By Andrew Villagomez
May 05, 2015
Gray Malin and Le Meridien
Credit: Courtesy of Le Méridien

Known for his gorgeous aerial photography, Gray Malin has been accruing quite the collection of passport stamps building his brand. From the Bolivian salt flats to Bondi Beach in Sydney, Malin’s colorful, creative vision landed him recent partnerships with iconic boat shoe brand Sperry Top-Sider (one Malin’s personal travel essentials) and another with Le Méridien hotels.

The Le Méridien project has Malin traveling to different international properties—Bhutan, Dubai, and Split, Croatia among others—to create artworks in various forms that guests can enjoy. They include a visual journey video to be shown in the Le Méridien media hub lobbies and on the keycards of all the properties—perfect for a hotel room card collector.

Below, his first Le Méridien shoot, his selections for the Sperry collaboration, and Malin's guide to his favorite travel destination to date, Cape Town.

What's been a highlight for so far with the Le Méridien partnership?

It’s really just begun! I loved doing our first shoot at Le Méridien Ra off the coast of Spain. The property is very relaxing and has two large reflecting pools that make for a tranquil environment by the seaside.

What was the first shoot like?

For Ra I designed a new take on the classic design of the poolside staple, the live saver. I was able to accomplish shooting them atop the water from multiple angles: helicopter, roof, ladder, and ground—so conceptualizing this idea and seeing it come together from beginning to end was definitely a highlight. The best part is that one of the images shot this day can now be seen on the Key Cards for Le Méridien, so it’s a completely full circle experience for their guests.

Tell us about the Sperry shoes collaboration - what international locations were featured?

We are both brands who celebrate a love for the sea and stand for classic style and adventure, so it really made for a perfect collaboration! The Sperry team and I selected prints from Lisbon, Cape Town, and Cefalù, Sicily because we wanted to convey that the beach is a universal place of celebration, no matter where you are in the world.

What's been your favorite travel destination?

Cape Town, South Africa. I was there to photograph the beaches for my “A La Plage” series, but I also made time to truly experience what the country had to offer. I just loved everything about it from the people to the beaches to the landscapes and everything in between.

What Cape Town beaches did you visit; was there a favorite?

I loved visiting Muizenberg and Camps Bay but my favorite beach was Boulders, about forty-five minutes south of Cape Town. This beach is where the African penguin colony is located and it's great fun to see them swimming and playing along the shore.

Where did you stay?

I’ve been to Cape Town twice and stayed in a few different places, which have all been spectacular. However my favorite hotel is Kensington Palace, a very urban-cool boutique hotel with views over the city.

What's an experience you'd recommended in South Africa?

If anyone is going I highly recommend using the travel services of Here's My Card—they are experts when it comes to South Africa! They have organized two trips for me—one exclusively in South Africa and another in both South Africa and Namibia. They are local to Cape Town and know every restaurant, every excursion, and every safari lodge in the country and are really excellent at creating the perfect fit regardless of how small or large your budget may be. They introduced us to a resort in the wine country region about an hour from Cape Town named La Residence and it continues to be the #1 most amazing hotel I have ever stayed at! I cannot say enough good things about Here's My Card.

Where's the place to eat in Cape Town?

You have to pay a visit to Test Kitchen—it's the best! Get anything with Kingklip! It's a local fish that's delicious. A must try for anyone visiting Test Kitchen or Cape Town.

What travels do you have next?

I’m off to Bhutan for my next shoot with Le Méridien. We’ve come up with something very 'happy' for this destination, so I’m looking forward to diving in and achieving beautiful results. As for personal, it’s off to Italy in the summer for a little bit of that Mediterranean glamour for myself!