From the sweeping valleys of Bhutan to the sandy beaches of Portugal to the snowy mountaintops of Colorado, any of the experiences in the JG Black Book Collection offer the ideal getaway. However, none of these incredible experiences would be possible without the vision and hard work of the owners behind them. Already in 2018, our clients have received amazing press coverage for their ventures and offerings, both new and old. This month, we’re highlighting press coverage that puts the spotlight on the owners of the properties in the JG Black Book Collection.
“Khin Omar Win and Brett Melzer were in their mid 20s when they met in Yangon, Myanmar in 1997. Both were seeking adventure, and neither dreamed that in a few years they’d have a hugely successful tourism company, Eastern Safaris. What started as a single hot air balloon doing flights over Bagan’s temples turned into two lodges and hot air ballooning in Chile. After Myanmar, they went to Bhutan, where they now have 12-suite Gangtey Lodge in the stunning Gangtey (Phobjikha) Valley. It certainly wasn’t easy, but Omar and Brett say they never planned too far ahead—and that’s what made them able to weather obstacles. The couple, who now live in Melbourne, have three kids, with Eastern Safaris making four. Here, Omar and Brett talk their Bhutan lodge, responsible tourism, and knowing when to move on.” –Sophie Friedman
“Sonnenalp is one of the few remaining large, family-owned resorts left in the country. ‘While people in their 30s are certainly busy with work, I have found that the world is getting smaller and smaller. By this I mean it has never been easier to fly directly into the Vail Valley making a long weekend very doable. Also, more and more millennials tend to have the ability to work remotely making the trip even more reasonable,’ says 30-year-old Sebastian Faessler. Being one of the hotel’s family owners and having had a background in leisure sales, Faessler is taking on a bigger role next month. They aim to allow him to attract younger guests who might continue the trend through future generations.” –Monika Ploc
“Praveen Moman was drawn to the ‘very special and very beautiful’ Virunga mountains, covering parts of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the 1960s it was a major niche tourism destination, drawing visitors like Ernest Hemingway and Bob Hope. Dian Fossey studied primates in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. Moman says he thought if he could help preserve the area’s biodiversity it could rekindle tourism decimated by the war. In 1997 in Uganda, Volcanoes Safaris was born. It wasn’t easy: Day trips to view gorillas in Rwanda required military escorts. Seeing the war’s devastation deeply affected him. ‘That was quite a tough and difficult time personally to watch all these people suffer, and it was quite contradictory to think about tourism. But I kept thinking, one day the tourism would help make sure that there was some economic contribution to the country,’ he says.” –Debbie Carlson
“Revealed America’s seed was planted more than seven years ago, after Behr had sold his business, Alaska Unusual, to Entre Destinations and moved to California with plans to retire. Those plans changed when he began visiting the National Parks in 2010, initially because of personal interest, and then to do research for a new business after several Virtuoso travel agent friends told him, ‘it’s an area that everyone knows exists, but no one knows how to plan upscale travel trips in these parks. I thought it was too obvious an idea,’ Behr said. ‘But I was convinced after a few months that there really was a need for upscale travel planning and execution. I think that’s proven to be the case. We’ve seen substantial growth.’ Behr said he spent about half of both 2010 and 2011 traveling to parks and finding the best hotels, glamping operators and private home rental options while also getting to know the local experts and guides and discovering activities and sights beyond those that draw the crowds.” – Jeri Clausing
“For Chitra Stern, Portugal’s economic recovery is bringing an unforeseen twist. When she and her husband opened their first hotel in a small fishing village on the southwestern tip of Portugal in 2010, they had no trouble finding workers to help run it in spite of its remote location. They visited a few hotel management schools, placed ads and were soon interviewing candidates for their Martinhal Sagres Beach Family Resort Hotel. With Portugal on its knees at the time and dozens of hotels on the verge of bankruptcy as the country sank into recession, finding high-skilled, affordable workers was a breeze. Now, the 47 year old, who owns four hotels in the country with her husband Roman, says she just can’t find enough Portuguese workers. ‘With the tourism boom, we now face a shortage of workers, not jobs,’ Stern said.”- Henrique Almeida