Original brian 20povinelli headshot 20%281%29.jpeg?1489950661?ixlib=rails 0.3

The itinerant schedule of Brian Povinelli, SVP and Global Brand Leader of Marriott's Premium Distinctive brands, doesn't stop him from traveling for pleasure. But only when he unplugs does Povinelli truly feel he’s on vacation. Read on to find out how the hotel exec balances it all.

Let’s play spin the globe—name the one place you’ve always wanted to go.
Iceland. Having been to so many places with my job, it’s harder and harder to find anything unique. There is a bit of mystery around Iceland, and my perception is that I’d see and experience things unlike anywhere else. The natural beauty of it is also quite intoxicating… I’d love to get lost in it.

Pingvellir National Park in Iceland, where Povinelli hopes to travel someday.

What’s your spirit city? (Where do you want to return to over and over?)
Boston. I lived there for seven years, and of all the places I’ve lived, Boston always feels just like home.

Do you have a travel ritual? 
When I travel, my kids always send me with stuffed animals; I take pictures of the stuffed animals and send them back.

Boston is Povinelli's spirit city.

Do you maintain any routines from home while traveling or does it all go out the window?
My workout routine stays intact. One of the first things I often do when I land is to go for a run. It helps with jet lag and keeps me focused. It’s also a great way to explore a new destination. If I’m at a Westin, I often join the Run Concierge for a group run, as it’s an active way to meet our guests when they have no idea of who I am.

Sorry, you only get to eat one regional cuisine for the rest of your life. What is it?
Italian. There is just so much to love and it’s a bit of a comfort cuisine. From a fresh Primavera to a more indulgent Parmigiana, there is something for every craving… not to mention the wine and desserts.

article continues below ad

What one piece of advice would you give to someone traveling abroad for the first time?
Avoid anything that looks familiar! If you avoid big chains like McDonalds, Starbucks, etc., you open yourself up to one of the most exciting opportunities of travel: discovering new foods, people, and experiences. At Le Méridien, we encourage our guests to “unlock” their destination, and our hotels and resorts help by introducing our guests to local contemporary art museums and galleries through our Unlock Art partnerships. Our guests also have the opportunity to try éclairs and cocktails inspired by ingredients from their destination, allowing people to taste something new.

Describe your travel personality in three words.
Calm. Inquisitive. Adventurous.

Are your trips very planned, or very spontaneous?
My trips are generally planned—whether for business or pleasure. While I may be spontaneous once I’m there, I have a plan prior to departing. I see a plan as helping to avoid wasting time once I’ve arrived so I can make the most of the trip.  

What's the one travel souvenir you'd save in a fire?
I would save my passports; they tell the story best.

What book/movie most inspired you to travel?
Neither. It was my grandmother who most inspired me to travel. She was from Italy and told stories of her youth. I wanted to see those places.

Who’s your ideal travel partner?
My wife.

Which travel experience do you prefer: plugged in or unplugged?
Definitely unplugged. And if I’m with my family, unplugged is a must. Too much can be missed when staring at a screen. I remember my parents taking us out driving every Sunday when I was a kid. There was no screen to distract us, so we had to take in the scenery. While I hated it as a kid, I know it made an impression on me and changed the way I look for unique things when I travel now. I invented stories in my head, and I believe it fostered my creativity. I need to start this with my kids!

article continues below ad

What’s a custom from another culture that you’d love to implement in your life back home?
On my recent trip to visit Le Méridien's two new hotels in Paro and Thimphu, Bhutan, something that really struck me was the mindfulness of the Bhutanese people. It’s clear that the people of Bhutan live in the moment, which is something I strive for in my own life. 

What’s the first thing you seek out in a new place?
I always seek out the best running routes to see the destination.

What’s the one thing you indulge in on a trip that you don’t at home?
Quiet time. With three kids and two dogs, silence does not exist at home.

What’s your first travel memory?
My first travel memory is from when I was seven years old. I took a month to drive across the USA with my family. We saw everything, and it showed me how much there is out there to see.

Povinelli in Bhutan