Meet Tom Grond: The Luxury Hotel Reviewer
Name: Tom Grond
Occupation: Luxury Travel Blogger
Currently in: India
Languages: Dutch, English, German and Spanish
Fun fact: I am walking around with the same model NY hat for more than 10 years now, on top of that I have a neon green swimming pants that is travelling with me for almost 4 years now as well.
Who is Tom?
If you think your life is good, think again! Luxury hotel blogger (www.traveltomtom.net) Tom Grond will give you a run for your money. With an astonishing 70 thousand followers on Instagram (and rapidly growing), he’s the handsomely charismatic traveler that you just might end up falling in love with. Tom Grond (known as “TravelTomTom” throughout Social Media) travels the world visiting and reviewing the luxury resorts that we all dream of.
“If you don’t have a destination you can never get lost!”
Born and raised in the Netherlands, just a few short kilometers to Germany and Belgium, Tom was spoon fed with crossing borders. After studying Econometrics at Maastricht University, he ultimately decided to follow his dreams and become a travel blogger. It took him until 2006 to realized that he wanted to see more of the world, rather than to live in one place. He eventually started by living on the beautiful Caribbean Island, Aruba, and that’s where all the adventure began. A year later, he travelled solo around the world, passing through almost 30 countries in 1 year. Ever since, he’s been unstoppable. He’s already travelled around the world now a couple times, been to 76 countries, almost 40 of which have had repeat visits. “Maybe I should try to visit every country in the world twice!” Tom jests, then more seriously, “Is there a record yet?”
Climbing the Ranks
It was only November 2011 when I started my blog and from then my travel life changed a lot. I had been pushed into blogging from different sides and it was only until big organisations asked me for my blog that I realized I was missing out a lot. My Snapchat ‘traveltomtom’ was actually my first blog as I was showing a daily video on my story how the life of a full time traveller really looked like. More and more questions were coming my way through all my social media and I decided to open a website. The fact that I travelled for years and had been around the world multiple times, visited every continent for at least two times gained me a lot of credibility. That I think was the key to my success and why I quickly started being named in a lot of articles in like Huffington Post, Daily Mail, Elite Daily and Matador Network.
Tom's #1 Travel "Do"
I have been asked over and over how I afford to travel around the world for years. My secret is that I am a master in spending money wisely! I wrote a blog about it stating that you will always have to ask yourself the question, “Is this worth the money?”. I adore Hawaii, it was such a magical place, but after a little while I had to leave simply because I was spending too much money. For the same money I spent in 1 week Hawaii I could travel around Nepal for 2 months. Travelling is not all glitter and glamour, you have to sacrifice a lot and people don’t realize that. Travelling and going on a holiday are completely different. The more you are willing to sacrifice, the longer you will be able to stay on the road!
Tom's #1 Travel "Don't"
This sounds really controversial but I believe a backpack is the most overrated travel goodie there is. Most people that go travelling for the first time buy a backpack straight away, but why? There is no need having a backpack nowadays, a trolley or a suitcase does the job just as good and has many advantages. In some occasions a backpack is definitely easier, but 99% of the travellers are not going on a motorbike trip for 4 weeks. Don’t get me wrong travelling light is fantastic and I wish I could travel around the world with only a daypack, but with all the electronics I carry around it is impossible.
The best travel experience was also the biggest challenge in my life so far. In Bolivia I got in touch with serious mountaineering and climbed a mountain of 6,100 meters (20,000 ft). It was the hardest thing I ever did, but at the same time the most rewarding thing. Every step was one closer to my goal, but the thin air made it extremely hard to make that step. At a sudden point during the summit attempt every step felt like a victory. After a long climb during the night I finally reached the summit in the early morning, watched sunrise from the top and completed my 3-day expedition. The feeling to be on top of the world was magnificent!
In Honduras I took a bus from the Guatemalan border to the capital Tegucigalpa. It started with the currency exchange where I got ripped off badly as I was not aware of what the currency rate was. It was back in 2008 and there were no smartphones at that time and I was simply not prepared at all. Then they tried to steal my bag in the bus, by one of those scams, but I was lucky I was aware of what was going on. Then the bus broke down and we were standing on the side of the road in a dodgy area for about an hour in the dark. When I finally arrived in Tegucigalpa I had to stay overnight in a dirty hotel as I missed my last bus out. The taxi driver warned me not to go out of my room and so did the hotel owner: you look to much gringo! No food, straight to bed!
3 Most Unique Experiences?
Iranians are among the loveliest people in the world. The fact that there are issues on a diplomatic level between the West and Iran does not make the people in the streets bad. Everywhere I came I was invited to come to their house and have dinner with them. It was such an incredible journey that I would definitely recommend everyone to go and see it with their own eyes rather than believe what the media is telling you. Safety issues in Iran? You must be kidding me! I have never felt unsafe at all. Just play by the rules!
Last year I was pretty impressed by the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul: a mosque housed in a catholic cathedral. Paintings of Jesus Christ are restored and it was amazing to see that Muslim tourists were taking selfies with Jesus. Especially in this crazy world we live in nowadays it was an amazing sight.
There are many unique places in the world and they are hard to compare. Iguazu Falls in Argentina/Brazil are simply incredible, but so is Machu Picchu in Peru. Or what to say about the thousands of islands in San Blas in Panama or the fantastic Great Blue Hole in Belize? The world is full of unique places. Though one of the most unique places in the world I have seen is the Altiplano and the Salar de Uyuni in the South of Bolivia (pictured). A vast desert on an altitude of around 4,000m (13,000ft), with the most incredible landscape ever. Red lakes, green lakes, volcanoes, hot springs, geysers and the immense salt flat.
Best Luxury Resort?
I have stayed in over 40 luxury hotels/resorts. My best resort experience was in Tugu Lombok, Bali. The location, the organized activities, the staff and the beach were fantastic, I had an amazing time and made memories for life. The two best hotels were in Singapore. The Ritz Carlton and the Shangri La were both mind blowing scoring 5 out of 5 stars at all levels. I also stayed in the amazing Marina Bay Sands on the same trip and crashed a DJI Phantom drone [!] in the main building with a friend of mine: experience of a lifetime! That definitely is Thailand! Luxurious resorts are affordable and 5* hotels sometimes go around for only $100 per night. The service is impeccable, as the Thai people will always do everything for you with a big smile. Standards are really high, food is super tasty and the buffet breakfasts are a feast.
What makes a trip?
I am always happy to be somewhere new and walk around somewhere for the first time. The weather plays a huge role though. I was in Bali in 2010 to celebrate New Years Eve, but it rained for 72h straight. It was crazy and definitely no fun! A lot of people always ask me how it’s possible that it’s always good weather in my Instagram photos, but the truth is I wait long enough to get the good shot! If there is a highlight in a country and the weather is not perfect for photos I wait an extra day. I am not on a holiday!
I never thought this country would become my favorite country for food. I am a big sushi fan and an Argentinian barbecue is delicious too. But the most tasty food journey I made in India. I loved all the different spices and flavors. Every region has their own specialty and therefore the food never tastes the same. I love to try things I have never had before and in India new dishes and flavors constantly surprised me.
“Freedom is the most precious feeling, so let’s get lost. Why is getting lost such a negative thing? Getting lost for me means I get to see new places and new places make me smile! Life is all about happiness so try to chase it! Don’t have high expectations, let new destinations surprise you. People with expectations are those who get disappointed. “
We hope you enjoyed getting to know Tom as much as we did! Keep in touch with his adventures via social media, and check out some of our other interviews with inspiring travelers like National Geographic photographer Michael Christopher Brown, World Traveler Shazia Chiu, and Luxury Yachter Eric Goldring.