Want to know how to travel in style, just like the pros? We check in with frequent fliers to find out how often they fly, their favorite destinations and what they never leave home without.
Name: Christine Kirk
Occupation: Founder & CEO, Social Muse Communications
Hometown: Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. Yes, being a native Angeleno is as rare as the snow leopard.
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
College: Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR
College major: Major: Communications; Minor: English Literature & Writing
Facebook: Christine Kirk
Pinterest: Christine Kirk
Short bio: Christine Kirk is the founder and CEO of Social Muse Communications, advising luxury travel, restaurant, tech, and lifestyle brands on social media marketing, traditional public relations campaigns, and online branding. She has amassed over 37,000 engaged followers on Twitter, and growing, and is a guest blogger and speaker on various social media, PR and luxury lifestyle subjects. Additionally, Christine is the founder of the popular live Twitter chat #luxchat, an online discussion about the intersection of luxury brands and social media. Prestigious past guests include Lexus, The Ritz-Carlton Hotels, Four Seasons Hotels, Exclusive Resorts, Bergdorf Goodman, and many more. Finally, Christine is also an LA Correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide, writing about luxury travel and fine dining.
Languages spoken: English; conversational Spanish & Romanian (both my parents are from Romania so I grew up speaking the language with my family).
How often do you fly? Anywhere between 6-12 times a year. With travel being my business, I sometimes lose count!
How many countries have you been to? About 20.
How many continents have you been to? 4
Earliest travel memory: Traveling with my parents every Spring to The Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach, California and the island of Maui every August while I was growing up. My parents instilled in me at a very early age a love and appreciation of travel, luxury hotels, and fine dining. So much so, that I turned it all into a career as an adult!
Favorite American city: Besides my hometown of LA, New York City is my absolute favorite.
Favorite international city: I can’t name just one…so my top 3 are: Hong Kong, London, and Rome.
Least favorite country: When I find it, I’ll let you know. So far, I have found something to love and appreciate about every country I’ve visited.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: France. Don’t mess with them.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Angkor Wat Temples in Cambodia.
Favorite airline: Virgin America for domestic travel. For international flights, I love Cathay Pacific.
Favorite aircraft type: Any Cathay Pacific plane featuring the new business class. You truly fly in the lap of luxury. I loved it so much, that my 14-hour flight to Hong Kong seemed too short.
Aisle or window: For short flights I like window seats for the views. On long haul flights, it’s all about the aisle as I like to get up as often as I want, and move around to stretch my legs.
Favorite airport lounge: The Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge at Hong Kong Airport. Flawless in every way.
Favorite U.S. airport: SFO for its clean, modern design and (usually) reliable Wi-Fi.
Favorite international airport: London Heathrow for the excellent dining and shopping.
Favorite hotel: This is like asking a mother who her favorite child is. It’s impossible to pick. But some of my favorites are: The Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong for the interior design, luxurious service and sky high views; the Four Seasons Tented Camp in the Golden Triangle of Thailand for riding and bathing elephants; The Nam Hai in Vietnam for their private pool villas with personal butler service; and Las Ventanas in Cabo, Mexico for the margaritas and infinity pools. In Los Angeles, it’s a tie between the Beverly Wilshire, the Four Seasons on Doheny, the Beverly Hills Hotel, Hotel Bel-Air, and The Peninsula. I love them all for different reasons.
Favorite cruise line: I’ve never been on a cruise and don’t plan on ever taking one. Not my cup of tea.
Favorite travel credit card: Starwood Preferred American Express and Chase Sapphire Preferred for airline and hotel points.
Favorite island: Nevis in the West Indies in the Caribbean; and Kauai, Hawaii.
Favorite beach: Hanalei Bay on the North Shore of Kauai. With a two-mile crescent of white sandy beach and the majestic emerald green mountains of Bali Hai as a backdrop, it’s one of the most regal and romantic beaches I’ve ever stepped foot on. I love walking the entire two mile bay at sunrise, clearing my mind, and soaking in all the natural beauty. It’s great for swimming and paddle boarding during the day and watching the sunset with my husband in the evening. There’s really no reason to ever leave.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Spago by Chef Icon Wolfgang Puck, and Mastro’s Steakhouse in Beverly Hills
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Sunshine’s on Pinney’s Beach on the island of Nevis. They’re famous for the “Killer Bee” Nevisian punch cocktail. You’ll have one and done.
Favorite bar: Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle Hotel on the Upper East Side in New York. With live jazz performances and classic cocktails, it’s “Old New York” at its most elegant.
Favorite fruit: Papaya, lilikoi (passion fruit), and pineapple from Hawaii.
Favorite food: Japanese, Italian, New York pizza, and anything my mom makes.
Least favorite food: Fast food, because it’s not even real food. Just…YUCK.
Craziest thing you’ve eaten: Frog legs at a night market in downtown Hanoi, Vietnam.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): In the air, the mini bottles of wine are my typical go-to. Even though they’re not the best quality, they get the job done. On the ground, I love any type of spicy, hand-crafted cocktail—jalapeno in a cocktail makes me happy.
Favorite travel movie(s): Lost In Translation.
Favorite travel show(s): Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown—for its in-depth look at various destinations around the globe via their cuisine.
Favorite travel book(s): “Heads in Beds” by Jacob Tomsky for an insider’s look into the hotel business.
Right now I am reading: “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy” as I’m due with my first child (a boy!) in July.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: AFAR, A Luxury Travel Blog, Luxury Daily, Skift, and Johnny Jet!
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! Travel + Leisure, HotelChatter, NatGeo Travel, Forbes Travel Guide, Fodor’s.
5 things you bring on a plane: iPhone, iPad, a neck pillow, lip balm, & headphones.
What do you always seem to forget? Sunglasses. I always forget to grab them on my way out the door.
What do you like least about travel? Waiting in line. Any line. And jet lag.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Anything with local flair. I love a good bottle of white rum from Jamaica, a case of pineapple from Hawaii, or locally made jams and preserves from Nevis. Something to remind me of the destination is always a winner.
Favorite travel app(s): Uber for on-demand car service anywhere, any time; any of the airline apps for accessing your boarding pass and checking on the status of your flight
Most embarrassing travel moment: Whenever my husband lifts or carries my suitcase for trips that are a week or longer—and gives me a look of death. The suitcase is so heavy and crammed full that I’m always afraid he’ll break his back. But I can’t help myself, and pack it to the brim anyway.
Worst travel moment: Getting a horrific case of food poisoning in Morocco. For the reader’s sake, I’ll just leave it at that…
What’s your dream destination: The Maldives—every picture I’ve ever seen makes it look like Heaven on Earth.
Best travel tip: I’m a Type A personality who likes to have every last detail planned in advance. But with travel, you also have to be open to go with the flow. Often, the best and most memorable experiences I’ve ever had were things I discovered off my itinerary—that small café in Paris with the best crepes where I lingered for hours, or a shop I stumbled upon when getting lost on a side street in Rome. Sometimes, the best things in life are unplanned, and left up to your own sense of adventure, and willingness to appreciate the ‘little’ things.