by Wendy Richards-Edwardson
Clarke is his name and, like the most interesting man in the world, he has the most enviable job in the world. I recently attended a meeting of independent travel advisors where Clarke, our guest speaker, was introducing us to a collection of boutique hotels he represents. His “job” is to visit all these little luxury hotels, learn about their owners and staff, the communities, environment, history, and everything else which inspired these repurposed properties to become hotels and lodges. Clarke is expected to experience firsthand the accommodation, Michelin starred cuisine, spas, hot springs, and interview and film those who work and live at the properties. He then turns around and, at the expense of this little consortium of hotels, travels to agencies all over North America to encourage agents and consultants to book clients into these gems.
That’s it. That’s Clarke’s job. So at this point you may be asking where the line forms to apply for a job like this. I was thinking the same thing. It wouldn’t be too difficult for me to force down Michelin prepared meals.
While I sat mesmerized as Clarke spoke about the people who owned and operated these little hotels, I began to realize how small my world was. He described the owners as retired Swiss bankers, architects, artists, winemakers, and a great many former corporate businesspeople who had decided long ago that this was their future when money and time allowed them to follow their passion and become entrepreneurs on their own terms.
So just how do you meet and become one of these people? If you weren’t lucky enough to be born rich or titled, the secret is to get out of your comfort zone. You need to choose to go to school in Europe and choose to follow careers in major centres such as New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London, or Rio de Janeiro.
Having missed my chance was not due to laziness but through sheer ignorance and fear of the unknown. I had been raised, as many women of my age were (over 55), to be protected and kept close. I don’t blame my parents: it was the culture of the day. My artist mother could only dream of such things and my father, having served in WWII, wanted to keep his daughters safe.
As parents, it is natural to want to keep children wrapped in a cocoon of security. However, you may be inadvertently handicapping them. May I offer a suggestion? If opportunity should present itself, send them to school overseas or put them into exchange programs. If you have to relocate for a period of time to another country, take them with you and, above all, encourage them to take that job in Geneva. This is where they will meet or become the people who will shape the world and create the most interesting things ever conceived by man or woman. These are the people who have the power to conserve nature or build futuristic airports.
Be brave! And I’m not talking to your children. I’m talking to you. Have the courage to let them go and explore outside their comfort zone. Send them off prepared but let them discover a world of diverse cultures, artistic opportunities, business and finance. No matter what your children want to become, knowing how the world of money works is essential to success. You will be creating knowledgeable, compassionate human beings and future world leaders. It just may be that someday they too will own a luxury lodge and you will get those enviable family rates.
Wendy Richards-Edwardson is a late bloomer. She became a college student, entrepreneur, travel consultant, blogger, and aspiring author, all after her 50th birthday! She has been an explorer all her life, traveling by ships, armed forces troop planes, trains and Volkswagen magic bus. She has lived with the polar bears in Churchill, Canada and the kiwis in New Zealand.
As a travel consultant, Wendy turns tourists into travelers by encouraging them to get out of the resorts and experience different cultures, landscapes, cuisine, and interact with endangered species in their natural habitat.
As a writer and blogger, she is a cheerleader for woman of any age to follow their dreams and passions no matter how outrageous they may seem to others. She firmly believes that as we age and chalk up life experiences, we become braver, more interesting and talented human beings even if we can’t recall where we last saw our car keys. She encourages women to lead fearless, exciting and eclectic lives and she is living proof that life can begin at any age.