Q&A: Jillian Harris

The reality TV darling spills open her suitcase


She may have looked for—and lost—love on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, but Alberta-born Jillian Harris is back.

Get ready to see more of the 33-year-old Canadian interior designer and TV personality this winter when she co-hosts a new spinoff of Love It or List It. Riffing off the W Network series starring Hilary Farr and real estate agent David Visentin, Love It or List It Vancouver will feature families coping with homes that no longer meet their needs. Harris, who gained experience by working on home-design shows such as Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, will give homeowners a design in hopes of convincing them to stay put. Meanwhile, the design challenge will happen when Harris squares off with a real estate agent intent on getting the homeowners to relocate to a new property.

But ages before the Kelowna, B.C., resident became a TV celeb, she was an avid traveller who spent numerous holidays in Hawaii. We caught up with Harris as she dished about her travels, her must-have items and her latest love . . . Maui.

Where did you travel when you were on The Bachelorette?

It was such a whirlwind. I was running on little sleep and always on film. I didn’t organize the trips so I hardly had time to say, “Oh my god, look where we are!”

But I do remember our times in Vancouver, Banff, L.A., Spain and Hawaii. Seville in Spain was so beautiful. The architecture was so ancient—all black, dark and dirty. It was just something I’d never ever seen before.

Other highlights were a trip up Grouse Mountain and kayaking around Granville Island in Vancouver. We also went snowmobiling near Whistler and travelled on the Rocky Mountaineer through the Rocky Mountains.

What was one of your favourite trips on The Bachelorette?

The four hours we spent walking on the Pemberton Glacier, near Whistler. Also, when Ed [Swiderski] and I were engaged, they left us alone for a week on [Hawaii’s] Big Island. We stayed in a beautiful plantation-style house with an infinity pool.

You seem to really love Hawaii. Tell us about your new home.

It’s funny that my parents and I just bought a place together in Maui because I’m more of a woodsy kind of girl. I actually prefer cold to hot. But we’ve all been going to Maui since I was a little girl and so we’ve fallen in love with the people.

What do you do in Maui?

I learned to surf in Tofino eight years ago, but I’ve always been scared to try it in Maui where the coral is so sharp. But recently I tried it, and now I can’t get enough of that warm water. I also like cliff jumping off Black Rock.

What are your favourite Maui restaurants?

I love Mala Ocean Tavern (Lahaina; malaoceantavern.com), where they serve whole fried fish. Then there’s a place called Merriman’s Kapalua (Lahaina; merrimanshawaii.com) that not only has amazing food, but a massive patio and firepit. And the other place I go to is the South Shore Tiki Lounge (Kihei; southshoretikilounge.com). That’s got a great outdoor patio space.

What do you look for in a holiday destination?

Character and a local vibe. Maui reminds me of a tropical Tofino. And I love Tofino.

But I also adored Seville, Amsterdam and Galway in Ireland. Places that have gritty little restaurants and pubs and places that are loaded with stories and history—that’s my criteria.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I really want to go to Greece. We all know it’s hot and it’s beautiful, but I think I’d love the textiles and textures.

Are there any travel essentials that you have?

Frye boots, because they’re so comfy and can get paired with any outfit. Plus, they last forever.

I always pack two beauty essentials: Caudalie Beauty Elixer and Clarins Beauty Flash Balm. I find my skin gets so dry when I’m on the road—these two hydrators save it.

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