Sophie Raymond worked for various tour operators at Montreal and Mirabel airports for 25 years before she turned her focus to Mexico's luxury resort business.
“We used to hand write tickets and sell standby seats at the airport!” Raymond recalls of her early days in the travel biz.
Today, she is the regional sales manager for Canada at Velas Resorts, the name behind a collection of high-end luxury hotels in Mexico.
“My job is all about making people feel happy and accomplished,” says Raymond of her role, which encompasses many responsibilities, such as coordinating meetings, conducting presentations and trainings, hosting FAM and press trips to Velas’ beautiful properties and seeking new leisure and group business with travel advisors and tour operators.
“I love to build relationships with people,” adds Raymond, who lives in Quebec in a “dream house by a lake in the Laurentians” that her and her husband purchased three years ago.
Most resorts in the Velas portfolio are all-inclusive – this being Grand Velas Los Cabos, Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Velas Vallarta, Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit and Casa Velas.
Michelin-starred chefs, award-winning spas, lush gardens, chic decor and personal concierge services are just some of the many features one can find at any given property.
The company’s newest addition, Mar del Cabo on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, which opened in November 2018, is the company’s first and only resort to offer a European Plan.
“I like when advisors learn what Velas Resorts are all about and later call me to say that they’ve sent their top clients to our properties,” Raymond tells PAX. “They are proud to have sold us and are later sharing their clients’ amazing feedback.”
Here, PAX checks in with Raymond to chat about the first vacation she ever took, portable humidifiers, and that time she ate a certain insect at a Mexican restaurant.
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Sophie Raymond (SR): I never leave without my Nexus card because it saves me a lot of time. I always bring my portable humidifier when I stay in hotels on the road – you just need to connect a bottle of water to it and it’s good to go! I also pack a LUSH shampoo bar, which is eco-friendly, non-liquid, and can be inserted into my carry-on.
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
SR: I am an Italy lover! I like their gastronomy and culture – the “la dolce vita” way of living! I am lucky enough that my husband’s family lives there, so we get to experience the real authentic Italian life. Mexico is also close to my heart for many reasons. For the past four years I have been in constant contact with these wonderful people. I love how Mexicans are so hospitable and how proud they are of their country and culture. The food is spectacular as well!
PAX: What’s your favourite airport?
SR: Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) is my favourite since it used to be my workplace. I still have friends who work there and like to see them from time to time.
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took?
SR: As a child, we would always take summer vacations abroad. The first one I remember is my family driving to Disney and visiting different cities along our three-day drive to get there.
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
SR: I like to buy local food, wine and sometimes bags. I remember when I went to Poland, at the age of 19, I bought this beautiful leather backpack that I still have to this day. At the time it cost me almost my entire expense budget!
PAX: What’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever eaten while travelling?
SR: The first year I started for Velas Resorts, I had “chapulines” (Mexican crickets)! Friends from Grand Velas Riviera Maya brought me to this local restaurant and had me taste those insects. I can’t say that it was my favorite, but I at least tried it and rinsed it down with good tequila after! Hey, it’s all about the experience right?
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
SR: It is a little delicate, but let’s say that I don’t like sitting next to a person on a plane who has neglected his or her personal hygiene.
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
SR: I love to play tennis and used to be pretty good at it. I always tell myself that I should play again on a regular basis. Anyone looking for a tennis partner?
PAX: When flying, window shade up or down?
SR: Down, because I usually catch up on my emails and if the flight is long I will snooze for a while or watch a movie.
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
SR: When I first joined Velas Resorts, I was invited down to Mexico to tour all of their properties. When I arrived at YUL to take my first flight that they had booked for me, the airline ticket was invalid! I had just left ACV for them, and said to myself, ‘What I am getting myself into?!” It turned out to be the best decision ever and as for that ticket, it was just a minor mistake. I was able to travel to the best destination and hotels ever. The rest is history!
PAX: What should travel agents know right now about Velas Resorts?
SR: Velas Resorts just opened a new boutique hotel in Los Cabos. Mar Del Cabo is a chic boho-style European Plan hotel next to Grand Velas Los Cabos. Agents can take a look and learn more on our portal agents.velasresorts.com.
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