We are a boutique owner-operated agency founded by Director, Marieke Brugman who has over thirty years experience in the hospitality and travel industries.
We specialise in luxury, cultural and culinary vacations and yoga retreats around the globe, hallmarked by meticulous planning and maximum enjoyment for our guests. Our wonderful destinations the last three decades have included Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, France, Turkey, China and Bali.
Our current focus is India in its many guises, Kashmir, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Morocco and about to be launched, Mexico
We offer an annual portfolio of curated, guided, escorted journeys for small groups bound in their enthusiasm f or roads less travelled, by their inquisitiveness, their passion for people, places, art, history, and adventurousness.
We do not offer packages, we create experiences.
We certainly travel in great style and luxurious comfort, but what makes our journeys so memorable are special touches like the most fascinating guides, the more scenic and slow road, that really special hotel and its best rooms, exceptional cuisine and culinary tastes, and an ambience that is conducive to new and lasting friendships.
Our trips peel back the surface layers, so you enjoy the unexpected, have your curiosity ignited, your senses and sensibilities nourished, your memories cherished, your personal freedoms respected, your expectations excelled.
“Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in its frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.” –Freya Stark
Escorted Guided Cultural + Culinary Tours to Exotic Destinations
Bespoke, Expert Travel Arrangements for Individual Travellers
A Concierge service for DIY Travellers, on an hourly rate
Special Events Planning for Celebrations, Business Meetings, Incentive Groups
Our principal, Marieke Brugman has organised events for two and events for eight hundred.
Yoga and Well-being Retreats in beautiful locations with renowned Teachers both Abroad and in Australia
Special Culinary Events including Private Dining
We pride ourselves on attention to detail, customer service, and years of experience that has built a large and loyal client base.
To engage any of our services please download this Modus Operandii document so as to understand how we like to work with our valued clients.
terms and conditions (PDF)
Travel agents would be wiser to ask us what we hope to change about our lives rather than simply where we wish to go.
― Alain de Botton, A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary
Experience the Difference!
For thirty years it has been a privilege and pleasure to look after guests, whether they have been visitors to my gourmet retreat, students at my classes or travellers on my journeys.
Most of my life has been in hospitality and this spirit flows into every aspect of my business.
The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both. James A Michener
Marieke is European by heritage, Australian by birth, an art historian by training, a cook and chef by passion, a global traveller by choice and a yoga student and teacher by inspiration.
She left home to travel in Europe at a young age, embarked on an academic career in Fine Arts, then started her first business, aged twenty-four in rural Victoria – a pioneering gourmet retreat where she donned her chef and teaching hat for the next three decades. That retreat, her ensuing cooking school and her first foray into the travel business, all quickly garnered a respected reputation and tremendous following in Australia and abroad.
Gourmet cycling tours of the Australian wine regions and the Flinders Ranges inspired her first ventures into the travel industry and that quickly expanded into cultural and culinary escorted programs overseas.
Marieke oversees every aspect of Art of Living from attentive customer service to the stylish in-depth design and creation of every new tour.
When not at home or leading a tour, Marieke might be sleeping in 6* star beds or on an Indian desert charpoy, dining with royalty or supping with rural folk, walking the laneways of ancient forts at dawn or riding camels into the sunset, scaling a new mountain or discovering a secluded beach.
A 1 litre water bottle that is filled immediately on boarding
Aesop’s Ginger Flight Therapy roll-on
Traveller’s Friend Citrus Extract in case of a troubled tummy
Portable mini speaker for music in hotel rooms
Natural Indian incense or scented travel candle
A large pashmina shawl bought in Kashmir
“No-Jet-Lag”, a New Zealand homeopathic jet lag prevention that really works for long-haul flights
A small bottle of eucalyptus oil sprayed onto a muslin scarf and an Elanra Air ioniser
Bacterial wipes to wash all the surfaces on her seat
Travelcall MelbourneThough fully licensed Travel Agents, we opt not to handle the ticketing of airfares ourselves. I have appointed Cher Roscoe of Travelcall to handle all ticketing for our clients. This she and her company does with great efficiency and highly knowledgable customer service. Cher at Travelcall can be contacted directly on 03)9867 1800 or Fax 03)9867 1822. Email
Travel + Lifestyle Publications
Travel + Leisure
Conde Nast Traveller
Love Travel Guides, exceptional insider guides to Indian cities
Wallpaper City Guides for all travellers who consider themselves hip
Alastair Sawday’s Special Places to Stay
Matador an independent online travel mag
Haus Publishing’s Armchair Traveller series, a brilliant, praiseworthy, charming and highly recommended series for people researching a new destination, wanting to recall memories of a beloved place already visited or simply for those readers who do not want to vacate the comfort of their chair to be intelligently engaged have their inquisitiveness aroused or to discover a perfect antidote to the usual pedestrian style of travel writing
Travel Newsletters + Subscriptions
Gallivanter’s Guide for travellers with deep pockets
Paris Notes for those who adore the City of Lights
Harper’s Hideaway for those for whom luxury in hotels ranks first
tewfic el-sawy Constantly being refreshed, this is truly an inspirational site of exceptional quality and interest.
Telegraph Travel pics
Michael Wolf fascinating china and asia portfolios
National Geographic Winners
Steve Davey’s Unforgettable Places
Offset Your Carbon Footprint
Global Carbon Exchange
Favourite Designer: Martin Grant, Marieke’s friend from childhood days when his grandmother Nancy taught her to sew and inspired Martin’s creativity, is now feted as one of Paris’ leading couturier. He was honoured with a retrospective of his work at the National Gallery in Melbourne and recently re-designed the Qantas uniforms. Martin creates exquisitely crafted, understated, timeless, elemental clothes that are superbly constructed, eminently wearable and desirable the world over. You visit his charming atelier in a lovely hôtel particulier in the Marais quarter. Otherwise just feast on his immaculate designs on his web site.
Contemporary Indian Textiles:
Hailing from an illustriously creative line of siblings (“Little” Nell and blockprint artist Cressida), Sally Campbell enjoyed a significant career as a set and costume designer before Home Textiles was launched in November 2005. Sydney homewares guru Melissa Penfold called Sally’s first collection museum worthy. Sally produce exceptional contemporary and practical textiles that utilize and respect the hand created techniques and the morés of traditional lifestyles. Sally designs a diverse range of home textiles, which have been profiled in the Sydney Morning Herald and Vogue Living. She specialises in reversible quilts, hand-woven in remote villages of West Bengal. Each stage of production from spinning, fabric dyeing, weaving, and stitching is done by hand, so every finished item is unique. Sally’s aim is to combine her sense of contemporary design with traditional craft skills.
Like other Western designers working at grass roots level in India, Sally helps provide sustainable income to craftspeople whose livelihood has been endangered by industrialisation. Her website offers a superb range on line and Sally also exhibits new collections in galleries around Australia.
Marieke’s Favourite Mags are those you cannot board a long-haul flight without:
Harper’s Monthly Magazine (published out of the US since 1850) brilliantly scrutinises current affairs and events;
The New Yorker (published since 1925) is densely intelligent and wise;
Vanity Fair for its irresistible chronicling of contemporary culture;
The Monthly (published out of Melbourne by Morry Schwartz since 2005) is Australia’s only national magazine with an independent voice
Words without Borders: a dangerously spellbinding site (you may get lost there) that gives access to a vast scope of stories, poems and essays translated into English from truly international literature, rarely found on booksellers shelves.
Slow TV: A free internet TV channel delivering interviews, debates, conversations and public lectures about Australia’s key political, social and cultural issues.
Louisiana Channel : Weekly videos on art, literature, architecture, design, music produced by Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.
Arts + Letters Daily: Philosophy, literature, ideas, criticism, history, art, music from The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Brain Pickings: An inventory of cross-disciplinary interestingness, spanning art, science, design, history, philosophy, and more. One of my favourite.
Favourite cities: Paris and Istanbul. New York has just been added!
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