There’s a new international show dedicated to boutique travel. It’s called LE Miami and at its inaugural event this month, industry experts will have the difficult job of voting for the most influential person in contemporary travel. We’ve asked the nominees to reveal their favourite hotels and destinations, to give their predictions for the future and to share their best piece of travel advice.
Nick of Soho House loves Miami
Top destination: “Miami is a great destination for the family, as there’s lots for everyone to do. I also like Mallorca for short-haul getaways.”
Favourite hotels: “Hotel Cap Rocat (00 34 971 747878, caprocat.com; doubles from £385, B&B), in Mallorca, has beautiful design, fantastic service and great food. Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc (00 33 4 93 61 39 01, hotel-du-cap-eden-roc.com; doubles from £684, B&B), in Cap d’Antibes, has a spectacular setting and real old-school glamour. And La Mamounia (00 212 524 388600, mamounia.com; doubles from £340, room-only), in Marrakesh — we didn’t want to leave.”
Travel advice: “Always go where there’s a good bed, good food and good company.”
Travel prediction: “I’m excited by Latin America. I think more people will be exploring it.”
Jones’s credentials: he launched the members-only club Soho House in London in 1995. The group (sohohouse.com) now runs restaurants, private clubs and hotels, including Babington House in Somerset.
Kit Kemp of Firmdale Hotels loves the Okavango Delta
Top destination: “Safari holidays in the Okavango Delta, in Botswana, and the French countryside, for its lovely old towns, coastline and great antiques shopping.”
Favourite hotel: “Il Convento di Santa Maria di Costantinopoli (01223 460100,essentialitaly.co.uk; doubles from £375, half-board), in Puglia, Italy, which Lord McAlpine owns. He has filled the property with some of the best Aboriginal art, Joe Tilson pieces and books I’ve ever seen. You walk through the kitchen to get to the breakfast room, past all the preserves, fruits and vegetables, so you feel fully involved. The rooms don’t all have ensuites, but that didn’t bother me. It’s a very romantic place, and unlike anywhere else I’ve been.”
Travel advice: “Book a massage on arrival, as it eases any jet lag.”
Travel prediction: “A greater appreciation of the individual adventure. There is no need to travel like a herd and be treated like one.”
Kemp’s credentials: she and her husband, Tim, have created a quintessentially English hotel chain (firmdalehotels.com). Seven of their eight properties, including the Haymarket Hotel, are in London; the other is in New York.
Carlos Couturier of Grupo Habita loves Puerto Escondido
Top destination: “Puerto Escondido, in Oaxaca, is the perfect winter getaway. It’s a small fishing town between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean, with friendly people, good surf, tasty margaritas and peaceful siestas. It’s the way St Tropez was before Brigitte Bardot.”
Favourite hotels: “Hôtel Costes (00 33 1 42 44 50 00, hotelcostes.com; doubles from £342, room-only), in Paris, has an unbeatable location, great staff, sexy decor and amazing food. Another is Awasi (0808 101 6778, awasi.com; doubles from £1,023 for two nights, all-inclusive, with excursions), in Chile’s Atacama Desert. It’s authentic and warm, offering understated luxury in unique surroundings.”
Travel advice: “Always learn to say thank you in the local language.”
Travel prediction: “Hotels that are technologyless. No iPhones, no laptops, no wi-fi, no TV, no music, no electricity, no air conditioning — just the sound of nature, a voyage to a peaceful mind.”
Couturier’s credentials: Grupo Habita (grupohabita.mx) is credited with reinventing contemporary travel in Mexico, with hotels, such as Habita in Mexico City, focused on art and design and with strong links to the local community.
Loh Lik Peng of Unlisted Collection loves Dublin
Top destination: “Dublin has soul as well as glamour and shabbiness.”
Favourite hotels: “The Post Ranch Inn (00 1 831 667 2200, postranchinn.com; doubles from £515, room-only), in California, has an incredible location, and the design and service are outstanding. In Berlin, Das Stue (00 49 30 311 7220, das-stue.com; doubles from £151, B&B) is an excellent conversion of the old Danish embassy. Every detail seems to be so well resolved. It’s not grand or super-luxurious, but it manages to be impressive nonetheless.”
Travel advice: “When travelling long-haul, try to arrive early. There is nothing worse than arriving somewhere late at night, when most places are shut and you can’t sleep and have nowhere to go.”
Travel prediction: “We’ll start to see high-end hotels that cater specifically to the Chinese traveller, with high-end Chinese restaurants in hotels and Chinese-speaking concierges in the gateway cities in the West.”
Loh Lik’s credentials: he’s the driving force behind a portfolio of seven hotels, in Shanghai, Singapore and Britain, including Town Hall Hotel & Apartments in Bethnal Green. Unlisted (unlistedcollection.com) specialises in properties in unexpected neighbourhoods with a striking, theatrical decor.
Alan Faena of Faena Group loves Punta del Este
Top destination: “Punta del Este, in Uruguay, is where I built my dream home.”
Favourite hotels: “The Hiiragiya (00 81 75 221 1136, hiiragiya.co.jp; doubles from £420, half-board), in Kyoto, Japan, and Qualia (00 61 2 9433 3349, qualia.com.au; doubles from £624, B&B), on Hamilton Island in Australia. Both offer access to nature and local culture. Qualia also has the most beautiful beach in the world.”
Travel advice: “Travel light.”
Travel prediction: “Latin America.”
Faena’s credentials: his Faena Hotel (faenahotelanduniverse.com) helped turn a derelict area of Buenos Aires into an arts district. The fashion designer turned hotelier is currently revamping a hotel in Miami Beach.
Alex Calderwood of Ace Hotels loves London
Top destination: “The energy, creativity and vitality in the UK right now are dynamic.”
Favourite hotels: “In Austin, Texas, Hotel Saint Cecilia (00 1-512 852 2400,hotelsaintcecilia.com; doubles from £193, room-only) and Hotel San Jose (512 852 2360, sanjosehotel.com; doubles from £115, room-only) are intimate, inspired and comfy. The Chateau Marmont (323 656 1010, chateaumarmont.com; doubles from £330, room-only) in Los Angeles is a timeless classic, but always tuned in. Doe Bay Resort & Retreat (360 376 2291, doebay.com; cabins from £56, room-only; two-night minimum stay), in the San Juan Islands, is crunchy, rough and ready.”
Travel advice: “Wander and let yourself get a bit lost, to discover things you didn’t expect.”
Travel prediction: “Airports will become more interesting. Just as hotels have grown more articulate, human and energised in their response to the needs of travellers over the past 25 years, airports will evolve their approach to hospitality, or perhaps even become some new variation of a cultural hub.”
Calderwood’s credentials: he built his empire (acehotel.com) by transforming quirky old buildings into five-star urban bolt holes in Portland, Seattle, New York and Palm Springs. He plans to add a Los Angeles base this year.