Hoteliers

Ernesto Roman, Creative Director at Deer Mountain Inn

Born and raised on the Caribbean coast of Cartagena, Ernesto made his way to NYC via Utah, where he developed a love for the mountains and the desert. After a good number of years in Salt Lake City, he made the move to New York where he developed a multi-disciplined career in photography and hospitality (aka: the dream).

He made the move to the Catskills two years ago to get a break from the noise and planted roots as Creative Director for Deer Mountain Inn, which is an upstate boutique hotel gem (and one a few of our /Insiders list as a top hotel pick). Before packing up his city life, Ernesto worked with hospitality brands such as GrandLife Hotels and indieFork. 

Ernesto is an award-winning photographer who has been featured in the pages of Interview Magazine and has had work published in Surface and The Impression. Along with his work as a photographer and his position at Deer Mountain Inn, Ernesto does creative consulting with luxury brand strategy agency Issa Pr. Basically – we wish we could lead a life as beautiful as Ernesto’s.

Follow his work on Instagram @ernesto.roman

What are 3 of your favorite hotels?

Masseria Moroseta, Ostuni, Italy –  This place stole my heart when visiting Puglia. The architecture is impeccable. Well thought out details everywhere you turn, from the stunning courtyard, to the pool, to the light fixtures. You will find the right amount of chic and minimal,  and it’s quite photogenic. You may be greeted by Beppe, the house bulldog. I can’t wait to go back.

Amangiri Resort, Canyon Point, Utah –  This place seems to have it all: a respectful relationship with their environment, incredible architecture, out of this world location, and sights of a remote desert landscape. Plus, it’s wellness focused. 

The Bowery Hotel, New York, NY – A favorite hangout that has been witness to a lot of what makes NYC cool. Love the classic vibe and views. I could spend all day in their lobby.

What is the most unique hotel amenity you’ve ever encountered?

Olive tree cotton bath robes, made from the century-old olive trees that grow on the hotel’s property.

Dream places to visit a creative and why?

The Namib Desert: I’ve been obsessed ever since I saw the movie The Cell. It’s one of the most surreal places on earth. Would love to do a fashion shoot there.

The Bonneville Salt Flats: Another out of this world location. The entire place is an endless white canvas where you could create the most beautiful imagery. The colors you see at dawn are incredible as all the light bounces off the white surfaces. I’ve been many times and It’s heavenly!

Hong Kong: Just to recreate scenes from Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood For love.

What are your favorite “offices” while traveling?

I discovered Cafe de la Mañana, a quaint Cafe away from all the noise in Cartagena, Colombia where I set up shop during my last visit. Perfect for an “all day breakfast + email marathon”.

Where would you go for a digital detox or just generally to get off the grid?

A sail trip through the San Blas islands: an archipelago of 365 islands off the north coats of Panama. Nothing but small islands with palm trees and exquisite sunsets.

If you could swap suitcases with anyone in the world at baggage claim, who would you swap with?

I think Jeff Goldblum has been killing it recently, that could be interesting. Also Aiden Brady looks great all the time. Let me throw Adrien Brody in there too!

Have you or would you travel alone? If Y/N, why?

Yes, and absolutely. Allow yourself to explore, get lost and be out of your comfort zone. You can learn a lot about yourself when traveling alone. It will push you to exercise your creative thinking and social skills. Also, not a bad thing if you’re single.

Travel can be about the little luxuries…like a super amazing cup of coffee. Where was the best one you’ve had?

 El Imparcial in Madrid – Cappuccino + tapas + magazine & art book browsing all in one place.

What is your favorite travel book – for at home, or abroad- and why?

The Motorcycle Diaries. Takes one Ernesto to know another.

What’s your go-to outfit for getting through security quickly, and still looking good?

Depends on the season & destination. I usually wear slacks and comfortable sneakers (that can be easily removed), and a light sweater in case the plane cabin is cold. I do like a hoodie for the longer or red eye flights. I just don’t understand why most people look so disheveled when they travel.

Beach or City or Mountain?

All 3! it’s my life story.

In flight wifi- good idea: yes or no?

Yes, but never for work.

Window or Aisle?

Window, always! How dare you miss the view of the sky, clouds, sunsets, mountains, oceans and city lights!

Marika Frumes, One:Night App + Standard Hotels

As one of the founding members of One:Night App, and the Director of Sales for Standard Hotels, it’s safe to say that Marika Frumes knows a thing or two about hospitality. Prior to joining the Standard team, and taking on business development for One:Night, Marika was at Ritz-Carlton. Her work has taken her around the world (and back again), but she never ceases the opportunity to jump on a plane for fun as well.

Having visited over 55 countries (and counting…), Marika is also the co-founder of HER USA, a community of women leaders, influencers, entrepreneurs & change makers connected by their desire to support one another. This community thrives & celebrates vulnerability as a point of connection. As someone passionate about meaningful connection, we love how Marika see’s the world as one giant network – never letting a plane flight or country lines define relationships.

Marika is truly a woman about the globe, and is equally passionate about her work as she is about exploration. Follow her on her adventures at @marikafrumes.

Name 3 favorite hotels, anywhere, off the top of your head.

  1. Ett Hem, Stockholm – true luxury without feeling stuffy. 
  2. The Standard, Miami – best spa, food & vibes. I never leave the hotel when I am there.
  3. Petit Ermitage, LA – their European breakfast, the roof & the Friday night show (just go…).

Where would you go to digital detox or just generally to get off the grid?

The Sanctuary in Thailand & Esalen

Do you have any favorite travel hacks (ways to score an upgrade, methods of getting your meal first on a flight, etc)?

Two sets of toiletries (home & packed in bag), proceed with confidence, & be nice to people.

What do you always bring with you in your carry-on?

My journal – plane time is perfect for reflection.

Have you or would you travel alone? If Y/N, why?

Yes! You are never alone if you are content with yourself! It’s rare I get any time to myself when in NYC. When I travel solo I love the freedom of exploring & doing whatever I want without having to consider someone elses needs (I do too much of that at home…). Solo trips always bring me closer to my sense of self/ purpose & provide good ego checks.  

If you’re going to a new place, and your friends have not been there, what do you consult for advice?

Instagram, Lonely Planet, New York Times Traveler.

Anxiety and burn out are big topics these days. How do you combat them, and how do you use travel to do so?

I schedule an annual end of year solo detox pilgrimage. I’ve done this in Thailand, Costa Rica & Mexico. Though my go to favorite is Esalen in Big Sur. They help facilitate a solo retreat experience with clean food, zero cell reception, incredible nature, healing-water baths & massages that will melt the anxiety out of you. I spend the week catching up on books, reflecting & making a plan for the year ahead.  

Travel can be about the little luxuries…like a super amazing cup of coffee. Where was the best one you’ve had?

 The Skeppsholmen, Stockholm 

What’s your go-to outfit for getting through security quickly, and still looking good?

Sabah shoes, James Perse T, leather jacket, scarf, & boyfriend jeans.

Rank the following, from most to least important to you, re: what you seek in a hotel experience:

unique, comfortable, doesn’t break the bank, locals hang out there, has a pool, close to things, and architecturally intriguing.

If you could quit your job and follow the “Mamma Mia” dream (ie open a small hotel in a foreign land or on a remote island), where would you do it?

Turkish coast.

Lost luggage, or lost phone?

Lost luggage

Early check-in/ late check-out?

LATE check out. Never want to leave …

Favourite travel app (*get creative! Ideally something relatively unknown)

One:Night App !

Sebastian Puga, VP of Brand Marketing at PUBLIC Hotels

Sebastian Puga is the VP of Brand Marketing at Ian Schrager’s PUBLIC Hotels in NYC. Though you can now find him on the rooftop of the PUBLIC or at his home in the East Village, Sebastian is a Miami native. No stranger to hospitality, he was previously at Sixty Hotels and the Standard in New York and Miami. As someone with a career in the hotel business, Sebastian is constantly on the go and knows a thing or two about travel.

Follow Sebastian on Instagram @sebastianpuga

What are 3 of your favorite hotels?

La Granja, Ibiza, Spain

This is a beautifully designed farmhouse situated on the north side of Ibiza. Theres no sign for the hotel, just a dirt road from the main street – which is perfectly fitting for the feeling you experience once you arrive on property. The hotel is small, 6 rooms in the main house with an amazing restaurant and pool. The design is perfectly executed –  simple yet elegant. The restaurant produces its menu from the land it sits on.

Deer Mountain Inn, Tannersville, New York

This charming winter home was my destination for my birthday last year. Deer Mountain is an old turn of the century home transformed into a 6 room cottage sitting on 100 acres with 3 guest houses. The design is rustic, and exudes a warm feeling when you explore the grounds. There is an incredible restaurant and has a perfect deck to enjoy long lunches during the summer months. In the winter, get a cozy meal by the fireplace. You can hike around the property without needing to leave. I love coming here anytime of the year, and and it’s a great excuse to get out of the city.

PUBLIC, New York, NY

This is the hotel I opened alongside the godfather of the boutique hotels, Ian Schrager. This hotel is a new idea, breaking the mold from what the big hotel groups were doing in the market at the time, PUBLIC offers “Luxury for All.” This is a new  brand that offers access to a luxury designed hotel at an affordable rate. Design of the rooms and public spaces are exactly what was missing in downtown Manhattan. A true playground with 5 bars to go to, all of which serve a different purpose, design, and experience. A one stop shop when you are traveling to NYC.

What do you love most about working in hospitality?

A passion for service is embedded into my life, and there is nothing I can do to get away from that. Everything else just falls into place.

What hotel room design element can you not live without?

A comfortable mattress or I’m not coming back.

What are your favorite “offices” while traveling?

I prefer working in my hotel room. It’s quiet and I get distracted far too easily when I’m in a public setting. 

Where would you go for a digital detox or just generally to get off the grid?

I travel to upstate New York as often as possible. And cell service is terrible up there, so it’s easy to forget about my phone.

What do you always bring with you in your carry-on?

Running shoes. It’s a great way to get to see the city and work up a sweat.

If you could swap suitcases with anyone in the world at baggage claim, who would it be?

Johnny Depp.

If you’re going to a new place, and your friends have not been there, what do you consult for advice?

My friends website, A HOTEL LIFE for the best hotels.

Who is your dream “co-pilot” (travel partner- dead or alive), and why?

Hunter S Thompson. Would love to have been in Puerto Rico while he was writing The Rum Diary. That was probably a lot of fun. Sunshine and rum!

What is your go-to read while traveling?

The New Yorker.

If you could quit your job and follow the “Mamma Mia” dream (ie open a small hotel in a foreign land or on a remote island), where would you do it?

Working on this dream… in Tulum or Ibiza. Or any beach, actually.

Travel solo or with someone else?

With someone.

Lost luggage, or lost phone?

Lost luggage.

Fantasy mini bar/fridge item?

Bottle of Margeux.

Early check-in/ late check-out?

Late check out.

Ted Gushue, Photographer and Digital Strategy Consultant

Ted Gushue is a Digital Strategy consultant and Photographer living in London and working around the world for brands like Porsche. But he’s also like the cat who has nine lives…except he isn’t a cat, and he’d probably hate that we just wrote that. Ted is your (above) average ex-New Yorker multi-hyphenate – he had his hand at successful DJ-ing and wrote for The Observer, worked in marketing at Grandlife Hotels (which owns The Roxy, amongst others), and then become the Editor in Chief of Supercompressor and later moved to LA to be Editor of Petrolicious– one of the world’s most popular classic car websites (2MM unique visitors a month!)….all before even turning 30. Ted is a trained photographer, writer, and editor, and has shot for publications like Architectural Digest.  He loves Aperol spritzes, traveling by the seat of his pants (200k miles last year would be a conservative estimate!), Slim Aarons, a great blue suit, and of course his Leica. His favorite car is a Porsche 911 S built in 1976.

Follow Ted Gushue on Instagram @tedgushue

What is the most unique hotel amenity you’ve ever encountered?

The Peninsula Hong Kong will embroider your initials on your pillow cases – one of the coolest things I’ve ever come across.

What hotel room design element can you not live without?

I like being able to have my shoes polished when I leave them outside the door at night before bed. It’s a small thing that really makes my day. 

What is/are your favorite “douchey offices” while traveling?

My whole life is one long string of lustworthy offices. Today I’m working from a houseboat on the Thames river just off of Chelsea embankement. Yes I am listening to Yacht Rock on Sonos. 

You travel for work- a LOT. How did you get into doing what you do?

I built and ran a few magazines while living in New York which lead to me having to hire a lot of people to do things that I wanted to do. Like go to events around the world and document them from the inside. Picking up my camera again in 2015 really changed the course of my life. It allowed me the freedom to tell a story from end to end. To not just be the writer, but also the photographer and the editor and the publisher – all in one.

What advice would you give someone who wants to get into the travel industry, or have travel as a critical part of their job?

If you are waiting for a dream company that will give you a $200k annual travel budget, you’re not going to find it. You can however train your work environment to let you work from where you need to be happy. I’m happy on the road, but you might be happy working from Barbados while your company is based in Boston. Depending on the nature of your work, there may be a way that you can do that same job while filling in the gaps with your own pocket money.

What 3 songs are on your OOO playlist?

Here’s my Spotify playlist that I keep most updated and listen to every day. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Seriously follow this! Ted was a professional DJ in NYC in a past life…and has the best & most eclectic taste in music).

What is your most used travel emoji?

The Crying laughing emoji, because sometimes my life is so hard to believe (even for myself) that I just have to laugh.

If you could swap suitcases with anyone in the world at baggage claim, who would you swap with?

Photographer Peter Beard.

Who is your dream “co-pilot” (travel partner- dead or alive), and why?

Haven’t met them yet. Traveling alone is bliss. No waiting.

If you’re going to a new place, and your friends have not been there, what do you consult for advice?

I’m quite lucky that I have a really engaged group of people that believe in the work that I’m doing, or at least are fans of what I share on instagram. If I’m in a new place (Bangkok for instance, where I did this interview for you!) I will take a photo of a landmark, and say I’m new in town and want to know whats up. 10/10 times it results in someone fascinating reaching out and meeting up with me for a beer. The world is much smaller than it seems, and the chances that you know someone who knows someone who has been to the little town you’re currently visiting is higher than you think.

Best Travel advise you’ve ever received, and from whom?

“Buy the ticket.” – Justin Shaffer

Anxiety and burn out are big topics these days. How do you combat them, and how do you use travel to do so?

Nothing cures a bad hangover like getting on a plane and fleeing the country, or even better – the continent. 

Do you have any favorite travel hacks (ways to score an upgrade, methods of getting your meal first on a flight, etc)?

Bank your points with one airline alliance. I keep Exec Platinum status with American which lets me use the 1st class BA lounge at Heathrow.

(EDITOR’s NOTE: go to waitlist.safara.travel and sign up for our waitlist – then you can access the best loyalty for boutique hotels, too!).

Travel can be about the little luxuries…like a super amazing cup of coffee. Where was the best one you’ve had?

Sightglass Coffee in San Francisco.

What is your favorite travel book – for at home, or abroad- and why?

Everything that Slim Aarons has done. He inspires a lot of my work.

What’s your favorite room service experience ever?

I once had my sunglasses removed from my backpack in my bedroom at the Badrutt’s Palace Hotel in St Moritz Switzerland and brought down to the outdoor bar where I was eating steak tartare and it had become too sunny. Never before had a hotel offered me that level of service.

If you could quit your job and follow the “Mamma Mia” dream (ie open a small hotel in a foreign land or on a remote island), where would you do it?

Italy, Porto Ercole to be specific. 

Beach or City or Mountain? 

Mountain – I’m the global ambassador to St Moritz so I think I have to say this?

Alone or with someone else? Alone

In flight wifi- good idea: yes or no? No

Lost luggage, or lost phone? Luggage

Airplane food- Y/N? Sure

Fantasy mini bar/fridge item? Sparkling Water

Early check-in/ late check-out? Both

Favourite subscription service you’ll never delete? (ex: netflix/spotify) All of it

In flight cocktail – Y/N? What kind? Bloody Mary

Favourite travel app? Priority Pass lounge app 

Window or Aisle? Window

Andrea Belck-Olsen from THE THIEF, Oslo

Andrea is the Director of Sales for Oslo’s coolest boutique hotel, THE THIEF, as well as the international sales coordinator for over 25 hotels (Nordic Hotels & Resorts). A life-long nomad, Andrea caught the travel bug early- she grew up in Peru (her parents were missionaries, and worked in local hospitals and schools), went to high school in both Bolivia and Norway, and then attended college in Perth, Australia as well as in Chicago. 

After a limited stint as a career DJ in a few clubs (though none of her friends believe her, she says!), she started working in the hospitality industry at The Peninsula Chicago (at the front desk- where she was first to greet all the guests). Soon after, Andrea was offered a job at THE THIEF with the pre-opening team to launch their new hotel in Oslo. Ever the global citizen, she moved to Europe to take on the role.  She now works with partners in the USA, the UK, the Middle East, and China- all of which she travels to often. In fact, she wrote her Q&A on a flight to Beijing! Read on below for her travel tips and tricks…

Follow Andrea Belck-Olsen on Instagram @andreaoslo



What is the most unique hotel amenity you’ve ever encountered?

The uber cool HOBO Hotel in Stockholm has a water gun in the bathroom. It has to be the most original amenity I have ever encountered, and definitely makes your stay more fun!

What hotel room design element can you not live without?

Proper lighting in the bathroom.

What 3 songs are on your OOO playlist?

Tunes that remind me of epic trips. At the moment: Me Enamorè by Shakira, Selva by Elionor Emù, and River by Leon Bridges.

Did you always want to work in the travel industry, and if so, what sparked that interest? How did you break into it?

I spent most of my childhood traveling with my family. We lived in Peru, Bolivia, and the United States as well as Norway. I remember spending lots of time at airports staring at the departure screens. I was so curious about where everyone was going, and tried to memorise all the different destinations. It definitely sparked my interest in the industry, and to be honest I am not sure I could handle having a job that did not involve traveling today. After studying Tourism and Hospitality in both Perth Australia and Chicago, I was hired at the prestigious Peninsula Chicago. After that, the ball just kept rolling, and here I am.

Do you have any favorite travel hacks (ways to score an upgrade, methods of getting your meal first on a flight, etc)?

I have always been that girl that jumps in my seat when the meal cart comes rolling. However, as I have gotten older I have started to skip the in-flight meals. I bring lots of water and power bars on the flight. Then I have a proper meal when I land at my destination instead. It actually helps with the jetlag, and I feel much better.

Have you, or would you ever, travel alone?

Absolutely! Everyone should do a solo trip at least once in their lives. Personally, I crave that alone time as it gives me time to reflect and find my inner creativity. Which is something that I usually don’t find much time for in my everyday life. I am doing a solo trip for Christmas this year to Peru. Ping me for hidden gems and must do’s, please!  

Travel can be about the little luxuries…like a super amazing cup of coffee. Where was the best one you’ve had?

Off the top of my head, I guess this isn’t a literal “coffee” answer, but- a trip to Kuwait is worth it for the local hummus alone! Especially the one at the old and traditional market “Souk Al-Mubarakiya.” This market is also awesome when shopping for spices. Definitely beyond re: “little luxuries.”

What’s your go-to outfit for getting through security quickly, and still looking good?

I am a “less is more” type of girl. I think a pair of jeans, nice sneakers, and a blazer gets me far. Comfortable, but still classy. I also try to avoid too many accessories when going through the airport security line- no need to set off any alarms for fashion;) 

Anxiety and burn out are big topics these days. How do you combat them, and how do you use travel to do so?

Disconnect! Because of today’s technology, we are constantly available to everyone, and I find that my work and social lives collide. It is hard to find balance when you are always “on.” I am a big fan of the “airplane mode” on my phone, and try to use it often – even if I am not traveling. The feeling of not being available all the time is quite addictive to me now.

Name three hotels off the top of your head that you love!

Besides THE THIEF (obviously!) my current favorites are: Wolfe Lodge in Norway, Maderas Village in Nicaragua, and Petit Ermitage in LA. They are all unique in their own special ways.

Favorite travel app? Mapstr

Favorite subscription service you’ll never delete? Spotify

In-flight wifi- good idea? No

Fantasy minibar/fridge item? Espresso Martinis

Cyrena Lee, Head of Content at Getaway

Our first /Insider, Cyrena Lee, is the Head of Content for Getaway – an ‘experience designed to bring us back to our elements, immerse us in the magic of the woods, and challenge us to rediscover the pleasure of boredom, solitude and unstructured time.’ Sounds relaxing & magical, right? For whatever reason, “boredom” sounds like a real luxury to us…

Before landing at Getaway, Cyrena spent time at Oglivy Beijing and Virgin Sport, and has written for publications including DailyCandy, GourmetLive, and the travel site Fathom. An avid rock climber, she also built up much of the branding, content, and creative storytelling for Brooklyn Boulders.

Cyrena moved to NYC at 17 from Princeton, NJ, and has also spent time abroad in Beijing, Shanghai, & Paris. She likes holograms, lucid dreaming, meditating, hot pot, languages, and airports.

Follow Cyrena Lee on Instagram @cyrenaly

What hotel room design element can you not live without?

Remote controlled curtains — encountered this at CitizenM in Shoreditch, London. Going from day to night without getting up is a pretty nice touch, and now it seems like an absurd necessity.

Where would you go to digital detox or just generally to get off the grid?

Any Getaway cabin to detox, or the south of France to just hang out and eat fresh tomatoes and cheese all day.

What do you always bring with you in your carry-on?

My rock climbing shoes, because, you never know.

Have you or would you travel alone?

Travelling alone is one of my favorite things to do. I even wrote a piece on it called “When You Travel Alone, You Belong to Everyone” for Fathom a few years back. People emailed me saying they were inspired to do so after. It’s absolute freedom!

Best Travel advice you’ve ever received, and from whom?

I used to plan in advance more, but my French boyfriend has a very lax approach to travelling. He never books hotels in advance because, as he puts it, he never knows if he’ll want to stay longer or go somewhere else last-minute. I’ve found that this mode of non-planning opens up for a lot more unexpected adventures.

Do you have any tips or tricks for beating the dreaded jet lag?

Start eating according to the time zone you’ll be travelling to 12 hours before your flight. Or just convince yourself it doesn’t exist. A combination of the two works every time for me, even for flights to Asia.

What’s your go-to outfit for getting through security quickly, and still looking good?

Love my ADAY Don’t Stop Top and Brakes On Leggings for comfort and looking chic all at once. I pair it with a massive Lauren Manoogian sweater to keep warm.

In flight wifi- good idea: yes or no? Yes, working flights = less stolen vacation time.

Lost luggage, or lost phone? Lost phone. Airplane mode, please.

Favourite subscription service you’ll never delete? Patreon

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