Conde Nast Traveler:Maria Sharapova Answers 37 Questions About Travel
THE TENNIS STAR SHARES HER THOUGHTS ON TSA PRECHECK, SOUP DUMPLINGS, BEATING JET LAG, AND MUCH, MUCH MORE.
Maria Sharapova is more than just an Olympic medalist and five-time Grand Slam champion. Among other things, she’s partnered with Nike to reimagine the brand’s signature Cortez sneakers, and works with the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) to mentor female entrepreneurs. Her candy company, Sugarpova, just announced agreements with Hudson News (they’ll be the exclusive U.S. travel retailer of the candy) and hotel group sbe (yep, look for Sugarpova chocolate bars and truffles in your minibar). Unsurprisingly, Sharapova is also an avid traveler—she spends some 25 weeks a year on the road—making her the perfect person to ask about airplanes, hotels, packing, passports, and more. Ahead of the U.S. Open, Sharapova sat down to answer some questions we lobbed her way—and in typical fashion, she crushed them.
Last trip you took?
Positano and Ischia [Italy] for a summer holiday.
What do you wear when you fly?
Usually a pair of comfortable Raquel Allegra pants with a black blazer and Nike Cortez sneakers. And a Rick Owens cashmere scarf, as I’m always really cold while traveling, no matter what city I’m headed to.
Singapore Airlines on the A380 is very comfortable, but the biggest travel luxury is flying on a private NetJets plane.
Do you check bags or carry-on?
It’s very rare I get to travel with [just] a carry-on. But when I do, it’s usually for a weekend getaway, which puts a smile on my face.
Pro-wheelie or anti-wheelie?
Wheels. Especially with how heavy the bags can get.
TSA PreCheck or Global Entry?
Both! Saves so much time.
iPad, Kindle, or actual book?
I love holding a book in my hands and flipping through the pages. I’m currently reading Originals, by Adam Grant.
Surprising things I bring onboard…
Two extra phone battery cases. And puréed baby food—it’s a great healthy airplane snack!
Best in-flight meal or airline snack?
I keep airplane food very simple. No heavy food or bread, and I usually pack some dried mango and nuts with me as a snack. If I’m feeling like a sweet treat, I love our new Sugarpova chocolate-covered gummies.
Most interesting seat mate?
My friends and my boyfriend. There is never a dull moment in their company. I also don’t mind traveling on my own. There’s a very liberating feeling that comes with going to a destination all by yourself.
Recipe to avoid jet lag?
There’s no real secret to beating jet lag except being very diligent on hydration and eating light, clean food while in flight. Once you get to the city, take a walk immediately, and if in a park, walk barefoot.
Three favorite hotels in the world?
The Aman in Sveti Stefan, Montenegro; Villa Tre Ville in Positano; and Little Green Bay in Croatia.
What’s your late-night room service order?
Room service always feels like an indulgence, but in a very relaxed way. As a guilty pleasure, I love seeing a pizza arrive in a cardboard box as if delivered from the local pizza place.
Best hotel bar?
Bar Hemingway at the Ritz in Paris.
I would stalk the housekeeping cart for…
Le Labo bath salts.
The one thing every luxury hotel should have:
A great concierge goes a long way.
Personal butler service: helpful or intrusive?
Service is luxurious when things get done without you knowing they needed to. It’s the small, caring things that seem unnoticeable that make a big difference.
Notable hotel “little luxuries”?
I love a signature scent when you walk into a boutique hotel lobby. Taking a bath before bedtime is also one of my favorites, so seeing little bottles of bath salts or a candle is a nice touch.
The hotel mini-bar of my dreams would be stocked with…
This summer, my dream did come true as Sugarpova chocolate, gummies, and gum balls are stocked in the minibars of sbe hotels, like SLS Hotels and Mondrian Hotels.
Have you ever (ahem) “accidentally” taken anything from a hotel?
On my recent trip to Amsterdam, I packed all the traditional mini waffles that the minibar stocked. They are my weakness when in Holland.
Favorite hotel gift shop?
Le Sirenuse, Positano, Italy.
The stamp on my passport I’m proudest of is…
I’m proud of all my stamps. Each journey has a story and something meaningful behind it. I love the stamps that I’ve received from my trips to the Olympics.
The one place I keep going back to is…
Japan. It is such a special place, because no matter how many times you have been there, every trip is a new experience. It’s a country I don’t mind getting lost in.
I’m embarrassed that I haven’t yet been to:
Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Top three places on my must-visit list:
1) Cuba. I have been dreaming about this trip for a long time.
2) A hot spring onsen journey in Japan in the spring months to see the colorful cherry blossoms. And a stop at Naoshima island to see all the Tadao Ando concrete architecture.
3) A trip on the Orient Express through Europe.
I would get on a plane for a meal at [fill in the blank].
My grandmother’s house in Sochi, Russia for the Russian-style dumplings called varenikis, or potato pancakes.
I’m always searching for the perfect [fill in the blank].
Soup dumpling restaurant in New York City.
How can we be better travelers, rather than tourists?
By spending less time attempting to capture the perfect photo and more time capturing the moment in your mind. It will last forever.
What hotel do you recommend friends stay at when they visit your home city?
Though Downtown has been booming, I wish there were more boutique hotel options in L.A. Especially on the beach. The Chateau Marmont is a classic choice, even if it’s only to get a cocktail and a plate of fries.
Best concierge or local you contact in L.A.?
My good friend Adir Abergel has incredible taste in art and furniture, so I always ask him for the current shows or exhibitions.
What’s your favorite restaurant for a low-key dinner with friends?
Uncle Boons (at the bar for their spicy lamb salad) and Cafe Mogador in New York. Or Felix in L.A.
You favorite restaurant for a special occasion?
Loulou in Paris is a very romantic setting. But my favorites are kitchen counter dining experiences: Balagan in Paris is fun; Le Bremner in Montreal was delicious.
A place that serves oat milk as a milk option. Blue Bottle coffee is very consistent, even though they’re branching out into many locations now.
I like a grapefruit Paloma and a French 75.
Best street for shopping, or favorite local shop?
Abbot Kinney in Venice [L.A.] used to be the place to shop, but has recently become very commercial. My favorite clothing shop there is Heist. Also, Bassike is a great Australian brand ten minutes’ drive away that carries wardrobe essentials for men and women.
Favorite museum (be it under-the-radar or a classic)?
The Broad in L.A. and the Noguchi Museum in New York. I haven’t been to the Frick in New York, but that’s on my to-do list. The Picasso Museum in Paris is also a beautiful architectural space.
Favorite place to hear live music?
I love speakeasies. Old Lightning in Venice [L.A.] is fun.