Why I Travel: Virtuoso client Mark Burrows

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Australia's Great Ocean Road.

Why I Travel

Virtuoso traveler Mark Burrows talks favorite adventures and travel tips.

Mark Burrows sailing off Portofino, Italy.
Horseback riding in Patagonia's Torres del Paine National Park.

Interviewed by David Hochman
Mark Burrows explores the globe with a carry-on and riding boots in tow.
Eleven million: That’s a conservative estimate of the frequent-flyer miles Mark Burrows has racked up over the years. As one of Australia’s leading investment bankers, Burrows, now in his 70s and still working, decades ago mastered the long haul from Sydney to financial centers in New York, London, and beyond. He enjoys a good holiday too, and entrusts the finer details of travel to his longtime Sydney- based Virtuoso advisor, Fay Cohen. “I think I must have underwritten her business,” Burrows jokes.
Travel is essential to what I do. As a banker, as a chairman, as someone with diverse passions, I need to be in many places. In the past year, I’ve been to Argentina, ridden horses in Patagonia, holidayed in France for a couple of weeks, and visited Paris lots of times. Holland, China, New York, Mount Desert Island in Maine – I tend not to stay put.
Even if I’m flying first class, I never get to an airport with less than an hour and a half to spare. Time eases stress.
Underpacking is also essential. People need to understand there’s something called laundry. If the hotel laundry is too expensive, go around the corner. Or better yet, buy clothing where you are. It’s cheaper than food in most places.
My packing list for a week or four: I carry a suit and one of those wonderful Japanese quilted jackets you can roll up into a ball. I have five business shirts, two casual shirts, a pair of slacks, and a few essential items. The only thing that’s extra in my carry-on are my riding trousers. I put another, smaller bag on top with an extra pair of shoes and my riding boots. That’s it!
I’m not like my children. I don’t ‘Google up’ where I’m going. Sure, I can check the weather myself, but otherwise I’m in the hands of people in the know.
Years ago Fay said, ‘There’s a place you need to go called the Atacama.’ I asked, ‘Where the hell is that?’ It happens to be the most remote, hottest, highest, driest desert on earth. I said to my secretary, ‘Clearly we haven’t paid Fay’s bills. She’s trying to kill me!’ But after one holiday there, I went back again. One day you go through a tunnel built a thousand years ago by convicts, another you see the amingos, another you see the cacti. I went to the Galápagos and saw the blue-footed boobies – they’re OK, but the Atacama is truly a spiritual place.
I’m a widower and now have two grown-up married children. In the early days, just after my wife died, that’s when I really connected with Fay. She was the woman who first sent me to Africa. I had these two young teenage girls, and Fay organized an incredible safari to Kenya and Tanzania. It was a restorative trip and the beginning of a love affair with Africa.
I sometimes forget that Australia is a great place to travel, with so much diversity: Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, Tasmania. You have the spirituality of the center at Uluru and in The Kimberley, but you also have the most livable cities on earth. Tourists can participate in life’s nest just by walking through Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, or Adelaide.
One of these days, I’m going to sit and watch the silverback gorillas in Rwanda. Now that would be a remarkable experience.
I also want to do a section of the Silk Road. I’m a dendrologist and a gardener. A great deal of what you see in gardens in America – dogwoods, rhododendrons, azaleas – they all come from China, and I’d like to see them in their native setting.
Read more stories from real Virtuoso travelers.
Originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Virtuoso Traveler.