The XOJET 10: Katy Donoghue
Welcome to The XOJET 10, a new Q&A series in which interesting, notable people from the worlds of business, travel and luxury products discuss their travel experiences, tips and insights. Our first profile: Katy Donoghue, editor-in-chief of Whitewall, a New York-based luxury lifestyle magazine.
Katy Donoghue spent almost 100 days traveling for business last year. In addition to profiling world-renowned artists, designers, curators and collectors for Whitewall, Donoghue also attends a variety of international events, including major art fairs, gallery openings, brand launches, special events, charity events and, occasionally, even last-minute invitations to secret events, like the unveiling of a Nike sneaker in Los Angeles. As high-flying as she is down-to-earth, Donoghue’s knowledge of luxury brands, the demands of business travel, and where the two meet, make her the perfect person to kick off The XOJET 10.
|Photo taken by Steve Benisty|
1. Growing up, what was your first dream destination?
I think it was either Japan or China, and my interest in both came from Epcot’s World Showcase. My family went to Disney World almost every year when I was growing up and the country pavilions had a big impact on me.
2. Tell us about the first time you flew on a plane.
My first memory of flying—or of not flying, as it turned out—is something that happened when I was in first grade. For February vacation, my family went every year to South Seas Resort (then called South Seas Plantation) on Captiva Island off the west coast of Florida. The year I was in first grade, we found out at the airport that because of a snowstorm, our flight was canceled and we wouldn’t be able to leave until the next day. I still remember the disappointment of not getting to Captiva—the epitome of tropical vacations to me at the time—soon enough.
3. When you travel for business, what’s most important to you?
What’s most important is making sure I get enough sleep on overnight flights so I’m ready to go when I land. Most of these trips are short, so I need to get as much as I can done while I’m there. During a trip I also try and fit in some sightseeing, especially in cities I’ve never visited.
4. What’s the biggest difference between how you travel for leisure and how you travel for business?
When I travel for business, I’m almost always traveling solo. I also usually have a much more rigid schedule than when I travel for leisure. When I take a trip just for me, I like to leave more of the itinerary up to chance.
5. What was your most luxurious travel experience?
My most luxurious flight was in business class on Cathay Pacific, with business class on Qatar Airways being a close second (because they gave everyone in the cabin pajamas). Cathay Pacific from JFK to Hong Kong took around 20 hours and I had the option of eating every three hours (like a newborn!). The food was delicious, the service was incredible, and the lounge at the Hong Kong airport—designed by John Pawson—has the best noodle bar.
My most luxurious trip was my recent stay at Veuve Clicquot’s Hotel du Marc in Reims, France. I’ll be writing about it for Whitewall’s fall 2012 issue, but I’ll share two highlights from my stay: it included a five-course truffle lunch at a 2-Michelin-star restaurant and a constant flow of some of the best champagne I’ve ever sipped. My glass was never empty.
6. How have your attitudes about travel changed over the years?
My taste and standards have evolved since I began travel writing. I have different expectations when I’m traveling to review luxury destinations. And I’ve become much more comfortable and confident when traveling alone.
7. Most important aspect of travel in terms of your business needs today?
Patience and a positive attitude. I feel like people just lose their minds at airports. My brother is a pilot so perhaps that’s why I sympathize with airline employees, but you’ll get nothing from losing your temper with a gate agent who has no control over a delayed flight.
8. How do you spend your time in flight?
On the way to a destination, I’m working for as long as my computer battery lasts and then getting as much sleep as possible. On the way home, I either sleep or catch up on movies. I need that time to completely zone out and decompress after a trip.
9. What’s the best piece of advice anyone’s ever given you about traveling?
It’s a tie between what I mentioned above about patience with the airline and to just push through your initial jet lag.
10. What’s your dream destination now?
There are so many still. I still want to go to Japan. I want to travel to India, Istanbul, Western China, Namibia, Vietnam, Egypt . . .. Plus, I have yet to do a proper cross-country road trip in the U.S.
THE XOJET LIST
Favorite city: New York
Favorite hotel: The Upper House in Hong Kong
Favorite restaurant: Amis in Philadelphia
Favorite bar: The Willy T in the British Virgin Islands—it’s only accessible by dingy.
Favorite resort: I haven’t traveled to many, and even if I had, I think my favorite would still be the one from all those family vacations, South Seas Resort.
Favorite spa: I’m not much of a spa girl, but I love the casual feel of the Standard Spa in Miami.
Favorite museum/gallery: MoMA PS1
Favorite publication(s) to read on a plane: The New Yorker
Favorite travel device: iPhone
Favorite luggage (maker): A Briggs & Riley roller carry-on has served me well on dozens of trips over the past four years. I can squeeze up to a week’s worth into it.