With its picturesque scale, architecture, wine, and Renaissance museums, there is a reason why Tuscany keeps people coming back for fabulous corporate meetings and much more. In this episode, Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth introduce us to the author of the bestselling book turned movie, Under the Tuscan Sun,Frances Mayes, who shares her life-changing experience in Tuscany that inspired her memoir and some of her activities in daily life. Taking us beyond the region, she then shares her new book, Always Italy, a travel guide to all 20 regions in Italy. Without missing the best part of the trip, Andy and Todd then sit down with Federico Cerelli, a teacher for Italy’s National Organization of Wine Tasters, who takes us to learn the art of winemaking—from how best to test it to which ones to try.
Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing venues in Tuscany, to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.
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Author Of “Under The Tuscan Sun” Frances Mayes Offers An Exclusive Italy Travel Guide, And Learn The Art Of Winemaking With Federico Cerelli
A picturesque region people just can’t help falling in love with, it is no wonder why many always go back to Tuscany. From its rich history and architecture to the food, it is simply a great travel destination that offers everything to all kinds of travelers. Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth guide us to this great Italian region with no less than the very people who know it like the back of their hands.
First up, they sit down with the bestselling author of the book turned movie, Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes. Here, she first tells us the story and the life she lived that inspired her memoir. She also talks about her latest partnership with National Geographic and her new book, Always Italy—a travel guide that covers all 20 regions in Italy.
Back in Tuscany, Frances reveals the whole secret of the region, taking us to back roads and small villages to discover it in a whole new way. She also names some of her favorite food and wine and some of the best seasons to go in each place. In her daily life, Frances shares what she typically does in the morning and what her writing process looks like. Her top must-see activities and must-visit places are:
The Piazza Life
Tuscan Sun Festival
The annual horse race (Palio di Siena)
Moving us along to one of the top activities that no one should miss when in Italy, Andy and Todd then interview Federico Cerelli. Federico graduated in the year 2000 at the Università degli Studi di Firenze with a degree in Enology and Viticulture with a maximum score of 110/110. Since 2005 he has been a member of the official commission of DOCG Chamber of Commerce of Florence and Siena, and since 2008 he has been a teacher at ONAV classes in the Florence department (National Organization Wine Tasters).
With his years of experience in prestigious Italian wineries, Federico offers us some valuable wisdom to learn the art of winemaking.
On properly testing a wine, you must take note of the following:
Follow the suggestion in the back label of the bottle
For red wine, open at least an hour before drinking
For aged wines, melt the cork and check the cork
Check the color
Close your eyes and try to understand what you’re smelling
Put in your mouth and try to spread out the wine in all parts of the tongue
Check the after taste to measure the complexity of the wine and how long you feel its sensation in your mouth
Federico then recommends some of his favorite wine in Tuscany:
Sangiovese, the King of Italian red wine
Chianti Classico wine
What is more, Federico also gives us a tour around Castello di Gabbiano, showing us what they offer for all wine lovers who want to bask under the Tuscan sun along vineyards, great architecture, and good food. He then gives a brief overview of Florence. He says to visit in April to August, enjoy the medieval village around San Miniato al Monte, and visit the best cheese producers in the area.
Closing with their bucket-list, here are some of Andy and Todd’s must-see, must-taste, and must-do items that should make your Tuscany itinerary:
Florence’s rich fashion history
The Vasari Corridor and The Uffizi Gallery
The antique market at Arezzo Viera
Palio di Siena
Sicily, Sardinia, and Elba
Nessun Dorma Manarola: Cinque Terre
Piazza dei Miracoli
Follow along to this great episode as you take a stroll under the Tuscan sun with really great food and wine in your hands and just enjoy the piazza, Italy’s daily life!
About Frances Mayes
Frances Mayes recently published “Always Italy,” which won the Lowell Thomas Award for best travel guide of 2020. Previous bestsellers include “See You in the Piazza,” “Under the Tuscan Sun,” “Bella Tuscany,” “Every Day in Tuscany” and “ Year in the World.” These books about travel, taking chances, and the “voluptuousness of Italian life” have been translated into 54 languages.
Mayes has written the memoir “Under Magnolia,” and the novels “Swan” and “Women in Sunlight. She and her husband divide their time between North Carolina and Cortona, Italy.
About Federico Cerelli
Federico Cerelli graduated in the year 2000 at the Università Degli Studi di Firenze with a degree in Enology and Viticulture with a maximum score of 110/110. Since 2005 he is a member of the official commission of the DOCG Chamber of Commerce of Florence and Siena. In the year 2006 attended a master for “winemaking process and sensory analysis of high-quality red wines” at the Facultè d’oenologie, Universitè Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2. Since 2008 he is a teacher at ONAV classes in the Florence department (National Organization Wine Tasters).
Federico joined CDG in the year 2011 after 10 years of experience in prestigious Italian wineries with the responsibility and the supervision of important winemaking projects, especially in Tuscany and in the Chianti Classico wine region.
Federico brought his intense knowledge and passion to CDG; his continuous research for quality and innovation is a great asset for the winery.
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From famous movie sets to afternoon tea, Sophie Malerba shares her Blue-Badge Guide knowledge on all things London for your next corporate meeting or event planning. Plus, from the official hotel of London Fashion Week and London Film Festival, The May Fair Hotel’s Anjie Keegel shares some insider tips.
Together with Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth see London as you’ve never seen before, for business, pleasure or both. Curating unforgettable experiences for your next London trip, this episode will give you a glimpse of the London scene through the eyes of locals.
Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing venues in London, to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.
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London. Official Blue Badge Guide Sophie Malerba Shares Best Things To Do In London, And Catch Iconic Events With The May Fair Hotel’s Anjie Keegel
There is a reason why London is simply a must-visit travel destination. From its medieval history to pop culture, this United Kingdom capital has something to offer every traveler. From famous movie sets to afternoon tea, Sophie Malerba joins this episode to share her Blue Badge Guide knowledge on all things London. Plus, as the official hotel of London Fashion Week and London Film Festival, hear from The May Fair Hotel’s Anjie Keegel. Together with Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth, they take us into a view of London as we’ve never seen before, be it for business or pleasure or both.
Starting with the basics, Andy and Todd dive deep into the world of tour guides. Bringing you only the best experience, they talk to Sophie Malerba to share the prestige that comes with being a Blue Badge Guide.
A Blue Badge Guide stands out from all other guides in the city. One, it is not just a summer job; it’s a profession. People wearing this badge have to go through a tough and competitive 2-year course with roughly 30 people a year. From entry exams to written and practical, the Blue Badge ensures that any traveler, no matter where they come from and what language they speak, is getting high-quality standards.
Kicking off this tour in the most English way, Sophie gives us an insider perspective of London, revealing some of the city’s secrets.
Her top three places to visit for an afternoon tea are:
The Goring Hotel – This hotel is a family-run hotel just outside Buckingham Palace frequented by the Royals.
Ham Yard Hotel – This hotel offers design-oriented, beautiful interiors. They do afternoon tea for £25, which is a steal in London.
Fortnum & Mason – This final entry serves not only the three tiers but after you finish them, they then bring along the cake trolley with more cakes to choose from.
From there, Sophie takes us to the streets, but not just like any other streets out there, because for her, “Whenever you’re in London, don’t stay on the main streets. Go to the side streets.” Everybody knows Piccadilly, but not many know the treasure that is St. James. If you want to shop where the Royals go, then this is the place to be! A lot of shops here have Royal Warrants, which means they produce goods and services for the Royal Family.
If you’re into the arts, then Sophie recommends the East End of London’s Shoreditch, London’s creative hub. Most people nowadays are familiar with this area as the place where street artist Banksy started. Since then, this has become the holy grail of the world’s best street artists.
Moving on from the Royals to A-listers, Andy and Todd also sit down with Anjie Keegel of The May Fair Hotel, which is the official hotel of the iconic London Film Festival and the London Fashion Week. She shares some insider stories, celebrity encounters, and high-end events that take place in this great hotel.
Going deeper, Anjie tours us to some of the little gems around The May Fair area, where musicians, celebrities, and the Royals also love to visit:
The Coach & Horses – One of the oldest pubs in May Fair
Shepherd’s Market – Located just at the back of the hotel where you can visit a few galleries, pubs, and restaurants
Curating unforgettable experiences for your next London trip not only with a great hotel but also with equally great bucket list items to match, listen to this episode and have a feel of the London scene—be it the lifestyles of the rich and famous or exploring the city through the eyes of locals.
About Sophie Malerba
Sophie Malerba has been a Blue Badge Guide of London for 5 years and absolutely loves it! She mainly works with the US market, both private bookings (families and couples) and Incentives.
Her past experience is in the travel industry, where she worked for an Italian DMC for 8 years, before returning home to London.
She then worked for a London DMC, before fulfilling her dream to be a guide, which takes 2 years training.
About Anjie Keegel
Anjie Keegel has been in the industry for over 20 years.
She started out in operations (reservations, reception/ front of house) prior to moving in to reactive sales, then proactive sales.
Some of her previous roles includes, Corporate Sales Manager, Director of Leisure & Group Sales, Business Development and Director of Sales (property based) for hotels in London, Heathrow and Manchester UK.
Originally from Sri Lanka, Anjie moved to the UK over 25 years ago and never looked back.
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Costa Rica, besides being known for its beaches, volcanoes, and wellness, could be a great location for your next corporate meeting or retreat. Hear about the best time to visit Costa Rica with Federico Gurdián, General Manager of Casa Chameleon Hotels, and learn how to take advantage of group-friendly outdoor activities with Chakiris Menafacio. Meanwhile, our hosts go deep into their top ten things to do in perhaps the most relaxing country in Central America, from hiking in the excitement-filled mountains, achieving temporary flight in the zip line, to immersing in the Costa Rican culture first-hand at local restaurants.
Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing venues in Costa Rica, to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.
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Adventurous General Manager Federico Gurdián Shares Guest Experiences In Paradise And Celebrate The Pura Vida Lifestyle With Outdoor Enthusiast Chakiris Menafacio
Ticos and Ticas, the casual name for Costa Ricans, have the longevity mindset Pura Vida meaning pure life and they live it to the fullest. With volcanoes, rainforests and beaches, there’s no shortage of inspiring activity. Have an adventure on horseback, zip line, raft, rock climb or relax on a catamaran and sip on coffee or craft brew. We will be interviewing the General Manager of Casa Chameleon Hotel, Federico Gurdian. This villa hotel has been described as the gates of heaven. Get ready to put together a list of fun, outdoor activities with Chak Menafacio. Live out the simple life on this episode of Destination Everywhere, Costa Rica.
We’re bringing you to one of our favorite places in the Western Hemisphere, Costa Rica. We have been there lots of times. It is known for the Pura Vida lifestyle, meaning pure life. There’s so much to do. We’ve taken family trips down there. We’ve taken clients down there for fantastic incentive trips. We’ve got lots of great ideas for you. Todd, tell me about your experience there and what you’re looking forward to sharing with our audience. We ended up going down. We flew into San Jose. We took SANSA Airlines over to Quepos. We stayed at Manuel Antonio and that was my first trip. We spent quite a bit of time in San Jose. It was absolutely amazing. At the time, it was relatively untouched. It was great for a US traveler because I could get by with my very little Spanish. Most people spoke English that we dealt with, which was great. It was relatively inexpensive. I know there are a lot of resorts there now but it was an amazing trip. I’ve gone since then now that I’ve become a little more settled in my lifestyle and I can check out some of the nicer things. Some of the resorts there are second to none, gorgeous. The currency is the colón. It’s easy to get around. Everyone speaks English even though Spanish is the major language. Because of that, it’s easy to travel. The wild life that they have in Costa Rica, you can do the beaches but then you’re not very far. You’re then just up in the volcanoes and it’s some of the greenest and plushest tropical forest you’ve ever seen. The zip lining and the eco-adventure activities that you can do in Costa Rica are limitless. What’s great is they have the local guys, they call them Ticos. You can always find somebody to take you out on one of these excursions and do something. They are fearless fellows and ladies, everything from horseback riding to zip lining to rafting and rock climbing. You could always find these guides that will knock your socks off. They’ve all impressed me tremendously. It is a tropical climate and it has the Caribbean side and the Pacific side. I’ve been there in October when I was younger and I didn’t know October is the wettest season. You need to know the seasons when you go down to anywhere in Central America but Panama, with its rainforest in particular, it can be really wet. The driest months tend to be around December to March. Take that into account when you’re planning your trips unless you like lots and lots of rain. For those of you who might be considering taking a client down there or taking team members down there from your company, they have a new national conference, a convention center, which opened up in 2018. It’s 5 miles from the international airport. It is focused on promoting business and tourism in that type of climate where you can do outdoor activities. It’s beautiful. There’s a great lift coming from the East Coast or the West Coast. It’s right there in the middle. It’s easy to get to. It takes us less time to get to Costa Rica from South Florida than it does to LA or even Colorado. It’s such a quick trip. When you fly from Miami, you fly straight over Cuba, which is always neat to see. That’s pretty cool.
We are joined by our next guest from Guanacaste in Costa Rica. He is an outdoor and fitness enthusiast and he’s the CEO and Founder of Chakfitness. We’d like to welcome Chak Menafacio. How are you? Thank you for having me on the show. How did you get to where you are? What is it about Costa Rica that draws you in and draws you back? I am Costa Rican even though I wasn’t born here. I was born in Switzerland in Geneva. I lived most of my life here in Costa Rica. Most of my family are from here. I lived abroad for twenty years and I came back. I came back a couple of years ago because I missed this beautiful paradise. Starting with beaches, we have so much variety of fauna and flora and adventures. Anything that you want to do, we have it. We call it the New Zealand of Central America because we have so much stuff to do here. It’s a beautiful paradise. I came back and it reminded me of the beauty of that we have here, the Pura Vida lifestyle which is more relaxed, more calm, taking things one day at a time, not rushing, not going crazy with work and so forth. It’s a beautiful life here, very calm, outdoor adventures, and peaceful. Let’s define the Pura Vida lifestyle for our readers who may not know. You talked about a relaxed lifestyle. It’s also about health and wellness as well. [bctt tweet=”There’s no better place in Central America to get great coffee than Costa Rica.” username=””] Everybody here is very conscious about not just the environment but also what we eat. Everything is natural or organic. Almost everything is fresh from the moment you go to the farmer’s market to the little market on the next door, which they sell fruits and vegetables, everything is fresh. We have a very good lifestyle here, natural and everything. The main courses and the main plates here are based on vegetables, rice and beans. It’s a good lifestyle. It’s healthy. How do you pair up? How do you find the tourist consumer to provide your services to? It’s simple and easy because specifically where I am, it’s a very small town. It’s called Las Catalinas. It’s in Playa Danta, which is in Guanacaste. It’s a small beach but it provides all sorts of things. My experience here, which has been for the past year or two that I’ve been coming here is that everyone that comes here comes specifically with that in mind, adventure, doing trails. We have a huge mountain bike trail that was done by a world champion from Europe. We have paddleboard competitions. There are all sorts of tournaments and competitions for triathletes. It’s really big. I had the opportunity to establish myself here coming from the United States with all my experience in fitness and outdoor activities. It was a perfect fit. Most of the tourism here is geared towards that, adventure, outdoors, waterfalls, jumping, spelunking. I took my daughter to do one of the longest zip lining. They call it the Superman because it’s about 1,800 meters long. Where was that? This is in Diamante. I believe it’s one of the third ones and the largest in the world. You zip line from one tip of the mountain all the way to the other tip. It takes forever. You feel like you’re actually flying. It’s amazing. My daughter was static. She couldn’t even believe it. These are the things that as you’re zip lining, you’re overlooking the ocean. You’re on the mountain and you’re overlooking the ocean. Those are the things that you have to remind yourself like, “I live here. I’m experiencing this.” I would recommend anybody that is looking for a thrill or for an adventure. Even if they’re not going to zip line, you can still see the lookouts. It’s an amazing sight when you see a whole beach from the tip of the mountain and it’s right there. There are few places that I can remember that I’ve seen that. I’ve seen that in Hawaii, maybe in some other places in the United States but there are few ones that I’ve experienced, but here we have it everywhere. Let’s talk a little bit about your approach to fitness and how you work with individuals and groups. I would love to know how you do groups because that’s exciting from a fitness perspective. How do you do that? How do you blend in the Costa Rican lifestyle into your philosophy around health and wellness? Here in the programs that I’m implementing in the Las Catalinas in this area, it’s very simple and easy because everybody that is coming here, the tourists, residents, locals, everyone has already that mindset. They’re coming to exercise, hike, and do all different things. Our gym is an outdoor facility. We also have a small palapa where it’s covered but we can do group classes. A lot of the people here that come, they pay by day or they paid for the week. We have all sorts of memberships that they can do. It’s simple. Everyone is relaxed because the moment they come to Costa Rica, it’s almost like it’s injected in your system. You have to. Coming back for me after twenty years of living in the States, I had to remember that lifestyle. It’s almost like it’s forced because everybody’s relaxed, laid back and then you have to like, “I’m in Costa Rica now. I have to sit back, relax, not stress out, and not worry about things.” People take their time and it’s part of the lifestyle. That’s why everybody tells you, “Pura Vida.” That means relax. You hear it all the time when you’re going around town. Especially when you’re getting stressed out or something is not going your way. People just turn around and tells you, “Pura Vida.” You’re like, “Yeah.” Costa Rica has so much. You’ve got the mountains, beaches, volcanoes, rainforests. What part would you recommend to our readers where they want to go? Do you have a favorite spot? You’re in Guanacaste and that is a very special spot. When you take a vacation in the country, where do you go? It’s hard to narrow one because there are so many. I love going to waterfalls. That’s one of my favorite, and jumping from waterfalls. Do you have a favorite waterfall? There’s a waterfall in Rincon de la Vieja. It’s a volcano. It’s a beautiful site. It’s almost like a tunnel when you’re coming down, you have to go down around this huge hole like a cenote but it’s wider. It ends up in this beautiful, closed mountain and the waterfall is right there. You can actually go behind the waterfall. You can jump into the natural pool. It’s crystal clear. It’s amazing. It’s such an experience. We take it for granted sometimes because I’ve done it so many times. I forget that most people don’t have that at home. They don’t have it right next door.
Costa Rica: Costa Ricans tend to focus more on physical and mental health than money.
What is a typical Costa Rican meal? Do you have a favorite spot that you like to go to close to where you are? Not fancy dining, just a space with good food and good atmosphere. There are several ones and one of my favorites, the typical Costa Rican meal is rice and beans. We call it Gallo Pinto. It’s like rice and beans, a little bit moist and a little bit of sauce. They put peccadillo, which is potatoes and a little bit of meat. You put eggs and everything. You have like a huge car bomb. In Costa Rica, that’s what they eat. It’s a heavy breakfast. One of my best favorite places to go is called Gracia. It’s in Mar Vista. A friend of mine is an amazing chef. The view there, you sit and you have an infinity pool. You get to see the whole ocean from there while you’re dining or having lunch. It’s really good. These are good friends of mine also. Besides the fact that they’re friends, the food is amazing. You can have a drink, you name it. It’s a good restaurant. You were born in Geneva. You lived in the United States. You lived in Costa Rica. You’re a world traveler. We ask all of our local connoisseurs our rapid-fire questions. We’d like to ask you them now, if that’s okay. You can give some tips to our readers. The first one is, have you ever completed anything on your personal bucket list? If so, what was it? I did. In 2020, I went to Chile. I went to El Calafate in Argentina. I crossed the border in about four hours to Chile to Torres del Paine, which is a huge national park there. There’s an eco-camp. It’s a very famous eco-camp. You experience everything. We did horseback riding, mountain biking. We went to the glaciers. We kayaked in the glaciers. It was a nice experience. I’m an adventure-seeker so I love this type of adventure. We also went to Perito Moreno, which is a huge glacier in Argentina. We walked on the glacier. That was one of my bucket lists. If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be? Costa Rica. That’s an easy one. When you’re packing for a trip, what is something you pack that may surprise our readers? This is why all my friends bug me. I pack a tube band to do exercise so I can put it anywhere in the hotel room or anything. I pack my light gear to work out after a day hiking or whatever, I do a little light work in the hotel. Not all hotels in the world have gyms. I always have to do my workout when I go traveling. Our last rapid-fire question, what is your most memorable experience in Costa Rica? There are so many but I’m going to say learning how to surf when I was fifteen years old, being on my own and sleeping in the sleeping bag on the sand on the beach in Tamarindo. That’s where I started learning how to surf. That was the first place I tried surfing as well. It’s very easy. It’s good for somebody that’s learning. It has good waves. I met Tom Curren at the time. He was a world champion surfing there. I didn’t even know who he was. He told me he was a surfer and I was like, “Great, let’s go surfing.” Later in life, I found out he was Tom Curren, which was huge. That’s a great example of Pura Vida. You just go with it. If our readers want to follow you on social media, how can they track you to know what you’re up to? [bctt tweet=”As a natural paradise itself, Costa Rica has been dubbed as the New Zealand of Central America.” username=””] They can look me up on Instagram. We have an Instagram account which is @Core_Chakfitness. Core is our gym here in Las Catalinas, Core Gym or Core by Chakfitness. Follow us there and check it out. Thank you so much, Chak. We appreciate you taking the time and sharing Costa Rica with us. We wish you all the best. Safe travels. Come by and visit. We’ll see you soon. That’s what I need right about now. Thanks, Chak.
Todd, are you ready to do our top ten bucket list ideas for Costa Rica? I am but this was hard to choose because the list could have gone on but we will get as many as we can in. Our first one and it’s amazing. We’ve been several times visiting the most active volcano in Costa Rica. It is Arenal. It’s been the most active volcano for many years. The last time it had a lava flow was in 2010. It’s sleeping. They say it can erupt at any time. There are many outdoor activities around there. There are some fantastic hotels like The Springs Costa Rica. There’s horseback riding, whitewater rafting, hiking, zip lining that we’re going to talk about. There’s so much to do. La Fortuna had some great restaurants, which is right at the base of the mountain in the town there. I would say about two and a half hours from San Jose. It probably depends. We did take an incentive group there once and in a bus, and it was nerve wracking but if you have a smaller vehicle. It’s two and a half hours unless the roads have improved since the last time I was there, which they always seem to be doing. It’s not that long. Todd, what do you have? One of ours and you can pass it if you’re going out to the volcano. It’s La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park & The Peace Lodge. It’s got five amazing waterfalls. It’s the largest animal sanctuary in Costa Rica. It’s one of the most popular nature tours. We stayed on that property and the rooms were amazing. There weren’t that many rooms. At the time, there were thirteen maybe. We took our kids and they have tons of hummingbirds. Our kids were holding up these little hummingbird cups and they would just come right up to you. They had an exhibit with frogs. It’s pitch-black in there. You’d go in. You’re seeing all these different types of frogs that are native to Costa Rica, birds, frogs and butterflies. It was something. It’s great for adults but the kids, ours were 4, 5, maybe even younger, they absolutely loved it. It’s a beautiful location but straight up to a national park. There are lots of hiking as well. My next one is immerse yourselves in one of the greatest exports that Costa Rica has, which is coffee. If you read the blog, you know I’m a coffee aficionado. I love it. There’s no better place in Central America to get great coffee. One of the things you can do is experience the coffee culture by going to the El Toledo Coffee Tours. It’s an organic coffee farm. It’s a family-owned farm. It focuses on growing with organic sustainability in mind and only using the natural resources of the land. Their philosophy is focusing on health than money. A great message as well, a beautiful location and a lot of fun to see how great Costa Rican coffee is made. Anywhere where there’s great volcanic soil can produce some strong and wonderful coffee.
Costa Rica: Nicoya is home to more than 900 people who live over the age of 90, and they credit their longevity to the calcium-rich waters around the town.
Don’t ask for a Starbucks in Costa Rica. You might offend somebody. This next one is cool. It’s spend a night in an exclusive, one-of-a-kind suite at the 727 Fuselage Home. It’s a vintage 1965 Boeing 727 aircraft that’s been refurbished and placed in the jungle canopy. It offers a two-bedroom suite and it totally immerses you in nature. It’s a really different experience. You could sit on the terrace overlooking the trees. Some of the animals you might see while you’re there like sloths or monkeys. Costa Rica has so many animals and different types of species. You’re probably going to be amazed with some of the wildlife that you see if you stay there. The next thing I’m going to talk about is health and wellness tourism. In Costa Rica itself, there’s so much of it but there’s the pure life, Pura Vida which is a living concept that is in Costa Rica. The Costa Rican lifestyle is all about improving mental and physical health. Therefore, it’s very relaxing and there are a lot of great beneficial activities around that. There are forest baths where you can breathe in fresh forest air and barefoot earthing, which is barefoot walks and body wraps made in volcanic mud, coffee and chocolate to moisturize the skin. Costa Rica also has one of the blue zones. If you recall, a blue zone is an area where the longest, healthiest living humans live. That is in Nicoya and they’ve had over 900 people live over the age of 90, they think mainly because of the calcium-rich waters that are around the town. Definitely take that out and include that in your plan as you’re planning your trip. I have a cousin who went to an all-girls surf camp in Costa Rica. It was a whole wellness program and she had the best time. They learned to surf and then they did yoga and meditation. At the time, they had closed it, which can be very comforting at some level for girls who want to travel but they want to stay together. They had the most amazing time. They said the surf instructors were amazing, the meditation and then the scenery and wildlife. If you want to get some more traditional culture, almost Western-inspired, European-inspired, there’s an amazing theater that is in San Jose and it’s modeled after the Paris Opera House. It has breathtaking interiors. The theater’s main ceiling was named one of the top great ceilings around the world. If frescoes, paintings and architecture are your thing, definitely go by the National Theatre in San Jose. Now we’re going to go to the Pacific side and going deep sea fishing off Manuel Antonio. Because there’s no major fishing industry off the coast of Costa Rica, the fishing and the deep sea fishing is amazing. When I was there in my twenties, I was lucky enough to jump on a boat. You can walk straight up to the docks and jump on a boat for the day. I went out there and I caught a black marlin the size of a cow. They pulled it up to the side of the boat. We let it go. For a few minutes there, we were able to touch and experience it in its natural habitat. It was definitely a bucket list item for me. One of those things that I will never forget, it was absolutely incredible. Deep sea fishing, you can catch live tuna and they cut it on the boat for you. You can eat it and you can still feel it moving around in your mouth. It’s pretty incredible. The next one is what I should have been doing instead of surfing. There’s a great, little, hidden sanctuary beach called Playa Quesera. It is located also in the Nicoya Peninsula and as part of the Curu Wildlife Refuge. It’s an amazing, gorgeous spot. It’s picturesque. When you think of the beach, it has crystal blue waters. You can see the bottom when you’re in the ocean. You could see the ocean floor. You can rent kayaks, snorkels and enjoy a serene, secluded spot. It’s gorgeous. Finally, we have something that we did with clients and we brought them down to Costa Rica. We took them to the Limon Carnival. It’s a Caribbean annual carnival, usually in October. It spans over a week and they have famous chefs, dishes, singing, dancing, and just a lot of fun. If you want to experience a traditional Caribbean carnival, this one is for you. It’s a lot of fun and something you can do with the entire family. I want to add one more, Andy, if we could. When I talk about Costa Rica, every once in a while zip lining comes up especially if you’re talking about eco adventures. This is one we discovered when we were taking an incentive group there, and then we went back as leisure travelers. It’s the Sky Adventures Arenal Park. I’m typically not a very nervous person but this one had my knees shaking. You take a tram up and then these guides are zipping down then someone’s there to meet you but these are the longest, highest zip lines. I know there are probably longer ones and higher ones that I had ever seen. I remember when we took the incentive group to these zip lines, someone from the group had to go first and I was working. I was the one that had to go first. Every time I was petrified. You’re going so fast. It’s absolutely amazing if you can keep your eyes open, the views are spectacular. I definitely recommend it. The same group also does kayaking tours, they rent bikes and things like that. The zip lining is a recommended adventure. There are some great bucket list ideas as you’re planning your next trip and destination to Costa Rica.
Andy and I were passionate about meeting connections that changed lives. For many years, we have traveled our clients all over the globe supporting their business goals and helping them stand apart from hotel sourcing to audio-visual magic. We’ll make your corporate meeting or event second to none. Go to AmericanMeetings.com to learn more. American Meetings, AMI. Meeting, planning perfected.
With this edition in Costa Rica, we’ve got our next guest with a very special property. I’d like to welcome Federico Gurdian. He is the General Manager of the Casa Chameleon property in Las Catalinas. Welcome. How are you, Federico? Thank you. I’m doing great. I’m excited to be part of this show and looking forward to letting you know all about the property and giving you some insiders about Costa Rica too. What a beautiful property. If you have not seen this property, get online and see it. It has views like I’ve never seen, just absolutely stunning. [bctt tweet=”Most locals take Costa Rica’s beauty for granted, not realizing that most of its gems cannot be found anywhere else.” username=””] We should mention that there are two properties in Costa Rica, the Casa Chameleon properties include not only the one at Las Catalinas but also Mal Pais. They’re both in Guanacaste, right? Is Mal Pais a little further south? Catalinas is in Guanacaste and Mal Pais is located in the Province of Puntarenas. We are on the same peninsula. Let’s talk about this property because it’s relatively new and it has 21 villas with their own private plunge pools. That’s just something that everyone is going to want to do. I bet they’re extremely popular. They’re salt water as well. Tell us a little bit about those and the guest experience. The Las Catalinas properties are a very unique property in Costa Rica. You won’t find many of them like this since we’re perched in the hill but so close to the ocean. That’s not something people get very often. We decided to take advantage of that and build these beautiful villas that offered private plunge pools. All of them have astonishing ocean views. An added fact is that half of them have sunset views. You can enjoy year-round beautiful sunsets from the privacy of your terrace in your plunge pool with your couple, which makes it a perfect setting for a romantic escape or an anniversary celebration. You might not get them out of the villa. It’s actually one of the biggest challenges we have. The town doesn’t allow cars. What can they expect? Where would a guest fly into? How are they going to get to the property from the airport? My recommendation is to definitely land in the Liberia Airport. There are two international airports in Costa Rica, the San Jose one and the Liberia one. You have to land in Liberia because if not, it’s a long drive from San Jose. My recommendation is to stay in Liberia. We will then pick you up in our hotel car with our bilingual driver that knows a lot about the area. It’s a short drive. It’s just 45 minutes to the property, a very scenic drive. Once you get to the hotel, you won’t need a car for much. If you do need to go somewhere else, we have the hotel car available that can drive you to the location that you desire. Tell us about some of these unique experiences. I understand there’s a hanging bridge that goes across a volcano. I hope the volcano is not active. No. There are several volcanoes here in Costa Rica near the hotel, around an hour away is a volcano. It’s still active but the explosion it makes are vapor explosions, nothing like magma or anything. It’s surrounded by lush tropical rainforest. There you can find beautiful ranges, thermal waters, mud baths. How far is that from the hotel? That’s an hour and fifteen minutes away from the hotel. A quick drive and a great day excursion from the hotel.
Costa Rica: Costa Ricans are more laid back than anyone else, taking one day at a time and not being crazy about work.
It’s a perfect half-day trip that you can take and enjoy. There’s some beautiful, very traditional Costa Rican restaurants that you can stop by, have lunch and get that cultural connection that our guests are so much seeking for. That’s something that I’ve found in our guests. They love to get to know the Costa Rican culture. It’s something that we have to portray here at the hotel. They get to experience it firsthand when they go visit these locations. Federico, are you finding that more guests that come to your property, are they looking for ecotourism? Are they looking to get outside? Are they looking for activities on the water whether it’s surfing, fishing, things like that? Whatever they’re looking for, does the hotel have access to set all of those up for your guests? Yes. We have total flexibility. Since we are a small property, our main goal is to cater to all and every need that our guests have. For example, it’s funny because since we’re an adults-only property, we get two segments of guests, the very young ones that are on their honeymoon, that are very active and seeking for adventure. We then have the older adults that are already with big kids and they’re coming more for the romanticism, anniversary celebrations, and those type of stuff. We cater to those two things. If you want to just lounge by the hotel and enjoy the day beds around the pool, we will give you a beautiful service. If you want to do hikes and things, you can do it without having to leave the property because the town of Las Catalinas is located on a very big property. It’s over 600 hectares. It’s full of mountain biking trails, hiking trails all surrounding the hotel. You don’t have to go anywhere. If you’re looking for hikes or a short adventure, we have mountain bikes here at the hotel. One of my hobbies is mountain biking. Once a week, we will take guests out mountain biking with me. That’s a good perk to your job. You get paid to go mountain biking. How awesome is that? Another thing you mentioned to us was this coffee tour. I’m a huge Costa Rican coffee fan as some of the best coffee in the world because of the volcanic organic matter there that makes it special. Tell us about this tour. Where do you take everybody? There’s a coffee tour. It’s around an hour and a half away in an area that is a little bit higher than us because coffee needs a certain height to be better. One of our private guides will take you there. You will be able to walk through the coffee plantation. They’ll take you through the whole process of how coffee is made. By the end of the tour, you’ll be enjoying a cup of warm coffee from that farm with some traditional Costa Rican pastries. It’s a learning experience. If you wish, you can buy some of their coffee to take back home or enjoy it there for yourself. It’s something beautiful, not very away from the hotel. For coffee lovers, that’s something I found unique. As a local, what is your favorite restaurant? Where do you like to get food? I’m a huge Italian food lover. Near the hotel, there is an Italian restaurant called La Forketta run by this nice Italian family that has been living for a long time in Costa Rica. They absolutely have the best ravioli with sea bass. It’s always fresh, homemade, and delicious. The pizza is amazing. You then have the ocean here if you like surfing. I love surfing. Do you have good waves right there? Thirty minutes away from the hotel, there is an area called Playa Grande and Tamarindo, which is great for surfing and learn how to surf. I live very close to that area. I try to surf at least 2 or 3 times a week. It keeps my mental health. It’s beautiful. If I’m not doing that in my time off, I am mountain biking the trails or spending time with the family. I love spending time with my family and Costa Rica is a place that makes that very easy because there are a lot of places that you can go without having to drive far away. We like to ask all of our guests our rapid-fire questions and what they are because our readers want to hear from world travelers like you, people who are in the industry and what it’s like. The first one is have you personally ever completed anything on your bucket list? Yes. I had the chance to visit Iceland and it was huge on my bucket list. I was there for two weeks. What was the most amazing thing there? Driving around Iceland. The island was amazing. Pointing out one single thing is so difficult because that place is filled with nature. We are huge nature lovers. We were driving like crazy around the island. We didn’t even stay very long in any hotel. We were on the road all the time, seeing all of these places, the scenery is mind-blowing. [bctt tweet=”Costa Rica doesn’t require tourists to drive a long way just to find a nice place to visit.” username=””] Going is a bucket list itself. I would be back in Iceland in a heartbeat. If you could ever live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be? That was a difficult one to think about because Australia is one of the places I would love to be able to live in for a year. It’s a huge place where you can experience so much nature. I’m a huge nature lover. I’d say Australia would be perfect. I will be able to surf world-class waves and explore the wildlife there. If you could travel with someone infamous or famous, dead or alive, who would it be? Kelly Slater. He would definitely take you to Australia, wouldn’t he? I will be happy to show him around Costa Rica too. He’s been here several times but there are some places I will be happy to show him. We’ll have to #KellySlater on this and see if he gets the message. That would be a dream come true. Packing for a trip, what is something you pack that may surprise our readers? I always pack food like Costa Rican treats and chocolates. I always need them with me. It sounds weird but I’m very fond of some things that I eat here in Costa Rica. Even if it’s for a week, I try to take my favorite chocolates from here because I like having them at night. Costa Rica has great chocolate for our readers if you didn’t know that. Finally, what is your most personal, memorable experience in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica: There are a lot of beautiful and traditional Costa Rican restaurants where tourists can stop by and get that cultural connection not found anywhere else.
There’s a waterfall called Tinamaste in the Southern Pacific of Costa Rica. You will hike for an hour and a half through the rainforest and then you’ll come up to this huge waterfall. What makes it so special is that right behind the waterfall there’s a cave. The family that owns that farm has set up beds, a kitchen and bathrooms. You will go and sleep in the cave behind the waterfall. Have you done that? Yes, I’ve done it twice. That’s definitely my most memorable experience. That’s a bucket list item. That’s a great one.Did you sleep overnight in the cave? Yes. You hike there in the morning. You arrive at the waterfall in midday. You will have lunch in the waterfall, dinner and breakfast. There is no electricity or anything in the cave. It’s all with candle light and they will fix your meals there. How loud is it? Is it loud? It’s loud but since it’s water falling, it’s soothing. It’s delicious to sleep. It’s very humid. It’s in Tinamaste, the Southern Pacific near Ballena. From here, it’s a long drive. It’s five hours. That’s definitely a bucket list item for sure. How incredible. Thanks for sharing that with us. That’s great. I’ll be happy to send you more information because it is something special. You did great on the rapid-fire questions and we appreciate your time and your beautiful hotel. Where can our readers find you on social media and your website? We have our Instagram, which is @CasaChameleonHotels. There you’ll be able to find us on Instagram, Facebook also, Casa Chameleon Hotels. Our website is CasaChameleonHotels.com. You’ll be able to access all our properties and book there, and access some great specials that we have for booking online for our guests. Federico, thank you so much for your time. We greatly appreciate all the great ideas and explaining everything around the hotel, but also those great ideas you have far away. You gave us 5 or 6 fantastic suggestions. Thanks for joining us on the show. Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure meeting you. Let me know when you want to join me in one adventure here in Costa Rica. We certainly will.
Costa Rica is an amazing country. I’ve been there so many times. I always want to go back. We talked about the mountains, the beaches, hiking, surfing, Pura Vida. Probably the thing that I want to go back and do is the waterfalls just like Chak was saying. I’ve been to many and they are some of the best in the world. When you’re planning your trip, make sure that you look at all the great natural waterfalls that you can see. That’s my last great tip. Special thanks to our team here at Destination Everywhere. Make sure you subscribe, rate and review the show on your preferred podcast app or by going to Destination-Everywhere.com. Be sure to join us next time. Be safe out there.
Chak Menafacio is the CEO and founder of CHAKFitness, Costa Rica’s most unique, beachfront, outdoor gym located in Las Catalinas. He has been working as a fitness professional for over twenty years and is accredited by the NSCA, ACE, AFAA, and USA Gymnastics Association. He holds a license in sports massage therapy from the Florida College of Natural Health. Chak is ranked black belt of the first degree in Kung-Fu Shaolin. He was born in Geneva, Switzerland and was raised in Costa Rica where he started training in martial arts at the age of nine. He is truly an accomplished fitness professional. He has gained national exposure with featured articles in Self Magazine, Natural Awakenings, local publications, TV shows and fitness videos. He has performed at fitness conventions, competitions and exhibitions at more than one-hundred shows at national and international level.
About Federico Gurdián
Federico has been in the hospitality industry for over 12 years now and currently holds a BA in Hospitality and Human Resource Management from Glion Institute of Higher Education, Switzerland. During his time in the industry he had the opportunity to work for a big all-inclusive hotel in Riviera Maya, a big city hotel in Beijing, China and several boutique hotels in Costa Rica. Federico was born on April 13th, 1987 in San Jose, Costa Rica where he was raised. Both his parents are Costa Ricans as well as his brother. Federico’s biggest hobbies are surfing which he’s enjoyed for over 15 years now and more recently mountain biking has also become a hobby. He had the chance to be in charge of 2 hotel openings one of them being Casa Chameleon Las Catalinas and he could say that doing hotel openings is probably what he has enjoyed the most during his years of experience.
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For the best places to visit in Australia, we sit down with Australian native and experienced expert Trav Bell as we explore things to do and how to live a purpose-filled life Down Under. Travis is a self-appointed ʻBucket Listologistʼ who has designed his life around his bucket list and now helps bucket listers all over the globe create and cross off their to-do’s. Know more about Australia as our hosts share their favorite things about this exciting destination and learn from Travis’ philosophy behind his focus on Australia’s experiential opportunities.
Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing meetings in Australia, to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.
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If your bucket list includes play the didgeridoo, the Great Barrier Reef, sing at the Sydney Opera House or visiting Federation Square or the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, this is the episode to whet your appetite. Between the Pacific and Indian Oceans is the Land Down Under, the world’s smallest continent and largest island. Whether the night life and shopping, sight-seeing or water sports, visitors come to Australia every year to explore all it offers. Explore Aboriginal heritage, history and culture and several art galleries and museums, or hike Karijini National Park’s dark red canyons to explore gorgeous waterfalls. In this episode, we will be interviewing Australia’s own Trav Bell, also known as The Bucket List Guy. He has been inspiring audiences to not let their to-do list take priority over their bucket list. In fact, he says it shouldn’t take dramatic or traumatic to live a purpose-filled life. Learn Australia’s best kept secrets, the best time to travel, the tourist must-dos, and get inspired on this episode of Destination Everywhere, Australia.
We are traveling to Australia and we couldn’t be more excited. It’s going to be such an incredible show. We have an awesome guest who not only is from Australia, but he also is what they call The Bucket List Guy. His name is Trav Bell and we’re going to be talking about him. Before we talk to Trav, we’re going to talk a little bit about Australia, why we love it so much and the times that we have gone there. Todd, what’s your favorite thing about Australia?
I’ve always been fascinated with Australia being South of the equator. When it’s winter here, it’s summer there and then vice-versa. It’s one of those fascinating places. It’s a continent. It’s a country. It has a small population relative to the size.
It only has 23 million people in its entire continent. There are a lot of open lands and open vistas. It is one of the largest deserts in the world. Talking about beauty, the coastal towns. That’s what I remember about Australia is all the wonderful coastal towns, the beautiful beaches and the wildlife. The cities are fantastic as well, Melbourne and Sydney, the largest ones, but what is incredible is all the natural beauty. We’re going to talk a lot about that with our guest.
What I like to do also when we go to a destination is, I always like to Google what movies were filmed there. I did that and then some of them surprised me.
I haven’t heard about this yet, let’s do it.
The Matrix was filmed all around Sydney. Did you know that?
I did not know that. That’s a good one.
Mission Impossible 2, that’s more obvious. You do see the Sydney Opera House in a lot of the movie on the water scenes. Parts of Star Wars were filmed there. This one is now added to my bucket list is The Great Gatsby Movie with Leo DiCaprio. The Gatsby mansion in that movie was the International College of Management located in Manly. Other ones like Babe. There was a movie called Fool’s Gold with Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson. That was supposed to be filmed in the Caribbean, but because of weather they moved that to the Great Barrier Reef along the Queensland Coast. There’s like Charlotte’s Web, but there was one called Ghost Writer. That was filmed at the Telstra Dome in Melbourne, which is where the wild things are. Wolverines, I can go on, but I’ll stop there. It’s big. The background is diverse. You have beaches. You have deserts, great cities and small cities.
One thing I always thought was cool is a lot of people think that Washington DC was the only capital that was ever done as a capital city. Their capital, Canberra is the same thing. It was specifically built to serve as the capital. It has a grand feel like DC.
It has access to both Melbourne and Sydney. It’s right in the middle of the two on the East Coast. It’s not a city. If you ask most people what the capital of Australia, I don’t think there would be able to tell you.
For everyone who’s been to Australia, part of the experience is having to take that huge long flight either from Europe or from the United States. It’s part of the experience, but it’s also a long flight. It can be 15 to 24 hours depending on where you’re flying from, from the US or Canada. You have to take that into your plans and make sure that you plan for that because you plan a day ahead so you need to be prepared for that.
In retrospect, we probably should’ve made this episode or a couple of smaller episodes. We’ll probably do that on as pick it down, but Australia is fascinating. When you get into it, you realize, “I need to spend more time in this area.”
We’re putting the bucket list together for this show. We had to pair so much stuff down. We shouldn’t have time for all that. We will be back to visit our friends, the Aussies, many times to come here.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about one particular movie. Everybody remembers it from the ‘80s. Andy, do you know what movie I’m talking about? To me, it put the Outback on the map.
Crocodile Dundee, I’m sure the Aussies loved that. I’m sure I like being compared to Crocodile Dundee all the time.
Paul Hogan, in that, gives you a feel for Australia outside of a city. They were getting into the Outback. It’s dangerous and beautiful at the same time.
My Bucketlist Blueprint: The 12 Steps to #tickitB4Ukickit
I’m excited to talk to Trav Bell. He’s The Bucket List Guy. He’s going to be our first guest, but he’s also Australian. He not only looks for life-changing bucket list items to do, it’s his way of life. We’re going to talk about a bucket list of things to do in Australia with him. He’s got the best of both worlds. We can talk about both of them. We’re going to talk about other bucket list experiences he’s had around the world. I’m excited to talk to Trav Bell, The Bucket List Guy.
We’re excited to have our next guest. We have Trav Bell, who is The Bucket-List Guy joining us from Melbourne, Australia. Welcome, Trav. We’re happy to have you.
Todd, Andy, I am excited to be here.
We are excited to have you here.
When we were going over your profile and listened to your TED Talk, I found that you are extremely entertaining and a great speaker. You have a book, My Bucketlist Blueprint. My Bucketlist is an acronym. Each one of those means something. For all intents of purpose, they’re going to have to go and watch your TED Talk to find out the entire acronym, but what’s your philosophy behind this and why did you focus on the bucket list experiences?
Thanks a lot for having me on. I’ll share as much as I possibly can. Someone called me The Bucket List Guy several years ago. In my first business, I was one of the first personal trainers running around Melbourne. I founded and franchised a chain of personal fitness training studios with 300 personal trainers working for me, tens of thousands of clients, and with nearly two million personal training sessions. I always loved helping people. I do that for many years, but things got on top of me. I had my little breakdown before the breakthrough moment. I went through a bout of depression. There’s a lot of stuff that was going on in my life at that point in time. Instead of going on heavy antidepressants, I found myself in life coaching courses, learning neuro-linguistic programming, social dynamics, Carnegie principle and positive psychology. I was trying to get to the root cause of what I was going through rather than putting a Band-Aid over the top of it in terms of medication. I knew a lot of people were on that stuff and I didn’t want to walk around like a zombie.
I wanted to get the root cause of my psychology. I found myself in these life coaching courses, walking on fire, hugging it out, high fiving strangers on weekends, breaking boards and arrows, and bending bars. You cry on my shoulder and I cry on your shoulder. You know how it goes in a personal development events. It was a friend of mine at the time said, “Why don’t you teach this stuff?” That helped compartmentalize where I was going through and I summed up the courage. It was the big domino that I had to push over in my life to gain courage. I put on an event. It was crap compared to my TED Talk and what I do now. Admittedly, I was scared, but it was the thing I saw as the speaker talk. I thought, “I fucking do that. I can do anything.” I grew up quite shy, but people would rather be in the box than give the eulogy. People are more fearful of public speaking and fricking shots.
I put on a talk. Some of them were close friends of mine, and about halfway through that talk, I shared with everyone the fact that I’d had a list to do before I die. It was written down since I was eighteen. It inspired people because it went from a crappy seminar to a not so crappy seminar. In the end, Joe, one of the participants said, “How’s all this list to-do before you die stuff? It’s like a bucket list. You’re The Bucket List Guy.” It is a light bulb moment. That night, I went home and registered TheBucketListGuy.com and I’ve been doing that ever since. I am running around the world, primarily as a speaker and inspiring others to do the same. The whole philosophy is founded on positive psychology and that is the science of happiness to help people have more meaning, more purpose, and more fulfillment in life. That’s what it’s all about. I put this cool bucket list brand over the top of it and essentially, it’s positive psychology.
One thing that you did and put it in perspective for me anyway is the grid. You said with the average age of a man in Australia was. I looked it up what it is in the United States and it’s 78. These are behind me now. What’s in front of me is small in terms of those years I have left to be active and do things that will scare me a little bit, which is always fun. When you did that, I was like, “It’s time to get real because I’m running out of time, essentially.” That was a great way of putting it. I was talking with our producer, Lauren about this, and she’s got a lot more time than I do.
What I want to know is if you’re The Bucket List Guy, how many bucket list things do you have on your list? Can you count them?
I’ve done about 300 things and I’ve got about another 350 to 400 things to do.
With your life experience and then with age, do you take off things and add things onto your bucket list? You’re like, “That’s no longer relevant. I don’t even have a passion for that anymore, but this is up there now.”
I’ll give an example. I went to the Advance Base Camp on Mount Everest. I went there with my dad. That’s a whole other story because of my bucket list, I am adopted, my dad and I weren’t the best of mates growing up. He’s a fitter and turner, a mechanic by trade, and the same job since he was sixteen to retirement. He’s a worker’s worker, a manly man. Me, a young adopted son and a serial entrepreneur. He still doesn’t understand what I do. Since his retirement, he came on a lot of my adventures with me, and now we’re best friends. The cool thing is we went to Mount Everest Base Camp. It was the first thing that I ever wrote on that list to do before I die.
We found ourselves as part of an expedition team with people who were going to the summit. We could tag along, peel off at base camp or go to Advanced Base Camp and peel off. Dad and I went along to that, but I’d got to Advanced Base Camp at 5,500 meters. At 6,500 meters, in between Camps 2 and 3 on the Nepalese side, I had always shocking. My head was struck. I had altitude sickness badly, but my dad was fine. I quickly scrubbed summit Mount Everest off my bucket list. We’ve got three bucket lists. We’ve all got a reverse bucket list, which is our done list.
When you cross it off, you get that overwhelming sense of gratitude. What do I get people to start? How do I start people writing a bucket list? Think of all the cool stuff they’ve already done in their life. They’re on a bucket list all the way along and get them to recognize that. It gives people a good, solid, grateful foundation in order to plan and design going forward. We’ve got the reverse bucket list. We’ve got the future bucket list, which is what people refer to as the bucket list. We also got a fuck-it list. That’s all the stuff that was on another list and you’ve gone, “Not that.” Summiting Mount Everest is on that list for me now.
That’s incredible that you got up to the Advanced Base Camp. That in itself is a huge bucket list. I know a lot of people are scared to do that. A lot of people want to do it, but it’s not all fun and games is it? You have to be in great shape. You have to be physically active and ready to take on the elements.
Even mountaineers get balanced so much. I went up with a full-on expedition team, we’re on the Tibetans inside. Tibet is a polar opposite to Australia and the US. If you’ve never been through Tibet, it’s the most amazing country ever. Spoiler alert, you can drive a bus to base camp on the Tibetan side. What they say is whatever you do when you get out of that bus and you go to set up a tent at base camp, don’t pick up your stuff because you’re at seriously high altitude. A lot of people don’t make it past base camp. What we did is we walked from base camp through the main place that comes off Mount Everest through the Interim Camp and then to Advanced Base Camp. That’s when it gets serious. That’s where all the mountaineers set up their base camps to be inclined.
What now is at the top of your list in terms of travel?
[bctt tweet=”Be a tourist in your hometown first, and do it with your family.” via=”no”]
I’ve done five of Man Made Wonders of the World and I’ve got two to go. I’ve got Petra in Jordan and Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro to go. I’ve done the Taj Mahal in India and Machu Picchu. I did that on my 40th birthday with my dad after completing the Inca Trail. That was on my bucket list for my 40th birthday. It was spiritual. That was my midlife crisis. I went to the Colosseum in Italy in 2019. The Seven Man Made Wonders of the World and the Seven Natural Wonders of the World are on my bucket list.
How many natural wonders of the world have you had?
It’s only two.
You’ve got some traveling to do.
I’ve got to hurry up.
Let’s talk a little bit about Australia and some bucket list items in Australia. What are some that you would recommend either take it by region or a city? What are some things that when people come to your beautiful country, they should think about doing?
I love this. The Australian government should be paying me to be a board of tourism here. You got to climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Be a tourist in your hometown first. It’s about choosing happiness and do it with your family. Everyone is reconnected with their family too. They’re exploring places around their backyard that they didn’t even seem possible. We’ve taken up full-on mountain biking in our family.
The classics, climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge, which is awesome. It’s an amazing view. American and Bondi Beach, you got to do that. For ladies and anyone else inclined, you got the Bondi lifeguards. It’s sad, but it’s a real thing. Bondi Beach is an excellent quintessential Australian beach. Where I live, I’m in South Australia in a state called Victoria on about twenty minutes away from the start of the Great Ocean Road. The Great Ocean Road winds its way across a long down the coast to a place called Warrnambool. You’ll see what we call the Twelve Apostles there. It’s sandstone carvings from the waves. It’s rough down there. We go down there to surf. There are some huge sharks and big great whales down there.
Could that be a bucket list item? Is there any way to swim with sharks?
No, it is. If you want to go to South Australia to do that, you can get in a cage. You can go to the Northern Territory, which is Darwin, Australia, and do the Cage of Death experience as well. In the Cage of Death, you’ll get into a prospect cylinder. It’s clear and a massive and a female crocodile gets in the water with you. It’s on my bucket list, but it scares the hell out of me.
What is that plastic make out of? Do you know?
The crocodile does this and you’re in there. It doesn’t help to wipe a steak in front of the thing.
You’re the chewy center of dessert.
I’ve seen how that plays out. My dog always gets to the middle of a chew toy.
I haven’t done it myself, but Uluru, the big red rock in the middle. You may want to Google it, but Australian aboriginals arguably are the oldest race, the earliest ancestors around the world. They were some of the first people reported to be walking the Earth. When you go out to the Northern Territory in a particular place called Alice Springs, which is one of our Northern states. You’ll learn about Aboriginal culture and it’s amazing. Every country has got Aboriginal culture and ours are treated with a lot of respect. There are some dodgy parts, but we do respect that culture. I am yet to fully explore that area myself.
It is the Northern Territory. You may want to fly into a place called Darwin, which is the capital of that state. You can swim with whale sharks. This is a thing on my bucket list. I’m sure you can do it down The Caribbean, Bahamas, and Mexico. That’s around Cancun and stuff. We can do it here in Australia in a place called Ningaloo Reef, which is the Northern part of Western Australia, which faces the Indian Ocean. You can also do that over in the Philippines. In Bondi Beach, if you’re a surfer, you got to surf all day. Bell Beach is where all the surf spots are and where I live as well. There’s the Great Barrier Reef. If you want to get here and dive the Barrier Reef, that is on a lot of people’s bucket lists. You want to do it in certain parts that aren’t sun-bleached.
What are the areas that are still in good shape?
Exploring Australia: When you cross something off, you get that overwhelming sense of gratitude.
The Barrier Reef is one of the Wonders of the World. It’s massive. It’s hard for me to pinpoint that, but that’s only a Google search away. You may also want to go to a place called Airlie Beach, which is where all the backpackers and where a lot of people launch off into the Great Barrier Reef from. That’s where a lot of the boats are. A place called Hamilton Island is cool if you got a little bit more money. That’s all in the Barrier Reef. One of the things that my parents have done, which is on my bucket list as well, is to hire a boat and cruise the Barrier Reef and all the beautiful islands. That’s epic. If you want to cruise, you can get a captain, your catamaran, and they can cook for you. You hire them on the boat. Get a bunch of friends, have an incredible time, don’t have a sober day for ten days.
Trav, we’re all going into winter and you guys are coming out of it. What season do you prefer best in Australia?
I’m in Melbourne. It is the most cosmopolitan city. Everyone would say this, but the other states don’t want to admit it. Melbourne is where the culture of Australia is. Sydney is a little bit more like LA, flashy. I reckon after traveling the world, Sydney is LA and Miami. The Gold Coast is like Miami. It’s like, “Look at me.” Melbourne is New York, Oregon and Austin. It’s a lot more cultured. We’ve got a lot of the Italians and the Greeks who come into Melbourne early and introduced their culture. Some of the best coffee in the world is Melbourne. If you’re a coffee snob like me, you may want to go to this place called Degraves Street. It is like Graffiti Alley. They’re licensed to do graffiti. We’ve got graffiti laneways. It’s cool and the fashion is right up there. It’s cosmopolitan and lots of weirdos. That’s exactly what you want.
That’s right up my alley. If you want to go out for a good meal in Melbourne, what’s your spot? What’s your go-to?
It depends on who I’m with, where I’m in, and what I’m up for, but there’s some amazing Japanese, Italian. As I said before, there are some amazing holes in the wall as well, where you can get random Lebanese food or there’s a whole variety of different stuff. When I travel, it’s like, “What’s Australian food?” “I don’t know.” We’re only 250 years old in Australia. That’s when Captain Cook settled here. We don’t have that atypical Australian food.
It’s international and a lot of Asian influences.
You can get everything. For me, it depends on where I’m at. One thing that we need a lot more of is Mexican food. I love Mexican food. There’s some good Mexican, but it’s not genuine. It is a little bit more Tex-Mex than real Mexican food. It’s the coffee culture, going after probably European flavors and stuff like that down here.
You talked about an amazing that you went to Mount Everest. Give us three other things outside of Australia that you’ve done as The Bucket List Guy that would pique people’s interest.
It’s funny when we talk about travel. I go to travel for adventures and experiences. You can go to a place and it is a vanilla experience. Have you ever been to Dusseldorf in Germany? It is bland. There’s a lot of socks and sandals, but I went there for the Eurovision Song Contest Final. It was madness. It was cool because this big gay rainbow advent came into Dusseldorf, which is strait-laced. A lot of automotive companies, engineers, and then come into town. That was a cool travel adventure experience to go to that.
I got to say, we don’t have your vision here in the States.
We don’t have it either.
It’s the world’s largest talent competition. If you watch it, I have friends in the UK and they’re all into it, no matter what. You’ve got to go live. That’s fun.
It was on the bucket list because it was lovely to watch it with all of our guy friends. We’d have big Eurovision parties for years and years. My partner in time, we’re like, “When we go to Europe, let’s go to Eurovision as well.” That was the impetus for doing that. You also crossed off another thing on my bucket list during that. In my first business, I didn’t travel that much. Being The Bucket List Guy, I sold off all my businesses and got out of the gyms and stuff that I had. That was around when Tim Ferris launched The 4-Hour Workweek. Another thing on my bucket is I’ve lunched with Tim Ferris when he came to Melbourne. At that time, when we were shifting to the online world and for me, freedom is one of my highest values. I’m sure you guys can appreciate that. If I don’t feel it and I’m not living true to my true values, my true potential. Me having these corporate leases and gyms and all that tied to me.
I sold them off when I got out of the personal training industry. I sold off all those gyms, got them to rebrand and all that. I went online and registered the bucket list. I was like, “How am I going to monetize this?” I don’t know. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but it felt right. The fact is, and I didn’t do a lot of troubling until The Bucket List Guy. I went nuts as The Bucket List Guy and plus my travel was a text deduction. We research. We’ve got beyond me now. A couple of years ago, I started because of everything that I’ve taught. It’s helped a lot of people, wake up, stop Groundhog Day, get off the treadmill, design their life rather than living by default, living by design love rather than existing. I want people to live with more intention, more purpose. I’m also a Founder CEO of Certified Bucketlist Coach around the world too. Apart from being The Bucket List Guy, I’m also the Founder of this company. We’ve got a Certified Bucketlist Coach teaching my staff in 25 countries around the world.
If someone wants to reach out to you, your idea is amazing. If someone wants to find you and they want to learn a little bit more about Bucket Lists, how did they reach you? How do they find you?
We have some rapid-fire questions, but before we say that, I want to tell the readers to check out his TED Talk, check out his website. We could talk to you forever and you’re such a great person and a great speaker.
[bctt tweet=”The coolest thing about Coronavirus is that it has reconnected everyone with their family.” via=”no”]
The first question is, what has been your most impressive bucket list item? You gave us two already outside the US. Give us one more.
I’m going to jump straight to Kathmandu in Nepal.
Tell us about that.
It’s part of the old silk road. It is an eclectic bunch of backpackers and travelers and different religions and our members sitting upon this coffee shop, overlooking this bizarre and seeing the movement. It was awesome. I’m a coffee snob and you can appreciate this is discovering because discovering a local coffee sitting there watching the world go by. I remember sitting there having that appear funny moment, “This is a cool place and all the different little shops.”
That’s a bug and a lot of people don’t get to get there. It’s far out of the way.
You Americans have got to stop complaining about long plane rides. If I hear another American compliant about a long plane ride and that’s an excuse. Check this out. Australians, New Zealanders and with Saudi Arabians, believe it or not, we’ve got the largest number of passports per capita. In America, you have got the lowest number of passports per capita in the world. It’s everywhere has got to be like she put it into schools to teach people how to experience the world and how to get outside the comfort zone because it breeds tolerance.
You took the words out of my mouth. If you don’t travel, you don’t learn. It promotes ignorance if you don’t travel, without a doubt.
The next question is if you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be travel?
This scares me too, but I’ll do some time in the US, more for business reasons, Thailand and Spain.
Spain is a great one. The next question is if you could travel with someone either infamous or famous, alive or dead, who would it be?
I’ll go back to the guy I mentioned before is Tim Ferris. When you meet people and what we call in Australia, he wasn’t a winker. He was a cool guy and he would get into some interesting places in the world. One thing he shares quite often is his experiences in Japan. I haven’t been to Japan yet either. Some weird and wonderful little nooks and crannies that you can get in out over there gets to the weird probably, but at the end of the day, Tim would be great. Kelly Slider, as we mentioned before, to be honest.
The last question for you when packing for a trip, what is something you pack that might surprise our readers?
Look at my AirPods. I branded my AirPods with The Bucket List Guy. I’ve been traveling and then I’ve bumped into people and I’ve said, “I’m The Bucket List Guy.” Before you know it, the next day I’m presenting. Somewhere I was presented, for instance, meetup groups, I’ll meet someone in a bar and I’ll say, “How long you’re in town for?” Half a week or something, they like, “What are you doing tomorrow afternoon?” I’m part of a meetup group or I’m part of a networking group or a business group. It doesn’t present it to a hundred people. I’m going to say, my clicker.
In the States, we say slide advancer. Trav, you are a great guest. We enjoyed this. What social media do you have? Are you on Instagram? If you’re traveling, I know you’re putting up pictures.
We will follow all your adventures there. Thank you, Trav. It was great to have you.
I was happy to do around two guys. We appreciate it.
Exploring Australia: Melbourne is where the culture of Australia is. Sydney is a little bit more like LA, flashy.
We could do a whole show with you.
From Melbourne, Trav, thank you.
I am thinking about what Trav said earlier. There was one thing that stuck out in my head and that was to create a grid. This is something that was on his YouTube channel. I mentioned it earlier was, that grid where in the US, the average male life span is 79 years old. It might even be 78. You create a grid with 78 spaces in it, and then you circle in a grid for every year that you’ve been born. When you look at that and realize that you are already past the curve on and how much time do you potentially have left, you’re like, “I’ve got to get going.”
You got to get out there and do those bucket list things.
There’s no time. Time is ticking.
Stay at those great hotels, go to those once in a lifetime destination, and do those once in lifetime things. Something that stuck out to me is his quote that, “People die at 40 and get buried at 80,” meaning that people stop living. They get sedate, they get their kids in school and they don’t do anything. You can do both. Our family tries to do that to try to have a fulfilling life experience while still having to manage all the craziness of being a family on a day-to-day basis. You get out there and see the world and Australia is a great place to do that. The things that Trav told us about, some of them, I didn’t even know that you can do in Australia. There are things we can add to our bucket lists from our conversation with him.
Let’s start talking about bucket lists. Trav had a couple of different types of bucket lists that have to do with travel and those things you’ve got to go see before your time is over. There’s much to go see and do. Andy, what are some of the things in Australia that you would add to the top of yours?
It is hard to choose because we had to pare down the list because there are many great things to do and many places to go. We had to come back, but there’s an epic road trip to Cape York in the Northeast part of Australia. It’s a journey to the Northernmost points. You drive through all these great different geological areas. It’s a great experience. You need a four-wheel-drive to do it. If you want to see what they call, “The Outback,” this is a place to go with hardly any cell service. If you want to be by yourself and get away from the rest of the world, this area to do it. The epic road trip to Cape York is a great first bucket list.
We would be remiss if we didn’t talk a little bit about the Great Barrier Reef and what an amazing destination that is. It’s so long that there’s a lot you can do. You need to pick a spot where you want to see it narrow that down and see what activities are around it. There’s scuba diving, boating, excursions, and then another great way to see it is a seaplane. If you’ve never been on a seaplane, they’re an amazing experience. You can take off and land in the water. The last time I was on was in Vancouver. You get low, you can see right through the water. You see the wildlife, but it is a major vantage point. I’ve recommend the seaplane if anybody that has the desire to do something a little different.
My next one is a place that we went to called Fraser Island. This location is beautiful. It’s 75 miles a beach. We’re in America or Europe, you see 75 miles of beautiful natural beach. It’s one of the most beautiful things about Australia is its nature is incredible. There are large limestone formations here, which make it spectacular. You can visit a shipwreck from 1935 that got shipwrecked on a cyclone, which was cool. It’s great for a day trip and you can camp there as well. If you’re in the mid-East part of Australia going to Fraser Island is a great option.
Probably one of the most photographed buildings ever would be the Sydney Opera House. Not only can you go see it by water, but we recommend doing the backstage tour of the Sydney Opera House. What’s great about this is you go beyond the exterior, you go into the orchestra pit, you go into the dressing rooms, green room, and other cool spots. You’ll learn a little bit more about the history and the performers that have been there, and then follow it with breakfast, add that to yours.
The Sydney Opera House is incredible. Almost everybody does when they go there. It’s one of those popular bucket list items, but it’s one that you got to do. You’ll see a huge archway over the bridge. You can clip-on and walk that entire thing. That’s an incredible thing to do in Sydney. We’re going to go South for my next bucket list to Tasmania, which I’d never been to, but my father has been. He said it was one of those life-changing experiences. There is a Tasmanian Devil. You remember that cartoon from we were kids. There’s a Tasmanian mammal. My bucket list is I’m staying at the luxury resort, the Saffire Freycinet, which is an old suite luxury. It offers amazing luxury experiences, not the hotel itself, but also all the activities that they do. They have trips to oyster farms, cooking demonstrations, beekeeping and visiting with Tasmanian Devil. This place is incredible. If you get to Tasmania and you want to look at it for a special place to stay, look it up online. A lot of people call it the Saffire.
I want to go to the Gold Coast, which is in the East. There is the Byron Bay Hinterland. You could travel to Nightcap National Park. It’s also known as the magic forest, which is a great name. You can do waterfalls and swim in lakes. At night, you can experience luminous glow worms as they illuminate the caves, which is cool.
Talk about a natural wonder, that’s amazing. Something that Todd and I have done in Mexico, but we didn’t do it when we were in Australia, was swimming with whale sharks. You can do that in the Midwest. Trav mentioned this. It’s the largest fish in the ocean so it’s not a shark. It’s the ones with a big open mouth. They feed on the krill and they get huge. It’s popular there from March to the end of July. If you’re there during that time, it’s a quintessential Australian experience and one thing that you should put on your list.
It is in the Ningaloo reef.
Put that on your bucket list.
You may not think of this when you’re in Australia, but you could do a sunset camel ride on Cable Beach in Broome, which is the Northwest and amazingly beautiful sunsets. Australia is known for its wildlife, the camel’s not what comes to mind, but their evening camel parades, they go across the beach. You can ride your own or enjoy the parade and watch other people on the camels and watch the camels themselves. It is a unique thing that you wouldn’t think of when you think of Australia.
[bctt tweet=”Experience the world and get outside the comfort zone because it breeds tolerance.” via=”no”]
You think of doing that somewhere in Dubai or somewhere in the Middle East. There’s another bucket list item that I didn’t get to do, but I saw this and I’m like, “We need to talk about this.” It is a helicopter ride above the fluorescent pink waters of Lake Hillier. The colors are a result of the high salinity combined with the algae species there. It’s a pink bacteria. It’s called halobacteria. While it’s safe to swim in, the lake is only accessible to researchers. The helicopter ride is a unique way to see the sight. Google this if you’re interested because it is truly a spectacular sight when you’re seeing it from above the lake.
There’s also another great area south of Melbourne and it’s the Mornington Peninsula. It is more of a leisure place to visit. It’s a low-key Australian experience, but they have winery tours, small-town shopping, golf courses, things like that. I hate to say but my parents would like Mornington. It’s not an extreme adventure, but it’s a great way to immerse yourself in another part of Australian life.
Last but not least everyone has heard of the Northern Lights, but did you know that there are Southern Lights that you can view from Australia? If you’ve already checked those off your bucket list, definitely put this on your bucket list. These lights are known as the Aurora Australis, like Aurora Borealis. That is something that you want to put on your bucket list and something that is not well known.
If you want to immerse yourself in something unique to Australia is find an amazing Aboriginal experience. The Aborigines are the indigenous people in Australia. Some say they’ve been around longer than everybody else, but there is the Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival. They strike animal forms and they do chants, but it’s supposed to be amazing and it’s only every two years. You need to plan ahead. It doesn’t happen every year. It’s held in the township of Laura, which is about 317 kilometers north of Cairns. It’s supposed to be amazing. They get about 5,000 visitors a year. I find an experience like that to check out while you’re there.
Those are our top ten bucket list items for Australia. We know we’re going to be back a lot more.
Are you ready to book your hotel for your next company event or family adventure? Let AMI help. We have ongoing relationships with all major hotel chains and access to over 200,000 hotels. Why us? We receive special promotions before they hit the open market. We make significant cost savings to you. Go to Destination-Everywhere.com, and click the Source Now button. Let us get to work for you.
This has been such a great show because it’s been about bucket lists. We didn’t choose a hotel destination this time. We’ll do that when we go back to Australia, but what I’d loved about this is having an expert like Trav, who made the life decision to develop a life plan around experiencing life. He calls it the bucket list plan, but it’s about getting out there and experiencing life. Not getting into the old habit of not traveling or not seeing the world and not being educated and not experiencing in and of itself. If you’re interested in that, he’s got a great book called My Bucketlist Blueprint, and we recommend it to you. it helps develop a blueprint for you of what you can do from now until you’re into retirement and how you can create a bucket list plan for yourself. I highly recommend Trav’s book.
It’s a shift in mindset. “Live for today sometimes is the easiest way to say it.” That concludes our show. We want to thank some special members of our team. Make sure you subscribe, rate and review the show on your preferred app or by going to www.Destination-Everywhere.com. We look forward to speaking with you in the next episode.
Trav Bell is The Bucket List Guy…The Worldʼs #1 Bucket List Expert.
As a self-appointed ʻBucket Listologistʼ, Trav has obsessively studied the Bucket List phenomenon & blended the worldʼs best Positive Psychology principles to create his own unique Bucket List Life Philosophy. He has designed his life around his Bucket List and now he helps Bucket Listers all over the globe create and cross off theirs.
A Bucket List is a tangible reason ʻWhyʼ. A Life Plan that has the power to transform every area of your life. It will help to decrease lifeʼs distractions & increase your focus on what truly makes you happy. But this is way more than just writing a simple list. This is about the journey youʼll experience in the process of achieving your list & about the person you become in the process.
Trav says he has a special super-power! His super-power is to stop people just existing, stop ʻground-hogʼ days, stop waiting for ʻsomedayʼ or ʻthe perfect timingʼ to come around. He wakes people up, gets them off the treadmill of life & helps them to start living life on purpose.
Before Trav became ʻThe Bucket List Guyʼ, he built a chain of personal training studios across Australia. Starting with 1 client, he & his team went on to do over a million personal training sessions & motivated 10’s of 1000’s clients. This is the foundation for why Trav is now regarded as one of Australiaʼs foremost Personal Development Speakers & Life Coaches.
Described as “infectiously motivating”, Trav always brings fresh stories to each seminar & event he does because heʼs out there practicing what he preaches. His ʻcrazyʼ Bucket List adventures are hilarious & truly inspirational.
Trav will show how to prevent regret & start living your list before itʼs too late!
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Get out your Vermont travel map as we visit Vermont resorts and give you venue and destination suggestions in the Green Mountain State. We talk about Vermont’s unique authenticity, the many places and activities it offers, and, most importantly, its great people. We venture inside the Ben & Jerry’s factory, where we learn about the important work Ben & Jerry’s is doing towards social justice. From its famous covered bridges to its burgeoning craft beer scene, Vermont is a great destination for business, meetings, and many other reasons. Join us for a tour of your next exciting destination — Vermont, a majestic beauty.
Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing meeting venues in Vermont, to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.
Watch the episode here:
Vermont, ice cream with a cause and keeping Vermont weird. A place lost in time and more cows than people are easy ways to describe the green mountain state, yet it is much more. From its famous covered bridges to its burgeoning craft beer scene, Vermont is a bucket list destination for many reasons. It’s a four-season playground with award-winning bed and breakfasts, impressive hotels and outdoor activities any time of year. A popular local shirt states, “Keep Vermont Weird.” This conveys the unique authenticity of the inhabitants of one of the smallest states in the union in both size and population. Its people are one of the many reasons it’s a bucket list must. From bustling cities to the smallest of towns, you can find unlimited experiences wrapped in the majestic beauty of her green mountains. In this episode, join us for a flavorful conversation with Ben & Jerry’s Grand Poobah PR Sean Greenwood. Sean will share some bucket-list secrets on the best way to experience a trip to the Ben & Jerry’s factory, discuss celebrities with whom they have partnered and the company’s important work towards social justice. Grab your bike and your snowmobile, and let’s head to the Green Mountain State. Welcome to this episode, Vermont: Ice Cream With a Cause and Keeping Vermont Weird.
We’re glad to have you here for a special episode because we’re going somewhere that is special to us, which is the State of Vermont. It’s an incredible state. If you haven’t been, you’ve got to go. We’ve been coming for years. It’s a four-season destination. Every time of the year, there’s something to do. Nowhere else in the world better to see the fall foliage. Vermont is where we’re going and it’s going to be incredible. Todd, what are some of your experiences that you’ve had and why do you think you love it so much? What makes Vermont special?
It’s one of the coolest places because I’ve seen it during all seasons. Vermont is an all-season state, summer, spring, fall and winter, there’s always something to do here. In Downtown Burlington, there’s Church Street and just walking up and down it is amazing. There are lights above it and when it snows, it’s pretty. When it’s summer there are street performers. Whenever I’m here, I’d like to go down to Church Street to just sit, hang out and people watch.
It’s one of the smallest states in the union and there are only about 700,000 people in the State of Vermont. It’s rural but that’s what makes it beautiful. One of the interesting things I always thought was great about Vermont is you’ll never see a billboard. There are no billboards on the freeways, which speaks to the culture here but also magnifies the beauty of the state. The rolling hills, the mountains, and the lakes make it a special place. If you haven’t been, it’s only a four-hour drive from Boston. It’s a six-hour drive from New York City.
That’s a four-hour drive to the Canadian border. That’s all the way on the Northern end of Vermont and six hours from New York, all the way to the Canadian border. Another great thing about Vermont is it borders Quebec. On the Southern side of Quebec, there’s much to see, but we’re going to stay in Vermont for this episode.
What’s always interesting about Quebec is you go over the border and all of a sudden everyone speaks French. No one speaks English but it’s incredibly beautiful. We’ll do a special on Quebec sometime soon. Back to Vermont, we got the entire state to look at. We’re going to look at our bucket list items. We’ve got a special guest as well, Sean Greenwood from Ben & Jerry’s. He’s the Grand Poobah of Public Relations for them. He’s going to tell us a little bit about why you should come to visit the factory here and what you can do there. It’s going to be a great interview. We also have great places to stay. We’ve got a lot going on for Vermont. We’re going to take you from the Southern end of the state all the way to the Northern end of the state.
Are you ready to book your hotel for your next company event or family adventure? Let AMI help. We have ongoing relationships with all major hotel chains and access to over 200,000 hotels. Why us? We receive special promotions before they hit the open market, meaning significant cost savings to you. Go to Destination-Everywhere.com and click the Source Now button. Let us get to work for you.
We’d like to welcome Sean Greenwood from Ben & Jerry’s. Sean has provided communication strategies for the company’s global climate Save Our Swirled initiative. Sean quarterback the launch of The Tonight Dough, starring Jimmy Fallon of The Tonight Show. He co-hosted alongside comedian Michelle Buteau the launch event for Ben & Jerry’s new partnership and flavor with Netflix called Netflix & Chill’d. He managed communication strategy for the company to dismantle white supremacy.
We’d like to welcome Sean Greenwood. Welcome, Sean. Thank you for joining us.
How cool to be here. I love that you are already here. Look behind you, you can smell ice cream in the air.
We like to make our guests feel at home. What can we say? We hope we do it and we’re huge customers and champions of Ben & Jerry’s. It’s a great product and a great brand. We’re glad to have you on the show.
It’s kind of you to have me. We love talking about what we do.
You’ve got bucket list experiences as your job. Based on what I’m seeing, you’ve worked with Sir Elton John, Ziggy Marley, Stephen Colbert, Nike. You’ve been doing this over 30 years for Ben & Jerry’s.
I was lucky. Everybody who’s been around that long, we talk. It’s a good thing we got in when we did because now you need talent to work here. I started in 1988 and Jerry was hanging out with the chairperson of our board. Jerry said, “Jeff, remember the class of 1988? We would take anybody with a pulse.” It’s nice to know you’re appreciated after three decades of work.
What are Ben and Jerry like as individuals? I’m sure our readers would love to know from someone that knows them personally.
I went for a walk with Jerry who tries to do an old man’s exercise. We were up at 7:30 and went for a 4 or 5-mile walk. They’re great guys. They’re good people. Their idea was, “Let’s use business for something positive and try to do good things with it.” They make a fun dessert and make great ice cream. Ben’s always said, “A business is the most powerful source in our society to be able to get anything done. That’s where all the money goes. Let’s try to do some good stuff.” That was the beginning of the Ben & Jerry’s mission.
You’re talking about the social justice piece of what Ben & Jerry’s is focused on. They have a great product, but they also focus on making things better in the world overall. Tell us a little bit about that. Tell us what your focus is. There are many things that you could choose. How do you choose the ones that you’re going to focus on?
There’s a lot of need in the world whether you’re here in Vermont locally or across the country. One of the things is it’s not a nonprofit business. We’re a for-profit business, but the mission is three parts, product and making great desserts. Also, the economic piece is making a fair return, but it’s not about maximizing shareholder return. The idea is like, “Let’s make sure we do this in a fun way.” It serves our company mission and gives back to the community. That’s the big difference because there are a lot of great ice creams out there, but Ben & Jerry’s believes in saying, “Let’s go out there and make sure we use some of those profits and the voice so we can make a difference in the world.”
Vermont: There are a lot of great ice creams out there, but Ben & Jerry’s makes use of some of their profits and their voice to make a difference in the world.
What are some of the things you’re working on?
The big one is we’re switching over. Racial justice is the one we’ve been working on for months. We had a flavor out called Justice ReMix’d. It’s a great flavor of spicy brownies that were made special for this campaign. The idea is, in a nutshell, criminal justice reform in our country. There are many people in prison. We have 5% of the world’s population, but 20% to 25% of the world’s prison population. Countries that you’d say like, “Look at regimes like China or Russia.” You’re like, “No, we have way more people in prison than those people,” which is an amazing thing. When you start looking into it and researching it, what you learn is there are a lot of people who are there because they’re poor. They couldn’t afford bail and couldn’t get out. They get caught up in this system even though they’ve never been convicted of anything. There are also minor offenses like marijuana possession that 25 states have some laws either of legalize use or some way that it’s legal in their states. Those things that we think unfairly affect people of color, much more than they do for white people. It’s one of the things we try to work on. We’re focusing on that one area for years. It’s that criminal justice.
You’ve got your pulse on what’s happening. You were doing that even before everything that’s happening during COVID. You had your pulse and you chose it. You’re a step ahead of the game.
I remember back in 2009, marriage equality passed here in Vermont and it was the first state to pass it through the legislature. You had a campaign and it was the Hubby Hubby campaign after your Chubby Hubby flavor. I thought that was groundbreaking at the time and even to this day. You saw online and people write hateful comments. In my opinion, every single time you’re in the right, but how do you deal with that negative? You’ve never bowed down, which is amazing to me.
When you take action that’s consistent with your values, people can say they don’t like it, but they can’t say that’s wrong because we believe in doing that. Ever since I started working with the company in the late ‘80s, we were one of the first national businesses in the US to give health benefits to same-sex partners. It hadn’t happened before then. I remember an interview with Inc. magazine that Jerry was interviewed saying, “Why are you such a gay-friendly company?” Jerry said, “We’re not gay-friendly. We’re friendly that we want to treat everybody with the same respect that we want to be treated with.” I’m a young guy then in my early twenties. I’m growing up and I’m learning about all these things that Ben & Jerry’s believe in. You’re working beside people and you’re going like, “They want to go out and march on the street because there’s a local pride parade.” You go, “I want to stick up for them, so we’re going to march with them.” That’s the belief at Ben & Jerry’s. We’re going to take to the street for those things that we care about.
We started to do that and people would say like, “Why does an ice cream company involved in sticking up for those people in the LGBTQ community or taking a stance on same-sex issues like same-sex marriage?” We’re just sticking up for our coworkers. We had gay people that were working for the company then. Since then, we’ve done a lot of those. I was looking at my pints that I have up here in my office. This was the decision you’re talking about. It says, “I Dough I Dough” pint that we put out. I’ve worked on the Hubby Hubby campaign. There were four of us there that worked on that and came up with the idea and put that into place. The idea is sometimes you want to stand up on the soapbox and shout about what you believe in because you feel it helps in terms of equity. Sometimes we do things because we think it’s the right thing to do. With marriage equality, it’s one of the things we’ve been loud and vocal about to say, “We believe in this.”
Your question of saying, “There are going to be haters that come in.” When my name is on the press release and I’ll get a lot of those emails, a lot of times, the first 24 or 48 hours, you’re going to get a lot of hatred from a lot of people who are not in support of what you’re doing. I put that in one folder on my computer that the consumer services team can help us get back to say, “I appreciate you sharing your feedback. We feel differently about this.” After that, you also get a big string of people who are going, “I’m buying two pints tonight because of what you did.” You get those heartfelt emails. I remember when we did the I Dough, I Dough campaign, I got a letter from a woman who was in the Midwest and she said, “I’m talking to my daughter and I’m telling my wife that there’s an ice cream company in Vermont that cares about us as a couple. We’re going to come to visit someday.” Those are the things that you hold on to because you know it’s the right thing. It matches our values and that’s why we do it.
Continue to do it because it’s making a difference.
One of the things I would like to be on my bucket list that you say you get to do is you get to be a taste tester. I don’t know if people get to be taste testers, but I’m curious about that. I want to go into how people can visit the factory itself. Tell us how you as an employee and a longtime partner over there at Ben & Jerry’s gets to be a taste tester. How fun is that.
It is no coincidence. I walk out this office store, turn five steps and then turn right ten steps and the Research & Development Lab is right there behind. This is not an accident, when you get to choose your office you want to be close by. The other thing you can do is even if you’re not part of that official project, you can walk by the window real slow and looking. Occasionally, you’ll get the, “Come on in and try out what’s going on.” Our employees are ice cream aficionados. If you put a flavor in our freezers, one of the benefits of working at Ben & Jerry’s, you get three free pints a day for every employee here at the headquarters. If it doesn’t get taken, then you know it’s not going to work out on the shelves. Our people know good ice cream. The chance to be able to be involved like I was sampling some top-secret new dough chunks that we’ve been doing in the last few years. It’s the Cookie Dough that people say, “I want to try eating that.” We put that in a bag and you can find it in your frozen food section in your supermarket. I try a new flavor of those that we’re working with one of our partners. It’s all about the food.
I was looking on your website. I saw you have a recipes page for extended recipes of your already great ice cream. Some of them were quite creative. We’re going to try some.
To cook with ice cream and to find bread pudding recipe. There are some fun recipes that way. During the COVID time, we’ve been trying to do some other recipes on there, and even have our flavor gurus who make and innovate flavors. They have done videos at home with their own kids so people can get on and watch with their kids and get involved. There’s a dessert book that’s out. You can find the Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & DessertBook. If you have one of those home ice cream makers, it’s a great time right now, especially in Vermont with fresh fruit. You go out and get blueberries or strawberries or all of that. You can make these great ice cream flavors. Check out that Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & DessertBook. It’s pretty cool.
Can you tell people what a K9-5ers is?
K9-5ers is the term because we have a dog-friendly office. We’ve closed our corporate office down here in Burlington because of COVID. We want people to stay safe and healthy, and we’ll get back to work at the office when it’s healthy. We have a dog-friendly office. Usually, any day you come in, there will be anywhere from 10 to 30 dogs here in the building. The idea is we’re looking for a fun term to be able to give to that group, so K9-5ers are what they’re known as.
All the dogs are on your web site with their photos and their names that I’ve seen. It was cool. We used to have a dog-friendly office and we moved.
It’s amazing how it takes away the stress. The hard part is you have to remind people when they’re giving a tour of the office. They walk by and they’re like, “Here’s Pontch and he’s a French bulldog.” You’re like, “Talk about Pontch’s owner. Introduce her too because we don’t want to give all the dogs the love.”
Let’s talk about the tour because if you come to Vermont, no matter whether you’re from Northern Vermont or even if you’re coming from New Hampshire or Massachusetts, Ben & Jerry’s factory is iconic. The people of Vermont take great pride and knowing that you are there. It’s a must-see, whenever anybody comes here, everybody’s like, “Did you go to the Ben & Jerry’s factory?” Can you talk a little bit about the experience that people get when they walk through the factory and then what’s around it, including the graveyard, which has an interesting little piece to see of the chef?
[bctt tweet=”Mansfield has one of the best bike trails in the entire state that goes right through the center of the town.” via=”no”]
We love the spa. It’s where I started working there. My first job was working out at the Waterbury plant and driving the truck around scooping ice cream at events, and then giving tours there. I’m fond of the place and all the people that are there in Waterbury. For Destination Everywhere readers that are going like, “I’m coming now.” We do have the scoop shop open there. You can stop and get your ice cream. We do have the grounds open, so you can walk around. You can have a place to sit down. There are a couple of fun things to see. It’s not only the background behind you, Todd, that’s our front patio view. It’s colorful and there’s some fun stuff. Our Flavor Graveyard is where we retire any Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors that no longer exist in the virtual world. It’s a chance to be able to go and pay respects to your dearly de-pinted flavors we call them sometimes and have a little fun that way. In terms of social mission, there’s a great art exhibit that you would’ve seen there on the walkway. It’s all people who were previously incarcerated who did this higher. It’s a whole wall of it there. We’ve turned that over.
In 2019, it was about Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign from 50 years previous. We had an exhibit there on loan from the Smithsonian that we showed off to support that idea of racial justice and around criminal justice to say that’s what we want to do. When we know we have hundreds of thousands of people coming by every year, just them walking by to be able to see this and say, “Let’s have a conversation about that. That’s why we put those things out.” You can stop in. There is a tour that exists. The inside tour to see where ice cream is made is on hold because of safety’s and we’ve got to wait until everyone’s safe to go in. You’ll have to jump on our website and look it up to see if and when the hold on COVID is still going on, or when we do lift that.
You have a gift shop as well so that you can get your favorite merchandise. What else? Is there anything else there that’s unique that our readers may not know about?
There is a little bit about innovation station checkout and hear what our latest campaigns are. There is a booth outside that’s set up so that people can still get some souvenirs and stuff to be able to take home. It’s a great town. One of the things for Ben & Jerry’s is we’re thrilled that fans want to come to see us, but it’s also about Vermont. A lot of people who may not live in Vermont are coming up to visit, have a chance to be able to go try maple syrup and got great cheese and great craft beer. Waterbury has such a great little community restaurant. There’s a lot of progressive stuff that you can do. If you are coming up, any of your readers who are planning a day trip or a weekend, look around because there’s some great stuff to be able to see in Vermont.
To that point, other than Ben & Jerry’s, what are some of your other favorite things that you do in Vermont personally, that you would say if someone’s coming to see you. What else should they do that they have to do?
I liked getting out on two wheels. If you’re a motorcycler, coming right up on Route 100 is one of the most beautiful roads in the state. It’s always called out on these motorcycle magazines saying it’s one of the best rides. You don’t have to do it on a motorcycle. You can do it on four wheels, but getting wind breeze blowing by you is an enjoyable thing on the motorcycle or the convertible. That’s a great road, Route 100. Summer is always a great time in Vermont too. Getting out on a boat. We’ve got Lake Champlain right here in Burlington. That’s a good size lake that offers a lot of great things. We’re about visitors. We want people to come to see Vermont, try the products out, see the leaves, play in the snow, go skiing any time of the year.
There’s so much to do.
We keep saying it’s an all-season state. Winter, fall, spring, summer, there’s always something to do here. Whether it’s an intense or extreme thing like skiing and snowmobiling around the state. I’m noticing this summer a lot of the side-by-sides, which are the four-wheel all-terrain vehicles. I’m seeing those out on the back roads. There’s a huge infrastructure for those things around here. It’s amazing. You can’t be bored and if you are, you’ve got your priorities a little whacked out. There’s always something to do here. Get outside of Vermont.
Sean, before we let you go, we have some rapid-fire questions we’re going to ask you around your travel habits.
Should I stretch out?
Make sure that’s nice and loose. The readers love to learn from our guests about what they like to do and their secrets. The first one is, have you ever completed anything on your bucket list? If so, what was it?
Yes, entirely because of Ben & Jerry’s. Many years ago, they created that little Ben & Jerry’s balloon that you see up there. I went for a hot air balloon ride because of this corporate program that we were doing and loved it. I ended up getting trained to go fly a hot air balloon. Now, I own a hot air balloon and that was a bucket list thing to go for a hot air balloon ride. I took it to eleven, as they would say, “It’s Spinal Tap” to become a hot air balloon pilot. It was a cool experience.
You’re here so you’ve landed safely.
I’ve flown up in the Kingdom before. I’ve flown in Barnard, launched near Newport, Vermont. There are lots of great places up there.
Is that balloon still around?
Yeah. Those two balloons that you see there are still in existence. They’re in Scotland. I bought my own. I’ve got one that I keep at home in a trailer and love to pull out and go jump in.
Vermont: Route 100 is one of the most beautiful roads in the state. It’s always called out as one of the best rides.
Number two is if you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be?
I’ve never been to Australia and I’ve been fortunate to be able to travel for work a handful. Japan was an incredible place to visit and Singapore. I love Europe. I could be happy there anytime, but I have not done Australia and I would love to be there for a year.
It takes about a year to see the whole country for sure. If you could travel with someone infamous or famous, who would it be?
Do you know who I’ve been reading a lot on because we lost him? I heard the term instead of rest in peace, it’s rest in power. It’s Representative John Lewis. We were fortunate to have John Lewis come up to Ben & Jerry’s last fall and stopped in because we’ve been working on a project together. There will be more information. Stay tuned around that. The man was an incredible civil rights leader. The more I read and learn about him and hear his story from being a young man and participating in the Freedom Rides to how he stayed committed to nonviolent protest and to acting with class. I would love to have either a piece of history or maybe the second time around. He would be a tremendous individual to spend a little more time with.
Here’s a fun one. When packing for your trip, what is something you pack that may surprise our readers?
Beard trimmer is probably not going to surprise them at this point.
You didn’t have used it in a while.
It’s COVID. We have a little bit of allowance. One of the things I often pack with whether it’s individual or traveling with my family is a big power strip with half a dozen outlets. A lot of times you get to a hotel and you get there and each of the kids has their phone and they need to charge and you have your laptop and all of a sudden, you’re all fighting over two outlets.
It’s a great one. I haven’t heard that one before.
Big power strip with six plugs.
They cause many family arguments.
The last one is what is your most memorable experience in Vermont? I know you’re a local, so it’s hard, but do you have anything that stands out?
The first thing that comes to mind when you say is my Ben & Jerry’s experience in Vermont was a retired couple was coming up from Massachusetts back when I was giving tours. This is the late ’80s, early ’90s, and befriended them. They were the only two people on my tour one time. I got to talk with them and get to know them. We get three free pints a day so I brought them my three pints at the end. We got to the lobby and I said, “Hold on.” I came out and said, “Here, take my three pints.” They were going to visit their daughter in Stowe. They ended up writing a nice letter to the company saying, “This young man is nice.” We went and going back and forth with letters. They would visit in every couple of years. One time, I got a page to the lobby and I go down. There’s this woman that’s 35 years old. I’d never met her and she introduced herself saying she was the daughter of the parents, and the father had passed away from cancer. Right before he had passed away about 3 to 6 months before our Research & Development Lab was cleaning out their closets. They have everyone sending them candies, chunks, chocolates and brownies, and all this stuff flavorings. They had a table full of this stuff. It’s all these little bottles. I knew this guy was an ice cream maker at home. That was his hobby.
I gathered up a box up and shipped it to him at home. I didn’t know he had cancer at that point. His daughter was like, “The last couple of months of his life, he would go out into his little workshop out behind their house in Massachusetts and make ice cream.” He had said to her, “Who would have thought an ice cream company would have cared enough to reach out and send stuff like this?” To me, it was like, “That’s the job I get to do with Ben & Jerry’s.” I get to connect with people and how lucky of a career is that.
Sean, we want to thank you and thank you for your commitment to social justice, for what you’re doing personally, and what Ben & Jerry’s is doing as a company and as a corporate partner. It’s incredible. We want to also thank you. You are going to supply a swag bag to one of our readers. If you’re reading, go to Destination-Everywhere.com and sign up. You could win a swag bag from Sean and his team at Ben & Jerry’s. Sean, we can’t thank you enough. Thank you for your time. We’ll be down sometime soon to take a tour and eat some ice cream.
We look forward to seeing you there and all your readers to stop into. Give us a shout. Thanks for having me.
Thanks, Sean. Take care.
[bctt tweet=”If you’re an avid mountain biker, some of the best mountain biking in the state can be found in Vermont.” via=”no”]
Sean is an awesome guy to interview because he’s passionate about what he does, but I loved hearing everything that he had to say about the company and his experiences. He’s raised here in Vermont. It was a good conversation we have with him.
He gave those insight of what you can do when you go. Add that to your bucket list. You will be grateful that you did. It’s going to be a lot of fun and a great experience for you to come to Vermont and put that on your bucket list. We’re going to go talk about our bucket list now.
Let’s go into some of these things that we’ve done around the state. Vermont, it’s a long state. It’s wide at the top. It’s narrower at the bottom. Vermont borders New Hampshire on one side, New York on the other, and then down South, you have Massachusetts. There’s a lot around it. The access is easy, but you fly into Burlington. That’s what most people do. Let’s talk a little bit about the Northern part. Let’s go with Burlington. You fly in and you’re close to a lot. It’s the largest city in Vermont.
The University of Vermont is there. It’s got a lot of young and fun places to go. When I think of Vermont, I think about outdoors. That’s what’s appealing about it. In the airport you always see skis coming off of the luggage cart. You see people driving in with kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. There’s a feel that everybody’s outside doing something in the state. If you’re not outside doing it, you’re probably missing out on something. South of Burlington, there’s an amazing property and it’s called the Shelburne Museum. It has recreated a period village of what life was like back in Vermont in the 1800s.
It’s a bucket list item. It’s Americana all put together for you in one place. Speaking outside, Todd, almost the entire thing is outside. You walk outside. It’s a great thing to do in the summer with the family. You walk from exhibit to exhibit and tell us a little bit about who put it together.
It was done by one of the Vanderbilts. She would go to auctions and purchase buildings. The buildings are not recreated buildings. They’re the original buildings and then they were moved to this property. What you’re walking onto is a town and it has an apothecary. It’s got a schoolhouse. There’s a ferry boat and a blacksmith. It’s neat. You do get immersed in what it was like to be in Vermont.
I believe there are something 39 to 40 buildings on the property. You can walk it and see how people lived. It’s immaculate and beautiful. Put that on your bucket list. That’s called Shelburne Museum, which is right South of Burlington.
What borders that is also the Shelburne Farms. It’s the old state for the Vanderbilt Family. It was the summer state. The wealthy New Yorkers, Connecticut would come up here. The original house is kept in immaculate condition. You’d want to see them both. The tour guides are amazing, but both beautiful right on Lake Champlain. The views are spectacular. That’s a must.
Speaking of Lake Champlain, that’s something you have to see either from right at the bottom of the hill in Burlington, or even if you go up to South Hero or North Hero Lake, North of Burlington. It’s an incredible Lake that is skinny. It runs almost the entire length of Vermont and breaks the border with New York. Like any Northern lake, it is very deep. You can take rides on boats and see the history. You can go fishing. You can rent your own boats. Pontoons are exciting and fun to do. I would highly recommend that as well.
There are a couple of ferries that go across it at some different points, going from New York to the Vermont side. If you’re on the Vermont side, you’re looking at the Adirondack. If you’re on the New York side, you’re looking at the Green Mountains in Vermont. You could see Mount Mansfield, which where Stowe is. It’s huge and gorgeous. Take a boat trip. There’s a boat that goes out on Lake Champlain. It’s a big tour boat and the Spirit of Ethan Allen is what it’s called. That leaves from Burlington and it’s a large cruise ship. It’s a great way to see both sides from the water. It’s a lot of fun.
I’m glad you mentioned Mount Mansfield, which is the tallest peak in Vermont. At the base of it is Stowe, which is this incredible, quintessential, ski-resort town in Vermont. There are a lot of incredible things to do there. They have one of the best bike trails in the entire state that goes right through the center of the town.
What’s great about it is if you’ve got smaller people, it’s a paved trail. It’s a nice, smooth ride for anybody of all ages. It’s not a difficult mountain biking trail. It goes through towns. It goes behind restaurants so you can pull your bike in. The total distance it’s a few miles.
Six or seven miles.
Anybody can do it and it’s not a hard trail, but it’s beautiful. It goes by the Corn Maze in Stowe, which is cool. You’ll get lost in this Corn Maze. The corn is 8, 9, 10 feet tall.
I know one of your favorite bucket list things to do is where Maria is from and where she ended up after The Sound of Music. Why don’t you tell everybody about that? You talk about it all the time.
It’s a piece of history and who doesn’t know The Sound of Music? If you don’t know the music, you do know the story. It’s the Von Trapp family. When they left Europe, they settled in Central Vermont, in Stowe. There is the Von Trapp Lodge which is a working lodge. It’s open year-round. They have apple trees, but you can go and see Maria’s grave and some of the other family members are buried there as well. If you’re there and you have any connection to this movie, you’ll want to go and see that. You can just feel it. People come and they take pictures of the plot markers.
The area looks like Austria in a way. It’s beautiful with the high mountains and the climate itself is just like it, which is a great trip as well. Salzburg, Austria, if you want to put that on your list too. I highly recommend you go to Von Trapp Lodge.
Vermont: You’ll never see a billboard in Vermont, which really speaks to the kind of culture it has, magnifying the beauty of the state.
There are microbreweries and there are some great craft beers that are made at breweries in and around the Stowe. It’s around the whole state, but Stowe itself has some great ones. Idletyme was a place that we went and had lunch. Their beers, you can get a pint and try a little bit of everything they had. It wasn’t my favorite, but there’s something for everybody. They had sour beers, which I’d never had a sour beer before. It does leave a pucker on your face. I don’t know if you’ve got to have the right taste buds for it. Their IPAs were amazing. It was a great stop.
What I love about Vermont and this is a nice little tidbit people wonder why there’s a town like every 5 miles. I asked once, and the reason is a town every 5 miles is how far a horse could go before they needed water. There are all these unbelievable towns. Every 5 miles or so, you’ll notice it. Each one has its own city government, has its own things that they’re proud of, things that they produce, whether it’s cheese, wine, maple syrup. There are all different things in Vermont. Meandering through all these different towns in and of itself is a joy. It’s one of the reasons I love it. We’re looking for all the covered bridges all over the state. There’s a great program to keep them up-to-date and make sure they’re not falling apart. They do a beautiful job with it. It’s something to do if you’re an avid bike rider. A great way to see the state is to go look at the cover bridges. I would highly recommend that as well.
There’s a town called Burke. It is also a place for mountain biking. They have got I don’t know how many miles of trails in Burke.
This is the Northeastern part of the state. Burke is in Bike Burke Mountain. I don’t know how many trails it has. There are hundreds and hundreds. It goes across 90 separate property owners’ property at the base of Burke Mountain and it’s beautiful. If you’re an avid mountain biker, some of the best mountain biking in the state can be found there.
All the trails are groomed. They’re smooth rides. The levels of difficulty are different all around the space, but it’s a neat place. If you’d like to bike, you don’t want to be on a street bike on these trails, but if you have a hybrid or a mountain bike, you could get around comfortably. That was a lot of fun. We enjoyed doing that and did that. Another thing with one of my first exposures to Vermont. Vermont’s one of those places that you have a vision in your head. It seems a very romantic state. If you remember the show, Bob Newhart was in it. He moves from a city and he opens up an inn called The Stratford Inn.
The show makes the locals seem a little quirky. I would say the locals in Vermont, the speed is great, but it’s not going to be anything like you might expect to find it in New York. People enjoy dinners and you’re not seeing horns honking in cities. You might get behind a tractor on one of the off roads and be delayed, but it’s not anything that’s going to make anybody get some road rage, especially if you’re from the area. When you’re driving around and see some of these small places, you do get stuck behind, there’s a season where you might get stuck behind manure trucks. It’s not always the most pleasant-smelling thing, but when that happens, you look to your left and right and it’s the scenery, wherever you go is amazing. Did we talk about the swimming holes?
You should talk about them because it is one of the great secrets of this area of the country.
All the times we’ve been coming to Vermont, it wasn’t until maybe the 3rd or 4th year even, where someone said, “Have you been to three holes?” I didn’t know what they were talking about. It’s a swimming hole. It’s not Florida, not everybody has in-ground pools. They said, “It’s great. It’s these little rivers, there are waterfalls, and then you swim, you can jump off the rocks.” We found it. It’s nothing you’re going to find. I doubt a concierge is going to tell you if you’re staying at a hotel. If you ask the locals in many of these towns, ask for a swimming hole, there is something nearby. It’s gorgeous. The water is crystal clear. It’s cold, but on a hot day, there’s nothing better and usually, there are nice little trails in pass. They’re everywhere.
There’s a river that there’s a swimming hole somewhere. The locals know them. If you’re in Vermont, always ask. They’re great to see in the fall because they’re beautiful and remote. Usually, you’ve got to hike in a little bit, but they’re awesome. One other thing I’d like to point out and then we’ll move on to some of our favorite hotels to stay at in Vermont that is great for either vacation, meetings, and events. In Northern Vermont, there is a sculpture park called the Cold Hollow Sculpture Park, which is the work of David Stromeyer. He purchased this dairy farm 30 years ago and then made the barn his studio. Over the course of the last 30 years has created these giant moving metal sculptures that are sold and put in major destinations all over the world. Near his farm, which is free to go to, it’s incredible. He has about 40 of them spread all across these wide hills.
There are more than 60 and it’s a little town. It’s right next to Enosburg Falls in Northern Vermont. You drive by it and you can’t tell from the road. You’ll see a sign out front. It’s a sculpture that says a CHSP, which is Cold Hollow Sculpture Park. When you go in, the field opens up and he creates everything on the property, but you’ll see these things are huge. It’s on acres and acres of property and then they move. Someone may request one for an office building. These are the sculptures that you see at the base of skyscrapers in New York City or inside of a huge office building foyer and they’re different colors, they move, they’re abstract. All of these sculptures are an evolution of this particular artist work over several decades. It’s fascinating to see.
Let’s go ahead and talk about some of our favorite places to stay. Let’s start in Southern Vermont and a place that is well-known. It’s a luxury property called, The Equinox. That is down in Manchester, Vermont. Manchester is an adorable small town. If you want to get a real feel for it, but not be too far from Boston or New York City. It’s incredible. The Equinox has been there since the Revolutionary War, the main part of the hotel, but it’s expanded greatly. They’ve done a fantastic job keeping it up. The government of Vermont was formed in the small restaurant there back in 1777 or 1778 whatever year it was. There’s a lot of history there as well. What do you think about The Equinox?
The Equinox is beautiful because it’s a historic property. Different presidents have visited it. Down the road is the summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln, who was Abraham Lincoln’s only surviving child. It’s a beautiful estate. It overlooks the hills. He was a lawyer from Chicago and acquired it with one of his partners at this law firm. All these things are close enough back in the day where they could come from the cities and then getaway. That being in Southern Vermont was ideal and it’s beautiful. Manchester also has a lot of outlets. If you like to outlet shop and you find time to do that, you get this historical feel if you’re in the right spot, but then you go down the road and you’ll see all different types of outlets, great shopping.
If you go a little farther away, there is a great town ideally called Woodstock. There’s The Woodstock Inn & Resort there. It is right in the middle of town and a fantastic place to get the real Vermont experience in a concentrated way. They have cooking classes and tours that you can set up for and it’s comfortable. That’s a great one. If you want a smaller and more real Vermont experience, we highly recommend that property as well.
If you’ll find, you drive through some towns and some of them aren’t any more than 1 or 2 blocks. Sadly, there are many towns in Vermont that they’re past a lot of the economic prosperity that they had seen once before, but there are a lot of great finds. If you’re driving through them, like Andy said, they’re about every 5 miles apart. Park your car and go walk the street. You’re not going to be walking a lot, but you could see some cool things whether it’s a place to grab some food or a lot of antiques and people selling things from barns. You go in and you’re like, “Wow.”
There’s a lot of history there for sure.
You could drive up from Woodstock, and then there’s Quechee. There’s a big gorge in Quechee that people swim in. They have a bridge that goes across it and it’s another spot that you get out of your car and go walk it. There’s a 1.5-mile trail. From there, you go down and check out the water, jump in one of those swimming spots off of the Quechee Gorge. It’s wonderful.
If you want a quick place to ski and stay as well, we talked about Stowe a little bit. The Stowe Mountain Resort is a fantastic place to ski from. It’s ski-in and ski-out and modern. If you don’t want to go all the way to the West Coast or to Colorado, Stowe is a fantastic place to fly straight into Burlington. It’s only a 20-mile drive. It reminds you of a Salt Lake in Park City where you can get there quick and you can ski on the same day. You get to enjoy Stowe there but the Mountain Resort is best in class. We highly recommend that as well. Finally, in Northern Vermont, we have Jay Peak Resort, which is a resort that’s been around a long time, but did $60 million upgrades with the new hotel, a new water park, championship golf course, which is spectacular in the fall. It is a great place to see rural Vermont but has the amenities of a first-class hotel. They have meeting space and conference center as well. We highly recommend the Jay Peak Resort up on the Quebec border. It’s beautiful.
[bctt tweet=”Vermont’s just one of those places you kind of have a vision in your head that seems like a very romantic state.” via=”no”]
Did you even talk about the indoor water park at Jay?
We talked about that forever.
It’s got a retractable roof. You go in and it could be winter or summer. In the summer, they usually retract the roof and it’s got one of the artificial waves like the FlowRider or Flow Dog as some of them are called, a bunch of slides, a lazy river, but then on the winter, it’s all glass. You see snow falling all around you, and then you get access to this water park, which is amazing. That’s right at the base of the mountain. Right next to that, there’s a brand-new indoor rink where leagues play, but they also have a free skate for people that are touring and want to putz around on ice skates, but it’s gorgeous.
Those are our four venues and hotels we recommend if you’re coming to Vermont. There are many more. Bed and breakfast is all over here, locally-owned that can give you a quintessential Vermont experience as well. Make sure you look those up as well. We have a special giveaway and a way for you to sign up for it and get a special gift from Ben & Jerry’s.
That concludes this edition of this show. Thank you for joining us. Register and go visit our website at www.Destination-Everywhere.com. Ben & Jerry’s and Sean have given us a great swag pack, be sure to go in and register for that. It’s got some great collectibles and coupons for ice cream. You don’t want to miss out on that. Thank you for joining us. We’ll have you back here soon.
Starting in 1988, Sean has seen the triumphs and tribulations during his three decades with the company. His title of Grand Poobah of P.R. has been earned one scoop at a time.
Along the way he has taken a serious interest in sharing the Ben & Jerry’s story and mission, namely, that businesses can thrive when they lead with their values and consider more than simply making a profit.
In his PR position, Sean has created programs, flavors, and managed relationships working with the likes of Sir Elton John, the band FUN, Ziggy Marley, Stephen Colbert, Nike, and more. Sean has provided communication strategy for the company’s global climate “Save Our Swirled” initiative. Sean quarterbacked the launch of The Tonight DOUGH starring Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show. Most recently he co-hosted – alongside comedienne Michelle Buteau – the launch event for Ben & Jerry’s new partnership and flavor with Netflix, called “Netflix & Chilll’d” and managed communications strategy for the company’s statement to dismantle white supremacy.
In his Poobah work Sean serves as Director of Public Relations and Communications at Ben & Jerry’s headquarters in Vermont consistently tallying over 4 billion annual impressions. The Gonzaga Master’s graduate often can be found loafing near the Research & Development Lab volunteering as a taste tester all the while enjoying the company benefit of three free pints of ice cream per day. His favorite flavor is Cherry Garcia.
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