Top Gear for Your Next Trips
How technology and style are making travel experiences memorable and, above all, safe.
As tourism in France resumes to the “new normal,” artisans, creators and scientists have stepped up with cutting-edge and stylish products to help visitors enjoy quality and memorable experiences while feeling safe – and even a bit pampered.
“You want something luxurious, but at the same time very basic,” says Damien Philipot, co-founder of Melchior & Balthazar, a specialist cosmetics firm that makes high-end hand gel for a select clientele. “When you’re on a guided tour, you can’t just stop everything to go wash your hands. And if you’re going to use a product several times a day, it should make you feel good every time you do.”
Melchior & Balthazar got started in the bespoke hand-gel business this past spring through a phone call from a private jet company looking for a sanitizing product it could offer its clients. But not just any product.
“It needed to have a certain texture – not too sticky or drying to the hands, but not too liquid, either, so as not to drip and stain the interiors,” Damien recalled. “And it needed a pleasant aroma – not industrial, not too perfumed.”
After an intense period of research and testing, Melchior & Balthazar now produces the gel in two scents - fleur d’oranger (orange blossom) and thé blanc (white tea) – and in two formats, pocket-size individual packets and a 300ml apothecary bottle for reception desks and other high-traffic areas.
Hippocampe, a 70s-inspired French fashion brand created in 2002, turned its workshops and designers over to making fabric masks when the crisis hit.
The masks are 100% cotton poplin, tightly woven and multi-layered to conform to the rigorous French “Afnor” standards for protective masks worn by the public. A tiny red-white-and-blue French flag appliqué, affixed to each mask, is a token of Hippocampe’s pride in its home country.
“Our main business is still making clothing,” said Sydney Liu, the founder of Hippocampe. “But at a time when we couldn’t work, and the government was saying people should wear masks, and there weren’t enough masks – well, we just felt it was our duty.”
Cultural institutions around the globe are already familiar with Tonwelt, a pan-European maker of high-tech wireless audio guides whose credits include such blockbuster multimedia exhibitions as DaVinci at the Louvre and“Opera” at the V&A.
Today, Tonwelt’s Go + two-way headphones and microphones are becoming the gold standard for quality site visits, allowing guests to hear each other while keeping a safe distance – and improving the experience by enabling real-time conversations between audience and experts in crystal-clear sound.
"We regularly have very positive comments from our customers, such as "It's perfect!'" says Vincent Pelluard, associate director of Tonwelt.
"A hardware solution that is reliable in every way makes the visitor experience unique," he says. The current situation "accentuates the need for a reassuring solution for visitors who want to feel safe in a dense environment in public."
Secret Journeys uses Tonwelt GO + wireless headphones and microphones on its experiences and provides Melchior & Balthazar hand gel and Hippocampe masks to all its guests.
For more information:
Melchior & Balthazar: http://en.melchior-balthazar.com/
Paris is starting to feel like Paris again, with fewer tourists
After a two-month lockdown in France — one of Europe’s most strict — the infection rate of COVID-19 has been beaten back to the point where the country, and its capital, are truly open again.
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