armchair traveler diaries Armchair Traveler Diaries: Terry Holmes’ Dispatch from London

Armchair Traveler Diaries: Terry Holmes’ Dispatch from London

The executive director of Red Carnation Hotels and former managing director of The Ritz, The Stafford, and Dukes, London is rediscovering classic films, reading up on his heroes, and making fortunate finds in his wine cellar.

What is life like for you right now?
I’m based in London at Red Carnation Hotels’ head office in Grosvenor Place, facing the gardens of Buckingham Palace. With London in lockdown it’s all very quiet and quite surreal. 
Where are you working these days?
I’m extremely lucky and have a wonderful home office, overlooking our garden, and can watch my grandson, William, playing with our two dogs on the lawn. I’m fortunate to have my extended family all under one roof and so I count my blessings every day.
What’s your typical day like?
Certainly like no other I’ve had before! I get dressed and walk to my office, albeit not in a three-piece suit. We have a number of Zoom calls, keeping in touch with our travel advisors and building on past relationships and planning for the day when we can reopen our hotels. One of my beliefs has always been never waste a good crisis as there’s usually an opportunity lurking somewhere. Once the sun has gone down, I do spoil myself with a glass of Middleton Irish Whiskey, which was a present from the team at Ashford Castle.
What do you do to stay sane?
The wonders of modern communication are a godsend. I’m swapping stories and sharing memories with my many, many friends in the travel community.
What are you watching, reading, listening to? 
I have two books on the go about my great heroes, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher. Two people that the world could do with right now. I’ve also been watching movies with my grandson, William, who has introduced me to a whole new genre. I have thoroughly enjoyed Captain America and Iron Man! I’ve also re-watched the classic film, The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, which was filmed in and around Ashford Castle. It’s a great love story set in Ireland with the obligatory pub fight. Just occasionally, to tease myself, I open my atlas to plan my next trip.

On Holmes’ list: The Caribbean island of Tobago. 
On Holmes’ list: The Caribbean island of Tobago. 
Photo by Getty Images
What travel plans have you put on hold for the pandemic?
Recently, I was due to go to Tobago, part of the Caribbean I had not yet visited. Anyone who follows me on Facebook knows that instead I enjoyed my fake holiday (where, although I went around the world in photos, I never actually left my garden) almost as much. Fortunately, the weather in England has been spectacular. My philosophy has always been, life is what you make of it. 
Where do you want to go when travel is possible again?
At the top of my list is our newest Virtuoso property, Xigera Safari Lodge, which is located in the watery wilds of Botswana’s Okavango Delta and is due to open later in the year. I genuinely believe this is going to be the most “must go-to” destination in the world.
The part of your hotels you most like to show travelers.
One of the joys of being a hotelier is to entertain guests on property. I love introducing them to our incredible staff. Anybody can build a hotel, but it’s the people who work in them that make a place special. All of our hotels are fortunate in having wonderful bars and exquisite restaurants. I’ve always appreciated how fortunate I am to meet so many interesting and well-traveled people from around the world. I truly believe if you stop learning, you stop living.
A favorite travel memory that’s top of mind right now?
Being on one the first planes back into New York City after 9/11 and going on a “hug trip” around America to reconnect with my great friends in the travel industry.
Your best feel-good moment since all this started? 
Going down to my wine cellar to find I had enough stock to outlast the quarantine.

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