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Riverview travel agency caters to clients with special needs

RIVERVIEW — We've all seen those commercials about how you can book your vacation or business trip with just a few mouse clicks. But for a lot of people, planning a trip isn't quite that simple.

That's where Custom Tropical Travel comes in. The new business, with offices in Riverview and Dade City, makes travel arrangements for people with special needs.

"We're a full-service travel agency, but we specialize in customizing for the client," co-owner Laura-Jean Goodsell said. "There are a lot of people who need this kind of service. Maybe they're in an assisted living facility and they want to visit their kids, but they can't travel alone. Or maybe it's a young child flying from one parent to another."

Even though Custom Tropical Travel just opened in late February, both Goodsell and her business partner, Vivian McBride, had years of experience in the travel industry before they joined forces. Goodsell owned Easy Travel With LJ in Riverview and McBride owned McBride Family Travel in Dade City.

Over the years, they realized that some people who want to travel might be staying home because of obstacles they face. People in wheelchairs have booked themselves into hotels that are supposed to be accessible, and then find out that they can get into their rooms, but not their bathrooms or showers. Extremely tall or heavy people may book cruises and find they're uncomfortable in the relatively small quarters.

Goodsell and McBride can help make arrangements to ensure those clients have a comfortable experience. They also can accompany clients who might need assistance.

"We've actually gone onto the cruise ships to inspect them and make sure they're appropriate," McBride said.

But their customized trips aren't just for people with special physical needs. In their previous businesses, both Goodsell and McBride have designed day trips for school groups traveling to see historical or cultural sites around Florida. They customize the trips to complement the students' curriculum.

The Riverview office of Custom Tropical Travel is located at 9209 Cobb Road. The company's Web site, which is still under construction, is customtropicaltravel.com. For more information, call (813) 893-0336.

Sam's Club is coming to Riverview plaza

It was big news when Sam's Club announced a few weeks ago that it was closing several of its stores. Apparently, the discount retail giant was just pruning some of its less profitable branches and moving into more promising areas.

One of those areas is Riverview. Sam's Club has just purchased a $12.7 million parcel of land at the corner of Big Bend Road and U.S. 301 in the Riverview Bell Plaza shopping center.

There's no word yet on when the Sam's Club will open.

"I would expect that it would be sooner rather than later," said Ed Kobel, chief executive and president of DeBartolo Development Corp., the developer of the shopping center. "This is actually a great time to build if you've got the money, and obviously they've got the money. Labor and materials are very inexpensive right now."

Sam's Club will be the anchor store for Riverview Bell Plaza, which is already home to a Burger King and a Walgreens that will open soon.

Officials of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which owns Sam's Club, were attracted to Riverview because it already has a large population, and there's plenty of room for growth.

"That's a pretty rare combination," Kobel said.

If you know of something that should be Everybody's Business, please contact Marty Clear at mclear@tampabay.rr.com.

Riverview travel agency caters to clients with special needs 03/04/10 [Last modified: Thursday, March 4, 2010 3:30am]
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