Achieving Gold status as a Travel Counsellor is a fantastic achievement as it is the ultimate milestone in running a successful business. This status says that you are the best of the best. We celebrate this achievement with a Gold dinner in South Africa and an international Gold trip to a spectacular destination. This year, the Gold TCs could choose between Corfu, Sardinia, Thailand, or Mexico.
Four South African Gold TCs chose Thailand and joined 28 international Gold TCs and their partners, a few head office support staff, and a selection of supplier partners. I was lucky enough to accompany Gold TCs Karin Livingstone, Kirsty Fourie, Nina Gerdener, and Roslyn de la Hunt.
Green Leaf Properties
Our first night was at the Melia Mai Khao, a certified Green Leaf property in Phuket. We believe we play an important role in educating our Travel Counsellors and their customers about responsible travel. For this reason, we offer a choice of over 20,000 Green Leaf certified properties.
Cocktails and impromptu Karaoke
Two Travel Counsellors directors, Karin Morris and Claire Hill, welcomed everyone to Thailand with an entertaining cocktail function. It was a great start to the trip and allowed the Gold TCs to meet their international counterparts and flex their Karaoke skills.
Elephant Hills Luxury Tented Camp
Next on the itinerary was a stay at Elephant Hills, a luxury tented camp in the jungles of Khao Sok. This property is one of Travel Counsellors' top responsible travel properties because they incorporate sustainable practices into everything they do and champion the ethical treatment of elephants, the gentle giants of the jungle.
Part of the experience at Elephant Hills is the interaction with rehabilitated elephants. The elephant camp forms part of the Khao Sok National Park, where we were allowed to get up close to the gentle giants, an experience that will stay with me forever.
We left the elephants behind and explored the River Sok by kayak. Tree-napping snakes and black-capped kingfishers greeted us as we slowly moved downriver.
Gold Conference and New-to-Gold
During every Gold trip, TCs who have reached Gold status for the first time, are celebrated in a special ceremony. Karin Livingstone and Kirsty Fourie, our own new-to-Gold TCs were honoured the following morning during a ceremony that included video messages from family and friends that didn't leave a dry eye in the house.
A conference followed covering many aspects of the TCs' business, from social media best practices to niche TCs sharing their operational secrets.
Letting our hair down
Elephant Hills also boasts a floating camp at Cheow Larn Lake, which is where we headed for a day of swimming and kayaking in the lovely warm water. Because of our buddy system and team structures, TCs can enjoy their downtime knowing that their customers are cared for by fellow TCs. It meant a memorable afternoon of hilarious lake-side antics as the TCs let their hair down.
Devasom Khao Lak and a sensational end
We spent the last day at the Devasom Khao Lak, where the TCs enjoyed an array of activities, including a Thai handicraft-making class, Sound Bath therapy, a kayak adventure, and forest bathing, to name a few. A breathtaking sunset was the backdrop to the evening's poolside cocktail function, after which our top performers were treated to a top performance of a different kind, a sensational dinner at Takola, awarded the Bib Gourmand for three consecutive years from 2021 to 2023.
Travel Counsellors Community
Travelling back home after this amazing experience, I was able to reflect on the friendships forged during the four days. The TC community is a powerful one, and you get to witness the love and respect everyone has for each other when you attend an event like this.
We laughed, made friends, danced, learned together, and returned home feeling even more part of this special TC community.