Virtuoso Life July 2018 Why I Travel: Tree Lockie

Why I Travel: Tree Lockie

Tree Lockie visiting Indian schoolgirls.
Tree Lockie visiting Indian schoolgirls.
Photo by Tree Lockie
Tree Lockie grabs people’s attention wherever she goes. “Red-carpeted” is the phrase she uses, as in, “I got red-carpeted in the UAE and soon enough found myself at the most exquisite polo match at The St. Regis.” At 73, she’s tall and willowy (her look explains why nobody uses her given name, Teri) and inevitably at the center of conversation. “Fascinating strangers excite me almost as much as new places,” says Lockie, a Los Angeles landscape and interior designer and retired health care administrator. Louisville-based Virtuoso travel advisor Eleanor Flagler Hardy ensures Lockie’s adventures remain A-list worthy.

I started seeing the world when I got sober and turned 40.

I was fleetingly married for eight years in the ’60s and have been single since, allowing me the freedom to follow my travel fantasies.

My most recent trip was perfection.

I was reading one of my decorator magazines and saw a picture of the Louvre Abu Dhabi and thought, “I want to see it, smell it, feel it.” Eleanor knows I love art, but also fashion and animals and adventures, so she had me sitting on top of the world at the Burj Khalifa. I kayaked in mangroves. I did two different falconry experiences and flopped myself on the floor at the Saluki Center in Dubai, surrounded by five saluki puppies to get my puppy-breath fix. Even in my elegant Bedouin Suite at the Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa, a gazelle came up and drank out of my pool, where I enjoyed a rare nude swim with complete privacy. 

Tree Lockie at the Al Maha resort in Dubai.
Tree Lockie at the Al Maha resort in Dubai.
Photo by Tree Lockie

When you’re on a private tour, anything’s possible.

Eleanor gave my guides carte blanche to do whatever I wanted to do. We were at an animal-trading festival in Punjab, and I said I wanted to ride a camel, and I did. I asked to join schoolgirls competing in a game of tug-of-war, and my guide made it happen. I gave lessons on how to do fingernail gels and modeling poses in private homes because I thought it would be interesting. People gathered and applauded me at the end. We were in the bowels of these ancient homes in Varanasi, but it felt perfectly safe because I knew I could trust these guides.

In Bali, I go to art venues or private gardens.

I’m not a vacation beach stroller. After all, I live in Los Angeles, for God’s sake.

Eating healthy on the road?

It’s simple: a sumptuous hotel breakfast with an oatmeal base and lots of fruit. During the day, it’s fruits and vegetables and plenty of hydrating tea or water.

My most transformative moment in travel happened while shopping in the world’s largest mall in Dubai in a stunningly chic boutique.

I put on a hijab and an abaya to buy, and, for the first time, and in only about three seconds, all my preconceptions and judgments about women wearing these all-black robes vanished. I immediately felt elegant and empowered and connected to the women around me. I could feel my mind changing.

Bali serenity. 
Bali serenity. 
Photo by Roberto Nistri/Alamy

When I got to that St. Regis polo match, a lot of people were getting frisky with their fancy Champagne.

Eleanor had me seated at table no. 1, where they knew to pour me the most delicious pink bubbly that was alcohol free. I was in heaven!

My friends from Bangalore, whom I met on my first train trip in India, are coming to stay with me in L.A.

They do BMW rallies, so we’re going to the Petersen Automotive Museum, which is visually stunning. Another must is the Getty in Brentwood. And we’ll go to Malibu if they insist. If they want to go to Disneyland, I’ll indulge them by paying for an Uber to send them there on their own.

Where next?

Romania, Hungary, and Poland. I’d like to go to Saudi Arabia, now that it’s opening up. My dream is to get to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. I want to sleep in a yurt and ride a yak and take the Trans-Siberian Railway from somewhere to nowhere.

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