Departure from the norm

April 14, 2011 - | QMI Agency

It’s all a pleasure trip for travel company founder

Gap Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip.By Marcy Cornblum, Special to QMI Agency

An old saying goes: The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

For Bruce Poon Tip, the first step was moving from his native Trinidad to Calgary, where his family “struggled with making a new life in a new and very cold country.”

In 1990, Poon Tip says, “I went backpacking and was inspired to change the way people looked at their holiday time.” He founded Gap Adventures that year, financing the venture on two of his own credit cards.

Today, Gap has 1,000 employees and offices in 17 countries, priding itself on its authentic cultural experiences and sustainable practices. It is consistently ranked among the top 100 employers and 50 best-managed companies in Canada.

Poon Tip has been recognized in Canada as a Top 40 Under 40, as an Entrepreneur of the Year and as one of the 100 Leaders of Tomorrow.

“I get paid to change people’s lives,” he says. “I get to crate happiness and community with my work.”

Where’s he off to next? Diving with sharks in the Philippines and, if possible, snowboarding in Japan.

Poon Tip invited Star Spaces into his home.

Q: How would you describe your home in a few words?

A: My fortress of solitude.

Q: Tell us about your home.

A: Our house is 5,200 square feet and is located in the Lawrence Park area [of Toronto]. It is two years old.

Q: Who shares your home?

A: My wife and two daughters. [Also] our nanny thinks we have a ghost!

Q: What attracted you to this space?

A: The use of open space and the reclaimed wood floors. The energy from the moment we walked in consumed us.

Q: What is your favourite room and why?

A: My office. It is uniquely located in the middle of our living apace. I designed it to be a peaceful, quiet place that allows me to escape everything when I need to focus. The desk that’s in the room took two years to be shipped from northern Pakistan.

Q: How would you describe your decorating style?

A: Very clean, simple lines and earthy but exotic. The walls are natural beiges and browns. There is a muted yellow rug in the living room from Nepal. The sofas are beige and covered with red pillows. On one entire wall there is a massive painting done by a former employee of mine, Michael Brown.

On my travels I buy one major item, not knick-knacks. In Mongolia I purchased a greeting sign from a monastery; it now hangs in the living room. In the kitchen there is an interesting table and chairs I bought in India; it is hand-carved and made with brass.

Q: What is your fondest memory in this home?

A: My fondest memories revolve around my family sharing special times together and playing games, completing a puzzle or watching Planet Earth together over a weekend.

Q: What’s the one item in this house you can’t live without?

A: My bed! I travel a lot and spend way too many nights in hotels with horrible beds. I always tell people: never get cheap when buying a bed! When I arrive home, it is a feeling that’s hard to explain. You can’t pay for familiarity – even in the most luxurious hotels.

Q: Weekends at home, what are we most likely to find you doing?

A: Cooking. The kitchen is the heart of our home, and the weekend is the only opportunity I get to take time to plan a menu. The girls like to help. The weekend is the time to come together as a family and enjoy the fruits of our labour. The most connected times in our house happen around the dinner table.

Q: If your walls could talk, what would they say?

A: “A house is not a home without the love of a family, the warmth of togetherness and the happiness generated from getting that balance right.”

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At the home of Bruce Poon Tip, founder of Gap Adventures. (photo: jordanprussky.com)

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