Designing Experiences: A Behind the Scenes Look at How We Craft Our Journeys

“Ever wondered what goes into crafting a truly memorable experience? There are a lot of moving parts in the process, namely what goes down before we open up a new destination to our curious travellers.”

– By Paulyn T

Discerning travellers with an appetite for adventure are looking to further elevate their journeys by getting under the skin of their destinations and broadening their perspectives through transformative experiences. To that end, travel brands are creating personalised itineraries that go against the grain, are more immersive, and even, at times, unpredictable.

For Blue Sky Escapes, experiential travel has been our guiding philosophy from the very beginning. The itineraries we craft are one-of-a-kind, meticulously curated and deeply personal. But enabling our clients to immerse in the luxury of experiencing the places they visit so viscerally — and comfortably — takes a lot of hard work on our end.

Human connection is universal — even when you can't speak the same language. Oraldy (pictured) is a Mongolian Kazakh nomad and a former eagle hunter. Nomad hands are believed to be significantly larger than the average man's. To test this theory, a traveller compares hand sizes with him as his family watches in amusement

Before adding a destination to our portfolio, we spend months laying down the groundwork; from careful planning to consideration, to going on recce trips and putting our minds and bodies on the line — all in the hopes of getting the lay of the land, knowing which cultural immersions are worth going out of one’s way for, and more.

Research and development

Unravelling magical experiences in new, far-flung destinations is a thorough process. Countless hours are spent sourcing, gathering and sifting through mountains of information. While reading the fine print, we reach out to hundreds of contacts on the ground who have expert knowledge on the ins-and-outs of the region; allowing us to build and draw on a select network of insiders to help us navigate ‘unchartered’ territory.

All smiles: a Bhutanese Layap woman proudly shows off her handmade cheese for the camera

“Before adding a destination to our portfolio, we spend months laying down the groundwork; from careful planning and consideration, to going on recce trips and putting our minds and bodies on the line – all in the hopes of getting the lay of the land, knowing which cultural immersions are worth going out of one’s way for, and more.”

Trial and error

A Blue Sky Escapes journey is one that we can personally vouch for. Going before our travellers, we seek to extract the essence of a place by fully familiarising ourselves with the destination. We inspect every room in our hotel portfolio, try exotic food with names we can barely pronounce, and seek out indigenous artisans practicing centuries-old traditions.

As for close encounters with the unexpected kind, we’ve found ourselves stuck in all sorts of situations — from a three-hour traffic jam caused by boulders falling off the cliffs above us; to a car breakdown in the most remote of locations, hundreds of miles away from the city (the chief from a nearby village came to our rescue by jumpstarting our car). And those were the easy fixes. We’ve also had to fend off a swarm of bees, extricate our horses (and mode of transport) from chest-deep mud, and sleep in tents stalked by wild wolves. All in the name of forging less travelled routes that promise new perspectives.

Ultimately, these unpredictable, often terrifying and sometimes harrowing experiences help us anticipate the best routes, accommodations, weather conditions, restaurants and resources needed for our journeys to take shape.

After a three-day herd migration across the Mongolian Altai: our travellers unloading their nomadic hosts' traditional ger, which serves as the family's summer home for the next three months

Refine and revise

The further we dive deeper into a new destination, the more we are capable of creating serendipitous opportunities for unforgettable adventures — experiences that cannot be found in a guidebook or on the web. Like a stunning field of wildflowers in the backyard of a farmer’s home. Or a nondescript shop stocked full of locally-produced snacks.

By the end of a familiarisation trip, we’ve amassed copious notes, and more importantly, an acute sense of what will excite and inspire our intrepid travellers, and what won’t. We then scrutinise, screen, and pore over every single detail, cherry-picking and refining each aspect and experience.

“Going before our travellers, we seek to extract the essence of a place by fully familiarising ourselves with the destination. We inspect every room in our hotel portfolio, try exotic food with names we can barely pronounce, and seek out indigenous artisans.”

From concept to fruition

It’s an overwhelming feeling putting it all together at the end — weaving together personalised experiences, inspiring stories and holistic interactions into one incredible journey that we’re proud to invite our travellers along on. But the goal is this: with each journey, we hope to not only help wanderers navigate destinations completely foreign to them, but to inspire them onto a path of self-discovery.

As Oliver Wendell Holmes puts it perfectly, “A mind stretched by new experiences can never go back to its old dimensions.”

This woman belongs to one of the many ethnic groups in Myanmar. Known as Sino-Tibetans, or Karenni, they are native to the high hills in the remote region of eastern Kayah

“The further we dive deeper into a new destination, the more we are capable of creating serendipitous opportunities for unforgettable adventures — experiences that cannot be found in a guidebook or on the web. Like a stunning field of wildflowers in the backyard of a farmer’s home. Or a nondescript shop stocked full of delicious locally-produced snacks.”

Sometimes the best routes are the ones you didn’t intend to take. We took the path less travelled in central-east Mongolia and found ourselves in this beautifully isolated oasis

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