The woman behind the successes of many Bollywood celebrities, Travel+Leisure India & South Asia’s A-list member, and founder of Raindrop Group of Companies, Rohini Iyer is a force to reckon with. This celebrity publicist not only has bagfuls of the film industry’s crème de la crème in her kitty but also many travel stories to share. By Bayar Jain
1. You recently stayed at Pullman Maldives. What was your experience like?
It was a beautiful experience. I’ve been to Maldives multiple times and have stayed in a lot of resorts across the country. However, Pullman Maldives has a very original concept. They follow the concept of being all-inclusive, which means they have a lot of amenities within the property itself. Everything is original and outstanding there. Their restaurant was so good. A French chef has set up a vegan restaurant there. He makes vegan desserts without using even a drop of sugar! The French are known for their meats and dairy, but this Parisian chef created one of the best foods I’ve tasted in a long time. It was pure gourmet! They even grow their own organic plants outside the vegan restaurant. All the food is garden-to-table. I think it’s one of the coolest things I saw at The Pullman, and I highly recommend it to everyone. I even recommend their other restaurants, including the Sunrise and the Sunset. While in these bars, you can see the sunrise from one, and the sunset from the other. Seeing that every day was one of my favourite things. Even the hospitality of the resort is lovely!
2. While in the Maldives, what were some of the most memorable moments from your trip?
Memorable, of course, is the Pullman team’s hospitality. They had a person who would serve as your house manager and look after you. Everyone there, from basic managers to restaurant staff, was very informative. I’ve not seen hospitality of such kind. It’s been really nice.
3. If someone was planning a vacation to this island nation, what would you suggest they include in their bucket list?
Stay at the Pullman, for sure! When in the Maldives, leave all the cares of the world behind and come to recharge. Become an islander. I think the best thing to do in the Maldives is to just look at the sea; that itself is therapeutic and should be the only thing to include in your bucket list.
4. You once said, ‘Paris is your go-to place’. What do you think is one of the most underrated, and oft-forgotten aspects of this city?
For me, Paris is the best place in the world! I know Paris inside out. If I get even a day off, I take a ticket to Paris. I don’t know if it is underrated, but Montmartre is my favourite place there. It has an old-world Parisian charm to it. It has many by-lanes, an artists’ corner, really old houses and lovely hotels. There’s this hotel called Maison Souquet, right opposite the Moulin Rouge. It is an old bordello converted into a modern-day hotel. It’s one of the most luxurious places I’ve stayed in. Hôtel Particulier in Montmartre, too, is a hidden treasure with a romantic garden of its own. And of course, the Sunday flea markets! They sell old antiques, which date back to the 1940s and 50s. Here, you can find things that are not available in any other part of the world.
5. Out of the many B-town stars you manage, who would you pick to travel around the world alone with, and why?
I would travel with all of them! They’re all so much fun. But honestly, when I travel, I like to travel alone. In my profession, I’m always surrounded by people, so travelling is the only ‘me-time’ I get.
6. Managing celebrities is no cakewalk and can get very stressful. Where do you head to break free from the madness, and what do you do while you’re there?
I have a few favourite places that I keep visiting and re-visiting. In India, I love the SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace in Jaipur and Ananda In The Himalayas in Uttarakhand. I keep running off to both these places every chance I get. Ahilya by the Sea in Goa is another place I love. Abroad, it’s always Paris for me. I must see the Eiffel Tower and its lights. Over there, I go to Shakespeare and Company. It’s a must-visit for me.
I usually use Paris as my starting point and then travel to the rest of Europe. I can travel to any place in Europe; it’s just that comfortable. Another place I really love is the streets of New York. I have a few vintage stores and bookstores that I like to visit. These experiences are very special and sacred to me.
7. Having started out your career at a very young age, what were some of the challenges you faced then, and how did you power through it?
I actually started working early because I hated going to school and college, and hated being bound by time. I can’t do Monday morning meetings or wake up at 9 am. I’m an insomniac that way. I feel timings and schedules creates a rigidity which doesn’t allow for one to do great things in life. That is why I started my own company where people can come and go as they please. Everyone asks me about the challenges I faced, but I don’t see them as a hurdle or challenge. I get bored if there are no challenges for me. If everything is going smooth, I get very hyper. Since childhood, I’ve liked solving problems, puzzles, and taking up projects. I feel the more challenges there are, the better it is for me.
8. Keeping Paris aside, what is your dream destination, and why?
I’ve never visited the Amalfi Coast in Italy, and I’ve heard lovely stories about it. I’ve wanted to visit Le Sirenuse, a heritage hotel there which I’ve been told is outstanding. I even want to travel to this island in Italy called Ischia. A lot of my friends have been there and they’ve told me its beautiful. Maybe from there, I would go on to Portofino, and so on and so forth. I also want to visit New Orleans and listen to some jazz. I am fascinated by the culture there. The third place I really want to go to is this little town called Trancoso in Bahia, Brazil. It is a beach town with very cool clubs.
9. Being a woman, have you faced any hardships while travelling?
Not at all! That way, I’m very careful. I don’t roam the streets very late in the night. I make sure I stay in good hotels, which have gotten good reviews. I always ensure I have a good concierge looking after me, and a good travel system in place. My travel agents are very good, so I’ve never faced any issue.
10. What would you say to girls out there who wish to travel solo, but are afraid to do so?
I would tell every girl to just pack her bags and explore the world because there is so much to see. If you don’t travel, and you don’t explore, you don’t find yourself. Enjoy that!