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There aren’t often moments where my breath is taken away. The rooftop of Mona in the centre of ever-evolving & exciting Athens, was one of them.

We entered the intimate and unassuming space and went straight up, noting the marvellous mid-century industrial features (the space used to be a working factory in the centre of the city), billowing linens, cool flooring and artworks. From the rooftop, we took in in the Athenian urban scenery, the Acropolis and other sites that had remained in place for centuries, and washed down the sunset with hand-selected natural wines that were on offer at the bar. The rooftop is accessible for hotel guests and members and it features an inviting, communal long table of glass and metal, comfortable sofas, outdoor showers, a bar, and lush plants.

Neighbourhood

Mona is located in the vibrant neighbourhood of Psirri, full of charming contradictions. The delicious smells of mezze and the melodious sounds of live music fill the myriad of streets that surround the oasis which is Mona. The district is moments away from the Acropolis and ancient Agora, while contemporary art galleries, designer shops, gourmet restaurants and hip bars rub elbows with traditional artisan workshops and the buzzing Varvakios food market.

Delicious and dynamic food can however be found within the hotel; talented chefs from across the globe often pop up in the space for supper clubs, adding to the always-evolving nature of the hotel and concept. Mona also offers dynamic event spaces with a raw luxury vibe that fuels social gatherings, pop-ups, collaborations, film and video productions, pop-up supper clubs, private events, wedding celebrations and other milestones.

Rooms

Designed to make you feel at home and yet in a dream-like trance state, the rooms range from cosy to open-plan and urban (some with patios and balconies), to more loft apartment style with floating day-beds. All rooms are lit by vintage custom-made lighting and the natural, high-octane Athenian sunshine. Each of the twenty rooms reveals decades of history, each with its own personality and tone of voice. Many of the bespoke fixtures and objects found throughout the hotel sustainably created or upcycled with materials that the Mona team first found upon starting the project.

When it was time to leave after a blissful night’s sleep, we looked back at our room and knew this would be the last time we would see it in this state. We knew that it’s personality would change – a new piece of local artwork would hang, a new perfect spot to drape the linens to separate the bathroom, a new chic fixture that caught the morning light just right. All of our senses had been activated, and we revelled in it.

House of Shila

Mona represents a new era for the concept-led city boutique hotel and is the second House of Shila site. The House of Shila philosophy is as follows:

The House of Shila creates boutique spaces and creative eco-systems with boundless imagination. We excel at uncovering unique properties and converting them into aesthetically gratifying vessels for transportive, sensory experiences that inspire intimacy.

We excel at uncovering unique properties and converting them into aesthetically gratifying vessels for transportive, sensory experiences that inspire intimacy.

The opening of Mona marks the continued commitment to the art of living. House of Shila believes simplicity is the ultimate sophistication and this is reflected in everything throughout. Every guest (including myself) wants to take a piece of the hotel’s essence back home. With that in mind, all items are available for purchase – from the furniture and organic cotton sheets, to the exotic plants and custom-knit carpets.

The House of Shila Members Club

In 2021, Shila introduced its first Social Club, via the hotel’s legendary Thursday night gatherings on the rooftop. Shila’s Social Club attracted a following of renowned artists, architects, entrepreneurs, fashion icons and passionate individuals in their own field. An interesting melange of locals, international newcomers, and curious hotel guests that became fanatics of the residence’s understated luxury, entertainment and privacy.

The House of Shila membership has now expanded to Mona, offering the opportunity for both discretion and mingling within both the 1920s townhouse and its urban downtown sister venue. Aesthetic sociability, deep seated passion, real interpersonal connections and creative communality are at the core of Mona, and members there have exclusive access to all its spaces, including the rooftop restaurant & bar.

Members can also enjoy discounts for stays, as well as for any purchases of the art and design objects in the space. Memberships are currently granted by invitation only and applications are accepted here.

How to book

mona-athens.com I Mona, Kakourgodikiou 4, Psirri

The Cromlix Hotel may be owned by tennis superstar Andy Murray, but it’s a powerhouse in its own right. During a recent trip to Glasgow, our Editor-in-Chief, Laura Bartlett, checked in for an adventurous few days.

I had Andy Murray’s grandma’s biscuits for breakfast—a line I never thought I’d say until I checked into the Cromlix Hotel, owned by Andy Murray and his wife Kim. A warm welcome awaits from the second you step foot in the cosy lobby. Once inside your room, you’ll stumble across homemade shortbread biscuits made in-house using Andy’s grandma’s recipe. But this hotel is definitely not taking the biscuit; quite the opposite.

Adventure Awaits 

It all started with the unexpected pickup at the airport by 4×4 Adventures Scotland, one of the many excursions you can do when you’re staying at the hotel. I was whisked off to explore Loch Lomond behind the wheel of a Land Rover Discovery.

Being the undercover adrenaline junkie that I am, I relished the opportunity to get behind the wheel and dispel all rumours that women are bad drivers, pink fluffy heels optional. The day was spent riding shotgun with Ross, the founder of 4×4 Adventures, who has a natural ability to make you feel like you’re hanging out the side of your best friend’s ride!

With stop-offs along the way, it would be impossible not to fall in love with Loch Lomond at first sight. Nature has an incredible way of soothing even the harshest critics. With the adrenaline pumping, a lunch at The Loch Lomond Arms was the perfect stopgap before spending the rest of the afternoon onboard a yacht on Loch Lomond.

All of this fun, adventure and memory-making and I’d not even set foot in the Cromlix Hotel yet, but I already had a huge amount of respect for them. They really know how to give guests the true Scottish experience from the second you touch down in Glasgow.

Arrival at The Cromlix

Cromlix

From the road, to the water and then it was time for the land. Driving through the extensive driveway at The Cromlix, your breath will be halted when you catch a first glimpse of the property, standing tall and mighty at the top of the driveway.

Cromlix is a five-star luxury country house hotel set in 34 acres of private grounds and woodland in Stirlingshire, Scotland. Since Andy and Kim took over in 2013, the property has undergone extensive refurbishment to offer 15 botanically-inspired bedrooms and suites, each with unique views of the lush gardens and woodlands. The hotel’s prime location is just 49 minutes (to be precise) from Glasgow and an hour from Edinburgh, with the nearby Dunblane railway station providing easy access.  

Check in

When you arrive at Cromlix, rows of Barbour wellies welcome you, perfect for a stroll around the grounds. The check-in process is delightfully relaxed, with a glass of fizz (or water) offered as you settle into the giant sofas. The hotel features two pristine drawing rooms, a charming traditional chapel (yes, you read that right) and a garden room ideal for private dining.

The hallway leading to the back reveals a baby grand piano, while the upstairs billiards room, decorated in rich hunting lodge hues, features mounted stags and quirky accessories like ceramic pineapples and flamingo-shaped lamps, adding a touch of whimsy to the elegant setting.

Fun fact, my parents bought me a billiards table when I was a teenager so I became quite a pro at playing which was probably the reason why this room quickly became my favourite spot in the entire hotel. Well, that and it is also where the complimentary chocolates and sweets are on offer all day, everyday. 

The Turret Suite 

Growing up, my family mantra was always ‘only the best for the best,’ and that sentiment was evident as I was shown to my Turret Suite, the best room in the house. The anticipation builds as you’re guided through the beautifully decorated hallways to your room, where luxury and comfort await in equal measure.

As you walk through the hotel, you’ll be captivated by the decor. Each of the bedrooms and suites is named after local flowers and herbs, adding a unique touch to the décor. The interiors, designed by Suzanne Garuda, blend traditional elegance with modern boutique style, incorporating rich fabrics, eclectic patterns and nature-inspired wall coverings to create a warm, welcoming and stylish retreat. Every corner of the hotel sparks conversation, as the eclectic and bold designs captivate even those with a penchant for beige.

Entering this suite is like walking into your own dedicated wing at the hotel. With an artwork-clad hallway leading to your own private living room, expansive bathroom (hello freestanding silver bath of dreams) and finally, where the magic happens in the huge bedroom.

And by magic, I mean sleep, because I had the best night’s sleep I’ve had in months, two nights on the bounce. Way to show my age, when a good night sleep is a talking point. Slipping into the large bed was like disappearing off to a different dimension. Gone are the days when a boozy night out would be something I would discuss with my peers and welcome to the days where a comfy bed and Egyptian cotton is what we class as riveting conversation. Truthfully, I wouldn’t want it any other way. 

As the name suggests, the Turret Suite features two charming turrets cleverly furnished as cosy reading corners. One of these overlooks the Cromlix tennis court, where you might even catch a glimpse of Andy Murray himself playing.

I’ve been fortunate enough to stay in some of the world’s most exclusive hotels, from suites overlooking iconic landmarks to rooms with hefty price tags. Yet, I’d go as far as to say that The Cromlix has winged its way into my top ten hotels of all time. Its unique blend of luxury, charm and Scottish heritage is truly unparalleled. 

Food Glorious Food

Passion seeps through every single bite, and having met award-winning Executive Head Chef Darin Campbell personally, who honed his skills under top chef Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles Hotel, it was no surprise. The Glasshouse Restaurant, housed in the glass-walled conservatory overlooking the grounds, offers a dining experience that is both exquisite and memorable.

During my stay, I dined at the restaurant for two nights—one night choosing from the à la carte menu and the other night indulging in the tasting menu. Each dish was an incredible journey of flavours, complemented by the stunning garden views at sunset and the enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff. As someone who is sober, I appreciated the availability of alcohol-free wine and fizz alternatives, which is a rare and thoughtful touch.

The sushi roll with grilled tiger prawn and miso taramasalata was a standout, followed by the Beetroot & Herb Cavatelli with a rich caviar broth. The Glazed Pork Cheeks were succulent, paired perfectly with garlic potato and apple caramel sauce. Each course was a masterpiece, culminating in the Valrhona Dulcey Chocolate dessert that was as visually stunning as it was delicious.

Just reminiscing on this meal is making my mouth water all over again, every bite was faultless and it really showed off the talents of the chef and his team. Each dish takes you on an unforgettable journey through Scotland’s landscape.

Breakfast in The Glasshouse is equally impressive, featuring high-quality juices, yoghurts, meats and cheeses, followed by menu options like creamy whisky porridge brûlée, vegan stacks of mushroom, tomato and avocado, the full Scottish breakfast, or Eggs Cromlix with hollandaise sauce. Regretfully, I didn’t indulge in any haggis but that’s the perfect excuse for me to revisit. 

So, whilst I know absolutely nothing about tennis (sorry Andy), I can wholeheartedly say that, when it comes to The Cromlix hotel, I LOVE it. 

Luckily, a stay here will be much better than my tennis puns.

Price tag 

Rates for the hotel are from £315 per room, on a bed and breakfast basis.

One city that will amaze you with its beauty is Toronto, located along the shores of Lake Ontario. It boasts stunning skyline views and a cityscape ideal for photography sessions. The combination of miracles of modern construction, picturesque nature, and active social life makes for diverse photographic material. A yacht boat is one of the most novel and enchanting methods used to document Toronto’s richness.

For the full-scale photographer or a simple lover of photography, shooting photos from a yacht is always a challenge and an opportunity. This guide will offer simple and helpful tips on taking amazing pictures on a Toronto yacht to make your nautical trip unforgettable. These tips will also come in handy to anyone on the hunt for Romantic yacht escapes in Toronto to create memorable moments on the water.

The Magic of Light

Lighting is one of the essential aspects of photography, and when working on a yacht, you can experiment with natural light together with water and sky. To capture the best photos, consider the following lighting tips:

Golden Hour Magic: It must be noted that the best time for taking photos is during the golden hour, which is in the early morning just before the sun rises and in the evening when the sun sets. The light during this time is relatively soft and warm, making it even more suitable for great shots that look magical. This is good news for those planning a yacht trip, as they can view Toronto at its best during these times.

Avoid Harsh Midday Sun: It is usually hot, and the sun shines at midday, making some shades seem rather undesirable. If you have to shoot during this time, you are advised to use diffusers or reflectors to increase the softness of the light. Instead, try to aim at a backlighting shot, such as where the light is behind the object of interest, to give it a black contour against a lighter background.

Composing Your Shots

This is in line with the fact that composition is pivotal to developing aesthetic images. One thing you get from a yacht is angles that can be applied when the occasion arises.

Rule of Thirds: Use an imaginary line that divides the picture area into nine equal squares to accomplish balanced and exciting pictures. For instance, consider that your complete frame is divided into nine equal segments by two lines on the horizontal and the vertical plane, respectively. Position your subject in this regard or at these cross-over points for a more progressive picture. This technique can be handy when shooting the Toronto skyline, where the horizon should be positioned in the lower third of the image.

Leading Lines: When it comes to the yacht, use the lines on the object and in the image, such as the railing, ropes, or the outer edge of the deck, to guide the viewer’s eyes throughout the image. These lines must run towards a certain part of the picture so that they give an illusion of perspective and guide the eye to focus on a particular part of the picture.

Framing: These are frames found within the scene and are effective in contributing to the depth of the photograph. Try to find elements of the yacht to frame the subject, such as the windows or doors or even the branches or structure of the yacht.

Capturing Movement

An essential aspect of shooting on a boat is movement, which is difficult to avoid when sailing on the ocean. Here are some tips to handle movement and still capture sharp images:

Stabilize Your Camera: To minimize image movement, use a tripod or a monopod for the camera. If you do not have one, lean your body against a firm part of the yacht, for instance, the bar or the mast, to reduce camera blurriness caused by body movements.

Fast Shutter Speed: Use a fast shutter speed to capture moments in time. This is especially true in a scenario that requires you to shoot another boat, waves, or any moving wildlife in the area. For better results, use a shutter speed of 1/500 and above to ensure the images are sharp and clear.

Burst Mode: Originally, burst mode was implemented to capture as many pictures as possible in a short amount of time. This enhances the likelihood of getting exactly the right moment, particularly when it comes to movement on water, which is at times erratic.

Highlighting Toronto’s Iconic Sights

The city has many famous sites that provide stunning views of the water bodies of Toronto. Make sure to include these landmarks in your yacht photography:

CN Tower: If there is one structure that stands out in this city, that is the CN Tower, and it would be a great shot to have this as the subject in your photos. Take images from different views and positions, aiming to showcase the grand architecture of the tower from close up and far.

Toronto Islands: The Toronto Islands are a great sightseeing opportunity for a quiet escape from the concrete jungle as they are located near the city center. Have the islands be captured for the perfect backdrop of the city’s skyline in contrast to the natural environment.

Harbourfront: The lively postindustrial Harbourfront district, with its unusual architecture, parks, and art spaces, offers many photographic opportunities. It is an exciting prospect to feel the pulse of this area while on your yacht.

Conclusion

Shooting Toronto from a yacht means feeling like a real photographer and having a unique city view. When you are aware of the features of lighting, arrangements, and motion, it is possible to capture impressive images that reveal the beauty of Toronto. Suppose you want your photographs to depict the gentleness of a sunset on the boat or the energetic pulse of a seaport. In that case, these tips will undoubtedly assist you in making the most of your nautical photo-shooting session. Thus, grab your camera and take a boat ride to capture amazing city shots from the water.

People love to share their photos and videos on Instagram, making it a lively platform. It’s perfect for travel content, attracting millions of web-savvy travelers. The platform has opened doors for many travel bloggers and agencies, to share their passion for traveling with countless people.

Many travel businesses and influencers have made it a marketing tactic to share their travel stories and new enchanting locations to attract the attention of thousands of their followers.

However, with so much content vying for attention, standing out requires strategy, creativity, and a deep understanding of what sparks the traveler’s imagination. Thus, you must know what to post and how to post.  

Thus, to upload a successful Travel Instagram Posts example, you must aim to post images and content that your audience will find interesting and captivating.

8 Travel Instagram Posts Examples Ideas That Will Inspire You

Here are some of the best examples of awesome travel Instagram post ideas:

1. Flaunt Paradisiacal Locations With High-Quality Visuals

Traveling is best advertised on Instagram because it is a visual platform where inspiring and high-quality images of places are awarded huge followers. Striking views of beautiful sunsets, silent tropical landscapes, or noisy city life are some of the popular subjects for posting.

Example

* Exploring the Pacific Northwest aboard @aswiftmove! This week, I ventured through the breathtaking Pacific Northwest and found tranquility like never before. Cannon Beach was my favorite stop. We arrived in Seattle just in time to witness an awe-inspiring sunset over the Puget Sound. Enjoyed the view with the delightful company of some playful otters in the bay. #Cruise MV Coho #aswiftmove | Companion

2. Every Post With A Deep Story Behind

Each place has an untold history, and travelers look for a tale. This is where you disclose to your readers the real stories of your travels, off-the-beaten-track spots that the typical guidebook may never divulge. Stimulating tales enthrall your followers where and whenever you post updates.

Example

With sunny days returning, I’m coming out of hibernation. Back in Florida, I didn’t miss the cold—I love the warmth and mesmerizing breeze running across me. Heat waves have their challenges, but nothing beats a sunset stroll along Henderson Beach, savoring the sights and sounds of this mesmerizing city. #Florida #TravelingAwesome

3. Use Hashtags Strategically

They are the signposts that help users find your content among the countless posts on the website. General tags such as #travel and #adventure go hand in hand with niche tags of the destination, such as #US#Washington DC, respectively, to enhance your image exposure.

Popular Hashtags

#SeeTheWorld, #travelawesome, #explore, #wanderlust, #travelgram

4. Engaging with the audience

Engagement is key to building a loyal followerdom. Get into discussions with others and use more question prompts in captions, entice the users to share unique travel experiences too. Running contests and featuring followers’ content can also foster a sense of community and encourage more interaction with your brand.

Example:

Do you wake up to watch the sunrise while Travelling?#Sunset at Grand Canyon” What a rich taste! Try out USA’s ancient places #The Alamo#Yellowstone#travelawesome #explore

5. Use Instagram Features like Stories

Don’t restrict the content that you generate to feed only the posts. Instagram Stories, Reels, IGTV ads, even guides are some of the features specifically that can be used creatively to share practical travel tips, insights into the place, and some fun moments. It assists in improving the engagement of the target audience in a personal way.

6. Highlight Authentic Experiences

People nowadays are more interested in getting real and local tastes than ever. Show the local culture, folk dishes, and things that give a visitor an experience of the lifestyle at a particular place. Sharing personal experiences about a place will ensure advertisers connect with their audience emotionally.

When individuals recount their personal stories, they infuse their narratives with genuine emotions and their viewpoints. This authenticity can inspire potential visitors to feel a personal connection to the destination, making the marketing message more compelling.

Example:

WHOLESOME FOOD. HEALTHY….”Feeling the food, @Blur is always on the top. While the regulars are fun to try, I always come back for the classic dish —it’s a must-have every year. Nothing beats that savory taste!  #Blue Hill #FoodieFavorites #Let’sEat #NY #Vegan”

7. Offer Practical Travel Tips and Guides

Be helpful and inspiring. Engage in providing useful travel advice, checklists, and recommendations that your followers might need while traveling. Minimally, offering value through your posts positively positions your company’s expertise in the travel community.

Example:

”Check out the new feature on Instagram. Let’s create your Travel Instagram Posts’

8. Connect with Tourism Promoters

They can help brand startups gain authority they would not otherwise possess. Partner with travel bloggers whose audience has demographics similar to those of your targeted consumer. Writing and sharing experiences and charming visuals from influencers help you explain your brand to a new circle of consumers.

Great Travel Instagram Posts Ideas That Will Inspire You

Example:

“#US#TheWhiteHouse#InstaFood#London’s Eye#DisneyLand”

Cross-Selling Instagram Page For Travel Business

Coming up with content that fans are likely to spend time on is just half the battle, yet an important one. To grow your travel page and reach the right audience, consider these additional strategies:

1. Invest in Instagram Marketing Tools

To increase engagement and creativity, there are applications such as Instagram Caption Generator to help in coming up with good captions.

2. Buy Instagram Followers

Using a combined strategy in a bid to increase follower counts in favor of your Instagram presence. Buying 1000 Instagram followers is recommended because it can make your account look much more popular in the eyes of other users.

3. Regular Posting

In this case, it’s good to keep consistency when doing Instagram. As the activity triggers followers’ engagement, make sure to post frequently and attract new followers.

4. Promotions and Giveaways

Offer people a chance to win prizes or get them involved in polls and game-like challenges in order to draw their attention and receive their attention.

Conclusion

In a world of travel Insta favorites, there is much more to the arena of Instagram travel than meets the eye — it’s all about stirring the wanderlust and delivering visual and informational value.

Through the use of these techniques, travel organizations and bloggers are in a position to foster Instagram as a business tool for marketing to not only advertise the aesthetic appeal of destinations but also share the wanderlust travel emotions that inspire people to book their trips.

Golf isn’t just a game but it’s like going on a trip through beautiful scenery mixed with playing. While lots of golfers practice at their local course, it is fun to travel and play at famous courses worldwide. These places range from old ones full of history to new ones made by famous designers. In this article, you will know why you should grab your clubs and go on a golfing trip.

1. History Comes Alive 

Famous golf courses have been around for a long time and have seen many great moments in golf history. Every part of the course has stories about the successes and struggles of golfers over the years. When you play on these courses, it feels special to follow in the footsteps of the legendary players who came before you, adding extra excitement to your game.

2. Spectacular Scenery

Most of the famous golf courses are often located in stunning places, like windy cliffs by the sea or green landscapes further inland. The beautiful views make playing golf there even special. Also, being surrounded by such natural beauty makes the game memorable.

3. Architectural Wonders

Lots of famous golf courses like Scotland Golf Packages are carefully designed by famous architects. They’ve created courses that aren’t just tricky to play on but are also like beautiful pieces of art. Also, for anyone who loves golf, getting to explore these amazing designs is a real treat.

4. Challenge Yourself

Famous golf courses are well-known for being tough, with lots of obstacles that make playing there a real challenge, no matter how good you are. Overcoming these challenges feels good and can make you better at golf.

5. Learn from the Best

When you visit famous golf courses, you can learn a lot from experts who know the game inside out. These benefits and experienced caddies can teach you smart ways to play the course and pick the best shots. Plus, their advice is helpful for improving your game.

6. Immerse Yourself in Tradition

Well-known golf courses have special ways of doing things that make the game more interesting. For example, after playing, it’s common to have a drink at the clubhouse, or there might be rules about what to wear on the course. Following these traditions can help you understand and enjoy the sport even more.

7. Rub Shoulders with Golfing Royalty

You might meet famous golfers, like people who used to win big tournaments or those who are still playing professionally, on well-known golf courses. Getting to play golf with these legends is exciting, and not many other sports can give you that kind of thrill.

8. Expand Your Horizons

When you travel to play golf, you get to visit new places and learn about different cultures. Whether you’re hitting the ball or where golf started, each trip helps you see new things and understand different ways of life. It’s not just about golf but it’s about expanding your knowledge and enjoying new experiences both on and off the course.

9. Create Lasting Memories

The friendships you make while playing golf and the amazing shots you make are all these things that make playing at famous golf courses unforgettable. In addition, you will have memories to cherish and stories to tell for a long time.

10. Simply Irresistible

Many people want to go and see famous golf places and they feel drawn to them because they mix together cool history and the excitement of tackling tough parts of the course. All these things combined make an attraction that appeals to golfers who want an experience on the golf course.

Tee Up For Unforgettable Adventures!

Visiting well-known golf courses gives you lots of reasons to get excited and go play golf. Whether you’re really good at it or just play for fun on weekends, these places are special and you shouldn’t miss out on the chance to experience them.

Relocating can bring about bittersweet feelings.

While one may find themselves excited, the idea of moving can be daunting to even the most optimistic adventurer. 

Want to escape the logistical nightmare of relocating?  Let’s get into some handy moving and storage tips that can turn any moving situation into a success story!

Pre-Move Planning

Why don’t we start with some pre-move planning? I can already see you rolling your eyes and breathing in exasperation, but hear us out. Starting here is crucial. 

Planning here simply involves three things. Decluttering, packing in sections and contacting some important parties

Decluttering lets you get rid of all the things you don’t need making packing things you do need easier and faster. Packing in sections over a couple of days or weeks helps you feel prepared and less overwhelmed and less likely to forget anything.

Finally, you can finish your pre-planning party by contacting utility companies – changing your address – and getting moving details solidified. That’s where a company like PODS comes in. 

PODS will get you set up with containers with your boxes that will be shipped to you ready to unpack as soon as you set foot in your new home.

Packing Tips 

The right materials make all the difference. Purchase good quality boxes, bubble wrap, and heavy-duty tape. That way, you won’t be “that person” whose boxes fall apart or who loses a box from a moving truck.

Make sure to label all your boxes with a thick marker. Mark what is inside the box and what room it belongs in. 

Further, pack an essentials box of the things you’ll need the first night. Think of what you’ll want to have handy when you get home.

Efficient Storage Solutions

If you need storage, you are going to have to learn how to maximize it. This means to utilize all available space. 

Stack boxes, use a steel shelving unit, and take advantage of storage shed options.

It’s a great method for storage units in particular and can help be a fantastic way to put things in a smaller space.

Make sure to think about climate-controlled storage units for those items that are susceptible to temperature and humidity – electronics, art, and any important documents. 

Maintaining them in an environment where you can control the weather will maintain their condition.

Moving Day Strategies

Having a plan for moving day will help make the day go by much more smoothly. When moving day comes make sure you start early. 

Nothing is worse than running behind. If you have hired some helpers, make sure you have everything packed, gathered, and labeled before they arrive.

Post-Move Organization

After reaching your destination, how you begin to unpack your items is the key. You want to start with the most important rooms first which usually are the bedrooms and the kitchen. 

Unpacking those first will make you feel comfortable in no time!

So…What Next?

Moving and storage don’t have to be an ordeal. 

With some careful planning, savvy packing, and storage solutions, the process can be simplified — and the journey enjoyed. 

Following these tips and considering partnering with a moving and storage solution such as PODS will help demonstrate that moving can be a relatively easy and even fun experience. 

Just remember that the secret to a smooth move is being ready and having a plan.

House of Coco’s wellness editor Anji McGrandles uncovers the hidden gems of S’Agaró, Catalonia’s best-kept secret nestled between Barcelona and Girona on the stunning Costa Brava coast

Situated on the Costa Brava coast, sandwiched between Barcelona and Girona is S’Agaró, Catalonia’s best kept secret that promises an unforgettable escape. This exclusive garden village is home to some of Spain’s most sought-after villas.  Built in the 1920’s it hugs the renowned Cami de Ronda coastal trail and boasts breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea and golden sands of Sant Pol beach.  At the heart of S’Agaró is the elegant Hostal de La Gavina, the region’s most glamorous, exclusive hotel which I checked into for the weekend.

The region offers an abundance of pristine beaches, Michelin Star restaurants and natural beauty without the crowds.   Its easily accessible, just one hour drive from Barcelona and 30 minutes from Girona and what makes this a fabulous getaway is you can easily explore both vibrant cities while making this tranquil retreat your base, its perfect for those seeking a blend of relaxation, culture, and stunning scenery.

While Barcelona is a popular Spanish city break, I recommend you spend time getting to know glorious Girona.  This stunning, quieter and more compact city packs a punch when it comes to architecture, history, food and drink. 

I arrived in Girona at the end of Temps de Flors, Girona’s flower festival that sees the streets come alive with colour each May. The city is a carpet of colourful, delicate flowers with beautiful blooms decorating gates and doorways.

Girona has a new and an old town, divided by the Onyar River. Several small bridges connect the two districts, the most famous is the bright red bridge built by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (who also built the Eiffel Tower in Paris). Grab a coffee and one of the city’s most famous breakfast pastries, Xuixo de Crema (pronounced choo choo), a traditional Catalan pastry, that’s crisp on the outside and stuffed with an irresistible creamy filling.  Sit on one of the cute bridges, enjoy your Xuixo de Crema and take in the charming colourful town houses that are dotted along the river.

There’s so much history in this pretty city and the best way to explore it is a walking tour.  Discover filming locations from Game of Thrones, boutique shops and the city’s striking cathedral.   It’s also a gastronomic destination, and if you want to uncover all the hidden gems while trying some of the tastiest local delicacies then book an evening walking tour with Girona Food Tours.  Enjoy the freshest seafood at L’Arros or indulge in something sweet at Jordi Roca’s Willy Wonka style gelato, Rocambolesc.  Afterwards make a pit stop at Sol Gastrobar in the ‘Wine Square’ for a cold glass or Albariño.   If you are looking for fancy dining there’s 12 Michelin star restaurants in and around the area, the most famous of these is the three-starred El Celler de Can Roca, run by the Roca brothers. 

During a visit to S’Agaró it is impossible not to be swept up in the silent glamour and history of Hostal de La Gavina, built in 1932, it still has some of the original features, artwork and furniture.  There are so many stories seeped into the walls of the hotel, guests like Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Jack Nickolson and more recently Lady Gaga have all stayed here. 

The hotel beautifully marries an eclectic mix of opulence and hacienda finca.  As soon as you enter the sweeping reception area you are greeted with polished marble floors, high ceilings, rich dark wood furnishings and showstopping floral arrangements.  Each of the 75 rooms and suites are uniquely designed all in line with rest of the hotel’s chic style.

Hostal de La Gavina is also home to four restaurants, Candlelight, which is overseen by Michelin-starred Chef Romain Fornell and spearheaded by Sous Chef Oriol Fernandez, is renowned for its innovative dishes.  Fernandez, a protege of Alain Ducasse, brings his passion and creativity to the table serving exquisite haute cuisine.   Garbi, which offers healthy Mediterranean dishes is perfect for lunch, here you can retreat from the sun and sample a spectacular Paella and a glass of the local wine.   El Barco, is home to a beautiful outdoor terrace and serves an a la carte menu of seasonal tapas.  Just a two-minute walk, perched on the beach is La Taverna del Mar, famed for its locally caught seafood served on the water’s edge.  Expect plump pink langoustines, delicate sea bass in salt and juicy mussels served in a rich marinera sauce.  El Barco bar is a cute snug, where Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra had a showdown after he flew out to Spain amid rumours swirling of her affair with a bull fighter.  It’s great for a late-night tipple or signature cocktail.

For those who love water sports you can head to Sant Pol beach just below the hotel and try out paddleboarding, water skiing and kayaking.  The hotel can also arrange for you to try some local excursions.  I’d recommend booking the boat trip with husband and wife duo Clara and Jaume at La Gastronomica.  This three-hour journey along the Costa Brava coast is a great way to learn more about the region’s food and wine.  Clara, a sommelier has an infectious passion for everything local and along with chef, Jaume they showcase the simplest, freshest ingredients onboard the boat dishing up one of the most delicious brunches I have ever had. Local cheeses, octopus and chickpea stew are served alongside a delicate white Grenache from Empordà.   The boat stops off at a wonderful cove where you can swim, sunbathe, snorkel or paddle surf. 

This year marks the 100th anniversary of S’Agaró and to celebrate there are a series of events being held from May 2024 – February 2025.  There will be exhibitions, a regatta, concerts and a firework display amongst other celebrations, so its worth checking out what’s happening if you plan to visit.

S’Agaró is a standout Spanish destination that delivers the perfect blend of natural splendour, cultural richness and laid back charm. So, pack your bags and discover this enchanting corner of the Costa Brava – where the Mediterranean meets a sense of timeless tranquility.

Book Hostal de la Gavina here.  Rates start from €280 (approx. £239) per night for a Classic Room, including breakfast.

Living in an age where every corner of the world seems to have been photographed, Instagrammed, and reviewed, the true traveller’s delight lies in discovering those rare, secluded spots yet untouched by the constant stream of tourists. For those with a penchant for sailing and a thirst for solitude, the world still offers pristine anchorages where the water is gin-clear, and the beaches remain blissfully uncrowded. 

Let’s cast off the bowlines and set sail to some of the world’s most secluded anchorages, where the buzz of the everyday fades into the soothing sounds of nature.

The Kimberley, Australia

Navigating the rugged, remote coastline of the Kimberley in Western Australia feels like stepping back in time. Here, the landscape is dramatically ancient, with red cliffs plunging into turquoise waters and horizons that stretch endlessly. 

The isolation of this region means you’re more likely to encounter wildlife like the snubfin dolphin than other humans. One of the best spots to drop anchor is the Hunter River region, known for its dramatic waterfalls, including the stunning King Cascade, which cascades directly into the tidal waters. 

Sailing here offers an unparalleled connection to nature, where the echo of waterfalls and the rustle of wind replace the cacophony of crowded tourist sites.

The Tuamotus, French Polynesia

Picture this: an expanse of islands scattered like pearls across a vast, deep blue velvet cloth—this is the Tuamotu Archipelago. With its 76 atolls, each more pristine than the last, this region epitomises the idea of a paradise lost to the typical tourist maps.

Rangiroa, one of the largest atolls, is a gateway not only to incredible underwater adventures but also to an unparalleled serenity found on silvery beaches that are often untouched by human feet. The anchorages here are as secluded as one could dream, bordered only by palm trees swaying gently in the tropical breeze and the occasional piece of driftwood washed ashore. 

For those who seek solitude, spending your days diving among some of the most vibrant coral reefs in the world or simply soaking up the tranquillity that comes from being at the very edge of the world offers a perfect escape. Here, the connection to the sea and nature is visceral, reminding anyone who visits of the sheer beauty and power of the natural world.

Pantelleria, Italy

Situated between Sicily and Tunisia, Pantelleria is a unique jewel in the Mediterranean. 

This volcanic island, not as frequented as one might expect given its location, is bordered by dramatic coasts where the sea crashes against rugged lava stone shores. The anchorages here are secluded spots perfect for peaceful nights under a canopy of stars, with only the gentle splash of water against the hull to disturb the silence. 

Known for its rich thermal springs and rejuvenating mud baths, Pantelleria invites sailors to partake in its natural spa offerings, making it an ideal spot for relaxation after a day at sea. The island is also famed for its capers, and a visit here would not be complete without indulging in the local cuisine, enhanced by this tangy treasure. 

Whether you’re lounging on your deck or exploring the stark, natural beauty of the island, Pantelleria offers a unique blend of adventure and tranquillity, making it a must-visit for those charting their course through the Mediterranean with yacht charter experts like Ocean Independence.

The San Blas Islands, Panama

This archipelago of over 300 islands, governed by the indigenous Guna people, is a vivid illustration of a tropical paradise largely untouched by modern development. Many of these islands are uninhabited, offering anchorages that are both secluded and spectacular, surrounded by coral reefs bursting with life. 

The beauty of anchoring in San Blas extends beyond the picturesque scenes; it includes rich cultural experiences with the Gunas. Visitors have the opportunity to engage with local communities, learning about and from the Guna people, their mola textiles, and their preserved traditions, which they share generously with those who approach them with respect and curiosity. 

Each visit promises a profound insight into a way of life that prioritises harmony with nature, offering lessons on sustainability and community.

Port Davey, Tasmania

In the remote southwestern part of Tasmania lies Port Davey, an isolated, almost mystical place that is accessible only by boat or light aircraft. This area, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, offers anchorage that feels like it’s at the edge of the world. 

Surrounded by dense, ancient forests and the occasional call of a distant bird, this anchorage epitomises purity and isolation. The water here mirrors the sky with such clarity that sailing through it can feel like gliding through the clouds. 

For those seeking to disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with the raw elements of nature, Port Davey offers a profound experience of solitude and introspection, where the vast wilderness speaks directly to the soul.

Disko Bay, Greenland

For adventurers willing to embrace the cold, Disko Bay is a striking destination that offers breathtaking beauty amid icebergs and crystal-clear waters. This bay provides a unique anchorage for those interested in capturing the artistry of ice landscapes or engaging in cold-water marine exploration. 

The summer months are particularly magical, with the midnight sun providing 24 hours of daylight, allowing more time to soak in the ethereal beauty of the Arctic environment. Nearby, the town of Ilulissat offers a taste of Greenlandic culture and cuisine, yet when anchored away from the shore, one finds themselves enveloped by the vastness of the open ice, offering a solitude that is both awe-inspiring and humbling.

The Svalbard Archipelago, Norway

As you venture further into the Arctic Circle, the Svalbard Archipelago emerges as a frontier of untouched wilderness, where the raw force of nature is both awe-inspiring and humbling. 

This remote cluster of islands offers a landscape of stark contrasts, where rugged mountain terrain meets the frozen expanse of sea ice, and the polar bears truly do outnumber the human inhabitants. The anchorages here are cradled among dramatic fjords and expansive glaciers, creating secluded havens that are as serene as they are isolated.

The challenges of navigating these waters are met with unparalleled rewards: imagine anchoring in a bay where the silence is only broken by the calving of nearby glaciers — a thunderous sound that echoes through the fjords. Or consider the thrill of spotting a whale as it surfaces near your boat; its spray is a stark contrast against the deep blues and whites that dominate the landscape.

The uniqueness of Svalbard extends beyond its natural wonders. The archipelago has a rich history as a former whaling base, and remnants of these bygone days can still be seen on some of the remote islands. Exploring these historical sites offers a poignant glimpse into the human struggle and endurance in such a harsh environment, adding a layer of depth to the experience of those who sail these northern waters.

Final Thoughts

These hidden gems provide not just a break from the hustle and bustle of modern life but a complete immersion into tranquillity and natural beauty. Exploring these secluded anchorages allows one to disconnect fully from the noise and demands of everyday urban existence, reconnecting instead with the rhythms of nature in its most pristine forms.

These experiences enrich the soul and expand our understanding of the world, reminding us of both the vastness of the earth and the intimate beauty of quiet places. 

Whether it’s the remote Arctic clarity of Svalbard, the vibrant underwater worlds of the Tuamotus, or the historic quietude of Pantelleria, each location offers its own unique brand of solitude and scenic splendour that can transform a simple holiday into a deeply meaningful journey.

The stunning beaches and inviting waters of Dubai fascinate many water sports lovers. These are mainly those interested in standup jet skiing. But you must know that with so many options out there, finding the right stand-up jet ski rental can be burdensome, and you may find it hard to figure out which one is right. With this in mind, here are some top tips for you to read on to make a good choice.

Proper Budget in Mind 

You know before you even immerse yourself in the realm of standup jet skiing, it’s significant for you to in detail assess your budgetary constraints. The cost of these kinds of watercraft can vary significantly depending on factors like that of the brand, particular type of model, and included features. By establishing a clear and effective budget upfront, you can effectively narrow down your options and even concentrate on finding a jet ski that not just fulfils your desired specifications but also aligns with your financial parameters. Taking this type of proactive approach will help you make a well-informed and effective decision. It ensures that  you invest in a jet ski that provides you with maximum enjoyment in the absence of stretching your finances beyond their restrictions.

Consider Your Level of Skills   

Engaging in the realm of standup jet skiing demands a particular skill set and acquaintance with the activity. Beginners must go for the models tailored for novice riders, giving priority to ease of Maneuverability. Conversely, experienced riders could simply gravitate towards high-performance models, bragging about enhanced speed and agility. Honesty about one’s skill level is significant when selecting an effective and suitable jet ski, ensuring an optimal match with specific abilities. Once you keep in mind the proficiency levels and aligning them with appropriate model features, being one of the riders you can maximize enjoyment and even immense safety on the water.

Research Overall Brands and Models

Considering the abundance of brands producing standup jet skis, organizing thorough research is paramount. Seek out well-known brands for their reliability, performance, and even proper durability to ensure a worthwhile investment. Furthermore, delve into the diverse kinds of models offered by these reputable brands to recognize the one that best suits your preferences and level of proficiency. By scrutinizing both the reputation  of the brand and the specific features of each model, you can easily and effectively make an informed decision that boost your jet skiing experience.

Examine Engine Performance

You have no idea how the engine is the heart of any sort of jet ski. Hence, it is significant for you to evaluate its performance. Consider factors like acceleration, horsepower, and fuel efficiency. A powerful and effective engine will provide you with thrilling rides, while fuel-efficient models can simply help you save on operating expenses in the long run. Come on, you can not take a chance with examining engine performance. 

Explore Safety Features

Once you are selecting a standup jet ski, you need to prioritize safety above all else. Seek out essential features like a dependable braking system, even an emergency shut-off lanyard, and stability growth. These are the elements that play a critical role in mitigating the risk of accidents, specifically for novice riders, thereby fostering a protected and more secure riding experience. Once you do invest in the jet ski equipped with these safety features, enthusiasts like you can definitely enjoy your overall time on the water with greater level of peace of mind. You would know that you have taken proactive steps to safeguard yourself against any sort of potential hazards. 

Test Ride Varied Models

It is important that before you even make a purchase, try out simply manifold stands -up jet ski models to see how they merely feel on the water. Pay attention to factors such as handling, comfort, and even ergonomics. A test ride will offer you firsthand experience and help you make a well-informed decision based on your personal preferences. Come on, when you get the chance to do a test ride, you should never look away from it. Make the most of it, and you can taste the ride before renting it. 

Inspect Hull Design

The hull design massively and effectively impacts the stability and Maneuverability of a standup jet ski.  You know, deep-V hulls get a better level of stability in choppy waters, whereas the flat-bottom kind of hulls are more agile and responsive. Make sure that you pay attention to your riding preferences and the water conditions in Dubai to go for a hull design that meets your requirements.

Check the Provision of Storage and Transport.

You would also be confident about where you would store your jet ski when it is not really in use. Also, please find out how you will transport it to the water. Standup jet skis are specifically and generally more compact than their sit-down counterparts, hence , making them easier to store and transport. However, it is your duty that you do consider different factors such as the trailer compatibility and storage space before you make a choice.

Research Maintenance Needs 

You know just like any sort of watercraft, standup jet skis demand regular kind of maintenance to ensure optimal performance and longevity. Research the maintenance needs of different models, including routine inspections, engine servicing, and even winterization procedures. You have to go for a jet ski that is easy to maintain and has a dependable service network in Dubai.

Find Out Check Warranty and Support

A comprehensive and valid warranty can ensure that you are at peace.  It would protect you against unseen or unexpected repairs or defects. Look for standup jet ski models that simply are available in a solid warranty backed by excellent customer support. Additionally, it is important that you also pay attention to the availability of authorized service centers and spare parts in this city for hassle-free maintenance and proper repairs.

Conclusion  

To sum up, you always have an abundance of options in the world of standup jet ski rental in Dubai. But you have to figure out different things and go for the one that suits your needs and desires. 

House of Coco is thrilled to bring you an exclusive interview with Alka Winter, the dynamic VP of Marketing and Communications at Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA). A trailblazer in the tourism and hospitality sector, Alka has crafted a remarkable career defined by influential moments and strategic innovations.

In this engaging conversation, Alka shares her insights into what makes Ras Al Khaimah a standout destination for women and solo female travelers. She discusses the growing trend of solo travel among women and its positive impact on the tourism industry. Additionally, Alka sheds light on how the UAE is setting new benchmarks for gender equality, with RAKTDA recognised as one of the Best Workplaces for Women in the Middle East.

Join us as we delve into Alka Winter’s inspiring journey, her vision for the future of tourism and the empowering strides being made for women in the UAE. This is a must-read for fearless females around the world looking to explore new horizons and be inspired by leaders in their field…

1. Can you share with us a pivotal moment in your career that significantly shaped your trajectory within the tourism and hospitality sector?

I wouldn’t say that it was a pivotal moment per se, it was more the people in my life who helped shaped my career and gave me advice when I needed it – from when it was time for me to step out of my comfort zone after 15 years in hospitality and giving me the encouragement to explore the tourism eco-system, to where I am today. Those people include Raki Phillips, my CEO at Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, whom I’ve known for over a decade, and worked with during my earlier Fairmont and FRHI days – to Philip Barnes, the CEO of Rotana Hotels.

Another great mentor, both professionally and personally is Charlotte Thouvard and Mike Taylor at Accor. I’m blessed to have such amazing advocates with whom I continue to draw on for their advice and expertise as leaders, and industry professionals.

2. What inspired you to pursue a career in marketing and communications specifically within the travel industry?

It really started in the early 2000s. I had obtained a post graduate degree in Public Relations in Ontario, Canada, and was looking to start my career in PR. Art history and museums was a big passion, as it is today, and as such, I interned at the Royal Ontario Museum.  When my internship came to a close, my director Francisco Alvarez put me forward for an entry level PR role at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto – an iconic luxury hotel dating back to 1929 with an incredible history.  From then on, I was hooked, and hospitality became a major part of my life!

Fast forward to a few years later, and I’ve met my husband at the Fairmont Dubai where I used to work. We later married at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi, and the brand became an essential part of our lives. There was so much personal happiness and affinity wrapped up in it, which really demonstrates the power of brands. 

I made the jump into tourism four years ago. I was fascinated with Ras Al Khaimah, the northern-most emirate in the UAE as a challenger brand, and having the opportunity to work with a wonderful mentor and colleague, Raki Phillips,the tourism board’s CEO – as well as a wonderful marketing and communications team of 10, who come from nine different nationalities ranging from Emirati to Turkish, Estonian, Syrian, Philippines, Canada (myself), Egyptian, and Pakistan – to name a few.

3. As someone with an impressive track record in the hospitality industry, what strategies do you believe are crucial for elevating a destination’s profile to international audiences?

A multi-faceted approach is essential. One that incorporates everything from planning and growth, such as ourhospitality and attraction developments, to having a robust sustainable strategy and implementing initiatives that benefit local communities. Currently tourism accounts for 5% of the emirate’s GDP – our aim is to grow this to a third, and to become a major economic contributor to the destination.

Separately, sharing compelling storytelling through our communications channels is key, although that is putting itsimply. We try to have an intuitive understanding of where our audiences are and which phase of the dreaming, consideration, and planning phases they are in – and realising that this isn’t a simple linear process. 

Our role is not only as communicators, but as super sleuths – understanding the pulse of travel inspiration and meeting our travellers at the pass, with creative and straightforward content that resonates with them at a visceral level. Brand identity is critical here, and in turn, it encourages tourism and drives economic growth.

4. Ras Al Khaimah is increasingly recognised as a top destination for women and solo travellers. What unique attributes do you think contribute to its appeal for this demographic?

Safety is key attribute for all travellers, especially solo travellers and women. Ras Al Khaimah is the number one country where people feel safe walking alone, according to Gallup, and it’s the first safe city in the world to receive a ‘Safeguard Assurance’ label from Bureau Veritas. It is also the first Emirate to receive the world travel and tourism council (WTTC) safe travels stamp, which recognises the destinations heightened safety standards and training protocol in place across the Emirate. This has positively impacted the appeal among women and the wider solo travellersegment, in addition to Ras Al Khaimah’s unique attractions and warm hospitality.

5. Solo female travel is on the rise globally. How do you think destinations like Ras Al Khaimah can cater to the specific needs and interests of solo female travellers?

Destinations like Ras Al Khaimah exemplify a remarkable blend of tradition and modernity, offering a warm welcometo solo female travellers. Renowned for its progressive outlook and commitment to tolerance, the UAE and Ras Al Khaimah prioritise the safety and comfort of all visitors, regardless of gender. For instance, the UAE has institutionalised the concept of tolerance, establishing a dedicated Ministry of Tolerance in 2016 and a Supreme National Committee for Tolerance in 2018. These initiatives aim to promote respect and appreciation for diverse cultures, forms of expression, and ways of life, both domestically and internationally.

With these measures in place – that aim to create a welcoming and supportive environment, Ras Al Khaimah encourages solo female travellers to explore and enjoy the Emirate, without concerns about safety. We have an abundance of accommodation options from the resorts, to glamping sites, and the vibrant array of cultural experiencesand attractions, giving solo female travellers an opportunity to explore the rich tapestry of Emirati heritage with confidence and ease. 

6. In your experience, how has the surge in solo travel among women positively impacted the overall tourism industry?

The rise of solo female travel has positively impacted the tourism industry and has prompted destinations to prioritise safety – a key factor women, and I myself, would consider when choosing a destination.

It has also naturally expanded the tourism market, creating new opportunities for businesses to cater to solo femaletravellers’ safety needs. It’s driven improvements in accommodation, tours, and activities – as well as the destinations wider infrastructure, including transportation and safety measures which we’ve seen enhanced globally, to help improve the travel experience. I do think the solo travel trend really empowers women to focus on personal growth and independence, while exploring the world.

7. Gender equality is a significant focus for RAKTDA. Can you elaborate on some initiatives or practices the organisation implements to foster gender equality in the workplace?

As a strong advocate for gender equality, I am proud to live and work in the UAE, a leading country in the region. At RAKTDA, we strive to increase women’s representation in leadership roles within the tourism industry by implementing inclusive policies, providing mentorships, and collaborating with stakeholders. Engaging with local communities through awareness campaigns is key to addressing cultural norms and stereotypes and advocating for women’s rights. Through proactive measures, Ras Al Khaimah can contribute to a more inclusive workplace andtourism industry, benefiting women and society.

8. As a leader in the tourism industry, how do you see Ras Al Khaimah contributing to the broader narrative of gender equality and womens empowerment in the Middle East?

It is a privilege to work towards creating more opportunities for women in the corporate and tourism sectors in the Middle East. I am confident Ras Al Khaimah will maintain its commitment to fostering an exceptional workplace environment for women, reshaping the narrative of gender equality and empowerment in the region. By prioritisinginclusive initiatives and promoting equality in education, Ras Al Khaimah can set a positive example. As a leader myself, I believe in showcasing women’s achievements in the industry, and advocating for greater gender diversity and representation – inspiring positive change and inclusivity.

9. What advice would you give to women aspiring to leadership roles within the tourism and hospitality sector?

Keep on learning. Just when you think you’ve learnt everything you need to know, go beyond this. As a 49-year-oldwith a career spanning over 20 years, what has kept me invested in what I do and valued as a colleague, is the willingness to keep learning and trying new things. Secondly, believe that you belong. Imposter syndrome affects almost all women, but when it does, the best way that I found out of it, is to master the task or role at hand, and start operating from a position of strength. Lastly, don’t lose your authenticity and what makes you, you. Often, we feel that we need to emulate those in higher positions. I’ve found that appropriating their techniques, which makes them successful, is crucial, however, only you can bring your unique talent, energy and dynamism to a role or task at hand. Don’t feel the need to change or worse, apologise for that. 

10. Can you share some of the challenges you’ve faced as a female leader in a predominantly male-dominated industry, and how you’ve overcome them?

The challenges I have faced are those anyone would face, regardless of gender. Thankfully I’ve had mentors and leaders- male and female, who have served as my advocates and sponsors, and helped me navigate through these challenges.  This is the same philosophy I would also apply to my personal life.  

11. Ras Al Khaimah offers diverse experiences from beach to desert adventures. Which experience do you personally find the most captivating, and why?

My team was responsible for the positioning of the destination a few years back as the nature emirate and as a destination that complemented its neighboring emirates. With a unique topography of desert, mountain, and sea, and consequently three distinct tribes of Emirate people based on these natural attributes – it’s difficult to say what’s more captivating. If I had to select an experience, it would be the Hajar mountain and particularly Jebel Jais – the highest mountain peak in the UAE. Hiking across its over 50 km of developed trail is a pure highlight, with nature and serenity just in front of you, alongside activities for the entire family. This includes the alpine inspired Jais Sledder that will takeyou through various mountain terrains, and to the Bear Grylls Explorers Camp, offering courses of varying lengths and putting your survival skills to the test. 

12. The UAE is renowned for its safety standards. How does Ras Al Khaimah ensure a safe and secure environment for travellers, particularly solo female travellers?

Ras Al Khaimah engages several measures for safety, from safe accommodation options available for all of visitors, and especially for solo female travellers, with features such as secure entrances, well-lit parking areas, and 24-hour reception services. The Emirate has reliable transportation including taxis, buses, and ride-sharing services that allows solo female travellers to navigate the destination safely and efficiently. The local community are always so friendly towards travellers and will happily provide guidance, giving them a sense of security while exploring the destination.

13. What role do you believe sustainable tourism plays in shaping Ras Al Khaimah’s appeal as a holiday destination, especially for environmentally conscious travellers?

It plays a fundamental role, and sustainability is at the heart of our strategies. Our ambition is to nurture an industry that is economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable – and we are making significant headway in achieving this. We are on track to becoming a sustainable destination and a regional leader in sustainable tourism by next year.

As the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, we developed a strong Sustainability Implementation Plan with EarthCheck – the world’s leading scientific benchmarking, certification, and advisory group for tourism destinations. We were awarded a Silver Certification for outperforming the region’s average baseline levels across key sustainability indicators, from energy consumption (by 23%), greenhouse gas emissions (by 29%) and waste output (by 61%). With consumers and travellers becoming more savvy, educated, and eco-conscious on the impact their decisionshave on the planet, we are sure it does add to the destinations appeal.

It also not just about recycling and using sustainable materials to build with, or to serve our food and beverages in. There is a huge amount of thought and energy that goes into building and nurturing a sustainable destination responsibly and the positive recognition we get for this filters into the destinations appeal with visitors. 

14. As someone deeply involved in marketing and communications, how do you approach the task of promoting cultural authenticity while catering to international audiences’ preferences?

We work closely with the local community to authentically showcase Ras Al Khaimah’s cultural experiences and traditions. By incorporating local stories and historical narratives, such as the inspiring tale of Suwaidi Pearls’ founderand the grandson of the last pearl diver in Ras Al Khaimah, Abdulla Rashed Al Suwaidi, we connect visitors with the region’s rich heritage. We also consider the preferences of international visitors, carefully selecting commercial offerings such as hotels, restaurants, and shops to reflect local culture while offering a diverse range of international cuisine , providing an inclusive and memorable experience for all.

15. RAKTDA has achieved remarkable recognition as a great workplace. What do you think sets it apart in terms of fostering a positive work environment?

As part of our wider strategy, we are embracing the concept of liveability. This includes engaging with the local community, who form part of the destination’s workforce, staging over 50 events a year such as the RAK Art Festival, the RAK Half Marathon, Ras Al Khaimah Championship, and various other sporting events. We also introduced RAKFAM – a series of initiatives aimed at enriching connectivity, community life and facilities for the tourism sector employees in the Emirate. 

We have a RAKFAM app which allows all of our hospitality employees in Ras Al Khaimah to connect. They can find discounts and rewards, give feedback to their organisations – and the app encourages all employees to pursue a healthy lifestyle. Thanks to its focus on employee well-being, we were named one of the 2022 Top 10 Great Places to Work in the Middle East – the highest placed government entity, as well as one of the Best Workplaces for Women, and a Great Place to Work in 2021 – the first and only organisation in Ras Al Khaimah to be awarded this certification.

16. With your extensive experience working with major hotel chains, what trends do you foresee shaping the future of hospitality and tourism marketing?

Overtourism is a trend that we are seeing gaining momentum, and this is putting pressure on destinations and hospitality to ensure they have the infrastructure in place to meet demand – and consciously.

RAKTDA works closely with our hospitality partners to ensure controlled growth, so we avoid over-tourism and haphazard expansion. As the licensing authority, we enforce sustainability guidelines through our ‘Green Hotel Rating’ – an initiative that aims to achieve 100 percent integrated sustainability in all of Ras Al Khaimah’s hotels, and we areactively engaged in both natural and cultural conservation efforts to preserve the destinations innate assets, whilst consciously expanding.

Being more eco-conscious remains a priority for travellers, with 76% of people saying they want to travel more sustainably over the coming 12 months. Destinations need to act now not only to meet travellers’ growing demand, but to address ongoing environmental concerns particularly as Europe is heading towards another unusually warm and dry summer. In Ras Al Khaimah, we have built a robust sustainable strategy in collaboration with EarthCheck that will allow us to reach our objective of becoming a regional leader in sustainable tourism by 2025 and develop the destination to the highest sustainability standards. 

We have also seen more interest in off-peak travel for people who are keen to enjoy their favourite destinations for less, while avoiding the crowds. “Shoulder Shoppers” is also on the rise with UK travellers preferring spring trips over Summer, and nearly half wanting to travel between March and May. 

The tourism industry is also continuing to be shaped by the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI), particularlygenerative AI. Online travel agencies have now started to integrate generative AI into mobile applications to make the discovery and booking processes easier, providing customers with personalised recommendations and meeting the needs of the majority (80%) of travellers who want to be able to book their trip entirely online.

Lastly, bleisure travel is still trending. The market projected to reach an impressive $2.97 trillion by 2032, driven by factors such as remote work policies, employee well-being initiatives, and the desire for unique experiences. This is a positive trend, impacting the hospitality industry by increasing hotel occupancy rates, revenue from additional services like spas and customer loyalty towards travel brands.

17. How does RAKTDA leverage digital platforms and technology to enhance the visitor experience and promote Ras Al Khaimah as a top travel destination?

RAKTDA leverages social media, particularly platforms like Meta and TikTok, to produce quick, easily digestible content in both static and short-form video formats to effectively promote the destination. In 2023, we focused on short-from content, uploading over 1500 individual organic content pieces to Meta and TikTok, gaining over 15 million views across Instagram and TikTok. Additionally, RAKTDA launched the ‘All About You’ promotional campaign, utilising a feline cat mascot to symbolise the relaxing and adventurous experiences available in Ras Al Khaimah, attracting new visitors by driving affinity.

18. What are some upcoming projects or initiatives from RAKTDA that travellers can look forward to?

This summer, Sofitel Al Hamra Beach Resort, a unique 5-star destination  perched along the Ras Al Khaimah coastlinewill open its doors, combining French luxury and local cuisine. The Rove Al Marjan Island will also be opening with 441 rooms by the end of the year, alongside Westin Hotel & Hotel Apartments offering 232 rooms and 25 apartments. The Saij, A Mantis Collection Mountain Lodge is another exciting addition, opening on Jebel Jais, promising mindful activities and guided treks, and offering guests a retreat to discover themselves amidst breathtaking natural surroundings.

We have also launched a new summer campaign – See Double. It’s an innovative campaign from RAKTDA and Oman Ministry of Heritage and Tourism, in collaboration with OMRAN Group, which invites travellers to discover both Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, and Musandam, Oman, in a single trip filled with twice the experience.  

19. Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?

I love exploring new countries.  As I write this, I’m embarking on my first trip to Sweden, followed by Norway where I will be meeting with Nordic press.  However, as a treat, my husband surprised me with a trip to the northern most city in Sweden – Kiruna – straight into the Artic Circle in hopes that I will get a chance to see an Aurora Borealis – the Northern Lights.  While that may be unlikely in late April, the fact that this is as far north as a I have ever gone is simply awe-inspiring in itself, and I’m thoroughly looking forward to the experience.

20. Lastly, what legacy do you hope to leave through your work at RAKTDA, both in terms of tourism development and gender equality advocacy?

I believe that with everything you do, you want to leave the situation, the role, the people in your life and work, in a better place than how you started.  The same holds true for Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority.  I sincerely hope to guide my department to take on larger projects, bigger challenges and reap amazing success in positioning Ras Al Khaimah as a Destination of Future, bringing onside the community in every step of the way.  

While I believe in gender equality, I also believe in gender parity and diversity, more.  The best success I’ve had professionally has been from multinational, multi-cultural male and female colleagues. I’m proud to say that I have one of the most diverse teams in RAKTDA with more than 10 nationalities – and the perspectives they bring to the table alongside exceptional industry expertise makes for a truly enriching work environment.