Do you know someone who has an incredible zest for life? Someone who’s up for anything? An adventurous traveler, eater, and general trier-of-new-things? For us, that someone is the indefatigable Anthony Utard. We got to talking with Anthony recently when he was taking care of some of our clients in Costa Rica and were immediately drawn to his spirit. Let us introduce you…
CIRE: Hello Anthony! Please say hello to our CIRE family…
ANTHONY: Hola! Bonjour! My name is Anthony Utard (will spare you the additional first names haha) and I am the Pura Vida ambassador for Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo. As their Travel Industry Sales Manager, I manage relationships with our travel partners from the US Northeast and Europe, for this jewel of a property in Central America.
CIRE: OK, now we’re intrigued… Why so many first names? Where are you from?
ANTHONY: Anthony Mathieu François Utard! I was born on a tiny island off the eastern coast of Australia called New Caledonia, an overseas French territory. The capital where I grew up, Noumea, is absolutely beautiful. Wherever you are, you are never more than a 20-minute drive from a beach and the ever-changing colors of our blue lagoon. It is actually a super fun town, buzzing with great places to eat, have drinks at sunset, and shop a myriad of stores owned by local artisans. But it’s not only about this town: the island itself is stunning and is an incredible playground for nature lovers, whether it is in our tropical dry forest or our UNESCO protected lagoon, the largest in the world. I’ve been blessed to grow up surrounded by nature, turquoise waters and white sand beaches, and with parents who always took their kids on all their travels. Obviously, this has defined the career path I took working for some of the most beautiful resorts.
CIRE: So do your parents get full credit for your career path?
ANTHONY: Not fully… I’ve always had a passion for aircrafts. Our family home was a 5-minute drive from the domestic inter-island airport in Noumea, and each Wednesday afternoon my grandparents would take me there for a bit and I would watch planes take off and land. Nothing could make me take my eyes from them. Always wanting to work on a plane, once I turned 15, I started to study and practice for my private pilot license that I got when I turned 17. Ultimately, I realized that as much as I loved flying, I’d need a job that was more interactive with other people (12 hours in a cockpit, not my thing haha) and decided to go to a hospitality management school in Paris, and the rest was history. I still have that passion for planes and am slightly geeky about it.
CIRE: We’re a bit geeky about planes, too! Occupational hazard. Do you have any other hobbies?
ANTHONY: I always have a gigantic smile on my face as soon as I am on a boat and am an avid water-skier and scuba diver. Then anything that will spike up my adrenalin, I am usually up for it, so I have to admit I love a good theme park: the crazier, the faster and the higher the better!
CIRE: It sounds like you’re in the perfect place, then! Tell us more about Costa Rica and why our clients should visit.
ANTHONY: There are so many reasons why people come to Costa Rica: R&R, wellness, jungle exploration, ocean adventures… And the truth is, you can do everything from our resort at the Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo. We are located at the very end of a private peninsula, stretching into the warm Pacific Ocean, with our own microclimate, and with thousands of acres of wilderness in our “backyard”, so guests can explore on land or water. Guests can encounter local wildlife pretty much anywhere they go within the resort or when wandering around the peninsula, from coati families to iguanas and sea turtles, and our guides will take them on early morning hikes to spot howler monkeys as they wake and call through the tropical forest. Most of these experiences are complimentary for our guests throughout their stay as we really want them to immerse themselves in the beauty and uniqueness of Costa Rica!
CIRE: Sounds idyllic! We’re booking our trip now! Where is your favorite vacation destination?
ANTHONY: Aaaaaggghhhhhh what a tricky and difficult question to answer. It all depends on the mood for the vacation. On the city / urban side, without hesitation Japan. Been there 5 times (both for work and vacation) and it always surprises me more and more each time. I was lucky enough to witness the tuna auction in the old Tsukiji fish market that no longer takes place and have breakfast (raw tuna, miso soup and Japanese beer) with one of the auctioneers. Priceless!
On the beach side, French Polynesia. It’s our “neighboring country” still a 6-hour flight from my home island. I have many memories in my heart from my times there. There is something so strong about South Pacific islands, an energy you cannot find in many other islands. I am a total water guy so being there is heaven, to waterski, scuba dive, or just get on a boat for an island picnic. And the folklore is so unique and beautiful, with chants, dances and traditions going back thousand years.
CIRE: What’s your best travel advice for our readers?
ANTHONY: I always learn a few local words and greetings, that is the first step of respecting the culture of the country I am visiting. Also, I always pack emergency change of clothes and toiletries in carry on just in case. Been stranded once very badly with nothing upon arrival and luggage did not arrive until 4 days later… And never take your sleeping pill before plane has taken off!
CIRE: Excellent advice! We love to talk about food and different cuisines around the world. Tell us about an interesting dish from New Caledonia.
ANTHONY: From New Caledonia, we have a few interesting things. We have a worm called “vers de bancoule” (bancoule worm) that only lives in the tree it gets his name from, the bancoulier. Each year in September is when you can harvest them by cutting out the wood of the tree – there’s a whole festival and eating contest around it. It might look unpleasant, but it’s delicious when sauteed with garlic and herbs! It’s kind of our local escargot.
CIRE: Oh my. We just Googled “Bancoule Worm Festival.” READER WARNING: Do NOT Google this if you are at all squeamish! Anthony, we love your energy and enthusiasm and can’t wait to send more clients to glorious Costa Rica and the fabulous Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo. PURA VIDA!
CIRE Travel is a full-service travel agency headquartered in New York, NY. Our expert team supports clients across the country and around the world.