The Full Experience
Travel has become a controversial concept.
Most commonly, travel is associated with recreation, but it can also relate to commuting for business or immigrating for survival. In the prosperous 21st Century however, travel has a lot to do with the experience of a different geographical location than one’s home, beginning with the means of transportation used to travel(!) from that safe and sometimes tired starting point towards a foreign destination. Travel is also a wider concept than a trip, it can include more than one stop and doesn’t necessarily involve a return either, so it is a complex and multi-faceted action. Travel is at once a physical, mental, emotional, social and sometimes spiritual experience.
In the conceptualisation of travel which exists in the minds of most visitors to this blog there is a vast sea of images that comes with the notion of exploring a corner of the world which somehow does not belong to us. By travelling we are moving out of our comfort zone, we are daring to risk an interaction with another culture, we are heading out like the explorers into the individual unknown… Of course we now are prepared for these venturings as we have read guide books, seen dozens of other traveller’s photographs, heard the langauges and songs of the places different from our own, but nevertheless we still cherish that element of the explorer’s excitement and hope for some surprise to come of this brave wandering.
To escape Home and everyday routine is almost impossible in this age of constant communication, for thanks to cell phones, Blackeberries, iPhones, Facebook and the Internet, practically everyone follows us wherever we go. It has become a rare event to be so far from what we refer to as ‘civilisation’ not to have a deep consciousness of what is happening at home. Perhaps this is a good thing, perhaps this is what allows us to now travel more freely without the guilt of having left our responsibilities behind, and perhaps this is exactly why I do what I do: rent homes for those who want to leave Home for a while but still feel at home.
If you rent a villa you can bring your family along.
Your wife and children, your parents, your wife’s parents, your siblings, their wives, their children, your sister’s husband’s closest friend if you like. All of you will spend a delightful week or two in a beautiful home much like your own or even better, complete with gardens for the kids to play in, swimming pools for the ladies to sunbathe around, a breezy deck with a bar on it, the turquoise ocean blocked off from the infinity pool only by a bank of powdery white sand… All of this is worth your money, worth the journey from your house to the airport, the hours on the plane, the passport that needed renewing etc, but despite the breathtaking views and the impeccable service one is made to wander: Did I come all this way just to get away from home full stop? Relaxation is a key element in the villa holiday, and relaxation can take minutes if you are an experienced yogi, or days, or months depending on your stress levels charged up daily at home.
Undoubtedly once you are sufficiently pampered and served enough drinks on the lawn by the on call butler at a villa these levels will be reduced noticeably. They will further resolve with traditonal home cooked meals courtesy of your knowledgeable chef and with the droning laughter of the children in the distance as they set off for a nature walk with the nanny who was also called to the property for the afternoon.
Basically this is the closest you will get to Paradise in this lifetime, but if unless you arrived really and seriously exhausted bordering on comatose, you won’t be able to forget that you initially set off for this adventure as a traveller and that as a traveller you are seeking some thrill to elucidate some question that has been orbiting however slowly in the back of your mind about the planet you are a part of and whose farthest corners are the most remote lands you can ever hope to know- unless of course you will visit space soon with Virgin Galactic (330 Virgin Galactic astronauts have already signed up out there!) and still that wouldn’t be as interactive as you can be on Earth. And that is precisely the point which eventually will be made in this article:
Travel is meaningless unless it’s an EXPERIENCE.
I firmly believe that the experience of a villa is more ‘real’ than the experience of a hotel. In a private home, which inevitably belongs to someone else other than yourself, you are immediately faced with that other person’s tastes and habits. The staff there has been trained by that other person and will bend their style as far as humaly possible to meet your wishes as well, but as human individuals they will retain some of their own character together with some of the training engrained by their boss. Staff members are also always hired locally and thus offer a great opportunity for a glimpse on where in the world you are. There is also always a concierge or manager or other such figure responsible for ensuring that guests at the property have access to all the information they need on the villa itself as well as what is beyond its immediate circumference. Most clients begin to plan adventures lesser and greater at the time of the booking or even before then; they want to know about the roads nearby for cycling or the trails for hiking or how much it costs to have their own boat docked a few hundred metres from the French doors leading from the main salon to the Mediterranean gardens. Other times there is a group who wants to pre-book a tour to the famous museum or archaelogical site, then there are keen fishermen and lovers of deep sea fishing who organise their entire holiday (and that of those accompanying them) around the best season for marlin and barracuda in the Indian Ocean. Divers also will want to know what the Kenyan island of Lamu has to offer in comparison to the Greek Dodecanese. Surfers will inevitably chose Costa Rica for any time of the year, but they may also like to know that there is some of the best and most exciting horseback riding to be done there, as well as hot air ballooning trips over the rainforest. They may not have realised that surfing is also very exciting in Portugal.
For all seasons there are voyages to be planned for foodies, beginning in the evergreen valley of Dordogne whose French cheeses, fois gras, meats and regional recipes in the best and most typical restaurants will be known to those who stay at one of Ariella’s Villas there. Seafood is best in Benahavis on Spain’s Costa del Sol, but equally delicious on Koh Samui in Thailand and in the fishermen’s village of Kep on the southeastern tip of Cambodia. Beach holidays in Brazil are more fun for tropical fruit pingas (caipirinhas) accompanied by local fresh foods, and of course nowhere beats Tuscany for wine lovers who will set out from any of the properties in Chianti and Bolgheri for fascinating winery visits, although the French producers near our Loire Valley villas would not agree. Certainly there are festivals in every destination whether they are oriented around religious ceremony, like the Mexican Dia de los Muertos in late October, or around culture like International Literary Festival of Paraty in mid-July, the Ibiza Dance Opening Parties in late May and early June, the Marrakech Film Festival in early December, the Anguilla Jazz Festival in November. It is part of our service to inform you of these annual events and make sure you don’t miss out on the best time of year to visit the locations where our villas are set.
There is so much to see and do in all of our splendid locations and easy to organise whatever tours or activities for our clients especially when planned in advance. We work closely with agents and ground handlers as well as privately run initiatives in all the countries where we operate. Read more about Ariella’s own experiences in Costa Rica, South Africa, Mexico, Morocco, Italy and Kenya in this blog.