Show cover of Luxury Travel Insider

Luxury Travel Insider

Do you love travel? Are you always searching for the absolute best experiences? Join us each week for an insightful chat with some of luxury travel’s most iconic people. We’ll interview travel experts like Robert Bowe who has been part of the guest experience at Ashford Castle for 33 years; Jamie Gaymer, the lead conservation manager at an ultra-luxe safari lodge; or the Owners and General Managers of some of the world’s top hotels like Amangiri, Canaves Oia, and Zannier Hotels. You’ll leave each episode with an Insider appreciation for new destinations, luxury travel, and all the heart that goes into creating these magical experiences. Luxury Travel Insider is hosted by Sarah Groen, an expert in luxury travel. Sarah has traveled to 100 countries and all 7 continents, is a contributing travel columnist for CEO World Magazine, and is the owner of Bell & Bly Travel, a top travel advising firm working with executives and entrepreneurs.


Rajasthan, India | Expert Panel: Transformation from Tourist to Traveler
Today we’re headed to experience a tapestry of majestic palaces, sprawling deserts, and colorful festivals.  Whether you’re hot air ballooning, riding a camel, or enjoying the fabulous food - Rajasthan, the largest state in India - is sure to be nothing short of spectacular.  We have a fun show for you today, with my friend and partner in the region, Anil Pathak and historian, hotelier, and arts enthusiast, Aman Nath. We chat about everything from the Maharajas, to how locals see the meaning of life, to the more off the beaten path ways to experience this unique culture.  I hope you enjoy this colorful episode of Luxury Travel Insider.  Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
49:11 7/10/24
Ravello | Palazzo Avino: The Amalfi Coast's Hidden Gem
I’m excited for you to join me today in a less often visited area of the Amalfi Coast. High up on the cliffs, overlooking the azure waters of the Med, sits the charming town of Ravello. Take in the smells of roses, lemons, and fresh sea breezes while learning about some of the richest history on the coast. We’re settling into the historic Palazzo Avino owned and run by my friends, Mariella Avino and her sister Attilia Avino. We talk about how Ravello has remained a hidden gem and why it has always been a haven for celebs like Jackie Kennedy, Orson Wells, and Humphrey Bogart.  We also chat about the history of the Palazzo, the best ways to enjoy the Amalfi Coast, local art, and more.  Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
41:20 7/3/24
Hong Kong | Rosewood GM, Hugo Montanari: Urban Gardens, People Watching, and a Sense of Place
Today we’re heading to the bustling, yet beautiful metropolis of Hong Kong. Instead of telling you about it in my own words today, I have a couple quotes that I think really sum it up:  Journalist Peter Lindberg “Life in Hong Kong transcends cultural and culinary borders, such that nothing is truly foreign and nothing doesn’t belong.” And then a little tongue in cheek from British writer Jonathan Gash, but it’ll hit home for those of you who truly love luxury hotels: “Hong Kong is the benchmark; everybody else's affluence is mere tat. Until you've experienced that perfume-washed air as polarized glass doors embrace you into a luxury hotel's plush interior, you've only had a dud replica of the real thing.” Joining me today to chat about Hong Kong and the amazing Rosewood Hong Kong, is General Manager Hugo Montanari. We chat a lot about what makes Hong Kong truly great - from the natural beauty, to the shopping, and the food.    Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
35:55 6/26/24
Yachting 101 | Trish Cronan
Today we’re diving into the world of private yacht charters. Whether you’re taking 30 of your best friends on a mega yacht or just want a nice 4 cabin catamaran for your family in the British Virgin Islands - there is a yacht out there for you!  I grew up sailing and during Covid I took a course on yacht brokering, so we love planning this type of trip for our clients but there are still so many unknowns if you’ve never done a yacht charter so I wanted to have one of our partners join me today for a Yachting 101 session.  Trish Cronan and I discuss the feeling of freedom you get when enjoying a yacht charter, the many different destinations you can enjoy, the basics like cost and itinerary planning, and some fun stories from sea.  Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
50:23 6/19/24
Mallorca | Expert Panel
Today we’re headed to the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain, and zeroing in on Mallorca. This magical island boasts quaint mountain towns, stunning beaches, and is quintessentially Mediterranean. Think olive oil from hundred year old trees, oranges blossoming all over the island, and of course wine and local specialties.  My guests today are Elena Florez, our partner in the region, and Rene Zimmer, the Managing Director of Cortesin Hotels and the brand new hot spot on the island, Grand Hotel Son Net.  We discuss everything from local cuisine, to architecture, to the modern melting pot that is Mallorca.  Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
47:27 6/12/24
Easter Island/Rapa Nui | Expert Panel: Mystery, Moai, and Mana
Today, we embark on a journey to a place shrouded in mystery — mesmerizing Easter Island. Nestled in the heart of the vast Pacific Ocean, this remote paradise beckons with its Moai statues, pristine beaches, and a rich cultural heritage. I previously thought a visit to Easter Island would be mostly focused around seeing the famous statues, but I now understand that this destination is so much more. When you think of the remoteness of the people and their reliance on the land, and weave in the history of struggle and limited natural resources - this far flung land provides a case study as a microcosm for the rest of the world. And you’ll hear in this episode how it literally blew my mind.  Joining me today are Matias Alamo and Pepe Huke, General Manager, and Lead Guide of Explora, the top luxury lodge on the island. We dive into everything from the vibrant Rapa Nui Culture to the amazing experiences you can have on the island today.    Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
47:53 6/5/24
Montenegro | One & Only Portonovi
Today we’re headed to Montenegro - where alpine mountains meet crystalline seas, where warmth and humor are still important, and where you can choose your own adventure between relaxing, exploring, or focusing on your health.  My guest today is Tessa Gorman, the Managing Director of the gorgeous One & Only Portonovi in Montenegro. I love this episode because we dive into what makes Montenegro such a juicy country to visit but also into some touching stories about guests and beautiful experiences.  Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
38:01 5/29/24
On Location | Japan: Tokyo & Kyoto
I can’t tell you how excited I have been for this trip and to be recording our first “On Location” episode of Luxury Travel Insider.  While I love all my trips, this one is really special because Japan is brand new for me! Yep - I’ve been to over 100 countries and all 7 continents twice or more, but this is my first time here.  I was supposed to visit in 2020 but of course the Pandemic had other plans. Now all of a sudden, Japan is one of our top destinations this year at Bell & Bly Travel, so I just needed to see it for myself!  This week I’ll be recording some of my impressions of the country, my favorite experiences, and answering some of your questions too.  Pour a glass of your favorite Japanese whisky and join me on this adventure to Tokyo & Kyoto!   Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
23:23 5/22/24
Paris | Summer Games 2024: The World of Sport Comes to the City of Light
We’re taking another trip to Paris to learn more about the 2024 summer games, and about the history of the games in general.  Our guest is Dave Guenther, Founder & President of Roadtrips - my go to partner when planning luxury travel centered around sporting events. And the partner I am traveling with to the Summer Games in Paris next year as well.  As you can imagine, we are both THRILLED for next year and we chat all about the history of the Olympics, the new sporting events we’ll see in 2024, the fabulous setting that Paris will make for the games, and the hope that bringing people together from around the world inspires.  I hope you enjoy this fun episode of Luxury Travel Insider.  Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
36:56 5/15/24
Namibia | Tristan Cowley: Exploring the African Frontier
Today we’re heading back to Africa to spend some time in Namibia. If you don’t know much about Namibia - you’re about to be wowed. Whether it’s the massive sand dunes glowing in the sunset, the diversity of culture, or the uber unique wildlife that gets you - Namibia is sure to capture your heart.  My guest today is Tristan Cowley, a born and raised Namibian and owner of Ultimate Safaris. We speak in depth about everything from desert adapted elephants, to art galleries in Windhoek, to Namibia’s independence and freedom from apartheid.      Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
37:06 5/8/24
Nicaragua | Expert Panel
Today we’re visiting a country that I think is truly under-appreciated. A tropical paradise dotted with volcanoes, this destination is easy to get to and boasts amazing wildlife, interesting culture, and lots of active adventures.  Joining me to chat all things Nicaragua are three experts in the region. Clark Kotula, who studied Nicaraguan politics and history and is also my partner in the region; Vera Bonilla from Rancho Santana on the Pacific Coast, and Adriana Beer from Yemaya Reefs on Little Corn Island in the Caribbean.  The four of us chat in depth about our love for this country, dispel some myths about the safety of visiting, and dive deep into the culture and amazing experiences like sandboarding, surfing, and climbing volcanoes.  I hope you enjoy this interesting episode of Luxury Travel Insider.  Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
47:32 5/1/24
Faroe islands | Expert Panel: Peace & Quiet (and Puffins!)
Today we’re headed well off the beaten path, to the area nestled between the North Atlantic and the Norwegian Sea. The secluded Faroe Islands boast rugged cliffs, emerald green landscapes, puffins galore, and a vibrant local culture for such a small population.  You might come here for the hiking or the bird life, but what you’ll leave with is a sense of peace, having experienced the luxurious feeling of being on the edge of the world.  Our guests today are our partners in the region, Kristin Björnsdóttir and Joaquin Linares Cordoba who are experienced in leading travelers to discover these islands. We chat about everything from Viking legends to Michelin Starred restaurants, to bird life.  .  Learn more at   Connect with me on social: Instagram LinkedIn  
47:43 4/24/24
Austria | Expert Panel: Culture, Coffee, Cuisine, and Countryside
Today we’re headed to a small country, nestled in the heart of Europe. Austria surprises and then charms its visitors with stunning Alpine landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and elegant imperial architecture. Whether you’re searching for the perfect apple strudel, want to hike in hills filled with the “Sound of Music,”  or experience the famous coffee culture, operas, or Viennese Balls - Austria has something for almost everyone. My guests today are Thomas Bachinger, our expert on all things Vienna; Christoph Reiter from the Salzburg region, and Michael Bode who is a cheese sommelier and owns a wine company in the Alpine region! The four of us chat on everything from Austrian wine, to off the beaten path areas of the country, to what inspired all these amazing composers who spent time in the region.    Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
59:10 4/17/24
Nepal | Sangita Einhaus Shrestha: Dwarika’s, Where Guests are Gods
Today we visit the magical country of Nepal. Known for soaring mountain peaks, gorgeous valleys, and the warmth of its people, Nepal is a country that captures hearts and minds like no other.  My guest today is Sangita Shrestha, owner of Dwarika’s Hotel and Dwarika’s Resort, properties that have a deep purpose and mission to preserve Nepal’s cultural heritage.  Sangita and I chat about Nepali hospitality, her work with children after the earthquake, and some fantastic experiences for guests.    Thank you to our sponsor for this episode, Covac Global. Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn
35:55 4/10/24
New Zealand | Wharekauhau
Today we’re headed back to New Zealand to uncover a hidden gem in the Wellington region. This southernmost part of the North Island is known for its elegant villages, boutique wineries, rural farmlands.  My guest today is Richard Rooney, the GM of luxury lodge Wharekauhau. The lodge is set right on the banks of Palliser Bay and brings together all the elements of old New Zealand. The miles of rugged coastline and the working sheep farm will take you back to simpler times and remind you what’s good about life.  Richard and I talk about everything from unique wine tastings, to offroading adventures, to enjoying the amazing food right out of the sea.    Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
29:40 4/3/24
Ireland | Adare Manor
Today we’re winding our way down an idyllic country road in Ireland to the famed Adare Manor. Set in a charming village of thatched cottages, blooming rose gardens, and cobblestone streets, this jewel of County Limerick will have you wanting to come back over and over again.  Joining me today is Brendon O’Connor, the General Manager of Adare Manor, which recently won the Conde Nast award for Best Resort in Europe. Brendan and I chat about everything from the potato famine to genealogy, to hidden secrets of the Manor, and the incredible local food and culture. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about Western Ireland, this is the episode for you!  Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
52:49 3/27/24
The Maldives | Velaa Private Island: Hospitality Done Differently
Today we’re headed back to the Indian Ocean to visit a slice of the Maldives. This archipelago, spanning 500 miles north to south, is the stuff dreams are made of.  Landing in the Noonu Atoll, we’re diving into all things Velaa Private Island resort with its General Manager, Wayne Milgate.  One of the most luxurious retreats in the world, Velaa Private Island boasts exclusive over-water villas, a Troon golf course, water park for kids, and some of the friendliest service you’ll find anywhere.  Wayne tells incredible stories of the founding of Velaa, the staff going above and beyond for guests, lavish holiday parties, and incredible experiences.  Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
45:21 3/20/24
Castello Di Vicarello | Owner, Neri Baccheschi Berti: Love at First Sight in Tuscany
I’m excited for you to join me today in the southern part of Tuscany, an area called Maremma, and one we haven’t yet explored on the show. Here you’ll find sun-kissed olive groves, pristine stretches of coastline, and of course, gorgeous wines.  We’re settling in at the stunning Castello di Vicarello for a chat with my friend, and the owner, Neri Baccheschi Berti who in a surprising turn of events, tells us how he was actually born inside the castle during its renovation!  Neri and I chat about his family, how they came to fall in love with this piece of history, and the path that took them from fashion and creativity to becoming accidental hoteliers. We also dive into ancient Italian rivalries, Tuscan cuisine, and learning how to slow down and take it all in.  Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
42:18 3/13/24
Azores & Madeira | Expert Panel: A Unique Expression of Portuguese Culture
Today we’re venturing into the Atlantic, making stops on the islands of The Azores and Madeira. Imagine stunning verdant volcanic landscapes, dramatic coastal cliffs, and temperate weather all year round. Don’t forget incredible food and a unique expression of Portuguese culture.  My guests today are Filipe Fraga from Madeira and Beatriz Sousa from The Azores. We chat about the differences and commonalities between these two destinations, the unique environment, and the authentic experiences offered by each. If you’re looking for a unique destination in Europe, either of these destinations will be sure to impress.  Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
41:03 3/6/24
AmaWaterways | President, Rudi Schreiner: The Past and Future of River Cruising
My guest today is Rudi Schreiner, co-founder and President of AmaWaterways. AMA has been sharing its passion for river cruising around the world for more than 20 years, but Rudi has a deep history going back to the very beginnings of this type of travel.  Rudi shares with us the history of river cruising, his fascinating personal history, some entrepreneurial stories from the early days of AMA, and more.  We also hear about his favorite stops along some of the world’s most famous waterways, behind the scenes details about the ships, and about some up and coming new destinations as well.  Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn
53:36 2/28/24
French Polynesia | Raphael Bernard: Getting to the Heart of Tahiti
Today we’re headed to experience a tapestry of turquoise lagoons, emerald-green islands, and coral-fringed shores.  Whether you’re diving with sharks, climbing the ridge of a volcanic peak, or relaxing in your overwater bungalow - French Polynesia, or Tahiti for short - is sure to be nothing short of spectacular.  We have a fun show for you today, with my friend and partner in the region, Raphael Bernard. Raphael has lived on a couple different islands in the archipelago and eats and breathes it every day. We talk about everything from the local stereotypes of each island, to the more off the beaten path ways to visit, to the food, and the unique culture.  I hope you enjoy this tropical episode of Luxury Travel Insider.  Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
40:11 2/21/24
In The Now | On The Ground in Ecuador, A Must Listen
The date of recording for today’s show is February 7th, 2024. That’s important because our show today is very topical and time sensitive.  As some of you may know there has been a crackdown on organized crime and drug trade in Ecuador over the past month. Sadly for me and my friends and partners in the region, this crack down and the resulting sensationalization from the media has resulted in many visitors cancelling trips to this beautiful country… at exactly the time that Ecuadorians need visitors the most.  Joining me today are Stephanie Bonam Carter, the owner of Galapagos Safari Camp, Fernando Polanco Plaza, the owner of Hacienda Zuleta who you’ll recognize from past shows, and my friend Clark Kotula who is an expert in the region and works with top properties across Latin America.  We start the episode talking about the situation and the history, but please listen through to the parts where we discuss daily life in Ecuador, how things are just as they’ve always been, and all the positive things that are happening in the country.  I’m a bit emotional after recording this episode because I want you all to know that at the end of the day, travel, like life, is imperfect. You have to go to a place to experience it, to understand the nuances, and to know the heart of a people. It upsets me when the media portrays one side of a situation, thereby hurting locals, and in this case, some of my dear friends.  So please listen to this episode with an open heart and an open mind.   Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
44:03 2/14/24
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania | Expert Panel: A Baltic Story of Freedom and Faith
Today we’re headed to the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. While all three countries are different in culture and in language, what they share is having borne witness to the same history and the courage to protect their individual identities through centuries of tumult.  This is a fascinating region of the world to visit, not only because of the history, but because of the unspoiled coastlines and forests, charming traditions, and world class cities.  My guests today are Greg Tepper, our partner in the region, and Grigorijs Salnits, one of our top guides in Latvia. We chat about everything from the emotional history of the 20th century, to over the top festivals, to foraging for mushrooms.  Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
57:09 2/7/24
Paris | Expert Panel: Hidden Gems, Storytelling, and Nostalgia
Today we’re indulging in fine cuisine, going behind the scenes of couture fashion houses like Chanel and Dior, and delving into some of the world’s most important traditions in art. Paris, the City of Light, has always been at the forefront of luxury, indulgence, and craftsmanship.  Joining me to chat on all things art, fashion, and history are my friends Leah Walker and Philippe Hertzberg, two of our partners for ultra-special experiences in Paris.   We discuss everything from art history, to the nostalgic periods of the Belle Epoch and the 20s, to fine jewelry houses and mixology.  Grab a flute of your finest champagne, and enjoy this Parisian episode of Luxury Travel Insider.  Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
58:26 1/31/24
Costa Rica | A Father & Daughter Perspective on Family Travel
We have a fun episode for you today, centered around Costa Rica and family travel. As one of our most popular destinations, we’re always working to find new and interesting ways to explore this beautiful country and to help families make lasting memories.  Joining me on this episode is my friend and partner in the region, Javier Echecopar. Javier also brought along his 15 year old daughter, Fiore, to give us a bit of perspective on life in Costa Rica for kids and teens and to share some of her favorite travel experiences.  We chat about everything from bioluminescence, to the best way to travel around the country, to some interesting ways to immerse in the local culture.  I hope you enjoy this fun episode of Luxury Travel Insider.  Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
51:31 1/24/24
The American West | Kevin Jackson: National Parks and Epic Adventures
Today we’re headed deep into the American West to discover magical deserts, epic adventures, impossibly big skies, and wildlife you just can’t see anywhere else in the world. This is a land of contrasts - from the hottest desert, to the largest trees; from the longest canyon, to the world’s most epic super volcano. And aside from the natural wonders, we’ve got surfers, cowboys, Native Americans, and a melting pot of cultures in between.  My guest today is Kevin Jackson, our partner for ultra-luxury, special experiences across the western part of the US. If you can dream it up, we can plan it. Kevin and I chat about everything from mountaineering to visiting with a Navajo Code Talker, to private luxury camps set up in beautifully remote landscapes.  Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
46:46 1/17/24
Luxury Survival Training | Expert Panel: Foraging, Fire, and Freedom (+ Insider Details from Alone UK)
Today we’re peeking into the world of survival travel - taking trips to learn important survival skills and putting them into practice in a real life setting. If you’ve ever been curious about truly getting back to nature,  this episode is for you!  My guests today are my friends Tom Williams and Roman Chiporukha. Tom started an experience company called Desert Island Survival and was the recent winner of the hit survival reality show, Alone UK. Roman has been a past guest of the show and works with clients to provide city focused survival experiences.  We discuss everything from the various survival skills, to the best foods to eat in the wild, to where to go to learn these types of skills. But perhaps the most important conversation was about how getting back to nature in this way provides a gratitude reset, allowing you to be more excited about and thankful for the things you do have in your life.  We started out chatting about survival, but end up having a deeper conversation about life, gratitude, and meaning.     Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
52:00 1/10/24
Seychelles | Tomas Cochrane: Island Hopping in the Garden of Eden
Today we’re whisking you off to a set of secluded islands in the Indian Ocean. This special place is so beautiful and remote, that it is often touted as the original Garden of Eden.  Joining me to chat all things Seychelles, is our partner in the region Tomas Cochrane.  Whether you’re looking for a far flung, relaxing, tropical paradise, or a more active adventure complete with interesting wildlife, hiking, and island hopping - the Seychelles really has something for almost everyone.  Tomas and I chat about the different personalities of the various islands, the history, pirate inspired treasure hunts, and of course some of the gorgeous hotels.   Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn
36:28 1/3/24
Besties Episode | Expert Panel: Luxury Travel Wrapped 2023
This week we’re up to something a little different. I invited three of my travel industry friends to join me in conversation about some of our favorite hotels of the year, some of our biggest travel pet peeves, and some of the lessons we hope our followers, clients, and guests will take home with them from their next trips.  Joining me today are Wendy Blandon, Hao Tang, and Simon Jones. All four of us are professional travelers, spending up to one third of the year out of the country. It’s also our jobs to be a little extra snobby as we evaluate destinations, experiences, and hotels for you.  In this unfiltered conversation you’ll hear our insider thoughts on everything from hotel amenities, to the best airport lounges, to butler service.  Before we dive in, I truly want to thank you for being a part of our community, for listening, for sending me your feedback, for working with Bell & Bly Travel for your luxury travel needs, and for letting me and our guests inspire you to travel the world. It is truly my honor.  Please enjoy this last episode of the year and I look forward to many more fun chats in 2024! Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
55:44 12/27/23
Holiday Special | Expert Panel: Festivals, Christmas Markets, and Pillow Fights
Though we may celebrate some of the same holidays across regions and countries, we all do them so differently. Understanding those differences can help us to understand each other, it adds beauty to the season, and might even give you a new destination for your wishlist.  Chatting holiday traditions with me today are Cristina Consuegra, our partner in Colombia; Helmut Kugler, our partner in Germany, and Malik Fernando, the owner and MD of the Resplendent Ceylon properties in Sri Lanka!  Helmut makes us nostalgic with scenes of Christmas Markets, Malik takes us back to being children, and Cristina shares how the many different cultures in Colombia have shaped their traditions.  So my friends, I hope you have a joyous holiday season ahead, be safe, thank you, thank you for listening and for all your support, and please enjoy this festive episode of Luxury Travel Insider.      Learn more at   Connect with me on Social: Instagram LinkedIn  
38:13 12/20/23

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