What is the single most defining thing about The Discerning Collection as a brand?
Service – from the moment you pick up the phone to when you return we pride ourselves on the service our clients receive from all our team members in the UK & abroad. Our team have extensive knowledge of the product and know it all really well which makes a huge difference when speaking to clients and securing bookings. All our team members have visited each and every property within our portfolio so can speak confidently about best rooms etc. When meeting one of our representatives in resort, guest find that they’re not pushy but proactive and friendly.
What is the defining characteristic of a Discerning Collection property?
If it’s a hotel it has to be boutique with quality. Our villas have to be high end luxury and all our product has to be located in upmarket resorts. We’ve just launched our ski portfolio and what’s key for us in this market is ensuring chalets are ski in/ski out and offer the utmost convenience to guests, eg. in chalet services (ski hire for example), walk/or ski to nearest lift, food and drink on tap, superior location within resorts and having a chef and host on hand.
What is your own personal litmus test for whether a hotel is worthy of the ‘luxury’ tag? Quality of service combined with quality of the product itself. Facilities of a hotel are important but pale into insignificance if the quality of the service is lacking.
You can have five star but if the service isn’t up to scratch it completely changes the experience.
What is the “little thing” that all good hotels should pay attention to?
Attention to guests needs which must always start with sincere greetings and smiles. Genuine service is absolutely key – if it’s lacking you can spot it a mile off.
What is the next big luxury travel trend for 2017?
For The Discerning Collection it will be Luxury Sailing and NEW for 2017 we are launching our Luxury Yacht Portfolio which consists of two beautiful yachts and a rather swanky catamaran allowing guests to explore the stunning Ionian Islands in style. Chartering one of our yachts will offer our guests an exclusive and indulgent way of exploring the Ionian Islands. Based in Corfu, two yachts, Jeannous (sleeps 6), Argentous (sleeps 8) and catamaran Aurous (sleeps 10) will all be available for sole charter from May – October 2017 and all come complete with skipper and private chef.
Apart from your own, what are your favourite hotels/resorts? (and why)
You can pretty much guarantee that any Four Seasons or Aman property will be exceptional. Two of my favourites include Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at The Bosphoros and Aman Sveti Stefan, Montenegro. With both brands you receive consistency of excellent service and product. The service offered is exceptional and their staff have the confidence to interact with guests at just the right level – they clearly feel empowered but are relaxed and they know exactly what they’re doing, completely intuitive service.
What is your favourite city to visit?
It has to be Cape Town. Whenever I am there I enjoy staying in Constantia. It helps having driver to get you around and there are just so many brilliant restaurants offering outstanding food and wine. The local people are great and in recent years it has been relatively inexpensive when on the ground. The luxury of not experiencing jet lag is great and you can’t beat a morning walk around some of the local markets. My top tip would be to climb Lions Head which is right next to Table Mountain.
What is your best overseas restaurant experience?
There are really too many to list as I think that it all depends on the company and atmosphere. If I had to pick one I’d probably say Daphne’s in Barbados, not only because of the location but they’re welcoming to families and as I am a regular at their London premises there is familiarity and you walk in and everyone knows your name.
What is your favourite airline for business or first class? Why?
British Airways because of their consistently high service.
What three things do you never travel without?
Phone, jeans and a linen shirt.
What is the one luxury travel experience you will never forget?
It would have to be a twin centre safari at Royal Malawane and Singita Game Reserve in South Africa. We spent 3 nights at each property with a private plane ride between the two. The accommodation and service was exceptional and we were privileged enough to see the big five with relative ease. I distinctly recall the wonderful GM at Malawane coming out and greeting us on arrival – the people were all just so special.
What is the most important thing (travelwise) that money CAN buy?
First Class flights
What is the most important thing it can’t?