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:
Founder and executive chairman 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.
Founder and 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.
Co-founder and CEO 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.
MR & MRS SMITH IN LONDON
Editor-at-large 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.
After a decade of holidaying in lacklustre English country cottages, senior content 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.
With a mother afraid of flying and a father with severe sea sickness, hotel collections executive Carla Melmoth 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.
MARKETING AND MEMBERSHIP
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 Smith, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.