Have you ever wondered how to negotiate a review trip with a hotel in a dream destination?
As a fairly new travel blogger, securing a trip to a luxury to a destination like Mauritius seemed completely out of reach. Certainly, it wasn’t a trip I could have afforded myself, unless a windfall fell into my lap.
Still, it was a bucket list destination. Is the sea really that blue? Is it really as pretty as it seems?
Then, in August last year, my family and I were invited to spend five glorious days in the brand new Kandima resort on Mauritius. Let me tell you how it came about.
In February we attended TravMedia’s IMM (International Media Management) meeting in London. In advance of the day you can view the travel companies/tourist boards attending, and you can book 15-minutes with each of the ones you want to talk to. One of them just happened to be Kandima in the Maldives. We exchanged business cards – and I made sure throughout the following months that I kept in touch!
When we first met the PR team for Kandima, the resort had only just opened.
It’s a resort that aims to be a perfect destination for all kinds of travellers – singles, families, honeymooners, retirees … that’s a lot of markets for an independent travel brand to launch in. They didn’t exactly have the ‘big hotel’ brand name to do the marketing for them – so, having followed them on social media, I realised they were using influencers (and celebrities) to spread the word.
In June, having just lost my mum to cancer and needing to run away/do something positive to help me cope with the grief, I set my sights on going to Kandima. So, I exchanged many emails with them, and we were offered media rates for a stay (in return for blog posts etc). Not only that, but they offered to upgrade our accommodation (we were actually asked to pick what we wanted!) All we needed to do was source our flights.
We used Skyscanner initially to find the airlines who fly from the UK to Male, directly and indirectly. For the dates we wanted, Etihad Airways via Abu Dhabi, came out the cheapest. In fact, on the way home we arranged a 2-night stopover in Abu Dhabi (using booking.com) and worked with a tour company there to do a discounted desert safari adventure.
Kandima – the island and the staff – were/are amazing. Because we had a flight delay on the way out, they upgraded our island hopping transfer from a domestic flight to a seaplane (for no additional cost).
Our accommodation was simply amazing – a beach villa with private infinity pool facing the lagoon, and a hot tub and outdoor bathroom to the back.
We were offered three complimentary excursions. We chose night fishing, snorkelling the reef, and a dolphin sunset boat ride.
They were all amazing, but the night fishing was especially good as we saw spinner dolphins, had a great group of people to laugh and fish with; and the following day we were invited into the professional kitchens to be taught how to prepare and cook an amazing fish meal. My son (who wants to be a chef), loved every second.
Kandima has a larger swimming pool to use, pool table, several speciality restaurants over and above the inclusive ones, a very good kids club called Kandiland, and a water sports centre.
Every visitor to Kandima receives a complimentary kayak rental, and snorkel/flippers/mask loan for the time you spend there. They offer lots of water-based activities, including scuba diving, jetskis, paragliding – and lots more. You can be as active or as chilled out as you like! Definitely something for everyone.
It truly was paradise. It was the escape I so desperately needed. There is no way we could ever have justified a trip of this magnitude alone, but they helped us to make it happen.
What We Did in Return
While in the Maldives we posted regularly to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
On our return to the UK we wrote a range of posts detailing the activities we did, looking at their different accommodations, and transfer options. And because we loved it so much, we often retweet and comment on other content that the brand posts online.
My top three tips to anyone wanting to work with a resort or brand in a dream destination, are to:
- Try and build a relationship with them over time.
- Give a solid reason why you want to visit THAT place and THAT resort.
- Be generous and creative in what you can offer in return.