Luxury Travel Tips From CEO Of MLG Group Rick De La Croix

With summer travel upon us, it’s hard to figure out how to craft the perfect, most luxurious holiday; how do you choose where to go, how to get there, what to do when you get there?  The list of questions never ends. That’s why Haute Living has asked for a bit of help from someone who has inadvertently become a luxury travel expert: CEO of MLG Group, Rick De La Croix. Focusing on the distribution of luxury timepieces, De La Croix has been an integral part of high-end Swiss watch manufacture Hublot’s success, as he was behind several of the brand’s key partnerships, including those with WBC—World Boxing Council—Depeche Mode, soccer legend Pelé, and reggaeton superstar Nicky Jam. By the nature of his work, he rubs shoulders with some of the biggest movers and shakers in some of the planet’s most luxurious destinations; Paris with Diego Maradona, Bogotá with James Rodríguez, Saint Petersburg with Thiago Silva—the list goes on (and on, and on). So who better to give us his tips and insider info? Here, I sit down with De La Croix to get the ins and outs of luxury travel.

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Hublot Global CEO Ricardo Guadalupe, Nicky Jam & Rick De La Croix

Photo Credit: Omar Vega

What is your all-time favorite destination for a luxury holiday and why? 
For re-energizing my mind and soul, Mykonos is my destination of choice. I have been visiting regularly for the past 15 years. My favorite spot there is called Agios Ionnis, where the famous Hippie Fish Restaurant is located. You can witness the most spectacular of sunsets accompanied by fresh fish and the local sea urchins fished daily by the taverna owner Nicholas. The island has many amazing hotspots, including the world famous Nammos Restaurant on the beach, where the best champagne is showered daily from table to table—it’s quite a sight to see. There is also Principote Beach Club, which undoubtedly has the best beach and gastro lunches. Scorpios with its famous Sunday club parties where 3000 people gather to have a great time is also worth a visit, as is Kiku for dinner on the island, located at the bustling port—it is a must for the romantic couple, while Matsuhisa at the Belvedere [Hotel] is the place to dine for freshly made sushi. To spoil yourselves, stay at one of the two Bill & Coo boutique hotels for a one-of-a-kind experience and impeccable service.

What are some of the most important factors when choosing a private plane for charter? 
For me, flying private is today not a luxury, but a necessity to service our global clientele and to be able to meet frequently, instilling confidence in a personal manner. A charter service must be able to guarantee the essentials: maintenance of its fleet with experienced pilots that have flown in the region are absolute priorities. Flexibility in the aircraft of choice and adapting to each trip is needed and a flexible customer service team that allows adaptation to an ever-changing itinerary.

What are your must-have items you travel with when flying private and/or on a luxury class in commercial?
Today, with spending so many hours in the air, the assurance of inflight Wi-Fi is a must. Keeping in touch with my office and demands of the customer allows me no time to be absent. Comfortable seats allowing for some much-needed rest with horizontal declination is my first choice, when possible.

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Rick De La Croix at the Hublot boutique in Miami Design District

Photo Credit: Haute Living

What are your favorite commercial airlines for a luxury travel experience and why?
On my long hauls to the Americas, I tend to remain loyal to British [Airways] or Lufthansa. The premium service on these two airlines give me confidence and my loyalty to both is returned with a VIP service that other airlines on these routes cannot match. In the other direction—east—I like to use Emirates. Again, its planes and first-class service are both far above that of its competitors.

What are some of the best high-end luggage brands for travel in your opinion, and why? 
Baggage is key when traveling 200 days a year, often with trips of 20 days at a time. I have the full collection of RIMOWA luggage, which allows me to adapt my case to the trip. I go through a few suitcases a year but the sturdy construction of this German brand may improve the life expectancy of my present collection.

How do you remain balanced, in terms of health, when you’re on the road so much? 
With age, intensive travel becomes more and more demanding. To be able to maintain such a lifestyle is dependent on a number of factors. Spending the least amount of time in airports is my first priority. I choose to travel with companies that assure a minimum check-in time and fast track for security and immigration. Secondly, the planes must allow me comfortable seating secure some time to rest and a fast on and off-boarding process is integral too. With good rest and sleep, the trip then depends on planification to assure exercise and nutrition can be well-included. A one-hour daily exercise is a must, while adding meditation to balance and prepare the mind for a busy day is very important for me; a healthy breakfast to start the day—like cereals and fruit—and then only one main dish normally for lunch and an early dinner. Currently, I’m eating no carbs and red meat, which has allowed me to control my weight and remain as healthy and energized as possible.

rick de la croixPhoto Credit: instagram.com/ricknroll67

What are your top hotels you’ve stayed at across the globe and why? 
With years of traveling in certain regions, I have my preference for hotels that accommodate my tastes and needs. I normally use boutique or small luxury hotels of the world, where I have a more personalized service. Otherwise, in terms of business travel, my preference will be the Four Seasons or St. Regis chains, as they both offer premium service to the executive traveler.

Are there any popular luxury travel destinations that you find overrated? Which ones and why? 
Having traveled the globe extensively, I have been disappointed over the years in a number of destinations where I expected more. For instance, Marrakesh in Morocco was one where I was perhaps oversold from the hotel to the destination itself and where I cut short my stay by a few days, because I was underwhelmed.  Australia in general, was where I also found the services offered by the five-star hotel far below par with exorbitant prices. I traveled the country for 20 days and found it expensive and bland in its offering, with poor service for the prices demanded. I mean no disrespect to my Australian friends or to the country itself, but it is not a place I would return for vacation. As for secret destinations that impressed me and where I would return, I would say Chile, in terms of its gastro offering. It is a destination where you can enjoy the most amazing fresh fish and local seafood. If you go, try Cocos—the nation’s famous TV chef who personally and daily selects the fresh catch from Chile’s thriving fish market. Medellín, Colombia still remains a niche destination, but the service at every level is exceptional and the city itself is simply beautiful. And today, my favorite destination in the world is Madrid. The gastro scene is booming with so many talented chefs making Madrid and Spain as a whole, one of the number one locations for foodies. The nightlife and energy is second to none, with live flamenco music to rock ‘n’ roll tunes, Madrid has something for all tastes and genres.

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Rick De La Croix at the Hublot Boutique in the Miami Design District

Photo Credit: Haute Living

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