As a country music fan, Danny Marish, a branch manager with Hays Travel, was left feeling like a real star as he took to the stage at one of Austin’s legendary music venues.

Q: What were the highlights of the Cover Stars trip?
A: It was non-stop from the moment we landed. The first evening was my absolute highlight. The rodeo was something I had always wanted to see. Being told we were then going to see Willie Nelson – a total legend – was even more amazing, as I am a country music fan. That made me feel as if I had really arrived in Texas.

Q: You’re a bit of a foodie, so how did you rate the Texan cuisine?
A: Let’s just say I got really involved with all the food we had. The night at the Mexican restaurant, Joe T. Garcia’s, was incredible. It was a favourite of president George Bush – if it’s good enough for the president, it is definitely good enough for me. I made sure I ordered steak any chance I could, then got to try a bit of everything at the amazing Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que. It was so flavoursome and a unique way to enjoy that kind of food. They should definitely open one over here.

Q: What did you make of the hotels?
A: I loved the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine. Because of its location, it is an ideal stopover hotel for people going to Hawaii or other areas of the US who are looking for a stopover with some character. It has got such a good atmosphere. It’s quite a relaxing hotel, but in a location where there are plenty of things to do.

Q: What did you make of Fort Worth?
A: I don’t think you can walk into Fort Worth without feeling like you’re in a cowboy film. I didn’t know what to expect, but I am so glad I got to visit. Seeing people tie up their horses and the cattle drive was just amazing. It was such a different experience from anything I have previously had in the US.

Q: Speaking of classic America, what did you make of the malls?
A: I had been to other Simon Shopping Destinations, but I had never used the shopping voucher booklets. I will definitely recommend them to customers. I ended up buying an iPhone, two watches and plenty of clothes. I had already had my makeup done when I headed to the Apple store to buy my phone, and I think I was getting a funny look from the shop assistant.

Q: You were taken to legendary venue, Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater. How did the photoshoot go?
A: I was a little anxious ahead of it, as I don’t have many photos taken of myself. But Steve the photographer was fantastic and quickly made me feel at ease. The venue was an amazing setting. We weren’t originally meant to have the pictures taken in the main theatre, but it made all the difference. After being in awe of Willie Nelson, it felt fitting to then be on that stage – and to feel as if I was a country music star myself.

Q: How will the trip help you sell the destination in the future?
A: I have travelled to the US quite a lot, having been to Nashville and Las Vegas, and I can hand on heart say that Texas is my favourite place that I have visited. This is in terms of mainland America, as I still love Hawaii. But they are so different, they just don’t compare.

Danny’s outfit

Designer dapper meets country cool as Danny rocks a Hugo Boss sable velvet sports jacket from Grand Prairie Premium Outlets. His Lucky Brand jeans and cowboy hat complete a look that belongs on the main stage at Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater.

Simon Shopping Destinations has shopping centres within easy reach of every major international tourism destination in the USA.

Danny’s sales tips

Try to obtain a Simon Shopping Destination VIP booklet. I saved about $200 by doing this.

Include Texas as part of a traditional US tour. It also makes a great stopover on the way to Hawaii.

Upgrade your flight on the way home. Night flights can be difficult if you’re uncomfortable.

Danny on business class

The food on the British Airways flight was fantastic and the entertainment selection was also great

I can also see why it is popular for couples to travel business with BA, and will recommend it more in the future. As the seats are paired to face each other, it is like having your own private booth together.

Obviously, if you are travelling alone, it can still provide you with a private experience.

But American Airlines is probably better for the solo business-class passenger. It was comfortable, relaxing and if you want to sleep all the way, I would recommend any travellers upgrade to business class.