Fluent in two languages, conversational in three, yoga enthusiast, world traveler and one of the original “Club Kids” (literally…her parents owned famed 60s night club, The Electric Circus), Sari Freeman is a true Renaissance Woman. Sari, who is also Founder of Passages of Distinction, has been a dear friend and trusted partner of CIRE from the very beginning.
CIRE: Hello Sari! We already know (and love) you, so why don’t you introduce yourself to our readers?
SARI: Hi everyone, I am Sari Freeman, Founder and Chief Marketing Strategist for Passages of Distinction, a trusted and respected travel industry sales and marketing representation company. We love working with and supporting our travel industry advisors who appreciate our hand-selected collection of privately-owned luxury hotels, resorts, and destination management companies (DMCs). We help them to take special care of you!
CIRE: And that’s what it’s all about: our clients! The concierge-level service CIRE delivers is truly enhanced by our great relationships with amazing companies like Passages of Distinction. We’re a great team, aren’t we?
SARI: We have a fabulous job working with wonderful travel-passionate clients and outstanding product we get to talk about all the time! We work with amazing hotels such as the #1 Conde Nast Readers’ Choice awarded resort in the Caribbean, Le Barthelemy Hotel & Spa, as well as the iconic and historic Hotel Sacher in Vienna. We work with a DMC team in India, Spain and now Morocco, too! Each of them is outstanding and passionate about uncovering the magic of their destination! We make travel dreams come true! What could be better than that?
CIRE: Making travel dreams come true is, well…a dream job! How did you get into the travel business in the first place?
SARI: I credit the open-mindedness and international, big picture view my parents had that pushed me in that direction. They had the vision to send my sister and me to French School and then to international schools in New York where I developed a love for languages. I proceeded to study Spanish and Italian in high school and college. This naturally led to me studying abroad in Aix-en-Provence for a year. After graduation from the University of Michigan, out of a desire to use my language arts, I entered the tourism field, which then led to the hotel business.
CIRE: You have a very impressive resume even before you founded Passages of Distinction. Can you share some of the places you worked?
SARI: In my first job out of college, I worked for the NYC Visitors and Convention Bureau, selling New York City as a destination. I then worked for The Pierre Hotel where I was the first woman to work at reception and to be accepted into their management training program. After that, I went into sales for the Parker Meridien, then found my niche as one of the first to promote Aman Resorts in the US market through their sister company, Rafael Hotels and parent company to The Mark at the time.
CIRE: With all of those phenomenal work experiences, what was one of the most important things you learned that you applied to your own company?
SARI: Mr. Rafael (of Rafael Hotels; partner of Adrian Zecha of Aman Resorts) was the first to say that sophisticated travelers prefer the more unique experiences offered by independent, privately-owned hotels rather than corporate chains. Each of his hotels had its own personality and sense of place. That is what I have always cherished and adored. After that experience, I was inspired to start a company with my own hand-curated collection of privately-owned hotels. When you love what you do… 25 years go by in a flash!
CIRE: Wow! Congratulations on your silver anniversary! Looking back on the places you’ve lived, worked and travelled in your life, do you have a favorite vacation destination?
SARI: One of my most memorable trips was to India where I stayed in a resort in the Himalayas specializing in yoga and Ayurveda, a very transformational experience. Then an educational trip with our outstanding Travel Scope India… that was such a rich and diverse journey! I adore Argentina and have been selling it for over 20 years. Llao LLao Resort in Bariloche, Patagonia is one of my favorite places in the world! It is in one of the most gorgeous natural settings I have experienced! I could go on and on. Being a Francophile, I adore Paris and Provence… And my favorite island in the world is St. Barth’s, offering the feeling of the South of France in the Caribbean. We are fortunate to have the gorgeous Le Barthelemy; a shining star in our collection!
CIRE: A yoga and Ayurveda wellness retreat in the Himalayas sounds incredible. What was the food like in India?
SARI: The food experience at the wellness resort was wonderful being completely Ayurvedic and had a transformational affect along with the personalized treatments for my body type. The entire experience was incredible. One of the best food experiences I’ve ever had was throughout our educational trip around the north of India)a few years later, when I traveled with Eric and Travel Scope, where the cuisine was outstanding every step of the way!
CIRE: You’ve shared some of the amazing destinations you’ve travelled around the world, but where is home for you?
SARI: I was born in Toronto, Canada, and moved to New York City when my parents opened a night club called The Electric Circus when I was very young. I lived in New York for over 20 years, both as a child and as an adult. I moved to New Jersey to start my business and to raise my family, and it’s been my home for many years. Toronto is an amazing city with fabulous restaurants, shopping and museums. But I really feel like New York is more my hometown. I adore New York. It is one of the most vibrant cities in the world. There is nothing like the energy you feel in the “City”!
CIRE: Ain’t that the truth? Cheers to NYC! And cheers to you, Sari! Congratulations on 25 years!