In the heart of the stunning Gold Coast, the story of Wings Luxe unfolds. I am Vanessa, the founder of Wings Luxe Travel.
THAT FIRST TRAVEL EXPERIENCE
While studying a Bachelor of Education at the University of Western Sydney, I encountered the first opportunity to travel. A university lecturer would accompany a group of second and third-year Bachelor of Education students to the United States of America to teach in the Portland, Oregon district as one of our practical teaching assignments. I was encouraged by my wonderful parents to take up the opportunity. A decision that led to wonderful experiences and incredible new friendships with people from across the globe. I was fortunate to have been placed at Tualatin Elementary for two weeks and was billeted with two amazing families. I will always be incredibly grateful for their kindness, love and hospitality.
At the end of those two rewarding weeks, our University contingent travelled through the States for a further, fun-filled, three weeks. It was an experience that opened my heart and mind to cultural immersion, connections, and the joy of travel.
Bubbling with wanderlust and a thirst for adventure, my next journey began after I proudly donned the cap and gown to receive my Bachelor of Education. The world was my oyster, and I intended to savour every pearl it had to offer. With the ink still drying on my diploma, I embarked on a life-changing expedition, a voyage through the heart of Europe.
In the company of a university friend, I joined a Contiki tour that promised to be a whirlwind of unforgettable moments. From the romantic streets of Paris to the historic treasures of Rome, we traversed the continent, embracing each new experience with wide-eyed wonder. The cobblestone alleys and bustling markets became our playground, and the laughter and camaraderie of fellow travellers were the soundtracks to our unforgettable journey.
London, the cosmopolitan giant, beckoned next. I succumbed to the allure of teaching in one of the world’s most iconic cities. The British capital was a sprawling canvas of history, culture, and modernity. But, as life often goes, change was on the horizon.
My insatiable curiosity led me to Italy, a land of art, history, and romance. There, I delved into the melodious mysteries of the Italian language at the Università per Stranieri, Perugia, Umbria. The narrow streets of Florence and the serene canals of Venice became my new weekend haunts, each day an artistic masterpiece and each conversation a lyrical experience.
Returning to the UK, I was blessed with a serendipitous encounter with my cousin and her Welsh partner. Eager to explore new horizons, we embarked on a weekend getaway. Our journey led us westward, winding through the scenic route toward the majestic Severn Bridge and onwards to the enchanting landscapes of South Wales, UK where my cousin’s partner hailed.
THE GREEN, GREEN GRASS OF HOME
The Rhondda Valley, with its rugged beauty and warm-hearted locals, became the catalyst for yet another transformation. In the wake of that wondrous weekend, I made a life-altering decision, bidding farewell to the bustling streets of London to embrace the close-knit community of Ynyshir in the heart of the Rhondda Valley, South Wales.
Living amongst the resilient and kind-hearted people of the coal mining community, I cherished each day. The valleys echoed with tales of grit and camaraderie, and my heart found solace in this rugged land. I immersed myself in teaching, imparting knowledge to young minds, and learning in return the priceless lessons of community, resilience, and the indomitable Welsh spirit.
For a year, I revelled in the unique rhythm of life in South Wales, but as my heart journeyed through the valleys, an undeniable feeling of restlessness crept in. My path had taken me far from my homeland, and it was time to return to the sunburnt shores of Australia, though the sense of being “unsettled” now lingered, a whispered promise of more adventures to come.
TEACHING AND TRAVELLING
A few years later, I was happily teaching in western Sydney, working alongside phenomenal educators and remarkable students. Little did I know that my life was about to take a thrilling detour.
On a regular evening, a dear friend called to ask:
“Would you like to join me as a host on an around-the-world private charter aboard a Qantas 747?”
A few days later I was in Sydney meeting with the owner of the tour company and even though the position of Tour Host was unpaid, the allure of adventure was irresistible. Within an hour, I had officially joined the team, about to embark on a journey that would redefine my life.
The years that followed were a mesmerising blend of teaching, enjoying quality time with family and friends, and exploring the world, both independently and as a Tour Manager and Tour Host, for three Australian luxury travel companies.
With each experience, my passion for travel and creating unforgettable memories deepened. These experiences added depth to my knowledge and a wealth of connections, many of whom I consider dear friends. Through the years, together we charted new horizons, taking to the skies on charter flights, sailing on chartered cruises, and embarking on group journeys that left indelible marks on our souls.
MOVING ACROSS THE DITCH FOR LOVE
Moving to New Zealand for love and to teach was more than just a physical relocation; it was a journey of the heart and mind, an exploration of a new way of life, and a testament to the power of love and the pursuit of one’s passions. It was a beautiful chapter in my life’s story, marked by growth, adventure, and the fulfilment of dreams.
With the heartbreaking loss of my father in 2011, my wonderful mum and I embarked on journeys close to home and further afield. The journeys to these diverse destinations helped us to heal, and rediscover that life could still afford us joyous moments. The memories created together served as a tribute to my late father, as we celebrated the beauty of the world and the strength and love of family.
HEALING ON THE ‘ISLAND OF THE GODS’
Bali became our sanctuary, where we both decided to linger for a while. The island’s serene beaches, lush rice terraces, and vibrant culture allowed us to reflect on our immense loss and gain a deeper understanding of life’s impermanence. We lived like locals, savouring Balinese cuisine and participating in traditional ceremonies with newly made local friends. In this tranquil environment, Mum and I found peace and shared moments of healing.
WINGS LUXE WAS BORN
In late 2018, it was time to transform all of the past learnings into a new reality and Wings Luxe Travel was born.
With a laser focus on creating journeys that were guest-centric and provided redefined luxury based on the building of honest personal connections and getting to really know our guests and what they desired from a journey. We were unwavering with a mission to provide impeccable personalised service, crafting unique and authentic experiences, curating itineraries with intention, and fostering lifelong friendships and memories for all guests It was a personal commitment to ensure that every detail of each journey was imbued with heart and soul.
In the inaugural year (2019), our journeys resonated with travellers seeking something beyond the mundane, each tour sold out quickly and we were showered with glowing reviews from guests about their own personal Wings Luxe experience. The enthusiasm was contagious.
What truly sets Wings Luxe apart is the sense of community that has blossomed among our guests. They have come together for weekend reunions, sharing stories and laughter, a testament to the bonds formed during their travels with us.
At the heart of it all, we deeply value the trust that our guests have placed in us to craft incredible journeys that are sustainable, support locals, and are lovingly shared with friends and loved ones long after the journey has ended.
The Wings Luxe Mission: To craft moments that will linger in the minds of our guests long after the adventure has ended. We connect with winemakers, artisans, and remarkable locals in each destination, bringing the essence of the country to life. Luxury villas, boutique hotels, and five-star accommodations are our canvas, hosting showcase events that transform mere moments into cherished memories, our passion.
Wings Luxe, where every journey is a masterpiece waiting to be discovered, and every traveller becomes a cherished friend.
AKA Wings Luxe