Perfect Portugal

A once-in-a-lifetime trip perfectly combined learning with touring, creating an inspired business trip.

I am still on a traveler’s high from a business trip I took to Portugal, where I combined my love for travel with design on a fabulous, inspiring trip as part of the invitation-only Leaders of Design Council. This is a group of architects and designers from around the world, who come together once a year to discuss best practices, new ideas and glean inspiration from each other.

Right from the start we knew this was going to be special when we checked into the Four Seasons in Lisbon. There was stunning artistry in the details at the hotel. The architecture and design were simply amazing.
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The trip continued with a dinner at Placio Foz, where Fado guitar music floated through the air – the experience was complete with transportation via tuk tuks.

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A day of learning and leaning in took place at the Pavihao de Portugal – right on the water. The interactive workshop was about how technology has affected our business along with how to work with people from different generations. This was presented by Sabrina Clark of SY Partners and 4 others. SY Partners helps transform teams and company culture with years of experience and a proven track record. It reaffirmed to me that a fresh perspective can bring great change.
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That evening, I was able to have dinner at Museu Nacional dos Coches – truly a unique experience and one that the designers adored: Dinner set amid historic couches is truly a once in a lifetime experience – the accompanying drum band only added to the overall spectacle.
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This trip felt like a continual highlight, it’s almost impossible to pick just a few moments but here I go:

The Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and the Torre de Belém tour was an amazing historical space.
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A day trip to Sintra, which felt like I was in a fairyland as I visited three, astounding, imposing and amazing castles in one day.
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Historic churches never stop feeling special, especially to Americans who don’t have many cathedrals. It was breathtaking. A revered silence took over the group as we realized the historical significance.
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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and a local favorite was the Pastel de Nata, a Portuguese custard pastry. Very delicious!
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Finally, I gleefully rode the historic number 28 yellow tram through Lisbon. (Back story: Due to the undulating route, only the classic Remodelado trams, which were originally commissioned in the 1930s, are able navigate the steep inclines and sharp twists of the tracks.)  It was a delight as I was able to tour districts including Baixa, Graça, Alfama and Estrela. It saved me from having to climb the steep hill from Baixa to the castle and Alfama.

Back to business:

Brian Mullaney of Wonderwork spoke about his passion for giving back and work with charity. It’s inspiring and a gentle reminder to all of us how important it is to find a way to give back, to find a passion that works beside our work.

Holly Hunt, whom we all admire for her business acumen and strong design, spoke with us about her transition. She sold her namesake company and is moving forward. Change is never easy but she shared how she handles it with aplomb.