Iâ€™m going to guess that, like me, anyone who travels fairly frequently puts together his or her own private â€śbestâ€ť and â€śworstâ€ť lists.
With a little prompting I can probably come up with a list of the 10 nicest hotels Iâ€™ve every stayed in. Or the five best golf courses Iâ€™ve ever played. Whenever my family dines out we eventually start talking about the best meals weâ€™ve ever eaten. My 18-year-old daughter still remembers with fondness the chicken with apples and Calvados sauce she ate at the restaurant in the HĂ´tel le Lion dâ€™Or in Bayeux, France, when she was just 7.
I have my personal list of the five most idiotic things Iâ€™ve ever done while traveling, topped by the time I was driving through France with my diesel engine rental car. Being a very stupid American, I filled it up with regular unleaded gas. After the car came to its inevitable shuddering halt, a mechanic, after having learned what I had put into the car, told me in his wonderful French accent: â€śYou keeled eet!â€ť
Travel writer Patricia Schultz has taken the idea of a â€śbestâ€ť list to an extreme with her massive tome, â€ś1000 Places to See Before You Die.â€ť It has certainly struck a chord with the traveling publicâ€”it became a New York Times bestseller, and televisionâ€™s Travel Channel has just launched a new series based on the locations featured in the book.
Itâ€™s easy to see why the book has become such a hit. People like to travel, and they like to make lists. And, after all, we are all going to dieâ€”eventually. When asked recently what she thought accounted for her bookâ€™s popularity, Schultz gently pointed out that as baby boomers begin to face their own mortality, many have the money and the time to indulge their travel fantasies. Life, she says, â€śis no dress rehearsal, and the notion of carpe diem should apply,â€ť she says. â€śItâ€™s time to get off the couch before your knees expire!â€ť
So, â€ś1000 Places to See Before You Dieâ€ť presents baby boomers and other readers a chance to list both where theyâ€™ve been, and where they want to goâ€”before itâ€™s too late.
Itâ€™s also, Schultz points out, a pretty good resource for meeting planners looking to excite jaded attendees. â€śI like to think I open up discussion about places that may not have naturally appeared on the conventional meeting radar,â€ť she says. â€śThe incomparable city of Istanbul; the stunning wine country outside of Santiago, Chile; the gorgeous Alp-framed lake district of Italy, just minutes from Milan; the exciting Canadian city of Vancouver and Vancouver Island just to the west. I like to think Chiang Mai in northern Thailand could be a consideration, or some of the island resorts sprinkled across the waters of Australiaâ€™s Great Barrier Reef. The possibilities are countless, and [typical incentive locations] start looking pretty tame by comparison.â€ť
I read through the book and started checking off the places Iâ€™ve been toâ€”the start of another list. The first one I came to happens to be a destination Iâ€™ve visited on business. I had the opportunity to accompany a group of meeting planners on a site visit to Maroma Resort & Spa on the Riviera Maya in Mexico. I can see why Maroma is one of Schultzâ€™s 1000. Away from the hustle and bustle of Cancun, it sits between acres of pristine jungle and what has to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The location is truly spectacular.
A further look at the book was both useful and fruitless. I discovered plenty of other places I want to visit, but none that Iâ€™ve actually been to. So my list, for the moment, stands at one.
Only 999 to go.â€˘BB
Michael Bassett is a staff writer for Corporate Meetings & Incentives and Financial & Insurance Meetings.