Splitting her time between London and Dubai, Debrah Dhugga is the Managing Director of the Dukes Hotel group, most recently overseeing the new Dukes Dubai hotel.
Being one of the few women in a senior position in the hospitality industry, she is a key role model and mentors students under The Savoy Educational Trust mentorship programme, as well as founding the Leading Ladies of London Networking Club.
But its not only the example she sets and advice she gives. Drawing on personal experience as a frequent solo female business traveller, she created the Duchess Rooms at DUKES London, a discreet luxury service committed to catering solely to women travelling alone, which she launched in response to seeing a significant 24% increase in female travellers.
What is the first trip you remember taking?
As a family we always had great holidays growing up and stayed in lovely hotels, hence my interest in working in hotels when I was younger and now having spent all my career working in them. The location was never important it was always about the family fun and togetherness during school holidays.
If you could sit next to anyone – dead or alive – on a long-haul flight, who would it be?
It would be my beautiful; granddaughter Sukhi I don’t see her as much as I would like too, we would have lovely prime time together, even though that could be challenging long haul. Famous people have no meaning to me so why would I want to sit next to them for a long journey! I also do not like small talk on a long haul flight. I don’t enjoy airline food and I also only drink soft drinks when I am in the clouds. So really a cosy seat or bed, a charger for my laptop and a good movie and I am happy!
How do you recover from jet lag?
Jet lag for me is easy I have been managing it for years, I straight away get into the local time zone, always go for a run to clear my flight head and eat lots of great fresh food wherever I am. I also treat my face to a face mask the first evening at my destination and will always do an early morning yoga class.
Your flight’s delayed an hour and your phone’s out of battery. How do you pass the time?
I always have a book with me, I really enjoy learning about business life. Time passes easily! I have been delayed 24 hours with no problem!
Biggest lesson from your travels?
Be organised and always take your travel essentials in the cabin with you!
Do you travel for food, leisure, culture or something else?
My main travel is for business. On a family vacation, we tend to stick to a European destination, somewhere that offers a great beach, good food and not too commercial.
Favourite Hotel? Why?
One of my favourite hotels in The Viceroy in Bali. It’s a small private villa hotel with amazing service, great food and a small spa. The attention the detail is second to none and it’s not too big. I am not a fan of a big commercial hotel, I enjoy boutique properties. However, I also do love Shutters on the Beach in LA, the location and service are excellent.
What’s on your travel playlist?
Ed Sheeran, anything RnB and I also enjoy Old Motown classics.
Spain – we have hired a private villa for a luxury family escape in July: our own pool, very remote, the fridge will be full, the BBQ will be out and family prime time! Total bliss.
What are your must-have travel picks?
I am a little bit of a handbag and shoe freak – I think the word is obsessed! I always travel with my LV shawl on my travels, it’s great for cool evenings, rolling in a bag as a throw for the flight, and also a good every day look.
As for my bag, I always travel with a tote. I do like Tamara Salman, the British designer, the leather is amazing and because of the details in them, the bags brighten up any plain outfit.
Airport connections can be such a long walk so my Birkenstocks are also my travel pick. I am a heel girl at heart, but sometimes you must be practical.
First thing that comes to your mind?
A book, reading and sunglasses, phone, notebook, pen, passport, mascara and a lip gloss, my face moisturiser, a bottle of water, a toothbrush, change of underwear, credit card!
Packing: roll or fold?
Time killer on a long-haul flight?
Work! A movie and a good book.
On-flight tipple of choice?
I don’t like drinking in the air! Before I take off a nice cold glass of bubbles, once I have landed a New Zealand Pinot Noir.
Bucket list top destination?
I have travelled the world on business and leisure, but one destination I have never been to is Barbados, I will one day visit Sandy lane Hotel I want to see what all the hype is about! It would be great to review it as a hotelier in a Hotel.
Best shopping gem found abroad?
I bought an amazing painting a local artist painted for me in Rome. Its always admired by anyone visiting my house.
Beach or City?
It depends when and with whom, they both have a place!
At home in my house in the country in Northumberland.