Shortly into the New Year, I got an e-mail from my retired older brother with multiple photos attached, telling me what a great time he, his wife, his in-laws, grown kids, and newborn granddaughter had on a recent Christmas visit to Florida. He never did say where they went or where they stayed. When I asked, I was flabbergasted. They vacationed in Naples and stayed at the Ritz! My surprise stemmed from the fact that my brother has historically been very frugal; nothing flashy about him. I'm quite sure this was his first stay at a Ritz or similar top-notch property, or at least the first time it wasn't on a corporate expense account.
I commented that he seemed to be loosening the purse strings of late and speculated that he was being influenced (positively in my mind) by his new in-laws, folks who seem to travel well and enjoy the good things in life. He acknowledged that, but added that he was also following the lead of his own daughter and her new husband, classic Gen-Xers for whom the best is never too good.
It's certainly been my experience that Gen-Xers (and Gen-Yers, for that matter) are more intrepid travelers (at least at an earlier age) than their Boomer parents were. They've never been afraid to take the road less traveled, to set out on their own, forsaking the comfort and security of group tours, and to spend, often lavishly, on the things that are important to them. And travel and the good life are often at the top of their spend lists.
I was actually heartened by the fact that my conservative older brother was finally traveling more and doing it in style. It never ceases to amaze me how much time and energy many people will spend seeking out the cheapest-by-$10 airfare or the greatest Internet special (usually with lots of strings attached). Which leads me to my #1 Travel Rule: Focus on the experience, not the expense. Years from now you won't remember how much you spent or saved on any given trip, just how good a time you had. And that's as it should be.
Travel Missions: Impossible
I must admit I was a bit piqued that my brother hadn't booked their vacation stay through Hideaways. After all, a lot of what we do is group travel, especially multi-generational reunions. Not only are we experts at it, but we usually come up with some pretty good deals. For instance, we recently, on very short notice, planned a four-day stay for 30 people at the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta and got them an unbeatable rate, well under $200 per night.
This is not something we normally like to brag about (because it usually ends up being a lot of work!), but over the 28 years we've been in business, we've taken on many a "mission: impossible" of travel and "delivered the goods."
Most recently, we managed to secure two suites over the Christmas holiday at St. Barths' tony (and booked-out-long-in-advance) Le Toiny for a publisher of an influential business magazine. We also planned a 50th wedding anniversary "Grand Tour" of Europe for the head of one of the country's largest financial institutions.
Matter of fact, when I think about it, the list of corporate titans and glitterati for whom we've planned vacations could fill several pages. Since '79 we've planned lots of vacations for high-profile members, including a New York Times best-selling author of thrillers, a supermodel, the daughter of a former U.S. President, a well-known sitcom producer, a top singer/songwriter, a beloved movie star, and other famous and not-so-famous Aficionados. I'm not saying this to drop names. In fact, you might notice that we haven't actually mentioned any names. That's because privacy is usually important to such folks, so it likewise is important to us. I only mention them because these folks tend to be very busy and very demanding, and they think enough of Hideaways to put their trust in us.
I hasten to add, however, that every vacation we plan for every member—no matter how elaborate or how simple the trip may be—gets our utmost attention. And while we have our favorite lodgings and cruises (partners in The Hideaways Collection) which offer special member-only perks and rates, much of our planning involves a wide selection of other hotels, resorts, villa rentals, and cruises around the world that we are familiar with and can also recommend, depending of course on each individual's tastes and requirements. The reward for our planning assistance is in the fantastic feedback we get about the wonderful times members have had at all the places around the world we've sent them off to enjoy.
Remember that New Year's resolution. Travel well . . . and often . . . and be sure to let us know how we can be of help.
Flotsam & Jetsam
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P.S. Happy Groundhog Day! If you see your shadow today, don't go back into hibernation for the rest of winter. Grab that passport and travel somewhere instead!