As featured in Ultravel Magazine's Fall/Winter 2013 issue
On a recent trip to the Tuscan hotspot Castello di Casole, I was struck by how fondly the staff spoke of their boss, CEO and founder of Timbers Resorts, David Burden. They referred to him as a brilliant businessman, a bold visionary and, most importantly, a modest and kind man. (Someone also said: “Robert Redford meets Steve Jobs.”) See for yourself. —Alyssa Shelasky
Ultravel Magazine: You have 14 Timbers locations—from Mexico to Italy. Do you travel nonstop?
David Burden: At this stage in my life, travel is all about family, especially with six children and five grandchildren! For work, I travel two to three times a month and almost always for short duration.
UM: What’s your in-flight entertainment?
DB: Books about extreme life experiences. I read “Matterhorn” by Karl Marlantes on my way back from Italy last week. I was a Marine in Vietnam and this is as true an account as you can get. Alternatively, any comedy with Paul Rudd or Kristen Wiig, and I am cracking up out loud.
UM: What is the most underrated job at a hotel?
DB: Front-door valet and housekeeping. Arrival at the property and arrival at your accommodations can easily be taken for granted, yet if something is really wrong or really great, it leaves an indelible impression.
UM: If you could invite five guests, dead or alive, to one of your properties, who would it be?
DB: First and foremost—my mother, who passed in 1998 (she was wild in many ways and is probably entertaining in heaven). If we go famous, then how about John West (a deceased former life mentor/business partner of mine, formerly the governor of South Carolina and ambassador to Saudi Arabia), Richard Branson, Robert Lutz (the pioneering auto executive), Elon Musk and Steve Jobs. Now that is a mix!
UM: What are some of your life mottos?
DB: “Chin up, nose down.” “Make dust or eat it.” “Never let them see you sweat.” “To negotiate, be prepared to live with letting go.” “Show respect and mean it.”