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Who are we?
i-escape.com is the trading name of Ram Tinto Associates Ltd, a UK-registered company based in London. Our core team includes the 2 founders, Laila Ram (a former management consultant) and Nikki Tinto (a former investigator), Michael Cullen (an established travel author and consultant) and Aidan Forestier-Walker. All 4 have spent many years travelling extensively to some of the world's most far-flung locations. We also work very closely with a team of freelance photographers, journalists, creative writers and travel industry experts who travel the world visiting and reviewing new places for us.
Are you interested in joining our team? Check out our latest job vacancies.
After years of advising people on how to run their businesses, Laila Ram decided to try it out for herself. Armed with 5 years of management consultancy experience, an MBA from New York's Columbia Business School and having been Strategic Development Director for several small companies, she decided to set up her own business in something she was really passionate about: travel.
Laila grew up living in Holland, Denmark, Switzerland, India, the UK and US, and has been travelling ever since. She teamed up with one of her best friends and travelling companion on many far-flung trips to create i-escape.com. Based initially on all the great places they had discovered during their travels, i-escape.com has now grown into a fantastic collection of places that Laila and Nikki dream of visiting when they get a chance to get out of the office!
Nikki developed her flair for uncovering secrets through 10 years working as a senior consultant to the world’s largest investigations firms. Here she located hidden assets of former foreign heads of state, investigated environmental and human rights issues and provided critical intelligence to some of the UK’s most significant corporate mergers and acquisitions.
With her love of travel and adventure, a degree in Geography from Exeter University, and a natural thirst for discovering the special and unusual, Nikki spent her time between investigations contracts seeking out some of the world's most unspoilt locations. She has travelled in over 40 countries, including most of South America where she enjoyed two years painting surreal murals in mountain villages, sampling the local cactus juice and avoiding piranhas in the Amazon. After many years of friends using her as a source of new and interesting places to stay, the internet has finally provided the perfect channel through which she can share her discoveries.
Michael has always been a keen linguist, writer and photographer, so to carve out the ultimate niche in travel writing - and then see it take off as a business - is like paying a cat to sunbathe. After joining i-escape at its genesis in 2001, he reviewed many of the places on this site, and has edited most of the rest. His multinational background encompasses Greece (where he was born and brought up), France (where he did his baccalaureat and taught English), Africa (where he backpacked around Kenya and Zanzibar) and more recently hiking in Morocco and Austria. He has also written guidebooks for Sawdays, Sunflower, Lonely Planet and Cicerone.
In 2011, Michael and his wife and son took a 3-month sabbatical to Thailand, Greece and Germany, highlights of which were cycling round the temples of Sukhothai, climbing the snow-clad peaks of Crete’s White Mountains, and a 3-day canoeing trip in the Mecklenburg Lake District of eastern Germany. When not roaming the globe or the internet, he enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, singing in the City of Bristol Choir and helping to organise his annual street party.
Having been bitten as a teenager by the travel bug whilst tripping in South America, Aidan never quite escaped the draw of making the most of every holiday. With a degree in Commerce at Edinburgh University and a decade ensconced in the aerospace industry, a return flight to his passion of travel was realized when his wife Nikki Tinto asked for help in expanding i-escape. Having always wished to marry work with pleasure, what could be better. After all, even before joining the business, a good many i-escape hotels had already been savoured. With a growing team, and a deep desire to preserve the unique edge that i-escape has won, Aidan brings with him management experience from a hi-tech industry and inside knowledge to run and deliver its increasingly busy operation.
Ever since interrailing around Europe aged 18, Liz has spent most of her free time and money travelling: she's backpacked around 6 continents and dreams of going to Antarctica but hates the cold. Highlights were island-hopping around the Caribbean, camel-trekking in the Sahara and trying to pitch a tent on Bolivia's salt plains. After 5 years as a writer/sub-editor on various London magazines including Glamour, she began to dream of exploring in a far more stylish way. And where better than i-escape? She now writes and edits our new hotel reviews, writes our monthly newsletter - and occasionally gets to add to her travel-CV.
Nadine believes that one should say yes to every invitation and possibility of adventure. This has taken her to places far and wide from Australia to Zimbabwe via Thailand, Vietnam, Rajasthan, Mexico, Turkey, Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina, Myanmar, Western Europe, the British Isles and, most recently, 5+ years in wonderful San Francisco. After a long career in film and TV, she's the point person for new hotels joining i-escape and sets up review trips. Excitingly, she also oversees i-escape's pioneering Kids Collection now she has 2 little ones of her own and isn't slowing down on the travel front! And she still does cartwheels everywhere she goes.
Abi gained her first taste of travel as a toddler when her globe-trotting parents took her interrailing around Europe, followed soon afterwards by a round-the-world tour. She has been exploring ever since, with recent highlights including monkey-watching in Japan, safaris in South Africa’s Karoo, crossing salt flats in Argentina, and travelling from Toronto to Vancouver by train in the footsteps of her Canadian grandmother. She studied French and Spanish at the University of Bristol (spending a year in Paris and Barcelona) and began her career in PR before deciding to put her love of travel - and writing about it - to good use at i-escape. She now looks after our hotel reviews, destination guides and other content. In her spare time, she also writes and edits interior design and lifestyle blog These Four Walls.
Melissa's passion for travel began during a month-long expedition to Malaysia as a teenager; later adventures have included babysitting lion cubs on a South African reserve, adrenaline-fuelled sports in New Zealand and foodie pursuits in Puglia, Italy. A degree in English Literature at the University of Leicester afforded insights into Middle Eastern travel writing, plus the opportunity to edit the travel section of her student newspaper (while enjoying the occasional excursion within the UK). After graduating she undertook various marketing internships, before finding her way to Bristol and to i-escape, where she now writes and updates our reviews and travel guides.
Emily fell in love with travel at a young age when her parents took her to Paris for the day - it wasn’t the sights that did it for her, it was the strawberry ice cream. She spends all of her free time (and money) on exploring the world and is often teased for seeking out ancient ruins to explore. She’s fallen in love with Rome, Santorini, Nice, Sardinia and many more, but a piece of her heart will always be in Portugal’s Eastern Algarve, which she visits several times a year. She decided she needed to work in travel after studying English Literature and Theatre at university, and reading Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Following a year of internships at publications such as The Guardian, she landed her dream job here at i-escape.
Sarah has fond memories of growing up on the Caribbean island of Barbados - mostly in the sea with mask and snorkel, or on it with a board. After moving to England to pursue a career in marketing, she took every opportunity to escape it - particularly the winters - and pursue her passion for the exotic. Highlights include camping along the Amalfi and Dalmatian coasts, backpacking her way around Mexico and Central America and, most recently, an epic trip taking in Sri Lanka, India, southeast Asia and Indonesia. After handling the marketing for a number of successful brands, she jumped at the chance to combine her two passions at i-escape.
Anna’s love of travel began at a young age on family holidays in Europe. Not keen on spending every day sitting on a beach, her parents combined sun, sea and sand with ancient ruins, mountain walks and city sightseeing. A field trip to New Zealand while she was studying Geography at Exeter University fuelled her desire to travel further afield: many short- and long-haul trips followed. After five years of managing projects at a content marketing agency and a sabbatical spent exploring California, New Zealand and Tokyo, Anna is combining her interest in marketing and social media with her passion for travel at i-escape.
Whether a charity hitch-hike to North Africa or a summer spent travelling around Europe, Lyndon has never been one to turn down the opportunity for adventure. He has a passion for language, landscapes and good food, and the list of places he hopes to explore gets longer by the day. After completing his master's degree in English Literature at York University and working as a marketing coordinator in Cardiff, Lyndon has found the perfect place to nurture his wanderlust at i-escape.
Kate spent 5 years working in some of London’s top restaurants and felt that she would like to combine her love of travel with her appreciation of good food and where to find it across the world. Kate has had varied travel experiences from living in North Carolina and California, USA, to backpacking in India and the Greek Islands as well as many a short break exploring in Morocco, Spain, France and Italy and wherever else good food can be found. She brings with her enthusiasm and energy and will look forward to assisting with your booking enquiries, responding to feedback and advising you on where to go and what to eat.
Ben's first travel experience was a year in Australia aged 21; he drove vast distances in a beat-up plumber's van, and did any job available to keep going (even busking!). After this, all his daydreams and hard work focused on future adventures, and the following years were spent travelling around India, SE Asia, China and Central America, living out Indiana Jones fantasies in Angkor, Tikal and Rajasthan en route. He originally moved to Bristol to work in an account management role, then a student lettings agency. But such was his determination to work for i-escape, he kept applying for roles here - and we're delighted he persevered so hard! He now looks after bookings in Italy, Costa Rica and SE Asia.
It was a cruise around the Med in her early teens which made Emily realise she could get used to a life of sunshine and café culture. At the age of 15 she upped sticks and moved to Dubai with her mum, spending the next few years studying at an international school and enjoying the delights of desert living. She returned to the UK to study events management at Leeds Metropolitan University, but after graduating (having realised that the world of events would leave little room for travelling), she left again to go backpacking. Highlights of her trip included Kho Tao and Kho Phi Phi in Thailand, Queenstown in New Zealand, and snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. Since joining i-escape, Emily is finding it hard to choose where to go next, but her dream would be seeing polar bears in the Arctic.
Sarah is from Austin, Texas - the greatest city in the greatest state in the USA! Before joining i-escape in 2013, she completed her MA in Spanish at the University of Bristol. Previously, she studied International Studies and foreign languages at Baylor University. Sarah also lived in Madrid for 2 years and has travelled extensively throughout Spain, as well as Western Europe, Japan, Greece, Turkey, India, Mexico and the US. To escape the British weather, she's always looking for hot, sunny places to kick back and relax. Favourite travel moment: watching the sunrise from the summit of Mt Fuji after an all-night climb.
Ben’s always had travel in his blood thanks to regular European holidays as a child and going to a French school in London. But it was Africa that really captured his heart, aged 12, when he visited Kenya. He planned to spend his gap year travelling overland from Nairobi to Cape Town, but actually only managed 5 months before running out of cash (despite 2 parent bailouts!). Since then he’s squeezed in a Zoology degree, a job at STA travel, and as many holidays as possible, including a 2nd gap year to South Africa, South East Asia, Central America and Australasia. He's now ready to be a ‘Grown Up’ and is looking forward to buying a house and Boston Terrier in Bristol. His job as Rates Manager of i-escape enables him to combine 2 of his great loves: a passion for travel plus geekery with numbers!
Olivia’s love of travel stems from family holidays in Europe as a child and a trip to Japan at the age of 18. As part of her French and German degree at the University of Bristol, she spent a very cold winter visiting as many Christmas markets as possible in northern Germany, followed by a warm summer in Bordeaux making the most of her job in a wine museum. After graduating she moved back home to Wolverhampton to work in the export department of flower company David Austin Roses, before jumping at the chance to join i-escape, where her role as Assistant Rates Manager combines her natural flair for numeracy with her love of languages.
When he's in the office, he works all hours of the day; hence, Toby often tries to escape his desk for sunny shores or an adventurous trip. He loves to learn new skills while exploring and has recently been rock climbing in Thailand, ice climbing in New Zealand, diving in Egypt and caving in Mexico. His next plan is to explore more of South America and maybe pick up a little Spanish along the way. In the meantime, we've chained him back to his desk...
Our resident Welshman, Curtis grew up in Swansea but moved to Bristol after university (lured largely by cider, we suspect). He's spent lots of time in Portugal (where his mum lives), and counts France and Barcelona as his favourite holiday destinations so far. But it's Canada that tops his travel wishlist - specifically Whistler, to go mountain biking. He's super sporty, spending half his free time on a bike, the rest doing martial arts, football, swimming and Airsoft. He's also really into computer games, which he thinks makes him geeky, but we think it's what makes him such a great web developer.
In his own words, Leon's into 'pretty much everything', and isn't one for sitting still. He spends his spare time doing Capoeira, gymnastics, photography and climbing (to name a few interests!), and is currently learning the guitar and Spanish. His favourite travel memories include the Atacama Desert in Chile, Easter Island's mysterious stone heads, and travelling overland from Hungary to Wolverhampton. Next on his list is Japan (where he wants to see the crazy contrasts of ancient and modern, try a sand bath, take the bullet train, watch a Manga film and take in a traditional drumming show, amongst a million other things!), after which he'd like to visit Egypt's ancient sites. Luckily for us, he still has time to squeeze in work as part of our growing web development team.
Fiona has spent the last 15 years combining her lust for travel with her job as a public relations consultant. Her journeys have taken her from Tasmania, where she was snowed in on a press trip, via Namibia, advising the Tourist Board on their promotion strategy, to the Caribbean to shadow a wedding planner with full BBC crew in tow. She feels equally at home in 5-star luxury as in a tent half way up Kilimanjaro or hiking the Inca Trail. She launched her own specialist travel PR consultancy, Fiona Reece PR, in June 2007 and makes sure that i-escape.com is always top of mind with the country’s media.
As a small boy growing up in a grey country, Tom Bell spent most of his time daydreaming of far-flung exotic lands. After paying off his university overdraft, he headed for Australia with a deep conviction that he would find an Australian wife, thus ensuring himself a life of idle, sun-drenched pleasure. Unfortunately for him (but not perhaps, Australia) he was deported two years after he arrived. Although he is still searching for an Australian wife, he passes his time writing the Alastair Sawday British Hotel Guide and has visited many places for i-escape in Spain, France, Portugal, Indochina and Switzerland.
Guy’s life changed when, after graduating in Spanish from Bristol, he discovered Crete and the Mediterranean. After a decade of drifting from good beach to good beach, he spent the next ten years leading tours in India, South America and Mongolia. Guy eventually put down roots in Andalucia where he combines work as a walking guide with freelance writing. His first taste of travel writing was when he set off in a battered old van to visit nearly 300 B&Bs in France for the Sawday guide. Since then he has contributed to several travel guides and has written his own guide to the best walks in Andalucia. Guy knows the mountains of his part of the world as well as most shepherds and is currently charting a new coast to coast walk, linking the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. His reviews for i-escape took him to Andalucia, Portugal, South Africa, SW France, Morocco, Tanzania and Namibia. His most valued possession: his walking boots.
Glenda began her eclectic career in her native country of Canada, where she worked as a radio and television journalist in a range of jobs from news presenter to reporter to documentary producer to occasional weather girl! After a stint on the stage as an actress and a sojourn in the Caribbean performing live shows for corporate retreats, Glenda moved to London and entered the new media world. For 8 years she worked here at i-escape.com, handling bookings across Europe as well as writing our monthly newsletter and making trips to review hotels in Spain, Morocco, Greece, Amsterdam and the UK. In 2010-11, she and her husband Pete travelled the length and breadth of the Americas, updating our reviews and seeking out new gems.
After spending her teenage years in Prague, Charlotte spent two years living and working in Mexico and South Korea as an English teacher. She finally ended up at Bristol University and graduated in French and Spanish, having spent a year of her degree in Bordeaux and Mendoza (Argentina) getting to grips with the languages and the local wines. She spent several happy years in the i-escape office, putting her language skills to use and assisting with booking enquiries, before embarking on new adventures in Latin America.
i-escape's Miss Argentina, Christabelle fell in love with Argentina - and an Argentine man - at 16. But when the Falklands war started, she had to leave true love behind. She acted at the National Theatre, made short films, and worked at Channel 4 and the BBC, but walked out to return to Argentina for the first time in 20 years – and fell in love all over again. She travelled the entire country to write the Footprint guide, and even a series of unsuitable Argentine men, endless overnight buses, and an incident in La Boca did not dim her passion for the place. Making documentaries in remote northwest Argentina led her along a lesser known Inca trail up Mount Llullaillaco, where at 6,500m she nearly became the next human offering. Christabelle is writing TV drama and a feature film set in Argentina, while planning her eco-home in the Valles Calchaquiés. She has written for The Guardian, Wanderlust and Red, and makes regular appearances on Radio 4’s Excess Baggage. For i-escape she has reviewed places in Argentina, Chile, Stockholm and Costa Rica.
After a degree in Social Policy, a gap year interrailing around Europe, a stint in a post production company, and a second gap year in Australia, Daisy finally realised that her real love has always been travel. So she got a job as a bookings consultant at a pioneering Bristol-based boutique hotel website - you've guessed it, www.i-escape.com - where she spent 4 happy years helping you find and book your perfect hotel, and reviewing new openings in Wales, Lisbon and France. We wish her luck with the next chapter!
While growing up in Cornwall, Lesley didn’t see much of the world beyond Daymer Bay and Bodmin Moor (her parents’ idea of long-haul was a trip to Somerset); and she didn’t board a plane until she was nearly 30. She’s been making up for it ever since, and when she meandered into a career in journalism (from art school to editing, via a succession of dead-end jobs) she decided to go freelance so she could travel whenever the mood, or the money, took her. Writing for the national press (The Guardian, The Telegraph and the The FT, among others), her specialist subjects are property, interior design and travel - a combination which perhaps explains her love of hotels. Aside from writing reviews for i-escape, she is currently researching a new guide book - to Cornwall. Geographical expertise: India, Turkey, southern Europe, the US and the UK.
Laura Dixon is a seasoned travel writer who has contributed to The Guardian, Condé Nast Traveller, National Geographic Travellerand many more. In 2012 she won editorial freelancer of the year at the Southwest Freelancer awards. For i-escape, she helped us launch our kids collection in 2011, and has reviewed hotels in Sri Lanka, Scotland, Madeira, Iceland, Venice, France, Belgium and Catalonia.
Jo’s career has taken her from teaching 7-year-olds in Battersea to copywriting for Sawdays and i-escape. On the way she's written a guidebook to Cardiff, edited a listings magazines in Amsterdam, compiled the family pages for Bristol's Venue magazine, and taken time out to bring up two children and one small fluffy dog. As a child she was whisked off on train journeys to Finland, Scandinavia, Austria and France; later she lived with hippies in San Francisco and survived a heatwave in New York. Her favourite holidays are slow ones - a jaunt around Wicklow in a gypsy caravan, a week of gastropubbery in Suffolk.
On her tenth birthday Clare made a day trip to Boulogne, ate a cheese omelette served by a gentleman with a beret and has been hooked on France and its food ever since. She went on to study French and Spanish at Cambridge, worked in Paris as a Reuters correspondent, and wrote two guidebooks - on French Villas (Sawdays) and Normandy (Cadogan) - as well as co-authoring Lonely Planet’s Career Break Book. She has also travelled widely in South America, Spain and Greece, and is currently deputy editor of BBC Countryfile Magazine, for whom she writes hotel reviews and edits the food and book sections. She also writes for BBC Good Food, BBC History and France Magazine, and for i-escape has reviewed hotels in France and Britain.
Nicolas’ closest brush with the travel bug was a cold he caught, aged 6, from the air-conditioning in the Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens. Unaccountably, life has since buffeted him from Hamburg, where he grew up, to London, where he studied, to Jeddah, where he was chief sub at one of the worst newspapers in the world, and finally to Bangkok, with regional detours motivated more by necessity than any curiosity about people and culture. Yet while nothing could improve his opinion of travel, the years did sharpen his eye for aspects of short-term rental accommodation that can make the ordeal more (and, crucially, less) tolerable. He is the author of the Saudi Arabia guide in the Culture Smart series and an editor with the Chosun Ilbo of Korea, a country he has no plans to visit. For i-escape, he has reviewed hotels in Thailand and Cambodia.
Abigail lived in Hong Kong for three years from 1997, writing and editing books for China and Vietnam. She travelled around the region frequently, from weekends in Shanghai to months in Thailand. After editing books in Lonely Planet’s London office, she worked on their India, Rajasthan, Delhi & Agra, Portugal, Wales, Tunisia, Best of Rome, Africa on a Shoestring, Britain and England guides, as well as contributing to Out to Eat – London, the Gap Year Book, Code Green and the Africa Book. Other travel journalism has appeared in The Guardian, Marie Claire, Wanderlust, the LA Times, the Denver Post, Toronto Sun, the San Francisco Chronicle, on BBC radio, and she writes for Alastair Sawday’s Special Places to Stay. Having once spent the night in a yard with chickens and goats in Mauretania, writing for i-escape has introduced her to a new, wonderfully comfortable realm of travel.
Originating from Wensleydale in North Yorkshire, Jane graduated in Architecture from Oxford Poly, then lived 6 years in Split, Croatia, before moving to Athens, Greece. She has travelled extensively through the Balkans and has written about Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Greece for various guidebooks including Footprint, Insight and Fodor’s. She also writes occasional articles for The Observer and The Telegraph. She loves hiking, sailing, camping and drinking red wine, and has a special penchant for almost-impossible-to-get-to beaches. She speaks English, Italian, Croatian and Greek. For i-escape, Jane has reviewed hotels in Croatia and Greece.
Joyce Copeland loves nothing better than bumping down an unpaved road to a unique hotel the rest of the world hasn’t yet discovered. She began her career as a writer and managing editor for Endless Vacation magazine, published by holiday exchange pioneer Resort Condominiums International. She veered off course during the 90s, writing marketing copy for Silicon Valley tech companies and authoring four career-related books. Today she works closely with Brand Tango, an award-winning marketing agency, writing copy on projects ranging from websites to corporate brochures and her feature articles appear in travel industry trade publications. Joyce's review trips for i-escape have included Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Morocco, Greece, Tuscany, Istanbul and California.
Belinda has been a passionate - if not particularly talented - skier for almost 20 years, ever since her first snowy foray to Serre Chevalier in the French Alps. Today there is barely a resort she has not visited nor a slope she has not swooshed down (speed rather than style being her forte), and she has reviewed many of her favourites in France and Switzerland for i-escape. Her love of travel has also led her to experience hot destinations, with recent adventures including a walking safari in Zambia, jet-skiing around Jamaica, a hardcore yoga retreat in Kerala, and scuba diving off the Great Barrier Reef. All of this makes her sound rather intrepid, but she remains at heart a devotee of luxury, lavish creature comforts and superb interior design.
Emma has had a varied career, encompassing physical training and several years' work at i-escape, where she handled the UK portfolio and helped with reservations. Her love of travel has taken her from the vineyards of South Africa to the deserts of Namibia, and from the beaches of the Caribbean to the kitchens of Thailand. Her most recent review trips were to South Africa and Italy, two countries which she loves.
Viv Monahan is a freelance investigator, travel consultant and writer. Her two published novels, Dangerous Games and Storm Fever, which were written under her pen name, Vivien Leyland, feature exotic destinations as characters in their own right. With Masters Degrees in Philosophy and Spanish, Viv suffers from terminal itchy feet, a condition that, over the last decade, has been partially alleviated by frequent, long trips to Bali. After several years of being used as an informal travel consultant by various internet forums (and family members), Viv has sought out a collection of eclectic hideaways on small but beautifully formed islands and in Marrakech for i-escape. Thanks to two expensive language courses, she now speaks taxi-Indonesian almost fluently.
Cat began writing about travel and design for UK and Australian magazines a decade ago, whilst working as an architect in Sydney. It was a six month sabbatical from Richard Rogers that first gave her the travel bug, taking Cat through Asia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Japan, after which she settled in Australia for a few years. Now back in the UK, Cat continues to mix her two favourite things - architecture and travel: she runs her own private practice and freelances for i-escape, both reviewing hotels and helping keep our 30,000+ photos up to date.
Caroline Sylger Jones is the author of Body & Soul Escapes and Body & Soul Escapes: Britain & Ireland, inspiring travel resource books of places to retreat and replenish around the globe. She writes a wellbeing column for The National in the UAE, and reviews spas, retreats, yoga breaks, wellbeing holidays and luxurious boltholes for UK publications including Conde Nast Traveller, Red, Psychologies, Homes & Gardens, Sainsburys Magazine, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and the London Evening Standard. She has appeared on Radio 4 as a specialist on wellbeing holidays, is the expert on retreats for The School of Life and also sells her photographs through Alamy.
A traveller from a young age, Charlotte used her university holidays to explore Thailand and Ecuador. Upon graduation she won the Vogue Talent Contest for writing and traded in a round-the-world ticket for a full time job at the magazine. She moved to Harper’s Bazaar as Arts and Entertainment Editor, making the occasional trip to New York and LA to interview Hollywood stars (which was not, she admits, a hardship). In the meantime she continued to explore the world – Costa Rica, Spain, Italy, Hong Kong, Australia, India - and somewhere along the way became an unofficial tour operator for her friends. After writing for The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Conde Nast Traveller, Charlotte re-joined Vogue in 2006 as Associate Features Editor where she remains today. But she’s a gaiters and rucksack girl at heart - give her a tent under a desert sky over a five star resort any day.
Emma is a freelance writer specialising in travel, who ended up in Sri Lanka in 2003 after a year spent writing her way around the world. She has penned pieces on subjects as diverse as Honduran politics, the Bolivian pampas, scaling Mount Kilimanjaro, Sri Lankan ballooning and London’s Theatreland, and her work has been featured in Get Lost, High Life, The Sunday Times and Oryx. Emma is also the author of Culture Smart! Sri Lanka and co-author of The Asia Villa Guide, and regularly travels overseas on updating missions for Rough Guides; recent trips have included Australia, India, Hong Kong, Borneo and Cambodia. Emma frequently luxuriates in boutique hotels across Asia (all in the name of work) and has reviewed i-escape properties in India and her adopted home of Sri Lanka.
An award-winning photographer specialising in travel, reportage, portraits and weddings, Cathy gained an early appreciation of beauty growing up with artist parents in a Gloucestershire mansion. While reading English at Exeter University her maverick spirit led to a near-fatal Devon cliff fall, but she survived to forge a career as a freelance feature writer, editor and photographer for a wide range of clients. Now blissfully Brighton-based, she has so far had adventures in Europe and America, Africa, the Caribbean and South East Asia and reviewed and photographed hidden oases in Goa, Sri Lanka and Venice for i-escape. To view her portfolio, visit www.vividphotography.co.uk
After finishing university with a Masters in wanderlust (and, more officially, a degree in English), Kate spent years funding trips through soul-destroying jobs - until she realised that if she lived abroad, it would feel like a holiday every day. So she upped sticks to France, and is now settled in Paris, fluent in French and married to a Frenchman. Her travels have taken her across South and North America, the Middle East and Asia; but shamefully she has never been to Australia, despite the fact that her sister has been living there for over 10 years (it's next on the list!). For i-escape she contributes to the entente cordiale, reviewing hotels in France.
Rachael is a globe-trotter with a writing addiction. Her work as a travel journalist is published in newspapers, glossy magazines, inflight literature and travel guides internationally. Her byline appears regularly in the The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age in Melbourne, DestinAsian, Emirates / Etihad / Jetstar / Virgin inflights mags and more. She's also a corporate speaker, a media trainer, an author of two books and a contributor to three anthologies. Oh, and a prolific ski journalist. In fact, there's not much in the world of travel writing she doesn't do. For i-escape she has visited hotels in Australia and Cambodia.
Joe Cawley is a freelance travel writer and author based in the Canary Islands, published in The Sunday Times, Daily Express, New York Post and others. He's medically compelled to travel to alleviate sporadic bouts of island fever that leave him with a nasty rash and an uncontrollable urge to scream obscenities at the top of his voice. His first book More Ketchup than Salsa, about swapping life as a fishmonger in Bolton to be a British bar owner abroad, was voted 'Best Travel Narrative 2007' by the British Guild of Travel Writers. He likes the British Guild of Travel Writers. A lot. Joe is also the owner of local destination site My Tenerife Info.
An award-winning travel writer, content strategist and journalist, Antonia has contributed to (among others) The Guardian, The Times, Frommer’s, Alastair Sawday’s guides, whatsonwhen.com, lastminute.com and hotels.com, as well as helping launch The Observer travel supplement (Escape). Her travels have taken her to Australia (where she didn't sleep inside for a month), France, Greece, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, Brazil (where she rose to the challenge of reporting on the Carnival) and the US (which she drove across in 3 months). For i-escape she has reviewed hotels in and around New York.
When Mary-Anne first travelled to India 19 years ago, she fell in love with it immediately. After many more trips to India and working for several prestigious UK travel companies as their India specialist, she set up her own business MAhout in April 2000. She has been lucky enough to have discovered a few of the country’s many hidden secrets – many of which lie in the wondrous hotels scattered around. MAhout now represents these places and endeavours to put some of India’s finest hotels ‘on the map’, by acting as their ‘ambassador’ in the UK. During the course of her 17 years in the travel trade Mary-Anne has built up a strong and recognised reputation and is considered one of the UK’s leading experts on India. She has reviewed many of i-escape‘s featured properties in Rajasthan.
Yasmin Boland has been a fulltime writer since she was 20 and is one of those Australians who lives by the maxim "have laptop, will travel". As such, she spends most of the year in Bondi, Sydney, and the other part in Paris - or en route between the two. She has contributed to publications, including She, B, Playboy, Elle, the Sydney Morning Herald and the London Evening Standard. Having stayed at some of the best hotels in Sri Lanka and southern India on behalf of i-escape.com, she is also the author of two books: a fun, non-fiction work called Cosmic Love and a novel titled Carole King Is An Alien.
Since studying in Togo and France, Emma has always been a bit restless. She has worked at the European Parliament and World Bank in Brussels, for the UN in Kenya, and for a London charity, before settling down for five years of economic and political analysis of Latin America and Asia. But aside from the occasional work trip to Mexico, China and Hong Kong the longed-for jet-set lifestyle eluded her so, after marrying her like-minded travel buddy Duncan, she jacked it all in to bum around Latin America, Australasia and South East Asia. With the notable exceptions of a stomach bug on the Inca trail and floods in Australia, they have loved every minute.
Michelle has lived a nomadic lifestyle ever since leaving Scotland for London at the age of 19. During her degree course in Spanish and Latin American Studies, she taught English to Spanish students in Murcia and travelled by bus from Mexico City to Guatemala, Belize and the Yucatán. A career with British Airways followed, the highlight of which was the opportunity to fly as a courier on board Concorde. With her husband’s job taking the family stateside, Michelle then lived in Orlando and Phoenix, before turning full circle to reside in Scotland. Michelle has since graduated (again!) with an MA in Television Fiction Writing and has scripted the pilot episode of a serial drama. She also writes about far-flung boutique hotels for i-escape and is the London travel writer at Société Perrier.
Emilie has helped to build a playground in Chile as part of a Raleigh International project, backpacked around Bolivia and Argentina, learned Spanish in Barcelona, interrailed through western Europe and taught tourism in Weston College near Bristol. In 2009, after 2 years handling i-escape enquiries in those regions, she travelled around Central and South America to visit charity projects which interest her. She is now studying to be a teacher.
In 1992 Davina left the corporate world to embark on an adventure that began with smuggling a fax machine into Moscow and ended with a trek through the Andaman Islands dodging spears. On the way she helped Mongolian contraband dealers, blagged her way into a top dollar Nepalese safari park, hitched to Tibet courtesy of a lecherous Chinese truck driver, was wined and dined by the Minister of Tourism in India, met Bertolucci on the film set of Little Buddha and nearly died of altitude sickness. She’s been travelling ever since and along the way has reviewed South African safari lodges and Caribbean islands for i-escape. She’s recently written a book on travels of the mind - The Dream Whisperer.
Melinda finally got her first passport as a 20-year-old journalism graduate and left the shores of her native Australia on a working holiday taking in Fiji, Mexico, the USA, Germany, Austria and much of Eastern Europe. After more than a year on the road, she washed up in the UK with a tattered backpack and not a penny to her name - and has been based there ever since. Over the last two decades, she’s built a career in television, directing and producing high-quality factual programmes for Channel 4 and the BBC, and lapping up the travel that goes along with it. She is currently working on an MSc and planning her next international adventure.
Meg's degree in English Literature and her love of surfing, combined with her work as an intelligence risk analyst and a screenplay script advisor, served her well when she and her photographer husband left the Middle East to scout the entire length of Brazil, checking out fabulous hideaways for us at i-escape on the way. Meg now owns a vintage poster gallery in the UNESCO world heritage-lauded Fort in Galle, from where she keeps us up to date on new openings across Sri Lanka.
As a hotel insider for i-escape, Rachel likes unveiling the new and unique. After working as an editor for magazines and newspapers in Europe, she quit her desk job and set off to Asia and Australia, where she travelled - and was a general dogsbody - before getting a proper job. She has edited and written for Time Out magazines and guides, CNNGo and Associated Newspapers.
When Michael got his first credit card in college, he bought a plane ticket from New York to Mexico - and he’s hardly stopped since. After a stint as a copywriter at Reader’s Digest, Michael suffered a case of temporary insanity and bought a B&B in Pennsylvania’s Amish Country, before jumping ship to the Caribbean to manage an eco-resort (and pen a guidebook to the tiny island of Vieques on the side). Next stop was Singapore, where he currently resides with his wife and giant poodle, mixing exploratory weekends around Southeast Asia with a directorship at custom publishing company Novus Media. He has also freelanced for Time Out Singapore and Discovery Channel, and edited Singapore’s irreverent lifestyle magazine, I-S.
Bilingual in French, and proficient in Spanish, German and Greek, Heidi has been living in and between these countries since 1988. She contributes regularly to magazines ranging from Real Travel and Easyjet Traveller, to the LA Times and Delta Sky. Recent trips have seen her blowing dust out of her brassiere in Dubai, having tea with Moroccan Bedouins, getting hopelessly lost in Montenegro, being pummelled by beefy masseurs in Istanbul and ending up, relatively unscathed, on Crete and Rhodes - where she has reviewed hotels for i-escape. Proud owner of a motorcaravan, she travels for six months of the year researching material for her features.
At the tender age of 18, during a tough 8-month challenge in Africa, Harriet caught not only the travel bug but also malaria. Undeterred, she has since backpacked the globe (Southeast Asia, Central America, Indonesia, Australia and Sri Lanka) with occasional stops at boutique hotels, courtesy of The Times, Time Out and i-escape.com, to satisfy her luxury cravings. Following their recent wedding, she and her husband embarked on a year-long trip around the world, encompassing the Americas, the Pacific islands, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, India and finally her favourite: Sri Lanka.
Rhiannon is a freelance journalist writing mostly on travel - with a penchant for community / green/ outdoor travel, plus anything with a hint of tartan! She is the author of "Higher Ground: How to Travel Responsibly Without Roughing It", which examines the impact of our obsession with travel, the up- and downsides of carbon offsetting and other schemes, and how best to make decisions about the regions you visit, the transport you take and the places you stay. For i-escape she has reviewed hotels in Scotland and northern England.
Rachel is a freelance writer and editor who divides her time between London and Athens. A regular contributor to Conde Nast Traveller, National Geographic Traveler, High Life, How To Spend It and Time Out guides, she has also written documentaries, screenplays, and comics. Her latest book, Secret London – An Unusual Guide, explores the hidden face of her home city.
Being half-Italian and having grown up in Indonesia, Italy, Brazil and England, Clemmy was always a bit of a nomad. But if home is where the heart is, then home is the whole of the South American continent. She has recently spent a year travelling around Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, updating guidebooks for Footprint and Rough Guides. She’s also worked as a content editor for Frommer’s Unlimited, and freelanced for magazines such as Food and Travel and Sunday Times Travel. She speaks five languages and loves to discover a destination through food. She’s currently pondering where life will take her next, but as she specialises in eco and nature travel, she’s hoping it will be the Galapagos Islands.
Sarah cut her travelling teeth on InterRail, spending summers in France, Spain, Italy and Greece. Bitten by the travel bug, her trips gradually grew longer and more exotic, from two months exploring Turkey, to a year travelling from Mexico to Chile stopping off at most points in between. Now a freelance travel writer for Wanderlust, The Guardian and The Independent among other publications, her work has taken her from luxury beach lodges in the Indian Ocean to wooden huts in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
A perpetual globetrotter in some 60 countries, Australian travel writer Lara Dunston has lived out of her Samsonite since she and photographer-husband Terence Carter put their possessions in storage in Dubai (the closest thing to a home) in January 2006. Authors of over 40 guidebooks, the couple have traversed the planet on commissions for Dorling Kindersley, Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Footprint, AA Guides, Fodor's, Insight and Thomas Cook. In between books, they write and shoot photos for all forms of media; their work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Wanderlust, The Independent, USA Today, BBC History, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Sunday Telegraph and more. They are destination experts for Triporati, NineMSN and Viator, and - to our amazement - they still find time to scribble their own travel blogs. For i-escape, they have reviewed properties in Australia and Syria.
Liz attributes her inherent wanderlust to an enviable childhood spent in South East Asia, South America and the Caribbean. After a stint at the BBC she worked for a while as Promotions Editor for Conde Nast Traveller, which took her to some of the finest hotels around the world. This was a temptation too great to resist and, having completed a round-the-world trip from Patagonia to Mongolia, she now inguldes her passion for adventures by doing freelance travel writing. For i-escape she has reviewed island hideaways in the Maldives and magnificent haciendas in Chile.
Lisa is a London-based freelance photographer and travel writer who was a founding member of i-escape, visiting, reviewing and photographing many of the 300 places with which we launched back in 2001. She specialises in adventure travel, as well as skiing, luxury travel and aid projects. Lisa produces photos, videos and articles for a variety of companies and media outlets, including The Times, The Sunday Telegraph, The Guardian, American Express Centurion and Tourism Australia. She has visited over 65 countries, and covered subjects as diverse as searching for Jaguar on horseback in Brazil, big cats of Namibia, the Australia Way route - Broome to Darwin, Land Rover G4 Challenge Mongolia, becoming a stock woman in Australia and heli-skiing in Canada. She was recently featured in the book Modern Muse, a project that reaches out to young women inspiring them to look at business careers as a way to achieve their dreams - see her website.
Stuart is a photographer and global nomad who moved from the UK to Mallorca with his parents when he was just 8 years old. He lived for a while in London and Los Angeles before returning to the island to pursue his photographer career with his wife Britt Rohde. Over the last 20+ years they have built up a highly successful business, ranging from travel photography to yachts, interiors and lifestyle shoots. He has absolutely no connection with the footballer of the same name who infamously missed a penalty in the 1990 World Cup.
Other contributing writers and photographers to our site include Rosanna de Lisle, Ros Belford, Gail Simmons, Honor Peters, Peter Myers, Sophia Woods, Will Hide, Lucia Appleby, Anita Naik, Justin Fox, Lisa Tsering, Frances Bernon, Gemma Pitcher, Ticky Hedley-Dent, Sue Carpenter, Lanie Goodman, James Alexander, Arabella Daniells, Gordon Baker and Philip Worman.