The art of travel is close to my heart. From the moment that I started working for a tour operator at 18 and realised that the love of my life is travelling at 22, a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ has settled in my veins. I tend to blend into a destination the moment I arrive. Being adventurous in Peru? No problem. Laid back in Bonaire? I sure am. Being curious and open-minded has connected me to the most amazing people along the way.
Asking a girl about her luggage can get a bit tricky. In 2008, we did a grand China tour with friends and our kids, and I had to pack for life in both the city and the countryside, but also for trains, planes and automobiles. Also, I had to obey to the orange dress code while visiting the Olympic Games in Beijing where we were supporters of the Dutch athletes. This was quite a challenge but the Eastpak suitcase I bought at the time makes me happy to this day. My favourite handbag is from Anya Hindmarch — it puts a smile on the faces of customs officers.
When packing for short trips, I choose matching pieces in the same colour tones. Longer trips are always a challenge, so I go for tiny rolls of clothes instead of nicely folded shirts and trousers. And I always leave some space for local finds!
I would love to travel from Amsterdam to Buenos Aires next to Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. I admire her because she was able to adapt from her spicy Latin American roots to the no-nonsense Dutch way of living. She gave up on a lot of things to become a member of the Royal Dutch family, so she must have some great stories to share. Also, I'm sure we both share a fashion addiction, for shoes in particular, so there is definitely a topic to discuss on this 14-hour flight. Last but not least, I fell in love with her hometown the moment I arrived — maybe she could offer me a grand tour of the city's hot spots!
I go several times a year to Bonaire, where I co-own the villa portfolio Piet Boon Bonaire, a Design Hotels member. Even though there's a six-hour time difference with Amsterdam, I love the extra hours I get at night to think over creative and conceptual ideas. My inspirational flow is always better during travels.
Visiting the French coast over and over is something I have done since I was a child. The past eight years we spent lots of time in Eze village, a tiny French hideaway with magical views of the Mediterranean Sea. My tip here is the best beach for Sunday afternoon hangouts, the Anjuna beach at Eze-sur-Mer. What is overrated? Their next-door neighbour, Monaco. Too much concrete, too much horsepower in the streets and far too much Botox on the terraces!
My glass is always half-full, so when the shit really hits the fan, I still manage to see some positives in a situation. However, experiencing bad service can really influence my state-of-mind. Being in the most beautiful hotel without the right kind of service or guest treatment could be a reason for me to check out as soon as possible.
Lovely London is on the top of my list when it comes to shopping. From the magic of huge department stores (my favourite is Selfridges) to the tiny streets in Notting Hill, Shoreditch or Camden, I love everything! I visited Kerry Taylor Auctions with two friends and they have the rarest fashion finds, including pieces from Lady Di and haute couture from Chanel. If you like fashion, vintage and a true London experience, don’t miss this in Bermondsey.
I always look forward to returning to the rolling hills of South West France, to the rural little town of Duras where my sister and her husband live as true farmers. Almost ten years ago we took up the challenge of opening a glamping with safari tents, far before it became 'trendy' to stay in tents in Europe. I designed the concept, and Sandra and Santi created their little heaven. Every time I arrive, I instantly feel relaxed.
Being anywhere close to nature can be a breath-taking experience. I was touched by the magic of Vancouver Island where we stayed at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. This tented camp is only open in the summertime and is only accessible by a water plane. The scenery is stunning, and you feel so tiny in your dinghy on the sea while spotting whales around you, eagles in the air and brown bears ashore. One day I hope to go back there with my grandchildren.
I travelled a lot on my own as a producer of corporate events and had the chance to stay at some great hotels, like the La Mamounia in Marrakech — enjoying a GT in the jazzy bar is a treat. At the Maia resort in Seychelles, I prepared a trip for Audi dealers. I had my own villa with a butler, pool and La Prairie amenities but so little time to enjoy it! Last summer I travelled through South America, where we stayed at the Titilaka hotel right on the shore of the namesake lake. I was speechless! During the final days of this tour, we stayed at the hotel Casa San Augustin, in the heart of the old walled city of Cartagena. It is a boutique hotel that has truly preserved its colonial heritage.
A smile and a warm, authentic welcome are what makes a great first impression at a hotel. An authentic approach is the most important thing for me. Even when you have to bring bad news, stay honest and never mislead me as a guest.
I have a thing for tented camps. The first camp I produced was a 24-hour experience under the stars in Marrakech, and I got addicted to it. Lots of glamping camps followed either for corporate events or just with my family and friends while gallivanting the globe. My dream hotel would definitely be a movable tented camp that travels all six continents of the world. It would have enough space for the kitchen, as food for me is a wonderful conversation starter and enough rooms for visiting friends and family. Besides that, I would ask my best friend (Karin Meyn of Studio Piet Boon Amsterdam) to create a bespoke interior filled with colour and pieces of art. My husband is a great chef, and since I truly believe in meaningful connections to create the ultimate guest experience, we might be the dream team to start this adventure.
My travel motto? I recently read this quote from the team behind Studio Drift “People find the time to look at art within a gallery setting, but the world is one big exhibition if you only care to look”. Need I to say more?
For Globetrotter, I'd like to recommend Karin Meyn, one of my dearest friends and one half of Studio Piet Boon. As the creative director there, she travels the world to share her magic in private residences or beautiful hotel properties. Besides that, she has a great eye for art!