What does travel mean to you?
Travel for me is really the chance to explore and experience other cultures. Here in Dubai, you have the opportunity to meet so many different people from all over the world and it makes you realise how much there is to see.
Have your travel patterns changed since you moved to Dubai?
Not so much, though now I tend to go back to the UK a lot less, usually for special occasions, and my husband and I travel to other places more often. During the summer we venture east – I am in love with Asia and there’s so much to see. Then during winter we go somewhere where it’s cold and festive.
What’s one place in your home country that you think people should visit more often and why?
This is an interesting one for me because, growing up outside of the UK for so long, I tend to consider Oman my home. I think it should be on everyone’s bucket list. It has idyllic beaches, adventure activities and a strong cultural heritage – there’s something for everyone.
Describe your ideal holiday.
My ideal holiday would be to travel somewhere in Asia or Africa for a couple of weeks, moving from place to place, sampling the food, seeing the sights and staying in some lovely hotels along the way.
Where are the best places you’ve been and why?
Madikwe Reserve, South Africa. We stayed at Sanctuary Makanyane recently and the entire experience was amazing. The lodge itself was beautiful, the suites are glass-fronted and overlook the river where you can see elephants bathing and playing. The food was fantastic, three-course meals at dinner using local flavours and the option to try game meat.
Another memorable place is Marciac in the South-West of France. Every year, during summer, this small, sleepy village comes alive when the Jazz in Marciac festival takes place. The usually quiet town square is heaving with visitors from all over the globe and stalls selling French delicacies.
Which travel destinations are on your bucket list and why?
1) The Northern Lights in Iceland or Sweden. I have this magical experience pictured in my mind and I’d like to see what it would be like to stay at an ice hotel.
2) South Korea, specifically Jeju Island, just off the coast is firmly on the list. It looks spectacular! It’s, historically, a matriarchal society home to the Haenyeo women who are free diving women. The name means ‘sea women.’ I’d love to meet them.
Who do you typically travel with?
My husband, Tom, is my partner in crime. Luckily we enjoy the same types of holiday and exploring new places with him is a big part of the experience.
How much or little attention do you pay to cost when you travel?
We travel a decent amount so cost is important to us. As long as the price reflects the quality we are happy to pay for it. However, we are a bit spoilt and do err on the side of luxury – there’s nothing better than an oversized hotel bed.
What’s a gem you’ve discovered in the GCC region?
Ras Al Jinz in Oman. It’s also known as ‘Turtle Beach’: you can get up early and watch the turtles hatch and make their way to the sea; it’s also a quiet, unspoiled part of the country.
City or countryside?
We don’t usually get a chance to take long holidays, so I would say cities. It’s ideal to be able to experience so much in one place and cities give you a flavour of a country or region so you know whether you would like to come back and explore more.
What are your must-take travel items?
My Lonely Planet guides for those little places you would otherwise miss. The maps are very handy if you don’t want
to use roaming on your mobile.
What’s the most important element of a holiday for you?
The destination! We have so many places we want to visit that we try to make every trip memorable. We like to find a balance fitting in as much as realistically possible whilst still enjoying our time away.
Where’s the last place you went on holiday?
In February we went to South Africa and Mauritius. It was our honeymoon and my first safari. It was incredible. Usually I like to plan every aspect of our trips but this time we used Scott Dunn. They create tailor-made holidays; an Africa ‘expert’ planned the trip for us based on our requirements. All we had to do was turn up and enjoy!
What trips have you planned so far?
This year we have been invited to a wedding in Santorini. We are looking at taking a few days in Athens and then hopping over to Santorini.
What’s your best holiday memory?
We got delayed going to Mauritius earlier this year due to a cyclone and we were stuck in Johannesburg. I wouldn’t say this was the best holiday, but I was pleasantly surprised. We ended up staying at The Residence in Houghton, round the corner from Nelson Mandela’s house. The hotel itself was so interesting. It is a luxury boutique hotel with a quirky feel and our room had it’s own basement sauna. We hadn’t considered Johannesburg as a destination we wanted to visit but we definitely want to go back after that.
Tell us, what are your top holiday moments?
1) Climbing Mt Batur, an active volcano, in Bali. The sunrise over the sea to Lombok are spectacular and we had breakfast cooked over volcanic steam!
2) Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam. We rented an apartment with friends along Keizergracht, just a short walk away from Anne Frank’s house. At midnight we ventured out into the streets to join hundreds of people celebrating; everyone was so happy.
3) Exploring Egypt. When I was a child I loved learning about the ancient Egyptians. It was surreal to finally be there standing in front of The Sphinx of Giza and the pyramids witnessing something built so long ago. I could spend days in the Museum of Cairo.