As the sun sets on 2108 and we welcome in 2019, TDL’s Luxury Travel Muse and Executive Edge Travel’s Co-Founder and Head of Leisure, Yvonne Verstandig, has a chance to reflect on the past 12 months. “And what a 12 months I’ve had,” Yvonne says. “Every year I don’t think it can get any crazier for me, but every year I seem to step it up a notch. It’s exhausting yet exhilarating. Allow me to share some highlights with you.”
Family travel in Sri Lanka
My favourite travel experiences are those shared with my family so the year started with a bang, with our extended family group travelling through Sri Lanka together in January.
Hiking through the stunning scenery of the tea plantations was absolutely breathtaking. Meeting the local people and getting some behind-the-scenes insights into their way of life fed my craving for immersion into the local culture while travelling.
Skiing the slopes of Austria
The Ski Buzz Tour in Austria last March was a major part of my highlights reel for 2018. When so much time is spent planning a bespoke tour and the execution goes according to plan, I couldn’t be happier. Even better is the exhilaration felt by our participants.
We took on some serious off-piste skiing in fabulous snow with no one but us, the mountains and the sky. Sheer bliss!
Pure Pursuits in Norway
I have previously written and talked about my joy in attending Pure Pursuits in Norway in April, so I won’t repeat myself here.
Suffice to say my first ever camping experience overlooking the Geirangerfjord and then up in the snow were certainly memorable experiences. Although really, the whole event was a highlight with a capital H. One of my fellow “Pure Pursuiters” Soliman Han Ma photographed this beautiful image (above) of our camp site.
A special time in Singapore
May found me at the Singapore Virtuoso Owner’s Manager meeting and International Luxury Travel Market Asia.
I was so proud to receive the award for Most Engaged Agency for the APAC region on behalf of Executive Edge Travel. This highlights the importance we place on our commitment to the industry and was so wonderful to have the acknowledgement by Virtuoso.
Engadine Mountains, St Moritz
I can’t go past hiking along the edge of a glacier to 3207 metres in the Engadine Mountains with fellow industry colleagues. St Moritz – what a remarkable setting for the Private Luxury Forum 2018.
I could write a whole book about eating our way through Sicily with family and friends in July, let alone highlighting all the incredible experiences on offer.
I’ll never forget climbing to the rim of Mt Etna and looking down into the mouth of the volcano with the fumes and steam hissing back at us, along with our time spent on the unique island of Pantelleria.
Viva Las Vegas
Viva Las Vegas Virtuoso Travel Week (VTW).
Mad, hectic but always a fabulous time working hard and connecting in the industry. A highlight at this year’s VTW was hosting our European colleagues at the gala dinner.
Special memories of Kauri Cliffs
Spent our wedding anniversary at Kauri Cliffs in the beautiful Bay of Islands prior to attending the Virtuoso Strategic Working Group Meeting in New Zealand.
Perfect opportunity to mix home and work life.
Wolgan Valley’s wild charms
Was reminded of how much Australia has to offer while staying at the Emirates One & Only Wolgan Valley, one of the Luxury Lodges of Australia a few hours from Sydney. I was amazed by the stunning scenery filled with native wildlife. The Australian bush at its best.
“I had some amazing experiences in England, thanks to the Four Seasons UK team, including getting behind the scenes at the Wellington Barracks and visiting Highclere Castle where we had a thoroughly engaging conversation with Lady Canarvon. Then it was over to Cannes to attend International Luxury Travel Market.”
From Milan to London to Cannes
Visited clients in Milan before heading to London to join the Four Seasons APAC Leader’s Summit.
I had some amazing experiences in England, thanks to the Four Seasons UK team, including getting behind the scenes at the Wellington Barracks and visiting Highclere Castle where we had a thoroughly engaging conversation with Lady Canarvon.
Then it was over to Cannes to attend International Luxury Travel Market. Felt like a real celebrity at the Four Seasons opening brunch – what a buzz.
Travel is my passion
Many of my clients travel at this time of year so this month has culminated in making sure everyone gets to experience some highlights of their own. Looking back on my year, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to be working in this industry. Travel is my passion and I get to live it every day.
My wish for everyone reading this is to experience some of what I get to experience in the year ahead and to be fully immersed in the things you love, surrounded by the people who mean the world to you.