Want to know how to travel in style, just like the pros? We check in with frequent fliers to find out how often they fly, their favorite destinations and what they never leave home without.
Name: Manny Kess
Occupation: Founder of The Kess Group
Hometown: Long Island, NY
Residence: Las Vegas, Nevada
College: U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland
College major: Political Science
Facebook: Manny Kess
Short bio: Manny Kess is the founder of The Kess Group, a full service hospitality and concierge company offering bespoke VIP experiences for visitors to Las Vegas and beyond. The Kess Group provides everything from individual experiences to end-to-end services for luminaries, celebrities and elite visitors.
With more than 12 years in the food, beverage and nightlife industry, Manny was born to host. He is doing it again through his newest venture, The Kess Group. A New York City native, Manny is a self-professed overachiever best known by others as a charmer with sincerity, and as a blue chip athlete. Manny earned soccer scholarships from The Air Force Academy, The Merchant Marine Academy and Dartmouth College, among others, and in 1997 enrolled in The U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
A frequent patron of Vegas, Manny was recognized for his youthful business acuity and his ability to be a connector. He was recruited by Angel Management Group (AMG) and moved to Las Vegas in 2011. By the end of his first year with AMG, he was promoted to Lead VIP Host for the prestigious Wet Republic Ultra Pool at the MGM Grand. Kess’ dedication to excellence helped earn him the 2012 Best Independent Host Award by JackColton.com, an award based on recognition from his industry peers. In 2012, Manny left AMG to launch The Kess Group.
How often do you fly? 20-30 times a year.
How many countries have you been to? More than 30.
How many continents have you been to? Four.
Earliest travel memory: Around 3-4 years old we are flying from New York to Greece and I remember people could smoke on the planes back then so I asked my mom if we can sit in the first row so we didn’t have to smell the stinky people.
Favorite American city: NYC.
Favorite international city: Tough choice, but for now it’s an island Mykonos.
Least favorite country: France; they are just rude and not hospitable.
I have no desire to go to: I desire to go everywhere at least once.
Friendliest people in the world: Filipinos.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: Turkey.
Favorite airline: Virgin Atlantic.
Aisle or window: Window.
Favorite airport lounge: Virgin Atlantic in London Heathrow.
Favorite U.S. airport: Dallas/Fort Worth.
Favorite international airport: London Heathrow.
Favorite hotel: Mandarin Oriental.
Favorite cruise line: Not a big fan of cruises.
Favorite travel credit card: American Express.
Favorite island: Mykonos but Santorini is a close second.
Favorite beach: Paraga in Mykonos.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Scalinatella in NYC and 42 Grams in Chicago.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: B.A.R. in Las Vegas.
Favorite bar: Any smoothie bar.
Favorite fruit: Pineapples and pears.
Favorite food: Penne alla Vodka.
Least favorite food: Shellfish.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Water or aged whiskey.
Favorite travel movie(s): Goodfellas, Wedding Crashers, Gladiator, the new Star Wars and The Godfather.
Favorite travel book(s): Atlas Shrugged.
Right now I am reading: “The Tipping Point.”
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: I’m more of a read-a-book or watch-a-movie type of guy.
5 things you bring on a plane: I’m an extremely light packer so only my wallet, headphones, cell phone and occasionally a book.
What do you always seem to forget? Sunglasses.
What do you like least about travel? I don’t have as much time or money to do as much as I would like.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Sour candy or chocolate.
Favorite travel app(s): TripIt.
Most embarrassing travel moment: I lost my passport while traveling to Amsterdam with a large group of more than 100 people to watch a soccer match. Having all these strangers look throughout the airport was horrible.
I’m embarrassed I haven’t been to: Asia or Australia.
Worst travel moment: Having your luggage lost/stolen and spending an entire trip with nothing.
What’s your dream destination? I draw a lot of inspiration from my clients, because they travel to some of the world’s most exotic destinations. Last year, I would have said the Phi Phi Islands, but now an African safari tops my bucket list.
Favorite travel charity: I support various local U.S. charities.
Best travel tip: Always check weather.com and pack as light as you can. Never pack for a trip based on the norm. Last year, I visited New York City for New Year’s Eve. I packed way too much, expecting a cold New York winter, but it wound up being 65 degrees. I always guide my clients on what to pack before they come to town, particularly when they’re traveling from overseas. The last thing a client like soccer star Jérôme Boateng wants is to drag a huge bag through Heathrow if he doesn’t need it.