I am excited to announce that I have been invited to the upcoming PURE Life Experiences gathering in Marrakech, Morocco, to lead a MATTER discussion on how high-end travel designers and suppliers can successfully engage LGBTQ travelers.
When I look back on 2013, it is interesting to review which memories stand outfor me. It wasn't any of the bigger purchases I made.
No, the first and most important things that come to mind are several of the trips I took, and the unique experiences I had in those destinations.
A few highlights include watching a cheetah stalk an impala in South Africa, drinking caipirinhas with new friends on the beach in Rio at sunset, and snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Traveling has the power to inspire the mind, heal the soul, and energize the body. It gives us great memories to think about when things aren't going well, and it helps us create tighter bonds with the people who matter to us. Just like people matter more than things, to me travel matters more than things.
We have had guests on our tours whose lives have been changed for the better because of the unique travel experiences they have had or due to relationships they have built through traveling. And the more you travel, the more you make connections between similar things in different countries.
Traveling isn't merely a part of a fun life. It is an essential part of a healthy life, and maybe even a healthy planet. I am reminded of one of my favorite travel quotes:
"Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends."
~ Maya Angelou
Creating the most amazing trips in the world for a discerning group of gays, their family and friends, is no small feat. Our travelers are well travelled and are always wanting the latest, best, trendiest and most sought after destination.
As LGBT travelers we are used to being pioneers. With that in mind Zoom scours the world not only for the most up and coming destinations but for how to take Zoomers there in comfort, style and safety. In the last years Zoom has flown to far away places like Japan, South Africa, Nicaragua, Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil (usually at the invitation of governments ready to welcome the gay traveller) just to name a few, to meet with hotels, and local guides, to taste the local cuisine and find just the right place for our Signature Zoom Events.
Every Zoom destination is well researched personally by me and or Bryan Herb, Zoom's co-owners. No detail is a mere coincidence. No Zoom trip will be offered without our seal of approval.
It was a busy year for me and the Zoom team. I traveled a total of 161,014 miles, the equivalent of over 6 times around the world, on 69 flights and a mega yacht to 31 countries.
In addition to the scheduled tours we offered all year, 2013 had a few highlights that made it particularly special.
A couple on Zoom Peru got engaged on Machu Picchu (read about them in our Featured Travelers section).
We celebrated many birthday celebrations, honeymoons and long term relationships in exotic locations around the world on Zoom Southern Africa and our Zoom cruise. And for the first time, broke the Zoom record for longest lunch (6 hours) of eating, laughing and imbibing on Zoom Argentina.
Zoom's Marie-Noelle Marechal was invited to attend a travel convention in China to get new ideas for upcoming Zoom China tours.
I received a very exclusive invitation to attend the International Luxury Travel Market Americas in Mexico, where I met one-to-one with the best travel luxury hotels and suppliers and industry leaders from around the world with whom we will partner to continue developing the bespoke experiences you have come to expect from Zoom Vacations. I then continued my research to Mexico City and the West Coast of Mexico on a most luxurious Four Season educational trip where they pulled all the stops. They know that our clients only want the best, so they gave me a big taste of it.
Zoom's Bryan Herb and I researched the Orient Express Luxury train, the Royal Scotsman, through Scotland, and made great connections with London hoteliers for future trips.
Bryan attended the largest tourism convention in Africa as the guest of the South African government, and continued on to Botswana and South Africa to research upcoming group and private tours in some of the world's top lodges.
Zoom Vacations acquired its adorable new mascot, Ms. Buddha-Licious, a rescue puppy who reminds us every day what it means to give and accept unconditional love.
Bryan led a lively educational panel discussion on travel to Asia at the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Convention in Chicago with guests from all over the world attending.
Team Zoom raised over $7,000 for the American Cancer Society, by participating in the Chicago Marathon.