- By: Deepali Nandwani
For those associated with the world of global travel, Nancy Novogrod is a familiar name.
The former Editor-in-Chief of the United States’ leading travel bible, Travel + Leisure, and the other iconic magazine, House & Garden, an industry veteran, founder of Culturati Travel Design and an independent affiliate of @thelocalforeigner, a luxury travel consultancy, she wears several hats with unassuming ease and deft.
During her stint with Travel + Leisure, Novogrod launched six global editions of Travel + Leisure: Mexico, Turkey, China, Australia/New Zealand, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, as well as the brand’s website and book series. Her tie at Travel + Leisure offered her a bird’s eye view of how travel was transforming—from packaged tours to experiential trips on which travellers can explore the world in far more intimate ways. She calls it “cultural cruising”, an opportunity to dig deep into a culture and find out some of the cues about what makes a particular destination distinct. Novogrod lists India among her favourite destinations, speaking about its unique experiences and destinations.
The soft-spoken doyenne of travel journalism and experiential travel set up Culturati Travel Design to help Americans explore countries beyond the obvious. Passionate about culture, design, art and culinary journeys, Novogrod is considered an insider in most countries she travels to. Through her bespoke, highly customised tours using expert guides, impeccable knowledge and privileged access, she offers an insight into how cultures evolved and reached this point in history, creating what she calls “transformative experiences”.
In 2019, Novogrod was inducted into the U.S. Travel Association ‘Hall of Leaders’, an accolade that emphasizes her standing in the industry. An art history major, her interest in art, design and culture has influenced much of the work she has done in book publishing, magazines and now, bespoke travel.
Much like everyone else, she is trying to get her head around the entire coronavirus conundrum, checking out protocols, calling up hotels and online networking with peers. “It is unprecedented, what the world is going through,” she says in an interview that captures the zeitgeist of the pandemic-inflicted world. “But there is hope that we will open soon. I am already planning my trip to Italy in October, an all-women trip. People are excited about the possibility of travelling despite fear and uncertainty.”
At this time, if the travel and hospitality industries have to recover, she insists, they need to focus on not just health and hygiene. “That is a logical step. But there also needs to be a focus on the cancellation policy. I should be able to cancel and get my money back in case there is resurgence (of infection).”
Novogrod plumps for secluded luxury properties, of which the United States has several. “At this point, I will put my money on branded properties with stellar reputation or hotels where I know the owners. It is a question of safety, on which there can be no compromise.”