The Luxury Travel Bible - International Women's Day


This  International Women's Day, more than ever, there's a strong call-to-action to raise awareness against bias and to take action for equality. IWD 2023's theme is #EmbraceEquity, as 'Equity isn't just a nice-to-have, it's a must-have'. The aim of the IWD 2023 #EmbraceEquity campaign theme is to get the world talking about Why equal opportunities aren't enough. People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action.

With this year's theme in mind, The Luxury Travel Bible is celebrating some of our favourite women from the world of Luxury Travel. In no particular order, these wonderful women are at the forefront of the travel industry and are leading experts, forces and voices in the world of luxury travel.  

Let’s hear it for the girls!

Liz Biden, CEO, The Royal Portfolio

Liz Biden has had an eclectic career. She has been a teacher, a debt-collector, made lampshades, designed jewellery and worked with husband Phil at a travelling disco. In 1997, the pair turned their hands to luxury travel, building the impressive The Royal Portfolio of hotels. Their latest project The Silo Hotel Cape Town has caused worldwide waves. Vanity Fair once named Liz one of their 'Game Changers' and said, “Liz Biden is one of the visionaries who is putting the hot into hotelier.” The Luxury Travel Bible has to agree.

Liz Says…. ‘I love to take inspiration from my travels around the world. There is nothing more inspiring than visiting a wonderful new hotel or a historic building’. Read More 

Sonia Cheng, CEO Rosewood Hotel Group

Forbes has described Sonia Cheng as one of Asia’s most powerful businesswomen, The Luxury Travel Bible would venture to suggest that she is in fact one of the world’s most powerful businesswomen. Since parent brand New World acquired Rosewood Hotel Group, the brand under Cheng has embarked on an ambitious expansion strategy with plans to nearly double its inventory of 54 hotels across 17 countries. There are nearly 40 new hotels currently under development. Sonia Cheng’s empire also includes hotels under the business-oriented New World and the Pentahotels brands.

Sonia says… ‘There is only one chance to make a first impression.  Whether it is a smile from a doorman, an efficient check-in, a warm and welcoming ambience when you first walk in – it sets the stage for the rest of the stay’. Read More

Kit Kemp, Founder Firmdale Hotels

As co-founder and the award-winning designer of boutique hotel group Firmdale Hotels, Kit Kemp has established the group known for its style, hospitality and originality. Founded with her husband Tim, Firmdale Hotels possess an eccentric English look with bold prints, bright colours, unusual artwork and furniture and antiques yet each hotel has an individual interior. The London based group operate ten hotels in London and New York.

Kit says… ‘Hotels have become too serious and formulaic taking themselves too seriously. They forget about the requirement of feeling lyrical and carefree.’ Read More

Jenny Tan, Owner, Lelewatu Resort Sumba, Indonesia

Jenny Tan, a successful Sumbanese businesswoman, is the brains behind the Lelewatu Resort in Sumba, already a member of the prestigious Preferred Hotels & Resorts portfolio. Tan found her calling in the hospitality industry almost by accident, when the property development partnership she created with a friend encountered some challenges, prompting Tan to take over the entire business. It was at this time that she fell in love with the process of building and operating hotels and resorts. Several years later, she is fulfilling her dream of building an eco-friendly luxury resort in her home island of Sumba, Indonesia. Jenny is an inspiring and passionate female leader in the Asian hospitality industry.

Jenny says... '[My] mantra is: work hard, don’t be arrogant and don’t stop learning... My team is like family to me and I encourage them to work together cohesively to achieve our goals'. Read More

Lindsey Ueberroth, CEO of Preferred Hotels & Resorts

The energetic and innovative Lindsey Ueberroth is CEO of Preferred Hotels & Resorts and a member of its Board of Directors. Since joining the company in 2004, she has helped solidify the position of Preferred as a global hospitality brand, a preferred partner for independent hotels and resorts, and a trusted resource for travellers seeking an authentic, independent luxury hotel experience. Under her direction, the company also launched the points-based iPrefer guest loyalty program; executed the introduction of three distinct brands in the design, boutique, and serviced residences niche categories and marked first-time presence in more than 20 new countries. Lindsey spearheaded the rebranding of Preferred Hotel Group to Preferred Hotels & Resorts, which represented the onset of a new consumer-facing strategy for the company. The new brand architecture redefined the way the hotel experience is rated, not by tiers or stars, but by experiences. She has travelled to more than 100 countries.

Lindsey says...  ‘You can tell if a hotel is going to be a luxury experience the minute you walk into the lobby. If the service is intuitive and personal, specifically if the hotel staff knows how to tailor an experience … and makes you feel taken care of, the hotel will win my “luxury” tag’. Read More

Tamara Lohan, CTO and Co-Founder Mr & Mrs Smith

Tamara Lohan is one of The Luxury Travel Bible's favourite people. She knows 'Boutique' like no one else. We can't help but trust someone who was inspired to set up a company on the basis of looking for her own perfect 'dirty weekend' away. From such romantic beginnings has grown a booking agency with a difference specializing in the boutique and the unique - we've never checked into a Mr and Mrs Smith hotel we didn't like and here at TLTB we're pretty fussy. The company now has a headquarters in London, with offices in Melbourne and New York and a portfolio of 850 properties on its books.

Tamara says… ‘There is a definitive move in luxury, away from 'bling' and towards a less ostentatious luxury style and hotels are becoming genuine with their eco-policies, such as using sustainable produce, developing kitchen gardens, (now even livestock), and giving something back to communities’. Read More

Anchalika Kijkanakorn, Founder & MD Akaryn Hotel Group

The visionary founder and Managing Director of Akaryn Hospitality Management Services (AHMS) is the woman who brought the concept of ‘boutique’ hotels to Thailand. She turned her family beachside property into the first of what has become a stable of exceptional luxury retreats which now include:  AKARYN Samui Resort & Spa, akyra Chura Samui,  Aleenta Phuket-Phang Nga,  Aleenta Hua Hin-Pranburi, and Akyra Manor Chiang Mai. Next up is AKARYN Koh Krabeay Retreat & Spa, which sees Kijanakorn team up with legendary designer Kenzo. Kijkanakorn is also the first female, and the first Asian, Chairman of Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) which represents more than 570 independent properties around the world. Last month she was also named has been named one of the ‘50 Heroes of Philanthropy’ by Forbes Asia.

Anchalika says … ‘I think all hotels should have timeless design…I create hotels that fit the place where I want to be’. Read More. 

Olga Polizzi, Deputy Chairman & Chairman of Design, Rocco Forte Hotels

Olga's design expertise has been behind the style of the Rocco Forte Collection of hotels. She has more recently masterminded some of her own projects outside the Collection such as the much-heralded Hotel Tresanton on the windswept Cornish coast in England.
Olga Polizzi is mainly concerned with 'comfort and common-sense design', not hopping aboard the latest design trends train. Polizzi's approach to each hotel is to reflect its surroundings as opposed to having a signature style that is carried through all her projects. Polizzi likes to capture the essence of a hotel's location and bring it into the design of the rooms. Polizzi wants to give the hotel guests an immediate sense of place by using locally sourced materials, furniture and art work. Reflecting local culture is at the core of her designs.

Olga says… ‘I think you have to have a sense of fun in design. It gets a little boring if you take it too seriously’. Read More

Valentina De Santis, Owner & CEO, Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Italy

Valentina De Santis is proud owner and CEO of Grand Hotel Tremezzo, the legendary palace that sits overlooking Italy’s famed Lake Como.Valentina’s family has owned the hotel since 1975, but the hotel has been welcoming guests since 1910.

Valentina says that she feels proudest when the hotel team ‘present each new guest arriving to Tremezzo a bright hotel with a lot of news every year and updated facilities in one of the most fascinating destinations of the world’.

Valentina says… ‘When I am travelling, it is important for me to feel at home. That’s luxury’. Read More 

Read More Luxury Travel Experts' Opinions... Here

Sarah Bryans 6/3/2023

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