The innovative and gorgeous new hotel EAST, Miami hosted our recent AFAR Conversations—cocktails and a discussion of how brands create exceptional experiences that resonate with luxury consumers.

AFAR Cofounder Joe Diaz moderated the panel of thought leaders who are bringing creative thinking to the conference, hotel, and cruise industries, respectively.

Serge Dive, the CEO and Founder of Beyond Luxury Media Ltd., continues to push the boundaries of what a travel gathering can be. Since launching ILTM Cannes over 10 years ago, Serge has founded PURE Life Experiences, which unites experiential travelers annually; We Are Africa, which presents a fresh vision of the continent; and LE Miami, which highlights rebellious brands and buyers. The industry’s first ‘un-conference,’ the Ministry of Ideas, debuted at Le Miami 2016 in June, as we were hosting AFAR Conversations.

A panelists' confab at EAST, Miami before cocktails kicked off AFAR Conversations.

 A career hotelier with 30+ years of experience in the luxury market across four continents, Brian Williams has held general management positions with the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and was CEO of The Scotsman Hotel Group. Now, as Managing Director of Swire Hotels, he is leading the launch of The House Collective and The EAST brands in Miami, Hong Kong, and China.

As President and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises, Larry Pimentel has carved out a niche of cruise travel devoted to destination immersion—meaning longer stays, more overnights, and night touring in port cities. It’s an approach in sync with AFAR’s commitment to experiential travel and with the growing demand for travel that can yield personal fulfillment and satisfy a curious mind.

Each of the panelists shared insights about what exceptional means to their businesses, and the conversation touched on other trends, such as the growing appeal of travel agents to millennials and the transformation of Miami itself—which has gone from sleepy to boom town in the past 25 years. 

Thanks to all who made the evening a success! Check out our Facebook photo album for highlights.  And join us at New York’s iconic Bergdorf Goodman for AFAR Conversations on September 21, 2016, inspired by the Style & Design issue.