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Founder of Lucioles and Blossom Japan 

Jay Martens is one of our favourite people in the travel business.   He is the consummate professional but The Luxury Travel Bible also loves his passion for travel and his enthusiasm for all for all of the experiences on offer in this wide world of ours. His company Lucioles (named after the fireflies that uses to light Martens' way on childhood sojourns in the African savannah) has a truly innovative approach, which is why his latest enterprise Blossom Japan looks set to be one of the best travel trade shows that the luxury market has seen. 'Travels sells the world to its inhabitants ,' says the   Lucioles company statement, 'and taps into the love of culture, history, nature, contacts and sharing that has driven human beings for centuries to leave the comfort of their homes and discover the unknown'. To   Blossom Japan Martens brings   a decade of experience in travel and leisure, including  co-creating the Asia Luxury Travel Market in Shanghai for Reed Travel Exhibitions. Martens also happens to be fluent in French, English Dutch and Lingala; a true citizen of the world.

Your enthusiasm for excellence in travel is catching. What inspired you to get into the travel industry?
I got into the industry by "accident" in some way. I was working as the head of security of a Cineplex in Antwerp, Belgium and because I spoke several languages, I was asked to tour with groups and explain what the workings were of a cinema behind the scenes. On one of the tours, a client approached me and asked me if I ever thought of being a tour guide. I was 19 at the time and a month later I was on a bus touring in Thailand with a group of tourists. I caught the bug and never looked back.

I love the power of this particular Gandhi quote: "the world is like a book and those who have not travelled have only read one page"... so I vow not to stop or rest until more people have read more pages in this wonderful book that is our world.

What is the single best/defining thing about Blossom Japan?
Audacity: Many people have told me that I am making a big mistake taking on Japan. As a market place it has played a huge role and still will, despite the current economy. As a destination Japan is magical; one of the unique places in the world where you can still be blown away by simple beauty. Who would not want to stay at an 800-year-old Ryokan still owned and managed by the same family? In our world of globalisation, the magic on offer needs to be seen and shared. There are incredible companies out there and we are building a bridge that will open many doors.

Jay Martens

Jay Martens
What is the next big luxury travel trend?
I think TIME! In our noisy world this is a commodity that will be valued even more. People are in need of time: time for themself, time to share, time to discover... and travel is the perfect place for this.
What is your own personal litmus test for whether a hotel is worthy of the 'luxury' tag?
Service and competence! Keep your gold taps, plasmas and all the latest gadgets... in our world today finding excellent service is not easy. The challenge faced by so many hotels is to be able to accommodate the needs of so many different customers. Perfect services are true luxury for me.
What are your favourite hotels/resorts? (and why)
Six Senses Resorts & Spas: simplicity, conscience and beauty... I love our planet and being able to enjoy a great break with my kids whilst also being able to preserve and give back means a lot to me. All their resorts are a perfect place to teach our kids about ecology.

The Stafford Hotel London by Kempinski: my good friend Stuart is one of the best GM's I have met in my life. His team makes you feel like you are at home every single visit. Having lived in London for over 7 years and still having family there, I never miss the chance of staying with Stuart! A real joy!

Villa Kazanooto: a small island near Hiroshima with only four unique villas, this is my sanctuary. The perfect hideaway to catch up with TIME! Onishi san and his team have you feel omotenashi - Japanese true hospitality - to perfection.

What is your favourite city to visit?
I am a passionate traveller so this is the worst question to ask me. Every place on earth leaves a footstep on the beaches of my life. The list is too long and I still have so many places I still want to see.
Blossom Japan
What is your best overseas restaurant experience?
The place to have an amazing culinary experience in my opinion is Tokyo. There is no cuisine that the world has to offer that you will not find in Japan. All cooked for you with the spirit of perfection. I heard that even Adrian Ferran comes to find his inspiration in the land of the rising sun.
What is your favourite airline for business or first class? Why?
For me nothing beats Singapore Airlines. I love great service, especially when it is natural. And that is so in their DNA.
What three things do you never travel without?
My iPad: I love reading and being able to travel with a device that has not only my library of 50 books on it without the kilos plus movies and everything else, is just perfect! Thank you Steve!

A Jade Pendant: my little family gave me this for father's day and it is the thing that I cherish the most.

A camera: I love creating and finding inspiration, so to have my camera handy is like second nature to me. Just for that special moment that I may never be able to see and experience again.

What is the one luxury travel experience you will never forget?
I was staying at the Raffles Hotel in Beijing when my good friend Peter Wynne was GM. I had asked for a wake up call at 6h30 am. On time the operator woke me up, then a knock on the door... who was this so early? When I opened the door, a butler stood there with a tray of fresh orange juice, delicious Chinese tea and freshly brewed coffee and a steaming croissant... "Good morning Mr Martens, this is your second wake up call. I have brought you a little selection as I was not sure what you would like for the start of your day." You can't beat this for a road warrior like me!
What is the most important thing (travelwise) that money CAN buy?
Comfort and Access, the more you have, the more you would be able to see, access and experience.
What is the most important thing it can't?
A moment of sheer splendour! Seeing the sunrise on top of the Ananda temple in Bagan Myanmar, just like Marco Polo would have done many centuries ago. It felt like I could feel life in the rays of the sun.

marten's Choices 
Six Senses: www.sixsenses.com
The Stafford Hotel London by Kempinski: www.kempinski.com/en/london
Raffles Hotel in Beijing: www.raffles.com
Luxury Links:

Posted 25/10/10

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