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City and finance


05 May 2016

BY April Hutchinson


Top designers line up for Ultratravel Forum

Acclaimed Sri Lankan architect Cecil Balmond will be one of several top designers to speak at the upcoming Ultratravel Forum in London.


The designer is the latest speaker to be announced for the forum, which is being held in partnership with ttgluxury on May 23 at The Savoy in London.

Intensely experienced and respected, Balmond heads an interdisciplinary research-led practice involved in architecture and art, with a presence in Colombo, London, Singapore and the US.

His most recent awards and recognition include the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal for Architecture 2016 and last year, he received an OBE for services to architecture.

His son John is also involved in the business as a director at Balmond Studio Colombo, overseeing architectural development and interior design for multiple clients in south-east Asia.

His first job was the creation of Palagama Beach alongside his father on the west coast of the island. At the time, the concept took hotel design into new territory, combining traditional Sri Lankan design with contemporary style while using sustainable materials such as Cajan and Illuk.

John is now working on various other boutique hotels in Sri Lanka, including a hotel for Jetwing, and he is also the owner and designer of Gal Oya, the safari eco-lodge that was given a Platinum-rated green building award by the Green Building Council of Sri Lanka in 2015.

Balmond Studio will be part of a session chaired by editor of ttgluxury April Hutchinson, who will assess current and future trends in luxury hotel design.


The Savoy

Also joining Hutchinson on the panel will be Anchalika Kijkanakorn the managing director of Thai boutique hotelier Akaryn Hotel Group, which is also about to expand into Laos with a new hotel in the capital Vientiane. British interior designer Martin Hulbert, who has worked on private and commercial projects ranging from Coworth Park to the Royal Yacht Britannia, QE2, Chewton Glen, Cliveden House and Barnsley House, will also discuss his ideas on design.

Completing the line-up will be Will Meyer and Gray Davis, founders of leading New York-based interior design firm Meyer Davis.

Their vast and highly sought-after experience includes designing 1 Hotel South Beach, the first property for mould-breaking new luxury brand 1 Hotel. They are currently working on The Address Dubai Downtown, which was hit by fire on New Year’s Eve, and The Address Dubai Mall, as well as a range of new duplex suites for Fontainebleu Miami and a redesign for Rosewood Little Dix Bay in the British Virgin Islands.

The forum also includes an economic and geopolitical update from Daniel Franklin, executive editor of The Economist and editor of The Economist’s magazine The World in 2016.

Also during the forum, Chris Hartley, chief executive of Global Hotel Alliance will quiz a panel of presidents and leaders including Shelley Cline, president of TCS World Travel; Frank Marrenbach, chief executive, Oetker Collection; Edie Rodriguez, president and chief executive, Crystal Cruises; Robert Swade, group chief operating officer, Jumeirah Group; and Sally Booth, head of brand, Elegant Resorts.

The forum concludes with a session that will see Charles Starmer-Smith – head of travel of the Telegraph Media Group and editor of Ultratravel – quiz a range of well-known and frequent luxury travellers on their travel habits and preferences, including singer Ronan Keating and wife Storm Keating; Sarah-Jane Mee from Sky News and Natalie Pinkham from Sky Sports F1.

This inspirational forum is part of a whole day of luxury-focused events taking place at The Savoy on May 23.


These also include Luxpo, the one-to-one meetings event designed to help travel advisors meet a range of 25 suppliers, which will include many leading brands from across the cruise, aviation, hotel, tour operator and tourism sectors.

The day will conclude with the ULTRAs Dinner, a must-attend awards celebration that will recognize the best travel providers in the luxury sphere as voted for by readers of Ultratravel, its partner newspaper, The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Telegraph’s website.

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