Q&As

Proust Travel Questionnaire: Jon Brown, Virgin Limited Edition

As managing director of Virgin Limited Edition — Sir Richard Branson’s extra special collection of hotels — Jon Brown is well traveled (24 countries so far). That’s not to say there hasn’t been the occasional snag, including one solo sail that resulted in a high-speed capsize, dislocated shoulder and 40-minute float a mile offshore. Herein, he recounts the good, the bad and the ugly of his life on the road.

Q The in-flight film you hope for:
A

Moonstruck or Where Eagles Dare. I’m not usually a Cher fan but Moonstruck never fails to make me laugh, cry and smile, all in 80 minutes. Where Eagles Dare is just a dip into typical Great War film of the past, and still stands up today as plausible story telling.

Q The last book you took on holiday:
A

I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. I’ve since recommended it far and wide, and have yet to hear a bad review.

One of the things I enjoy hearing the most about our properties are the comments about our teams. They really are the heart and soul of each property...
Q You tend to pack too many...:
A

Shirts, jumpers, socks and deodorants — all essentials!

Q Your idea of travel happiness:
A

Traveling so frequently for work, I’m forever finding new ways to try to avoid queues, so travel happiness for me is everything running smoothly and on time!

Q Your idea of travel misery:
A

No passport equals no hope! It’s the one thing I fret about the most, without it, I’m not going anywhere.

Q Your favorite quality in a hotel:
A

One of the things I enjoy hearing the most about our properties are the comments about our teams. They really are the heart and soul of each property, and so I can always appreciate this in turn wherever I am a traveler or a hotel guest. I will never forget the words an AA inspector once said to me having inspected the hotel I was running at the time: ‘Although everything isn’t quite perfect, love covers a multitude of sins.’ Whilst never a cop out for not getting it right, if people show spirit and humility you’ve done most of the hard work.

Q What do you appreciate most in a travel partner?
A

The same sense of urgency to get on with the journey, and the same passion for enjoying new experiences and culture.

Q What is your greatest extravagance while abroad?
A

Time! And whether it’s travel for pleasure or work, taking time to experience some of the magic our guests enjoy, and particularly seeing the work we do in the local communities we inhabit.

Q What is your favorite journey to take?
A

I’m lucky to travel out to Switzerland fairly frequently to The Lodge in Verbier. I have to say the train journey from Geneva Airport to Verbier itself still leaves me speechless. It’s not only a relaxing way to arrive, but a beautiful route around Lake Geneva approaching the mountains. The ride on the boat from Trellis Bay, Tortola to Necker Island is also pretty special.

Q What is your greatest fear abroad?
A

Not being able to contact my wife and children. We work in some remote parts of the world, but luckily we live in an age of modern conveniences and communication, so I’m grateful that I can still speak to them throughout my travels.

Q Which historical world traveler do you most identify with?
A

Steve Martin in Planes, Trains and Automobiles — let’s just say some journeys home from the Caribbean have been interesting. I’ll never forget one particular journey from Verbier to Derbyshire after some serious snow that took me from Verbier to Geneva, Lyon, Paris, London, Luton and finally Ashbourne (home).

Q What is the travel habit you most deplore in yourself?
A

Allowing myself to get tired when I don’t need to; on business trips my mind does overtime so I sleep less than I should. Then when on holiday, like most people, it takes a moment to switch into ‘relax’ mode. Luckily, on family holidays I’m surrounded by infectious energy, humor and the three wonderful ladies in my life, so this tends to be a momentary trait!

Q What is the travel habit you most deplore in others?
A

Often it’s the small gestures that make the world of difference — and these are often down to the fabulous hotel teams — so I can’t bear seeing people being rude to hotel staff, or dismissive of people just trying to do their job. It costs nothing to have good manners and smile back!

Q In what travel situations do you lie?
A

Probably to the second, third and fourth person who asks me if I’ve had a good journey, once I’ve arrived!

Q When and where were you last happiest?
A

Visiting The Pig near Bath with my wife in January. We’ve been to a couple of the litter and are always impressed with the service, food, beautiful rooms and fun vibe. It’s somewhere we’ll continue to go back to for all sorts of occasions. Aside from that I am lucky to be pretty content with my lot in life.

Q What is your most treasured take-along?
A

Apart from Mrs Brown and my girls, my iPad for favorite films, music, reading, travel research… and my specs!

Q What is your travel motto?
A

Sod it — let’s just give it a go!

Follow Virgin Limited Edition on Instagram @virginlimitededition.