In one line, what makes you a PUREist?
The unstoppable drive and fascination to discover more about the world we live in and its people.
Tell us your story – how did you get where you are today?
My story… I belong to the first generation that didn’t study at all under the communist regime. I was seven when the revolution in ’89 happened, so by the time I was done with high school I could go abroad to study. At my university I was part of the first batch of students to ever attend. We were pioneers in a way and came from 65 different nations. These three years changed my outlook on the world completely and I wanted to discover everything about it. I then had the luck to work with one of the world’s best mega yacht builders, Luerssen Werft from Bremen. Here I became interested in business and I learned a lot about what tailor-made and luxury really meant.
I then went for my MBA at INSEAD where I lived the most intense year of my life with people from all over the world, coming from all fields of work, all with incredible life stories. I graduated at 25 and joined for two years McKinsey & Co in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
My corporate experience made me question a lot about what drives me, what makes me happy, and what I ultimately want from life. In 2010 I took a sabbatical year in Romania and decided to give my own country a chance by staying for two additional years. Throughout this time, in a similar fashion to the years spent abroad, I travelled often to get to know my country again. I was slowly discovering such richness and genuine beauty! When I got the offer to join Giulio and Alexandra (my business partners and dear friends) in building Beyond Dracula I grabbed the chance with both hands.
Ever since I am constantly enthusiastic about everything I keep discovering in Romania or about Romania. The other day while driving I was even thinking that it’s good I did not know Romania so well before leaving at 18; I might have never left!
Can you share with us your single most life-enriching experience
Attending university with 120 other students from around the world. This was by far the most life-enriching experience I had for it opened my appetite for discovery even more. I am curious by nature but to live every single day with people from all over the world, people so different from me yet so similar… That was mind blowing and something that shaped all the choices I made later in life and my outlook on the world.
What does the term ‘experiential travel’ mean to you?
For me experiential travel means being out of your comfort zone and ready to emerge into something new that has every chance to transform you. It’s travelling in a way that changes you, it’s not something that you passively participate to. In other words, it’s a way of travelling that asks for your participation, that invites you to become part of something you are not familiar with. With a bit of empathy and self-reflection, experiential travel is transformational.
Describe your ideal client: how do they approach travel?
Our ideal client is open to discovery, curious, challenging and demanding. Our guests have heard, read or maybe even developed an interest in Romania and wish to come and experience it first-hand. They have seen the world, have gone through most of their “bucket list” and want to experience something less mainstream. They are open to adventure but wish to end the day in a unique location with high standards of comfort.
What made you decide to join PURE Life Experiences and how has doing so benefitted your business?
We wanted to join because we grew increasingly aware of the huge potential Romania has for “experiential travel” and also observed how little known this fact is. We want to bridge this gap and do it in a PUREist way. PURE’s approach to travel is the one we identify with most and the one we wish to support in Romania so that the ‘experiential’ side of travelling doesn’t get spoiled in time.
What role do you think PURE has to play in the high-end experiential travel industry?
PURE is a benchmark for high-end experiential travel. It’s a bundle of things from high-quality services, to a real commitment to both the protection of destinations but also to ensuring the best experience for guests, to no compromises.
What other brands and companies in high-end experiential travel do you admire the most?
Based On A True Story
If there were one thing you could change about the travel industry, what would it be?
I would erase all tours with a long list of objectives to reach in a short period of time. Why hurry?
Finally, who is your experiential hero?
His name is Toader Barsan, an artisan from Maramures, Romania. He’s 70 but doesn’t look a year more than 50, has four classes only and carves wood in a mind-boggling way. But more than that, despite the fact that he knows a lot of famous and important people (Bill Clinton is one of them) he is the most down to earth, cheerful and welcoming person I know. For me, he is an experiential hero for having travelled the world to show his craftsmanship only to then return to his village and continue working day in and day out in the same way he learned from his father.
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