Coffee Time with Industry Vets: Nikheel Advani

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Nikeel with his family.
Nikeel with his family.

Think you know Nikheel Advani, think again….

There’s more to Nikheel Advani, COO and principal of Grace Bay Resorts, than meets the eye, so we decided to ask him those comical, personal and telling questions to reveal the man behind the suit.

He’s a family man and a distinguished hotelier with more than 23 years of experience and an Island Destinations’ Ultimate Hotelier of the Year award under his belt. He’s served in leadership positions at Raffles Singapore and The Ritz-Carlton Hotels, yet still makes sure to collect souvenir magnets from every destination he’s visited for his mother. Like most of us, Nikheel can’t travel without his cell phone, yet not everyone can say they’ve met Nelson Mandela’s daughter and granddaughter while traveling—Nikeel can. 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 traveled with my family to an island off Malaysia, called Rawa, when I was 7 years old.

What is your most vivid travel memory?
Backpacking through Europe. I stopped at every vineyard I could to learn about each region’s wines.

Nikheel as a child.
Nikheel as a child.

What was the “Aha” moment that led you into the travel industry?
When my dad said, “I am rich and you are not,” I immediately found a job in the F&B business so I could support myself at a young age.

Where did you go on your honeymoon?
We went on a Singita safari in South Africa and then traveled to Chiang Rai, Thailand and stayed at the Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle.

What was your favorite trip you took last year and why?
Trancoso in Brazil—fabulous people, food, music and culture.

Where would you like to go that you have yet to visit?
Cartagena, Colombia.

Do you always buy a souvenir the first time you visit a destination?
I pick up a unique stone or rock, local alcoholic beverage and a large piece of authentic local art.

You can tell us – do you collect magnets from the destinations you’ve visited?
Yes, but for my mother, as she is a collector.

What do you do to pass the time on the plane ride to your destination?
This is my personal creative time so I read magazines and sketch ideas.

Who is your favorite travel companion?
My wife.

Nikheel with his staff at Grace Bay Resorts in Turks & Caicos. 
Nikheel with his staff at Grace Bay Resorts in Turks & Caicos.

If there were one hotel room in the world you could call home the rest of your life, which would it be?
The Residences by Grace Bay Resorts.

If you were a destination, which would it be and why?
Turks and Caicos Islands, because I would be beautiful by nature with the number one beach in the world awarded consecutively.

What is the best food you’ve had on a trip? The strangest?
Best Food: Singapore chili crabs. Strangest Food: deep-fried bugs and ants.

What can’t you travel without?
My mobile phone.

Who is the most interesting person you’ve met while traveling?
I met Nelson Mandela’s daughter and granddaughter at the Caribbean Food & Wine Festival in Providenciales. They are incredible people.

Tropical beach or Snowy Mountain?
Tropical Beach.

City or countryside?