BRONXVILLE, N.Y. -- Travel executive and world traveler Valerie Wilson could live in any city in the world, but there is only one place she calls home.
I wouldnt live anywhere in the world but Bronxville, Wilson said. I love this village.
Wilson spent Saturday afternoon at Womrath Bookshop in the village autographing her book Valerie Wilsons World, in which she gives her personal take on hundreds of vacation or travel destinations from just south in New York City, to halfway around the world in the United Arab Emirates.
Wilson, who has lived in the village since 1967, has owned and operated Valerie Wilsons Travel for 30 years.
From her humble beginnings, a three person office and a part-time bookkeeper, Wilson now employs nearly 300 travel consultants out of 15 locations that span the country from Maine to Florida and Chicago to California and nets more than $300 million in annual sales.
Two of those employees are her daughters Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg, also a Bronxville resident, who has worked for her mom for 20 years. Her sister, Kimberly Wilson-Wetty, lives in Bronxville as well and has been working in the family business for the last 17 years.
We are a mother/daughter/daughter business, said Wilson-Buttigieg, who will fly off to Europe this weekend on a business trip.
Wilson-Buttigieg said that while Internet travel sites may be able to get travelers to a destination, travelers have no one to call if there is a problem when they arrive or if they need to leave suddenly in the event of an emergency.
We know where all of our travelers are at all times, Wilson-Buttigieg said. During disasters such as the tsunami in Japan, we had to get travelers out, and we had to get members of the press and business people back in.
Wilson herself said she has heard many horror stories over the years of destinations that are far less ideal than they are pictured in glossy photos or on Internet websites.
Either someone on my staff or myself has visited each of the destinations in the book, so there will be no unwelcome surprises, Wilson said.
Wilson has no intention of slowing down her role in the company, which she created when she could not find a travel company to help her back in the 1970s.
I am passionate about travel, Wilson said. My specialty has always been international travel, but Bronxville is and always will be home for me.
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