The purpose and meaning of travel differ with each individual. Some like to chill and unwind, while others pursue uncommon thrills. Is there a way to experience the paramount of both pleasures? Standby with your passport and touch base with Scott Dunn.
Following the success of its first Seriously Special coffee table book, the luxury travel specialist unveiled a second edition, Seriously Special—The Experiences, which features adventures that'll inspire travellers to venture beyond their comfort zone for their next getaway.
'Unforgettable' is a permanent code in Scott Dunn's core travel offerings and this thoughtfully curated collection is no exception, all you've got to do is to name your interests and passions.
The atypical private tours range from adrenaline-fuelled adventures to unlikely wildlife encounters and unique culture immersions—think snorkelling between tectonic plates, teepee wilderness camping in Lapland, and an Angkor Thom scavenger hunt by bicycle. With a sophomore collection that adds up to more than 50 experiences, you'll wish you could have more time to engage them all.
Esquire had a chat with the Asia CEO of Scott Dunn Asia CEO, Chang Theng Hwee, on underrated destinations and what's in his bucket list.
ESQ: What does travel mean to you?
Chang Theng Hwee: I have a unique passion for travel and exploration. It's venturing into the unknown, the desire to explore unique corners of the world. It's also an escape, immersing yourself into the culture of another country to fully understand and experience a different way of life.
ESQ: How did you cross paths with Scott Dunn and what are your thoughts on the acquisition?
Chang: Scott Dunn CEO Simon Russell approached Country Holidays in June 2016 as they were interested in acquiring a local tour operator to expand into the Asian market to offer their guests a global 24 hr service. It took nearly 18 months of detailed discussions around Country Holidays, Scott Dunn’s business philosophy and company’s strategies before I made the decision to sell to Scott Dunn. We both believe in strategic synergies and that as a united team we can go on to achieve great things.
ESQ: Which destination(s) do you find underrated and an unlikely place to travel?
Chang: We recently hosted an event for Country Holidays guests in Singapore & Hong Kong with National Geographic photographer Mike Yamashita on the Silk Road. He spoke about his vivid travelogue through Marco Polo’s footprints across the fabled lands or Iran, Afghanistan to China which was fascinating.
I think there is a lot of scepticism about the level of safety in these countries which is why tourism has never had the chance to flourish. We’re encouraging our guests to see these destinations which is why we’re launching a brand-new Signature Departure for 2018; Gansu—Silk Road Less Trodden, which follows the start of the China Silk Road which originated from Xian.
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ESQ: Between travelling alone and in pairs or group, which do you prefer and why? Will the individual traveller miss out any fun?
Chang: If I had to choose one, travelling with my family would win. There's nothing better than sharing travel experiences with the ones you love. We're just about to travel to the French Alps for a hiking holiday which we're all really looking forward to.
Travelling as a solo doesn't mean you miss out on the fun at all. We always ensure our guests have the very best guides who can completely tailor tours to their individual interests be that art, food or photography. If guests are ever concerned about travelling solo, we encourage them to join one of our luxury small group 'Signature Departure' tours which are a brilliant way to meet like-minded travellers.
ESQ: Do tell us your travel essentials or items that you can’t live without when travelling.
Chang: I like to think over the years I’ve become a very efficient traveller and always try to only take the essentials, so my luggage is as light as possible. Interestingly I never take a camera when I travel. Holidays are precious, and I firmly believe you should live in the moment and avoid constantly looking through a camera lens, that's how unique sights are missed.
ESQ: What are some unique, unusual or memorable experiences with Scott Dunn travellers?
Chang: Over the years Scott Dunn has done it all from closing a pyramid in Egypt for a private dinner for an esteemed guest to organizing a wedding in a hot air balloon over the Masai Mara in Kenya. Scott Dunn has also just launched a brand new collection of unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences called 'Seriously Special—The Experiences' which features snorkelling between tectonic plates in Iceland, glamping in remote India and quad biking on the Makgadikgadi Pans of Botswana.
ESQ: How do you keep the Scott Dunn travel experience updated and fresh?
Chang: All of Scott Dunn’s holidays are completely tailor-made and based on guest’s preferences and requirements. A comprehensive product team are constantly working to develop Scott Dunn’s product offering. Staying at the forefront of new property openings, travel trends and exciting and unique activities which travel consultants can then incorporate within guest’s itineraries is important.
Scott Dunn ensures that they vet all the hotels listed on their website, with each travel consultant spending time visiting the countries they specialize in. This means guests receive the very best travel advice, ensuring the best-suited hotel is chosen for them with activities selected around their interests.
ESQ: You’ve visited over 116 countries on all seven continents in the world. Are there still places left in your bucket list that you wish to explore and why?
Chang: If there's an opportunity to travel to a new destination I’m always keen, even if it's not one on my 'bucket list'. Next, I’m off to the Ukraine and Belarus which are two new destinations for me. There're not your typical travel destinations but that’s what I’m excited about. I'm particularly looking forward to exploring two of Europe’s last genuine travel frontiers, they are nations rich in colourful tradition, warm-hearted people and off-the-map experiences.
ESQ: What’s next for you and how do you feel about ecotourism?
Chang: The main focus for the remainder of the year is to continue with integrating the Country Holidays team onto the Scott Dunn systems as we'd like to be fully operational as Scott Dunn by the end of the year.
In terms of ecotourism Scott Dunn's charitable fund ensure that as a company we are giving back to the communities that we work with. Ecotourism is an area that’s going to develop over the coming years as people want to become more and more sustainable not only in their home but also when they travel. We firmly believe that the travel industry should be the ones leading the way and fully support hotel groups such as Six Senses & Soneva or are making real advances towards proving once and for all that sustainability and luxury are not mutually exclusive.