The AFAR Travel Advisory Council

2021 Stay List: Best New Sustainable Hotels
It’s time for a travel upgrade.
You want a trip packed with authentic, meaningful experiences—and the AFAR Travel Advisory Council knows how to make it happen. We’ve selected a well-connected group of specialists in experiential travel, and they’re eager to share that expertise with you! Learn more about each advisor below and contact them for an itinerary tailored to your interests and budget (consultations provided for a fee).
Cari Gray

CEO and Owner, Gray & Co.
Toronto, Ontario · 416.998.4082

Cari accompanied her parents on overseas work assignments and later became an insatiable explorer in her own right. After 15 years with luxury operator Butterfield & Robinson, she launched Gray & Co. in 2008 and continues to craft active journeys for discerning travelers. Gray & Co. supports sustainable practices and is a member of the Adventure Travel Trade Association.

Denise Jackson

President & CEO, Balboa Travel Inc.
San Diego, CA · 858.678.3300

Denise Jackson is the President and CEO of Balboa Travel, a women and minority owned travel management company based in California. A veteran of more than 37 years in the travel industry, Denise is responsible for all aspects of Balboa Travel’s strategic direction. Her oversight includes Corporate Travel Management, Meetings & Incentives, Leisure Travel and Technology Consulting.

Eric Maryanov

Los Angeles, CA · 800.225.3614

Eric launched his company in 1984 with one employee, was an early adopter of technology in travel booking, and has grown into an award-winning operation with a focus on luxury cruise lines and customized experiences.

Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg
Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg

Co-owner & Co-president Valerie Wilson Travel
New York, NY · 212.592.1210

Jennifer knows the ins and outs of travel planning, having joined Valerie Wilson Travel in 1991. Now, as co-owner and co-president, she specializes in business travel and manages airline relationships. She also happens to be an avid golfer and partial to Scotland’s links.

John Galante
John Galante

Travel Advisor, Travel Edge
Aspen, CO · 970.300.4880

John has been involved in the travel industry for 30 years, and spent most of his career working with top travel publications such as AFAR, Travel + Leisure and Departures. This gave him the opportunity to travel all over the world, staying in the best hotels and resorts, experiencing both cities and off-the-beaten-path destinations. His experience and his many relationships in the industry, allows John to create incredible trips for his clients.

Josh Alexander
Josh Alexander

Luxury Travel Advisor, ProTravel International
New York, NY · 212.651.2110

Josh enjoys tailoring itineraries to a client’s needs and budgets, including honeymoons and multigenerational trips. He has visited over 65 countries, with expertise in Africa, Australia, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean. He was recognized as a 2014 Virtuoso Rising Star.

Joshua Bush
Joshua Bush

CEO, Avenue Two Travel
Villanova, PA · 610.243-1100

Joshua Bush serves as the CEO for Avenue Two Travel a high-end travel management company headquartered in Villanova PA. As a sought after thought leader, Joshua serves as the Vice Chair for the Virtuoso Member Advisory Board. He has also consulted for numerous advisory boards and panels including: Marriott International Luxury Brands Luxury Travel Advisor Magazine, Accor Hotels, Park Hyatt, Viceroy, Classic Vacations and more. His goal has always been to focus on elevating the industry and increasing recognition for clients.

Judy Perl
Judy Perl

President, Judy Perl Worldwide Travel
New York, NY · 212.979.7400

A 30-year industry veteran, Judy has built a reputation for expertise in luxury bespoke travel. She’s coordinated safaris for multi-generational family reunions, round-the-world journeys, destination weddings, spa retreats, and more. Factor in her past work experience at luxury cruise lines, and she’s well suited to personalize a wide range of travel experiences.

Kate Doty
Kate Doty by a Volcano

Managing Director of Premier Access, Geographic Expeditions
San Francisco, CA · 800.777.8183

Kate has been crafting extraordinary journeys for more than two decades, tailoring each to meet a traveler’s dreams. These efforts have included arranging a private audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and private New Year’s Eve celebrations at the Giza Pyramid. She spearheaded the launch of GeoEx’s offerings in Africa and Southeast Asia and coordinates research expeditions in remote and challenging areas for Disney and Pixar. Learn more about Kate Doty’s travel style.

Katie Cadar
Katie Cadar

Director of Leisure Sales, TravelStore
Los Angeles, CA · 310.689.5415

While studying in Sweden, Katie explored as much of Europe as possible, traveling to Russia, England, France, Holland, and Romania. Now, as the Director of Leisure Sales for TravelStore, she still counts Europe, African safaris, Tahiti, adventure travel, and luxury hotels among her specialties.

Kristen Korey Pike
Kristen Korey Pike

Founder/CEO, KK Travels Worldwide
Atlanta, GA · 404.458.6800

Growing up overseas gave Kristen insight into other cultures. She loves sharing that knowledge and creating meaningful journeys for her clients—the type who don’t just want to tour a vineyard but also have lunch with the owners. Kristen has been acknowledged for her expertise in destination weddings and honeymoons.

Michael Holtz
Michael Holtz

Owner/CEO, SmartFlyer
New York, NY · 212.269.9088

Michael’s curiosity sends him in search of the best the world has to offer. He founded SmartFlyer more than 20 years ago after graduating from Washington University in St. Louis. Michael designs unique, once-in-a-lifetime itineraries and knows the best ways to issue First/Business Class tickets for his clients. Michael sits on both the Starwood and Park Hyatt Advisory Boards. Learn more about Michael Holtz and SmartFlyer.

Steve Harris
Steve Harris

Independent Travel Consultant, Strong Travel Services
Dallas, TX · 214.258.6903

Steve Harris appreciates everything about luxury travel, having had his share of “no frills” transportation and lodging in his previous career as a drummer. He was a member of numerous bands in Fort Worth, Austin, and New Orleans playing everything from polka, jazz, country, blues, soul, and classical. After 32 years in the travel/hospitality industry and in his 24th year affiliated with Strong Travel Services of Dallas, he continues to service and finesse his clients as an Independent Contractor. During his travels, he’s garnered the reputation among his clients and peers as the “The Social Mayor or “Man About Town” for his endless connections in cities around the world.

William Kiburz
William Kiburz

VP, Coronet Travel Ltd.
Saint Louis, MO · 314.721.1170

Will began his travel career at age 16, escorting groups for Coronet Travel, an agency started by his mother in 1977. Will and his brother, Jack, have led the company since 2000, and they cater to high-end independent leisure travelers. Will treats all of Coronet’s clients like family; some relationships are now in their third generation.