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Naomi Mano runs one of Japans most exclusive and upmarket private concierge services for well-heeled independent travellers and the corporate market  In 2007 she was the first owner and President of Quintessentially Japan.  Her own company, Luxurique was a the next step. She uses her impressive personal connections to open doors  to create a once in a lifetime experience (s please link to our Top Ten Japan)  for visitors to Japan. TLTB caught up with Ms Mano at ILTM Japan (www.iltm.com) , where purveyors of luxury travel meet and mingle once a year at Japan’s high end luxury travel mart.

Why did you create Luxurique?
I had the pleasure of working on the Olympic Committee as part of the marketing team at IBM for 5 years, where I saw just how valuable the role of hospitality could be within a marketing function. I saw the potential of offering extremely elite, bespoke experiences to the high net worth visitor to Japan and, in 2007 moved on to be the first owner and President of Quintessentially Japan. Luxurique was a natural next step for me – to allow me to introduce my personal connections to open even more doors for my clients, both corporate and individual, to create a once in a lifetime experience for visitors to Japan.

What is the single best/defining thing about Luxurique?

Every day, I discover something even more exclusive I can then introduce to my clients

How is it that you are able to arrange such exclusive experiences for your clients?
I am privileged to know many people from many different walks of life.  This is a distinct advantage in Japan where the old adage ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ could never be more true.

Do you think Japan is a country where introductions and who you know is particularly important?
Yes!  Japan is still a very closed country, as well as a place where even niche craftsman holds huge pride in what they do.  This is also the reason why one cannot ‘buy’ your way into any particular circle, and why connections – and being introduced by the right person, in the right manner is still considered very important.  For example, some of the top restaurants or tea houses (ie: as in movie Sayuri) are still very much, accessible by introduction only.

What is the most extraordinary/special experience you have ever arranged?
Too many to mention, as each one we arrange and tailor make for our clients, is done so to be both extraordinary and special. 

What is the next big luxury travel trend?

The most interesting trend I see is new partnerships with luxury brands outside travel, and a bigger push toward developing new experiences around these.

There's also a lot of talk about convergence and integrating experiences in different niches, such as food and adventure, art and education, history and culture and much more.  Each of which lends itself perfectly to the Luxurique experience. 

What is your own personal litmus test for whether a hotel is worthy of the ‘luxury’ tag?
‘Luxury’ for us, is not the materialistic things, how large a room is, or what brand of hotel it is.  It is the intangible, the service, care, and attention to detail that the hotel can provide.  A luxury hotel is one that can foresee what I may need, even before I myself can realise it. 

Apart from your own, what are your favourite hotels/resorts (and why)?
I loved the Amanpulo in the Philippines, Marataba in South Africa, Park Hyatt in Siem Reap, One & Only Reethi Rah in Maldives, Four Seasons in Florence and Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay.  One thing they all have in common is their personalised services: nothing is too much trouble, they are very family friendly, and each welcomed my family and I as if we were personal guests at their home.

What is your favourite city to visit?
Kyoto – even though I have visited so many times, there is still more to learn, more to experience, and more to feel.

What is your best overseas restaurant experience?
I love the Winter Garden in Florence and Pierre in Hong Kong, but there are so many more to try…

What is your favourite airline for business or first class? Why?
Singapore Airlines – fantastic service, state of the art technology, and space.

What three things do you never travel without?
My iphones, my ipad pro and eye masks.

What is the one luxury travel experience you will never forget?
During our 3 week trip through Africa, watching a herd of elephants swimming across the Zambezi river in the sunset, while sitting on a river safari boat.

What is the most important thing (travel wise) that money CAN buy?
A first class ticket!

What is the most important thing it can’t?
An encounter with a special person, a friend - that can help open the doors to a really memorable experience.

 Luxury Link: www.luxurique.com/en/

Posted 16/3/17

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