Ultratravel Forum 2017

Forum speakers

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Forum speakers

Make space in your calendar for our conference full of trends and opinion and the chance to get together with like-minded people on the biggest day in luxury travel.

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Confirmed speakers so far:


The following tickets are available to purchase:

Jason Atherton

Jason Atherton

British Chef


Jason was the first British chef to complete a stage at Spain’s famous ElBulli restaurant in 1998. With seasoned experience, having worked under great chefs including Pierre Koffmann, Nico Ladenis, and Marco Pierre White, Jason joined the Gordon Ramsay Group in 2001 as executive chef for Verre in Dubai.


In 2005, he returned to the UK and opened Maze in the heart of London, launching what would be the most successful brand in the group, going on to open several more under the name in Prague, Cape Town, Melbourne and Qatar.


He left Gordon Ramsay Holdings in 2010 to launch his own restaurant company, Jason Atherton Ltd. His first independent restaurant was Table No. 1 at the Waterhouse at South Bund hotel in Shanghai in partnership again with hotelier and restaurateur Loh Lik Peng and his flagship restaurant, Pollen Street Social, opened in April 2011 in Mayfair - within six months, it was awarded a Michelin star.


In 2012, Jason launched 22 Ships in Hong Kong, a no reservations tapas bar and in 2013, opened his second Mayfair restaurant, Little Social, to great critical acclaim. Social Eating House in Soho followed, with long-trusted head chef Paul Hood at the helm. Meanwhile, over in Shanghai, The Commune Social opened its doors, again with Loh Lik Peng.


In 2013, Jason launched Berners Tavern in The London EDITION to great furore and Ham & Sherry in Hong Kong. In 2014, The Social Company team launched the grand City Social atop the 24th floor of Tower 42, which won a Michelin star that year, one in which he also opened Aberdeen Street Social in Hong Kong.


There has since been another Edition restaurant (in New York), as well as openings of Social Wine & Tapas in London, Marina Social in Dubai, Kensington Street Social in Sydney, his seventh site in London - Japanese izakaya- style restaurant, Sosharu – and The Pig & Palm in Cebu, Philippines.


The most recent additions have been in London - Temple & Sons, a Victorian-inspired grill and deli that champions British produce and in February this year, the ninth restaurant in the UK capital - Hai Cenato, in the burgeoning NOVA development in Victoria.


Jason’s recipes and articles have appeared widely in magazines and newspapers and he has published several cookbooks. He is also a regular guest on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen and in June 2008, won the third hugely popular series of BBC2’s Great British Menu, a show which has since returned to host.

Katie Benson

Katie Benson

Regional Vice President Europe, Jumeirah


Katie Benson has enjoyed more than 30 years in the hospitality industry with experience in general management and operations, human resources, asset management and development. She joined Jumeirah in 2015 as General Manager of Jumeirah Carlton Tower in London from Langham Group where she was CEO and Executive Director of Langham Hospitality Investments, as well as Regional Vice President for the Americas and Caribbean for Langham Hospitality Group.


Prior to that, Katie combined her role as Regional Vice President for the Americas and Europe with the position of Managing Director at Langham London (2009-2013), where she relaunched the property following renovation, established the partnership with world-renowned chefs Albert Roux OBE and his son Michel Roux Jnr, and oversaw Artesian’s journey to being named the world’s top bar.


A joint British-Australian citizen, Katie has also worked as Managing Director of two further Langham hotels (Melbourne and Hong Kong). She also held several senior executive positions for Starwood Hotels and Resorts throughout the Middle East, including Dubai, as well as in Australia and China, including General Manager of the St Regis Beijing, the city’s first luxury hotel.


In 2016, Katie was promoted to Regional Vice President Europe, whilst maintaining her position as General Manager of Jumeirah Carlton Tower. In her new dual role, Katie remains in London, the city in which she grew up, and reports to Group Chief Operating Officer Marc Dardenne.


As Regional Vice President Europe, Katie oversees operations at Jumeirah’s three London properties – Jumeirah Carlton Tower, Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel and Grosvenor House Suites by Jumeirah Living – as well as Jumeirah Frankfurt in Germany, Jumeirah Port Soller in Mallorca and Pera Palace Jumeirah in Istanbul, Turkey.


Peter Baumgartner

Peter Baumgartner

Chief Executive Officer

Etihad Airways


Peter Baumgartner was appointed to the position of Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Airways, in May 2016.


In this position, Peter has overall responsibility for areas including Aviation Security, Commercial Strategy & Planning, Sales, Marketing, Flight Operations, Safety and Quality, Guest Experience, Guest Services, Network Operations, Digital Strategy & Innovation and the subsidiaries Etihad Airport Services – Ground and Etihad Airport Services – Catering.


Peter has a wealth of experience in various aspects of the aviation business. He joined Etihad Airways in April 2005 from Swiss International Air Lines and has managed the airline’s intense global commercial efforts during a period of rapid growth, both in terms of commercial expansion and the introduction of new product and service innovations.


He previously served as Chief Commercial Officer of Etihad Airways from 2009, leading the airline’s global commercial Strategy & Planning function, overseeing Global Sales, Marketing, Product, Service Delivery, Call Centres, e-Commerce and Etihad Holidays.


He was also the guiding force behind the airline’s award-winning customer strategy, including its loyalty programme Etihad Guest, which has redefined traditional customer service and relationship management approaches by placing a strong emphasis on intuitively understanding and fulfilling customer expectations.

Philippe Brown

Philippe Brown


Brown + Hudson


Inveterate traveler Philippe Brown, the man clients refer to as “the Ferran Adria of travel”, founded London-based luxury travel company Brown + Hudson in 2007, prompted by well-travelled friends and colleagues who demanded more than the current market offered.

Before discovering travel, Brown worked in advertising in London and Paris where he honed his conceptual and creative skills, marketing outlook and his sense of superior client service.

What began as a travel sabbatical turned into a career as a location researcher, butler, interpreter, guide, and photographer and expedition leader. His work allowed him to develop a skill-set that is rare in luxury travel.

Philippe has a hugely energetic and creative outlook rooted in the reality, culture, people and traditions of each destination. His responsibility for leading clients on trips and expeditions in country, led to him to develop a sense of choreography, presentation, flexibility, spontaneity and attention to detail.

It was these 17 peripatetic years that informed the Brown + Hudson of today.

His company has an unusually creative and original trip planning process: They interview their clients, explore the motivations behind their travels, consider the outcomes they seek and offer exceptional access and rare cultural insights. He believes the company has redefined what ultra-creative bespoke travel should be.

A deep understanding of the needs of its demanding, discerning and ultra-high net worth clientele is what really put Brown + Hudson in a league of its own.

Philippe and his exceptional team of trip planners are a cross between therapists and investigative journalists working to create exquisitely crafted richer travel stories – lasting family legacies.

Tania Bryer

Tania Bryer

Television Broadcaster


Tania is a British born television broadcaster with a wealth of experience.


Currently affiliated with the Global network CNBC, Tania hosts and is Executive Producer of the critically acclaimed series 'CNBC Meets..’, where she gets up close and personal with some of the world’s most inspirational figures to find out the secret to their success and how their philanthropy transforms lives.


Amongst many others for the series she has interviewed President Bill Clinton, Sir Richard Branson, President Jimmy Carter, Melinda Gates, Andrea Bocelli, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Maria Sharapova, will.i.am, Sherry Lansing, Naomi Campbell, H.R.H The Duke of York, Dolly Parton, Tamara Mellon OBE, Andre Agassi, Lang Lang, Diane von Furstenberg, Jon Bon Jovi , Aerin Lauder, Matt Damon, Cherie Blair CBE QC and Forest Whitaker, with contributions from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn, Quincy Jones, Chelsea Clinton, Tom Cruise and Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.


Tania is also an anchor on ‘The CNBC Conversation’ series which sees her interview newsmakers including H.S.H Prince Albert of Monaco, Former South African President F.W de Klerk, Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Hollywood icon Goldie Hawn, Fashion titans Karl Lagerfeld, Dame Vivienne Westwood and Tom Ford, LVMH Chairman Bernard Arnault, Comedian and author David Walliams and Sir David Tang, as well as hosting news specials for the network with guests including Beyonce, Usain Bolt, Kate Moss, Sir Elton John and David Furnish, Nadja Swarovski, Christopher Bailey and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.


Tania also appears weekly on Sky News Sunrise and has contributed on Radio 4's Today programme, ITV's This Morning, BBC's Celebrity Masterchef, and as herself in a cameo on the US television drama, The Royals.


A highly skilled presenter and moderator, Tania hosts a wide variety of international events and Forums including the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Awards, the Women of the Future Awards and The Women’s Forum in Deauville. She moderates debates at The World Economic Forum in Davos and chairs numerous panels for charities and organisations including Invest Africa, Intelligence Squared and The Philanthropreneurship Forum.


Tania hosts the King Hussein Cancer Foundation’s Hope Galas in the presence of His Majesty King Abdullah II and Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan.


She is the Chair of the National Events Committee for Cancer Research UK and an Ambassador for Alzheimer’s Society.


Tania holds a B.Sc. in International Politics from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Jennifer Cronin

Jennifer Cronin


Niccolo Hotels & Marco Polo Hotels


An Australian, Jennifer Cronin has an extensive career and track record in hotels and hospitality throughout Asia and Australia. She has held various senior marketing and operational managerial positions in leading international hotel groups including Hyatt International and Ritz-Carlton.


Jennifer was appointed President of Marco Polo Hotels in February 2016 after serving as Vice President Sales & Marketing from 2014. Her initial remit was to launch the new luxury hotel brand, Niccolo and open the first of the luxury portfolio, Niccolo Chengdu in 2015.


The brand has been internationally acclaimed and will set the benchmark for new openings in Chongqing, Changsha and Suzhou. However, her current priority will be the opening of the new Hong Kong flagship property in conservation project, The Murray, a Niccolo Hotel, Hong Kong in 2017.


Prior to her appointment to Marco Polo Hotels, she held the position of Vice President of Sales & Marketing with Dusit International, where she directed the global rebranding of the company, which included the successful launch of five hotel sub brands.


Jennifer graduated with a Doctorate of Philosophy in 2016 from Bond University based on her PhD research “Empowering Readiness; influencing crisis management success outcomes”.


She was awarded the 2013 Australian Postgraduate Award, conferred by the Commonwealth’s Department of Innovation, Industry, Science & Research, awarded to elite students based on the basis of academic achievement, proven research ability and research potential. Recently, Jennifer was also conferred Bond University's most prestigious alumni accolade; the Robert Stable Alumni Medal, for her exceptional achievement in bridging academia and industry. 2016 culminated with Jennifer receiving the 2016 APAC BMW Corporate Hotelier of the Year Award.


Her commitment to professional development and supporting future hoteliers is evidenced with her appointment to the Industry Advisory Committee for the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, as well as the Advisory Board of the Bond Business School, Bond University.

Rebecca Fielding

Rebecca Fielding


Travel Unwrapped


Rebecca founded Travel Unwrapped following a highly successful 10-year career as a human rights advocate, working internationally representing children and families, and also including becoming the UK’s youngest magistrate.

A Harvard alumni with Masters degrees in International Development and Conflict Resolution, Rebecca travelled the world discovering cultures and meeting people which shaped her belief in uniting everyone through our diversity.

She then chose to pursue her passion by founding Travel Unwrapped with the mission to recognise that we are as diverse as individuals as the world around us, and that seeing the world can change the world. In 2016, she created DNA Unwrapped, the flagship product for Travel Unwrapped to further her message of cultural understanding between people.

Rebecca has developed a reputation as a well-respected, innovative speaker in both cultural diversity and development and the travel industry. She is often commended for her thought leadership on the future of travel and continues to author white papers on the topics of diversity as the key to developing unity and advocating for travel as the biggest threat to prejudice.

Charlotte Hawkins

Charlotte Hawkins

News reporter and ITV's Good Morning Britain host


Charlotte is one of the anchors on ITV's breakfast show Good Morning Britain, joining the show when it launched. Charlotte has also appeared on several other TV shows including Celebrity Juice, Britain's Got More Talent, Pointless and Tipping Point.


Before joining ITV, Charlotte worked at Sky News for seven years on Sunrise with Eamonn Holmes. She also hosted Sky News at 9am with Charlotte Hawkins, her own daily show of breaking news and interviews. Charlotte anchored Sunrise live at the Olympics and presented coverage of the Diamond Jubilee and Royal Wedding. She also hosted Sky’s BAFTA's show and presented live from LA on the red carpet.


She also recently featured in the film Burnt with Bradley Cooper. Every year Charlotte appears in cinemas around the world hosting broadcasts of Andre Rieu concerts and she also presented a documentary for Sky Arts called Andre Rieu: Behind the Music.


Charlotte is passionate about travel and has had articles published in the Sunday Telegraph, the Mail on Sunday, the Independent on Sunday and Conde Nast Traveller.


She supports several charities and is patron of the Motor Neurone Disease Association after her father died from the disease in 2015. She is also patron of the children's charity Ellenor Hospice, and due to her rescue dog Bailey, is a supporter of the Dogs Trust.

Christopher Hartley

Christopher Hartley


Global Hotel Alliance


Chris Hartley is Chief Executive Officer of Global Hotel Alliance (GHA). Chris was one of the pioneers behind the launch of GHA in 2004, and since 2006 he has overseen its development into the world’s largest alliance of independent hotel brands.


Today GHA has 35 member brands and over 550 hotels in more than 76 countries, and continues to add new members and create unique products and services, such as its multi-brand loyalty programme, DISCOVERY, which has more than seven million members and drives over US$1.4 billion in revenue.


Prior to GHA, Chris was start-up CEO of Shaza Hotels, a joint-venture created to build from scratch a new brand, primarily aimed at the growing Middle East market.


From 2001-05, Chris was Senior Vice President Sales & Marketing for Kempinski Hotels based in Geneva. Chris had joined Kempinski in 1996, and held several Marketing roles during a period of significant growth for the company.


Chris started his career in 1991 doing management training for Forte Hotels in various luxury hotels in Milan, Paris, New York, Toronto and London, but he quickly migrated into corporate marketing, moving to Forte’s headquarters in London, where he was responsible for marketing and distribution for Forte’s “Exclusive” hotel division from 1992-96.


Chris is a graduate of London University, where he obtained his Bachelors’ degree in French and German, before going on to complete his post-graduate studies in hotel business administration at Manchester University. He also holds an MBA from Reims Business School. Chris speaks a variety of European languages, and he now lives and works in Dubai with his family.

David Mattin

David Mattin

Head of Trends & Insights



David has more than 12 years experience in writing and speaking about technological, social and cultural change.

After graduating from the University of Cambridge, David’s career began at the features desk of The Times. Since then, his business, innovation and trends journalism has appeared everywhere from Fast Company to The Guardian to Google Think Quarterly.

An experienced broadcaster, David also has written and presented documentaries for BBC Radio 4.


Today, he is responsible for trend thinking across free and Premium content at TrendWatching. As an innovation and consumer insight expert, he is regularly quoted across UK broadsheets and by international media.


David is the co-author of Trend-Driven Innovation, published by Wiley. And as an accomplished keynote speaker, his recent engagements include keynotes for The Next Web, Conde Nast International, NEXT Conference and Virgin Mobile.

John O'Ceallaigh

John O'Ceallaigh

Digital luxury travel editor, The Telegraph


John is The Telegraph's digital luxury travel editor, Telegraph Luxury's travel editor and Ultratravel's associate editor. Reporting on luxury-travel news and developments also on telegraph.co.uk/luxury/travel, he is a regular visitor to the world's best hotels and most exciting holiday destinations. You can follow his journeys on social media at @johnoceallaigh.

Duncan O'Rourke

Duncan O'Rourke

Chief Operating Officer Europe, Luxury Brands

Accor Hotels


Duncan O’Rourke started in this new role in December and will be based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Duncan and his team will have operating responsibility for all luxury hotels under Accor’s newly formed LUXE division in Europe.


Duncan brings 30 years of hospitality experience to his new role. He started his career as a management trainee and then held several progressive positions in food and beverage and hotel management in Europe, the US and Middle East.


In 2004, he joined Kempinski Hotels, as General Manager, Kempinski Hotel Thessaloniki. He then led the pre-opening of two London properties and was subsequently promoted to Regional Director & General Manager Kempinski Hotel Ishtar, Jordan, where he was responsible for 10 Kempinski properties and all pre-openings in the region.


In 2008 he was appointed Chief Operating Officer, Kempinski Hotels and became member of the management board. Most recently, he served as Group CEO Hospitality for Emerald Palace Group, owner of hotels and residences in the UAE, Ukraine and Russia.


Duncan holds a MBA from Reims Management School, France and a Management Degree in Hospitality Management from Institute of Hotel Management Cesar Ritz, Switzerland.

Simon Palethorpe

Simon Palethorpe

Senior Vice President



Simon is in charge of overseeing Cunard's performance and manages the Cunard fleet of three ships which includes the world's only operating ocean liner, the Queen Mary 2.


Since joining Cunard in April 2016, Simon has overseen several high profile launches and campaigns including Cunard's £90 million investment in Queen Mary 2's 'Remastering', the first Cunard Transatlantic Fashion Week and the launch of Cunard's first brand film. Simon will shortly be overseeing the refit of Queen Victoria.


Before joining Cunard, he held senior roles at Terra Firma Capital Partners, PepsiCo, Avis Europe Plc. and John Lewis. While at John Lewis, Simon served as Managing Director for John Lewis’ online business and while at Avis Europe Plc he served as Group Commercial Director. Immediately before joining Cunard, Simon spent four years managing a portfolio of online businesses in the specialty food, chocolate, cosmetics and ticketing industries.


In addition to managing the Cunard brand, Simon has been involved with many Cunard initiatives that focus on giving opportunities to tomorrow's generation, including the Prince's Trust.

Aaron Simpson

Aaron Simpson

Co-Founder and Group Executive Chairman



Having graduated from Oxford University, Aaron enjoyed an illustrious career in film production, initially working for Scala and Rocket Pictures and then establishing his own production company, Flashlight Films.


Aaron is an instrumental figure in the Quintessentially Foundation, an organisation dedicated to supporting charities around the globe. His strong entrepreneurial edge has been the driving force in establishing Quintessentially as a truly global, influential British brand with physical offices in over 65 cities worldwide.


Aaron is group executive chairman of more than 32 companies, which have grown to become a portfolio of businesses that cover every facet of luxury lifestyle with an ever-expanding presence around the globe.


Aaron is an advisor and board member to several private businesses, including board member of The Entrepreneurs Exchange, board member of Wordeo Ltd; Velocity; non-executive director of The Moon Ltd - a 3D, 365 Virtual World; and non-executive director of Idris Ltd - an investment fund for entrepreneurial ideas; as well as a number of other privately owned businesses.

Richard Singer

Richard Singer


Travelzoo Europe


Richard Singer joined Travelzoo (NASDAQ: TZOO) in January, 2012, and is President of Travelzoo Europe. He has full responsibility for Travelzoo's direction and growth across Europe. Travelzoo operates globally across 26 offices, works with over 2000 travel companies and has over 28 million members worldwide.


Prior to joining Travelzoo Richard held senior positions at the Telegraph Media Group - including General Manager of Travel where he led all commercial, editorial and product functions. Prior to that Richard was responsible for the commercialisation of the Telegraph website which grew to become one of the largest media websites in the world.


Richard is a regular speaker at international events and conferences presenting on global travel trends and insights based on his extensive knowledge of both the travel and media sectors.


Richard graduated from Loughborough University with a BSc in Physical Education and Sports Science and an MSc in Management.

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Place of registration: England and Wales.
Company number 08723341.
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