For a different spin on luxury travel, Terri Cordin, Marketing Manager of Wildlife Safari shares her hints and tips on exotic travel destinations…
Please tell us a little bit about Wildlife Safari – the regions you specialise in, how the company started.
Wildlife Safari is a family-owned and -operated company which originated as a safari company in Nairobi, Kenya founded by Tom Fernandes over 40 years ago. The company established an Australian office in Perth in 1987. Over the years, we have expanded our collection of destinations to include the exotic and unique islands of the Indian Ocean, custom designed journeys in India and short stays in Arabia.
We hear that you attended some major luxury travel shows at the end of last year. Did you come across any Über romantic hotel/resort openings for 2013?
Maldives continue to amaze with their array of incredible resorts. When you think nothing else can be included in a luxury resort situated over water in the middle of the Indian Ocean, they astound with something even more incredible. Take Coco Prive Kuda Hithi which is the ultimate private island retreat for exclusive use. The island can accommodate up to just 12 guests and has a chef on hand to produce any meal guests desire. The island host can also arrange any water- or land-based activity the guests require.
Some of the lesser known Emirates have some interesting grand openings in 2013, too: A Waldorf Astoria in Ras Al Khaimah, while Fairmont will debut in Al Ain.
In Africa, there will be a number of new properties opening. However we believe the established safari camps are in the best location to the wildlife in the reserve whereas the new camps are located in a concession outside of the reserve.
Wildlife Safari seems to have some incredible hotels and resorts that they work with in the UAE, Africa, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Maldives and India. These regions all boast of a huge range of incredible luxury options, so how do you make the final selection for the ones you choose to work with and feature?
One of the toughest decisions I have to make is selecting the properties we feature and sell. Our main point of difference to many other operators in the market is that we only feature hotels, lodges, and resorts we have personally visited to ensure they offer the highest standards for our clients.
In addition, we consider properties that represent value for money (so important at the luxury end) in their value, their service and outstanding design. It is also important to ensure they are the right fit for travelling Australians. I greatly value the relationships I have with our many hoteliers, too, as I know if I need something extra special for a client, I know who to call. This is something that just can’t be done if you book over the Internet and comes from being in the industry for so many years.
You’ve told us before that Sri Lanka is one of the hottest travel destinations at the moment. Why do you think that is?
One of my favourite islands... I am thrilled Sri Lanka is having such a resurgence. The island deserves the recognition. There are not many islands so close to Australia that offer something for everyone from ancient cities, stunning highlands with verdant green tea estates, waterfalls, white water rafting and hiking trails, a bustling city with great restaurants, hotels and shopping, wonderful wildlife and golden palm fringed beaches … oh, and surf beaches, too!
And your must-see list for Sri Lanka?
* Cultural triangle either staying in the famous Sri Lanka architect Geoffrey Bawa’s designed Heritance Kandalama or perhaps Vil Uyana, a tented lodge in an eco marshland. I can’t decide because both are fabulous!!!
* A stay in Ceylon Tea Trails at one of the four heritage bungalows situated in a working tea estate in the heart of the island.
* Spot a leopard in Yala National Park on the southeast coast.
* Explore Galle Fort. Stay at Amangalla, a historic hotel situated in the fort. Watch the sunset with the locals on the rampart and shop for gemstones and local handicrafts.
* If I had a spare day to spend in Colombo, I would have lunch at Gallery Café which was originally the office of Geoffrey Bawa (as you can see, I am bit of a fan of his work), then shop at Paradise Road for housewares and textiles at Barefoot before having dinner at one of a number of restaurants at the Old Dutch Hospital, a complex of restaurants, bars, shops and spas.
Is there a destination you find you and your husband just seem to go back to time and again? What draws you back?
Kenya. Trevor’s birthplace and with the office in Nairobi that we do visit often. But I love the country and nothing beats a day viewing game in the Masai Mara before returning to my favourite tented camp, Mara Explorer.
Your best friend is celebrating her 40th wedding anniversary and has asked you to tailor the trip of a lifetime – the ultimate bucket-list, money-is-no-object holiday for her and her husband. They’ve got a month in total. What would you suggest?
A private safari in Kenya and Tanzania followed by a visit to the majestic Victoria Falls. Afterwards, head to the stunning More Quarters Cape town for a few days’ stay before relaxing at Shanti Maurice on the exotic island of Mauritius. This would be the ultimate 40th wedding anniversary if you are prepared to spend at least $20,000.
For more information on Wildlife Safari, visit its website.