Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia
In one line, what makes you a PUREist?
We create an environment for our guests to reconsider their place in the world.
Tell us your story – how did you get where you are today?
From sheep farm upbringing to Oxford University physics graduate, a foray into international level competitive sports, then pioneering proprietary trading approaches in finance and now to supporting the education of over 53,000 children through wholly responsible tourism in the beguiling and captivating country of Cambodia.
I made a pledge that should I win the first place at Oxford from my local rural school I would use the opportunities it would bring to enrich the lives of others. I consider education, enterprise and justice to be the main keys to unlocking potential in the third world and know that I can at least help foster the first two. Cambodia is a challenging environment to develop a business but with a first rate team over the years we have created a leading experiential touring company where all the benefits go back to the communities in which we operate.
Just this Summer we were named by Condé Nast Traveler as a Top Travel Specialist for Cambodia and by Travel + Leisure as a winner of their Global Vision Award for our work with communities suggesting that we are balancing the demands of commerce and philanthropy well: Changing the lives of our guests and those in whose lands we travel.
“Experiences are not something that happen to us independent of our state of mind.”
Can you share with us your single most life-enriching experience?
Holding my son when he was barely three minutes old with the crystal clear sense of the responsibility we all have towards future generations.
What does the term ‘experiential travel’ mean to you?
Experiences are not something that happen to us independent of our state of mind. Rushing around seeking experiences, ticking off lists of places we want to see, is rather counterproductive in fact. Life-changing experiences more often than not come from those times of quiet reflection, the mind stimulated by foreign environments perhaps, but then given comfort and stillness to consider our place and meaning in the world and that of others.
Describe your ideal client: how do they approach travel?
Time: My ideal client allows the time to travel not only in the three physical dimensions but also the time to sit on a temple stone and simply observe how the world around is changing. The more we move physically the less we can perceive the change of time.
What made you decide to join PURE Life Experiences and how has doing so benefitted your business?
A good and trusted journalist friend told me that PURE was the perfect environment for me to develop my business contacts and find buyers of our services. Attending for the past two years I feel reassured by many experienced people that we are, indeed, doing the right thing in Cambodia.
“I consider education, enterprise and justice to be the main keys to unlocking potential in the third world.”
What role do you think PURE has to play in the high-end experiential travel industry?
The gathering stimulates ideas on what is possible, between people with the resources to effect real change.
What other brands and companies in high-end experiential travel do you admire the most?
Those who drop the flowery language and return to a simple message of trying to help their clients improve their own lives and those of others.
If there were one thing you could change about the travel industry, what would it be?
I would like to see an independent body audit and provide a consumer ranking system for responsible travel practices. It is a prerequisite to now claim responsible credentials but there is little help for the casual non-professional observer to differentiate between the genuine practitioner and the cynical claimant. Perhaps some type of star system could help the concerned traveller select where they would prefer to spend their dollars.
Finally, who is your experiential hero?
Collectively my team in Cambodia, many of whom could multiply their earnings potential by returning to commerce in the developed world but who give me their valuable time to be a part of something really worthwhile.