Veronique Banzet often lives in New York — but her heart is almost always in France. However, no matter where she is, she’s leading a very active lifestyle.
Banzet is a natural athlete who loves swimming, hiking, biking, horse riding, tennis and golf — but her true love is field hockey. A native of France, she has been playing on the French national team for the past 10 years and has featured in two European Cups, two World Cups and many league championship games all over the world.
Along the way in her professional career, she also has been an assistant at the International School of Paris, a volunteer in the office of the European painters at the Metropolitan Museum of NY, and president of international associations and charity associations in Slovenia and Ukraine. In short, “I like to meet people,” she says.
The daughter of a Parisienne who married a man from Bordeaux, Banzet considers all of France — and also New York — as her hometowns. She has lived in Sweden, Slovenia and Ukraine and traveled all around Northern, Central and Eastern Europe. When she is not on the road with the team, you can find her exploring the countryside, talking to the people and finding new spots for her customers to experience.
With her contacts and outgoing personality, it’s no surprise that Banzet was drawn to the travel business. She chose Bayside Travel, a Virtuoso agency, 20 years ago and has stuck with that team ever since. Her niche is American and international clients and families looking for “tailor-made voyages with authenticity and quality, including an outstanding aspect,” such as boutique hotels and hand-guided tours, including local gastronomy and nature trips. She likes to give clients a feel for “the overall art of life in a region or country,” melding local history, culture, gastronomy and wine into one unique experience.
“My niche is my knowledge of my home regions in France and my personal connections in Bordeaux and the Basque region, Cognac and Armagnac, Normandy, Alsace, Franche-Comté, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc and Paris, giving a soul to each journey by discovering the specials of these regions, visiting the local markets and meeting the local people,” she says.
She also specializes in adventure trips, including the Trans-Siberian train, the great north and ice hotels, small-ship cruises on the Amazon, bike trips on Route 66 and safaris in Tanzania.
Most important, she says, is the time she takes getting to know her customers. “I always talk to the client to understand his ‘spirit’ to establish a confidence between us. Then I propose a voyage that I ‘feel.’”
Seeking out new destinations and experiences in the past few months, Banzet has spent time at Bermuda’s Coco Reef Resort and visited Slovenia, where she met up with a good friend and local contact. They stayed at Union Hotel in the center of Ljubljana and visited Bled, Piran, Lipica, Gorica Brda (for the wine) and Trieste in Italy. Next on her agenda are trips to Guadeloupe, Ukraine and Ethiopia.
At work, meanwhile, Banzet is expanding her niche to include Club Med’s all-inclusive villages and ski chalets in Europe, as well as wellness destinations and luxury trains. In her spare time, she may be found on a hiking trail, ski slope, bike path or golf course. To grow her business, meanwhile, she will be trying out inviting selected guests to private homes to introduce different voyages to them.
And of course, if you’d like to see a field hockey game, don’t hesitate to ask. She likely can get you a ticket. She might even be on the field.