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Featured Traveler Paul James

Paul James, the Global Brand Leader of Starwood Hotels and Resorts luxury brands, may get to travel the world for his career, but when he gets the chance he prefers to travel with his family. In addition to leading the strategic and creative initiatives for the St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, The Luxury Collection, and W Hotels Worldwide, Paul is the proud father of a four-year-old son, Alex. Seeing familiar destinations through Alex’s eyes (one trip led to the discovery a great playground in Le Marais) is the ultimate luxury.

Right now I’m in Milan

Though I would much prefer to be exactly where I am at Salone del Mobile, announcing the W Hotels “Designers of the Future” award winners alongside Design Miami and Art Basel.


Read about Paul’s favorite places in Le Marais.

Occupation: Global Brand Leader of Starwood’s luxury brands: St. Regis, The Luxury Collection and W Hotels Worldwide.

My next trip is to Los Angeles for the AMEX Luxury Summit at The St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort; then a long-haul flight to the opening of W in Guangzhou, the brand’s first hotel in mainland China; then back west to London for the 6th annual St. Regis International Polo Cup where I will be cheering for Audi England to beat Nacho Figueras’ South American team.

My last trip took me to Dubai and Abu Dhabi for the inaugural luxury General Managers Summit, which brought together 120 of our hoteliers to talk about travel trends and the emerging generation of luxury travelers.

Favorite hotel: One of the most memorable hotels I have ever stayed at was the long-shuttered Fore Dore Hotel at Daymer Bay, North Cornwall.  I was four years old, and I still remember being enthralled with the experience of a glass of fruit juice served on a saucer, white linen napkins and fresh flowers—that hotel has a lot to answer for!

Backpack, wheelie, or trunk? An LV steamer trunk if I could, but a Rimowa is a bit more practically chic.

If you’re staying at Hotel Alfonso XII in Sevilla in April, don’t miss the Feriá festival.

Having a drink at the best local bar is the best way to connect with locals. Insider tip: Ask the concierge, or even the chef!

Fly solo or travel with family/friends/tour group? It is such a luxury when I get to travel with family, and having a four-year-old son, I get to experience familiar cities in entirely new ways. Who knew there was a great playground in Le Marais?

Preparation: guidebook, online research, or seat of your pants? I love The Luxury Collection Destination Guides by Assouline when I am traveling in Latin America.

Travel apps you can’t live without: The W App and Facetime—that way I get curated playlists and connect back home. 

A champagne cork from Thornbury Castle in Gloucestershire, where we got engaged, is my most treasured travel souvenir.

My first international trip was a 20 hour bus journey to the Ardeche Gorge in South-East France in 1979 – alors!

Favorite airport and why? Newark – on a good day, it is just 30 minutes from home.

First thing you do when you get home: Hug my son and make a cup of English tea.

Favorite travel book: Again, so many. But In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin probably started me off.

Best memory of a trip with kids—either from your own childhood or with your own kids:  Flying into Bristol (my hometown) on the now lost Continental flight out of Newark in the front row seats with our newborn son in the bassinet.

Biggest travel mistake: After enduring the horrors of that 20-hour bus trip to France, agreeing to then go on a 24-hour bus trip to Barcelona!

If I had a whole month to travel, I would go to England.  As an ex-pat, I want to show my son the beaches of Cornwall, the castles of Wales, the Lakes of Cumbria. The sites that were imprinted on my brain as a child and that inspired every subsequent adventure I have taken.

Favorite foreign word or phrase: Deux Bieres, Zwei Bier Bitte, Tva Ol, Tack beer and company in any language. You can’t go wrong!

Favorite foreign tradition: Smiling at strangers.

Travel has taught me:  That I cannot control everything!

Photo courtesy of Paul James