A Former NBA All-Star’s guide to penthouses and private jet etiquette

We all love to travel, and when we can again, we want to make sure we are doing it right. So we are talking to globe-trotters in all of our luxury fields — food, wine, fashion, cars and real estate — to learn about their high-end hacks, time-saving tips and off-the-wall experiences. 

Amar’e Stoudemire, 38, is a six-time NBA All Star basketball player and alum of four major teams who has worked as a coach since retiring. He has also dabbled in acting, fashion design, connecting the art and sports worlds, writing children’s books, and now, his own line of wine.

The first batch of bottles were produced in partnership with a winery in Israel. Stoudemire has recently expanded stateside via a partnership with two Herzog Cellars wineries in Paso Robles, California to produce Origin from 2018 cabernet sauvignon grapes.

He also owns a 185-acre farm in New York’s Dutchess County, Stoudemire Farms, which will begin selling its pasture-raised Black Angus steaks at Manhattan’s Union Square Greenmarket next month. Before the pandemic, the New Yorkbased entrepreneur logged some 50,000 miles per year, flying either American Airlines or privately with XOJets, which is co-owned by a friend.

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Every time he packs, Amar’e saves room for the spiritual and the practical

I always pack my antique gold menorah (the Hebrew word for lamp). I bought it in Jerusalem, and it’s kind of a small, travel-sized one. It helps the aesthetic of my room whenever I get to my location. It started when I played in the NBA. I always had the menorah inside of my locker with a few books that I would read before I start the game, so it kind of helped me Zen [out] and relax before I went into a battle against another NBA team. When I started playing overseas, I started taking it with me to road games and then when I traveled to different countries in the offseason.

It’s traveled with me to multiple countries and is always on display, wherever I am staying, to remind me of the strength that can be found in struggle. This helps me endure anything. It shows up as a dark spot on the X-ray at the airport, but it’s not sharp, like a weapon — it has round edges. [Transportation Security Administration agents] will ask, “Are you traveling with jewelry?” and I’m like, “No, just my menorah.” 

First time flying private?

You sure do not want to be the guy that spills red wine on those seats — because they’re very, very nice and plush. The carpet could be cream. White wine is great, and rosé is fine, but you might want to put the red wine aside until you get to your destination. However delicious it is, save it for dinner when you land. If you’re flying private with others, and you’re a guest, for sure, you will also want to wait until the host boards before boarding yourself.

See: The road ahead for travel, according to Hilton’s vice-president of operations in Southeast Asia, Paul Hutton

This often-overlooked corner of Italy is one of his happy places

My first trip to Treviso was when I was playing for the Phoenix Suns, and we had training camp in Italy. We stayed there. It’s unfair that it’s so off the radar [for many people]. It’s a beautiful wine country. Most of the time, I was the only guy going to the vineyards, because a lot of the guys don’t enjoy the things that I enjoy. I would pack my journal and some reading material and do some wine tasting.

Two vineyards I loved were Fioravanti Onesti and San Gregorio in Valdobbiadene. The restaurants [in the area] are simply amazing.

Here, in the States, we make a big deal about calling restaurants farm-to-table, but in Treviso, that is the only way the chefs create their menus, and you’re getting the true flavours of the land around you. Fall in Treviso means colorful radicchios, for example. It’s peaceful, it’s quiet, it’s relaxing. You can truly find yourself and just enjoy nature and drink the wines and enjoy

Too tall for your airplane seat?

If the seat is smaller than what you expect or what you want — and being over two metres tall, you for sure have a lot of shortage in your seat [even in business- or first-class]. You have to take it upon yourself to make yourself as comfortable as possible to overcome the uncomfortable seat. So on a long flight, you’ll want to snuggle and go for the [lay-flat seat] option as quickly as possible. You can take the side angle and kind of bend your legs a bit, and you’ll get yourself nice and bundled in there. Put on your [pajamas], wear the slippers they give you. 

See also: The turning point for travel, according to Mieke de Schepper, managing director (Asia Pacific) of Amadeus

Ready to splurge on the penthouse suite?

Le Meurice in Paris was the most extravagant hotel I’ve been in. The room I stayed in was the penthouse that JAY Z and Beyoncé normally rent out. It’s a beautiful penthouse because you’re overlooking all the rooftops — in Paris, you can’t build [new construction] over a certain height. You’re seeing the entire city. And you know how grand and gorgeous Paris is, and so it’s like one of those moments. That’s when you want the penthouse, when you’re in a city that isn’t high-rise, so you’ll be looking out at everything, not someone’s office space across the way

The one souvenir worth shipping home

I’m an art collector, and that’s what I buy as souvenirs. Whenever I see a beautiful painting, I’ll for sure look to invest in that and ship that back with me. It’s beautiful to see the different cultures [via their] art. It pauses that time in history for you.

My favorite purchase is a sculpture: It is two-feet wide and about a foot-anda-half long, and it’s made from iron, of a lion’s head. It weighs about 15 pounds, and it’s very, very detailed. I bought that in Johannesburg. There are lions roaming the entire South Africa, where if you go on a safari there — which I have before, near Cape Town — [you] see the lions just out in the open, enjoying life.

His favorite tropical getaway

The Canary Islands is beautiful because it is so tropical — a tropical rainforest type of set-up. There are so many colours, and it is off the coast of Africa. I stayed at the Iberostar Heritage Grand Mancey right across from one of the major parks in Tenerife [the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, off West Africa]. I loved experiencing the park, Parque Garcia Sanabria. I was there for work because I played in the EuroLeague, and we had a game there. I was able to enjoy the atmosphere of both the city and the fans.