THE TOP TEN WORKING VACATIONS

Back in the nineties, I used to fly to New York for junkets once or twice a month. But eventually the major studios decided it wasn’t worth their money to fly radio journalists across the country. It was a big perk while it lasted, especially since I often took the train down to Pennsylvania to visit my folks after a junket weekend.

Since going to New York was such a common occurrence, it wasn’t all that exciting (even if I did enjoy expensive hotel meals on my per diem). But every so often, we were flown to some other exciting destination. Perhaps a star was filming a movie in a certain city and couldn’t take the time to fly to New York or L.A. to do press or the movie we were covering took place in an exotic locale the movie company wanted to show off. It meant that I got to go to some places that I’d never been but had always wanted to visit. So here are my Top Ten Flyaway Junkets (and keep in mind, if I was a TV reporter, I’m sure I would have Jamaica on this list for “Pirates of The Caribbean 2”!):

1. “50 First Dates/”The Big Bounce”: Four nights at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki, complete with a big per diem to pay for meals and many, many pina coladas.

2. “Skeleton Key”: Over the years, I’ve read a lot of books that took place in New Orleans, so many that it became the one place in the world I wanted to see most. Well, Universal made my wish come true, complete with meals at some of the city’s most famous restaurants and a room at the Ritz Carlton just two blocks away from legendary Bourbon Street. As it turned out, we were there just a few weeks before Hurricane Katrina, and I’m thankful I got to see the city in a way it may never be again.

3. “Legally Blonde 2”: MGM took us to Jolly Ol’ England for this junket. The only problem was we had to see the movie right after we landed in London, still dead tired from the trip. But why complain when I found the time to visit such landmarks as Buckingham Palace, Abbey Road, Notting Hill and Harrods, which is truly the most amazing store I have ever seen.

4. “Bad Boys II”: Off to Miami for this Michael Bay/Jerry Bruckheimer spectacular, where we stayed at the beautiful waterfront Mandarin Oriental Hotel ($ 700 a room!) and hit some famous Miami Beach nightclubs. I knew we were at a good club when one of the Bad Boys, Martin Lawrence, showed up…

5. “Brother Bear”: Another trip to Florida, this time to Walt Disney World in Orlando. Spent a day exploring Epcot and the Disney/MGM Studios, plus had a fun night at Pleasure Island. All that and the chance to interview Phil Collins and get him to sign a few of his CD’s!

6. “Marvin’s Room”/”Mother”: I once visited Rush Street when I was in Chicago for the junket for John Travolta’s “Phenomena” and was unimpressed at what was supposed to be a wild place. Well, it turns out 6th Street in Austin, Texas was everything I imagined Rush Street would be. With 10 or more clubs on every block, I was amazed by the quantity and quality of live music that was available. All that and the best barbeque I’ve ever tasted!

7 . “The Alamo”: Speaking of barbeque, San Antonio is no slouch in that department. Oh yes, I’ll remember “The Alamo” since it gave me the chance to explore the amazing River Walk, full of restaurants and cool clubs. Plus it was pretty cool to see the movie and then walk over to the actual Alamo!

8. “Finding Nemo”: Yes, I’d been to San Francisco before (although I certainly hadn’t been staying at the Four Seasons!). But what made this trip memorable wasn’t the time spent in the city, but a tour of Pixar Studios in nearby Emeryville.

9. “Hart’s War”: I love going to Las Vegas, but this trip was special because the junket was on Super Bowl weekend. Plus I went a day early and got to enjoy a performance by Bruce Willis and his band at Studio 54. Honorable mention in this category goes to “Rugrats In Paris,” which was the first time I stayed at Paris Las Vegas…

10. “Sideways”: True, I had a bad cold during this junket, but that didn’t stop me from appreciating the beautiful beachside Bacara resort in Santa Barbara. Wow! So classy I felt like Oprah (or at least her friend Gayle…)!

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One Response to “THE TOP TEN WORKING VACATIONS”

  1. Trudy Says:

    Two words: Jea-lous!!

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