The visionaries who made the ranks of the 2016 Travel Vanguard share a commitment to the life-changing power of the journey. And they’re always on the move, whether it’s to seek out inspiration, scout places or products, or re-center themselves.
Even with all the passport stamps, travel hasn’t lost its luster for these global citizens. As Crystal Cruises CEO Edie Rodriguez puts it, “I’ve been to 100 countries, and there are 196 in the world right now, so I have 96 more to go.”
India, with its heady mix of textures, cultures, and historic sites, is currently spurring Rodrigeuz’s wanderlust. “I’d love to carve out two to three weeks to explore,” she says. Meanwhile, the seaside city of San Sebastian, Spain, known for its outsize number of Michelin stars, has captured the imagination of Jonathan Frolich, VP of Global Brands at Andaz.
When we asked the rest of the Travel Vanguard where they’re each inspired to go next, no two answers were alike. A journey, after all, is a statement of personal style and more so now than ever before.
“Each person is sort of a brand in the sense that your own human capital is a reflection of what you do, where you stay, what you eat, who you talk to,” observes Ben Weprin, CEO and founder of AJ Capital Partners.
That mindfulness favors the intelligent design of brands like TUMI, whose 19 Degree collection of luggage completes the image of effortless and stylish travel. It also drove Ben’s vision to develop a chain of hotels with soulful details that convey the stories of their locations.
Weprin points to Halcyon House as a source of his style inspiration, saying this boutique hotel in the Australian surf town of Cabarita is calling his name.
Japan, meanwhile, is the place that Rick Blatstein, founder of OTG, can’t shake. “I thought it was so cool how you never hear a horn beep ever—it allows your senses not to be as distracted so that you can take in all that’s there,” Blatstein recalls. After an amazing trip to Tokyo, he’s inspired to return and soak up the atmosphere of other Japanese cities.
Where and how you travel is so individual that couples don’t always see eye to eye. That’s the challenge facing Jonathan Mildenhall, chief marketing officer of Airbnb, and his partner when it comes to planning their honeymoon.
“He wants to go to South Africa on safari, and I want to get in a car and drive down the Amalfi Coast,” explains Mildenhall. He can envision himself wiling away the time in authentic restaurants and bars and staying local apartments overlooking the water. “But I don’t know who will win; he’s a real adventurer, and I’m a real romantic.”
Whatever the journey they choose, it will be an expression of how their unique personal styles complement each other.