Juliet Kinsman was the founding editor of Mr And Mrs Smith, is the author of Louis Vuitton London City Guide and is a reviewer for lots of newspapers and magazines. She is, in my view, the queen of travel and has recently created Bouteco, which is a not for profit social enterprise celebrating stories of sustainability from hip hotels with a heart. The aim is to help luxury and boutique hotels to make a positive change to their communities and the travel industry. In true Juliet style, this is a forward thinking, unique and much needed twist on travel.
This interview with Juliet gives you an insight into her favourite retreats in the world, how she recovers from jet lag and she also talks about her next adventure with her 9 year old daughter.
Thanks so much for asking me to do this! As an author of Louis Vuitton London City Guide and reviewer for lots of newspapers and magazines, I’m lucky to visit lots of spas but now it’s the ones that demonstrate sustainability that really get my attention. Having been founding editor of Mr & Mrs Smith, I’ve set up Bouteco.co with the aim of creating a movement to inspire positive change, through stories of sustainability specifically from stylish boutique hotels and raise awareness with consumers and improve hotel and spa practices. I'm not doing this because smart tourism and intelligent luxury is a trend/fashionable but because it’s the future — well, it needs to be. In terms of which hotels people choose and how they are run… For the sake of the environment and future generations.
1) Juliet, where is your favourite spa in the whole world?
The challenge here is the word “spa” – because some of the most incredible retreats I’ve experienced haven’t been conventional spas. I’ve enjoyed some excellent kundalini retreats in Ibiza thanks to Sam Kankanamge a cranial osteopath who ran what was called Breath of Life and now it’s called Sen Wellness Centre. My sister has been a kundalini instructor for years and I’ve always really loved the energy of this kind of yoga. I thought I’d hate the chanting but I love the kundalini songs; I still cringe a bit at cacao rituals and the like, but I try and keep an open mind.
Vana in India is resolute in its refusal to be labelled “spa” as they consider spiritual development to be at the heart of what they do here in their holistic retreat Himalayan foothills and its founder Vana Singh is working towards creating a way of life that their guests will experience, and learn from and then take away and share with others. That is sounding cult now but it’s actual incredibly meaningful and intended as open to all: it’s the only health centre to practice this combination of therapies with such authenticity and integrity from Ayurveda to Sowa-Rigpa which is Traditional Tibetan Medicine. It's a 66-suite retreat in North India which has bold contemporary architecture more European art gallery than ashram. The Ayurvedic organic menu resembles that of a fine-dining restaurant, and no matter how much you eat you still feel like you’re slimming down. The signature 21-night traditional Panchakarma cleansing programme is customised to individual constitutions. In Ayurveda, agni is the fire that drives our metabolism; this is considered be the most important health booster, and at Vana, a harmonising, detoxifying diet aims to get this process working properly. It’s the ULTIMATE detox.
2) Have you spent time at a detox retreat and if so, what did it involve? Is there a retreat that you haven’t been to yet but aspire to go to?
Probably FX Mayr Health Center in Austria. It may be clinical in its effects, but this chalet-style lakeside hotel near to the border of Slovenia gets you breathing in lots of fresh air. The signature therapy is a holistic treatment developed by Austrian physician D. Franz Xaver Mayr and based on warm baths and compresses which heal the body through blood purification. Therapeutic exercises including hiking and Nordic Walking.
Vigilius Mountain Resortin South Tyrol, Italy
Eco, übercool, and accessible only by cable car, this hip hillside spa is perfect for thrill-seeking urbanites who crave quirky and insist on style. Float in an infinity pool overlooking the South Tyrolean landscape; have your feet energised by a fir cone reflex-massage; take a cold water Kneipp bath in mountain air; or sauna in the mountains. YES PLEASE.
3) How do you recover from jet lag?
Actually I get slammed quite badly from jet lag, and generally just have to surrender but I do have some tricks to make it more bearable. Drink loads of water, obviously, and be sure to go outside during the daytime and walk around without sunglasses so the sun’s rays programme you into that destination’s clock, and then use Better You Magnesium oil spray to make sure you have right mineral levels to help you sleep. And don’t sleep in the day time if you can! And definitely avoid all electronic devices between dusk and dawn.
4) What beauty product can you not live without?
My wonderful friend Lisa Stokes who set up Luxury Spa Edit is a make-up artist and a spa expert and she recently recommended me the perfect moisturiser which I’m so glad to have in my life: I wanted something really hydrating and anti-ageing and she suggested ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Marine Cream which feels really light when you put it on and it doesn’t clog your pores yet it’s really hard working. I have always loved Neal’s Yard and REN. Because of my desire to try and choose more responsible and eco brands I’m going to stop and really think and research their environmental policies before I buy.
5) What are you favourite make up brands and have you any particular make up heroes?
BY TERRY is my must have for dark circles! But if I’m going to try and use more organic and ethical brands in future… I’ll be checking back onto your website to see if you have any great tips in this area.
6) What advice would you give your 16 year old self?
Take up yoga and do more exercise. And don’t smoke. I think if 16 year olds could see a photo of their wrinkled faces in later life they wouldn’t ever touch a cigarette. Drink more water. And sleep more. Much much more. I was totally sleep starved in my 20s from working too hard and playing too hard and it wreaks havoc with your hormones – we still pay such little attention to how our hormones work when this can be one of the most important health considerations for a woman. Mind you, no regrets. It seems like millennials are all green-juice-addicted orthorexics in bed by 9pm these days. Boring. Everything in moderation! You need to have some wild memories.
7) Do you use a gym?
Actually I discovered the most incredible gym – The Library in Notting Hill – a year ago and it’s transformed my fitness. A new breed of fitness club it’s the dream solution to getting in shape and build up strength – fast. Their bespoke 15-minute high-intensity training regimes are overseen by professional instructors who really know the science between their exercising methods and also their nutritional tips so that you feel fantastically supported. Zana Morris is its founder, and she’s a personal trainer and nutritionist extraordinaire and also the author of The High-Fat Diet – a bestselling book – and this is an indication of their results-guaranteeing eating plans which involve eating loads of creamy deliciousness (but no carbs) so as to stimulate ketosis. Really it’s the guided weight training that’s worked wonders for me – a manage 15 minutes almost every day and feel so much healthier as well as stronger. Also, I swear by the supplement range they’ve come up with Strong Nutrients their Chill Pill s great at balancing hormones and I have a chocolate protein shake every morning. I’ve tried loads of brands but this is the best tasting and the best quality and value.
8) Which country in the world serves your favourite food?
What a fantastic question! Because actually it’s not just about the cuisine it’s about the country you eat it in. My family made lots of Indonesian cooking having spent a lot of time in Holland, but it was only on a recent trip to Bali and dinner at the restaurant Kaum that I learned the cuisine can only be done justice when created in Indonesia as all the ingredients need to be locally sourced and seasonal to have a truly authentic flavour. True food for thought: Kaum (meaning tribe in Indonesian) was not only mind-blowingly flavoursome but I was lucky as Lisa Virgiano who’s part of the Potato Head Club group explained all the ingredients and cooking practices in such fascinating detail it was like we tasted indigenous spices grown on each of the thousands of islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago. Lots of restaurants wheel out tales of small-scale producers but in true Potato Head style, they go that extra mile, from earning trust of the remote jatiluwih rice farmers ,to creating authentic spicy sambals that only grandmothers know the secret recipes to…
9) Do you have a favourite go to cook book for healthy recipes?
Hemsley And Hemsley got my attention with their courgetti and actually I love having it instead of pasta. It feels so much lighter and easier to digest.
10) You’re travelling to Bali soon with your 9 year old daughter for a few months to do a term at Green School. This sounds like an incredible experience. Please can you tell us more?
As part of my “bouteco” mission I want to go and spend some time with Katamama hotel in Bali. 'Bouteco’ is a term I coined to describe boutique hotels which are also eco – and with this platform we aim to share the most soul-warming stories from the hippest hotels with a heart and the visionaries behind them which will help guests make choose the most special stays. What do you think of when I say ‘eco’ – definitely not crisp cotton bedlinen, directional design or seductive interiors, right? Which is why I want to ’sex up’ sustainability in the travel sector by highlighting the work of the people and places who are Bouteco heroes who are also incredibly creative!
In Bali, centuries-old artisanal skills have been saved thanks to the construction of a contemporary 58-suite hotel in Seminyak. Katamama's owner Ronald Akili felt that today’s Indonesians living across its archipelago of thousands of islands have lost touch with their own heritage. The hotel sister to Potato Head Beach Club it provides valuable social, history and environmental lessons, preserving Indonesian culture old and new. Andra Matin’s architecture required 1.5 million temple bricks to build this boutique hotel, which opened March 2016. The story of how these hand-pressed slender blocks took two years to be made by artisans in a tiny village represents just how special this details-focused hotel is. Inspired by Katamama’s work with artisans, I'm moving from London to Bali for three months to learn more and help them share their unique stories of sustainability. During my time there, my nine-year-old daughter will attend the Green School a community of learners making our world sustainable. 60 per cent of their classes are held outside in the open air!