Katie's career in her own words:
I have been working with Solera Holdings, Inc. based out of Dallas, TX for the last 6 years. Initially as a meetings contractor and now, within the last year, full-time. My official title is Director of Marketing & Global Events, but what I feel my role’s main purpose is to provide an environment for experiential learning and ideate our programs around the uncommon. This opportunity to work in and among the 63 countries we operate has provided me the most incredible education and travel opportunities. However, what I have come to appreciate most about my job are the principles and values they have built their foundation on and work to instill within all 3,000 worldwide employees. It’s an art of working and living that inspires accountability, teamwork and philanthropy. I’ve learned the best mentality within any role is to remain in a constant state of dissatisfaction, always striving to raise the bar.
M&MH: If you can narrow it down to one, what is your favorite city/town you've visited during your travels?
KH: That’s a tough question. If I think about the places that rank as my favorite, it’s usually easy to pin-point between a few that allowed for a personal connection – something outside of the city streets, hotels and restaurants. To me, that top spot goes to South Africa on safari. There’s no place on earth that allows for such an authentic experience – being caught in the middle of nature’s best. There’s something a little intimidating in the lack of control over your outside environment, but at the same time being completely in awe of your surroundings.
The second place, I’d be remiss not to mention, is Siem Reap, Cambodia. This will always be special because it holds a lot of life lessons for me – learning to navigate some changes as well as the true meaning of giving back. Seeing the sunrise over Angkor Wat is my most treasured travel moment.
M&MH: Favorite hotel?
KH: Easy… Singita Boulders Lodge in South Africa (I sound like a broken record).
M&MH: What made it so special?
M&MH: Top three restaurants?
KH: Any time a hotel or lodge can make you feel like you’ve arrived home takes a special talent. Beyond the food and rooms, it’s the hospitality that makes a good hotel great.
KH: My favorite subject!! Sometimes the mediocre restaurants can be remembered as a favorite based on the company at the table, but if I had to rank for food alone, I would say:
M&MH: Most memorable thing you've done while traveling? (Something we can recommend to our readers-an activity, sight, etc.)
1. Georges Blanc in Vonnas, France – glutinous escape into rustic French cuisine.
2. Belcanto in Lisbon, Portugal – innovative menu that played tricks between your brain and your palette with the crazy gastronomic techniques.
3. If I had to give a 3rd, I’d say a food city – my favorite is New Orleans – Restaurant August, Clancy’s, Jacques-Imo's, La Petite Grocery... the list goes on!
KH: I think the most memorable part of traveling (the good and bad) is when you step out of your comfort zone. That’s usually the time that you’ll never want to forget or never want to repeat. Some of those moments include some crazy adventures like jumping into Devil’s Pool in Zambia which is a little tiny wading pool right on the edge of the Victoria Falls. Another recent trip allowed for me to fly a fighter jet and jump off a few bridges in New Zealand. I think all of these were both the most memorable, but also ones I don’t plan on repeating. J
As a far as a recommendations for travelers, when it comes to visiting a new place, I like to find out the “in the know” spots prior to any trip. LUXE City Guides are a great way to get the “live like a local” perspective as well as Condé Nast Traveler for unbiased insight and good travel app recommendations.
M&MH: What are your "must-haves" in your suitcase?
KH: My suitcase is pretty boring. It usually includes mostly black basics and flat shoes. My backpack however holds all my go-to travel essentials: iPhone, ChapStick, always a hat of some sort and typically tacky magazines that I like to cover up with a Time or Newsweek. My world sort of revolves in or around my iPhone as it gets me where I need to go and helps me figure out everything in between. Plus, my favorite thing to do when I’m in a random destination is put on Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World and see my surroundings with that in my head… It always gives me goose bumps.