Girlahead was finally off! After six months’ compulsory home-stay it was unusual to be back on the road (travel clothes and paraphernalia, which seemed in the past automatically to know where they all fitted in the golden Rimowa wheelie, first had to be found – some had definitely gone missing).
The intrepid were off to Prague, for the first new-look luxury travel show, a REAL event, Luxury Bloc, put together by savvy Czech entrepreneur Gabriela Markova (above). She had honed her marketing skills over many years with Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and at Velaa in the Maldives, which, purely coincidentally, happens to be owned by another entrepreneur from the Czech Republic.
Way back in 2018 Gabriela Markova had had the idea that Europe’s eastern-bloc luxury travellers were somehow ignored. Helped by her husband, her former hotel boss Petr Marek, she devised a brilliant compact, hard work+masses of networking, event. The formula is 50 buyers, average age 25-35. Gabriela Markova chose travel advisors with average booking spend of around €46,000, from Baltics, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Slovenia. She chose 50 products, representing such groups as Mandarin Oriental, Rocco Forte and Six Senses as well as private islands (Fregate, Joali, White Sands) as well as some small boutique luxury properties (JK Capri, Rosa Alpina and Terre Blanche) and a few global DMCs and experiences providers.
The opening evening cocktail included live streaming from New York-based trend spotter Daniel Levine, Director of the Avant-Garde Institute – see a video clip below. This was followed by a dinner at host hotel Prague Mandarin Oriental: two subsequent days were 15-minute tabletop meetings, with dinners at the Gehry-designed Dancing House Hotel, and a private club. Yes, this year a handful of delegates had to back out through national quarantine restrictions, but those who made it, including a Frenchman who owns luxury Mongolian yurts, all declared it perfect.
And 27-degree sun helped, as did walking tours and plenty of time for yoga or other working out. The XO Private team took special advantage of every networking opportunities, by the way, to plan road shows around Europe that are planned as an adjunct to the main Luxury Bloc concept. Gabriela Markova, look what you have started! We cannot wait for the next Luxury Bloc. www.luxurybloc.com