We spoke to Henrietta Loyd, the co-founder of cazenove+loyd, to find out how her business began and discover more about her views on the future of travel and the true meaning of ‘luxury’.
How and why did you found cazenove+loyd?
It all began in Africa. I first travelled to Botswana in the 1980s and, since then, have had a lifelong love affair with the continent, the world of safari, the wildlife and the sense of freedom that being in the bush brings to the soul. It was following this first experience of Africa that I felt compelled to start the company. In 1993, Susie Cazenove and I decided to set out on our own and begin creating extraordinary safaris throughout east and southern Africa. Armed with one fax machine and a room in West London, cazenove+loyd was born.
How has it grown into what it is today?
In 1997, Christopher-Wilmot Sitwell, our Co-Owner + Director, joined us, bringing invaluable knowledge of other regions of the world and the rest, as they say, is history. We now specialise in 68 destinations across Central + South America, The Caribbean, Africa + the Indian Ocean, The Arctic + Scandinavia, Asia + the Middle East, Australasia and The Pacific Islands. It’s been quite a journey!
We not only design tailor-made itineraries but also celebrations for clients wanting to celebrate a birthday or an anniversary for up to 150 guests in a destination such as India, Brazil or Oman, plus many more.
Celebrations include sitting down to a banquet beneath the stars in a secluded, bespoke desert encampment in the Omani desert to dining and dancing adorned in garlands within the walls of a private palace in India with tuk-tuk racing into the day.
With cazenove+loyd, anything is possible.
We also create a handful of very exclusive small group trips for a fixed number of guests, accompanied by handpicked specialists. These include unrivalled insider access and one-off, money-can’t-buy experiences that are often only possible when travelling as a group. They also usually have a specific focus, such as food, art, music, culture or history.
Every itinerary we craft is standout and unique and takes you under the skin of a country, allowing our clients to experience the destination in a very special way.
How would you describe cazenove+loyd’s ethos?
We maintain a strong adherence to the highest quality in everything we do and apply a meticulous attention to detail to every itinerary. We are passionate about our destinations and, in today’s ever-changing world, understand that it has become more important than ever to conserve their wildlife, habitats and communities for future generations. Therefore, we always encourage our clients to move slowly and spend longer everywhere they go – not only to reduce their footprint in ecologically sensitive areas but also to allow them to experience more from their trip.
How do your experts select where your clients stay? Name just three of your favourite places to stay and why?
As a small company, we believe that the most effective way of having a positive impact is to work with individuals who share our values. In that respect, we tend to prefer locally owned, small-scale lodges and hotels that reflect the personality of a place. We have no vested interest in where our clients stay – we get to know them and select the right place for them. There are often so many options, so it’s important to have an expert who can advise as just looking at pictures can be very misleading. What is right for one person isn’t necessarily for another.
Name just three of your favourite places to stay and why?
Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge on the edge of Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe is the incredible creation of conservationist Clive Stockil. This was where the first CAMPFIRE (Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources) project was conceived, and Stockil’s ‘community-led conservation’ principles have been replicated in countless initiatives around Africa. The lodge is committed to empowering the Mahenye people and protecting the environment by involving them in taking responsibility for their natural resources for the benefit of the community at large. Guests can play their part by visiting the community and donating to the Mahenye Charitable Trust. This is why it’s one of my favourite places for our clients to stay in Africa.
The Happy House, in the mountains of the Lower Solukhumbu region, is another favourite of ours. Staying in this beautiful wooden lodge is an incredible experience – not only because of its stunning location in a Beyul (‘sacred hidden valley’) in the Himalayas but also the privilege of being hosted by the owner, Ang Tshering Lama, in his amazing family home. Ang is a local Sherpa legend and will take you to nearby villages, and monasteries built by his great-great-grandfather, to introduce you to the people who live there. The Happy House is entirely embedded within the local community, supporting the nearby Edmund Hillary Hospital and local monasteries.
Sol y Luna in Peru’s Sacred Valley also stands out. In 1996, Marie Hélene Miribel and her husband, Franz, opened their own school and the first luxury hotel in the Sacred Valley, which would fund it.
Today, Sol y Luna is a Relais & Châteaux hotel and the Sol y Luna Foundation includes kindergarten and secondary schools, an orphanage and a centre for special needs children. The school, hotel and foundation of Sol y Luna are at the heart of a community and guests are very much invited to get involved during their stay.
After 30 plus years of travel – what are your three stand out experiences that will stay with you forever and that you love organising for cazenove+loyd clients?
There have been so many, but I would say nothing beats being in the middle of the Kalahari Desert near Jack’s Camp in Botswana, surrounded by the shimmering saltpans of the Makgadikgadi, with the sounds of a distant lion roaring and I mean nothing else around. It is hard to describe as the landscape is endless, with nothingness stretching out before you, but it is so beautiful in its simplicity and harshness and is wonderfully surreal.
Although a world away from Africa, I also absolutely adore the vibrancy, music and rhythms of Cuba and cannot keep away!
I have led several small group trips here (with one this February accompanied by British musician John Illsley of Dire Straits) and love to arrange incredible experiences for our guests. These include private jazz, percussion and dance performances by world-renowned Cuban musicians in their homes as well as visits to artists’ workshops and studios, where you will have the opportunity to chat to them and learn about their lives.
Another stand-out experience for me was my first trip to India. I particularly loved the colour, pace, people, smell and hustle and bustle of Rajasthan.
India is so diverse, with so many incredible palaces, forts and cities and wildlife, and I cannot wait to go back and spot a tiger. As is this case in all our destinations, we know brilliant guides and specialists here who can bring a trip focus onto culture, food or art, whatever the client is looking for – and can arrange extraordinary experiences, such as after-hours access to Jodhpur’s magnificent Mehrangarh Fort, stays in exquisite private houses or remote private camps in Ladakh or a day with a personal shopper in Jaipur.
What, in your opinion, is the true meaning of ‘luxury’?
Humans have an inbuilt desire to explore. It is part of the human condition to do so. Our planet is an outdoor classroom. Travel offers an unfamiliar perspective and provides lifelong learning. It is vital for ensuring we do not become locked into our own worlds.
When we talk about a ‘luxury’ holiday, we do not mean excess but access. Luxury for us is not about objects or things but rare experiences. What is prosaic to some is extraordinary and exotic to others. Luxury is about ensuring that our clients feel a sense of belonging in the place that they are visiting. We enable our clients to engage with the destination they are exploring and its people at eye level rather than in a bubble. It is an extraordinary privilege to be able to connect and have an exchange with others – and it is this type of travel that we support and specialise in.
We continue to work hard to ensure that the trips we create have a positive impact on the destination by working with carefully selected people and places where we know that funds reach and support the local area and community. It is our responsibility to ensure this, which we do on our clients’ behalf.
How has travel changed and what do you think is the future of travel?
Over the years, travel has changed dramatically. I know that our clients want to travel for longer and more consciously. We are seeing many examples of this in the itineraries we are currently designing. We have always encouraged slow and sustainable travel and continue to do so. There is an intensified interest in philanthropic travel, with many people wishing to support people on the ground particularly following what has been such a catastrophic time, and this is something we can arrange for our clients.
We are aware of a growing desire from people who want to get together and travel with family and friends, including some interest in those who want to celebrate landmark occasions with something really special. People are also looking for greater privacy, so boat charters and private houses have become more popular.
Following the pandemic, it is more important than ever to travel in the safe hands of an experienced travel specialist as we navigate the reopening of travel. With us, you can expect knowledge, flexibility, support and, most importantly, excellent service. Good service is fading away in so many industries and areas of life, and yet it is something in which we excel.
So how can we travel better in 2022?
This is something that we are all working on but in short: travel less to travel better. Take just one trip this year but make it profound and do it well. Embed yourself while you are there and make that one journey count. Our experts will make it happen.
And finally, where to next?
Without a doubt, Patagonia. I have a huge love of space, stunning scenery and awe-inspiring landscapes, and am just longing to go there. Bhutan is also on my wish list!
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7384 2332