One of the youngest general managers in the hotel industry, Marcel Thoma is constantly on the road, for business and pleasure (and often, both).
The Swiss-born jetsetter is currently based in Hong Kong where he leads the team at The Upper House, one of the city's—if not the world's—most luxurious and impeccably serviced hotels.
In this edition of How I Travel, we check in with Thoma to see where he's been lately, and where he's off to next.
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New York, LA and Las Vegas, as I'll be introducing The Upper House and the entire House Collective to the travel communities in the US. We'll be hosting a special House Collective party at a private venue in Beverly Hills, and attending the annual Virtuoso travel show. After that, I'll be heading to Utah and staying at the Amangiri hotel, one of the most interesting hotels in the world.
What do you love most about travelling?
The constant opportunity to discover new things, experience new restaurants and try out different hotels. And above all, to meet new people.
Most memorable travel experience?
My recent trip to Tibet. The laidback lifestyle was really fascinating; it is such a contrast to the fast-paced, modern society we live in. The views are so breathtaking and the air is so clean… the monasteries are also very impressive. I had never encountered a culture like this before.
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One place you’d visit over and over again?
There are so many places that I love—New York, London, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, Melbourne and Cape Town—these are all interesting cities that I find very iconic. There are certain cities that I would never get tired of such as New York and London; they have such great cultural offerings.
Three things you always travel with?
What do you normally read on the plane?
I love flying with Cathay Pacific and I would usually start with their Discovery in-flight magazine, before moving on to a good old-fashioned paperback novel.
Favourite travel companion?
I really enjoy travelling alone because there is always so much to discover. Of course, it’s fun to have a travel companion but they can also distract you from fully immersing yourself in the culture and meeting new people.
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Aisle or window seat?
It depends on which class you are travelling in of course. But personally, I always prefer to be closer to the bathroom and I will always have the window shade down.
Favourite travel app?
I love the Wallpaper Travel App, and when I go to a new city I always check their insights on what to see and where to eat.
Your best travel tip?
I believe in being open minded and open to exploration. Talking to locals and meeting people from the destination helps you get to know a new place in the most authentic way. It’s also great if you have friends in the destination you are going, so they can show you the landmarks and places locals like to dine.
Any tips on overcoming jet lag?
I always take long jogs or other forms of exercise when I’m trying to get back into a time zone—massages also work quite well for me.
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