We sit down with Simon Westcott, the new CEO of much-adored, HK-based LUXE City Guides and find out his top travel tips and what destinations are on his wish list for 2014…
What is your provenance?
Scottish blood, English upbringing, American education, Australian lifestyle, Hong Kong business
What was your favourite job before this one?
I loved my role at Lonely Planet – its canvas was very broad.
When was the first time you used a LUXE City Guide on vacation?
I used a LUXE Bangkok guide in the early days. It was the ultimate unlocker of treasures.
Are there any cities you’re dying to add to the LUXE roster?
Well, we’re off to Rio and Sao Paulo in August and I think Marrakech is crying out for a guide, and probably Taipei. Then there’s Mumbai, or Jaipur. And what about San Francisco or Washington D.C.?
What’s one hotel you’ve stayed at in the past year that blew your mind?
The Peninsula in Shanghai – my first Pen experience – was pretty superlative. Outstanding service for China and box seat location.
What’s the most memorable vacation of you’ve ever had?
I first travelled to Myanmar for my fortieth birthday. Just my partner and I went. It was magical, as well, at that time, as confronting. But certainly memorable. It’s still one of my favourite places in the world today.
When traveling, what’s the one thing you don’t leave home without?
What’s your go-to travel uniform?
I always change in to daggy tracky pants on overnight long haul, and a hoodie, for extra noise and light protection. I look like I’m selling drugs.
When traveling, what’s in your toiletry case?
Not very much and a duplicate of everything I use at home – A good razor, any brand shaving gel, Aesop parsley seed facewash, and spf15 Kiehl’s moisturizer for men. And Vicks, for a clear nose and head.
What’s your guilty travel pleasure?
The spa; I am a world expert in local massage techniques.
What’s one thing no one would guess about you?
If I told you, it would no longer be my secret. Actually, I’m a pretty open book.
When you get to a hotel room, what do you do first?
Set up my music.
What’s the most memorable food you’ve tried or meal you’ve had on holiday?
I ate Sichuan rabbit heads with numbing chilli on a plastic stool on the street in Chengdu a few years ago, when visiting China to launch Lonely Planet. I could have had a root canal treatment and not felt it.
13. What travel destinations / hotels are on your wish list for summer 2014?
Hotel: Hotel Quote
Hotel: JK Place Capri
Destination: New York
Hotel: Crosby Street