GTMC Road Trip 2017
Just so you are aware I decided after leaving Monaco on the return leg that if I happened to mention an industry buzz word in this blog, I would commit a pound to charity for each word used. Mark Rodley, GTMC Sales Manager
FIRST STOP, BASEL
It’s hard to believe even with the keys to the car that we are about to complete a round trip of 2000 miles across 8 countries for the 2017 GTMC Overseas Conference in Monaco.
Our car for the journey was a very comfortable and spacious (it needed to be!) Volvo XC60 supplied by Avis. It squeezed onto the Euro tunnel carriage in Folkestone – I am sure it was Andrew Marr’s voice over the tannoy – instructing me to apply the handbrake, leave in gear and the fire exits are located etc… much to my co-pilots rebuttal, if anyone can find out please let me know.
The XC60 ate up the miles passing through the pleasant French countryside into Germany across the Rhine and down towards our first overnight stop at the Courtyard by Marriott, just a 10 minute car ride to the beautiful city centre of Basel.
The Courtyard by Marriott is a well presented property and great value too. The beds are comfortable and unbelievably, you can control the temperature of your room fit for human use, a novelty in some hotels. After a good sleep we decided to make the most of the European heat wave and enjoy the generous range of breakfast outside.
TO A GOOD CAUSE
The Alps came into view just peering over the horizon with at first thought clouds, only as we got closer did we realise it was snow-capped peaks! With green hills and traditional swiss cottages dotted around accompanied by a few outbreaks of pine tree, it was every part The Sound of Music. We drove a couple of hours closer to Italy through picturesque views accompanied by sheer drops either side of arch bridges that connect tunnels burrowing their way through the mountains, honestly they would not have looked out of place on a Roman aqueduct system.
We had the Alps behind us and Italy in front.
A slight detour for lunch in Lake Como will bring the first pound out of my pocket and into the charity pot. Surely this is one of the true definitions of ‘bleisure’. One could not have written this blog without mentioning bleisure and I am glad I did, it is worth all 200 pennies.
On the subject of money, it’s worth a thought that pre Euro would have required Pounds, French and Swiss Franc, Deutsche Marks and Italian Lira to complete this road trip. It is at this point it would have led me nicely into a paragraph regarding ‘Brexit’ however I will just be ‘soft’ and pay one pound into the pot and mention it only once, it’s ‘hard’ but I just want to keep it ‘clean’ for the future sake of this blog.
Arriving at the Moxy Milan and if you followed my journey on social media you will already know what a huge fan I am of this hotel. The friendliest of greetings and personalised rooms are just the start.
Each property of which there are 7 altogether have employed Managers and staff with personality and uniqueness which they are allowed to express in their hotel. It allows for human decisions encouraging a unique customer service experience and an atmosphere unrivaled by any hotel I have visited. You simply want to spend time in the front of house and so did the families, business travellers and leisure guests I stayed with.
I felt refreshed, on the one hand with the hotel experience and on the other I was ready for my final 200 miles down to Monte Carlo and the GTMC Conference.
BACK WE GO
Leaving the extravagant Monte Carlo behind it is only a short four hour drive to Turin, stocking up on bottles of Barolo on the way; we are in the Piedmont wine region after all. Located just to south of the city centre the hotel is just around the corner from the old Fiat factory made famous with the test track on the roof, now a huge shopping centre. Original features are around including the winding road from top to bottom allowing cars to the track.
The hotel for the night was an AC property courtesy of Marriott, more specifically AC Torino which on the face of it is hotel that has it all, it did not disappoint. I could not find fault with my stay, efficient, friendly, and comfortable, even a work station in the room to catch up on all those important emails. Access was made easy by free high speed Wi-Fi that actually connected first time and decided it wanted to be Wi-Fi for the duration of my stay, so no re – entering a code a thousand times over!
The hotel too came with a fitness centre. Although I didn’t use it I can report all the necessary equipment is present and correct, cardio, weights, topped off with Turkish baths, Jacuzzi and whirlpool.
SNOWFIGHT AND BUSINESS
The longest sustained driving period of the whole road trip, however we did have the top part of Italy and the Swiss Alps to entertain us. I had especially been looking forward to the Great St Bernard’s Pass, unfortunately none of the dogs made an appearance whilst at the summit. At 2500ft it is half the size of Mt Blanc but possibly every bit as spectacular to visit, jaw dropping views, twisty roads complete with hairpins and snowball fights to keep us busy.
Heading towards the five star Sofitel Luxembourg Le Grand Ducal, the drive through France and into Luxembourg was comparably dull to the backdrop of the last 200 miles or so, although it did give myself and Julie a chance to reflect on what has been a great GTMC Conference.
LAST NIGHT IN LUXURY
Met at the car by Christian who subsequently parked the car for us. We headed into a pleasant lobby and welcomed by a friendly Matheus who checked us in and was happy to direct us to the city centre only a 10 minute walk across the bridge over the valley to find traditional Luxembourgian cuisine and yes that is the correct term I checked.
Huge comfortable beds greeted us in our rooms, which too were elegant and stylish. We finished off our trip in the morning with breakfast on the 8th floor overlooking the Petrusse Valley and the top of the city.
I thought parts of the Autostrada’s in Italy were straight but compared to the miles of arrow straight roads in Belgium, Italy seems like the twisty road of the St Bernard’s Pass.
The Eurotunnel was as effortless as going through a car park barrier, just as easy as the outbound journey. 40 minutes after Andrew Marr had spoke we were off the train and heading towards the greatest capital city in the world, London!
AND THE AWARDS GOES TO….
Handing back the car to Avis Euston Station is a 5 minute job, one would think being such a central location it would be problematic with parking etc, but it’s made easy with designated space around the back of the building. I will finish the road trip on a rather uncanny coincidence, let me explain. The GTMC Conference was labelled as ‘The Next 50 Years’ taking us up to the year 2067 and the total mileage for the road trip… yes you guessed it 2067!
If I was to hand out awards for the trip they would go accordingly.
Most luxurious hotel – Sofitel Luxembourg Le Grand Ducal
Best Business Hotel – AC Torino by Marriott
Best Newcomer and surprising – Moxy Milan
Best All Rounder – AC Torino by Marriott
SPECIAL THANKS TO
Julie Cooper – Co pilot
Charlie Hart – Co pilot