You plan your working life like a military operation — and if you’ve got any sense you’ll plan your holidays with the same attention to detail, says Tanya Rose
ANY DECISION THAT involves significant expenditure warrants thorough research and consideration. Would you enter into an investment without doing your homework? Do you have an intelligent, strategic approach, or do you rush in at the last minute and slap your money on the table based purely on threadbare information?
It never ceases to astonish me that I still meet leaders in their field who avoid decisions over their precious downtime by following the crowd, booking holidays based on ‘five-star’ branding or not paying attention to the details of a trip that could add up to slick, well-planned travel as opposed to the aggravation and time-consuming stress that an unconsidered holiday brings.
If you’re going to invest in recharging your batteries, affirming your relationships and designing a holiday filled with energy, brimming with fresh ideas so that you can be quietly (or loudly) pleased with yourself for having done it so well, plan — or at the very least talk to the right people. It’s all in the detail, but given that time is of the essence, I am going to share with you my thoughts about how to get it right.
Your business calendar is probably strategically planned, and so should your holidays be. This may be dictated by which demographic you sit in: are you a couple, children in tow? Offspring may be toddlers, teens or even young adults. The reality is everyone is trying to travel in the same slivers of time that work around half-term, Easter, Christmas/New Year, summer holidays. Waiting to book your air travel until the last minute means not getting the flights or the seats you want on an aircraft. Ditto the right room at a hotel or resort, or the villa you really want. Bite the bullet and book in advance.
There is no avoiding the fact that calendar planning revolves around school breaks. Taking your children out early can result in penalties for the kids at most of the best schools, so a quick and efficient escape is essential. Where you live and where you are flying to speaks largely to your logistics if you are flying commercial. For London-based people you can’t surpass London City Airport for speed and the all Club World service to New York, with immigration in Shannon and immediate exit in New York.
A STEP ABOVE this for first-class passengers is the by-appointment service at London Heathrow, which for approximately £1,500 for up to six passengers gets you the royal treatment usually reserved for visiting dignitaries and special-case VIPs — this means private immigration and security service, no lines, and you’re driven to the aircraft for departure. There’s nothing better than a seamless departure experience rarely achievable at Heathrow.
A step up from this is of course a private jet, and a helicopter departure from Chelsea Harbour will bypass any peak-hour traffic issues. When it comes to flying privately you really can’t beat NetJets. Choosing to fly privately revolves around various criteria, not least of which is safety. In the case of NetJets you’re in the safe hands of experienced pilots who fly only the aircraft type to which they’re assigned, to ensure maximum expertise and training. Also, your aircraft is not exposed to the large airport baggage handling and maintenance crews. Take-off times are to your schedule, as are the on-board catering and who (if any) your fellow passengers will be.
A map of who is going where at what time of the year would reveal that everyone who is anyone on either side of the Atlantic heads to the same places at the same time. This means you must have the experts on speed-dial if you’re going to secure the right accommodation. If you plan to be on the beach at Sandy Lane in Barbados or Isle de France in St Barts over Christmas/New Year, ensconced at the Palace in Gstaad during February half-term, coddled at the Cipriani during the Biennale, secure at the Setai during Art Basel Miami, you’d better get dialling.
NAMES YOU NEED to know include Bill Fischer of Fischer Travel in the USA, who is renowned among stateside elite travellers and is the man to know if you expect the right home in the Hamptons or on Rhode Island this summer. In London, Glen Donovan at Earth Travel (unlisted) is a genius at resolving the ‘can’t get’ crisis. And of course Sarah Mason at my own company, Mason Rose Private, is connected to all the right people globally to make your travel dreams come true. Being connected to the people who know the general managers of the world’s best hotels personally is essential. It’s not just about getting the reservation, but also making sure you have the right rooms and suites with the best location, view and ambience.
Ditto the private villa, which can be disastrous without expert and first-hand recommendation. Pictures are not worth a thousand words when it comes to villas — anyone can take a great photo and airbrush to their heart’s content with a large splash of superlatives to make somewhere sound special. But it takes someone like Cedric Reversade of Unique Properties to decipher the thread count of the sheets and how fresh they are. Are feather pillows in ocean-breeze fresh cover slips before they are inserted into linen? Is the pool crystal clear, and are the tiles polished to a mirror-like sheen? Are the household staff exceptional, and what do we know about the chef, and the availability of your favourite must-have bottled water?
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE IS everything, so do your homework about the restaurant scene. Classics remain, but new and hot can be interesting and great for dinner-party conversation. Book tables before you travel — the right tables, that is — and know what the speciality of the house is that you should order. If you’re calling in at St Tropez in July or August, your lunch reservations at Le Club 55 require confirmation at the same time as your villa or room. Across the pond, a table at the Palm in East Hampton will bring into focus Ron Perelman, Penny Marshall and Martha Stewart. Or maybe Sunset Beach on Shelter Island with Helena Christiansen and Liv Tyler is more your scene. Either way, book, do it now.
Whatever you decide about your investments, the one you make over your holiday is everything. Holidays are the reward for hard work and are precious. Holidays that are well planned and executed become the inspired tapestry of memories that fill our most joyful moments. They are the anecdotes of dinner parties with friends and Sunday lunch with the family. Travel is my passion; I hope it’s yours, too.
Tanya Rose’s book, Travel Secrets, is out now and available from the Spear’s bookstore.
Illustration by Sonya Hensler
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