You’ve probably seen him before. He’s the tall, quiet man traveling alone. He won’t talk to you first, but he’ll be polite if you approach him. He’s trying to blend in after all, and so far “Andrew Harper” has done an excellent job of it. In his 30 years of traveling incognito with the mission of reporting the world’s finest hotels, resorts and restaurants in his members-only newsletter Hideaway Report, no one has ever guessed his identity.
“There have been times that hoteliers have taken me on one side, pointed out an individual dining alone and confidently identified him as Andrew Harper!” He writes in an email (so I can’t, unfortunately, report on his voice).
The first issue of his advertisement-free Hideaway Report appeared in 1979 and grew by word of mouth. Today, tens of thousands of members pay $195 annually for a basic membership or $400 annually plus a $500 initiation fee to be part of the Premier Class, which offers upgrades and other perks to travelers.
But the man I exchanged emails with is not really Andrew Harper. Harper is a pseudonym. And to complicate things even further, he is not the original Andrew Harper. And the original Harper was not named Andrew Harper either.
Ten years ago, after more than a few trips around the globe, it was time for Andrew Harper Numero Uno to call it quits, but before he could do this, he had to find the perfect replacement. If you’re familiar with the book and/or film The Princess Bride, it’s the same concept as the Dread Pirate Roberts bequeathing his name to a younger pirate. It’s the name that inspires awe and followers. The name is the legend.
Andrew Harper’s handpicked successor has since visited 116 countries and spends one-third of the year traveling. And like the original, the new Mr. Harper always pays full rate for all accommodations and services.
Look for my upcoming Q&A with the man of mystery himself, er, once removed, where he reveals some of his all-time favorite hotels.
Jenn Bain is a freelance contributor to Travelandleisure.com.