In 24 Hours

In 24 Hours: Meet James Williams, host of CNN's new travel series

Maureen O'Hare, CNNPublished 7th December 2015
(CNN) — If you had just one day to spend in New York, Berlin or Hong Kong, what would you do?
CNN International's new 30-minute travel series "In 24 Hours" answers just that.
Each month host James Williams explores a vibrant world capital to experience a perfect day's downtime, from morning until after hours.
A veteran "CNN Business Traveller" producer and reporter, Australian-born Williams -- who's lived and reported in locations around the world -- brings a wealth of experience, energy and, most importantly, keen insight into uncovering the best each city has to offer.
From scoring VIP backstage tickets for a Broadway opening to having a bespoke suit personally crafted by the finest Hong Kong tailors, Williams gets to the bottom of each city by starting at the top.
All in record time.
When travelers can look up anything online, why do we still need a series like "In 24 Hours"?
Williams: Anyone can go on Google and look up a new bar, a new restaurant, a new whatever.
That's not a unique experience.
This show is about finding those sort of gems that you can't just search for online: that are new, that are different, that you can't just Google.
We find those experiences for the viewer.
You'll be meeting celebrities like Andrew Lloyd Webber and Anthony Bourdain. What insights can they offer?
Williams: These people are the ultimate insiders.
They're at the heart of what's hot and what's new and the places that you need to try right now.
Getting access to these people allows us to get the insider information that you'd never just pick up yourself from a guidebook.
Have you uncovered any treasures you wish you'd known about earlier?
Williams: Track 61 in New York was fascinating.
It's a private underground railway platform connected to Grand Central Terminal.
Very few people know it's there, it's hidden under one of the world's great hotels, and it's used by presidents of the United States.
FDR's train car is still sitting under the Waldorf Astoria Hotel 70 years later.
You'll be trying out some incredible luxury experiences. If money were no object, what would you do again and again?
Williams: Blade is a new U.S. service that works like Uber for helicopters.
It gets you from New York's JFK to Midtown Manhattan in six minutes, compared to an hour or an hour and a half by taxi.
That's the great value.
The thing that the discerning traveler is lacking is time and that's what Blade offers.
If money was of no relevance, that's one service that it'd be great to never have to live without.
In the era of globalization, was it hard to still find a city's unique experiences?
Williams: No, not at all.
Each of the cities and experiences we're finding speak to the city itself.
What's difficult is getting the insider knowledge, finding out what discerning travelers are doing.
We're tapping into networks to find the right people, to get you the right information, to get that insider access.
What are some global trends for the 2016 traveler?
Williams: Today it's all about the experience.
There are a million new bars, there are a million new restaurants, a million new theater shows that open each week around the world.
Anyone can do those.
It's really about the experience that nobody else gets to have, the location no one else knows about.
It's not just about going out to dinner and going to the theater then to a bar.
It's about finding something no one else knows about and having a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
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