“Traveling isn’t just about the destination, it’s about the journey.”
You’re on a business trip halfway around the world, where you’ve arrive a full day ahead of when all the meetings begin. Or you’ve been lucky enough to wrap up your business a bit ahead of schedule, and you’ve now got a half a day free before your flight back home. Or during the course of the trip, the itinerary has taken a bit of a breather, and you’ve got a few hours to yourself.
Most of us would use the time to catch up on email, notes and phone calls. Or we’d grab a nap.
But if you’re in some wonderful new city, perhaps for the first time, wouldn’t it be fun to explore a little?
When we’re focused on the business end of a trip, we don’t have the time or the inclination to come up with much of an adventure. At a Conrad Hotel in more than a dozen cities around the world, they’ll have you covered.
Conrad’s launched an innovative program called Stay Inspired, a collection of curated experiences unique to each city, that reflect a local take on culture, food or art. Peter Jon Lindberg, former executive editor at Conde Nast Traveler, is the new Director of Inspiration, taking over the reins this April from his wife Nilou Motamed, who has moved over to Time Inc’s Food & Wine magazine as editor.
“Today’s luxury traveler is smarter and far more demanding, and actively seeks out experiences unique to that destination and that culture,” said Peter.
You can choose the excursions yourself from the Stay Inspired website – each is one, three or five hours long – or ask the hotel’s concierge desk for help. How to get where you’re going; reservations; anything you’ll need to know.
Want to learn how to make soba noodles? See the famous Tsukiji fish market? Walk through a centuries-old garden? If your next business trip takes you to Japan, the Conrad Hilton Tokyo will arrange any of those. I had the opportunity to do all three of these last fall.
We pushed up our sleeves and rolled buckwheat dough, under the witty yet watchful eye of Chef Akila Inouye, in his kitchen overlooking the Sumida River. We sampled glistening, pink samples of fresh tuna while scooters laden with the ocean’s bounty zipped past us in the fish market. And we sat on tatami mats in the tea house on the grounds of Hamarikyu Gardens, an Edo-period oasis in the heart of the city.
Each city’s experiences include a variety of shopping and dining options, as well as physical activities, cultural exhibits and opportunities for some personal pampering.
In the Algarve, take a tour along winding roads across hillsides covered with cork and olive trees, through medieval Portuguese villages. Take a cruise down the Han River, or learn how to make kimchi and bibimbap in a cooking class in Seoul. Got an hour between meetings in New York? Relax with a hot stone mani pedi in a chic Tribeca loft with floor-to-ceiling windows. Take the train from Dublin to the coast for a fresh air hike, and lunch at the Happy Pear. There are even jaunts for the kids and significant others, if you’ve brought along the family.
Yes, you could find any of these things on your own with some legwork and a search engine, but it’s so much better to put yourself in the hands of your city’s host hotel. Not only are they suggesting outings that fit reasonably within your time frame, but they’ll advise you on the whens, hows and what nots. What to order in a Cairo coffee house. How to navigate the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. When not to tackle the Korean subway system.
And did you know that if you visit New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art at night, you’ll pretty much have the place to yourself?
The world is full of things worth knowing about. Conrad’s Stay Inspired program seems like one of them. Happy travels! #stayinspired