SEPTEMBER 2023 ISSUE
Here KYLIE BRADY reviews a recent agent famil to the Philippines.
THE ALARM on my phone sounded at 5am. I’m not generally a morning person but in this instance, I had my photographer’s hat on and I was hoping for a picture-perfect sunrise.
I peered over the balcony, surveying the perfectly manicured grounds of our host for the night, the Bohol Beach Club. It was still warm and humid despite the early hour. The darkness was shifting into a shade of blue as the horizon over the ocean began to brighten.
Grabbing my camera, I decided to take a walk along the beach and explore the neighbouring area.
The morning was calm and the sea gently lapped against the smooth sand, which was currently being raked into small piles by the hotel staff to remove its imperfections.
As a beach lover, Bohol had been my favourite spot so far on our Philippine trip.
Alona Beach the night before had been bustling with action. Restaurants had set up tables and chairs on the sand where customers (mainly tourists) sat and enjoyed the outdoor dining experiences.
Further up into the town, dancers entertained by twirling batons of fire as part of a nightly show. The small shop vendors were selling their wares and trying to attract the attention of potential passing clientele.
Massage parlours, tourism traders booking day trips, restaurants displaying their live seafood, bars playing enticing music, stray dogs and Tuk Tuks – all signs of an Asian mecca for Westerners.
I saw it as being comparable to the main spots in Legian in Bali or Patong in Phuket, often popular with Aussies.
During the day we had visited the famed Bohol ‘Chocolate Hills’. They are a mesmerising landscape dotted with an expanse of hundreds of conical-shaped mounds, spread across the terrain.
Cloaked in grass, these mounds undergo a transformation, assuming a chocolate hue during the dry season, however being green in the wet season they are more like mint chocolate.
These hills are a fascinating sight due to their rarity as a natural geological phenomenon.
From left to right: Craig Hunt, BDM MW Tours, Ashley Cooper, BDM Philippine Airlines, Ninna Zorilla, MW Tours Philippine representative, Andy Davey, MTA, and Kylie Brady, KB 4 Travel & Cruise.
For a bit of fun, I rode an ATV for the first time at the base of the Chocolate Hills. The engine roared loudly as I accelerated with trepidation; the ground was covered in water, causing the ATV’s wheels to flick mud everywhere.
My only thought, besides not wanting to roll it and injure myself, was that there was no chance of getting through this clean. Yes, I had turned myself the colour of chocolate while visiting the Chocolate Hills!
Our Philippines tour was organised by MW Tours Australia in conjunction with Philippine Airlines and they were eager to show us, as travel agents, as many hotels as possible. In total, we visited 15 hotels on this trip, spanning Manila, Bohol and Cebu.
To truly judge the best hotel from my own perspective across all aspects I had to consider where I would want to stay with my family if I were to return.
My answer to that is encapsulated in the old cliché: “location, location, location”. With that in mind, I would choose The Amorita Resort for its amazing central location on the popular Alona Beach.
Every hotel we toured had great attributes that would suit different types of travellers: casino lovers, pool enthusiasts, buffet aficionados or beach admirers like me.
Philippines is an archipelago of 7,641 islands and there is undoubtedly much more to explore. This destination is greatly enhanced by using a knowledgeable provider like MW Tours, as any visitor needs to consider factors such as ferry schedules and direct flight routes between the islands to make it as seamless as possible.
Swimming with whale sharks has been a bucket list item of mine for some time and in Cebu it’s a major tourist attraction. The waterfalls of the Philippines also boast a pristine crystal blue colour that I’m eager to witness with my own eyes one day too.
Though I didn’t capture a picture-perfect sunrise during my beach stroll that morning, I did capture a yearning to return to the Philippines and explore further.
The friendly nature of the Filipinos and the delicious food are certainly things I will miss until then.
AGENT’S CLOSE CALL WITH AN ELEPHANT
ONE TRAVEL consultant got a little more than she bargained for on a recent famil trip to Sri Lanka.
Sinead Phillips, who is a Personal Travel Manager based in Upwey, Victoria, was treated to a memorable elephant encounter during an overnight stay at the luxurious Cinnamon Wild Yala near Yala National Park.
Guests were amazed when the friendly elephant moved through the resort, chomping down trees around each room.
“Our guide took me under one of the chalets to watch him up close then later, while sitting out on my balcony listening to the monkeys in the trees, I turned around and there he was, so close I could have reached out and touched him!
“My heart was racing, but it was an amazing experience.”
The nine days which Phillips, along with fellow PTMs Kirsten Rheinlander, Tanya Barker, Valerie Ireland and John LaBella, spent in Sri Lanka were invaluable for making suitable recommendations to clients and for gaining first-hand understanding of what they can expect when visiting the destination.
AUSSIES ON A FAMIL THAT REALLY MATTERED
EIGHT AUSSIE agents were part of a global group of 34 who travelled on a tour that aligned the best of sustainability and Swiss excellence.
TTC Tour Brands hosted its first ‘MAKE TRAVEL MATTER’ Swisstainable global agent famil in partnership with Switzerland Tourism in July.
The Aussie contingent were all top sellers from the TTC Tour Brands Swisstainable Helloworld sales incentive that ran in March and April this year.
The famil saw agents experiencing Luxury Gold, Insight Vacations, Trafalgar and Costsaver products while discovering the sights, sounds and tastes of Switzerland.
Agents also had a taste of ‘make travel matter’ experiences, which are included in TTC Tour Brand’s itineraries that are based around the positive social or environmental impact they have on their communities and those who experience them.