A look back at one of our favorite interviews with our fearless leader, Ken Fish.
What is it like to run the coolest luxury travel company on the planet? (Laughs). Like everyday is my birthday. Travel is a privilege that I never fail to appreciate and I couldn’t be more fulfilled with the career I’ve chosen for myself.
You are constantly circling the globe, which speaks to your passion for what you do. For such a seasoned traveler, describe a particularly colorful moment. Walking along The Bund in Shanghai with my daughter when a group of smitten school boys approached her to snap a photo together. On the other end of the spectrum, the last time I was in Hanoi I hopped on a motorbike with my friend, artist Anh Kanh, to transport the painting that he had just given me. On every trip that I take there will be a moment or two when I really take pause and just appreciate where I am in the world.
Define Absolute Travel’s core strength. I recognized early on that my company’s success was based on surrounding myself with people that are just as obsessed with discovering the world as I am. Since our inception we’ve pioneered new destinations and created original experiences for our clients that have ultimately become trends in the industry.
Tell me about a few of those destinations. Well of course I would always mention Vietnam and Cambodia; we were the first US-based company to sell travel there in 1989. And we introduced Iran in 1999 which was, and obviously still is, a controversial destination. Lately we’ve introduced cutting-edge journeys to Bolivia, Sri Lanka, and Ethiopia to name a few.
So I hear you’re leading a trip to Iran in March. I’m sure many people wonder why. I like to make my mother worry. No seriously, over the years I’ve developed a personal passion for Iran that compels me. Its rich cultural history which dates back more than 3,000 years, striking natural beauty and the Persians themselves… I’ve said it before, hospitality must run through their blood and I’m always humbled by how warmly received I am as an American.
How do you respond to those who criticize your choice to visit Iran? Like Bogart to Bacall in “The Big Sleep” when she asks, “How did you know you were on the right track?” and he replies, “It was easy. Everybody kept telling me to stop.” Look, I understand there are reasons people feel uncomfortable traveling to Iran. And frankly if they aren’t comfortable, they shouldn’t go. But for those who are inclined, they can expect to have a surprising and insightful experience.
When you’re not gallivanting all over the world, where can we find you? Well, lately I’ve made a bit of a second home out of New Orleans which is a source of spirit and creative energy for me; much the way places like Bali and Australia were when I started my career. But I’m home in New York City more than people might think. Actually I stayed up a bit too late last night making a playlist of classic blues tracks for my doorman. My wife tells me that listening to music is a source of energy for me, much like traveling. And for me, both are such a joy to share with others. And that’s what Absolute Travel is all about.