The Road Less Taken

The Road Less Taken

My name is: Tansy Kaschak.

I’m known for being: The editor-in-chief of travel and culture platform, A Hotel Life, and a multifaceted creative and activist.

I'm talking about: What’s special about A Hotel Life and how places and spaces shape our life experiences.

You can find it at: ahotellife.com and our monthly newsletter with thoughtful, fun, highly curated content. 

Before I started this work, I was: A cultural junction-maker; writing for a variety of outlets; producing beautiful printed materials (books and beyond) for fashion, design, art and hospitality; consulting; creating multi-sensory art and advocating for social and environmental causes—all of which I still do.  

What inspired me to begin was: I come from a lineage of people who left their place of origin to seek new horizons. As far back as I could investigate, all my ancestors were migrants somehow, so it is in my DNA and cultural background to want to experience life in different places and spaces. I went to journalism school and thought it would give me the credentials to take my curious, versatile nature above and beyond. It did, mostly through travel. Then, five years ago, I met my partner, Ben Pundole, founder of A Hotel Life and a real living legend in the industry, and it only made sense to combine forces on some work fronts, as well. When you do what we do, the lines between personal life and work are excitingly blurred. Hospitality, as well as creating attractive spaces, is as much an art to be mastered as it is a capacity intrinsic to being human and this intrigues and inspires me. 

What I do is: I cover hotels and global lifestyle culture with a focus on all things future forward. I live between New York, South Brazil, Baja California Sur and Europe. Travel has always been part of my life and work, and I do my best to do it as slowly and as responsibly as I can. I do happen to occasionally embark on a short trip to attend a hotel opening or an important event, but most of my moves are strategically planned to avoid air travel and to stay in one area for as long as possible. This way, I minimize my footprint while maximizing my experience with the places, spaces and people important to me and that can kindle meaningful stories and creative partnerships. At A Hotel Life, we are always looking for those stories that make our hearts beat and for those doing good things for people and the planet. We want to lead the way not only as tastemakers, but also by helping effect positive change. 

What makes it special is: To be worthwhile, a space has to create an emotion. Especially hotels. There’s no memory without emotion and, without memory, there is no story, no longevity. I am particularly interested in longevity, in stories that get better over time. As Tracey Ryan says, “You have to put the cloud in the box.” Beyond materials and design, a space has to be filled with soul. That’s where the senses and the human experience come in. Magic happens when sound, smell, touch, sight and flavor are part of a seamless narrative brought to life by people genuinely passionate about delivering them. That’s when a hotel stay becomes a cherished memory and an inspiration that can feed many corners of our lives.

One thing you can’t miss is: The flowers blooming in my mother’s garden for only two nights every year. They look and smell like heaven on Earth. Now, if you can’t make it to South Brazil, I have a sizable list of pretty special places to share. I’d highly recommend a visit to Pescadero, in Baja California Sur, sometime between November and April, to walk on the beach at sunset and watch the whales breach. Look behind you and the mountains are turning purple, the moon rising over. You’re outdoors, but this combination of wonders creates a space where we feel embraced. Nature has this power, and this power can cast magnificent and moving human-made spaces. That’s ultimately what we look for in a hotel: this symphonic dialogue between natural and built environments. If you check out the hotels in Baja California Sur featured on A Hotel Life, you can recognize it. On the other hand, we also love cheeky, out of the ordinary urban hotels. I recently stayed at Hotel Les Deux Gares in Paris, designed by the brilliant Luke Edward Hall, and it was a feast for my imagination.

My favorite secret detail is: Each of our hotel reviews is done by a contributor who shares their stay as if they were recommending it to a friend. That’s our main motto: we only feature hotels we’d recommend to a friend. We don’t care how fancy or trendy they are, we want to know if they excite and surprise us. We’re living in an era when the concept of luxury is being rewritten. We’re ditching excess and exclusivism to welcome a more conscious, inclusive and kinder approach to life. Hotels can be a fun ground for this transformation to happen. A Hotel Life’s voice is not just mine or Ben’s, but is a kaleidoscope of more than 200 editors and contributors who are welcome to bring their unique perspectives and reasons to celebrate a space. They are creatives from all corners of the world and walks of life, often leaders in their fields and doing amazing things. When you land on a hotel review, you can see who they are and you can relate to their taste, you can trust their pointers like the “In The Area” recommendations included in each review. I am constantly discovering new spaces and ideas. A Hotel Life is a gift that keeps on giving. 

For me, what it means to hold space is: To be present, open and free of judgement. To take the focus away from the self and make room for the other. To make someone feel seen, comfortable and cared for. It can be with a meal and a cozy place to rest, with words of support and encouragement or with pure, honest silence. I also feel strongly about the importance of a well-rounded sensorial experience. Come to my place (or hotel room) and I’ll light some candles, feed you, braid your hair, read your cards and hand over potions, herbs and warm socks. Don’t be surprised if you hear me saying at parties: let’s go home and do nice things to each other.

 Our spaces are so important, especially in this time, because: In a world that seems to be growing increasingly apart, coming together with our family and community is a true act of resistance.

The energy of a space can help you live your process because: The spaces we inhabit are our playground for self-expression and exercising self-expression is exercising confidence and power to make better choices. When we turn a space into our sanctuary and make time for daily rituals, even if small and simple, we generate a force that fuels personal commitment and becomes a fundamental ally for physical, emotional and mental health. 

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