Interview with Todd Harris, Senior Vice President at Exclusive Resorts
Todd Harris is Senior Vice President for Hospitality and Member Services at Exclusive Resorts, a luxury destination club offering members hundreds of vacation residences around the world. He supervises all aspects of the member experience. Previously Todd spent 14 years with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, serving as General Manager of some of their most acclaimed hotels, including The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Beaver Creek, Colorado and international properties in Singapore, Japan and South Korea.
What is it that you do exactly?
I oversee the overall service experience at Exclusive Resorts, to ensure that our members have a first-class vacation every time they travel with us. This includes responsibility for the travel planning services our members receive from their dedicated Member Services Managers, as well as the in-residence experience they enjoy when they are staying with us in our homes. I spend my day speaking to members, reviewing their feedback, and supporting hundreds of service staff (housekeeping, concierge, and property maintenance) across nearly 40 destinations in the U.S., Caribbean, Europe, Mexico and elsewhere.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love my relationships and connections with my staff. As you can imagine, with on-site service personnel supporting nearly 400 club residences as well as our Denver-based Member Services Managers, we have quite a team. I’ve really enjoyed building our service model, finding enthusiastic and expert service professionals to add as we expand, and working with all of them to identify new ways to not only continue enhancing our the services we offer, but also to surprise and delight our members on their vacations.
What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?
To me, the best travel experiences are often to celebrate important family occasions.
1. Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica – In addition to my role with Exclusive Resorts, I’m also a member of the club. About two years ago, my wife and I were fortunate to share a memorable wedding with a small group of close friends and family at the Exclusive Resorts “enclave” in Peninsula Papagayo. The homes were stunning, the wildlife and landscape fascinating, and working with our onsite concierge team in Costa Rica on all the details made everything simple, so we were really able to relax and enjoy that special weekend.
2. Hawaii’s Big Island -We took my wife’s family to Kohala Coast on the Big Island to celebrate her mom’s 60th birthday recently. None of my wife’s family had ever traveled to Hawaii before, and I was happy to be able to help organize a trip that brought everyone together for a family reunion in a destination that was new to them and has long been a favorite of mine.
3. Sea Island, Georgia – My wife and I invited all eight members of my immediate family for a fantastic family reunion in Sea Island, Georgia. The Cloister at Sea Island is truly an exceptional resort property, with a terrific array of activities, five miles of private beach, and the amazing 65,000 square foot Cloister Spa.
What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?
I think the most memorable dining experience I’ve had was probably when I was living in Japan. As an expatriate hotel manager for a five star hotel brand, I was fortunate to be able to travel around Japan and experience many unique aspects of their culture. I specifically remember one dinner in Fukuoka where I couldn’t communicate with the local staff so I asked for the “set menu”. One dish included them pulling a live squid out of a tank in the middle of the restaurant and clipping off its tentacles and serving them directly onto my plate. I had the hardest time picking them up with my chop sticks as they were still squirming and jumping all over my plate. I loved trying the local cuisine while living abroad, and this particular meal has definitely remained vivid in my memory.
Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?
Andre Agassi and his wife Steffi Graf are members of Exclusive Resorts, and I have had the opportunity to spend some time with them at a couple of club destinations where they were conducting tennis clinics for their foundation.
What currently ranks highest on your travel wish list?
This one is easy because we’ve been planning a trip for our members here at Exclusive Resorts, as part of our unique Once in Lifetime program, that is at the top of my personal list: a South African experience, combining a stay in Cape Town, South Africa with a luxurious safari experience in Kruger National Park. To go on a world-class safari (complete with luxury accommodations and private guides) and enjoying the local beaches and wineries of Cape Town sound like a perfect balance of adventure and relaxation. Experiencing the many different aspects of South Africa on a trip like that is something I would love to do someday.
Thank you for taking part in our interview, Todd. I can appreciate how a plateful of squirming tentacles must have stuck in the memory!