- Home >
- Who Are We?
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 dream niche in travel writing is the ultimate reward. Since joining i-escape at its genesis in 2001, he has reviewed nearly 500 hotels, B&Bs and rentals around the world. His favourites are in Sardinia, the Peloponnese, western Thailand, the Moroccan Atlas, Sicily and La Palma: magical spots combining secluded beaches, wild mountains and (of course) a gorgeous boutique hotel or two.
After a childhood in Greece, a Cambridge degree in French and German, and 10 years' leading hiking tours in (among other places) Spain and Italy, he speaks 5 languages fluently - but still manages to forget his wedding anniversary. Now living in Bristol with his wife and son, he enjoys river swimming, playing ultimate frisbee and a cappella singing. He has also written guidebooks for Sawdays, Sunflower, Lonely Planet and Cicerone.
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 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.
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!
After graduating from Sussex University in Economics, Grace headed off to the Americas for 6 months, covering Brazil, Bolivia, Columbia, Mexico and Peru. Highlights included the colourful seaside city of Cartagena and snorkelling in the turquoise waters off Paraty. Next on her wishlist is India - going Barefoot in the Andaman Islands, and tiger-spotting in Ranthambhore. She currently uses her number-crunching skills to help ensure you always get the best rate through i-escape.
Rich is the youngest (and, according to him, the best-looking) member of our team. He’s a typically tight Yorkshireman who first started sniffing out the best travel deals whilst interrailing at the age of 18, and he hasn’t stopped since. His journeys have so far taken him all around Europe, and he hopes to get back to his favourite hangouts in Berlin and Budapest sometime soon. After completing a degree in Politics and Social Policy at the University of Bristol, Rich is now using his eye for a bargain to ensure i-escape customers always get the best rates possible.
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.
Our newest tech recruit, Joel is a keen guitarist, online gamer, film lover and collector of nerd-shirts. Originally hailing from Shrewsbury (which we are under strict instructions to pronounce 'Shroos-bury'), he has survived quad-biking in Egypt and a degree in Computer Forensics - and now seems to be surviving total immersion into the vagaries of our code with remarkable good humour.
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 beach to beach, he spent ten years leading tours in India, South America and Mongolia before putting 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 reviewed hotels for i-escape in Andalucia, Portugal, South Africa, France, Morocco, Tanzania and Namibia, and written his own walking guides to Andalucia. Guy knows his mountains as well as most shepherds, and recently charted a new coast to coast walk, linking the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. 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 and Bristol.
Christabelle fell in love with Argentina - and an Argentine man - at 16, but had to leave true love behind when the Falklands war started. After acting at the National Theatre, making short films, and working at Channel 4 and the BBC, she returned 20 years later – and fell in love all over again. Endless overnight buses, an incident at 6,500m on Mount Llullaillaco, and even a series of unsuitable Argentine men did not dim her passion for the place. She travelled the entire country to write the Footprint guide, and of course to seek out the finest Argentine estancias for i-escape. We loved her writing so much, we then sent her to Chile, Stockholm and Costa Rica. She now lives in Norfolk with her husband, son and their cat, and works as a scriptwriter.
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 certain award-winning, Bristol-based boutique hotel website, where she spent 4 happy years helping people book their perfect hideaway, 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, and Sawdays guides. 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 over 15 years 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, reviewing hotels in Jamaica, Mexico and the UK.
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.
At just 22, Charlotte won Vogue's 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 a contributing 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.
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 travel more after studying English Literature and Theatre at university, and reading Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. A year's maternity cover in the editorial department here at i-escape has only cemented her conviction.
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, Frommers, Sawdays guides and whatsonwhen.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, wher she now lives. For i-escape she has reviewed hotels in and around New York.
Mary-Anne first travelled to India over 25 years ago, and fell in love with it immediately. Dozens more trips followed, then specialist roles at prestigious UK travel companies, before setting up her own Indian hotel representation business - MAhout - in 2000. Now considered one of the UK’s leading experts on India, she continues to root out the best new hotel openings and act as their ambassador in the UK. Needless to say, we (and you) hear about them first.
Yasmin Boland has been a full-time writer since she was 20 and is one of those Australians who lives by the maxim "have laptop, will travel". You'll find her either in Sydney or in Paris; or somewhere between the two. Besides staying at some of the best hotels in Sri Lanka and southern India on behalf of i-escape, she has written two books - a fun non-fiction called Cosmic Love and a novel titled Carole King Is An Alien - and contributed to She, Playboy, Elle, the Sydney Morning Herald and the London Evening Standard.
With a kaleidoscope of corporate gigs spanning over two decades, Maia has called Singapore, London, NYC, Toronto, Cape Town and San Francisco home and has travelled to 60+ countries. Moonlighting for i-escape, she loves meeting up with friends in far flung places to unravel quaint boutique gems, preferably those with a resident pooch and a mean cocktail list. Favourite destinations: NYC, Iceland and her friend's beach hut in Churchhaven, South Africa. Still on the wishlist: Slovenia, Bhutan, Madagascar.
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.
Living in the north of England, Helen appreciates the merest flicker of sunshine and doesn’t mind travelling big distances to find it. While she likes exploring a city’s nooks and crannies, she can also do lazy very well: hiking across hills or testing the softness of sand are both fine with her. She has written travel and hotel features for The Telegraph, Times, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Guardian, Condé Nast Traveller and Sawdays guides.
Emilie has built a playground in Chile with Raleigh International, 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, before settling on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast, from where she creates amazing tailormade tours for i-escape guests.
Diana calls herself an "Egyptologist, interior designer, hotelier and rawfully good chef", which pretty much sums up her multitudinous and quirky talents. To which we'd add "an occasional reviewer for i-escape in Asia" - she's checked out hotels in Singapore and Malaysia for us. And she could hardly be better qualified: Diana owns one of our all-time favourite hideaways, Puri Ganesha in Bali, and runs amazing raw food workshops and spice tours too. On that note, she's Cordon-Bleu trained and speaks 5 languages, including Indonesian (her husband is from Bali).
Kate must have caught the travel bug as a kid; though thoroughly American, she spent five of her childhood years living in various western European countries. She is now subjecting her own three children to the same fate. They lived five years in India - where Kate reviewed some knock-out properties for i-escape - and are now settled in Amsterdam. When she isn’t freelancing or making peanut butter sandwiches, Kate writes novels for young adults.
Back 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, 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. To get her breath back, she reviewed hideaways in South Africa and the Caribbean for i-escape. Davina now makes a living as a spiritual healer and writer.
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.
Emma Love has been a freelance travel and lifestyle journalist for over 7 years, but the travelling bug struck long before that. Favourite countries she has visited include India, Brazil and Costa Rica; but on a summer's day, she is just as happy on a beach in Cornwall. She is a Contributing Editor at Conde Nast Traveller magazine and, for i-escape, has reviewed hotels in France, Vietnam and Jamaica.
Jenny has never found it easy to stay in one place for long. She grew up in Luxembourg and the UK, moved to New York for two years after university, before living briefly in Madrid and then London. After several years working there for Condé Nast Traveller and Time Out Guides, she packed her bags again and moved to Germany: first to Hamburg, and then Berlin, where since 2007 she has worked as a freelance translator, editor and writer. She loves nothing more than exploring new cities and going for long rambles in the English countryside.
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.
Shelley is a freelance journalist and author in Austin who has written for National Geographic, USA Today, The Guardian and Texas Monthly, among others. She loves yoga, indie movies, wine, and books, though not necessarily in that order. Shelley has performed a catch on the flying trapeze, boarded down a live volcano and was once robbed by a monkey in Nepal. But she doesn’t know how to whistle.
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 mixed exploratory weekends around Southeast Asia (and hotel reviews for i-escape) with a directorship at a publishing company. He now writes and blogs from his home in Philadelphia, PA.
Jo is utterly fascinated by countries, cultures and food. She’d return to Rajasthan, Positano or Cairo, or travel solo around the world again, in a heartbeat. Current goal: travelling with carry-on baggage only. Jo worked in marketing agencies in London before setting up her own consultancy in Cape Town. A corporate comms strategist and writer, she’s also a travel and fine art photographer and has been published on National Geographic’s Intelligent Traveler website and several blogs.
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.
Claire is a travel writer, editor and photographer. She is a Cuba travel expert but, when not sampling mojitos and salsa-dancing around the island, she can be found exploring Guatemala, Vietnam, Laos and parts of Morocco. She has reviewed properties in Laos, Vietnam and Guatemala for i-escape.
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.
Kate is a specialist in Asia and Africa. She studied in Indonesia before living in India and then Laos, working for Audley Travel and Exotissimo along the way. She’s witnessed the great migration in Northern Tanzania, eaten with thousands of pilgrims at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, come face to face with a Komodo Dragon, trekked through the Himalayas, and seen blue whales off the coast of Sri Lanka. When she has a free minute, she loves nothing more than taking photos, cooking, country walks and a trip to the pub.
A perpetual globetrotter in some 70 countries, Australian travel writer Lara Dunston and photographer-husband Terence Carter have authored over 50 guidebooks, including Dorling Kindersley, Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Footprint, AA and Fodor's. As if that's not enough, they also shoot photos and films; their work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Wanderlust, The Independent, USA Today, the Sydney Morning Herald and BBC History. After a 2-year 'Grand Tour' of HomeAway properties, they finally settled in Cambodia, where they write their travel blog 'Grantourismo' as well as occasional guide- and cook books.
Rupert is a British photojournalist and film maker with a passion for travel and a knack for hotel PR. After a decade working as a financial news reporter, covering energy, oil and mining in Latin America for FT Business and Platt’s, he moved to full time travel journalism and filmmaking. His work has featured in leading lifestyle magazines, travel guides, architectural journals, and articles on gastronomy and ecotourism in Spain, Portugal and Latin America. Over the past ten years he has worked out of Lima, Buenos Aires, Rome, London, Madrid, Barcelona and Seville. He is currently based in Lisbon.
Lucia is a communications manager, editor and NUJ-accredited photojournalist with over 20 years' experience of the media. With her comms hat on, she has worked with BBC Radio, the Environment Agency and the Department of Education, while her writing clients include the Financial Times, Guardian and Rough Guides. For i-escape, she kickstarted our Mexico portfolio back in 2002, before settling in Chichester.
Rachel is a Scottish freelance journalist who covers travel, society and culture for a variety of publications, with a particular interest in ethical and rights issues. She has strong connections with East Africa and was based in Zanzibar for several years, where she got a taste for taarab music, the smell of fresh cloves and snorkelling with squid.
Gemma has been crazy about Africa since she was old enough to play with her first cuddly lion toy. She took off for the Dark Continent at the age of 17, and spent the best part of the next ten years vagabonding through Eastern and Southern Africa, writing Lonely Planet guidebooks and coffee table books to Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Mozambique and Madagascar - plus a few reviews of safari lodges for i-escape. These days she's a freelance travel writer/photographer based in Sydney.
Robyn used to be an adventure guide before she lost a member of her tour in a jungle in Costa Rica for 24 hours. She also walked an entire herd of hapless tourists into the middle of a gun-toting drug cartel on the border of Guatemala and Mexico. She’s tried to get a Botswanan elephant drunk on marula fruit, experienced three natural disasters in one week in Nicaragua and driven a NASCAR in Tennessee. These days she’s a freelance travel writer and likes things a little slower, with a slice of lemon... things like Tuscan villas, Parisienne pied-à-terres and South African wine farms, for example!
Sue’s yearning for travel began with the Ladybird books to India and Australia (she still remembers how to escape a bush fire). She went round the world in her gap year and has been travelling, writing and photographing ever since. She wrote the biennial Courvoisier’s Book of the Best, a global guide to superlative hotels and restaurants, and has written travel articles for The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Conde Nast Traveller and BA Highlife. An Indian sojourn led her to found the charity Jaisalmer in Jeopardy, to save the fortress city in Rajasthan, while travels in Nepal led her to co-found the charity Asha Nepal, adopt her daughter, and embark on a documentary film, I Am Belmaya.
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.
Ros divides her time between Sicily and Cornwall and is the author of several guidebooks to Italy and Mediterranean Europe, including the Rough Guide to Italy. She has made TV and radio programmes for the BBC – highlights were eating snake in Shanghai, sharing snails with the founder of Slow Food and climbing a live volcano. Fascinated by landscape and mythology, Ros is currently investigating the theory that Homer was a Sicilian woman, in between teaching creative writing to university students.
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 returning to Scotland for an MA in Television Fiction Writing.
Gail is a travel writer and journalist specialising in ethical travel and the Middle East. She has written for The Observer, Telegraph, Guardian, Sunday Times, Independent, Wanderlust and CNN Traveller. After a Masters degree in Medieval Studies, Gail lived in a medieval Cumbrian castle, listed historic buildings for English Heritage and led walking trips in Europe & the Middle East. She's now studying for a PhD in Creative Writing, and tutoring Cambridge University's online writing course.
James' impressive CV covers editorial directorships at both Time Out and the travel start-up Secret Earth, as well as content production at tech giant Moravia, and copy editing at Cadogan Guides and Minerva Press. But of course we like to think it all started when he visited Amsterdam and Prague for i-escape, way back in 2004-5. Our portfolios in those cities have evolved somewhat, but his writing and insights remain spot on.
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, Honor Peters, Peter Myers, Sophia Woods, Will Hide, 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.