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: Tom Roelens
Occupation: General Manager, Four Seasons Resorts Lana’i
Hometown: Deinze, Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Residence: Lana’i City, Island of Lana’i—Hawaii, USA
College: Cornell University—Ithaca, NY, Hoger Instituut voor Bedrijfsopleiding—Bruges, Belgium
College major: Hospitality Management
Short bio: Born and raised in Belgium, Tom began his career in fine-dining restaurants in Belgium and France at a very young age. A Hotel School graduate with a Postgraduate Degree in Public Relations and Media Management, he also studied Financial and Strategic Management, Asset Management, and Hotel Real Estate Investments at Cornell University. He’s a seasoned hospitality executive with over 25 years of experience in senior leadership roles in North America, Asia Pacific, Indian Ocean, Middle East and Europe, 16 years with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
Tom currently manages the AAA Five Diamond Four Seasons Resort Lana’i as well as The Lodge at Koele in the highlands of Lana’i, Hawaii, the legendary 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Course at Manele, the Koele Golf Course, high-end retail stores, a luxury island transportation fleet, a wide array of restaurant and bar options, including the AAA Four Diamond signature ONE Forty Restaurant, NOBU Lana’i, Malibu Farm and an all-encompassing adventure center with curated helicopter experiences, Polaris RZR cultural rides, archery and clayshoot operation, horseback riding, etc. In the Maldives, he simultaneously opened the award-winning Kuda Huraa and Landaa Giraavaru resorts and managed the Four Seasons Explorer, a luxury cruise catamaran.
How often do you fly? One to two times a month, inter-island in the State of Hawaii, nationally or internationally.
How many countries have you been to? 57
How many continents have you been to? 6
Earliest travel memory: Camping in the Belgian Ardennes and along the Belgian Coast.
Favorite American city: It’s a tie! San Francisco & New Orleans.
Favorite international city: Florence, Italy.
Least favorite country: Every place has something unique, something new, something unexpected, I have yet to find that least favorite one!
I have no desire to go to: Happy to explore any place, so many places yet to visit!
Friendliest people in the world: The Hawaiians.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: Australia & US for non-US citizens.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Bagan, Myanmar—hopefully a World Heritage Site soon.
Favorite airline: Singapore Airlines.
Favorite aircraft type: Cirrus, Generation Three.
Aisle or window: Aisle, for sure.
Favorite airport lounge: Four Seasons Resort Lana’i Airport Lounge, Honolulu.
Favorite hotel: Four Seasons Hotel Florence, Italy.
Favorite cruise line: Not quite a cruise line, but the best experience yet, Four Seasons Explorer in the Maldives.
Favorite island(s) : The Maldives.
Favorite beach: Hulopo’e Beach, Lana’i, Hawaii.
Favorite National Park: Bryce Canyon, Utah.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Le Cinq, Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, France.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Sushi at Tsukiji Fishmarket, Tokyo, Japan.
Favorite bar: A la Mort Subite, Brussels, Belgium.
Favorite fruit: Papaya with lime!
Favorite food: Tough choice, but Szechuan food and Masakan Padang is way up there on the list.
Least favorite food: Pasta.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Earl Grey tea.
Favorite travel movie(s): In Bruges.
Favorite travel show(s): Hotel Babylon.
Favorite travel book(s): Don’t stop the carnival—Herman Wouk.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! tripadvisor.com & wendyperrin.com.
5 things you bring on a plane: Music, iPad, earphones, and a change of clothes.
What do you always seem to forget? Hmmm, most of the time I travel with too many things, even with a carry-on.
What do you like least about travel? Flight cancellations and unexpected flight changes resulting in major delays.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Nothing really, no authentic items to find typically in these places.
Favorite travel app(s): TripAdvisor, Uber.
Most embarrassing travel moment: Showing up for an important business meeting in jeans as all luggage was lost en route to the destination.
I’m embarrassed I haven’t been to: Egypt.
What’s your dream destination? Too many to name, Bhutan is high up on the list, so is Antarctica, North Korea and Iran.
Best travel tip: Go for a walk and get lost in a city you have never visited.