Greetings from Lisbon, Portugal!
My European reconnaissance tour continues with a brief stop here to see some friends, and inquire about a few things for future W&A adventures.
Prior to Lisbon I was doing some recon in the Andalusia region in southern Spain, where we are in the midst of putting a program together for the many members who have asked for a Spain trip.
It's been many years since I've visited the south of Spain, and since we haven't put together a trip here since our first W&A trip roster, I thought it was a prime opportunity to come down and do a little nosing around.
Particularly when we're going to a new destination, or one where we have a new experience with new partners, I do my absolute best to get there before the release of the trip to make sure we're all on the same page regarding the W&A standard.
On top of that, I nearly always find myself in the right place to eat or the right little shop at the perfect time for a synchronistic encounter with someone who ends up pointing us in the direction of something special that would never have entered our awareness if I hadn't come down to explore myself.
Those synchronous meetings are definitely my favourite part of the reconnaissance trips, partly because I've found them to be good omens for the success of the program months later, and partly because chatting to locals & looking for hidden gems just feels like a pure expression of the traveller in me.
It's also been one of the ways we've found some of the best local guides on our various trips around the world. The best ones almost never work for the larger inbound tour operators; they tend to be locals who have enough passion and charisma to do it on their own in some capacity.
Which is great, but that individual uniqueness / solo entrepreurism also tends to also be very hard to find over the internet. But, if I can get a few hours in a place I can almost always sniff out the right place to talk to the right locals, to find the somebody who knows the right somebody we're looking for.
The last element to these recon trips is the chance to inspect hotels and investigate some the restaurants we're considering for the program. In both cases here there's an element of ambience and flow that is impossible to garner without being in the destination to get the 'feel' of things.
The logistics of visiting some places don't lend themselves well to recons - the 'Stans, Antarctica, etc - but in general it's a significant aspect of how we put our trips together, and I think a significant factor in the positive reviews we get from our members.
All told, I met some really interesting people on my Andalusia mission who linked me to some really neat experiences there, particularly in the culinary realm of things. That program is coming along nicely and should be ready for release in a few weeks.
Briefly on new releases this week - I wrote at length last week about our first Active Wellness program to the Austrian Alps, and I'm very pleased to present the itinerary in your newsletter for your perusal. Light hiking in the lower Alps followed by heavy relaxation in some of Europe's best spa and wellness facilities...do take a look should you be curious.
Beyond that I'm pleased to release another departure of one of our most popular France programs, to Provence & the French Riviera. We've got very limited space remaining for our trip there in May, so we've pulled together a second departure in October.
I'll leave it there, as I must dash to catch yet another flight to continue the mission...be well & stay tuned for lots more trips and webinars in the weeks ahead.