Seat 3A: Simon Charles Benstead
Entrepreneurs are natural-born travellers and Seat 3A takes you along for the globetrotting ride, delivering travel tips, insights and candid photos from self-made men and women.
Name: Simon Charles Benstead
Occupation: Trader, Entrepreneur, Investor
Simon Benstead is a first generation Canadian and Toronto-based entrepreneur and investor. A genuine love of gathering with friends and family over good food and drink has influenced how he spends his time. Simon is inspired by architecture, design and music and loves a strong margarita. He is the proprietor of the Toronto restaurant Marben and co-founder of Miami Cocktail Company. He is currently being humbled in his pursuit of a Brazilian jiu jitsu blue belt and is enjoying learning the guitar.
Q: Most visited destination for business
A: Miami and New York.
Q: Local knowledge tip
A: The antique market on Lincoln Rd. in Miami, the last Sunday of every month, always some quality finds there.
Q: DIY vs. travel agent
A: Both. Book short business trips and long weekend getaways yourself, but for longer trips involving multiple destinations and time zones – leave it to the pros.
Q: Most impressive airport
A: Madrid's spectacularly sculptural Barajas airport.
Q: Preferred luggage
A: Briggs & Riley, carry-on whenever possible.
Q: Preferred airline
A: British Airways.
Q: Aisle or window
A: Window – for the same reason I wear noise-cancelling headphones – to tuck away into my own little world.
Q: What three things are on your must-pack-or-will-suffer-a-meltdown list?
A: Snacks, noise-cancelling headphones, minimum of 2 books.
Q: Jet lag strategy
A: Hydrate, sync with the schedule of your surroundings ASAP.
Q: Staying in shape on the road
A: Getting in a workout at the local Brazilian jiu jitsu school.
Q: Your preferred conference hotel
A: Fontainebleau, Miami.
Q: Best hotel bar for networking with other entrepreneurs
A: Miami is a city that understands the old world charm of a great lobby bar; you can't go wrong with The Regent Cocktail Club at The Gale Hotel.
Q: Best hotel for makeshift office options
A: Soho Beach House, Miami.
Q: Time & money saving tips
A: I just read an article that said the sweet spot for booking your flight at the best rate is 54 days in advance; I like to keep a flexible schedule, so this would almost never apply to me.
Q: What hotel has truly lived up to the hype?
A: Kasbah Tamadot, Sir Richard Branson's Moroccan Retreat.
Q: On the flip side, a hotel that has been a crashing disappointment?
A: Sofitel Agadir Thalassa Sea & Spa – an epic disappointment that to this day, still boggles my mind.
Q: Your most amusing or regrettable holiday souvenir
A: A beautifully handcrafted leather weekend bag that was bravely retrieved from a traditional leather tannery, far outside of the medina in Marrakech. It was shipped home and sat out on my balcony for days, hoping to rid it of its “authentic aromas.”
Q: What do you enjoy finding most in a mini-bar?
A: Classic Coca Cola in the glass bottles. In Mexico and other Latin American countries it's still made with real sugar, not the high fructose corn syrup in the North American version.
Q: Describe your guilty pleasure when traveling
A: It changes often, but always involves food. Most recently, while on a trip to London, England, the Grab & Go Ploughman's sandwich at Marks & Spencer stole the show.
Q: What foreign phrase do you most enjoy tossing about?
A: Gracias, merci, danke . . . A little gratitude can go a long way.
Q: Brushes with greatness: Most famous or interesting person you have spotted or bantered with on your travels . . .
A: Had a nice chat with Bobby Flay at the Taste of Two Forks last summer in the Hamptons.
Q: Tell us about a great little place you recommend to friends
A: Ana Y Jose in Tulum, Mexico for the fish ceviche and the beautiful view.
Q: “I would do almost anything to relive every minute of this hotel stay . . .”
A: The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel.
Q: Confess to one thing you’ve nicked from your hotel room
A: Complimentary chocolates from the housekeeping cart.
Q: Favourite island
Q: UNESCO World Heritage Site that blows your mind
Q: The coolest hotel you’ve ever stayed in
A: Rosas & Xocolate Boutique Hotel & Spa, Merida, Mexico.
Q: The best spa experience of your life
A: Les bains de Marrakech.
Q: A travel themed film that has really moved you
A: Sideways is a personal favourite. Shortly after it came out, a close friend and I did our own version of the trip through Napa and Sonoma.
Q: A beloved travel book, fiction or non-fiction
A: An ever-evolving selection, but one I have read over and over again is Reminiscences of A Stock Operator by Edwin Lefèvre.