In 2012, Stephanie Chai founded The Luxe Nomad. Today, the booking site now features over 1500 curated villas in 33 destinations around the world, has a team of nearly 100 and has expanded to include villa management in its repertoire. “At heart we are a company that inspires; after all, our tagline is ‘Dream a little. Travel a lot,” says Stephanie. “That goes beyond just getting people to travel with us. I hope that our story inspires people to take a chance on their dreams.” We caught up with the globetrotting entrepreneur to get up to speed on the latest travel trends, her most memorable trips and more. 
Tatler Asia
Above Photo: @theluxenomad/Instagram

Last trip?

My last ‘big’ trip was to Rome and Positano, where I took two weeks off for my brother’s wedding. It was held at a beautiful place, Villa Treville in Positano, which had the most picturesque view of the village and ocean below.

Next trip?

Bawah Reserve, a private island retreat northeast of Singapore in Indonesia’s remote Anambas Archipelago. It looks amazing; white sand, turquoise-blue lagoons and not one, but 13 beaches! I think luxury nowadays is all about privacy, which is something Bawah does very well. A popular activity is to be dropped off at one of the private beaches and simply radio back on walkie-talkie later on when you want to be picked up. 

Because the reserve is so private, you’ll often find you are the only one on the beach. Plus, there’s an outdoor cinema, dinner under the stars, and a daily spa treatment included in your stay. The internet is also a bit slow, I’m told, which is probably a good thing so I have no choice but to switch off for a couple of days.

What do you love most about travelling?

That you jump on a plane then suddenly land in a different world. Whether it is the uniqueness of Tokyo, the hustle and bustle of Bangkok or the idyllic charm of Samui… every destination has its own attraction, culture and history. I truly think you learn so much from travelling, like if you read Howard Schultz’s interviews, it was a trip to Italy that inspired him to build Starbucks. 

See also: 48 Hours In Tokyo

Tatler Asia
Above Stephanie at Skye Niseko (Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Chai)

Most memorable travel experience?

Perhaps naturally since I’m half-Italian, I do have a soft spot for Italy. A few summers ago, I was in Verona, and we came across a group of dancers twirling around in the square with a small crowd around them. As an (overkeen!) volunteer, I took my heels off and joined in, though the Italian guy I partnered with may have had a few wines prior as he did drop me on the floor a couple of times.

And the worst?

Skiing in New Zealand as a child. My mother was worried I would get a cold, so she piled me with about five layers topped with a ski jumpsuit and jacket on top of it; needless to say, I was very hot (literally sweating) and fell ill with a fever the next day. I didn’t ski for years after that.

Three things you always travel with?

Laptop, eye cover & ear plugs.

What do you normally read on the plane?

A book. I’m currently halfway through Michelle Obama’s “Becoming”.

See also: 10 Books Hong Kong Tatler Editors Are Reading Right Now

Tatler Asia
Above Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Chai

Favourite travel companion?

My partner or a good friend.

Aisle or window seat?

Window! A seat with a view, but most importantly, if you are in economy, you can lean on the side of the wall and sleep better.

Favourite travel app?

Spotify to listen to music on those long flights.

Your best travel tip?

Not sure what to do or where to go? Ask on Facebook! Friends know best. I do it all the time, even when I’m about to touch down and arrive in a new place (I’m the laziest traveller when it comes to research and planning things).  

Any tips on overcoming jet lag?

Take an anti-histamine. It acts like a ‘light’ sleeping pill.

What are the latest travel trends?

I think people are looking for more unique experiences. While Bali and Thailand will always be an easy getaway from Hong Kong, going somewhere different like Bhutan or a safari in Africa is definitely growing in appeal.  

See also: 10 Of The Most Luxurious Villas You Can Rent In Southeast Asia 

Tatler Asia
© 2023 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.