Tell us a bit about what you do and how you got into the industry.
As Co-founder & Director of Lightfoot Travel, I manage the business development and strategy of the group, across our offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. I’ve been in the travel industry for over a decade, despite starting my career at Sky Media Broadcasting in London as a Business Development executive across all marketing platforms. I’d been temping during university holidays at a commercial espionage firm, setting up our contacts around the globe by arranging all their travel logistics; one of the dossiers was about the investigation on the plight of the Concorde! From that initial job my interest in the tailor-made side of travel developed, particularly having organised all holidays for families and friends, and I started working at a top tour operator in London as a Latin America specialist having been based on the continent for a year. I moved across three other companies and out to Hong Kong before setting up Lightfoot Travel in 2010.
Share with us an interesting story from behind the scenes at Lightfoot Travel.
We have lots of behind the scenes stories, from organising guest holidays to the day to day antics in the office. Most recently we arranged special access to an Oscar screening in a remote part of Sri Lanka for one of our clients. It transpired that their child won an Oscar on the evening for the category they were nominated for, and luckily we had pre-arranged some Champagne on ice for them to celebrate.
What’s the best/ worst part of your job?
Receiving all the amazing feedback from our clients is such a great reward for the hours spent planning complex itineraries or special occasions for our guests. The administrative side of running an office isn’t my favourite part of the job, although Lightfoot is a close team where everyone ‘mucks-in’ to do their share.
What’s your personal favourite experience on offer to Lightfoot Travel customers?
Most recently, one of our New Zealand contacts set up a snow-capped mountain top golf tee overlooking Queenstown. You can play a few holes whilst up there – access via helicopter only!
What’s one of the most extravagant travel requests you’ve received at Lightfoot?
Once an expat family approached us with a request to travel back from Asia to Europe by land, that was a great itinerary to put together. We also often arrange private jets. Our glamping package in Bhutan is particularly extravagant. Once, a client couldn’t find fresh milk at a hotel breakfast so we called a guide in specially to show them where to find it. I’d have to say though that the one most extravagant travel requests was a yearlong sabbatical, where we planned a combination of holidays from rejuvenation in an Alpine spa, paragliding over Rio de Janeiro, sailing around the Caribbean, exploring the Serengeti and climbing up Mount Kilimanjaro.
The perfect day off would be…
Assuming I’m in Hong Kong for the day, I would hike over to the secret beach by Tai Long Wan. Once there, I’d indulge in a romantic picnic with my husband and fly off in a private helicopter from there. We also like hiking to Dragon’s Back and wandering around Shek O afterwards. I love eating some of the local food there and chilling on the beach at Chung Hom Kok (aka our secret beach). During our weekends, we often meet with friends for lunch or dinner. If it’s just us, we’ll start the day with some yoga, then head to Herbert at Cofftea in Kennedy Town for the best coffee in Hong Kong. My husband Callaghan is a keen cook so we tend to buy fresh produce from the markets and head home to Pok Fu Lam. We’ll cook whilst listening to our extensive music collection!
A day in the life of a Lightfoot Travel Director is…
I’m not the best morning person, so I have to kick-start my day with a hot lemon and ginger tea. I’ll work through my emails and draw up a to-do list before hitting EPIC gym located in Central. I love the women’s hourly sessions there – particularly boxing or AntiGravity Yoga. I’ll then systematically go through my to do list in the mornings. I try to use my lunch hour to catch up with clients, suppliers or journalists as it’s the most relaxed way of receiving feedback, discussing the latest travel fads or planning holidays. Afternoons tend to be spent more on the phone, brainstorming marketing plans with the team, looking at business development opportunities or catching up with general paperwork.
What do you do in your spare time?
This year it’s been spent planning two(!) weddings and speaking to family about various travel arrangements either to UK or to Lombok – something that comes pretty naturally. I love spending time with my friends who are really important to me.
What’s something you’d like clients to know about Lightfoot Travel?
Our service is completely personalised to them, and our consultants have tried and tested the properties and experiences they recommend. The team are unbiased when it comes to destinations as they realise that different places suit particular types of clients, so we’d rather undersell and over deliver.
What’s your favourite (s) food and wine pairing?
Having just been in Italy, I have to confess to being a bit of a Fiano fan when it comes to a crispy white wine. What the Neopolitans really understand is letting the simplicity of food stand-out, so having a Fiano with a fresh fish fillet and salsa verde is delicious. One of my favourite degustation menus was at Marque restaurant in Sydney where they educate their guests as you are taken on a culinary journey.
What’s your view on the Hong Kong food/bar scene?
It’s developed over the last six years that I’ve been living in HK – the variety has always been there but I love that not only does it do the sophisticated and the local but now caters for intelligent diners looking for something a bit offbeat. In the last few years that’s been Yardbird, any of Jason Atherton’s restaurants (I’m a bit of a fan of this genre), Chom Chom in Soho or Arcane on On Lan Street.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
I will be getting married on a beach in Lombok from a private villa with 100 family and friends flying from around the world at the end of August, and then heading to the stunning Nihiwatu, on lesser known Indonesian island of Sumba, for our honeymoon week. For Lightfoot, we have many development plans in the pipeline including our fully implemented and new operations system ensuring smoother service, and completing our fully finished rebrand. Personally one of the projects I’ll be working on is launching our new online Travel – by Lightfoot blog, where we will be able to showcase the scope of knowledge sitting with our in-house travel experts.
Book bespoke itineraries through Lightfoot Travel, the Asia-based artisans of luxury travel with offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. www.lightfoottravel.com/