What is the next big luxury travel trend?
We have seen a big upsurge in recent years in the celebrations market, as whatever the occasion, our guests like to mark it in great style. This can be anything to an anniversary with extended family, a lavish wedding or simply seeking a discreet table for two. Our products lend themselves very well to creating special moments our guests will never forget, from a family reunion at a 15th century former monastery in Florence to a party like no other In Rio de Janeiro.
What is your own personal litmus test for whether a hotel is worthy of the 'luxury' tag?
For me, what defines a great luxury hotel is not the hardware, it's the software. It's about the staff their ability to anticipate my needs and deliver unique, one-of-a-kind experiences that make my stay memorable.
Apart from your own, what are your favourite hotels/resorts? (and why)
The Carlyle - because it is a quintessentially New York hotel experience with an exceptional sense of place.
We are very excited about the fact we have created a brand that embraces all that we are, but still celebrates the individual icons within our collection.
What is the future for Belmond?
We are, of course, always looking to grow our portfolio of experiences with destinations that appeal to our loyal luxury travellers. We anticipate that the almost immediate transformation of our existing portfolio to the Belmond brand and marketing strategy will be a very compelling opportunity to third party luxury hotel owners as not only will they be joining a stable of iconic properties, they will also benefit from the substantial investment we are making in the brand.
What is your favourite city to visit?
I grew up in San Francisco and always love to return there for its sheer beauty, the great restaurant scene and the accessibility the city has to great outdoor activities.
What is your best overseas restaurant experience?
I have just returned from Cape Town and thoroughly enjoyed the booming restaurant scene there, not only at our own Planet Restaurant at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, where we use incredible fresh produce exclusively grown for us on farms in the Cape, but I also particularly liked the tapas style menu at the Pot Luck Club, which enabled us to try lots of interesting and different dishes.
What is your favourite airline for business or first class? Why?
Since moving to London in November 2012 to be the CEO of Belmond, I have been a frequent flyer with British Airways. They have good business class seats and the lounge at Heathrow terminal 5 is great for enabling you to get work done before you fly.
What three things do you never travel without?
I like to work out daily, so definitely my gym gear and trainers. I would also never be without my Tumi backpack briefcase, which has definitely helped to improve my posture when constantly carrying laptops and overnight bags through airports, plus a Mophie battery case to extend the life of my phone.