One decision can change your life. For Devorah Walker, that life-altering moment came when the top-tier investment bank she had worked with for four and a half years decided to uproot from its New York City base.
“They decided to relocate the entire department to Delaware and didn’t want to sponsor any relocations, so I decided to resign,” the NYC native by way of Coney Island Brooklyn recalled.
Walker turned her attention to nurturing another passion that had carried her through some tough times in her life — travel.
“I ended a seven-year relationship and lost the matriarch of my family. In desperation for a change of scenery, I went to Miami, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic back to back. These were fun experiences, but it wasn’t until I went to Thailand in 2016 and experienced a different culture and way of life that I realized I was bitten by the travel bug.”
Besides vibrant photos of stunning scenery and drool-worthy dishes, her IG feed is filled with reviews, recommendations, and pro-tips accumulated throughout her trips. Over 40 countries later, Walker is carving out her own niche in the travel influencer industry.
Travel Noire spoke to Walker about her quest to change the face of luxury travel to be more inclusive.
How do you define luxury travel?
“I define luxury travel by experiencing the best of the best while on vacation. I try my best to experience the best accommodations, food, excursions, etc. Over the years I’ve learned that this does not always mean breaking the bank.”
Why the decision to focus on luxury travel?
“I started to notice that I didn’t see enough Black people in the luxury travel space or overall staying at luxury hotels. When I visited a few, I would notice myself and whoever I was with were the only Black people there that weren’t employees. I would be lucky if I saw two other Black people or groups as guests. For example, I just stayed at the Grand Hyatt in Colorado in December and the only other Black person I saw was part of the cleaning staff. Not to mention the strange “what is SHE doing here?” looks I would get from white guests. Once I saw that the space was lacking people of color, I decided to figure out a way to showcase myself on luxury properties so that people can see that Black people can travel luxuriously.”
What are some of the misconceptions people might have about luxury travel?
“Most people think that luxury travel is extremely expensive and this isn’t always the case. I have found plenty of great deals on luxury properties, some as cheap as $100/night at places like the Mondrian Hotel in Miami. My biggest pet peeve is when people ask me “How do you afford to stay in places like this?” Almost as if people are shocked that I am there. It bothers me because I’m almost certain that if I was a 33-year-old white man instead of a 33-year-old Black woman, I wouldn’t get this question. So my motto is “If you wouldn’t ask a white man, don’t ask the Black woman.”
How have you managed to change the traditional face of luxury travel?
“As a travel blogger, I have been lucky enough to land sponsorships with luxury properties such as The Four Seasons as well as other luxury boutique hotels. Prior to this, I saved up for it by either using points on my American Express Platinum Card or by splitting my stay between a luxury property and a lower-end property (Ex: Two nights at a 5-star hotel and two nights at a 3-star hotel). By creating content on these properties, I have been helping others find deals on luxury properties. The goal is to have more of us visiting, so there are no weird stares when we visit because it will be the norm for us, the way it is for them.”
Can you share some tips or steps for others who want to experience luxury travel? Especially for those who may not have a large budget.
“For those that cannot typically afford to stay in luxury hotels, this isn’t an issue. Many hotels have loyalty programs and credit cards where if you sign up and spend a certain amount (sometimes as small as $1), you can get a sign-up bonus which can easily be a free stay. I also recommend mixing your accommodations as highlighted above by staying in a luxury property for one to two nights and the rest of your stay in a more affordable property. If you can’t afford to stay in a luxury property at all, many of them offer day passes for as low as $40-$60 where you can enjoy the pool area, spa, etc. Another option is making a dinner or brunch reservation at a luxury hotel. Since most of them have restaurants available to the public, it’s easy to have a meal here and soak in the luxury vibes. I did this at Viceroy and Las Ventanas in Cabo, Mexico.”
What’s next for you personally? Do you see yourself staying in NYC permanently or eventually moving to another country for a while?
“The last 11 months have been very depressing for New Yorkers. My heart hurts for the hospitality industry specifically because they seem to have been hit the hardest. My original plan was to move to Bali last year but since that won’t happen any time soon due to travel restrictions, I am looking to move to Miami. It’s always been one of my favorite U.S. cities and I always feel like I belong when I visit. As a content creator, I’m focusing on mainly domestic travel and road trips over the next few months as well as lifestyle content. I will resume international travel around the summer of this year.”
Learn all the tips and tricks from Dev’s treasure trove of information on Instagram.