Meet our new travel designer Matej Kettner

Meet our new travel designer, Matej Kettner. And he has quite a travel story to tell.

From Iran to Italy and Australia to San Francisco, we ask Matej about the experiences that inspired him to become a travel designer.

Matej at Bruny Island, Tasmania

Matej, what type of explorer are you?

I’m a combination of inspirations from all over. I’m the person who backpacked through Tasmania and Italy, stayed in lovely villas in Bali, travelled to Iran but also experienced beautiful lodges in South Africa.

I started travelling when I was 16 and my idea was to get the most for the least. So I’ve learnt the effectiveness of travelling and how I can best explore it all.

For example, I’m a foodie guy. Mostly I’m trying to eat as local as possible in a destination. But I also want to try a Michelin star restaurant, to find a balance and experience the diversity of food.

What do you look for when you’re planning your own trips?

I’m very open minded. My life quote is “I would like to leave this world enriched, rather than rich.” The word enriched to me means to taste, meet people, see and touch things.

I’m trying to travel as much as possible to less touristic places, because in my experience they usually bring the most of a destination’s soul.

The places I want to visit are very different. Iran was a lifetime and life changing experience for me. The country just mesmerised me with its history and culture. I’ve also been to Australia many times and I’m planning another trip there this year.

Matej at Borj-e Azadi in Tehran, Iran

Is there something you can’t travel without?

Music. I always have my headphones and I really do believe that certain places deserve a beautiful musical background. And then hygienic and antibacterial gels.

Do you pick the music for the place before you travel?

It depends on each trip and the destination. I remember Byron Bay in Australia, a really spiritual place with this Aboriginal history. It’s just so laid back and I was sitting on the beach, going through my music until I found it.

Whereas before visiting Iran I watched the Apple TV series Tehran. They have a very good Middle Eastern influenced soundtrack. Modern electronic music mixed with very traditional sounds. I wanted to listen to this music, to see if it really captured the soul of the places I visited.

I also remember a grotto in Thailand, this old cave, where we were humming and working with musical sound healing, to see how the vibrations work. These kinds of things really interest me.

What current travel trend most resonates with you?

My travels are always about tasting, hearing, meeting, understanding… I think people are currently turning much more towards this. 

Covid was a blunt and sanitised period of time when people couldn’t really do or feel anything. So I think a trend around the senses, around sound, is coming. And I think that the EliteVoyage being a pioneer in supporting something like this will be really good.

Is there a single trip that sticks out as number one in your memory?

I cannot say my favourite trip or favourite place. Every place has given me something, which inspired me to return or made me decide never to go again.

I really like San Francisco, just sitting and watching the sunset and the ocean.

Portugal was amazing. I like the people and the countrysides are beautiful. Going from Porto through Nazare to Lisbon was very special for me.

Iran was a favourite because I was completely by myself and it was some kind of a spiritual trip, where I went to places like Persepolis and Necropolis, Isfhahan.

Matej at Sacre Coeur in Paris

What places do you really want to go back to?

Definitely Africa. South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. I went there on a work exchange trip many years ago. And the region just blew my mind. I lived through such an amazing experience and I hope I can return soon.

Through my relationship I was able to experience Australia through aboriginal eyes. Which created very special memories and understanding of the country. And Australia has such landscapes! These things definitely made Australia one of my go-back-to countries.

It was on these trips that I also visited places like the Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and Vanuatu.

What places are highest on your bucket list for a first time trip?

South America. I’ve been to Central America but not experienced all the fun in countries like Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Peru.

Recently I’ve spent a lot of time exploring Asia and the Pacific, so from next year I’m going to start focusing on the Americas side of the world.

Is there a hotel or resort that most impressed you recently?

Probably the Olea All Suite Hotel in Zakynthos, because of the design and how the whole place feels.

Also Nobu in Shoreditch, London. That was really good. Their Sunday brunch is so much fun.

Eating a corned beef sandwich in London

You speak Italian. Tell us about your experiences in Italy?

I first visited Italy when I was 14 years old. When I touched Italian soil for the first time, it somehow felt like I used to live there in my previous life.

The bigger love for Italy and the language came through my studies. I’m an opera singer with the side of a piano which I have studied at Prague Conservatory and in Italy. I was lucky enough to live in Milan for work and be back and forth between Italy and Prague.

In Italy the food is brilliant, you have very nice places and beautiful beaches, the architecture and history of the country is just splendid.

In terms of tourism, Italy has become much more developed since my first visit. The services you can get, the level of the food and entertainment is so much higher to what I first remember.

Before joining EliteVoyage you were a travel designer in your spare time. How did that start?

I’ve always loved travelling and also organising, it’s probably part of my ADHD. My American friends were travelling to Europe for ridiculous prices, much higher than if I booked things for them directly from Europe.

So I started creating their trips and also trips for their friends. For example, last year I organised a honeymoon trip for a young couple, to Portugal, Morocco and Spain.

People travelling with me didn’t need to take care of anything – it’s your itinerary, just make sure you’re at the right place at the right time, everything else is on me. I made all the bookings and was on the phone in case of a problem.

I created automated emails, so people woke up each morning with a summary of their day, their reservations and what they should see in the area. I really loved it because I’d been working in corporate for almost ten years and doing my own thing was a nice balance.

To start working at EliteVoyage and make travel design my main job is really fun.

How have you found the first two months working at EliteVoyage?

I’m so hyped about the job, which is making it easier to learn and perform the day to day tasks. Throughout the last eight weeks I’m getting more responsibility, which is nice to build on.

After working so long in a corporate environment I was worried if I would fit in with a smaller company like EliteVoyage. I didn’t know how the energy would be. But it’s worked out really well and I really love the whole team.

After four years working from home I also had to adapt to going to the office. But because of my colleagues I don’t have a problem getting up in the morning and get to the office. Sometimes I bring my dog Albert along too.

Matej on a previous trip to the Maldives

Finally, what’s your next trip?

Maldives in April. I’m going there for scuba diving.

After that will be Los Angeles, as my best friend is moving out there.

Matej Kettner is a travel designer at EliteVoyage, designing one-of-a-kind holidays for our clients. 

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