|At Ultra Luxury Exchange: I’m shown here with Peter Carideo of CRC Travel and Gerard Bellino of Wordview Travel.|
What a month it’s been. We’ve just wrapped up our first Ultra Luxury Exchange in Miami (see pages 36-38). Crafting the first Ultra was an experience. We wanted to provide content that would not only be useful for travel advisor attendees and supplier ambassadors but also equip them with plenty of time to network.
This may seem like an odd parallel, but it felt like planning a wedding. You worry about who to invite, suffer over who cannot attend and deal with last-minute issues you couldn’t have fathomed in your wildest dreams. But at the end of it all, you bring together a group of wonderful people in a quality setting; those two components usually gel pretty well together, and in the case of Ultra, that’s just what happened.
What I enjoyed most over the few days were the comments I heard from travel advisors who were meeting their counterparts from other consortia, whom they’d heard of but never met before. They were, in a sense, leading parallel lives in separate universes. Virtually everyone left with new or newly reinforced relationships, I’m happy to say.
In the end, it really did feel like an event with dear friends in attendance who seemed happy to have made the trip to Ultra but who seemed equally enthusiastic to get home to implement some of the ideas they’d fostered during our discussion sessions and in their interactions with their colleagues and suppliers. They were also eager to get back to work. Times are good and luxury travel advisors are thriving, but this means putting in hours and hours of planning complex itineraries and dealing with dozens upon dozens of tiny details that make a dream trip evolve into an incredible memory.
There has been much more going on as you can infer from this issue of Luxury Travel Advisor, where we are also presenting the winners of our Awards of Excellence. This time around, we focused keenly on those hotels that debuted over the course of last year. The toppers are those who managed to hit homeruns coming out of the gate and thus impressed the discerning readers of this magazine. Opening a new hotel is not easy, but with the right leadership, it can be done in a successful manner. Please join us in congratulating the champions; after all, you, our readers, selected them.