From Lockdown to Getaway - Let’s dream of our post-Covid travel bucket list!
As we enter the New Year with high hopes of a happier and healthier summer awaiting us, we couldn’t wait any longer to daydream and discuss our next vacation for once the pandemic is eventually under control.
So until we can feel the sand between our toes again, dust off our passports and squeeze ourselves into the swimsuits that still have the tags on from last year’s shopping spree, we decided on practicing a little preparation meets opportunity! We want to talk places, prices, and portions!
We caught up with our jet-setting Wonder Woman, British American Household Staffing CEO/Founder Anita Rogers, who was more than happy to share her travel tips and wish list resorts for 2021.
Anita, where will be the first place you will be flying off to when it’s safe to travel again?
To Greece! There is no country like it, the Aegean glitters like diamonds on a deep azure water, like the quote from Homer’s Odyssey: "There is a land called Crete, in the midst of the wine-dark sea, a fair, rich land, begirt with water, and therein are many men, past counting, and ninety cities."
The Aman resort in Porto Heli, very close to Spetses, which is the island I go to often, is absolutely exquisite.
Which resort do you visit again and again ~ and why?
Il Sereno Lago di Como – Torno, Italy. It is pure luxury and tradition right on Lake Como. I got most of my operatic vocal training in Italy and performed there for many years so I adore Il Sereno Lago di Como. As a business owner I often fly to Lago di Como for a break to recharge my batteries and sometimes I join clients, either art collectors or those who want their villas staffed. I love Italy and Italian traditions so it’s a favourite of mine.
What travel tips do you swear by that might surprise people?
Our BAHS resident estate management consultant Kristen Reyes shared a piece of business advice and she’s never wrong! She said to only ever charter yachts and to only ever purchase a jet! Apparently, yachts depreciate in value but private jets are safer if you are in control of their maintenance.
I’ve also held on to the advice from a fashion designer friend of mine who said, roll, do not fold your clothes when packing. And he was right! It frees up so much space in your bag and it also minimises wrinkling! I was also advised once when travelling by yacht to push the furniture against my wardrobe in my suite. When you travel overnight, the waves and wind can suddenly become very high and all the wardrobe doors start swinging open which doesn’t make for a peaceful night's sleep!
As a gallery owner (Anita Rogers Gallery is based in Soho NY and represents both primary and secondary artists), I know from personal experience that it’s always best to visit historical sites and museums etc, very early, very late, or when people eat! I always go to attractions at lunchtime as there’s less people since most tourists on city break trips head to lunch. So this way you get the most popular places all to yourself!
Another one of our wonderful clients told me that she Googles ‘where do chefs eat in...’ whatever place she is in. It’s such a great idea and the restaurants that you find are amazing because they’re the chosen ones by those Michelin star culinary chefs! That’s how I discovered Bob Bob Ricard in London and Providence in LA.
Which hotel has been the place you’ve never wanted to leave and why?
Posiedonion in Spetses. This hotel is close to my heart and before I bought my own home on Spetses, I would stay here. It is luxurious with history and tradition. It is almost reminiscent of old Cuba, with palm trees planted in front of the hotel, beautiful, luxurious and traditional decor, such as pine shutters, high ceilings, a beautiful spa, and two pools. I usually stay in the honeymoon suite as it is the most beautiful suite of all. Opened in 1914, the property is a huge neoclassical mansion and has all the original fixtures with modern and contemporary luxury. The hotel looks out onto the picturesque port and one can see all the yachts come in and sailboats sailing on the sea near the port. They also make the best Frappucino on the island!
Which hotel has the most unforgettable service?
The Aman resort in India - hands down.
Everything from their exquisite decor to their impeccable service is out of this world. I could happily have been on lockdown there for all of 2020! They have their Holistic Immune Support Retreat at Aman Kyoto which I plan to visit next as I’ve heard it’s incredible.
The most romantic place I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying was…
Marrakech - even without a special someone it is divine. So when visiting with a partner it really does become a haven of romance. It is very arty and, as a gallery owner, I get a lot of inspiration from being there where they have a YSL museum, photography museum, and Al Maaden gallery. There’s something very romantic about art and places that celebrate it.
The place that felt like a sanctuary to me was...
Oaxaca in Mexico, a mountain city rich in tradition and far away from the beach goers. The only way to get there from the US is two flights, one to Mexico City and another flight to Oaxaca. The women and men dress in traditional clothes and truly embrace their culture. I went here for a getaway and it was like being transported to another era and was an extraordinary experience.
Best place to go yachting?
Europe and Monaco! I go yachting frequently, whether is is chartering one of our own yachts from British American yachts, or joining friends on their yacht. My favorite thing is to go scuba diving and to experience all the marine life in the deeper waters one can only reach if you are going by boat. When I am on my own chartered yacht I like to sail around Italy, France and Greece for the summer or to St Barts if I’m on the Caribbean side. St Barts is a small island, designed for exclusive travelers but has kept it’s own strong year-round community there so you feel a sense of culture and local hospitality you don’t find as much on some of the other islands. The language spoken is French but the locals speak good English. The architecture is gorgeous and quaint and the quality of food and dining is exquisite. The sea is great for swimming and diving. My favorite thing to do is take the boat to beaches you can’t reach any other way. We would have the yacht crew bring snacks and drinks, paddle boards, swimming gear and the beach was all ours for the day. Heaven!
Most enjoyable hotel you’ve stayed in for business?
I often join my art clients in Aspen and the hotel was The Little Nell which was so chic and based on Aspen Mountain. It was also just 2 minutes walk from Aspen Art Museum which was perfect for me.
Top resort destination you’ve loved?
Verbier - it's a beautiful ski town and I've visited friends there on several occasions. If I'm not staying with friends, the village is home to several incredible hotels, including Le Chalet d'Adrien. I also love to visit Courchevel as a couple of my friends reside there and it is the epitome of elegance and luxury.
The hotel I am craving to visit this year is…
The Posiedonion! Although I have my own home in Spetses, I yearn to go back to the Posiedonion as I have such fantastic memories there and having been unable to travel to Greece in 2020 my heart misses my homeland so much.
Dream travel buddy ?
Gustav Mahler! He conducted the Vienna opera while composing some of the most groundbreaking symphonies ever written. His character is inspiring, his determination, talent, artistry and dedication are all qualities I aspire to as an entrepreneur and musician.
Favourite travel website or app?
I’ve recently discovered mrandmrssmith.com, a valuable website and app for stunning hotel and villa information.
Book I’m next taking to the pool?
'Beneath the Wheel' by Hermann Hesse and 'The Magic Mountain' by Thomas Mann
Favourite album to listen to when flying?
Marisa Robles playing Bach and Anna Netrebko singing Italian opera.
What unexpected items do you always pack and why?
Every time I get on a plane it’s like a mini break because of my non-stop work schedule with BAHS, so I make the most of the down time where my cellphone is off and my head can truly be in the clouds! When going commercial I dread airports - but I do love flying. It’s my well earned time to give my feet a rest and my skin a drink! So I kick off my heels and slip into some cashmere bed socks (my favourites are from The White Company in London/NY) - I never travel without them! I like to pack a nourishing treatment facial mask sachet (Sk-II Facial Treatment Mask) for when I’m settled in my seat for take off. It’s full of vitamins and amino acids which are very much needed when you’re in and out of meetings across busy cities like New York, London and LA. A friend of mine is an air stewardess and once advised me to always do this on a flight because of the altitude and dehydration to our skin when in the air. I use the hours on long-haul flights to digitally detox and recharge my batteries so I feel mentally relaxed and physically hydrated and refreshed when I land.
I always pack a pair of Ferragamo heels as I never know what last minute client dinners I may be invited to and they’re perfect for glamming up a simple dress. I also keep a Melissa Odabash bikini in my luggage as part of my emergency travel kit as I can get whisked off to the Bahamas or invited on a yacht on a moment's notice - there’s nothing worse than having to find something at the airport with minutes to spare.
What place in the world do you think is a hidden gem for many people?
When I was young I travelled around Greece in a VW camper with my artist parents living simply, the total opposite of luxury. Now I return home to Greece each year and it’s with a completely different appreciation. Ikaria, a Greek island, is my hidden gem. It’s 7 hours from Athens by ferry, far too windy to fly a plane to. It is completely frozen in time and being there is like being in Greece in the 1960s which I adore. The locals don’t seem to need the tourism and are very laid back. The food is grown on their own land and fresh fish are caught locally every morning. They have Greek music festivals often, where locals dance to traditional music all night and sleep all day. My kind of trip! It is a piece of paradise with pure white sand beaches that are pretty secluded. Oh and the food is exquisite! Ikarians can live past 100 often. Likely because of the stress-free lifestyle and the organic food, water and climate. Perhaps I’ll return there to retire!