CEOs can be notoriously guarded, but Filip Boyen doesn’t fit the mould. Instead, the Belgian-born chief executive officer of Small Luxury Hotels Of The World (SLH) is charismatic, confident and brimming with personality. When he's not sharing his many hilarious travel anecdotes from the road, his sudden bursts of laughter almost always gets everyone around the table laughing too.
As CEO of SLH, Filip has a demanding travel schedule that takes him all over the world, with more than 500 independent boutique hotels in over 80 countries worldwide to oversee. In our latest edition of How I Travel, he shares what’s left on his bucket list and his top tip for getting great service at your hotel:
Australia and New Zealand. We took two press trips out to visit the hotels and we also had the luxury travel show, Luxperience. It was a busy two weeks but unbelievable. It was my first time there and we visited Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, the Gold Coast (where I skydived!) and the wine country.
Portugal, where we’re launching the SLH cookbook. We have about 12 chefs from the hotels coming and they’ll all have their own cooking stations, and I’ll be cooking as well. After that, it's ILTM in Cannes, and then ski season starts in early December.
What’s on your bucket list?
Alaska. I want to do one of those cruises, because I love animals, wildlife, and I would love to be close to them. A few of my friends have said that it was life-changing, so that trip is going to happen.
What do you love most about traveling?
The people and culture. I’ve lived in eight or nine countries—I’ve lost count—but what I enjoy most is meeting different people, finding out what makes them tick, and their outlook on life and travel. The nuances of different countries and how they bring in the local culture and character into their hotels.
One place you’d visit over and over again?
The Dolomites in Italy—I’ll never get tired of that. They’ve created such a huge ski area, with over 1,400 kilometres of ski runs, that in principle you could stay there for a month and do different slopes every day.
Three things you always travel with?
A good book, a moisturiser (to fight dehydration on the plane) and my Bose headphones that are noise-cancelling and wireless.
What do you normally read on the plane?
I love spy novels, so anything by Tom Clancy—the ex-KGB thing really gets me going and I just can’t put them down.