Ben Pundole, the Vice President of brand experience at EDITION Hotels, is regularly inspired by travel. Those that follow him on Instagram know his dynamic love for the hospitality industry—from the spaces that you sleep in to the restaurants you dine in; from the cities to the people.
But right now, amid the pandemic lockdown, we’re unable to explore much outside our own spaces. Pundole isn’t letting that stop him, though. On his travel company’s Instagram, A Hotel Life, he’s escaping that idea and welcoming others in the culture and lifestyle sector to join him in conversation.
So far, he’s hosted Instagram Live discussions with people like Eduardo Castillo, Founder of Habitas; Josh Wyatt, CEO of Neuehouse; and the legendary pioneer of the boutique hotels (and his mentor-meets-boss), Ian Schrager. The discussions have encompassed topics on the mind of many right now, such as how these individuals are dealing with the current health crisis, and the future of hospitality and travel.
Whitewall spoke with Pundole to hear more about this, and what’s keeping him inspired.
WHITEWALL: How are you doing?
BEN PUNDOLE: That’s a huge question. I switch between, “I’m healthy and positive and grateful” to “What the hell is going on? I’m devastated!” and “How can I help?” A rollercoaster of emotions, but also time to re-think and re-set.
WW: What are you listening to, reading, watch?
BP: Currently listening to a Soundcloud mix by Wai, “Peaceful Guitars”—very calming. Not something I’d usually listen to, but wow.
WW: What are you cooking?
BP: Everything. First time in my life I’ve cooked three meals a day at home. My fiancée, Tansy, is a better cook than me, but my veggie lentil curry has made a few appearances.
WW: How are you staying connected?
BP: BBC and The Guardian for news. Various WhatsApp groups for staying in touch with friends and Tiger King conspiracy theories. Oh, and memes. Levity is important at times like this. I’ve been FaceTiming friends a lot around the world and with my family. It’s been really nice to have the time to connect.
WW: How are you staying creative? Are you able to work on projects at this time?
BP: I’m still working on future projects with EDITION. We’re launching in Tokyo later this year, which is very exciting. I’ve started an Instagram Live series on A Hotel Life, conversations with friends in the hotel/hospitality worlds. Been brainstorming creative ideas with friends and journaling for the first time. And don’t laugh…dancing. I put my headphones on and dance for 15 to 20 minutes once a day.
WW: Where are you finding hope or inspiration?
BP: I’m blown away by the cultural, digital offerings from people. From yoga and workout classes; from cooking and cocktails expos to live discussions with fascinating people. Fashion designers teaching people how to make face masks… Even my friends’ kids going live on Instagram teaching us how to be more mindful humans.
I’m inspired by the hospitality industry that’s been ruined. How restaurants, bars, and nightclubs are innovating to raise money for staff. Look out for House of YES TV. It’s a very strange and scary time, but from it comes generosity and creativity that I’ve never seen before.