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Q&A with Barbara Levedag, SLH’s Vice President of Development

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF. WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

As a native German I grew up close to Hamburg, and I moved to London via a few other places more than 15 years ago. Rather surprising, bearing in mind I originally opted for a stint of one or two years only!

WHAT IS YOUR ROLE AT SLH AND WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT IT?

Here at SLH I work in Development – in a nutshell, it is contributing to shape the brand by seeking unique small, luxury hotels, ideally in new destinations. My favourite thing? It allows me to dive into and learn about different cultures by meeting wonderful personalities from all walks of life. I get to travel to incredible places, whether established footprints or untouched parts of the world. In fact, I shall never forget sitting under a mango tree with the chief of a tiny village in a remote part north of Mozambique, embracing his excitement to meet a tall female German for the very first time.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST EXPERIENCE WHEN VISITING AN SLH HOTEL?

Talking best experiences, a number of wonderful memories come to mind, but one remains in particular – Dar Ahlam close to Ouarzazate in Morocco. This one of a kind jewel – its DNA entrenched with ‘independently mindedness’ – was created by visionaire extraordinaire Thierry Tessier. For me, staying here was like stepping into a fairytale out of One Thousand and One Nights coupled with impeccable French design in lush green surroundings 4,000 years of age – and better. Welcomed by a visual feast of a mesmerising play of light and shadows throughout this private luxury home, before I even knew I was ready for dinner, a simple yet outrageously delicious chicken tagine came out of nowhere as I was seated at a perfectly set up table in the midst of the candlelit vegetable garden under dozens of century-old palm trees. The next day one of Dar Ahlam’s guides took me for a walk in the mountains, and as we walked up one hill to enjoy the vistas, there it was – a staff member had prepared what must be the most personal, bespoke guided open air tea ceremony just for me.

 

 

 

Other memorable moments are:

  • Relaxing in the gorgeous corner suite of Hotel Plettenberg Bay overlooking where the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean meet – the hotel enjoys a prime position in the town of Plettenberg located along South Africa’s Garden Route.
  • Vista Palazzo Lago di Como – a jewel of a luxury getaway including what must be one of the most elegant bathrooms I have ever experienced.
  • Altstadt Vienna with its wonderful art collection that whets your appetite for a visit to the Albertina.
  • Miramonti Boutique Hotel in South Tyrol – the property’s strapline “Hard to find – hard to forget!” says it all. The incredible sense of community and place created by owners Klaus & Carmen make me want to move in! An instant home away from home feeling – I love that they take you for a walk in the forest to help you unwind and see clearly!

 

 

WHAT SLH HOTEL DO YOU MOST WANT TO VISIT?

A tricky question – there are so many I still want to see and experience! High on my list is Halcyon House in Australia for that picture perfect carefree beach life vibe.

 

 

WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE CITY AND WHY?

In terms of my favourite city with an SLH presence, I much enjoy Tel Aviv – plenty of sunshine, fun loving, very outdoorsy, world famous for its vegan cuisine, great beaches and a distinct sense of neighbourhood. A stay at the The Norman is a highlight – the hotel has taken luxury hospitality to a new level. For me, it is the epitomised version of a luxury boutique hotel oozing timeless elegance and wonderful attention to detail by paying tribute to the impeccable Bauhaus architectural design style. In fact, I am writing this whilst sitting in the tranquil garden of The Norman indulging in what must be one of Israel’s best Hummus by Abu Hassan, simply delicious!

 

 

Otherwise I have a soft spot for Rio de Janeiro – a city of extremes in its own right for sure, and for me it represents a combination of the best bits of the likes of Sydney, Cape Town and Barcelona, entrenched with the Brazilian version of La Dolce Vita.

 

WHICH DESTINATION DO YOU MOST WANT TO VISIT AND WHY?

A tricky one as my bucket list of destinations to visit seems never ending! I’d like to visit Rwanda, ‘Land of the Thousand Hills’ and spectacular natural sights – and gorillas! Namibia for its vast space and the Namib desert – or Bolivia for its Uyuni salt flats. I still haven’t been to Bhutan either.

 

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE HOBBY, OUTSIDE OF WORK?

My favourite hobby? I reckon I have quite a few! After 15 years in London the city’s cultural offering still excites me, hence the likes of Tate museums, Royal Opera House, Barbican and Victoria & Albert Museum are firm favourites in my calendar. I’ve always liked to stay fit, ideally as part of team sport – back in the days it was volleyball, now yoga has taken over. In fact, I have just completed a 40 days long, three hours per day yoga meditation programme. 2020, here I come!

HOW DO YOU BRING A PIECE OF YOU TO SLH?

The answer to this question may well lie in the eye of the collegial beholder! I’d like to think I add a good sense of humour with the occasional moments of German efficiency thrown in. And some incredible properties that are oozing a remarkable level of uniqueness and soul too.