Name: Gareth Seltzer
Hometown: Toronto and Muskoka
Occupation: Instigator, Adventurer, Designer
Bio: Gareth Seltzer is hard to pin down. Inspired to be an advocate for change, he is a director of The Toronto East General Hospital Foundation, on the Advisory Board of The Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research and co-founder of The Seltzer-Chan Pond Inlet Foundation in support of Canada’s northern communities. He has just finished producing his second documentary film about Pond Inlet, which premieres at The Whistler International Film Festival this December. His first film, The Rider and The Storm, co-produced with Martha Rogers, Elon Musk and Olivia Wilde, was an official selection at TriBeCa as well as a winner at the Michael Moore founded Traverse City Film Festival.
Seltzer spent a number of years rebuilding and designing some of Toronto’s landmark properties – many became homes to prominent Canadians such as Adrienne Clarkson and Michael Cooper. A 2011 trip with Oscar winner Paul Haggis to Haiti changed everything; Seltzer met RYOT.ORG co-founder Bryn Mooser and his partner David Darg. He provided the first seed capital in support of their dream to build a media company that would provide an opportunity for people to take action on stories in the news as well as game-changing documentaries and creative. RYOT is now one of the fastest growing social action sites with narrative films about some of the most critical issues of our time.
More than anything else, Gareth and his wife love to travel to the far corners of the globe, carrying as little as possible (other than his PADI scuba instructors' card). This mission is still ongoing.
Q: Most visited destination for business
A: Venice, California.
Q: Local knowledge tip
A: Cool guys in Venice have big beards.
Q: DIY vs. travel agent
A: I believe in travel agents for anything other than a bed. Great agents (I like Debbie Simesta from Paragon Travel) have access that trumps a Google search.
Q: Most impressive airport
A: I know people will laugh but I like Toronto Pearson. Internationally, Thai Royal Silk service in Bangkok Airport is the best.
Q: Preferred luggage
A: Always a knapsack. I have not checked a bag in over 20 years. Walk on, walk off. Record is four minutes from the plane seat to my car.
Q: What three things are on your must-pack-or-will-suffer-a-meltdown list?
A: I have to brush my teeth on a flight or I feel like I have licked the table tray. Second, just be cool. I yelled at a front desk associate at the Wynn in Vegas once. That is the only time I have come anywhere near losing my cool in nearly 35 years of crazy travel. By the way, I apologized to the front desk associate.
Q: Preferred airline
A: I’m a big fan of Air Canada. In Europe, Austrian Airlines has the most impressive customer service by far.
Q: Aisle or window
A: I love a window.
Q: Jetlag strategy
A: This is a battle I am just constantly losing. #Fail
Q: Staying in shape on the road
A: Lots of walking. That means always have a good pair of shoes. Booze doesn’t help either as it makes the late night snack seem like a good thing. It isn’t. Unless you are at a cool food stand in northern Laos.
Q: Favourite way to travel
A: With my wife Monique. Nobody is a cooler traveler than my wife. We were going by a temple in a remote part of Sri Lanka; next thing you know, she's onstage in front of the village giving a speech about being a good person. Plus, she loves street food in dodgy places and will scuba dive with me anywhere.
Q: Best hotel for makeshift office options
A: Whenever possible when traveling on business, opt for a room with a table (like a mini-suite). It is always worth it to stay organized.
Q: Time & money saving tips
A: If your meal comes with any type of culinary foam, leave.
Q: What hotel has truly lived up to the hype?
A: The Gansevoort Hotel in the Meatpacking District, New York.
Q: On the flipside, a hotel that has been a crashing disappointment?
A: The W Barcelona. Full of attitude when what I wanted was the feel of home. Unless, of course, you get attitude at home.
Q: Your most amusing or regrettable holiday souvenir
A: Large tattoo of a skull on my back from a Thailand trip with Duncan Jackman. It was henna but stayed on for nearly seven weeks. For a little while, I was worried it was real.
Q: What do you enjoy finding most in a mini-bar?
Q: Describe your guilty pleasure when traveling
A: Room service breakfast.
Q: What foreign phrase do you most enjoy tossing about?
A: “We have upgraded you.” It isn’t foreign to me, but frequently the people who say it apparently don’t know what it means.
Q: Brushes with greatness: Most famous or interesting person you have spotted or bantered with on your travels…
A: Jeremy Clarkson sat down and chatted with me in Laos. He was charming and wonderful. We never once mentioned cars. I have met some amazing and well-known people over the years; charm wins me over, every time. I've had lunch with bikers and dinner with the Queen of England on the same day.
Q: Tell us about a great little place you recommend to friends
A: I like dives. And one of my favourites is Mr. Bing’s in San Francisco. It has excellent drinks with just a hint of urine in the air.
Q: “I would do almost anything to relive every minute of this hotel stay…”
A: Viceroy Ibud in Bali. Simply sensational. I felt like Sir Richard Branson, but without the money.
Q: Confess to one thing you've nicked from your hotel room
A: I have a collection of prank pictures of me walking out of hotel suites with the room safe. So many hotels don’t fasten them down.
Q: Favourite island
A: Lombok, Indonesia. Incredibly generous people, wonderful food and endless beaches.
Q: UNESCO World Heritage Site that blows your mind
A: Bagan, Burma. A friend and I traveled by hot air balloon across Bagan and it was a surreal experience. Sipidan off the coast of Borneo was the most mind blowing (and underwater) UNESCO site.
Q: The most painfully cool hotel you've ever stayed in
A: The W Barcelona. But not in a good way. Should be called the F Barcelona.
Q: The best spa experience of your life
A: The Six Senses Spa on Koh Samui, Thailand. In every way, this spa is pampering madness.
Q: Weirdest travel experience
A: I went to North Korea for a week. Everybody asks why. I say why not?