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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Insider Interview: Abercrombie & Kent "Guardian Angel"

Abercrombie & Kent is renowned in the travel industry for its remarkable itineraries to photo-worthy destinations and the care and detail poured into each meticulously planned trip. A huge part of what makes that all possible is A&K’s ground team, who provide the local knowledge that lays the groundwork for a safe, memorable trip, no matter the destination. We recently spoke with a member of A&K South America’s “Guardian Angel” team, Edgar Palomino, who shared his travel tips and secrets of getting the most out of a trip to his stomping grounds, Peru.

FROSCH Insider: What are the challenges and rewards of working with tourists in Cusco?
Edgar Palomino: The biggest reward is knowing that we look to provide the very best service available and that we often achieve this and surprise our clients in doing do, it’s enormously rewarding to see the smile on the faces of our guests when we manage to organize complicated requests at the last minute. Certainly the altitude plays a part in any trip to Cusco but with the hands-on service that we provide by meeting each guest at the airport upon arrival personally and dropping by at the hotel on a regular basis to make sure that all is OK it is extremely rare that we have any problems and our guests really feel like they are being taken care of.


FI: For travelers coming to Peru for the first time, what do you wish they would know ahead of time that would make their visit more rewarding?
EP: Peru is often associated solely with Machu Picchu and many of our guests are unaware of the rich culinary culture before they arrive. (This is due to heavy Asian, African and European influences coupled with native ingredients from the coast, Andes and Amazon.) One of my great pleasures working for A&K is introducing this to our guests and sharing my favorite restaurants as La Cicciolina known for its fusion cuisine where Moroccan, Italian and Peruvian flavors are blended , or MAP with its Mediterranean style intermingled with Peruvian ingredients that makes for some unusual dishes.

FI: What career or educational background did you have prior to working with A&K?
EP: I obtained a degree as an Official Guide of Tourism at the American Institute of Tourism, and I also got the Advanced Diploma at the American Cultural Institute as well as Le Diplome de Paris at the Alliance Fran├žaise.

FI: On your days off, what do you like to do in Cusco and beyond?
EP: The Andes and certainly Cusco are filled with local cultural expressions which are most apparent during the many festivals during the year. Two of my favorites are Inti Raimi and ‘Semana Santa’ (Holy Week) that have very different roots in pre- & post-Columbian culture. It is always a lot of fun to get involved in the festivities and definitely something I would recommend for anyone visiting Cusco.

FI: What’s the most unique request or situation you’ve encountered working as a “Guardian Angel?”
EP: Not so long ago we had a family of guests who had to leave very suddenly for New York to go to an unexpected emergency meeting. We had a major problem with availability on any flights but through our local contacts we were able to organize a private charter within a couple of hours to get them where they needed to go. 

Thank you, Edgar and the A&K South America team!

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