We are excited to announce that our very own Kate Lawless has been selected as one of Travel Agent Central’s 30Under30 travel advisors for 2019! This annual award acknowledges rising stars in the travel industry under the age of 30. Kate has been with our agency since early 2018, and works diligently and creatively to make sure our clients have the best travel experiences possible.
In case you don’t know Kate yet (or want to know a little bit more!) we sat down for a short interview to learn more about her top travel experiences and recommendations.
What is the best meal you’ve ever had while traveling?
Ooooh… this is a tough one! I love good food, whether it’s fine dining or street food, so I always make time for a great culinary experience when I’m traveling. While I do love to have a long, leisurely, Michelin worthy meal, I have to say that my favorite meals have always been the more authentic, everyday experiences. One that comes to mind is a meal that I ate many times while living in Bangkok. The apartment complex that I lived in was lucky enough to have a restaurant downstairs and a Thai grandmother that made the most amazing Thai food. When I first moved in and was still familiarizing myself with the area, I ate almost daily in her restaurant as I was too lazy to go to the grocery store and lets be honest, it was better (and cheaper!) than anything I could cook at home. After a couple of weeks of this, her grandson who spoke a little English came to say hello and mentioned that his grandmother loved seeing someone enjoy her cooking so much. I asked him to thank her for keeping me so well fed and a few minutes later she comes out with him in tow to tell me that she will teach me to feed myself. We started off with one of my favorite dishes, a grilled beef salad but by the time I left Thailand a year later, she had taught me to cook not only this but also many of my other favorites. I still cook these dishes today, and my Thai beef salad is one of my husband’s favorite dishes!
You’ve stayed at a lot of luxury hotels – which is your absolute favorite?
Haha I can hear you answering this for me! As our entire travel agency knows, one of my favorite (possibly THE favorite) hotels in the world is Raffles Singapore. I used to stay there quite often when I was traveling back and forth between Singapore and Thailand, and I’ve always loved the sense of history that is prevalent throughout the hotel. The rooms are gorgeous, the location is great and the staff are super attentive! It’s been a while since I’ve been back and with the hotel just now reopening after an extensive renovation, I’m planning a trip soon!
What’s still at the top of your Wanderlist?
Hmmm…. This is hard because there are still so many things I want to experience and places that I want to see! I’m taking my first “real” trip to Italy this fall, and that’s a big one for me. I have been to Milan several times, but won’t claim that I’ve been to Italy because I’ve basically seen the airport and a studio downtown! This trip I will have the chance to actually explore Milan as well as Venice, Florence and Rome so I’ll finally be able to claim the destination! I sadly won’t be checking one of my biggest Wanderlist points off my list on this trip, a visit to Modena and Osteria Francescana, but since Chef Massimo and his wife Lara just opened an amazing 12 room “inn” in Modena, I have even more reasons to check this one off soon!
Which destination surprised you most when you visited?
I was recently able to take a trip to the Emerald Isle, and prior to the trip I was so excited for our time in southern Ireland but didn’t really give any consideration to our days spent in Belfast and Northern Ireland. Once we actually arrived in Belfast though, my entire outlook changed! I fell in love with the city as soon as I laid eyes on it and the people are so amazingly nice. There is a wonderful feeling of hope in the city and there are so many things to see: the ancient history of the area, the history and art of the troubled times during the 20th century and wonderful modern museums and exhibits, not to mention the stunning scenery and landscapes along the coast. The best part though is that the food and beverage culture is undergoing a total renaissance so at the end of a long day trekking along the coast, you can look forward to a Michelin Star worthy meal and a great cocktail made with local whiskey or gin.
You’ve lived a lot of cool places – which was your favorite?
I have lived in a lot of really amazing places, so it’s difficult to choose a favorite. That’s like asking a parent which child they prefer (mom and dad, I know I’m your favorite)! I can’t even narrow it down to one so I’m going to go with my two favorites; London and Shanghai! London was probably my favorite overall experience and I still love the city. It has such a vibrancy to it and there’s always something new to see. I recently returned for the first time since I left and it felt like nothing had changed but everything was different! My must do? Stroll along the waterfront for views of some major landmarks and take at least a couple of hours break at the Tate Modern!
Shanghai on the other hand has a very special place in my heart. It was the first city I ever traveled to internationally, the first place I lived away from home and away from my parents, and I thoroughly enjoyed discovering myself there! The city itself has such an interesting personality, it’s a historic city with a thin veneer of modernity, almost like a child dressing up in mom’s clothes and makeup. My favorite area of the city is the French Concession, it’s a warren of back streets and small alleys filled with stunning architecture and fabulous boutiques, art galleries, and cafes!