As a former top executive for Marriott International, Ed Fuller has traveled the world. And while he has many “favorite” destinations, Hawaii — with its “dramatic and different” islands — is his all-time No. 1 go-to spot. Fuller, 76, who was born in Richmond, Va., and lived in several states before moving to Massachusetts and settling in Attleboro when he was 13, owns a business consulting company and is an author. His latest book, with coauthor Gary Grossman (an Emerson College grad), is a thriller titled “Red Deception.” It is the second in a series based on Fuller’s experiences in global hotel security. “The book is laced with real crisis situations I dealt with when I was with Marriott and dealt with around the global marketplace,” said Fuller, a Boston University graduate. “Some, of course, are fictitious to keep the stories connected, exciting, and moving forward.” A former US Army captain, who served in Germany and Vietnam and was awarded a Bronze Star, Fuller also wrote the acclaimed how-to-achieve-business-success book “You Can’t Lead with Your Feet on the Desk.” He and his wife, Michela, live — with their poodle, Candy — in Laguna Hills, Calif. They have two adult children and two grandchildren. We caught up with Fuller to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation destination?
Hawaii. While I have traveled to 151 countries, oversaw hotel operations in 73 of them, and flew more than 14 million miles for business and pleasure, I do have favorites including Sweden, Egypt, Morocco, and Thailand. But I always came back to Hawaii. I traveled there for numerous vacations and on business, since for 28 years Hawaii was part of my work responsibilities as president of Marriott International, which happily included duties as chief operating officer for Hawaii. The islands are dramatic and different. The resorts are exceptional, and the people, their culture, and their history are truly special.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing?
My focus is on Italian and Asian cuisine — Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Shanghai, Mongolian, and Sichuan. I enjoy tea and coffee, Moscow Mules, and a good gin and tonic. As a thriller writer and a James Bond fan, I suppose I should be drinking a “martini — shaken, not stirred.” Speaking of Bond, do you know the origin of the Vesper martini? It actually comes from Ian Fleming’s “Casino Royale.” The ingredients have changed a bit over the years, but at least you’ll know the answer if it comes up on “Jeopardy.”
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t?
Well, there are still 51 countries I haven’t visited. I am not trying to get in “The Guinness Book of Records,” but it would be nice. I would like to visit Laos, take river cruises in Europe, and return to Thailand, Singapore, Japan, China, Egypt, and Hawaii.
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling?
For international travel, my passport of course. It is important to keep a photo of your passport on your phone and copies packed in your luggage.
Aisle or window?
Aisle for comfort — I have long legs — and safety. Looking out the window is nice, but what isn’t is climbing over people, which is particularly difficult in coach. Up front, there are more ways to get around, but I’m still Mr. Aisle. By the way, I flew so much on United that for a time they put my name on a plane. How cool is that?
Favorite childhood travel memory?
Our family trip to the Hawaiian Islands in 1962, as a sophomore in high school. I was 15 or 16 and I remember that trip intimately. The top two floors of the hotel we stayed in in Kauai had all of the astronaut names on them because they trained in Kauai. At the time, that was a big deal.
Guilty pleasure when traveling?
Flying Singapore Airlines — as well as Emirates and Cathay Pacific. Singapore goes beyond the other two in level of service and quality. The staff is wonderful and sanitation is 140 percent — and I can’t stress that enough. That’s a big deal for me.
Best travel tip?
Health insurance — not purchased at the airport — and credible insurance that includes coverage for evacuations. It’s so important — and more important, in fact, in this day and age. A few other tips: Make sure that your cellphone is set through your carrier to work in whatever country you’re visiting; know the location for the American Embassy in each major city you visit; notify your bank and credit card companies that you’ll be traveling and make sure you have adequate spending limits to cover all expenses. Also, in certain countries, beware that you may be photographed or recorded in hotels — including in your hotel room. I write thrillers, but many of my real-life experiences run through “Red Deception” and other books in the series. I can tell you from years on the road — from Moscow to Beijing and many places in between — you won’t always see all the cameras that see you.