09 Aug Talking Luxury Travel: An Interview With Stuart McNair, CEO of Luxury Travel Advisors
I got the opportunity to talk to Stuart McNair, CEO of Luxury Travel Advisors and discuss luxury travel, unique gastronomic experiences, wildlife documentaries and Polar Bears in the Arctic.
LM: How long have you been working in the luxury travel industry and where did your journey begin?
SM: I have been in the travel industry for 18 years now. After backpacking for a few years I started my travel career at ‘Bridge The World’ selling Australia and New Zealand holidays. I hold such fantastic memories from working there. In fact, I am still friends today with the group I started with. I then moved on to have a great career in corporate travel looking after large American banks and city financials. Following this I went onto entertainment travel, looking after celebrities and bands on tour. Finally, I launched Luxury Travel Advisors just two years ago.
LM: What was your first luxury travel experience?
SM: I will always remember travelling in business class for the first time with Qantas to Sydney, back when you could go and meet and sit with the pilot in the cockpit. However, the first real luxury travel encounter that I experienced was a private jet tour around the outback of Australia, meeting real locals with amazing stories. We still talk about this trip now 16 years later.
LM: Tell our Luxurious Magazine readers a little about Luxury Travel Advisors.
SM: We are a boutique tour operator selling luxury travel experiences based on seven themes, Wonders, Wilderness, Art, Style, Gastronomy, Wellness & Extremes. One of our unique propositions is we can combine these interests for clients to create a unique holiday. We also create our own unique tours, such as our flagship ‘Star in your own wildlife documentary’ and our recently launched ‘Chef’s Table’ tours.
LM: What is your personal definition of luxury?
SM: That’s a very easy question for me, it’s quality time with my family. We go to Holland every year, walk the dogs in the forest, play board games in the evening and cycle through the National Park. To me that’s luxury; it’s any thing or experience that makes you ‘feel’.
LM: What luxurious item could you not live without?
SM: Not so much an item but a person, my hairdresser in Mayfair. Now my hair is rapidly disappearing it needs a lot of TLC.
LM: What makes Luxury Travel Advisors different to its competitors when it comes to delivering for its customers?
SM: We are still a small agency and one of the benefits is being able to be agile. If we want to send a client an extra gift or add something special, we just do it. Anyone can book a five-star resort in two minutes now on their smartphone, but to book a totally unique holiday based on your interests takes knowledge and ingenuity.
LM: Tell our Luxurious Magazine readers why they should book their next luxury travel experience through Luxury Travel Advisors?
SM: We treat every single one of our clients as VIPs whether you are booking two nights at a five-star hotel or a one month trip of a lifetime.
LM: What are your favourite luxury gastronomy experiences?
SM: My favourite luxury gastronomy experience was in Iceland, not necessarily somewhere you would associate with gastronomy. We were trekking and were led to a small outpost where we had a luxury picnic in the mountains near a glacier. When we arrived it had been decorated beautifully, the combination of the setting and the food was simply unbelievable.
LM: Name one of the most popular luxury destinations you have visited for fine dining that you would recommend to our Luxurious Magazine readers and why?
SM: Without a doubt, it has to be Mexico. The gastronomy scene has exploded recently. We do walking street food tours in Mexico City and have just launched our first gastronomy tour there. My personal favourite gastronomic resort is Grand Velas Resort Riviera Maya. Even Cocina De Autor, the molecular gastro restaurant, is included in the all-inclusive. The French restaurant Piaf (again at Grand Velas) is one of my favourite dining experiences in the world.
LM: Do you have any hints, tips or recommendations you can give our Luxurious Magazine readers on the must visit luxury destinations for 2018?
SM: Go to Iceland, this beautiful country has it all. Stunning wilderness and adventure. It really is the land of fire and ice. You can do as much or as little as you like, from luxury Arctic camps on a glacier to geothermal pools; to snowmobile and super jeep safaris.
LM: What has been the most luxurious travel request or experience you have had to arrange for one of your clients?
SM: It has to be our flagship ‘Star in your own Wildlife Documentary’. You have four incredible destinations to choose from; Polar Bears in the Arctic, Anacondas in the Pantanal, Brazil, African Vet Safari in South Africa and a Canadian Bear Encounter. You are followed by a five person film crew, stay in the best accommodation available with the most amazing guides. We even host a private screening of your documentary upon your return.
LM: It seems there are exciting times ahead for Luxury Travel Advisors. What thrilling travel experiences do you have lined up that your clients and customers can look forward to in the coming months?
SM: We have just launched our Chef’s Table tours in Spain. You have four to choose from Bilbao, San Sebastian, Madrid and Barcelona. Each one is a three-night gastronomic journey from local markets, cookery lessons, walking food tours and discovery menus at a Michelin star restaurant.
Our next major project will be driving an Aston Martin at the North Pole next April. Keep an eye on our website for details.
LM: Describe Luxury Travel Advisors in one word.
To find out more about Luxury Travel Advisors visit www.luxurytraveladvisors.co.uk