Travel Tales: Simon Bernardi

Name: Simon Bernardi

Occupation: Group General Manager Wholesale, The Jetset Travelworld Group

Favourite travel destination?: I have many favourites depending on my mood and how long since I was last there. One of my favourites, which I try to get to every year with my family, is Hawaii – its  fantastic! Easy to get to and affordable, it’s got everything – great shopping, eating, swimming, diving, surfing and walking. The weather is always warm and if it does get wet there is still plenty to do.

Boston

Standing at the Top of the Rock in NYC - one of the best views of one of the best cities in the world.

I love to stay in the action of Waikiki as there is always something to do. Its easy to spend 10 days there visiting the factory outlets, last time I was there at Waikele I picked up two Zegna suits for a total of USD 600.00 i.e. USD 300 each.

A visit to Pearl Harbor and the USS Missouri is a must see – there is so much history it’s like stepping back in time.

If you are in the Islands for Aloha Friday, the custom is to wear a Hawaiian shirt which is the perfect outfit for the Beach Bar’s such as Duke’s on the beachfront which comes alive on a Saturday night with outdoor live music. If you go to Duke’s, be sure to book well in advance so that you get a table on the Lanai (Hawaiian for Balcony) and you can watch the sunset whilst having a Mai Tai. If you look carefully in the water in Waikiki, you can see turtles swimming within inches of unsuspecting tourists in the afternoons.

Staying in Waikiki you never know who you will come across, last time I was there Justin Bieber was on the sun lounge behind us at the Royal Hawaiian.

There are heaps of places to eat in Waikiki catering for all budgets from Local Hawaiian Plate lunches to full silver service Gourmet experiences. I work off any excess by doing a three-hour round trip walk a couple times a week from the hotel to the top of the famous Diamond Head Volcano. If you do it, remember to bring the USD 1 entrance fee and plenty of water.

At the top you may meet a tour guide Mich who will sell you a tour of the Island and its rainforests. He also takes you to all the areas used for the scenes of Magnum and Lost etc., He is up there three mornings a week and takes the tours himself on the alternate days, well worth doing for something a bit different.

Take a drive to the famous North Shore and see the big surf at Sunset Beach around November and December.  This is an awesome experience and there are some great places to see Turtles on the beach and eat at local surf café’s.

But these are only some of the things you can do on Oahu, there is much to offer on the other Islands as well and this is all before you just take time out to lay on the beach.

It’s a great family destination with plenty of flights to get there and well-priced packages.

Worst travel experience?: I was in Africa with my wife Caroline when our next flight on ‘Zimbabwe Express’ was cancelled as the airline went broke. We ended up hitching a ride with some Bush Pilots we heard talking at the bar the night before about the various ‘close shaves’ they had had in their careers.  We thought it was funny at the time but when we were in their aircraft the next day it was a more serious matter and somewhat religious experience.

On the flipside, having lost my wallet in Sydney, I arrived in Auckland at midnight with only my passport and $3 Fiji dollars. When a lady across the aisle on the plane heard of my plight, she leant over the aisle totally unsolicited and gave me NZD$200 cash and her card, saying you need this more than me and send her a cheque when I had some money, and would you believe it she was the CEO of a major bank in NZ. My worst and best travel experiences!

Best tips for beating jetlag?: I always try to move into the time zone I am going to. If I am travelling on a flight that arrives in the morning, I will try to sleep on the leg prior to landing at my destination. If I don’t, I will stay up all that day with plenty of coffee until night and that way I am fine the next day.  Another way is to upgrade to Premium Economy or Business Class.

What is the one thing you don’t leave home without (apart from your passport and ticket)?: My credit cards – they give great comfort!

Do you stay in touch with people while you’re travelling?: I email from my iPad in free Wi-Fi hotspots.

Best meal you’ve ever had while travelling?: Venice, in Italy of course!

Best/scariest/funniest drive?: A taxi through the streets of Rome – any taxi, any time. You get to do things that you never thought were possible (make sure you have reliable travel insurance)

What is your number one travel tip?: Always keep your passport safe and book with an agent so if anything goes wrong you are one call away from help.

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