Raymond Mathias is a business development manager for the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, but his professional life didn't start in travel.
“My first job after university was in broadcasting, working in the press office and marketing department at S4C – a Welsh broadcaster in Cardiff,” Mathias tells PAX.
After that, the Welshman moved on to becoming a World Showcase Fellowship Ambassador at EPCOT Center, Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
“That was my first introduction to North America and the travel industry and have never looked back,” Mathias says.
These days you’ll see Mathias representing the Cayman Islands at travel trade shows nationwide, promoting the destination in Canada and overseeing its sales, public relations, and social media and marketing activities.
What does he love about his role?
“The people, the experience, culture, the learning,” he says. “You create friends for life. I’m fortunate to be able to travel for work and have gained so many memorable experiences along the way.”
Mathias, who lives in downtown Toronto, says he feels “very lucky” to be able to travel to the Cayman Islands for his job, especially when he gets to “run on Seven Mile Beach at sunrise before stepping into meetings for the day.”
“It’s unparalleled,” he says.
Here, PAX Checks In with Mathias to chat about his love for mountains and the sea, big-ticket sporting events and that time he got a peek at the Royal Family’s private washrooms.
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Raymond Mathias (RM): Water, hand sanitizer and reading material.
PAX: What are your favourite vacation spots (beyond the Cayman Islands, of course!)
RM: I love mountains and the sea, so my favourite spots would have to be Oslo, Norway and the Bergen/Sognefjord region with its fjords and the Snowdonia mountains in North Wales. Both are inspiring and majestic; [also] Sandbanks/Bournemouth (southern England) – I spent a lot of time there on holidays as a child and have strong memories of the beach, the sea and seeing all the ships. Those trips are probably responsible for my interest in ships. I also love Barcelona. The city and its surrounding areas offer everything for a city break at any time of the year. Culture, history, architecture, modernity, beaches, and fantastic restaurants are all at your fingertips.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport and why?
RM: Heathrow – I’ve been flying in and out of there all my life and am very familiar with it. You can also fly to almost anywhere in the world from there. It’s the hub of the world.
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took?
RM: As a 14-year old I went on a 12-day school trip to Norway. It was my first trip without the family. We took the ferry across the North Sea for 24 hours in Gale Force 8 and saw some incredible scenery, mountains, fjords and cities.
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
RM: I’m not really a big splurger or shopper. I have always preferred to spend on experiences, primarily sporting events such as the Ryder Cup, Olympics, four Rugby World Cups or taking in a local sporting matches in cities I’m visiting.
PAX: What’s the most memorable meal you ever eaten while travelling?
RM: When I worked for VisitBritain, The Royal Yacht Britannia was on its final North American tour before it was decommissioned. We were able to host a VIP lunch for our trade partners on board and I felt like a royal as we ate the lunch in the main dining room. We had to use the Royal Family’s private washrooms, though those of the Queen and Prince Philip were out of bounds. As I wanted to explore more of the ship, I politely excused myself after each course to try a different washroom.
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
RM: Airport security lines. You stand in line for ages and then people aren’t ready when they get to the counter. It’s only then that they start to empty their pockets and separate items for the trays/scanner and people still try to take water through!
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
RM: As a Welshman, I can sing.
PAX: When flying: window shade up or down?
RM: Definitely shade up as I like to try and recognize places
PAX: What’s your funniest travel anecdote?
RM: I was on Waikiki Beach, so I had to try surfing. I rented a board and was shown the basics, what to do and how to do it. Off I went into the sea to try it, it was extremely difficult and almost impossible to even get on to the board, let alone get up. I found a quieter part of sea where there were less people and surfers. I kept trying and trying. I was able to get on and the next challenge was to stand up. Then it happened, I was up and surfing with the wave. I did it! But then I could see there was a woman in my direct path. I shouted to her to move out of the way, but she wasn’t moving. My legs were stuck and could not move on the board and I was heading straight towards her. For whatever reason she didn’t move much. I guess she thought I was capable of moving and avoiding her, but I couldn’t. I hit her. She was not happy and was shouting at me, but she was perfectly ok. I did it! I decided I didn’t want to hit anybody else, so I headed back to the beach.
PAX: What should travel agents know about the Cayman Islands right now?
RM: Canadians can save up to 45 per cent off accommodation on bookings before November 15th, for travel before December 15th, through our Fall Only in Cayman campaign. These are limited-time deals on accommodation, attractions, restaurants and watersports. Agents will find packages from WestJet Vacations, Air Canada Vacations, Hosted Villas, along with our on-island hotel partners.
The Cayman Islands is very accessible with up to five flights a week this fall and increasing to eight flights a week in the winter. Both Air Canada and WestJet, offer four-hour, non-stop flights from Toronto to Grand Cayman, with easy connections across Canada. It has never been an easier to visit the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean and its more than 200 restaurants.