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My Velvet Escape blog turned ten-years-old on 30th December 2018. I vividly remember that evening, ten years ago, a day before New Year’s Eve, when it all began: I’d just returned from a five-month round-the-world trip to a cold and gloomy Amsterdam, a mood that perfectly matched the state of the world economy at that moment – several months earlier, the fall of Lehman Brothers marked the start of a prolonged global financial crisis.

Me in my banking attire. 🙂

I left my banking job in July 2008 and decided to take a break by travelling around the world. My plan was to find a job at another bank when I returned. When I embarked on my trip, opportunities were plentiful and I had no doubt that I would be back in banking in no time. However, things took a drastic turn in the following months and when I returned from what was a trip of a lifetime, my future in banking looked bleak.

On the verge of a depression, I decided to turn my attention to that one thing that never fails to lift me up: travel. Armed with a large collection of stories and photos from my round-the-world trip, I decided to start a blog. That evening, on the 30th of December 2008, I looked into WordPress for the first time and began my new venture.

The origins of Velvet Escape

However, the story of Velvet Escape didn’t actually start that December evening. Velvet Escape was conceived six months earlier, at my office desk, in June 2008. The bank I worked at had just been acquired and as a manager, I soon found myself in limbo as the new managers arrived. I continued to hold my position but the separation process was lengthy and I ended up coming to the office every day but with nothing to do. As a way to keep my sanity, I started writing about my travels. I clearly remember how excited I was when I walked up to my team and told them that I was starting a travel website called Velvet Escape. “It sounds like a brothel”, was one of the responses. Haha! The name stuck and I kept myself busy at the office by writing about my past holidays and designing potential logos with Powerpoint.

One of the earliest versions of the Velvet Escape website

Velvet Escape 2.0

By the time I left the bank and embarked on my round-the-world trip, Velvet Escape was a simple website with a modest collection of stories and destination guides. However, I decided to shelve the website and instead focus on enjoying my trip. Upon my return in December 2008 and faced with a very uncertain future, I learned about WordPress and breathed new life into Velvet Escape, this time in the form of a blog.

Keith-TBU-Porto-photo
Winning the Best Luxury Travel blog prize at TBU Porto in 2012, one of my proudest moments in the early years.

starting the blog that December evening in 2008 is arguably one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life.

The rest, as they say, is history. Business plans and ventures came and went, some worked and some didn’t, but throughout this time, my love for travel never waned. Looking back, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for all that Velvet Escape has brought me. I didn’t know it then but starting the blog that December evening in 2008 is arguably one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. Velvet Escape has brought me so much: places I’d always dreamed of visiting, a whole new bunch of friends, countless travel memories, awards and media attention. Whilst running two companies, travelling around the world for conferences and trade fairs, and focusing my energy on iambassador, I always made sure I set aside time to maintain the blog. It has become an important part of my life and through the years, I’ve continued to enjoy sharing my travel experiences and interacting with my readers; answering their travel questions and reading their feedback.

A new look

When my blog turned ten last December, I promised it a new look by the end of 2019. I’ve kept that promise and I’m truly excited with the result! I hope you like the new look too and that it helps you to easily find more travel inspiration, information and tips. Navigation has become a lot easier through the new Destinations page where you can search for your next Velvet Escape. In addition, you can also search for content based on your Travel Interests. The Travel Planning page, a collection of travel planning resources and travel accessories, has also been refreshed.

THANK YOU for being a part of this journey and I hope Velvet Escape continues to inspire and help create more meaningful travel experiences.

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