Editor’s Letter: Paul Gallant on Visiting an Emotional Landscape

Make every journey a journey of the heart

ON THE COVER The Brando, a French Polynesian island hideaway resort that has Hollywood legends, not just scenery, in its DNA.

My most searing childhood nightmares featured me and my maternal grandfather being chased by monsters. I don’t know where these dreams came from. When I was little, my grandfather was already quite an old man, even compared to my other grandparents. So maybe it was just his age. During a stay in Ireland in my early 20s, I had a nightmare about him one night when I was in Galway, a city not far from where my maternal ancestors—and his—would have set sail from in the early 1800s, on their way to start a new life as immigrants to Canada. When I called home the next morning, I was told that, sadly, my grandfather had died that very night. It was eerie. I felt so far away and so close. Many years later, I clearly remember that phone booth in Galway where I made that call. The phone booth, in a weird way, has become my own personal must-see attraction when I visit Ireland’s west coast—I’ll stand in the spot for a few minutes, look out to sea and think of him. The moment, the feeling and the place are forever fused together in my brain. 

 When people tell me I have a great gig here at BOLD, being sent by work to beautiful places, getting to stay at posh hotels and getting to eat at top restaurants, I can’t argue. But anybody who travels for work knows that it’s not the same thing to travel for work as to travel for pleasure. A hotel’s beds are as comfortable when you’re working as when you’re on holidays, a restaurant’s ingredients as flavourful, but the aura that hangs over the experience—what you’ll remember—is completely different. 

 When people talk about, say, a resort they love, their might find themselves describing the hugeness of the rooms, all the granite in the bathroom, the funky art in the lobby and the fantastic ocean view. But I think that the feeling they’re feeling is coming from the personal moments that happened at the resort: the honeymoon excitement, the nervousness of having what might be the last family vacation before the kids become adults, the hilarity of the funny things your bachelorette party did by the pool so late that night. For a truly meaningful vacation, the geographic landscape, no matter how beautiful, is a backdrop for a traveller’s emotional landscape. The best destinations and the best properties know this. No matter the adventures that are on offer, no matter how attentive the service, it must complement, never distract from, the memories that are being made. And it’s those memories, not the strawberry pavlova or thread count, that keeps us coming back to our favourite places.  

 In keeping with the theme of travel, family connections and emotions, Britney Hope brings us along on her trip to New Zealand, which is both a touristic adventure and an emotional journey (it starts on page 60). And speaking of Irish stories—Jane Cooper Ford found a few in County Laois (page 22); so did Doug O’Neill in Belfast (page 68). 

For those who want more than memories from their travels, our style spotlight starting on page 41 will help readers capture the look and feel of some of our favourite destinations—whether they buy the ticket or not.