Are you lucky enough to travel in luxury? Or do you aspire to? In any case, it’s fun to hear about the world’s most upscale travel from someone who experiences it all the time. Cleo Anderson knows about luxury travel and she shares info on all aspects. She is Founder of The Anderson Media Group a luxury lifestyle PR agency She is host of Wanderluxe, on LUXE TV.
We start by talking of luxury swag bags for the Oscars, including travel treats. After defining what luxury travel is, we talk of luxury transportation and luxury lodging.
Cleo and Lea share favorite luxury destinations and experiences around the world, including the Abu Dhabi, the Maldives, Mauritius, Vietnam, Turkey, and cities including Venice and Paris.
We end with Cleo's favorite memory of luxury travel, which is a real surprise.
Cleo Anderson, is the host and co-producer of a luxury travel show
airing on LUXE.TV - 'Wanderluxe with Cleo Anderson'. Cleo showcases her travels in
this dreamy LUXE.TV series that broadcasts to its 462 million subscribers in 65 countries worldwide.
In addition to her TV career and her luxury travel show, Cleo acts as
the 'Luxury Travel Curator' for the high-profile Hollywood gift bag
hand-delivered to the top 25 Oscar nominees each year. She is also the
Founder of The Anderson Media Group, a luxury lifestyle PR agency that
works with luxury brands - including global luxury hotels - looking
for high-profile media coverage. In 2022, Cleo served as a member of
the judging panel in the PR and Communication category for the 2Oth
Annual American Business Awards®- the Stevies. firstname.lastname@example.org
Podcast host Lea Lane blogs at forbes.com, has traveled to over 100 countries, and has written nine books, including the award-winning Places I Remember (Kirkus Reviews star rating, and 'one of the top 100 Indie books' of the year). She has contributed to many guidebooks and has written thousands of travel articles.
Contact Lea- she loves hearing from you! @lealane on Twitter; PlacesIRememberLeaLane on Insta; Places I Remember with Lea Lane on Facebook; Website: placesirememberlealane.com.
New episodes drop every other Tuesday, wherever you listen. Please consider sharing, following, rating and reviewing this award-winning travel podcast.
Lea Lane 0:06
Hi, I'm Lea Lane an award-winning travel writer and author of Places I Remember: Tales, Truths, Delights from 100 Countries. On this podcast we share conversations with travelers about fascinating destinations and memorable experiences around the world. Are you lucky enough to travel in luxury? Or do you aspire to it? In any case, it's fun to hear about the world's most upscale trap from someone who experiences it all the time. Cleo Anderson is founder of the Anderson Media Group, a luxury lifestyle PR agency that works with luxury brands, including global luxury hotels. She's host of WanderLux on Lux TV, a series for those who like to travel in style. Welcome Cleo to Places I Remember.
Cleo Anderson 0:54
Thank you so much for having me.
Lea Lane 0:57
Well, before we talk luxury travel, I noted that one thing you do is act as a luxury travel curator for the high profile Hollywood gift bag hand delivered to the top 25 Oscar nominees each year. I'm curious, what have been the most over the top luxury items and those swag bags for the stars?
Cleo Anderson 1:15
As the luxury travel curator, I would have to say that the travel is probably something that adds the most to the bags, because they usually tend to be the most expensive gifts. For example, this past year, one of my clients who has an amazing property in Canada in Ottawa, he was in the bag, it was a three-night stay worth $14,000. That's right, for three nights. And with that, of course, you get so many different perks. So I think there are a couple of sports cars that are thrown in for the users use. There's a private chef, it's a whole package and not just the accommodations. So generally speaking, all throughout the year, I'm on the lookout for the most amazing stays. And I've cherry picked them and we put them in the bag. It is a little bit over. I'm not going to lie.
Lea Lane 2:13
I'm sure they're very excited to open that bag. Yes. Well, let's get back to travel. How would you define luxury travel?
Cleo Anderson 2:20
You know, for me, I've been doing this now for around 15 years. Luxury is actually about something that's bespoke, tailored to you. I think that if you go on a trip where you sort of feel as though every other traveler is experiencing the same thing, or every other guest is experiencing the same thing. It's nice, it can be expensive. But it's not necessarily luxury. The luxury comes for me where there's such attention to detail, that you understand that they've maybe researched you a little bit, they understand you as a guest. They understand what you like what you enjoy. And they deliver that. That, to me is what luxury is all about, especially when it comes to travel.
Lea Lane 3:05
I've often written for publications that are luxury, so I'm lucky on that. Yeah. And I've noticed that three things stand out to me, three S's: one is service, service above all. Surroundings, because obviously, you want a view and you want to feel like you're in the place you are. And space basically gives you lots of things -- space from others, space in your room. It's just one of those things. So yeah, also be part of luxury, I think.
Cleo Anderson 3:32
I actually love that you've melted it down to the three S's and you've got the alliteration, and it's really easy to remember. And I agree with you, I think those three things are definitely fantastic elements.
Lea Lane 3:43
And you can find some of them even if you're not traveling luxury. For example, if you search you can find surroundings. Very often I found little hotels where you have a beautiful view just like a big hotel that's very luxurious. You know, some hotels are known for their service, even though they're not luxury, so you have to sort of pick and choose a little bit. Yeah, paying the big bucks. Let's talk transportation. Luxury means well, flying private, luxury yachts, special trains. Have you experienced some of that?
Cleo Anderson 4:10
I've experienced all of that. And of course, it's lovely to be waited on on a private jet. It's lovely to be on a luxury yacht. There, though it's often to do with the company as well, I have to say, especially if you're sort of flying for a long time. I think it's nice to have a companion that you're able to enjoy that experience with, or again on a yacht. It's nice to be with a group of people that you really enjoy being with. But again, you know, it's the attention to detail that really adds to that. It's the food. It's the snack that maybe isn't on the menu, that someone is happy to bring you. It's nice to be able to fly with a glass of champagne. I mean, that's one thing that everyone can do, but that again is a really lovely addition.
Lea Lane 5:00
it just sounds so nice. I just like hearing about it. Now, lodging, I mean, what qualities make a lodging especially fine for you?
Speaker 2 5:09
I think you hit the nail on the head earlier when you talked about a view. I'm a sucker for a great view. And it's really lovely if the view is reflective of where you are. On the first episode of Wanderlux with Cleo Anderson, my new show on Lux TV, I was really keen to choose something that had an Acropolis view so that people understand we're in Athens. It's this gorgeous historical city. And that historical view was right there. That's definitely one of the things but also, I'm a foodie. So for me food is a big thing as well.
Lea Lane 5:46
Absolutely. Yeah. I think it's a good tip for people who are not at a luxury hotel to ask for a view. They're very often if you ask, you know, you might be placed in the back of the hotel or the front and might be a beautiful view on one side and you don't know but ask for it -- very often you get it. And that makes a big difference. I think wherever you are, you want to feel where you are. I think sense of place is one of those things in a hotel, even if it's a little hotel or again, not a luxury hotel. If you feel like you're in the country you're in or the place you're in it makes it a much more pleasant experience all around (100%!) We seek that out. I go for the smaller hotels myself rather than the big chains just for that; to feel like you're a part of the scene.
Cleo Anderson 6:26
Yeah, absolutely. Boutique hotels for me are often hidden gems, honestly.
Lea Lane 6:32
So lately, I'm thinking of some hotels with a sense of place. Way back, before it was famous, I stayed in a hotel called Villa San Michele, it was in Fiesole, right above Florence, Italy. A convent, yeah. convent, it's a little further from the center. But it has a beautiful view of Florence. And it has an entrance that was designed by Michelangelo. When I went there, it was very reasonable because it just opened and nobody knew about it. Now it's an ultra luxury hotel. So if you can get some of these hotels early before people pick up on them, you might get a better deal. And also, if you go off season, you probably get a better deal. If you want to splurge. That's the time to go.
Cleo Anderson 7:17
That's true. And I do think often it is a case of planning things ahead. You know, I'm quite lucky in owning a PR agency, I'm often invited on complimentary stays, which is obviously a huge perk of the job. But also with the TV show. Obviously, we're now traveling and we're planning the next three episodes. And again, they're complimentary stays. But if you're not able to do that, I think planning ahead and like you said, looking at the seasonality, maybe looking at new openings, where sometimes they have great deals is also a wonderful way to do it as well.
Lea Lane 7:53
Let's talk about some of your favorite luxury experiences around the world. Let's start with Abu Dhabi.
Cleo Anderson 7:58
Yeah. Oh Abu Dhabi. So we were working with Anantara hotels and they have a wonderful hotel. This was essentially a client trip. I had to go and experience
Lea Lane 8:14
You had to go you had someone had to do it.
Cleo Anderson 8:17
This stands out to me as probably one of the most amazing hotels I've ever stayed at because of the design. We talked about having a sense of place, and it's in the middle of the desert of Abu Dhabi. It almost looks like a ginormous sandcastle in the middle of a huge desert. It has an entryway that looks a little bit like a drawbridge that you walk up to. Just waking up and all you see is sand was absolutely stunning. But the other thing that I think Anantara hotels has is that the service is impeccable. I remember being by the pool, reading a magazine, and fancying something that wasn't necessarily on the menu, and they were happy to indulge (oh yes), the waiter went and found me what I wanted.
That just makes the whole thing, fantastic.
Lea Lane 9:18
Many years ago, I stated a lodginf called Twin Farms in Barnard, Vermont. It has different villas and cottages around, and each one decorated in different styles and they're all high end but there's one that's called a painters attic. And you come in and it's all strewn with paint, and it looks kind of you know, like a real attic with a tin sink and so forth. But you'll notice on the walls are original paintings by Frank Stella, and some of these absolutely amazing, famous artists. It's really really, really upscale. I remember this to this day, this was way back again, I was on a press trip. I'm gonna say ahead of time that many places I say like you I get to be invited as a travel writer. It was was originally one of the few places that had these themed villas; now it's very common. And I also want to say in Abu Dhabi, there's a place called the Emirates Palace, Mandarin Oriental, which is a huge former palace. Huge. And the thing about that I remember again, as a guest as I didn't stay there, I just walked through it that I had a coffee latte with gold flakes in it.
Cleo Anderson 10:20
I did the same thing. They still doing it. They're still doing it. Um, yeah, that is a standout memory to be as well. And they do the pretty little design with the gold leaf.
Lea Lane 10:31
Barista there with gold, right? Yeah, jeweler? Absolutely. I don't know. Again, if all of us can go to them, but it's fun to hear about it. Let's talk about Monaco.
Cleo Anderson 10:40
Monaco was a standout press trip as well. We had literally just segwayed into luxury travel as a PR agency at that time, we won the contract to do the PR for their 150th anniversary. So it was a huge deal. And every London agency at the time wanted this contract. So they flew me out to Monaco, which was fantastic. And I was there for a couple of nights. Monte Carlo SBM, it's a whole resort. And it takes up I would say around 80% of Monaco. So they own everything, pretty much from the casino to most of the hotels, restaurants, spas, I had to be familiar with all of them. So I was taken out to dinner.
Lea Lane 11:26
Cleo Anderson 11:27
It was awful. It was awful. But I had to try the various different restaurants, bars and things like that. And I remember actually saying at the Hermitage Hotel, which in my mind was one of the prettiest hotels they have in in the principality, sort of pastel, pink and blue colored rooms, really beautiful. And then obviously really great views over Monaco. So again, that's a standout press trip for me. (How about Bali?) Bali, what I don't know about you, but I'm a nature lover. So anyone who likes greenery, lush plantation, they've got the Ubud jungle, Bali is the place to go to. We were working with the Viceroy Bali. It's actually a boutique hotel. It's run by an Australian family that are in Bali. And they have the most beautiful site. They've built this resort that is literally just above the jungle. And so they have an infinity pool that you can relax in and have your cocktails but you're overlooking the jungle, which is amazing. And the rice paddies and highly Instagrammable you know that I mean, it's just, it's just a beautiful place to be. This particular hotel had a helipad. So there was sort of that hint of privacy and luxury, I would say. And as a family run hotel, I think they got the temperature just right for the guests. Beautiful. I was actually there for my birthday.
Lea Lane 12:59
I stayed on my own in Bali. And I have to say if you go I remember I stayed at a little tiny place and it was overlooking a lotus pond. And it was so peaceful and gorgeous. It was not a luxury hotel, but it was a luxury experience. But the beauty of that again, you can seek these things out without having to spend the money if you work a little bit at it. I looked for something that was overlooking water. So I enjoyed that as well. Tell me about Vietnam. Your experience there.
Cleo Anderson 13:28
Yeah, Vietnam. I mentioned before I'm a foodie. Are you a foodie? Do you like food?
Lea Lane 13:32
I am. I'm gonna tell you what I ate in Vietnam. I wrote it down, so you go first.
Cleo Anderson 13:39
I landed in Vietnam. I was traveling solo this time. I remember literally checking in putting my luggage down. It was the evening. I thought I'm hungry and just going out onto the street. You can smell the street food. Oh, the food there is amazing. And I just remember sitting and having the most amazing -- I think it was maybe some kind of chicken. And obviously it's not a glamorous thing. But there's something about it. You just feel you know, you're in Vietnam, the smells, the sights, the food. That was fantastic. And then I went to Halong Bay and I had a cruise around Halong Bay, it was on one of the Vietnamese junk boats. And that was again another fantastic experience. The boat itself reminded me very much of Agatha Christie. It was very, you know, sort of rich, dark, rich colors and the word and sleeping on that was fantastic. Waking up to that amazing Ha Long Bay view.
Lea Lane 14:40
Pinnacles that are famous, yes.
Cleo Anderson 14:44
That was on my bucket list. So I was really pleased to be able to
Lea Lane 14:48
They let you swim into caves. You can go and swim off in their little caves all around. It's very beautiful. Now I remember from Vietnam, speaking of food, I stayed in a very old hotel in DaLot which is in the hill area. And it's called the Sofitel Palace, it was at that time, and it was a grand villa. And it was built during the French occupation there in the 1920s and 30s. So it was very French oriented. And I remember I wrote it down and I took it out here to tell you because I knew you were going to talk luxury. I love the name of the thing I ate. It's the opposite of street food. That's what I love about Vietnam. You can have delicious street food and also very, very high fine dining. And this is what they described for this meal on a press trip. We had quote, "stuffed baby squash and pumpkin flower with crab nectar, placed in a confetti of edible flora." I'll never forget that; it tasted good. But I mean, the description of it.
Cleo Anderson 15:47
itself, isn't it the description,
Lea Lane 15:49
And that was the meal they were testing because George W. Bush who was president at the time was going to be staying there the next week, so we got to test it for the President. It worked.
Cleo Anderson 15:58
Oh, wow. That's amazing. Did you ever go to Fukuoka islands in Vietnam? (No, no, tell me about it.) This place is worth a visit. So we were working with Love Aranda. It's one of M Galleries hotels. And I did a press trip there. And it's very different to the city. It's very different to Hanoi. It's a beautiful island, beautiful waters. This particular hotel was reminiscent of the French occupation. So had that sort of architecture, really beautiful colonial architecture. And again, just a wonderful experience, because my suite was actually facing the beach. So the beach was literally sort of a 30 second walk as you wake up, you have your coffee, and you can just walk onto the beach. I think now that the island is becoming a little bit more popular; people are hearing a little bit more about it now. But I was really pleased going visit that just before there's been a little bit of a boom.
Lea Lane 16:57
Yeah, yeah. And we're going back to trying to find a place that hasn't been discovered yet. The luxury of the space around you because it isn't crowded yet. And if you do your research, and something just opens and you grab it, then you can experience this luxury without having to maybe pay as much money, because part of it is the specialness of the quiet and the beauty and all of that before the crowds come. And so many places in the world are now crowded; if you seek out the ones that are less crowded, that's luxury. (Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.)How about Turkey?
Cleo Anderson 17:31
So Turkey, obviously, I love Istanbul, I'm sure you're familiar with the city, you have two continents colliding. I mean, that's the interesting part about Turkey. So I spent some time in Istanbul. But then I went and flew to Cappadocia. You know, I would describe it as magical. It doesn't look like anything else that I've seen. You know, the little turrets. It's almost like walking on the moon.
Lea Lane 18:00
Yeah, all limestone. Again, there's this rock. Monks used to live in these caves. And now Yes, their hotels and lodges and B and B's and you feel like you're in another world.
Cleo Anderson 18:11
In another world. And like you said, you know, the hotels are sort of these little caves. And often they're joined together. So it doesn't feel like an ordinary hotel. It's very, very different. I specifically remember what every morning, you've got the hot air balloons that go up. Yeah, literally hundreds of them going up. And when I first got there, I was just looking and I thought, you know, I actually have to go up in a balloon. I'd been up in one before, but I thought I really want to do the whole experience. So going over the Cappadocia terrain, basically floating through the air, and then coming back down, and we had strawberries and champagne breakfast, to sort of round off the trip.
Lea Lane 18:55
You don't have to stay at a luxury hotel to enjoy the beauty of that -- you can look up you don't have to go in the balloon. That's true. If you don't want to do that. How about the Maldives, the islands in the Indian Ocean that are so popular? Now we read about these gorgeous over water ...
Cleo Anderson 19:11
Well, I would say if you're going to the Maldives, if you can book into an overwater bungalow, because really that's the experience, isn't it? It's interesting. I am planning to go back with my partner. But the first time I went there was not a romantic trip. I was actually on a press trip in Sri Lanka, hadn't realized that the Maldives was quite so close. Someone just mentioned Oh, you do know that it's an hour's trip to go to the Maldives. And I thought, Oh, maybe I should wait and have it be a really romantic experience. But then I thought no, I'm here and I want to see it. So I booked a -- Yeah, I had to do it. So I booked into an overwater bungalow waking up in the morning and feeling the sway of the Indian Ocean. Gorgeous, gorgeous.
Lea Lane 19:59
Chances are involved. One of the things about travel is to prioritize. So if you want to do this, you can now do it many places in the world. You don't have to go all the way to the Maldives, which, which is a big trip. There are now over water in the Caribbean. Yeah, I was in Morea which is outside of Tahiti. That's all so far away, and I experienced it there but you can't do it close to where you live. I think before you thought you had to travel far but now you don't. Everyone loves to be overwater. So check it out if that's something you'd like it's probably doable.
Cleo Anderson 20:33
Somewhere locally. Yeah, absolutely. I agree with you.
Lea Lane 20:36
One thing about the Maldives. I think people love these luminescent bays. There's a beautiful one there. Did you happen to go to it? It's absolutely shimmering at night and you can find it also in Puerto Rico and some other places around the world. But I love luminescent bays and that's one
Cleo Anderson 20:52
Luminescent bays. I didn't really experience that on my first trip, but it's definitely something that I will want to do when I go back.. That's romantic. Yeah, I'll put that on my romantic bucket list.
Lea Lane 21:06
Another island country Mauritius that most people have not been there. It's in the Indian Ocean, located off the eastern coast of Africa. Tell us about Mauritius.
Cleo Anderson 21:15
Well, Mauritius, it's somewhere that I know I would say intimately at this point. I used to live in Johannesburg with my partner. And on my way back to London. I decided to stop off in Mauritius and I ended up staying for two months.
Lea Lane 21:30
I guess you liked it.
Cleo Anderson 21:34
I loved it. You know I'm a French speaker. So that automatically made me feel at home. Everyone really friendly. It's really great food; you know, the food is high up on my list of priorities. So when we signed another hotel client in Mauritius, it's a hotel called Paradise Cove. It's a boutique hotel, but it's really beautiful because they have a private beach in a private cove. And so that in itself just almost makes you feel like you're on a private resort. They have lots of different sort of restaurants and things to try. And it's that beautiful turquoise water of the Indian Ocean and can't beat it. For me being in Mauritius feels like being at home, because I immediately slide back into the French speaking and you know, everyone's brown skin. So I melt right in. Beautiful. I love it. I love it there.
Lea Lane 22:28
Let's end with two very romantic, wonderful cities that are known for luxury -- one is Venice.
Cleo Anderson 22:34
Yes, Venice to me is and I have to apologize in advance to Paris because I lived in Paris. I did my degree in French and law and I had to live in Paris for a year. Yeah, I had to. Venice is probably I would say one of the most romantic places that I've ever been to. There's something about there not being any cars. It's only waterways. It's only boats. Beautiful. So we were working with not a hotel, but actually private apartments. There are lots of old patios, palaces that have been carved up into private residences. I was staying in one of those. The great thing was that the owner was showing me around, you know. I just remember having gorgeous dinners at night, and Piazza and even walking in the evening. There's something romantic about that. Absolutely beautiful. I mean, what do you feel aboutit?
Lea Lane 23:30
I feel if you pick a place like that you can have luxury at a very low cost. Because the things you're saying anyone can be enjoying. Again, if you try to beat the crowds -- that crowd part takes away the feeling. (You can , you're right.) Plan that that carefully. But you could do many of the things you're saying and you can always go into a hotel that's luxurious and just have a drink at the bar and enjoy the lobby and enjoy the ambiance. Or, you know, just walk around in some of these beautiful areas, and then you get the feel of luxury. I love that. Well, who doesn't? Yeah, yeah, with Paris. Tell us about what luxury.
Cleo Anderson 24:05
I had my 40th birthday in Paris. And so I went with a group of girlfriends. So there were four of us. And this particular trip was actually a gift. So we stayed at the Four Seasons, the George V, everything was planned. There was a dinner that had been arranged, but a really great dance club at the end of the night. But the four of us girls were saying the Four Seasons really know., They've got the luxury details down: the service element. I would say almost unparalleled. And so that's what really made the trip for me. And that, for me was a fantastic birthday.
Lea Lane 24:44
It's a great trip. I have a tip for people who want to feel the full beauty of Paris. There's a tower that's kind of ugly called tour Montparnasse, the highest building in Paris in the center, and it's terrible except for the top which has a restaurant called Le Ciel de PAris, which has big windows and you get the best view of Paris because you get to see the Eiffel Tower in the views, which you don't get from the Eiffel Tower. And it's a, you know, a meal and I think you can splurge for it. But it's wonderful to see all of Paris, if you come at sunset, and you see the lights. It's yeah, extraordinary. So I give that tip to people who would like a feeling of the whole Paris, including the Eiffel Tower.
Cleo Anderson 25:06
You know, also, I would like to add, everyone talks about the Eiffel Tower, but for me, there's the Sacre Couer. Yes. Probably the most beautiful spot in Paris, if I'm honest, because you've got the height. And it's also a really beautiful building.
Lea Lane 25:41
That has all kinds of beautiful little restaurants and little cafes. Yeah. Yeah. A lot to enjoy that. Yeah. Well, the name of the podcast is Places I Remember so Cleo, let's share one special memory of your luxury travel.
Cleo Anderson 25:56
While it's a location that not many people necessarily know about, it's in Switzerland, and it's the capital of Switzerland. It's Bern. A good friend of mine, her mother used to be the South African ambassador to Switzerland. And she very kindly invited me and my friend to go and stay for the summer. I just have memories of being in the Swiss sunlight, beautiful weather. Everyone was swimming in the river. Interesting. It was really, it was very interesting. And it's not something I was expecting. You know, I was saying to you earlier, I'm a nature lover. And so for me, it was the trees. It was the river. It was the sun -- gorgeous. Most people when they think about Switzerland, they think about Geneva or they think about you know, other places. But Bern has a natural beauty that was just gorgeous, especially in the summer months. So that's a memory that will always stay with me.
Lea Lane 26:51
Well, that's wonderful. Because again, anyone can enjoy that. I think we're having fun talking about the luxury, the ultra luxury, but also there are beautiful things that are free. What you're describing, and you just have your eyes open and plan a little bit ahead again to avoid the crowds. And you can all enjoy that. So it's a good good way to end this. Thank you so much Cleo Anderson, luxury travel expert host, and co- producer of the luxury travel show Wander Luxe with Cleo Anderson, airing on Lux TV. You've shared some of the dreamiest travel in the world but to me, all travel is dreamy. Yeah. So go out there and do it right.
Cleo Anderson 27:28
Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. I've had so much fun talking to you.
Lea Lane 27:32
Thank you. My book Places I Remember: Tales, Truths, Delight from 100 Countries is available in print, Kindle, and I read the audio version. You can follow me on forbes.com where I write five travel posts a month. Please subscribe to this podcast and consider giving us a review. And I'd love to hear from you on any of my links in the episodes show notes, or on my website placesIrememberLea lane.com Until next time, make some travel memories.