10 Questions For (14): Tamara Heber Percy of Mr & Mrs Smith

Happy to present to you Tamara Heber Percy of Mr & Mrs Smith, a wonderful collection of funky hotels.

Tamara Heber Percy and son Tom

1) Who are you?

I’m Tamara Heber Percy, founder and director of Mr & Mrs Smith, the boutique hotel specialists.

2) What do you like about what you do?

Apart from the travel which comes with the territory and you couldn’t do this job unless you loved travel I’d say the thing I love most about my job is the feedback we get from customers as they are constantly (and pleasantly) surprised with the experiences they have at hotels we recommend. I also love new stuff, so getting to know about new design, interiors and innovation in the hotel world.

3) What don’t you like about what you do?

The lack of time to do anything else: when you run your own business you work long hours. When you travel, there’s the jet lag, the whirlwind of meetings. I just wish there were more hours in each day.

4) Please tell us all about your blog and your aims with it.

The Smith Travel Blog started because we realized that we had a lot of great content and information that didn’t really fit into the main website. We have teams of staff who are travelling all the time, as well as our Smith Spies (our term for people who keep our info on each destination up to date), all having great experiences that we wanted to share with our customers. We are also in contact with some great people in the industry – from Michael Caines the Michelin-starred chef to Anouska Hempel who are happy to share their experiences with us. We felt it was time for us to introduce another voice to Smith, to open up what happens behind the scenes a bit more, and to engage customers with a more personal and responsive tone.

5) Your top 3 destination experiences you’ve ever stayed to date and why?

A road trip from San Francisco to Las Vegas. The coastal road is just stunning. Also, I love Ibiza – it sounds corny but I was actually brought up there so the island has a very special place in my heart. You certainly don’t need to be a clubber to go there. I’m also a massive fan of the New York city break – I love the buzz of Manhattan life.

6) Your top 3 accommodations you’ve ever stayed to date and why?

I spent my honeymoon at the Royal Malewane in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. It’s a boutique safari lodge with its own giraffe-frequented watering hole, mahogany four-posters and a Bush spa.

The penthouse suite at the Hotel on Rivington would be my next choice. Not only is it spectacular in itself with a rooftop Jacuzzi and all the luxury trimmings, but the views of New York are incredible.

Finally, I loved my recent holiday in Ibiza – two weeks in a stunning self-catering villa – we really pushed the boat out and felt like rock stars for a fortnight.

A stunning view from the Hotel on Rivington Penthouse Suite

7) Your top 3 most memorable food experiences to date and why?

Lunch at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons for my husband’s birthday.

Dinner at Gramercy Tavern in New York – it’s not new, funky or modern but always delivers great food and a fantastic atmosphere.

Coffee at Monmouth Coffee – without a doubt the best coffee in London.

8) Your 3 worst destination/ accommodation /food experiences to date and why?

That’s a tough one, because generally all my travel experiences have been good. Of course, we check out a lot of substandard hotels when researching for Smith but I wouldn’t say that was a bad experience.

I’ve had a lot of boring experiences waiting for delayed airplanes but since I have become a BlackBerry addict, that time just seems to fly by (sorry!).

When I was a teenager I backpacked around the world. In Jakarta I stayed in a youth hostel which I’d arrived at very late one night. When I woke up the sheets were covered in blood and I was covered in bug bites, and when I looked down the floor, I was met with a carpet of rat droppings. I decided from that moment on to up my accommodation budget.

9) Can you offer the readers 3 travel/ food / accommodation / things to do tips about the city you are currently living in?

I love the Thames in London. I used to live on a Dutch barge moored in Chiswick so being near water is important to me. One of the nicest walks in the whole of London is along the river from Hammersmith to Chiswick.

My favourite hotel in London is Anouska Hempel’s Blakes – I got married there. It’s the original boutique hotel and I’ve never found anywhere more intimate or sexy. There’s no high-end spa or high-tech conference facilities as this is all about couples. One of my favourite things to do in place is amble around the markets: Borough for incredible foodie treats and exotic ingredients; Spitalfields for arts, crafts and leather, and Portobello for, well, anything really.

My (current) favourite restaurant in London is Yauatcha – yummy dim sum!

Tamara’s Dutch Barge at Chiswick

10) Any Question(s) you’d expected me to ask that you would like to answer?

What does the future hold for Mr & Mrs Smith, perhaps? It’s quite an exciting time for us. As well as really exploring what we can do with the Smith Travel Blog, we’re also exploring other media and formats. You can expect to see our first foray into online TV before long and an extension of the services we provide to mobiles (we already have a bespoke BlackBerry application). We’ve also got big developments happing in the States – we’ve already got a S-specific site – and, although I don’t want to give too much away, you may see some Smith-related goings-on in the Asia-Pacific area before too long!

Mr & Mrs Smith site

My observations:
First a Big Thank You, Tamara for being my guest! You are a hell of an inspiring lady!

You got me convinced to acquire my own Blackberry. Albeit to be able to take reservations while on the road. Typically when I am underway to fetch some clean linen, I always get calls about our vacancies.

I would like to congratulate you with your portfolio of hotels and the Blog: If “Damien” Cronian coins the blog one of the best corporate blogs in the industry he means it and I concur! But not only an excellent bunch of hotels that you have, I believe your keen eye for detail and things to do in the neighborhood of a hotel makes the brand standing out between the best of the best.

One small remark. I tried this summer to book a small hotel in the South of France to find out there was no way of checking their online availability. I believe that unnecessary in these times. I’m a notable late booker, because only at the last moment, when there are really no guests, we take off, but I can imagine the same applies to busy people….

And finally a small question: Does the blog has two Tamaras? The Tamara featured under contributors got married in Ca… Hey where are your contributors’ Bios?

Last edited by Happy Hotelier on Saturday, October 17, 2009

4 thoughts on “10 Questions For (14): Tamara Heber Percy of Mr & Mrs Smith”

  1. Hi Guido
    Well – you caught me out. I actually had two weddings – because of marriage laws, we had to have a registry office wedding in London (which we did at Blakes with just family) and then we had the blessing with 100 guests in C’as Xorc in Mallorca.

    Thanks so much for this post and for your lovely comments about Smith – it’s such a passion of ours – your comments mean a lot.
    Good luck with the BlackBerry – it will definitely make you more efficient and if you have all your availability within your calendar you will be able to book customers in on the go. In fact you need never be at the hotel again!!

    By the way – I think we are coming your way soon!

  2. Hey Tamara
    Great article and i love your books! I wanted to pick your brains as I want to take my husband away for a european, romantic weekend break – our son is 2 now and we’ve not been away since he was born, he’ll be coming with us so ideally somewhere child-friendly, but also a little bit special. Any ideas?

  3. Hi Ana
    My favourite child-friendly hotel in the UK is Calcot Manor – they cater for all ages extremely well and also manage to make you feel like a grown up.
    In France I would go for Chateau Les Merles – the owners have children so the grounds are well suited to little ones and day care can be arranged whilst you pop out for some wine tasting!
    Have a great trip

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.