Kathryn Brown founded the healthy retreat company, in:spa retreats (www.inspa-retreats.com/) in 2003 after a 10-year career in the City. It was while searching for a restorative break to escape the stress of work that she realised there was a gap in the market for a luxury holiday that combined healthy food with exercise, yoga and personal training. Since then, the company has launched two other brands – fitscape (www.fitscape.co.uk) and destination yoga (www.destinationyoga.co.uk) – offering fitness and yoga holidays at beautiful locations.
Cheapflights: What do you always do when you travel – any routine procedures?
Kathryn Brown: I have a standard packing list on my Blackberry, which I stick to faithfully for all trips so I never forget the essentials – chargers, adapters, camera, sunglasses, etc – and I always check in online where possible. Taking a little bit of time to get organised in advance of a trip can ultimately save a lot of time and hassle at the airport or on the trip.
CF: What is your travel pet peeve?
KB: It has to be queues at airports – managing time before catching a flight can be stressful, but you can find yourself arriving 2 hours before a flight and spending at least an hour of that queuing to check in/drop bags/go through security.
CF: What is your favourite kind of trip (preferences, romantic, city, beach etc)?
KB: I love them all! In the last year I’ve been lucky enough to have had a city trip to New York, a ski holiday in Switzerland, a yoga holiday in India and a romantic beach holiday in Croatia – however I have to say that my favourite kind has to involve some form of activity or exercise such as hiking, skiing or yoga, as that is both physically and mentally restorative.
CF: Best destination you have ever been to and why?
KB: I had an amazing trip to Peru which included walking the Inca Trail and arriving at sunrise at Machu Picchu. The scenery and sites were breathtaking.
CF: Where in the world offers the best value for money?
KB: India or Thailand, probably – where you can stay on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world in a simple beach hut for next to nothing and see the most amazing sunsets every evening.
CF: Where would you pay to stay? Is there anywhere you think offers great value and a great deal?
KB: As with the answer above – I’d far rather stay somewhere more basic but in a natural spot of great beauty – you can’t really put a price on that.
CF: What is the best airport you have flown from and is there a tip to make this airport experience great?
KB: I love the little airport on Koh Samui – you’re immediately greeted with a welcoming smile by the local staff, and the airport itself is so authentically Thai in design – thatched roofs, palm tree pillars and bamboo rather than soulless concrete. You immediately know you’re in a tropical resort. When you’re leaving, the experience is efficient and speedy and the service great.
CF: When you fly, is there a tip you can share to make the experience a great one?
KB: To the extent you can, make sure you’re equipped with your own entertainment (books, music, movies) and I’m sorry to say, food. There’s still a lot of room for improvement in airline food!
CF: As a travel specialist, what’s the most important piece of writing advice you’d give?
KB: Take as many photos as you can – and talk to as many people as you can for their opinions and advice on great places to visit. Plan your trip as thoroughly as possible before you travel – there’s nothing more frustrating than to return having missed something you should have seen.
CF: At one point in your life, you will have to sit in the middle seat when you fly. If you have two people next to you, who do you most want to share a long haul with and whom would you least? And why.
KB: I have to say my partner, as hopefully we’d be travelling somewhere gorgeous on the long haul flight together. Travelling next to someone who drinks too much and then tries to chat you up when you’re trapped has to be the worst!
CF: If there was one travel nightmare trip, where would it be to and what would it involve?
KB: One of my worst experiences involved my loss of bags on a 2 week holiday – not only did I not get them at all during my trip (despite daily phone calls to the airline), but it took the airline three weeks to get the bags to me after I returned to the UK.