Ah, Mondays. Don’t you just love to hate ’em? Definitely the best day of the week to spend a few idle online moments casting your eyes around in search of sunny pictures, faraway inspiration and otherwise entertaining distractions from the daily grind – presumably what brought you to our balmy travel blog shores in the first place. Well today we’re going to signpost you to another insider travel site, Area Daily, because we’re generous like that when it comes to kindred spirits, and because we recently caught up with the site’s energetic and travel-obsessed founder, Christine Magda. Here’s what she had to say…
The concept of Area came about as a group of friends were searching for a resource that would give the inside scoop on where locals were dining and hanging out in cities around the world.
We decided on the factors we that make a hotel, restaurant, bar or interesting thing to do a ‘must’ on stylish locals’ lists: architecture, design, style, originality, innovation, and a vibe that has you coming back for more, made up the criteria that Area uses when recommending our picks. We tend to stay away from large chain hotels, overrated restaurants and lounges, and most importantly, tourist traps.
As our concept of providing real insider information for the savvy traveller was coming to fruition, the thought of having a travel guide that you could access from your iPod (now the iPhone) or PDA became the obvious means for our message. We’re launching the first of our Area Guides later this fall.
Wow, you’re channelling the Smith way of life almost 100% over on your side of the pond – we bet you’ve got some great tips for late-autumn getaways from the States?
I’d recommend taking advantage of the latest air and hotel savings that we’ve seen in the last few weeks, both here in the US and abroad. For example, upon check-in at The Crescent Hotel in Beverly Hills, the hotel will give you your own personal car and driver to shuttle you wherever you’d like to go for the length of your stay. Despite rising fuel prices, airlines are also offering some unbeatable savings. One of the best deals I’ve found is flying to Mexico City, with airfares as low as $210 from NYC – an amazing price to enjoy culture and Latin flair. With deals like these, it’s silly to stay at home and watch the leaves fall.
Area Valet – your virtual travel butler – has put together some amazing journeys and experience packages: which are your favourites?
Front row seats at Paris Fashion Week shows and exclusive ‘invite-only’ pool parties at the Winter Music Conference in Miami are top of my list. As for Area Valet excursions, truffle-hunting in Alba, Italy, and journeying into Laos are extremely intriguing.
If you had to pick one travel experience from each of the world’s continents, what would get on to your shortlist?
Exploring Montana, in North America, and sleeping in a tent that has the amenities and feel of a luxurious lodge; in South America, experiencing the energy and foods of Cartagena, Colombia; sailing the Dalmation Islands of Croatia in Europe; touring Vietnam on a bike in Asia; spending a few days in an eco-lodge in a national park in Africa; camping with the penguins in Antarctica; and tasting wine at the much-lauded vineyards in Australia.
What do you think 2009 holds for trends in luxury travel?
The luxury travel market will be more resilient to the economy than the business travel market; I believe we’ll see more discounts and special offers this winter and spring than we have in the past few years. Area will be sure to feature as many of these deals as possible.
What’s your favourite destination?
Maybe cliché, but I can’t help going back to Paris.
What’s your insider scoop for anyone who goes there?
I love to stay in the Marais. If you’re looking for something private, rent a furnished and cozy apartment from www.parisapartments.net. Make sure to visit Petit Fer à Cheval, a great watering hole with an oval bar on Rue Vielles du Temples. You can’t go wrong at Chez Janou on Place des Vosges or Le 404 for dining and people-watching. And don’t leave without shopping along the narrow streets for original Parisian designers.
What’s your favourite place to stay and what makes it so great?
If you feel like getting away from it all, Awasi in the desert oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile is the utmost in relaxation and adventure. It’s simply decorated with vibrant textiles and my favourite luxury, each room is assigned a private guide and 4WD vehicle to take you to nearby volcanoes, lakes, or other gorgeous places in the desert.
In a perfect world, who would be your ideal travel companion?
My ideal travel companion can pack a suitcase on a minute’s notice and travel anywhere in the world. They’re not afraid to explore and ‘get lost’ discovering hidden gems or sit on a boat in the middle of the Aegean Sea. It’s quite a challenge to find, but they’re out there.
That is a difficult one. When on the West Coast, nothing tops a weekend getaway to Palm Springs. It’s the perfect locale for enjoying everything the weekend offers: hike the trails at Indian Canyons and soak in the beautiful desert sky surrounded by towering palm trees. Play tennis, golf or bocce ball, or do nothing at all and relax poolside sipping a glass of rosé while listening to intoxicating lounge music. Dine at Citron in the Viceroy Palm Springs, or at Purple Palm at the Colony Palms Hotel. If that doesn’t rejuvenate you, what will?
Where’s next on your holiday wish-list?