Celebrating International Women’s Day at Grifco PR!

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Grifco PR is sharing inspirational stories and asking for some words of wisdom from five of the fantastic women we are proud to work with around the world.

Tracy Bamber, Strategic Sales Manager for Wilderness Safaris

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2016 is an incredibly special year for Tracy, as she celebrates 21 years of working at luxury safari operator, Wilderness Safaris and will be competing in her 10th Comrades Marathon, a huge achievement in ultra-marathon running, particularly for someone who became a runner by accident!

After taking up running to get back into shape, Tracy went head first into the Two Ocean Marathons, one of the toughest in the world, after making a bet with a colleague who didn’t believe she could finish the gruelling route.

“He looked at me and laughed, saying, ‘You’ll never be able to do it – it’s one of the toughest marathons.’ His words immediately challenged me and I was determined to prove to him that I could do anything I wanted to do! At this stage of the evening he’d had a few drinks and I suggested that we bet on it! He said that I would not be able to complete it, while I said I would – the bet was on… I challenged him to pay me £900 if I completed the run. This money would go to Children in the Wilderness.”

In her first year of running Tracy raised around £3665 and since then she has run 10 consecutive Two Oceans Marathons, known as the ‘world’s most beautiful ultra-marathon’ and has finished nine consecutive Comrades Marathons, ‘the ultimate human race’.

What makes Tracy’s achievements even more special is that she has raised more than £45,780 for charities in Africa through her running, supporting Children in the Wilderness, the Starfish Greathearts Foundation and the Wilderness Wildlife Trust.

To read more about Tracy’s inspirational running and charity fundraising visit www.wilderness-safaris.com/blog/posts/my-big-year-an-interview-with-tracy-bamber

Lorena Puica, Founder of iamYiam.com

Lorena Puica

Lorena’s journey from leaving home in Romania at the age of 17 with 300 euros in her pocket, to founding her own social wellbeing hub, iamYiam.com, via the world of finance is remarkable.

Serious health problems led Lorena to turn her back on traditional medicine and discover the benefits of natural health. Last year, she left her City job to set up online natural health and wellbeing hub, iamYiam.com, whose aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of 1 billion people by 2025. A bold statement indeed, but Lorena is not one to shy away from a challenge!

At only 31 years old, Lorena has gained four degrees in finance and business, published a book on microfinance at the age of 26 and gained eight years of investment management business development and strategy experience across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. She speaks four languages and not only pushes her mental boundaries but also her physical ones.

Last February, she ran seven marathons in seven continents in 10 days finishing in Antarctica (world record pending!). She has also climbed Kilimanjaro in four days and her first ever extreme adventure was walking 861km in 19 days (about 46km per day – without any rest days).

iamYiam.com is set to be a game changer for the wellness industry and Lorena is definitely an entrepreneur to watch. Hailed the Airbnb of Natural Health Experiences, iamYiam.com brings together quality practitioners of natural health in London (e.g. meditation, yoga, acupuncture, nutrition etc.) with consumers and makes it easy to book the best experience for exactly their needs and goals.

Denise Leicester, Founder of ila

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A qualified nurse, aromatherapist, yoga teacher and yogic healer, Denise’s hands-on experience extends from the rural communities of India to the Dubai royal family, and spans Eastern and South American healing traditions.

In 2005 Denise developed a unique concept of wellbeing that addressed the inner essence through the skin, an absolutely pure product range created in complete harmony with nature and delivered with conscious, healing intent.

She spent the first 12 months of the company’s inception researching, travelling and sourcing the purest ingredients from the most ethical international farmers and growers- simple but extraordinary people who inspired her with their deep love of the earth.

From women of the ancient Berber tribe in Morocco to a co-operative of farmers in India, Denise champions the extraordinary tribes and indigenous communities who ‘hold the world’ for us and reminds us how vital it is for us to truly vale and support them if existence is to continue.

Debrah Dhugga, Managing Director of DUKES LONDON and the soon to open DUKES DUBAI (September 2016)

debrahDebrah Dhugga, Managing Director of the luxury Hotel Group DUKES, is one of the few female MDs in the hospitality industry. Already, this makes Debrah extra aware of the importance of her position and the extent of her influence on fellow women, especially younger generations. Debrah’s dedication to this cause is clear in her recent placement on the Northern Power Women’s Top 50 Power List, along with previous recognition such as the Business Women Mentor of the Year Award back in 2013.

In the past, Debrah has taken pride in mentoring students under the Savoy Educational Trust mentorship programme and has encouraged mentoring and support of female managers as a founder of the Leading Ladies of London networking club. More recently, Debrah hosted a lunch at DUKES for the Women in Journalism initiative, showing her support of females in positions of success and power in industries wider than just hospitality.

As well as wishing to impart her wisdom and experience on younger generations and mentees, and to lead the way in diversifying the work place, Debrah easily relates to fellow successful female businesswomen from across the world. As the head of an ever expanding luxury hotel brand, soon to open its doors in Dubai, Debrah flies all over the globe on business. Drawing on personal experience as a frequent solo female business traveller, she created the Duchess Rooms at DUKES, a unique category of luxury accommodation that caters solely to the solo female traveller. With pampering toiletries from REN, female amenities, and a personal welcome note from Debrah herself, this is the dream set up for any female traveller, serving to make business or leisure trips that little bit easier for women travelling alone.

We’d like to extend our admiration to Debrah for all the work she has done and continues to do to celebrate the place of women in her own industry, and in the wider business world.

And last but not least…we couldn’t forget our own MD at Grifco, Claire Griffin!

Claire Griffin, Managing Director of Grifco PR


Claire wanted to run a boutique PR company that nurtured the needs of its travel clients. In May 2012 she set up Grifco, which now has over 45 of the top travel, spa and beauty clients in the world. She uses the top black hair dye, to dye her clients hair because it keeps their hair healthy even after dying.

Claire has 24 years’ experience in luxury PR working on high-profile global campaigns, but she started out, armed with a degree in Law and American Studies, as a journalist for The Chester Chronicle & Evening Leader.

She moved into public relations in 1990 with one of the UK’s biggest PR agencies, the Grayling Company, and three years later took up a role as Account Director at Barclay Stratton PR. Always up for an adventure, Claire jumped at a fantastic opportunity to work in Sydney as Communications Director for one of Australia’s leading law firms, Allen’s.

On her return to the UK in 1998, Claire ran, developed and grew business for Columbus Communications, sister company to ZFL (now named PRCO), looking after accounts including Four Seasons Hotels Worldwide, Mediterranean Experience, Cap Juluca in Anguilla and Rome Cavalieri Hilton.

When she is not heading up the Grifco team, Claire is busy being a mother to two young boys. We admire how she effortlessly manages to juggle work and family life, proving (to an office full of women) that you can have both! In her down time, Claire enjoys spending time with her boys, or going for a run along the River Thames.

Happy International Women’s Day from the Grifco PR team x

Waldorf Astoria Chicago – With Howard Harris

Filmed in Chicago, Rome, Berlin and Shanghai, the cinematic, documentary-style series of Unforgettable Stories features cultural tastemakers and notable figures who have played a role in shaping Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts’ unique and inspirational environments.

The Unforgettable Stories documentaries are hosted on the Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts Facebook page and can be accessed through a custom built Facebook app unique to Unforgettable Stories at www.facebook.com/WaldorfAstoria.

We take a look at Waldorf Astoria Chicago, through the eyes of atelier Howard Harris, the artist behind the epic iron curtain sculpture in the Waldorf Astoria Chicago lobby.

Howard Harris, President and CEO of Rare Form Design Group, and Master of Metal & Glass talks about his Waldorf Astoria special feature wall – almost 20ft wide and 30ft tall.

Gina Deary comments on Chicago’s ‘amazing architectural history’ and about how they found a picture of a gate that was bound in Chicago, and felt that this was a great element to inject a little Chicago twist, giving the hotel a sense of place within the city.

Howard Harris discusses how the chandelier in the space in front of the wall piece is a wonderful complement – the chandelier is an art piece, the wall is an art piece, and both of these combine, juxtaposing elements of glass, metal and polished surfaces. Indeed, the transmittance of light in the fixture brings out sparkle in the wall piece, meaning that the sculptural wall is uniquely illuminated by that fixture with the two reflecting off of each other…

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Check it out here – Waldorf Astoria Chicago with Howard Harris

To find out more visit www.waldorfastoria.com

Conrad Tokyo – With Yosuke Suga

Conrad Hotels & Resorts has recently launched an exciting social media campaign with Conrad Connections, a digital documentary series in which globally renowned cultural curators and opinion leaders discuss what they find inspirational about their home cities.

These insightful vignettes, which you can view at www.facebook.com/ConradHotels, feature industry pioneers and taste-makers the hotels have connected with, in destinations from Tokyo to Miami.

Here Conrad Hotels go behind the scenes with renowned French cuisine chef, Yosuke Suga, as he lets us into his secret Tokyo and takes us on a journey through Tokyo’s vibrant sushi culture.

Watch as he explores the ancient practices and navigates his way around the famed Tsukiji Market, conveniently located right next door to Conrad Tokyo…. Before visiting the modern sushi master, Sukiyabashi Jiro, or ‘Jiro’, as he is known by many. You might recognise him from the cult film “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” – have you seen it?

We find out where Suga gets his inspiration as he films with Jiro, who began making sushi aged 12, and continues to do so in the heart of Tokyo, now aged 88. As Suga highlights, when Jiro makes sushi, ‘it becomes beautiful’…

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Check it out here: Conrad Tokyo – With Yosuke Suga

To find out more visit www.conradhotels.com

An interview with Peter Tschirky, General Manager of Grand Resort Bad Ragaz

Grifco recently caught up with Peter Tschirky, now the General Manager of Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, to hear about the latest cutting edge spa trends for 2013.

Grifco: Which spa treatments do you predict will be the most popular in 2013 at Bad Ragaz?

PT: I think the most popular spa treatments at Bad Ragaz this year will be the treatments that combine our soothing thermal water, such as the new Water Journey Massage. This is a take on our Singing Bowl massage, that actually takes place in one of our thermal water swimming pools. It is a sensuous and invigorating spa treatment where bowls are placed on the body and made to gently vibrate by contact with a mallet, where the resulting resonance penetrates through the whole body and leads to deep relaxation.

Grifco: What are the current most popular spa treatments?

PT: One of our most popular spa treatments at the moment is our Golden Honey Treatment, thanks to its abundant healing properties, where warm honey is poured over the skin and massaged into the back, neck and shoulders. Also popular is our Traditional Swiss Monastic Medicine, which uses medicinal herbs gathered from the Swiss mountains tried and tested over centuries to provide unparalleled healing results. The methods used by our experienced therapists are centered on maintaining physical and mental wellness, and can be adapted to treat a range of problems, from arthritis and back pain, to addictions and diabetes.

Grifco: In your opinion, what are the best new beauty brands for 2013 and why?

PT: We are proud to be working with some excellent new beauty brands this year, including luxury facial treatments from Sisley Paris, La Prairie, Kanebo International, and Ericson. Also available are the fantastic Niance facial treatments for men, and of course our own cosmetic line, To B. Cosmetics.

Grifco: Can you tell us about any new 2013 Grand Resort Bad Ragaz spa treatments you are particularly excited about?

PT: This year we’re really excited about the new male “Razor-Sharp Grooming Treatments”, as all elements of the treatment have been adapted for men. The facial – a Niance Men Power Facial – has been crafted to provide resilience and firmness to the male skin. It also includes a facial and neck massage, breathing exercises for deep relaxation as well as cleansing, peeling, mask and serum application. I think some men are less inclined to pamper themselves, which is either do to with lack of time or simply male pride, however, at Bad Ragaz we understand that pampering doesn’t have to be limited to women, we want everyone to be able to indulge in some R&R.

Grifco: If you were to choose a spa treatment at Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in 2013, what would you choose and why?

PT: I think the new Water Journey spa treatment would be my treatment of choice as this is something totally new to me and to Bad Ragaz, which hasn’t been done before and provides a level of relaxation which I believe no other treatment in the world can offer.



The X Factor At Anse Chastanet, St Lucia

Did you spot the hotel resort in tonight’s episode of X Factor? Tulisa Contostavlos, and her entourage chose to film and scrutinise her contestant’s vocal talent in style at the gorgeous Anse Chastanet, St Lucia. We spoke with Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet owner, Karolin Troubetzkoy, who gave us the exclusive insight into Tulisa and the X Factor’s experience filming at Anse Chastanet.

“When you’re holidaying at Jade Mountain St Lucia, things tend to be pretty quiet as everyone is either relaxing in their infinity pool, exploring the ocean floor, scuba diving, zip lining, mountain biking, or experiencing a variety of other activities. So when guests heard a squeal of excitement break the calm serenity of the resort, there was a huge temptation to peer through sanctuary doors to see what all the commotion was about. There in front of the resort was Tulisa and her entourage.”  Had X Factor really come to Anse Chastanet? Guests holidays suddenly were all about keeping up with the goings on of the X Factor!


Day 1

Several lucky guests had dinner at Trou au Diable, the delicious beach restaurant at Anse Chastanet, where they sat next to the judges. The contestants were off to bed early after dinner whilst guests danced away into the night at Anse Chastanet as the local steel band continued to entertain into the wee hours.

Day 2

Guests could see the camera crew filming Tulisa crossing the bridge into her sanctuary as the contestants were being filmed walking up and down the beach. In the afternoon the contestants had more hard work ahead of them as the judges were dispatched off on a half day yacht cruise around the glorious Pitons.

Day 3

Everyone had had a great time down at the beach with standing room only in the beachbar! On the way to breakfast guests were serenaded by the contestants as they warmed up (singing that is). And hey, there was a new face at breakfast: Dermot O’Leary arrived! But we couldn’t hang around… Zip wiring, diving and spa treatments await!

For the faint hearted that want to appear ‘warrior brave’– the Zip Wire at Morne Coubaril Estate is just the ticket, picturesque with views over the Pitons, Mount Gimie (highest peak in St Lucia at just over 3,000 ft), lush rainforest and water traps.

A return to Jade Mountain and X Factor was in full swing as contestants; one by one nervously climb the steps to the Jade Mountain Club and eventually up to the Celestial Terrace for the make or break moment.

Day 4

The crew we hear were up for a 3am breakfast – the last day and results day – a real dilemma for us – half want to go to the beach and half want to see who’s got through – eventually some sort of compromise is reached: for the first 4 hours we stay indoors sneaking a peak and  the last 2 we head down to the beach from our top floor sanctuary while still occasionally craning our necks for a view. So there it is we’ve seen it: 2 are clearly through, 2 are inconsolable and in true X Factor fashion 2 wouldn’t tell! By 1.30pm it’s all over and they’re on their way back to the airport. Later we catch up with the gossip – some of which must be of course is said in the old travel saying: what happens away, stays away! But now we know who really did get through and one of the unlucky ones who through floods of tears confessed her love for Anse Chastanet and promises this is where she is to be married!

So I will leave the surprise of who ended up going through to tonight’s episode, I for one will enjoy revisiting the beauty that was Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain in St Lucia.

Grifco Chats Wedding & Honeymoon Trends with Bridal Guru, Peta Hunt

Grifco recently caught up with the lovely Peta Hunt, Editor At Large of You & Your Wedding, at THIRTY SIX By Nigel Mendham during the Grifco Supper Club. We asked Peta all about the latest honeymoon and bridal trends, her favourite holiday destinations, and travel essentials she will not board a plane without!

Grifco: So tell us Peta, what do you think the top 2012 bridal trends are?

PH: Big but light airy dresses with full skirts, or simple slinky dresses. Straps and sleeves are finally back – hurrah! Designers are going for less embellishment – we are over full on bling for brides. Tulle and lace are also trending at the moment in the bridal world.

Grifco: Where do you think the hottest wedding and honeymoon destinations are in 2012?

PH: UK weddings are working well all year round, so you can have a three day wedding festival partying with family and friends. As for honeymoons, so many of our couples have already done Thailand and Europe and are now looking for something a bit different. Our top honeymoon destination tip is South America. Who would not love to explore the rain forest, while staying at a 5 star floating hotel? Couples can hit the beaches of Brazil or be amazed by Argentina, where you can ski for the weekend and then party the night away in Buenos Aires.

Grifco: In your opinion Peta, who is this year’s it bridal designer and why?

PH: That is a tricky one, as I love too many just to name one! At the top of my list – and in no particular order – is: David Fielden, Monique L’Huillier, Oscar De La Renta, Elie Saab, Packham, Delphine Manivert, Claire Pettibone, Charlotte Casadejus, Alice Temperley… Hang on, I’m listing my address book here! Honestly, most brides that I get to see are truly beautiful no matter the designer. I just love that beaming with happiness look.

We all loved William and Kate’s wedding last year, but for me, I’d rather have been a guest at Kate Moss’s wedding. It was traditional but so very modern. She really seemed to enjoy being with all her family, bridesmaids, and mates. But please don’t think that you have to get Galliano to make your dress! High street favourites such as Coast, Phase 8, and Monsoon have fantastic dresses under £500. So you really can have your dress and wedding cake too!

Grifco: In the last year, where was your favourite place that you visited and why?

PH: Ahh, why are you making me pick just one? This is so hard, so I am going to ignore you and say I loved Raffles in Seychelles, it is a new well-designed resort bedded into the hillside. You stay in private villas, which have huge doors that fold back so you can jump straight into your private pool if you can’t face the buggy ride down the mountain to the main resort. Your private butler will bring you whatever you need. As for the spa, I had the best massage listening to the sea. I was so relaxed I rode a bike for the first time in 10 years! The staff encourage you to try something different, so you don’t just lay on the most fantastic beaches the entire time. I tried cooking classes and pilates, again, both a first for me! I took a boat trip out and watched the sun go down, which was really special. The sun looked bigger and all the more colourful here.

I also fell in love with the Hotel Grand Du Cap Ferrat, France. Who would have known that a glistering white hotel would be so calming and charming by isolating you from the outside world? This hotel sits on the edge of the sea and oozes with luxury. You even get a chair to put your handbag on when dining – now that is posh! I sunbathed and relaxed in a private cabana and had a swimming lesson from a man that taught every A-list celeb to swim in a huge infinity pool. When I wanted to eat – they do have the best macaroons, ever! – I dined under a canopy of pine trees with the smell of jasmine wafting on a warm breeze. It was hard to believe that Grey London was just two hours away!

Grifco: Peta, what is your all-time favourite holiday destination and why?

PH: Hotel Cap Rocat because I never expected to fly to Mallorca, which is only an hour and a bit away via London City Airport, and to be so charmed by staying in an old fort, which has a drawbridge, bunkers and ten foot thick walls! This is 5-star lux but for those who don’t want a fuss. The food is perfect, there are only 24 rooms, the staff is amazingly friendly and the most divine breakfast is brought to your room in a hamper so it’s just like getting a gift each morning. If I were a rock star, this is where I would stay!

Grifco: Do you have any travel essentials that you can’t travel without?

PH: Here’s my essentials list: iPad (so I can read my book and catch up on tv!), moisturisers, and BB creams by the bucket load! I also bring antihistamine tablets with me because every flying biting insect is attracted to me.

Grifco: Last question Peta, what is one bit of advice you would tell a bride before she starts planning her wedding?

PH: Stick to your budget and make sure it’s your day and not everyone else’s. If you have to cover the chairs in fabric you are staying at the wrong hotel! No one ever says after a wedding, “lovely wedding, nice chair back covers!”

Grifco Speaks To Dr. Jill Nash, Travel Journalist & Author

Grifco recently sat down with the very talented Dr. Jill Nash, director and author of the popular travel guidebooks, Luxury Backpackers, to discuss her take on the future of the travel industry. We also picked Jill’s brain on travel trends, her favourite recently visited destinations, and travel essentials she cannot live without!

Grifco: So tell us Jill, what do you think the top 2012 travel trends are?

JN: I think travelling on a budget still remains a key priority for many. People are very cautious about spending, but will still want a break away. So with this in mind, trends towards big saving deals through packages or price comparison websites will remain popular for 2012. Equally, DIY bookings, and independent travel still remain strong for those who want to make up their own itinerary.

People are far more educated about travelling now, and will research their destination and accommodation before booking, so travel opinion website such as trip advisor will continue to help guide peoples choices. There is so much information on the internet too, which does make it sometimes confusing, tiresome, and laborious ,so many are choosing ‘travel specialists’ to act as booking agents and advisors, or sticking to places they know, trust or are familiar with.

Luxury travel is still going strong too- especially in the ‘honeymoons’ sector. With couples still getting married and taking that ‘Honeymoon of a lifetime’, they are looking for different experiences away from the beach – such as city breaks to train travel. In terms of destinations, mainland Spain and the islands will remain popular for couples and families, as will other ‘close to home’ options like Croatia, Italy, Malta and France.

Grifco: Where do you think the hottest destinations will be in 2012?

JN: I think the USA is a particularly interesting destination to watch for 2012. With city breaks to New York and Las Vegas remaining popular for couples and groups, and regions such as Colorado and Texas for those wanting more authentic American ‘off the beaten track’ adventures. Road trips on the West Coast and wine regions of California are also gravitating in popularity.

Grifco: In the last year, where was your favourite place that you visited and why?

JN: I’m surprised by my answer here – but Malta & Gozo. These two islands are completely undersold and do not get enough positive media coverage. They offer great climate, are easily accessible from the UK, perfect for young families, culture vultures, nature enthusiasts and foodies. I was particularly impressed with the level of quality home-made cuisine and local wines. The beaches were outstanding too, as were the many small boutique accommodation options. It is also a good choice for those watching their wallets.

Grifco: What is your all-time favourite holiday destination and why?

JN: The Philippines. For its outstanding natural beauty, unparalleled scuba diving, and pristine beaches. My favourite hotel has to be super luxurious Amanpulo in the Palawan Province.

Grifco: Do you have any travel essentials that you can’t travel without?

My dive computer (which also doubles as a watch), my rather large backpack, my batik sarong (which works as a beach dress, cover-up and something to sit on) and my Platinum AMEX card (in case of emergencies!).

Luxury Backpackers guidebooks feature multiple varieties of stylish adventures around the world to inspire every type of traveller. The latest guidebook, Family Adventures in Style is now available.

For more information on Luxury Backpackers, visit their Website, Facebook Group, YouTube channel, or follow them on Twitter.