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Q&A STEVE ODELL, President
Asia Pacific, Silversea

Silversea is one of the best and most luxurious small ship cruise lines in the world and the charming Steve Odell is the man who masterminds its progress in the Asia Pacific region. A childhood fascination with ocean-going liners led to a career in the industry and a love of ships that has never left him. If you want the lowdown on luxury cruising - this is the man to come to. Steve is one of The Luxury Travel Bible's favourite Experts.

What inspired you to become part of the cruise industry?
Growing up in the Isle of Wight (UK), as a child I lived with ocean liners sailing past our house day by day. Cruise ships always held a fascination for me so I was extremely lucky to spend 18 months during my studies at UWE in an internship at P&O Cruises in London. They hired me when I graduated in 1983 and I have worked in the cruise business since then, in a variety of different roles and with a number of companies around the world.
 
What is the single most defining thing about Silversea?
The delivery of a stylish experience and the highest standards of service available in the cruise industry today to the world's most discerning travellers.
 
What is the next big luxury cruise trend?
In such a dynamic industry, new standards are set with each ship launch. The latest buzzword in luxury cruising is 'lifestyle' and we constantly strive to anticipate the demands of our discerning guests. They tend to be wine and food connoisseurs and thus expect a choice of gourmet dining options. Onboard, they require similar levels of space and comfort as they enjoy at home, so there is demand for larger suites with the highest quality bedding, flat screen televisions and Wi-Fi. Wellbeing is also paramount; state-of-the-art spa facilities and wellbeing offerings such as healthy spa cuisine and fitness facilities and activities are considered vital for guests. Cruises with more adventure are definitely set to increase, especially to areas such as Antarctica and the Arctic. We are tapping into this important trend with our Silversea Expeditions brand.

Steve Odell

Steve Odell, Senior Vice President Asia Pacific, Silversea

What is your own personal litmus test for whether a cruise ship is worthy of the 'luxury' tag?
There are a few important elements to consider, not least 'all-inclusive' pricing which creates a very sociable atmosphere almost akin to travelling on a private yacht. Other areas of major importance are single-seating dining options for maximum flexibility of guests and size and range of suite accommodations. Overall I believe training of staff and delivery of service is what sets one brand apart from another.
 
What is your own personal litmus test for whether a hotel is worthy of the 'luxury' tag?
Whether a big hotel or a boutique property, I believe service standards, staff attitude, room size and an upmarket range of facilities are the most important issues. Asian hotels deliver on this better than anywhere in the world.
 
What are your favourite hotels/resorts? (and why)
I have several and for different reasons:
Asia: The Sukhothai, Bangkok - a peaceful haven in the centre of this exciting city that mixes traditional Thai style with modern luxury. Service is exemplary - it has an exclusive atmosphere.
Europe: Claridges, London - stylish and traditional with top levels of service, in the heart of London.
Resorts - I am a big fan of Aman Resorts - again it comes down to top levels of service, a boutique environment and exclusivity. My favourite so far is Amanpulo in the Philippines.
 
What is your favourite port visit?
London - especially with a smaller boutique ship because it is possible to dock right in the centre of the city at Tower Bridge - gateway to all that that the city has to offer.
 
What is your best overseas restaurant experience?
For drama - Sirocco in Bangkok. For food I have some old favourites in London like The Ivy and La Poule au Pot in the more residential district of Pimlico. I would also have to include The Steakhouse at The Intercontinental Kowloon, when in Hong Kong - the best steaks!
 
What is your favourite airline for business or first class? Why?
Singapore Airlines - for the consistent delivery of excellent service by their cabin crew, unlike other carriers where attitude and style differs from flight to flight, and excellent food. Seat comfort, especially on the new A380 services where they have redefined the meaning of Business Class. In First they present icons of luxury that are meaningful to travellers - for example Dom Perignon house Champagne, Ferragamo toiletries and Givenchy sleeper suits.
 
What three things do you never travel without?
My passport, my itouch; and my reading glasses!!!!
Silver Whisper exterior (photo courtesy of Silversea cruises)
Silver Whisper exterior (photo courtesy of Silversea cruises)
What is the one luxury travel experience you will never forget?
Travelling aboard Silver Whisper last June with my family on first visits to some of the highlights of the Mediterranean region, including the Amalfi Coast and Florence.
 
What is the most important thing (travelwise) that money CAN buy?
Outstanding levels of privacy, space and individual attention, such as having your own in-suite butler aboard Silversea vessels. And a flat bed on a long haul flight of course!
 
What is the most important thing it can't?
The personalities, colours, tastes and surprises you encounter along the way.

ODELL'S CHOICE

The Sukothai, Bangkok: http://www.sukhothai.com/
Claridges, London: http://www.claridges.co.uk/
Intercontinental Kowloon: http://www.intercontinental.com/
The Ivy Restaurant: http://www.the-ivy.co.uk/
Sirocco restaurant Bangkok: http://www.lebua.com/

Luxury Link:

www.silversea.com
"Photos courtesy of Silversea Cruises."
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