I’ve never exactly been the kind of guy who is cut out for donning a dapper Don Draper business suit every morning to go sit behind a desk a and work a nine-to-five job. I’d rather take my cocktail to go, thank you very much — which is precisely what I’m about to do. From vineyard tours in Argentina to safaris in Botswana, oh, the places we’ll go!
That’s right, everyone. This Week In Sarasota is taking you along.
I know, I know. Saying “I like to travel” is sort of like saying “I love food” or “I think breathing is nice.” Everyone likes to travel — or at least that’s what their online dating profiles say, right there between “long walks on the beach” and “candlelight dinners” — but for me, traveling has become more than a hobby. It’s a way of life, and starting now, TWIS’ journeys can be yours, too.
Allow me to explain. Right now, in this very moment, you and I have a relationship, and in this relationship one of us has to be the traveler and the other one of us needs to be the reader. I choose to be the traveler, and if you are reading this, then we can assume that you get to be the reader. Hooray for you! Oh, wait … you’re not that excited yet, are you?
Okay, here’s the juicy part. As the reader, you literally get the sweet end of the deal (insert party noise and applause for you) because it’s now This Week In Sarasota‘s job to find the trips you want to take (go ahead, you can scream with delight now … I’ll wait). We will visit those places and get the lay of the land, and then help you figure out the best way to get there and what to do while you’re there. It’s our job to guarantee that you have the time of your life during your vacation.
The question you may be asking yourself is, “How did Matt get this gig? I know it’s not good livin’,” and you would be right — but the reality is, I work so I can travel.
The answer to your question is surprisingly simple: I know Sarasota native and international travel guru, Malaka Hilton. Hilton owns a travel company called Admiral Travel and is known for hosting incredible travel parties and ah-maze-ing trips to every corner of the globe.
I’m not talking about the “lets-all-pile-on-a-tour-bus-and-be-lame-together” trips from which your grandma brought back souvenir t-shirts that you never wore when you were a kid. No! Malaka is known in the industry for taking people on bush safaris in Africa or to Sting’s villa in Tuscany. (Yes, as in the Sting — the guy who’s right there watching every move you make and every breath you take whether you’re at his villa or not.)
Malaka is famous for getting her travelers into secret rooms in the Great Pyramids of Egypt right after she flies Roy Yamaguchi in for an elaborate dinner at First Lady Sadat’s palace overlooking the Nile River. (No wonder Travel + Leisure has been recognizing her as a top travel consultant for Egypt since 2004!)
Seriously, Malaka is effing connected and her company is sort of a big deal in the travel world — and yes, she is located right here in sunny Sarasota. Who knew?
One night Malaka and I were drinking wine (well, I was drinking wine and we were Facebook chatting, so I’m pretending that she was drinking wine, too). One conversation led to another. Granted, most of the chat history looks like this:
Matt: I envy your life.
Malaka: You should.
Matt: Can I be you when I grow up?
Malaka: It’s a lot of responsibility to be this fabulous.
Matt: What are you doing now?
Malaka: I’m in the Arctic Circle looking for a new destination.
Matt: Are you kidding?
Malaka: Nope. Meet me in Vegas in two weeks. I can show you a behind-the-scenes look at Travel Week, and if you like it then we can talk about showing you the world.
So of course I went, and my reaction ever since I returned from Vegas has looked a little like this:
Suddenly I have amazing access to every corner of the globe and I’m allowed to share whatever I find there, right here here on TWIS, before anyone else in the world gets to see it — and guess what that means for you.
Remember that “sweet end of the deal” I mentioned before I started gushing about how awesome Malaka is? This is it: You get to know about the best travel promotions before anyone else.
So, now our TWIS Travel team has to figure out what kinds of locations to explore, and that’s where I need your help.
Sure, we would like to be pampered in a $65,000 a night room (seriously, they exist and I had no idea). Not to to assume too much about your bank account, but I believe I can say with confidence that 65K is not exactly a practical lodging option for many of us living here in the real world.
If I’m incorrect about your bank account then by all means, let me know that you, as a TWIS reader, would drop $455,000 for seven nights at Hôtel Président Wilson, and I’ll call them right now and tell them “TWIS readers demand to see your hotel” and I’ll go visit it for you.
For the rest of us, I’m looking for ideas of places you want to see. We know Sarasota is really the best place to be — but we live here, and even we need a vacation sometimes. It’s my mission to find the best bang for your buck when you travel, and Malaka is going to be our hook-up. I think we all know what that means …