Debuting the first interview of the Global Adventuress series …
Interviews with the “Who’s Who” of Travel– Featuring Rebecca Recommends!
Rebecca Slater grew up in the hotel industry as a hotelier’s daughter, and since has created a well-respected company in the travel industry, Rebecca Recommends, offering her personalized advice to discerning travelers. Her father was the Founder of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, and she’s developed trusted partnerships with several small luxury hotels and magical destinations throughout the world. Recently, she was honored as the Ambassador for Nepal Travel.
We reached out to Rebecca to learn more about her passion for travel, what she’s focused on now, what item she always travels with, and where she wants to go on her future dream trips.
Here’s what she had to share:
1. Global Adventuress asks, “What is Rebecca Recommends?”
Rebecca: I announced aged fourteen on a family holiday to San Francisco that I wanted to move to America when I was older. Putting that thought out into the universe enabled me to make that a reality despite countless reminders of the challenges of getting a work visa for America. In 2004 I founded Rebecca Recommends and moved along with my horse from the Roman city of Chester, in North West England, to live in Pennsylvania. Rebecca Recommends is a North America based, sales and marketing representation company. Initially I focused on promoting the very best independently owned, service focused, luxury hotels in the United Kingdom. I knew for the discerning traveler it was important that where they stayed evoked a sense of place and offered an authentic and highly personalized guest experience. I then started to be asked for the same kind of hotels and experiences in other parts of the world, not just the UK. This was when I started to add destination management companies in different countries around the world to our portfolio. Our focus lies on representing only the very best companies that can truly make a difference to a traveler’s experience within the given destinations. We are excited to be welcoming clients in Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka this year all with the same under lying values as ours. The greatest satisfaction I get is being able to introduce travel advisors and ultimately their clients to our represented companies; in allowing them to craft your journey or offer you hospitality you will have a unique, rich and rewarding travel experience.
2. Global Adventuress asks: “What inspired you to go into the Travel Business?”
Rebecca: Having grown up within the hotel environment and working at The Chester Grosvenor, one of the highest rated hotels outside of London that my father ran for 31 years luxury hospitality was in my blood. As a child I remember assisting the head housekeeper aged seven in checking rooms for arriving guests. I was privileged in being able to travel around the world as a result of my father’s job and also in his role as a founder of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. I felt very at home in a gourmet restaurant, on an aeroplane, or negotiating a busy foreign city on my own. I’m grateful that a strong work ethic was instilled into me from a young age, although perhaps at the time it wasn’t as easy to appreciate. Both my parents have motivated and encouraged me to travel and follow my dreams. Travel is the best education you can offer anyone, even if it just within your own country. I believe it plants the seed for exploration, inspiration, a desire to understand different cultures and religions and if you allow yourself to enjoy and live in the moment of whatever journey you are on you can learn a lot about yourself and those around you.
3. Global Adventuress asks, “We hear you’re an Ambassador to Nepal Travel – can you share more with us about what you’re doing to support recovery there?”
Rebecca: I had been fortunate to be hosting an educational trip to the tiny Mountain Kingdom of Nepal that ended in early April last year. The journey was created by my good friend Neil de Souza, President of Ventours, who in my mind is one of the most talented and gifted itinerary writers within the travel industry. He has loved and believed in Nepal for the past thirty years, this trip was really the first of its kind with experiences highlighting the amazing diversity within Nepal delivered at a very high level to appeal to the curious luxury traveler. Unbeknown to me that trip and the devastating earthquake that followed just a couple of weeks after I returned home to California would change my life.
Initially much of the work that I did along with many other companies who have been working in Nepal for years mostly within the adventure and trekking business, was communications related. Tourism is still suffering terribly and spreading the message that the greatest gift anyone can give Nepal and the Nepalese people is traveling there now is so important. Keeping in touch with colleagues and friends on a daily basis after the earthquake was no substitute for me returning to assess for myself how the country had fared. I was already committed to supporting tourism to Nepal, now that drive and passion was unsurpassed. In order to gain as much media support as I could in stating that Nepal was in fact ready to welcome travelers back in early autumn last year I returned during the Monsoon and spent time visiting all the UNESCO sites in the Kathmandu valley as well as talking to my friends and colleagues who lived or worked out in The Khumbu, Pokhara, The Annapurna region, Mustang and Chitwan National Park. Many people did not realize that only 11 out of 75 districts were affected by the April 2015 earthquake and aftershocks that followed.
My personal focus lies much deeper than supporting tourism just on a recovery level. Along with friends who are leading the way in luxury hotel offerings in Nepal, individuals such as Neil and our partners on the ground I want to showcase Nepal as the diverse, magical destination that it is for the upmarket traveler. Many travelers are craving an authentic experience, Nepal can give you that. The culture of the Nepalese also transcends into some of the most sincere and thoughtful service I have ever experienced. Often it is the people that keeps drawing you back to a place. My commitment remains on raising awareness of the destination and assisting those in the travel industry in how to sell Nepal to those with a hunger for exploring an unexpected place that can compete with many other great countries in the world.
On a local level I am giving my time in assisting with sales and marketing support to hotel owners, have offered strategic advice to the Tourism Board, co-hosting educational trips, planning small and exciting group departures with Ventours and lucky enough to be part of some exciting hotel projects that will see the development of a serious of small, high-end lodges throughout the Mustang region. The largest of which, Mustang Resort will reopen next March after a major refurbishment. If you look at the success Bhutan has had with its tourism there is no reason why Nepal cannot be thought of with the same Shangri-la status.
Sangita Shrestha, part of the founding family of the Dwarika’s group, has a vision that all her employees can earn a salary comparative to that of working in other luxury hotels around the world. For me that is a great goal to work towards. It is very exciting to have a belief in a destination and be part of its evolution within the world of travel.
4. Global Adventuress asks “What is the “one thing” you never travel without?”
Rebecca: A pashmina. I realized I’ve always worn or travelled with a scarf, so completely versatile if you have one large enough you can make it double as clothing, shelter, bolster, accessory, bag, the list is endless and can work for both men and women. The kind compliments I would receive on my favorite travel accessory actually inspired me to found my “Design for Life” project last May. Through selling pashminas and scarves designed and made in Nepal we send the proceeds back to three incredible foundations who are working on supporting the rebuilding of schools, homes, and villages following the earthquake as well as providing freedom, health, shelter and education to children and the elderly.
5. Global Adventuress asks: “Where are your future dream trips?”
Rebecca: It would seem intuitive that where we choose to travel to can really make a difference to a nation. This is something I think more about since being introduced to Ethical Traveler “a nonprofit organization seeking to use the economic clout of tourism to protect human rights and the environment.” I’ve always wanted to go to Uruguay, the country has featured on their Ethical Destination awards winners list for the last two years. Antarctica is very high on my dream list, especially as I love wildlife and the great outdoors, and I worry about the effects of climate change. Japan for the food, culture and the unexplored area of Kyushu. Closer to home I need to get out into more of America’s incredible National Parks.
Thank you Rebecca for your time and recommendations in our first “Who’s Who” interview for Global Adventuress!