LUXURY AND LEGACY SHAPE CORAL REEF TRAVELS CUSTOM, FULL-ITINERARY SERVICE TRAVEL AGENCY.

By. Carrie Stevenson

     When Coral Reef Travel Agency owner Amy Ziesel founded her agency in the Irish Catholic Wall Street community of Manhasset, New York in 1982, the world was a much different place. The process of travel planning has shifted enormously over the past 36 years, but what has remained constant and unchanging are the sense of excitement and wonder, the need for expertise and guidance, and the reality that even the best-laid plans often go awry. So when she recently relocated to Viera to care for her mother after her father passed away, Ziesel — a top producer in the luxury market —brought along her passion and vast knowledge to the region.

For Ziesel, designing an inspiring itinerary for clients by combining first-hand experience across a vast number of countries and cultures, with concierge-level service to please even the most discriminating palette — coupled with a seamless efficiency when hurricanes or snowstorms disrupt travel plans and alternative arrangements need to be made — are what life as a travel agent is all about.

“DISASTER PREPAREDNESS IS WHAT SETS APART PLANNING A TRIP ON YOUR OWN FROM WORKING WITH A TRAVEL AGENT,” SHE EXPLAINED. “IT’S NOT A NINE-TO-FIVE JOB.”

     In addition to private tours, dinner reservations, spa services and golf tee times, Ziesel creates a bit of extra magic for her clients along the way with thoughtful touches like recommending a tree in their room around the holidays — table top or ceiling height, with the client’s preferred color scheme — or Easter baskets for the children.

Staying abreast of the latest destination knowledge is also crucial in the business and a task Ziesel takes seriously, as she is constantly undertaking hotel inspections around the world to understand room profiles, suite locations and restaurant menus. Another important aspect of the job is building strong relationships with hotel managers, who can be counted on to clear rooms when luxury clients arrive by private jet.

The Gift of Travel

Coral Reef Travel offers gift certificates in any denomination or written for a specific destination. Here, too, the details matter: each is presented in a personally paper- wrapped gift box with a big bow and tag. A flight bag including a detailed itinerary is also provided.

“Many grandparents give the holiday gift of family vacations to their children and grandchildren and ask that I have gift boxes for each family member ready for pickup in early December,” Ziesel explained. “It makes for a wonderful, memorable present.”

The legacy of travel has grown along with Ziesel’s client list, which includes many grandchildren of her first customers, now all grown up and planning their own honeymoons. ◆

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