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November 18, 2013updated Nov 20, 2013

Luxury Essentials: 60 Seconds With Karma Royal Group CEO John Spence

By Chris Boyle

John Spence Karma CEO chairmanJohn Spence, CEO and chairman of luxury holiday group Karma Royal, tells us about his favorite things.

John Spence’s varied list of job titles is bewildering. He began as a music agent in the Eighties representing bands such as Bananarama, Eurythmics and Boy George’s Culture Club. Yale University recently appointed him as a visiting architecture fellow.

But his principal role is as chairman and CEO of the Karma Royal Group, which he founded in 1993 following his time at property company Global Group. He was named Ernst & Young’s Australian Entrepreneur of the Year in 2010 for his success with Karma Royal whose portfolio of holiday brands spans the globe. The group has 22 resorts in four continents with six more properties under development.

Its latest property is Laura Ashley’s former estate Le Preverger in the French Riviera. It opens in April 2014.


Favorite fashion brand:

There is only one fashion brand in the universe for men and that’s Tom Ford. He is a God in fashion. I have no idea what his magic is but he makes clothes for men that are unlike any other designers.

Tom Ford

Favorite city:

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I spend my entire life traveling. I love so many cities. I would say New York because it’s the centre of the world. Sydney is just the most beautiful city. Perth, where I’ve been based, is surprisingly a fantastic city. And Singapore is the most convenient city in the world to live in – you can get around, do business easily and go in and out quickly through the airport.

Favorite holiday destination:

Mediterranean in the summer – if I only had a few months to live that’s where you’ll find me. I love the air, the sea, the wine, the food and the sun there. Or the Maldives. I’ve deliberately never developed there because I want to keep it a place I don’t go to for work. Every year I go to the Maldives and just do nothing.

Favorite watch:

I usually wear a Rolex Daytona with a leather strap (pictured) – I think it’s great. I also like Franck Muller and have the Conquistador watch.

Rolex Daytona 1

Favorite restaurant:

Le Club 55 in the south of France has become such as institution. Nammos in Mykonos is a fantastic place. I love Scott’s. I spend virtually every other day there when I’m in London.

Favorite wine:

When I was younger, a friend’s father said to me that when you discover Burgundy, you’ll only like that until you discover grand cru Burgundy. After that, there are only two drinks in the world: grand cru Burgundy and all other wine.

Favorite car:

I drive a 430 Ferrari Spider (pictured). I’m still a little kid at heart so I like a convertible car that makes a lot of noise and zooms around. I did grow up a little bit recently and bought a Bentley Continental Convertible. It always has to be a convertible – I don’t care what the weather’s like.

Ferrari F430 Spider Credit: Ferrari SpA

Last fun thing I did:

Halloween in Miami. Americans go bezerk for it. I haven’t spent Halloween in the States for ages but there’s a place called Lincoln Road in Miami that goes off like a box of frogs.


Read more about Karma Royal’s latest property Le Preverger here 

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