Born and raised in New York City, Dina De Luca Chartouni is one of those women who make you think – how does she do it all? As her maiden name, Dina De Luca, she is a producer of film and TV.
As Dina Chartouni, her married name, she is known as the owner of The Lowell hotel in New York City. In addition to being a wife and mother of three, she is also behind beauty and bath brand DDC28.
Based in NYC but frequently between London and Los Angeles for work, we catch ten minutes with her to chat all things travel.
What is the first trip you remember taking?
The first trip I remember taking was to Miami Beach with my family. I was five years old and I remember swimming with my sister and brother in a large pool and all of us holding onto our father, as if he were a life raft, as my mother watched!
Which holidays have been your favourite?
My favourite holidays are Thanksgiving and Christmas because they both bring members of my family, far and near, altogether. Year after year, we continue to celebrate these holidays with time-honoured family traditions. It’s a special time because it forces everyone to put everything on hold and make time for family.
Where do you go for the ultimate escape?
My ultimate escape is always in Italy. In the summer, I love escaping to the Amalfi Coast. During the fall, I love Florence and Tuscany. Spring, I love Rome, Milan, Venice, and Lake Como. Winter, I adore the Dolomites!
What does travel mean to you?
Travel means an escape from the expected. It means discovery, a chance to discover new places, meet new friends, try new foods…. and ultimately, it means discovering something new about myself.
Do you get away often?
I travel constantly throughout the year, mostly for work, but I do take family holidays twice a year, sometimes more. They are usually after Christmas and at the beginning of the summer. They are very important to me since my children are older now and time together is more precious. I love spending time with them, and their friends.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve taken from your travels?
The biggest lessons that I have learned from my travels is to always pack your most important outfits as well as your jewellery, medicines and chargers in your carry-on.
The other most important lesson from my travels is to ALWAYS take your bag with your wallet, passport and jewellery with you when you go to the bathroom on a plane. So many of my friends have had things stolen from their bags because they trust their fellow plane mates!
Where would be your ideal holiday destination with friends?
My ultimate holiday destination with friends is Capri. I love everything about the rhythm of the island. I love the nature and the lifestyle and find that it’s easy to be there with friends since there is so much to do.
How do you look after your wellbeing when you’re abroad?
When I travel, I try to pace myself. I try to get on a schedule as soon as possible that allows for sleep and exercise. I try not to schedule too many big nights in a row.
What’s your idea of a luxury holiday?
My idea of a luxury holiday is when everything from the flight to room service is beyond your wildest expectations. The hotel accommodation has to be special with a great bathroom. Amenities such as beautiful flowers, fragrant bath amenities, a surprising mini bar and a great make-up mirror (at the right height) are all necessary elements of the luxury hotel experience.
A luxury holiday needs to be stress less and well organised. It means that there are great places to discover, great shopping, delicious restaurants, a fitness centre and possibly yoga classes! It means great weather!
Some of my favourite rituals on a luxury holiday are having a massage at the end of the day, or a drink at sunset and then preparing for a special night out.
Where do you get your holiday inspiration?
I get my holiday inspiration from various places. I scan Pinterest for visual inspiration and comb through my photos of past holidays. I am always reading and am constantly art directing in my mind.
If you could sit next to anyone – dead or alive – on a long-haul flight, who would it be?
I would want to sit next to either Robin Williams or Winston Churchill, (not completely drunk). Robin Williams because he was amazingly brilliant and I would never stop laughing and Winston Churchill because the more I read and learn about the years when he was in power, the more questions I have about the challenges he faced and the risks he took.
How do you usually recover from jet-lag?
I try to drink a lot of water and often take flights that depart very late from NYC, so that I arrive late morning in Europe, making the first day a short one.
Your flight’s delayed an hour and your phone’s out of battery. How do you pass the time?
I would first stop in at a Hudson newsstand and buy several newspapers and magazines, then shop for sunglasses!
What’s your favourite hotel and why?
My favourite hotel after The Lowell is The JK Capri because it is my definition of “heaven on earth”. JK Capri is my home away from home and the staffs are my extended family. At JK, you are surrounded by beauty everywhere you look, a sea of blues, the pink sunsets, the white Italian linens on the beds, etc.… And I adore all the flavours, foods and rituals that make up the Capri lifestyle. These include the Capri lemons, the fresh Peach juice, the Vesuvius tomatoes, the ricotta cheese and basil, the sunny days on the water, the Aperitivo hour on the veranda and the late night strolls.
I joke with the staff at JK every time I depart that “I am leaving my heart with them” and they must take care of it until I return.
Virgin Atlantic because they make you feel special, from the Clubhouse through to your flight.
What’s on your travel playlist?
I listen to very different types of music, ranging from classical to modern. Lately, I’ve been listening to Manu Chao and Ennio Morricone.
London for work!
What are your must-have travel picks?
First thing that comes to your mind?
Your hand-luggage essential?
Elizabeth Arden’s Eight-hour lip balm.
Packing: roll or fold?
Packing cubes…. makes packing and unpacking so easy. I’ve learnt this system from having to travel for film productions. You essentially are creating drawers with the cubes and wherever you go, you place the cubes in the same order all the time. For example, a cube with exercise clothes goes in the first drawer; a cube with undergarments goes in the second drawer…etc.
Time killer on a long-haul flight?
Photo editing and creating new ideas for my DDC28 projects and The Lowell.
On-flight tipple of choice?
Champagne with ice.
Suitcase brand of choice?
Bucket list top destination?
The Icehotel in Sweden.
Best shopping gem found abroad?
De Grisogono rose gold Grande watch in Rome.
Beach or City?
Ultimate holiday treat?
Castiglion del Bosco, Montalcino, Italy.
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