This week we’re feeling inspired (and motivated to book a vacation!) by Stephanie Chai, Founder and CEO of The Luxe Nomad, a website that offers the definitive answer to traveling in style. Featuring a curated collection of luxury hotels and resorts from around the world, members are privy to exclusive rates that are available for limited time periods only in flash sales, plus 24/7 best available rates at some of the most divine and inspirational holiday destinations you can imagine. With a panel of travel experts who are constantly on the lookout for unique destinations, their hand-picked getaways are the perfect luxurious escape.

With the website’s recent revamp and plans of a travel magazine afoot, The Luxe Nomad is going from strength to strength so we wanted to know the secret to its success and have a little Q & A with the lovely Stephanie Chai.

1. Tell us about what you do…

I run one of Asia’s first home-grown luxury hotel and villa booking sites, TheLuxeNomad.com. Being founder/CEO means wearing a lot of different hats. For example, when we didn’t have an operations manager (thankfully now we do!) I had to take on some of those responsibilities. And when we launched the new website recently, I became the pseudo CTO working with developers on testing the site for bugs and so forth.

But I’m not complaining! It’s always fun and challenging to take on new roles… and when you eventually hire someone to fill your shoes, you know exactly what to expect for them.

2. Talk us though a typical day for you…

Haha. Don’t be fooled by my Instagram – most of the time I’m glued to my laptop! It’s a Macbook Air so I literally bring it everywhere. Most of the time I’m managing the team overall and pushing new initiatives. At the moment we are focused on rolling out a new online travel magazine so we can mix up our emails with content and sales. The ultimate combination!

3. What leadership qualities do you most admire?

I think Richard Branson is a great entrepreneur, he’s charismatic, fun (well, so he seems) but yet has gotten the job done. Most importantly, he’s not afraid to break boundaries and be different. Which I think is an important trait to have. I’m always looking at ways to innovate and change the business so the team stays interested and challenged; that’s how you keep an A team passionate.

4. What three things/people/ROLES have contributed most to your success?

You know I’m reading Malcom Gladwell’s new book “David and Goliath” which suggests that people who had tough upbringings are more likely to succeed in life. Whilst I had great parents who without a doubt gave me a lot, they were also parents with great expectations. If I got an “A”, my Dad would say “Well, it’s not an A+”. When it came to money, there were always strings attached so I decided early on that making my own money was key to being lecture-free haha! But to be frank, my Chinese grandfather was self-made, as was my father and most of his siblings, so to a certain extent I’ve always aspired to be like them. As Gong Gong (Mandarin for grandfather) liked to say, “If that guy can do it. I can do it”.

5. If you knew then what you know now, what would you tell your 18-year-old self?

To enjoy myself more and not worry so much about the future! Haha, I remember sleepless nights thinking what will happen in life, will dreams come true etc, etc… you look back and you realise that those days were really just meant to be enjoyed. But when I was 18 I had just started modelling whilst at university and was reading Peter Lynch’s Beat the Street… so I could invest my earnings from modelling. But I guess it’s like what Steve Jobs said about connecting the dots. Perhaps if I didn’t invest and so forth, I wouldn’t have been able to launch my own business later in life.

6. We can give you a million dollars to launch your best entrepreneurial idea right now….What is it?

If it was my best idea I don’t think I’d be telling you! 🙂 #justsaying

An app with a green angle. Our weather is just awry at the moment and something needs to be done before that John Cusak movie 2012 turns into a reality bad movie and bad reality if that ever transpired!).

7. We’re planning a vacation, where would you recommend?

Some of my personal favourites at the moment is: The Mulia in Bali. Point Yamu in Phuket. Song Saa in Cambodia. Mira Moon in Hong Kong, W Taipei and Baros Maldives! This year I’m heading to Europe though and checking out La Bandita which is this beautiful boutique hotel in Tuscany. Ever since I watched “Under the Tuscan Sun”, it’s been my dream to go there!

8. What is your secret indulgence?

Living in Singapore has turned me into a bit of a foodie! So trying out great restaurants from time to time always makes me happy. Or lying by the beach, or on a boat – anything by the sea – yes please!

9. Pick two celebrities to be your parents

What an interesting question! As a child I always wanted Demi Moore to be my secret parent. Looking back, that was an odd choice! Let’s go with Judi Dench and Michael Caine.

10. If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?

For some reason I’m always asked this question!

1. A friend to talk to.

2. A fridge of food and wine to consume (should it be a long case of being stranded!)

3. A phone to call home (to cut down the whole stranded angle!)

Check out TheLuxeNomad.com for fabulous luxury vacations that we guarantee will make you swoon!


Written by Heh Zee