Travel Advice From A Woman In The Know
Travel Advice From A Woman In The Know

Travel Advice From A Woman In The Know

Whether you’re looking to map out your annual holiday plans or want to celebrate a big milestone to maximum effect, Natasha Thomas knows just what it takes. We asked the founder and CEO of travel, events and experience group Total Management to share the places she sends her clients, what’s new and noteworthy, and where she herself chooses to spend her time away.
Image: Bãi San Hô


First Of All, Can You Set The Scene For Exactly What Total Management Group Does?

When I launched the business in 2006, we were an events company running parties around the world. That evolved into corporate events and travel for the likes of Spotify and Sony Music. Today we do those things as well as plan travel for high net worth individuals wanting the best knowledge and experience. We’ve also created The Globetrotter Club, an invitation-only travel service for the most discerning travellers, and The AWAY Collection, a portfolio of luxury rental properties handpicked from around the globe.

It Feels Like Our Appreciation Of Travel And Our Appetite To Experience Something Extraordinary Has Really Evolved Lately – Which Destinations Are Trending Right Now?

As well as last-minute breaks in Italy, Scandinavia and the Balearics, we’re sending clients further afield to places like Niseko, a luxury ski resort in Japan. Aman is due to open its fourth venture there next year, set high on the slopes of Mount Moiwa.

Argentina also has so much to offer. You need a good three weeks to make a dent in all there is to see and do. I’d start off in the jungle of Misiones at the ​​treetop hideout of Awasi Iguazú, minutes away from the Iguazú Falls. Then I’d go to Mendoza for the delicious Malbec at Cavas Wine Lodge, a wine paradise at the foot of the Andes boasting a selection of private villas scattered among vineyards. Estancia la Bamba de Areco – one of the oldest estancias in Argentinean countryside – is another must, where you can learn about its equestrian heritage and try local food at its asado barbecues. Argentinian Patagonia is simply breath-taking. Finally, with soaring views over the Electric Valley and Marconi Glacier, Explora El Chaltén is the perfect basecamp for ice hikes and rock climbing within Los Glaciares National Park.


What Other New Openings Should We Know About?

The hospitality industry has taken an obvious hit over the last two years, but there’s a lot to be excited about right now. Passalacqua is the sister property to the renowned Grand Hotel Tremezzo and the latest opening in Lake Como. A private villa since 1787, it’s been reimagined into a remarkable 24-suite hotel. The level of detail and artisanship is astonishing across its three buildings. Borgo Santandrea is another property to have on your radar. The owners make guests feel like they’re staying in an old-school Italian villa as opposed to a hotel. 

In Norway, Sommerro is Oslo’s newest luxury hotel, located in the most fabulous 1930s art-deco building. The interiors and art are a huge draw but ultimately it’s about the culinary scene: there are seven restaurants and bars, as well as a super luxe year-round rooftop pool – a first for the city. Further south, Svart is about to open its doors as the world’s first energy-positive hotel. Close to the Svartisen glacier, guests can enjoy zero-waste dining, hiking, ice climbing, night fishing and other adventures. It will be an eco-hotel like no other.

Where Would You Go For A Blow-The-Budget Trip?

North Island in the Seychelles. It is barefoot luxury like no other. There are ten thatched villas on Anse d’Est beach and another built into the rocks. The service is truly unique. It is hard to put it into words but it feels like you’ve been entrusted with the keys to your own private island. At the opposite end of the spectrum, White Desert Antarctica comprises seven state-of-the-art igloo-style pods which are carbon-neutral. Guests visit emperor penguins and glamp with a private chef.  

What About A Big Celebration?

That is always a good question. The Satori Yacht offers serious wow factor as you sail around Europe with ​​three Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura preparing meals on board. And I would love to take over Kasbah Tamadot in Marrakech, tucked away at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. In the Ouirgane valley, it’s just an hour’s drive from Marrakech and guests can stay in palatial suites or tents. Mustique is another option for group trips because it has a great portfolio of estates and houses to rent. Palm Beach Estate with its own six-acre beachfront is the definition of ultra luxe.

Tell Us About Some Lesser-Known Islands That Offer A High Standard Of Luxury… 

For barefoot luxury, Zaya Nurai Island in Abu Dhabi has a level of privacy that can't be found anywhere else on the Arabian Gulf.  For undiscovered paradise, Nihi Sumba on Sumba Island in Indonesia is unbeatable. It has one of the best activity lists – from swimming with horses to sailing on a private yacht. For an eco-friendly trip, Over Yonder Cay in the heart of the Bahamas’ Exuma Sound archipelago sleeps up to 28 guests across four villas with contemporary décor and panoramic sea views. Finally, Kokomo Private Island Resort in Fiji is an unrivalled, all-inclusive experience – and one of the best diving locations on the planet.

Kokomo Private Island
Kokomo Private Island

Are There Any Other Under-The-Radar Spots You Feel Deserve More Attention? 

Phú Yên in Vietnam. Check into Bãi San Hô, the freshest addition to Zannier Hotels’ knockout lineup. I’d also recommend Long Island’s North Fork in the US which has emerged as a lo-fi, refreshing alternative to the Hamptons. A reimagining of a 1950s beachside motel, Sound View Hotel in Greenport exemplifies North Fork’s laid-back appeal with simple, modern aesthetics.

Where Are Your Favourite Places To Travel To? 

I love the Amalfi Coast and Positano – few places compete with the old-school glamour of the Italian south coast. To me they offer the ultimate in luxury: ‘il dolce far niente’ – the art of doing nothing. We recently spent our ten-year wedding anniversary at Le Sirenuse which captures the true beauty of Positano like nowhere else. We also love Il San Pietro which is a little more tucked away. It’s known as a ‘small corner of paradise suspended between sea and sky’ and no truer words describe such a magical place. We went to a fabulous restaurant called Next2 which offers some of the finest Italian wines and local food. One of my other favourites is Lo Scoglio, a 15-minute water taxi ride away. The restaurant serves the very best simple, local dishes; my husband would travel to Positano just for their zucchini pasta. 

Further afield, I have an unwavering love for Mexico and its vibrant, artisanal culture. I love Cabo San Lucas in Baja California which has five-star hotels alongside the streets of San Jose del Cabo and acres of organic farmland. Our base tends to be the One&Only Palmilla. Known as the ‘grand dame of Los Cabos’, the hotel was built in 1956 and offers total privacy overlooking the Sea of Cortez. It’s not overly flash but it has this magic you can’t imitate without genuine authenticity and respect for the culture around you. 

For A Short Break Abroad, Where Would You Go?

Le Bristol in Paris is always a treat. Copenhagen is a contender thanks to its impeccable style and world-renowned restaurants. I’d stay at Hotel Sanders and escape to Amager beach during the summer months. I also can’t ignore my homeland of Ireland – Connemara in the west is stunning. 

Deplar Farm
Deplar Farm

Where Do You Suggest For A Really Special Family Holiday?

Mexico, followed by a road trip around California. Both cater to families and children in a different way to Europe – namely, larger properties and better facilities and on-site amenities. We recently stayed at Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito on the American riviera. The property has an adult-only pool, spa and oceanfront restaurant, as well as endless activities to keep little ones entertained. Six Senses Zighy Bay Resort is another great choice. 

What’s A Great Honeymoon Destination? 

Italy for sure. Top properties for newlyweds include Palazzo Avino in Ravello, Il Pellicano in Tuscany and Aman Venice. Further afield, Deplar Farm in Iceland was made for guests who want to experience unique adventure. Surrounded by towering snow-dusted mountains, this 18th-century sheep farm has been converted into a luxurious retreat in Iceland’s isolated far north. From heli-skiing in the winter months to kayaking, mountain biking, salmon fishing and hiking in the summer, there’s so much to do.  

Holidays Are Precious, So Which Hotel Groups Do You Count On To Always Gets It Right?

There are a few that are consistently excellent: Six Senses, One&Only, Rosewood, Capella and Soneva. All offer unrivalled locations, attention to detail and service. 

Bãi San Hô
Bãi San Hô

What Are Some Of The Best Luxury Touches You’ve Seen At A Hotel? 

The Acqualina Resort in Miami takes car service to the next level. Guests in the three-bedroom oceanfront suite have access to their own Rolls-Royce Ghost. If you want a private helicopter tour over Canada's largest and southernmost ice cap, Four Seasons Resort Whistler offers a guided tour in and around the ice caves. Other highlights include private ski lessons with an Olympic medallist skier at L'Apogée Courchevel in the Trois Vallées region, and private tours of some of Rome’s most famous sites at Rome  Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria – including the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica. 

For A Special Occasion, What Should You Ask For At A Top Property?

The concierge is your friend. They can pull all the strings from getting you a table at the hottest restaurant to curating a private excursion. 

What’s The Most Extravagant Thing A Client Has Requested?

We were asked to do a multi-island treasure hunt around the Maldives. I’ll just say there are 1,200 islands within the Maldives…

And The Best Hotel You’ve Been To Recently? 

I recently stayed at Six Senses Ibiza and was extremely impressed with its sustainable approach to architecture and design. It also strikes the perfect balance between relaxation and party – a spa before cocktails and a live DJ in the Beach Caves… The dream!


Rosewood Phuket
Rosewood Phuket

Which Airlines Do You Rate For Premium Travellers? 

Emirates and Qatar Airways. I was lucky enough to experience Emirates’ new A380 First class suite which was a phenomenal experience. Qatar Airways have also been rated one of the best airlines in the world for a reason. The extensive selection of flight routes, lavish lounges and impeccable service all help to impress discerning travellers. 

Can You Share Any Inside Travel Hacks?

Before you plan a holiday, it’s worth remembering that – following the pandemic – most high-end properties are still offering free cancellation until a few weeks prior to arrival. If you’re undecided on your holiday plans, lock in options now to secure early booking discounts, and if your plans change nearer the time you won’t be penalised. 

Are There Other Cool Ways To Travel If A Private Jet Isn’t On The Table?

Luxury trains are a fantastic way to explore and witness some spectacular scenery. Some of my favourites include the luxury London to Venice Orient Express, the captivating Deccan Odyssey journeys through India, and the striking Belmond Andean Explorer in Peru.

Belmond Cipriani
Belmond Cipriani

What Boat Or Yacht Companies Really Stand Out?

As well as Satori Yacht, Meridian Adventure Sail offers an ultra-exclusive private explorers’ club. Designed for discovering the most remote tropical marine landscapes, it sails across the jungle-draped islands of Raja Ampat, one of the most bio-diverse marine biomes on earth. 

Do You Have Any Travel Plans Coming Up? 

We’re going on a big family trip to Thailand for Christmas and New Year which I’m very excited about. We’re staying at Rosewood Phuket which has amazing facilities for all my kids. I’m excited to wake up on Christmas Day and have a margarita on the beach.

What Are Your Holiday Packing Essentials? 

I pack plenty of linen and simple, light dresses. I’m a bit of a swimwear and sunscreen addict. Bond Eye and Vitamin A for swimwear, and Sun Bum for all my family. I apply sun cream to my children with a bronzing brush – they love it and it doesn’t get all sticky. I never travel without a steamer (hotel laundry is eye watering) and melatonin if I’m travelling long haul. It’s the only thing that gets me through jetlag.

Finally, What’s On Your Bucket List? 

I’d love to take the Orient Express to Venice and then stay at the Belmond Cipriani. Also on my list is Dunton Hot Springs in Colorado, Aman Sveti Stefan in Montenegro and Nihi Sumba in Indonesia.

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