With over 12 years in the travel industry, it's fair to say that Craig Martin of Martin & Grigg Travel Associates, Ponsonby, has seen his share of the world! Spending his time increasing his international and domestic experience, knowledge and connections has been one of the best opportunities he's ever had, and it's something that he still uses to this day to help you with booking your own trips around the globe! We caught up with Craig to chat through a few of his extra-special experiences where he's been fortunate enough to experience the creme-de-la-creme of travel experiences, and how he has used this to support his clients and friends as they book the trip of their dreams!
Over my 12+ years in the travel industry, I have spent my time increasing my international and domestic experience, knowledge and connections to ensure that I can offer the best the world has available and that my clients will have unforgettable travel experiences.
I have fortunately been recognised for my efforts with being invited by suppliers on trips to experience destinations, accommodations or tours/cruises first hand to bring this back to inspire my clients. This also includes making great connections around the world, which I can draw on to enhance a client's stay, ask for special requests or quickly resolve any issues that may arise.
I was lucky enough to be welcomed on an APT river cruise for half of the "Magnificent Europe" journey from Amsterdam to Nuremberg. I received this as I am an avid seller of APT due to the incredible consistency of their offerings and voyages, and the amazing feedback I had always received from my clients. This would be my first time experiencing it personally.
I had also connected with a few hoteliers from London, Paris and Amsterdam at a luxury travel event in Singapore, who had kindly invited me to either stay with them or dine with them and then tour the property. I felt so honoured that my reputation and experience in the luxury travel environment had warranted such a reception. Due to the lack of time I could be out of the office, it became a whirlwind trip of amazing accommodation, a bit of sightseeing, delicious meals, meetings and very little sleep.
My stay started in London at the incomparable Brown's Hotel London - part of the Roccoforte group of hotels. Situated in Mayfair and positioned in the perfect location to explore London from, this hotel is overflowing with history and famous patrons from over the centuries. Our first night was arriving into the 250,000 strong protest against Brexit, so 4 hours after arriving at Heathrow, we finally made it to the hotel. With only 2 hours to sit down, bathe, get changed and go see Wicked on the West End (oh and fit something in to eat too), I must admit my eyes were very hard to keep open during the show – still loved it though.
The next day after an amazing English breakfast, I met my good friend Rachel (Sales Manager for Browns London) for a tour of the property, so I could get a feel for all the amazing options for my clients.
After that, we were off to the London Museum for a quick run around before heading to the London Edition for Lunch. Wow - such an amazing roast lunch and don't even get me started on the Bloody Mary, Cheese or Dessert Trolleys. As they say at the London Edition - It isn't hard to get trolleyed here! After a beautiful time at Berners Tavern, we got to see their beautiful hotel. A complete contrast in style, leaning more into a modern, Scandinavian type décor and furnishings, it was a stunning option for clients wanting a less traditional hotel option.
We also headed to Paris as I had been welcomed for an amazing stay at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome along with a Lunch and a meeting at the Intercontinental Paris’s famous Café De la Paix. The rooms at the Park Hyatt were the epitome of luxury with a darker, gothic artistic feel to the rooms but still full of every amazing amenity you could need. I truly loved this hotel and feel like it is a hidden treasure not well known on this side of the world. Now, I was heading for lunch with one of my favourite industry people Oriane, who is the sales rep for Intercontinental Paris Le Grand. I forgot how much I loved the Opera District in Paris with it’s amazing shops, world renowned restaurants and a true sense of history emanating from the buildings around you. I was in true bliss!
On arrival at the Intercontinental Paris, we were treated to a behind the scenes tour and saw some of the new improvements coming within the multi million dollar refurbishment currently being finished. This hotel is also a staple with touring companies like Tauck, Insight Vacations etc., so it is a frequent option for Kiwi travellers. Located right next to the Opera Garnier (home of the Phantom of the Opera) and with this amazing restaurant Café de la Paix, why would you not want to experience this luxury in the heart of the Opera District. Best Foie Gras I have ever had!! We also got to see the amazing ballroom that was almost demolished for a parking lot but was thankfully saved and given historical status. See the amazing room below – how could you even think you could destroy that?
Last but not least, I headed to Amsterdam and got to experience the indulgent Hotel De L’Europe. As a guest of the hotel, I expected a beautiful yet basic room however I was lucky enough to be upgraded into a 1 bedroom suite right on the river with a balcony overlooking the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam. Truly the most perfect stay I could have ever imagined in Amsterdam with amazing service, beautiful amenities and the most perfect location to explore on foot.
Only here for 2 nights before off on my amazing APT river cruise from Amsterdam to Nuremberg.
This entire trip was amazing and I got to stay in some truly outstanding properties, it was a fast-paced information gathering trip, so I can help my clients experience these wonders of the world and are treated like royalty every stay. Luxury is a word that is thrown around the travel industry often but has a very personal and different meaning to each traveller. By experiencing the variety on offer, it helps me narrow down the true luxury option that will meet every expectation my client has.