The art of travel with Geraldine Dreiser
But first, the beach
YTL Hotels has recently launched a Singapore-based portal, making it the first market-specific site. Why was there a need for this?
Singaporean travellers are really discerning; they want luxury and they're also looking for a really meaningful getaway at great value. We felt that content could be better tailored to this market, so having a Singapore-based portal could help us bridge that gap, instead of driving them to our generic homepage.
You're a mum of two children under the age of two. What's your advice when it comes to travelling with kids?
I find that when they're so young, road trips are easy because they sleep well in the car. They also need many things when they travel, such as bottles, diapers, and bottle steamers, which makes lugging it on a plane ridiculous. With a car, you can pack as much as you want without a baggage limit.
What does a dream holiday for you look like?
It starts with leaving the kids at home! I'm kidding. I mean, they're handful but if we do have to bring them, I'd go somewhere with a lot of space — not just for them, but for me. Kuala Lumpur (KL) is a city that is fast-paced and busy all the time, so the last thing I want to do is go to another city. I just want to go hiking or swim out to sea, or look at the mountains. Nothing spells a break like something so different from your everyday life. We love Pangkor Laut Resort — being a private island, you've got two beaches to choose from and a huge amount of wildlife to enjoy.
The most unusual hotel you've ever stayed at?
It's this ice hotel in Switzerland — I don't recall the name, but they construct this hotel every winter out of ice. You have to wear snow shoes and trek to the hotel because it's in some remote location in the mountains. It was very memorable, but very cold. I had to sleep in my entire ski suit!
The most underrated destination you've travelled to?
Tembok in Bali. Everyone knows Seminyak, and Ubud is also having its day and modelling after Seminyak. Where do you go to really just get away? Tembok offers something different — and so special — when it comes to nature and culture.
What's your routine like when you check into a hotel?
Check in, drop my bags and hit up the beach. I don't waste any time. If it's for work, I make a beeline to for the restroom as I have a thing for them — to me, it's what makes the room. How it's planned out, and if it's thoughtful to the guests' needs...
Do you have a favourite restroom, then?
The Gainsborough Bath Spa has a really unique restroom as you can get thermal waters in your own bathtub. It's the only hotel in the UK with its own thermal pool. As such, guests can enjoy the healing powers of thermal water, not just in the basement, but in two of the suites in the hotel.
What's your must-try restaurant in Southeast Asia?
KL has the best hawker food. I'm a convert, except for bak kut teh, which I still love in Singapore. If anyone is ever up there, hit up Restaurant Yut Kee. It's a two-minute walk from Hotel Stripes, which we opened early this year. It's this coffee shop that's been around for ages, and is currently run by the next generation (i.e. the son of the owner). They serve traditional toast and eggs and that sort of thing, but you have to have the Hainanese pork chop — and be sure to order it the night before. It is absolutely amazing.
What are you reading at the moment?
I'm reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. I don't particularly subscribe to it, but I'm just curious to find out what it's all about.
Where should we go on our next holiday?
I really think Pangkor Laut Resort is wonderful for a private island experience — I love the wildlife and multitude of activities available. If you're not just wanting to lie on the beach, you can go on a guided hike through the jungle. There are also cooking classes and a whole culinary experience that we offer. You'll return to normal life recharged and very happy.