His inspiring career in the hotel industry is very much a product of chance. He successfully graduated from university and was inclined towards PR. However, in 1995, he had just returned from a 3-month overseas holiday and found himself with no money or job. But he kept his confidence intact and went on to start a temporary part-time shift at a city hotel, a decision destined to be the turning point of his journey. He was covering for someone who had taken a three months long service leave. His duties included room service during the breakfast shift and wheeling the trolley from room to room restocking the minibar.
“After three months, they kept me on and I became a full-time waiter and barman. A short while after, the hotel was sold to a Malaysian conglomerate so I took the opportunity to approach the new management and ask if there were any positions available upstairs. They made me a Banquets Coordinator and then a Banquets Sales Executive. The rest, as they say, is history”.
Mr. Parris Fotias has now been with the iconic Dorchester Collection for 12 years and is responsible for all sales and marketing-related activities in the Asia-Pacific region excluding China, HK, Taiwan, Macau and Japan.
This interview captures his daily life since he wrote Adventures Through Covid: The Art of Subconscious Travel in a Transcendental State. He is based out of Sydney, Australia.
Share three life-changing epiphanies you received during the lockdown about your past, present, and future respectively.
Past – that travel is a privilege and one that should never be taken for granted. It became increasingly clear to me as I wrote the book, that I had not truly appreciated how blessed I had been to visit and experience so many different countries and cultures.
Present – to live in the moment. It’s ok to get upset, to get angry and to get frustrated. That is normal, especially in the current situation. But at the end of the day, you must remember that to be the very best version of yourself, you must appreciate what you possess and not lament what you do not.
Future – the need to acquire a skill set that includes flexibility and being able to adapt to any situation. For our own sanity we must appreciate that there are some things beyond our control and that sometimes, even the best-laid plans amount to nothing.
What do you look forward to in the New Year?
What I look forward to is the return of spontaneity. I have missed being able to make that last-minute decision to head out to dinner on a Friday night. That random catch-up with friends on a Saturday or the Sunday afternoon car ride to the beach for ice cream as you watch the sunset. As the saying goes: Don’t just exist - Live your life!
Once the lockdown is over which place do you wish to travel to, why and what do you plan to do there?
That would be Greece because, in 2020, we had a family holiday already booked which we had to cancel due to the pandemic. Greece is such an amazing destination, the people, the history, the food, the energy. There is beauty all around and there is always something new to discover with every visit. From the cities to the islands, from the idyllic mountains to the stunning coastlines. I also have a lot of families there which makes my visits even more special. Whenever I visit Athens, there is a taverna in the neighbourhood of Monastir Aki which is the first place we visit. It’s a little touristy but the food is amazing, and it always signals the start of a new adventure.
What is your philosophy or mantra for success and wellbeing?
For success:” Look good, feel good. Feel good, do good. Confidence is everything”. For wellbeing: “Be a collector of experiences. And make your favourite experience your next one”.
Where did you last travel right before lockdown started and what memories do you cherish about that trip at the moment?
My last trip before the lockdown was in fact to India and looking back, it was quite epic. It covered nine days, five events and four cities: Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Mumbai. One of the more frustrating aspects of travelling for work is that you often miss out on celebrating important occasions with loved ones. So, it came as no surprise when I ended up spending my very own birthday, all alone, eating ‘thali’ in Ahmedabad. Although some would say that I made up for that the following week, by sharing some amazing meals and experiences with clients at Indian Accent, Masque (twice), and even at the French Ambassador’s residence. My travelling companion for most of my time away just happened to be my COO, Francois Delahaye. Apart from being the perfect advocate for the brand, he is always punctual, congenial, open to suggestions and just a pleasure to travel with. The other thing I remember vividly from that trip, is how quiet and empty so many of the airports were that I departed from, transited though, or arrived into – especially Sydney Airport. I had never seen it like that.
How did the idea of writing Adventures Through Covid approach you?
The idea was never a conscious one. I never set out to write a book. In fact, it wasn’t until earlier this year that I even considered publishing Adventures Through Covid. I returned to Australia on February 29th and throughout the month of March, as the severity of Covid-19 began to sink in, I felt compelled to reach out to as many of my clients and partners as possible, just to check in on their wellbeing. So, I started emailing them and by the beginning of April, this had somehow morphed into a Dear Diary series. At first, I tried to keep each entry short and relevant, so found myself sharing my own frustrations at being grounded or highlighting many of the lockdown fads that had surfaced. But then I began to use all those travel journals I had written over the years, by sharing travel trips and reminiscing about anecdotes from my past. When I realised what was happening, it was the middle of December and I had been sending a weekly email for almost nine months.
What exactly is the "Art of Subconscious Travel" and how to excel in the same?
For me, the “Art of Subconscious Travel” is all about living in the moment. Let me explain. It is about not taking for granted, all the amazing destinations you have had the privilege to visit. I think too often, people simply just ‘tick’ destinations off their list and never think about them again. During the lockdown, I realised that the places I have visited before have no become the very destinations where no one could stop me from travelling. And these experiences are what have shaped you and made you who you are. Also, it is about being able to create new memories no matter what the circumstances. For me this meant every Saturday night during the lockdown, turning on Twitch and singing and dancing with my family to Hot Dub Time Machine – the world’s First Time Travelling DJ! Or every Sunday lunchtime where we would head to the outside deck and spend a few hours, forgetting about the outside (situation) with the world.
Why do you think people will like your book?
From the feedback I have received, I believe people are enjoying my book because they are able to relate to the frustrations of living through a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. It includes several entertaining anecdotes and travel tips but it is also a story of survival, reinvention and self-reflection. A pilgrimage if you will, looking back on some funny, ridiculous and almost forgotten memories to help cope with an uncertain future. And it is also my own personal crusade against the insanity of lockdowns, face masks, travel bubbles and the stockpiling of toilet paper rolls. I think it also helps the reader reminisce fondly on their own past adventures, as well as inspiring them to look forward and where they would like to travel next.
Who are your all-time favourite travel buddies, living as well as non-living?
Most of the time when I travel for work, I do so alone. Thankfully I really do enjoy my own company and have learnt that concierge and barmen are the keepers of a city’s secrets. My all-time favourite travel buddies are without a doubt, my wife and daughter. My wife because we have so many shared experiences and we both know what the other person likes and dislikes. She is the perfect foil, and we keep each other balanced. My daughter because it has been amazing to see her grow through her experiences. It is such a blessing to be able to create new memories or relive the moment through the eyes of someone so young.
If we open a page of your diary, what secret of yours will we discover?
In all honestly, I believe I have given everyone an all-access pass with my book because, in essence, this is really what these essays are – diary entries. What secrets do they hold? I am not sure they hold any apart from maybe someone who tries to live a life full of love and laughter. Someone who tries to find beauty in any situation, no matter how hard it may seem to be. And maybe that at 48-year-old, I am still getting a kick out of professional wrestling.
How did you overcome the "overthinking virus" through this lockdown?
During the lockdown, when many of us have found ourselves with so much spare time on our hands, it is incredibly difficult not to overthink any situation. Our task is made even harder knowing that we live in a digital age where we have more access to news and information than ever before. Social media platforms have also brought the opinions of people from all over the world, into the palm of our hands. It really is the perfect storm. I too have struggled mightily with this conundrum because like everyone, I am concerned about the pandemic, what I can do about it and what the future will look like on the other side. Apart from completely disappearing off the grid (which I must admit, I have thought about on more than one occasion), I think the trick is to limit your time online and ensure that you schedule in time doing things that make you happy. This could be spending time with family watching a movie or playing games, listening to music, reading a novel or cooking. In short doing anything that makes you happy and be present in the moment.