Culture Luxury Hotels

Edinburgh – Maldives – The world

Shown above is part of the last – copious – room service breakfast that Girlahead had at the lovely Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, at 4.30 a.m.! Such a nocturnal interaction is always an ultimate test for any luxury hotel or resort and this hotel, under GM Richard Cooke, passed with flying colours.  For those in UK right now, by the way, tomorrow is the Channel 5 television showing of another of the 60-minute programmes Inside The Balmoral – Scotland’s Finest Hotel. Yes, this stars Edinburgh’s 1902-vintage 189-room icon, city-centre directly above the main rail station.

The series is arguably the best, so far, of the rash of ‘let’s visit a hotel’ television programmes. It is mercifully devoid of any presenters, who typically egocentrically annoy with too many ‘wows’ and similar exclamations. This series, by contrast, could well be called ‘humility hospitality’. After each episode, Richard Cooke says online and direct-hotel-communication go through the roof.


Soneva’s philanthropist and sustainability-centric CEO Sonu Shivdasani organised a Ronaldinho football camp at Soneva Jani, in the Maldives. On top of organising and paying for a not-cheap trip to the resort, parents coughed up a further $1,500 for each kid to join a communal 90-minute soccer camp on 19th May. Income was 100% going to charity, split 50-50 to Ronaldinho and Soneva’s foundations. Girlahead hears that flew in from Dubai. ‘He landed at Malé Airport, but he is scared of small planes and refused to get on the Twin Otter, so unfortunately flew back to Dubai’.  Oh dear, what a lot of crisis management was subsequently required, with many small boys needing pacifying.


One section of travel, tourism and hospitality needs another, and vice versa. Julia Simpson, currently Chief of Staff at IAG and formerly with British Airways, and advisor to the UK Government, is incoming President and CEO of World Travel & Tourism Council WTTC, as of 15th August 2021. This bodes really well for WTTC.


Julia Simpson sounds like a people-person. Frankly EVERY leader in the world of luxury travel should be a people-person, and no-one exemplifies that better than Dorchester Collection’s Christopher Cowdray.  Hear him now, on podcast: