Tamara Heber-Percy is the co-founder of one of our favorite travel brands, Mr & Mrs Smith, which just launched their US site earlier this month (also check out their fabulous blog!) We love learning about unique and luxurious hotels, so we jumped at the chance to pick the brains of one of the most travel savvy experts out there- and find out her current obsessions!
TDO: How does a hotel make the Mr & Mrs Smith cut?
It’s a question I get asked a lot and it comes down to a combination of things. Primarily: style, size (smallish), service, location and wow-factor.
Style is important but totally subjective – we recommend an array of properties, ranging from vintage three-room bed and breakfasts to ultra-modern private island retreats – but they are all stylish in their own way. Luxury is also something that people rate differently; a night in a cozy country inn may be just as much your idea of luxury as a weekend in a pampering spa retreat; the key is that it feels like the perfect find. The things that are crucial for me are: service (being attended to, not fussed over), value for money (if I‘m going to splash out for a special occasion I want to know it’s going to be really special) and, most importantly of all, I want to come home having had a memorable and unique experience. I always ask myself: would I recommend this place to a friend?
TDO: What is one must-visit property in the US?
That’s an incredibly hard question to answer – there are so many and I’ve got dozens of favorites. I love what Kit Kemp has done with the decor at Crosby Street Hotel, which opened last year in New York: the bedrooms are very romantic. For a super-stylish back-to-nature retreat, nothing beats the woodland cabins of Blackberry Farm in the Smoky Mountains. It’s idyllic, the service is flawless and there’s a host of experiences celebrating the local countryside – you can make your own jams, forage for ingredients, go horseback riding, learn to stargaze and more.
TDO: What is the “hot” new travel destination for 2011?
Brazil has been a hot topic for a while now – and attention is spreading to South America as a whole. Uruguay’s currently growing in popularity, but I think the next big destination in that area will be Argentina; our recent trips down there have uncovered loads of great hotels, such as five-room Finca Valentina, a refined ranch in Salta wine country which offers budget-boutique travelers the chance to live like a glamorous gaucho for just over $140 a night.
TDO: What is one must-have item for you when you travel?
A cashmere shawl – there is simply no other item that gets more use.
TDO: The one thing I’m most currently obsessed with is………
…my gorgeous new iPad. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool techie.