Hi, my name’s Quinn Russell. I’m a Bahamian American architectural designer and the founder of a luxury travel and design blog, Traveller’s Bazaar. My content highlights the world’s best hotels, architectural, cultural and natural sights of interest. I document my experiences through videography, photography and written blog posts.
I was born in St. Paul, MN but moved to the Bahamas at the age of two months. Imagine that, my first international flight took place when I was a newborn. My mom had quite an ordeal with me! To understand why I began blogging and practicing architecture, we have to go back to the days of my island upbringing. Growing up on the beautiful island of Grand Bahama during the 90’s shaped so much of my career today, even the very name of my travel brand owes its heritage to those days. Grand Bahama during its development heyday (50s – 80s) was a glamorous resort town. Hollywood’s jet-set of the era such as Frank Sinatra, the Rat Pack, Dean Martin, Cary Grant, Lucille Ball, and Howard Hughes frequented the island, which is 60 miles and 30 minutes flying-time east of West Palm Beach. Hughes even owned the Xanadu Beach Resort & Marina, one of the most celebrated Caribbean hotels of its time. Hughes was a recluse to the penthouse for many years, the hotel is located just across a canal and marina from my home!
I grew up during the tail-end of this fascinating era where hotel’s defined the social nature and cultural calendar of the island. During my early childhood years, I spent almost every afternoon and weekends at one hotel in particular, the Bahamas Princess Resort & Casino. I played tennis at the hotel, so this was part of the reason why I was there daily. As a child this was a fantastical place to be exposed to, there were Balinese style gardens to explore, Mogul Empire inspired architecture to observe, a cosmopolitan crowd of travellers, Tahitian luaus, Bahamian cultural shows, and a shopping zone called the International Bazaar. Known simply as ‘The Bazaar’, it was my favorite place on earth at the time, and to this day holds a special place in my heart.
In the mornings I was ripping and running around with my brothers and friends in India, later we’d have lunch in Switzerland or Hong Kong and by the afternoon we were window shopping the streets of Paris and “getting lost” somewhere within the countries of Africa!
The Bazaar was divided into districts representing different countries and continents of the globe; think Epcot, but scaled down. In the mornings I was ripping and running around with my brothers and friends in India, later we’d have lunch in Switzerland or Hong Kong and by the afternoon we were window shopping the streets of Paris and “getting lost” somewhere within the countries of Africa! What was so amazing about the Bazaar is its architecture and products being sold within the shoppes were authentic to each destination. When it first opened, many years before I was born, they hired persons from the differing destinations to work in the shoppes. Sadly, many hurricanes have devastated the island, multiple changes in hotel management and property owners, and to add a political mismanagement of the entire island, Grand Bahama has suffered and gone are those days of inspired hospitality. However I don’t want to paint a tragic image of my island, change is always necessary and new young developers, thinkers, professionals, and artists like myself have ventured away for now, but we are committed to coming back when the timing is right to build and add onto the culture.
It’s clear to see, so much of my blogging and architecture career is intrinsic to the nature of my youth. Fast-forward to college and the age of social media, Google Search, and Google Earth/Maps, I found myself constantly sharing images and videos (not my own) from around the globe. I knew of places, spaces, peoples, and even whole road network systems (Dubai) before I had ever visited! I was constantly ‘exploring’ the world through Google Earth, visioning my exploits abroad, and using ‘Street-view’ to get a sense of a place. I was obsessed with everything travel-related!
In architecture, you study so many great societies and eras through the lens of design, during my free time I would travel the web seeking out knowledge on these topics in depth. I couldn’t contain my passion. I would talk to just about anyone willing to hear of the great things being built in Dubai, the mystical qualities of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, the ‘lost-world’ temples of Bali, the Neo-futuristic exploits of Santiago Calatrava being built throughout Spain, and the list goes on! As cliche as it sounds, I had an aha-moment one November night in 2010. A spark of creativity blew, I was sleeping and jumped out of my bed and began writing; the ideas and plans flowed. I decided to place my knowledge of world travel and architecture into a digital bazaar, a place where I would collect and share my travel experiences to a global audience. Another component I excitedly incorporated was hospitality blogging. A great hotel can make a wonderful trip the experience of a lifetime. Everything was coming full circle; my love for hotels and architecture formally merging into one creative space.
It would be two years before I blogged my own original content, however I had created a platform and was sharing inspired posts. The beautiful thing about the web is someone is always watching. Use it to your advantage. L’Hotel du Collectionneur Arc de Triomphe, a hotel just steps from its namesake in Paris was watching, and reached out to me in the spring of 2013 to review two of their properties on the blog! This sparked another aha-moment; I needed to be proactive and treat blogging as a business, to reach out to brands and share their offerings to my audience. Since then, that has been my practice and has allowed me to travel some 20% of the globe, reviewing hotels in Monaco, St. Tropez, Miami, Bali, Dubai, Singapore, and more.
Reaching out to brands, you have to always be prepared for constant rejection, but there are those golden moments where opportunities do arise. I continue to grow my audience, blogging my experiences through TravellersBazaar.com and its social channels on Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter. I’ve grown from sharing my content with family and friends to a global audience on YouTube, who have viewed my travel videos some 384k times, and on Instagram to an audience of 5,250 followers with a total of comments and likes received: 9k – 199k. My blog sees 18k yearly visitors who generate 22k pageviews, some of my proudest moments were being featured in Essence Magazine Online & Ebony Magazine Online as a go-to luxury travel blog, helping people of color plan their trips of a lifetime. I hope to continue blogging the world over, inspiring people to explore, stop and experience the globe as it relates to architecture. So much of why we travel is to see a monument, a building, or a place that holds certain value and moves us to fly several thousand miles to see it; architecture is life and I passionately document and share it in within my Bazaar.