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T+L 2006 Women's Travel Special

Christopher Sturman Katie Anderson.

Photo: Christopher Sturman

Expert Advice

NIKI LEONDAKIS COO, KIMPTON GROUP
Leondakis is in the business of providing good hotel service. Here, she shares what matters most when she's a guest:
SEND ADVANCE WORD I like to call or e-mail the hotel a week in advance with my requests. If you give the concierge enough notice, you're not competing with five other guests for same-day dinner reservations or theater tickets.
THINK SMALL With smaller, independent hotels, I look for a word-of-mouth referral or affiliation with an organization that ensures a set of standards.
ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE If you treat hotel professionals with respect, they'll often go the extra mile. One time I arrived at my hotel and realized I had left my laptop on the plane. Someone there was actually willing to go to the airport in person and track it down for me. That was definitely not on the menu of services.
KNOW YOURSELF I treasure my friends and travel companions, but I also treasure my alone-time. So I generally don't book side-by-side rooms or connecting suites.

VISHAKHA DESAI PRESIDENT, ASIA SOCIETY
Crisscrossing Asia to do research on exhibitions and to work at the Asia Society's new India Centre in Mumbai, Desai stays self-aware when traveling alone on business. Here are her tips:
NEVER SKIMP ON HOTELS Even if it feels extravagant, a luxury hotel has a certain level of service, and as a single woman, it's better to know that you'll be taken care of.
PLAN AHEAD I firmly believe you have to do your research really well. I always arrange for a car service to meet me at the airport. You want a certain level of confidence that you'll get there, so you don't have to worry.
MAKE ADVANCE CONTACTS I was recently in Kashmir working on an art exhibit. I asked colleagues and acquaintances for their friends' names—poets, intellectuals—who gave me inside access to local culture.
STAY IN TOUCH No matter where I am, I absolutely insist on talking to my husband every day.

ANNABELLE BOND MOUNTAINEER
Bond is the only woman to have climbed the Seven Summits in one year—the highest peak on each continent—and recently competed in a 155-mile race across the Atacama Desert, in Chile. Here, three items she takes to ensure she hits the ground running:
MY IPOD A great way to explore a new city is to jog through a park or along a waterfront. Eighties music gets me moving. One minute, I'm groggy; the next, I turn on the music and go for it. I started off as someone who took 30-minute jogs every day. I'm not saying everyone wants to climb Everest, but I think a lot of women have the capability to push themselves; it's just a matter of forcing yourself to be mentally disciplined.
BOTTLED WATER When I'm traveling, staying hydrated can make all the difference. I also avoid eating heavy meals on plane rides, and I take short naps.
ASPIRIN Altitude affects me as much as anyone else. We all need to acclimate. To adjust, I try to arrive at my destination a couple of days before a climb, and I take aspirin.

GUCCI WESTMAN ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, LANCÔME
On the road for up to three weeks a month, Westman has a few well-honed strategies for looking and feeling good:
IN HER BAG When I'm traveling, I'm plagued by dehydration. I always pack electrolyte tablets to take with water. I also like to bring along a water mist for my face. You can see what happens to water bottles on a flight; you can only imagine what happens to your insides.
ON ARRIVAL It's great if you can sleep on a night flight, but the next-best thing is to rest when you arrive. As soon as I get off the plane, I'll soak in bath salts to pull out toxins. I learned about how important bathing is in Japan. It kick-starts your circulation and your metabolism.
FAVORITE AMENITIES I love the ginger-infused warm towels on All Nippon Airways. The best bathroom products ever are at Hotel Splendido, in Portofino, Italy. I also pick things up wherever I am, like a skin cream called St. Barth that you can only get on St. Bart's.

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