Best Business Credit Cards for Rewards

If it’s been a few years since you have last applied for a business credit card, you might be surprised at how much the rewards opportunities has progressed. Since every business owner will use their business credit card differently than their personal card, this second credit card can be a door of opportunity to maximize your rewards points in ways the average consumer cannot!

Here’s a list of the best business credit cards:

  • Best Business Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus: Chase Ink Preferred
  • No Annual Fee Business Card: Chase Ink Cash
  • Hotel Business Credit Card: Starwood
  • Premier Business Credit Card: Amex Platinum
  • Best Cash Back Business Card: Amex SimplyCash
Best Business Credit

Best Business Credit Cards

Chase Ink Business Preferred

Annual Fee: $95

The Chase Ink Business Preferred has a sign-up bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points. This bonus is worth at least $1,000 in travel if you redeem your points through Chase’s website. If not, 80,000 points is worth $800 in gift cards, or cash back. You must spend $5,000 in the first 3 months of your account to receive the bonus.

The Ink Business Preferred can be a perfect addition to your wallet if you already have the personal Chase Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve as it also earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points and you can pool the points to enjoy award travel sooner.

The Chase Ink Preferred also comes with some nice additional benefits like earn 3x points per $1 on select categories. On the first $150,000 in combined spending each year, you will earn 3x points on every purchase category listed below:

  • Travel
  • Shipping purchases
  • Internet, cable, and phone services
  • Advertising purchases on social media and search engines

You will also receive up to $1,800 in cell phone protection, no foreign transaction fees, free employee cards, and a 25% bonus when redeeming your points through Chase’s website. Plus, you can transfer your points out to your favorite Ultimate Rewards travel partner which includes United, British Airways Avios (includes American and Alaska Airlines), Southwest Airlines, Hyatt, and Marriot to name of few of the transfer options.

Chase Ink Business Cash Card

Chase Ink Business Cash

Credit: Chase

Annual Fee: $0

The Chase Ink Business Cash is another worthy option if you don’t want to pay an annual fee but still want to earn Ultimate Rewards points with every purchase that can be redeemed for travel if you own the Chase Sapphire Preferred at 1.25 cents each (instead of 1 cent each).

You have the opportunity to earn up to 5 points per dollar with the following purchases:

  • 5% cash back at office supply stores and phone, internet, and cable services (first $25,000 combined)
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (first $25,000 combined annually, then 1%)
  • 1% cash back for all remaining purchases

Your rewards points can be redeemed for cash statement credits, award travel, and gift cards with a 1% redemption rate (10,000 points=$100). But, if your points can be worth 1.25 cents each (10,000 points=$125) if you also own a Chase Sapphire Preferred which offers a 25% redemption bonus when points are redeemed for award travel on Chase. And Chase Sapphire cardmembers have the option to transfer their points on 1:1 basis to multiple airline and hotel programs; you can’t do this with any of the Chase cash rewards cards like the Ink Business Cash or personal Freedom cards.

Wine Travel In Tuscany: Why You Need To Visit Maremma

Driving into Maremma in a jet-lagged stupor I am jarred into wakefulness as I witness a falcon struggling to gain altitude with a still-writhing snake in her talons. It’s all a bit ‘wild kingdom’ for 10 am on a Tuesday, but a fitting beginning for my first visit to this lesser-known deep southern edge of Tuscany. Historically, Maremma was known as a coastal wilderness boasting a high incidence of malaria, not winemaking. Not so today, where, in the northern reaches of Maremma, Italy’s winemaking royalty (Antinori and Frescobaldi among others) cultivate and produce internationally acclaimed Bordeaux blends.

But, I am not in northern Maremma, I am near its deep southern edge, almost precisely half-way between Rome and Florence. Sinuous vine-covered hillsides look like freshly pressed corduroy, and tourists are scarce. Here winemakers are flirting with the potential of Sangiovese and the results are impressively intriguing. According to Andrea Cecchi, owner of Maremma’s Val Della Rose winery (among others in Tuscany), the southern part of Maremma is finally coming into its own and bringing Sangiovese, along with Bordeaux blends, into the spotlight.

Cecchi, Val della Rose Winery

Cecchi’s Val della Rose Winery in Maremma.

Cecchi notes that many who visit here come for the quiet beaches, hiking, scenery, and wildlife. Wine, he adds, is a relatively recent (relative to other parts of Italy) development, but gaining a foothold. The DOCG in this region of Maremma is Morellino di Scansano, which roughly translates as the Sangiovese of Scansano–the nearby village. The wines from this appellation must contain 85% Sangiovese and to be labeled a ‘riserva’ the wine must have spent at least one year aged in barrel.

Cecchi’s family has a long and storied history in Tuscany. They produce exceptional Chianti Classico wines from their winery near Siena but their best-selling wine, La Mora Morellino di Scansano, is from Maremma—not Chianti. In fact, La Mora is Italy’s #1 DOCG wine in Italian retail markets. The wines from this part of Maremma, like those of Chianti, are primarily composed of Sangiovese, but here the seaside soils produce fruit that creates more approachable, fruity and lush wines—wines that Italians like to call “Tutto Pasto” (perfect for enjoying throughout the meal). Playful, pleasing and sunny these wines are wildly popular and still a nice value—for now. Says Cecchi, “My father understood the potential of this appellation as a destination for wine. Previously, wineries would just use the juice from Maremma for other bottlings in Tuscany. Now the wines have their own claim to prestige.”

If you can go in person, which I highly recommend, the Val Delle Rose winery is open daily for tastings and tours. You’ll love the Frank Lloyd Wright architecturally inspired winemaking facility. Tastings in the winery’s wine bar are accompanied by local Tuscan delights—and of course by sweeping views of this wild region. For more information on touring the region the Visit Tuscany website is a great resource. Val Della Rose is open daily throughout the year, but Sundays require a reservation. If you want to preview the wines before going below are Cecchi’s Maremma wines currently sold in the USA:

La Mora Morellino di Scansano Riserva Cecchi

La Mora Morellino di Scansano Cecchi

Aurelio Maremma Toscana, Val Delle Rose

In 2018 you will also be able to find their vibrant, juicy white: La Mora Vermentino, and their entry-level Maremma red: La Mora Maremma Toscana

A Wine Wizard Speaks Luck, Genius And Fortune

“Show me a great man and I will always show you one or several women who have made him,” Henri Duboscq said when we recently spoke within Château Haut-Marbuzet in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France. The theme of women, wine and gratitude is prevalent in convivial conversations with this man who, together with his father, revolutionized winemaking in the Saint-Estephe region of the Médoc. The pair proved that, even for those who lack cash, patience melded with quiet objectives can lead to fortune and satisfaction.

In the fourth edition of his book titled Bordeaux: A Consumer’s Guide to the World’s Finest Wines, wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr. wrote “Haut-Marbuzet produces one of the most obvious yet sexiest wines of the entire Bordeaux region.”

Henri Duboscq recently completed his 55th consecutive wine harvest. In a spacious room before ample windows with a stunning view of outside vines, he spoke fondly of past times spent with the wine critic Parker. He speaks with a lively and intelligent grasp of history melded with his own colorful personal philosophy. Duboscq is poetic and wise, philosophical and astute, bawdy and unafraid to speak of his love for love, as well as for vines.

“Everything has arrived in life. I don’t know from where. But that is the story of my life. Afterwards I believed I had decided, but I did not.”

This modest self-summation belies the challenging decisions and laser-focused attitude that transformed the modest plot his father acquired in 1952 into the successful, sprawling Médoc château that today is ten-fold greater in size, at 170-acres (70-hectares).

Henri’s father, Herve Duboscq, was a railway stationmaster who, at the age of 42, decided to make wine. In 1952, seven years after the Second World War ended, the French rural economy was dire. Local farmers were selling their plots and moving to Bordeaux city or Paris to find income. Contrary to this trend, Duboscq acquired 17-acres (7-hectares) in the Saint-Estephe region of the Médoc without payment. Instead he promised to supply the land provider with a quarter of his wine production.

This property, Château Haut-Marbuzet, had not been included in the famed 1855 classification of Bordeaux vineyards because it was too small. Such viticultural anonymity turned out to be a benefit; it allowed Duboscq to acquire this renowned land without cash.

Herve Duboscq decided to distinguish his wine. Unlike many neighbors, he began bottling his wine before selling it. Next, while most wine producers in that region doted heavily on the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, Herve Duboscq planted ample Merlot, recognizing the suitability of the moisture-retaining clay soils of Saint-Estephe. Finally, in an era when only top wine châteaux bought new oak barrels for aging wine, he did alike. He recognized their ability to add and enhance flavors.

Credit: Tom Mullen

Henri Duboscq, proprietor of Château Haut-Marbuzet

Duboscq was also blessed with good land. His soils were laden with gravel to absorb heat and reradiate it at night, while nearby waters of the Gironde estuary stabilized extreme temperatures. Humidity from the Atlantic Ocean, further west, attenuated summer sunlight; blue clays facilitated healthy crops of Merlot.

As he grew up, Henri Duboscq’s father told him that vines would be their salvation.

“He said, ‘You know Henri I was born very poor, but we’ll have fantastic vengeance because of the vines and the wine.’ He galvanized me all my youth! Every time I was a bit sad he said to me, ‘One day, thanks to the wine, I will be number one!’ ”

Yet Henri’s decision to enter medicine almost altered the course of that destiny.

“I was good at science. When I passed my baccalaureates I said I was going to the university to register for medicine. My father said, ‘That’s good news. I’m going to sell everything because if you’re not going to continue my devotion, there is no need that I continue.’ ”

On the brink of the sale, Henri decided to stay at the château and continue his father’s profession. He did so, and soon afterward the two embarked on a secret enterprise.

Their 17-acres once belonged to a parcel of 170-acres, owned in the 19th century by the MacCarthy family from Ireland. After sibling disputes, this family sold their land to the only viable purchaser, a group of eight separate farm workers. The land was then subdivided into eight separate wine châteaux. Over a period of more than 40 years, Henri and his father re-purchased each of the other seven land parcels. Their goal was to reconstitute the land that once belonged to the MacCarthys.

Yet to achieve that goal, they needed funds. To secure these, Duboscq decided to create a premium wine. He succeeded, eventually selling his wines to Cunard Cruise Lines and British Airways; he aslo  received admirable reviews from such influential critics as Parker.

Credit: Tom Mullen

The vines of Château Haut-Marbuzet after harvest

Duboscq remains the winemaker and hires no other winemaker or consultant. In the cellar, he stands before a sturdy and ancient wood desk to organize his work—with pen and paper and no computer. He uses natural yeasts, and believes that a judicial addition of less than optimal juice can add character and quality to wine.

“Winemakers today focus on selection. They produce a great wine only with a vat of great juice. I am convinced that well installed, marginal—including mediocre—juice, can make the great even greater.” He provided the analogy of how  the addition of small quantities of musk can improve perfumes.

Duboscq remains a fan of Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (‘Talleyrand’). He keeps dozens of books about this 19th century French diplomat, and has mounted paintings of him on walls. This historical figure’s words appear to echo his own situation regarding taking over the reigns of a vineyard.

“Talleyrand, said some privileged men never create the event, they adapt to the event. And when they are clever, drive them.”

Duboscq’s facility with literature and history make him an engaging host who relishes company.

“The visitor must leave you believing he is a member of your family,” he revealed.

Yet he belittles his own social strengths by professing he has only one focus.

“I have only been interested in one thing: my vines,” he professed.

In speaking to author Gilles Berdin, author of Sharing a Bottle with Henri Duboscq, Duboscq said, “For 50 years I have endeavored to be a supplier of dreams through my wine and, if possible, a generator of voluptuousness.”

To find out whether this was true, we tasted his 2013 Haut-Marbuzet together. I later sampled the 2014. The 2013 includes a 90% Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend with the balance made with Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot grapes. This is firm and fruity, with a zippy edge of Merlot and a mild streak of spice. Though tannic on opening it soon turns supple, and asks you to pour another glass. Voluptuous? Indeed.

The 2014 is a hefty and commanding classic Bordeaux, riddled with powerful cherries, blackberries, tar, cocoa and plum. This is a robust and reassuring dose of Saint-Estephe, with high backed tannic authority. Wait an hour (if you can, though that’s unlikely) and it will include tastes of brick and mocha—soothing and even remedial.

Before we finished our glasses, Duboscq summarized his colorful trajectory through life. It is one that outwardly appears to epitomize the creation of quality through hard work, dedication and vision. He has two sons and is, whether aware of it or not, facilitating an emerging dynasty.

He craves little credit for his past efforts.

“My story is of a modest man in complicity with a fantastic vineyard, soil and extraordinary terroir. My story is just luck. What is genius? Just luck that lasts.”

Indeed. Luck that has endured for at least 55 harvests; luck that appears likely to last several more years.

The U.S. Is In Danger Of Killing Our Tourism Golden Goose

Readers of this blog, or who work in the travel and tourism industry, already know that global tourism today is driven by the outbound Chinese travel market. At more than 130 million strong and rapidly growing, Chinese travelers are the world’s largest visitor group and the biggest spenders (averaging $6,000 per visitor per stay) when traveling abroad. The good news is that the US ranks 6th among all nations as the destination of choice among our Chinese visitors, following nearby Thailand, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia. China is forecast to become our #1 visitor source to the US by 2021, leapfrogging both Canada and Mexico.

Based on US Commerce Department data, in 2016, the US travel and tourism industry was responsible for 11% of all US exports and 33% of service exports. With one out of every 18 Americans employed – either directly or indirectly – in tourism-related jobs, the industry currently accounts for 2.7% of the US GDP. International travelers produce a disproportionate share of travel-related spending, totaling $244.7 billion and yielding an $83.9 billion trade surplus for our economy last year.

And no international visitors to the US are as productive as those from China.

China’s nearly three million US visitors last year spent more than any visitor group in this country, outspending our Canadian and Mexican visitors by more than $10 billion and spending more than our British and Japanese visitors COMBINED. The importance of China to our tourism exports is also highlighted by the fact that last year seven out of ten of our tourism source markets saw a decline in spending while spending by our Chinese visitors increased 9%.

Last year, tourism spending in California injected a record $126 billion into the state’s economy, accounted for $10.3 billion in state and local taxes and generated 1.1 million jobs. Spending by all international visitors in California equaled the combined value of the state’s top four product exports – civilian aircraft, computer parts, non-industrial diamonds and voice/image/data equipment.

California’s “star” international visitors were the Chinese – the 1.3 million Chinese nationals, a significant number of which came here as members of Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions (MICE) groups, a segment of the market that has registered double-digit growth year after year. Bottom line: these visitors spent more than $2.9 billion on their travels in my home state.

The Ultimate Packing List For Savvy Travelers

packing list

According to a TripAdvisor survey, 93 percent of adults plan on taking a domestic flight this year, while 64 percent plan on taking an international flight. But, despite this surge in air travel, research has yet to tell us what the perfect packing list should consist of. That samesurvey found that 77 percent of travelers considered reading materials to be a “flight must-have” with an iPad or tablet considered the same by 52 percent of respondents. Another survey, this one byCheapFlights, found that 74 percent of Americans pack 2-3 pairs of shoes. Men

But, for most of us, deciding what to pack for a trip is largely personal and often dependent upon the destination. But best practices and universal recommendations do exist. I’ve taken the following items with me everywhere, from motorcycle rides across the Midwest and yacht clubs in Monaco to retreats in Fiji and conventions like Complex Con, powered by Shopify, where I’ll be this weekend interviewing their merchants and connecting the dots between convergence culture and commerce.

As you can imagine, each of these are all starkly different, but my packing list still remains the same. Here’s that packing list, as well as some additional tips, for easy reference.

Technology and Electronics

Smartphone, Logitech K480 bluetooth keyboard, Goal Zero Venture 30 recharger, Bose Quietcomfort 35 noise canceling headphones and the Refined Traveler universal world charger—I leave the laptop (and bulky charger) home to minimize clutter. Although I’m a paperback fan, for travel I keep reading material (and audiobooks) stowed away on my phone to save space.

Shoes, Clothes and Accessories

Three Icebreaker Merino wool shirts, two pants and one pair of shoes, two max—unsure how to pack clothes? Roll, don’t fold. According to a 2015 Cheap Flights survey, only 30 percent of Americans do this. But more should because it saves time, space and wrinkles. I opt for neutral color palettes as they can easily be dressed up or down. I wear no jewelry except a Rolex Explorer, which I got for a great price fromTrax NYC. It’s a reliable and attractive way for me to keep track of two time zones thanks to the adjustable 24 hour hand.

Why Merino wool? A growing body of evidence suggests that Merino wool is truly a super fabric. It’s breathable, moisture wicking, protects against odors and UV rays. It’s even regulates temperature, helping keep you warm when it’s cool and cool when it’s warm. If you’re unsure what to wear on a plane, I recommend you skip the sweater and opt for a long sleeve Merino wool shirt, instead. It’ll keep you cozy in the airplane cabin without all the bulk.

First Look At Singapore Airlines’ Amazing New First Class Suites

Earlier this year, Singapore Airlines set the aviation world abuzz by announcing it would be completely redesigning its trendsetting First Class Suites, as well as refreshing business class, premium economy and economy aboard its flagship Airbus A380s. Today, the airlineofficially unveiled its new First Class Suites…and they are as stunning as expected.

Singapore Airlines.

Singapore Airlines’ new suites are like flying hotel rooms.

While Singapore’s A380s currently feature 12 First Class Suites at the front of the jumbo jet’s lower deck, the new A380 configuration will have just six ultra-luxe suites on the top deck arranged in a 1 – 1 pattern, with just one suite on either side of the aisle, bringing it back into competition with newer products like the First Apartment on Etihad.

Each will have its own Poltrona Frau leather armchair that is 21 inches wide and reclines up to 135 degrees. Except for takeoff and landing, it will be able to swivel and adjust into various seated and lounging positions.

Singapore Airlines

The new suites feature plenty of exciting innovations.

The Suites will have entirely separate, stowable beds that will measure up at 27 inches wide by 76 inches long and will be dressed with a cotton Lalique duvet and two pillows. What’s more, two of these suites on each side of the aisle (1A/2A and 1F/2F, to be exact) will be adjoining so that couples traveling together can combine their space and have a full-size bed.

Singapore Airlines

Some suites will adjoin to become doubles.

Next to the chair will be a console that holds a large table for dining and working, as well several small stowage compartments that will contain Bose noise-canceling headphones and all-new Lalique amenity kits, a lit vanity mirror, and a touchscreen tablet to control the seat. Each suite will also have its own 32-inch HD in-flight entertainment monitor and electronic window blinds.

Best street food to eat in Phuket, Thailand

IT’S well known that Aussies just can’t get enough of Phuket.

For decades, the largest of Thailand’s islands has been a travellers’ go-to thanks to its tropical climate, blissful beaches and raucous bar scene.

But perhaps unknown to most is the island’s status as an international culinary heavy-hitter.

Placed within the lauded ranks of UNESCO’s World’s Leading Cities of Gastronomy in 2011, four years later Phuket was upgraded to City of Gastronomy status due to its unique food scene.

You see, long before backpackers and tourists descended on this holiday idyll, a melting pot of Malays, Chinese, Indians, Thais and “sea gypsies” created a fusion of flavours that colours the island’s culinary palette. To this day, many of Phuket’s quintessential dishes are made by the original families who brought them here. So next time you visit this beachside paradise, forgo western food and pad thai and tickle your tastebuds like a local with these seven Phuket foodie experiences.

Mural, Phuket and Peranakan Food Trail Tour. Picture: Phuket Food Tours

Mural, Phuket and Peranakan Food Trail Tour. Picture: Phuket Food ToursSource:Supplied


Get the inside scoop on the cultural medley that makes Phuket’s food scene so original on the Phuket and Peranakan Food Trail Tour.

Walking around the old town where the rampant tourism industry has thankfully left the charm-infused houses, streets and traditional shops unscathed, this tour gives visitors a perfect overview of the eclectic dishes on offer. Focusing on Peranakan (descendants of Chinese immigrants, also known as “Baba”), alongside Indian and Malay, you’ll sample recipes that represent a blend of all cultures.

Mural, Phuket and Peranakan Food Trail Tour. Picture: Phuket Food Tours

Mural, Phuket and Peranakan Food Trail Tour. Picture: Phuket Food ToursSource:Supplied


Given this mass migration, unsurprisingly you can find plenty of Chinese dishes here, in particular noodles – lots of noodles.

You could eat a different noodle dish every day for months and still not have worked through all the options. The favourite style on the island is Hokkien mee or mee Hokkien. Thanks to a healthy population of China’s Hoklo people, this lipsmacking dish of yellow egg noodles topped with everything from fish balls and shrimp wontons, to chicken and pork strips, is now everywhere. Phuket Town’s Mee Ton Poe is the oldest (and reputedly best).

Three generations of the same family have been dishing up bowls of the stuff since 1946.

Pork khao soi in Phuket.

Pork khao soi in Phuket.Source:istock


Just as the Chinese have made their mark on Phuket’s shores, the Indian and Malay communities have too.

On the corner of Thalang and Thepkasattri roads, you’ll find two of Phuket Town’s oldest Muslim shophouse restaurants, Aroon and Abdul, side-by-side.

Run by the descendants of the original Indian families who opened them 70 or so years ago, cooks stand outside making fresh roti by hand.

And what better pairing with these freshly made, piping hot, flaky chewy flatbreads, than a chicken, mutton or beef spice-filled curry. Delicious.

Thai grilled pork satay called Moo Yang is a popular street food snack.

Thai grilled pork satay called Moo Yang is a popular street food snack.Source:istock


Thailand and street food go hand-in-hand. Not only tasty, with a filling plate or bowl for well under 50 baht (less than $2) it’s a bargain too.

Satay, sticky rice and mango, spring rolls, sweet fish cakes, taro buns, fried insects, banana pancakes, deep-fried shrimp, spicy soups and Phuket’s own take on the French macaron – you can eat like a king for days here on a pauper’s salary.

The most authentic street food can be had in the lanes and streets of Phuket Town.

Many favourite stalls and hole-in-the-wall eateries have been run by the same families for generations.

To make it even easier, download the Phuket Street Food app (launched via the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs) which provides information on the most popular dishes and location of stalls for easy reference.

Sweet Thai crepe pancakes being made at a local market.

Sweet Thai crepe pancakes being made at a local market.Source:istock


Rise early to take advantage of the cooler morning temperatures and make like a local by heading to one of Phuket’s fresh produce markets.

They take place daily or weekly across the island, but one of the biggest is in Kathu, between Patong and Phuket Town. The bustling marketplace is filled with stalls selling vegetables, fresh fish, meat, exotic fruits and herbs, and piles of homemade chilli pastes. On weekends, the aptly named Weekend Market, or “Talad Naka” to locals due to its proximity to Naka Temple, is more touristy, but still definitely worth a visit. Situated just outside Phuket Town, the large covered market is less about fresh produce and more about atmosphere and ready-made snacks.

Open Saturday and Sunday from mid afternoon until about 11pm, the vibrant atmosphere makes for a great alternative to dinner. Rock up, try some food, grab a beer and nab a seat to indulge in some people watching.

Bird nest cave, Phuket, Thailand.

Bird nest cave, Phuket, Thailand.Source:istock


If you’re going to sample this Asian delicacy, Phuket is the place to do it.

As close to the source as you can get, the surrounding islands and their craggy, sea-splashed caves have the highest concentration of sea swallow nesting sites in the country and enterprising locals have built a business around the huge demand for their saliva-constructed nests.

Highly coveted by the Chinese, who believe them to be rich in nutrients and health-giving properties such as improving skin appearance and, of course, raising libido, the global industry is worth a whopping $5 billion annually.

Kanom jeen Thai rice noodles serves with fish curry and Phuket fish ball.

Kanom jeen Thai rice noodles serves with fish curry and Phuket fish ball.Source:istock


Skip the morning hotel buffet and instead do as a local and rise early for some quintessential breakfast dim sum (siew boi) or a bowl of kanom jeen. Best eaten 6-8am at the island’s abundant dim sum eateries, but for the most authentic try Juanhiang on Chana Charoen Rd, which claims to have been serving the delicious bite-size morsels for a century-plus.

Kanom jeen – a laksa-like dish of cold fermented rice noodles in a rich and creamy coconut-based curry sauce – is the other brekkie alternative. Whatever you opt for, make sure to get your caffeine fix afterwards with a glass of thick, sweet local coffee, or kopi.

Trafalgar’s Gavin Tollman on the brand’s new vision and the two things he never travels without

TRAVEL brand Trafalgar is in the business of creating “pinch me” moments for travellers — those moments that are so incredible, you think you must be dreaming — and its chief executive Gavin Tollman has had plenty of those.

He’s been (almost) everywhere in the world, many times over — which is no surprise when you run one of the world’s biggest travel operators — but there are a few moments of total wonderment that always take his breath away.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve been to Venice but I do not remember a single time I didn’t feel this way: when you’re on the water taxi and you come around and you see St Mark’s Square for the first time from the water,” Mr Tollman told

“Every single time I see that skyline I just go, wow.

“I had a similar moment recently going to Ashford Castle in Cong, in Ireland, when I came around and saw the castle in the distance. I had that same moment when you just feel you are at one of the single most beautiful places in the world.

“It is one of the reasons I love to travel, when as soon as you arrive and see something for the first time you get that heartbeat going faster.”

These “pinch me” moments are a big part of Trafalgar’s new campaign, The Good Life, which is about letting guests experience the “real” people, places and cultural experiences of the destination they’re in — without having to worry about the logistics of their holiday.

And at a time when it’s becoming easier for travellers to plan and carry out their own trips, it’s still one of Trafalgar’s major advantages.

St Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy, is a favourite location for Trafalgar boss Gavin Tollman.

St Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy, is a favourite location for Trafalgar boss Gavin Tollman.Source:istock

“This is a campaign designed to show how we can make travel so much easier for guests, so they can get so much more out of [their trip],” Mr Tollman said.

“What we go out of our way to do, from the time somebody arrives with us until the time they leave, is make sure they simply do not have to worry about a single thing.

“It’s that ease, that effortlessness of travelling with us — there’s no worrying about checking in, there’s no logistics — it’s just getting to understand the places.”

Sustainability is another big focus for Trafalgar, Mr Tollman said. Not just in terms of environmental sustainability — and coach tours are one of the most sustainable ways to travel — but also in terms of what responsible tourism can offer destinations.

“The biggest type of tourism we have to eradicate is coming in with preconceived notions of what is right and what is wrong and trying to apply them to the destinations we visit,” he said.

“That is the change we are trying to bring, one of greater understanding. And that is the positive impact tourism can have, because it is a truly sustaining force to the local economy. It’s not just about coming in to see something superficially and then leaving.”

Trafalgar has organised for its guests to visit the Vatican Museum after hours, when it’s a lot less busy.

Trafalgar has organised for its guests to visit the Vatican Museum after hours, when it’s a lot less busy.Source:Supplied

Trafalgar has just launched its Europe and Britain 2018 offering and Mr Tollman said Europe remained a massive focus for most Australian holiday-makers.

“In terms of where Australians are travelling to, Scandinavia is off the charts,” he said.

“It’s become the go-to destination. Number two in Europe is Spain. And number three is Britain. Britain has become cheaper, but whatever the reason might be, we’re seeing huge increases.

“Elsewhere in the world, Australians are going to places like Japan and Canada, which is incurring huge, double-digit growth.

“Exotic destinations are always of interest, but in terms of where the largest numbers of people are going, they’re going to these iconic areas of the world and what Trafalgar makes sure they do is have a great time without a worry in the world.”

Mr Tollman, from South Africa, has spent a lot of his life travelling — he hails from travel royalty.

His family owns Travel Corporation group (Trafalgar’s parent company), which employs many generations of the Tollman family. Travel is the family business and he is, in his own words, “perpetually on the move”.

Is there anything this seasoned traveller never travels without?

“This is a very quirky thing, but I always travel with a light yoga mat,” he said.

“If possible at my hotel, there is nothing better than waking up early and doing yoga at sunrise and greeting the morning sun. It always sets up your day.

Trafalgar offers the chance to stay at the stunning Ashford Castle in Ireland. Picture: John Menard

Trafalgar offers the chance to stay at the stunning Ashford Castle in Ireland. Picture: John MenardSource:Flickr

“And I love music, and one of the greatest changes for me has been the whole way of how transportable music is. When I’m in a hotel I don’t like listening to music on earphones so I have this incredibly small but very powerful bluetooth speaker, Ultimate Ears, and I travel with it everywhere.”

And he also has some tips for travelling parents, which he learned from many long-haul flights when his now-grown children were very young.

“Number one is, and it’s so obvious: before travelling, never ever [let them eat] sugar,” he said.

“I became the biggest advocate for on-board entertainment and back in those days. I’m showing my age, but you used to be able to get portable DVD players and I used to have two of them, one for each child. I was a huge advocate of never going with an expectation that the entertainment on the aircraft would be enough.

“Bring your own food that is good for your children and never rely on airline food. And take them to the bathroom while everyone else is eating.

“And the most important one, and I learnt this once at JFK airport, when the plane is on the descent, never ever believe your children when they say they don’t need to go to the bathroom.”

Mr Tollman started working with Trafalgar 20 years ago and today, the company offers 230 itineraries across six continents.

But is there anywhere in the world Mr Tollman has never been? Yes, he said — one of those places is Vietnam.

“My son just finished a gap year and his greatest excitement before he went to university was that he’d been to destinations I’d never been before,” he laughed.

Bombardier unveils its new $93 million jet that’s already sold out for years

THIS is the world’s biggest private jet, which costs a whopping $93 million and comes with a double bed, big screen TV and ensuite bathroom.

Bombardier’s new Global 7000 is the first jet to have four living sections — including dining and entertaining spaces, as well as a kitchen and suite for the plane’s crew, The Sun reports.

The 6.7 metre long aircraft, which has extra large windows and “aviation’s fastest in-flight internet”, has the capacity for 19 passengers to fly in the utmost luxury.

The Global 7000 is the latest in luxury flying, with four separate living compartments. Picture: Bombardier

The Global 7000 is the latest in luxury flying, with four separate living compartments. Picture: BombardierSource:Supplied

But even if you have a spare $93 million, you’ll have to wait as the stylish aircraft is sold out until 2021.

Aboard the top-of-the-range plane, six people can dine in comfort served from the “industry’s largest and most well-appointed galley”, while the master bedroom features a luxurious double bed and ensuite shower room.

The fancy bathroom. Picture: Bombardier

The fancy bathroom. Picture: BombardierSource:Supplied

The plane has a range of 13,700 nautical kilometres, meaning it can travel from New York to Mumbai or Sydney to San Francisco without having to stop.

It is also the largest business jet able to land at London’s central City Airport.

The Global 7000 is currently on show at the National Business Aviation Association conference and expo in Henderson, Nevada.

The bedroom on the plane is better than in most people’s homes. Picture: Bombardier

The bedroom on the plane is better than in most people’s homes. Picture: BombardierSource:Supplied

The dining space. Picture: Bombardier

The dining space. Picture: BombardierSource:Supplied

The sleek interior. Picture: Bombardier

The sleek interior. Picture: BombardierSource:Supplied

Living the luxury life. Picture: Bombardier

Living the luxury life. Picture: BombardierSource:Supplied

Bombardier's new Global 7000 jet. Picture: Bombardier

AirAsia flight forced to turn back to Perth after terrifying midair emergency

PASSENGERS on board an AirAsia flight from Perth to Bali feared for the lives after the aircraft plunged 20,000 feet in a midair emergency.

Flight QZ535 was forced to turn back to Perth Airport on Sunday morning, just 25 minutes into its flight, after a technical issue caused the cabin to lose pressure.

Oxygen masks dropped from above the seats and passengers were told to get into a brace position as the plane plunged from 32,000 feet to 10,000 feet.

Oxygen masks dropped from above the seats. Picture: Nine News

Oxygen masks dropped from above the seats. Picture: Nine NewsSource:Supplied

AirAsia passengers feared for their lives. Picture: Nine News

AirAsia passengers feared for their lives. Picture: Nine NewsSource:Supplied

Clare Askew, among the 145 passengers on board, said the reaction of the airline’s crew made the ordeal more terrifying.

“The panic was escalated because of the behaviour of staff who were screaming, looked tearful and shocked,” she told Perth Now.

“Now, I get it, but we looked to them for reassurance and we didn’t get any, we were more worried because of how panicked they were.”

A passenger named Leah told Nine News: “I actually picked up my phone and sent a text message to my family, just hoping that they would get it. We were all pretty much saying goodbye to each other. It was really upsetting.”

AirAsia passengers were told to get into a brace position. Picture: Nine News

AirAsia passengers were told to get into a brace position. Picture: Nine NewsSource:Supplied

The Perth woman said cabin crew were panicking, but left passengers in the dark.

“One of the stewardesses started running down the aisle and we thought, ‘why is she running?’ And then the masks fell down and everybody started panicking. Nobody told us what was going on,” she said.

Tracy, who was travelling with son Jayden, said: “My son said he didn’t want to get on another flight but I’ve assured him it can’t happen twice in a row. It’s really put me off flying. I fly every year on AirAsia.”

The plane landed safely in Perth, with passengers rescheduled for later journeys.

AirAsia said its engineers at Perth Airport were investigating the aircraft.

“The safety of our guests is our utmost priority,” the airline said in a statement. “AirAsia Indonesia apologises for any inconvenience caused.”

In June, passengers spoke of how an AirAsia flight captain told them to start prayingafter the aircraft started “shaking like a washing machine”.

The Airbus A330 was flying from Perth to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when it was also forced to turn back because of difficulties.