Who are Mr & Mrs Smith?
Who are Mr & Mrs Smith? In addition to the writers, rock stars and restaurant critics on our reviewer panel, here's who makes Mr & Mrs Smith happen:
CEO James Lohan is one half of the couple behind Mr & Mrs Smith. His first company, Atomic, organised legendary London parties and corporate events. Working in industries he was passionate about, he moved in line with his target market and co-founded a restaurant and members’ club the White House. Next, naturally, he turned his attentions to boutique hotels. Since Mr & Mrs Smith’s first guidebook was published under the Spy Publishing imprint in 2003, Smith has grown under James’ entrepreneurial eye from a labour of love to a multi-faced boutique travel provider. The introduction of an online booking service in 2005 and an in-house reservations team in 2006 shifted the business in an exciting new direction. The company has developed a three-tiered membership programme which includes a full travel and lifestyle concierge service, and has attracted over 75,000 active members. Latest projects include launching the Smith brand in the USA and opening an office in Australia to expand into the Asia-Pacific region, as well as introducing a 24-hour telephone booking service for luxury travellers worldwide.
CTO Tamara Heber-Percy, co-founder of Mr & Mrs Smith, graduated from Oxford with a degree in languages – which has proven vital in helping take Smith around the world. After growing up between Ibiza and Shropshire, her first job took her to Brazil to launch a new energy drink. Since then, she has worked as a marketing consultant for brands such as Ericsson, Honda, Unilever and Swissair, and then in business development for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at one of the UK’s top marketing agencies. She left the corporate world in 2002 to head up her own company, The County Register – an exclusive introductions agency – and to launch Mr & Mrs Smith. Combining travel expertise with cutting-edge technological knowledge, Tamara has been the architect behind the development of Mr & Mrs Smith’s e-commerce-enabled website, and has masterminded an array of technical integrations with bookings engines and content feeds to high-profile affiliates, as well as maximising SEO, introducing consumer-generated content and co-ordinating the launch of the Smith Travel Blog.
Financial director Edward Orr has been working in investment banking, and managing companies in their early stage for more than 10 years. As a result he has had to stay in many hotels across five different continents – and generally, he doesn't like them. This makes him qualified not only to look after the finances of Mr & Mrs Smith but also to have penned one of the team reviews – and he can confirm that Mr & Mrs Smith hotels really are special enough to be a treat, even for the most jaded corporate traveller.
Asia-Pacific co-founder and managing director Simon Westcott grew up in London, but has made Melbourne and the Victorian Goldfields home for over 10 years. Educated at Oxford and in the US, he is a former global publisher and director of the Lonely Planet group, and a current contributing editor for Travel + Leisure Australia and New Zealand. He has travelled extensively in Asia and has already enjoyed writing a few reviews under the Mr & Mrs Smith pseudonym. He's as excited as a puppy about the partnership with James and Tamara and the whole Smith team.
MR & MRS SMITH IN LONDON
Editor-in-chief, Juliet Kinsman, helped develop Smith from a twinkle in James' and Tamara's eyes in 2002. Having edited music mags in the Nineties, contributing to The Face and Time Out, she defected from dancefloors to do-not-disturb signs. Running a website in the pre-millenium dot.com frenzy and shifts on the BBC's homepage nurtured a passion for online publishing, but her heart belongs to hotels; her article in The Independent reveals the secret to what makes somewhere Smith. She regularly shares her travel and interior-design thoughts in The Observer through to The Sunday Times magazine, Style, and TV stints have included presenting The Smiths' Hotels for 2 on the Discovery network. Juliet's Canadian passport may have seen extended spells in America, Africa, Greece and India, but really she hearts her home turf of Kensal Green, as seen in her blog Park-Life.org.
Group editor Lucy Fennings cut her travel teeth early; as daughter of a hotel PR, she visited far-flung flophouses from French châteaux to Ethiopian tukuls. After a year in Dubai (working on Emirates Woman magazine and enjoying the kind of dives that require a wetsuit), Lucy went to Glasgow University to study art, literature and whisky. A stint as production editor at Legalease publishing was spent discovering how to be creative with copy about tax, followed quickly by a stint touring Asia, discovering more interesting things. When Mr & Mrs Smith found her, Lucy was deputy chief sub-editor at Harper’s Bazaar, keeping her finger on fashion’s pulse and sharpening her editorial knife on hapless hotel PR copy. As well as wordsmithing online, in print, for press and for Smith TV, she has been a driving force in making the Smith Travel Blog an award-winner.
Before joining Mr & Mrs Smith, managing editor Anthony Leyton was at The Independent, writing about universities for the Push Guides. As you can imagine, it was a tough task persuading him to exchange league tables for luxury holiday retreats and halls of residence for hip hotels. Anthony has penned pieces for publications both top-drawer (The Telegraph) and top-shelf (Fiesta), and he has had a love of travel ever since he found bullet holes in the walls of a hotel room in New Orleans. He also has too many pets. But that's another tale altogether. His tweets as Twitter.com/smithhotels exemplify our entertaining-and-informative editorial house style as do his entertaining blog posts.
Weeks before joining Mr & Mrs Smith's editorial team, assistant editor Sarah Jappy was cutting her travel-writing teeth by interviewing hot blondes in Copenhagen for a virginmedia.com city guide. Having penned food porn for Blue Tomato and fashion features at Itchy City Guides, Sarah was delighted to bring an appetite for alliteration and expert opinion on hot topics including: the marzipan to pastry ratio of the perfect almond croissant; which shop-bought hollandaise sauce generates the best eggs benedict and where to source the capital’s most drool-worthy moules mariniere. That's not to even mention her 12 years of Irish dancing prowess.
After a decade of holidaying in lacklustre English country cottages, sub-editor Rachel Juarez-Carr's parents went wild in the early Nineties and whisked the family off to Norway; it was while sailing the fjords on a Ukrainian cruise ship that their 11-year-old daughter decided she loved travel. Once she completed her journalism degree at the University of Westminster, Rachel ran off to Los Angeles and crisscrossed the US for the next seven years, taking photographs and writing for two business travel magazines. She’s now back in London and is thrilled to be a part of Smith's editorial team.
DESIGN, PHOTOGRAPHY AND PRODUCTION
Associate director Laura Mizon spent her younger years living in Spain and, after graduating from Manchester University, returned to the country of her childhood to spend four years at an independent record label in Madrid, promoting the emerging Spanish hip-hop movement. Soon after she joined Mr & Mrs Smith on a freelance basis in 2004, it became clear that Laura was to play a key role in the company. She is now responsible for building relationships with like-minded brands and all things operational.
Production manager Jasmine Darby has been with Smith since she graduated from Manchester University with an art history degree in 2006. Our reviewers know her as the reassuring voice on the end of the phone in a crisis (whether it’s lost passports or unexpected stomach bugs), but her areas of expertise are far more wide-ranging. Jasmine ensures that the process of introducing new hotels into the Smith collection runs smoothly, dispatching our reviewers across the world, and helping with every aspect of book production.
Gareth Thomas, our chief designer, joined Mr & Mrs Smith in 2009 to become the visual mastermind behind all things Smith-branded. Previously, he worked at London design agency Boston Studio, bringing his graphical flair to luxury brands such as Daylesford Organic, Bamford and Soane. Today, he alternates between creating beautiful layouts for Smith’s books and website, and hanging out in the kitchen creating freshly baked surprises for the team.
Renowned for a creative, yet meticulous approach to his work, Adrian Houston has photographed famous personalities and unusual landscapes, as well as shooting big advertising campaigns. He has photographed faces such as the Dalai Lama, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Luciano Pavarotti and Jim Carrey, and his images have appeared in Vogue, GQ and The Sunday Times. Adrian has commercial clients throughout the world, and has created his best work in some of the world’s most unexplored locations; the Discovery Channel featured him on their Discovery People series.
Bloom Design, creators of the Mr & Mrs Smith brand and designers of the book, are one of the UK’s freshest design agencies. Founded in 2001 by three of the youngest heavyweights in the industry, Gavin Blake, Ben White and Harriet Marshall, Bloom is responsible for inspirational brand designs for some of Europe’s and the USA’s leading consumer brand companies. The house style is bold, iconic and distinctive, and their attitude open and irreverent.
Head of hotel partnerships Katy McCann grew up in southern Spain and later became editor of In Madrid, the largest English-language publication in the city. She was tracked down by Mr & Mrs Smith in 2004 to develop and expand our hotel collections, which fitted in perfectly with her love of travelling and her multilingual prowess. Having visited more than 2,000 hotels during the last six years, Katy is probably the most qualified person in the world to ensure each property is the perfect addition to the Smith collection.
Head of booking solutions Peggy Picano-Nacci was born in Indonesia but grew up in France. Despite her tender-aged appearance, she's a veteran of the hotel industry. The past 15 years has seen her work with two-star hotels through to top-notch luxury hotels earning her an unrivalled understanding of what makes a great boutique hotel tick. A former hotel contractor for Miki Travel in the German and Swiss market, ex-sales manager at The Dorchester and an alumnus of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World team where she was responsible for the French, Spanish and Portuguese member hotels, she has made use of Spanish, English and French lingual skills. But our favourite piece of Peggy trivia? Her father was the lead singer of a successful Seventies band. So who better to have on a staff that prides itself on retreats fit for a rock star?
Hotel partnerships manager Mary Garvin’s earliest travel memory is driving from her native Brooklyn, NY to Florida packed in sardine-tight for 22 hours in a navy-blue Oldsmobile Classic Cruiser among a month’s worth of luggage, her parents and five siblings – imagine the delight at her first airline upgrade. After graduating from McGill University in Montreal, Mary moved to London where she’s lived since, first pulling pints, then organising company travel at interior design firm, Studio Reed, and most recently sniffing out stylish Smith properties across the globe. One day she hopes to sing Johnny Cash’s ‘I’ve been everywhere, man’ and mean every word. Oh…. Amarillo, Tocopilla, Barranquilla, and Padilla!
Smith's hotel relations manager Maggie Stack was born in Chicago but considers Atlanta – where she lived from the age of 10 – her home. She caught the travel bug in 2005 while backpacking around Southeast Asia, and the one year she planned on spending in London swiftly became five. Before joining Smith in 2008, Maggie donned the mantle of head of reservations at Travel Intelligence, and now makes the most of her time exploring Europe and juggling an ever-growing stream of correspondence with the 650+ hotels in the Smith collection.
With a mother afraid of flying and a father with severe sea sickness, hotel collections executive Carla Silverman didn't reckon she'd get much chance to travel beyond Cornwall. However, a strategically developed passion for modern languages provided her with the perfect excuse to travel abroad. While studying for a triple language degree at St Andrews, Carla spent a year abroad in Milan hanging out with the fashionistas, and a summer working at Disneyland Paris, which was great for her linguistic skills, even if it was a Mickey Mouse job...
Smith & Friends manager Natasha Shafi acquired an encyclopaedic travel knowledge working at Notting Hill’s famed Travel Bookshop and a disarming charm from her role as marketing manager for a Middle Eastern publishing house. Although she came to Mr & Mrs Smith to take charge of office management, she quickly showed she was capable of much more, and now looks after our collection of stylish self-catering properties.
MARKETING AND MEMBERSHIP
Head of PR and marketing Aline Keuroghlian has worked in travel for more than 12 years. Stints at Armani and the quirky John Soane Museum helped cultivate a love of stylish things. After university, came several years of guiding high-flying professionals across the Italian countryside for niche tour operator ATG Oxford. This led to her promotion to the role of head of marketing. Now she is putting both her sense and sensibility to good use by working with some of the most beautiful hotels in the world as featured in the Smith collections.
Associate director Amber Spencer-Holmes may be a Londoner, but she's got her cosmopolitan credentials, having lived in Sydney and Paris before reading French & English at King’s College London. Before joining Spy, this Mrs TuneSmith (her husband is Smith columnist and music consultant, Rob Wood), Amber made waves in the music industry running a number of well-respected record labels. Among the many highly successful music products she has launched are the much-loved 'Back to Mine' and 'Bargrooves' compilation series, and, closer to home, the excellent 'Mr & Mrs Smith: Something for the Weekend' CDs from Seamless Recordings.
Having been born to Finnish and Dutch parents, PR manager Sabine Zetteler was always destined to work in an international setting. Her first job was international sales manager at London-based fashion house Belle & Bunty, where she learnt the meaning of hard work, jetting between fashion weeks in Milan, Paris, London and Los Angeles. She then worked for BBC Entertainment & Comedy before emailing her CV to us while on a trip around India. Just a few days after her return, she found herself sitting at a new desk contemplating her next adventure – promoting Mr & Mrs Smith around the world.
Membership and marketing manager Emma Christie fell in love with travelling – particularly to Italy – long before graduating in History of Art from UEA in Norwich. She comes to Mr & Mrs Smith after stints at the Tate, the British Museum and the University of the Arts London; and when not seeking out the best offers from the worlds of shopping and travel for our members, she can be found walking up hills, checking out exhibitions or listening to her favourite bands – usually in a muddy field.
Member relations executive Amelia Locke left Hampshire for life south of the Thames in 2002, to study fashion design and promotion at the London College of Fashion, with a short interior design spell at Chesea College of Art. Her love of all things pretty took her to notonthehighstreet.com, where she ran the office, kept customers happy, and spent a fortune stocking her home with goodies. Amelia’s other passion, travel, has taken her from Northern-Lights watching in Iceland to the top of Kilimanjaro (at the tender age of 19). When not globetrotting, she can be found in the family caravan in north Cornwall. Mr & Mrs Smith combines her wanderlust with her love of meeting and helping new people every day.
With a Tongan mother and a Scottish father, member relations executive Alex Melrose has always considered herself to be a citizen of the world. Following the completion of her philosophy degree at Bristol University (where she immersed herself thoroughly in Maimonides and Massive Attack), she set off on her travels – taking in everything from tomato-throwing in Valencia to mud-swimming in New South Wales – before returning to London to start earning her keep. She comes to Mr & Mrs Smith after a spell in recruitment for the creative industries, lured by our promise of a much more customer-focused role.
Online manager and all-round web queen Patsie Muan-ngiew left academia with a postgrad marketing diploma under her arm and went straight into the world of advertising and media buying. When she’s not maintaining and improving the Smith website, she can be found in front of a sewing machine creating her latest fashion masterpiece. However, we still think that Patsie’s greatest achievement is her turn as a Thai jailbird in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.
Analyst, PPC and affiliate manager Andrew Leung was born in the cosmopolitan city of Hong Kong. Early exposure to varied cultures inspired his interest in travel, leading him to Switzerland where he studied international hospitality management at the Ecole Ho?telie?re de Lausanne. Working with Mandarin Oriental, Design Hotels and the ilk gave Andrew a taste of boutique hotel life, making him perfect to work on Smith’s US expansion. The team quickly realised Andrew had become indispensable, et voila?: he now plays an essential part in shaping the Smith’s web strategy.
DJ, journalist and music consultant Rob Wood is the director of Music Concierge, which provides bespoke music services to boutique hotels, venues and brands. He's also responsible for putting together 'Something for the Weekend' compilation albums and writing Mr & Mrs Smith's TuneSmith music page. You can contact him at email@example.com.
MR & MRS SMITH IN MELBOURNE
Asia-Pacific editor Sophie Davies grew up in Turkey, Indonesia and Iran, exiting stage left during the revolution. After studying at Oxford, she worked as a researcher for Japanese TV, before swapping bento for boy bands with a features gig at Just Seventeen. Having freelanced for Time Out and The Daily Telegraph, she went on to a six-year stint at Elle Decoration, where, as assistant editor, Sophie learned how to spot a good table at 20 paces, and honed her hotel-appreciation skills. When Smith’s Melbourne office beckoned, it was time to leave London (and her beloved Arsenal) for pastures new.
VP of hotel relations Debra McKenzie has lived and breathed hospitality throughout her working life, with time spent in front-of-house and managerial roles at the Ritz-Carlton and Hayman Island Resort. After refining her palate in the Sydney restaurant world, Debra went on to globetrot for Kiwi Collection from Australia to Europe – perfect training for her role as head hotel-hunter in Mr & Mrs Smith’s Asia-Pacific office. She also flexes her muscles as a photographer and stylist, working in Vancouver and Sydney with blue-chip clients.
Asia-Pacific hotel relations manager Samantha Anderson can spot a stylish stay from a country mile. Her career has taken her from Sheraton Hotels to Atomic Events, where she organised parties under the guidance of James Lohan, making her one of the original few present at the birth of Mr & Mrs Smith. After a stretch as a chef at a hotel restaurant in Tuscany, Sam was lured back to Smith to research hotels down under for our Australia/New Zealand collection and to join the new team in her home town of Melbourne.
MR & MRS SMITH IN NEW YORK
Now at the helm of our new office in SoHo, associate director Rodrigo Calvo grew up in Bolivia and hit the road days after his 18th birthday to study marketing in Austin, work as an ad man in Boston, and enjoy island seclusion in Elba, before heading back to South America to launch a marketing consultancy. Rodrigo crossed paths with Mr & Mrs Smith while doing an MBA in London, and set to work expanding the brand in the US. Luckily for Smith, his next attack of wanderlust coincided with the opening of our Melbourne office, and he hotfooted it over to Australia to be part of the Asia-Pacific launch team.