Selemat Datang, (welcome)
Traveling to me is so much more than a string of places you visit, or hotels you stay at. To me it is a journey where the arrival is less important than the experience to get there. It is a sense of place and a connection you make. Sometimes wandering through a new city without purpose is more meaningful than an itinerary that doesn’t show you the heart and soul of a destination.
I was 17 years when I went to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand by myself, for the first time. I used the money I got from my parents to get my driver’s license. The desire to go to the far east made me unstoppable (and my parents tried hard). I will never forget boarding the KLM 747 to Muscat and Singapore and the notion that soon I would be a world away in some exotic place. My parents gave me permission to make the trip when I would be part of a tour group (a wise decision as I would not have seen as much otherwise).
It ignited my passion for travel, the far east, hotels and food. When I was 20 I secured a job as tour-leader for a high-end tour company is far east and became the youngest tour leader in the industry.
I learned the importance of personal interaction, details and offering the best possible unique experience. I would revise itineraries in order to see the Borobudur with sunrise rather than during the day with thousands of tourists. I would organize bikes to explore historic Sukothai in Thailand before bikes were widely available to visitors. Always looking for added value and how to create the most memorable experience.
When I became a tour manager and lived in Indonesia and later in Thailand I also tried to make an extra effort to ensure our guests had a careless journey. I would check all rooms in the hotels we contracted and provide the hotel and a tour manager with a list of room numbers they were absolutely not able to use for our guests. Nobody wants to be located next to the housekeeping closet or look at a kitchen vent from the window. I would check all meals included, to make sure there was sufficient variation and delicious prepared food. And our guests would always be seated in prime locations, never in some meeting room transitioned in a dining room.
My career took me to Curacao where I managed a hotel and beach club and to South Africa where I helped launching organized group tours and charter flights from the Netherlands. I worked in most countries in the far east consulting some off the best hotels in the world on service and guest experiences. Ten years ago, I moved to the USA where together with my business partner Oscar Verest I opened Camden Harbour Inn a beautiful boutique hotel with a fine dining restaurant, member of Relais and Chateaux and ranked number 19 Best Boutique Hotels in the world by Travel + Leisure Magazine. Four years ago, we opened a second hotel and restaurant in Portland Maine: The Danforth Inn with Tempo Dulu, a south east Asian restaurant.
Our happiest moments are when our guests stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else. The unexpected, the rare moments of blissful happiness. My journey is trying to share a lifetime of beautiful experiences and knowledge with our guests, while unexpectedly making a connection that will enrich our lives.
DESA Travel is more than curated organized group tours. It is a desire to enrich, to embrace, to connect and to take care of you and all the little details so you can wander without purpose.
Selemat Jalan with DESA