Introducing Our New Travel Designer, Kateřina Ulmanová

Meet our new travel designer, Kateřina Ulmanová.

She started in luxury travel in 2019 and has already had quite an impact at EliteVoyage, after starting two months ago.

We asked Kat about her travel passions, favourite trips, and her specialism in complex itineraries.

Kat, what attracts you to travel design? 

It’s the creativity, I love creative things. Designing trips to destinations like the Maldives can be interesting, but I like the really complex itineraries most. The challenges excite me, especially when clients are going to less unexplored places.

I also really like it when clients want to meet after a trip, to share their feedback and stories and experiences. Their excitement always rubs off on me!

Is there a trip you are particularly proud of?

Brazil. First the client chartered a private yacht to explore the Amazon from Manaus. Then he went to Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetlands.

He is a biologist and there were many precise details in terms of particular flora and fauna. He also wanted to go fishing and it was essential to get his preferred fishing equipment to these remote places in Brazil.

The feedback was amazing! The client got to name a jaguar, because he was the first person to see her. With these trips it feels like I am a part of the journey, almost like I was there in Brazil seeing the jaguar with my own eyes.

Where did your passion for less explored places begin? 

My dad bought me an atlas for Christmas when I was young and we would read it together before bed. I wanted to explore all the countries we talked about. I still do, places like Papua New Guinea.

Or Costa Rica, which I visited recently. It was amazing. I really wasn’t prepared for a country to change me so much.

After finishing school I went to live in France, then moved to London for three years, then Worcester in England.

Still when I go to London it feels like coming back home. I know the restaurants, what’s best to see, what’s really worth it.

Why was Costa Rica such a life-changing experience?

Kat in Arenal, Costa Rica

For the first time I arrived somewhere new and was completely relaxed, in an instant. I think it’s the whole vibe of the country.

The people are so genuine and nice, it really is pura vida everywhere, the desire and feeling for a pure life.

Wildlife is important when I travel and Costa Rica is so good for this. Great guides are essential though. For example, we spotted a potoo, a bird that looks like a tree branch, impossible to see without a guide who knows.

Monteverde and Arenal were both amazing. Arenal because of the volcano and also because of Nayara resort. All three Nayara properties are good but Nayara Tented Camp is definitely the best.

I also really liked Tortuguero on the Caribbean side, taking a local boat through the jungle, spotting caimans and tropical birds. However, it’s not particularly luxurious and there’s only one lodge I could recommend to clients on this side of the country.

How do you like to travel? What type of traveller are you?

Kat at JOALI BEING, Maldives

I am a mixture of many things. I want to go out and get my hands dirty and come home clean.

I like to go out in nature, explore as many places as possible, then enjoy a nice bathroom and very comfortable room.

Most important to my travels is how I sleep. I always want to wake up fresh so I can go out and explore more.

What upcoming trips do you have planned?

Soon I will go to Miami for the LE Miami travel show. It will be my first time in the United States, so that’s very exciting.

On my bucket list is Acatenango in Guatemala, hiking up a volcano to watch it erupt through the night.

Then it’s my honeymoon later this year. Which I’m still thinking about (laughs).

Kat in the south of Sardinia

The world has so many unexplored places, even close to home. Recently I was in Pistoia in Tuscany, staying at Oasyhotel, which is now part of  Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

It’s a small lodge-style property in its own nature reserve that’s home to wolves and deer.

We did wolf trekking in Tuscany, following their footprints through the forest, which was very exciting.

What are the most interesting trips you’ve worked on recently?

There are many! I just finished a nice trip through the Italian Lakes and Switzerland for a client.

A combination of Costa Rica and Guatemala is another I am proud of.

I’m currently planning a trip to Sri Lanka, combining an Ayurveda retreat with some travel around the country.  Places like Bahirawakanda Temple and Sandagiri Maha Seya, plus a train between Hatton and Gampola.

Why do you think you are so good at these complex itineraries?

That’s maybe better for my colleagues to say. Empathy is probably one reason.

I take it very seriously, sometimes personally, when clients are not happy or something goes wrong. It’s almost like the negative experience is happening to me.

Patience is also important. These complex itineraries take a long time. For example, the trip to Brazil was six months in the making. Without patience I wouldn’t be able to do the job.

What is the secret to creating a really good itinerary?

Precision, especially in terms of logistics. It’s essential to perfect the practicalities of the actual travel, to create time in the itinerary and find the best way between places.

Getting the right pace is very important too. It’s doable to see ten places in ten days, but it’s not so enjoyable. Clients must feel relaxed and the time that’s needed to feel relaxed is different for everyone.

What recommendations do you have for clients who are interested in a complex holiday to a new place?

You don’t need to do the research online! If you wake up one day and think I want to go to Brazil, just get in touch.

I always want to know the dates, not exactly, but roughly. Seasonality is such an important consideration and without a rough idea of when, I can’t plan the best trip.

Sometimes people have a date and it doesn’t work well for their destination, so I can offer alternatives, destinations with similar highlights or a similar feeling.

Actually, wherever you dream of exploring you can get in touch and we will explore the possibilities together.

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