Harley Riak is a veteran travel and event planner with over 40 years in the industry, spanning leisure and corporate travel. He is the President of HBR & Co., specializing in creating bespoke travel experiences for discerning travelers. His network of friendships and partnerships across the travel industry, and literally across the globe, ensures the most genuine welcome for his clients wherever their destination.
Last fall, we visited Santo Stefano di Sessanio, a small medieval commune and hilltown in the Abruzzo region of Italy. Long abandoned, the town has been painstakingly and lovingly restored, preserving its history, architecture and culture. Many structures in Santo Stefano date from the 11th to 15th centuries. The only hotel is the Sextantio Albergo Diffuso, a series of original dwellings spread throughout the village, complete with original furnishings, but comfortable modern amenities. We went hiking in the breathtaking Gran Sasso mountains, and truffle hunting and saffron picking with local farmers. You can help harvest grapes, learn to bake bread, weave fabric on a loom. It was a view to another time.
More and more, our industry is seeing the overcrowding and overtourism of the traditionally iconic travel destinations. I think it’s important that we become a resource to our clients to find those less travelled places that can offer a unique and authentic experience while being sensitive to our footprint and the issue of sustainability.