Chris Harrison savvy on romantic travel
BY MIRIAM DI NUNZIO Staff Reporteremail@example.com January 23, 2013 4:42PM
Chris Harrison hosts a “romantic getaway” seminar at the Chicago Travel & Adventure Show on Jan. 26.
CHICAGO TRAVEL & ADVENTURE SHOW
♦ 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Jan 26; 11 a.m - 4 p.m. Jan. 27
♦ Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Rd., Rosemont
♦ Admission: $9-$15; kids 16 and under, free
♦ Visit www.adventureexpo.com
Updated: January 24, 2013 6:55PM
Chris Harrison has seen plenty of love blossom — and crash and burn — during his 12-year tenure as host and confidant on the hit ABC series “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette.” But it’s often the romantic locales featured on both series that no doubt make many a viewer’s jaw drop as Harrison and company visit some of the most romantic spots on the globe.
Traversing the globe has given him a unique perspective on traveling, so much so, that the 41-year-old Harrison, who admits to traveling as much as he can even when he’s not working, is in town this weekend for the Travel and Adventure Show in Rosemont where he will be talking about his favorite destinations for romantic getaways.
We caught up with Harrison who shared his travel insight.
Question:Why did this speaking opportunity appeal to you and what can folks expect at your Travel Show appearance?
Chris Harrison: The “Bachelor” has turned into a travel show as much as it is about romance and love. We travel to four or five different countries per season. These are primarily very romantic destinations or some gorgeous hidden gems. I make the seminars very personal. I start with an overview of the location we visited. Then I bring in some personal shots that I’ve taken while I was there. I also travel with my kids a lot so there are photos from those trips as well. I talk about what I look for when I travel and try to relate it to the show. Then we have a great Q&A session.
Q.Some of the places the shows visit look like there’s a bit of “Hollywood magic” going on.
CH: We take these destinations and them put them on steroids and make them look so amazing. That beach in Fiji where Ashley and JP got engaged was there, but beyond the sand and the water, we put in the rest, such as the dock with the boats floating behind it and such.
Q.How much time do you actually spend in the exotic destinations featured on the reality shows?
CH: It depends. For the cast and crew, they’re sometimes on the ground there four or five days, and sometimes I am too, but I only have to work about two of those days. Sometimes I’m literally in and out in 24 hours.
Q.So what are your top favorite romantic getaways from the shows?
CH: That’s like picking a girlfriend or a bottle of wine. You have to know your own taste. For me, I need good people. I don’t care how blue the water is. If the people suck, the destination’s gonna suck. If they’re not welcoming, then it’s not gonna be a good trip.
But I would put Italy on top. Great people, great food and wine, great places to walk. It has everything. Florence is my favorite city to get lost in. The best hidden gem in Italy? Positano. It’s the most romantic little postcard of a place and I absolutely enjoyed visiting it.
Bora Bora was another place that was so talked about and so overblown before we went there to film the show that I never thought it would live up to expectations. But it did so and then some. The water is bluer than you can imagine and the people are great. There’s tons to do there, especially if you have that certain someone that you want to be naked with for a week. On the flip side, I took my kids there and we snorkeled and went diving and had a blast.
For romance, I love the vibe in Prague. Lots of young college students and a young, cool crowd. The city hasn’t been touched since Medieval times. It wasn’t touched during WWII like the rest of Europe. You can just get lost in it. Marvelous.
And we had such a great time in Iceland. Reykjavik is a great town. The hot springs are amazing.
Q.What U.S. destinations would you call the most romantic or true hidden gems?
CH: San Francisco, Hawaii are great romantic destinations. A real hidden gem? This season we went to White Fish, Montana. It literally sits below Glacier National Park and it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. The rivers and streams are gorgeous. It’s this little ski town but you can do anything there. You can go out for a burger or have a nice glass of wine or play golf or go fly fishing.
Q.What about South America getaway spots?
CH: Belize really stood out. Ambergirs Caye. I had my kids with me. You can do everything from diving to fishing.
Q.And what about Asia?
CH: Chiang Mai really stands out. We stayed at the Mandarin Oriental and everybody on our crew, who have been all over the world with the show, were totally blown away. It’s a very fun city. Great markets. Truly a hidden gem in Asia. And this season we’re in the Golden Triangle. And the Mekong River and Burma, which might not come to mind when you think “romantic getaway,” were just beautiful and very romantic.
Q.What’s the biggest mistake vacationers make once they reach their destination?
CH: People buy in to too much touristy crap. Just get up in the morning and head out. That being said, stick to what you like. If someone took me to Florence or Rome and gave me $20 Euro and put me on the doubledecker sightseeing bus I would literally want to kill myself. Being around 50,000 other tourists and packed on a bus and running through a church drives me crazy. But that’s my taste. I love just walking with my friends and wandering into a restaurant you just stumble upon. Having nothing to do but being busy all day. That’s what I love. That’s not for every traveler. But I highly recommend trying it.
Q.Where would to take the love of your life for a romantic escape?
CH: I would take her to Bora Bora.
Q.What was the biggest let-down in terms of a romantic destination that didn’t live up to the hype?
CH: Paris really let me down. The minute you arrive they don’t like you because you’re American. I’m really good when I travel somewhere. I try to learn phrases and embrace the culture and the people. In Paris, the more we tried to speak French, the more unfriendly the locals became. The Bahamas were also a let-down. I felt like I was putting everybody out the entire time.
Q.You travel so much with the show. Where would you like to return to for personal travel?
CH: The [Jalousie] resort we stayed in on St. Lucia. It was just amazing. It sits up on the hills and looks on the Pitons [mountains]. The food was remarkable and the people were great.
Q.The best shopping in the world can be found in...?
CH: Italy. The markets in Asia were also fun. And we had a great time shopping in Istanbul, especially the spice market and the regular market.
Chris Harrison will be hosting a seminar at the Travel and Adventure Show from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Jan. 26. And autograph session will follow.