Zebulon Chamber organizing trip to Italy

amoody@newsobserver.comMay 6, 2014 

— Kim Valentine, the executive director of the Zebulon Chamber of Commerce, says if there’s one place she wants to go before she dies, it’s Italy.

She may soon get her wish, and there are 15 open seats for anyone who wants to join her and enjoy group rates.

The chamber is arranging through AAA and Collette Vacations a tour of Italy set for Nov. 12-21. The chamber is in line to benefit by $200 for each full-paying land and air inclusive booking.

“If just one person goes, the chamber still makes its money and the trip is still on,” Valentine said. “There’s no risk to us to try this, aside from my time.”

Vacation representatives held an informational session on the trip at the chamber office last week. Valentine said a lot of interest has been shown, but no one has put down a deposit to reserve a seat at this time.

She expects a small group in the chamber’s first try at organizing an overseas trip, but she sees it as a win-win opportunity to expand on each year after the inaugural trip.

“If we only have three people this year and (benefit by) $600 it won’t make or break us, but there are chambers who make $40-50,000 each year,” Valentine said. “There are great potentials with these trips. It’s not going to happen in the first year, but I’d be thrilled to have a half dozen this year and three times than many the year after, and three times that many the year after.”

A deposit of $250 per person is due upon reservation and final payment is due by Sept. 13. The 10-day trip includes 14 meals – eight breakfasts, five dinners and one lunch.

Those who pay by May 13 will receive a $250 discount. The discount rates are $4,099 for single, $3,599 for double and $3,569 for triple booking. Included in the price are round trip airfare from RDU International Airport, air taxes, fees and surcharges and hotel transfers.

“Some people have thought the price seemed a little high, but the cost of everything is included in this … all tips and gratuities, all trips and transfers,” Valentine said. “This is one of the most popular trips, that’s why we chose Italy.”

After an overnight flight, the trip calls for accommodations for days 2-3 at the Hotel Diana – Roof Garden in Rome; day 4 at the Sangallo Palace Hotel in Perugia; days 5-6 at the Best Western Hotel Rivoli in Florence; days 7-8 at the Hotel Carlton on the Grand Canal in Venice; and day 9 at the Crowne Plaza – Malpensa Airport in Milan.

Highlights of the trip include stops in Rome, the Colosseum, Assisi, Perugia, Siena, Florence, a Chianti winery, Venice, Murano Island, Lugano, Switzerland and Como.

Extra options include a cruise on Lake Como, tours of the Vatican museums and St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, a four-course, serenaded meal and tour of Rome by night, a trip to a 14th century monastery and Tuscan feast in Florence; and a serenaded gondola cruise in Venice.

For more information on the Italy trip, contact the Zebulon Chamber of Commerce at 919-269-6320, or Kristina Tucci of AAA Carolinas at 919-706-4030 or kmtucci@mailaaa.comkmtucci@mailaaa.com.

The chamber is also looking into arranging another trip to a location inside the United States over a shorter amount of time. Valentine said more details on that trip may be available within a matter of weeks.

Moody: 919-829-4806; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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