If you’re looking to escape hectic London, go to Oman
Says Robert Ettinger, chairman, CEO and owner of the eponymous leather goods company.December 19, 2016
His company, Ettinger, may produce leather goods that areabsolute luxury, but when it comes to travel Robert Ettinger is happy in a tent or on a bicycle.
Beach, city break, cultural exploration, or adventure – what’s your favourite kind of holiday?
Definitely adventure, such as when I cycled through small villages in northern Sri Lanka. The people were bemused and thought we were crazy because we were on bikes. I think they expected white people to be in cars. They were charming people and often invited us in for something to eat.
Have you done much travelling in the Middle East?
I love camping in the deserts of Oman, especially in Salalah towards the Yemeni border –there are magical sights there. We camp on the beach and fishermen give us buckets of sardines. The nearest person is 50 miles away, which is great after my hectic life in London.
Flying – love it or hate it?
Airports are always a hassle, but once on the plane I do manage to relax. If I’m on business, I work for a while and then watch a good film. The last good film I saw on a plane was Spectre.
What luggage do you like to use for trips?
I always use vintage Ettinger luggage and I always pack enough clothes in my hand luggage to get me through the trip in case my checked case gets lost. I learned this the hard way when my suitcase got lost on a flight to Tokyo. I turned up for a business meeting in jeans and the people were horrified. I learned my lesson that day.
How important is sunshine when you pick a holiday destination?
Coming from England, good weather is important and I love the sea for swimming. I get to my office in London at 6am every day and go for a swim in the outdoor heated pool. I think the coldest swim I ever had was in Woolacombe in Devon [south west England] – it was 14 degrees. The Mediterranean is nicer!
What city blew you away?
Madurai in India had fascinating temples and wonderful people. But my favourite city is still Paris – beautiful architecture, and good food. It’s not too big either, you can walk everywhere. I love to walk along the Champs-Élysées to the Sacré-Cœur.
What city did you find disappointing?
Some of the big Far Eastern cities like Seoul are just so much grey concrete.
When you pick a hotel, what’s the most important thing for you?
A decent sized room with a view. My favourite hotel is the Ulagalla in Sri Lanka. It’s right in the middle of some paddy fields in Anuradhapura in the north and has bungalows on stilts. There’s lots of wildlife, peace and quiet, and good Sri Lankan hospitality.
Do you like to go shopping when you’re on holiday?
I have never been a shopper. If I do shop, it’s for good food to cook with. India is amazing for herbs and spices.
Have you ever had a scare while travelling?
Many years ago in Morocco, on a deserted beach miles away from anywhere, we met some people collecting seaweed to sell. They walked towards us in a very menacing way and so we just turned around and left fast.
Where haven’t you been that you’d love to visit?
New Zealand is on my list. I’d like to cycle, watch whales and camp on the South island and generally see the great outdoors. It’s a trip that needs three or four weeks and running this business means two weeks is all I can take at one time. But I’ll get there one day.
Ettinger products are available throughout the UAE at Rivoli Arcade stores, Bloomingdale’s and Harvey Nichols