The fine art of tea

Laura Lovett meets the glamorous tastemakers behind luxury brand Lotusier – a trio of working mothers who are old friends

, and who work, rest and play at The Lanesborough and its stunning spa.

The Lotusier team with their children: Åsa Eriksson-Ahuja (left), Teodora Filipovic Silva (middle), and Melanie Pansolli Chang (right)

 

Why do you love The Lanesborough?

Not everyone uses the spa of a luxury hotel to take business calls and have creative brainstorms, but then again, the long-term friends and colleagues behind the Lotusier brand are, by nature, luxury lovers. “We use it as an extended office-slash-club,” says Åsa Eriksson-Ahuja of The Lanesborough in London, and more specifically its stunning 18,000 sq ft Club & Spa. “We meet there privately and socially. We use the gym, go to classes or to the spa to pamper ourselves. But we also use it as a venue for one-to-one meetings and product launches and so on.” The hotel is just a stone’s throw from Lotusier’s interior design headquarters and as such, it has become a “second home” for the team, which includes Melanie Pansolli Chang and Teodora Filipovic Silva. “We love the sense of continuity and loyalty we feel there – some of the staff have been there since it originally opened in 1991,” says Filipovic Silva. “It’s a great place for relaxing in privacy and with a beautifully calm ambience.”

If you could create anything, what would it be?

The tea humidor, which is now a focus for Lotusier, is a true labour of love, developed by Eriksson-Ahuja after she discovered that her husband found it difficult to keep his collection of fine teas fresh while travelling. Unable to find a product that would solve this problem, she decided to create her own, and commissioned a team of world-renowned jewellery box and crystal artisans to construct a truly one-of-a-kind gift. “There had never been one before quite like it,” she says. Now, after four years in design and development and with two international patents pending, it is in itself as rare as many of the teas it is designed to preserve and protect.

You’re based in London; what do you enjoy most about the city?

“We love the energy and vibrant atmosphere in London,” says Filipovic Silva. “It’s a wonderfully diverse and multicultural city, with so much choice and an inexhaustible range of things to do and places to visit, from amazing eateries to eye-opening architecture.” The trio are fully in agreement that “it is undoubtedly one of the best cities in the world to live in.”

When you travel, what do you look for in a great hotel?

For women whose professional life is concerned with design and craftsmanship, switching off that well-trained eye must be difficult. “We find inspiration everywhere,” says Eriksson- Ahuja. “We look for tasteful furnishings, with an attention to detail and a sense of elegance and comfort. A generous dose of style is always welcome, and attentive and intuitive service is key.” They also look for memorable cuisine and great facilities, such as gyms and spas, and while each has her own training regime and preferences for Pilates, boot camp and hydro pool, they admit, “We’re all quite fond of a massage!”

What essentials do you always pack when you travel?

“Naturally, we always have a tea humidor so we can take our own teas with us,” they laugh. “We’re all such tea fusspots!” Lotusier have even created a special suitcase
for the humidor, so that tea connoisseurs can take their collections with them wherever they go. Plus, of course, their own luggage is invariably packed with the paraphernalia of parenting, from water-wings to colouring books, beach toys to SPF 50 sun creams. “We are mummies first and foremost, and entrepreneurs, sun-worshippers and culture vultures only as a distant second,” says Eriksson-Ahuja.

Which are your favourite Oetker Collection properties?

“We’ve often held meetings at Le Bristol in Paris,” says Pansolli Chang. “I love its location in the centre of fashionable Paris, the leafy outdoor setting and charming fountains. The Café Antonia there has the best vegetarian club sandwiches that we’ve ever eaten, anywhere!, Eriksson-Ahuja enthuses. “I love the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc’s Gatsby-esque French Riviera feel. With its lush, beautifully kept gardens and its breathtaking views of the Mediterranean, the whole estate seems to be sprinkled with the glamour of a bygone era.” The Château Saint-Martin & Spa in Vence is also a favourite since the team took an excursion there. “The panoramic
view, complete with lush undulating hills and plentiful olive plantations, looms large in our memory,” says Filipovic Silva. “We were enthralled exploring the charms of this grand country residence – and unobtrusive service and excellent local produce were part-and-parcel of the experience.”

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