“There was nowhere to go but everywhere so just keep on rolling under the stars”
If travel and storytelling go hand-in-hand, then our experts are definitely in the right job. They’ve lived in our destinations, and spent a lot of time exploring. Their stories are our inspiration. Their knowledge is the basis for organising your perfect trip – and they’ll be excited to hear all your stories when you return, too. Here’s just some of our London and New York team…
Head of Leisure
My passion for travel really began when I was eight years old, when we moved to Australia for 18 months. Coming from London I was blown away by the diversity of landscapes, from the barren areas surrounding Ayers Rock and the incredible beauty of the Great Barrier Reef to the amazing way of life over there. Since then I have always had a huge desire to seek out new experiences and find stunning new locations. I first began working in travel over 15 years ago and have been lucky to travel extensively throughout Europe, Japan, North America, and the Indian Subcontinent. Each of these amazing destinations offer a different and unique perspective of the world, whether it’s the diversity of the street food cultures of the pizzaiolo in Naples or the Vada Pav and Panipuri in Mumbai, each country has its own exciting interests, features and people. Thinking back to when I was eight again, I remember a time sitting on Ayers Rock thinking about where else I’d dream of exploring (so you know, Italy was top of the list) and having worked in travel this long, that list just keeps growing.
Head of Marketing
My first memory of traveling abroad is sitting in the cockpit of a 747 plane with my father in the captain’s seat. I grew up in a very privileged position that through his job we were able to travel the world and before I was 18 I had been to every continent bar one. Whilst all my instincts were telling me to follow in his footsteps, I took a bit of a detour and worked in Private Wealth Management for a few years before finally giving in. A year or so of backpacking through Asia and Europe (sadly not sitting in the cockpit this time) and I was ready to return home and determine my next path. The path thankfully led to Black Tomato and 8 years later I now lead Black Tomato’s Marketing and Communications team in London and New York. I’m frequently asked “what makes Black Tomato so special and why do you love what you do?” Other than being thankful for the 22 new countries I’ve now visited, it’s the people. Each bringing their own experience, excitement for travel, innovative ideas… and their passion. So whilst I can’t plot a 747s route across the Atlantic, I can definitely tell you about some of the most interesting experiences and ways to explore the world.
VIP Travel Planner
I was born into a truly international family – my mother is Guatemalan and I therefore spent part of my childhood living in, and exploring, Latin America. This provided me with an incredible opportunity to immerse myself in my mother’s culture, learn the language and understand the importance of understanding different cultures from a young age. My childhood weekends were filled with trips to the colorful colonial city of Antigua and adventures exploring the awe-inspiring Mayan ruins of Tikal. Since these early trips, I have found that there is no better way to really get to know a place than being shown around by a local, they add so much via their own anecdotes and personal history that it brings even the simplest things to life. Many decades of traveling later, meeting locals and getting their advice remains at the heart of any travel decision – it’s how I found the perfect view of Rome from the Spanish Steps and discovered the best time of day to visit the Metropol Parasol in Seville. From the people I met walking Machu Picchu at 3am, to being taught how to dance with my husband by the insanely talented tango dancers in Plaza Dorrego, I am most excited when discovering the world through its people.
My passion for travel stemmed from a family trip to the Canadian Rockies as a fresh-faced Yorkshireman and it’s a journey that has led me to a host of other countries since. After finishing my law degree, I was eager to get away and explore another part of the world. South-east Asia was calling, where I learned to dive in the Philippines and island-hopped around Indonesia. It was exhilarating, and after that I made the decision to move to Australia and New Zealand, where I lived for over a year – learning much from working on the other side of the world in another culture. Working at Black Tomato has given me the opportunity to explore Latin America – also high on my bucket list. Among many highlights have been visiting the Atacama desert in Chile, exploring Patagonia in Argentina, scrambling through the rainforest in Costa Rica and counting off the beaches and islands in and around Panama. It has opened my eyes to a magical part of the world that is full of history and intrigue, and has turned into a huge passion. I can’t wait to get back out there.
As a seven-year-old, it was bouncing around in the front seat of a Land Rover with a Maasai guide, Joseph, that opened my eyes to the wonders of the bush and sparked a lifelong passion for the natural world. I thought I had landed in Jurassic Park, and still think back to that first night on safari hearing the hyenas calling through the night. The appeal of Africa was so strong that I spent two years managing a luxury safari lodge in Kenya – a fantastic experience and a great insight into luxury travel and how these trips are delivered first hand. Living in Kenya also gave me the perfect opportunity to explore its neighboring countries and experience their own unique landscapes, wildlife and cultures. Closer to home, the many trips I have made with my family have often had a physical aspect to them. My dad and I went on an epic bike ride to climb Mount Ventoux in southern France, and I have subsequently cycled around Tuscany and Corsica. Cycling gets you as close to nature as possible, and you become completely enveloped by your surroundings. If only there was a cycling safari. Watch this space…
My love of Africa started at an early age on one of many adventures with my family. I can vividly recall the first time I saw elephants in the wild – a magical experience – and I have since spent much of my free time exploring the continent, discovering the wildlife and immersing myself in its natural wilderness. Swimming with sharks, standing on the beach observing how the desert rolls into the sea off the skeleton coast in Namibia and camping in the Kalahari desert in Botswana are particular highlights. I will always return to Africa but, perhaps surprisingly, I’m also a big advocate of staycations. The UK is filled with beautiful landscapes and rich history, all here on the doorstep waiting to be explored. One of the best parts of my job is giving clients insights that they just wouldn’t be able to find online. And when I’m not working or traveling, you can usually find me cycling around the English countryside – getting as close to nature as possible.
The first travel experience I can recall was falling in love with the castles of Llewellyn in north Wales, particularly Harlech and Conwy (no disrespect to Caernarfon). As family vacations grew more ambitious, I developed a passion for Europe and its rich history – awe-inspired by places like Chenonceau in the Loire Valley in France, or Neuschwanstein in Germany. On the other side of my heritage, I have family in Kerala in southern India. My grandmother lives on an estate with swathes of coconut, banana and pepper trees – and what a cook she is! Even at 80, she tries to pick the finest black pepper pods for me to take home straight off the tree. She is a testament to fresh, organic, healthy living, and an inspiration. I’m always keen to venture off the beaten track in search of hidden gems and local experiences, and have built a diverse knowledge of Europe and America. From driving Route 1 from LA to San Francisco via Big Sur and Carmel, to ballet at the Mariinsky in Russia, to enjoying island hopping in the Faroes or Greece, I feel that the journey of discovery and curiosity should never end. I now live in New York, ready to start a new chapter in my favorite city on the planet. Bring it on.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to decide which region of the world is my favorite. With family hailing from India, Uganda and the Middle East, years spent working and living in various parts of Europe and a degree in languages and anthropology fuelling my curiosity for everywhere else in between, I’m never happier than when I’m scouting the globe for the next adventure. One of my favorite things about life at Black Tomato is sharing in a client’s anticipation as they set off to explore Earth’s hidden gems for the first time. For me, the magic of travel lies in each journey’s ability to enrich your perspective of the world. I find an irresistible pull in the infinite promise of wild, uncharted landscapes, eye-opening culture and adrenaline-pumping experiences that beckon everywhere from the vast glaciers of Iceland to the dense jungles of Costa Rica.
I grew up in a bed and breakfast on Ireland’s wild western coast, so my living room was always filled with travelers sharing stories from their home countries. Inspired by these stories, a life in travel was inevitable, and to help my dream come true I decided to become a teacher. I lived in the US, China, South Korea and Spain, teaching children from all walks of life whilst also learning so much about each country, culture and language. Even learning very basic greeting words will get you a long way, although nothing could prepare me for being interviewed on live TV in China… in Mandarin. I have now also traveled extensively in North America (including Canada, Mexico and Cuba) as well as discovering much of Asia, and I love nothing more than getting under the skin of a country’s culture. I am lucky to be able to draw on my experiences to create remarkable memories for other people when they go away. Outside of work I’m a huge sports fan and I keep fit by playing rugby for my local club in London.
Head of Operations
Over the past two decades, I have fuelled my passion for adventure travel by exploring some of the most remote cultures in the world. From riding across the Mongolian Steppe to trekking through the jungles of the Amazon, I’m only ever really at home when I’m on (or planning) an adventure. For a number of years, I ran a conservation, community and youth development charity. I led survival expeditions deep into the rainforest to develop young adults and create a sustainable impact on conservation and community development in countries like Belize, Indonesia, Guyana and Kenya. Living in these different countries, getting to know them in depth and understanding the various cultures, taught me everything I needed to know about the logistics behind planning and delivering a trip. I returned to the UK to work at Black Tomato and deliver inspiring trips, usually with an adventurous side to them. I also helped to create and launch Epic Tomato, where we are pushing boundaries when it comes to expedition-led travel. I now do my best to instil this love of exploration into my young family — starting with Latin America, a region that is filled with every kind of adventure possible.
My father was born in India, my mother lives in the Caribbean and, growing up, I spent my summers based in Singapore and exploring South-east Asia – so traveling was part of my life from a young age. In my early twenties I spent a year in Barcelona, studying at the university and learning Spanish. I dived right into Spanish culture, racking up as many fiestas as I could all around the country. I feel lucky to live in London, with Europe on our doorstep, and have become a big fan of weekend breaks away. Only last year I was able to visit Venice, Rome, Palma, Paris, Nice and Porto. Nothing can beat the local pizza in Venice, or a scoop of strawberry sorbet from Berthillon ice cream parlour in Paris. But my absolute favorite food has to be Spanish or Portuguese tapas. Why go for one big meal when you can have the pick of the best? Genius. Europe is also full of incredibly beautiful beaches and coves – and that’s where I’m probably most at home. Luckily there is no shortage of them to explore.
Client Relations Executive
It was studying languages that first sparked an interest in travel for me and gave me a desire to visit the places that I was learning about in the classroom. I made numerous trips to France and Italy with family and friends, and eventually moved to Rome in 2016 – one of the most exciting and inspiring times of my life. I loved observing the obvious passion that Italians had for their own culture, and the way that this was expressed, particularly through food. I believe the notion of ‘travel’ goes much further than just going on vacation: travel is the exploration of a different culture and people, and immersing oneself in a completely new world. What could be more exciting?
Being half French and half Moroccan, I was able to experience two contrasting cultures first-hand, and from an early age I was eager to explore the world and discover its endless opportunities. First stop was New York, and I was hooked. After a while I moved to Montreal where I finished my tourism studies and began saving. Australia was calling, and I lived in Sydney for a few years, working in the travel industry, planning events and large group trips all around Australia, New Zealand and Tahiti. It was an incredible experience and the perfect platform for exploring one of the most beautiful parts of the world. Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time in Asia, unearthing some of its more unusual experiences, sampling the local street food and delving into its inspiring cultures. Now I’m a proud mother and can’t wait to take my son across the world – discovering his roots in Morocco and France, of course, as well as checking in on New York where it all started for me.
I come from a family of enthusiastic travelers, and have always had a healthy curiosity about the world. It was these getaways with the family as a youngster – exploring the Australian bush or meandering through the chaotic markets of India – that inspired my future career choice. Never one to shy away from a challenge – I’ve survived a couple of marathons – I have gradually, in traveling to every corner of the globe, developed a taste for incorporating aspects that are physically testing. Whether it’s hiking in the foothills of the Himalayas or climbing up to Tiger’s Nest, the highest monastery in Bhutan, I find that having something challenging to attempt is an incredible way to discover a destination – often reaching places that other tourists might not. And generally, the harder somewhere is to get to, the better the view. I’m most at home exploring other cultures, and meeting the people who make the place.
Drawn by the bright lights, I moved from Yorkshire to London, to work in finance. After a few years, I packed in the city life and headed off to explore South-east Asia. It was during this time that I realized my heart was in travel and I had a real desire to share this passion with my friends, family and ultimately the rest of the world. I have been on several trips back to South-east Asia, and have also discovered Iceland: one of the most stunning places on the planet. I have met some incredible people along the way, while also staying in some of the best and most unusual properties in the world. My curiosity for culture will always be there, but I do also like to switch off and relax – I’m quickly at home in the Caribbean or the Indian Ocean! Food is a really important aspect for me – I’m always on the lookout for the newest pop-ups in London’s exciting culinary scene, I’ve enjoyed trying new dishes from different cultures – and I often spend weekends helping out in the family restaurant in Marbella, Spain.
Client Relations Executive
Travel, for me, has always been associated with learning new languages and cultures. From a young age, family vacations in Spain (first encountering what would become a lifelong obsession: paella) sparked my interest in speaking a different language. Numerous school exchanges and au pair work naturally led to me studying Spanish and Portuguese; and I have lived in both Granada and Rio de Janeiro, meeting some amazing people from hugely vibrant places, and seeing the world from a different perspective. I’ve also incorporated the physical aspect of travel. Whether it’s climbing Kilimanjaro followed by spotting the Big Five in the Ngorongoro Crater, hang-gliding over Rio’s famous coastline, or conquering Morocco’s highest peak, Mt Toubkal, before camel riding into the Agafay Desert sunset – I’m most in my element on an active trip. It’s these challenging experiences which have landed me in the world of travel for work – and there’s nothing quite as rewarding as talking about it with other like-minded people.
I’ve always been a traveler and a foodie… but mostly a traveler. I grew up in Wales where my father was an Italian chef. We spent our vacations in Italy, where I learned to make fresh pasta with my nonna. When I was seven, my mother took us exploring around the Mediterranean – and my love affair with Europe properly began. Between Tuscany’s beautiful rolling hills, Santorini’s sunsets and the pulsating atmosphere in Barcelona, it’s easy to see why I fell for it (although I did cheat on Europe when I first traveled around Australasia back in 2006). Since working at Black Tomato, I’ve also added Japan to the repertoire. I’ve been traveling to all these regions regularly for over 12 years now, creating incredible itineraries for my clients. I’m particularly interested in restaurants and foodie experiences. Forgive the cliché, but there’s truly nothing like Tokyo’s Ramen Street to find authentic ramen, or the fish and chips at Doyles in Sydney. So if you’re a foodie like myself, you could not be in better hands.
Client Relations Executive
I’ve always been curious about the world, right from the earliest days when we would take regular family trips to explore the warmth, charm and beauty of Ireland’s emerald countryside. When I was 18 I got the opportunity to live in Cape Town for a year. With Table Mountain framed by my bedroom window, orcas swimming about in the sea on my daily commute, and weekends full of hiking, sightseeing and local braais, it’s not surprising that I developed a real soft spot for the place. Since then I’ve been to most of Latin America and dabbled with Asia. I’ve always had a long list of places to go, and it’s only getting longer – especially now that I’m with Black Tomato. It’s always exciting to think ‘where next?’
Black Tomato Group
From the original Black Tomato, our group has grown organically, always as a response to what our clients have said they loved, wanted or needed. We’re now a collection of four innovative teams – Black Tomato, Black Tomato Agency, Epic Tomato and Studio Black Tomato. We create remarkable, bespoke travel experiences for individuals and groups, and inspiring content for selected brands and businesses.
From our headquarters in Shoreditch, London, and our office in New York, here’s what we do:
Black Tomato is the award-winning, luxury travel company that specializes in creating rare, wonderful and life-enhancing experiences for individuals. We’re here to encourage and indulge your curiosity about the world – and to ensure your time away is perfect. We’ll provide you with insightful, curated travel advice and a bespoke itinerary, organized to perfection. Since 2005 we have taken an independent, innovative approach, inspired by our own restless curiosity and a passion for service that’s creatively shaped around individuals.
Black Tomato Agency
Black Tomato Agency is an award-winning team dedicated to group incentive travel and prize fulfilment. We take a Black Tomato experience and use it as a tool to influence, motivate, educate and unite a group of people – all over the world. As proof of our success, we count FTSE100 companies and well-known household brands among our satisfied clients.
Epic Tomato specializes in expedition-led adventures to remote corners of the world. Having organized specialist trips like these for a number of years, we’ve created a standalone brand that focuses on offering the very best and rarest of life-changing adventure travel experiences.
Studio Black Tomato
Studio Black Tomato is our content, marketing and brand strategy agency, born organically from Black Tomato’s innovative approach to travel marketing. We started by producing content for tourist boards and hotel groups. Now we create strategic, impactful content, consult within the luxury industry and implement campaigns for some of the biggest brands in the world.