It’s the beginning of a new year and the beginning of the fifth year that we’ve been interviewing our travel industry partners in the ongoing series, “8 Questions With.” We love shining a spotlight on our trusted partners in the luxury travel industry. When we say, “Now you know people who know people,” these are the “people” we know! And we are thrilled to be kicking off the new year by introducing you to one of our old friends and trusted partners, Greg Kooser!
CIRE: Hello Greg! Eric refers to you as “one of the OG friends of CIRE” so we know you and HOK well. But won’t you please introduce yourself to our readers?
GREG: Hello, I am Greg Kooser, Owner and Founder of House of Kooser Collection which acts as the global sales representative for 30 boutique style hotels around the globe. The hotels we represent are in Austin, Baden-Baden, Berlin, Cambridge, Dubai, Frankfurt, Islamorada, London, Munich, New York City, Paris, and Positano. We also work with a DMC (Destination Management Company) that has agreements with over 1,100, five-star hotels throughout Italy, Switzerland, and the French Riviera. Our job is to help introduce these hotels to travel advisors and travel managers around the world. I have been fortunate enough to be in the travel industry for 23 years. My team and I pride ourselves on working with travel advisors like CIRE Travel and want to ensure that their travelers have the experience of a lifetime.
CIRE: And we couldn’t do it without our amazing partners like you! What’s new at House of Kooser?
GREG: We have signed over 12 new hotels and one DMC this year. We have the Hotel Villa Franca in Positano, The Loren Austin in Texas, and the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London all starting this month. Each hotel in our portfolio are unique in their own way. The Villa Franca sits perched above the ocean with the most stunning views of the mountains and ocean. The Loren in Austin is our first 5-star in the states, so we are excited for that. We have several 5-stars internationally and have been looking to bring in more 5-star hotels in the US. We also have 8 proposals out this month, so hopefully you will see several new hotels in Italy in 2024.
CIRE: So exciting! And so much going on! What keeps you motivated to bring your A-game each and every day?
GREG: The thing I love most about my job is bringing people together and all the incredible people I meet around the globe. Our company recognizes not every hotel or travel client wants the same thing. We tailor our sales efforts to the needs of our clients. I am incredibly lucky to have the best team working with me. I also love traveling to all the destinations and experiencing the way locals live in other countries.
CIRE: So true! Speaking of how the locals live…where did you grow up?
GREG: I grew up in Abilene, Kansas and we spent summers gardening and growing vegetables, and we had cherry and apple trees. So, we had lots of homemade pies, and my father would make homemade ice cream. It has a great small town feel and is home to our 34th President, Dwight Eisenhower with a newly renovated Presidential Museum, library, and boyhood home.
Growing up in a small town in Kansas I worked in one of my father’s gas stations. He instilled a work ethic in all his kids that helped set us all up for a successful life. I am glad I had the small-town experience as a child. I knew from an early age that I wanted to travel and experience as much of the world as I could.
Once a year in the summertime, my father would come home from work and say, it’s kind of slow this week, let’s go on vacation. It was never planned and always a bit chaotic for my mom to pack up 4 kids and get us all on the road. On the rare occasion, we would go to Wyoming or South Dakota, but most of the time our vacations were to Branson, Missouri or Colorado Springs. After selecting the best priced road-side motel, we would have a fun time wherever we landed. I loved traveling as a kid and looked forward to going to new places. I left Kansas when I was in my 20s and lived in a few places, before moving to Los Angeles for 5 years. Then I made the move to New York City.
CIRE: Love this story and can just picture all of you piled in the car, headed out on your annual summer adventure! From small town Kansas to the Big City! Where do you live in NYC? Any favorite neighborhood hangouts to share?
GREG: I have lived in New York City for over 20 years and currently in Brooklyn for 5 years. There is a country western bar in Brooklyn that I love, called Skinny Dennis, and has a Kansas vibe. I also love Nicky’s Bar which has a cocktail on the menu named after me. If you go there, order the Gregoni. My favorite spot to eat in Brooklyn is Francie, they have this Duck Pappardelle that is perfection. And I don’t even love duck.
CIRE: Gregonis on us next time we meet up! Where is your favorite vacation spot?
GREG: It is so tough to pick a favorite destination. Of course, London and Paris, those are like second homes to me as I have been fortunate enough to travel to both destinations multiple times a year. I am a big fan of Baden-Baden where I visited for the first time in 2023. Tel Aviv, Dubai, Sydney, Frankfurt, and Austin are all top destinations. I am a big foodie and that’s what I like about most destinations is to experience the most amazing food in each city. I am also a fan of the architecture in each city.
CIRE: We’re big foodies, too! Since London and Paris are like second homes, any restaurant recs?
GREG: Every time I visit London I have to eat at Nipa Thai, my favorite and most authentic Thai restaurant in all of London. It’s located in the Royal Lancaster Hotel. My other favorite in Paris is Ms. Kô, I have to eat there every time I am in Paris. In Los Angeles I love Musso & Frank on Hollywood Blvd.
CIRE: Where’s your next vacation taking you?
GREG: I am going for a low-key beach vacation in February. I have not decided on the destination yet, but probably somewhere in the Caribbean. My biggest decision each day will be, do I lay by the pool or on the beach and what time will I go jet skiing?
CIRE: Ohhhh… Decisions, decisions! It’s a tough one for sure. LOL! Best of luck, Greg and have a fantastic beach holiday!
CIRE Travel is a full-service travel agency headquartered in New York, NY. Our expert corporate travel planners, honeymoon travel agents, and luxury travel planners support clients across the country and around the world.
Where in the World Do You Want to Go?
Inspired to plan your next weekend getaway, vacation or trip of a lifetime? See that form below? That’s all it takes to begin your next epic travel story.