Finally an interview with an “old” Internet friend
1) Who Are you?
I’m Paul Johnson and I live on the edge of the Lake District in the UK, about an hour and a half north of Manchester. My academic background (a long time ago now!) is in Geography and Geology, which I followed up with a PhD in glaciology. I was writing up my thesis when the Web first came along, so my interest in the internet developed from there. I also come from a tourism background and have been a Director at The Dedicated Partnership Ltd. – an internet marketing company that caters specifically for the tourist industry – for the last 20 years. Amongst other things, I am responsible for A Luxury Travel Blog. In the last 12 months this site has really taken off and has become one of the main things I do.
2) What do you like about what you do?
Travelling around the world with my family and enjoying so many different experiences.
3) What don’t you like about what you do?
Timewasters! I get so much email through the blog and so many people just want to insert a spammy link for a measly sum. The blog strives to be a useful resource with quality content, so I’m really not interested! Sadly, the good PR and SEO companies seem to be in a minority.
4) Please tell us all about your blog and your aims with it.
My Blog started as an interest and hobby but has grown much more than I could have possibly anticipated. It’s currently serving over 125,000 unique visitors a month, is followed by more than a quarter of a million people on Twitter and has almost 50,000 likes on FaceBook. The aim is to share news, items of interest and first-hand experiences from the luxury end of the travel market.
A Luxury Travel Blog is taking off
5) Your top 3 destination experiences you’ve ever stayed to date and why?
- Greenland. I worked out in Greenland in the mid 1990s. Whilst it’s a country obviously lacking in luxury hotels and restaurants, it is a fascinating country offering so many fantastic experiences which of course are a luxury in their own right.
- Tanzania. This is where we chose for our honeymoon so it’s a very special place to us. We’ve only been once but would love to return one day with our children. The people… the experiences we enjoyed on safari… the scenery… the island where we relaxed at the end (see next question!)…all were wonderful.
- Jura, Scotland. We went here a couple of years ago and stayed at Jura Lodge. The accommodation is lovely but there’s no TV or internet, and the mobile reception is poor. But this is also part of the beauty of the place. Being without these distractions meant we had some really good quality family time together.
6) Your top 3 accommodations you’ve ever stayed to date and why?
Apart from Haagsche Suites of course… ;-)
- Badrutt’s Palace, St. Moritz - this must be one of the grandest places we have stayed. It’s not everywhere that you get a live harpist at breakfast and a priceless Raphael painting hanging near the lobby.
- Porto Elounda Deluxe Resort, Crete. We have been to Crete many times and each time stayed in Elounda. I think we have stayed in most of the luxury hotels there now, but this one would probably be our pick of the lot. Among its many attributes, it’s home to the island’s first ever golf course as well as a fantastic spa.
- Mnemba Island, Tanzania. This is where we spent the last few days of our honeymoon. A barefoot paradise off the NE coast of Zanzibar where you are waited on hand and foot by your own personal butler.
7) Your top 3 most memorable food / wine experiences to date and why?
- As a young child, I went on holiday to France a lot and I was always an adventurous eater. I would always choose the strangest dishes on the menu, curious to find out what they were like. So snails, frogs’ legs, pig’s trotter and so on. I remember that waiters would try to say to my parents that they didn’t think the dish was right for me, and that I wouldn’t eat it, but I would soon prove them wrong!
- Food in the Serengeti. I was amazed at the quality of the food that was served to us on our honeymoon particularly when we were in remote locations in the Serengeti. Sundowners and roasted cashews on Mnemba were pretty memorable also!
- Finally, we had a lot of fun with a mystery tasting menu at Restaurant Jardin at Royal Garden Villas, Tenerife, where you had to which scent bottles had been used in the food you were tasting. We were hopeless at it but had fun trying!
8) Your 3 worst destination/ accommodation /food experiences to date and why?
- Camping on the outskirts of Rome – as a student, I went inter-railing and we ended up on a campsite just outside Rome. There was nothing wrong with the site but later that night we did discover there was a problem with our neighbours in the next tent. We didn’t know precisely what was being said as it was all Italian, but they sounded drunk and voices were being raised. Next thing we knew it was getting very heated and we heard a scuffle and a grown man suddenly scream in pain. It turned out he’d been struck on the back with a broken bottle. We didn’t sleep well that night and were glad to be moving on the next day.
- A forgotten arrival. A few years ago we were visiting a luxury resort we’d visited before (I’m not going to name it!). We had a long drive and ‘phoned ahead to say we would be arriving late. We were assured this would not be a problem because, although the reception would be closed, the restaurant staff were likely to be around and, if not, they would phone me and tell me where they’d left the key. We didn’t get a call so were surprised to discover on arrival that all the staff had packed up and gone home, and there was no key to be found anywhere. It must have been about 1am and we’d been driving for about 8 hours, with young children in the back of the car. We couldn’t go waking up other guests and so ended up driving around to try to find some accommodation for the night. Eventually we located a rather basic hotel with a nightclub attached which had a 24-hour reception and thankfully there was ‘room at the inn’! Needless to say, the resort was extremely apologetic the next day and we were treated to quite a few perks on that holiday as a result!!!
- An unexpected ‘guest’. Quite recently we were dining at a rather nice restaurant and I was presented with a starter decorated with edible flowers from the garden. No sooner had my plate being put in front of me and out crawled a maggot from one of the flowers…
Kendal Holiday Cottages
9) Can you offer the readers 3 destination/ food / accommodation / things to do tips about the city you are currently living in?
I live in a rural town, rather than a city, called Kendal. It’s between England’s two most beautiful National Parks – the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales – so a great location. There is a lot going on in the town for both locals and visitors alike.
My recommendations would include a stroll up to Kendal Castle, coming to our ‘Mintfest’ street arts festival or the town’s world-renowned mountain film festival.
For dining, our favourites are the New Moon Restaurant and Deja Vu, and for accommodation I would have to recommend our own holiday apartment – see Kendal Holiday Cottages Ltd.
Sorry, I know that’s more than three… but, although I enjoy travelling, I’m also proud of where I live!
10) Any Question(s) you’d expected me to ask that you would like to answer?
Where was your last trip?
We are just back from Lithuania. It’s not a place you hear people go to much, but it has a lot to offer as a destination. I think it may slowly emerge during the next 10 years, and I would urge anyone to go and visit.
Where’s my next trip?
I’m off to Kathmandu very soon and will be following a route to New Delhi. Should be quite an adventure! More on the blog about that later of course… ;-)
Thank you Paul for participating.
Finally…I’m glad I finally can reciprocate an interview (that was for the tongue in cheek “old” of the intro). Thank you for the repeat kudos for Haagsche Suites. When, before I even started this blog, I was able to get you to review the suites and you gave us a very nice review you certainly have boosted our enthusiasm enormously. Also your blog was and is an example for me and made me start and continue my own blog. Glad your’s really taking off now.