After cutting his teeth working for revered culinary icon Alice Waters, over the past decade, David Prior has travelled the globe relentlessly. As a writer and editor, he has produced travel feature stories in every continent, for titles such as Condé Nast Traveler, New York Times and Vogue Living and so. many. more.
David doesn’t skim the surface – he gets amongst it. In any new region, he starts by patiently walking the streets, quietly confident that the city’s secrets will reveal themselves. And sure enough, by some mysterious innate talent, in every new city he manages to uncover the most interesting people and unique stories, allowing for rich, authentic editorial content produced the old fashioned way – by pounding the pavement in earnest.
Early next year, David will put these skills to good use – with the launch of a truly unique new project in the travel design arena. ‘I’ve been waiting for years for the right moment to do something on my own’ David explains. ‘The timing was never right, but most importantly I didn’t feel entirely ready. I am now.’ We believe it!
Prior Knowledge Travel is a membership-based ‘travel society’ that will launch alongside a not-for-profit arm, with a focus on highlighting and preserving culture, rather than trampling on it.
The idea had rolled around in David’s head for some time, before finally coming to fruition this year. ‘What would it be to make my editorial stories truly come to life, by designing experiences for people and having them take part in moments that are so rare and often inaccessible without the right context or contacts?’ he wondered.
So, he created a truly once-in-a-lifetime trip in India – a ‘test trip’ of sorts. Over twenty-three days, David’s group took over entire small hotels, where he styled the rooms, arranged special sittings with artists and artisans, designed menus, erected pink tents on lawns surrounded by peacocks in Jaipur, and sent one thousand candles down the Narmada river! ‘ These are the sorts of moments that I have always created for shoots, but it was another thing all together to ‘design the experience’ for people in real time and real life’ David admits. Luckily for us, he took Gentl + Hyers Photography along, capturing over 1,000 of the most incredible images documenting this once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Of course, it was huge success. David has since funded a full roll-out of this ambitious venture, with the support of his dream partner, Overture Holdings (of Noma fame). ‘Overture shared my view on where luxury travel is headed – and that is to get beneath the surface of a place, to celebrate what is endemic and elevate that to the next level, to provide access and real discernment when everything is Googleable but also bamboozling’ he explains (it’s so hard to edit his words, because David is so damn quotable!). Next year the project will launch in earnest, with three tours scheduled in early 2018. (full details on those itineraries are here).
‘I believe there’s a version of virtuous globalization we can shape, where we don’t destroy culture and beauty, but support it’ David explains. A percentage of the company’s revenue will facilitate local micro-grants in the regions his tours visit.
Meanwhile, the travel design component will curate individual and group itineraries that focus on culture and truly ‘ungoogleable’ (!!) experiences, providing access to special one-off experiences and meetings with artisans, academics, and even royalty!
‘There’s something to be said about 10 years on the road…’ David muses, philosophically. ‘I have an intimate knowledge of countless destinations around the world, and a network that has allowed me to create cover-story moments in so many of my favorite countries. To be able to now provide that same access and design those moments to curious travelers is really a thrilling thing for me. We need to travel now more than ever.’
Membership for Prior Knowledge is by invitation – register your interest now.
Maheshwar. Photo – Gentl + Hyers Photography.
Devil Ghar, Udaipur. Photo – Gentl + Hyers Photography.
Flower market, Jaipur. Photo – Gentl + Hyers Photography.
City Palace, Udaipur. Photo – Gentl + Hyers Photography.
City Palace, Jaipur. Photo – Gentl + Hyers Photography.
Amber Fort, Jaipur. Photo – Gentl + Hyers Photography.
Gem Palace, Jaipur. Photo – Gentl + Hyers Photography.
Girls near the Nagda Temple Sahastra Baahu, Udaipur. Photo – Gentl + Hyers Photography.
At Ahilya Fort, Maheshwar. Photo – Gentl + Hyers Photography.
Taken at Ahilya Fort, Maheshwar. Photo – Gentl + Hyers Photography.
Man and camel, Mandu. Photo – Gentl + Hyers Photography.
Members of the first trip in Mandu. Photo – Gentl + Hyers Photography.
Shepherd girl in Mandu. Photo – Gentl + Hyers Photography.