Finding a trusted advisor can be tricky and travel is no exception. It’s not as simple as offering good service and some added hotel benefits. With visits to over 100 countries (on all 7 continents) and a combined 150 years of valuable industry experience, our talented team of travel professionals offers unparalleled expertise and a unique ability to exceed expectations through a thoughtful and collaborative approach.
We understand travel planning can be extremely personal, which is why we’ve launched our KK Chronicles series so you can get to know our advisors and get a glimpse into what they’re seeing in the ever-evolving luxury travel industry. Keep reading for our interview with Kristy Radney, one of our top travel advisors based in Birmingham, Alabama (and check out our previous interview with Maggie Jones, too!)
What was your first memorable trip, and what made you pursue travel as a career?
A long time ago, my parents loaded up all three of their kids and my grandmother in a van and drove across the country. This trip lasted three weeks and was as fraught with misadventure as you might expect. A broken air conditioner, flat tires, missing reservations, bad directions, you name it — it went wrong. But despite all the problems, we had a blast. We saw every landmark there was to see, stayed in every type of accommodation you can imagine, and discovered unusual local cuisines. Every day was a new adventure and experience, and it was intoxicating. I have had some amazing travel experiences over the years, but that trip has stayed with me unlike anything else.
I decided to pursue travel as a career when I realized how much time I spent researching and exploring destinations in my free time. It’s not feasible to think I will be able to go everywhere in this world that I’m interested in, but I love that I get to learn about so many wonderful places and make connections with people from all over the world.
As a KKTWW travel consultant, what are your specialties?
I’ve had the pleasure of planning travel with diverse groups of clients worldwide. The destinations I work in most are Europe, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Africa. Family travel is a big part of my business, as are honeymooners and ski trips. I recently received a call from a client thanking me for their trip to Paris. It was amazing to hear how the trip impacted her children’s global perspective and how much they enjoyed the itinerary customized specifically for them. Happy kids make for a happy trip!
What trends are you seeing for travel this winter?
Clients are not afraid to plan in advance anymore and are looking ahead to a future of unrestricted travel. I am receiving more European travel requests than ever before. Italy and Paris remain popular, but we’re receiving more requests for locations outside the ordinary. As aviation costs continue to rise, our clients have become a bit more creative with collecting and utilizing points to apply toward airline tickets.
Speaking of winter travel, we know you’re a major skier and love to plan ski trips for clients. What are your favorite ski resorts, and what makes them special?
This is a tough one! I absolutely love Zermatt; it’s a magical place and should be a bucket list destination for anyone who loves to ski. Skiing off-piste in the morning and then over the mountain into Italy for lunch makes for a great day on the slopes. Then, follow all that up with a stop at the champagne hut on the trail home before a steam or soak. The Matterhorn views are amazing, the slopes groomed to perfection, the village utterly charming, and the dining is world-class. Zermatt checks all the boxes for an unforgettable experience.
In the states, Aspen/Snowmass is always my first choice. Snowmass never feels crowded, and the mountain is enormous, offering a range of terrain from wide-open runs to impressive steeps and cliffs. All those high-speed lifts make it easy to access too. Ask any resident in Aspen how they came to live there, and you hear the same story repeatedly. Their brief stay turned into a permanent residency, and it’s easy to understand why. A friendly, easy-going vibe permeates the culture there. The plethora of dining options and fantastic shopping give those not on the mountain plenty to keep them busy.
Do you have to be a skier (or snowboarder) to enjoy a ski resort vacation?
Absolutely not! My mother never skied when I was a kid, and I used to feel so sorry for her. I laugh now to think of how much she probably enjoyed her time. Many ski resorts have much to offer both indoors and outside. Winter recreation, such as snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice skating, and snow tubing, are just a few of the activities non-skiers can enjoy. I’m visiting Montage Big Sky in March and can’t wait to take advantage of their beautiful spa and the slope-side champagne bar.
How do you facilitate the perfect trip for your clients, and how does KKTWW elevate the travel experience?
The key to curating the perfect trip is communication. New clients are often concerned that they will be presented with an itinerary and then stuck with plans made on their behalf. Nothing could be further from the truth, and our collaborative process allows us to fully understand our client’s expectations, dreams, and goals for their vacations. Want to veg out? No problem. Want to be active every day? Sure thing! Want a bit of both? We can do that. Whatever you want from your vacation, I want to make that happen and more.
Once the client’s needs and expectations are clearly defined, KKTWW can leverage our destination expertise and insider knowledge. We have fostered relationships with suppliers and hoteliers worldwide, and making those connections ensures our clients always get the best of the best.
What advice would you give first-time clients who have never worked with a travel professional?
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want! As your advocate, we will always do our best to make your dreams a reality, but we must know what they are. A seasoned travel advisor will know if something is feasible and help you to adjust your expectations accordingly.
Finally, as a travel expert, what would you never leave home on a trip without?
Running shoes and a good moisturizer. Air travel can be brutal on your skin, and while I am happy to leave my favorite shampoos and conditioners at home, I always bring along a great moisturizer. I also always try to squeeze in a comfy pair of running shoes. Keeping up your workouts can help ease jet lag and combat the evils of overindulging that we are all prone to when traveling. I love to run in novel destinations, and some of my all-time favorite runs have happened in exotic locations — along Copacabana Beach in Rio and through Borghese Gardens in Rome are both memorable paths.