Publisher's Note: Strive For Nothing Less Than the Real Thing

John McMahon with Mr. XI’m just back from St. Kitts, where a few of my friends and I helped out one of our buddies who owns a condo down there. In between sprucing up the place, we managed to enjoy some of the island’s offerings. I guess you could say it was a real guys’ getaway.

What I loved about St. Kitts was its natural style. The best evening we spent was a Thursday night at Mr. X’s Shiggidy Shack, an incredibly rustic beachfront restaurant on the Frigate Bay Strip, where I had some of the best freshly caught spiny lobster of my life. And this was no small lobster; in fact, the size averaged the length of my forearm. The best part about Shiggidy Shack is that both locals and visitors to the island come there. (Hint: On Thursdays, there’s a band and dancers.) Everyone is welcome to sit at a picnic table and dig in, and you can even bury your feet in the sand as you eat. If you’re lucky, even the owner will join you, making you feel more like an insider. 

To me, that’s luxury; enjoying a true local experience in a relaxing manner where you get to feel as if you’re a part of a destination, even if for a moment.

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By the way, I’m shown here with Mr. X of Mr. X’s Shiggidy Shack, which, as it turns out, was a recipient of the “St. Kitts Experience” Awards held recently. Mr. X’s very appropriately won the Kittitian Experience Award.

If you read our cover story this month, you’ll see that that’s what Ken Fish, founder and president of Absolute Travel, has always strived to do with his company, which takes affluent travelers all over the world. His clients don’t want a vanilla experience in an overly protected environment; they want the real thing. Sampling a new destination before the masses have discovered it and meeting with people who very much define the place they’re visiting—those are the memories that will stick with his travelers. Such itineraries are not easy to construct and that’s why Fish and his team were winners of the Luxury Travel Advisor Awards of Excellence in 2011 in the “Best Local Destination Management Company” category.

Indeed, travelers more than ever want the real thing when they take time out of their busy schedules and get on an airplane with their loved ones. If you read the findings from our roundtable on pages 34 through 37, you’ll see that that’s exactly what our panelists said they’re seeing. “It’s a lot of experiential travel and authentic local flavors,” according to Albert Herrera, senior vice president for global product partnerships, Virtuoso.

So don’t be afraid to provide an experience for your clients that might be a bit “down and dirty” that allows them to take off their shoes and sit down with the locals in a destination and savor a scene. I guarantee you, when they come back from their vacation that’s what they’ll be raving about and they’ll have you to thank.

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