Adventurous activities on Cover Stars Californian road trip helped Sam, of Kingston upon Thames, conquer some of her fears. She talks to Ben Ireland.
Q. What drew you to entering Cover Stars this year?
A. One of the girls at work went on the trip last year, so I’d heard all about it. California and LA were top of my bucket list, so she pushed me to go for it. I’d never won anything before, so I couldn’t believe it when I did.
Q. And you flew business class as well?
A. Yeah, another first for me. Going on American Airlines was amazing – I loved the black leather beds. I fly a lot, and experiencing business class was a real bonus. I’m quite tall, so having the space to stretch out was great. It’s helped me sell more business-class seats to clients, because I can talk about the benefits.
Q. Was LA all you expected it to be?
A. I loved it. When you recognise the sights from the films you’ve seen, and realise how many celebrities live there, it’s like you’re in a movie scene. The Hollywood sign probably stood out the most for me, although it’s not as big as it looks on the silver screen. I love to travel and don’t often return to the same place again, but there was something special about LA. I want to go back.
Q. Where was your photoshoot?
A. In front of fountains and palm trees in West Hollywood. It was a dream come true. I’ve done a photoshoot before, but it was just a paid-for thing with a friend. To do it in LA made me feel like a superstar. I wore black leather trousers and a gold top, which I thought fitted nicely with the LA vibe.
Q. Then you moved on from LA?
A. That’s right, we went to Pismo Beach, which was totally different to the city. We went dune buggying, something I’d never tried. I let Jack, who I was sharing with, do the driving. At one stage he didn’t realise there was a hill, and we went flying over. It was good fun, but scary. I kept thinking we were going to go over a really high drop. We didn’t, but we got stuck in the sand, which made everyone laugh at us.
Q. What else did you get up to?
A. We went wine tasting at Tolosa, which was lovely. I don’t drink much wine, but in California it was really nice. You can taste the difference. We also went to Central Coast Trailrides at Creston Ranch to ride horses at sunset. I’d not been on a horse for about 10 years; last time, the horse completely bucked me off, so going back was terrifying. I was anxious, but the views were amazing, and the ranch was run by a lovely couple. It’s definitely something I’d suggest to customers – we usually just sell flights, hotels and transfers, but it’s always nice to add extra activities.
Q. What was the next stop on the trip?
A. Santa Cruz, where we went on a boat trip with Chardonnay Sailing Charters and saw an orca. After that we had a barbecue on the beach, which was one of the best parts of the trip. We ate great food, with a band playing and toasted marshmallows on the fire, all snuggled up to each other. I’ve never just sat round an open fire like that before, and I really enjoyed it.
Q. Anything else before you flew back?
A. We went ziplining at Mount Vernon, which I was also nervous about. But I really pushed myself and in the end I was really glad I did. The pictures were great. A few activities took me out of my comfort zone, but the whole trip was one of the best experiences of my life.
Samantha’s sales tips
- Suggest business class to clients celebrating a wedding, anniversary
or special birthday.
- Get customers who are seeking adventure to have a go on a dune buggy or quad bike.
- Mention all the iconic landmarks in LA and West Hollywood, not just the Hollywood sign.
Samantha on… road-tripping
Going to diverse parts of California was a great experience and something I’d never done before. People ask for Los Angeles, but now I have the confidence to recommend they visit smaller destinations in the state. Also, going to lots of different hotels adds to the experience. It was a new type of holiday for me, but there was a great atmosphere in the bus – everybody kept putting their music on and we’d have a sing-song. When I arrived at Heathrow, I was a little nervous about going away with people I had never met, but we all got on so well. I’d definitely do the road trip thing again, maybe with family and friends – and even to a different destination. Having been on one now, I have the confidence to sell it, and I’d certainly suggest this itinerary.