Insiders

Harsha Chanrai, CEO of Saira Hospitality

After cutting her teeth at some of the biggest hotel brands in Asia, such as Six Senses, The Aman in Sri Lanka and The Fullerton Hotel in Singapore, Harsha broke out on her own to launch Saira Hospitality in 2015. A non-profit enterprise, Saira Hospitality creates partnerships between communities and luxury hotels by empowering locals and providing hotels with a committed workforce. Their pop-up hotel schools have taken place in The British Virgin Islands, Mexico and LA, with more to come. A truly global citizen, Harsha travels constantly, but was brought up in London and now calls New York her home.

Follow her on @harshachanrai

Name three of your favorite hotels?

Six Senses Llamu. Image via Telegraph.
  • Blakes, London – I love that it’s still undiscovered by many and blends into the street so easily. It’s the first boutique hotel I ever discovered as a child living in London and where my love of hotels and design began.
Blakes Hotel. Image via Design Boom.
Hotel San Cristobal. Image via
Dwell.

What do you love most about working in hospitality?

The people. I feel like we’re a certain breed of people. We look to get the most out of every experience, work or play, and we blend them as much as we can. You can always tell when someone has the hospitality gene, something we always try and identify in our students. They have a natural instinct to connect, to serve, to spread happiness – whether in the spotlight or behind-the-scenes. Hospitality, at its core, is really what it means to be human and as Mohammed Ali said, “service to others is the rent we pay for our room here on earth.”

Cherry blossoms in Kyoto.

You travel a lot for work, was this something you were seeking in a career? If so, how did you go about designing your career life to include so much travel? How do you make it as relaxing and fun as possible?

Yes, I love traveling and couldn’t imagine my life without it, even if it’s just exploring a new neighborhood in Brooklyn. Whether it’s Namibia, Mexico or India, we’re totally open and excited to bring our pop-ups to communities globally. I’m a huge fan of “pool meetings” when we’re on a project at 9am. Love to start the day with team morning meditations – optional always. I’m a huge advocate of work/life balance. If we can get out on a boat one morning and island hop we’ll definitely do it. Our partners are a blast and we laugh at the situations we get ourselves into. Like when I walked out of the shower one day in Mexico and there was a cow at my front door staring at me.

Namibia. Image via Natural World Safaris.

Have you or would you travel alone?

Yes – it’s important. To connect with yourself, to make yourself feel a little uncomfortable. A friend once asked if I feel loved when I’m alone. It’s important to cultivate that.

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

I haven’t found a concierge company that I love as of yet. I like to do a tonne of my own research with online articles or asking friends of friends. Then I compile it into a Google Doc that I share with close friends when they go.

What was your favorite room service experience ever?

The little breakfast crepes at Cliveden House, just outside London. Few people can make them so thin with a hint of orange and still hot upon arrival.

Cliveden House. Image via CNN.

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

Get Global Entry – Michaelangelo L’Acqua.

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

Anthony Bourdain – what a legend. He recognized, embraced and shared the value of the local experience. And didn’t seem to take himself too seriously.

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

Carnitas in Todos Santos, King Coconuts in Sri Lanka, Hole in the wall Gyoza in Kyoto, Baked Crab Hand Rolls in LA.

Sri Lanka. Image via Lonely Planet.

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?

I don’t know about ‘Mamma Mia,’ but that’s always been my dream! It changes, but today: Comporta, Portugal.

Comporta. Image via CNT.

Where’s your next trip? If vacation, why did you choose there?

Ibiza and Formentera! Taking my entire family this August – they’ve never been. I lived there for a brief moment and want to share the magical parts of the island with them.

Mallorca.

Beach or City or Mountain?

Beach

Alone or with someone else?

With someone

In flight wifi- good idea: yes or no?

No

Lost luggage, or lost phone?

Phone

Airplane food- Y/N?

No

Fantasy mini bar/fridge item?

iSodi – their Cacio e Pepe and Lasagna

Early check-in/ late check-out?

Late check out

Favorite subscription service you’ll never delete?

Insight Timer

In flight cocktail? What kind?

Mescal Negroni

Favourite travel app

Safara – when it comes out. Seriously!

Window or Aisle?

Aisle

Yoga or hotel gym?

Yoga.

Nick Ferman, Group Brand Special Projects at Luxottica

Nick started his career in Italy in the early 00s before moving to London in 2005. After launching a number of contemporary fashion brands, his lifelong passion for The States (he can go on and on and on about rock ‘n’ roll and Bukowski) saw him develop and manage a cultural and retail swap between Carnaby and New York’s Lower East Side. Currently at Luxottica, you can find him conceiving global partnerships for the company’s brands, such as Ray-Ban, Persol and Oliver Peoples. He started writing songs at 40 and is currently trying not to get another speeding ticket with his grey Moto Guzzi. His time is split between London, Milan, Amsterdam and Stockholm but he would rather be in South Sardinia, his happy place.

Follow him on his motorbike here: @NickFerman

Riad Tizwa. Image via The Kindreds.

Name 3 favorite hotels, anywhere, off the top of your head. Why are they your favorites?

  • Riad Tizwa, Fes, Morocco – stay in ‘the’ ground floor room. Opening the wooden doors with a huge lock will make you feel you are entering your own castle. The charming bathroom with smudged tiles are worthy of a decadent prince. Home cooked breakfast everyday by the loveliest staff.
  • The Line, K-Town, LA – A hipster hotel with nice and attentive staff! Architect Sean Knibb did a pretty good job with the rooms, modern but with a 70’s feel, the furniture was made bespoke for the hotel by local artisans. Floor to ceiling view in every room, pick one facing the Hollywood sign.
The Line. Image via CNT.
  • Little Hoi An Central Boutique and spa, Hoi An, Vietnam – An oasis of tranquillity in the City of Lanterns. The colonial style rooms are straight out of a movie and they have the best beds. Make full use of the spa, every treatment is superb. 15 minutes walk from the fish market.
Hoi An. Image via The Wanderbook.

What hotel room design element can you not live without?

Loads of sockets – never enough these days with all the devices we have – and light switches that are easy to find and operate. 

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

South East Sardinia. Unpretentious, friendly people, the best sea I have ever seen (go to Chia beach). Fradis Minoris is the best seafood restaurant I ever tried, in the middle of the Nora lagoon.

Chia Beach. Image via Visit Sardinia.

You travel a lot for work…was this something you were seeking in a career? How do you make it as relaxing and fun as possible?

It was. I’ve worked long and hard to achieve a position where I get to manage projects at a global scale. The main thing is to develop skills that are transferable in different markets. Always download a lot of movies and series to kick back (Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars is a current favourite), do at least one new thing (bar, gallery, book shop, I recently discovered delicious Berlin restaurant Lokal) and don’t feel bad about staying in if the day has worn you out.

Lokal. Image via Time Out.

What 3 songs are on your OOO playlist?

  • Red Bone, Childish Gambino
  • There Is No Time, Lou Reed (listen to the lyrics, could have been written now)
  • Outrageous, Calva Louise.

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

  • Pukka green tea bags
  • Drakes cashmere scarf
  • Noise cancelling head phones
  • Persol 714 folding shades (in black)
  • A good rock and roll biog (Seymour Stein’s Siren Song is excellent).

If you could swap suitcases with anyone in the world (alive or dead) at baggage claim, who would you swap with?

Glenn O’Brien, in his TV Party days.

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

Book your essentials early, improvise the rest (from my friend Manuela, the most adaptable person I know).

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

Don’t drink too much alcohol, only attend functions ‘ you have to attend,’ don’t look at your phone, find time every day to do at least one thing you love (going to the cinema on my own, learn a new riff on the guitar). I apply the above to travel, work or play.

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

I’m writing this whilst on holiday in Sicily. What’s better than a Cremolata for breakfast?

Beach or City or Mountain?

Beach!

In flight wifi- good idea: yes or no?

Noooooo!

Fantasy mini bar/fridge item?

Italicus, just try it.

Lilly Alice, Freelance PR Consultant & Fashion Influencer


Lilly was born in Germany but now splits her time between London and Berlin (whilst fitting in a lot of travel in between). Having partnered with the likes of Paul Smith, Selfridges, Stella McCartney and Adidas, she is a classic ‘multi-hyphenate’ millennial with serious ambition. Since going freelance, Lilly has built an enviable list of her own fashion PR clients and grown her Instagram following to an enormous 100k. Loved for her dog selfies, killer sportswear and glamorous holidays, her Stories often feature her partying in Ibiza with the coolest crowd. Needless to say, her tips are not to be missed.

Follow her adventures on @LillyAlice1.

The Standard NYC. Image via standardhotels.com

Name 3 favorite hotels, anywhere, off the top of your head. Why are they your favorites?

All places have a super chilled vibe but great service. Town Hall Hotel is my favourite – I used to book a room there every once in a while even though my flat was only a five minute walk away.

Soho House Berlin. Image via Cntraveller.com

What hotel room design element can you not live without?

Master switch by the bed.

You travel a lot for work, was this something you were seeking in a career? How do you make it as relaxing and fun as possible?

I never thought I would have the opportunity to travel so much so I didn’t really plan it. What I did plan though is to run my own business/work as a freelancer to be able to all have all the freedom in the world. I think the best thing is that I now know so many great people all over the planet so whenever I travel I will try to meet up with friends and get to know a new city that way.

Image via Town Hall Hotel

What 3 songs are on your OOO playlist?

Parallaxis – Traumprinz
Kanedo – Beach Side
Your Eyes – Julain Collet, Jakob Oschmsnn

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

My mum: the only thing you will ever need is a credit card…. 

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

I don’t but if someone does, please tell me!


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

I love Suitcase magazine – they have amazing tips on what to pack and where to travel. It also has a super cool look.

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

A nice tracksuit in black with easy trainers in a cool colour, no jewellery.

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?

Holbox, Mexico.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve purchased abroad and brought home (or tried to carry-on) from your travels?

A dog.

Lilly’s dog Heidi

You have an hour to spare at the airport. What would I find you doing?

Working on my laptop.

Where’s your next trip?  

China for work.

In flight wifi- good idea: yes or no?

YES.

Lost luggage, or lost phone?

LUGGAGE.

Airplane food- Y/N?

NO∙

Favourite subscription service you’ll never delete?

SPOTIFY.

Florencia Cavallo + Elise Labau Topaloglu, Co-Founders of Golden Edit

Nomads from birth, Florencia Cavallo was born in Argentina and lived in Buenos Aires until her family moved to Australia and Elise Labau Topaloglu was born in the south of France and grew up in St Barths, a French-speaking Caribbean island.

They met in New York through their work in fashion PR. Together, they developed the idea for e-commerce site Golden Edit, which launched in 2018. Here, they bring together their favorite brands from around the globe – from Australia to Mexico, Colombia, Turkey, Ecuador, and everywhere in between. As two women whose lives merge fashion and travel seamlessly, we were keen to hear their tips:

Hotel Can Simoneta in Mallorca. Image via My Premium Europe

Name 3 favorite hotels, anywhere, off the top of your head. Why are they your favorites?

  • Belmond Hotel Splendido in Portofino: One of the most glamorous resorts in Italy where you can truly enjoy ‘la dolce vita.’ The views! The food! The décor! It’s an absolute dream.
  • Hotel Can Simoneta in Mallorca: Exclusive, intimate and oh-so romantic. The property sits on a cliff in Canyamel overlooking the sea and is made of a number of restored and altered 140 year old buildings.
  • Twin Palms in Surin Beach, Thailand: A stylish boutique hotel with a jaw-dropping lagoon pool where you can truly get away from it all. A sweet smell of fresh lemongrass lingers throughout the entire resort. It’s pure bliss. 

What are your favorite “offices” while traveling?

The best part of travel is discovering new places, so it’s always a welcomed surprise when you stumble across a gorgeous tucked away café where you can work for the day, while people watching the locals. For a place that feels like “home”, we love The Wing.

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

Portable phone charger, Lucas’ Papaw Ointment, water (staying hydrated in-flight is key to beating jetlag!), a straw hat too big to fit in checked baggage, noise-cancelling headphones and a set of bikinis in case bags get lost.

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

We try to do as much research as possible before heading to a new destination, but the magic really happens when you arrive and start wandering around and getting lost in a new place.  Talking to the local community is the best way to discover hidden gems. Locals always give the best advice – whether it’s in a big city like Berlin, or a small seaside town.

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

Frances Mayes (played by Diane Lane) in ‘Under The Tuscan Sun.’

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

A white tee, linen pants, straw bag large enough to fit our laptop, and Birkenstocks we can easily slip on and off. 

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? 

Florencia: My husband and I dream of opening a little restaurant in the south of Italy (not that there’s shortage of them!); an intimate space offering simple, home-cooked food and to-die-for local wine. Of late, it has become more of a ‘goal’ than a dream… stay tuned!  

Elise: As for us, we dream of turning a plot of land we recently bought in a natural reserve in southwest Turkey into a beautiful glamping destination. Picture the glamorous African Safari experience in Tanzania or Kenya without the wild animals, and overlooking the Aegean instead.

You have an hour to spare at the airport. What would I find you doing? 

Dream: soaking up our favorite book. Reality: Sending last minute emails. 

Where’s your next trip? Why? If vacation, why did you choose there?

We’re headed to Mallorca, Puglia, Calabria and Sicily for a never-ending summer!

Beach or City or Mountain?

Beach, always! 

Early check-in/ late check-out?

Early – so we can change and go straight to the beach!

Window or Aisle?

Window (to daydream while looking at the clouds)

Annabel Herrick, Travel Journalist + Copywriter

Annabel is a freelance travel journalist and copywriter with a background in PR for tourism boards, like Visit California and the Brecon Beacons National Park.

All in the name of a story, her articles have included glamping in New York for Stylist, seeking out yoga shalas in Sri Lanka for VICE, snowshoeing in Quebec for The Week, trying ‘vinotherapy’ in Bordeaux for Suitcase and writing UK travel guides for Conde Nast Traveller.

She balances adventures with commercial copywriting projects for big lifestyle brands like Casio, Google and Coca-Cola, whilst practicing yoga whenever possible, she often consults for wellness brands on the side.

Follow her on Instagram @annabelherrick

Name 3 favorite hotels, anywhere, off the top of your head. Also, why are they your favorites?

One that always sticks in my head is Source de Caudalie near Bordeaux, run by a sister and a mother, surrounded by vineyards and a stunning ‘vinotherapy’ spa. Burgenstock Resort in Switzerland was huge but the views were phenomenal (so much so I cried when they showed me my room). I also stayed in The Parker in Palm Springs once which was a dream and I’m still getting through the amazing freebies, like Aqua Di Parma products. I slept with Lady Liberty at my feet when glamping on an island off Manhattan for Stylist. I’ll never forget that.

As a creative, what places do you find most inspiration for your work?

I find I work really well in airports because there’s a time limit! I like the bustle. Hotel rooms work well too, especially if there’s a time difference as it means the UK is asleep and emails calm down.

Dream places to visit as an artist, musician, filmmaker, and why?

California has to be up there – working for Visit California changed my attitude to ambition. I stopped hiding it like a classic Brit. I think we could all do with a dose of their positivity. If you have a creative idea, they’re all for it.

What are your favorite “offices” while traveling?

I had a day pass at Fora the other day (a hospitality/coworking hybrid) which was beautiful. The founder Katrina launched the Big Chill festival and there’s lots of musical influences in the design, like vinyl players. Montreal does cafe culture beautifully (especially in the winter when people hide from the cold).

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

Home to the Brecon Beacons in Wales. There’s no signal in my mum’s house, which is a beautiful little listed building sloping up a hill in Crickhowell. It’s the only place I can really switch off.

You travel a lot for work…was this something you were seeking in a career? If so, how did you go about designing your career life to include so much travel, and how do you make it as relaxing and fun as possible?

I worked as a waitress in a luxury hotel for the whole of my teens and through that got a job at a PR/marketing startup. Coming from a national park and doing a French degree, I think it’s built in me. But it also means I have incredibly high expectations – nowhere has been as beautiful as my mountains at home (yet). When I went freelance two years ago, the biggest draw was freedom. Not being restricted to a 9-5 is so liberating and I realise it suits me so well. Being jolted out of my comfort zone through travel (seeing other cultures, meeting various nationalities, hearing languages) is really good for inspiration. I always come home buzzing with ideas. The line between work trips and holidays is blurred, but I’m working on it…

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

Culture Trip is incredible for city break roundups, they seem to have everywhere covered. My favourite travel magazine Suitcase is great for long form. I also do shout outs on all social media channels and that works well.

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

I always put an OOO on explaining the time difference. If I’m working remotely, I try to balance that with exploring by getting all my work done first thing in the morning, so doing half and half if I can. It normally means I don’t get much sleep but I just power through.

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

I interviewed the ‘sleep scientist’ Matthew Walker for VICE once and he gave some really good tips, such as having least 12 hours of wakefulness from the moment you wake up on the plane to when you go to sleep in the new time zone. As well as getting as much natural daylight as possible once landed.  

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

I lived in Paris for a year and I miss the coffee there so much. And the bread.

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?

At home. I plan to open a yoga retreat at some point. Having lived in Wales, Manchester and Bristol, I really try to push UK travel as I think we have so much to offer outside of London, which I love, but the city does soak up too much of the attention in my opinion.

Beach or City or Mountain?

Mountain! I’m from Wales after all. The higher up, the better.

Favourite subscription service you’ll never delete?

NY Times probably now I have it, I’m addicted. I could give or take Netflix and Spotify.

Favourite travel app?

I’d love to mention my walking app client Go Jauntly, which is free. They offer user-led trails guided by photos. They’ve just launched in the US!

Stephanie Muhs, Events Manager at 1stdibs

An expert in finely tuned event planning, Stephanie has worked with many covetable brands from major media to charities, such as Town & Country MagazineWWD, and The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Based in New York, she’s now on the events team at 1stdibs; the leading marketplace for the most beautiful things on earth, bringing together the world’s most sophisticated designers and curators. As she navigates a career in luxury experience and design, here we speak to her about the travel memories she holds close.

Follow her adventures @sjmuhs

What are 3 of your favorite hotels?

  1. Cavas Wine Lodge, Mendoza: You’re made to feel like family as soon as you arrive. The property is small and they go out of their way to get to know all of their guests, plus their wine cellar is legendary.
  2. Four Seasons Lanai: One of the only Four Seasons Properties I’ve visited and definitely the nicest! The poolside service offers everything from frozen fruit to a sunglasses cleaner, as well as organising authentic and engaging activities. It works – you never want to leave the property (except to go to the golf course, which has the most spectacular views in all of Hawaii!)
  3. Cameron House Hotel, Loch Lomond: Visiting Scotland in the fall is really hard to beat and this hotel makes you want to make it an annual trip. Plenty of amazing and authentic dining options on site, plus so many nearby local spots that are always happy to have you.
Photo via Cavas Wine Lodge

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

Places that genuinely represent and support the local culture. Whether they are a large resort or a small boutique property, it’s important the staff appear genuine in showing their enthusiasm about their local customs. That could mean food, activities or a concierge whose energy is contagious. These interactions drive a large part of my experience.

What hotel room design element can you not live without? (ex: master switch by the bed)

Access to fresh air! Even if it’s a window that I have to pry open, I need to be able to get a breeze in the space.

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

I head to my family’s cabin on the coast of Maine, Mount Desert Island. I went there for 8 weeks after my son was born and barely turned on the TV. The nature changes so quickly and dramatically – it’s wildly entertaining.

You travel a lot for work…was this something you were seeking in a career? If so, how did you go about designing your career life to include so much travel, and how do you make it as relaxing and fun as possible?

Definitely not something I planned on. However, travelling for the final event is the last step after months of planning. I try not to get out of a routine too much so I bring my own tea, try to exercise at local referred fitness spots and always have my travel sized amenities packed and ready to go. My skin can’t take switching products so I am always stocked with minis of my favorites and throw in samples collected from my online shopping habit…

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

For reservations, if I can’t get our party (4 or 6) into the reservation time, I almost always request a smaller party and call on the day to say we forgot someone!

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

Avène Thermal Spring Water religiously and compression socks shamelessly.

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

In Punta del Este, Carlos Melia (who helped us plan our honeymoon) made sure we never had a dinner reservation earlier than 11pm. We thought that sounded crazy but he could not have been more right! We tried one of the ‘early’ seatings at 9pm and were surrounded by a crowd a lot younger or way older.

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?

Mallorca De Palma.

In flight wifi- good idea: yes or no?

Yes.

Lost luggage, or lost phone?

Luggage.

Early check-in/ late check-out?

Late checkout.

Sabrina Meier, Membership Director at 1880 Singapore

Sabrina Meier is the Director of Membership and a founding employee at 1880 Singapore (one of the pioneering luxe co-working spaces out there, and widely considered the “Soho House of Singapore”). She met our founder, Maya, in Shanghai in 2006 while on a university exchange year abroad – so we can attest that this woman is one to follow, and keep tabs on. Fun fact: Sabrina was a professional dancer during that time, most notably for the Black Eyed Peas during their Shanghai and Beijing tour. After getting her Masters in Business in Switzerland, she moved back to Singapore and spent time building her career in events & marketing within the LVMH Group- including helping launch Sephora in Singapore.

Sabrina travels extensively as part of her DNA, and has even met the Dalai Lama this past year (holy bucket list!)…have we said enough to hook you in, yet? Read on for her colorful tips on work and play travel- from Asia to Italia, and beyond.

Follower her on IG @sabsytyles

What are 3 of your favorite hotels?

Opera 2, Modena, Italy

Overlooking its own vineyards and the beautiful rolling countryside of the Emilia Romagna, Agriturismo Opera 02 is set in a new build property located alongside a winery. This boutique farm resort was a beautiful romantic getaway for me, and one of the best meals and sleeps during my entire trip to Italy. They were ageing balsamic vinegar in barrels right outside our bedroom door, just across the corridor- the fragrance lingered, and filled the entire Dining Room space in the Farmhouse. Such a unique juxtaposition between old world wine-making traditions in a renovated modern farmhouse, and then an infinity pool beside the vineyard. Breath-taking views and a short drive into Modena, a small quaint cobblestone town with speakeasy cocktail bars and Italian cafes. Just go!

Photo via Opera 02

Bambu Indah, Ubud, Bali

Bali is a magical place and often coined the Island of the Gods. And it truly is, especially when you step onto this property at Bambu Indah- an absolutely stunning Bamboo resort and sanctuary tucked away in Ubud. Immersed in this natural environment, you transcend into total relaxation and tranquility. It almost feels like an enchanted bamboo palace by the riverside. They have natural swimming pools and offer Yoga and Spa sessions which are just blissful because you are enveloped in this stunning place.

Topas ECO lodge, Sapa, Vietnam

Topas Ecolodge is a small lodge situated on a beautiful hilltop deep in the mountains of Hoang Lien National Park- only 45 min outside Sapa town in North Vietnam. They do not have any TV in the rooms, so for relaxation they offer an infinity pool, spa in ‘Red Dao’ herbal baths, plus excursions, bike rides, cooking classes, and visits to Sapa tribes. I loved the vibe of Sapa, perched up in the misty hills- we rose at 5am to cycle down an ever winding road until we hit a remote village, and were invited in for Vietnamese coffee whilst this local villager smoked his opium pipe. 

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

Linen bed sheets, a beach bag (avoid sand in your suitcase!), and personalized pajamas.

If you work in hospitality, what do you love most about it?

I’m so proud and happy to be part of such an amazing team that helped build a members club with 1700 members to date. As with any hospitality business, we had our challenges that we needed to troubleshoot on the daily… but seeing all the smiling faces and happy members truly is a testament to the work we put in and vision we believed in. That has made all the difference. Being able to interact with so many people every day keeps me motivated and driven. 1880 is truly special as we have built this community by inspiring conversations and creating connections that may go on to impact the world. What I love about it most are the genuine friendships and deeper connections that we have curated from a whole spectrum of internal programming.  

What hotel room design element can you not live without? 

Bath tub with a beautiful view, bedside universal adapter & Japanese toto toilet. 

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

Burning Man or Phuket Cleanse. Burning Man is an absolute cleanse from the world and your life as you know it. Most people that have not been think it’s an awesome party, but after you’ve been, you understand that it is a journey into yourself. The emotional landscape you navigate during that week is intense and rich. Phuket Cleanse is a retreat that includes a full day intensive program tailored to your need in fitness, nutrition, and meditation.

You travel a lot for work…was this something you were seeking in a career? How do you make your work travel as relaxing and fun as possible?

I bring my yoga practice and essential oils with me wherever I go. As long as I can fit in some meditation morning or nights, I’m set. It helps to find your tribe in every city, whom you can work out with.

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

Shawl, gum, lip gloss, sunnies, portable charger.

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

Lady Gaga.

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

I research the hottest hood, best coffee, yoga studio, best nightlife, authentic cultural activity, best brunch spot- as much as possible, via friends of friends first.

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

“Always back up your phone before you travel. Keep a passport copy with you & $50 bill hidden in a random pocket. Roll clothes when packing for more space. Use ziplocs for everything and reuse them again and again!”    – Love, (my) Mum.

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

YOGA and Meditation have helped me through my darker days. Essential oils and the blends I make myself keep me calm and comfortable wherever I go.

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

Sant Eustachio in Rome

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

The LUXE Guides for City trips. They’re well curated and cater to travelers like me, who want to hit up all the newest & coolest (slightly off the beaten path) hot spots. Also, my journal.

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

Bamboo cotton top, Hoodie, yoga pants and Superga sneakers. Big comfy shawl…I never leave the house without one.

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?

Siargao, Philippines. It’s Bali 15 years ago. Still unexplored. A hidden gem and amongst the top surf spots in the world.

Beach or City or Mountain?

Mountain.

Alone or with someone else?

With someone.

 Lost luggage, or lost phone?

Luggage. More reason to hit the shops.

In flight cocktail – Y/N?

 Tequila on the rocks or Bubbly (anytime).

Favorite travel app?

Calm



Triin Linamagi, Founders Factory

Born and raised in Estonia, Triin moved to London six years ago. A bonafide UK resident, she now looks after travel and media portfolios at Founders Factory as an early stage investor and accelerator. Clearly a business-minded woman, she is responsible for identifying the most promising founders and analyzing their business models. We’re impressed. 

Before taking names and making deals at Founders Factory, Triin helped establish several tech companies by heading up product development and marketing. Since being in London, she has seized every opportunity to travel through Europe, even if that means short weekends. Read on for some great tips on where to go – both near and far – and how she combats anxiety and burn out via travel.

Follow her adventures @triinli

What are 3 of your favorite hotels?

Hotel les deux tours Marrakech – Magnificent. Surrounded by lily ponds, fountains and Andalusian gardens. The whole place makes you feel like you are living in a fairytale.

Busuanga bay Lodge in Philippines, Busuanga – Breathtaking views, very personal service and super relaxing experience.

Royal Island Resort & Spa in Maldives – not many words needed to describe this. A getaway to Paradise.

Photo via Les Deux Tours

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

Asia.

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

Mobile charger, facial cleanser, comfy shoes.

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

Julie Sarinana (sincerelyjules in Instagram).

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

Yes I have! Travelling alone allows you to explore much more about yourself and push you out of your comfort zone, and also pay more attention to surroundings. Surely makes you one hell of a good map reader!

What was your favorite room service experience ever?

Breakfast in bed after missing my flight when my own flat was rented out as an Airbnb for the weekend, and I had to take a hotel for the night. Luxurious!

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

Anyone who can appreciate time to relax, but also time to be adventurous and find the balance.

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

Travel is the only thing that helps me ‘get away’ from my own work thoughts. I can fully switch off and it reminds me that there are much bigger problems in the world than the ones we are stressing about in our daily lives. You tend to see the world from a different perspective.

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

T-shirt and jumper (in winter) and comfy black leggings or trousers.

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?

In Europe, The Amalfi Coast (Capri) or The French Riviera. Looking further… the Maldives.

In flight wifi? Y/N?

No.

Fantasy mini bar/fridge item?

Bubbles and cheese.

Early check-in/ late check-out?

Late check-out.

Window or Aisle?

Window (I like my views).

Ashley Ellis, Writer + Filmmaker

Ashley Ellis is a writer, filmmaker, creative, and PhD candidate. If that doesn’t say “modern day Renaissance woman,” we don’t know what does. Having written for publications such as Gopher Illustrated, Pyragraph, Bitch Flicks, Afrobougee and more, we are pretty sure she could write this intro way better than we can – but hey. 

Though she spent years in Los Angeles, Ashley now calls Cape Town home and is currently teaching and working towards her PhD in film studies at the University of Cape Town. She has co-created films for some of the world’s most progressive institutions such as TED, XPrize, The American Heart Association and The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (just to name a few).

Constantly seeking new inspiration and subject matter for her next film, Ashley is a globe-trotter extraordinaire- and therefore we had to pick her brain. Follow her adventures @ashley.d.ellis

Name 3 favorite hotels, anywhere, off the top of your head. Also, why are they your favorites?

I have had so many wonderful international experiences with travel lodging, from backpackers to 5-star hotels, that it’s nearly impossible to answer this question.  In Los Angeles, where I lived throughout my twenties, boutique hotels are a part of the social space. The three where I’ve spent the most time hanging out are The Line Hotel, The Standard DTLA, and Chateau Marmont.  I’ve had daily work meet-ups, partied, planned a film production, and watched Trump get elected at these hotels. These places signal that I’m home.

Dream places to visit as an artist, musician, filmmaker, and why?

As a filmmaker, I’m inspired by locations that can themselves become characters. I dream about visiting and shooting in places like Timbuktu, Mali; Chefchaouen, Morocco; Lake Retba, Senegal; or the Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana.

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

The Okavango Delta in Botswana.  It’s my analog home.

You travel a lot for work…was this something you were seeking in a career? If so, how did you go about designing your career life to include so much travel, and how do you make it as relaxing and fun as possible?

Yes, it was something that I was seeking and it took me years to set up in a way that made sense for my overall growth.  I believe that we manifest the things we set our minds on. Once I decided that travel is an important aspect of my life, I started actively looking for jobs and developing projects that would allow me the opportunity to experience new places.  Eventually, a project idea became worthy of PhD research, and that’s what brought me to Cape Town (but only because I dared to look far and wide for the right institutional home). The more I travel, the more I build relationships with people in my industry all over the world, and these connections naturally bring me more travel/work opportunities.   

How do I make traveling relaxing and fun?  I think it’s all about just embracing the place I’m in without expecting that I’ll always be comfortable in a new place or on the go.  I just breathe in the air and observe my surroundings, and soon enough I settle in or find some place or thing worth exploring. And a good book helps me to unwind in pretty much any circumstance.  

What 3 songs are on your OOO playlist?

Lavish Lullaby – Masego

Count Your Blessings – Mizz & Rabs Vhafuwi

Ultimatum – Disclousure feat. Fatoumata Diawara

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

Pretty Standard: Passport. Wallet. House keys. Laptop. Cell phone. Chargers. Adapters. A book or 2. My Belkin mini book light. Glasses. Tooth Brush. Disposable face wipes. Clean underwear! And anything & everything else that will fit, because I’m kind of crazy about having access to my stuff.

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

Anna Wintour.  Her clothes and shoes wouldn’t fit, but that seems like a gamble no matter who one picks. However, she probably has some designer travel accessories that I really need in my life.  

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

Yes and yes.  It’s the perfect opportunity to spend some time in your own head and reorganize everything that’s in there.  I’m also much more likely to write, which I never seem to find time for during my life with the people I love.   

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

“Always travel with cash, and store small amounts in different places in your belongings.”  – My Mom

Lost luggage, or lost phone?

Luggage! Everything can be sorted with a phone.

In flight cocktail – Y/N? What kind?

Yes. Red wine.  I’ll either write or sleep.

Window or Aisle?

Aisle! I hate crawling over people to pee.


Victoria Ainsworth, Growth Consultant for Christy Dawn

Tori is a multidisciplinary marketer and e-commerce consultant. She’s spent the last 7 years working with startups, helping them develop unique brand identities and build meaningful communities. Her past clients include Negative Underwear and hot-spot hotel Maderas Village

A Toronto native, Tori found her way to LA via NYC and is now the marketing guru for cool-girl brand Christy Dawn. Though she is a bad-ass lady running all things CRM, SEO, content, and planning for some of our favorite companies – this low key babe finds herself at home on a surfboard with salt water in her hair and sun on her face. 

After a long stint at GMR Marketing in Toronto, Tori picked up and made her way to Nicaragua for what was supposed to be a break-away vacation, and turned into a long term stay. She traveled around central America in search of calm and waves until making the decision to move to the states. 

Now a Venice beach resident, Tori is making LA home and getting used to the west coast life. Follow her adventures on Instagram @auntowey.

Name 3 favorite hotels, anywhere, off the top of your head. Also, why are they your favorites?

The Harmony Hotel in Nosara, Costa Rica; The Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood, California; The Urban Cowboy in Nashville, Tennessee. I stayed at each of those hotels at a pivotal time in my life. They remind me of embarking on a new chapter, and of unearthing new and interesting parts of myself. (And I got into the best kind of trouble at The Chateau Marmont, because that’s just what you do there!)

Photo via Urban Cowboy

What hotel room design element can you not live without?

Music. The rooms at The Chateau Marmont have vintage record players. When concierge brings you to your room, all the windows are open and there’s a jazz record on. It changes everything.

What 3 songs are on your OOO playlist?

Crazy Love by Irene Diaz; Season by Elder Island; Pour Another by Nick Hakim. I like the moody stuff.

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

Oodles of chapstick and a journal.

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

I’d probably go back to Costa Rica. It’s one of my favorite places on the planet – the energy is intoxicating, and you feel so connected to the Earth. (I’d also really like to go on an Alaskan cruise!)

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

Someone with excellent taste in books.

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

I travel alone most of the time. Being alone has its perks – you don’t have to consult with anyone about anything, ever. You can just kind of … go. I’d really like to start a little family someday, and I imagine (and hope!) that we’ll travel together often. I try my best to take advantage of this time in my life where I can just be … all by myself.

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

“Don’t be such a wussy.” – an older gentleman watching me reluctantly get on a school bus in Guatemala.

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

My Nana. Because she was the best woman I’ve ever met.

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?

Panarea!

Alone or with someone else?

Alone!

Lost luggage, or lost phone?

Lost luggage – we always need less than what we packed.

Window or aisle?

Window!

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