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q&a gordon campbell grey, Founder of Campbell Gray Hotels

Gordon Campbell Gray is both the founder and creative force behind Campbell Gray Hotels. This luxury boutique hotel group currently includes Carlisle Bay, Antigua, and Le Gray, Beirut, and is developing several new luxury hotels worldwide. After training as a hotelier and finding success in his chosen career he took time out to work for Save the Children running projects in Bangladesh, Morocco and Nicaragua. He continues to work to raise awareness and funds for various charities and stil serves as Vice-President of Save the Children.  He is also passionate about the hotel industry's role in environmental issues. In recognition of his contribution to the luxury hotel industry he was recently awarded the prestigious Leading Legend Award by Leading Hotels of the World.
Here the ever charismatic Gordon Campbell Gray shares his Expert Opinion with The Luxury Travel Bible.
What inspired you to get involved in the hotel industry in the first place?
I originally wanted to be an architect but simply couldn't pass my science exams and since I was always drawing hotels I thought then perhaps I could be a hotelier. My parents were appalled at this idea but my grandmother kindly stepped in and encouraged me and paid for me to attend hotel School - hence I became an hotelier.
What is the single best/defining thing about Campbell Gray hotels?
I was always determined that we would create a snob free zone - both in relation to the guests and the staff and I can honestly say that we have achieved it and of this I am very proud.
 
You once said, "Despite my love of innovative design and technology, I remain firmly in the belief that ultimately it is all about service and regard my staff as my true secret weapon". Is the secret of your hotels' success?
There are several components but it is certainly the key ingredient.

Gordon Campbell Gray 

As well as a successful hotelier career you also campaign for Save the Children, serving as Vice-President. What first got you involved in charitable causes?
When I was twenty two and had my first proper job, my first flat in London and my sports car life was pretty good and then I came home one evening and saw the news depicting the plight of the Bangladeshis following the war between West and East Pakistan and I just had to do something. Within six weeks I was living at the mouth of the Ganges and working with Save the Children. This relationship has lasted ever since.
 
Should luxury hotels and travellers 'give back' to the world around them? How?
Hotels must give back to the world around them and since it can be one of the most wasteful industries it is doubly important to do so. We all must do so. It is not an option and there are so many ways, whether it be in employing locally, purchasing locally, of course having great sensitivity to waste and the environment as well as supporting charity and causes in as many ways as possible.
Campbell Gray Hotels
Carlisle Bay, Antigua
Le Grey
Le Gray, Beirut
What is the next big luxury travel trend
Continuing to find the exciting and the unexplored.
 
What is your own personal litmus test for whether a hotel is worthy of the 'luxury' tag?
When the welcome is truly authentic and the service is unobtrusive and at the risk of upsetting the current trend, I dislike when I am called by name by every member of staff all the time. It seems false and an invasion of privacy and yet has become a measure by so many for good service.
 
Apart from your own, what are your favourite hotels/resorts? (and why)
I love Sea Lion Lodge in the Falklands. It is utterly simple and offers the height of luxury - the sound of ten thousand penguins cackling if you leave your window open when you go to bed at night. How about that for luxury!
Hotel Splendido in Porto Fino - that view from your bedroom - pure dolce vita!
The Emiliano Hotel in Sao Paulo - very chic and beautiful design. I arrived at 6.am from a very long flight and was thinking how much I would love some breakfast. At this moment there was a knock at the door and there it was - an amazing breakfast. This is real service.
 
What is your favourite city to visit?
Buenos Aires, Havana, Florence and I can't leave out my beloved Beirut
carlisle bay antigua
Carlisle Bay, Antigua
What is your best overseas dining experience?
Taking a small boat from Capri and going to a little family restaurant with only sea access and being given what they had caught - funny how those are the best meals you ever have.
 
What is your favourite airline for business or first class? Why?
Singapore Airlines - such wonderful, generous  and impeccable service and where you feel it is a genuine pleasure to have you on board.
 
What three things do you never travel without?
Earplugs, a book and my entourage (just kidding !)
What is the one travel experience you will never forget?
Visiting Cusco and Machu Picchu with my nephews.  Struan was backpacking around the world on his gap year and his brother Keir and I joined him for a magical week together. We stayed at the Monasterio and Sanctuary Lodge and we had the best time together being spoiled rotten. When Keir and I flew home it was back to hostels and two dollar meals for Struan!
What is the most important thing (travelwise) that money CAN buy?
The ability to go anywhere and be as private and independent as possible.
 
What is the most important thing it CAN'T buy?
As with all things in life what you make of the trip cannot be bought - this has to come from within.

CAMPBELL GREY'S CHOICES
Save the Children www.savethechildren.org.uk
Sea Lion Lodge, Falklands www.sealionisland.com
Hotel Splendido, Porto Fino www.hotelsplendido.com
The Emiliano Hotel, Sao Paulo www.emiliano.com.br
Buenos Aires www.buenosaires.com
Singapore Airlines www.singaporeair.com
Posted 7/7/11
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