Where the experts holiday: Marion Schumacher

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

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Marion Schumacher, the Ritz-Carlton’s regional director of public relations (Europe), shares her holiday experiences exclusively with CD Traveller

What do you like to do on holiday?
First and foremost, I like to relax and unwind – to take a break from my work which involves lots of planning. However, despite working for the Ritz-Carlton, I don’t usually stay in luxury hotels!
After a few days of ‘R and R’, I find that I am ready for a change of pace. I like to experience nature and wildlife. The more naturally beautiful a place is, the more energised I feel – it’s like pushing the reset button.

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Where did you last go?
I travelled a lot last year with work, so for my holidays I decided to spend two weeks in Germany (my home country). The first week, my husband and I went hiking in the German Alps in the Chiemgau region which is very close to Salzburg, Austria. My muscles hurt for days afterwards, but it was worth it: the scenery was majestic.
During the second week, I went on a fasting and hiking retreat on the island of Sylt – a hang-out for Germany’s high society. I like to describe this beautiful island, as the ‘German Hamptons’.

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Do you know where you’re going this year?
I do: Shanghai. There’s a big buzz right now about this thriving metropolis, and I have to see Shanghai for myself. We have just opened our second Ritz-Carlton hotel in Shanghai, so I plan on combining business with pleasure!

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Of all the places you’ve been to, what was your favourite and why?
That’s a tough question! I have many favourites…each time I visit a new place, I become fascinated by the country’s culture, environment and people. That said, Bali and Costa Rica both made a lasting impression on me. I fell in love with Bali’s beauty as well as the island’s gentle people while in Costa Rica, I was impressed by the nature and abundant wildlife.
Toledo (Spain) also touched me with its history: I felt like a character out of one of my favourite novels: Lion Feuchtwanger’s The Jewess of Toledo. I’d also like to mention Marrakech and Istanbul – I never get tired of visiting these two cities.

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Which destination do you wish to travel but haven’t been?
Argentina has been on the hit list of my husband and I, for a while now. As soon as we can find a free month, we will definitely visit. The plan is to really explore every corner of the country including Patagonia and the  southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia.

In your own country, what would you recommend tourists see that isn’t in the travel guides?
I am always amazed by how beautiful Germany is and how much there is on offer off the tourist trail. I’m a huge fan of the peninsula Fischland/Darss at the Baltic Sea – and it’s less than three hours away from Berlin by car.
For families, Wolfsburg – where I was born – is only one hour by high speed train from Berlin and boasts the edgy Autostadt theme park. I guarantee that design fanatics will love it. Autostadt is also the home of The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg – designed by the French grand dame of design, Andrée Putman.
Finally I’d advise making a pilgrimage to Potsdam. Although Potsdam is actually in all the guidebooks, many visitors to Berlin don’t make the effort to see the magical, UNESCO World Heritage listed town. Prussia’s Francophile, King Frederic the Great, shaped this place with countless castles, parks and water ways: don’t miss the Old Dutch quarter, the wooden Russian quarter and the royal estate: Krongut Bornstedt.

How do you plan your holiday?
I tend not to plan and never know where I am going more than a month in advance. Of course, this can cause problems – flights will be booked up and so on. When this happens, I’ll head for northern Spain. We have family there, who also inflicted by wanderlust, and are happy to take off on a trip around Spain on short notice.

How often do you go away?
Whenever possible, be it for a long weekend or two to three weeks.

Who do you travel with?
I usually travel with my husband: after 23 years of marriage, we are a good team and share the same likes and dislikes. However, my daughter Rachel (who is studying in Vienna) suddenly wants to join us on holiday again. Not long ago, trips with mum and dad weren’t considered ‘cool’.

Where do you see tourism in your country in 10 years time?
Ecotourism will be the norm. As such, I expect to see organic food and the like served everywhere – even in simple guest houses. I also hope that there will be more ‘giving back’ initiatives – this is something we are doing in all our hotels (see www.givebackgetaways.com).

Thanks Marion!
To find out where other industry experts holiday, don’t forget to keep clicking back. For more on the Ritz-Carlton, visit www.ritzcarlton.com

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