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It’s not often that you win an all expenses paid trip to the continent of your choice, let alone one which includes 4 and 5 star accommodation.  It’s not often you win a trip which kick starts your dream career of travel writing, nor one which fulfills bucket list items you’ve waited a lifetime to achieve. But even rarer still, is winning a trip where you are mistaken for celebrities… everywhere you go.

Amidst all of the excitement around traveling the world and traveling for free, what really shocked us and took us by complete surprise was the unbelievable Hilton hospitality.

Yes, as competition winners, we were no regular guests. Each property knew we were traveling to promote DoubleTree and share our adventures with the world – however the treatment we received blew us away.

Treated

Mike and I enjoying a gourmet lunch in Lima with Gillies Tissier (property GM).

Treated to the best lunches, dinners and, in Panama’s case, ice-cream, with a personal supply of warm chocolate chip cookies and even warmer welcomes often from the entire hotel staff upon each new arrival, stunning suites, and access, recommendations and private drivers for some of the most adventurous activities in each area, we had to keep our head in check to minimize the damage when we would eventually crash back down to earth.

So this is an incredible thank you to recognize each property and staff member who went completely above and beyond and out of their way to make our time in Central and South America fantastic.

Despite traveling on behalf of the brand, the generosity and willingness of every property to go above and beyond really epitomizes the core values of the brand – that the little things and little efforts are what make a truly remarkable travel experience.

A fabulous

A fabulous DTour throughout Central and South America. Thankyou DoubleTree.

Costa Rica

 

As soon as the staff in Costa Rica heard we enjoyed traveling off the beaten path they helped us scrap the itinerary we had in mind. Monteverde Cloud forest, while a #1 attraction is incredibly touristy and we would have a more unique experience in Carara National Park.

Though allocated a daily budget for activities, Michel Provonost went out of his way to coordinate with local activity and tour providers, letting them know who we were and arranging discounted and complementary activities in return for exposure on our blog. He sat down with us to lay out the tourist traps, recommend onsite activities and set us up with lunch boxes for our daily trips so we wouldn’t have to worry about finding lunch in the middle of a volcano crater!

Further, I was absolutely honored to receive an invitation to present the Crystal Cookie Award – a prestigious prize gifted annually to the DoubleTree property which best exhibits the CARE culture to the local community, through outreach efforts both as a hotel and individual team member efforts. This award is a huge deal, and saw a number of top Hilton executives fly to attend the ceremony. 

Panama

 

If there is one thing we’ve come to realize about the hotel industry, it’s that General Managers do not get a day off. So on the rare occasion that they do, the last place I’m sure they want to be is at work.

We cannot express our gratitude enough to Wolf Alexandrovich who drove into the hotel on a Sunday morning to drive us an hour and a half out of the city into the Panamanian Jungle so we could explore by ourselves and not be restricted by a tour.  We had the time of our lives in Soberania National Park.

The following night he took us out for the best ice-cream in Panama and we had dinner at an amazing local restaurant with a rooftop bar offering spectacular views over the city.

The staff at Doubletree by Hilton Panama City were phenomenal and gave us taxi calculations to avoid being ripped off, and made international calls to confirm our airport pickup the following morning in Peru without complaint, even though it took half an hour!

Lima, Peru

 

Another fantastic experience, with passionfruit juice upon arrival, more of those wonderful homemade chocolate chip cookies, and a mouthwatering platter of local fruits waiting in our stunning (upgraded) suite, the El Pardo DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel was our home away from home, and the property was absolutely gorgeous.

The culinary capital of the world, we were treated to Lima’s finest gourmet cuisine, both on and off site.  Between an 11 course dinner & show featuring Peruvian folk music and Andean dance, to a phenomenal spread of  local cuisine for lunch each day, Gilles Tissier (property GM), Vilko Dorsner (Concierge) and staff really went out of their way to make our time in Lima memorable.

The highlight of our time in Lima was spreading the Cookie Care. We were invited to hit the streets with the property staff to hand out platters of the iconic DoubleTree cookie in celebration of Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. We literally stopped traffic, and 200 cookies vanished in a matter of 10 minutes!

Paracas, Peru

 

How often do you arrive at a hotel to find the entire property staff waiting to welcome you! We truly lived like celebrities in Paracas, and were overwhelmed with the Hilton hospitality.

While the room was absolutely stunning, the remainder of the property was even more so, and you couldn’t beat the poolside view which stretched out over the South Pacific Ocean to where the desert of the Paracas National Reserve dramatically met the sea.

Despite the property preparing for an inspection, Marcelino Pangan (property GM) took time out of his incredibly busy schedule to accompany us on tour of the Paracas National Reserve, acting as a translator. We were incredibly honored to have been offered a tour with the Director of the Reserve as our private guide.

We cannot thank Marcelino enough for having coordinated this activity. Nor can we thank him enough for the incredible generosity in covering all of our meals – because let me assure you, you have never tasted seafood until you have tasted the grilled seafood platter at the Doubletree Resort by Hilton Paracas.

We traveled on behalf of Doubletree by Hilton DTour; a whole new way to plan – and share – your travels. We were hosted by the above mentioned properties.

 About Megan Claire

Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure!  Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Follow their journey on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

    12 Comments

  1. I just love this. Sure it may be their job to treat you well while you’re promoting the company for which they work, but you can still tell when someone loves their job and loves their company and gets a sense of pride from what they do. I’m so glad you guys had such a positive experience.

    • Thanks Katherine! You really can tell when someone loves what they do – and it’s those people who really make an experience great. Very rare to find these days!

  2. WOW WOW WOW….what a fantastic journey! I am so glad you and Mike got to experience such a wonderful trip. Your pictures and stories have been very enjoyable and your compliments to the Doubletree was so well written. I doubt true celebrities would have taken the time to capture so much detail and appreciation for their hospitality as much as you and Mike have. Make NO mistake about it…I’m sure they appreciated the pleasure of your company just as much. Great Blogging Meg!

    • Thanks Pam! It really was a fantastic journey :) So glad you have enjoyed the pictures and stories along the way!

  3. Wow Megan, this sounds as if you had an amazing yet quite strange trip at the same time! It really does sound foreign to be treated as VIP, but I hope you enjoyed this rare occasion to the fullest. I actually think I would feel uncomfortable if the entire hotel staff waited for me, but on the other hand I am sure it was an interesting experience to be completely spoiled and pampered for a couple of days… :)

    • We definitely enjoyed each moment to it’s fullest! Being so independent normally it took us by surprise at first, but we quickly learnt to enjoy being spoiled for the time we were there!

  4. I’ve been following your adventures and admit to being envious of many of the places you’ve been and the experiences you have.

    Whilst I’ve never been a VIP as such I’ve always found Hilton staff to be very professional and accommodating.

    To hear Wolf A giving up so much of his free time is a real credit to him and shows how much he values his work.

    It sounds as though every member of Hilton staff you came across on this trip is entirely worthy of the high praise you bestow on them.

    Great to hear you had such an amazing adventure and I hope that it inspires others to visit these places too.

    • We have had an absolute blast. We’ve stayed across a number of different Hilton brands before this trip, and the one thing they all have in common is professionalism and incredible hospitality. I’ve never had any issues, and will continue staying with them in the future.

      Definitely hit up one of the properties if you travel through Costa Rica, Panama or Peru – you won’t be disappointed!

  5. Love this run down and seeing who you worked with and where. We love Doubletree as well… and have to admit the times hotels treat you like A VIP are really rare so when it does happen – shout it from the rooftops! :)

    • That’s what we’ve come to realize as well! Plus it’s always nice recognizing extra amazing hospitality!

  6. Oh, you saw a real sloth, now I’m envious, haha :) Did you touch it?

    • We did! It was way up in the treetops though lol so couldn’t reach sadly…though very grateful for a fabulous camera zoom!!

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