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About Kiwi Collection

The New York Times United States, March 26, 2012


Sometimes All the Rooms Look the Same



BECAUSE I travel so much for Kiwi Collection I have learned not to bring a lot of clothing and other things with me. I can make do with a carry-on bag, even if I’m gone for more than a week or so. My itinerary is such that I jump around either from country to country or to different locations within the same country to review hotels. If my checked bag got lost, no one would ever find me, and I really don’t have time to go buy new clothes if my bag got lost.

Q. How often do you fly for business?

A. About 200 days a year, all over the globe.

Q. What’s your least favorite airport?

A. Manila. It’s always chaotic.

Q. Of all the places you’ve been, what’s the best?

A. Madagascar. The country is gorgeous and the people are kind and incredibly gentle.

Q. What’s your secret airport vice?

A. I buy all the travel magazines, wind up carrying them around and never open them.

Like most frequent travelers, I’m always rushing. I was in the south of Spain, headed to one of the most important meetings of my life with a potential investor. I was about 30 minutes behind schedule, but was thrilled when I immediately got a cab. I climbed in, went to sit down, and immediately fell through the seat to the floor. That was embarrassing.

But more embarrassing was the fact that as I was falling I heard a sound no business traveler who travels light ever wants to hear: the sound of a pair of dress pants ripping wide open. Let’s just say I could feel some air hitting areas that are best left covered.

I couldn’t cancel the meeting. It was too important to the business, and I didn’t have time to go buy another pair of dress pants. I had the cab take me back to the hotel. I had to wrap my suit jacket around my waist to hide the damage as I made my way back to my room.

I put on a pair of jeans, which were the only other pants I had.  Normally, this would have been fine. But the investor’s assistant, a very proper British gentleman who worked with the man for decades, told me once that he never saw his employer in anything but a three-piece suit. 

I had to explain my situation to my potential investor, who was indeed dressed very formally. Fortunately, my little story broke the ice, and everything went really well. Since then, I have never worn a suit when meeting with this gentleman, but I do carry another pair of dress pants.

Working on a plane isn’t for me. This is my alone time, and I really relish it so much that I don’t care if a flight is turbulent. I think it’s kind of exciting.

I have routine when I fly and rarely deviate from it. I watch a movie and then sleep. I don’t care what’s showing, I’ll watch it. I’ve even gotten emotionally invested in cartoons or movies I can’t understand, including Asian films, with no subtitles. I follow along as best as I can just so I can see how something ends, which is kind of ridiculous, but I enjoy it.  

It can be tough to be in so many different places and hotel rooms during one trip. Things start to look alike.

I was in London, headed to my hotel room. I had my card key in hand, but the door was slightly ajar. I walked in about five feet or so, looked at the bed, and saw a large lump, which turned out to be a very large man, asleep, in the bed.

I was just about ready to scream, but fortunately, in those few seconds I got my bearings, really looked around, and realized the décor of the room was different from the room in which I was staying. I was on the wrong floor.

I slowly backed out, hoping the man in the bed wouldn’t wake up. He didn’t, which was great for me — and for him. And by the way, I did give the hotel a good review.


By Philippe Kjellgren, as told to Joan Raymond. E-mail:

Also, read this article from



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