Meet the Challengers: Day 3
Meet the challengers putting their mental and physical limits to the test on the groundbreaking inaugural PURE Pursuit in Iceland…
M P S PURI
Chief Executive of Nira Hotels & Resorts
For over four decades, MPS Puri has been associated with some of the world’s finest hotels – including the Peninsula Hotels (Hong Kong); Raffles Hotel; The Fullerton Hotel (Singapore); Rosewood Hotels & Resorts; The Ritz-Carlton; Halekulani (Hawaii); and the Fairmont Hotel (Chicago). He has headed up the Americas for GHM Hotels, been General Manager of The Setai (South Beach Miami), and a consultant for Orient Express. In March 2009, Puri founded Nira Hotels & Resorts, a London-based boutique luxury hotel management company with hotels and resorts in Mauritius, Surlej near St. Moritz, Edinburgh and La Thuile in Italy.
Puri has spent most of his career in the food and beverage industry, initiating new and exciting concepts – including the Raffles Culinary Academy; the Annual Raffles Hotel Wine & Food Experience; and Doc Cheng’s Restaurant for Restorative Foods, which was hailed as one of the ’10 Great Restaurants of the World’ in 1997. His most recent unveiling is Aquacasia – Jewels of the Indian Ocean: a culinary tribute to the unique provenance of food developed by local island cultures of the Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Reunion, Indonesia and Western Australia.
Puri has been honoured for his achievements as Wine & Dine’s first ever ‘Man of the Year’ in 1997; he also has a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Gourmet Summit; and an FTA Hospitality Award for Excellence as a Hotel Operator. He is actively involved with numerous industry organisations – including the Confrerie De La Chaine Des Rotisseurs; Confrerie De Chevalier Du Tastevin; Commanderie De Bordeaux; American Institute of Wine & Food; Global Hoteliers Club; International Wine & Food Society; and The International Food & Beverage Forum.
Director of Sales for The Ranch at Rock Creek
Jessica is the Director of Sales for The Ranch at Rock Creek: the only Forbes five star guest ranch in the world; a founding member of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World; and a member of Relais & Châteaux. Previously, she worked as Director of Sales for Amanresorts and Butterfield & Robinson. Born and raised in Toronto, for the last two years Jessica has been soaking up mountain life in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. A typical weekend involves skiing, snow shoeing in Grand Teton National Park, a dip in the hot springs and sunset Mai Tais.
Some quirky bits: Jessica is a voracious reader (currently on a massive Paulo Coelho kick) and wants to write a novel some day; she is also training for her seventh half marathon this fall. A lover of apocalypse movies, one of her favourite trips taken was to Bhutan in 2013. Jessica tries to get up to The Ranch at Rock Creek as often as she can – she considers it one of the most soul-stirring places on planet earth; the experiences there allow her to reconnect with the environment and herself in a very genuine way.
Thierry Teyssier is a French entrepreneur born in 1965. First fascinated by theatre, he created an event planning company in 1991, which led him to visit countries worldwide. His travels inspired him to create a new kind of hotel business – and thus in 2002 Maisons des Reêves was born from an alchemy of luxury and simplicity, the exotic and the authentic, devoted entirely to the desires of the individual and founded on an absolute professionalism and a very high quality of service. An aesthete impassioned by travel, decoration and cuisine, in 2009 Thierry also founded Patisserie des Rêves, a luxurious patisserie brand, in France, the UK, Japan and Italy. Dar Ahlam, his hotel in Morocco, was rated among the 100 Best Hotels in the World by Condé Nast Traveler US in 2016.
Owner of Wild Places Safaris and Ultimate Places
Benedetta Mazzini was born into a family where art and culture are a part of everyday life. Her father was a journalist, her mother is a singer and her brother is a record producer. She started to work as a model at a very early age and, at the same time, embarked on a career as a television presenter and the author of music programmes then went into cinema and theatre.
Attentive, inquisitive and ever in search of emotions and the desire to learn about new cultures, Benedetta has been an avid traveller since childhood. When she travels, she always strives to blend in with the colours, smells and customs of the countries she visits.
The moment Benedetta set foot in Africa, it was love at first sight. Over the past fifteen years – between working in radio, television and writing articles – she has taken every chance she gets to spend time on the Dark Continent. She has written travel articles for Vanity Fair Italia and conducted a television show called “Africa Benedetta”, illustrating life at safari camps in a sort of on-the-road documentary that was aired by Italy’s RAI.
These experiences inspired the idea of turning her love for travelling into a structured project and a way of life – and so she founded Wild Places Safaris, a company offering tailor-made travel devoted to Africa and safaris. Though broader in scope, Ultimate Places (her most recent project) is a natural extension of Wild Places Safaris, aiming to help customers discover the most exclusive, remote and amazing places on the planet.