The Luxury Channel meets Tanya Rose, author of Travel Secrets for some insider tips….
How did you become the voice of luxury travel?
Word of mouth amongst the clientele of Mason Rose and their friends. It’s hard to find trusted advice these days, and like many other professional services – like doctors, financial advisors, mechanics, hairdressers – when you find the right one, they are GOLD! I believe in honest advice and sharing travel secrets that make destinations come alive. The most important thing in luxury travel is to know the place and match the person to the destination, so as long as my clients have a stylish experience, then that is what is important – it does not have to be about money.
What was the success criteria for the hotels that feature in your book?
Most have been tried and tested over the years, but like very good friends, none of them are perfect….but they meet as many of the criteria that I believe make a truly great hotel. In the front of my book, I have given the recipe for a great hotel. In the end, it is about comfort, warmth and superb service that is genuine and authentic.
So it’s not about five stars?
I did the most hilarious interview with Michael Winner and he said, “I think that the dustbin man gives out the hotel stars” – because they have nothing to do with anything – you have a swimming pool, and a this and a that and it can be a five star hotel! My favourite hotel in the book is Le Colombe D’or – it has fantastic soul and amazing paintings that Matisse and Chagall left because they were friends of the proprietor and had no money at the time. It is a B&B, the air conditioning does not work, the maids come up in these funny uniforms but it is the most remarkable place. Just fantastic!
How did you choose the celebrity travel gurus for your book (ranging from Tamara Mellon to David Collins)?
This has distinguished the book from other hotel books. Interestingly, it was more about their credibility and success in their own field and knowing that they were extremely well travelled – that was what attracted myself and my co-author to them. Interviewing them was a complete treat, both enlightening and entertaining. But of course, amongst experienced travellers, there were prevailing themes to their expectations and planning. They are smart people and therefore smart and clever about the way they travel. They always use experts to get that. So they will not arrive in New York and not have their restaurants booked or their seats at the theatre. They will have done their research.
Why is word of mouth so important amongst affluent travellers?
As I mentioned earlier, friends only share gold with their closest friends and when making a recommendation, will only do so if they feel completely assured about doing so. So word of mouth amongst affluent travellers is quite important. Many will say, “don’t take recommendations from someone who has not tried it themselves.” My Travel Secrets are all tried and recommended with confidence.
The Luxury Channel and Quintessentially Travel launched an Ultimate Honeymoon Competition to Bali. Have you been to Bali?
Yes, indeed! Bali is absolutely gorgeous – exotic and lush, with incredibly friendly people. I spent my own honeymoon in Bali at Como Shambala (Begawan Giri as it was then called) in July 2000. We have a new secret hidden gem, Karma Kandara, in the book. It has one of the best beach bars in the world named Namos after the hip beach bar in Mykonos – rather like Club 55 in St Tropez. If you are adventurous enough to ship back furniture, you must go to Tarita which has some wonderful interior design pieces and they ship anywhere in the world. Ubud is fabulous for art, and if your partner needs an adrenalin rush, the white water rafting is amazing.
Which hotel from your book Travel Secrets would you book for your own honeymoon?
In Europe, the Villa Feltrinelli on Lake Garda or the Cipriani in Venice. In Asia, the Soneva Kiri Six Senses in the Gulf of Siam in Thailand. If you are going to Africa, you have to stop off at the Delair Graff Estate that designer David Collins has waved his magic wand over and turned into exquisite bliss, and then go to Royal Malawane in Kruger National Park like David Furnish and Elton John did. But really, honeymoons – like all travel – are very much bespoke to the couple and what suits them best. I don’t believe one hotel or destination fits all when it comes to a honeymoon.
What should a bride pack on her honeymoon – any good tips?
Beautiful underwear from Myla, and cashmere, cashmere, cashmere for the journey, unless you are going to Oman or you will self-combust! But really, this is entirely dictated by where the couple are going. After all the dress-up of a wedding, there is nothing more freeing and relaxing than being in barefoot luxury with easy linen, Melissa Odabash kaftans, Eres swimwear, stylish flat sandals teamed with a glowing tan, a happy heart and a big smile, and maybe a dash of jewellery to stun a husband and a restaurant crowd. Capsule wardrobes from my friends Natalie Massinet at Net-A-Porter or Sarah Walters (wife of Dylan Jones, editor of GQ) at Style Passport are a must.
Travel is one of the few luxury goods that people have to commit to purchase before they try. How can travellers mitigate disappointment?
Like everything else, you can take the DIY approach and book based on star ratings, the words “luxury” or a known brand, but in the end, all of this is meaningless without expert advice. So either be a web-based smarty pants or seek expert advice. It’s a big investment of money and valuable personal time, so isn’t it worth getting it right? With things like the ash cloud and BA strikes, we were the first Travel Agency to get our VIPs home due to our relationships with the airlines, so I think it is always worth going to experts just in case anything goes wrong.
In a hotel, what is more important – facilities or service?
Definitely service. You can forgive a hotel for its small eccentricities and small wardrobe, but bad service is the recipe for a hellish experience.
Do you have a favourite hotel?
- For culture: The Mark NYC – I love to stay and take in Broadway Shows, Ballet and Opera, and the Museums and Galleries.
- For romance: The Cipriani Venice.
- For experience: The Royal Mansour Marrakech.
- For health and wellbeing: The Mayr FX Clinic and Spa Austria.
- For Family: Forte Village in Sardinia.
- My personal favourite: Le Colombe D’or.
What are your top 3 travel secrets?
- Seek expert knowledge.
- Plan ahead, not at the last minut, if you want to get all that you want in flights, accommodation and activities.
- Go slightly out of season – if you can – for the best deals and to avoid crowds.
What is luxury?
Individual taste and not collective opinion.
Travel Secrets by Tanya Rose and Martin Turner is available online at www.waterstones.com and from all good bookstores.