Road Warrior: Belmond CEO hits the ground running
I became CEO of Belmond [formerly Orient-Express Hotels] just under two years ago, and since then I’ve visited 41 of our 45 properties in 22 countries. I’m based in London and spend about 60% of my time on the road between long-haul trips to Asia and South America and quick jaunts within Europe and to North America.
I go back and forth often to New York to meet with investors, and usually take the overnight flight back on British Airways. I always eat at the BA executive lounge before I board—the dinner service on the plane takes up two valuable hours when I’d rather be sleeping. When I arrive in London, I go straight to the office and power through the jet lag.
When I travel with family, accommodations are important. I need a multiroom format with a work area so I can get up, work out, and do some calls without disrupting them. I can get a lot done between 5:30 and 9 before they wake up. Successfully mixing business and leisure travel—I call it “bleisure”—is a growing trend we’re seeing at our hotels. I’m a big proponent, since my wife and three children travel with me as often as time and school schedules permit.
Staying fit helps me recover from jet lag, so I try to boost my energy and relieve stress with exercise. I’m a runner, and I like to work out at our properties. A really good hotel will provide you with a running map, as we do at all our locations.
I love to work out to music—high-energy country, reggae, pop. My elder daughter turned me on to Spotify, the online music service. Wherever I am in the world, I can tap into Spotify so I won’t get bored with my own playlist.
I try to engage my family in a thoughtful way in my work. My kids laugh because I take profiles of all our executives on the plane so I can do my homework before arrival. I review them en route, and my kids quiz me on their names. It’s important, since this is a people business, and they enjoy it because they’re meeting them too.
I recently flew a low-cost airline with members of our executive team from London to Mallorca because the schedule was better than other alternatives. Just 15 minutes before we were scheduled to land, the pilot announced we were returning to London because the plane needed a part that wasn’t available at our destination. We were pretty irate that the airline was more concerned with the cost of flying the replacement part to Mallorca than customer satisfaction. I’m now avoiding all no-frills airlines. You get what you pay for in life.
This story is from the October 6, 2014 issue of Fortune.