Date Visited: March 3, 2012
Eileen Chiang is a photographer and creative director whose penchant for documenting charming, offbeat experiences in faraway places often lands her right in front of the exotic glow of a computer screen. After spending nearly a decade branding and launching successful hospitality brands for a boutique hotel group based in Manhattan, Eileen now runs her own studio providing holistic branding services to hotel clients in emerging markets. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her fly fishing obsessed husband and a piggish Boston Terrier. Her work can be seen on www.eileenchiang.com.
What was your favorite thing about Ka'ana?
I love the people. The owners and staff are simply some of the most kind and caring people I have met in this industry. From the moment you enter Ka'ana, you can tell the place is a labor of love accessorized with excellent food and thoughtful service. My favorite touch is the midnight snack. The staff leaves a treat in your fridge while you are out. It's such a lovely surprise to find the delicious nibble after a long day of exploring the Mayan landscape. Oh, and the rooms aren't too shabby either.
What was your most memorable experience?
I think my most memorable experience was when we ran late covering Lamanai, and we had to navigate a speedboat in croc-infested water in total darkness. Our friend Max graciously volunteered to strap on a headlamp and lay on the bow of the boat to be our guiding light while we held down his legs during the speedy sharp turns so he wouldn't fly off and become a midnight snack to the crocs.
Also, shooting out of a doorless helicopter while our 65-year-old pilot was doing serious arial stunts so we could catch good shots of the speeding airboat was pretty memorable too. Then there was that time we foolishly hiked the ATM caves without food or water and a ton of water-sensitive camera equipment...
What do you love most about your job?
As a photographer and designer working in the hospitality industry, I get to travel a lot and meet some truly great people. I love listening to their stories and seeing their hard work pay off in ways that benefit others around them. I also learned to become tougher and more open at the same time on these solo work trips. I find that if you are ready to listen, people will gladly share their stories and in turn teach you things that are priceless.