'Twas a crisp and icy morning on the 6th of January 2003 when Original Travel was officially brought into the world. Its mission? To make sure you have the most wonderful holiday experiences imaginable, down to the very last detail. And 12 years, 8 months, 3 days and a few hours later that statement still stands. Which is why our team of destination experts regularly pack their suitcases, grab their passports and selflessly jet off around the globe in search of the best destinations, hotels and experiences out there, whether getting off the beaten track and exploring a newcomer to the luxury travel world, or revisiting an old favourite. It's a tough gig, but someone's got to do it, and here's just a few of the places we've been to in 2015.
"Explore the iconic temple-strewn landscape of Bagan either by bicycle or hot air balloon; with over 2000 ancient temples and stupas spread across 100 square kilometres of flat plains, even the slightest elevated position gives the most magnificent 360 panoramic views. I pictured Rudyard Kipling to have been standing atop one of these temples when he wrote 'This is Burma, and it is quite unlike any land you know about" - Carrie, Asia team
"Mexico is a firm favourite of ours for its wonderful blend of culture, history, food, beaches and amazing hotels. If you want to get off the beaten track in Mexico head to Palenque and watch the sun set across this beautiful archaeological site while on a private tour, learning all about the Mayan civilisation that once existed here. If you fancy something even more off the beaten track, we love Yaxhiclan and Bonampak, which are just 3 hours from Palenque. Very Indiana Jones." - Hero, Americas team
"I don't think I've ever seen beaches as beautiful as those in the Seychelles. Fringed by picture-perfect swaying palm trees, the sand is so fine and white it could be talcum powder. The colour of the sand, I am told, is all thanks to the Parrot fish; they eat the coral and what they pass through their systems is what ends up as white sand on the beach… charming. But it works." - Ellie, Africa team
"Slovenia is a true hidden gem, from its small but perfectly formed capital, Ljubljana, with its meandering streets, cobbled piazzas and Baroque architecture, to the simply stunning scenery of Lake Bled, which is so beautiful it has to be seen to be believed. This is one country that is not camera shy and will make any novice look like a complete pro - go now before everyone else cottons on." - Pip, Europe Team
"A stunning coastline, a mountain range ripe for adventure, a scorching desert, world famous vineyards, an array of National Parks, some of the best cities in the world, Hollywood and a laid-back, fun-loving attitude to boot... California has it all. This all-encompassing state sets itself apart from the rest not only because it literally ticks every box, but also because it has managed to escape the stereotypes that engulf the rest of the USA." - Ysobel, Americas team
"While it may not be the first African destination to spring to mind due to its lack of safari options at present, Mozambique's coastline is every water baby's dream. Above the waves, island hopping aboard a traditional Dhow is an incredibly idyllic way to spend your holiday while underwater, Mozambique offers some amazing diving - whale sharks anyone?" - Ra, Africa Team
"Abandon your misconceptions about Portugal (it isn't all golf and Brits abroad). From the wild, untouched beaches of Comporta (and not a sunburnt Brit in sight) to the rolling hills and olive groves of the Alentejo, to some of the very best hotels in Europe (take a bow Areias do Seixo and Malhadinha Nova), Portugal packs quite the punch. The custard tarts alone are enough to sway me back!" - Flora, Europe team
Iceland. (Icy) Land of geysers, volcanoes and, how to put this, quirky types. Yes, this is a place where the majority of people believe elves exist (true story), nudity is popular, nay, required in some parts and raw puffin heart is considered a delicacy. Flora is there at the moment!