There are always those people in your life that hit the road often and seem to have travel down to a science. And while they are great people to tap for everything from packing tips to destination suggestions, we wanted to heed some advice from a frequent traveler who also happens to be an expert in the hospitality industry.
Steve Heitzner is the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for Marriott International, The Americas, and is a 35-year veteran of the hotel industry. It's literally his job to oversee the performance of more than 5,000 of the company's hotels, meaning he travels often and has valuable insight into trends and data. Here he shares his tips for traveling as well as the best time to book and 2020 travel predictions.
What do you look for in a destination before you travel?
"I like to look at hotels and resorts that have additional amenities. Whether it is a great restaurant and bar, such as Burlock Coast at The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale, or resort amenities like tennis, fitness classes, s' mores, and live music. So many resorts have an incredible variety of amenities that you won't want to miss, and it is always a great idea to check with the concierge for their on-property and local recommendations. They are the experts."
A lot of people have a plane routine. What's yours?
"Making sure that my devices are charged! Also, ensure I have downloaded the next episodes of the TV show I am watching, grab some Peanut M&M's from the airport store and jockey for an aisle seat."
What's the one thing you always travel with?
"Pretty much everything I need is on my cell phone, so that's the most valuable item I carry. These days, compression socks are becoming the norm, as well."
What's the first thing you do when you get to a new destination?
"Check out the local restaurant scene and what distinct landmarks and cultural experiences are within walking distance from the hotel. I like to feel the destination that I am in as soon as I arrive."
How do you beat dreaded jet lag?
"I hit the gym and play tennis whenever and wherever I can. Tennis is a huge passion of mine, and I am keeping track of how many countries I have played tennis in."
Looking ahead, what destinations are on your radar for 2020?
"I think creatively about destinations that are within driving distance from the major hubs. Alternatively, it's worth finding an off-the-grid destination that has the beauty of winter but avoids the holiday rush. For example, the Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort, which is a lakefront resort in Canada, is near wine country and is also beautiful in the winter. We are gearing up for the big college games in 2020 in our fourth year as the Official Hotel Partner across all 90 NCAA championships. Fans will travel to this year's Men's Final Four championship in Atlanta and the Women's Final Four championship in New Orleans."
More and more people are taking a three day weekend, why is this beneficial? What are some great cities to take three-day weekend trips?
"We saw 2019 as the 'Year of the Weekend,' and I think that trend will continue in 2020. Consider business districts in cities for weekend destinations. The financial districts in cities like New York, Boston, San Francisco will have more availability on weekends when the business travelers head home. Vacation is essential for strong bonds, a productive workforce, and a fulfilled life."