As a 20-year-old investment banker living in London, Michele Cohen would often travel to escape the daily pressures her job inevitably presented.
But we’re not talking about weekend jaunts to the Caribbean.
Cohen credits a holiday she spent in Hong Kong, Thailand and Mt. Kinabalu in East Malaysia, followed by an adventure to Colombia, for opening her eyes to the beauty of travel.
“I did return to the London corporate world, but made a pact with myself that I would travel again after two years,” Cohen says. The stars aligned when the bank got bought out and Cohen was freed up to explore the world.
Cohen’s entry into the travel industry was as a tour group leader in 1999 when she led hiking excursions across the world, spending much of the time in remote mountain ranges — the Andes, Kilimanjaro, the Himalayas, as well as around Europe, Morocco and Ethiopia.
“It was totally fascinating,” Cohen tells Luxury Travel Advisor. “I loved being with the groups. Frequently we were camping in the mountains for seven to 20 days, accompanied by a wonderful support team of guides, cooks, porters or muleteers, walking through cut-off villages, passing by the most basic rural schools. These places are filled with wonderful people living a completely different way of life, and [they are] so welcoming; you would not believe how many little huts I would be invited into with the groups for coffee ceremonies. We were often given food and offerings. It was humbling.”
Now living in Vancouver, Cohen is one the top producing advisors at Renshaw Travel, where she has been assisting VIPs in lower mainland Vancouver and British Columbia for the last eight years.
“Renshaw Travel is a wonderful small family business,” says Cohen. “Three generations work in the office. The agency is almost 70 years old. We are such a friendly and knowledgeable group of individuals. I can collaborate with colleagues when I need to, and I have the freedom to create my own tours, and to make any travel adventure to anywhere. The family is the most welcoming I’ve ever met. They are so passionate about the industry, even our clients become part of our Renshaw Travel family. We are unique and I love our individuality.”
While she sells all types of travel, her specialty is action and adventure travel.
“My biggest input is in less developed continents and countries, where there are the biggest cultural and safety barriers,” she tells us. “I provide exceptional insight into the locations where there are many differences [compared] to the society in which we live. And I am particularly passionate about Latin America.”
What else makes Cohen a trendsetter?
“I’ll put my neck on the line to create a different experience for everyone,” she tells us. “I also create and lead my own special tours, usually with a focus on trekking, and usually ending in luxury, so I am still using my tour leader skills and I love that.”