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Luxury Travel Design Company Asia Concierge Practises the Art of Slow Travel

Options: When exactly did Asia Concierge launch?
Andreas Grosskinsky: Asia Concierge was set up at the beginning of 2022, towards the end of the pandemic, but we launched with the main destination only in June that year. I joined the two founding directors, Nicholas Mulley and Paul Levrier, at the start of it all.

What sets Asia Concierge apart from other players?
We are a travel design company operating across Southeast Asia, specialising in creating curated programmes for travellers based on immersive, unique and authentic experiences. Asia Concierge’s focus is on delivering authentic experiences based on the traveller’s customised preferences, shying away from commercial and generic programmes that are so often offered without thought or attention to detail. And most importantly, we practise the art of slow travel. We bring over 25 years of experience and aim to showcase the Asia that we know while reimagining our products and services for today’s traveller. Asia Concierge also owns and operates offices in each of the destinations in which we operate, giving us a unique ability to control the quality and costs over the products and services that we provide.

We notice there is no Malaysian representation as yet. Why do you think that is or when will there be plans for one?
I think that is due to the fact the directors have our experience and bases in the three key countries of Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, which we set up newly in conjunction with the existing offices in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and China, to which we added Japan in June. Malaysia, as a whole, has not been much requested compared with other destinations, although Sabah is a big draw for our guests in key markets like the US and the UK. With my personal experience and years spent living in your country, we do support with requests and bookings for Malaysia whenever possible, cooperating with handpicked counterparts or directly with the resorts.

What have been some of the most memorable executions you’ve done?
In Indonesia, it would be running two programmes for very high-net-worth clients alongside each other. It featured exceedingly discreet experiences, including dance performances at a private temple outside Ubud or closed-door meetings and small presentations by experts and celebrities. We also facilitated access to temples usually not granted to regular tourists and organised a cooking class with a celebrity chef. One of the bigger events recently was for a corporate do for over 200 guests at the Garuda Wisnu Kencana cultural park in the south of Bali, where we created a Balinese village for pre-dinner cocktails and arranged a variety of entertainment in a separate area. The finale was spectacular fireworks in front of the Garuda statue that overlooks the rest of the island.

Who is an Asia Concierge client typically?
We do work directly with professional leisure travel managers, lifestyle managers and individual consultants as well as selected tour operators who entrust their top end clients to us. Also those who want to explore and experience our Asian destinations in-depth, with programmes created specifically to their interest and with the expected high-end service, of course.

What inspires your work?
The sharing of knowledge, creativity and perfect executions. Even now, I am in the famous Spice Islands of Indonesia aboard a very lovely boat, Aqua Blu, for an inspection. How can you not be inspired with a workday like this?

You’ve lived and worked all over the world, from Oman to New Orleans. Which has been your fondest postings?
New Orleans, as it was my first time abroad and the place where I met my wife, Liza. It also became the turning point that led me eastwards and to explore Asia. I would also say Yangon, Myanmar, as it was the stepping stone to inbound tourism and how I have been able to develop many friendships, all of whom have been a strong support on every milestone of my path in this industry. Bali also, as we have settled here and now call it home.

Now that Bali has been home for at least a decade, what are your top recommendations — for newbies as well as those in search of something exceptional?
Explore Sidemen for its calm beauty. Make it your holiday base as that will allow you to explore more of Bali’s East. Spend some nights also on Nusa Penida, but away from all the hyped-up Instagram spots, and just enjoy the incredible ocean views.

What do you think are Indonesia’s most underrated destinations and where do you think Malaysians should explore in 2024 and beyond?
In closer proximity, Sumba, particularly for its absolutely relaxed and less frequented eastern part. Further afield, probably the Spice Islands (the Moluccas), the Banda Sea and largely empty places to explore and dive.

What are you reading right now?
Spice Islands by Ian Burnet as I am just cruising this area, and Froth and Hustle by Christopher Brown, a frequent guest to Liza’s café, Café Bloom Bali, in Sanur, which is linked to her artisanal fresh flower boutique, The Bali Florist. It was also Liza who suggested I read it.

What are you listening to right now?
Gorillaz. I rediscovered the English virtual band on vinyl with my teenage son when he got his vinyl player recently. For podcasts, it is Lenz & Precht. A weekly ritual to keep up with society and the country in which I grew up.

What is your travel list looking like for the year-end?
Zero! I hardly plan far ahead, due to my full involvement in the company, which is still in its starting years, and wanting to be flexible should the need arise.

Source : Options The Edge