Monday, May 20, 2013

Expert Tips: Katie Goldstein's Luxury Travel Advice

Katie Goldstein
Katie Goldstein works by day as a lawyer but by night she's an avid traveler who shares all of her latest and greatest experiences on her blog, Travelingpanties. Katie chronicles her trips to exotic locales like Cambodia and Laos on Forbes, Fodors and SheKnows, and scours New York City for the next hotspot in her free time. For her interview with Style Jaunt, she's sharing her favorite destinations and hotels plus her tips on what makes a 5-star hotel worth your hard-earned money. 

First, I have to ask - what is the story behind your blog name, Traveling Panties?
Well, Travelingpanties is actually my second venture. I started it after I already established Smartypanties, which is my lifestyle blog that came from the idea of living life in a smart and balanced way: get designer clothes, but get them at the sample sale. When I started travel writing, I came up with Travelingpanties so my readers would know that the two blogs were related.

You're a lawyer by day. What inspired you to start a travel blog?
Traveling has always been my passion and I found that I was bursting with information I wanted to share from my trips - the good, the bad and the ugly. I would find some hotels so impressive that I wanted everyone to know. I would think, Wow, this hotel is so much better than another that costs the same. I felt like I had a duty to share that.

Certain hidden gems, like restaurants or a tiny wine bar I found, I wanted people to know about them. And on occasion, when something was so awful, I didn’t want anyone else wasting money on it. So I started pitching articles to Fodor’s, Forbes and SheKnows.com. Once they got published I thought, Hmm...I really need a place to share all of my opinions. Plus, it motivates me to travel even more! It’s a vicious cycle.

The Four Seasons Koh Samui
Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Resorts
What is your favorite thing about travel?
There are so many! One is definitely experiencing luxurious accommodations. It’s not vacation for me unless I’m staying somewhere better than home. I also love sampling local fare and hitting up the area hotspots. I make sure to do lots of research before I go so I don’t end up at any tourist traps. Last but not least, I love learning about the history of every place I visit. My husband and I always print out articles and read them together on the plane.

What makes a 5-star hotel worth the splurge?
There are a few things. First I would say having a helpful and hooked-up staff who can get you into the hottest club, restaurant or show is really important, especially if you’re visiting a big city. For me personally, it’s all about the little things - the extras that make you feel like you’re being pampered. For example, I love how at the Four Seasons they are always spoiling you by the pool with snacks and goodies. I’ve been at hotels that offer mini-massages and manicures poolside for no cost. And call me crazy but I am a sucker for comfy slippers and a big, squishy robe.

What is your absolute favorite destination? What about hotel?
It’s so hard to choose! I’ve been to so many amazing places but I’ll try to narrow it down to a few. My favorite urban destination (besides New York) has to be Paris and the best hotel is Le Meurice. It’s absolutely stunning. Make sure to sign up for any activity the hotel is hosting in the Le Belle Etoile suite (where Beyonce and Jay-Z stay). You won’t regret it!

If you’re looking for an exotic destination I'd say it’s a tie between The Nam Hai in Hoi An, Vietnam and The Four Seasons Chiang Mai Hotel & Resort in Thailand. These are probably the most over-the-top, luxurious properties I have found anywhere in the world. If you’re looking for pure island luxury, my pick is The Four Seasons Koh Samui, also in Thailand. Every bungalow has its own infinity pool overlooking the Gulf of Siam.

One & Only The Palm in Dubai
Photo courtesy of One & Only Hotels
Which destination are you dying to visit?
I am dying to visit South Africa and Dubai!

Which hotel are you dying to check into?
The One & Only The Palm in Dubai. I have heard incredible things.

You're based in New York City. What are some of your favorite hotels in Manhattan?
Manhattan has so many incredible properties and it really depends what you’re looking for. I always love a Four Seasons so I’m partial there. After that I would say The Plaza Hotel or The Waldorf Astoria if you’re looking for a classic New York experience. If you want to be downtown, I personally love the Tribeca Grand Hotel, which is a more boutique luxury experience.

Keep up with Katie's escapades on Travelingpanties, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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