We did the funniest thing a few weeks ago. We walked over to the main street of the town that we live in and enjoyed a great afternoon of looking in the shop windows. Why was that funny? We’ve lived in the same town for 20 years and this was the first time we’d ever done such a thing.
For me, the town where I live is the place from which I commute into Manhattan every day. Its main street is the road I cut through to get to the airport. It has a few restaurants and bars and even a bowling alley but I’ve always considered these establishments to be too close to home to be worthy of a visit. I can get food and liquor at my house, just five minutes away and it’s free, or at least it seems that way. And I was never really into bowling. (I’m left handed so I could never get a hold of a proper bowling ball whose weight and configuration worked for me.)
That day we went out on the town, we walked into a restaurant we’d always ignored. Turns out, it was great; it’s a true Irish pub with those high booths that you have to step up into and the service is super friendly. When you order something, the waitress says “Coming right up!” I like the sound of that. “Coming right up!” So optimistic.
Since we first found that Irish pub we’ve returned a few times. Last Sunday night we didn’t feel like cooking so we walked over for a burger and there was a band playing and people were slow dancing. Slow dancing, just five minutes from my house! If I were visiting a new destination and had discovered this place I’d have felt extremely lucky, as if I’d unearthed a local’s insider secret.
When our Travel Group hosted a European round table at the Sofitel here in Manhattan this week I found myself reconsidering my recent hometown experience. The very wonderful luxury travel advisors on the panel, Jody Bear of Bear & Bear Travel, Robin Fox of Pisa Brothers, Martin Rapp of Altour and Leslie Rotkel of Leaders in Travel, briefed us on consumer trends to Europe and the consensus was that clients are indeed going but for the most part in 2010 are sticking to the traditional favorites, i.e. the UK, France and Italy. Afterward I wondered if other luxury travel advisors are seeing the same trend, that of clients returning to their perennial favorite locales in Europe. If so, are travel advisors crafting special experiences for them to enjoy these destinations in a different way? If they’re sending clients to London, Rome and Paris, are they advising them on special markets to visit and off-the-beaten-path restaurants where only the locals go?
In Luxury Travel Advisor, we strive to bring you the details of a destination that will help your clients walk down streets they’ve visited before with a new eye, just as I was able to with my visit to my town a few weeks ago. Jody Bear in her Paris report on page 10 gives her tips on enjoying the city like a local, while Mary Winston Nicklin, who resides in Paris, provides insider secrets on a series of hotels you might not know about in the City of Light. In our Traveling Gourmet feature on page 58, Donna Marino Wilkins, a former top editor for Zagat, serves up the latest dining trends and venues in San Juan. Read it to discover new reasons to send your clients to this familiar Caribbean locale.
Never stop digging for new ways to enjoy a tried and true destination and always count on us as a resource. It’s always fun to discover a new way to enjoy an old favorite, and who knows, along the way you may discover a haunt that has slow dancing!