“It doesn’t matter if you’re falling – you’re still moving forwards…”

Since he started the YOO group in the 1990s, Chairman and cofounder John Hitchcox has handled some seriously ambitious projects – with varying degrees of success.

Kate moss, Jade Jagger, Kelly Hoppen… They’re just some of the names who have collaborated on design with the hotel group that John Hitchcox cofounded. In fact, YOOis the world’s largest residential design and development brand, so it’s no surprise they were keen to get on board. Hitchcox set up the London-based company with design guru Philippe Starck in the late 1990s and has since built a reputation on delivering hugely ambitious projects – the latest being the Yoo2 Rio hotel and resort – though he’s had a few ups and downs along the way…

Trust in your abilities “When I came out of school, I didn’t go straight to university. Because of that, I felt insecure and wasn’t sure if other people would believe in what I was doing. But everything we do at YOO is stuff that I like and I’ve learned that I can do nothing more than hope other people like it too.”

Technology is an enabler “I often operate from a bicycle. I’ll have a headset on, and make calls while I’m out and about. You’ll also find me answering email while travelling or on the phone in a queue for a flight. It’s just how my life is and I embrace it.”

Work/life balance – what’s that? “Similarly, I make no distinction between work and free time. I do what I want or need to do when I want or need to do it. It’s a luxury, in a way.”

Keep getting up “If you run a business with a sense of adventure and purpose, you’ll stumble from time to time. Back in the 80s, it was a very fast-moving market and we were buying and selling property, then all of a sudden the music would stop and we’d lose everything. It’s how business goes. You dust yourself off and go out again.”

Use opportunities “I once made a really big life decision when a flight was cancelled: I turned up at JFK for my flight from New York to find that we’d been snowed in. I was at a crossroads in my life and suddenly I had this time to think about what I really wanted to do – and here I am today.”

Get out and explore “Cycling’s a really good way to see a city. When I’m travelling, I usually arrive a day early and just head out on a bike. It gives you a good idea of how the place fi ts together and you see all the different city stories from all sorts of angles.”

Give something back “I was on holiday in the Aolian Islands in Italy last summer and got an email asking me to sponsor a bike ride to raise funds for the Blue Marine Foundation. It’s a charity that aims to create marine reserves in places such as, yes, the Aeolians. More unbelievably, my next email said a project launch on the bike-ride dates had been cancelled. So, I did it and am proud to say I’ve been made an ambassador of the charity.”

Roll with the punches “Life is stressful, but you have to find the beauty and wonder in what you’re doing. Otherwise, what’s the point of even trying? Enjoy it. Give it all you’ve got.”

Listen properly “One time, I was at a function and quickly introduced to a woman called Lillian. I took it upon myself to introduce her to the rest of the room. ‘No, no,’ she said. ‘Lulu.’ Yep – the Lulu.”

Work with the best “I’m not an architect and I’m very lucky that Philippe Starck is my partner. We’ve also brought in experts from all sorts of different fields. When you can put all that experience and influence on the table, you can create places that really work and that people really want to stay in.”

This interview was carried out by SIM7’s Simeon de la Torre and first appeared in easyJet Traveller magazine. To read the latest issue (and the entire back catalogue of magazines), visit: https://ink-global.com/our-clients/portfolio/easyjet-traveller/