Coffee Time with Industry Vets: Peter Jon Lindberg

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Peter Jon Lindberg. 
Peter Jon Lindberg.

Think you know Peter Jon Lindberg, think again….

There’s more to Peter Jon Lindberg, director of inspiration for Conrad Hotels & Resorts, than meets the eye, so we decided to ask him those comical, personal and telling questions to reveal the man behind the suit.

It’s fitting that a man with such a unique life story would be tapped to lead the international luxury brand’s Stay Inspired initiative, which was designed to provide guests with a customized local experience at each of the brand’s 24 locations worldwide. At two years old, Peter’s first trip was a big move to London where he picked up a British accent and discovered his favorite city on Earth. Since that momentous move, Peter has sampled and savored a multitude of cities around the world, including India, Japan and Vietnam.

A two-time James Beard Award finalist, Society of American Travel Writers Travel Journalist of the Year recipient, and former executive editor at “Conde Nast Traveler,” Peter never forgets to bring his sunscreen or appetite while traveling and has tasted (and enjoyed) calves’ brains in France. Don’t worry, with more than 23 years of experience in the travel industry, he knows what he’s doing. But don’t take our word for it, we’ll let him explain in the Coffee Time With Industry Vets Q&A series.

Where did you go on your first trip and how old were you?
I was two when I first left the States. My family moved to London for a year while my father (a college professor) was on a retreat. I learned to first speak in London, which led to me calling my mother “mummy” and influenced a lot of the tendencies I have today. I loved living in London and it is still my favorite city on Earth.

What is your most vivid travel memory?
Definitely, traveling to India for the first time. We arrived in Delhi after midnight with a fog so thick you couldn’t see 20 ft. ahead. The taxi ride from the airport was so thrilling, as all these wild sights came out of the mist and into our headlight beams: bullock carts, bicyclists, rickshaws, cows, etc. It was like a curtain rising on a theater.

What was the “Aha” moment that led you into the travel industry?
I took a year off in college and spent several months doing the EuroRail Grand Tour. Like everyone else, I carried a well-thumbed copy of Let’s Go: Europe, the budget travel guide. Ironically, when I got back to school, I wound up editing the Let’s Go series (it’s produced by Harvard students), which got me hooked on writing about travel.

Where did you go on your honeymoon?
Bali, for 10 blissful days. I think at one point we slept for 19 hours straight.

What was your favorite trip you took last year and why?
Tokyo. My wife and I spent 10 days at the Conrad Tokyo and basically ate our way across the city. The food scene never fails to blow my mind.

Where would you like to go that you have yet to visit?
I’d love to go to Zimbabwe for a walking and canoeing safari.

Do you always buy a souvenir the first time you visit a destination?
Surprisingly, no. I actually love browsing at foreign groceries, especially when I first arrive in a place. It’s a great way into a culture and its cuisines. And you can pick up all sorts of gifts and souvenirs while you’re at it.

You can tell us – do you collect magnets from the destinations you’ve visited?
No, but I do collect oyster shells. (I eat a lot of oysters, especially when I travel.)

What do you do to pass the time on the plane ride to your destination?
Read about where I’m going—travelogues, novels, histories, cookbooks, anything to get me revved up and inspired.

Peter with his wife Nilou Motamed.
Peter with his wife, Nilou Motamed.

Who is your favorite travel companion?
My wife, Nilou Motamed.

If there were one hotel room in the world you could call home the rest of your life, which would it be?
Could the hotel room move around the world? I’d panic if I had to stay in just one place! In that case I’d probably pick a ship cabin.

If you were a destination, which would it be and why?
I’d aspire to be London as it is equal parts metropolis and small village, traditional and contemporary, urban and green, enduringly local yet unabashedly cosmopolitan.

What is the best food you’ve had on a trip?
I adore Vietnamese food, and it’s even more amazing in Vietnam—so fresh and bright and complex, and bursting with herbs and aromatics.

The strangest?
I suppose cervelles de veau (calves’ brains) are strange to some people, but the cervelles de veau I had in Paris last month were incredible—rich and custard-like, with a surprising hint of ponzu in the broth.

What can’t you travel without?

Who is the most interesting person you’ve met while traveling?
Speaking of Vietnam, I once met the legendary general Vo Nguyen Giap, who was a lifelong friend of Ho Chi Minh and went on to lead the North Vietnamese Army. He was in his eighties by the time I met him, but still struck a powerful figure.

Tropical beach or snowy mountain?
Tropical beach. (I grew up in New Hampshire; I’ve seen enough snow.)

City or countryside?
City, as long as there’s a great big park and plenty of water beside it.