Down South in Alabama

Last month, I had my first Booking.com shoot in Mobile, Alabama. Why Alabama, of all places? We are working with Jordan Peele and Chelsea Pretti for our brand campaign (check out our first TV spot here!) and Jordan was already down in Alabama working on another project. And so we flew the crew down to Alabama to take advantage of Jordan’s off-time over the weekend, and shoot the first two TV ads for our campaign.IMG_3653
It was a whirlwind production. We had an intense 48 hours capturing bespoke assets for social media, display,  and of course, TV. While the trip was mostly work work work, there was a bit of play here and there – I’m used to being an Account Director, which is a busy role, especially during production. You have to work with the agency’s creative and production teams, collaborate with third party production partners (and there can be multiple partners, all with different skill sets, such as print, film, event, technology, etc) and on top of all that, you are responsible for managing all communications and approvals with the client. However, in my new role at Booking.com, I AM the client, which means I’m shielded from many of the stressful problems that typically pop up during a production. I was looped in for approvals as needed, once all of the bigger issues were ironed out – which was strange and refreshing, as I am accustomed to working in the heart of the fire. And so I had time to eat lunch by the pool and answer e-mails from colleagues back in Amsterdam, and even explore the hotel grounds a bit.

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Where we stayedThis time around, we stayed at the Marriott in Fiarhope, AL. I’ve never stayed at a resort before, and while the Marriott was not all-inclusive, it did have a golf club, ten tennis courts, a grand spa, a huge pool complex, a massive gym, outdoor games and activities, multiple dinning rooms, numerous beaches, and large, spacious rooms that blend southern charm and classic design.IMG_3610IMG_3485IMG_3551IMG_3590IMG_3596Where we ateWe ate at R Bistro & Pastry, where I had the best steak of my entire life. I am not lying. If you are ever in Fairhope, Alabama, you HAVE to go. Throughout the trip I was also able to gorge on fried pickles, grits, buttermilk biscuits and gravy, succotash, shrimp, oysters, man n’ cheese, and of course, fried green tomatoes. I probably gained ten pounds, but was able to sample so many new flavors and cuisines – it was absolutely worth it! I ate breakfast and lunch at the hotel most days (the breakfast buffet at the Marriott is $22 and totally worth it) but also went to dinner at Shux on the Pier, which is where the fried pickles happened, and holy hell I am a believer.
IMG_3493what we didI didn’t get to do much in terms of activities, as I was there for work, but the weather was 70 and sunny every day, and so every morning and night I went on a long walk around the hotel grounds instead of going to the gym. The fiery sunsets in Alabama are stunning, and exploring the south in more depth is now a prominent goal on my travel list!IMG_3648IMG_3674IMG_3651IMG_3669IMG_3687_aIMG_3653IMG_3586IMG_3559IMG_3564IMG_3604 IMG_3536IMG_3525IMG_3506IMG_3514 copyIMG_3512IMG_3626IMG_3528And as a little FYI – I’m going to be changing the formatting of my posts. Instead of narrating a journey alongside pictures, I will post a few details of the trip up front, and then let the pictures do the rest of the talking :) I’ve been blogging for a few years now, and slowly, I am learning to become a better photographer and capture photos that speak without captions. The overall aim is to move away from a blog, and steer towards a beautiful photo book with some commentary up front (like the above!) I’ll always try to give an update on what I saw, where I stayed, and where I ate. Then you’ll have all of the details at the start, and can cruise through the photos :)

xo Ali


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