I S S U E 4
In this issue ASIA
TOKYO SEOUL IN CONVERSATION WITH SILVIA PITTON LEADER SPOTLIGHT: ASIA & MIDDLE EAST PRIVATE OASIS
OMAN CONNECTALKS: THE GOLDEN AGE OF TRAVEL SAUDIA ARABIA IN CONVERSATION WITH ANGELO AMOIA MENTOR CONTRIBUTION: NANCY BARKLEY CONNECTIONS AROUND THE WORLD MENTOR CONTRIBUTION: NATALIE MACALUSO ECO HOTELS
FINLAND IN CONVERSATION WITH EVANGELINE THORN MADEIRA REDISCOVER EUROPE CITY HOTELS LEADER SPOTLIGHT: EUROPE MENTOR CONTRIBUTION: CHRIS WISSON MEMBER BENEFITS
SLO CAL SAN FRANCISCO & NAPA VALLEY CONNECTALKS: THE NEW LUXURY TRAVELLER SPOTLIGHT ON AMERICAS LEADER SPOTLIGHT: AMERICAS CONNECTIONS EVENT CALENDAR
Magazine produced by: Gemma Fitchett Head of Marketing & Communications, Connections
Alissia Genco-Russ0 Marketing Executive, Connections Amanda Williams Marketing Executive, Connections With special thanks to: Kirsty Utting Production Editor Maria Mellor Sub Editor Laura French Journalist Louise Longman Journalist
Connections Team: Greg Reeves Managing Director Evangeline Thorn Head of Operations Alejandro Roca Head of Key Accounts Angelo Amoia Sales Manager Laura Schimdt Sales Manager Sam Blunsdon Business Development Manager Saadia Chowdhury Senior Buyer Manager Silvia Pitton Senior Buyer Manager Hannah Whitney Events & Marketing Assistant Adam Maxwell Sales Coordinator Alister Wicks Buyer Coordinator
I’m writing this with pen and paper. My mobile is in the other room, no tech distractions for now – just a dog, the beeping horns of the Barcelona commute and the Sagrada Familia chiming its hourly tune. It’s a great feeling to be back with emails pinging, notifications popping, phones buzzing. You can feel the electricity, the passion. I have been so inspired by the resilience of those in our industry; how creative, resourceful and supportive travel professionals are. Now with the wind in our sails, the mind boggles at what we will achieve together with this newfound strength. I hope we tackle some of the harder problems on the horizon; problems we possibly don’t want to face up to. I believe we will continue to collaborate and I know we will enrich millions of lives together. As we plan our recovery with gusto, we are reminded that our health and wellbeing, and our loved ones, come first. There will be times of uncertainty, but it’s how we face them that matters (page 38). Our community for decision-makers in luxury travel has gone through sizable changes. Our membership has grown – we now work with over 1,700 of the finest travel buyers, with a combined spend of over 4.2billion GBP. We have made huge improvements to our online community platform with tools such as ‘Little Perks’ and ‘TravelSafe’ (page 66). And yes, we are back to physical events in style to complement our virtual networking and education schedule. Where will we see you? Perhaps in Madeira (page 48) this June. Or maybe you’ll join us elsewhere, in Tokyo (page 4), London, California (page 68) or Korea (page 10)? The door is always open to our valued members. Next year is already taking shape (flip to the back page to see our calendar of events!). It’s an exciting new chapter, one which we are embracing with excitement and determination, yet appreciating the enormous responsibility we hold. The Connections team continues to expand. We are so incredibly lucky to have these guys. Every team member brings a huge amount to our community. We have those with deep industry experience, in events, hotels or as agents. We also have a new generation of budding superstars. It’s rewarding for us to bring new talent into the industry which has provided us with so much opportunity! I want to close by thanking my team, the foundation of Connections and the result of our success. I’d also like to thank you, our reader and Connections Leader. Happy browsing!
The Connections Magazine is published by Connections Luxury, part of the Travel Weekly Group Ltd, 52 Grosvenor Gardens, London, SW1W 0UA. Registered address: 52 Grosvenor Gardens, London, SW1W 0UA. All information stated in the magazine is correct at time of publication. Materials in this publication may not be reproduced in any form without permission. Registered at the Post Office as a newspaper. ISSN 2633-1322. Copyright ©Travel Weekly Groups Ltd 2022. PART OF JACOBS MEDIA GROUP. Cover: Reid’s Palace, a Belmond Hotel Left: Pool at Savoy Palace, Madeira
Greg Reeves Managing Director, Connections Luxury
4 June 2022
The wonder of
Tokyo A megalopolis of 13.9 million people, Tokyo stretches as far as the eye can see with a diverse collection of neighbourhoods, from tall, sleek skyscrapers to low-slung wooden buildings and glowing lanterns
okyo is one of the world’s most exciting cities that captivates visitors with its history and customs and excites with a passion for everything new. As the world’s most populous city, stepping off the plane in Tokyo might at first feel a bit intimidating. But this is a city that’s refreshingly easy to visit. Despite the crowds, flashing neon lights and sprawling train networks – often compared to a bowl of noodles - it’s a city that runs smoothly, is surprisingly clean and safe. And for the past two-and-a-half years, Tokyo has been waiting and preparing to welcome back international guests.
Little wonder Tokyo was named the number one best big city in the world in 2021. Here’s a city that crams ancient next to hi-tech like nowhere else The vibrant heart of Japan for more than 400 years, Tokyo is a crossroads where tradition sits cheek by jowl with the technology of tomorrow. Little wonder Tokyo was named the number one best big city in the world in the 2021 Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice award. Here’s a city that crams ancient temples and traditional gardens next to the latest hi-tech ideas in a modern urban cityscape like nowhere else. Best of all is perhaps the lack of structure to Tokyo. Without a clearly marked centre, Tokyo is made up of a patchwork of different neighbourhoods, each distinct in identity and atmosphere. There’s the museum-like fashion flagships of architectural nirvana Aoyama, the edgily rainbow-bright fashion tribes of trends-hub Harajuku, the low-key fashion stores and cafes of leafy Daikanyama and the narrow lanes, old school kimono shops and lively markets of Asakusa. In a city this big, there’s a staggering variety of things to see and do. In just one day you can visit a seventhcentury temple, order ramen from a vending machine and finish off the day by watching a sumo wrestling demonstration over a traditional chanko-nabe hot pot. You can stay in an authentic ryokan guesthouse with tatami-matted rooms and communal baths, and see the city lights on a dinner cruise around Tokyo Bay in a typical Japanese-style houseboat from the Heian Era, known as a yakatabune. You can also make your own ukiyo-e woodblock print, experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, visit the digital art museum or go for a run around the Imperial Palace. But to really comprehend Tokyo’s juxtaposition of old and new it’s worth immersing yourself in the city’s
Asia: Japan temples and shrines like Meji, Jingu and Sensoji to feel the ancient serenity. Sensoji Temple, also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple, is one of Tokyo’s oldest – completed in 645 - and is centrally located in the Asakusa neighbourhood. It’s an ancient Buddhist temple that houses a rich and vibrant history. The long walk to the temple is Nakamise-dori, a busy shopping street that is lined with food and trinket stands, offering prayers to present at the temple. Tokyo’s Imperial Palace – the residence of Tokyo’s Imperial Family - is located on the former site of Edo Castle, a large park area surrounded by moats and huge stone walls in the centre of Tokyo. Edo Castle used to be the seat of the Tokugawa shogun who ruled Japan from 1603 until 1867. In 1868 the shogunate was overthrown and the country’s capital and Imperial Residence were moved from Kyoto to Tokyo.
When it comes to culinary creations, Tokyo has more Michelin stars than any other city in the world After soaking up Japan’s history, take in the view from Shibuya Sky observation deck. This open-air observation deck boasts 360-degree views of the city from a jawdropping 230 metres above ground. From here you’ll be able to spot the city’s landmarks including Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree and Mount Fuji on a clear day. When the Japanese capital moved to Tokyo (then called Edo) in 1869, many of the country’s top artisans and establishments followed the Emperor and set up shop here. You can take a stroll around the Nihonbashi area to visit family-run businesses that carry on time-honoured craft traditions. Nihonbashi is also quite literally the centre of Tokyo – distances within the city and Japan are all calculated in relation to Nihonbashi Bridge. It was also once Tokyo’s financial district and still has a reputation for high-rises and high-end shopping including the Takashimaya and Mitsukoshi flagship stores and a 200-year-old stationery
shop which turns traditional washi paper into beautiful letter sets, uchiwa (round-shaped fans) and notebooks. This former Wall Street of Tokyo includes Kabutocho, named the city’s coolest neighbourhood, which has reinvented itself with trendy restaurants, shops and bars hidden among the towering steel and concrete. Shoppers will be able to find everything in Tokyo from unique Japanese kitchen tools in historic Nihonbashi to the latest fashions in high-end Omotesando. When it comes to culinary creations, Tokyo has more Michelin stars than any other city in the world, but local restaurants serving up casual dishes like soba noodles, yakitori, or ramen are equally excellent. Here you can dine at some of the world’s best restaurants or tuck in at a small local nomiya (bar) under the train tracks, where okonomiyaki (savoury panckakes) are cooked at low tables with built-in hot plates. The city’s food scene is one of the best in the world, not just for its famous restaurants and celebrity chefs. The standard and consistency of food in Tokyo is high wherever you eat; from a top-class sushi restaurant to a noodle joint. Tokyoites love to eat out and enjoy the sheer variety of tastes and experiences the city has to offer. Tokyo offers visitors the whole spectrum of Japanese arts and culture. Centuries-old forms of performing arts still play on stages and sumo tournaments draw crowds. Every spring, Tokyoites head outside to appreciate the cherry blossoms, a tradition older than the city itself. Cherry blossom season is celebrated across Japan with lively events, performances and tea ceremonies. It’s a 1,000-year-old tradition that sees families and friends get together with picnics under the delicate pink blossoms of the sakura ( Japanese cherry tree) for a spot of hanami – or flower viewing. Connections Luxury Tokyo will be hosted from 13-16 November 2022. Words: Louise Longman Below: Shibuya Scramble Crossing Facing from top: Tokyo Tower, local delicacies, performance at Kanze Noh Theatre by Mr. Keisuke Shiotsu, a member of the Kita Noh School. Pictures: Jezael Melgoza, Sarah Lucy Brown
In Conversation with: Silvia Pitton
In conversation with
Senior Buyer Manager, Connections Luxury Since joining Connections in 2019, senior buyer manager Silvia Pitton has been a fierce advocate in researching and opening new markets. With the sharpest attention to detail, Silvia offers a first-class service for her clients and is an asset to this industry. We sat down with her to find out what makes her tick... Tell us a bit about your role at Connections and your journey to where you are today.
In my role as a Buyer Manager, I am responsible for selecting, recruiting and taking care of those leading luxury global buyers that I identify to be a good fit for Connections Luxury, while making sure they have the best experience possible. Prior to joining Connections, I worked in the luxury travel industry in Italy, Greece and Spain. I moved to the UK for a new professional challenge in a more international environment. My aim is to work for a company with a dynamic approach, where everyone can be themselves and is encouraged to share their expertise, while being given the opportunity to develop professionally and strive.
I believe that the richness of the world lies in our differences I am genuinely passionate about the events, travel, tourism and luxury industries, and I love to meet people from all over the world. While exploring new ways of communication and networking, I enjoy the opportunity to learn from people because of their experience, their knowledge and their culture. I believe that the richness of the world lies in our differences.
What is one thing that many people may not know about you?
I am passionate about the Middle East’s current affairs and anything relating to the Arab world. When deciding on my university career, I was originally going to undertake studies of the Arab language and literature before I switched to a degree in economics and tourism management. So who knows? Instead of London, I could have ended up living in Cairo or Muscat, if I had followed my initial ‘calling’.
What would you say is the most exciting thing to happen during your time at Connections so far?
A couple of months ago during Connections Oman, I had an unforgettable experience in the Wahiba Sands. We reached the desert just before sunset, the landscape around us was simply amazing: dunes and dunes of sand kissed by the last rays of the sun. Words were unnecessary. It was time to listen to the deafening silence, to rest the gaze on the horizon. The magic was overwhelming.
Where do you see the luxury travel industry heading this year?
The last two years have profoundly changed the luxury travel industry and the way we explore the world. Factors such as safety, reliability and privacy have taken precedence over costs for all travellers and especially for the ultra-wealthy travellers. As more flexibility in work routines
In Conversation with: Silvia Pitton
care that the Japanese convey in everything they do. The art of making guests feel special and unique is a form of luxury and Japan is the ideal place for Connections Luxury to be!
The book you are reading now is…
and travel restrictions are still in place, the will to push further for longer holidays over short ones in 2022 will allow individuals to make the most of each destination and each trip more meaningful. Another stronger trend will be celebrating life’s most important moments with travel and the rise in bucket list trips and nostalgic holidays. Travellers have learned that time cannot be wasted and are now feeling the urgency to visit the places they have always wanted to. As times continue to feel unprecedented, there are preferences towards destinations and itineraries that offer unforgettable experiences and help connect people in a sustainable way with nature as well as with the destination. As many of us have also been trying to support our neighbourhood businesses during the past two years, particularly while travelling, we will continue to have a more attentive and supportive approach towards the local communities, favouring locally-owned businesses.
Oman Reborn – Balancing Tradition and Modernization is by Linda Pappas Funsch, a specialist in modern Middle East studies and Islamic history. It’s an almost-200-page book on Oman’s place as a country in the region, and an examination of a country that I was privileged to start discovering during a Connections event in Muscat in November 2021. When travelling, I like to enable myself to learn a bit more about the country I am visiting. In this case, I had forgotten to pack the book I was reading in my luggage and, ahead of my almost eight-hour flight, I was desperate for something to read. The options available at WHSmith in Muscat Airport were not exactly endless, and I decided on this book. As a matter of fact, I can say that no other choice could have been more pleasant or interesting. This book is making me look at this country, its history and culture with very appreciative eyes and a more mindful approach.
Another stronger trend will be celebrating life’s most important moments with travel and the rise in bucket list trips and nostalgic holidays. Travellers have learned that time cannot be wasted and are now feeling the urgency to visit the places they always wanted to
Now, more than ever, travel advisers and private concierge services will carry on playing an essential role. Especially with the ever-changing quarantine guidelines and testing requirements that come with travel internationally, only working with a knowledgeable professional will ensure the success of our holidays.
Name one dream destination where you’d like to see a Connections Luxury event and why
Though Connections already organised an event in Japan in 2020, I would like to see another edition to be held in Tokyo, as I consider this country a real dream destination. My visit to the country of the rising sun left me enchanted by the elegance of the Japanese people, their mesmerising and enduring traditions and the richness of their heritage and ancient culture. I was fascinated by the gracefulness and
Get in touch with Silvia Pitton: email@example.com Facing page: Silvia presenting at the Royal Opera House Muscat during Connections Oman 2021 Above, clockwise from top left: Preparation of Tokyo cuisine, Silvia greeting delegates during Connections Meetings 2019, capturing the Omani sunset Pictures: Sarah Lucy Brown, Silvia Pitton
Asia: South Korea
Soul in Seoul
Opulent palaces, modern galleries and peaceful parks come together in Seoul, while high-end boutiques, Michelin-starred restaurants and exclusive hotels bring appeal for luxury travellers
rom K-pop to kimchi via that Netflix show we’ll never forget, interest in South Korea seems to have hit an all-time high – and at its heart is Seoul, the vibrant capital that combines centuries-old palaces and Unesco-listed shrines with buzzing nightlife and cutting-edge design. Futuristic malls, lively markets, eclectic art galleries and elegant spas all come together in this diverse, everchanging city, with scenic mountains, peaceful parks and the glittering Han River providing an escape from the hustle and bustle – for those who want it. An ever-growing number of boutique properties and exclusive culinary experiences are appealing to the luxury traveller too – and whether it’s a Michelinstarred meal or a traditional Korean barbecue that beckons, you certainly won’t go hungry, with the likes of Mingles, Gaon and Soigné offering fine-dining takes on traditional Korean staples with a side of artistic flair.
No visit to Seoul is complete without an amble round one of the city’s five palaces, and among its most spectacular is Changdeokung. This 600-year-old palace complex was the main royal residence for more than two centuries and is famous for its landscaped gardens, with tours taking visitors to explore the highlights of its elaborate, Unesco-listed architecture. Nearby sits the equally impressive Gyeongbokgung Palace, originally built in 1495 for the Joseon Dynasty and home to several attractions, including the National Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum. In between both is Bukchon Hanok Village – a traditional neighbourhood home to hundreds of hanok houses (originally built for the aristocracy during the Joseon dynasty), many of them turned into restaurants, cultural centres and tea houses, giving a glimpse into life in Korea. Here you’ll also find the Jongmyo Shrine, a Unesco World Heritage Site dating back to the 14th century, where spiritual ceremonies take place among scenic woodland. Elsewhere, colourful temples such as Jogyesa and Bongeun-Sa offer a glimpse into Buddhist culture, while museums such as the War Memorial of Korea talk visitors through the sobering history of the country’s struggles with North Korea.
Art and culture in Seoul is just as prominent as its history, with a slew of galleries found across the city. “Korea has a booming art scene and is becoming the next hotspot for art investment in Asia,” says Michael Ahn, executive vice-president of Rakkojae Hanok Hotels. “You’ll find some of the city’s best galleries centred around the neighbourhood of Samcheongdong, a short walk away from Bukchon.” The Leeum Samsung Museum of Art in the Hannamdong district showcases the city’s creative scene at its best, with modern and contemporary works by Korean as well as international artists (think Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons) split across three eclectically designed structures. Equally unmissable is the Dongdaemun Design Park & Plaza – a futuristic, aluminium and concrete complex designed by the late Zaha Hadid that is home to galleries, event spaces, boutiques and a rooftop park. But the city’s art scene isn’t just limited to the inside. At the top of Naksan Mountain sits Ihwa Mural Village, a colourful, street art-covered settlement whose striking murals were created as part of a revitalisation project. weareconnections.com
Asia: South Korea Back in downtown, the once-polluted Cheonggyecheon Stream has meanwhile been transformed into an urban park, with installations and other artworks luring creative types.
It’s not just art and culture that’s taken seriously in Seoul, though. Shopping is something of an institution here, and nowhere is its flamboyant commerce scene better demonstrated than in Myeongdong, one of the capital’s most famous neighbourhoods, where restaurants and retail chains line neon-lit streets and colourful boutiques showcase Korean fashion at its brightest and boldest. Elsewhere, Common Ground lays claim to being the world’s largest shipping container mall, with shops, food trucks and stalls housed in 200 bright-blue containers, while glitzy Gangnam offers up designer brands from the likes of Miu Miu, Dior, Cartier and beyond. It’s at the city’s markets you’ll see Korea at its most traditional, however, and among the highlights is Gwangjang – one of the oldest in the city, where street food stalls overflowing with local snacks flank outlets selling vintage clothes and hand-made crafts.
Into the wild
But Seoul isn’t always frenetic and away from the busy streets lies a distinctly more peaceful side. Seoulites like to walk, and you’ll find green space aplenty at the World Cup Park as well as in Seoul Forest, where wildlife wallow in the wetlands around the Hangang River. Gyeongui Line Forest Park boasts grassy picnic areas, craft-beer spots and quirky bookshops built on a disused railway track, while Seoullu 7017 is home to galleries, art installations and a sky garden built on a former highway above the station. Just outside the city, Bukhansan National Park meanwhile offers scenic hiking trails among crystalclear gorges and granite peaks, with panoramic views from the top of the city’s closest mountain. But if you don’t fancy clambering up a mountain to see the metropolis from on high, fear not – cable cars take visitors up the Namsan mountain to reach the N Seoul Tower – an observation deck that’s especially magical come evening, when sunset turns the sky ruby and the city skyline turns into stars. It offers an enchanting perspective over this city of many sides, and an idyllic end to a stay you’re unlikely to forget.
Words: Laura French Facing page: Gyeongbokgung Palace Above: Local cuisine in Seoul Pictures: Alexandre Trouvé, Lee Jongkuk
Asia: South Korea
In conversation with
Seoul Metropolitan Government
Seoul has experienced increasing demand by global luxury travellers as they look to destinations less explored. This spectacular city is poised to welcome those in search of beautiful authenticity, modern innovation and balance. We spoke with the tourist board at the forefront of this change… What opportunities are there for Seoul luxury tourism in 2022-2023 and beyond? Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) has a programme in place to support the tourism industry to rebound from the shock and impact of the pandemic. One of the sectors we are focusing our support on is the development of premium tourism experiences in Seoul. Considering the luxury trend and the change in inbound tourists’ interests in Korea, there are three themes in which Seoul can offer such premium travel experiences: Heritage, Korean Wave and Sustainability. Heritage Seoul has served as the capital of Korea since the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910). As the centre of the Joseon era, deeply entrenched in the history of the nation, Seoul is a repository of narratives related to the royal court. The inherited royal culture and history needs to develop, with more diverse experiences on offer across food/gourmet and restaurants, fashion/beauty and shopping, beverage/tea/coffee/drink and cafés, and even the accommodation and hotels. Korean Wave Korean Wave can offer innovatively premium tourism experiences. Tourists can enjoy private luxury cosmetic services, choose the best outfits and enjoy professional photo services just as K-pop stars do, in order to record their best profile photos. They can visit beautiful K-drama film spots and have a very luxurious professional photo service there. Sustainability The traditional architecture of South Korea was integrated with the landscape to establish a strong relationship with
humans and nature. This spirit inspires modern architects to build or renovate whilst embracing the mountains, the river and the streams that surround and run through Seoul city; there is a sustainable and harmonising balance between the nature and cultural legacies in Seoul. It’s incredibly important, which is why SMG invests significantly to preserve parks and natural areas, and we encourage local businesses to join us.
How is SMG working with its private sector to build trust and reassurance in luxury travellers?
Since inbound luxury travel is still a developing business area, SMG is focused on helping to build up the luxury business alliance between private sector and government. Hosting global luxury tourism market events, such as Connections Luxury in Seoul, is a great step toward that alliance, whilst providing luxury travellers with more diverse and valuable tourism experiences in Seoul. Best things to do as a luxury visitor? Since the Michelin Group came to Seoul in 2016, the number of Michelin Star restaurants in Seoul has been growing every year. From royal Hansik (Korean traditional foods) cuisine to modern Korean cuisine in a western style, gourmet lovers will find authentic Korean fine dining choices. Private yacht sailing will be another way to see the metropolitan city skyline harmonised with Han River, an amazing nature in Seoul. As travellers sail down the river on the yacht, champagne in hand and savoury hors d’oeuvres within easy reach, the commotion of urban living just falls away. weareconnections.com
Asia: South Korea
An Insider's Guide
With Blair Hong, Founder & Managing Director of T-Percent Describe Seoul in three words. Tradition meets modernity.
What do you love most about the city? I love Seoul and I am so proud of myself as a Seoulite. A world leader in technology and a city of smart homes with the fastest internet connections – it’s probably one of the most bustling metropolises in the world. You can feel the time travel of old and new in the city centre, yet just 30 minutes away, you can escape to nature and enjoy an adventure hiking, or wind down with a sunset picnic whilst sipping a glass of Sauvignon alongside Han River Park. A city that never sleeps, Seoul offers so many incredible experiences from the long history and culture to cuisine diversity, folks and wellness. When is the best time to visit Seoul, and why? My favourite time for enjoying Seoul is early April to early June, or early October to November. This is when the leaves are starting to turn, there’s a soft cool breeze that makes you want to do more outdoor activities. You can comfortably relax on the patio or live like a local and enjoy the night entertainment until midnight. How long to visit for? I would like to recommend that you stay and experience Seoul for at least four days, before travelling to other destinations such as Busan or Jeju island for beach lovers or islanders. Where to stay? There are so many luxury properties that have opened or will be opened in Seoul soon. Four Seasons Seoul and Rakkojae (the traditional Hanok hotel) are centrally located and you can really experience the essence of Seoul. I would strongly like to recommend Rakkojae for winter visitors too; there is nothing better than Rakkojae to experience the elegance of Korean culture. I would also recommend Signiel, Park Hyatt Seoul or Andaz Seoul to become a one-day Seoulite, as they are located right in the middle of skyscrapers with a view of a city that never sleeps. Conrad and Fairmont Seoul are also perfect properties to feel the real Korean folks and modernity, whilst being in a great location with access to the central area and airport. When in Seoul… Hike Bukhansan National Park. You just need a light wind jacket or small backpack to enjoy nature. Very easy but refreshing, and you will feel such a sense of achievement after. Meeting the local people is something that is only really available when you hike. Also, eat and drink at newtro (meaning ‘new’ plus ‘retro’) spaces, which are a great source of entertainment and trends for hipsters and the younger generation. Connections Luxury Seoul will be hosted from 1-4 September 2022. Facing page: Cheonggyecheon This page, from top: Hanok Village, Four Seasons Seoul, Rakkojae, Park Hyatt Seoul Pictures: Danilo Dungo, Rukkim, Four Seasons Seoul, Rakkojae, Park Hyatt Seoul
Leader Spotlight: Asia & Middle East
BEAUTY OF JAPAN
HOLIDAYS AND MORE
Owner & CEO
A day in the life. I’m an owner and CEO of Beauty of Japan, a boutique DMC based in Tokyo. As we specialise in inbound tourism, we have suffered due to Covid so it’s been challenging to ensure the company survives. Outside of work, I’m a father of a three-year-old son, and over the past two years I’ve enjoyed spending more time at home with him. On the mind. I’ve been closely working with Japan Tourism Agency, local DMOs and prefectures to support their inbound tourism strategy in various ways, such as strategy creation, product development, promotions and sales - and as a result I’ve been finding lots of “hidden treasures” all over Japan. I can’t wait to propose even more exciting, entertaining and mind-blowing experiences for our clients! I switch of by... I’m a big fan of one of the Japanese football clubs, so I always go to a stadium to watch (and jump and chant) a soccer game whenever possible. Also, I'm a food and wine/ sake lover, so visiting restaurants and bars all over Japan is another way I switch off. In a parallel life... I’d be car racing. My dad was actually an amateur car racer, so he used to race on weekends. This is why our family cars were Toyota Corolla Levin AE86, Nissan Skyline RS turbo, and other sports cars with hard suspension and roll cage. I love driving exotic cars, UTVs and snowmobiles (racing type).
Founder & CEO
A day in the life. I split my team between my home and office but every day looks different. Generally, I mentally prioritise my day as I’m constantly on the go, whether that’s meeting clients, designing itineraries, costings or strategising. Of course, chilling out with my team is a stress buster. On the mind. Becoming tech-friendly is the need of the hour. I want to build an app for our clients, giving them all their trip information, which allows them to complete certain tasks but also integrates local experiences (for example, a pop-up will appear for a show that is happening on that particular day). The meaning of luxury, Luxury is becoming increasingly harder to define. To me, it’s all about the experience not the appearance. A blend of enrichment, authenticity, and exclusivity. An appreciation for the finer things in life tempered with the hidden gems of a destination’s local culture. The best booking ever made. We have curated some mind-boggling experiences, but there is one that is my utmost favourite. Our mission was to create an un-Google-able experience for a couple. We designed a magical safari experience in Africa, which included a private fly safari along Namibia’s Atlantic Coast and soaring plains, and accommodation in the Kalahari Salt Pans with a Michelin Chef at their service. It cost over 175,00 USD for the couple, including a contribution to conservation. weareconnections.com
Leader Spotlight: Asia & Middle East
Arjun Sekri Founder & CEO
Amanda Syrowatka General Manager
THE LUXE VOYAGER
A day in the life. As a one-man-show, I am responsible for advising and executing the travel plans for my HNI clients. Most of my business is word of mouth referrals from existing clients and a typical day would involve planning a detailed itinerary for a special occasion holiday request and following up on hotel reservations for upcoming trips.
A day in the life. My family and I own Viceroy Bali and I am also general manager. With my general manager hat on, responsibilities include daily operations, greeting and speaking with guests, budgeting and reporting, and approving payments. Owners' responsibilities are high-level and generally include new developments and strategy.
On the mind. After being stuck in Hong Kong for the past 30 months, I am finally on a six-week African safari to discover new luxury lodges and itineraries to promote to my clients.
On the mind. We are looking to the future now that business is back - our 14 new villas are coming online by June and the focus will continue to our restaurant and spa expansions. Plus with guests returning, making sure that staff are re-trained and working efficiently, ready for the upcoming high season.
The meaning of luxury. The ability to have the time away from the daily stress to participate in the special experiences that each destination has to offer - it could be tracking leopards in the Sabi Sands during a night safari with an experienced guide; or talking about the finer tasting notes of an exclusive bottle of wine with the vineyard owner in Burgundy... Standout career moment. Organising a 10-day luxury cultural and adventure holiday through Tibet for a small group of HNI's, including a personal audience with his Holiness the chief Dalai Lama of Tibet based in the Potala Palace in Lhasa. I believe I'm the only one in the community... Who has had four totally different careers, starting out as an investment banker, then an entrepreneur in the F&B sector, then an entrepreneur in the ecommerce sector and now a luxury travel advisor and travel vlogger. weareconnections.com
Most interesting guest hosted. We've hosted royal families and celebrities over the years and even during the pandemic a group that were still able to hop around the world on private jet. Not able to go into details but plenty of unusual requests and funny moments for the staff. Standout career moment, Viceroy Bali having been awarded #1 Resort in the World by Conde Nast Traveler. It came as quite a memorable shock that we had managed to top the Readers' Choice list globally - I was Director of Sales & Marketing at the time and it felt rewarding to reach that pinnacle. In a parallel life... I would be working at/with the World Bank focusing on economic policy and microfinancing initiatives in Africa. June 2022
Leader Spotlight: Asia & Middle East
AL BUSTAN PALACE, A R I T Z- C A R LT O N H O T E L
CAESARS PALACE DUBAI
A day in the life. I am responsible for the day-to-day activities of Sales & Marketing. We start with a line-up or briefing. At Ritz-Carlton we believe the line-up is like breakfast to champions and it is a must-have ritual before the start of any shift, irrespective of the division. The best booking ever made. I remember the three back-to-back Indian weddings that I managed to secure in December 2019. The overall revenue during the 10 days was about 2.1M USD. Standout career moment. The current tenure with Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton hotel, is quite special. I have managed to reopen this stunning resort twice with the support of the team. The first was post-renovation in 2018 and the second was post-pandemic in 2020. During the renovation, I also had the opportunity to open a Marriott hotel in Accra, Ghana, which was challenging and memorable too. Inspiration. I find inspiration in a variety of people and things. I would have to say that the person who has greatly inspired me has been my grandmother. She always had a smile on her face, no matter how hard she was working, and she loved everyone. She was well-respected and always gave more than she received. I believe I'm the only one in the community who... Mimics Bollywood actors and did jingles on radio during my college days.
A day in the life. I am responsible for the business performance and strategy of the hotel. I directly manage a team of sales, events and marketing professionals, who keep me on my toes all day, every day. I am part of the strategic leadership of the hotel and collaborate daily on its overall strategy, position and future development. The meaning of luxury. It’s the point of difference, the effort in the detail, the thoughtfulness, the natural emotional and genuine connection with people. Those moments, small and large, can live with you in your memory forever. Most interesting guest hosted. The most memorable was when a very famous (at the time) entertainer came down from his room in the early hours and started to play the lobby piano and sing. It was a once in a lifetime moment, where we were his audience of five night team staff versus his usual one of 60,000 people! Carving a career in travel. Work hard, always have solutions, think outside the box, and when given an opportunity always say yes – you never know where that yes can take you. Never reply to an email when you are upset – write it and then wait. Give yourself an hour or more and go back over it, review and rewrite before you send it. Your writing with improve, especially when handling tough subjects. In a parallel life... I’d be flipping houses. weareconnections.com
Leader Spotlight: Asia & Middle East
ROOT & PARTNERS
A day in the life. I am preparing an itinerary for a group travelling to Dubai, so am in the midst of organising the accommodation, dinner reservations, entertainment and, of course, time to explore the destination. So far, we’ve organised VIP transportation and booked a sunset dinner in the desert, as well as a special yacht experience. The meaning of luxury. For me, luxury is peace of mind in a breathtaking destination. Most interesting guest hosted. We’ve hosted a group of up-and-coming Portuguese singers in Lebanon, where we arranged absolutely everything. During the trip, they visited the Baalbek ancient temples, enjoyed wine tasting at Château Ksara in the Beqaa Valley, visited Jeita Grotto (home to the mighty stalactites and stalagmites) and wandered through mediaeval souqs, as well as experienced amazing parties and sunset dinners. They told us they will be famous soon! Inspiration. Life itself inspires me! I switch off by… Dancing and listening to my favourite music in front of the sea. In a parallel life… I would have been a barwoman in a Maldivian resort.
A day in the life. Before December 2021, my focus was on son’s education, but since he graduated, my business and my wife are my sole focus. On the mind. I’m launching a new tech-related start-up to propel my concierge service businesses. I’m also studying world histories again to enrich my own private travel experiences. The meaning of luxury. Luxury simply means ‘light in the dark’ to me. After launching my company, from publishing to concierge services, that has been the foundation of my business. Most interesting guest hosted. One of the most famous liquor owners I hosted in France, who loves investing in stocks in Japan. Standout career moment. Twenty years ago I was inaugurated as the president of a publishing company, which was surely the greatest breakthrough of my career, and it has helped my luxury business too. Standout career moment. Travelling globally. In a parallel life... I’d be a diplomat. I believe I'm the only one in the community who... Has six hair whorls. June 2022
Featured: Best Private Oasis
Introducing our carefully selected collection of hotels, private villas and cruises within the Connections Luxury Community - perfect for those looking to escape to the ultimate private oasis
Designed by prolific Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan, Patina Maldives - a rare, multi-faceted haven - offers sanctuary and stimulation in harmony. Floor-toceiling windows – unique in the Maldives – open up to blend the indoors with the out, and private pools are offered at all villas, where guests bask in their luxurious private digs.
A collection of standout, first-class properties in Corfu, Crete and a newly opened resort in Portugal. From its dazzling locations on Greece’s most beautiful islands to the bespoke experiences available to all guests, Domes Resorts is an expert in one-of-a-kind stays.
Fontelunga Tuscan Collection A contemporary collection of Tuscan holiday villas designed to be your home away from home and guaranteed to provide a stylish and relaxing countryside getaway in Italy. The main property, Villa Fontelunga, sits abreast of panoramic views across the countryside of Tuscany towards the hilltop town of Cortona.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
As the most exclusive address at sea, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the ultimate luxury private oasis. Each of its 371-plus square meter Regent Suites includes top-of-the-range, customisable amenities: a private car and driver in every port, a personal butler, private balcony, an exclusive private dining experience in the Study, and much more.
Featured: Best Private Oasis
Adorned with opulence and grandeur, this private-use castle offers a lavish experience. Seton Castle sits proudly on the outskirts of Edinburgh, resplendent in 15 acres of grounds. Sumptuous decor and impressive period details abound, making every moment at this stately home simply magnificent.
My Private Villas
A carefully curated portfolio of only the highest-quality luxury homes, villas, chalets and apartments around the world. The collection includes everything from luxurious Tuscan villas and historic waterfront homes on Lake Como to seaside properties in St Tropez and Mykonos, cosy chalets in the Swiss Alps, private islands in the Caribbean and so much more.
Hotel Villa Honegg
Rising high on Mount Bürgenstock, this early 1900s villa offers 23 luxurious rooms with balconies and a heated infinity pool. Set high above Lake Lucerne you will find privacy, tranquillity and comfort in a unique setting. This magnificent mansion feels more like a picture-perfect, private home than a luxury hotel.
Thanos Hotels & Resorts
A privately owned collection of three luxury lifestyle hotels in Cyprus that conveys the energy, essence, serenity and style of the Mediterranean. Guests can choose from a rejuvenating stay at the spa at Almyra Hotel to total isolation and reunion with nature at the ultimate Mediterranean retreat, the Anassa Hotel, or immersing themselves in history and adventure at the Anabelle Hotel.
An exclusive collection of sophisticated estates, hotels and resorts in privileged locations across Latin America and Europe. Curated by Massimo Ianni, their properties embody the concept of unique, sustainable contents, dedicated and personalised service and high scope of travelling.
Middle East: East: Oman Oman Middle
MiddleEast: East:Oman Oman Middle
Left: Shangri-La Al Husn Below: Oman desert dining Facing from top: Siddharta Lounge, Bait Al Zubair Museum, W Muscat, Royal Opera House Muscat
Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah
Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel
Jumeirah Muscat Bay
For those who do not want just a deluxe getaway but a true Arabian experience, look no further than Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa. This breathtaking five-star property sits between the rugged mountains and crystal blue waters, and spreads across two distinct wings. Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah is one of the top five sights in Oman for turtle breeding and nesting, just one of an array of experiences the resort offers its guests alongside its tranquil spa and supercar museum. With a short walk across the resort, overlooking the turquoise and cobalt Gulf of Oman, it is also home to Shangri-La Al Husn, the only resort exclusive to adults, where guests will enjoy the largest rooms in town, complete with an all-suite experience.
Located on a spectacular beachfront overlooking both Al Hajar Mountains and the Gulf of Oman, the Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel, is hidden in a paradise nestled in lush green gardens. Lose yourself in this spacious five-star resort, which features five picturesque restaurants, 250 rooms and suites, four swimming pools and so much more designed for any adventure seeker. From its astonishing geometric crystal chandelier ceiling in the main lobby to its relaxed ambience of smooth jazz played at its renowned Al Maha Jazz Lounge, Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel, offers surprises throughout. Home to some of Muscat’s most scenic locations, the possibilities feel endless.
Dubbed as ‘a serene retreat’ between the dramatic Al Hajar mountains and the sparkling Arabian Sea, Jumeirah Muscat Bay is dedicated to taking a tranquil and holistic approach when looking after guests. Each room and villa has a gorgeous view of the Omani Gulf, so an effortlessly relaxing stay is guaranteed. This five-star resort is also home to five restaurants and bars, each one designed with an elegant blend of contemporary and traditional dining cultures. From Dubai and Abu Dhabi to Shanghai and Mallorca, Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts has made – and continues to make – a prominent impact on the global hospitality and luxury market for over two decades. And Jumeirah Muscat Bay is no exception to the hotel group’s prosperity.
Marhaba Dhofar, tour operator and Rent-A-Car Specialists in curating luxury experiences and enthralling itineraries that are unique, imaginative and unforgettable, Marhaba Dhofar Tour Operator and Rent-A-Car operates in all areas of the Dhofar region within the Sultanate of Oman. This destination management company’s mission is to provide a quality service that exceeds the expectation of their clients. Their tours and services range from hotel bookings and local adventures to family holidays and honeymoons. Depending on your needs, Marhaba Dhofar also assists with visa support, air travel arrangements and transfers. The company has expanded to become one of the most competitive and respected firms for travellers in Oman. marhabadhofar.om
Middle East: Oman
W Muscat Where Omani heritage meets contemporary design, this five-star resort is situated near picturesque views of the Omani Gulf, offering more than 27 luxury rooms and suites. Home to five tantalising restaurants, W Muscat gives you the option to choose your dining atmosphere to suit your preference. While you enjoy your stay at this stylish resort, there are several curated experiences right at your fingertips. Desert Safaris, sunset cruises and dolphin-watching are all activities you can add to your itinerary. marriott.co.uk/hotels/travel/mctwh-w-muscat/
Bait Al Zubair Museum Located in the heart of Old Muscat, Bait Al Zubair Museum is filled with historic galleries and is a must-see when visiting Muscat. Opening its carved wooden doors to the public in 1998, Bait Al Zubair Museum is home to a wonderful growing collection of Omani artefacts, serving as a window into Oman’s rich culture. Since its opening, the museum’s culture-focused collection of art has and continues to evolve as an internationally recognised staple of Omani heritage. baitalzubair.com
Royal Opera House Muscat The Royal Opera House Muscat is a major cultural symbol of Oman. Home to world-class performances, productions and contemporary architectural elements reflecting Omani prominence, this leading arts and culture organisation brings artists from around the world to the Sultanate. These include ballet performances, operas, musicals, educational programmes and much more. The Royal Opera House Muscat not only serves as a centre of excellence in global cultural engagement, but also promotes socioeconomic development and cultural tourism. rohmuscat.org
AFAQ Travel & Tourism With a focus on Omani culture and community, AFAQ Travel & Tourism combines luxury and heritage for the discerning. Based in the Sultanate of Oman, this destination management company has a deep knowledge of local territory and sites, with a knack for seeking out and sharing both the unsought and most popular experiences for domestic and international travellers. Whether exploring the Frankincense trail, marvelling at the jewels of Oman or experiencing adventure in the desert, excursions can last from one to 14 days, depending on what and how much you’d like to experience. Renting a car with AFAQ is also possible. afaqtourism.com
Middle East: Oman
The golden age of travel
In a keynote talk at Global Travel Week Middle East, powered by Connections Luxury, Connecting Travel Editorial Director Sarah Hedley Hymers revealed why the GCC countries are set to enter a Golden Age of Travel in 2030
he ConnecTALKS: Golden Age of Travel in the GCC presented the areas where the GCC is growing within the luxury travel sector, as well as why the GCC has become – and will continue to be – a valuable source market for global travel in the coming years. Sarah Hedley Hymers, editorial director of sister brand Connecting Travel, said: “The GCC countries are about to enter a golden age of travel. By 2030, each GCC country’s tourism vision will be coming to fruition, bringing some of the world’s most rewarding and ambitious tourist offerings to the market.” By 2030, four of the six GCC countries have committed to the goal of attracting the following number of visitors: Saudi Arabia: 100 million; UAE: 51 million-plus; Qatar: 6 million and Oman: 5.8 million. Hymers highlighted Oman’s development of 14 tourism hubs around the country, from the dazzling Musandam coastline to the Frankincense Trail in Dhofar, as well as projects in the pipeline across the rest of the GCC, from Qatar’s cruise port development to Saudi Arabia’s upcoming mega-resort, the Rig.
By 2030, each GCC country’s tourism vision will be coming to fruition, bringing some of the world’s most rewarding and ambitious tourist offerings to the market “The GCC is at the crossroads of East and West. With two-thirds of the world’s population within an eight-hour flight or less, GCC countries are easily accessible. This is compounded by exciting developments in visa eligibility and air connectivity, with new flight paths opening all the time.” She added: “Safety is the biggest luxury travellers desire today and GCC countries consistently rank among the world’s safest. The UAE ranked as the second-safest country in the world in 2021, according to an index of 134 countries, while the other Gulf countries all ranked within the top 25: Qatar was third, Bahrain 12th, Kuwait 18th, Saudi Arabia 19th and Oman 25th. Meanwhile, in the Numbeo Crime Index,
Qatar capital Doha has ranked either the first or secondsafest city in the world for the past five years.” When it comes to the behaviour pattern of GCC travellers, Sarah highlighted the core reasons why this behaviour has evolved within the last two years. The top five reasons GCC travellers are booking their holidays at the moment include: seeing new places; relaxing; enjoying a change in routine; holidaying with family; or experiencing new cultures. A reason missing from the list, according to Sarah, is FOMO, or fear of missing out. “We see it online,” she said. “FOMO basically comes down to good marketing.” Following the keynote speech, the conversation was opened to all attending buyers and suppliers during a roundtable discussion. When asked about the types of experiences the GCC client is looking for, Lori-Jean Collins, Director of Sales and Marketing of Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah and Shangri-La Al Husn, said GCC clients want “to be pampered, they want to feel special and, most importantly, they don’t want it to be fake.”
Safety is the biggest luxury travellers desire today and GCC countries consistently rank among the world’s safest “They want it to be authentic,” she said, and that GCC travellers want “bragging rights.” Speaking from a supplier’s point of view, she added: “They want to be able to go back to their travel advisor and say, ‘tell me something that cannot be found anywhere else’. The expectations from GCC visitors are very demanding. Hotels and flights are busy, but being flexible can make it work.” Jumeirah Muscat Bay Director of Sales and Marketing Juliette Schwartz said: “With marketing and social media from a buyer’s perspective, the best channels used are Instagram, particularly reels”. She also specified the importance of gaining metrics such as visibility through relatable videos and stories. She continued: “The most important channel in the GCC has become WhatsApp (such as broadcasting) when people want to share what they’ve just done. But WhatsApp is also useful for conversion and for sending contracts and proposals to make work really fast. “Suppliers in the GCC are working to drive the use and optimisation of social platforms,” she said, while also stepping away from non-authentic marketing and using both personal and business social media accounts for “a more rounded image of the destination and activities provided”. Global Travel Week Middle East, powered by Connections Luxury, was hosted in partnership with the Sultanate of Oman Ministry of Heritage and Tourism in March 2022
A blend of lifestyle & luxury in a timeless elegant atmosphere
Discover thousands of years of history Welcome to Arabia, a new and exciting destination with thousands of years of history to discover. Unique archaeological sites can be found across the country, offering an insight into ancient civilisations, while stunning desert landscapes, lush oases and vibrant cities are waiting to be explored. Saudi has opened its doors to international visitors and your clients will be able to embark on adventures both inland and on the coast. Its Unesco World Heritage Sites, ranging from rock carvings to ancient cities, offer visitors an insight into times long past. Wherever your clients wish to visit in Saudi, you can be sure they will embark on a journey beyond anything they’ve ever imagined.
For more information and to find out how to plan your clients’ trip to Saudi, head to visitsaudi.com
PICTURES: SAUDI TOURISM AUTHORITY
Step back in time There are six Unesco World Heritage Sites dotted around the country showcasing Saudi’s fascinating history. Hegra Archaeological Site: This is one of the best-known sites in Saudi. It’s recognisable from the intricate decorations carved into huge rocky outcrops. Hegra is deep in the desert in the northwest region of AlUla and is formed of more than 110 tombs. Though there is evidence that the Romans once occupied the area, much of what’s left in Hegra dates back to the Nabataean era. Al-Turaif District in Diriyah: Set in the town of Diriyah, just outside Riyadh, it was founded in the 15th century and is the birthplace of the modern Saudi state. The area is currently undergoing redevelopment to allow visitors to explore its winding alleys for themselves. It was also once a convergence of different trading and pilgrimage routes, and was where travellers and merchants from Europe, Asia and Africa met. Historical Jeddah: Jeddah has a remarkable historic centre. It’s home to the Gate of
Makkah, a landmark on an important Muslim pilgrimage route. The city’s oldest district, Al-Balad, is best roamed on foot, and visitors can explore the winding streets and admire the hundreds of traditional multistorey buildings made from coral stone. Rock art in the Hail region: Added as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2015 and split across two separate locations, the Hail region is home to some of the most impressive examples of Neolithic rock art. The inscriptions date back thousands of years and offer an insight into the lives of people who lived here long ago. Al-Ahsa Oasis: This vast expanse of greenery, interspersed with caves, mountains and springs, makes up the largest oasis in the country. The fertile land of Al-Ahsa Oasis offers respite from
Adventures in Saudi Saudi is home to awe-inspiring natural phenomena, which act as fantastic locations for some adrenaline-packed adventures. Whether that’s a 4x4 ride across some of the great Arabian dunes, or sandboarding down the naturally formed slopes in the desert, there is plenty of choice for those looking for exhilarating activities to experience the impressive natural wonders.
Jeddah, on the Red Sea coast, is home to another world just under the water. Seasoned divers will be in their element here, with ancient shipwrecks to explore. There is an abundance of marine life at a shallower depth, for those who want to go diving closer to the surface. Those who prefer to snorkel will be spoilt for choice by the beaches of Jeddah and beyond, with many of the coastal areas along the Red Sea home to some incredible reefs and marine life that lies just beneath the water line.
For more information and to find out how to plan your clients’ trip to Saudi, head to visitsaudi.com
PICTURES: SAUDI TOURISM AUTHORITY
Hima Cutural Area: This huge collection of rock art stretches across 34 separate sites. It includes 7,000-year-old petroglyphs, made from brushing off or carving the top layer off rocks. They are scattered across the rocks and depict people and animals as well as scripts in a variety of languages including Arabic and Greek.
Navigating the land on foot is one way to explore the incredible terrain, and a Moon Valley hike offers some excellent stargazing opportunities. These can be soaked up for even longer with a stay at a nearby campsite where guests can enjoy a meal and the chance to sleep under the stars. Saudi adventures don’t just happen inland, either. Thanks to the long Red Sea coastline in the west and the Arabian Gulf in the east, there are plenty of activities to get stuck into on Saudi’s shores.
the desert environments, and its natural landscape is dotted with millions of palm trees. The Al-Qarah Mountain has hiking routes that allow visitors to admire views over the green canopy.
In Conversation with: Angelo Amoia
In conversation with
Angelo Amoia Sales Manager, Connections Luxury
Angelo's adventurous nature, extensive history in travel and hospitality, and vibrant personality has made him a force at Connections Luxury. We spoke with Angelo to explore his thoughts on the industry he has dedicated himself to for nearly 20 years... Tell us about your role and your journey before becoming a sales manager at Connections.
I joined Connections in September 2021. Due to the Covid pandemic, I lost my previous job at L.E/Miami but before that, I worked for over six years at Morgan’s Hotel Group London (now SBE Hotels, part of Accor) where I started as a regional sales coordinator and left as regional account director (MICE). I have also worked for companies like Miki Travel and OceanDusk, so the travel and hotel industry have always been my true passion. As a sales manager at Connections, I oversee the suppliers’ selection for our events and also manage the relationship with existing members.
What is the most satisfying element of your role?
The most satisfying element of working with the Connections Luxury Community is the moment I meet our members in person! It’s amazing to put a face to a name and that’s when the bond is created and can last a lifetime. I have made many friends in the industry this way and every time we meet, it’s a real moment of joy!
As the luxury travel industry changes due to the demand and trends of consumers, is there a specific change that you’d like to see in the future of luxury travel?
To be honest, there is not one specific change that I’d like to see in the future of luxury travel. There are many areas of our industry that can be improved. If I had to choose one change I would like to see, it would be a more proactive and efficient transition into sustainable travel.
to continue its success in a world where climate change is a huge threat.
What do you think will be the biggest trend to evolve in the industry in 2022 and beyond? The luxury and expert traveller is always keen on exploring new places and new cultures, and so I think we will see a massive increase in luxury hotels and resorts in more remote or less popular destinations. We can already see that with the likes of Saudi Arabia or Oman for example; both have been promoting themselves more and more as luxury destinations.
Name one unique destination you’d like to see a Connections Luxury event.
I would love to see a Connections Luxury event in the USA and cities like Nashville, New Orleans, or Austin would be ideal! North America is brimming with unique luxury destinations, fun cities and they offer a wide selection of luxury hotels and resorts. Also, Scandinavia would be incredible! Cities like Copenhagen or Stockholm are the perfect mix of art, culture, and history and again, they offer an incredible variety of luxury properties. As Connections expands in other regions of the world, I feel that the United States and Scandinavia are two places that are ideal for forging new paths and spearheading business opportunities for the leaders of our community.
Whether it’s educating clients or presenting options where the client can ‘feel good and do good’, we have a responsibility to guide our clients to making better choices. In fact, post-pandemic, travel requests from wealthy clientele have changed, which include a growing demand to stay in properties that practice responsible tourism. But not many businesses have adapted to satisfy this emerging trend. There needs to be a better alignment between supply and demand in luxury travel. Whether it’s educating clients or presenting options where the client can ‘feel good and do good’, we have a responsibility to guide our clients to making better choices. It’s what our industry needs in order
In Conversation with: Angelo Amoia
What is one interesting thing people may not know about you?
Before the pandemic, I had never baked a cake – now I can proudly say I am a very good baker and it’s become a true passion! I love anything with chocolate or nuts, like hazelnut and pistachios! I think the most successful cake I have ever baked is a ricotta and hazelnut baked cheesecake – it’s mouthwatering and simply addictive! Get in touch with Angelo Amoia: firstname.lastname@example.org Facing: Angelo visiting Shangri-La The Shard, London Above, clockwise from top: Anglelo at Global Travel Week Middle East 2022 and Global Travel Week London 2021, Angelo's crostata di frutta Pictures: Sarah Lucy Brown, Angelo Amoia
WANT TO DO BUSINESS IN THE MIDDLE EAST? Get the 48-page Connecting Travel Insight Report FOR FREE weareconnections.com
visit www.connectingtravel.com June 2022 31
Guest Contribution: Nancy Barkley
The luxury hospitality industry is shaping the future of the multibillion-dollar destination wedding industry, making this sector crucial for economic recovery
eddings are a special time for people to celebrate and catch up with each other. I’ve been planning destination weddings for more than 25 years, and it’s always an amazing experience. It can be emotional, challenging, fun, exciting, creative and sometimes stressful – but when it all comes together, it’s absolutely magical. I love immersing myself and learning about the culture of the places I plan weddings in. Wedding tourism is significant to a destination’s economy. Weddings feed into a collection of businesses, from wedding planners to caterers, florists, hotels, tour guides and so on.
Wedding tourism is significant to a destination’s economy. We, as leaders within the industry, have a responsibility. Education, collaboration, understanding local culture and integrity are paramount A study accepted into the Journal of Tourism and Gastronomy Studies stated in June 2021: “Wedding tourism, one of the newly emerging products in tourism, provides a range of economic benefits resulting from the travels of couples and guests to the region and contributes economically not only to the destination but also to the components of the tourism sector and the sub-sectors.” We, as leaders within the industry, have a responsibility. Education, collaboration, understanding local culture and integrity are paramount. As the role of a wedding planner I am the influencer and facilitator for the couple and their guests. For example, when a couple seeks a destination wedding, I speak extensively with them and make sure the decision-makers are included. I manage expectations and then influence them on the best destination and venue, based on the information received. I then facilitate their wedding by working with local DMCs, venues, florists and photographers. Trustworthy, vetted vendors and a global network of connections are key. Together, we can build a larger wedding community and drive economic growth to our respective destinations and restore local economies positively. All the while, partnering with the best to deliver the best, with the undisputed goal of making your client’s dream come true.
Some recommendations 1.
2. 3. 4. 5.
Make sure to hire local wedding planners, florists, photographers and entertainment in the destination where the wedding is taking place. Make sure to purchase any welcome gifts or souvenirs from local artisans, markets and vendors. Invite guests to give back locally instead of a wedding gift, perhaps by making a contribution to local charity. Find local projects and activities to contribute to or participate in that give back to residents. Suggest that the couple consider sustainable wedding attire (e.g. vintage dresses).
Guest Contribution: Nancy Barkley
Romance travel is the trending extended arm of the ‘world of weddings’. It includes not only destination weddings, but honeymoons, elopements, engagements, vow renewals and anniversary travel, all collectively called wedding tourism. Couples are choosing a destination wedding they can honeymoon in as well.
Popularity of destination elopements is on the rise, whether this is planning a small wedding without telling everyone or a small wedding with maybe just a few others, more and more couples are planning these romantic getaway nuptials.
An engagement trip is a getaway planned by one member of the couple who is planning to ask the other person to marry him or her on the actual trip. This sets a pattern for future romantic travel.
Also called a reaffirmation ceremony, a vow renewal is an opportunity for a married couple to repeat their weareconnections.com
vows in a symbolic ceremony. The vow renewal may be planned in the original location where the marriage ceremony took place, in a complementary location or in a brand-new spot chosen by the couple. The trip may be an intimate occasion involving just the couple or it may be a big celebration to which they invite many friends and relatives to come along. (If they have children, the kids may actually host the trip.)
Many couples celebrate their anniversary by going on a trip. Anniversary trips can be a long weekend or last a few weeks. They provide couples with an opportunity to reconnect and relax without the distractions of everyday life. Some couples may choose to take a family moon-style trip for their anniversary. Nancy Barkley is a mentor and guest speaker of Connections Luxury (email@example.com). Facing page: Romantic setting, selection of wedding dresses Above: Happy couple in Brazil Pictures: Jonathan Borba, Filipp Romanovski, Everton Vila
Around the world...
Getting comfortable with
hat if you knew that the business goal posts were set in stone? Even when you think everything is organised, a client can (and has) changed their mind at the last minute, which means you have to find a new venue for a 130-person dinner with a one hour notice. In the travel business you must always adapt and react to curveballs. We have just grown through the most volatile and unexpected period in living memory, but grow through it, you have. I have loved hearing first-hand from Connections members that business is showing real growth again; there is increased confidence among FITs with MICE and group bookings on the rise again. That growth must be celebrated. However, we know not everywhere is back to normal. New Covid-19 variants continue to emerge and with political unrest, we must maintain our resilience and strength to adapt to uncertainty because uncertainty is and always has been, inevitable.
The more I study the mindset of athletes the more I hear this phrase: getting comfortable with discomfort. Uncertainty is often uncomfortable, but the more you can accept and adapt to it, the easier it becomes to manage One thing that is also certain, is your reaction to change and how you lead your team to do the same. Adaptability and
resilience require continuous maintenance and with relatively low effort, that continuous improvement can have a huge impact on your business in a landscape that continues to shift. So, how do we do it? The more I study the mindset of athletes the more I hear this phrase: getting comfortable with discomfort. Uncertainty is often uncomfortable, but the more you can accept and adapt to it, the easier it becomes to manage. As leaders and business owners you will be faced with a variety of personality traits and approaches within the team. Being able to understand this variety of mindsets and behavioural styles will enable and support their adaptability. In an increasingly hybrid working world, equipping people with the self-awareness of their own behavioural traits is key to high performance and building resilience. It is important that you recognise where individual strengths lie and how they can be used for the good of the whole business. That also helps lift all the responsibility from your shoulders. This can be done through behavioural profiling and performing assessments on your team to realise where best to place people and how to manage them efficiently. As leaders, embracing uncertainty with empathy will give strength to your team. Be super clear on all communication. That also means being clear about the vision and values of the business. Does everyone understand and feel connected to them? Use them as your North Star to drive action if the plan gets blown off course. Finding practical ways to show you care about their wellbeing, both physical and mental is also vital when it comes to building resilience. weareconnections.com
Guest Contribution: Natalie Macaluso
If you would like more help to build resilience in your team, here are some ways The Orange Side can help: Wellbeing Workouts A series of nine highly-engaging 45-minute sessions to choose from, from Being Present to Pressure Training depending on the needs of your organisation. They are designed to make resilience and wellbeing as accessible as possible. Sessions can be delivered at any time but are well placed as a ‘Lunch and Learn’ style webinar. Each live session provides practical strategies and attendees are provided with a PDF resource that they can access and use later to invest in their wellbeing.
Three key indicators of resilience, how to look for them and how to improve them 1. Perseverance • • • •
SpotlightPROFILE A behavioural and mindset assessment of your team to leverage and maximise individual and team strengths. The many benefits include enhanced collaboration and sharing of working practices as well as higher levels of support to facilitate resilience and wellbeing.
How proactive are people? Are you encouraging proactivity within the team? How do people bounce back from disappointment? How long can people pursue success under their own steam?
Set more achievable deadlines and short-term goals, this will help maintain positive momentum whilst improving productivity and motivation.
2. Composure • • •
How do people cope with stress? Do people thrive under pressure or run for cover? Are individuals aware of their own reaction to stress?
Create a system whereby the team can help and support each other. Provide reassurance for support by yourself and others. Lead with vulnerability and be open to ask for help yourself which can empower others to do the same when they need it.
3. Optimism • • •
Are people viewing challenges as opportunities? Do you see uncertainty leading to frustration and lack of productivity? Is there more of a ‘no but’ rather than ‘yes and’ mindset?
Recognise and celebrate all solution-led thinking. Optimism is infectious – who in the team does it naturally and how can you empower them to influence? Encourage people to focus on what can be controlled.
Natalie Macaluso is a business coach and founder of The Orange Side, and a mentor and guest speaker of Connections Luxury (firstname.lastname@example.org). Facing page: Natalie Macaluso Above: Resilience in sport Pictures: Natalie Macaluso, Gustavo Campos, Matteo Vistocco
Featured: Best Eco Hotels
With sustainability becoming an increasingly important focus, a growing number of travellers are now opting for eco-friendly options. We have hand-picked a selection of eco hotels and resorts within the Connections Luxury Community that are leading the way with their sustainability efforts
LJs Ratxo Eco Luxury Retreat
Surrounded by soulful mountains, wild olive trees and an abundance of native wildlife, LJs Ratxó in Mallorca offers a sublimely immersive experience. Built under the canons of traditional architecture, LJs Ratxó gives off Mediterranean airs throughout. Natural and sustainable designs go hand-inhand in its 25 rooms and facilities, from the cosy, all-organic spa to Roots, the gastronomic refuge led by well-known Mallorcan chef María Salinas.
Santa Barbara Eco Resort
Overlooking the black-sand beach of Santa Barbara, the region’s first eco beach resort was developed to integrate with the coastal shoreline The minimalist architecture was adjusted to the morphology of the land in order to minimise its impact on the natural landscape. This was enhanced by the use of natural building materials sourced locally or nationally, such as the islands’ cryptomeria, exotic bamboos and domestic cork, that build on the simple natural setting.
Featured: Best Eco Hotels
Palmaïa, the House of AïA
Set between the tropical jungle foliage and the picturesque turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea is the quintessence of a sustainable all-inclusive luxury resort. A secluded sanctuary with swim-up suites, jungle infinity pool, butler service, gourmet restaurants, private beach and 24-hour room service. In striving to become carbon neutral, the retreat leases its energy from solar panels and other renewable sources, using 50% less energy than the average resort. Additionally, singleuse plastic bottles have been eliminated and the restaurant offers locally sourced, plant-based cuisine.
Mas Salagros EcoResort
Embrace the slow movement and disconnect at Mas Salagros. Located in a nature reserve, with views of the Catalan Coastal range, Mas Salagros runs a 100% sustainable operation, making this hotel the only place of its kind in the Iberian Peninsula. You will find everything from ecological materials, energy and amenities to local and seasonal ingredients for restaurants. As well as being an eco-resort, the property also features a fantastic thermal bath circuit managed by the international firm AIRE Ancient Baths.
Europe: Finland Europe: Finland
42 June 2022
Europe: Finland Europe: Finland
happiest country in the world....
Finland is a land defined by nature and the stark contrasts of its seasons. It’s the ‘land of a thousand lakes’, the Midnight Sun and the Aurora Borealis. It’s envied the world over for its pure air, pristine wilderness and leading Nordic design
isit Finland in summer and you’ll enjoy almost two full months of glorious Midnight Sun, where long days can be spent in fresh boreal forests beside tranquil lakes. Head to Finland in winter and you’ll find a country transformed into a festive wonderland, where the sea freezes and vast areas are covered in a blanket of dazzling snow. After a dark, snowbound winter, the Finns are rewarded every year with the long, light days of summer. Venture north of the Arctic Circle and the sun doesn’t set at all from May to August, while further south the sun can be visible nearly around the clock during June and July. A nocturnal swim and sauna are a definite must under the Midnight Sun, which takes on a reddishyellow colour and everything is bathed in a warm, bright light. Lakes and sea waters warm up from June onwards. Summer is an amazing time to go hiking, camping and canoeing in Finland in wilderness areas further north like the reindeer-bobbled fells of Urho Kekkonen National Park in Northern Lapland, above the Arctic Circle. Join the Finns in summer and travel north to the lakes where many own log cabins in the middle of nowhere. There are vast national parks of pine forests and placid bodies of water that earned the country its nickname ‘land of the 1,000 lakes’ – there are actually 187,888 lakes in Finland.
In September forests start to turn gold and crimson and reindeer begin to rut and as snow arrives in October, a hush falls over the country. But with winter comes a festivity and sparkle that is hard to rival Aland Archipelago is the sunniest spot in northern Europe and its sweeping white-sand beaches and flat, scenic cycling routes attract holidaymakers during summer. Outside the lively capital Mariehamn, a sleepy haze hangs over the islands’ tiny villages. And it’s surprisingly easy to find your own remote beach among the 6,500 skerries (rocky islets). The climax of the summer months is juhannus – the summer solstice celebration held at the end of June, when families come together for picnics and dancing around bonfires, a long-standing tradition believed to keep evil spirits away. In September forests start to turn gold and crimson and reindeer begin to rut and as snow arrives in October, a hush falls over the country. But with winter comes a festivity and sparkle that is hard to rival. As the days get shorter, Finland transforms into a Narnia-inspired landscape with dogsledding, snowmobiling, skiing and magical overnight stays in ice hotels. Get lucky in Lapland and you’ll see Finland’s spectacular light show – the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights – with October, November and March weareconnections.com
statistically the best months. The Northern Lights can be seen from the country’s Arctic Lapland province, the largest and northernmost region of Finland bordering Sweden, Norway, Russia and the Baltic Sea. This vast area is known for its subarctic wilderness, ski resorts and natural phenomena including the Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights. The region’s capital, Rovaniemi, isn’t just the home of Father Christmas, but it’s also the gateway to Lapland, homeland of the indigenous Sami people. In addition to its stunning natural beauty, Finland is overflowing with great Nordic design, good food that promotes its edible riches, and interesting museums in striking buildings. Said to be one of the world’s most liveable cities, Helsinki should be included on any trip to Finland. The walkable capital of Finland has restaurants of all styles and ethnic origins and proudly promotes its seasonal produce, which can range from forest mushrooms and foraged herbs to game, freshwater fish and dark breads. There are three iconic Finnish design stores that style aficionados will love: Artek, a Finnish furniture company famous for its bent-wood chairs; 140-yearold Finnish glassware, tableware and interiors brand Iittala; and Marimeko, a Finnish textiles, clothing and home furnishings brand founded in Helsinki in 1951. The city’s Töölönlahti area has one of the largest selections of iconic architecture including modernist Finlandia Hall, design by celebrated Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. This white marble-clad concert and conference building is impressive down to the smallest details. Right next to Finlandia Hall is the Parliament House, a sturdy and classic symbol of Finnish democracy. Steps away from Parliament House are the Oodi Library, Musiikkitalo Concert Hall and Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma – all of which are icons of modern Finnish architecture. And a short walk to the other side of Töölönlahti brings you to the Olympic Stadium, built in 1938. For fans of functionalist architecture of the early 20th century, this building is one of the most striking Olympic stadiums in the world, and is the largest stadium in the country. And no trip to Finland would be complete without a trip to the sauna. In Finland the sauna isn’t a luxury, it’s a way of life. Stripping naked, roasting in a sauna heated to 80°C, beating yourself with a circulationboosting birch whisk - a vasta or vihta - and then diving into an avanto or ice hole is the idea of fun to the people of Finland. There are around 3 million saunas in Finland – a country with a population of just 5.5 million. Saunas are where Finns socialise, do business, rest, meditate and cleanse. Learning the art of sauna-going offers a window into the country’s soul. Words: Louise Longman Facing clockwise from top: Finland Tarveinen Picnic Design, Arctic Fox Igloo,Yllas Luxury Lodge, Glass Villas Previous page: Finland Tammela Pictures: Visit Finland
In Conversation with: Evangeline Thorn
In conversation with
Evangeline Thorn Head of Operations, Connections Luxury
Since Connections' inception in 2014, Evangeline Thorn has been part of the core team, spearheading the operations with her dedication, passion and raw talent. We caught up with Evangeline to learn more about her journey, and what she's working on next... Tell us a bit about your role at Connections and your journey to where you are today. I’ve been with Connections since its inception in 2014. Back then, the whole idea of having long business meetings with experiences was quite unknown within the industry! There were just four of us to begin with. I remember creating a website and setting up all our social media channels in our first week. It was tough, but we all had a great passion for the newly-created Connections Way concept; we truly believed this was a pioneering way to do business (and it still is!). We had all worked in events where you had little time for meetings, and were stuck inside all day, never seeing the destination you had travelled to. The Connections Way offered something completely different.
Virtual events will be here to stay, but true magic comes from human-tohuman interaction Our first event was at the Four Seasons in Hampshire, and I remember feeling incredibly nervous. But as the first meetings took place, where we encouraged our clients to go for a walk, or enjoy a hand massage or even go fishing in the English countryside, it was incredibly rewarding to witness. For the first time, we created a relaxed environment for industry professionals, where not only were they representing their company, but they were bringing their personality to the forefront. In the end, people do business with people. It was a real success. As a brand-new company delivering a brand-new concept
to the industry, it really gave the team an opportunity to grow our professional careers quickly. As an executive, it was important that I continued to carefully observe and learn from the team and our clients. Within the first two years, I had worked across buyer recruitment, sales and marketing, but as Connections grew, I quickly realised that I had a real desire to specialise in operations. Today, I manage all logistical operations and on-site execution – from agenda creation, to experiences and production. Eight years on, Connections has kept its same ethos but has expanded to become an international community. We work with destinations and partners from across the globe, and I have loved innovating the brand, making each new concept become a reality.
What is one thing many people may not know about you?
I am a thrill-seeker, when on holiday I love to try out new experiences especially if there is a level of danger involved! Whether that’s bungee jumping, cave diving, parasailing I love to try new things and be outside of my comfort zone!
What does the future hold for in-person events? Are virtual events here to stay? The pandemic has forced the travel industry to advance its technology in a short period of time; we all had to adapt to survive. As a team, we worked incredibly hard to pivot our brand – from in-person events to an online community – and keep the essence of Connections the same. We didn’t know if and when in-person events would return. Now the world may be opening, but our calendar of
In Conversation with: Evangeline Thorn events remains a mixture of virtual and in-person events, to continue to offer flexibility and choice to our members who are based across the globe. Even now, every call I have now is on Zoom, which in some ways has made me feel more connected to our members and trusted partners than ever before. There are admittedly times when an online meeting is a better use of time. But for me personally, nothing beats being face-toface. And whilst armchair travels offer so much to inspire, nothing can compare to experiencing it all in real life; those first steps outside the airport, walking into a hotel and being warmly greeted by staff, the people you meet and the local destination experiences that leave lasting memories forever… Being face-to-face is incredibly powerful. The Connections Way was inspired by the science of mind and behaviour and the role that memory plays in our brains; nothing is remembered without emotions. And we still believe that in-person meetings and experiences fast-track this process, and help to consolidate relationships that have been established virtually. Virtual events will be here to stay, but true magic comes from human-to-human interaction.
The luxury travel industry is always looking for the next unseen, undiscovered destination. I believe the Philippines ticks all the boxes How is Connections progressing to become a more sustainable business through its operations?
Prior to Connections, I studied Tourism Management at the University of Surrey and the impact that sustainability practices have on a socio-economic and environmental level. As a small business, Connections gave me the great opportunity to put these practices at the forefront of our operations and events. From the start, I believed as a small,
highly-targeted and detailed event it was easy to implement changes, so made it a priority of mine. Internally, I sourced companies that had similar objectives to ours. From ensuring our event collateral is recyclable, that we keep our use of paper to a minimum (a big reason why we’ve moved completely to digital agendas this year!) to selecting companies that are local or support the local community, we are constantly making tweaks to our process. Even on-site, our meals at Connections have a seating plan where food is made for the exact number of delegates, thus keeping waste to a minimum.
What about carbon?
According to UNWTO, tourism contributes to more than five percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, with transportation accounting for 90 percent of this. By 2030, it is expected that there will be a 25 percent increase in CO2-emissions from tourism compared to 2016, impacting three main areas: water resources, land degradation and local resources. Tourism has to determine its own high-ambition scenario, beyond transport; a scenario where tourism would transform towards low emission and highly efficient operations.
Name one dream destination you’d like to see a Connections Luxury event and why.
I would absolutely love to host an event in the Philippines. Being a proud Filipina myself (my mother is from San Juan Batangas, my dad from Manila), I believe the Philippines is a hidden gem within East Asia. The country has an objective to offer the best five-star hospitality that truly supports the local communities, to ensure its long-term survival as a responsible tourist destination. The luxury travel industry is always looking for the next unseen, undiscovered destination. I believe the Philippines ticks all the boxes.
What’s one thing you can’t travel without?
Without question, my adapter, power bank, a pair of travel socks and a pashmina. But if I had to pick just one thing, it would be a good make-up remover and moisturiser. Travelling is tough on the skin, and without fail, I always take the opportunity to properly hydrate and moisturise.
Get in touch with Evangeline Thorn: email@example.com Facing page and above: Evangeline at Global Travel Week Middle East in Muscat, Oman, March 2022 Left: Evangeline in Kraakow, Poland Pictures: Sarah Lucy Brown, Evangeline Thorn
unique! MADEIRA IS
colourful! MADEIRA IS
authentic! We innovate, create and design tailor-made bespoke programmes allowing you to experience the real and authentic Madeira. dmcmadeira.pt
Let us make your next visit to Madeira a great success!
Madeira Sitting pretty off the west coast of Morocco, Madeira is an archipelago of four islands boasting an enviable subtropical climate with emerald cliffs and hidden coves, surrounded by a warm, sparkling Atlantic Ocean
his lush, tropical ‘floating garden’ – discovered by the Portuguese in the 15th century and a favourite stopover for pirates, explorers and the slave trade – has long been popular with holidaymakers seduced by its year-round warm climate, majestic villages with rich histories and impressive architecture. But what might once have been seen as a sweet, wine-sipping sun trap in the Atlantic is now showing off its more adventurous edge with plenty of heart-pumping activities, including hiking, biking and paragliding. Thrill-seekers can enjoy cable car trips, hair-raising downhill rides in wicker toboggans powered by drivers known as carreiros, and vertigo-inducing views from the Cabo Girão Skywalk, looking over some of the steepest cliffs in Europe. Hikers will love the sunrise walks to Pico Ruivo, the highest summit of the island. Taking around an hour and a half and covering 2.8km, the trail climbs along the ridge that separates the cliffs of Faial and Santana and gives excellent views of the early morning sun as it appears above the Ribeira Seca valley, topped by Pico das Torres and Pico do Areeiro. There are also lots of treks along the levadas – a network of migration channels that traverse the island. Madeira’s myriad aqueducts comprise more than 200 levadas with an impressive 1,864 miles of channels, including 25 miles of tunnels. And to think the work on these levadas started centuries ago. Madeira’s volcanic past is revealed at the Sao Vicente Caves, where long stretches of lava tubes were formed in an eruption 400,000 years ago. Underground tours will take you to the bowels of the earth, where you’ll be able to see fascinating rock formations.
Surrounded by the sparkling Atlantic, Madeira also has an abundance of water-based activities, from dolphinand whale-watching tours and yacht trips along the coast, stopping at secluded black-sand beaches, to diving and snorkelling and swimming spots in pools carved out of black lava rock. There’s also golf, paragliding, canyoning and coasteering – all making the most of Madeira’s rugged beauty and soft adventure appeal. The Madeira Story Centre in Funchal’s Old Town or Zona Velha is a great place to learn about Madeira’s island’s history, from its volcanic birth 14 million years ago to the present day. It’s in the cobbled streets of the Zone Velha, lined with old merchant houses, that you’ll also discover hundreds of painted doors. A Madeiran government initiative to breathe new life into the once run-down Old Town, Arte Portas Abertas - Art of Open Doors - encouraged artists to turn their front doors into works of art. There are now hundreds of painted doors in the Rua Santa Maria, Rua dos Barreiros, Travessa das Torres and many more. Jostling for position alongside the colourful doors you’ll find many restaurants, poncha bars and shops with handmade crafts and art galleries in the Old Town. The poncha (punch) dates back to the 16th century, when explorers transported lemon to prevent scurvy. To preserve the fruit, it was transported in brandy and cane molasses produced in Madeira. The most traditional is the fishermen poncho, with Madeiran rum, lemon and sugar. Take it down a notch or two with an afternoon getting to know the region’s gastronomy. There are plenty of food and wine tours in Madeira, showcasing the abundance of produce. Tours will head to different locations across the island – including lunch and wine tasting at award-winning vineyards - allowing visitors to sample Madeiran wine and traditional culinary favourites, including black scabbard fish with banana, the ‘bolo do cano’ flatbread and the ‘lapas’ shellfish. And as the birthplace of international footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, it makes sense that Madeira is such an active island. Football fans will love the Museu CR7 and Ronaldo-themed hotel dedicated to Ronaldo’s trophies in the capital Funchal. Despite having left as just a boy, Ronaldo is perhaps Madeira’s most famous export, maybe even more so than its fortified wine.
Words: Louise Longman Above from top: Madeira coastline, Pico Ruivo, Madeira hike Pictures: Madeira Promotion Bureau
Reid's Palace, A Belmond Hotel
Reid's Palace, A Belmond Hotel
eid’s Palace, a Belmond Hotel, is a legendary retreat in Madeira. On a promontory overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, it combines subtropical gardens, sensational, innovative dining and timeless charm. Reid’s Palace welcomed its first guests back in 1891. In the early days, access was only by sea and the reception was located where its tidal pool is today. Guests would arrive on the island by cruise to stay at the hotel for a few months. Empress Elisabeth I of Austria was one of the first guests to visit the hotel, and Winston Churchill retreated here in 1950 to paint and to write his war memoirs. Today, Reid’s Palace has 111 luxury bedrooms and 47 suites. From the sensational Michelin-starred William Restaurant, which blends contemporary cuisine with the best of Madeiran produce, to the glittering chandeliers of the Dining Room or the more informal Villa Cipriani, perched on a clifftop, it’s an escape to old-world charm with a service that is, without question, first class. June 2022
Guest Contribution: António Paraíso
he global wedding services industry generated a turnover of $160 billion in 2020 and is anticipated to generate $414 billion in worldwide sales by 2030, according to a study by Allied Market Research. The industry has been severely affected by the Covid pandemic, but is now set for rebound and growth because the business of wedding parties and social events produce unforgettable magic for their clients and guests. So, if you are in this business of happiness and you wish to surf the forecasted wave of growth, you have to think strategically and plan to delight your affluent target audience. Treat them like royalty. Make them dream.
A good, well-told story is a powerful tool to create emotional connections with clients Five steps for a magical customer experience
Society evolves, consumer needs and desires change and, as a consequence, the market is becoming increasingly polarised in almost every product or service category. Companies are offering either premium brands or low-cost offers – the Nespresso effect versus the Ryanair effect – but who wants a low-cost wedding party? A memorable experience in any occasion is made of a subtle balance combining emotion, excitement, impeccable location and service providers, good music, enticing fragrance, elegant service, some mystery to add sparkle to a surprise, engaging stories and zero mistakes in a flawless, seamless experience. Stefan Thomke, Professor of Management at Harvard Business School, puts it a different way and suggests exploring a five-step formula for creating a magical customer experience.
Stimulate the senses
Walk in the lobby of the Ritz Paris, Raffles Singapore or get on board the Orient Express train in Paris, and all your senses will be stimulated with surprise and refinement. Think of creative, elegant ways of stimulating the senses of your clients and their guests.
Turn disappointment into delight
I arrived exhausted at 7am at the Ritz-Carlton in Singapore after a 14-hour flight. While checking in, I asked whether I could have breakfast. The lady smiled and explained: ‘Mr
Paraíso, perhaps by mistake, your reservation was made with a rate without breakfast, but I shall offer you your favourite breakfast during your stay.’ That lady’s attitude made it a nice, surprising experience that I have never forgotten and which cost the hotel a negligible amount. Anticipate problems and make a list of what may go wrong. Think of solutions to quickly fix them and plan small giveaways as forms of compensation to erase the negative memory and replace it with a pleasant one.
Plan to surprise
Chef Grant Achatz at the three-Michelin-starred Alinea restaurant in Chicago is the master of surprise. Watch the videos of his famous desserts and you’ll understand why his guests are speechless.
Tell compelling stories
A good, well-told story is a powerful tool to create emotional connections with clients. The Metropole Hanoi is Vietnam’s most iconic hotel and was a secret meeting spot for politicians during World War II. Charlie Chaplin spent his honeymoon there and British writer W Somerset Maugham wrote The Gentleman during a long stay at the hotel. The Pol Roger Champagne house sells its Sir Winston Churchill limited-edition bottle with a booklet, telling stories of the friendship of the Roger family and the former British Prime Minister. Genuine stories add tremendous value to a product or service. Think of creative, elegant ways to design an event that tells a story to the guests.
Run small, controlled events
Consumers of luxury normally have a propensity for taking risks and are willing to embark in new experiences as long as they fully trust that the service provider offers extreme quality and uncompromising safety. Molecular cuisine in some Michelin-starred restaurants and the above-mentioned desserts at Alinea are just a couple of examples. Don’t be afraid to experiment, as long as you create sensorial, delightful, surprising experiences built on stories that bring emotion, innovation and excitement. Make them dream! António Paraíso is a luxury consultant, and a mentor and guest speaker of Connections Luxury (firstname.lastname@example.org) Above: Alinea Restaurant
Time to taste #TimeToBe
It’s time to ﬂow. Leave the sense of urgency behind and toast to the best of life without barriers, without the clock ticking. Say hello to long and slow shared meals, ﬂavours and aromas of the olden days. Let’s go back to craving for togetherness. It’s time to taste. It’s time to be.
Feature: Rediscover Europe
Counting 59 Michelin-starred restaurants, 11 distinct winemaking regions and 36 UNESCO World Heritage sites, Catalonia is a diverse and sun-blessed destination. The region is best explored from the getaway city of Barcelona, a cosmopolitan hub rich in art, culture and unmissable design. The legacy of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí can be found in Casa Batlló and the Sagrada Familia. Art-lovers can discover more about Malaga-born Pablo Picasso in the old Gothic Quarter, Joan Miró upon Montjuïc Mountain and, further afield, Salvador Dalí in Figueres. Literary enthusiasts can explore the 122 bookshops and 24 points of literary interest, including where George Orwell wrote 1984 in just two days. Catalonia’s gastronomy has been evolving since mediaeval times, bringing seasonal ingredients from all its landscapes to the plate. Visit Rafa Zafra’s Amar for an authentic experience, chic Pur or the traditional Botafumeiro for excellent seafood dishes. For shopping, the luxurious avenue of Passeig de Gràcia hails all the top international brands, as well as many Spanish designers. When it comes to luxury hotels, visitors are spoilt for choice. Among them, the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona is located in the heart of the city, while the eco-resort of Mas Salagros is just 20 minutes outside. Look to the Grand Tour of Catalonia, a circular route of more than 2,000 kilometres, to travel beyond the capital and make the most of this spectacular region. catalunya.com
Above: Causeway in Ireland, Sagrada Família in Barcelona Facing page from top: Copenhagen in Denmark, Santorini in Greece Pictures: Visit Ireland, Louisa Schaad, Jacob Buchhave, Tania Mousinho
Feature: Rediscover Europe
Denmark Home to 444 islands, Lego and hygge - that cosy feeling of togetherness - Denmark is a destination that offers simplicity, yet surprises. One of the world’s best cycle cities, it’s no wonder that more than half of Danes cycle to and from work in Copenhagen. Its smaller size makes it easy to explore, especially as it’s brimming with things to see and do. Tivoli Gardens, as one of the world’s oldest amusement parks and a place of inspiration for fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen as well as Walt Disney, is a must. Live the experience with a stay at the five-star, all-suite Nimb Hotel, which overlooks the park. In the city’s heart is the iconic D’angleterre, one of Denmark’s most famous hotels, full of romance and grandeur. For those who prefer a more modern aesthetic, 71 Nyhavn is a renovated warehouse in Copenhagen’s port. One of the newer kids on the block - Villa Copenhagen - is redefining conscious luxury by taking full responsibility of its environmental footprint to meet the UN sustainability goals. Gastronomy is but one reason to visit Denmark. Copenhagen is home to Noma, the five-time world’s best restaurant, as well as Michelin-starred restaurants, floating eateries, cooking classes and live events. For the peckish, you’re free to pick blueberries, blackberries and apples from the city’s trees and bushes. Elsewhere in Denmark, make a trip to Hamlet’s Castle, Kronborg Castle in Elsinore, or go to Odense, hometown of Hans Christian Andersen. visitdenmark.com
Greece Whether city break or island getaway, there is nowhere like Greece to capture myth, legend and history all in one place. Travel back in time to Greece’s capital of Athens in Attica, the birthplace of philosophy and science and home to the world-renowned Acropolis. Discover Delphi, believed to be the Navel of the Earth by Ancient Greeks. Nearby, at the foot of Mount Parnassus, the dreamy mountain backdrop of Arachova offers a ski-lovers’ paradise. Travel into Thessaly for mountains and valleys to hike, raft and kayak, and to wonder at the Byzantine monasteries of Meteora. On the border with Macedonia stands Mount Olympus. The Peloponnese region is the motherland of the Olympic Games, in the so-called “valley of the gods”, as well as home to the beautiful Elafonissos Simos beach, once the battlefield of Athenians and Spartans. Visitors can rest easy in the comfort of luxury resort Amanzoe. To the south lies the scattered Ionian islands, including Corfu and Zakynthos, as well as the Calypso Deep, which reaches 5,267 metres, making it the deepest point in the Mediterranean Sea. Cyclades, with its 33 islands and islets, is home to the picturepostcard architecture of Mykonos, Naxos, Paros and Santorini. Crete, the fifth-largest island in the Mediterranean, lies further south, with spectacular gorges and remnants of civilisation from days gone by. Look out for the unique collection of Domes Resorts hotels on Crete, Corfu and Zakynthos. Across the country, you can sample authentic cuisine crafted from the freshest ingredients, such as Greece’s famous olive oil. Indeed, it is said that Archestratos wrote the first cookbook in history (330 BC). visitgreece.com weareconnections.com
Feature: Rediscover Europe
Ireland An island that’s packed with wild, natural beauty, dramatic sights and world-famous hospitality, Ireland is overflowing with opportunity. From the gateway of Belfast, head to Northern Ireland via the sensational Causeway Coastal Route, stopping at Carrickfergus, Ballycastlee, Ballintoy - for the nearby and legendary Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge - before reaching the Giant’s Causeway, a 60 million-year-old landscape, best enjoyed with a glass of Bushmills 12-Year-Old Distillery Reserve in hand. For the Game of Thrones fans, a stop at Derry~Londonderry offers a helicopter tour to visit some breathtaking filming locations. The 1,600-mile Wild Atlantic Way winds from the Inishowen Peninsula in the north down to Kinsale in County Cork, passing through Galway, Limerick and Kerry - not to mention the hidden gems and epic landscapes to discover along the way. From Kerry, brave eight miles on the Atlantic to reach Skellig Michael, the otherworldly island of Star Wars fame. Luxury accommodation is plentiful, with world-class golf resorts and manors, stately homes and castles (complete with falconry, shooting and fishing) to bubble domes and cliff-edge hotels on offer. No matter where you slumber, the spirit of Ireland can be found within fire-lit pubs, sharing a drink with the locals, while toes tap along to live music. ireland.com
Italy From Michelin-starred dining in Florence and detoxing in Trentino to driving through the ‘Motor Valley’ of Emilia-Romagna and heli-hiking in the Dolomites, travellers can make the most of this timeless destination year-round. Though there’s much to see, Italy is best enjoyed at a slow pace. Previously under-the-radar Procida, a small island off the coast of Naples, has been named Italy’s Capital of Culture for 2022, the first time an island has ever been awarded the honour. Travel north to the capital for those bucket-list items. When in Rome, make time for the Colosseum, Pantheon, Castel Sant’Angelo, the Galleria Borghese and the Trevi Fountain, with plenty of breaks to enjoy the historic cafés and neighbourhoods to soak up the Roman spirit. Beyond, explore Toscana, where you’ll find Florence, the hills of Chianti, the thermal waters of Fonteverde, the charming town of Pietrasanta and the pilgrim roads of Via Francigena. Beyond the charm of Italy’s cities lies incredible, expansive national parks - there are 24 in total. There are more UNESCO World Heritage sites in Italy than any other country, including Trulli of Alberobello, Cinque Terre and the Sassi of Matera, a network of charming houses and cave hotels, tunnels and alleys built into rock. Winter sports are in abundance, with the Alps a prime skiing destination, in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Val Gardena, Sestriere and Courmayeur. italia.it
Feature: Rediscover Europe
WELCOME TO YOUR
N OW A N D F O R E V E R ,
YOUR TAILOR-MADE DESTINATION. weareconnections.com
Feature: Rediscover Europe
Malta With more than 3,000 hours of sunshine every year, Malta and her sisters islands, quaint Gozo and Comino (home of the Blue Lagoon) offer the perfect year-round Mediterranean getaway with swimming spots aplenty. Its 7,000-year history is a colourful one, with the islands playing host to the Phoenicians, the Romans and Napoleon Bonaparte. Such times gone by have not been forgotten, with traces of its influence found in the astounding architecture, most notable across the islands’ three UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Ħal-Saflieni Hypogeum, the Megalithic Temples and the walled capital city of Valletta. Packed with history and culture, there are ancient buildings, palaces, churches and works of art at every turn in Valletta. Converted 16th-century palazzos offer travellers old-world charm but with all the luxury comforts of today. Tucked into the cobbled corridors there’s casual eateries, Michelin-starred dining and some of the best cocktail bars on the island. Further afield there are excellent local Maltese vineyards to explore. Jump on a 20-minute ferry to Gozo for yoga, farm-to-fork lunches and a visit to the saltpans before returning to dine in Mdina, the silent city. visitmalta.com
Monaco Between the Alps and the Mediterranean sea, Monaco has been linked to the Grimaldi family for 700 years and has long been welcoming royalty, celebrities and travellers to this sun-soaked principality in the French Riviera. A place used to being on the world stage, Monaco is home to the challenging 78-lap Grand Prix circuit, where its famous hairpin can be viewed from the bedroom terraces at Hotel Fairmont Monte Carlo. Unwind on Fairmont’s rooftop, where you can find the hidden gem of Nikki Beach. The crème-de-la-crème of hospitality can also be found at Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo, Hôtel Métropole Monte-Carlo, Monte-Carlo Beach and Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo. Next door, the new, fully pedestrianised One Monte-Carlo offers luxury shopping, restaurants and residences in the heart of the Golden Triangle. The iconic Casino de Monte-Carlo and its legendary square, captured in the James Bond movie GoldenEye and overlooked by Café de Paris, are sights not to be missed. Visit the Port of Fontvieille for a wander around the Rock, with its winding alleyways that will lead you to Place du Palais. Time it right to see the daily changing of the guard at 11.55am and discover the renowned Oceanographic Museum before enjoying a spectacular dinner at one of several Michelin-starred venues. With the goal to be carbon-neutral by 2050, visitors are free to explore the districts by e-bikes, e-cars and e-boats. visitmonaco.com
Feature: Rediscover Europe
Portugal Whether it’s the World Heritage city of Porto, the captivating neighbourhoods of Lisbon, the slow pace of Alentejo, the coastal wonders of the Algarve or the far-flung archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal’s hospitality has exceptional breadth. Touch down in Lisbon, which is a few hours from any European capital. Though relatively small, every neighbourhood and street has something to discover. No trip is complete without a visit to the Castle of São Jorge before taking a stroll through characterful Alfama. Visit downtown Baixa Pombalina, taste the famous pastel de Belém and experience the city via water on Tagus River. Outside the capital the wonders continue. Follow the scenic waterfront road to Cascais and Estoril, a former summer resort for Europe’s royal families, or take a day trip to the romantic village of Sintra, the ‘Moon Hill’. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is a must-see for golden sandy beaches, the magnificent Quinta de Ribafria and the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. A popular route is the coastal tour, which takes the road north of Lisbon, passing fishing villages like Ericeira, now recognised as one of the world’s surfing reserves. visitportugal.com
Slovenia In the heart of Europe between the Alps, the Mediterranean and the mysterious Karst lies Slovenia. A land of unique natural wealth, Slovenia is world-famous for its thermal springs and mineral waters. One legend even tells of how the mythological winged horse Pegasus discovered the health-giving powers of Roitschocrene spring. Over thousands of years, Slovenia has developed some of the finest combinations of minerals in the world and, in turn, some of the best natural health resorts in Europe. The iconic image of Lake Bled reflects this paradise, where there’s a mild thermal climate and thermal springs of lake waters. No trip here is complete without taking the traditional pletna boat to Bled Island to make a wish. From the green capital of Ljubljana, explore the 900-year-old castle, visit the home of Jože Plečnik, a pioneering architect who left a mark on Ljubljana, and discover Ljubljana’s gastronomy. Beyond the city, visit the oldest European stud farm in Lipica, home to the noble white Lipizzaner horses. Continue deeper into the Karst to explore Predjama Castle, the largest cave castle in the world, as well as Postojna Cave, which features the only cave railway in the world. Inside, discover the five-metre-tall, bright-white stalagmite called Brilliant, and the most famous underground animal – the olm or ‘baby dragon’. Travel to the old port town of Piran, Slovenia’s beautiful Mediterranean town, which was developed under the influence of Venice. Known as the ‘town of salt’, it was here that the salt pans helped Piran to grow, becoming one of the most coveted spots in the country. slovenia.info
Previous page: Ring of Kerry landscape in Ireland, Procida in Italy Facing page from top: Mdina in Malta, Monaco Above: Lisbon, Lake Bled in Slovenia Pictures: Laurent Gerence, K Mitch Hodge, David Alfons, Rishi Jhajharia Hugo Sousa, Neven Krcmarek
Featured: Best City Hotels
City hotels Kimpton St Honoré
Located in the heart of Paris, Kimpton St Honoré is a luxury lifestyle boutique hotel featuring chic, modern design, casual dining, an amazing spa and unparalleled views of the city. Just moments away from Opéra, Faubourg Saint-Honoré and the Tuileries Gardens, this ultra-chic hotel reflects the lively spirit of the city.
Park Hyatt Tokyo
High above Shinjuku’s lively streets, the wide windows of Park Hyatt Tokyo’s spacious rooms offer beautiful views of Mount Fuji or Shinjuku. The New York Bar on the top floor is famous for its incredible views and the location for the iconic scene in the film Lost In Translation.
Grand and gracious, Rosewood London is one of the capital’s finest hotels — an idyllic urban sanctuary where the hum of the city slips away. The hotel combines English heritage with contemporary sophistication in the heart of the capital. The Grade II-listed, Belle Époque building has been sensitively renovated with the feel of a stylish London residence.
Featured: Best City Hotels
Introducing our hand-picked selection of city hotels within the Connections Luxury Community. Whether you’re on a city break, a business trip or visiting friends, these hotels provide the utmost luxury for a stay in the city
A Tokyo landmark since 1962, the Okura Tokyo is the epitome of Japanese hospitality and luxury. Set in Tokyo’s central Toranomon district, the hotel is composed of two towers: the Okura Heritage, representing authentic elegance and refinement, and the Okura Prestige, offering contemporary luxury and urbanity.
Aleph Rome Hotel
Housed in a historic palazzo that was once a prestigious Italian bank, this luxurious hotel fuses the splendour of fine Italian marbles and onyx with modern, spacious, hi-tech rooms. Each of the 88 luxurious guest rooms and suites greets you with style, comfort and connectivity, with everything you need for work, rest and play at your fingertips.
Maison Albar Hotels
Created in 2014 by Jean-Bernard and Céline Falco, the fivestar boutique hotel brand never ceases to inspire and grow. The first Maison hotel opened in Paris and was soon joined by sites in Provence, the French Riviera, Europe and China. Each Maison is unique and based on the French art of hospitality: casually luxurious and elegant by essence.
Leader Spotlight: Europe
Haour Ayala Head of Business Development
BRYAN SOMERS TRAVEL
A day in the life. One of the things I love about sales is that every day is different and brings new challenges. My daily focus is developing Bomporto Hotels’ business and diversifying business sources and markets affiliated with luxury and upscale partners.
A day in the life. Pretty much whatever is thrown at us that day. I am responsible for quotes, booking, contracting and advertising. It’s what I love about being a small, independent agent – each day is interesting and challenging.
On the mind. The Rebello, our upcoming industrial-chic hotel in Porto. The best booking ever made. The first buyout of the hotel by a major bank. Standout career moment. Becoming the Sales Manager of a landmark boutique hotel in Lisbon at 25 years old. Inspiration. Bold, smart and courageous people who drive change and growth in the business world. I switch off by... Embroidering. I know, one would never guess it. I’m such an active person. Book recommendation. Who Moved my Cheese? by Dr Spencer Johnson and The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. I believe I'm the only one in the community who... Had a hurricane called Leslie pay a visit at my wedding!
The best booking ever made. Booking 220 pax to the Four Seasons Toronto and getting Air Transat to start their flights from Belfast earlier to accommodate. We’ve booked more exciting since, but this one got us a lot of new clients and took us up a level. Standout career moment. Becoming the youngest manager in Thomas Cook Ireland (a long time ago). It gave me such a confidence boost and confirmed that this was the industry I wanted to be in. (Though as it turned out, just not that style of travel!) Inspiration. Working every day with my wife. She knows more and keeps me grounded (almost). I have about 100 ideas a day, of which 99.9 are usually terrible – she points this out, but in a good way. Book recommendation. Devil’s Advocate by Steve Cavanagh. I believe I'm the only one in the community who... Won the Irish Open Pro Am golf at Royal County Down.
Leader Spotlight: Europe
Q U I N T E S S E N T I A L LY
HOTEL VILLA HONEGG
Belgium - Luxembourg
A day in the life. I wake at 5.30am and take an hour for myself before getting my daughters ready for school. I arrive at the office at 8.15am. I’m in charge of the Belgian and Luxembourgish market and oversee the Lifestyle Manager and Business Development teams. It’s my job to ensure that we exceed the expectations of our existing members, and also to guide the member acquisition strategy. I also participate in corporate business meetings as well as attend networking events.
A day in the life. As General Manager and host of the hotel, my main priority is ensuring that our guests are amazed by their stay and are already thinking about their next visit. To achieve that, there are a lot of processes, service training and safety programmes that are necessary. It really boils down to providing great leadership for our team.
On the mind. Plenty, as usual! Personally, we just bought a new house and I’m training with friends to take part in the Corsica Raid challenge, to raise money for a local organisation to help children in need. Work-wise, we’re launching a new platform based on gastronomic experiences. It’s due in September, so it’s still quite confidential, but I’ll be happy to share more about it with the Connections family soon. The meaning of luxury. Luxury is hard to define. It’s a state of mind and is different from every perspective. Luxury is expensive but not overpriced. It’s high quality and thus long-lasting. It’s pleasing and unique. It could be rare and difficult to access. It’s service-minded, proactive and personalised. Carve a career in travel. Be curious, people-minded and friendly. Keep your eyes open. Be proactive and dynamic. Stay open…
On the mind. Ensuring that we keep our associate turnover low as the labour market is very competitive. The meaning of luxury. Providing an experience or a product that is very rare and unique. Inspiration. People who share their knowledge, who support others to achieve their goals, and who are true and great leaders. I switch off by... Running – whether it’s 5km or 50km. In a parallel life, I'd be... Doing exactly the same. I love what I am doing right now and the people I am surrounded by. Book recommendation. The Leader Who had No Title by Robin Sharma.
Book recommendation. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight. weareconnections.com
Guest Contribution: Chris Wisson
Wealthy travellers look to make up for
“Luxury travel should bounce back strongly in 2022 and beyond as wealthy travellers look to make up for lost time.” Chris Wisson of Altiant explains why luxury travel is well-placed to recover after a turbulent couple of years
he past two years have been immensely challenging for the tourism industry as Covid-19 halted international and even domestic travel for long periods. While the pandemic is still far from over, there are clear signs that societies are nudging back towards something like normal. Travel is one area where the wealthy are eagerly looking to make up for lost time. Having seen their travelling curtailed, many are now fully aware of the need to see the world while they can.
Luxury travel already bouncing back
Over the next 12 months, 55% of wealthy individuals plan to spend more on luxury experiences than they did over the past 12 months. Only 16% expect to spend less. This pent-up desire to travel will, of course, have a direct impact on spending, with 60% expecting to spend more on travel over the coming year and only 12% cutting back. This is actually the highest score for any industry, showing a clear desire for wealthy travellers to make up for lost time over the past two years.
Travel received the highest score for any industry, showing a clear desire for wealthy travellers to make up for lost time over the past two years
Where do HNWs plan to increase their category spending over the next year?
Travel (e.g. resorts, airfares, cruises)
Art and collectables
Base: 486 global affluent/HNWIs Source: Altiant
Nevertheless, many wealthy travellers are likely to remain somewhat watchful about planning their holidays, both in terms of frequency and location. Domestic and regional travel may continue to be preferred choices, while there remain some uncertainties about longer-haul travel. The onus is on the travel industry to remain agile and flexible to cater to the moving parts of holiday bookings. Enforced separation due to the pandemic means that many travellers are looking to take more of their holidays with other family members. These trips are often multi-generational as wealthy travellers look to travel with their nearest and dearest. There has also been a growing move away from superficial, bucket-list type trips and towards holidays with a deeper connection with the destination.
Travel agents can tap into this growth
By extension, the pandemic has meant that many people are also looking for more authentic and human experiences. In a survey with 500 wealthy APAC travellers in 2021, travel agents were the most influential people, after family and friends, when planning a holiday. Almost three-quarters said they planned to use travel agents for at least some of their trips in the year ahead. The main reasons for using agents were convenience, finding weareconnections.com
Guest Contribution: Chris Wisson the best deals and staying up to date on the changing travel rules and regulations. Now, more than ever, many wealthy travellers are looking for a highly personal and curated relationship with agents. Anticipating client wants and needs, and finding unique experiences will be extremely well received and reinforce relationships. The affluent often tell us that despite having an abundance of money, they have a paucity of time. As such, agents have the opportunity to take the new potential stresses and bureaucracy out of holidays so their clients can travel regularly, and with peace of mind.
of a net benefit, or at least neutral, to the location. This means contributing to the local economy, interacting with the locals and immersing themselves in the local culture. And, of course, staying in eco-friendly accommodation whenever possible. Many leading hotel chains now have this strategy as a key part of their business goals. This can be implemented in various and innovative ways, such as reducing water usage, growing food on-site and eliminating single-use plastics.
Many affluent individuals now expect companies to be acting sustainably, so much so that it is becoming the norm rather than the expectation. Those companies that do not acknowledge this, or do so without commitment and integrity, risk being left behind The rise of the responsible traveller
We are all aware of the ongoing climate crisis and the need to make more environmentally-friendly choices in our lives. Many consumers are now making sustainable choices a priority when buying goods and services, with almost half of wealthy individuals saying they ‘almost’ or ‘frequently’ do so. That only 7% ‘never’ look out for these factors shows how integral this subject has become in the purchase decision-making process. This is increasingly true for tourism, where there has been a steady growth towards travelling with purpose. Increasingly, conscientious holiday-goers are looking for their trips to be
Frequency of actively researching or looking out for brands making sustainability claims 8% Always
10% Rarely 7% Never Base: 296 global affluent/HNWIs Source: Altiant
All parts of the travel industry – transport, accommodation, catering, to name but three –need to take up the mantle on this issue and formulate credible plans to tackle it. Sustainability is increasingly being put front and centre, and many affluent individuals now expect companies to be acting sustainably, so much so that it is becoming the norm rather than the expectation. Those companies that do not acknowledge this, or do so without commitment and integrity, risk being left behind.
Chris Wisson is the Knowledge Director of Altiant and a mentor and guest speaker of Connections Luxury (email@example.com). Facing page: Luxury yacht harboured in Monaco Above: Santa Barbara Eco Resort Pictures: Danilo Capece, Santa Barbara Eco Resort
Member Benefits: Little Perks
LITTLE PERKS Exclusively for the Connections Luxury Community, treat yourself and your clients with our curated benefits, gifted by Connections Leaders, as well as some of our favourite luxury brands
Have a perk you'd like to share with the community? Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
Member Benefits: TravelSafe
Access to real-time data on Covid-19 travel restrictions on both arrival and return destinations
TravelSafe provides: Country-to-country coverage for 81% of the world 100% regional coverage in USA, Canada and Australia Supports 21 key city destinations within the EU Use TravelSafe to find out: Restrictions & requirements at both arrival & return destinations Types of tests and documentation required at border controls Quarantine requirements on arrival & on return Covid-19 transmission levels at the destination Vaccine exemptions If clubs & restaurants are open If you need to use masks
Simply login to the Connections Luxury Community Platform to access TravelSafe and start using it for all your bookings
Where life’s tempo is a little more deliberate...
68 June 2022
“SLO CAL offers the next wave of luxury to upscale travellers — one that is intimate, experience-focused and detail-oriented. Our kaleidoscope of cultures come to life in a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere that invites luxury travellers to live life to the fullest” Chuck Davison, President and Chief Executive, Visit SLO CAL
The road less travelled
alfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, cut through by the 101-mile California Highway One, sits some of the state’s most show-stopping scenery – emerald vineyards tucked between rolling hills, pristine coastline sheltering secluded beaches and quaint seaside villages lapped by opal shores. This is San Luis Obispo County – or Slo Cal, to the locals. A land of fertile farmland, tumbling sand dunes and elaborate estates, where outdoor adventures – from seal-spotting to surfing, hiking to horse riding – meet some of the state’s best wineries, concentrated around its beating heart, San Luis Obispo, the city dubbed “the happiest place in America”. Here you’ll find luxury boutique hotels and worldclass tasting rooms, antique shops and artisan food stores, clustered around a historic downtown lined with traditional Spanish architecture. There’s eclectic spots like the whimsical Bubblegum Alley rubbing shoulders with cultural haunts including the Museum of Art, and historic sights such as the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa – famed for its fragrant gardens and intricate motifs – meeting the likes of Slo Creek, where locals sit dining by the river beneath sunny skies. This university city has a vibrant nightlife too, best seen in its slew of craft breweries and independent bars, and every Thursday night a farmers’ market turns main drag Higuera Street into a giant party, with live music, street performers and roadside barbecues drawing visitors from across the region. But Slo Cal isn’t just about the city, with some of its most enchanting lures found in the surrounding landscapes. Drive 15 minutes east of the city and you’ll find
Montana de Oro State Park, where scenic bluff trails overlook dramatic cliffs and canyons, and hills turn orange-gold in spring beneath carpets of colourful wildflowers.
Halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles sits some of the state’s most show-stopping scenery – emerald vineyards tucked between pristine coastline sheltering secluded beaches and quaint seaside villages lapped by opal shores In the south lies Edna Valley, one of the state’s most prized wine regions, where mild year-round climes and gentle coastal breezes help to produce awardwinning Pinot Noirs and exceptional Chardonnays. Pay a visit to Chamisal Vineyards to explore the oldest winery in the valley, or stop by Edna Valley Vineyard for private patio tastings against a backdrop of lush, undulating vines. Elsewhere in the south you’ll find a smattering of seaside towns – among them Pismo Beach, a laid-back surf spot where visitors can glimpse humpback whales in migration season and ride ATVs over the sand dunes before kayaking alongside colonies of sea birds and seals. At Avila Beach there’s paddleboarding, sailing and hiking, while the nearby Avila Valley is famous for its natural hot springs and wineries, as well as one-off farm shops like the iconic Avila Barn. Further south weareconnections.com
still sits Oceano, a 1,200-acre state park that’s home to California’s largest dunes complex at 18 miles long, and lays claim to being the only beach in the state visitors can drive across. There’s more in the way of dramatic coastal views north of the city – not least in Cayucos, a tiny beach town with a historic pier and boardwalk lined with upscale boutiques and restaurants. Head to the working fishing town of Morro Bay for fresh oysters and wildlife sightings, or stop by Ragged Point for dramatic, craggy cliffs dropping into an expanse of azure (it’s also the gateway to Big Sur).
Slo Cal might not get the hype of its bigger, better-known siblings, but if you’re looking to experience a less-travelled side to the Golden State, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better spot
Beyond the beaches there’s plenty more to see, too. Hearst Castle in San Simeon is well worth a visit, with its opulent art collection and lush, manicured gardens, originally built for newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst, who was known for his love of European art. But much of Slo Cal is also cowboy country, and no visit here is complete without taking in the likes of Paso Robles – home to more than 200 wineries and around 40 grape varieties – and San Miguel, where sprawling ranches nestle among colourful orchards and towering oak trees. Farm-to-table dining is something of a buzzword in the region too, and Santa Margarita dishes up exceptional cuisine – and a burgeoning craft beer scene – in spades, while the small town of Templeton serves freshly-sourced produce with a side of proud local tradition. Each of these places has its own unique character, but what unites them all is a warm, friendly welcome everywhere you go, and a leisurely pace of life that’s all about taking it slow. Slo Cal might not get the hype of its bigger, betterknown siblings, but if you’re looking to experience a less-travelled side to the Golden State, where you can embark on exclusive adventures, sample world-class wines and get a taste of Californian culture without the crowds to accompany it, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better spot. California Luxury Forum powered by Connections will be hosted from 23-26 October 2022 Words: Laura French Above, clockwise from left: Morro Bay, Hotel SLO, Hotel Cerro Facing: San Luis Obispo County Previous page: Morro Bay Pictures: Visit SLO CAL, Jeremy Bishop
W H E R E T O S TAY
Hotel SLO Inspired by ranch and beach, Hotel SLO, San Luis Obispo’s newest urban resort, is a place to recharge and from which to explore. Here, guests can live vividly. Bright and spacious rooms pop with bold and playful colours. Paintings, installations and sculptures are dotted throughout the property, each one exclusively created for the hotel by local California artists. Taste buds are teased with Hotel SLO’s celebration of local produce; grab artisan breads and pastries to go, dine on one of Chef Ryan Fancher’s incredible creations, or kick back with a glass of local wine on the rooftop High Bar. Hop on one of the hotel’s complimentary bikes or take a guided mountain tour, and after a day of coastal adventures, opt for one of SLO Spa’s carefully selected treatments. hotel-slo.com
Hotel Cerro With a mission to be one of the best eco-hotels in California, Hotel Cerro’s foundations are built with energy efficiency at its heart. From the choice of building materials, lighting and temperature regulations to the in-room amenities, food transportation, edible gardens and reusable water bottles given to each guest, every detail has been considered – without knocking its high-touch service. Sixty-five rooms and suites, as well as eight oneand two-bedroom residences, are housed in this boutique hotel, along with several eateries, including its own custom copper Holstein Still distillery, which is open for private dinners and customised wine pairings. There’s also a gym, spa, pool and fitness centre on-site, or guests can take to the outdoors on hikes and bike trails. Or head to the rooftop patio to soak in the 360-degree views of the breathtaking mountain peaks. hotelcerro.com
San Francisco, the gateway to
Napa Valley With vibrant cities, national parks and award-winning wineries, Northern California has so much to offer the luxury traveller. Just an hour north of the colourful houses and bustling streets of San Francisco sit the rolling hills of the peaceful Napa Valley countryside
WHERE TO STAY
WHAT TO DO
Fairmont San Francisco
Atop centrally located Nob Hill, San Francisco’s most prestigious residential district, world-renowned Fairmont San Francisco presents grand luxury with the best panoramic views in the City. Over the decades, this landmark hotel has welcomed Hollywood icons, presidents and royalty, and is famously known to be the first place Tony Bennett sang “I left my heart in San Francisco”.
Decadent and calming, Hotel Yountville provides the utmost luxury retreat for wine country lovers. Centrally located in the picturesque town of Yountville, this charming hotel is moments away from Michelin-starred restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms. The heated outdoor swimming pool and whirlpool tub are the perfect way to unwind after a day exploring. hotelyountville.com
The Palace Hotel
Encounter the luxury of the Gilded Age, historic architecture and world-class service in this classically elegant hotel. Established in 1875, it is San Francisco’s first ever premier hotel and has certainly become an iconic landmark. marriott.com
Bardessono Hotel & Spa
Nestled in the heart of Napa Valley sits the modern, private and rejuvenating Bardessono Hotel & Spa. This calming oasis boasts a rooftop pool and eclectic gardens, and has recently unveiled a collection of new, luxury villas for those seeking a secluded space. bardessono.com
Located right next to the Golden Gate Bridge, the Presidio is recognised as a National Historic Landmark District and one of America’s most popular national park sites. Guests can hike 24 miles of trails, play a round of golf on its 145-acre, 18-hole course, take a stroll down to Baker Beach or bike across the flat Crissy Field Trail. And when hunger kicks in, there are multiple picnic spots to enjoy impressive views of the Pacific Ocean.
With over 400 wineries to choose from, planning a visit to Napa Valley can be overwhelming. Chanel-owned St Supéry Winery is not one to disappoint. As well as producing 100% estate-grown wines, this picturesque winery also provides first-class experiences, including an Estate Sauvignon Blanc and Tsar Nicoulai caviar pairing. For premium sparkling wine lovers, Domaine Chandon is a must-visit to sample a selection of Rosés and Bruts, including a newly launched ‘Garden Spritz’. stsupery.com/chandon.com
San Francisco Giants
What better way to immerse yourself in the energy of San Francisco than heading down to Oracle Park to watch the Giants play at their home ground. What’s more, enhance your experience by cruising the bay aboard the Giants-owned ‘California Spirit’ yacht ,which docks moments away from the stadium. Pair your voyage with an exclusive VIP game day tour to fully soak up the atmosphere of the stadium. giantsenterprises.com
Words: Alissia Genco-Russo Above from left: Fairmont San Francisco Penthouse Suite, Bardessono rooftop pool, view of Golden Gate Bridge from the Presidio Pictures: Fairmont San Francisco, Bardessono Hotel & Spa, Presidio Trust
Introducing the new
luxury traveller In March 2022, selected global luxury buyers and Californian suppliers gathered in San Francisco for the fifth California Luxury Forum powered by Connections. Mike Gallinari, US Travel and Leisure Reports Analyst at Mintel presented his latest findings, announcing an emerging trend: "luxury unbundling". Mike's insights kicked-off a wider debate about the changing high-net-worth traveller and what it means for the industry... Luxury travellers in the general population are younger than HNW luxury travellers, and nearly half make less than six figures. As such, luxury travel providers can tell their story to two different demographic audiences. Privacy is most important for genpop, whereas customisation is the key trend for HNW travellers.
Experiences are being upgraded, stays are getting longer because of the priorities being adjusted with the traveller
s the industry starts to recover and resurge following the pandemic, we’re witnessing the transformation of luxury travel – and indeed the definition of luxury – once again. Luxury travel is perhaps the most immediate sector to bounce back, and it is this sector that is vital to California’s tourism recovery. Over the course of the pandemic, over two-thirds of Connections Luxury buyers have expanded their product, with North America being the second-highest in terms of destination expansion. The luxury traveller proved to not only remain strong during a global pandemic, but has become stronger. It is therefore important to understand how this luxury segment is changing so the industry can better identify and market to this audience.
During the pandemic, we saw great strides of personal savings so people were willing to upgrade their travel Mike Gallinari, Mintel On one hand, we have the traditional luxury traveller that we are all very familiar with. On the other hand, a new category of traveller is emerging; one typically found outside the high-net-worth bracket, but who is participating more and more within luxury travel. As a result, we are seeing the emergence of “luxury unbundling” - that is, luxury properties are beginning to offer “room-only” rates which allows guests to have to luxury experience without paying for the aspects they don’t plan to use.
Mo Noubani, The Travel Box A word from leaders in travel: Today’s luxury travellers are looking for experiential, exclusive and enriching experiences. They’re also mindful of protocols and want flexibility through refundable itineraries.
Five-star accommodation is still important to the luxury traveller, but customised trips are more compelling than ever. HNW travellers are spending longer in one destination, exploring the outdoors and
HNW travellers are now looking for wide open spaces, amazing weather, sustainability and cultural diversity” Becky Merry-Barrango, Visit Napa Valley
of luxury travellers in the general population took their trip in past year, aided by a glut of personal savings and the unbundling of luxury offers
Base: 2,000 internet users aged 18+; 1,001 internet users aged 18+ with a net worth of $500K or more Source: Kantar Profiles/Mintel, May 2019-January 2021
enjoying authentic interactions with the locals. There is a return to the energy of cities, though conditional on experiences being one’s own. Privacy has become an overarching trend across the luxury travel trade. There has been a rise of bookings from new clients, including those that fall outside the traditional HNW traveller bracket. Genpop are spending more money on hotel and flight upgrades, as well as VIP experiences. Where before they would typically join a group booking, now they want to enjoy private excursions. International travel is returning, and domestic travel remains strong. As a result, travel advisors are booking more local business, becoming domestic experts to service the demand for customised itineraries.
“Luxury dipped the least, and rebounded the quickest” Jonny Westom, Sonoma County
Genpop show strong luxury intent:
T H E DATA
US consumers intend to have a luxe experience in next 12 months
of UK travellers say the same, however…
of those make less than $50,000 annually
What makes travel, luxury? Genpop 1
Though advisors aren’t receiving requests specifically for sustainable options, they are finding that clients are responding very well when advised of responsible habits and initiatives adopted by hotels, attractions and experiences. Meanwhile, suppliers are receiving more requests from groups, especially companies running incentives or leisure itineraries as a way to maintain their own sustainability standards. DMOs are working hard with travel trade to understand exactly what the client is looking for, but it was agreed that it’s the responsibility of the trade to educate the luxury consumer and increase demand for sustainable travel.
Base: 2,000 internet users aged 18+; 1,001 internet users aged 18+ with a net worth of $500K or more Source: Kantar Profiles/Mintel, January 2021
Social media is a valuable source of vacation inspiration for young travellers. Instagram remains strong, with Facebook waning and TikTok rising in importance as an influence.
Above from top: Becky Merry-Barrango of Visit Napa Valley, Jonny Westom of Sonoma Country Facing from left: Mike Gallinari of Mintel, Mo Noubani of The Travel Box Pictures: Max Whittaker
Featured: Best in Americas
Americas Shutters on the Beach and Hotel Casa del Mar
Time has only improved this iconic Hollywood boutique hotel in the heart of LA. In 1970, legendary Hollywood actress Beverly Garland and her husband Fillmore Crank discovered this bucolic seven-acre property and built one of the most stylish retro-chic hotels in North Hollywood, an oasis within the high-energy excitement of Los Angeles.
Destinations in their own right, these neighbouring sister properties are the only hotels in Santa Monica that sit directly on the beach. Shutters offers the essence of the laid-back Southern Californian lifestyle, and Casa Del Mar is a grand yet welcoming Mediterranean-inspired villa, perfectly complementing its sister hotel.
A collection of luxury hotels in Mexico. Casona Sforza is an elegantly minimalist getaway; Hotel Cigno is a bespoke Mexican refuge in the historic centre of Merida; Majaro Hotel Tulum is a peaceful haven where you can find moments of serenity; and L’otel Chiquito is an intimate and romantic experience nestled in the quietest streets of San Miguel de Allende.
Featured: Best in Americas
Introducing our carefully hand-picked selection of the best properties and experiences in the Americas region within the Connections Luxury Community
Rivers & Forests Expeditions Navigate through one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature in luxury. Voyage the Peruvian Amazon in a sophisticated prestige or master suite, offering a panoramic view of the Amazon river. The vessel has four decks, including an open-air observation deck, ideal for those passengers who want to enjoy the sun and a panoramic view of the natural environment.
Experience a unique way to travel to Machu Picchu, exploring the Andean landscape like never before with wider and taller panoramic windows. The first-class train offers maximum comfort and space onboard. Enjoy the changing landscape at the Observatory-Lounge, with live music, a gourmet menu, bar and outdoor balcony, where you can absorb the beauty of Andean nature and culture.
Contemporary yet timeless, and less than an hour from Santiago, Hotel Las Majadas connects you with the unique places and flavours of Chile. Sophisticated yet spontaneous, discerning and adventurous travellers who appreciate luxury with a side of relaxation will consider Hotel Las Majadas their home away from home.
Leader Spotlight: Americas
Henry Rodriguez Director, Inbound Division
On the mind. I am working on a new project which is quite exciting Medical Tourism in Costa Rica. We are teaming up with a very high-end dental clinic in the country to offer programs which combine dental health and tourism… stay tuned for more! Also, we have a new team member joining us soon so we’re preparing some marketing projects that we’ll be working together on. The meaning of luxury. To me, it means being able to live new and exciting experiences that will help me grow as a human being. Luxury means allowing me to connect deeper with myself and others to become a better person. It’s a feeling, a taste, a smell, a sight; it involves all your senses with the ultimate goal of enjoying life! Book recommendation. I read mostly novels and enjoy inspiring stories very much, those that give me hope and strength to keep going. I recently read the Joy Luck Club by Amy Tang - it came out in 2006 and I really loved it. June 2022
T E R R AN O VA TRAVEL DESIGN
A day in the life. As a leader from the DMC Division at Terranova Corp, I have a very wide range of duties. A usual day starts with checking emails, assigning inquiries before reviewing our social media and marketing strategies. I usually have at least two meetings with clients, who are looking to learn more about our company or want to discuss any details about their upcoming trip to Costa Rica. I try to safeguard an hour to read business news and industry trends, and close the day with a quick status update with the team.
A day in the life. My day starts really early – I usually say goodbye to the moon and welcome the sun. The first morning hours are entirely mine, dedicated to yoga practice, meditation and training. After a good breakfast, I'm ready with much more energy and inspiration to listen carefully to each client and dive into the making and personalisation of each trip. The meaning of luxury. When the magic happens! Our challenge is to make the magic happen. Surprise and thrill our travellers. The best booking ever made. One in particular springs to mind, which was inspired by a book the client read: El tiempo entre costuras by María Dueñas. From there, I developed the itinerary and experiences; of course the book was very special, a real gift for me to surprise them and exceed expectations. I spared no effort, everything was provided with our wonderful partners: hoteliers, concierges, chefs…the best people to make the magic happen! Standout career moment. When my partner and sister, Marcia Viana, told me it was time to open Viana Turismo 27 years ago. I felt that mixture of happiness, fear and enchantment and it was a moment that marked me a lot! I remember exactly her every word as if it was today. In a parallel life... My avatar is playing tennis at a professional level in the ATPs around the world. weareconnections.com
Leader Spotlight: Americas
Global Business Development
LESLIE PARKER TRAVEL
HOTEL LAS MAJADAS
A day in the life. Now that my kids are out of the house and my husband is retired, all I am responsible for is myself! I have coffee and breakfast, sit at the computer most of the day planning holidays for clients - and of course my next trip. I putter in the garden or ride my e-bike and enjoy my evenings with my husband or friends. Kind of a simple day...daydreaming about my next adventure. On the mind. Right now I'm working on launching a wine touring branch of my business. I've always wanted to take small groups to explore special food and wine destinations in Europe and South America, so I'm starting small with one trip to explore the Veneto region of Italy. I hope to expand to several trips a year, in other regions of Italy as well as Spain, France, Croatia, and Argentina. Most interesting guest hosted. While staying with in-laws in West Germany in 1983, we hosted an elderly gentleman who had been permitted to leave East Germany to visit his family. It was so interesting to hear about what life was like before and after the Berlin Wall. We got a fascinating peek "behind the iron curtain". Inspiration. I'm a Gemini so my mind sparks from so many different things. A good song inspires me to get up and dance. A beautiful view, or piece of art inspires me to get out my paint brush. When I travel, I always bring a watercolor kit and find a view to capture. Kindness from strangers fills me with emotion and the energy to help others. weareconnections.com
A day in the life. I am responsible for finding international business opportunities for Hotel Las Majadas. On the mind. How many businesses were able to adjust their strategies, diversify their objectives considering the new normal. I've seen many tourism-related businesses afraid to implement more aggressive sales solutions. The meaning of luxury. Above all, luxury is accessing an experience that transforms me. Anything related to exalting my senses, enjoying life without preconceived barriers, giving freedom to my emotions and enjoying the experience of being happy. Standout career moment. There are many moments, but a highlight which really helped my career to rise was at the age of 32, when I became hotel manager at El Pardo Doubletree Hotel Lima – Peru. Inspiration. My life purpose: my family! In a parallel life... I'd be an artist in Tanzania. I believe I’m the only one in the community who… Has been selected in two different sports (swimming and volleyball) to participate in international championships with the national team (Peru), and one as a captain. June 2022
Memory plays an important role in business. Eric Kandel was awarded the Nobel Prize for discovering the role that memory plays in our brains; nothing is remembered without emotions. And by creating a positive, shared emotion, this will help to fast-track meaningful, long-lasting business relationships
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Connections Luxury: 2022 Calendar of Events
Calendar of Events 2022 / 2023
26-29 June Connections Luxury in Madeira
13 July Quarterly Virtual Event
1-4 September Connections Luxury Seoul
25-28 September Connections Luxury in London
12 October Quarterly Virtual Event
23-26 October California Luxury Forum
13-16 November Connections Luxury Tokyo
5 & 6 December Connections Social in Cannes
February Quarterly Virtual Event
4-7 March Connections Luxury Middle East in Oman
April Quarterly Virtual Event
May Connections Social at SLS Dubai Hotel
June Connections Luxury Europe in Barcelona
July Quarterly Virtual Event
September Connections Luxury UK & Ireland
TBC California Luxury Forum
October Quarterly Virtual Event
Correct at time of publishing
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THE QUEEN’S AWARDS FOR ENTERPRISE: INTERNATIONAL TRADE 2020