“Oh my, what a difference a decade makes!” says Priscilla Alexander, who appeared on our cover in April 2005. That year, Protravel, which she'd founded in 1984, was reaping $320 million in revenue; when she sold it in 2012, annual sales were over $850 million, and it had grown into a network of 22 branch locations throughout the United States and London, plus a network of hosted agents throughout the U.S. After the sale, Alexander stayed on for more than a year and retired at the outset of 2014.
She tells us that in the decade that followed 9/11 — and which was capped by the economic meltdown of 2008/2009 —Protravel focused on careful strategic growth riveted to the bottom line. Then, the company managed to not just control costs but to increase its margins. "It proved to be a winning formula,” says Alexander, whose reputation as an astute and caring business owner remain a strong legacy within the luxury travel industry.
Alexander, who continues to reside in New York, has not stopped exploring the world; in fact, recently she’s been to the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean.
The difference today? “I don’t scurry about. I have the time to immerse myself in the experience and enjoy,” she says.
A recent trek took her to The Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. “Leaving the steamy, hot weather to enter the cool comfort of this impeccably maintained property dating back to another age enchanted me. I adore atmospheric hotels. I expected to see Catherine Deneuve walk through the lobby or, better still, me have a starring role in the movie ‘Indochine’,” says Alexander. Next stop: The Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, “which is as vibrant and lively as the day it opened,” she says. “The first time I stayed in this storied hotel, Princess Diana had just checked out. It was totally refurbished a few years ago but it has preserved its cultural heritage and beauty.”
She says her favorite hotel may very well be waiting for her on her next trip. “So hoteliers, stay on your toes!” And well they should, for Alexander is now Editor at Large for Luxury Travel Advisor, reporting on her new adventures for our readers.
But there’s more. Alexander just launched a new career with "The Travel Pro, Hosted by Priscilla Alexander," a weekly program on SiriusXm Radio's channel 109 where she'll chat with industry insiders and answer questions from listeners who call in.
Her advice for those who are retiring? “When you do, do it when you're at the top of your game. You'll love the tributes and goodwill that follows, for which I am eternally grateful,” she says.
She continues to nurture her friendships with travel advisors and suppliers and spends time “consulting, advising and just listening.” She's stepped up her involvement with several institutions of higher learning and is devoting more time to the Priscilla Alexander Philanthropic Foundation, “established to include the third generation of my family with my personal long time charitable giving.” And indeed, Alexander is enjoying her family these days, particularly her grandchildren, who span the ages of 9 to 23. “They are all beautiful, smart, talented, fun loving, creative and giving, and they are my best friends,” she says.