Among the most informed and well-connected in the business, these 10 power brokers know the travel industry like no one else.
Priscilla Alexander **
Known For: Her hands-on approach and accessibility. President of Protravel, the largest supplier of luxury travel in the U.S., Alexander nimbly hops from actively advising even her most junior agents (on everything from yacht charters and Kilimanjaro climbs to escorted culinary tours) to spending half an hour on the phone with curious potential clients.
Trend Watch: With the dollar gaining strength, Alexander’s seeing a return to the popular destinations of Europe—Tuscany and the south of France, with even higher-end hotels such as Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc heavily booked.
Barbara Gallay **
Known For: Deep connections with her suppliers—a vast global network of the top hotels, spas, guides, and local contacts on the ground—and a memory for the best rooms, suites, views, and even bathrooms.
Trend Watch: Gallay’s love for South Africa is something she expects to see many more travelers sharing post–World Cup, along with an increased interest in all of southern Africa, including Zambia and Malawi.
Diane Hilliard **
Known For: Totally custom itineraries, with a pronounced cultural aspect—architectural, culinary, sociopolitical. Hilliard has lived in Israel, Jordan, and all over Southeast Asia; her understanding of the immersion experience is her secret weapon (as is her large Rolodex of top guides and historians, personal chefs and boutique winemakers, private drivers and pilots, and much more).
Trend Watch: Hilliard is seeing—and encouraging—a move toward the less-sung regions of the current marquee destinations: Simla and Gujarat in India, rather than Rajasthan; the dunes of Natal in Brazil, rather than Rio or Bahia.
Known For: Being on the cutting edge of what’s glamorous and adventurous in travel—two qualities her globe-trotting clientele value. The newest Montenegrin hotel, the sleekest Antarctic ice-hull cruiser, the most in-demand rug seller in the medina: Lindblad probably knows about it before most.
Trend Watch: Lindblad’s betting South America will continue to be big in 2011, especially José Ignacio, in Uruguay. She’s also got her eye on Sri Lanka, which is more accessible (and safer) than ever.
Mary Ann Ramsey **
Known For: Tracking down the newest of the new—in hotels and resorts, cruises and destinations, but also unique experiences. Ramsey spends days at a destination in order to discover the hidden finds and authentic appeal of a place. Her most recent trip was to a Buddhist convent outside Seoul, where she donned traditional sackcloth to pray with the nuns.
Trend Watch: Ramsey is seeing a resurgence in eastern Africa, with the proliferation of top-flight camps. The canniest soft-adventurers are benefiting from her expertise and spending time in the cool jungles of Rwanda watching the gorillas, then repairing to luxurious surroundings in the Serengeti—she’s especially excited about the new Singita Sasakwa Lodge, at Singita Grumeti Reserve.
Fee: $500 per person.
* Tour Operator
** T+L’s Travel Agent Advisory Board, 2010
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