Wellfellows: How Carlos Melia, Gay Luxury Travel Curator, Stays Fit While Traveling the World
A Native of Buenos Aires, Carlos Melia, 43, Turned His Passion for Travel into a Thriving Brand
Carlos Melia, founder of Luxury Gay Travel Network (LGTNetwork), luxury travel curator and blogger, spends much of the year traveling the world and visiting the places he recommends to his clients. In addition to building a reputation as the go-to source for luxury gay travel planning, with over 25 years in the business, he also won Mr. Gay Argentina 2008 as well as International Mister Gay that same year. Carlos is married to Rubin Singer, a fashion designer.
Where is home?
For the last 10 years, my home base has been Manhattan, New York. But I’ve always considered myself a true citizen of the world. I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and raised all over the world from Asia to the Middle East, Africa, Central America and Australia.
Carlos Melia – a luxury travel curator. How did you turn travel into your profession?
My father was a commercial pilot, so I kind of grew up in the industry. From a very young age, my family moved constantly around the world, crossing continents, cultures, time zones, living in hotels. This ignited the fire in me and the love for this industry.
What are some of your favorite destinations in the world?
Asia is my favorite destination as a whole. There, I am happy. There, I am challenged by spirituality, tradition and culture. When I’m in Asia, I feel grounded; I feel happy and whole. I think one huge component of traveling is getting to know yourself, and in Asia, I feel I’ve accomplished this quite well.
When you travel for pleasure, do you rough it or stay in the luxury destinations you recommend to your clients?
I’m definitely an active traveler. I’ve always said that I travel like an adventure traveler during the day and live like a king at night. I love exploring, from the very low and raw experiences to the extremes of luxury. But at night, I like to return to my five-star hotel with a lovely suite and a nice restaurant.
I’m always on the go. I don’t recall ever taking a holiday without working. I am always on the hunt for a new hotel to recommend, the new restaurant, experiencing tours, mingling with the locals. That can be quite exhausting, and more so as I get older.
Do you struggle at all to maintain your fitness and wellness routines when traveling?
Not anymore. I used to, but now it’s so easy to stay healthy, even when I’m traveling. While I try to be open and sample as much as possible, I do have some limitations on what I’ll eat and drink. I have a workout routine with my virtual trainer on my iPhone. I’ll do that four times a week. The great thing about my workout is that I can do it whether the hotel has a fitness center or not.
Because of who I am and what I do, each time that I visit a new destination, they roll out the red carpet for me. At restaurants, they try to show me the best of their cuisine and wines, and I need to be very strict with my eating and drinking habits.
How do you find a balance between sampling local cuisines and overindulging like many of us default to on vacation?
Well, this is my work. I love street and local food. But I’ve learned over time to strike a balance and not to overindulge. I don’t feel the need to try everything that’s put in front of me, because I will likely return again and have the opportunity to sample the stuff I missed before. For example, when I travel through India, Peru or Thailand, I love to spend hours eating among locals and learning how they eat. There’s so much you can learn about people through food.
When I’m back home, I follow a very strict protocol, though I wouldn’t call it a diet. It involves shakes, Paleonola products and other foods prepared by my go-to pharmacist David Restrepo at Vitahealth Apothecary in Manhattan.
Do you advise clients who ask for wellness-specific itineraries? What does a weeklong wellness getaway look like for a luxury traveler?
Definitely, wellness is a huge niche within the luxury travel segment. I have many clients that choose wellness-oriented options when traveling; some are fully immersive where clients detox for weeks while others enjoy simple yoga retreats. There is a myriad of options.
What’s your favorite workout when you’re home?
Running and Yoga. I love them both.