(Bloomberg) — At Bloomberg Pursuits, we love to travel. And when we can again, we want to make sure we’re doing it right. So we’re talking to globe-trotters in all of our luxury fields—food, wine, fashion, cars, real estate—to learn about their high-end hacks, time-saving tips, and off-the-wall experiences. These are the Distinguished Travel Hackers.
A peripatetic childhood, split between Paris, Los Angeles, and other cities, turned Ben Krigler into a lifelong traveler. Now he lives between New York and Antibes, France. He’s been heading his family’s fragrance business, the House of Krigler, since 2005, overseeing every aspect of the company’s production, from stores to boxes to labels to, of course, scents.
Krigler often spends more than half the year on the road—and even in 2020, he’s logged 200,000 miles so far—and his favorite airline is Lufthansa (and its sister companies Swiss and Austrian). The food is one reason. “It was the first airline I ever flew in first class, and they served caviar. I’ve flown other airlines in first class, and that’s the only one that’s been so generous.” Secondly, he loves the baggage allowance. Krigler’s often toting samples when he travels, so he’s grateful to be permitted to bring four suitcases.
When Krigler checks into a hotel room, it’s as much CSI as VIP.
I prefer to know, when I’m checking into a hotel, if it’s clean or not, so I’ve always carried a UV flashlight that even detects urine stains. I always try to arrive late, as the dimmer the room is, the better [for using the light]. I look like I’m a guy out of one of those crime shows on TV: You put yellow glasses on your head, turn on the flashlight, and check your entire room. You often see stains, actually, on the walls and everything. It’s insane.
Sometimes you end up in a hotel where you expect maybe it’s not going to be that clean, and it’s amazingly clean. And some other hotels are actually the “best” hotels and they are not that great. One of the best was the Peninsula in Chicago—it was impeccable, and they came to clean up the room every day when I wanted them to.
There’s no need to book a plane or hotel blindly. Check out the loads of amateur videos.
Whenever you want to book something—a flight or a hotel—go onto YouTube and do some research. Somebody has always shot a video. Like, last December, I was flying to Singapore, and I’d never flown Singapore Airlines; I wanted to see how it works. So I went onto YouTube and checked their business class: how it was inside, what kind of service it was, how was the meal. When someone shoots a video of a hotel, they will tell you things like “try to avoid that side of the hotel.”
This European city is a canny place to find luxury goods at the cheapest prices.
Berlin is not really on the luxury radar. Compare the prices in anything, like electronics, cosmetics, or clothing, with Milan or Paris or London, and it’s cheaper there. I bought a Prada belt one time in Berlin, and went from there to Italy where I saw the same one, and it was €20 more. One time, I was looking for a special wallet from Hermès that everybody wanted. It was impossible to get it in New York; in L.A., there was a waiting list. I went to Paris—no, they had a waiting list as well. So did Cannes. But I went to Berlin, walked into the Hermès store, and got it right away.
Why he never, ever puts things in hotel drawers.
I keep all my clothes in my suitcases and never unpack—even if I’m there for a month. That’s why I have so much luggage, because I need plenty of space inside. My luggage are my drawers. And every time I leave a hotel room, I put everything back in place—my toiletries and creams in my washbag. If you leave your stuff out, you can lose it.
I have that routine, too, in case I need to leave in an emergency, which has happened. Housekeeping loves me for that, because my room is always almost clean.
This German island is Europe’s hidden answer to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard.
When I was a kid, my mom was into fashion and was always going to Chanel. My aunt, actually, she knew Karl Lagerfeld. She met him in Sylt, which is like Germany’s Nantucket. It’s almost an island, but it’s connected to the continent by a train line. When you’re on that train, you have the ocean on both sides. It’s unique.
Karl Lagerfeld would go and do his photo shoots there for Chanel and all the brands he worked with. He shot Claudia Schiffer, Shalom Harlow. It’s absolutely gorgeous. You walk in the street and you basically you see the sheep passing in front of you with no harm, no problem.
The island is not so big, so you can get around by bicycle or on a horse. Kampen is the capital of Sylt, and it’s like a little East Hampton, with luxury stores and beautiful little hotels like the Walter’s Hof, where I stayed last time.
Hack transatlantic fare prices by splitting that trip in two.
When I fly from Europe to the U.S., most of the time it’s about 30% less expensive than buying a ticket that starts here. So I always tell people to buy a [round trip] ticket starting from Europe, if you’re a frequent flyer. Each half of one trip will be on a different ticket, in other words. Why is this? I’m not sure.
Take inspiration from your next trip, Jean-Paul Gaultier-style.
When I was 16 years old, I was traveling from Barcelona to Paris on my own, and I ended up being upgraded—and was seated next to Jean-Paul Gaultier. A person like me—who talks a lot—I couldn’t avoid asking him questions, and he was so kind to me, giving me lots of advice. One thing he said has stayed with me, about traveling. He told me, “When I travel, I always go to the local museums, because that’s where you find something different. They always have famous paintings, but there will be something interesting, too, about local culture. And that’s where I get my ideas from.”
I have a summer house in Antibes, and I go to the Fondation Maeght near there, which is a very famous foundation. They had an exhibition there one time of the Spanish artist Jean Miró, but they also exhibited some pieces of glassware from a village nearby called Biot. So I went to Biot and saw the artisans who were making glasses, and I ended up creating a collection of candles housed in glass made there myself.
One gadget will help you never leave a bag behind.
I travel with a lot of bags: I have my perfumes, my candles, my whole life inside them—it’s like I’m moving around with my home. So I’ve had to find ways to secure everything, to make sure it will all stay together. And that’s why I have a lock. It’s a lifesaver when you store your bags. Or if you can’t find a bell man, or someone to help you with your luggage, you can lock them together instead of using a cart.