Nov 13, 2013 / 5:00 am
It seems you can’t turn on the television without seeing a commercial; open a newspaper or magazine without seeing an ad; or have a conversation with friends or colleagues without someone mentioning a European River Cruise holiday! What is it about river cruising?
According to the Cruise Line International Association, river cruising has seen a consistent 10% annual passenger increase over the last five years. As one end of the cruise spectrum demands bigger, more extravagant cruise ships, another, quieter “Gray Wave” demographic is looking for a more elegant and sophisticated travel experience.
The river cruise is vastly different from your ocean-going counterpart. Whereas the average cruise ship these days carries 2300 passengers, the small river cruise ships which navigate the narrow waterways of Europe carry an absolute maximum of 200. The focus is on the destination - its culture, cuisine and its history. You have access to out of the way cities such as Arles, Nuremberg, Basel and Belgrade. Your ships dock right by the sidewalks of great European cities.
“But,” you may ask, “What am I giving up by not being on a large cruise ship?” Well, don’t expect casinos or Las Vegas style shows. There will be no rock-climbing walls or waterslides! In fact, very few river cruise vessels offer any kind of pool at all!
As compensation however the inclusive pricing of a river cruise holiday will do away with the hefty bar tabs and shore excursion expenses! At a minimum your local beer and wines will be included at lunch and dinner or more, as a number of the lines have now adopted an unrestricted bar allowance. A choice of several different guided excursions will be offered in each port of call. Your onboard entertainment will feature local musicians, artisans and dancers. The intimacy of the setting allowing you to not only enjoy the performances but actually speak with the performers themselves. Your free time allows you to walk off your vessel directly into the historical centers. In fact, after a few days the ship becomes a home away from home. Staff and crew become a new-found family who welcome you back aboard by name after wonderful days of touring.
As relaxing and stress-free as this vacation sounds , it can’t be stressed enough that river cruising is best enjoyed by individuals who are healthy and able-bodied. Walking over cobblestoned streets and the disembarkation required when ships happen to be docked side by side, requires both mobility and endurance. So although the average age of river cruisers is 50-70 years, it's best to plan sooner than later!
The 2014 season is booking fast and 2015 pricing is out! Make plans to chat with your river cruise specialist and determine which river cruise line and itinerary is right for you!
Joy McGinnis has been a well-known professional travel consultant in Kelowna since 1991. She specializes in luxury small ship and river cruising and loves to share her personal wanderlust and travel expertise with her clients.
Aug 29, 2013 / 5:00 am
For a business to productive and profitable it needs a solid, structural framework.
The elements for a business include communication, database, owner and support team. They all work together as a unit. Like a well oiled machine, it is vitally important to understand how each element functions in your business to successfully operate as a unit.
As the entire framework fuses together, the formula for your business will flourish and have the ability to turn a lucrative profit. Regular maintenance is required for all the elements to operate continuously at top capacity effectively and efficiently.
Communication – The circulation system of the business
A good framework begins with how communication circulates throughout your business. Good communication is a key factor for every business to be productive. Consider for a moment how one single document could be handled, viewed and processed by a dozen or more people before a concrete decision has been finalized. Good business communication practices work as a team to expedite the decision process.
Database – The brains of the business
The database is the brains of the business and often stores vast amount of information in a centralized location. Accuracy is the key as the flow of information is in a state of continuous influx and dependent on the attention of every detail to stay current. Your database is business gold because of its capacity to accumulate nuggets of prospects.
Owner – The heart of the business
The owner brings the ingenuity, the passion and the vision. The owner is the force, the machine behind the momentum and manoeuvring through the constant changing business world. Comparable to playing a game of chess a business owner is always strategizing to be one step ahead of its opponent.
Support Team – The backbone of the business
For every business to function there needs to be a support team of employees or contractors. They are the backbone of every business. The business owner steers the vision and the support team executes the plan of action. For your business to grow and succeed it is important to build a collaborate team with the correct combination of talent, skill, and cooperation.
It is important the business owner invest the time to really possess a good grasp how every element operates. There is great responsibility, risk and commitment to consider as a business owner. The rewards that do come from all the hard work and sacrifices - priceless!
Office 2 Office offers a range of office efficiencies for small business to operate at top capacity by introducing the tools, training and strategies to become more effective and productive. Elizabeth provides the guidance to streamline systems that accelerate, organize and simplify everyday business processes. Clientele businesses increased 25% or more in sales and profits.
Aug 16, 2013 / 5:00 am
Part of my job as a Realtor® is to educate my buyers and sellers on the impact of renovations to their home. Even if your home is not currently on the market, the possibility that you will sell in the future is likely. Making smart, informed decisions on what improvements and changes to make to your property can greatly affect its market value—and how quickly it will sell. I’d like to share with all of you a few simple, yet important pointers to help you in your decision of where to spend your renovation budget.
As a homeowner and future seller, think about your home as if you were the future buyer.
First, invest your time and money on the aspects of the property that hook and bait. Your home’s curb appeal offers the first impression to potential buyers, and making a few simple changes can have a dramatic effect. Easy-to-maintain gardens and potted plants add charm and ambiance, while at the same time are typically as simple as a weekend “do-it-yourself” project, however, remember to keep it simple. Excessive or overly ostentatious landscaping can deter many potential buyers plus you will see a negative return on your investment.
Secondly, think about where the average family spends most of their time. The kitchen is the heart and hub of every home. Making tasteful renovations to your kitchen’s finishes and appliances can offer one of the highest returns on investment (approximately 44% on average) when compared to most other home improvements*. Similarly, updating a bathroom can add modernity and sophistication to an otherwise traditional home, while at the same time offering an enticing 56% higher average return on investment*.
Finally, simple all over changes to a home can be greatly beneficial when done thoughtfully. Refinishing or changing flooring is a good choice that can offer a 22% greater return on investment *, however consider your market when deciding how much to spend on these changes. An inexpensive overall improvement is paint colors. Choosing an attractive, neutral paint scheme is your best choice for resale.
When deciding which updates and renovations your home would most benefit from, think of renovations as an investment in your home; choose practical investments such as a kitchen or bathroom remodel, and avoid more extreme and expensive updates like a pool installation, unless you plan to live there for years and years.
As you embark on future home renovations and improvements, I hope my tidbit of guidance can help you to decide which changes are best for your family and home. Never hesitate to contact me directly for complimentary information on ideas that may improve your home’s value in today’s highly competitive market.
* Information from RE/MAX Smart Renovator Guide
Lisa Salt and her husband Gord Fowler are among the Okanagan Valley’s exceptional full time, full service real estate professionals since 1993. To learn more about Okanagan real estate, contact the Salt Fowler Team and “Just Add Salt”!
Jul 23, 2013 / 5:00 am
“No, I don’t want you to call an ambulance, YOU help me.”
Dear Nurse Kris: Recently my wife fell, I couldn’t get her up off of the floor. She refused to let me call the ambulance, and she told me to stand in our building’s hallway until I saw someone who could help. So I did. When my neighbour came to help the two of us couldn’t move her either. We finally did call the ambulance. Now my wife is upset with me. What should I have done?”
- Frank S, tired caregiver of ailing wife
Dear Frank: I am sorry you experienced this. It sounds like you are trying hard to do the best you can and be responsive to your wife’s requests. You are in a tough predicament. You mention your wife is ailing, and with her recent fall it leads me to suspect you have been in the caregiver role for her, for at least a little while.
In health care, there is a phenomenon called “caregiver exhaustion”. This is what happens when caregivers ‘over help’. When one spouse cares for the other, it can be difficult to retain your objectivity. Being the sole care provider to your spouse, means dual roles for you: you are both husband AND caregiver.
There are a few sticking points with this dual role. You either cease being a husband, while you become your wife’s primary caregiver or, you become over-absorbed with the infinite details of your wife’s care needs and cease being a husband. Martyrdom is the next plane for you.
Being a Martyr, means you think you are the only person who can do things right for your wife and the only one who really knows how to care for her. You will know when you’ve reached this point when your friends ask you how you are doing, and you respond with, “Mary had a great BM today, wow, am I thrilled.”
Frank, the message here is that you cannot be everything, to everyone. The reason your lovely gal married you is because she likes you for the man you are. Marriage vows do not mean that you must do everything yourself for your gal. Marriage vows and partnerships mean you ensure your loved one's needs are anticipated, met and carried through as best as you can possibly provide for.
Your goal here is to be the loving person you are and ensure your wife’s needs are properly met. You want to give the best of yourself to your wife do you not? It’s difficult if not improbable to achieve if you are also her primary and solitary provider of care.
As your wife’s needs increase you’ll need to put in place a more formal caregiving structure. When an individual can’t move about comfortably or safely or can no longer perform all of their personal care, outside services (formal care) are there to help you and your lovely gal.
In Canada, each regional health authority or equivalent, has the responsibility for assessing clients in need and determining what level of care can be provided. Interior Health authority uses an income means test to determine what level of care and the associated cost if any, can be provided to you.
Some clients bypass the Health Authority entirely to avail themselves of the services of non-government personal care agencies which have the ability to schedule staff to arrive at specific times, the ability to match caregivers to clients and keep that same caregiver for consistency in care.
For more information Frank, you should first speak to your local Interior Health Community Care office at 250-980-1400 to inquire about an assessment of your wife. Other options to explore would be any Veterans Benefits you or your spouse might have, or insurance products such as Long Term Care, Extended Health Benefits or Critical Illness Insurance which you may have been paying for all these years.
Frank, you sound like a caring spouse. Enjoy your role as a spouse more and find others to help with caregiving. I hope these suggestions help you and your wife.
Nurse Kris Stewart, RN, BScN(Gerontology), MBA, is a member of the National Association for Care Managers and is registering for a Professional Geriatric Care Manager designation. She can be reached at [email protected] or visit the website at www.AdvancedHomeCareSolutions.com.
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