Valerie Ann Wilson
Founder, Owner, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Thirty-five years later, Valerie Ann Wilson is still as passionate about her work as the day she opened the doors to Valerie Wilson Travel, Inc. in New York City on September 8, 1981. Since then, under Valerie’s leadership, along with her two daughters, Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg and Kimberly Wilson Wetty, Co-Owners and Co-Presidents, VWT has become a travel industry powerhouse and has been counted among Travel Weekly’s “Top 50 Travel Agencies,” and most recently as the 33rd largest in the United States.
A career in travel is not what Valerie originally set out to do. After graduating from high school in Iowa and the Chamberlain School of Retailing in Boston, Valerie moved to New York City to pursue a career in fashion. Within two years, she was hired as Vice President for Gant, where she established the ladies shirt division.
Beginning in 1967, Valerie decided to leave fashion and devote herself to her family and share her business experience to community volunteerism. In 1977, the family moved to London where Valerie became a founding member of the Junior League of London and wrote the book “Living in London: A Practical Guide.” Now in its eleventh edition, the book is still considered an indispensable guide for English-speaking people moving to and living in London. And, it was at this time that her love for travel blossomed and the founding seeds for Valerie Wilson Travel began to develop.
Admittedly, Valerie has always been vocal about her opinions and receives pleasure from being able to share her ideas – not only as a luxury travel advisor, but also as it relates to the standards of the luxury travel industry as a whole - particularly hotel accommodations and services, as she often refers to herself as a frustrated hotelier. She firmly believes that attention to detail is paramount in providing excellence in customer service. It is this tenacity that transformed Valerie into a flourishing travel advisor mogul.
Today, Valerie continues to drive her business on her founding principles of integrity, trust, and loyalty. Committed to her true belief that there is no greater power than providing first-hand knowledge and sharing experiences with clients and industry colleagues. She shares her wisdom on numerous travel advisory boards and currently serves on The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Abercrombie & Kent, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and Virtuoso® as Chairman Emeritus of the Member Advisory Board. She has earned countless esteemed awards such as “Lifetime Achievement” from Virtuoso and Travel Weekly and is honored to be Godmother of the AmaPrima river cruise ship. Valerie is an acclaimed editorial contributor for national consumer and industry trade publications. In 2001, Valerie authored Valerie Wilson’s World ... The Top Hotels & Resorts. The Second Edition was released in 2012.
Valerie’s utmost passion continues to be global travel, which stems from her admiration of different cultures from around the world. Even after traveling to Paris more than 50 times, she still treats every experience as if it were her first. Some of her most memorable travel experiences have been those with a sense of adventure – when her senses were brought alive by the history, the color, and the taste of the locale. She continues to love fashion, art, antiques, gourmet food, and fine wine, but mostly spending time with her family.
Valerie resides in Bronxville, New York, and never boards a plane without her travel pillow and two Hermés scarves.