Ann St. Hilaire
New York, New York Travel Agent
My Life in Travel
Some people search their whole lives to find a career they can be passionate about. My very first summer job as a high school student was working in travel agency, and that set me on the path to where I am today.
On the way, I spent twenty years running the travel department for a large media and entertainment company. I planned their events at the Cannes Film Festival, New Orleans Jazz Festival and other big events around the world, chartering planes, making VIP arrangements for executives, and arranging high-level conferences and meetings. It was exciting, but it wasn’t my true passion.
What I really love is traveling, encountering different cultures and then sharing what I’ve experienced as I plan trips for my clients. Since I joined Protravel Interntaional—the country's leading luxury travel agency—in 2002, that has been my focus.
If you’re looking for a trip filled with exotic experiences that take you to the heart of a culture, you’re the kind of traveler I want to work with.
I pride myself on being able to create complex itineraries that minimize the hassles of being in transit and maximize your time in each place you visit. Often what looks like a short hop on a map involves long layovers and lots of time changing planes, so especially when going to off-the-grid places, it’s important to carefully connect all the dots. I also make sure that I match my clients with the right guide for them. For example, one family with a 13-year old always wants their trips to be super-educational. But I know that their daughter will be miserable unless I find a guide who is engaging, so I am careful to screen carefully for a guide who has both good credentials and a good sense of humor.
One of my favorite things is the ongoing relationships I develop with my clients. For many, I began by planning their honeymoon, then their travels with their children, and now, in some cases, planning their children’s honeymoons. It is especially fun to plan a trip for someone when you know where they’ve been and what they like. Whether it’s the first trip I’m planning for you or the 50th, be assured that I will take the time to understand your travel likes, dislikes and dreams.
Finally, as someone whose career is in the travel industry, I also feel it is important for me to give back. I do this by volunteering and planning the travel for several not-for-profit groups who travel the world to help and heal the sick and underprivileged. Among the agencies I volunteer with are Healing the Children, Hearts Around the World, Smile Train and Smile Bangladesh. I occasionally go and help pack supplies as well.
Related Travel Experiences
Vietnam stands out in my mind for many reasons, but it was the people I came in contact with you that made the biggest impression. Most are Buddhist, and while many are poor, you never see begging and they seem at peace and happy with their lot. I was also surprised ... Read more from my Experiencing Vietnam story.