SoulCycle’s CEO on Exploratory Travel and the One Cuisine She Can’t Live Without

We caught up with Melanie Whelan to talk travel.

SoulCycle’s CEO on Exploratory Travel and the One Cuisine She Can’t Live Without

Melanie Whelan, CEO of SoulCycle stands for a portrait at the Greenwich SoulCycle in Manhattan, NY on September 19, 2016. CREDIT: Caitlin Ochs for the Wall Street Journal.

Courtesy of SoulCycle

Today, SoulCycle launches its first-ever Destination SOUL pop-up studio in Aspen in partnership with smartwater. ASPN, the official name of the pop-up, is a 12-day experience that’s high in the mountains; it will hold three to five classes each day and offer limited-edition ASPN Soul gear. If you’re in the area—or will be to ring in the New Year—we highly recommend a sweat sesh with one of their amazing instructors between hitting the slopes and hitting the spa.

We’re hoping for more SoulCycle pop-ups in 2017. In the meantime, we caught up with SoulCycle CEO Melanie Whelan to talk about her travel habits, wanderlist, and where she’s going next.

Let’s play spin the globe—name the one place you’ve always wanted to go.
My father was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and my mother’s family hails from Copenhagen, Denmark—those are my dream destinations.

What’s your spirit city?
London. The architecture, the history, the culture, the charm. It is my favorite city in the world. I fell in love with my husband there.

Do you have a travel ritual?
Bringing back something fun for my six-year-old son and four-year-old daughter—even if it’s very small.

Do you maintain any routines from home while traveling or does it all go out the window?
I exercise every day that I can—it’s an absolute non-negotiable for me. Long runs in new cities are a great way to explore. I just wish we had a SoulCycle in every destination!

Sorry, you only get to eat one regional cuisine for the rest of your life. What is it?
Not a problem—sushi!

What one piece of advice would you give to someone traveling abroad for the first time?
Throw away the guidebook. Write your own story.

Describe your travel personality in three words.
I travel for culture, relaxation, and an amazing hotel—my favorite part of each trip is checking into a new hotel.

Are your trips very planned or very spontaneous?
With young kids and work schedules, we now need to be planned out. We book flights and hotels long in advance. Some of our favorite trips are annual family vacations with friends—we book next year’s trip before we leave! But I save the actual daily activities for the week before we arrive. That makes it more fun.

What’s the one travel souvenir you’d save in a fire?
I save every ticket to every museum that I have visited and every show, opera, and movie that I have seen abroad. I’ve framed a lot of them and the more recent ones are in a box. I would grab all of those ticket stubs—they are all my memories!

What has most inspired you to travel?
Amelia Earhart and Carmen Sandiego were huge inspirations to me as a child. The idea of traveling all over the world working for Interpol seemed pretty awesome to my six-year-old self.

Who’s your ideal travel partner?
My husband introduced me to the idea of exploratory travel. He’s my perfect partner.

Which travel experience do you prefer: plugged in or unplugged?
Plugged in. I relax more when I’m in touch with what is happening back home.

What’s a custom from another culture that you’d love to implement in your life back home?
David and I went on safari in Zambia and Botswana for our honeymoon. Every night in the camps, the staff would invite the guests around a fire to hear stories about their culture, traditions, and families. The art of storytelling is such a wonderful custom—it builds community and relationships. I was really inspired by the experience.

What’s the first thing you seek out in a new place?
The locals’ bar. Meet the locals, ask what’s “must see” in their hometown. You always discover something unexpected.

What’s the one thing you indulge in on a trip that you don’t at home?
Sleeping in. Though it is usually hard to do because I’m so excited to be traveling.

Get more details about SoulCycle’s ASPN pop-up here.

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