ILTM 2012 – Cannes!

ILTM on location in Cannes

ILTM on location in Cannes

It was the “creme de la creme” of the luxury travel industry that descended upon Cannes again last week for the 10th annual International Luxury Travel Market (known in the industry as ILTM). In attendance there were luxury travel planners from New York to Sydney along with the “best of the best” hoteliers from around the world… we all turned up on the French Riviera for three days of luxury travel talk, I mean if it’s good enough for a Film Festival, it’s good enough for us!

Lunch at Astoux Brun - Cannes

Lunch at Astoux Brun with Chrissie Lincoln from Aman Resorts – Cannes

AND it’s all glamour here in the South of France as lucky attendees get chopper transfers from Nice to Cannes… how’s that!! ILTM really know how to lay the luxury on! It’s not called International Luxury Travel Market for nothing!

It's all glamour at ILTM!

It’s all glamour at ILTM! Brent with Tiffany Dowd aka @luxetiffany and Anna Loeser from The Dolder Grand

I jetted in from Zurich on the Sunday where I had just enjoyed the weekend being pampered in absolute luxury at The Dolder Grand as the guests of Mr and Mrs Dolder – aka the handsome Matthias Kaesweber and the beautiful Anna Loeser. The Dolder Grand is a fairytale castle situated in the hills above Zurich and the number one Spa and wellness retreat in Europe. (More on my wonderful stay to follow soon)

Brent and Dominic Hofer from Soho House Berlin

Brent and Dominic Hofer from Soho House Berlin

It was my fourth time to Cannes for the event and I hail it as the best luxury travel event on the planet. Not only do I get to meet and talk non-stop luxury travel with the most inspiring hoteliers and travel visionaries in the world, I get to rub shoulders with the very best travel planners & super travel stylists in the business. It’s completely inspiring… and exhausting all at the same time!

Brent and Kit Kemp

Brent and Kit Kemp

First night was the opening forum which included, a one to one interview with my favourite hotelier in the world, Kit Kemp – Co Owner & Design Director of Firmdale Hotels conducted by Melinda Stevens – Editor of Conde Nast Traveller UK. It was so refreshing to hear Kit talk about what inspires her in the creation of her hotels and their unique interiors. Kit designs what I feel are the most comfortable and original hotel rooms (and public spaces) in the world. It was then onto dinner with my good friend, luxury travel aficionado Dane Steele Green from Manhattan and new friend Mike St Jovite from San Francisco – we met at The Dolder Grand in Zurich the week earlier. The Design Hotels reception on the rooftop of Hotel Five (where I was in residence for the week) was next stop. I had planned to head straight to bed but the hotel was rocking on approach and I decided to pop my head in for a nightcap… (ok I had three, these guys know how to throw a party!). My buddy Craig Markham from Firmdale Hotels also dropped by at the same time and introduced me to Claus Sedlinger, the founder of Design Hotels. Claus has been a travel visionary that I have admired for some time, it was a thrill to finally met him and tell him exactly that!

Brent & Jessica Cook from Aman Resorts

Brent & Jessica Cook from Aman Resorts

The rest of the week was filled with sixty (yes that right SIXTY) 20 minute meetings.. (ala speed dating) with the best hoteliers from around the world and a few champagne receptions and dinners thrown in for good measure. One of the highlights of the social calendar was in fact The Lungarno Collection champagne reception at the new Feragamo boutique on the Boulevard de la Croisette where I met the current Miss Universe entrant from Italy. So much glamour at ILTM!

Brent and Caroline Courteau of Lungarno Hotels with Italy's Miss Universe

Brent and Caroline Courteau of Lungarno Hotels with Italy’s Miss Universe

Of course the Hotel Martinez party was legendary as usual where the Champagne fountain flowing in the lobby has to be seen to be believed (it flowed ALL night!) and The Majestic party the following night was a chic, all “Winter White” affair where I danced to “I want to Dance with Somebody” (remixed – high energy of course!) by Whitney Houston and then promptly left -I mean… the boy did have to hit the show floor the very next day for just one more day of luxury travel talk!

The weeks social calendar ended on a high with my good buddy Carolyn Turnbull’s birthday party, celebrated every year at Pastis. This is without doubt the coveted invitation of the week. It’s always so much fun… and in one room you have all the “movers and shakers” of the luxury travel world. Not only are they all completely fabulous, they are the funniest bunch of people I have had the pleasure to work with.

And so now … it’s back to work… next post will be a full update on all the fabulous hotels, resorts and destinations I discovered at the week that was ILTM.

Viva Las Vegas!

A Virtuoso Life!

A Virtuoso Life!

It has certainly been a whirlwind couple of weeks.. what’s new? If you have followed me on twitter and Instagram you would have been following my recent adventures in the United States where I travelled to Las Vegas to attend Virtuoso Week under the kind invitation of the fabulous SmartFlyer Agency in New York whom I have recently formed a luxury travel alliance with. Now I have a New York City office too! So all of you international globetrotters, I can now service all of your luxury travel needs through my office there… along with my offices in Australia… Brent’s going global?? …. You bet!

My SmartFlyer Gal Pals!

My SmartFlyer Gal Pals!

It was an exhaustive week of meetings, 328 to be exact over 4 days and at 4 minutes each, that equates to almost 22 hours of talking ultra luxury travel with the best of the best… who says I don’t work! I spoke to GM’s, Sales Managers. Luxury Retreat owners and just down right fabulous travel folk from all over the world. It was an inspiring week and one I wont forget. Highlights were the Andalucian Palace turned luxury hotel Barcelo La Bobadilla in Spain, Sincerely Paul – the high-end luxury concierge service in the UK, the ultra chic ski lodge Aplpaga Megeve in France, a Napa Valley secret hideaway called Meadowood, the remote and refined Clayoquot Wilderness Resort in Canada…this is luxury wilderness at its best and THE best all-inclusive Riviera Maya resort, Grand Velas Riviera Maya – who knew “all-inclusive” could be so chic?? Many others I will cover in future posts as I could go on and on. Contact me personally for my recommendations of the latest and most fabulous resorts world-wide… I met them ALL at Virtuoso week.

Chrissie, Carolyn & Brent - Bellagio Bacarat Bar

Chrissie, Carolyn & Brent – Bellagio Baccarat Bar

Catherine Hutchison Yarne Montage Deer Valley & Brent

Catherine Hutchison Yarne Montage Deer Valley & Brent

In between meetings I retreated to my fabulous suite at The Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, one of the newer luxury resorts on the strip that is non gaming and non smoking… its location suited me after a long day of meetings over at Bellagio but I did miss the buzz of the casinos eventually, I mean I was in Vegas right??? Nights were spent whirling around Vegas at different restaurants… and drinks party invitations were never-ending and I did my very best to keep up of course! The invitation highlight of my week? Attending the Montage Hotel & Resorts CEO lunch at Sensi at the Bellagio Hotel, I felt humbled to be invited under my SmartFlyer affiliation surrounded by such esteemed industry luminaries such as Micheal Holtz , nominated at this years Virtuoso Week as “Most Innovative Advisor” and listed in Travel + Leisure “A List” 2012 as “THE” air travel expert, along with various other legendary, global “super-agents”. I admire the Montage group of Hotels & Resorts and I was inspired to meet and hear Alan J Fuerstman, the Founder and CEO talk so passionately about the history of the Montage group and of course the exciting vision for the future of this luxury and iconic hotel brand with properties opening in the Bahamas and Los Cabos next. So …. a big “thank you” to one of my very best travel buddies – Janet Kato White, Director of Leisure Sales for Montage Hotels & Resorts for sorting a coveted seat for me, it was a true highlight if my week, thank you Janet!

Brent & Chrissie - Bellagio Baccarat Bar

Brent & Chrissie – Bellagio Baccarat Bar – Too tanned?

The rest of the week was an amazing round of drinks and dinners with my Aman Resorts buddies – Chrissie Lincoln & Carolyn Turnbull, the dashing Francesco Galli Zugaro (FGZ) from the ultra luxe Aqua Expeditions (who just won 2012 CN Traveler World Savers Award and who plan to expand their unique, luxury river boat experience down the Mekong River in early 2014) and of course I partied hard with my new Smartflyer family, Erina, Michael, Elena (who kept me amused all week!), Rob, Ansley, Claire, Owen, Erika, Lauren, Kara, Robert and of course the fabulous Stacy Small (if you haven’t heard of her you will, Stacy is Elite Travel Gal– THE number one social media travel super agent in the US and all round glamour girl)… Love my Stateside team!

Mr & Mrs Dolder

Mr & Mrs Dolder

Hottest couple of the show???? Hands down Mr & Mrs Dolder AKA Matthias Kaesweber and Anna Loeser, the glamorous faces of the ultra luxe Dolder Grand Spa & Wellness retreat in Zurich. They breed them beautiful in Switzerland!

Oh and by the way I will be checking in here after ILTM Cannes in December for some serious R & R!

Hot Stop in Hong Kong!

Brent, Carolyn, Chrissie & Albert Pre Dinner at Man Wah - Hong Kong

Brent, Carolyn, Chrissie & Albert Pre Dinner at Man Wah – Hong Kong

Ok, so ILTM Asia was a hoot…and hard work! ;) with 6 nights spent table hopping in the best restaurants (El Willy) and table dancing at the most glamorous Shanghai nightclubs (Bar Rouge),all of this frivolity left me wanting a slick city escape to calm myself before I jetted back to wintery Sydney.

Hong Kong was the perfect option, a smooth flight on Friday morning led myself and assorted funsters (Carloyn Turnbull and Chrissie Lincoln – Aman glamazons) onto that fab city. On arrival we were given the VIP treatment and met by the very capable ground staff at Hong Kong airport where we were whisked (and I mean that… those little carts can move fast!) down to immigration, through to baggage claim and into the waiting car for our very smooth transfer to the Landmark Mandarin Oriental where Chrissie and I were in residence for two nights.

LMO Hong Kong L600

LMO Hong Kong L600

Landmark Mandarin Oriental (LMO) is one of my very favourite hotels in Hong Kong if  not the world. Its sleek, intimate club like feel keeps this establishment high on my ‘IT LIST’. Mr Anthony Costa the General Manager, who arranges all of my stays (and my clients’ stays too) was on hand again to help make this stay as memorable as any others. For me, the location of LMO is unbeatable and the rooms are sleek and calming and as such, the hotel is a real cocoon of discrete serenity. All the rooms and suites are masterpieces of contemporary design and feature very glamorous bathrooms, oh… and did I mention the lighting? All very flattering!

Man Wah

Man Wah

My first night dining destination was Man Wah at Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong. Often referred to as Hong Kong’s most beautiful dining space, Man Wah is Mandarin Oriental Kong Kong’s Michelin star, signature Cantonese restaurant. As guests of Mr Jonas Schuermann, Mandarin Oriental’s charming General Manager, we dined on a perfect degustation menu of Cantonese classics all chosen by Jonas. I would have to say the highlight for me was definitely the Peking Duck… real ‘melt in your mouth’ stuff! It was a very funny & fabulous night.

Albert Herrera of Virtuoso also joined us (he is Vice President of Hotels, Destinations & Tours) and was centre stage as he regaled stories of his very fabulous travelling adventures – he even gave me the name of his personal tailor in Hong Kong whom we visited the very next day for my shirt fittings. All sized, sewn and FedExed to me in 10 days! Gotta love a Chinese tailor, especially one so highly recommended (contact me for his details).

Day two, Chrissie and I  headed up to The Peak in the rain… funny, neither of us had ever been to The Peak before so we trekked on regardless with the blessing of Tony Costa – he promised the sun would shine by the time we reached it and he was right! These drop dead views of Hong Kong are not to be missed

* Heres a hot tip: Go early… take the taxi up and cable car down, it’s the best way to do it.

Luk Yu Tea House

Luk Yu Tea House

Dim Sum - Luk Yu Teahouse

Dim Sum – Luk Yu Teahouse

Back down the hill we headed to the mecca of luxury goods extravagance at The Landmark (GUCCI , PRADA etc.. they didn’t stock have my size….ho hum..) and a whirl around H&M (running into some new friends I had met at ILTM, you know who you are!). Lunch was fab Dim Sum at ‘Luk Yu Tea House’ (the concierge at LMO put me onto this authentic tea house a while back). Later we freshened up and headed across town to The Ritz Carlton and Ozone bar on the 113th floor (the highest bar in the world!)… to meet Frederico Ferjado, our very fabulous travel buddy from Brazil, Fred was in town to inspect the latest and most fabulous properties in Hong Kong for his high end Brazilian travel company (…he even got to be one of the first guests at The Siam in Bangkok the very same week!)

Brent , Chrissie & Frederico - Ritz Carlton Hong Kong

Brent , Chrissie & Frederico – Ritz Carlton Hong Kong

Chrissie and I then bid Fred a fond farewell and headed back across the harbour to Island Tang for dinner.

This luxurious Hong Kong Cafe with Shanghai 1930’s interiors styled by Sir David Tang (who also owns the famous China Club) was a superb end to a fab weekend in Hong Kong. Do not miss the Char Sui Pork, it is a house specialty and one of the best you will ever eat… I promise.

Island Tang

Island Tang

El Willy – A Night in Shanghai!

Last night a few funsters of the travel world and my very good friends at Aman Resorts descended upon El Willy to catch up after a long first day of networking at ILTM Asia in Shanghai. I am pictured above with the very dapper Luca Bandecchi from Paramount Hotels & Resorts Dubai (yes, as in the movies!), Chrissie Lincoln the vivacious Director of Sales for Aman Resorts Indonesia (and my travel buddy – we jet to Hong Kong on Friday) and Francesco Galli Zugaro, (he created Aqua Expeditions, Peru’s leading luxury tour operator in the Amazon – I know .. totally fabulous AND he is possibly the best dressed man of the show!)
El Willy came highly recommended by the very fabulous Pouya Jalali, Area Director of Sales, International, The Ritz Carlton Hotels of Shanghai (my girl to go to in Shanghai… Pouya really knows her stuff, everything from fab finds in the markets to getting the best table at a booked out restaurant, Pouya just makes it happen in effortless style).

Dinner was a superb selection of tapas from a modern Iberian menu, all chosen by my glamorous friend Carolyn Turnbull from Aman Resorts. My favourite dish would have to be the Croquettes (we ordered twice!). El Willy has it all, a madcap chef, drop dead Bund views, a great atmosphere and above all…. good lighting!

Go now, you wont regret it.