I took a full month over Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed relaxing, being with my family and switching off from work. I can highly recommend it. We travelled to California and spent time with good friends in the San Francisco Bay Area where we were treated to wonderful hospitality and unseasonably beautiful (and warm) weather before heading up to the mountains to ski. Here are some of the lessons I learnt along the way:
1. Kids have no fear! We put them on the ski slopes on the Monday morning. They had never skied before and we needed a refresher so we booked a private family lesson for the whole day. By the end of the day, the kids were zooming down the beginner slopes and I couldn’t keep up with them! When does the fear factor kick in? It seems to mentally cripple so many adults. We have a lot to learn from children.
2. People will pay for luxury. We were referred to a terrific organization called Ski Butlers by the concierge at our accommodation. They offer a wonderful service, for a premium, of course, but we felt it was great value for money. They came to our condo the evening we checked in. We had provided our sizes beforehand. The ski butler turned up bang on time and fitted our boots, skis and helmets (almost obligatory) while we sipped on a glass of wine in front of the fire. He then packed everything up and took it to our ski locker for us. So no waiting in line at the equipment rental place – we were able to walk straight out of the door onto the gondola (with our pre-paid electronic ski lift passes, of course).
3. How high is high? We thought our ski butler service was pretty good. On the ski lift, we heard from someone staying at the Ritz Carlton that they had access to a ski concierge. You call the ski concierge five minutes before you are ready to head out to ski and they go to your locker, get everything out for you and meet you out the front where you put on your boots, step into the skis they have laid out for you and ski right onto the piste!
4. San Francisco is doing well. We took a day trip to Alcatraz and every boat was fully booked out. The Exploratorium was doing a roaring trade and restaurants and coffee shops were packed. One interesting sight from our Alcatraz trip – a former inmate signing copies of his book! Whatever next?
5. Qantas, our much maligned airline, offers a pretty good service. We flew from LA to San Francisco and back with American and the service is a shadow of Qantas’s on every level. We should be more thankful for what we take for granted in Australia.
Back to it now for another exciting year. One of the highlights is bound to be the Proactive Accountants Network Annual Conference in Bali in July (http://www.thepac2014.com/). Looking forward to catching up with Alan Weiss again for more brain-filling learnings.