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Helen Jon Blog
Six Senses Helen Jon Blog Q&A

09/14/2016

inspired by/Six Senses Resorts Guru - Julia Gajcak...


 On Wanderlust, Finding Peace & Balance, Staying True to the Moment and Living the Life

Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas exist in locations that seem to float above and beyond the regular world. Each property is as unique as its indigenous locale, whether it be in Phuket, Thailand, in the Douro Valley of Portugal, tucked in the green, misty mountaintops of China, or in one of their other amazing properties.

Six Senses’ incredible staff includes celebrity chefs, in-house star gazers, marine biologists, world-renowned yoga and meditation teachers, professional paragliders, all there to elevate your experience from the “Well, this is nice” to the “Oh my, is this for real, I cannot believe I’m not dreaming" level.

We were lucky enough to sit down and talk with Julia Gajcak, of Six Senses, to find out more about what it is like to live the life that many of our daydreams are made of! 

Q: Your career in Travel & Hospitality has brought you to some of the world’s most exotic and beautiful destinations. You’ve worked for some of the finest hotels and resorts, The Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, and now Six Senses. Having visited more than 60 countries, lived in India, France, Hawaii, Indonesia, and, now, Bangkok. Do you have a favorite? 

A: Each of these places is very special to me, but I have to say that India holds a very special place in my heart. I love the culture, food and energy of the country. The people are incredibly generous and loving, and, as a result, I really felt at home there and would love to live in India again.

New Delhi, Six Sense Spa (Image Courtesy of Six Senses Resorts)

Q: On our blog, we seek out inspiring and successful women, and we love to learn from and their experiences and trajectories. How did you find your way into your career? Did you stumble into it, or was it a purposeful approach?

A: I stumbled into my career. I graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in PR. But I had no idea I would end up in the hotel industry. In my early 20’s, I was returning to the States via Asia-Australia after a stint in Europe. I ended up in Hawaii as a tourist, but decided to stay as I could not envision a more perfect place to put down some roots. Although hospitality and hotels were completely new to me, I've always been lucky to align with people who wanted to grow and nurture me. During my six years in Maui, I realized that I loved everything that it takes to run a large hotel operation and felt like a kindred spirit with the people with whom I worked.

Q: How do you find peace and balance in your work and life?

A: I practice yoga and like to run. Those are two of my favorite ways to relax. As I get older I also realize that I cannot control every aspect of my life and when I do let good in, good things tend to happen. Now, I try to focus more on treating people well and staying focused on the most important tasks at hand. I suppose I am good at prioritizing.

Q: Was there one person who stands out in your mind as being an inspiration to you as you have pursued your career/life goals?

A: Both of my parents have made a huge impact on my life. My Dad has a strong work ethic and is great with people, while my Mom is very creative and has a wonderful sense of style and taste. I feel blessed to have had such wonderful parents. And if I had to name someone outside my family – I really admire Diane von Furstenberg. I continue to be inspired by her inventiveness, hard work, determination and independence. She's amazing and had an incredible mother too.

Q: Since your “real” life seems like it would feel like a vacation, we are wondering where would you like to take your next “actual” vacation — and what would you most look forward to doing while there? 

A: My next vacation will be to East Africa and the Seychelles in December. We're going to do a safari in Tanzania and stay at Cottar's Camp. Afterward we will explore Ethiopia and visit Lalibela, Axim and Gondar. I cannot wait to explore the rugged landscape, ancient cities and Christian churches. Then for Christmas and the New Year, we will go to Six Senses Zil Pasyon in the Seychelles. The property is located on its own private island and features 30 gorgeous villas. It looks dreamy!

Zil Pasyon, Seychelles (Image Courtesy of Six Senses Resorts)

Q: One-piece, bikini, tankini. Which do you pack if you can only bring one? But who are we kidding, why would someone only bring one swimsuit?? :)

A: A one-piece for swimming and snorkeling and a bikini for the beach. My latest splurge was a wetsuit… a matching surfboard is next! 

Q: What is your favorite travel tip or “hack?” 

A: Pack light and use your carry on. I always try to save some room when packing for new clothes and accessories.

Q: What feature, special detail, experience or meal you’ve experienced at Six Senses is your personal favorite or most memorable? I’m guessing this might change and evolve, but if you had to pick…

A: So many experiences come to mind, but paragliding into Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman was an exhilarating experience. I also think our Six Senses Spa in Portugal in Douro Valley is in a class of its own. From forest bathing, alchemy bar workshops, to aerial yoga and tree climbing, you get immersed in the magic of the destination and feel a connection with the land and the people. The wine there is pretty good too.

Zighy Bay, Oman (Image Courtesy of Six Senses Resorts)Douro Valley, Portugal (Image Courtesy of Six Senses Resorts)

Q: “I went looking for adventure and romance, and so I found them ... but I found something I never expected. I found a new self.” - Somerset Maugham.

 We LOVE this quotation that you have on your Twitter account. Tell us, why does this quotation resonate so profoundly for you?

 A: We all have things we want to accomplish when we travel. But the real trip happens when you open yourself up to the universe and just let things unfold. For me, positive growth in becoming a better person and understanding myself has happened when I least expected it.

Q: If you could invite 3 other guests (they could be famous, living or dead, people you know or strangers…) to join you in one of the Six Senses properties, whom would you choose?

A: This would be a very eclectic mix of people, but I would include Benjamin Franklin because he seems like he'd be a lot of fun and had a unique curiosity; Elvis Presley because I've always had a crush on him and he could keep us entertained; and Cleopatra because I'm fascinated by her life, leadership and ability to reinvent herself.

Thank you, Julia, for talking with us! We hope your future travels, adventures, and moments of reflection will continue to bring you — and those around you — inspiration and happiness. We are grateful we had the opportunity to learn from you. Maybe we’ll see you at a Six Senses resort or spa one of these days soon…

 

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