With a degree in Business Studies and a Henley Business School MBA, Ana Silva O’Reilly developed her career in strategic marketing management as Marketing Director for Portugal, Spain and Turkey with global commercial real estate consultant Cushman & Wakefield. She is also a New York University alumni (NYU), having graduated from its Social Media Strategy & Execution course in 2011.
Originally from Lisbon, Portugal, Ana is 33, lives in the United Kingdom and is an accomplished entrepreneur, who embraced the concept of a portfolio career. She is the Mrs. O behind luxury travel blog, mrsoaroundtheworld.com, started in late 2011. The blog has welcomed over 250,000 visitors in its first year, and she was been shortlisted for various awards.
What is it that you do exactly?
To be honest, the blog started (like many others), as a hobby – my husband and myself, have always travelled a lot for work (and play), namely as we lived in different European countries during 4 years. I was always the go-to girl amongst our circles when people where looking for ideas and places to go – for years, I kept various emails, ranging from destinations like NYC or Miami, to Madrid or Istanbul ready to be sent out.
As the digital world changed, it made sense to put this content online – but never in my wildest dreams I thought that hundreds and thousands of people would read it. It was only meant to be for friends!
A year from launch, the blog has changed, and so have the opportunities that came with it. I have had the pleasure of working with some of the travel world’s top brands, showing my readers how amazing their travel experiences can be. My engagements range from pure editorial work (unpaid, as I am very strict with my content), to social media and marketing consultancy projects, or in-loco social media brand engagement campaigns. Never a dull moment in the life of Mrs. O, my online alter-ego.
What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?
It is difficult to choose the top 3 places I have ever stayed that – they have always been pretty amazing. Nevertheless, I associate these with the memories created. The Blue Palace, in Crete will always be special (with its private infinity pool and all), as it was the place where I was asked to become Mrs. O.
I adored staying recently at the Sofitel Legend the Grand in Amsterdam, which is an example of what every city luxury hotel should be – beautifully designed, outstanding service and me refusing to check out from my suite.
But I could totally go back to my overwater bungalow at the (now) Hilton Moorea, in French Polynesia – it was after a hotel like that, that the word paradise was invented.
What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?
Travel and food go hand in hand for me – and it is all my parents’ fault. Even when I lived with my parents in Portugal, my father thought nothing of driving 2 hours to go for lunch – it is in my blood. But for me, dining is about the whole experience, and coming from Portugal, I am used to very simple flavours and the freshest ingredients – not about sauces and hiding all the goodness!
A meal I will never forget? Having Peking Duck at Made in China, at the Grand Hyatt in Beijing – sounds like a bit far from the real hotong experience, but it was incredible. Falling in love with British cuisine when I moved here wasn’t easy – but slow-roasted pork belly at the Crooked Billet in Oxfordshire does it for me every time. But where I am happiest? At Gigi Beach, in Portugal’s Quinta do Lago, a place I return to every summer. Grilled fish, clams in white wine sauce, salad and white wine sangria. It doesn’t get better than that.
Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?
I have not seen many many celebs – if I do, I seriously try not to make it obvious. I have seen UK comedian James Corden at the British Airways concorde room in Heathrow, and flew next to USA singer Jason Mraz, on a BA first flight. Now that you mention it, I also saw Keanu Reeves arriving at the airport, but thought he looked like a beggar. Heathrow T5 seems like a good place!
My best celebrity spotting? Having drinks with Will.I.am, who joined a party a good friend of mine was organising at the Metropolitan Hotel, in London. We ended up spending 3 hours together and he was charming to me and my friends. We have some great photos. Oh and last week, on my way to an event at the Dorchester, I was walking past Le Gavroche and thought of Michel Roux Junior – boy, was I surprised when he walked past me 5 minutes later. I tried to channel other people that day just to try my luck, but it wasn’t meant to be!
I have also met UK adventurer and BBC presenter Simon Reeve, having had the chance to spend some quality time with him. Following that, I watched his BBC series “Indian Ocean”, which inspired me to get to that part of the world – I am really looking forward to a trip to the Maldives, with a stopover in a not so well known UAE state, which will surprise a lot of people.
What currently ranks highest on your travel wish list?
I am also really looking forward to a trip to Mallorca, a place I know very well and haven’t been back to for over 10 years. My last visits to the island were always by boat (and staying on a boat) and the experience was outstanding. The scene has changed and Mallorca has new outstanding hotels, and I am looking forward to showing my readers what a wonderful place it can be, away from the crowds and packaged holidays.
Thank you for taking part in our interview, Ana. We have fond memories of the Blue Palace, too, having visited ourselves in 2009, and we will be returning to another resort in Elounda in a few months time (more on that later!).