The only investment in yourself that I believe genuinely rewards & repays you tenfold (aside from striving to improve your health) is world travel. As you know, I suffer greatly from wanderlust and find great pleasure in travel. I also indulge in sharing my own tales and learning about travel adventures of others.
Today's in-depth interview is with the lovely Alexandra D. Foster. This passionate creative force thrives under the belief that everyone should live life beautifully. How do you not love her already? Her professional path has taken her from Boston to Bloomingdales and ultimately on to London where she successfully launched a brand new range of furnishing fabrics for quintessential British brand Liberty.
As a globetrotter, home accessory designer and blogger extraordinaire I knew Alexandra would be the perfect fit for The Globetrotting Series we're launching here on Life in a Venti Cup. Throughout this series we will dive into the experiences of those who see continent-hopping as their God given purpose on this adorable blue marble of ours. Alexandra is such a person, and therefore having her kickoff the series is quite apropos.
Readers of Destinations Perfected are familiar with Alexandra's passion for seeing the world and savoring every far flung experience. Now it's time to familiarize yourself with her stunning silk pillow collection inspired by some of her favorite destinations.
Without further ado, let's dig in to her well-traveled journey and learn some of her favorite global hot spots and her best kept secrets for looking refreshed after a red-eye flight:
How many continents have you visited?
Four down, three to go.
When did you know you were hooked on travel?
The very first time I went abroad as a young teenager with my best friend’s family to their home in Ireland, I was hooked on travel. It seemed like such an adventure crossing the Atlantic and not being with my own parents, with whom I always traveled. That first trip opened my eyes to how much travel changes and challenges you. I ended up studying for three semesters abroad in college (London, Rome, Padova) after that.
Are you an on-the-fly adventurer or do you map out your full itinerary ahead of time? Why?
Both actually. If I am going to a place I have never been, I usually do a lot of research beforehand so that I can maximize my time there and make sure to hit all the hot spots. As a travel blogger, I feel it is my duty to report back to my readers on the best of the best that each location offers. However, this past January, I did actually touch down in London from Los Angeles (with a one day stopover at home in Boston), threw all my bathing suits out of my suitcase and re-packed all my heaviest winter clothes for a last minute trip the next day to my friend’s ski chalet in Megeve (French Alps). The four time zones in 96 hours made for some interesting jet lag!
Best repeat performance: what spot do you visit again & again?
Italy. I’ve lost track of how many times I have been, but it must be well over 30 times now. The food, fashion, art, culture, people watching, and stunning natural beauty are really unparalleled. I’ve also been going to St. Tropez in the south of France every summer for the past ten years. I’m a big fan of their local rosé wine and stunning sunsets.
Okay...tell us about the best trip you've ever taken...
I was just blown away by Marrakech. I stayed at La Mamounia and the Royal Mansour and honestly received celebrity status treatment at both properties. Even Yannick Alleno, the three Michelin star chef from Le Meurice in Paris, was on hand to cook me my own special meal at the restaurant at the Royal Mansour. From a design perspective, the level of detail, colors, patterns, craftsmanship, fabrics, furniture, marble, lighting, embroideries, traditional cedar wood, sculptured plasterwork, and carved ceilings are almost unfathomable. You could sit in one single room at either of these hotels for hours and still not be able to absorb everything around you. Meanwhile, the city of Marrakech itself engages absolutely all of your senses.
Do you seek out luxury or do you consider yourself a budget traveler?
During college I definitely put in my time traveling Europe with a backpack and bouncing from hostel to hostel (oh the stories!). Now I definitely seek out the more luxurious properties. That being said, I always book my flights and high-end hotels through discounted travel websites. I don’t believe in paying rack rate anywhere!
What personal travel indulgence do you consider an absolute necessity?
An excellent piece of luggage that will last you for years. My biggest indulgence is my orange Goyard Boeing carryon with hand-painted initials. It is the perfect size for a weekend away and fits in any overhead compartment.
Most memorable hotel room…
The corner room perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean and Mt. Vesuvius at Maison La Minervetta in Sorrento, Italy. All the walls facing the ocean are windows, so you feel like you are on a ship at sea. If you open the windows before you go to bed you can be lulled to sleep and woken up by the sound of waves lapping below.
Craziest travel tale…
I took a picture of a snake charmer in the Medina in Marrakech, which evidently you are supposed to give them money to do. He then proceeded to chase me halfway through the souk, threatening me by waving the snake in my face, until I deleted the picture from my camera. If you know how much I hate snakes, being chased with one was terrifying!
Best vacation meal ever...
The Restaurant at the Setai in South Beach, Miami. They’ve now sadly changed the concept, but at the time the menu items transported you through China, Thailand, Singapore, India, Indonesia and Malaysia. We ordered from a menu (and a kitchen) that was divided into five sections: The Wok, The Steam, The Tandoor, The Curries and The Rotisserie & Grill, each style of cookery prepared by its own individual chef. We ate Peking Duck, Dim Sum, and Indian curries with homemade naan bread, among other things, all in one sitting, finished off with a warm molten Valrhona chocolate cake. I’m still dreaming about that meal!
Most remote location you've ever visited...
A suburb of Taichung, Taiwan. Our factories were located there when I used to create new footwear styles for PUMA. It was the first time I felt like I was really very far from home.
What destination surprised you the most & why?
I think I was surprised by how tiny the living quarters are in cosmopolitan cities like Hong Kong and Tokyo in Asia. Given the population and the cost of living, families of four can be found living in 500 sq ft. Space is at such a premium that apartments are downright claustrophobic.
Do tell: what's your secret to smart packing?
Never pack anything that you are only going to wear once. Make sure you bring items of clothing that can work double duty and be worn often, either dressed up or dressed down. This will also help you lighten your load.
Tell us: what do you keep in your carryon?
My iPhone, professional Nikon camera, a book, Louis Vuitton epi leather passport wallet, water bottle, Carmex lip balm, Evian facial spray, Clarins moisturizer, and a cashmere scarf for when the plane gets chilly.
Advice for others eager to dog ear their passport:
You don’t always have to go to far-flung destinations; sometimes we overlook the beauty in our own backyards. Spend time being a tourist in your own city, or get in the car and take a long day or weekend trip to a part of your state or country you have never seen. My friends in London seem to hop on a plane almost every weekend, even though there is so much to explore right here in England.
Tell me about your ultimate dream trip:
I am working on an interior design project right now in the Seychelles, off the coast of Africa, and can’t wait to visit. Prince William and Kate Middleton spent their honeymoon there and, from everything I’ve read and researched about this archipelago in the Indian Ocean, it seems simply idyllic.
Where are you off to next?
During the last two weeks of August my factory closes in Italy and most people are on holiday in London/Europe, so it’s the only downtime I get all year. I’m heading to my family’s beach house in the picturesque New England seaside town of Rockport, Massachusetts. It is the perfect place to unwind and chill out. Come October I am hoping to do a tour of the Middle East.
That concludes our interview, lovely readers! Learn more about Alexandra and her adventures via her boutique and her lovely blog. Until next time, keep those passports active and stay curious. The world is a big place and we should all strive to explore it far and wide.