How to swap business for pleasure

How to swap business for pleasure
By admin


Bleisure is a trend you need to know about – especially when two thirds of business travellers are doing it. Doing what, you ask? They are tacking personal holidays onto their work program in what pundits call bleisure – or the bizcation. 

It’s when a business client takes their partner on an overseas trip, and spends the day in meetings and the evening sightseeing. Or it’s when a week-long business trip has an extra week added on for pleasure.  

It’s a hard market to assess, as it’s not always visible. But to stay ahead of the game, you need to be able to segue easily between the needs of business and the needs of leisure in a fluid capacity. 

Meriton apartments have noticed the rise of bleisure travel. “We see corporates staying longer than the typical four-night mid-week stay and adding a weekend to the stay so they can enjoy the location,” Meriton national manager Matthew Thomas said. 

At the frontline of apartment hotel service, reception staff are responsible for many of the trips that business travellers schedule on weekends. So how do apartment hotels work to make clients’ stays more enjoyable? 

Punthill serviced apartments have resident managers who take pride in customer service and local knowledge. “The resident managers are a great resource for guests to gain an understanding of the local area and there are guides and maps are available at reception,” Punthill sales director Keiran Spencer said. 

Meriton uses social media to enhance its guests’ stay. “Guests who check-in on Facebook and like the MSA apartment hotel when they are staying will get our updates on local events, concerts and shows,” Thomas said. Meriton’s front of house team also access ticket booking systems and online details to help guests.   

Ascott also reports that its business clients are staying longer. Long-term stays are ripe for the weekend away trip, when business clients can return to the apartment on the Monday. “It’s a more homely living environment typically for longer stays as the facilities cater for that,” Ascott regional general manager Kenneth Rogers says.  

Punthill reports that corporate clients have a higher length of stay and are typically staying over weekends. That weekend is the perfect chance to head a few hours out of town and see the sights. For those with cabin fever, a weekend away in the country is respite from back to back meetings. Apartment residents pack an overnight bag on Friday and return Sunday night.  

The Travel Weekly team has picked the best of the city to country escapes, all within a few hours from global centres of commerce. Here are the best places to swap business for pleasure – all in one or two days, and all in the top global cities for business travel. 

FOR BUSINESS: CALGARY 

FOR PLEASURE: BANFF 

Calgary, it should be said, is a top city. But whatever way you cut it, it’s still a city, with people, traffic congestion and high rise buildings. 

Ninety minutes west along the Trans-Canada Highway you’ll find another high rise area. But there are few office workers here. This is the Canadian Rockies. 

The tranquil town of Banff lies only 130km from Calgary and it’s the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of city life and those high-pressure meetings.  

Located in the heart of the national park that takes it names, Banff is the jumping off point for some of Canada’s most majestic and awe-inspiring scenery.  

Lake Louise, with its emerald waters, is the most famous and from here it’s possible to hike on well maintained tracks into the mountains to two picturesque tea houses located near more wonderful lakes, Mirror and Agnes. 

A short stroll from Banff itself is Banff Springs Hotel, an imposing structure perched above the banks of the Bow River and the impressive Bow Falls. It’s relatively expensive to stay here, but there are plenty of cheaper options in town. 

There are also several lovely drives just outside town where you may well encounter several of Banff National Park’s residents – grizzly bears, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and elk. 

FOR BUSINESS: Tokyo 

FOR PLEASURE: Hakone 

If your business is behind you in Tokyo and you’ve got a few days to kill, then the small town of Hakone is a sure-fire bet.  

Easily accessible by a southwesterly Shinkansen (bullet train) ride, you’ll be there in under 90 minutes from Tokyo’s heaving Shinjuku Station.  

Hakone is a place to relax and unwind; it’s the antithesis of Tokyo, home to only around 13,000 people, surrounded by thickly wooded hills and close to serene Lake Ashi. On clear days Japan’s colossus Mt Fuji is visible from several prominent vantage points. 

It’s a place to get outdoors. Take a cruise on the pirate ships across Lake Ashi before an aerial ascent up into the hills on the Hakone-Tozan cable car. Once high in the hills, wander into the steaming sulfur pits of Owakudani and try one of the local black boiled eggs. They taste like a normal egg but have taken on an ashy hue thanks to the profusion of sulfur in the water. Locals say you’ll live seven years longer with every one you eat. 

In terms of accommodation, a stay at one of the many ryokans in the hills is a must. These traditional Japanese inns are the epitome of wellness. Here you’ll eat healthy local cuisine like fish, tofu, rice and pickles for breakfast and rest those weary muscles in the natural onsen (hot springs). Each night after dinner, drift off to sleep at ground level on a cloud-like tatami mat. You’ll never want to leave. 

FOR BUSINESS: London 

FOR PLEASURE: Oxford 

The distinguished city of Oxford is just the tonic after a draining week of business in busy London. A mere hour by train from Paddington station, you can be in England’s crucible of education and aspiration in a twinkling.  

You cannot help but be inspired by the city’s tradition of excellence. The trip to Oxford is a magnificent ride through the English countryside with spring fields that are yellow with canola in autumn – colourful signifiers that city life is behind you for a few days at least. 

The first thing you must do is relax, but in a most British way. The answer is punting – hiring a small wooden boat and pushing your way down the Thames River. If there are others onboard, take turns to lie back with a copy of The Times that will hopefully double up as a sunshield. It’s common practice for students to punt down river with a bottle of wine, so don’t be shy to indulge in a tipple. 

Suitably calmed by the river motion, explore the stunning architecture of the colleges. Sandstone squares built around verdant manicured lawns is the archetype of Oxford College. Usually closed to the public by a velvet rope, if you look young enough or confident enough, try your luck at sneaking in to have a look at what England’s greatest minds view from their windows. A weekend here will have you picking up books and returning to work inspired.

 

 

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

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