Sergey is based in Moscow and co-founded openhorizons.ru. He visited 33 countries in 2017, taking 75 flights - averaging out at a flight every five days. He’s not sure how he squeezed it all in, but along the way he went skydiving, horseriding on the beach and took a ride in a convoy of 50 hot air balloons.
During the cooking demo at Beach Road Kitchen, which I loved, Italian Chef Stefano Di Salvo told me you can add fresh blackberry to a risotto. Surprisingly, it’s extremely delicious. Di Salvo is captivating to watch at work – it’s like an artist painting a picture.
‘At the mixology workshop, it was my first time making cocktails. We made a vintage version of a Singapore Sling: the much stronger-tasting Heritage Sling.
‘After a dinner of Singaporean chilli crab, chicken rice and noodles (I always like to try the local food, for me it’s such an important part of the culture). I had a White Russian back at the hotel bar and returned to my room to meet the most desirable thing of the evening, a warm and cosy hotel bed.’
Milan-born and based Virginia, aka The Ugly Truth of V, has blogged about fashion for seven years, contributes to Glamour Italy and also works as a fashion consultant. She’s lived all over the world, from Germany to Beijing to Moscow and travels every month.
‘The hotel is on its own private island, and just the boat ride I took to get there left me breathless. The friendly staff gave me a warm welcome and my suite was beautiful – the terrace overlooked the garden with a panoramic view.
‘The olive oil tasting was in such a beautiful garden, surrounded by the olive trees used to make the oil. Being an olive oil lover, this was the coolest part of the experience for me. ‘Another lovely moment was a Chic-Nic picnic of sandwiches, salads and snacks in the hotel’s century-old park. It was perfect and the view was breathtaking – and the same goes for happy hour on the wonderful terrace later!
‘I had the opportunity to take a private cooking class with a chef from the Sapori Cooking Academy. Together we cooked three typical Venetian tapas, including a gazpacho and pesto with mozzarella. I really enjoyed trying new recipes for the first time – learning to cook typical Venetian dishes that I didn’t already know about gave me great extra knowledge about Venice that I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced.’
On her YouTube channel, Léa Camilleri, from Toulouse, stars in videos about travel, the environment and health. In six years, Léa, who is now based in Paris, has travelled to 30 different countries with her job. Her adventures have included swimming with rays in French Polynesia, seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland, working with children in South Africa and planting trees in Zambia.
‘The Austrian bartender from the hotel spoke French, so it was cool! She taught me how to make a cocktail called a Strawmarnier, with gin, lemon, strawberries and Grand Marnier. I don’t drink much, but it was very good – and even more satisfying because I made it myself. The best bit was learning something new – why each ingredient is so important, and most of all, that measuring is very important to get the perfect amount of each ingredient for the best taste. When I tasted it, it was really strong – you could see it from my face!
‘I’m used to travelling and doing everything by myself, but I was really looking for insider knowledge and experiences – it was great that the staff could help me have the best time inside and outside the hotel.’
London-based Carl blogs about fashion, grooming and lifestyle, as well as running his YouTube channel. Originally from Leicester, he travels at least once a month and loves visiting the US, especially New York and LA (aka his ‘second home’) for the weather.
It was my first time in Boston – it had a city feel but quieter, with a university vibe where we were staying. It was nice, and I have a thing for American people – I find people over there very friendly, everyone likes to get to know you.
‘My Marriott Rewards Moments experience was on the set of ‘America’s Test Kitchen’ at the Boston Eats festival. I’m not the best cook in the world, but I absolutely love eating food. We went through different rooms in the test kitchen, we met the TV chefs, they showed us how to make a chicken curry (which tasted amazing) and a victoria sponge cake. It was like a live cooking show, but then they showed us the kitchen set and how they did the lighting.
‘After that, we went into a room where they show you how they test different kitchen appliances, before going round the stalls at Boston Eats downstairs. They kept giving me food on little cocktail sticks. It was so good, I asked: “Can I have a whole plateful?”. It was a fun day, they really did look after us. Good job for them I didn’t do any cooking myself, though – I’d have probably burned down their brand new factory!’