Category Archives: Travel #Inspiration

Marseille, the French gem: Top 11 best things to do

Marseille is definitely très Française. The French national anthem isn’t called La Marseillaise for nothing. Marseille owns a unique type of French charm. A totally different one from Paris though. It’s warmer, smiley and effortlessly genuine. It owns a welcoming vibe that even if you don’t speak a word of French, you won’t feel like a weird meme.

French meme 9Gag @ TrenDestination Marseille
@ 9GAG

Being on the Coast, Marseille is France second largest city with 30,000 years old and is usually very crowded during summer (especially August) which makes of colder months a good time to visit it. It’s only 2h30 minutes away from Lisbon, flying with Ryanair at pretty cheap prices (around 45,00€). As you already know, TrenDestination is all about a singular perspective from each destination, where memorable experiences don’t come with a price tag. It’s not about the money you spend yet the memories you bring with you. Therefore, below you’ll find 11 best and unique things you must do in Marseille in order to get the local Marseillaise flavor.

#1. DRINK | Pastis

With an in-your-face anise and licorice based flavor and strong like nothing you ever tasted before (you won’t notice the amount of alcohol in it although it has 40% to 45%!), Pastis is definitely the signature beverage of Marseille. Before you buy it, try it please. Head to La Maison du Pastis shop at the Old Port and ask for a free sample. It’s also one of the best spots to purchase it as the staff can give you proper info about this peculiar drink.

Marseille Marselha France @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination

#2. EAT | Navettes de Marseille

Let me tell you that these apparently harmless boat shaped biscuits will kill your diet. With a soft fragrant orange blossom scent and its combination of softness with crunchiness in one bite, these gems from Marseille are unmissable. Les Navettes des Accoules bakery shop is my personal recommendation on where to buy the real traditional stuff. Try also their different macarons, cuccioles and canistrellis.

Marseille Marselha France @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination

#3. WALK AROUND | Le Panier

Here’s the itinerary to get around Le Panier neighborhood: get lost. That’s it. Wonder around and discover every tiny artistic piece of it. Since large parts of it are traffic restricted, it’s just perfect to go by foot for an hour or two. If you’re looking for handcrafted jewels, local designer goods or unique art pieces, this is the place. It represents Marseille alternative artistic vibe.

Marseille Marselha France @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination

#4. DISCOVER | The Arab Quarter

Habibi, if you truly appreciate the local genuine beauty of each place you visit, you can’t miss the Arab Quarter. It’s the symbol of the melting pot that is Marseille, with a very particular eclectic Afro-Arab vibe. Open up your senses and mind and you’ll be amazed with the locals’ pulse in this neighborhood.

#5. PHOTOGRAPH | The Old Port

Marseille Vieux Port makes it feel like summer even on winter. Stroll around as it’s pretty as a picture making it perfect to take endless photos from different perspectives. It’s Marseille most touristic spot, full of restaurants and bars, and always with loads of things going on. If you have phobia of getting bored, save time to visit it. Make sure you include a visit to the architecturally impressive MuCEM, located at the Port.

Marseille Marselha France @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination
Marseille Marselha France @ TrenDestination
MuCEM @ TrenDestination

#6. CLIMB | Notre-Dame de la Garde

Heading to this amazing cathedral will give you the opportunity of taking the panoramic picture of your life. The cathedral itself is pretty impressive with all its noble  ornaments but the 360º views outside are completely breathtaking. You get to see entire Marseille beauty from there. Hot tip: Get the number 60 bus from downtown and use the same ticket to return (up to 1 hour), for less than 2,00€ per person.

Marseille Marselha France @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination
Marseille Marselha France @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination

#7. BUY | Marseille soap & Wines

The traditional Savon de Marseille is the oldest soap used in France with a square shape, made of vegetable oils and a white (palm oil) or green (olive oil) color. They make the perfect gift to revive Marseille. Provence is, hands down, one of the most underrated wine regions in France, however, it owns an impressive wine list where the rosé is definitely king.  Buying one (or two) wine bottles and drink at home is the ultimate local ritual sign so go for it.

Marseille Marselha France @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination

#8. LUNCH | Buffet with a view

Although it’s located in a touristic setting, this restaurant – Les Buffets du Vieux Port – has a nice offer of food with influences from Spain, Italy and obviously France. For the decent price of 23,00€ per person including varied fresh salads and starters, soups, cold meats and cheeses, 5 hot dishes, a full dessert station and a magnifique view to the Port included. If it’s sunny, grab a seat outside and work on your tan.

Marseille Marselha France @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination
Marseille Marselha France @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination

#9. DINE | Galettes & crepes

La Table Ronde is the spot where you have to eat to try traditional Breton galettes. Galette is a French term to designate a pancake made of buckwheat flour with a savory filling and nowhere else in Marseille you’ll eat any like these. Try the Complete galette with ham, Emmental cheese and egg although they’re all heavenly tasty.

Marseille Marselha France @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination
Marseille Marselha France @ TrenDestination (16)
@ TrenDestination

#10. HIGH-END EXPERIENCE | Marseille Michelin-star

With a Michelin star since 2014, restaurant AM from Chef Alexandre Mazzia celebrates the most remarkable high-end signature dishes you’ll find in Marseille. So if you’re seriously committed with impressive gourmet food without having to offer half of your wage, make sure you have a reservation, well in advance. They have a set lunch menu for 35,00€ per person including 4 amuse-bouche and 8 courses (#YouCantGetBetterThanThis).

#11. NIGHT | Night Walk by Google

Embodying the first-ever Google Street View by night, this experience will stroll you around the alleys and streets of hip-bohemian Cours Julien district. This interactive adventure will submerge you in the natural acoustics of the neighborhood with a soundtrack that reacts to your movements as you look and walk around. Just bear in mind that your device might run out of battery faster.

Marseille Marselha France @ TrenDestination
Marseille Marselha France @ TrenDestination

You might also like: 10 traditional and modern experiences Lisbon is about

How to organize (and survive) and group dinner in 15 easy tips

10 unique Christmas gifts based on personality

10 firecracker questions to… Founder of Castelbel | Aquiles Araújo de Barros

25 inspirational quotes to make you travel the world in 2017

Travel is the ultimate soul cleansing. In this new year, make plans to see the world for your own eyes and give it a shot. You deserve it. This life you’re living is definitely the one and only you can make the difference. Stop the excuses and go for it. Get all the inspiration you need from the quotes below and start your journey. Jump and grab life by the balls.

#1. Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller — Ibn Battuta

#2. We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic to creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything — Jonah Lehrer

Sunset in Dili, Timor @ TrenDestination

#3. People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the people they ignore at home — Dagobert D. Runes

#4. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary — Steve Jobs

#5. Travel teaches toleration — Benjamin Disraeli

ancient-1793421_1920

#6. A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions — Oliver Wendell Holmes

#7. Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories — Ray Bradbury

adventure-1836601_1920

#8. To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries — Aldous Huxley

#9. And then there is the most dangerous risk of all — the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later — Randy Komisar

#10. The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before  Albert Einstein

adult-1850094_1920

#11. Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey — Pat Conroy

#12. When overseas you learn more about your own country, than you do the place you’re visiting — Clint Borgen

#13. Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it — Cesare Pavese

beach-1850141_1920

#14. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone — Neale Donald Walsch

#15. Take only memories, leave only footprints — Chief Seattle

italy-1614931_1920

#16. To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted — Bill Bryson

#17. The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it — Rudyard Kipling

Dubai Spice market @ TrenDestination

#18. To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world. You are surrounded by adventure. You have no idea of what is in store for you, but you will, if you are wise and know the art of travel, let yourself go on the stream of the unknown — Freya Stark

#19. All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware — Martin Buber

daylight-1845635_1920

#20. Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends — Maya Angelou

#21. Travelling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, “I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station — Lisa St. Aubin de Teran

recreation-1209450_1920

#22. I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list — Susan Sontag

#23. Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you traveled — Prophet Mohammed

asian-1850219_1920

#24. Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life  and travel  leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks  on your body or on your heart  are beautiful. Often though, they hurt Anthony Bourdain

#25. Adventure without risk is Disneyland  Doug Coupland

gerlitz-glacier-190955_1920


You might also like: 15 best travel tips for a trip to Southeast Asia – Part II

Top luxury boutique hotels in Portugal | Fall & Winter seasons

The absolutely best and unmissable of Holbox island

 

The absolutely best and unmissable of Holbox island

If there was a definition of paradise, Holbox island would definitely be in the pole position. It’s a magical dream come true. Words can’t describe its genuine beauty, inner natural peace and sense of uniqueness and exclusivity. While planning a trip to Mexico, it took me one picture only to get the Holbox feeling – did you check this post cover? Holbox (pronounced Holbosh) is a small white powdery sand island in the north of Quintana Roo state, where the Caribbean Sea waters meet the Gulf of Mexico. It represents the perfect combination between human nature and wildlife.

Iguana at Hotel Las Nubes de Holbox - Holbox island @ TrenDestination
Someone is living the life @ TrenDestination

To reach the island, take the boat from Chiquilá. While there, no cars, only bikes or golf carts are allowed for environmental reasons.

Holbox streets @ Trendestination
@ Trendestination

With a length of 42 km, it has approximately 2000 friendly inhabitants living from the fishing and sustainable tourism, where 36 km belong to corals, impressive beaches, mangrove swamps and lagoons. Holbox island was considered by Insight Guides as one of the most Instagrammable places in the world (check here number 15). How can you beat that? My gut: you just don’t.

Hotel Las Nubes de Holbox featured on Insight Guides @ TrenDestination
Hotel Las Nubes de Holbox @ TrenDestination

#1. The best hotel in the island | Las Nubes de Holbox

Their statement is very clear: The place where the Sea meets the Sky. But they deliver it in every single way possible and most important of all, when you least expect and in a natural manner, through small details. That’s what I call true hospitality – priceless and unexpected small details. Right at your arrival, you are welcomed with a fresh scented towel which believe me, it feels like a gold bullion. A courtesy welcoming drink is also served at the bar right after you check-in.

Tamarind chili margarita from Hotel Las Nubes Holbox @ TrenDestination
Tamarind chili margarita @ TrenDestination

Las Nubes de Holbox hotel offers 28 eco-chic rooms, between cozy bungalows and sophisticated suites where from which one you always get a tiny peace of the sea, 3 pools, a spa and a restaurant.

Hotel Las Nubes de Holbox suite @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination

Between hammocks and sun loungers, there’s an entire silent beach waiting. At disposal you can also find kayaks, paddle boards and bicycles – everything you need to discover all the island secrets.

Hotel Las Nubes de Holbox @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination
Hotel Las Nubes de Holbox @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination
Hotel Las Nubes de Holbox @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination

El Sabor de las Nubes restaurant it’s open all day serving the freshest flavors from the sea at very affordable prices. Could seat on a chair there all day. Just chilling and sipping, chilling and sipping.

El Sabor de las Nubes from Las Nubes de Holbox Hotel @ TrenDestination
El Sabor de las Nubes from Las Nubes de Holbox Hotel @ TrenDestination
Guacamole Nachos from El Sabor de las Nubes - Hotel Las Nubes de Holbox @ TrenDestination
Fresh guacamole from El Sabor de Las Nubes @ TrenDestination
Huevos Motuleños from El Sabor de las Nubes - Hotel Las Nubes de Holbox @ TrenDestination
Huevos Motuleños from El Sabor de las Nubes @ TrenDestination

But if there’s one thing, and one thing only, you can’t miss during your stay, it’s definitely the jaw-dropping sunset – will change your perspective about life pleasures. It’s one of the preferred spots in the island to watch it.

Holbox island sunset @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination

#2. Gastronomic influence bomb

The gastronomy path present in Holbox is quite remarkable due to the Caribbean, American and European influencers who together with the locals to create unique recipes like the lobster pizza, octopus ceviche, fish tacos, shrimp cocktails, with one thing in common – the love and respect for the sea. Whatever you do, include the lobster pizza from Edelyn restaurant, downtown located, in your must try list. The medium size pizza costs 350 MXN pesos (around 16€) and is perfectly suitable for two if you order one or two starters.

Pizza lobster from Edelyn restaurant at Holbox Island @ TrenDestination
Large lobster pizza for 500 MXN pesos (around 23€) from Edelyn restaurant @ TrenDestination

For lunch or an early dinner, head to Las Panchas. Again, it’s all about fish and seafood tradition, really cheap and large portions.  Los Pescaditos de Holbox is also a brilliant option for cheap local dishes and just follow the owner’s recommendations (the margaritas are huge!).

Las Panchas restaurant at Holbox Island @ TrenDestination
Fish ceviche from Las Panchas @ TrenDestination

#3. Intact wildlife

I swear Nelly Furtado was spotted singing the I’m like a bird song in the middle of the island (!) You won’t imagine the bird diversity living in Holbox. Honestly, I wish I could be one of them. They’re are just there, chilling, posing, eating and sunbathing all day with their friends and family, watching sunset everyday, no human can’t get too close since their natural habitat must be respected. Hum, sounds like a pretty damn good life.

Pelicans - Bird sea life at Holbox island @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination

All type of birds can be found, from wild ducks, herons, white ibis, spoonbills, seagulls, grey and white cranes, cormorants, frigatebirds, but from all of them, the most impressively elegant aka landscape blending match are the flamingos. They’re superb and beyond breathtaking.

Flamingos - Bird sea life at Holbox island @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination

Another major attraction in the island is the experience of swimming with the one-of-a-kind whale sharks from June to September, something only possible in very few parts of the world (check here where else in Mexico). And obviously, the most photographed animal in Mexico – the iguana. They’re everywhere and they just don’t care. Let them just be.

Iguana at Holbox island @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination

#4. Street-telling art 

At Holbox, the history is written in every street wall. They’re the barest identity of the island and if you really want to know it, pay attention to the living open art gallery in every corner. The colors, the artists’ perspective, the ecological messages are unique in their simplicity. Every year happens the Public Arts International Festival where artists from all over the world release their creative spirit reinterpreting the the island true self.

Holbox island @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination
Holbox island mexican girl @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination
Holbox island street art fish @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination

#5. Priceless inner peace

If you look for a synonym of inner peace, you’ll find Holbox. One can’t dream with the sense of spirituality the island can offer. This is the type of journey you do that turns out to be once in a lifetime and completely one-of-a-kid interior trip. It can be a journey to your true self. I know it sounds like Dalai Lama meeting Gandhi but I wasn’t expecting that amount of natural silent uniqueness. And I would go back in a heart beat because this is the type of experience, money can’t definitely buy.

Hotel Las Nubes de Holbox @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination
Holbox island sunset @ TrenDestination
@ TrenDestination

You might also like: 10 easy upgrades every great hotel should think of

A Mexican trip | 24 hours in Cancun + 48 hours in Isla Mujeres

Well, for those who follow TrenDestination, this 3 weeks’ retreat of pure silence around here was no surprise. If you checked our Instagram and Facebook you’ll understand where I’ve been travelling this last month of August. Against all odds and advices, I decided to move on with a trip to Mexico and let me tell you that it is in perfect shape, completely safe and full of incredible beauty from which I just got to discover a tiny peace. Although a tiny and shinny piece of heaven. It was definitely a surprise since I didn’t expect to find as much authenticity, smiles, pure nature and breathtaking landscapes as I did. Especially authenticity – that key factor I always look for when getting to know a new country. But came as a surprise too, the fact that I didn’t find much relevant online information about the genuine Mexican gems to help me planning the trip, that’s why I’ll share below a collection of some off the beaten track tips you won’t find in any guide. On this first post (the first of three), I’ll cover the areas of Cancun and Isla Mujeres.

Cancun and Isla Mujeres map @ Word Atlas
Cancun and Isla Mujeres map @ Word Atlas

Cancun is relatively new comparing to other regions of Mexico as around four decades ago was a desert island and no one knew about its existence. The touristic project of what is Cancun today began only in 1970. Isla Mujeres or the Island of the Women is a beautiful and fun island, without all the noise and lights of Cancun but still with a lively and genuine touch, suitable for everyone and within a short distance from Cancun, so definitely a must go.

El Mirador beach in Cancun @ TrenDestination
El Mirador beach in Cancun @ TrenDestination

#1. How to get to

Right at your arrival at Cancun Airport, the most cost effective option is taking the public bus as each ticket costs approximately 2,9€ (60 MXN pesos) and the ride is pretty comfortable. Ignore the drivers’ harassment to convince to take taxis or the colectivo (public mini-van), although this last one is also a good plan B option. To go to Isla Mujeres, you should take the ferry from Puerto Juarez terminal and the boats depart pretty much every 10 to 15 minutes. Once in the island, the best way to circulate is either by motorbike or kart – only recommended if you’re travelling with more than one person as it has more space but it’s more expensive too.

#2. Where to eat

It’s not easy to find inexpensive local yet reliable food in Cancun but Parque de las Palapas is by far the best spot one can go to taste the local mexican flavors. It’s a park with food stalls and stone seats / tables. I recommend you to go at night since it’s a lot more lively with music and vendors selling sweet stuff like churros, fried banana, marquesitas (rolled up crispy crepe filled with melted shredded cheese and a sweet filling of your choice – a must try), etc. At Isla Mujeres, if you decide to skip hotel breakfast (which I found very poor in most hotels) head to La Cueva de la Cherna where you’ll find all types of mexican egg dishes (try the Motuleños and Rancheros) for around 2€ (around 40 MXN pesos). In every meal, the totopos are included being similar to our couvert with the difference of not paying for them.

Parque de las Palapas in Cancun @ TrenDestination
Parque de las Palapas in Cancun @ TrenDestination
Huevos Motuleños from Taqueria La Cueva de la Cherna @ TrenDestination
Huevos Motuleños from Taqueria La Cueva de la Cherna @ TrenDestination

#3. Best beaches

Cancun is all about all-inclusive resorts meaning that there are only a few public beaches as the majority are private and for exclusive use of hotel guests. The public ones are Playa Tortugas (full of rocks, noisy and without much sand space), Playa El Caracol (no sun umbrellas and it has a ferry port) and Playa Delfines. The best is the last one, also known as El Mirador is quite big with nice waves and sun shades. The best at Isla Mujeres is definitely Playa del Norte, where you pay around 12€ (250 MXN pesos) for 2 chairs and a sun shade but be careful since it’s only available until 6:00pm.

Playa del Norte at Isla Mujeres @ TrenDestination
Playa del Norte at Isla Mujeres @ TrenDestination

#4. What to do

At Isla Mujeres, one of the must do’s includes swimming with the whale sharks (around 110€ and 130€) from June to September. Visit Isla Contoy is also a great option for being the nesting place of sea birds from the Mexican Caribbean. Another popular activity is snorkeling or diving to check MUSA Underwater Museum of Art, just be careful in case it’s windy, especially the days before your visit, as you might not be able to see clearly the sculptures since they’re all placed on the ground. All the activities can be booked onsite and you’ll get definitely better prices, that won’t range much though. Another interesting visit is the Tortugranja (Turtle Farm) where you’re able to visit all types of turtles – the baby ones will melt your heart even if you’re not obsessed with turtles like me! This is a fun and relaxed activity, especially if you have kids. A nice worthy place to pay a visit too is Punta Sur located in the southern tip of the island with a sculpture garden, the Mayan Temple and incredible ocean views. Regarding Cancun, I didn’t find anything authentic enough and worth to do, however, I just spent 24 hours there.

Turtle Farm Isla Mujeres @ TrenDestination
Turtle Farm Isla Mujeres @ TrenDestination
Punta Sur at Isla Mujeres @ TrenDestination
Punta Sur at Isla Mujeres @ TrenDestination

#5. Where to stay

Since I stayed in Cancun for only one day, I decided to sleep close to the ferry port to Isla Mujeres. But in terms of main areas to stay, you can choose between two: the hotel zone or the downtown. The first one is obviously more expensive and based on all-inclusive deals, the second one more focused on shopping and closer to restaurants, especially the cheaper ones. At Isla Mujeres, I stayed at the Rocamar Hotel where the best feature is definitely the breathtaking sea view rooms and is 2 minutes’ walking distance from the downtown. However, I also liked the vibes from these two hotels: Na Balam due to its privileged location at Playa del Norte and Casa de los Suenos for the surroundings, ambiance and decor.

Cancun and Isla Mujeres @ TrenDestination
Hotel Rocamar at Isla Mujeres @ TrenDestination

#6. Authenticitymometre

All in all, if you’re not into all-inclusive stays, I’d recommend to skip Cancun as it is as well extremely touristy. It has a sense of fakeness, lacking originality. Isla Mujeres on the other hand, is a must hit even if for a quick visit however, I’d obviously suggest to overnight.

During the upcoming weeks, I’ll talk about Holbox Island, Valladolid, Tulum and Playa del Carmen (including Cozumel Island).


You might also like: 15 best travel tips to Southeast Asia – Part I

15 best travel tips for a first trip to Southeast Asia – Part II

After sharing here the first 8 best travel tips for a beginners trip to Southeast Asia, it’s time now to unveil the remaining 7 tips.

#9. Respect is gold

Don’t lose your personal standards and believes just because you’re on vacation outside your country. By this I mean, show respect for each religion belief (you’ll find a large range even in a single region). To get inside and visit the majority of temples you’ll have to cover your shoulders and legs as well as take off your shoes, which might be awkward, but just do it, don’t question. Additionally and on a personal note, I avoid taking part of activities directly related to animal exploitation (elephant rides, tiger zoos, monkey entertainment, etc.). Hot tips: Contribute to the local economy/community whenever possible. A small gesture of yours will deliver great impact on people’s lives. Remember you’re still a guest in their country, so be simple, stay humble and don’t play the crappy money buys everything superiority card.

Holy Spring Water Temple @ TrenDestination
Holy Spring Water Temple @ TrenDestination
One of many temples in Bangkok, Thailand @ TrenDestination
One of many temples in Bangkok, Thailand @ TrenDestination

Continue reading 15 best travel tips for a first trip to Southeast Asia – Part II

15 best travel tips for a first trip to Southeast Asia – Part I

If you’re a newbie in what comes to travelling Southeast Asia (SE), you’ve arrived safely my friend. Because if like me, you love to immerse in culture authenticity to its fullest, spend wisely your money with a bit of splurge, dream with 30º as your sea bath temperature, value an honest smile as the most generous customer service sign, wish all-inclusive deals would burn in hell, understand the non-verbal pleasure of a real foot massage and believe that Anthony Bourdain should be the only one using the #foodporn, you’re ready to visit Southeast Asia (SE). Didn’t I tell you before that it feels like my second home? So, I’ve been travelling quite a lot to those countries, with loads of previous preparation, seriously digging into the culture, must do’s of each area and gathering all the useful and needed resources to take most advantage of a trip to Southeast Asia (SE), so let me unveil the first 8 top travel tips collection.

Sunset in Dili, Timor @ TrenDestination
Sunset in Dili, Timor @ TrenDestination

Continue reading 15 best travel tips for a first trip to Southeast Asia – Part I

10 easy upgrades every great hotel should think of

Luxury is so in the small details that sometimes can be easily forgotten and misunderstood by accommodation hosts – hotels, hostels and airbnb included. My definition of luxury means something you can’t put a price on. Or call it a double ‘P’ – Pretty Priceless. It’s not about the money anymore though about that little unforgettable detail experience. We often believe that some extra attention is exclusive from the 5 star top luxury hotels and this is a huge mistake. And you’re falling behind in the hospitality world if you’re stuck into this thought.

Finding opportunities to improve, instigating brand awareness and engaging everytime there’s an opportunity with your customer won’t cost nothing and in return you’ll have both loyalty and word spreading (which money can’t definitely buy) meaning = revenue. It’s a win win strategy.

@ TrenDestination

Treat your guest as if your best friend were visiting you in town for the first time and you’ll see how powerful is the true world-of-mouth. It’s not about selling rooms anymore – or you’ll have sleepless nights counting the days of your business. This is not for any specific hotel/accommodation category but exclusively to the ones looking for the simplest yet memorable guest experience.

#1. B2B

B2B in this case means Back-to-Basics and not Business-to-Business. What was one of the very first things you accomplished in school that made you run till home to show off your new skill (your first little kiss don’t count here)? Your full name. That’s right. That’s the one thing we always react no matter what. I’ll never forget that very first moment when I entered in a hotel and the doorman opened the door welcoming me using my name. Now I know how Obama feels. Hot tip: Aside from the normal tools, use your photography memory and present your guest with this little kind, polite and memorable treat everytime you can.

#2. The waiting game

In the technology/app era, why on earth is the check-in and check-out such a big pain in the… ? Flexibility is key nowadays and very much appreciated. I once visited a hotel in Thailand with a 24-hour rule, meaning checking-out only 24-hours after the check-in. Before that you can waive the do not disturb flag. Hot tip: Anticipate as much as you can the check-in process and think about keyless options. I still got a magnetic key-bracelet (to open the hotel room) from my past vacation.

#3. KISS rule

It sounds impossible but I still find accommodation places with no Wifi or only under payment. This is the most basic required asset to have nowadays. And don’t let the guest ask for the password, give it promptly in advance, you can even play with it and make it personal, memorable and if possible fun. A good friend of mine used to tell me this KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) rule in every situation and I must admit it was equally annoying as effective. Create a password / official hashtag to be used. The coolest password I found? YesICan. Imagine… “Can you give me the password please?”. I’m still laughing. Hot tip: Avoid complex passwords and why not offer a lollipop or a bonbon wrapped with the username/password in it?



Booking.com


#4. What’s this smell?

Smell is the first thing you sense when entering in a room. What if it smells bad? Basically, it will compromise and set the tone of your experience because then you’ll start wondering if it smells bad, the bathroom might not be so well cleaned, the sheets not so white, who was the last person here (…) and no one enjoys feeling like the second visit. We want to feel smellcomed. It’s the most basic comfort tool which immediately puts us in or out our comfort zone. Hot tip: Find a universally likeable scent that matches your brand/place, without being too-much-in-your-face type and make guests feel relaxed.

#5. My bag is kind of empty-ready

You can’t imagine the amount of amenities I’ve been seriously collecting from my hotel stays (#hoarderhustling). My drawers are happily screaming already!  And like me, a huge percentage of visitors do the same. But, it’s time to step up and realize that amenities are one of the most valuable branding tools, lasting in our minds for a long time and I can guarantee that no one forgets a one-of-a-kind amenity. But whatever you do, try to keep it local. Hot tip: Find that one thing your guest might forget at home (a pair of comfy socks or a hydrating lipstick with SPF?) or something so unexpected that rapidly turns memorable (a fresh mint chewing gum pack?).

#6. Who’s who?

Nowadays, it’s definitely a bad excuse saying you don’t know your client. I’m sure I was not the only kid playing that Guess Who game (but I got so addicted that ended up spoiling the other kids’ turn all the time). All this to say that this is a mandatory skill to be developed and applied to your guests. With the booking reservation, only by the name of your guest, you can find loads of info on the web and please make the best use of social media in your advantage. Hot tip: Google is definitely your best friend here and search like a professional stalker.

#7. Life & Style together

More than ever, we are in the free & low era. Sugar-free, low-fat, gluten-free, low-carb, lactose-free and the list goes on. So it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever assuming everyone drinks alcohol, love sugar or eat gluten. So be smart with your welcome or turndown gift and use it to promote a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Why not going for a natural flavored water or a bag of freshly made popcorn (cooked the healthy way)? Make the best use of seasonal products. Hot tip: Play with the open bar and put unexpected stuff in there – carrot sticks or some fresh berries #cantgetanyfresherthanthis.

#8. I’ve got the power!

Snap knew best when wrote this song. Everything is valid here: adapters, cables, chargers and avoid the solo iPhone route – hello Android! Put at disposal to be used and you’ll be thanked for the gesture. Dead cellphones represent a major buzz-killer in any trip. Hot tip: No need to have endless cables, there are other resourceful solutions available such as the 3-in-1 universal USB charging cable that might fit everyone’s shoe.

#9. That little special request

It’s definitely proven that breakfast plays a huge part in the accommodation overall experience. It’s that one thing everyone has always high hopes on. If it’s good, it’s memorable, if it’s bad it’s a no-go next time. In case you can’t have a full table breakfast (totally understandable), stay fresh and avoid saying you don’t take any customized order. Hot tip: Have at least one thing that can be served upon request, whether is a 2 to 2,2 minutes soft boiled egg, oatmeal with a tiny sprinkle of cinnamon or a freshly squeezed juice.

#10. 24-hour best friend

When visiting a place besides our home, we like to feel comfortable and tend to find someone to be relied on, even if only for a dinner suggestion or to know where is the closest pharmacy in case of an emergency. It’s part of human nature searching for our comfort zone and as hosts, that’s our role – create the ultimate trustworthy playground. Hot tip: Don’t be afraid of assigning someone (or even yourself) with name and contact to personal assist with specific requests.

NUmber One 728x90


You might also like: Top luxury boutique hotels in Portugal | Fall & winter seasons

6 must things under 4,00€ everyone should do in Lisbon

Lisbon offers definitely lower prices if compared with other European capitals and you get to do a lot of genuine stuff by paying almost nothing. I’ll not make the usual travel guide type recommendations (like riding on the 28 tram!) but instead give you 6 must things under 4,00€ you should do in Lx (shortcut for Lisbon). See below:

Continue reading 6 must things under 4,00€ everyone should do in Lisbon

Top luxury boutique hotels in Portugal | fall & winter seasons

This new post is all about sharing with you what I suggest in regards to accommodation during fall and winter seasons. For some reason I love staying at hotels during these periods. Somehow they feel more cozy, I get to experience them better due to the not-so-warm temperatures outside and they are located in relaxing and mindfulness areas – meaning a bit far away from all the distractions, noise, stress and touristic routes – which I find even more appealing.

Note that in Portugal we tend to have pretty good temperatures, even on winter (around 10ºC to 15ºC / 50ºF to 59ºF), comparatively to other European countries, but January is usually the coldest month of the year.

I am a huge fan of small charming hotels with loads of character, pleasant details, high client attention and uniqueness. See below my 2 top luxury hotel choices for a relaxing getaway:

Continue reading Top luxury boutique hotels in Portugal | fall & winter seasons