom of the list a lot of the time.”

However, it’s precisely because of her boys that she has made sure her affairs are all in order.

One of the things you specify in a will is guardianship, and she says she finds peace of mind knowing the exact person she wants caring for her kids is clearly laid out.

Likewise, she knows it’s incredibly important to lay out exactly how her assets will be divvied up should tragedy strike, to make sure her children are provided for.

Tricia says she felt so much better after talking to Williams, not only because she was “an incredibly sincere person who really listened to me,” but also because Williams was so good at helping her untangle the very best way to ensure her kids and grandkids are best supported once she’s gone.

“I feel like I was very fortunate that I found Katy,” Tricia says. “Her customers are damn lucky, and certainly I am so thankful.”

Williams says part of the reason Tricia and her other clients have had such positive experiences is because she does everything she can to make the wills and estates process as simple and stress-free as possible.

She meets with clients to go over exactly what their assets and liabilities are, and guide them through the best way to organize those assets in a will.

She jokes there’s always a little “homework,” but that she keeps her clients’ extra legwork to the absolute minimum.

She even offers a basic estate planning package, where she helps clients get all the documents they need “to get things done right” squared away at once.

“The process of getting your will and estate plan in place is not really a hard thing to do.  In fact, we are focused on making sure it is a straightforward process for clients.  But you do need to make sure you get that expert advice so it’s done correctly,” she says.

Having a professional like her take the reigns, she says, can cut down significantly on after-death taxes and process time, “so your assets can get to the people you want faster, and with fewer legal costs.”

For more information, visit Wills and Estates Law Group online.

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