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MAN ON THE MOVE
Brad Cocks 33, Vice President Communications, KiwiCollection.com
Well Travelled. This expat Canadian is going places – lots and lots and lots of places.
Words: Michael Pickening Photo: Steve Baccon
In one trip I will go from Shanghai to Singapore to London to St Tropez, Puerto Rico, Vancouver, Los Angeles and back… Qantas like me very much.”
Which is just as well for Brad Cocks, who travels the world around half the year in his job with KiwiCollection.com – “Hotels for people who care where they stay” – a site that reviews and books some of the most luxurious and unusual hotels on the planet.
He’s also iconic Australian designer’s Colette Dinnigan’s other half, but more of that later.
Cocks is a Canadian who landed on these shores as a surfing-mad teenager, having booked a flight to Sydney on his father’s frequent flyer card… without the old man’s knowledge. He set off on a cross-country journey, taking in everything from Bells Beach to Magnetic Island, returning home with the dream of moving down under for good.
“My mother tells the story of how she bought me a desk to study on when I was nine years old,” Cocks recalls. “it had a map of the world on it and in the bottom right-hand corner was a pink island Australia, and I just became completely fixated on it. That led to the ocean, and that lead to surfing.”
Cocks studied advertising and marketing in Sydney and New York, but on graduating he discovered he was five points short of being able to emigrate here. Instead he started with an agency in Vancouver, Element, who specialise in public affairs and advocacy campaigns. Cocks soon found himself working for the likes of Warren Buffett, David Suzuki and Bill Clinton. It was in Vancouver he befriended Philippe Kjellgren, a Swede attempting to create “the world’s most trusted booking resource for the world’s best hotels” and was offered the job of starting Kiwicollection.com’s Asia-Pacific operations from Sydney.
“Travel and Tourism is the biggest industry in the world,” says Cocks. “It doesn’t matter who you meet, in all walks of life travel agencies were born. The Net flourished for travel because you could spend your personal time to research destinations, activities, the hotels, the settings and whatever else appeals to you before making a decision, rather than trusting a travel agent who may never have been there or is selling it to you because they get a commission.”
Criteria for inclusion of a hotel on KiwiColllection.com, says Cocks, brings those included the precious commodity of credibility.
“Firstly, you can’t buy your way into the collection as we don’t charge hotels to take part,” her says. “Secondly we actually go and visit the hotels ourselves to rate them under a 10-point criteria that includes such things as location, rooms, F&B and even the ‘wow’ factor. Lastly, we know the general managers and owners personally, so can be more effective if a VIP has a special request”
Now firmly established in Sydney – “I feel more at home in Australia than ever did in Canada” Cocks lives with designer Colette Dinnigan and her daughter Estella. Recently thay appeared in Harper’s Bazaar pictured in the garden of their Paddington home, while Cocks has also invested at Palm Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
“I knew of her but I didn’t really know how big her reputation was,” says Cocks of meeting Dinnigan. “It was coincidental that the PR firm I used for the site also represented Colette. We met at a function they organized and became friends and then… we sort of become something a lot more.
“Now I’m day to day living in Sydney with Colette and Estella, juggling family life with work and being a role model for a little six-year-old girl… it’s a big challenge.”
A tall, well turned out man, Cocks says he has to work at his personal style.
“When you come to a place as stylish as Sydney, you quickly take note,” he recalls. “Nowadays I tend to keep away from larger department stores and bigger brands – it suits my personality more, being able to tailor things.”
Now working on video content for Kiwicollection.com and even tinkering on a possible travel shot pilot, Cocks says his relentless and widespread travels have taught him the value of home and hearth, a swell as helped him redefine the very term, ‘luxury’.
“You can become a bit jaded by all the travel and your personal meaning of luxury becomes more domestic, being with friends or just having time to yourself. That time is precious to me now.”