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Interview with Richard Lumb, Co-Founder and Director of Kaluma Travel

As an unhappy accountant, an offer of a job as a ski guide in Kitzbuhel was just too attractive to turn down. In short, Richard Lumb was hooked on the travel industry instantly and never looked back. Finding new products, innovations and delivering the best service in his niche market keeps his job extremely interesting and moving the company forward is a great motivation. Not to mention, a fantastic excuse to stay living in the Alps, enjoying the mountains as much as possible. What is it that you do exactly?
There is no such thing as a typical day, especially during the busy ski season. Luckily Kaluma has a fantastic team based in the UK, so most of the detailed planning and administration aspects are handled in advance of guest arrivals. We place great emphasis on listening to clients so that we can offer the right options given taste and of course, budget. Once guests arrive, we aim to make sure they are entirely happy – with the exception of weather, we can organize pretty much everything else 24/7. Sometimes, that is a very involved bespoke service, other times, our guests want to know that we are here ‘just in case…’
What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?
Certainly La Bouitte in St Martin de Belleville was one of the best. After a very long day at the end of the half term holidays, Rene Meilleur took pity on me and suggested that I stay the night as his guest rather than drive back to Courchevel. From that moment, I was instantly relaxed. An hour in the spa, followed by a little impromptu room service that the 2 starred michelin chef had ‘thrown together’ (I was told that I didn’t need to look at the menu). That sublime bed and the perfect sense of peace in the idyllic alpine setting – the best night’s sleep for a long time. The room rates are very affordable too. Next would be the brand new five star, K2 hotel in Courchevel 1850. Once again, the bar has been raised for the uber luxury end. It’s not cheap, in fact far from it, but if money really is no object, it’s hard to find fault with the standard of the hotel and levels of service. The attention to detail is better than I’ve seen anywhere in the world. Finally, I couldn’t not mention Kaluma’s very own Chalet Montfort in St Anton. I stayed there anonymously and was really thrilled that what Kaluma are promising is being delivered. The location, size of the rooms, food and general conviviality of the staff made for an exceptional weekend away.
What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?
It has to be eating a stunning 5 course Michelin starred meal prepared by a celebrity French chef in sumptuous surroundings … WHILST sat next to a King Charles spaniel (pure pedigree of course), literally on the next chair. I have to applaud the maitre d’. She didn’t so much as bat an eyelid, instead she brought over a hand painted ceramic dog bowl. The restaurant was the Chabichou in Courchevel. The clients (and four legged friend), of course remain, anonymous.
Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?
Indeed. Ski guiding VIP guests around Les Trois Vallees with their security detail in tow was an interesting one, although luckily everyone could keep up (except for the paparazzi!). The alps will always be a great place to holiday discretely.
What currently ranks highest on your travel wish list?
A trip to the Lyngen Lodge in Norway is on my ‘must do’ list. I can’t wait to experience the unique ‘summit to sea’ ski touring in the Arctic Circle. If I had to take just one gadget with me, it would be a GoPro head camera. I’ve seen a demo and the image quality looks excellent, but I haven’t actually bought one yet!
Thank you for taking part in our interview, Richard. As someone who is going to the Alps later this month, I now can’t wait for the trip! If you would like to be interviewed on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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